I recently was invited to speak at Yale University’s Sex Week. They held what is called a Master’s Tea for me. (That’s where a Master of the University invites you into his private home and invites a group of student and faculty to come and hear you speak.) Talk about being a bit nervous! Man, I can take my clothes off and fuck no problem—and I can even give workshops and talks no problem but being invited to speak in front of all these academics gave me a bit of a rush.
I was super honored to be there, and the talk went really well, but then something happened that was quite shocking. I got hate mail and threats from some students.
Now, this is an Ivy League school. Would you ever expect this from an institute like Yale?! I wouldn’t, but damned if it didn’t happen. I reported the threats to the girls who were taking care of booking me there and they were mortified. (I love that word!) They took it very seriously, and were super apologetic. They even went so far as to get me 24-hour security while I was there. I had police stationed outside of every venue I was to speak at.
It made me feel a bit weird to have to deal with it, but then it came to me. I realized that if I’m making people get this fucked up over who and what I am, then that is very powerful. I am just being me. I am just telling the world look, this is who I am, and there are millions more of us out here in the world—so get over it.
I’m so tired of the way society has told me I have to be, and if I am refuse, then I don’t belong here, or that I just need to shut my mouth and stay in hiding. Are you kidding me?
Well, after I realized I have this power, it became apparent how much more important my work and my message are. I wondered if Martin Luther King felt this way. Maybe my work is just as important as his? Wow, what a thought.
When I first started my career, I would get so much hate mail from—get this—the trans man community! Yep, you heard right.
I was so shocked, and to tell you the truth, pretty pissed off, because they didn’t even realize what I was doing. All they could see was that I was calling myself “The Man with a Pussy,” like this would reflect on them.
My work was about me—Buck Angel—not me being the poster boy for the transman community, so I had to really check myself and learn to not take it personally. I withdrew from community work and just focused on myself. Because what kind of “community” puts restrictions on you, and tells you how you have to be to be a man and that if you don’t get a dick you will never be fully male? All this crap!
After years of just not dealing with all this ugly stuff they kept spewing on boards and in emails, I finally started getting emails from guys saying how much they loved what I was doing. “Thank you,” they said. “You saved my life.” “Thank you for being such a great role model!” OMG was I shocked. I realized that because I’d just focused on me—and what I wanted the world to see and was not influenced by the thoughts of others—that people were drawn my individualism, to my strength and my taking no bullshit from a society that was telling me I was a freak.
These days, I don’t just get emails from transmen. I get emails from women, men—gay and straight—from all over the world. (Oh, don’t get me wrong I still get my share of stupid mail saying what a freak I am, but that just helps me see that the world needs so much work to make it a more tolerant place.)
I just returned from Amsterdam where I was booked to perform at a club. I do live shows mostly in Europe, as the U.S.A. is way too prudish and the laws are way too harsh for me to even think of performing in the states. But anyway... I’d done my show, and afterward, I was watching one of my friends perform with suspension and taking photos for him, when a security girl grabbed my arm and tried to take my camera.
I tried to explain to her that I was a performer, and that I’d put the camera away, and I did. But, next thing, I had five security guards pounce on me and drag me to the ground punching and kicking me. I was in total shock. I could not even believe it was happening to me. I just decided to go limp because there was no way I was going to be able to fight back.
As they dragged me through the club and to security, I was screaming, “I am the headliner here! What is your problem?” Then I realized they’d seen my show! They freaked out. There was no other reason for them to do what they did. It was the first time in all my years of performing and traveling that I’ve been physically beaten.
The next day I went to the police to file a report. They were so great to me. As I was filling out the paperwork, one of the officers came into the room and said, “Hey, aren’t you Buck Angel? You were on the Jensen! show here in Holland.” HAA!! That was awesome. They were so cool. Funny, I was thinking that they would act like total assholes because of the way I’ve been treated in the U.S. by cops, but no, they were great, and even thanked me for coming forward.
People do ask me all the time, “Aren’t you scared that someone might try to hurt you?” My answer is always the same: “No, I don’t have the time to be scared. I have to change the world!”