Pride Ends: Stonewall Narrative

For the last day of Pride, a great essay on the Stonewall riots by someone who was there. Here’s an excerpt:

Coming out of the subway station at Christopher Street, we could hear the commotion. The shoving and pushing by both protestors and police yanked three of us away from the core group; we were left to fend for ourselves. When we made our way into the crowd swarming the front of the Stonewall Inn, we, too, threw bottles, garbage, and anything we could get our hands on. In the midst of the riot, I realized the moment looked and felt similar to the Martin Luther King riot. But this time I knew who the LGBTQ folks fighting along with us were.

As the momentum of the crowd pushed my small group to Waverly Place, a block away from the Stonewall, we witnessed two white cops pummeling a black drag queen. “I should shove this stick up your ass,” said one of the cops as he pulled up her dress with a nightstick in his hand. The taller of the two cops yanked off her wig and laughingly tossed it to the other cop. Spotting us, the cop who caught the wig threw it at us yelling, “You nigger fags get away!”

The wig missed and landed about a foot away from us, but the cop’s words hit, striking fear. And with just the three of us traveling together — the boys were high-school football linebackers, I a middle schooler — and being the youngest and only girl with them, I felt vulnerable after having lost Nate, Sr., and the group. Witnessing the beat-down and disrobing of the drag queen made me want to cry, but I fought back the tears and ran, following the boys down the block.

When we came home the night of June 28, we still had no idea of Birdie’s fate. Throughout that day and the night before, we had witnessed so many Birdies beaten badly. We stopped by the Andersons to convey our concerns and that we had looked for Birdie. Cissy told us that he was safely home, having sustained a number of blunt trauma injuries: a black eye, assorted bruises, broken ribs, a sprained ankle, and a busted lip. None of us know how Nate, Sr., found Birdie in the riot, but he did; we assumed parental instinct trumped the seemingly impossible.

When I look back at the first night of the Stonewall Inn riots, I could have never imagined its future importance. The first night played out no differently from previous riots involving black Americans and white policemen. And so, too, did its being underreported. But I was there.

Hope everyone had a lovely pride month. Have some Oreos.

Max “Sasha” Reinhart

This is the kind of crossdresser story we have all grown to dread, no? College professor crossdresses for sex work.

And yet: I wonder where exactly, as a culture, we’re supposed to put the kind of fantasy role play this person was indulging in. I can not believe ze was doing sex work for the money. I just don’t. Gender is a rough thing to work out when you’re an adult man with adult repsonsibilities, and this line, in particular, keeps glaring at me:

Reinhart is said to be a wonderful teacher and well-liked by students and colleagues.

Because I don’t doubt it, and it points to the human being this person is. Ze made a very bad decision, no doubt. But I want to know the rest of the story, because there is always more story.

My sympathies, Max/Sasha Reinhart. I’m sorry you had no one to run this idea past before you did it, or at least no one to convince you it was a bad, bad call.

Gad Beck

Gad Beck was the last known gay Jewish survivor of the Nazi concentration camps. He died just before his 89th birthday.

Under the Nazi regime, he famously dressed-up as a Hitler Youth member, and entered a deportation camp to free his lover, Manfred Lewin. However, Mr Lewin refused to be separated from his family, with whom he was later deported to Auschwitz, and killed there.

He appears as himself in Paragraph 175, the documentary about the law that made homosexuality illegal in Germany.

Out as Trans in Academia

Here’s a nice piece by Rachel McKinnon in CHE about being out as trans in the classroom.

But let’s face it: If I don’t say something, there is a great big elephant in the room. My name has been changed, and there are features of my physical appearance that are undergoing change: clothes, hair, and other aspects. As I say, I’m “visibly” trans, for the moment at least, and I don’t want it to be a distraction without an explanation.

I also wanted to inform my students for pedagogical reasons. First, it’s relevant to my business-ethics course, since I’m teaching gender and transgender issues in the business context. I want to be able to draw on my experiences, including policy changes at my university and some local businesses, when I teach those issues.

Second, I think it’s important for students to see successful trans people in professional positions. The media portrayal and general public knowledge of us is terrible. All too often, the only reason to talk about trans people is to make fun of us, or to pity us because of the discrimination, violence, and hardships we encounter.

Of course many have gone before her, including Jennifer Finney Boylan and Miqqi Alicia Gilbert, amonstt (many) others.


New LGBTQ Leadership: South + Midwest

There are certainly organizations (hello, Trans Ohio!) missing from this list, but it’s still good to see a bunch of new names and new projects. I particularly like this one:

Kezia Curtis
Detroit, Michigan

Kezia Curtis wanted to learn more about bikes, but she wasn’t quite expecting to make a community out of it. Her interest took her to Fender Bender, a Detrot-based bicycle and education training program. While the program isn’t exclusively for queer women of color, it has become an important safe space for queer and gender non-conforming cyclists to give a more bicycle-friendly image to the city’s car culture. Curtis became eager about the program after taking classes this year, and is getting ready to co-teach bike mechanics classes to high school students in Detroit this summer.

Have any to add?

Human Variation

The caption to the photo says: Four-legged Myrtle Corbin, who bore two children from her first vagina and three from her second.

The whole article – photos of circus “freaks” by Charles Eisenmann from the 1800s – is fascinating.

And yes, there are people in the collection who have non-normative genders.

Here is what fascinates me & always has: I’ve never read anything written by people who worked as “freaks”. I really want to know how they thought about humanity – it couldn’t have been good, right? – and about their own ability to make a profit off their difference. If anyone out there has resources, I would love to read them.

If you haven’t yet checked out io9, do. They publish some really really great stuff.

Rheims With Gender

I really am not sure what to think of this project. The idea was to photograph genders, as she did in the 80s, but somewhere along the way she discovered a few people who were genderqueer or trans*.

I love the idea but I also feel a little squeamish about the description of the project.

I think I’d prefer to hear their voices talking about how they live in their bodies and genders, and what they think of both.


Two Tune Tuesday: Kimbra

This is one of those songs that’s going to be entirely misunderstood, much like “Every Breath You Take Was”. I’ll put money on it showing up at weddings, even.

And don’t miss some of the coldest lyrics about marriage I’ve ever heard:

i want to settle down
It’s time to bring you down
on just one knee for now
let’s make our vows

But it’s critique of marriage, competition between women, and that mannequin-like man spouse: It’s so spot on, no?

Kids’ Fashion

It’s a rare thing for me to post anything about kids, but I keep going back to my friend Jill’s blog Supergoodybag because it’s so pretty. It’s fashion for kids and Jill has a really great eye for gender neutral clothes that are still cool.

She’s also styled Beyonce, if you need more recommendation.

She is on Facebook as well, of course.