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.
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.
This is a cool and informative blog on blogspot that we found which has numerous links pertaining to LGBT topics. The description of the blog reads “The activist blog uniting the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersexual, Asexual community & Allies in the fight for equality.”
With that being said, it has several posts alerting its followers of queer events, news, terminology, programs, associations, and brings to light the prevelance and most importantly the presence of the queer community. The posts are quick, easy reads and pretty creative They even have “Word of the Gay”, clarifying never heard of but commonly used queer terminology for the ignorant, and “Spotlights”, posts highlighting and promoting webs and organizations or programs that add to queer awareness or provide assistance to the community in some way. They have numerous posts, 49 for this new year alone and 1,309 for year 2009.
The greatest thing about this website is though it is named “Queers United”, it serves as a gateway to information and links to organizations, programs, and news that can not only benefit, help, and educate people of the queer community, but the heterosexual community as well!
Brittany, Brian, Lorena