Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Heather Cassils: Lady Gaga's Prison Yard Girlfriend, on Gaga, Queerness, Gender, Media, Activism, & Art

Out magazine did an interview with the "prison yard girlfriend" from Lady Gaga's Telephone video. Heather Cassils had some interesting & great things to say.

Check it out!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Short North covered in New York Times (again!)

This is my neighborhood. Check it out:
A D.J. spins old-school beats in one corner, bottles of white wine chill on ice in another, and abstract paintings hang on the lofty white walls at the Mahan Gallery. If not for the occasional red Buckeyes football jersey in the crowd, you might never guess that this is Ohio. But Ohio it is — Columbus, to be precise. And the Mahan is just one spot in this city’s Short North neighborhood that is challenging all preconceived notions of what passes for cool in the Midwest.

Read the rest!

And here is the writeup from a couple years ago :)

Desmond Tutu: "In Africa, a step backward on human rights"

This opinion article by Desmond Tutu came out a few days ago, and it's been posted in a lot of places, but just in case you haven't seen it, I wanted to share it here.
Hate has no place in the house of God. No one should be excluded from our love, our compassion or our concern because of race or gender, faith or ethnicity -- or because of their sexual orientation. Nor should anyone be excluded from health care on any of these grounds. In my country of South Africa, we struggled for years against the evil system of apartheid that divided human beings, children of the same God, by racial classification and then denied many of them fundamental human rights. We knew this was wrong. Thankfully, the world supported us in our struggle for freedom and dignity.

It is time to stand up against another wrong.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are part of so many families. They are part of the human family. They are part of God's family. And of course they are part of the African family. But a wave of hate is spreading across my beloved continent. People are again being denied their fundamental rights and freedoms. Men have been falsely charged and imprisoned in Senegal, and health services for these men and their community have suffered. In Malawi, men have been jailed and humiliated for expressing their partnerships with other men. Just this month, mobs in Mtwapa Township, Kenya, attacked men they suspected of being gay. Kenyan religious leaders, I am ashamed to say, threatened an HIV clinic there for providing counseling services to all members of that community, because the clerics wanted gay men excluded.

Uganda's parliament is debating legislation that would make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment, and more discriminatory legislation has been debated in Rwanda and Burundi.

These are terrible backward steps for human rights in Africa.

Our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters across Africa are living in fear.

And they are living in hiding -- away from care, away from the protection the state should offer to every citizen and away from health care in the AIDS era, when all of us, especially Africans, need access to essential HIV services. That this pandering to intolerance is being done by politicians looking for scapegoats for their failures is not surprising. But it is a great wrong. An even larger offense is that it is being done in the name of God. Show me where Christ said "Love thy fellow man, except for the gay ones." Gay people, too, are made in my God's image. I would never worship a homophobic God.

"But they are sinners," I can hear the preachers and politicians say. "They are choosing a life of sin for which they must be punished." My scientist and medical friends have shared with me a reality that so many gay people have confirmed, I now know it in my heart to be true. No one chooses to be gay. Sexual orientation, like skin color, is another feature of our diversity as a human family. Isn't it amazing that we are all made in God's image, and yet there is so much diversity among his people? Does God love his dark- or his light-skinned children less? The brave more than the timid? And does any of us know the mind of God so well that we can decide for him who is included, and who is excluded, from the circle of his love?

The wave of hate must stop. Politicians who profit from exploiting this hate, from fanning it, must not be tempted by this easy way to profit from fear and misunderstanding. And my fellow clerics, of all faiths, must stand up for the principles of universal dignity and fellowship. Exclusion is never the way forward on our shared paths to freedom and justice.

The writer is archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Australia is first to recognise 'non-specified' gender

Australia may have made gender history this week, as the New South Wales government lays claim to being the first in the world to recognise an individual’s sex as officially “not specified”.

This milestone in the evolution of gender queer came about with the issuing of a ‘Sex Not Specified’ Recognised Details Certificate in place of a birth certificate to Norrie (also known as norrie mAy-Welby) a resident of Sydney.

Read more!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Jason Mraz Vows to Fight for Equality + Jim Tressel is Full of Win

If this happened in Columbus, who would be the celebrity? O.A.R.? RJD2? Bow Wow? ...Dwight Yoakam?
I guess Rascal Flatts could sort of count. We know they're already allies.
Not really sorry to say, I think Jim Tressel might be the closest person we've had to a Columbus celebrity ally. Read an interview with him in this month's Outlook Monthly. This interview was featured in ESPN's Big Ten blog. Tressel is apparently the first Division 1 coach to give an interview to a queer publication. F yeah, Ohio State. By the way, has anyone else noticed that outlook is getting better and better each month?

Singer-songwriter Jason Mraz is lending a hand to the fight for marriage equality and other LGBT rights. The Grammy winner stopped by San Diego’s LGBT Community Center to talk with staff members and volunteers to see how he can get involved locally."I came down here to learn more about how I can get involved in the fight for equality," Mraz said in a statement at the center. "Not just marriage equality, but equality for all. And why it's important to me is that it affects my life. Many of my friends, management, staff, even one of my close, personal friends, my transgender surfing buddy ... I have been so inspired by the life that they live and the committed relationships that they have. Most of them have had longer, more committed relationships than I have had, yet don't get the same rights as I do, don't get to plan and protect each other in the bond that marriage offers, and to feel protected in society. So I'm down here to learn and hopefully you are here to learn and are joining me in the fight."

Mraz, who lives in a suburb of San Diego, has lent his time to the fight for LGBT rights before. At this year’s Grammy Awards, Mraz wore a white knot on the red carpet, symbolizing his support for marriage equality. He told reporters he wanted more straight musicians and activists to support the fight for equal rights.

Specifically, Mraz called on John Mayer and Kanye West, two musicians who have publicly denounced homophobia in the past, to join him in the fight for marriage equality.

“We are delighted that a performer as talented as Jason has chosen to get involved with this fight," the San Diego LGBT Community Center's CEO Delores Jacobs told The Advocate. "His enthusiasm is infectious and his dedication to helping is inspiring to us all!”

Back in 2005, Mraz told Genre magazine, "I have a bisexually open mind, but I have never been in a sexual relationship with a man. If the right one came along, then sure."

P.S. Hey Mraz, good luck with getting John Mayer and Kanye West to join you with that. Good job calling them out, though.
P.P.S. Even though Jason Mraz is a womanizer and a sellout, I still love him.

In defense of "bisexual"

It's 2010, and we are still having this discussion. There have been good posts on this subject before - find one at Queer Subversion and another at the Bisexual Index. If you know any more I'll add them to the list. I want to add my $0.02 to the discussion just so's I've got something down here in my own words. I tried to write about this around a year ago, but I think this time around I've put it down clearer.

I've been told for years by some people that I basically shouldn't or can't use the chosen label of "bisexual" because I am reinforcing the gender binary. Other people I know have actually been told that by continuing to use "bisexual," they are directly oppressing trans people. Now, I'm fine with people who experience attraction to more than one gender who choose not to use the label bisexual for whatever reason. What I am NOT okay with is when you tell me I gotta change my own label. NOT OKAY. First of all, you have no right to tell someone to change their label, ever. Secondly, you need to recognize that I may have indeed thought about the meaning of this word, and I might actually have some good reasons for using it.

This post contains some generalizations about bi people. I'm making these generalizations based on my involvement with bi communities for several years. I think they are fair generalizations. If you have had a lot of involvement with bisexual communities, and you have had a different experience, I'd like to hear about it.

I call myself bisexual because I experience attraction to people. I don't use gender or sex as the first criterion for dating. I am not monosexual. What draws me to people is not (or not just) what's in their pants. I have loved people of multiple genders and I expect that trend to continue.

Here are some clarifications and points about bisexuality, the gender binary, and various labels:
  • Many, and possibly the majority of, bisexuals love who they love based on non-sex-related criteria.
    I am using "sex" in the biological sense here.
    I can count the number of people on one hand whom I've met who are bi and who would only date a cisgender/cissexual person. If you ask a bisexual what bisexuality means to them, they'll often give you an answer along the lines of, "It means I love without gender." Even if their answer to that question is, "I am attracted to men and women," ask them if they would date a trans person. They'll usually say, "Absolutely!" There are some bisexuals who are attracted to people and not so much their gender. There are some who love androgyny. There are some who love the extremes of femininity and/or masculinity. But that doesn't necessarily mean they only want to date "women" and "men."

  • Bisexuals are usually strong trans allies.
    We know what it's like to be left out of the movement. Seriously. We're sick of it too. Do you know how many times we've been "gaywashed" or "straightwashed" and made invisible? Do you know how much biphobia we've had to put up with from people who ought to be our allies? Because we're not straight or gay, we do actually know what it's like to fall outside a binary.
    There is a story in Bi Any Other Name (I think) about a group of bisexuals that refused to join a gay and lesbian march unless trans folk were also included. The gay and lesbian groups were willing to include the bi folks in their march, but not the trans people. The bi people didn't see that as an option, because they understood that we are all in this together.

  • Some trans and genderqueer people identify as bisexual.
    Surprise! (Are we oppressing ourselves?)

  • Using the word bisexual acknowledges the bisexuals that have come before us and puts us within that movement as well.
    What do you know about bisexual movements? Bi Any Other Name is a great book to start with. The people who have come before me and done so much work for us are my heroes. I am proud and honored to stand with them as a fellow bisexual.

  • "Bisexual" is a word that most people know.
    It's something that they have usually heard of. It gives us a starting point to explain ourselves and our attractions. It starts a conversation. That's hugely important.

  • Queer is not a synonym for bisexual, so it won't work as a replacement label.
    What queer means depends on who you ask. It could be a political label, a synonym for gay, an insult, a reclaiming of an insult, a word for non-heteronormative sexuality... But queer is not just a substitute for bisexual. It doesn't work that way, sorry. I personally started using bisexual after I had identified as queer, because queer simply wasn't specific enough for me. Today I call myself bisexual and queer.

  • Many individual pansexual people are wonderful. Pansexual communities sometimes have a holier-than-thou attitude.
    Okay, so maybe this is not very nice. But it's the truth. I know some damn fine pansexuals who accept me just the way I am. If you want to call yourself pansexual, that's great! I am all about people using whichever label they feel works best for them. However, I can't tell you how much of a turn-off it was to go to a popular pansexual forum and read stuff like, "Bisexuals are so unenlightened for still using the word bisexual." I'm just not eager to be a part of that community. Plus, were I to use some other label besides bisexual for semantic reasons, I'd rather use one like "sapiosexual," because I'm attracted to humans, not everything.
I want to know why the correctness of labels is an issue that people criticize bi people about, but the same people aren't going after self-identified lesbians and gay men. Most lesbians aren't actually from the isle of Lesbos. Gay men aren't literally always happy. Why is there so much pressure on bisexuals to change their label and be more accurate? Where is the criticism for lesbians and gay men?

The word "bisexual" has the prefix "bi-," meaning two. Well, the word "feminist" has the prefix "fem-" That prefix means means related to females or women, right? Is a feminist someone who places women's rights over everyone else's? No. The word may look like that, but that's not what most feminists feel that the word means. It's the same thing with bisexual. Just because it has the prefix "bi-" doesn't mean that the word ought to be taken literally. In fact, the dictionary's first definition of bisexual isn't even the definition that most people would give; it says, "hermaphroditic."

It's true that labels may not be perfect. That doesn't mean they are useless. Sometimes we need a label for visibility. Sometimes we need a label to clarify. Labels are not the end of the discussion. Labels are a starting point.

Monday, March 1, 2010

dapperQ: transgressing men's fashion

dapperQ is a really awesome, relatively new site that I found because they're the ones that put together the video that tells the story behind Young James Dean.

From the About section:

DapperQ is for anyone who wants to make any element of men’s fashion truly their own. It’s for all who have been discouraged — in a million and one subtle and not-so-subtle ways — from gleaning for self-expression from the rich and robust universe pioneered over centuries by dapper gents and today reflected in glossies such as GQ, Details and Vogue for Men.

I am launching this particular conversation now because we believe that is needed now more than ever.

cool! I can't wait to see how this site grows. Check it out.