Category: LGBTQ

The RuPaul Brouhaha

Posted by – April 14, 2014

RuPaul’s Drag Race decided to stop using “she mail” for a segment on the show because trans people were upset about it – but moreso upset about an additional segment where people had to guess whether a close-up shot of a body part belonged to a cis woman or a “she male” (as the show put it).

& Today, a lot of really transphobic shit has been posted and tweeted, and by gay men. An old friend of mine who is a comedian and TV producer based in NYC posted a frustrated response on his Facebook page which he’s given me permission to reprint here.

There’s a lot of chatter in the LGBT community today about RuPaul’s Drag Race removing the “She-Mail” element of the show, due to complaints from transgender viewers. As a comedian, I have very mixed feelings about it. Not everyone appreciates satire, and many, many times, those who do not appreciate it end up unwittingly squashing the 1st Amendment rights of others. HOWEVER. As a gay man, I am utterly horrified by how aggressive some gay men and women are being toward those who are transgender over this issue. Many are going as far as to suggest we drop the T from LGBT, because we obviously “have different goals in mind.”

That is fucking disgraceful.

A gentle reminder that it was, in large part, the T in LGBT that conducted the Stonewall Riots. It was the T in LGBT that made it possible for you to get married in a big chunk of our country. It was the T in LGBT that made it possible for you to walk the streets holding hands relatively safely, as compared with 50 years ago, when that would have gotten you killed. Y’all need to slow your roll a bit here. Just because you’re now realizing that the T in LGBT has a much harder road to hoe than the rest of us does not mean you get to dismiss them. They never dismissed you. Those of you who are doing this are the exact same assholes who, if Dancing with the Stars awarded a prize called a Fag Bag, would be burning down ABC and hurling Molotov cocktails into Tom Bergeron’s house. Your brothers and sisters can feel differently about something without getting disowned. Pick your battles, and know your history. Taking a phrase off of a TV show does not constitute a legitimate reason to bury the people who gave you life.

Pick your battles and know your history. Some days those seem like unreachable goals.

Genders and Terminology

Posted by – March 10, 2014

Vis a vis yesterday’s post about language and labels and pronouns, there’s this awesome set of photos of LGBTQ* identified people with the ways they identify.

  • Queer Power Bottom Princess
  • Trans Queer Parent
  • Rural Queer
  • Queer Femme
  • Queer Butch Trans Top
  • Gay Masculine of Center
  • Daddy Femme Dyke Dom Queen
  • Inbetweener
  • Cisgenderqueer Feminist Butch Queen
  • Provocateur Lesbian Dandy

That last one is too awesome.So what’s yours? If I were to think about it, I think I’d wind up somewhere near Pansexual Queer Tomboy. Het Dyke. Depends on the Day.

 

Queer Latino/a

Posted by – March 3, 2014

Here’s a cool 54 minutes about the queer experience, latino-style.

From the show’s description:

This week on Latino USA, we talk about all things Queer—from Anthony Romero, the first gay director of the ACLU, to the practice of “pumping,” or black market silicone injections, in the trans community. We hear two stories about growing up and transitioning genders. We learn about the plight of LGBTQ detained immigrants. We investigate the paranormal in Laredo, Texas. Maria Hinojosa gets a surfing lesson in New York, of all places. We hear from a gay man who ran for class president at UNC. And we check in on the protests in Venezuela.

So rare to hear these perspectives, especially on immigration issues.

Jared Leto Wins the Oscar

Posted by – March 2, 2014

This feel obligatory.

He didn’t say “transgender” but he did thank one “Callie Addams” who is, of course, the very amazing Calpernia Addams, who helped Leto with the part, and who is a (trans) woman.

He did recognize the millions of deaths of the AIDS crisis and that he felt in solidarity with all those who are judged for “who they are and who they love”.

That doesn’t mean everyone will be happy, but the friends I do have in Hollywood – including Calpernia – seem pleased.

Also, he thanked his mom, who had him & his brother before finishing high school, which strikes me as damn feminist of him. Single moms, you raise good sons.

(I’m not really huge on movies, so I haven’t even seen Dallas Buyers Club, to be honest.)

Wedding!

Posted by – February 27, 2014

An old friend I went to high school with got married in NYC today, and he posted this awesome photo of him & his groom. It made me smile every time it came across my Facebook feed, so I thought I’d share it withall of you.

Congratulations, Dominic & Neil!

 

Ugandan Paper Publishes List, Names Gays

Posted by – February 26, 2014

Uganda outlaws homosexuality, and a Ugandan newspaper publishes a list of gay people.

A list.

When this happened in 2010, gay activist David Kato was bludgeoned to death.

Red Pepper’s move is similar to that of a now defunct paper called Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. music magazine), which published a list of Uganda’s “Top 100 Homos” in 2010. It was a call to action: “Hang Them” read the issue’s cover. About three months later, Ugandan activist David Kato who was among the paper’s Top 100, was bludgeoned to death. In response, Rolling Stone publisher Giles Muhame said, “This looks like any other crime. I have no regrets about the story. We were just exposing people who were doing wrong.”

I can’t even begin to imagine the fear and determination in the hearts and minds of the people in that list today, and their families, and friends.

The US should start accepting anyone who wants to leave RIGHT NOW.

But… Drag Queens.

Posted by – February 23, 2014

The other day I posted and commented on an article about the way language is used in the LGBTQ+ communities, specifically about the way gay men often insist that “tranny” is not a slur even though they would never be called one.

That is, by the way, my rule of thumb, and a good one for allies to remember: if it’s something someone would say to you before threatening you, you get to use it. If it isn’t, you don’t.

But the article talked about how drag queens return to being members of the gay male community when they get out of their femme gear, and a friend of mine protested, saying:

Great article, but I don’t really agree with this line: “When drag queens remove the trappings of their dramatized personas, they become once again a part of the gay rights movement and leave real transgender people to suffer the consequences.” Drag queens have always been a part of the gay right’s movement–they led at the Stonewall riots, and they’ve taught us to fight with our wits. I’m not denying that the language used on Ru-Paul’s drag race isn’t harmful to the T-community, but let’s not denigrate the important role that the queens have played in gay civil rights either.

And he is entirely right. Drag queens had a significant part in taking crossdressing laws off the books, which was an important step in decriminalizing homosexuality and of course transness itself. They were at Stonewall, and at Compton’s.

But here’s the thing: some drag queens identify as trans themselves. Others don’t. RuPaul, for instance, doesn’t, and yet he keeps speaking up about how tranny isn’t derogatory or a slur.

More

Whose Community Can Say What?

Posted by – February 22, 2014

I loved this article – which is a trans allied one, not the usual “gays don’t need trans people” bullshit that used to get spouted regularly (and probalby still does, I just stopped reading them).

This is the part I liked the most:

Just last week, actress Gabourey Sidibe repeatedly used the slur “tranny” while on Arsenio Hall’s show. Sidibe, an outspoken supporter of gay rights, was stunned to find out that the slur was considered offensive, and she quickly apologized for her error.

But then, something interesting happened. Stories published on several media forums, including the Advocate Magazine online and Instinct Magazine online, posed the question of whether we are being too sensitive about a word that is commonly used in the gay community.

Numerous gay men and women then weighed in on whether the trans slur was, in fact, a slur. A large percentage of the commenters agreed that the media and the gay community were being too harsh on the popular TV actress. One commenter even said it could not be considered a negative term if popular shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race used the term in a comedic and even an affectionate way.

These comments are evidence that even the gay community does not understand and are often the cause of discrimination against transgender people. In case you weren’t aware, the drag queens on RuPaul’s Drag Race are the reason people like Sidibe are clueless about trans slurs. Those drag queens are gay men who continually abuse a term that damages trans people. Just like “that’s so gay” is often meant to be humorous, comically calling someone a “tranny” may garner a few laughs, but it unintentionally demeans a group of people.

When drag queens remove the trappings of their dramatized personas, they become once again a part of the gay rights movement and leave real transgender people to suffer the consequences.

Although the discrimination against trans people by the gay community is unintentional, it is the reason the “T” should be removed from the LGBT. Gay men often use the slur because they believe it’s a part of their collective community vocabulary. Just as we take liberties by using our own gay slurs as we chose, we mistakenly use the slurs aimed at trans people and whose objections are brushed off as political sensitivity.

And it’s good to see. As many of you know, or may have noticed, I stopped using “the T word” quite a long time ago exactly because it is, too often, a word assumed to be okay within the LGBTQ+ as a whole. But it’s not. The rule – that you should only use a word if it’s something you might hear from someone threatening you – is a good one. So I stopped, despite how much the transverse is my own, and despite being a member of the trans community. And believe me, I am assumed to be trans way more often than most of the cis gay men out there who use it.

UnValentine: Another Note

Posted by – February 15, 2014

Another note/update from the partner who was excluded from a women’s-only dance yesterday:

UPDATE: It’s been quite an emotional roller coaster. I want to make a clarification: This is a private group of women holding a fundraiser. It is NOT a PFLAG group. PFLAG, itself is trans-inclusive and trans-friendly. In addition, trans-women are welcomed at the dance. (Not sure about people who don’t identify as either binary but that’s a different issue.)

I was really trying to express how I felt as a partner who has lost this part of her community. It just hurts.

I understand that we no longer belong as a couple in a women’s-only space. In the meantime, if this helped spur a little more discussion, I’m glad.

I love my partner fiercely. He’s very brave and loving human being and I’m lucky to have him by my side.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

So this isn’t PFLAG’s problem, but it’s still our community’s problem, in my opinion. In reading over the comments – I know, I know, I’m not supposed to do that – over at AmericaBlog where John Aravosis wrote about it, the one thing I’m struck by is how quickly this became about the trans guy’s identity and why he would want to go to a women’s only dance.

And you know, that’s the whole problem, isn’t it? Why should someone’s transition negate the partner’s identity as a lesbian? The whole idea that they wouldn’t “look like” a lesbian couple is infuriating – the same argument was made against butch/femme couples back in the day.

Here’s the thing: as a community, could we maybe start to acknowledge that people transition, and that they have histories, and identities, and life experiences, all of which may not tidily map onto our models of “straight” and “gay”? Can we allow trans couples to decide how to negotiate their own identities as individuals and couples instead of everyone else telling us where we belong? Can a trans guy honor his own past and his relationship’s past without other trans men telling him he’s sold out his gender and trans people everywhere? Are lesbians really not used to guys transitioning yet?

A little compassion would be awesome from groups who are now and who have been, historically, excluded discreetly and explicitly, kindly and hatefully.

Trans partners are often a wrench in the homo/hetero works, but sometimes we get eaten by the gears.

Trans Partner’s UnValentine

Posted by – February 14, 2014

A lesbian-identified partner of a recently transitioned trans guy thought they were going to a PFLAG dance in their local community. They politely asked whether or not they would be welcome and they were told NO. (Also, to clarify, I am pretty sure that PFLAG is generally inclusive of trans people & their partners despite sexual orientation or gender identity, but I don’t know for sure. This local is an exception, so far as I know/can tell.)

She writes: Because while we can pass for a straight couple, we really aren’t that. I’m not so sure how many places a transgender dude and a lesbian could feel safe, at the least and like they’re at home with their community, at best. But that’s not even the point.

& This is the problem for partners: we don’t belong anywhere sometimes. I remember feeling too het for queer spaces, too queer for het ones. We end up saying things like: My wife is a lesbian but I’m not. I’m a lesbian but my husband isn’t. But like so many other partners I’ve known over the years, she has a profound respect for the intention and the space she’s just been told she no longer belongs in:

I don’t want to yell at these women. I’m not even mad at them. I know they’ve probably been through all the heartache I have and a lot more, feeling rejected, threatened, and  frightened, for being who they were. I grew up in a homophobic world, too. 
 
They said that us being there together would make women feel uncomfortable. So by being who we were, we were hurting them. It feels too familiar. How many times have we heard straight men saying they didn’t want gay men in the locker room because it made them feel icky? Since when is someone’s discomfort with someone different a reason for excluding them? I doubt they would feel physically threatened by A. 
 
But listen: I want all those women to have a safe place. I really do. They’re my sisters. And to think that our mere presence would harm them? Ouch. When your family pushes you out the door and says, sorry: we don’t want you, and your mere presence sickens us, that feels pretty terrible. 
 
I guess I was hoping that maybe, just maybe this family would open the doors just a little wider to let us in and celebrate together.

Not this time.

So happy Valentine’s Day to us, all of us trans partners out there whose existences are based on past and present identities that don’t always jive with the hetero/homo binary but don’t quite work in the queer/feminist ones, either. We rock all those liminal spaces, the queer places between genders, between orientations; we bring histories that confuse other people and don’t get to be seen for who we are most of the time. But we do all that for love, right? So happy Valentine’s Day to us.

So Awesome

Posted by – February 6, 2014

Canada’s Olympics ad points out the obvious:

Awesome Show on Gender

Posted by – February 4, 2014

I just listened to this awesome show on gender, sexuality, and identity on BackStory.

Highlights:

  • great discussion of “two spirit” and the way it maps and doesn’t onto non-indigenous gender & sexuality categories
  • Joe McCarthy wasn’t just all about the Red Scare, but the Lavender Scare as well
  • WI “passing woman” marries woman
  • & the story of T. Hall who was required by law to wear clothing of both genders – and more importantly, how that would have been viewed by others at the time
  • why you can (or shouldn’t) think of Walt Whitman as a “gay poet”

Really, really great stuff, thoughtful discussion, and basically, pretty much what I teach.

ACLU Files Lawsuit Seeking Freedom to Marry for Wisconsin Couples

Posted by – February 3, 2014

The ACLU has set the ball rolling:

MADISON, Wis. – The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin and the law firm of Mayer Brown filed a federal lawsuit today on behalf of four same-sex couples who wish to marry in Wisconsin or are seeking recognition for their legal out-of-state marriages.

The plaintiffs include Roy Badger and Garth Wangemann of Milwaukee, who have been together 37 years. Three years ago Wangemann had much of his right lung removed after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Following the operation, a complication occurred and he was put into a medically induced coma for nearly a month. His progress was uncertain, and Wangemann’s father attempted to override Badger’s power of attorney to have his son taken off life support. Before that could happen, Wangemann recovered.

“What upset me the most was that after all of our time together, our relationship was not fully recognized by my family and there was a real danger that my wish to give Roy the ability to make decisions about my care could be stripped away,” Wangemann said. “Thankfully, our wishes held in this case. But without the protections that come with marriage, the consequences can literally be a matter of life or death.”

Other plaintiffs in the case are Carol Schumacher and Virginia Wolf of Eau Claire; Charvonne Kemp and Marie Carlson of Milwaukee; and Judi Trampf and Katy Heyning of Madison.

Wisconsin’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples prevents them from securing the hundreds of protections that state law provides to married couples. Wisconsin law subjects same-sex couples to an additional harm that is unique among states that deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry. The only way for Wisconsin couples to get the federal protections that come with marriage is for them to go out of state to marry. But Wisconsin law says that may be a crime punishable by nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Among the plaintiff couples, Schumacher and Wolf were legally married in another state, raising the possibility of prosecution back at home. The lawsuit challenges the overall ban as well as the application of this criminal law to same-sex couples who are forced to choose between being denied federal protections and the risk of criminal prosecution.

“These families simply want the security and recognition that only marriage provides,” said Larry Dupuis, legal director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. “They have built their lives and raised children here. It is wrong for the state to treat these loving and committed couples as second-class citizens, and it is cruel to place them in a catch-22 where they can’t even travel elsewhere to obtain federal protections without their marriage being labeled a crime.”

The lawsuit will be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. The plaintiffs allege that the state’s constitutional marriage ban sends a message that lesbians, gay men, and their children are viewed as second-class citizens who are undeserving of the legal sanction, respect, protections, and support that heterosexuals and their families are able to enjoy through marriage.

“More and more Americans over the past few years accept the idea that same-sex couples and their families shouldn’t be treated differently than other families,” said John Knight, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “It is our hope that Wisconsin will soon join the other 17 states in granting the freedom to marry.”

Coolest 4-Year Old Ever

Posted by – January 26, 2014

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.)

What He Did

Posted by – January 20, 2014

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.)

Help Me Bring the Trans to WI!

Posted by – January 15, 2014

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

Posted by – January 14, 2014

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%

Posted by – January 13, 2014

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.

Missouri Gov Does What He Can

Posted by – January 9, 2014

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.

Turing Officially Pardoned

Posted by – December 24, 2013

Well that’s overdue, but Merry Christmas Eve! Queen Elizabeth has finally officially pardoned Alan Turing. He was convicted of being a homosexual despite his amazing work breaking the Enigma Code during WWII.