I am Not Ashamed to be…
I knew, even in grade school, that I was not like other boys.
Oh, I tried to fit in, to be “one of the guys,” but my heart was never in it. Although young and confused about life, I already sensed my… difference.
I remember how, leafing through a six-grade textbook one day, I chanced to see an illustration which disturbed but also fascinated my young soul. I blushed and gulped and quickly shut the book and pretended what had happened in my heart never occurred. But I was lying to myself, and somehow I knew that, too.
Soon I had checked out of the library, and even stolen from book stores, those tomes which, reviewed late at night by flashlight under my bed covers, thrilled me with a special private delight. My parents suspected nothing. I watched the TV shows they expected me to like, and Halloween became a dull annual hell of pretending to want to pretend to be a comic book superhero.
Yet I began, as years went by, to skip school and spend more and more time at the National Zoo. I don’t recall the exact date when I finally put words to my desires, but I do remember that fateful Saturday afternoon, standing for the hundredth time in the bear house, trembling as I locked eyes with a Kodiak.
It was only then I admitted the truth about myself to myself. I was not a normal American boy. All that was a lie, a lie I was sick of because, finally, I knew without a shadow of a doubt what I really and truly am.
I am a trans-species-ite. I am not a pallid pink two-legged homo sapien. Manhood is but the false outward trappings masking my true identity.
I am a bear.
I know, reading these words, you are repulsed, even nauseated. I can no longer be held responsible for your inability to face reality. I am here, under sway of the law and all compassionate public opinion, on my own four feet, unashamed to say I thought of that Kodiak as my true father. Claude, as the zoo-keepers named him, was my author, not the kindly, hard-working man who called me son.
In my teenage years and beyond, during college, I began seeking out certain anonymous bars and bistros tucked away down side streets in poorer neighborhoods, where my kind met in twilight to huddle together, sharing, at least, the understanding and compassion of others like ourselves.
Finally, in the Sixties, came the famous incident, changing my kind forever, in which a Greenwich Village police raid caused the patrons of Menagerie-a-Tois finally to rise up and fight back in the style of our true animal selves. That night, New York’s Finest discovered a new meaning to terms like “hen pecked,” “mauled by dogs,” “cat scratched,” and, in one tragic case of overreach, “nibbled to death by ducks.” For my part, many a cop, that night, knew the wallop a bear claw can deliver, even if the bear might be mistaken for a slim law student.
A national politics came into being due to public incidents like the riot at the Menagerie in 1969, that great time of liberation. Years later, after passing the bar exam and putting in endless hard work for the cause, I myself led the East Coast delegation — easily swatting down an ambitious marmoset and two fawns — to our 1984 national convention in Alaska. And, I am proud to recall, it was I who introduced to the gathered throngs of “Noah’s Second Ark” from over sixty nations, Dr. Harry Ursine, the world-renowned surgeon who first proposed trans-species surgery to finally make it possible for us to quell our pain and to quiet our outrage and fear and to live sane and open lives.
We have come a long way, as a movement, since the days when normal people used to sneer and make hateful jokes within earshot. “Is he one? Does a zoo bear shit in a cage?” Or, “Is that hairy beast his girl-friend, or does he date fur coats?”
I think, historically speaking, the turning point came when Hollywood money began flooding into our fund-raising drives. Certainly, the addition to her gorgeous rump of a Persian pussycat tail — not to mention the perky ears, sensitive nose, and sharp little teeth — made one Oscar-winning star the poster girl for trans-species-ites. Suddenly, we were everywhere — on TV talk shows, portrayed in the movies — who can forget Sean Penn’s brilliant star turn as a weasel in New Zoo Review? — as sympathetic running characters in several popular reality series culminating in that hugely successful cultural game-changer “So You Want to be an Animal?”
Yes, it is true I stayed in human shape, denying myself the blessing of recovering my true identity in order to travel around the world, pushing an agenda which was now gaining cult status and increasing political clout. My election from the state of Maryland to Congress came true after running on a populist “people are who they say they are” platform. And yet that was my downfall.
I address you today — the parole board — in full knowledge of my guilt at having stolen citizens’ political contributions to keep me in raw salmon and cute little girl bears in that one specialty brothel in Vegas. But I am arguing that my arrest, conviction, and incarceration, while technically fair, exceed true justice because I was of unsound mind at the time. And my unsoundness was caused by society’s refusal to get over human-normative prejudices, to let me and my kind be free to be ourselves thanks to radical new medical procedures.
So, gentlemen and ladies of the board, I throw myself on your mercy. I ask to be paroled. As you are aware, I am currently undergoing the drug treatments which prepare me for the surgery which will at last set me free and guarantee my absolute rationality. This inappropriate bare flesh will be luxurious fur, as it should and must be! Either I am put on the street again, to finish my transformation with private funds set aside for me, or else I can demand the operation be performed here in the penitentiary, as is my legal right, while I finish my sentence.
My attorney has set before you the recommendations of the Human-Animal Resource League, the UCLA, two ex-Presidents, and an animal house full of post-humans whose names are known, respected, and loved by millions of human beings of whatever race, creed, or mating habits. I demand my rights under the law. And, as a celebrated martyr, I salute our famous international trans-species flag depicting, in my honor, a zoo-bear’s heroic droppings. It is simply who I am.
In the name of social justice, then, I ask either immediate parole, or that you turn me into a giant grizzly at the tax-payers’ expense while I serve out the remainder of my sentence. It is time some rational sanity again became the norm in our national life.
Thank you and — gggrrowl!