Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Japanese Gay and Lesbian Current Events

This article discusses the state of gay rights in Japan and how they might change in future (allegedly due to US influence, interestingly enough).  It's very brief, but it's an interesting look into a country where I hadn't ever considered the state of gay rights.

Any thoughts on this, or perhaps thoughts about the current state of gay rights in other countries (especially ones that don't get mentioned as often)?

Anti-Gay Parents, Openly Gay Children

I found this article today:

Beau Miller is openly gay and a gay activist (HIV-positive as well) who is son of Texas state lawmaker Rick Miller, who has just filed a bill to roll back antidiscrimination ordinances in Texas.  The article (very briefly) discusses how both men reconcile this conflict.  I thought it was interesting.  Any thoughts?

Amazing Article About Scripps in the HuffPo!!

Super relevant to the discussions/readings we had around women's colleges:

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

"Hijabs, Lipstick and Tattoos: Dress and Grooming Policies"

My dad helps run the King County Labor and Employment Law Conference and he sent me some information regarding this workshop! It's really relevant to what I was talking about in class yesterday re: expression in the workplace. The workshop is also co-run by Matt Wood, from the Transgender Law Center. There's a lot of interesting stuff in the presentation and supporting documents, but I can't figure out how to attach them to this post :( Anyway, here's an interesting case I took from one of the supporting documents while I try and figure it out:
Hunter v. United Parcel Serv., 697 F.3d 697 (8th Cir. 2012)
(plaintiff, born female, identified as male since childhood but had not undergone any surgical procedures related to gender reassignment; he applied for job using his female birth name and came to the interview with his breasts bound, with a short haircut, and wearing clothing purchased from a men’s department, but did not tell the interviewer that he identified as male or transgender; affirming summary judgment for the employer on sex discrimination non-hire claim, court held that there was no evidence that the prospective employer knew that he was transgender or perceived him to be so, and therefore, he could not establish a prima facie case of sex discrimination).

Monday, May 4, 2015

Activist and queer theory perspectives on "pinkwashing" and "pinkwatching"

If anyone is curious to learn more about pinkwashing in light of our discussion today, here are some resources. 

1. This NYT op-ed from 2011 offers a good overview of how the strategy is deployed in Israel, Western Europe, and the U.S.: 

"What makes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies so susceptible to pinkwashing — and its corollary, the tendency among some white gay people to privilege their racial and religious the emotional legacy of homophobia.... Increasing gay rights have caused some people of good will to mistakenly judge how advanced a country is by how it responds to homosexuality."

2. Pinkwatching Israel is an organization committed to "creating a global movement to promote queer-powered calls against pinkwashing and pushing the Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment Campaign against Israel to the forefront of the global queer movement."

Here's their website:

3. Queer theorist, Jasbir Puar, has written a lot on pinkwashing as it relates to what she calls "homonationalism," the idea "that the right to, or quality of sovereignty is now evaluated by how a nation treats its homosexuals." In this critique of pinkwatching, the activist response to pinkwashing, in the United States, she argues that "both pinkwashing and pinkwatching speak the language of homonationalism. One does so in the name of Israel, the other does so in the name of Palestine. In addition, both are strategies directed and redirected through the same power centers and towards the same intended audience: Euro-American gays. We would like to end by drawing attention to the fact that Israel/Palestine are not the only arenas where pinkwashing occurs. A deeper critique of pinkwashing and of homonationalism more broadly must take into account the ways that it is used in settler colonies such as the United States and Israel in addition to the ways that homonationalism is intimately connected to practices of power and empire on the international stage."

4. Finally, here's an article by Maya Mikdashi that critiques Hillary Clinton's "gay rights as human rights" speech that we read for class in the context of pinkwashing.

"In her speech Secretary Clinton was, perhaps unknowingly, reproducing this generative alienation between political and human rights. She emphasized that LGBTQs everywhere had the same rights to love and have sex with whomever they choose as partners, and to do so safely. In making this statement, she reiterated a central tenet of what Jasbir Puar names homonationalism: the idea that LGBTQs the world over experience, practice, and are motivated by the same desires.... Secretary Clinton suggested that queers everywhere, whether white or black, male or female or transgendered, soldier or civilian, rich or poor, Palestinian or Israeli, can be comprehended and interpellated through the same rights framework. But the content of what she she calls “gay rights” is informed by the experiences and histories of (namely white gay male) queers in the United States, and thus there is an emphasis on visibility and identity politics and an elision of the class and political struggles that animate the lives of the majority of the third world's heterosexual and homosexual populations. Thus detached from its locality, “gay rights” can travel internationally not only as a vehicle for normative homo-nationalism, but as a vehicle for neoliberal ways of producing politics and subjects more broadly."

Where My Girls At: Meet Two of Ferguson's Black Queer Activists

I am little late on posting this... but here is a really interesting perspective on the violence in Ferguson/Baltimore.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

"8": the play

The play "8" draws on court testimony to give an account of the 2010 Proposition 8 trial in California.  It features an all-star cast!  Watch it here.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Writer Fenton Johnson on a life of solitude

From a student:
Here's an interview with the writer Fenton Johnson. Although it's primarily about solitude, which is quite interesting in itself, it also deals with the loss of his lover who died of AIDs in 1990/1. One of the questions also addresses his homesexuality while he was raised in a cloistered monestary. 

Event @ Pitzer College

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Munroe Center for Social Inquiry
Tim Dean
Tim Dean
“F***ing with a Virus”
May 5
4:15 p.m.
Benson Auditorium, Pitzer College

This lecture discusses the unregulated experiments that gay men have been undertaking with HIV-transmission. What is at stake in incorporating a virus into one’s sex life?
Tim Dean is philosopher and author, notable in the field of contemporary queer theory, and author of several works on the subject. He is a professor of English and the director of the Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Culture at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is the author of “Unlimited Intimacy: Reflections on the Subculture of Barebacking.”

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Boehning (R-ND) votes against gay rights bill and is seen on Grindr.

Article can be found here.

Curious to hear people's thoughts not only on the possibility of internalized homophobia present in this situation but on the nature/tone of news coverage as well.

Scalia's joke (was just a joke)

Bloomberg View article HERE

Food for Thought re: Hillary Clinton

RBG and Marriage Equality

Ian Millhiser: Justice Ginsburg Eviscerates The Case Against Marriage Equality In Just Five Sentences

So American marriage law, and the English law that it was derived from, presumed that the wife was both financially and sexual subservient to the husband. In a world where marriage is defined as a union between a dominant man and a submissive woman, each fulfilling unique gender roles, the case for marriage discrimination is clear. How can both the dominant male role and the submissive female role be carried out in a marital union if the union does not include one man and one woman? This, according to Justice Ginsburg, is why marriage was understood to exclude same-sex couples for so many centuries.

Sotomayor says sexual orientation is a "choice"

I was reading through the live coverage link I posted yesterday, and found a quote from Justice Sotomayor in which she literally says that sexual orientation -- just like marriage -- is a choice. I thought that was really interesting, given our recent conversations in class about the "born that way" argument, and how none of the legal arguments seem to acknowledge any degree of choice in sexual orientation.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Religious Terrorism and Internalized Homophobia

Mark Juergensmeyer is a pioneer in the field of global studies whois best known for his studies of religious violence and global religion. His book, Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence is based on interviews with religious activists around the world including abortion clinic bombers in the United States, Hamas leaders, and convicted al-Qaeda leaders. 

Chapter 10 of Terror in the Mind of God is part of Juergensmeyer's attempt to create a theory explaining how and why religion animates violence. Throughout the book, Juergensmeyer argues that terrorists perceive themselves to be victims, believe themselves to be participating in a cosmic, trans-temporal war between absolute good and evil, and that violence/terrorism must be dramatic/theatrical.

The attachment isn't the published chapter, but a draft of the manuscript. I couldn't find a published version online but the section "Why Guys Throw Bombs" is the section that I mentioned in class! It's only a few pages but I would love to hear people's opinions about it.

Draft can be found here.

Live coverage of supreme court hearings (re: marriage)

The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments for same-sex marriage RIGHT NOW (NY Times live coverage)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Meet The 'Accidental Activists' Of The Supreme Court's Same-Sex-Marriage Case

This piece from NPR's All Things Considered introduces some of the couples at the center of the marriage cases that the Supreme Court will hear next week.

Ashley Diamond lawsuit

Article can be found here.

I thought that this might be an interesting article to read for our upcoming section on trans* history and rights. Ashley Diamond has been in prison for the past three years on a burglary charge. She recently brought forward a lawsuit asking to be transferred to a lower-security prison; she is currently in Georgia State Prison which houses some of the state's most dangerous/violent inmates and where she has suffered seven rapes, attempted suicide, and multiple auto-castration attempts.

South Carolina to Change DMV Policy on Transgender Appearance in Driver's License Photos

Chase Culpepper, a transgender teenager in South Carolina was told she can wear the makeup and women's clothing that "reflect who she is," in her driver's license photo. She sued the DMV, stating that they violated her right to appear as she usually does in her photo. She stated, "It was hurtful to be singled out for being transgender and made to feel that somehow I wasn't good enough." After winning the lawsuit, the DMV will now change its policies on trans and gender non-conforming individuals.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

AIDS and Gay Identity

So I was discussing the AIDS crisis with my friends and I had a thought: how did the invention of a gay identity shape the way that AIDS was approached as a disease? We know through our readings that part of the reason that AIDS went improperly treated for so long is because the behaviors that spread the disease went unidentified. If we still had "sex between men" or "trade" rather than just "homosexuals," would the causes of the disease have been located more rapidly? What do y'all think?

Gay marriage will lead to abortion!

At least, according to Gene Schaerr (who fought against same-sex marriage in Utah) it will. (written by Shaerr)  556_100_Scholars_of_Marriage.pdf (Amicus brief filed by Shaerr in the upcoming SCOTUS case) (commentary on Shaerr's statements)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South - Being Performed in Los Angeles

E. Patrick Johnson uses oral histories to tell the stories of black, gay men in the contemporary South. Johnson published a book and has since adapted it into a one-person show that he will be performing at the Stella Adler Theatre in Los Angeles from April 29th to Mary 3rd. I'd like to go but haven't decided when yet, so let me know if you're interested.

General Event Information:
Tickets can be purchase on Towne Street's website:!sweet-tea/cxzn
For more information on the project and artist:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Queer: Constructions & Negations

I have continually run into the same issue while working on my thesis with my advisor. She is always a proponent of a constructivist approach, simply saying what something is rather than what it is not. It poses quite a challenge when working with queerness, which in many ways is premised on being not something else. It's been tough to try to articular what queer bodies, temporalities, and spatialities are rather than just talking about them as resistant to the social and political organizations of bodies, time, and space in Western nationalism and capitalism.

I came across "Theorizing Queer Temporalities: A Roundtable Discussion" which was published in GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. I found it helpful just for building a vocabulary around some of the theory I've been working with. The focus on temporalities is perhaps a bit specific for trying to understand queer theory as a whole (if that's even possible), but it does touch on a few of the things that came up in our discussion of queer theory in class yesterday, including the relationship between representation and embodiment and relationships to histories.  It's fascinating to think about how history continues to act on the present in this way. I also appreciated Annamarie Jagose's comment on page 191 about how reorganizing time to be cyclical and multilayered does not necessarily work in the service of queerness. Jagose also wrote a book called Queer Theory: An Introduction, that I have found to be very helpful and accessible (I actually found it because Eaklor cites it during in "Debate: How Useful Is Queer Theory?" at the end of Chapter 9 of Queer America).

Films on ACT-UP

Take a look at the websites and trailers for two recent documentary films about ACT-UP:

How to Survive a Plague  (focuses on TAG, Treatment Action Group)
United in Anger (a history of ACT-UP)

Both documentaries are very powerful.

Obama Calls for End to "Conversion" Therapies

As you may have read, President Obama recently issued a statement condemning the practice of so-called conversion therapy for LGBT youth. 

This piece from the Atlantic explains that many conservative Christians, who in the past were chief advocates of conversion therapy, no longer support the practice.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

This was written by a friend of mine

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Performance Studies Perspective: Anatural Birth, Queer Babies and Aunt Jemima

As Ben briefly mentioned in class, it's always interesting to get a perspective on LGBTQ issues from a variety of disciplines, and the discipline of performance studies definitely gives a unique one...

I already posted something from this blog in February, but this performance-centric article is very well done, and the video at the end is definitely an experience. It was a potential text for our midterm in Performance Studies this semester.

Addressed: the nuclear family/reproduction and LGBTQ lives/individuals; corn and origin tales; Aunt Jemima syrup; charges of child molestation against LGBTQ individuals and the dangers they pose to younger generations; queer babies/bodies/futurity; and—everyone's favorite—capitalism!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hillary Clinton's Announcement Video

Did anyone else note the gay and lesbian couples in Hillary's campaign announcement video? What do you think?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Sunday, April 5, 2015

NPR: Transgender Students Learn to Navigate School Halls

In this segment from All Things Considered, Youth Radio reporter Nanette Thompson talks with two students about their experiences at school.

Background on upcoming marriage equality cases

As you know, on April 28 the Supreme Court plans to review marriage equality cases from Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan, and Kentucky.   The Court is expected to issue a decision by the end of June.  For state by state background on pending cases, see this map from Lambda Legal.

Legislative agenda from Equality California

Equality California, a statewide LGBT civil rights organization, has announced its 2015 legislative agenda. Proposed bills aim to close some of the remaining gaps in California's LGBT civil rights laws and address disparities in the health and well being of LGBT Californians.  For instance, AB 827 would create a teaching training program that would help teachers identify and support LGBT students. Ab 329 would update existing law to ensure that sex education is LGBT-inclusive. Take a look to see other bills in this year's legislative package.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Lesbian Pulp Cover Art

Can be found: here

Interesting to see how art depicts women and female sexuality

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Anita Bryant, Pie, etc

As mentioned in class.

CMC Things

Many CMC students had the following statuses in their Facebook newsfeed yesterday:

From the Author / Claremont Independent --

From another CMC student who archived a lot of old CMC Women's Union documents from the 90s:

"Friendly reminder to the CMC community that Prof. Emeritus Harry Jaffa repeatedly compared being gay to the immorality of committing rape or incest and once wrote an op-ed arguing that 'homophobia can save your life.'"

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Indiana's "Religious Freedom Restoration Act"

I know this is a slightly funny twist on it, but the law is outrageous.  This could be a great thing to talk about Friday.

Monday, March 30, 2015

DarkMatter Presents #ItGetsBitter at Occidental

DarkMatter will be performing for free at Occidental College on Saturday, April 18th. They are a performance art duo comprised of Alok Vaid-Menon and Janani Balasubramanian. They have been touring and performing a show called #ItGetsBitter, with a title that clearly references the "It Gets Better" project started by Dan Savage and Terry Miller. In her essay, "Coda: The Cost of Getting Better," Jasbir Puar unpacks the neoliberalism of the project, arguing that it actually harms people who identify outside of dominant race, class, gender, and ability formations.*/** DarkMatter puts this critique into a night of "poetry, polemic, and healing as we not only critique - but also imagine new queer futures."

I've watched some of their videos and admire their work. They also have a very strong Facebook presence, which continually provides my Facebook feed with thought provoking articles, quotes, thoughts, and more. They also have a great aesthetic with a South Asian/queer/campy/futurist vibe. If anybody is interested in going to their show, let me know as I think I'd like to go as well.
DarkMatter on Facebook

*Puar actually explores bodily capacity as a reconceptualization of ability/disability, but that's for another discussion.
**It's a very strong critique and does provide helpful points for moving forward in discourse, but sometimes I worry that it may come down a little hard on the "It Gets Better" project, given the project's material effects of saving lives, even if those lives belong to people who are white, cis, "healthy," and thus have the capacity to lead "normal" lives.

Texas's Year in Anti-LGBT Bills

The Daily Beast has reported on over 20 new anti-Gay laws that have been proposed in Texas this year. While many states have witnessed various “legislative actions” such as the “Religious Freedom Restoration Acts” or “Bathroom Bills,” Texas has seen by far the most.

As Jay Michaelson describes, this batch of Texas bills “range from the familiar to the bizarre.”

These laws include the four categories of usual proposals: 

1. Enhanced Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) bill
2. Bathroom Bill
3.  Marriage Refusal
4.  Trans Ban

Unlike other states, though, Texas’s proposals are MUCH more extreme. Take the Bathroom Bill. Instead of the one initiative many other states are taking, Texas is proposing three “Bathroom Bills” for the books.  The “Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act” is trying to prohibit any taxpayer funds towards same-sex marriage.

“So, you know, you may have a constitutional right to get married – but, alas, we don’t have the money to register it.”

One of the greatest dangers, though, as Michaelson warns, is the ignorant and completely inaccurate rhetoric surrounding the conversations on these bills.

He concludes the article by stating:

“These kinds of rhetorical subterfuge can be very effective. (Just ask Hobby Lobby.) “Religious Freedom” bills don’t succeed when people know what they really are. But like a good Texas German sausage, it’s sometimes hard to know what you’re getting.”

Sunday, March 29, 2015

This American Life: 81 Words

I was looking for a podcast to listen to and the This American Life episode this week didn't look very interesting. So, I Googled "best this American Life episode," and at the top of many lists was one titled 81 Words. The whole episode is the story behind how the American Psychiatric Association decided that homosexuality was no longer a mental illness in 1973.

It's about an hour long, and really fascinating.

Internet misandry

As promised, here is a sampling of (mostly) ironic internet misandry inspired by our discussions of lesbian separatism last week.

Here are some of my favorites from The Toast, the crown jewel of internet misandry: 

Lullabies: (also all of the sequels because they are golden) 

Art history:

The Animal Kingdom:


Jezebel's misandrist gift guide (!!):

I was also surprised to see that the phenomenon had spread beyond the feminist blogosphere and to Buzzfeed of all places...

Even the quiz section:

And here are some think-pieces on the phenomenon: 


"But ironic misandry is more than just a sarcastic retort to the haters; it’s an in-joke that like-minded feminists tell even when their critics aren’t looking, as a way to build solidarity within the group.... The feminism they grew up with was the feminism of snarky blog posts, and this is a natural extension of that....I’m still grateful to have ironic misandry in my arsenal of tools for dealing with being a woman in the world. Some sexist provocations are too tiresome to counter with a full-throated feminist argument. Sometimes, all you need is a GIF.

Sarah Begley of TIME is not a fan:

"Feminism is still very much engaged in the battle for hearts and minds; appealing to the sense of humor of a very small minority of the population can be a good way to alienate the rest. That’s not to say that feminists should water down their true demands and complaints to appeal to broader swaths of the population. Nevertheless, to get folks on your side, you need an an appealing message. Humor can help. But ironic misandry is just bad PR."

And of course, any MRA ("Men's Rights Activism") website of forum has plenty to say about this (hello, Reddit), but I refuse to give them any more traffic than they already have by linking here... 

So what do you think? Innocently hilarious? A clever way to parody contemporary misconceptions of feminism? Counterproductive? Bad PR? A cathartic survival strategy for avoiding activist burnout? An ironic "Third Wave" reclamation of 1970s lesbian radicalism?? 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

New Orleans: Disappearance of the Dyke Bar

Dyke bars could be a safe haven, but they were not immune to dynamics of racism, classism and transphobia. The same interpersonal and structural forms of oppression that shape heterosexual society still applied in the bars, sometimes blatantly and sometimes in more subtle ways. As Fikri points out,oppressive structures and behaviors have not been eradicated from queer spaces and need to be central in our understanding of “safety” and “freedom.”
Really interesting exploration of the internal divisions within the gay liberation and feminist movements. Also highlights the gay bar as a tool and organizing center for women to challenge their absence from gay politics.
I think this was originally presented as a Podcast, but it's a compilation of interviews conducted with patrons and owners of multiple bars!

Slut-Shaming & Lesbian Feminism

Article can be found here. I thought this would be interesting in the context of today's class discussion about radical and second-wave feminism.

"Viewing women only as victims of men's sexual dominance fails to hold women accountable for the roles they play in reproducing social inequalities," Elizabeth Armstrong, a sociology and organizational studies professor at the University of Michigan, said in a release. "By engaging in 'slut-shaming' — the practice of maligning women for presumed sexual activity — women at the top create more space for their own sexual experimentation, at the cost of women at the bottom of social hierarchies."

Young transgender activist Blake Brockington mourned

Article can be found here.

Blake Brockington, who "who came out as transgender in his sophomore year of high school," was eighteen years old when he died as a result of suicide. He was nominated to his high school's homecoming court and sought to raise awareness by organizing public rallies in his community.

In terms of trans* vocabulary, I had a few questions after our class discussion today! I've heard trans* activists say that they were assigned a sex at birth but were born as a certain gender identity. Does this mean that gender is something that is seen as something that is inherent and biological or is gender something that is a social construction? If it's the latter, what are the implications for trans* activism and awareness?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Ted Cruz Announces his Presidency

So Ted Cruz launched his campaign for presidency today. What does that mean for the gay community? 

Well at Liberty University today he pledge to "defend the sanctity of human life and uphold the sacrament of marriage."

This article list some of the opposition that Ted Cruz has had to gay rights:
"Now, nearly a decade since Congress rejected a federal constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriages, Cruz is leading a renewed push to allow states to deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry since federal rulings have overturned bans in more than two dozen states. 
In February, Cruz — joined by 11 fellow GOP Senators — re-introduced the State Marriage Defense Act, a bill that would require the federal government to recognize only marriages that are valid under the laws of the state in which a couple reside. 
The legislation would roll back the federal government’s implementation of the Windsor decision, which struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act and extended recognition to the lawful marriages of same-sex couples for most federal spousal benefits. 
Cruz has denounced federal rulings overturning state same-sex marriage bans, calling them “judicial activism at its worst,” and “tragic and indefensible.” 
“Traditional marriage is an institution whose integrity and vitality are critical to the health of any society. We should remain faithful to our moral heritage and never hesitate to defend it,” he says."

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Protest for Trans* Rights in LA

Was anybody there? Heard of this organization before?

Meet Israel's First Openly Transgender Military Officer

Kate Bornstein's take on a New York Bill that Changes "Proof" of Being Transgender

Thursday, March 19, 2015

"Will Kamala Harris Block an Initiative Proposal that Legalizes Killing Homosexuals?"

Really interesting: proposed initiative for the CA ballot that advocates for the murder of homosexuals (whose same-sex preference is a "monstrous evil") by bullet to the head. It's an initiative, so legally it should be allowed on the ballot... But does that include advocacy for murder?

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Lavender Scare: documentary film

Here's the website for the documentary film that's being made about the Lavender Scare.  The trailer and other videos are worth a look.

See The Real Me: Campaign

Meet the US' First Openly Gay Imam!!

Link is HERE

I think this interview/profile was incredibly moving because it really highlighted the different forms of isolation that LGBTQ individuals face in America (and around the world). There are many queer people of faith who have been shunned by their religious communities but Imam Daayiee Abdullah believes:
“I believe every person, no matter if I disagree with you or not, you have the right as a Muslim to have the proper spiritual [rites] and rituals provided for you. And whoever judges you, that will be Allah's decision, not me.” 
His first act as an imam was to hold a funeral for a gay Muslim who has passed away from AIDS. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Leslie Feinberg Obituary

Here's the link to the obituary of Leslie Feinberg, trans* activist and author of Stone Butch Blues, who passed away last November.

Games Ratings vs Film Ratings?

I was interested in knowing what people had to say about double standards and issues in ESRB (video game) ratings compared to what we've discussed in film ratings.  It seems to be the case that video games get a higher rating for sexual content over violence.  It also seems to be the case that movies can get away with more sexual content than games historically have been able to.  I unfortunately don't have anything good to point towards, besides this:  For what it's worth, I've heard of this disparity in games for a while, and I could try to find more articles if that's unconvincing.

I've heard less about it, but it seems like there is a comparable double standard about gay vs straight sexual/romantic content in games.  There was a stir when there was (a touch of) gay content in the game Bully (, and there was also uproar from (some) members of the public when gay romantic options were added in Mass Effect (  This backlash against gay/lesbian content mostly seems to come from elements of the public, and not any ratings board, however, so I don't know if it exactly compares.

Sorry, this is a bit long and rambly.  Any thoughts on standards of what's allowed in video games and how that does and doesn't compare to the film standards we've been discussing?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Queer Tropes

The movie the Celluloid Closet got me thinking about the typical gay tropes that were and continued to be portrayed in cinema. Here is a fun link where Denny Upkins comments on a bunch of gay TV tropes (and he is pretty funny while talking about it). 

Alongside those typical gay stereotypes, here is an interesting piece on the effects of gay stereotypes. "These forced stereotypes are not only halting our progression to accepting all types of lifestyles but are also shadowing the real issues that homosexuals face in this country such as poverty, discrimination, and narrow molds gays are more and more being expected to conform to."

We Were Right! There's a Double Standard for MPAA Ratings for Gay Sex

Obviously it's not explicit, but this author makes a really convincing argument. I haven't seen the movie in question - has anyone else? Obviously the movie content itself is questionable for other reasons, but I'm interested in hearing the thoughts of others regarding the MPAA standards.

For Some in Transgender Community, it's Never Too Late to Make a Change

A student sent me this powerful article about the experiences of people who transition later in life. The website mentioned in the article, To Survive on This Shore, includes some touching first-person narratives.

A University Recognizes a Third Gender: Neutral

This recent article from the New York Times describes efforts by universities to recognize gender-neutral identities.

Planet Fitness & Gender Identity Policies

Yvette Cormier, a member of Planet Fitness (Midland, Michigan) complained to front desk employees about the presence of a transgender woman in the women's locker room. She was told that it was Planet Fitness' policy to support members in using whichever locker room corresponds to their gender identity. Cormier then returned to the women's locker room and vocalized her complaints. Her response ended in the termination of her Planet Fitness membership.

Later on, she told ABC News:
"They said, 'You are talking to people about him in the women's locker room. You are making people upset.' That's my whole point. I'm telling them and warning them because you are not doing that. You allow men in there, and we are appalled by it." 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Not (yet?) About LGBT People, But...

A new gaming website called Offworld just launched, with a focus on women and minority voices.

From the announcement: ""Offworld is a place for curious and playful grown-ups... there will be an unequivocal and uncompromising home for women and minorities, whose voices will comprise most of the work published here,"".

As far as I can tell, there is no information about whether the site will also focus on LGBT individuals.  However, it's only just started and it seems like the site would want to include those voices as well.  There are currently only two journalists running the site (Leigh Alexander and Laura Hudson), so there's certainly space for more editors/contributors/voices.

Any thoughts?  I'll certainly be interested in following along as the site spins up and spits out more articles.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Why has this not received more attention?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

New Florida bill

A proposed bill in Florida that "makes it a first-degree misdemeanor if a person born male purposefully enters a women's room, and a person born female goes into a men's room" passed a subcommittee vote this past week.
It's so startling that there are so many cities and states making strides towards inclusivity, there are still places trying to make hard line laws. Maybe gender-neutral single stall bathrooms are the way to go?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Leslie Feinberg's Death

Autostraddle did a series of posts on Leslie Feinberg after ze died last November. 

This one includes some good biographical info, as well as hir kick ass last words:

And here's a roundtable discussion on how Feinberg impacted the lives of some of the editors. Great stuff all around:

Also, if you are unfamiliar with Autostraddle you should check out the site in general. Hooray for supporting independent queer feminist media! 

Not Quite Recognizing the Importance of LGBT Americans in History...

... but at least a step away from white men!
Interested to hear what people think - have you been taught about these women in your history classes?

A Gay Kiss in The Fosters and Other TV Shows

So, I don't actually watch the TV show The Fosters, but I heard that a particular moment in the show is making waves. Two thirteen-year-old boys kiss. I actually do not even watch much TV, but it seems as though a couple of TV shows have featured same-sex activity. I used to watch Modern Family and laugh at Cam and Mitch's antics, but that got pretty stale after a little while. Through the Internet, I've seen some other TV shows feature same-sex content in limited ways. There is also How to Get Away with Murder, on which an gay man of color who practices safe sex and takes receiving role in anal sex just tested positive for HIV (bringing up a whole host of other issues related to conceptions of whom HIV infects). And of course, there is Looking, the show that is actually centered around gay characters living in San Francisco (again, this brings up particular issues regarding gay normalcy, see

However, The Fosters stands out for a couple of reasons (again, please remember that I have maybe seen two minutes, if that, of all the shows I have mentioned in this post). As a more general note, the family structure on the show differs from the families in many TV shows (even Modern Family). An interracial lesbian couple raising some biological and some nonbiological children. For another, I was kind of shocked by the age of the characters involved in this storyline. I definitely felt uncomfortable at first getting excited over two, young boys kissing, but even just a clip of them interacting in a movie theater while on a double date with their girlfriends really stirred something. Representing a world in which such young boys, who albeit must live in a progressive and accepting household, feel comfortable exploring their sexualities at such a young age is kind of astounding. When I was that age, I'm not even really sure I knew that experimenting in this way was a possibility (again, context dependent). If sexuality and sexual practices are conditioned by the environment in which they occur, I can only hope that this trend of media incorporating these story lines indicate a shift toward accepting different family models, open explorations of sexuality, and more.

For the clip from The Fosters:

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Interview with Christine Jorgensen 1966 (or 67)

I'm writing about Christine Jorgensen for a paper topic and I found this interview of her on the Joe Pyne Show.

It's interesting because they discuss homosexuality and transvestitism (in contrast to transsexuality).
It's cool to see what terms were used by the media and how Jorgensen identifies and clarifies.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The 21st Century?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

NYT Article on Survival Sex

Study Details Lives of LGBT Youths Engaged in 'Survival Sex' -

I want to share this article because of its emphasis on coping mechanisms for LGBT youth in New York City. Hopefully many of us know by now that a staggeringly large proportion of homeless youth identify as LGBT, their homelessness a result of facing stigma from caretakers. This kind of ethnographic study seemed to give voice to many of the concerns of the people actually living in these conditions. It also avoids the "savior" trope to which so many ethnographic studies of populations facing hardship resort. In particular, this article does that by noting how social services systems and providers have failed to offer adequate opportunities for LGBT youth. This also brings up how other aspects of sexuality are regulated beyond sexual orientation or gender identity. It seems like until more people have access to housing, employment, and health care, people should also be looking for ways to make sex work safer (especially in respect to the abuse from law enforcement officers) for those who engage in it as a survival method. Good things to be thinking about.

Invisibilia's "Categories" episode

Check out the "Categories" episode of NPR's new podcast, Invisibilia, from Feb. 5th. Here's the link to the podcast's page.

We've been talking a lot about the historical contingency of gender and sexual identity categories in class, and why certain labels might have political, social, and personal appeal at different historical moments. This episode examines this "powerful impulse which is written into people, this urge to clearly differentiate themselves, declare their category," offering insight into the social and psychological forces that make categorizing oneself and others so appealing. 

Starting around seven minutes is a story on Paige Abendroth, an ex-Navy officer who vacillates between genders multiple times per day. It includes interviews with Paige and with neurologists who study this kind of gender "switching." All of this provides interesting insight into the experience of someone who complicates our contemporary understanding of "transgender," her attempts to understand her own experiences  and the responses of medical professionals. 

Also, all the other episodes are super interesting so you should listen to them as well :) 

Female Husbands in the 19th Century

NPR explores female husbands throughout American history

Particularly interesting is Lucy Ann/Joseph Lobdell and Mary Louise Perry Wilson who reportedly kept a pet bear as a couple.

"Lots of evidence exists, she says, "contrary to the idea that small communities are always judgmental, that your behavior as a neighbor was often more important to other community members than your behavior in your own home. So people often turned a blind eye to behaviors or dress that in later years might occasion more suspicion and hostility."She adds: "This is not to say that these communities were tolerant of open homosexuality."After the Civil War, the government became more stringent about the definition of a legal marriage, Coontz says. "But this was also the heyday of the doctrine of separate spheres and true womanhood, when women were assumed to be pure and asexual — and also completely different from men, who were often referred to as 'the grosser sex.' "
Common themes that NPR identified in these relationships were abandonment and poverty. Many women, including Lucy Ann, were abandoned by their first husbands before marrying other women or posing as men.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Gay/Lesbian identity and pressure to transition in Iran?

We mentioned this in class briefly, but in Iran homosexuality is punishable by death while their society seems to be more accepting of transgender identity. These articles offer some accounts of gay individuals that felt pressured to transition.

The Afterellen article cites one activist as suggesting that as much as 45% of Iranians that transition are actually gay, not transgender. I'm not sure that that figure could actually be proven or disproven, but it's something interesting to think about.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Politicizing Homosexuality

Friday, February 20, 2015

NOOOOO! Pope Francis.....

Just when we thought Pope Francis was super cool and down with the LGBTQ community, he had to say some fucked-up shit!

ARTICLE HERE (also: Buzzfeed does news now?)

Although these comments weren't exactly uttered in the U.S., they do have implications for millions of Americans who identify as Catholic (and Catholic and queer, like yours truly). This goes to show the reality of a non-linear, non-"progressive" view of LGBTQ history and the fact that individuals can both be "helping" and "hurting" people/causes simultaneously.  We should apply this same outlook to historical figures: although some may have helped the Gay Rights movement, etc., it doesn't mean that they didn't exclude certain groups and harm individuals through their actions as well.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Texas issues first [and last (for a while?)] same-sex marriage license

Texas's ban on gay marriage is still in effect, despite a state judge's ruling earlier that this week that parts of the ban is unconstitutional. County clerks in Texas still would not issue same-sex marriage licenses, though, because the ruling apparently did not include an order to do so. However, on Wednesday, 2/18 another state judge ordered the Travis County Clerk to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple for "immediate health concerns." One of the women has ovarian cancer--her health is in serious danger. The couple petitioned for emergency relief, claiming their inability to marry was causing irreparable harm. On Thursday, 2/19 they were granted a marriage license. The state, however, has no plans to issue anymore same-sex marriage licenses.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Let's Spice Things Up

After Professor Selig encouraged us to post more on the blog—things we come across on Facebook, things that interest us, things that are "provocative" and thought-provoking—I decided to go with this short piece on from a Tumblr called "On the Visceral."  One of my professors, Kyla Tompkins, is an editor/contributor for the blog, which deals with "the shifting global organization of bodies and sensation" and "track[s] and interrogate[s] the viscerality of pleasure and pain and the importance of flesh to the social world and its cultural products."


The piece is a brief summary and analysis of a 2013 video—Untitled Fucking—by performance artists Amber Hawk Swanson and Xandra Ibarra (a.k.a. La Chica Boom).  The work in question is a commentary on the relationship between feminism—namely mainstream, white feminism—and racialized sexual politics.  What this work explores is incredibly important for feminist as well as queer studies (our class included): the realities of racial difference in relation to sex and sexuality, the shortcomings of white feminism and white queer activism in that recognition, the often-judged and marginalized sexual desires/pleasures/fantasies individuals possess, and the censorship of all things sexual and erotic in some feminist/queer politics and their removal to a private, domestic sphere (à la rich-gay-white-male-model-angel-god representatives of the marriage equality movement).

The blogger notes at the end that the piece might be too raunchy—too "perverse" or "trivial"—to be of much political importance. Thoughts? How "messy" should the daily work of feminist/queer politics get? To what extent should female/queer/sexually marginalized people be explicit or open about their sexual practices, desires, and experiences?

Just some food for thought.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

"Coming Out" NY Times Video Series

I discovered that the New York Times website has a video series called "Coming Out" with interesting short personal videos about different members of the LGBT community and their stories.

I was particularly interested in this one about  Larry Kramer, a gay rights activist who founded Act Up and wrote the play "The Normal Heart" about the AIDS epidemic of the 80's. It is interesting to see how though he has accomplished so much for the gay community, he seems pessimistic about the amount of change made by the community, which he feels is low. He shares that people "still haven't come to terms with [AIDS] as a unifying force for us." He seeks to normalize the image of gay sex, especially in mainstream cinema. He expresses that he is furious at some other gay men for "not fighting harder against the mysterious disease that became known as AIDS." One of the main avenues in which he believes gay people should be succeeding more in is political power.

In the collection, a video showed a couple who faced a hate crime recently in New York City in which the couple, two men holding hands, was viciously beaten in broad daylight. The video reported that hate crimes against LGBT folks in NYC have increased 70% this year. One of the men echoed the sentiments of Larry Kramer, saying that the fight is not over with marriage equality in NY. "It's never been about that," he says.

Another video shone a spotlight on the recent marriage of Billy and Lewis, who have been together for 46 years. While Lewis was deployed in Vietnam, they would write letters to one another, inverting genders so that the homosexual nature of their relationship wouldn't be discovered.

Other highlights include: same sex couples reflecting on how Prop 8 has affected their relationships, the complex realities of same-sex family structures ("sperm and egg mixers") and Michael Sam reflecting on his experience being labeled as "Michael Sam: Gay Football Player."