If I Had a Hammer…

… I’d want to use it just like Pete Seeger used his. In response to questions from HUAC (The House Unamerican Activities Committee), he said this:

“I decline to discuss, under compulsion, where I have sung, and who has sung my songs, and who else has sung with me, and the people I have known. I love my country very dearly, and I greatly resent this implication that some of the places that I have sung and some of the people that I have known, and some of my opinions, whether they are religious or philosophical, or I might be a vegetarian, make me any less of an American. I will tell you about my songs, but I am not interested in telling you who wrote them, and I will tell you about my songs, and I am not interested in who listened to them.”

He didn’t even plead the 5th, which he had the legal right to do and which many did.

I’ve never been a fan of folk music – I’m just not. But I’m awed and inspired by the lives of some of the remarkable men and women like Seeger who didn’t just sing about it – they lived it.

Virtual Gender Swap

I want to do this. Very, very much.


The Machine To Be Another’s projects work something like this: Two people put on headsets, and then see each other’s perspectives. That would be an extraordinarily bemusing experience were it not for the synchronising of the two users, each mimicking the other’s movement. It’s like that party game where you have to mirror the person opposite you, except this time you see what they should see, and vice versa. The results are interesting enough for many projects to be built around the concept, and none has been more attention grabbing so far than Gender Swap.

A man and a woman each don the Rifts, and then wearing minimal clothing, begin the experiment.

I Prefer Not To.

Susan Stryker tells some variation of this joke in Transgender History: When crossdressers are asked if they are a boy or a girl, they say “yes. ” When genderqueer identified people are, they say “no.”

 

Coolest 4-Year Old Ever

She found out boys can’t marry boys in Australia so she wrote to the Prime Minister. If you can’t read it, it says:

Dear Tony Abbott, Don’t get rid of the ABC because we love it. And let boys marry boys and girls marry girls if they love each other or they’ll be sad forever. Thank-you.  Sabrina.

(Also, her colored pencil choices totally match the stationery’s colors.)

Deep Dark Fears

more here. h/t io9.

Dr. V

A couple of people have contacted me to ask if I know about or what I think of the Dr. V story.

I’m a little surprised I have to explain my position on this, but here it is: the story was the very worst kind of exploitation and privilege. No apology could ever, possibly, be sufficient.

I don’t think the journalist will fully understand, maybe for years, why what he did was so tremendously shitty, & even the people explaining and trying to apologize for him don’t seem to get it.

That is all.

What He Did

I love this Daily Kos diary which explains what Dr. King actually did. It’s not about the quotes. It’s about standing up to systemic violence.

My father told me with a sort of cold fury, “Dr. King ended the terror of living in the south.”

Please let this sink in and and take my word and the word of my late father on this. If you are a white person who has always lived in the U.S. and never under a brutal dictatorship, you probably don’t know what my father was talking about.

But this is what the great Dr. Martin Luther King accomplished. Not that he marched, nor that he gave speeches.

He ended the terror of living as a black person, especially in the south.

I’m guessing that most of you, especially those having come fresh from seeing “The Help,” may not understand what this was all about. But living in the south (and in parts of the mid west and in many ghettos of the north) was living under terrorism.

It wasn’t that black people had to use a separate drinking fountain or couldn’t sit at lunch counters, or had to sit in the back of the bus.

You really must disabuse yourself of this idea. Lunch counters and buses were crucial symbolic planes of struggle that the civil rights movement decided to use to dramatize the issue, but the main suffering in the south did not come from our inability to drink from the same fountain, ride in the front of the bus or eat lunch at Woolworth’s.

It was that white people, mostly white men, occasionally went berserk, and grabbed random black people, usually men, and lynched them. You all know about lynching. But you may forget or not know that white people also randomly beat black people, and the black people could not fight back, for fear of even worse punishment.

This constant low level dread of atavistic violence is what kept the system running. It made life miserable, stressful and terrifying for black people . . .

This is the climate of fear that Dr. King ended.

(I think sometimes that in a very different way, this is what LGBT people have been doing for the past 20 years or so.)

Legacy

The sad thing is that of course, sometimes, they do prefer you dead.
Rest in peace, Dr. King. The fight hasn’t ended.

Help Me Bring the Trans to WI!

Well hello lovely readers!

It’s rare for me to do this sort of thing, but there are a couple of cool events afoot that I’ve been part of that need your support. One of them is called the Trans Leadership Institute, and it’s a day of training for trans people + allies who want to know how to do education, outreach, & advocacy on trans/gender issues. It’s part of the work I do with Fair Wisconsin and the trans division of FW called T-Fair, and it’s part of the Trans Leadership Conference taking place in Milwaukee from February 7th – 9th.

In addition, there’s a gala on Saturday, February 8th, at which none other than Kate Bornstein is speaking! (You can even come if you want to!)

So here’s why I need your help:

1) Because we desperately need more attention on trans/gender issues in WI (as we do most everywhere).

2) I would like to see a few trans people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to go to be able to do so. That is, some folks would have to take a day off work, drive, etc., and I want to help offset their costs directly.

3) There is a gala dinner on the evening of the 8th, at which none other than Kate Bornstein will be speaking, and I’d like for some of the lower income trans people I know to be able to attend. Tickets for that are $125/pop, and at the very least, I’d like to fill a table of 8-10.

So, if you would, you can either (1) donate directly to Fair Wisconsin, because it’s tax deductible!, or, (2) you can donate directly to me. (With me, of course, your name will be known only to me.) If you do donate directly to FW, do make sure you tell them what the money is for and that I sent you!

& Of course, feel free to let me know where you’d prefer the money to go – to Fair Wisconsin generally, to offset the costs for trans people to afford T*LI, or to pay for gala tickets, or all three.

OK, OK

The good news is that a federal judge has struck down Oklahoma’s DOMA as unconstitutional.

(Image courtesy Joe.My.God)

(I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist.)

The 15%

There’s a project called “We Are the 15 Percent” that collects portraits of interiracial marriages and families, and I came upon this one and decided they were too cute not to post.

The project came about because of the ridiculous, hateful backlash that came about as a result of that sweet Cheerios commercial a while back. From the Tumblr:

In May, Cheerios posted this new commercial on youtube. It sparked a firestorm of backlash, and (naturally) the comments on the video have been deactivated.

When my wife and I watched the video, it felt great to (finally) see a representation of our own family. Especially considering what happened at a Wal-Mart in Virginia a few weeks ago.

We created this site to publicly reflect the changing face of the American family. According to the 2008 census, 15% of new marriages are interracial. And yet, it still feels rare to see something like the Cheerios ad represented in mainstream culture.

It’s especially nice to see a queer married couple in the mix.

If You Know a Cisgender Person…

This is just so smart and so perfect.

(If anyone knows where this originated, do let me know. I’d like to credit/link to them.)

Amiri Baraka’s Gone (But Never Forgotten)

What an amazing man, an amazing poet, an amazing speaker: I saw him speak a long time ago at CCNY & was blown away.

Thank you, Mr. Baraka, for being fearless and for always speaking truth to power (even if and when I didn’t agree & you horrified everyone). (Or, as one person said about “Somebody Blew Up America” on youtube: “I hate this poem. I love this man.”

Blues People is a must-read.

Missouri Gov Does What He Can

Says the (conservative Dem) governor of Missouri:

“Many Missourians, including myself, are thinking about these issues of equality in new ways and reflecting on what constitutes discrimination. To me, that process has led to the belief that we shouldn’t treat folks differently just because of who they are. I think if folks want to get married, they should be able to get married.”

& Then he issued an executive order allowing same sex couples to file joint state tax returns.

Laverne Cox & Carmen Carrera on Katie Couric

I’m sure everyone has seen these already, but if you haven’t, they’re worth watching – even if only for their responses to the genitals questions.

NYC & Trans (Sex Worker) History

I was reading this depressing, massive list of all the business that have closed in NYC since Bloomberg became mayor and then found this post about the meatpacking district and the trans sex workers who used to ply their trade there.

The famous (and also now gone) Lee’s Mardi Gras was nearby, too. But eventually, Sex & the City and new high rents

helped bring a flood of Carrie Bradshaw wannabes to the area, bobble-headed young women tottering over the cobblestones in their Manolos and Jimmy Choos, slipping in the blood and fat.

The neighborhood didn’t change very quickly in the 90s, since Florent and Monster and Hogs were all still there in the late 90s, but they’re all gone now, along with the women who worked those streets. I was impressed by the respect shown them in this piece, evident in that description of that ridiculous Sex & the City episode (which was, by the way, the first one I happened to see, and so was the last, too), but moreso in the last paragraph:

Where did they go, all those working girls? Some no doubt were murdered, as marginalized transwomen too often are. Others found other strolls, in more dangerous neighborhoods. And some, I’m sure, went “legit.” It’s impossible to say.

It sure is.

There are more photos here, and also here.

The Guy with Two Penises

I know this isn’t exactly news, but I found it fascinating, and with the sheer number of comments on the Reddit thread, a lot of other people have too.

When asked how men and women respond, sexually, to him having two penises, he wrote:

“but for the most part, girls were nervous and some changed their mind at the last minute. dudes NEVER change their mind, they always want it even if they’re freaked out a little. lol”

& Yes, there are photos, both flaccid and erect.

& Lots of answers to interesting questions. He is bi, and poly, & has a committed relationship with one man & one woman. He’s never done porn. Yes, they both work.

Mostly what I found great about it was reading his process of not just accepting himself as he is but valuing it – knowing he’s one in a million. The only real bullying came in high school, when some guys assumed he was gay. Because, you know, two penises. Because, you know, small brains.

If this is any indication, it’s going to be an interesting year.

Me, by Her

ghk dec 2013

I don’t do this often, but I really like this photo my wife took of me, so here it is.