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."

Monday, February 9, 2015

Gay People Against Gay Marriage

This article is interesting in looking at the rationale behind some gay opposition towards gay marriage.  Looking at the values that they hold dear and associate with marriage hints at many of the issues we have read about regarding the purpose of marriage

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Speaking of Gay Identity and Capitalism...

How about some gay identity and communism?

Oral Histories Reveal Decades Of Closeted LGBT Lives In Nashville

I found an interesting story that chronicles the lives of LGBT people in Nashville prior to the 1970's. It's definitely worth a read or a listen.