Thursday, September 30, 2010

Stonewall Days in Columbus

On October 7th and 8th, the Wexner Center will be screening the film Stonewall Uprising, which is about the Stonewall riots. In advance of this screening, Douglas Whaley, Professor of Law Emeritus at Ohio State, has written a blog entry for the Wex about the beginnings of the gay rights movement in Columbus. It's quite interesting to learn about how things played out on a local level. Read more about our history!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Race, Gender, and Invisibility

Did you know that the enforcement of the U.S. military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy disproportionately affects people of color?

Servicemembers United, the nation’s first organization devoted to gay and lesbian troops, had pored over years of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” discharge data and issued a press release indicating the startling facts: minority gay and lesbian service members were being discharged at a rate disproportionately higher than their white counterparts. According to the data, in 2008 45 percent of troops discharged under DADT were minorities, while they made up 30 percent of the service overall.

How, exactly, was this finding overlooked by our movement's leadership? How did we miss this opportunity to create a more inclusive queer movement and at the same time to form potential alliances across the social justice spectrum? In our discussions of the filibuster, how did we lose sight of its effect on the DREAM Act? How did we miss this opportunity to build partnerships between groups driven by varying identity politics around issues we should all care about?

To quote former Marine Corps officer Julianne Sohn, who is Korean-American and was discharged under DADT:
"The military still has issues with rage and gender among the ranks, and DADT highlights these problems,” says Sohn. “Often times people just try to frame DADT as a gay issue when in reality it is also about race and gender."

The article I've cited here has some great analysis on our movement, its problems dealing with race, and DADT generally: Black and Brown and Discharged All Over (Metro Weekly)

We need to say something to our leadership about this issue. We need to get refocused. No matter how we feel about the military, we cannot ignore the bigotry that DADT represents. We also cannot neglect the LGBT community's own faults and flaws.

On the topic of visibility within our movement: I'd also like to see some discussion of DADT somewhere in the media (or just somewhere) that mentions bisexuals or other queer people at least one time. Whenever the people who DADT affects are discussed, it's always "gays and lesbians" or just "gays." This linguistic flaw is symptomatic of the invisibility of bisexuals and queers in the larger LGBT movement. For that matter, who is even talking about the difficulties that trans people face in the military?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Thoughts for Celebrate Bisexuality Day

This post was written for Raspberry Mousse for International Celebrate Bisexuality Day/Bi Pride Day, which was Sept. 23. If you'd like to read what other RM contributors had to say, read the full post here.

What am I going to be doing this Celebrate Bisexuality Day? I'll be celebrating with members and allies of Columbus, Ohio's bi community. We'll be eating, drinking, dancing, and generally having a blast all weekend long. Few people know it, but this Midwestern "cowtown" is home to a huge and diverse population of queers. This day offers a time to reflect on all the brave and fierce people I love who love more than one gender. I'll be thinking about the pansexuals who love roller derby, the bisexuals who have provided me with advice on navigating non-monogamy, the monogamous queers who are deeply commited to each other and whose love is inspiring to those around them. I'll be thinking about the fledgling student organization that I, with the help of several other dreamers, started at our local university for all of us who are attracted to more than one gender and our allies. I'm so excited to see our dream, having taken root, really start to blossom. I hope to see it continue to flourish. Our community-based group is growing, too. We are supporting each other, networking, making friends, and educating our city.

But life's not all great over here in bi-land. Along with the great things mentioned above, I'll also be thinking about how I remarked at a recent community meeting that it's 2010 and sometimes it feels like we are fighting the same battles over and over again. We continue to remain frighteningly invisible when the topic turns to "LGBT" issues in the media or scientific research or, hell, in mainstream gay organizing. On this day, I'll be keeping in mind the people I've talked to so far in my queer organizing work who can't come out, still, for fear of their parents - or children. Unfortunately, we continue to face hatred not only from our straight friends but from our gay and lesbian ones as well. I'll be thinking about how people who love more than one gender are still being scapegoated as disease-spreaders, as fence-sitters, as barsexuals, and worse. I could go on. Furthermore, my perception of where we stand as a community is deeply colored by my location. In other countries, we are still being put to death. Amir Hossein's supposed heterosexual privilege didn't protect him from government-sanctioned murder.

In the spirit of celebration and recognition, it's important to remember that despite having our work cut out for us, we have still come a long way. This day is a great time to remind ourselves of the famous people who have come out in the past few years as bi/pan/queer, increasing visibility internationally. It's also a great time to check out media projects by fellow bisexuals - like FenceSitter Films - that are working to change the rhetoric. Finally, it's a great time to brush up on our history. I'll be thinking about all my heroes, the people who came out as bi back when GLBT wasn't even an acronym, and how that period wasn't as long ago as it may seem to the younger generation. I'll be thinking about all the ones we lost to HIV/AIDS before we could even get Reagan to utter its name. I'll be picking up my copies of Bi Any Other Name and Getting Bi so I can once again study where we've been, how far we've actually come. We might not have this holiday at all if you hadn't been there to start it in the first place, and for that we are so grateful. My feet might not be dancing if it weren't for you. Thank you.