More and more lately I have been coming to realize how much my sexual identity, and how I think about sex and intimate relationships, has been shaped by the fact that I was born after the emergence of HIV/AIDS. And the more I learn about the rise of the epidemic and the policies and media coverage that followed, the more I view the present state of national lgbt organizing and politics in relation to HIV/AIDS.
So I am going to take things back a bit here with my “Look over Here!” blog post. Remember when we talked about marriage? And the pleasure vs. responsibility debate?
For the longest time I could not figure out why people cared so much about gay marriage. I’m a butch, androgynous, radical pragmatist/formerly anarchist, post-punk, vegetarian, queer as f- artist after all and I will never get married. Right? My top priorities are more in the realm of survival: creating a world where my friends and I can live, dress and use which ever bathroom we choose without fear of violence.
It made me really angry to think about how much time, energy and MONEY was getting funneled into organizing that would have presumably no affect whatsoever on my life. Then all these queer people around me started having babies and I started grieving the loss of all these amazing artists and humans and my feelings started to change.
Thinking about gay marriage in relation to the HIV/AIDS epidemic has also helped me to understand why this issue is so important to some people, and why it has become the focus of the lgbt rights movement.
AIDS was first called gay cancer and later gay-related immune deficiency syndrome (GRID) and thought by some to be a punishment for promiscuity. As AIDS spread, more became publicly known about the sexual practices enjoyed by some homosexual men and the image of the reckless, promiscuous and dangerous gay man became cemented in the public psyche.
Gay marriage appears to be the perfect counter to that image, one that is gleaming with responsibility, monogamy and normalcy. The pursuit of pleasure cost many their lives, and now that queers are not dying as rapidly as before the time has come to change our public image.
Unfortunately I feel that this new, “more stable” image is just as damaging as the old. It leaves no room and gives no support to those who live outside of it, especially those whose genders on the more fluid or trans side of life. And yet at the same time I feel that if some people want to get married, they should be able to get married.
In conclusion (sort of), I really think that AIDS relates to most and informs many contemporary queer arguments. It is an important part of queer history that links political/social movements of the past with those of the present.
When I was home for spring break, I went with my family to see Chicago at our local dinner theater. I had a HUGE Chicago phase when I was in middle school– it’s almost embarrassing– but I hadn’t seen the play or the movie in years. Looking back on it after seeing it again, I missed a lot of what was going on in that play, especially during Matron “Mama” Morton’s “When You’re Good to Mama.” You know, the one Queen Latifa sang in the movie version? I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I was just a quasi-oblivious twelve year-old who really like jazz, but when I looked into it further I noticed a lot of differences between the stage version I’d seen once and the movie version let’s just say I saw more than once.
In the stage version of Chicago, Matron “Mama” Morton is a butch lesbian. Below is a clip from the movie, with Queen Latifa as Mama singing “When You’re Good to Mama.” Is it just me, or is this Mama neither butch nor even definitively a lesbian?
If you consider the lyrics of the song in the context of the all-women prison that Mama runs, and if you isolate the scenes which take place in the “reality” of the prison, the meaning is relatively clear. What complicates the meaning in this clip, I think, is its layers of performance. Mama sings for a rich, white, heterosexual, and predominantly-male audience. Almost all of sexual innuendo is directed at men in the audience, when in reality Mama interacts mainly with women. The gray uniform (with pants and a high neckline) that she wears to work is replaced by a shimmering and low-cut silk dress while she sings for the audience. Mama is sexualized (read: heterosexualized) in her performance on stage, but is desexualized in the context of the women’s prison.
I’ve created a visual representation of the layers of performativity in this scene, in the contexts of race, class, gender, and sexuality. You can click on it to make it bigger.
The original play does not have this song literally performed to a heterosexual male audience, and I’m not sure whether the movie was trying to make a statement or if the scene was changed for other reasons. The movie medium does allow for more costume and set changes, so the change may have been envisioned to make the scene more visually appealing. The scene may also be playing off of some sort of “girl-on-girl” fantasy of the heterosexual male. Alternatively, the director may be making a statement about the exclusion of a non-heterosexual sexuality from discourse, even in the so-called era of sexual freedom of the 1920s… maybe…
Color My Love
My love is colored
Brightly and proudly and broadly
My pale white skin
The color of acceptance
My feminine desire for her feminine grasp around my feminine waist
The color of rejection
Yet I still proclaim my colored love
Black Prince of my Kingdom
Obligated to color my love with a Queen
My only desire is for him to bow between me and I between he
The ruler of my body and the ruler of my throne
I’m a Prince in search of a King
My gayness does not color me weak
My color of strength and his love will further strengthen me
Throw me at the hands of death
I do not mind dying if I can die loving he
My love is colored
Not suppose to mix and match shades
Told to direct my love only the opposite way
But I want to mix and match shades
The Asian and the Black
The Hispanic and the White
I want to stroke the same shade over and over again
Women with Women
Men with Men
I colored my love
You don’t have to watch me paint
But don’t negatively judge my work
I’m proud of the art
This poem articulates how race-queer intersectionality can be cause a struggle when we try to mix the two in intimate relationships . In the LGBTQ community we want equality but we have to realize that we live in a state that denies those equalities to other citizens based on race, class, gender (identity), nationality, religious affiliation, or anything that allows our bodies and lives to be marked as a sign of deviance. Therefore if we want equality for the LGBT community we must realize and must continue to be connected with the liberation of all oppressed people especially racial discrimination. If we continue to separate them it will continue to be a struggle to blend race and queerness. It will continue to be conflicts with the idea of, “not only are you a gay couple but your interracial too.” This poem embodies the idea that love is love and that queerness and race have an interconnection that is intimate and people shouldn’t be judged for trying to blend the two together. “I colored my love you don’t have to watch me paint, but don’t negatively judge my work I’m proud of the art.”
On November 14, George Steven Lopez Mercado, a gay teen, was found by the side of a road in Puerto Rico. He was partially burned, decapitated, and dismembered, both arms, both legs, and the torso. The issue is that the police are condoning the behavior of the killer by making the statement on T.V saying, “People who lead this type of lifestyle need to be aware that this will happen.”
I selected this particular news item because even though it’s old and happened in November I had no idea that this had happened in Puerto Rico. This story was so sad and I feel that this story needs to be shared with the world. That the ignorance of people is still here and sometimes we forget about the gay struggle outside of America. As we are making process in America there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. It is sad that our LGBTQ brother and sisters in other countries don’t have the same discrimination laws as we do or are not as enforced as ours are. This offers insight to race and queer because it is a stereotype that minorities especially the Latino community has a harder time with people accepting them than other ethnicities. This also shows that queerness does a lot of times disrupt and complicate race affiliations. This is why some of the people of Puerto Rico agree with murder the murder of George Mercado and along with their law enforcement. The institution of Puerto Rico has not developed as much as the Americans and has not realized the ignorance homophobia embedded in the system affects the community. They even say in the article that never in the history of Puerto Rico has a murder been classified as a hate crime. Even though we have to follow federal mandates and laws, many of the laws in which are passed in the USA such as Obama’s new bill, do not always directly get practiced in Puerto Rico. This is sad and I hope that George gets the justice he deserves and the police force of Puerto Rico change their thing because it is pure ignorance.
Microsoft on Friday modified the Xbox Live code of conduct for profiles for Xbox live users. Xbox Live users are now free to express their race, religion, nationality and sexual orientation in profiles at the popular online videogame community because they felt they it unintentionally excluded a part of Xbox Live community.
I selected this article because many people play Xbox and all other system but I feel some never pay attention to the profiles of what you can or cannot do. I think it was great that they thought about the gamer community and wanted to make sure that people could express their race and sexual orientation. As mentioned in the article,” they truly believe that our diversity is what makes us strong: diversity in gaming and entertainment options, and diversity in the people that make up this amazing community.” As our society changes and tries to eliminate institutionalized homophobia and heteronormative thinking, this effort to not exclude people is a beautiful thing. When society mentions the word diverse you think of many different cultures, races, and sexual orientation. With the word diverse comes many different issues and discrimination against these groups. This reflects a particular understanding of race-queer knowledge by showing that race and sexual orientation will always have an interconnection because certain races and queer people will always fight for rights and equality.
On Sept. 22 , 2009, a woman was sexually harassed because she is a transgendered female. She was abused by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s when she attempted to report being stalked. Her violations of civil rights included illegal search and seizure of her property and have been forced to move from Sonoma County due to what she feels is a complete lack of justice from law enforcement and local officials.
This article gives society insight on the ignorance we still live in today. Even though society is working to destigmatize homophobia it still exists and the LGBTQ community still suffers from discrimination. This is sad that because she was a transgendered woman they made a mockery of her. The police are supposed to keep you safe not hurt you. Now this woman will live with the idea that no one will protect her because of her sexual orientation and that can be mentally stressful. The idea of feeling alone and not safe is sad and it’s unfair that society casts out queers but transgendered people more. The fight is not over for minorities there is still work to be done. This reflects a particular understanding of race-queer knowledge because queers are minorities just as much as Blacks, Latinos, and Asians. So their interconnection of being minorities will always remain and their struggles to be treated equal will be around for a very long time.
In class we have discussed people that come from all different aspects of queerness and race. Throughout this semester, I have been very intrigued by the word “queerness.” I feel that each class I am constantly considering new ways that the word can be used and interpreted. A couple of weeks back we discussed the idea of marriage and how it can relate to queerness. I’ve been considering a lot of the comments made that day and have been most intrigued by the intricacies of where queerness begins and ends.
For example, a non-married 24-year-old might represent a “norm” but once she hits 32? Dear God, watch out for that queer crone. Yet, a divorced forty-year-old at this point in our society represents a norm like any other. (God forbid that same forty year old was never married. Can we say coockoo?)
To take this matter further to a topic not delved into while in class, I wanted to shine some light on another aspect of marriage as it applies to society today. In a world where certain strides have been made in the acceptance of queer individuals, I think it is interesting to think of people who initially joined in the practice of heterosexual marriage and are now “coming out.” Whether this be as cross dressers, homosexuals, transgendered individuals, or anything else, these types of changes can produce a queerness explosion. Suddenly, because marriage initially took place, we are introduced to the “Queer Family.” Children with queer parents, queer spouses, queer grandparents! Unfortunately, I have not been able to find specific statistics on this type of thing, but did find some links that might be helpful in providing more information on the issue.
STORIES OF SOME INDIVIDUALS WHO CAME OUT AFTER MARRIAGE
WEBSITE THAT PROVIDES SUPPORT FOR STRAIGHT SPOUSES.
It is put together by “Current and former Straight Spouses/Partners of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people, Mixed Orientation Couples and our Families and Friends.”
MOVEMENT DEVELOPED FOR KIDS WITH ONE OR MORE LGBTQ PARENT.
I find some of the research and “facts” to be pushing it a bit, but appreciate the movement.
The artifact is the front page article of the style section of the Washington Post for Tuesday, March 23, 2010.
Butch women along with transgender and other gays have a tough time figuring how to go about wedding ceremonies. The first problem is what state to have it in and the next step is the formalities. Many butch women go for men’s fashion magazines when they try to discover their own style of clothing. They draw from opposite gender sources to decide how to go about dressing their occasion. Many women also choose to go to standard retail stores to find shopping supplies that will enable them to choose outfits for their event. Filene’s basement and other fabric outfitters prove to be useful places to gather materials to stitch together the outfits for a formal ceremony. The most obvious mistake gay women can make when deciding which way to go for a wedding is to wear a traditional dress, because that locks in with the heterosexual style of dress that would normally occur. Gays try to break the fold and stray from the usual in order to differentiate themselves from their straight counterparts.
In case anyone is interested, here’ s the link to join the ACLU’s fan page for Constance McMillen on Facebook. Show her your support =)
In case you don’t know who Constance is, or her story, here’s the link to that:
So two weeks ago we talked about living outside of the law. Basically it was mentioned that some people get married to their spouse in a church, but don’t get married by the state. Other people get married to multiple spouses but if they were to do that through state offices then they would be felons. I want to use this post to link to a few groups/pages/whatever that can better explain this state-less existence.
Fr33 Agents is a group, network, and blog that became popular after a libertarian leaning group called Bureaucrash began to adopt many aspects of the New Right ideology. Fr33 Agents describe themselves as, “anarcho-capitalists, left-libertarians, agorists, minarchists, and classical liberals.” In reality, Fr33 Agents is a group of anarchists who see no use for government in any form. They advocate civil disobedience and a major keystone of their philosophy is the Non-Aggression Principle.
The Seasteading Institute is an organization that is seeking to build seasteads in the ocean that would be autonomous and free of control from current governments. Seasteads would exist in the agora so readily espoused by many anarchists, minarchists, etc. The concept of seasteading is that SI would build floating cities and they would be lived in by people who held common political, ideological beliefs. I don’t really understand the idea completely, but the found of PayPal, Peter Thiel likes the idea so much that he gave SI $500,00.
Alliance of the Libertarian Left is a low key site that promotes voluntaryism. I know even less about ALL than I do about the first two organizations but I just figured it worth throwing in here.
So why post these links here? Well, I don’t know. I feel like in a class we discuss issues in regard to how groups of people are perceived and receive recognition from the state. I think I just want to show that there are some groups and people to want to exist with less of that state recognition. Voluntaryism is the theme that binds all of the groups linked above. Basically do whatever you want and interact with only those who you want to, just don’t infringe on anyone else right to do the same.
The mug crashed to the floor. The coffee pooled at her feet but my mother did not even blink. “What do you mean, you like girls? ¡Tú no sabes lo que dices!”
I couldn’t bring myself to look at her but I said” Yes I do know what I’m saying mami. I don’t date boys. I don’t like them. I can’t hide who I am anymore.”
She just stood there in the puddle of coffee, staring at me as if I had suddenly grown a horn in the middle of my forehead. Finally, she stretched her mouth in a weird way that was supposed to be a smile. “You’re just joking right? It’s not funny! You, a lesbiana? Don’t ever joke like that again!”
I took a deep breath and looked her in the eyes. “Es la verdad,” I told her. “I’m not playing Mami. I’m a lesbian. I have a girlfriend. Se llama Ana and I love her with all my heart and if I keep hiding it then it would be like admitting there’s something wrong with that. Pero yo sé, there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s why I’m telling you.”
For a split second, I hoped she would hug me and tell me everything was fine. Silly me. The next thing I knew, she was smacking me with the loaf of wheat bread that had been on the breakfast table. “Get out!” she screamed at me. “Get out of my house right now! You weren’t raised to be a pervert! Get out, get out, get out!”
“Mami,” I cried, “What are you saying? I’m your daughter!”
She yanked the door open and shoved me out. “No you’re not mi hija anymore! ¡Mejor muerta que lesbiana!” With that, she slammed the door in my face.
Explanation: the above is what I imagine would happen if I came out to my mother. Though I’m not gay, it’s always fun to come up with things that upset her. And NOTHING would upset a strict, overbearing, Catholic, and Latina mom then a dyke daughter. However, it seems like everytime I watch a tv show or read a fiction book where someone comes out of the closet, the family is very accepting. But I’ve also noticed that the family is usually white. That’s because tolerance and understanding of queerness just doesn’t happen in a Latino family. My parents are blatant homophobes and there’s absolutely no way you can say anything to change their minds. Trust me , I’ve tried. Just last week I overheard them talking about how children that are adopted by gay couples will just be abused and grow up to be gay themselves. I think the worst thing I’ve heard my father say was that gays should be burned alive. Who the fuck says that about another human being??
The vast majority of my friends have parents that are the same way. I wonder if this is particular to having grown up in Latin America decades ago? Is it because of religion/church teachings? Is it because Latino culture is very focused on traditional gender roles and men are supposed to be macho? I just don’t get it. As Latinos, we are judged harshly all the time. People assume we don’t speak English, we’re illegal, we don’t pay taxes, we’re stealing jobs. And they hate us for it. So why does our culture foster hate for others when we know how painful that behavior can be?
In case all of you haven’t seen it yet… here it is: the LONG version of Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s C-R-A-Z-Y video for “Telephone”.
I had heard rumors that MTV banned this video, but seeing as it’s still on the website… (just minus the vagina scene)
ANYWAYS! I thought this video was a really important example of an intersection of queer and race in the arts. The video premiered about two weeks ago on the E! Channel, and after Lady Gaga made some brief comments that I think are pivotal to understanding Gaga. She talked about how the song is a ‘shallow pop song’ so she felt it necessary to make an extreme video as a social commentary. Beginning scenes in jail with a diverse range of characters could be read at many depths.
Although it is set in a presumably women’s prison, Gaga makes out with a fellow prisoner whose gender is quite ambiguous. Gaga has identified herself as bisexual, and i think its incredibly interesting in her interview with E! that she described her relationship as so special with Beyonce because “we both like women”. Gaga’s continuous refusal to be placed in a box surrounding her intimate relationships makes her incredibly interesting… no one can put a finger on her. What was the video saying by her make out sesh with the only prisoner who wasn’t obviously a woman?
What can be inferred by the fact that the prisoners in the ‘fight scene’ are Latina? The Majority of the prisoners in the ‘yard’ and in the scene where Gaga answers the phone are African American or Latina and a few Caucasian… but when she is dancing through the prison cells all of her dancers are white. Is this an aesthetic move or should we read into this as social commentary?
Although there is much to read in her video about our society, the intersection of queerness and race can be seen in her collaboration with Beyonce, the characters and extras in her video, and the fact of who gets to participate. Gaga makes out with a white person, and all of her dancers in the jail cells are white girls… yet Beyonce is the Bonnie to her Clyde or the other way around whatever. Sometimes I can’t figure Gaga out. We know where she stands in regards to queerness…but what does Gaga’s video say in regards to race? She is very queer positive, but such little nuances of who gets to make out with her and be her dances, could they say more about lack of race recognition?