By Al Esposito
Kate Bornstein, an author, playwright, gender theorist and self-dubbed ‘sub-lebrity,’ was invited to speak at Stony Brook University by LGBTA on Feb. 11, 2009. Her lecture, called “On Men, Women and the Rest of Us,” was a selection of her favorite works.
Bornstein presented what was essentially a one person show with a full cast of characters, ranging from old Jewish women at a wake to Mr. Blunt, an eighth grade grammar teacher. “‘I’ has no gender, and ‘you’ has no gender, ‘He’ and ‘she’ do, which is fortunate, because ‘we’ has no gender either, does ‘we’?” Bornstein.
Speaking in almost a whisper, Bornstein told her coming out story from the perspective of her mother in one of the more touching moments of the performance. “You think you’re having a hard time? Wait ‘til you’re a woman,” Bornstein said.
“Do anything to make your life worth living,” Bornstein advised her audience. “Just don’t be mean.”
This was one of the main points of Bornstein’s discussion, which started with a reading from her most recent book “Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws.”
The book lists alternatives to suicide and ranks them on their safety and effectiveness. The alternatives range from the insanely amusing (moisturizing) to down right dangerous (anorexia). “As long as you’re not being mean to someone, you can do whatever the fuck you want,” Bornstein said.
Bornstein was born Albert Bornstein and is a former Scientologist and current “suppressive person.”
As a suppressive person, according to Bornstein, she is someone who is subject to the policy of fair game. Fair game is a policy in which suppressive persons, “may be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist; may be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed,” according to the Scientology Administrative Dictionary obtained from Wikileaks.com.
In 1982 Bornstein left the Church of Scientology. “Saying you were in Scientology is more embarrassing than being a transsexual these days,” Bornstein said.
At the end of the evening Bornstein left her audience with a special gift – a Get Out of Hell Free card. “Hand it to Satan, and I will do your time for you,” Bornstein said. “I’m a big ol` masochist; I’ll have a ball.”