By Diane Ako
The cover of this month's Mana magazine forced my hand. My acquaintance, Kaumakaiwa Kanaka`ole, is on the cover in drag, with the caption The Meaning of Mahu. Half the picture is him in male garb, other other half is him in a dress.
We are a liberal household and this does not bother my husband or me. It doesn't bother me to talk to my daughter about different gender orientations, either.
However, I was kind of hoping not to have to do it when she is just at the young age of six. Life is already confusing and new. I think talking about men wanting to dress as women makes it more confusing.
"This is an ugly cover, Mommy," she exclaimed as she picked up the magazine that I had left lying around the table. "What kind of lady is this?"
(Sorry, Kaumakaiwa. You still gorgeous to me.)
"It's a man dressed half as a woman," I said, which should be so clear now. I put my hand on the woman-half to demonstrate that.
Hair and makeup questions followed about why his hair was curly and beautiful on one side, and why his skin was lighter and smoother on one side.
"Why is he like this?" Olivia continued.
*sigh* Thanks, Mana magazine.
"Well, it's for a story about how people want to present themselves to the world," I said, just guessing from the cover title.
I do not know how to say it any better.
"But? As a woman?" she quizzed.
"Some men want to do that. That is OK. And, there's a word for that. A man who dresses like a woman is said to dress in drag," I said. I'm not even sure why I'm trying to teach her the finer points of transvestitism.
I never thought I would have these words coming out of my mouth for my first grader. "Drag? Why is it called drag?" she asked.
So we looked it up on the internet. Apparently, the origins of that phrase are fuzzy but the easiest explanation for me to give Olivia was about the skirts dragging on the ground.
Which is the moment our former housemate/babysitter Jul walked in the door for his two week visit. "Wow. What have I missed since I've been gone?" he laughed.
Yes, you never know what kinds of life lessons you'll be overhearing in this crazy house.