submissions for the frei art cooperative

we are looking for submissions: poetry, short stories, articles!   if you are an indie artist we would love to hear from you!

we have several projects going on right now.

the contritions of the phoenix zine that focuses on indie art (visual, written, musical) and social commentary that sheds light on classism, queer related issues,the environment, sexism as well as global events.  we also like jokes-a lot of jokes.

wild flowers for eric is a zine that focuses on mental illness.  we are looking for stories, art, music that brings mental illnesses to the forefront in order to help people understand the struggle of living with mental illness, loving someone who has a mental illness and hopefully how to navigate through society to find help.  all the proceeds will be going to a family who lost a husband/father to suicide.

and the topic is…a panel of individuals from varying backgrounds all presenting their side of a different queer related topic every month.

we want to present a wide variety of artists!  if you have art, stories, articles, rants, reviews, comics, music, etc that you would like to submit please email thefreiartcooperative@gmail.com 

thanks-grace

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certified queer

pride

 

Ok, so you figured out you are gay, queer, bisexual…You can check the other box.   So what does any of this mean??? There is always the running joke of the gay handbook outlining the elusive gay agenda and the proper names for ppl who do this and if they do this then there are requirements of behaviour or you just aren’t the good kind of gay.  It’s not easy to navigate through this maze of subculture.  And despite how your peers may act, none of the members on the outside of heteronormative cis society have all the answers, as a matter of fact most of us are still struggling to understand the questions.  It’s time we stop using words like “heteronormative” “cis” “trans” e etc in a manner that is alienating some and allowing others to sit on the queen’ s throne!!!

when i was growing up the word lesbian held certain connotations…lesbians had mullets.  lesbians favorite color was plaid.  lesbians loved flannel.  lesbians wore flannel year around just cutting the sleeves off in summer.  lesbians worked on cars.  lesbians were angry.  there is so much more, but you see where i am going.  i would not even allow myself to consider being a lesbian simply bc i did not at all fit that description.  it was all i knew.  then in my late twenties i met a lady who was a lesbian who was so feminine.  me being the person that i am, would talk to her all the time about misconceptions held by the general public.  she is a very dear friend to me, and we still talk all the time.  even though i had a bit of education and a dose of reality, i wasn’t in the market for a huge shift in my life.  then almost four years ago my daddy died.  something in that experience, in that mourning process slapped me in the face, although i had experienced death (actually that year the count was really high) it was always removed somewhat, my granny who beat the hell outta my sister and i, my step mom who was jealous of me, a few friends died of overdoses…but my dad dying, that was an earthquake to my reality.  from the time i was a very tiny girl i was a daddy’s girl.  i went everywhere with him-to bars, to ballgames, even to his mistresses’ houses.  i saw my dad as this unmovable force of nature.  i saw him as the biggest, baddest man in all the world!  when i grew up, i realized this wasn’t the case, and for the most part i took him off that pedestal and got real-he was a person, fallible, mortal.  i thought i thought that…but him dying was a huge shock!  it did something to me.   it taught me the lesson that we are not guaranteed anything-we are not guaranteed time, comfort, dreams, health, love.  if you come across something soak it up the best you can bc it might be gone with the wind.    i was ready for a shift in my life.

there was a huge process that i went through, and alot of changes were made, not only inside me but in the ppl around me and my circumstances and environment.  i considered myself bisexual for the first part of my introduction into gayness, but i think i just couldn’t let go of my prejudices even when they were prejudices against myself.  i had to hold onto that little bit of “normal” for a while.  somewhere along the way, i came to the realization that i didn’t really wanna smooch boys anymore, and i really wanted to smooch girls a whole bunch.  and although i could look at boys and say “yeah, he’s handsome” it was like a straight girl referring to another girl, it was the recognition that yes that person is not repulsive and i can appreciate their beauty, in the same manner as i can appreciate the beauty of a sunset-but bottom line was it wasn’t sexual.  (actually when i look back over my life, and all that i did and felt being sexually attracted to someone wasn’t at all the primary motivator in my choosing who to sleep with or get involved with.  for some of my relationships it was a power trip, for some it was to feed my ego and many times it was to fulfill some weird sense of obligation.  for the last cismale i was with him because i do love him so much, he’s my best friend, the smartest person i know, and although a big slob, he’s wonderful!  my exhusband lives in our house.  he’s a part of our family and i would not be able to turn my back on him.  we belong in each other’s lives but it just isn’t a sexual thing-it’s a unique love and intimacy) this lead me to the conclusion that i am not straight, or bisexual, i am in fact a lesbian.  i am in a long term quite committed relationship with my beautiful partner who is such a wonderful compassionate woman. that is my life, and at this point i am comfortable in that.  but i was not ok at first…i did need that damned fictional handbook!!!!!

 

gay culture is very much different from straight culture, although the slogans “i am not just gay!” “we are just like everyone else!” “the only difference is who we sleep with!” are chanted mantras, and while all these are somewhat true, they are small pieces to a very large puzzle.  while being gay is becoming more and more acceptable, socially the culture of the sexually/gender diverse is not talked about until a person trust they are safe to say “i need to talk to you.  please sit down……”  that conversation in itself is difficult, scary and often times avoided like the bubonic plague, and that is the reality in the most accepting and progressive communities.  it is a hard pill to swallow, even admitting to yourself that you are not among the majority in some aspects of your life.  to come out is to place yourself in serious harms way-emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.  you are never ever sure what the reaction is going to be, even the reaction of your gay friends and family.  there are many reasons that have lead to our mainstream society being quite homo-abhorrent, the biggest of which is a misunderstanding of religious texts.  this does not mean that all religiously affiliated ppls are homophobic, nor are all homophobes religious.  the whole deal boils down to the social standards we have built and where they originated-the truth is most of what we see as moral and acceptable is based on the dogma found in the abrahamic-religions; judaism, islam and christianity.  again i have to reiterate that this is just where the standards for “morality” and social acceptability come from, not a representation or a concept that all members of these religious communities uphold;  there are many christians who are not homophobic, there are just as many non-christians that go on gay hunts for fun.  the majority of ppl identify as straight, it’s what we teach consistently: how to live life as a straight person/what normal looks like.  there fore many ppl will use the term “hetero-normative” when describing the the mainstream philosophies, bc heterosexual is normal and any divergent from that is not.

there are many terms used to indicate other than heterosexual “normal” behavior.   for the most part, and this is not to include slurs or derogatory, rhetorical bullshit spewed by idiots, the term “lgbtqa” (any combination of these letters, the more we understand the more we tend to add to the mix-sometimes it is referred to as alphabet soup) is used-lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, asexual/ally.  most ppl tend to be rather comfortable with the lgb part; lesbian=girl-bodied/girl-identifying girl who is interested in pretty much only smooching other girls; gay=(for the most part) boy-bodied/boy-identifying boy who is interested pretty much in only smooching other boys, bisexual=boys who smooch boys and girls, and girls who smooch girls and boys.  these are kinda black and white, for the most part ppl identify with one and stick to it (we will come back to that further in this story) the a should also be inserted here….asexual=a person who is not really interested in sexing anyone.  lgb are sexual orientations/preferences.

so we are left with t and q.  this is where you need to set aside all of that stuff you learned about in anatomy and philology  bc what you learned is not the whole deal, lucille.   we are taught that gender is determined by our genetic code.  that when the daddy sperm reaches the mommy egg and they hang out a sequence of chemicals are produced and that determines pretty much the entire aspect of the living thing.  in that same science class we are told that the lady chemical (chromosome)  is an “x” and the man chromosome is a “y” shape, and that a fetus needs a combination of the two in order for gender to be formed at approximately 4-5 months after the egg and sperm shake hands.  in other words, we have been taught that the genetic coding for a girl is “xx” and the genetic coding for a boy is “xy” and this coding happens at conception but the gender is evident until 4-5 months after conception.  this has been law.  it has been the concrete evidence that all creation is based on.  the only problem is it’s not the end of the story, and the scientific community has known this tidbit of top secret info for sometime now.  there are ppl who are born with the “xy” chromosome who are women, there are ppl born with the “xx” chromosome who are men-and this is not just how the person identifies, the genetic structure is actually physically different.  when you look at Y you can’t help but notice the fact that it is an X without the little right sided tail.  there are ppl who have a tiny little protein tail or have a tail with a tiny little itty bitty piece missing.  this in itself will affect all aspects of the person.  one tiny quirky protein!  amazing!  but that is not the end of the really cool super smart stuff they forgot to teach you.  there are ppl born who are born with the chromosome pattern “XXX” or “XYX” and even “YXY” !!!  there are some people with this “intersex” genetic pattern who show obvious physical differences-there are ppl everyday who are born with either two sets of genitalia or no genitalia, or two partially formed genitalia-keep adding and subtracting forms of physical genitals the possibilities are endless!!  and on top of all the physical possibilities and probabilities that can be seen by the human eye and on a litmus “normal person” test, we throw a whole bunch into the mix through our environment and  emotions and neurological reactions.  under these circumstances, these genetic and environmental factors taken into consideration the idea of absolute female and absolute male is the acceptation and not the rule.  calm down-you are not a freak bc you only have one set of genitalia, there are many more out there just like you….maybe you can form a support group.  it’s ok we accept you for who you are.  you maybe sitting back saying “this is bullshit!  damn crazy lesbian with her faux facts and figures!  there ain’t nothin good about a boy in a dress or a girl welder!  that just ain’t right!!!!!!”    a long long time ago a concept was formed and somehow through social insanity was adopted as truth- dichotomy.  dichotomy is the idea of two choices being absolutely and fundamentally opposed to each other.  especially in western culture dichotomy is a big deal!!!  you can’t have one without the other..day/night, dry/wet, good/bad, boy/girl….  dichotomy is a nasty little idea, and it is the cause of hatred all over.  it is the theory in which all fear and hatred is born.  to be one is to not be the other and in that one is better than the other-always, and this always, no matter what, is the spark to lighting the forest fire of destruction to humanity.  dichotomy rules that when you are a boy (a human born with an obvious penis and testicles and no ovary, uterus or vagina) you do and say and act a certain way: little boys are made of worms and nails and puppy dog tails, and when you are a girl (a person born without an obvious penis or testicles and with an ovary, uterus and vagina) you do and say and act a certain way: little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice.  and this is what bullshit is made of!  boys are to love football or other physically demanding activities, should have callouses, should wear overalls and baseball caps, arm wrestle and chew tobacco.  a boy has to be as testosterone filled as possible-we don’t want none of that pansy boy, shake it off rub some dirt on it, pull yourself up by the boot straps and be a man!  girls must love dolls, wear frilly pink panties, want to cook, be soft and curvy, want nothing more than to be a mommy, and clean-girls are supposed to be clean!  boys are to sex girls and girls are to sex boys unless the boy tells the girl he would really like it if she would sex another girl in which case she must submit bc there is nothing more powerful than the desire of her man!  so dichotomy puts us in absolute categories: either male or female in turn either good or bad.  when these barriers of gender are bent, when a boy feels inside that he is a girl therefore when a boy is a girl and presents and identifies as female the term transwoman is used, when a girl is a boy, he (yes, he! you don’t know what is going on in those genes/jeans) is a transman.  the ppl who are not the gender they were assigned at birth are called transgender ppl.  looking back over the science of gender, we can see that there is alot of leeway for what is normal and what is not.  and just because a person is born with an obvious penis and testicles does not at all mean that the person is male.  so put that in your pipe and smoke it!  when a person is assigned female at the moment of their birth and she (yes, she! you don’t know what’s going on in those genes/jeans) identifies as a female the term ciswoman is used, and the same is true of a male identified male bodied person, he is a cisman.

breathe and chill bc you are gonna need that extra brain energy for the rest.  go get yourself a cuppa joe and smoke em if ya gotta em cause you ain’t seen nothin yet!

ok so far our choices of identity are pretty solid.  in the sexual orientation corner we have: gay (lesbians included!!!), straight and bisexual;  in the gender corner, we have transgender and cisgender.  it’s will be a close one, bob!  and the winner is the QUEER!!!!!  this is highly improbable and not comfortable at all.  i want off this ride now!  sorry folks we are already in the air!  queer is the category that refuses to be a category.  it is the pesky rainbow of difference.  the queer person is a person who will not sit in a box it is the boy who is a boy at 3 pm and a girl at 3:10 and then for the remaining time is neutral.  yes, gender neutral.  queer is a female bodied, gender neutral person who wants to sex kinda just the other person bc of who the other person is.  they will not make a choice!!!!   the male bodied person who is male identified on friday nights and dated a male identified female bodied person who is now wanting to smooch a male identified male bodied person.  this goes around and around and around!  queers say “i don’t give a damn what is going on in those genes!  i think you are totally cool and awesome and you make me feel all bubbly inside so will you smooch me under the mistletoe?”  queer takes dichotomy and throws it in the trash where it belongs.  the queer is the buddah of gender and sexual orientation, the queer is all and nothing at the same time.  the queer is the cool cat who really breaks the rules bc they are unfair not to just be a badass.  the next time you meet a person who says “i prefer the gender pronoun ‘they/we/x/y” etc, with all the respect possible have a damn conversation with them!  ask questions!  listen to what they say!

we have all been born and bred and have ideas on what is good and bad and different, everyone in the world has some conditioning or another.  the fact that we have these ideas is not where the problem lies.  we get into really hairy situations when we discuss the validity of the others in comparison to the validity we give ourselves.  having preconceived notions, and i really hate to say this, is normal.  there is not a single person who is without ownership of a stereotype or 8,000,0000.  seriously there is no way to escape that, even when the  stereotype is that the ones going against the grains, the ones living in the fringes are the ones who are right, we are still singling the ones out and comparing them to something else-stereotyping.  every single animal has this mechanism.  but due to the significant neurological developments the human species claims to have, we are the most arrogant and judgmental of those who are different than how we ourselves are-prejudices.  to notice differences is natural, normal and despite what you have been told it is perfectly acceptable!  the problem comes when we cannot think past these stereotypes and look at ppl on an individual level.  when we cannot see past our preconceived notions in order to see the person before you.  when one is normal and one is not normal, no matter what the standard is, one is inside and one is out.  again the dichotomy refuses to allow room for the individual.  when i talk about my community, referring to the lgbtqa community, i am not saying that my little nook is better or more brilliant than every other little nook in the universe.  also, i have many little nooks that i fall into making me a brilliant human being.  everyone has their own little nooks, their own personalities, likes and dislikes, hair color and skin tone and sexual orientation and gender identity and their concepts of each allowing for billions of brilliant human beings.  each a different gem than the next.  that seems simple, right?   it seems like something we heard a long long time ago.  one of the first “lessons”, rules of behavior that i learned was to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  i personally am not too keen on others looking at me and lumping me in with a group of 30 something women who smoooch women who have kids and brown hair.  see that is not all i am-i am much much more and i am completely different than jane who married sally who begot corbin and joshua and levi.  see sally likes to go to the mall and i like to stay at home.  we are completely different than each other on many planes.  the beauty is that it’s all right!  it’s all acceptable and there is no one way to do something.  sally is a cool chick who drives a mustang and bakes delicious bread.  i am a punkrock nerd who has been a junkie and has socially awkward reactions to stimuli-and i make a mean mean pork roast.

many people judge what they see in gay culture against what they see in straight culture.  there are so many people who say to me things like “why do gay guys have to act all, you know, gay?” “why is it that there is a gay pride but if there was a straight pride everyone would call it bigotry?” “why do all lesbians not shave their armpits and wear carhart?” we have painted a picture of an acceptable way to be and when we judge others by the standard that all things should be this in different sizes, we are still locking alot out.  so when we say things like “o i hate drag queens!  they are such bitches!!!!” we are classifying in relation to the behavior we think is “ok” for a man who has an alternative female persona that comes out on friday nights and dances to cher.  and even more uncool is when we take that same person and hold them up to a standard that they can never be-to say the gay man is not masculine enough to be considered male and not feminine enough to identify as female.  when we say things like “every girl needs a gay-boy best friend to tell them how good they look and go shopping with!!!!” is judging-even though in this situation it is the judgement that to have a gay male in your life is a positive thing-the expectation of the gay male is that he will be completely willing and able to go to the mall, read vanity fair and curl your hair all while looking “FABULOUS!!!!!!”  themselves.  and i hate to break it to ya, that just ain’t what is really going down in the world!  while we would love to think that the lesbian down the street can change a tire or bbq a steak on a hot engine, the fact is that being gay does not give you special abilities and super powers.  a gay guy is a guy who is gay,  he is not a super guy or a girl in a boys body but he might be on friday!  a bisexual woman is not a slut who can’t make a decision, she is simply a girl who likes both genders.  while we are on the subject of preconceived notions and comparisons the issue of dress code has to be addressed!!!  so many times those who are not comfortable with the lgbtqa culture for whatever reason will ask the seasoned veterans about our dress code.  i should amend that statement: there are people who are uncomfortable with the way some other people dress in relation to the way another groups dresses-ie blonde boys in booty shorts and polkadotted halter tops or girls with short hair and big biceps.  “is there a reason they do that?”  well, here we go adding individuals to groups holding those groups up and saying if they are good or bad in relation to what we see as normal: a male is not supposed to swish his hips, curl his hair or love justin whatshisnamewiththebrownhair, all boys who do that are gay, all gay boys do that.  well well well, that is so far from factual.  some members of our community do like sparklie shorts and justin whoever-but so do many members of the straight community.  we are comparing apples to steak and painting people into corners by comparing them to other ppl.  standards change, the meter of right and wrong and good and bad-the mercury of dichotomy is always moving.  it’s ok just ok and calm down.  we have no handbook, we have no agenda, we are not stabbing ppl with our gay rings or spread the gaypox everywhere.  we do not have good gays and bad gays anymore than there are good straights and bad straights.

don’t worry allies i didn’t forget about you!!!!  there are so many citizens of our communities that are not gay or trans.  there are a large amount of people, critical members of our culture, who are straight.  there are men who smooch women who think it is ok for a men to smooch a man and they will fight just as hard for the rights of the sexually and gender variant as those who are gender and sexually variant will!  our family members, our friends, our children, our neighbors-when someone outside of a group, especially a minority group stands up and demands equality bc it is right and just, when it has no actual effect on their life directly, when they are putting themselves on the line for the rights and safety and security of others…..that is more than going the distance.  our allies are critical.  thank you!  we need you!  we need your voice in the choir!  allies are just as likely to be caught in a beating or backlash as a gay or trans person is.  if you have someone in your life that loves you for who you are the way you are without boundries-you are lucky!  no matter what you have more than most!

 

kennedy-a transman in the world of cis thoughts

usually on sunday mornings, we drag our butts outta bed and go and get coffee at this locally owned coffeeshop.  it’s usually quiet, it’s local, the coffee is good, and the owners are pretty cool.  so there is usually a group of us weirdos that meet there.  from our household it is usually amy, sam, sometimes jeff, and myself, but we always go and get kennedy, he is a part of our family too.

i met kennedy last march.  he and a group of friends came to the pride group i had founded.  kennedy jumped into the group head first, attending all the social events, the youth group, and doing any community service that we had set up.  it was impressive to say the least.  so it was pretty easy getting to know him.  and it wasn’t too long before i heard his story.

see kennedy is trans.  he was born female but identifies and feels male.   he lives as a male.  he struggled with self-identity for many years, which is common, especially when you have never met another trans person.  he went through the gambit of well i am just a really intense lesbian, also normal.  but that wasn’t the end.  the search went on and on for the answer to the question most of us never have to ask “what am i?”  he came across an article about a trans person and he saw that was the exact same thing he had been going through his entire life.

i personally was extremely confused about trans identity for a very long time.  like many others i thought that gender was wrapped in sexual identity and therefore a transguy was a really wicked butch lesbian who it would be easier to identify as a man, and a transwoman was a over the top flamboyant gay man who it would just be easier to be a female.  i don’t think this varies much from the mainstream ideology of what is and isn’t trans.  but i was lucky enough to have someone teach me.

just before i started dating amy, when i first met her, i was in a relationship w chris, a ftm transperson.  i thought it was extremely strange when i first had a crush on him bc he would have been the first male i was attracted to in decades.  it left me w an odd feeling bc for so long inside of myself i had identified as at least bi and leaned more towards lesbian.  the relationship with chris taught me alot about gender v sexuality.

it was also an inside view into the reactions to a trans person, not only in the hetero world but in the lgb culture too.  in the hetero world there is an ever rising fear you will be “found out” and that leaves you open to extreme violence, emotionally and physically.  in the gay culture, it’s usually not so abrasive.  trans ppl are left out of events, they aren’t really taken into consideration when those of us on this side of the rainbow are fighting for equal rights, there is extreme prejudice and not alot of support-look at where the lgbt orgs were concerning cece mcdonald.  i saw that trans ppl had really nowhere to turn, very little acceptance and not a huge group of ppl who were advocating for their rights to be who they are.  there wasn’t a huge movement of public acceptance or education.

later on i met several other trans or gender queer ppl, who really really taught me alot!  i was lucky enough to have friends who would come into my home, drink coffee and just discuss issues of gender identity, what it means to be female, what it means to be male, etc.  these conversations fueled me to learn more.  i am sure everyone got pretty sick of hearing my wow gender is weird and awesome and not at all black and white epiphanies, but luckily noone told me to shut the hell up!

when we moved from maine to oklahoma, i started a pride group in the town that i live in now.  i started it mostly for the youth to have a place to be, a mentoring program, and an outlet for all those others in bouncing around in the world trying to figure things out.  i also was extremely insistent that trans ppl were not just welcomed but i actively searched them out.  i knew from before the bigotry of the gay community and i was not about to participate in that sort of hatred.  the youth was always my primary focus.  they needed the most support, and for the most part their parents, if they knew their kid was queer, were usually not so accepting.  our youth group did alot in the community, we held a rainbow ball an all ages prom open to the public where you could dress how you wanted and bring who you wanted if anyone as a date (we don’t have that luxury here in the school systems) and it was free, we went bowling, we cleaned the parks, we went on walks against sexual violence, and we talked alot.  the pride group overall started moving in a direction that i could not participate in with inside politics and popularity contests rumors and hatefulness.  i pulled myself out of the entanglement with the intention of staying to lead the youth, but there were ppl who for one reason or another decided that i shouldn’t do that, and started rumors making it impossible for me to continue my work.  the rumors became so bad and so wide spread i will not leave my house alone, and when i do leave it is pretty rare, but i see kennedy almost every week.

kennedy is amazing!  not only is he well articulated he is patient.  he doesn’t usually lose his cool when referred to as the wrong pronoun on accident, he will take a step back then explain what it means to be trans as long as the person he is talking to is willing to be respectful and listen.  it is such a wonderful thing to watch!  today on his facebook page he wrote:

ive come across a lot of people who say ‘well its not /that/ big of a deal when i misgender you’ or make jokes about how i’m trans because that’s /totally/ something to joke about anyways (if you can’t tell that is sarcasm then you might need to learn context clues) and i just want everyone to understand the fact that i wake up everyday having to deal with feeling out of place and disgusted in my own skin and i hate myself so much because of my body and the fact that it isnt who i am and you reminding me of it does not in any way make me want to keep talking to you whether you are family or not
please be considerate when talking to me or about me because it is a huge part of who i am and how i see things and just dismissing it as a phase or something to laugh and joke about is not okay and im not going to associate with people who make me feel like shit

i think he says it best!

no big deal, just another hate crime

Image

bottles against the skull

glass protruding shimmering

green in the moonlight

screaming dyke 

into the darkness

shadows dance

in and out of sight

darting from dumpsters

and into doorways

the smell of blood

yeast and rotten meat

creeps into the nostrils

and lingers in the throat

the cracking of bones

bounce from bricks

trapped in floating bubbles

tinkling into the streets

the sounds of screaming

underwater

surrounded by those

not willing to see

the terror down below

closing the curtains

and going to bed

leaving a huddled mass

alone and forgotten

the darkness as a blanket

damp velvet shroud

under the light of venus

leaving keratin 

and chunks of epidermis

in the puddle of coors light

tonight was the night

we lost another warrior

another beauty

sentient being ceases

to take a breath

we are hunted

trapped and broken

terror echoing in every cell

the expendable the unwanted

we are monsters of humanity

trying to escape

justified hatred

genocide forgiven

sanctioned and demanded

from your god above

it is war 

 

visibility-do queer celebrities owe us an explanation?

Rainbow_flag_and_blue_skies

 

being a part of the lgbtqa community, i am forever entrenched in details of gayness in our culture-whether that is those opposed to or in favor of-it is constantly an issue.  how to be a proper gay, how to be a good ally, who is gay who is not, where they stand, how they came out, blah freakin blah blah blah.  everywhere i look it’s gay!  being as how the lgbtqa community has not been recognized as legit ppls for centuries, a spotlight on our presence is wonderful, but how far does that go?  is someone required to divulge their sexuality?  does this change with the amount of celebrity a person has?

i am openly gay.  i have a partner who is a woman.  we hold hands and smooch in public and say “i love you!” loud and proud.  we attend school functions together and our kids introduce us as their mom’s. “this is my mom grace.  and this is my other mom amy. and this is my dad ted.  we all live together in a big nutshell, and although my mom and dad are not a smooching couple anymore they are besties and so i have 3 parents who love me and support me!  don’t look at me that way-it’s weird but it’s cool!” the kids have their speeches all planned out.  i am lucky, though.  my family, my sons and exhusband, are not only accepting and open to my queerness they encourage me to be who i am despite other ppls’ views of morality, so i kinda have it easy bc even though gay bashing is not a crime in the state i live in, and there are so many crazy homophobes out there, i can retreat into my family and circle of friends to love and respect me.  i can fill my unique cup with their love and not have to worry.  also, it helps that most of the time i am completely unaware of social nuances and subtle bigotry, so unless it is pretty blatant i don’t even notice.  ppl literally have to point or call me a derogatory remark for me to click the link of o that person’s an asshole…ok…they don’t like me bc i am gay.  o well piss off!  i have thick skin and a great family, so being an open lesbian is easier for me.

when working with lgbtqa youth, i took a different approach.  i never told kids they have to be out to their families.  the reason is simple-it can be dangerous, physically, emotionally, mentally dangerous for some ppl, and when you are a minor and your parents are in control of you legally, being out is not always a luxury for every kid.  i always tried to know the parents of the kids in the youth group.  if the kid was openly gay, bisexual or trans giving parents support and resources is important.  understanding the environment a kid is in also helps in understanding where that kid is coming from therefore providing a better understanding of the sort of help that kid needed.  for some kids, knowing their situation meant knowing their parents were hateful.  there was one boy who could not be open with his dad, bc although his dad was fine and dandy w lesbians (sexualizing  us of course) gay men on the other hand were an freaks and disgusting.  this particular young man was in a very volatile situation that was lingering on the cusp of abuse at all times.  i would never look at him and say “you should tell your dad!”  that would be irresponsible of me as an advocate, and although i feel like when you hide a part of yourself from the world, it causes all sorts of inner conflict and leads to some really damaging shit mentally, sometimes there are great big reasons that a closet exist.

gay bashing

homeless queer youth

so, i am conflicted.  on the one hand i feel that being open and honest in all aspects of your life is healthy, i can see why and how it can be difficult for some ppl to even accept they are gay much less express that to other ppl.  on one hand i feel that when i kiss my partner goodbye and hold her hand i am showing the world that i am ok with who i am, and i am maybe paving the way for another little girl who wants to smooch little girls to be more comfortable with who she is, on the other hand i am not required to wave my pride flag and neither is anyone else.  so i feel torn inside.

while i totally appreciate ellen and elton and chaz and all the other “out” celebrities, i do not feel that they are required to be spokesppl for the lgbtqa community.  we have no idea what the private lives of these ppl are like, what their demons are and what prejudices they themselves hold not to mention the ppl in their lives.  and while i have about 100 ppl in my life who know my name and think they know who i am, a person of celebrity status has millions of ppl who think they know them.  there is a huge difference there!  that is opening themselves up to alot of rejection and ridicule, and it is also making them responsible for being the ever good gay person or trans person bc they are the face of queer.  that is sorta bullshit!  i remember a coupla years back george micheals, you know the guy from wham everyone rumored to be bi bc something something ear pierced in the 80’s, apologized to the gay community for not coming out before and for not being an upstanding member of the community because he had gotten in trouble doing some naughty things in public.  recently sean hayes, jack mcfarland on will and grace, also apologized for being in the closet for so long.  and while, yes, being visible is a good thing and it is pretty awesome that ppl outside of the queer community seem to be accepting us more openly, i can only think of the young man and his dad, that struggle when i think of these ppl apologizing for not being open.

this last week a diver came out as gay, and it’s a big deal to ppl.  i feel like i am supposed to get all worked up and just goo-goo over a person simply for being queer, and i just can’t seem to gather the strength to do that.  i appreciate their openness but not anymore than i appreciate the openness of my partner or cole or carles or kat or brandon or kennedy or aj or leslie or leigh ann or brett or…..

 

avoidance of privilege

avoidance of privilege

when i read the article about shannon gibney, i was reminded of all the times that i have come face to face with the mindset of “i don’t have any more privilege than you do!”  i am reminded of all the times i have heard white ppl say “well, we can’t have a white entertainment television station!”  or “there is not a white history month or a straight pride month!”  and it usually befuddles me into muteness, primarily because i know the ppl who are saying this don’t mean to push the oppression of others to the wayside they are simply in a defensive posture, they are interpreting white cis/straight male christian rich privilege in general and them as individuals.  yes. we all know YOU never did this to any BLACK person, YOU were not the ones who beat that TRANSWOMAN to death…everyone acknowledges that it was not YOU specifically, but to allow ego to get in the way of seeing reality from the perspective of the others is up to YOU!

i do not look at heterosexual ppl as though they themselves personally are out to get me personally, but there is a knowledge that i am different and i can be in danger at any moment at the hand of a heterosexual person.  that is just real.  as a women i do not look at all men as rapists and misogynous asses, but i do know that i can be on the receiving end of hatefulness, discrimination and harm at the hands of men.  i know my value socially is smaller than that of my male counterparts, but i do not think that the individual men in my life see me that way at all

i also have to admit that while i am on the outskirts of wasp culture, i know that i have a certain amount of privilege bc i am white.  i am able to get away with things bc i look the way i look.  for example, despite the realities of drug culture, i am the least likely to get pulled over for suspicion for drugs bc i am a white female in my 30’s, and as long as i stay in my neck of the woods i am relatively safe from a drug bust.  i am also less likely to be suspected of shoplifting.  that is real.  am i proud of that?   no, it is horrible, but not recognizing that it is reality is even more demeaning than the idea itself.  it is not until we take a good hard honest look in the mirror and at the world that these imbalances will continue to happen, causing more of a rift in the social fabric.

the reality is the western world was founded on the idea of diachotomy: good or evil, black or white, light or dark, male or female.  the judeo-christian values fuel our morals, despite more and more ppl pulling away from christanity and turning to agnosticism and atheism, the golden rule of conduct is still based on abrahamic law.  capitalistic races divide us into classes, and this has been used to cause a chasm between the poor ppl of color and poor white ppl for centuries-historically, in the united states and in most of europe the lines of division were not based on skin color, there were white slaves and many ppl with white skin were not considered white, but that was dangerous to the land owners and so a rift was created intentionally giving the white slave a better station and calling them indentured servants instead of slaves.

so what does all this mean?  it means that when ppl talk about privilege they are not necessarily talking about you, unless you are contributing to the problem on a personal basis. it means that those with privilege can use their power to help those who don’t have the same opportunities.  it means that we need to take some ownership of historical elements of oppression at the hands of our fathers and try to do what is right and just among all ppl.  telling people who have had their culture stolen, ripped away, burned, people who watched as their grandparents suffered to stifle their anger and refusing to look at it as real is so degrading.  it is real, it is still real today!  choking large populations of ppl so they can’t speak anymore is not solving anything except to make you a bit more comfy.

warning: lies and hatefulness throughout article

warning: lies and hatefulness throughout article

it is hard for me to imagine how ppl became so hateful.  is it sheer ignorance or is it by choice?  there is a part of me that wants to hold onto the idea that these ppl are just stupid.  but the reality is the effect of their actions is the same no matter what the cause of the actions are-discrimination, lies, deceit, violence, oppression.

in this article, the united nations declaration of human rights is mentioned.  and while sexuality and gender expression are not strictly outlined in the declaration, there are several categories in which these two issues can fall, and the overall tone of the constitution is avidly in support of equality for all persons.  the fact is that when drafted in 1945 there was no huge movement of gay and trans rights.  this is now 2013, and we have proven through natural and social sciences that these issues are, in fact, real and the ppl are not making a choice.  scientist have encountered not only homosexual activities in the animal kingdom (this is not exclusive to animals using sex as domination, many animal species have same sex relations for comfort) but also certain animals who are male and present as female and vise versa.  so until someone can explain to me, that a bird has the ability to act unnaturally and against nature, i hold the belief that being queer and trans is a natural element within certain living sentient beings, and is therefore not a choice that is made, it is one living by one’s true perceptions and feelings, in which the declaration of human rights outlines throughout.

now onto the nasty parts of the article-rape.  i cannot claim that there has never been a case of rape by someone dressed as the opposite gender.  i cannot say that.  i am sure there has been.  it is disgusting and vile. to judge transgender or gender variant ppls on the basis of some random acts of sociopaths is despicable.  let’s look at some real statistics on rape.

  • 52% of rapists are white
  • 99% of rapist are male
  • 73% of rapist were known to the victim
  • the average age of a rapist is 31 years old

so according to these statistics found on the rape abuse incest national network’s website http://www.rainn.org/ the ppl we need to actually be looking out for are white men that we know who are about 30 years old.  i google searched in several different forms transgender rape, transgender sexual assault, transgender rapists, and the overwhelming fact is transwomen are more likely to get raped than most women.  the only results that came up when googled about trans ppl being the perpetrators of sexual assault was the article about how the transgender rights bill in maryland did not lead to rapes.  so, the facts are that there is no increase in sexual assaults by giving trans-ppl and gender queer ppl rights to use bathrooms and locker rooms.  the numbers of sexual violence committed by trans ppl are so low they are not even considered in the statistics.

it is time we get real about things!  it is time to look at the reality of situations and not relying on lies and outdated mentalities perpetrated by privileged ppls to keep the ball in their court and alienate “the others”.