Afternoon Inqueery

AI: Rocky Horror

This week BBC published a really interesting story about Richard O’Brian’s thoughts on his own gender. He says “It’s my belief that we are on a continuum between male and female. There are people who are hardwired male and there are people who are hardwired female, but most of us are on that continuum and I believe myself probably to be about 70% male, 30% female.”

O’Brian is the writer of the Rocky Horror Show, and also played the role of Riff Raff in the movie Rocky Horror Picture Show. His work frequently examined wide ranges of gender expression, and directly flew in the face of conservative sexual attitudes. The revelation that his feelings about his own gender aren’t binary doesn’t come as a surprise to me.

The article covers a lot of transgender 101 information, but I like that it STARTS from a position of non-binary gender before discussing transgender rights and related issues. That’s a big improvement over the media’s usual “woman trapped in a man’s body” story.

Rocky Horror was a big part of my own transition process. The first time I introduced myself as a man was when I joined my local Rocky Horror floorshow cast. I went through a lot of my transition process during the nearly 3 years I was a cast member, and found a wonderfully accepting group of friends there. I know many other queer people with similar stories, finding Rocky fans to be a safe place to live the motto: “Don’t dream it, be it.”

Have you ever been to Rocky Horror Picture Show showings? Were you ever a cast member? Have there been other fan communities that became safe havens for you? Doesn’t Richard O’Brian have awesome legs?

The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka community. Look for it every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 3pm ET.

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Benny Vimes

Benny Vimes

Benny Vimes is a queer polyamorous transman, curious skeptic, and enthusiastic seeker of knowledge. He's an undergraduate student in his 30's and loves teaching people about alternative sexuality and gender issues.


  1. March 19, 2013 at 3:15 pm —

    The Rocky Horror Picture Show changed my life, and that’s no exaggeration. As I left the theater, my head rang with the realization that someone else had to be as confused and frustrated inside as I was to possibly have written that. Richard O’Brien became a personal hero to me that night.

    Later, unsurprisingly, a RHPS showing became one of my first public appearances in a dress, and the positive reactions only encouraged me on my genderqueer journey. And this year, I was offered my decades-long dream of a postion in a long-running RHPS cast – an offer I regretfully turned down, as I now have other commitments just as meaningful.

    I can say that my local science-fiction / fantasy fandom groups have welcomed my explorations of gender appearance as well. I rarely fail to get compliments on a convention weekend where I dress up, but then, that’s one of the primary reasons to throw a con in the first place, right?

    All props to Richard O’Brien. He’s kind of strange: I like that in a person.

  2. March 20, 2013 at 12:21 pm —

    <3 Rocky Horror! I never went to a screening but just watching the movie and doing the time warp dance in one of the first social contexts in which I also got to interact with people I knew were queer over an extended period of time was extremely formative for me.

    Frankly, I would have been surprised if Richard O'Brien *didn't* consider hirself trans/gender-variant in some respect 🙂

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