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: http://the-toast.net/2013/09/24/lullabies-misandrists/ (also all of the sequels because they are golden) 

Art history: http://the-toast.net/2015/01/26/gleeful-mobs-women-murdering-men-western-art-history/

The Animal Kingdom: http://the-toast.net/2013/12/23/misandrist-animals/

Christmas: http://the-toast.net/2013/12/16/misandrist-christmas-carols/

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: http://www.wired.com/2009/07/game-ratings/  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 (http://www.gamespot.com/articles/bullys-boy-on-boy-scenes-causing-a-stir/1100-6160340/), and there was also uproar from (some) members of the public when gay romantic options were added in Mass Effect (http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2012/03/02/mass-effects-gay-debate-shows-gamers-have-growing-up-to-do/).  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.  http://www.wtsp.com/story/news/politics/2015/03/04/gender-bathroom-bill-clears-florida-committee/24405687/
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 http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/city-of-brotherly-love/).

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: http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/2015/03/03/same-sex-kiss-abc-familys-fosters-could-be-youngest-tv-history

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.