This has to be one of the most interesting news article I have seen this year. Found on BrokenCountry.com, a current events website, a lesbian lawmaker by the name of Christine Johnson, 41, of Utah is carrying a baby for a local gay couple. This brave surrogate mother says her reasons for doing this is because of the hardships many gay and lesbian couples have to endure when adopting a child. In the article it reads: “Johnson offered to be a surrogate at no cost to save the Salt Lake City men the prohibitive cost of hiring one-as much as $100,000. Johnson said she’s aware that many lawmakers in conservative Utah think a child does best with both a mother and a father. She predicts the men will be ‘wonderful parents.’” The baby is siad to be due on June 21, 2010.
This issue speaks highly to a lot of issues. For one thing, and the most important, it shows that there are people out there, even those who hold high political ranks and have political clout, stand behind the notion that people of the LGBT community make wonderful parents. In addition, it shows that gender and sexual orientation should be the last thing on peoples mind and more about giving a child a loving and caring home.
Kristi Martin, May 6th, 2010. Blog #1
Something that I think is worth looking closer at is how the ideas of queer and racial identities evolved in our class over the semester. I think it’s interesting to note how our discussions of both queer and racial identity have been framed. Queer has been equated to a gay man or lesbian and race is either black or white. At the beginning of the semester we discussed what queer might mean in theory and what the “umbrella term” might cover. But all of our reading assignments, which heavily frame out discussions, have stuck to this dichotomy. Both queer and race have become so narrowly defined that they became exclusive rather then inclusive.
Watching this slow narrowing of terms that I had always envisioned as incredibly broad suprised me a great deal. Maybe I was expecting a more diverse range of authors and stories from this class. Sure there were glimpses of diversity with Arnaldo Cruz-Malave, some references to queens , and a little talk of different fetishes. But where are the bisexuals , transgendered, or those queers so enigmatic as to be unclassifiable? Where were the Asians, Indians, Middle Easterners, Latin Americanss, etc? Does literature by Persian Transgendered individuals just not exist? (Or maybe it’s just not very good literature?)
I can rationalize the lack of both queer and racial diversity in out course materials because it may not have been as productive of a class or the class may have lasted for near five years if we had discussed everything and everyone under the sun. However, I think it’s very interesting that in our discussions we never strayed away from the texts to discuss these various aspects of queer and racial identities. We strayed to things like the House of Gaga and Noah’s Ark but not to transsexuality?
But there is a wide range of literature by a plethora of Queer authors out there. Here are some interesting links that I found that I hope will act as a leaping off point for further exploration:
Queer and transfolk face many unique problems in prison. Transfolk are often housed in the jail of their assigned-at-birth sex. Many times they are kept in “protective custody,” which is commonly called solitary confinement. This is cruel and punishes them for their gender, not for a crime. Transfolk are often denied medical care or are treated by doctors who know nothing of trans-specific health problems. Queer and transfolk are often targets for sexual assault by both inmates and guards. There have been reported incidents where queer-identified folk are segregated separate sections, euphemistically called “queen tank” or “butch tank” depending on whether gays or lesbians are housed there. Because of racism, sexism, poverty, homophobia, transphobia, and the criminalization of survival crimes like prostitution, queer and transfolk are imprisoned in larger numbers than the rest of the population. There is a lot of activism going on around these issues, but most of the activism in city-specific. This leads groups of people in various cities to all be working separately on the same issues. Even though there is a lot of great activism going on, queer and transfolk in prisons are often ignored by the queer/trans communities in academia, in the clubs, and in organizations. Help the most vulnerable parts of our communities by getting involved!
The DC Trans Coalition is working on a number of campaigns right now, one of which is improving life for transfolk behind bars. They are working to ensure that transfolk are housed responsibly, that they aren’t sexually assaulted, that they get proper medical treatment, and also working on issues like prostitution, which put transfolk in jail to begin with.
The Transgender Law Center is a CA-based organization working to change the laws to affect transpeople.
The Sylvia Rivera Law Project is working to change laws, raise awareness, and gather data about transfolk.
TGI Justice Project is another CA-based org
California Prison Focus is working to fundamentally transform prisons
The Audre Lorde Project’s TransJustice initiative is an grassroots movement for creating justice in prisons and in the streets.
Black and Pink is working toward a distinctly queer version of prison abolition. It also has a pen-pal campaign.
In 2008, my friend Sean and I made the pilgrimage to San Fransisco for the pride festival. Here are some pictures I took at the main parade. I thought that it was especially interesting to note how the different race-based organizations expressed their queerness. I chose to show pictures of the parade because it is one of the ways that queer people use public space (but only on the day of the parade). I take a lot of amateur- candid photos, mostly of garbage, flowers, animals, and industrial plants. I feel like my DIY/ point-and-shoot aesthetic really worked for something like a parade where I do not have control over the subject/lighting. Photography critiques as well as queer/race comments welcome!
It was hard to pick my top favorite pictures- took a couple hundred! I hope you enjoy (sorry for the quality, it looked way better before i put it on youtube).
Note: this clip will be deleted on May 15, 2010. I apologize if you are trying to view it after that.
It’s about that time, kids, Registration time. Time to pick out your classes for next semester fall. While talking to one of my freshmen friends and recommending the Queer Race class for next year, I was surprised to find out the past controversy surrounding a “LGBT” class offered at the University of Michigan in 2000. The course (not offered at Maryland, THANK GOD) was an English class, called: How to be Gay: Male Homosexuality and Initiation.
The Course Description begins: “Just because you happen to be a gay man doesn’t mean that you don’t have to learn how to become one. Gay men do some of that learning on their own, but often we learn how to be gay from others, either because we look to them for instruction or because they simply tell us what they think we need to know, whether we ask for their advice or not….In particular, we will examine a number of cultural artifacts and activities that seem to play a prominent role in learning how to be gay: Hollywood movies, grand opera, Broadway musicals, and other works of classical and popular music, as well as camp, diva-worship, drag, muscle culture, taste, style, and political activism”.
Huh? Am I missing something? This course is laughable to me. Since when does college offer courses teaching students to become homosexual? I thought we were supposed to be academic and getting degrees here, not learning how to be the poster child for homosexuals around the world. “Learn how to be gay” “Homosexual INITIATION”? I guess University of Michigan should also offer some classes on how to be “black”, how to be a “woman”, how to be distinctly hetero perhaps? What do you guys think? Opinons?
According to other articles, the title and description were “misinterpreted”, saying that it doesn’t teach students how to be homosexual, but “examines critically the odd notion that there are right and wrong ways to be gay, that homosexuality is not just a sexual practice or desire but a set of specific tastes in music, movies, and other cultural forms — a notion which is shared by straight and gay people alike” (1). Hmm, I say, nice try. What were you thinking UM?
You can read (AND LAUGH) more about this course on the University of Michigan website. Click here: http://www.ns.umich.edu/index.html?BG/317descr
I had some major difficulties trying to come up with this blog post — I hate when people say they’re not creative, because everyone is good at expressing something in some unique way, but I really felt like the color “magenta.” I’m not sure if many of you frequent the Lifetime circuit or are well-versed in your Golden Girls episodes, but Blanche (the “youngest” older woman explains her feeling like the color “magenta” because she’s a mix of all different emotions and colors inside.) This is close as I could come to describing my feeling about this post.
So, I felt, why not try and put the magenta on the paper.
Now, the following picture is my interpretation of my experiences with the LGBT community. Some of the photos I chose were purposefully stereotyped (i.e. Elton John and Rosie) and others were ones that I found interesting. I also picked dominant institutions that shape individuals’ lives, schools, the church, military, pop culture, and applied them to the knowledge I’ve acquired while in this course. I wanted the image to illustrate conflicting and sarcastic views of queer life (see comic strip), bright and more eye-catching photos (see Hollywood Blvd. and the HIV/Aids condom) and conversation pieces (see “Hate, it’s taught.” and “Out Ranks”.)
I kind of felt that a lot of what I was throwing down on the page was like an erupting gay volcano full of glitter, once it started, there was no stopping it and everything was covered. Most of the images I selected I already had an idea of the direction I wanted to take, but others kind of fell into my lap. For instance, the “Out ranks” one was where I was “Googling” gays and the military. There were some interesting links that popped up on the sites too, things like “Gay teleconferencing” and an “exclusive web offer to cleanse gays of their religious sins.” It was interesting to see the tags and how the images were filtered down…i.e. search the words “gay in school” and there’s an interesting article on a Maryland delegate that wants all LGBT sites blocked in schools. This made me reflect on how people search and what their motives are for searching on the internet. (i.e. are they searching to learn more, or searching to reinforce ideas/stereotypes?).
Despite my first “magenta” feelings, this was an awesome project — I thought I’d tie in my original magenta ring of mixed emotions around the images to show the lump sum of my work. Hope you enjoy!