At the end of June, I was honored to be one of a fantastic line up of readers at Charlie Vazquez's Double Pride Panic reading series at Nowhere Bar in the East Village. One of the reader's that completely blew my mind (and whose story made me harder than a porn star on viagra) was writer Rosalind Lloyd.
After Facebook stalking Rosalind, I asked her if she would agree to an interview about her writing, and she graciously agreed. Let me tell you folks that this interview is going to blow your mind. Rosalind's work not only engages gender, race, and sexuality...but also makes them have sex with each other and give birth to new ways of being and celebrating multiple layers of identity. She does all of this in a context of joyful, hot, sensuality that proudly embraces humanity as inherently sexual beings. In an age that is beginning to make the 1950s look like a giant swinger play party, Rosalind's writing and subject matter is a just the dildo to our collective orifices that we need to jolt us back to an awareness of ourselves that includes a fierce sexuality without shame or condemnation.
Lord I done made my own self hot just thinking about this woman's writing.
Here's the amazing interview with Rosalind. And, please go to Amazon or to her website and buy her work.
When I met you, you read from a hot and steamy story about a tranny that I would love to meet in a dark alley. Why choose a transgender protagonist? How does the gender and sexuality of your character mirror your own?
I LOVE that Patti Smith quote – “As far as I'm concerned, being any gender is a drag.” I’ve always been fascinated by gender identity – particularly within the “community.” I feel we’ve not really freely explored the fluidity of gender because in ways we feel on a base level it conjures up stereotypes, plus, it so easily coincides with sexual identity. It’s still sort of a taboo area – fucking around with gender – refusing to go beyond, to dig deeper than drag queens, drag kings and transgenderism. Many of us are so linear in our thinking because as gay folks, we’ve been persecuted for so long. But delving into our gender and sexual queerness just gives us even more layers and more diversity and that’s a beautiful thing. I knew this person about 15 years ago, a beautiful boi. She would only hang out with gay men and she looked just like one of them – tall, tight hair cut, and rocking the hottest designer fashions for men – I mean gorgeous. She never paid women any attention – she just wasn’t interested. And so the whispers started that she was actually interested in and actually having sex with gay men – although this was never really verified. Naturally a lot of dykes who knew her were sort of disgusted by this and questioned her sexuality – but I found her totally fascinating.
The main character in the piece I read, Troi, – does her gender and sexuality mirror my own? In her queerness – yes – because she is totally left of center. Troi is a dom and I’m not necessarily - but there is a fluidity with respect to her sexuality that can’t be denied and I wanted that reflected in the piece. In fact, I would go as far as saying that Troi might not even be a hot tranny as you’ve described him. If you remember, there is a scene where Troi is discreetly cruising the young brothers at that club – the ones with their jeans hanging low, all that rough swagger. She could have been peeping them on the low. Although she hooks up with this incredibly sexy young lady, why not look at the more ambiguous target (the young brothers) as a possibility? This would actually make Troi queergendered. But I didn’t want to push it that far.
In person, you present as very femme, yet, the character in your story is the epitome of masculinity. How does your perceived gender and the way you write gender intersect?
There is a huge intersection there. If a feminine woman straps on – does that make her any less a woman? If a dominant woman wants to be penetrated, does that make her any less a dom? Same question for men, regardless of their sexual and gender identity. I’m a strong believer that gender – just like sexuality - is fluid. Writing about dildos is not necessarily an overwhelmingly receptive topic for many lesbians because anything male identified, anything with a masculine identity, any phallic symbols are highly problematic not only because it’s male, but for some, it also challenges our sexual identity as women. I felt it was necessary to challenge that notion in my writing. Looking at this another way – I know this “straight” married couple. Very hot. She’s a beautiful, high fem and her husband is this tall, strapping, manly-man. One Valentine’s Day, she dressed up in a corset and strap on and he was totally into his wife making love to him like this. To me, that’s hot. What’s unfortunate is that there are segments of society that might have a problem with people expressing themselves in this way. Some might want to push this type of desire in little boxes – in closets. That’s a shame.
Often times, women with a powerful and overt sexuality are both objectified and reviled. How does your work address stereotypes of women and sexuality?
Well, I don’t feel like I’m addressing gender stereotypes in the heteronormative sense. But in a queer sense, I feel that female gender shifting – gender questioning, aggressive women, butch/dominant women are never revered. Yes, hot fems continue to be more socially and politically acceptable as popular culture finds feminine girl-on-girl action sexy and accessible while feeling threatened by strong, masculine, dominant women whether straight or otherwise. The same goes for bisexual women in a smaller sense because they straddle a certain divide – not really being accepted anywhere completely. Women who can openly declare their bisexuality gets major props from me. It’s well known that lesbians don’t find them attractive targets (and some men think they find bi-girls attractive until that 3-some doesn’t go in their favor). Anyway, to be emboldened by your ‘queerness’ is sexy to me. Women wonder why many bi or bi curious women lie about their sexuality? Because some lesbians feel overly threatened by the maleness of their competition and their male sexuality and identity. Same goes for gender questioning/gender transitioning women. Many lesbians I know say they would never date a gender diverse person. There’s that visceral response to maleness. When transgendered Thomas Beattie (who gave birth to his second child just last month) was mentioned - the press wasn’t above making its share of insensitive comments relating to his gender and sexuality. There is SO much power in this man giving birth – in the 21st century – the actual power in his femaleness AND his maleness - it made America take an honest look at how complex gender really is and how gender and sexuality intersects no matter how much conservatism wants to sanitize it. Gender, anatomy, sexuality – all delicious ingredients that makes us who we are and how we identify. We should learn to fully embrace that freedom without restrictions.
You ain't white...and in Amerikkka that means your racial identity is front and center whether or not that is where you want it. How does your racial identity come out in your writing?
In my piece Cop-Out, racial identity is obvious due to the hip hop element, Troi’s dark fudge skin, using terms like red-bone, etc. But actually in many of my other works, although the subject is usually an attractive black woman, I intentionally write the story from a 1st person perspective where the reader - of any race – of any gender/sexual identity can actually place herself/himself as the protagonist. When I first came out, most of what I saw in the erotica section were works involving non-people of color. I remember what that felt like and I wanted to make sure that I, a woman of color, was reflected so that a sister growing up in middle-of the-country-America could pick up an anthology and find a little of herself in it. Also – I wanted it to be okay for a white girl, or an Asian girl, a Latina, a native American, a mixed race or a gender-questioning person to pick up an anthology with a story I’ve written in it and say to themselves, yes, this black woman is hot, she’s beautiful, she’s desirable – and its perfectly fine to feel this way about her.
Your writing is fierce and joyful in its realness. When you write, what is your main goal, what do you want a reader to walk away with when they read a Rosalind Lloyd piece?
To be open. To free yourself from the restrictions of gender and sexuality. To explore yourself and your desires and not to be blinded or intimidated by stereotypes and the boxes people sometimes like to push themselves and others in. Let’s enjoy that aspect of our lives to the fullest.
Where can folks that want to check out your work or you and your work find you?
First I would like to note that I should be searched under Rosalind Christine Lloyd. There is another Rosalind Lloyd out there is cyberspace and – we ain’t the same person….LOL!
There’s my blog: Scribevibe – www.rosalindchristinelloyd.blogspot.com
I’m also on Facebook and Twitter so please “friend” and “follow” me. “Cop-out,” the piece I did at the reading is in three anthologies and I just got word it is coming out again, in a fourth release in Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch/Femme Erotica edited by Tristan Taormino and published by Cleis Press coming out in 2010 – but you can find it in Best Lesbian Erotica and Best Lesbian Bondage. My Blog will have more info on it. Lately, my work in anthologies has been centered around spanking. In August, I have a piece called “Soror Sister,” in Bottoms Up: Spanking Good Stories, published also by Cleis and edited by Rachel Kramer Bussell. But you can also go to Amazon and search under Rosalind Christine Lloyd for some of my earlier work.
Well spank me Ms. Lloyd cuz you are a fierce woman, and it was a pleasure to hear you read and to meet you. Thank you so much for your work and for agreeing to this interview.
Rosalind Christine Lloyd is a contemporary fiction and erotica writer (and occasional poet) whose work has appeared in over fifteen anthologies including the Best Lesbian Erotica and Best American Erotica series. She has worked with some of the most prominent names in women’s erotic-lit like Tristan Taormino and Rachel Kramer Bussel. Her latest piece was published last year in Spanked: Red Cheek Erotica and another slated for release late this summer in Bottom’s Up, both edited by Kramer Bussel. Rosalind has two novels in progress, one of which she hopes to publish as an e-book. She’s also compiling a collection of her published short fiction and has one completed screenplay. She lives downtown with her queer version of a nuclear family.