Facebook have got this wrong. The people with unusual names are the victims of this ridiculous policy. People trying to distance themselves from a danger in their past, performers trying to connect with other performers and audience members who know them by this name, people from the LGBT community trying to re-identify themselves to community that accepts them for who they are.
I had thought about giving up, to keep my years of photos and friend connections and messages, to just say, OK you win, here is my legal name. But why should I? Facebook states that you need to use your authentic name, a name that people know you by, NOT your legal name. Yet when proving this you are asked to provide government issued ID with a photograph and date of birth. Now believe it or not Velma Von Bon Bon is not on my passport but that does't mean it is not an authentic name that I use. I have a website (right here look!) I have an equity card, I have contracts with my name and address on, I have performer passes with my name and photograph. But apparently, this is not enough and I am apparently not a real person.
This policy is damaging. I hate how addicted to Facebook I have become, how reliant on it. But the truth is, it has made my career as a burlesque and cabaret performer. It was the easiest way to connect and share my progress, my news, and without it, I'm starting to get really down. I've had messages from people thinking I've fallen out with them as our message thread has disappeared, I'm missing out on work, I can't get back to promotors who have contacted me. I feel ostracised. I would rather pay Facebook a monthly fee to keep my profile safe than have to keep going through this ridiculous trial. I had my first appeal rejected after three attempts, I'm currently on my second appeal and on four rejections so far. I haven't heard from Facebook in three days.
The problem is, there is no humanity in this system. There is not a real person making real decisions and looking at what you have written and who you are. There is just a cold automated response with someone's name written at the bottom to make you half believe it is personal. Every rejection makes you feel like you have done something wrong. My friend shared this article with me which tells of a single individual going around and reporting anyone with a odd sounding name http://www.dailydot.com/technology/realnamepolice-facebook-real-names-policy/, dubbing anyone in violation of the name policy a "secular sodomite". Well sign me up for the secular sodomite festival, and all of us with our shameful word play. How very dare we make puns of ourselves? Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me….oh wait, yes, sorry, words are so very evil. Silly words especially.
Today I am on my private personal profile (which I have to connect with friends and family and especially as there are young family members on there for whom it would not be appropriate to follow my cabaret career) and I see that Facebook says, celebrate friends day….seriously?! Fuck you Facebook, Fuck you for taking over a thousand of my friends away and making me feel like a dirty technological hoe bag.
My name is my creative identity, it is the only way that people can find and connect with my burlesque persona. I don't have anything against telling people my legal name but I feel that I should have a right to privacy if I want to. I am proud of what I do but it is generally adult entertainment, it can be a bit rude. There is nothing wrong or shameful in that but I should not be forced into mixing my cabaret professional life with my personal family life if I don't want to.
So basically this is just a big rant because I feel helpless and adrift amidst a sea of automated responses, rejections and dead ends. I don't know what I'm expecting to achieve by this but I couldn't just keep quiet. It's not in my nature. I hate injustice and I feel like I (like many others facing this farcical rigmarole) have been totally injustice-ed. If you have any thoughts or similar experiences please feel free to comment below. It's not just performers, drag queens, and members of the LGBT community, this has affected Native American Indians and people from all sorts of races and countries because we are deemed to be subverting the normal accepted name
Stay safe folks, download your content. But other than that I don't know how to advise to protect yourselves. This happened to me once and I got it back. I did nothing to change my name after that and it happened again a few months later. Let's keep fighting and let us not forget, the wise words of Spike Milligan
On the Ning Nang Nong
Where the Cows go Bong!
and the monkeys all say BOO!
There's a Nong Nang Ning
Where the trees go Ping!
And the tea pots jibber jabber joo.
On the Nong Ning Nang
All the mice go Clang
And you just can't catch 'em when they do!
So its Ning Nang Nong
Cows go Bong!
Nong Nang Ning
Trees go ping
Nong Ning Nang
The mice go Clang
What a noisy place to belong
is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!!
(By Spike Milligan)