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Kenyon Farrow, ex-Executive Director of Queers for Economic Justice, wrote an amazing article recently. It dives more deeply into the meanings of New York’s passage of marriage equality and its effects on future politics.

He points out that, “[m]any progressive queer activists have long argued that the marriage equality movement is fundamentally a conservative movement,” and goes on to write:

If the same-sex marriage advocates, straight or queer, can use a family values framework, then what is to stop large-scale incorporation of gay and lesbian identity into social conservative logics, especially if LGBT people who desire to have their relationships (which is to say, sexuality) defined by the norms of the mainstream, can continue to demonize people whose bodies and sexualities have always been seen as deviant (black people, street-based urban queer communities, non-monogamous couples, transgender and gender nonconforming people, etc.)? Many of the gay donors who raise money, even for LGBT equality organizations, are “progressives” only because of marriage, and actually do not support most of what the rest of us would call a left agenda (single-payer health care system, collective bargaining, public education, and end to massive imprisonment, reproductive justice, etc.).

Farrow also asks the question: “What does it mean when so-called progressives celebrate a victory in large part won by GOP-supporting hedge fund managers, Tea Party funders and corporate conglomerates—the oft-spoken enemies of progressive causes?”

I’ve been wondering myself. The day after the passage of New York’s marriage equality legislation, the New York Times ran this photo:

NY gay marriage signing

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York signed a same-sex marriage bill into law late Friday in his office at the State Capitol. Photo by Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times.

Not the most progressive-looking crowd. And the accompanying article was quite illuminating.
“[T]he billionaire Paul Singer, whose son is gay, joined by the hedge fund managers Cliff Asness and Daniel Loeb” were successfully lobbied by Governor Cuomo’s aids to “cut six-figure checks to the lobbying campaign that eventually totaled more than $1 million.”

The article adds:

[B]ehind the scenes, [legalizing same-sex marriage] was really about a Republican Party reckoning with a profoundly changing power dynamic, where Wall Street donors and gay-rights advocates demonstrated more might and muscle than a Roman Catholic hierarchy and an ineffective opposition.

When it comes to brass tacks, I personally do not trust financiers, social or fiscal conservatives, or the organizations of wealthy white gays to have my interests at heart. For a host of reasons, in this specific instance, and as Farrow points out, a specifically conservative instance, our goals may match. But I can imagine few other times they will. I think plenty of non-marriage relationships are valid and should not be treated as less-than because they do not involve 2 married individuals. I think everyone should have access to things like health care, not just the spouses of well-off gay workers. I think single parent households still deserve community approval and support. And I think trans and gender non-conforming people need more support in combating discrimination and archaic laws that prevent their access to basic human needs such as housing, health care, and dignified work.

I don’t want the government to define acceptable relationships and genders. I want the freedom to be me, I want to contribute usefully to society, and in return I want society to protect me from indigence should American capitalism fail me.

Dear straight people,

Please stop outting your LGBTQ friends to prove your “tots down with the gheyz” cred.

Referring to a friend by name and appending, “my lesbian friend” or “she’s bisexual, you know” is outting.

Discussing someone’s gender transition is outting. Do not say things like “I knew him when he still went by Jessica.” Or “I was really there for her during her transition. You know she’s trans, right?” That’s outting.

And most definitely, without a question, NEVER OUT YOUR QUEER FRIENDS IN A PUBLIC FORUM without explicit permission from the person concerned. Even if you’re doing it to “help”, whatever that means to you.

Have I had some recent ridiculous experiences from people who “just wanted to help”? YES.

What for you is showing that you are down with the cause, is for us endangering our housing, employability, our family relationships, and even our personal safety. What for you is a casual click on the “Forward” button or an interesting conversation-starter is the stuff of our lives, and can have actual consequences in a transphobic and homophobic society. Hell, in many parts of America it is still legal to discriminate based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity, for chrissake! Hate crimes happen in the most liberal of cities. Queers aren’t safe anywhere, and the decision whether to be “out” or not must be left to us to decide, based on our own assessment of each situation.

It is not our responsibility to be always out, loud and proud, to educate you, your hater friends, or general haters-at-large. By forcing the additional burden of always explaining and educating upon us, you actually further marginalize us. No, I do not want to be a fun little lesson for your friend who is skeptical of my basic human worth and dignity. I do not want to educate your homophobic father about why I deserve basic human rights, while at the same time weathering his insulting questions.

Here’s a thought: if you want to be an ally to the LGBTQetc community, respect our autonomy and decision-making. Respect our privacy. Trouble yourself to explain to your friends and relatives why treating human beings as human beings is morally, ethically right, because you believe it is. Listen to what queers want. Ask permission, respectfully. Have a goddamn backbone. Put yourself out there, instead of hanging your queer friends out to dry.

Sincerely,
The Czech, very pissed off

Homophobic Oklahoma State Senators passed a bill last week that accidentally takes hate crime protections away from religious institutions and individuals. They had, of course, intended to strip queer people of their federally-mandated hate crime protection, but f’ed up due to what appears to be a careless typo.

Schadenfreude is a dish best served in excess.

From the Oklahoma Daily:

A bill intended to remove hate crime protections from gays and lesbians actually takes away rights from everyone else because of a “legislative error,” according to one lawmaker.

Oklahoma State Senate Minority Leader Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City, said when the Senate passed Senate Bill 1965 on March 10, it eliminated hate crime protections for race and religion.

The bill states local law enforcement agencies should not enforce any sections of federal law under hate crimes statutes listed under Title 18 U.S. Code Section 245 unless they are in correlation with Oklahoma’s hate crimes laws.

But the protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes, which passed Congress last year, are not listed under Section 245, but Section 249

“The bill in its current form doesn’t take away rights from gays and lesbians,” Rice said. “It takes away rights for religion and race.”

I think this video is neat:

From Our Families Count, an organization whose mission statement is:

Our Families Count aims to educate and motivate all LGBT Americans and households to be visible in 2010, and to take part in the 2010 U.S. Census.

Via Queers United.

There have been reports of women and queer people being harassed on the street in Flatbush, Brooklyn, particularly along Cortelyou Avenue.

If you are from that area and would like to join a discussion on neighborhood safety, you are welcome to attend.

September 29, 7pm at Vox Pop Cafe, at Cortelyou and Stratford.

Almost exactly a month ago I wrote about a man who busted into a queer youth support group in Tel-Aviv and opened fire with an assault rifle, killing two and injuring fifteen.

Queers Without Borders has posted an amazing response.

Israel is marketed as a gay-friendly tourist destination and a beacon of democracy in the Middle East. In fact, LGBTQ people of all ethnicities and religions face discrimination and violence in Israel, just as we do in all other parts of the world…

Contrary to the mediated attempt to describe Israel as a force of liberation and progress, we see objecting to apartheid Israel as an act of solidarity with the Palestinian people, including LGBTQ Palestinians. LGBTQ Palestinians are not going to be “saved” by a so-called gay-friendly Zionist state. Organized LGBTQ Palestinians reject the myth of Israel as an “oasis of tolerance.”

This is what solidarity looks like.

Some commentors at the Queers Without Borders post make the ridiculous assertion that Jewish queers are lucky to live where they do and not in an Arab state, because of the natural homophobia of Arabs. This shows a brazen level of misinformation, as Arab countries were known for their greater tolerance of homosexuality before colonialism.

Gay rights activists like Mounir, meanwhile, express surprise that homosexuality has become such a taboo in the Arab world, given a long history of relative tolerance.

“Homosexuality was never a big issue in Arab culture. We have lots of famous poets and singers who were gay,” he said. “Abu Nawas openly wrote about love between men, and Tuwais, one of the most famous singers in Arab history, wasn’t just gay, but almost a woman”.

From Irin.

Racist Prop 8 AdThanks to Renee at Womanist Musings for being on this.

It appears that some white queers still don’t got their shit together, despite all the discussion about race and the LGBT community that’s being going on around Prop 8. Queerty, a respectable website that at times suffers from an overdose of white privilege, published this image.

Read Renee’s post for good analysis about what’s wrong with Queerty’s appropriation of this image. I just wanted to draw this to the attention of The Czech readers as an expression of solidarity, as I am a white queer person and I want this cavalier appropriation of American blacks’ racial struggles by white queers to STOP.

I am still against Prop 8, but this is not the way to fight it.  How can QPOC (queer people of color) feel part of a movement that is so disrespectful of their unique histories?

Cemetery

Just some queers and perceived queers who were subject to hate crimes and/or murder in 2008. Learn more about their stories by clicking on their names.

Taysia Elzy & Michael Hunt

Milton Lindgren & Eric Hendricks

Leeneshia Edwards

Ebony Whitaker

Duanna Johnson

San Francisco Lesbian

Simmie Williams

Jose Sucuzhanay

Lawrence King

Angie Zapata

Wayland Union High School Student

Nathan Runkle

Moses Cannon

Lance Neve

Tony Hunter

Jimmy Lee Dean

(“…suspects later admitted robbing Dean because they thought a gay man would make an easier target.”)

Here’s why hate crime legislation is necessary and not just an ‘empty gesture’ as some have called it:

1. When hate crimes against certain groups are reported as such, the data can be tracked, aggregated, trends followed, and problem areas specifically addressed.

2. A hate crime has more victims than the primary person(s) who experienced the violence and abuse. A hate crime has as its secondary victims everyone else who belongs to that category that made the primary victims into targets. A hate crime against an individual who is perceived as LGBT has the effect of putting the whole LGBT community in a state of heightened fear. It establishes a precedent of attacking LGBT people because of their perceived queerness for other homophobic individuals who might tend towards violence.  Therefore, a murder as a result of a hate crime has wider negative effects than a murder that was  not a hate crime.

3. The label of hate crime breaks the silence that often surrounds violence and abuse towards oppressed and marginalized groups in society. It publicly names this particular kind of violence for what it is, which is of course essential if we want to look for real solutions to stop it. This is discussed in some of the links above… Indiana has no hate crime law, so LGBT advocates don’t know how prevalent hate crimes are, or which crimes against LGBT individuals were motivated by their LGBT status.

Something else to note: location, race, and socio-economic class seem to have important effects. A disproportionate number of those killed lived in conservative communities, were people of color, and were low-income. These parts of the victims’ identities intersect with their queerness, perceived or real, to create an identity, a personhood, that marked them as targets. Do their killers and harassers figure that by choosing victims who are doubly- and triply-marginalized they will be able to get away with their crimes? They certainly have enough precedent to think it’s a good bet. Or does possessing intersecting marginalized identities just create so much hate in would-be attackers that where one “offensive” identity would have been bearable, two or more is just temptation too great to resist?

From the Brooklyn Eagle via Pam’s House Blend:

The vast majority of brutality against gays is carried out by young men, usually acting in groups, said Riki Wilchins, executive director of Gender Public Advocacy Coalition, a Washington nonprofit that works in schools to address discrimination.

Their victims most often are other young men with feminine demeanors or transgender women, said Wilchins. “These assailants are looking to eradicate and exterminate something that enrages them, and that is what makes them hate crimes,” he said.

AP:

Stapel attributed the increase in part to more people reporting incidents, but she believed there actually could have been more assaults because 2008 was an election year.

“Election years are always violent years for us because of wedge issues,” Stapel said, referring to ballot measures this year banning gay marriage in California and Florida. “With increased visibility comes increased vulnerability to LGBT stereotypes and violence. We’ve seen some of the most violent hate crimes that we’ve seen in a while.”

Do prominent anti-gay measures have the effect of creating more hate crimes against LGBT individuals? Do these measures send a message to society that queers are lesser people, second-class citizens, not quite as deserving of respectful treatment as “regular” folks? If we believe our laws are supposed to reflect our society’s values, then I would say that anti-gay laws definitely send a message that it is okay to treat LGBT people as “less than”. If we already have fewer rights before the law, some individuals inclined towards violence and hate will feel that violence against a gay person will be analogously less serious before the law than violence against a “regular” person.

Your thoughts please. Respect for the humanity of Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Trans people is a requirement if you want to post. If I missed any anti-LGBT hate crimes, please post them in the comments!

Check out these great resources: LGBT Hate Crimes Project and LGBT Hate Crime Reports

Obama pride

Barack Obama and his campaign are well aware that they are supported by the majority of LGBT people only because no better option exists. Obama has made it clear that he does not support equal rights for the LGBT community, and yet during the presidential campaign gay pride marches had a pro-Obama contingent, and Obama rallies have often been supported by an LGBT-contingent. There is even a special Obama Pride logo, as you can see above.

Because Obama is less discriminatory against gays than his recent rivals or than Bush, he and his people know that it is unlikely queers will stop supporting him any time soon. This leads to a situation where LGBT Obama supporters can be exploited, and Obama is not above taking advantage of this opportunity.

He already has. During his campaign he toured with the openly homophobic, ex-gay gospel singer Donnie McClurkin. McClurkin used the platform Obama gave him to preach his bigotry to crowds of African Americans who were fans of his music. LGBT Obama supporters were outraged, but it didn’t matter. The Obama campaign knew they wouldn’t switch over to McCain.

Now he’s doing it again. In a second slap to the LGBT community, to let them know their place, he has chosen openly homophobic evangelical preacher Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration.

I understand being inclusive of the evangelical community. It’s important to be just as inclusive of them as it is for the LGBT community. I get that he is trying to be bi-partisan, to signal to Christian fundies that they will not be left out in the cold. All that is great.

But choosing someone who publicly advocates limiting the rights of an entire demographic of the American people? That is an insult I won’t soon forget.

Some neat information about Mr. Warren is up at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Advocate

Yeah.

Here’s the words of blogger TransGriot, aka Monica Roberts:

When I hear or see that ‘Gay is the New Black’ slogan, it just irks me, especially considering what I’ve observed over the last decade as a African-American transgender activist.

When we hear people say that, I and other African-Americans, both GLBT and non GLBT, see a movement comprised predominately with a leadership of white moneyed gay men who wish to compare themselves to the Civil Rights Movement but consistently ignore or fail to apply the fundamental lessons of that movement.

Via Feministing.

Curious people have a lot of questions, and below you will find lots of answers! I decided to compile some of the awesomest basic resources (101s) out there on the internet about -isms and social justice so that you can find most of what you need in one easy post. So here are some resources about important topics like feminism 101, anti-racism 101, ableism 101, and so much much more! It’s my own 101 101.

    WOMANISM/FEMINISM

What is Womanism? Posted by Trula Breckenridge

Definition of the word “Womanism” from A Feminist Theory Dictionary

Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog

Shakesville’s Feminism 101 page

    RACE & ANTI-RACISM

Talking About Race

Resist Racism’s Racism 101

Alas, a blog, on How Not to Be Insane When Accused of Racism

    CLASSISM

Classism.org

    ABLEISM

Ableism, Accessibility and Inclusion by Heather De Mian

Some info about Ableism by Greg Wolbring

    FAT ACCEPTANCE

Size Acceptance 101 on Case Gordita

But Don’t You Realize Fat Is Unhealthy? on Shapely Prose

Size Acceptance 101 on Shamless

    GENDER, HETERONORMITIVITY, TRANSPHOBIA, HOMOPHOBIA

A resource from Questioning Transphobia: How to Check Your Cis Privilege

Trans 101 on T-Vox

Trans and Genderqueer 101 at Gendercrash.com

The Bilerico Project’s Homosexuality 101

Heteronormitivity 101

    INTERSECTIONALITY & GENERAL

Intersectionality 101 on Illvox

How to Fuck Up by Teh Portly Dyke

Please add all those I missed (there must surely be many) in the comments!

Is the term “breeder” a bad word? A derogatory expression? I never considered it as such before, but recently someone has told me they found it offensive. How do you define it? Why is/why isn’t it offensive? Your thoughts please.

My thoughts: I consider the word breeder to be a joking term referring to straight (usually married) couples who reproduce. A term usually used by queers because it is “common sense” that they can’t breed (false). Since queers are a tiny minority compared to straights, I figured a joking term like “breeder” didn’t pack too much punch – queers as a group are hardly in a position to invoke systematic oppression against straight couples with children.

Here’s one Urban Dictionary definition of breeder:

slang term used by people of homosexual persuasion to refer to heterosexual couples, who have a significantly higher risk of contributing to the population increase than the homosexuals do.

Anyway, please enlighten me.

Related to this post

11/29/08 UPDATE: Look at this rad post from oneofhismoms about a queer mom’s experience with the word “breeder”.

Us queer people and single people spend a lot of time and money supporting our breeder friends. We support their search for a mate, we’re there for them when their relationships hit rocky points, we travel to weddings, we give wedding gifts, we celebrate their children. There may even be bridal showers, bachelor parties, baby showers, anniversary parties, bar mitzvahs and the like to attend along the way.

Single people and queers are there on the sidelines, always cheering.

Well, who’s going to celebrate my life choices? Who’s going to travel across country and wear fancy clothes and bear gifts for my relationship choice if I chose to remain single, or if I chose a same-sex partner? Are my choices as valid or aren’t they? Am I making worse choices? If my choices are just as valid as breeder choices, why are mine uncelebrated? I’m asking these questions rhetorically, not petulantly, BTW.

11/25/08 UPDATE
Look what’s being discussed on Feministing today! Super!

11/26/08
New discussion on the possible offensiveness of the word “breeder”.

Considering Patriotism
As I walked home from my Fourth of July celebrations through Seattle’s gayborhood, Capitol Hill, I saw multitudes of queers and hipsters celebrating this problematic holiday much the same way as my friends and I did. I saw them embroil themselves in the most stereotypical modes of celebration known to this nation: drunkenness, BBQs, fireworks, patriotic iconography, national songs, and shouts of patriotic fervor.

Yet the way they threw themselves into these celebrations showed a quintessentially hipsteresque level of irony and sarcasm. As social progressives, they are well apprised of the past and present sins of our nation; as queers, they know quite well that they are not even fully-equal citizens. They are conflicted about their relationship to their country, as am I. We know there are worse places on this earth, but we can’t escape the knowledge that there are some things that are fundamentally wrong with America.

We of the gayborhood eschew the unexamined, unquestioned nationalism, xenophobia, and jingoism that usually accompany Independence Day festivities. We ride dangerously close to the edge, almost replicating these expressions of narrow-mindedness, but staying just this side of informed mockery.

Massive, official displays of American patriotism are absurd. Our country has made war, enslaved, extorted and exploited. We are founded on the genocide of the people who were here before the white man came. We continue to struggle under endemic domestic social ills, and we continue to be a petulant bully in the outside world. To celebrate the purified, sanitized version of our history that we learned in schools and that we know is deliberately falsified, is to celebrate white supremacy and open lies.

The Fourth of July is absurd. Human nature has, fortunately, developed a mechanism for handling the absurd. It’s called humor, and it is a survival mechanism. The queers and the hipsters of Capitol Hill kicked into full survival mode this 4th by recognizing the absurdity of the day that lay before them and found their typical means of solace worthy to the task. They fell back on sarcasm and irony, and went through the empty motions of self-congratulatory nationalism to wallow in them, to handle this confusing day the best they could.

I joined them. I was one of them. I lit off fireworks, drank the champagne of beers, grilled hotdogs, shouted USA! USA! while pumping my fist in the air, and sang America the Beautiful. My friends and I all silently thought about genocide, slavery and war. We drank until we could no longer consider such complex topics, and then we wandered home to the sporadic sounds of firecrakers like gunfire in the night. Hell, it could have been real gunfire for all I know.

(c) 7/7/08 idyllicmollusk

UPDATE 11/28/08: Check out this super post about learning eurocentric history at stuff white people do.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation resembling the following?

· You are a christian student and notice that there is an active atheist club on campus.

· You are white and see that there is a hip new bar in town catering to African-Americans.

· You were born in the U.S., but see a cool new social networking organization for young Vietnamese immigrants pop up in your area.

· You are a man and notice that there are now several vocal women’s safety organizations in your town.

· You are straight and you have become aware of a vibrant and edgy queer art scene in a neighborhood near you.

If you can identify with any of these scenarios, you are just one of many. Many people in society become aware of the interesting goings-on in marginalized or oppressed communities, and are naturally curious.

If your curiosity leads to a desire to find out more, you can turn into one of two people:

1. An awesome supporter and ally of a different community

or

2. A shitty co-opter who uses affiliation with a marginalized community to look “cool”.

YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE NUMBER TWO.

To be a supporter and ally:

Before attending a community’s event, try to find out if outsiders are even welcome.

Be prepared to learn, not to teach.

See how you can “bring something to the table” through promoting, donating, volunteering or working to end oppression experienced by the community.

Be thankful for the opportunity for an inside look at the community.

Keep your mouth shut- spend your time listening.

If members of an oppressed community decide to share information with you about how they experience discrimination, be supportive and affirm their feelings.

Make it clear that though you haven’t had the same experiences, you still value their perspectives.

Be open to experiencing things that will change the way you perceive larger society.

Be ready to work out differences.

To be a shitty co-opter:

Assume that outsiders are always wanted and welcome.

Tell members of the marginalized community what they should and shouldn’t be doing.

Steal ideas, style and strategies without offering anything in return.

Act like the community should be grateful simply for your presence.

Take up all the space by insisting on constantly being the center of attention.

Deny that members of marginalized communities experience discrimination or oppression, and tell them they are wrong to feel that way.

Pretend that you can fully understand all aspects of the situation of someone from an oppressed community.

Refuse to legitimately try to understand the perspective of the community in question.

Claim a the community’s identity as your own.

It’s about space. Co-opters actually hurt and further oppress the communities that they prey on by invading their space, whereas allies help them thrive. People who stand in a privileged position in society may learn to expect that they have a right to access any and all community space. They may also come to think that they know what’s best for communities that experience oppression. It is easy to feel this way when you are accustomed to society catering to your demographic’s needs, especially if you are white, male, christian, straight, or US-born, etc. Please be aware that people who do not share these characteristics with you have had very, very different experiences with our society. This is not a reason to distance yourself from marginalized or oppressed communities, but to instead practice being an effective ally.

© 3/31/08 idyllicmollusk

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