Archive for December, 2011

Queer Christmas & How I Had One

Merry Queer Christmas and Happy Various Other Celebrations, depending on your belief system!  This post comes to you at the tail end of a wonderful Christmas day involving honey-baked ham, my amazing family, being given a Dean Spade book by my partner’s parents, and watching the Merchant-Ivory version of Maurice an unnecessary amount of times.

Ah, Queer Christmas. You go home and there are all these people who you know from childhood, some of whom are relatives, and they are like, “I think Glee is not a problematic show!  Are you sure the word tranny is a slur?  Hey, is that your testosterone?  Do you like, mix that into coffee to get it in you?  Is your special friend doing well?”  (Two of those sentences have actually been said to me in the past two days; I invite you to guess which.  My special friend, by the way, is doing great.)

And sometimes if you’re trans people fuck up your pronouns, or call you by your old name, which can be extremely triggering and painful.  Of course, it can get a lot worse than just pronoun fuckups or name slip ups, whether you’re a trans queer or a cis queer.  If you’re in that situation at the moment and you’d like someone to talk to, contact me and I will try to make you feel better.  Not kidding.  Email me.  I am not a mental health professional but I am a pretty nice kid I guess.

If you’ve chosen to make your own home in a more politically radical environment, it can also be a huge culture shock.  Like, I always forget that outside of my circle of fabulous radical queers, some people don’t find the yellowface in the Sherlock Holmes movie problematic, and they sometimes think that “heteronormative” isn’t “a real word.”  And if you’re me, which not many people are, there are suddenly paparazzi following you around, doing really dehumanizing things!  For example, recently my family and I went out to dinner and a paparazzo got all up on us as we were walking to our car. The next morning an article came out purporting to know what we’d talked about at dinner.  Some reporter literally made up an account of our dinner conversation!  Out of whole cloth!  (There was also a picture of me really needing a haircut and looking shellshocked.)  So yeah.  Queer Christmas: stressful, especially if people are trying to take your picture because they are interested in the confluence of your gender identity and your parentage.

Obviously, though, let’s be real, Christmas is great.  Our Lady J just wrote a great post about this in which she talks about finding unexpected allies in conservative places, and that’s something I really believe in.  (There’s an unfinished post still sitting on my hard drive, actually, that started out being about how to be an effective cisgender ally and became a soppy dissertation on how wonderful a cis ally my grandma is.  Maybe you guys will see it someday.  My grandma is fucking amazing.)  I am not hating on Christmas!  I would never do that; I fucking love Christmas.  I love It’s a Wonderful Life, and I love ugly sweaters, and I love the story of Christ’s birth even though I am not actually a Christian, and I am really into this whole thing where people give me stuff.

I’m also really into Audre Lorde, as you may know, and specifically the parts in her essays where she talks about incorporating anti-oppression work into one’s daily life.  Lorde believed that in order to liberate ourselves and others, we have to reexamine how we walk in the world with everyone, not just people who we’re in explicitly political discourse with.  Our partners, our parents, our children, our aunts and uncles–everybody.  She believed that there was a way to reinscribe everything in life so that we could use it to make a better world.  I think Christmas is ripe for that kind of redefinition, and in a tiny way I have tried to do that this year.  Queer Christmas! Continue reading ‘Queer Christmas & How I Had One’

Emergency Healing

I have a friend who is a poet.  His name is Harley Arthel.  He is also trans. He is also an activist. He is in many ways who I’d like to be when I grow up.

 

This is his book.  It’s a series of ghazals, which are an Arabic form of poetry, that he wrote after studying with my academic advisor and mentor, the poet Suzanne Gardinier.  (Suzanne works a lot with ghazals.  One time, she wrote a book of 101 of them.)

 

I am a very lucky person who has amazing queer poets in his life.  Consider this an offer to share some of them with you.

Surrealist Comments

I think I just got the actual weirdest blog comment.  Didn’t post it because of my “none of this cis bullshit in my comments” rule, but I wanted to share it.  It just gives me that feeling where you want to grab people by the shoulder and go, “Look at this.  What the fuck is this, man?”

So, look at this.  What the fuck is this, man?

Trigger warning: cissexism, transphobia, homophobia.

I dont understand why its legal for people to cut off breats and penises and fool straight people into thinking they are something that they were not born to be and yet I can’t smoke a joint or put a seed in the ground that is completely natural. Decriminalize cannabis now or illegalize the demonic practice of self-mutilation and brain-washing. Its no coincidence these two ‘trans’ or should I say ‘gay’ people are the offspring of two Hollywood mind-control agents of the government. It is all about controlling the mass of people, and yes psychologically. What you Stephen and Chaz don’t understand is that you have been brainwashed to believe you are something you are not, taught to think it is ‘ok’, when it is against nature. Depopulation is the goal here folks, legalize gay-marriage keep the cannabis illegal? Sorry not on my watch.

From someone named darkbiker77.

Just, how are those two things connected at all?

One of the things becoming moderately well-known on the internet has given me is endless insight into how fucking weird people are.  Not complaining–I love how fucking weird people are, although not when they leave me wildly transphobic blog comments.

The kind of fucking weirdness I love is the kind of fucking weirdness that means people find my blog through google by searching for things including “The Little Mermaid” and “queer dick.”  Which they have.

 

ETA: Ahahaha, I’m sorry for the “and Mulan” that was originally on the tail end of this post.  It’s a long story.

An Excellent Friend of Mine

I have this friend, fellow activist, and general person-I-admire named Kevyn.  Ze’s got a blog about gender variance, and ze also helps run The Circle, an international resource for trans folks, mostly focused on getting people binders.  Ze also runs Trans Action with me, Sarah Lawrence College’s student trans activist organization.

And ze’s funny and smart and charming and like, astonishingly strong, because the world has responded to Kevyn being a generally awesome individual by making life pretty fucking tough for hir.  Ze’s an independent student at a very expensive college, which means money is tight, and ze’s trans, and ze needs to get top surgery, which is very expensive.

To help make that happen, ze’s using a website called ChipIn–it’s basically a way for people to send money to others who are in a tight spot.  I’d really appreciate it, and so would ze, if you’d help hir out by sending along some money.  Anything extra you have would be a huge help.  I think of this as a way for us to amelioriate temporarily a the problematic lack of health care infrastructure for trans people.

This is hir ChipIn link!  You should click it!

Ze also has very good V-lines.  You know, those sexy lines people sometimes have on their hips?  Kevyn has those.  They are super hot.

 

ETA: If your donation isn’t showing up on Kevyn’s ChipIn, it doesn’t mean it didn’t get through!  Just that it’s taking a while to process.

The Anniversary of a Great Man’s Death

Today is the anniversary of the death of Fred Hampton, black community organizer who was assassinated by American “law enforcement.”

Take a moment today to learn about Hampton and the Black Panthers, if you never have.  If you’ve always bought the party line–“They were dangerous militants who needed to be put down, not real activists”–I guarantee that what you learn will surprise you.  The Panthers had a breakfast program for impoverished children.  In Chicago, Hampton went about building a Rainbow Coalition of different groups, including Latino/as, poor whites, and many more to fight oppression together.

He was a great man and I encourage you to honor his memory today by learning about his life and work.

 

(Gee, apparently when I said, “I won’t be posting” I meant, “I will exclusively be making really depressing posts about the evils of formalized structural violence.”  Sorry.)

ACT UP, The Little Mermaid, Undesirables, and Structural Violence: World AIDS Day

I have a very hard time talking about World AIDS Day, and as I said a post ago, I’m in a semi-hiatus, but I have an equally hard time not talking about World AIDS Day.

 

It’s only been in the past year or so that I’ve begun to wake up to what the history and present of HIV/AIDS means for queer people in America, and “undesirables” worldwide.  (This was in large part thanks to Dan Fishback, by the way, and his piece Thirtynothing, which you should probably see if you happen to be a person.)  Here’s what happened in the 80s under Ronald Reagan, and to an extent is still happening today:

 

The US government knew queers were dying of HIV/AIDS.  The US government let them keep dying, because they were queers, and their lives did not have value.  The US government quickly realized that HIV/AIDS could end more lives that they considered valueless–not just queer lives, but straight black lives, straight Latino/a lives, and more.

 

Negligence about HIV/AIDS is a way for the kyriarchy to kill undesirables without having to fire the gun.

 

The next time you hear a conservative politician lionize Reagan and the Reagan administration, think about what Reagan did to queers.  What kind of a country is this where we are capable of forgetting this much?

 

As I said, this is very hard for me to talk about.  A generation of queer men before me was in large part systematically destroyed.  How am I supposed to feel like I can ever live in this country?  How do I make contact with the generation before me?  How do we communicate?  How am I ever going to understand their experience when I have never had to attend a funeral every other weekend?  If we can’t communicate over the boundary of all that atrocity, how are we going to pass down knowledge across the generational boundary and help build a radical institutional memory?

 

Did you know that the lyricist who wrote the songs for The Little Mermaid died of AIDS-related complications?  So did Alvin Ailey, my favorite modern dance choreographer, and Keith Haring, whose art is my desktop background right now, and many creative and brilliant men who were friends of my family, who I could have had the opportunity to meet but never did.  These people who died as a direct result of the US government’s actions were not the non-persons that we are taught to believe they were–they were not nameless, faceless, statistics.  They left legacies and those legacies are all around us.

 

Today, please take a moment to think about the brave queers and allies who make up and made up ACT UP.  These days, the mainstream media would have you believe they’ve always been all for the heroes of ACT UP, but it wasn’t always so.  These people are and were fucking heroes.  If it weren’t for them I have no idea what kind of world I’d be living in as a young gay guy.  Probably a very scary one.

 

According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force,  1 in 4 black trans people is living with AIDS.  If you want a sharp reminder of why the queer movement needs to recognize intersectionality and why its white members need to shut up and listen to POC–myself included–there’s one.

 

This violence is structural and systemic.  As Audre Lorde once said, we were never meant to survive.  The system isn’t broken; it was made this way.

 

Get tested today!  If you’re anywhere near NYC, head to Callen Lorde Community Health Center, where you can get genuinely affordable healthcare and you will be treated like a human being, not shamed for your sexual practices or dehumanized for your gender identity.  (I don’t know about you, but I dread conventional doctors for that reason.)

 

Please, know your status.  I know there is stigma attached even to getting tested, because it implies you think you might be positive, but if someone pulls that shit, tell them that the idea the being positive is shameful is part of what’s killing people worldwide.  And then demand they buy you a free fucking coffee because they are an asshole.

 

Play safe!  I know it can be really hard to find good safe sex resources when you’re trans, especially if you’re trans and gay/bi/pan/not straight in whatever sense.  Here is a fabulous safe sex resource for trans men who fuck other men and the cis men who love us

 

Also, please stay alive.



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