Queer Wisconsin

Okay, maybe not queer Wisconsin, but definitely LGBTQ Wisconsin, at least. There are two interesting articles out about the state of gay rights and marriage equality and non-discrimination in this state.

One is mostly about Fair Wisconsin: its history, current goals, and what kinds of policy and legislation they’ve been addressing.

The details of how Action Wisconsin, the predecessor to Fair Wisconsin, got started are sketchy, though there seems to be consensus it coincided with the election of Tammy Baldwin to the state Assembly in 1992.

The story is that the newly elected Baldwin, then the first out lesbian elected to the Assembly, was in great demand as a speaker around the state. Belanger says Baldwin would go to these speaking engagements and collect names and contact information in a spiral notebook.

“The legend is that those lists started Action Wisconsin,” says Belanger. John Kraus, spokesman for Baldwin, now a U.S. senator, confirms the story.

The second is about the change of attitude about marriage equality and gay rights in the state:

Yet Wisconsinites are now out of sync with the rest of the country.

The latest poll from Marquette University shows that 42% of Wisconsinites support full marriage equality, while 26% support civil unions and 28% oppose any legal recognition of these partnerships.

That’s a positive change from 2006, when 59.4% of voters approved a constitutional ban on marriage equality and civil unions.

Although it’s the law of the land, the constitutional ban is at odds with Wisconsin’s long tradition of tolerance, said Katie Belanger, executive director of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights group Fair Wisconsin. She noted that in 1982 Wisconsin was the first state to make sexual-orientation discrimination illegal and voters clearly supported the election of Democrat Tammy Baldwin, a lesbian, to the U.S. Senate in 2012.

“We may disagree on all of the issues of importance to the full LGBT community, but a Wisconsin value is that we treat people fairly and with respect,” Belanger said.

And people wonder why we moved here! There’s so much to do! You can donate to Fair Wisconsin to help us keep moving things forward.

Fox Cities Book Festival: April 17 – 24

The Fox Cities Book Festival started in earnest yesterday and I saw one author right out of the gate: James Loewen, otherwise famous for Lies My Teacher Told Me, but who spoke yesterday about sundown towns. And he was amazing. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak, please do.

Otherwise, there are a ton of other readings and authors and contests and events and all sorts of things. The very last event is with my colleague David McGlynn who will be talking about his memoir A Door in the Ocean – which didn’t start out a memoir – and how it got that way.

There are YA authors, mystery authors, science writers, journalists, poets, comic book collectors; historians, teachers, moms, and survivors.

It’s pretty cool. Go see stuff.

Fair Wisconsin Gala! February 9th!

Next Saturday, Fair Wisconsin’s Education Fund will be holding a Gala to celebrate the year’s victories and leadership, and yes, Tammy Baldwin will be in attendance!

Tickets are $125 a person, and the keynote speaker will be none other than Zach Wahls. I will be there, of course.

I will also be doing a workshop at Fair Wisconsin’s Leadership Conference as well, which is a very cool event – a great place to learn about a vast array of issues facing LGBTQ people. There are scholarships available for students – and it’s only $35 for students.

WI Book Festival

I’m going to be speaking at this year’s Wisconsin Book Festival in November with my friend and fellow artist Miriam Hall.

You can check out the schedule & the list of authors who will be speaking or reading.

And check out the book Trans-Kin that Miriam has a piece in. It just came out this week.


I’m heart-broken to hear this news. Milwaukee, for the record, is a very cool little city, & the county is progressive. My heart is with the county’s residents, many of whom are no doubt horrified by this expression of hate in their community, but especially with the loved ones of those murdered, including the police officer’s family, and all of the people who will live in more fear because of this shooting.

And honestly? White people need fucking mental help in this country. Don’t tell me it’s not all white people. Of course it isn’t. But the consistency of race of the people who commit these horrible acts of slaughter – of innocents – is becoming pretty apparent. (My favorite website for good anti-racist ideas is Abagond. Go check it out.)

Oak Creek is a city near Milwaukee, by the way, & part of the same county (Milwaukee County), but is considered part of the the larger metropolitan Milwaukee area.

Slutwalk: Appleton

Today, for my 43rd birthday, and on Mother’s Day to boot, I’ll be speaking at Appleton’s first Slutwalk. Here’s a preview of what I’m planning on saying:

Thank you so much, VDAY, for having the ovarios to put on this event here in Appleton.

For those of you who don’t know, Slutwalk began only last year in April, in Toronto, when a police officer  admitted that he was told he wasn’t supposed to say that women shouldn’t dress like sluts so as not to be victimized. And by that, he meant they should dress in ways that hid their bodies in ways our misogynist, sex-obsessed culture would find acceptable. Aside from the impossibility of being able to decide what “dressing like a slut” means in any culture, he put together the idea that somehow women’s bodies are at fault for the violence and slut shaming perpetrated against them.

They are not.

Women’s bodies are beautiful and should be seen, and in a culture that had its act together – on both violence and sexuality – police officers wouldn’t say such stupid things. Mind you: he wasn’t trying to be hateful. His words, no doubt, came out of something like compassion for the women who he had seen victimized while doing his job. He wanted – like so many of us do – to keep women safe from sexual assault, from trauma, from fear.

But what many men don’t know is that it’s not what kind of clothing a woman’s body wears that has anything to do with it. It’s what a woman’s body IS that causes us all these troubles: bodies full of desire, desiring, desired; bodies of curves and straight lines and freckles and hair. Bodies of skin and fat and muscle and bone; bodies of organs, of hearts and brains and cervixes.

What I love is that every day of my life I can wake up & say that I was born with the one body part whose only use is pleasure. But if you think about it, which parts of us aren’t? Brains, hair, hands, hearts, breasts, legs, feet and elbows – the skin itself is about pleasure. Freud had this theory that we were all polymorphously perverse – meaning that when we’re born, we’re so awash in the pleasure of having a body that every touch, ever breeze, brings us rolling waves of pleasure and that the process of getting older is learning to move some of that sensitivity to a few precious locations – mostly so, as he figured it, we were going to get anything done at all. And so our nerves, so adept at finding pleasure, became located in our nipples and tongues, our fingers and toes, the backs of knees and the backs of our necks, our lips – both sets of lips –  and of course in our genitals too. And somehow we managed to stop touching our selves long enough to write books and build buildings.

But women are a kind of warm, breathing repository of all of that pleasure, and it’s hard not to see, especially not in spring. Our sexual selves come out of hiding in the spring, and so our clothes come off – even here in Wisconsin, where “spring” and “warm” are not always the same thing – because we feel the joy of having bodies, of desiring and being desired. Continue reading “Slutwalk: Appleton”

WI, VOTE! Tomorrow (is one step closer to Recalling Walker)

Fair Wisconsin PAC has announced their 2012 Recall Primary Election Endorsements. They are committed to advancing and achieving equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Wisconsinites through strategic electoral activity, by working to elect pro-fairness individuals in local, state and federal races in Wisconsin.

So get your butt out & vote! Checking your polling place & registration status here.

YOU DO NOT NEED A VOTER ID TO VOTE ON TUESDAY. Due to recent court injunctions on the voter photo ID requirement, citizens will not be required to show a photo ID in order to vote in the May 8 election. Please note that this situation is subject to change. For more information on what you will need in order to vote on Tuesday, please visit the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin website for more information.

Call for WI Trans Resources

I am currently looking to compile a few WI resources for trans people. You can leave them in the comments, or email me with them at helenboyd(at)myhusbandbetty(dot)com.

Things I’d like to see:

  • Trans friendly/educated doctors, therapists, & other professionals
  • Local support group listings
  • Organizations that work on trans issues


Letter from PP About WI Bombing

A (.pdf) note from Teri Huyck to our patients and supporters regarding Incident at Appleton Health Center:

“For 77 years, the dedicated staff at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin have worked to ensure that women and families will always be able to access affordable, high-quality health care in a safe and caring environment in which their privacy and dignity is respected.

“We care for 80,000 patients statewide who turn to us for medical exams, lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control and STD testing and treatment. Over 97 percent of the health care services we provide are essential, preventive care such as this. At three of our 27 health centers, we provide abortion care, a critical component of comprehensive women’s health care.

“Last night around 7:40 p.m. the Grand Chute Fire Department was called to our Appleton North Health Center. Police are telling us that a small, homemade explosive device was placed on an outside windowsill causing a small fire that burned out prior to the fire department arriving. There was minimal damage to one of the exam rooms. No staff or patients were injured or present. The health center will reopen tomorrow. Our primary concern today—as always— is our patients, staff and volunteers.

“Women deserve safe and compassionate care, and we are proud to provide it. Rest assured, our doors will remain open for the thousands of women who rely on Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin each year for high quality health care.

“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the law enforcement agencies working with us to ensure Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin continues to be a safe and trusted health care provider for Wisconsin women and families.”

Teri Huyck
CEO and President