clarification has been requested from a couple corners so i thought id publish my answers.
the first email is from a dear friend from oak park whose family i am friends with as well. shes a hetero who is a queer ally (no names, since i havent asked permission) her email and my response were as follows...
[she to me]:
subject: cou RAGE
That monologue is beautiful.
And I feel like a bit of a tool. How did we miss having this conversation? Obviously, I was aware of the masculine clothes, facial hair, etc. But I haven't been sure about pronouns, and I feel kinda stupid for not asking.
But thank you for writing it out & posting, because now I know (mostly) how you feel, rather than imagining/assuming.
So, I should introduce you/refer to you as "him/he," right? Firmly left of machismo slugger, but on the masculine side of things, yes?
Obviously, we'll discuss more when you're here, if you want. Do you want me to tell the fam, too?
Love you, gorgeous.
[me to she]:
re: cou RAGE
thanks so much for this email, [name].
the thing is, i enjoy masculine pronouns, but only if they feel right for the person using them. if it feels right to use 'he' for me, then do it. if it doesnt, dont.
cuz like i said in the piece, its half about others interpretation, and its changeable depending on a lot of things.
its hard to tell others what to do cuz i get to use 'i' for myself, and dont ever have to choose the right pronoun, which is helpful, cuz i would have a hard time choosing day to day. hour to hour, sometimes. if only the language had a spectrum in its pocket....
cuz like i said, its only ever a coin flip around here. in seattle i didnt have this trouble cuz people saw what they saw and used 'they' or 'ze' if they thought necessary, and upon meeting would ask pronoun preference. to which i would reply, whatever works. a lot of seattle kids use 'they' for me. luka used to never use a pronoun and would just say my name a lot.
i will say this: for about the past 8 months i have felt more on the masculine side of things, and have been more consistently read as such. so, 'they' or 'he' seem to be more appropriate these days. but really, use whatever you feel makes sense.
i will be happy to talk more about his when i see you.
and dont worry about the fam, ive been around them in the past 8 months and have at least broached the subject of masculinity with [your mom]...and hit on it tangentially with [your dad]. however, if you use 'he' for me to them, id love to hear the reaction. ;)
thanks again for writing me, i love you.
the second interchange just happened today on facebook with a queer/genderqueer friend who lives in seattle. ze (for convenience sake, since i havent asked about their pronouns) and i corresponded thusly...
[ze to me]:
I read your blog post today and I want to ask the clear question before I make.. or continue to make a fool of myself.
Do you have a general preference when it comes to pronouns or how you are regarded?
For my perception of you, I tend to bypass gender and simply think of you as beautiful (which to me is not gender-specific though it seems to often be perceived as such) and I think of you as Ray. If I used pronouns, generally they were/are neutral.
I adore you terribly and wish to do as you like.
[me to ze]:
dearest [name] (whose number in my phone is now appended with two names)
you are marvellous to ask for a pronoun update/correction.
i find, in traveling, that there are few chances and/or reasons to be ambiguously gendered with the general populace and at this point, presenting in a more or less masculine form, i get referred to more often (without thought for consent) as 'he'.
which i kind of like, cuz it means im being seen nearest to how i want to be seen. but for those people who are close enough to me and who are gender-spectrum-aware enough, i am happy to be either neutrally referenced or gender-referenced in an alternating fashion (using whichever applies, or makes most sense at the time, to whomever is using it)
that said, i find consistent or even frequent use of 'she' to get on my nerves. thats the only thing i know for sure. anything else is fine, and as the gendered personal pronoun choice is up to the speaker and never to me (since i get to use 'i' for myself) i leave the rest to you. (and in this case, i say 'you' with the utmost of neutrality and/or genderqueerness possible ;)
in short, you have made no mistake in your usage as of yet, and most probably will never say something that will actually offend me.
and this is (one of the many reasons) why i am most affectionately yours,
ray van fox