Archive for the 'politics' Category

05
Mar
09

Round-up

All of my time and energy for writing right now is going toward processing in my relationships. (It’s always something, isn’t it? I will never not be busy, and there will never not be something of that moment that I point to and say “It’s this, soon I will be less crazy.) It may be a few more days before I can sit down and write something thoughtful about anything else. Also, I dropped my Eee PC and cracked the screen today (apparently the world was trying to see how much hard stuff it had to throw at me to kill my high from an amazing Saturday night — okay, world, you win!), so blogging on the train and bus will be out until I come up with money to get it fixed or replace it. So in the meantime, a look at the things I might be blogging about if I were doing so at all…

Girlfriend, Esq. pointed me to Greta Christina’s response to Dan Savage’s latest insensitive comment about bisexuals. I’d missed it somehow, but as always, Greta Christina does a thorough and brilliant job of responding. I don’t think I have anything to add. Other than that Dan Savage may make his reputation on his snark, but the occasional columns where a dozen questions get brief answers really help no one. They just let him showcase his wit without giving actual advice. Even he could probably have done a better job of answering that one if he’d fleshed it out more; at least we’d know which fucked up thing exactly he was getting at.

Alex at Bilerico is doing a week-long series on abstinence-only education, looking at a new report on how abstinence-only education is actually implemented in Texas (the state that receives the most federal funding for it). Two days ago he wrote about homophobia in abstinence-only, yesterday about religion as part of the curriculum; today it’s sexism. Keep an eye on that one; it promises to be interesting and important.

Meanwhile, Bil at Bilerico posts about the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders filing a challenge to DOMA that they seem to hope to bring to the Supreme Court. He has a lot of really persuasive things to say about how the push for marriage actually harms the push for more basic rights in places other than the two coasts. I’m a coastal dweller myself, so I can’t say anything other than that it sounds about right, and lines up with/complements a lot of my reasoning on why pushing for marriage is not where our energy should be going. He also left a heart-wrenching comment on a different post by someone who supports the move. And Nancy Polikoff points out that it will only benefit couples with income inequalities, and talks about how the queers shouldn’t be shoring up heteronormativity — and you know how I love that.

HRC has announced some long-overdue changes to its Corporate Equality Index. I’m not best pleased with how long these changes will take to kick in and how long employers can continue to skate by while treating trans employees in really fucked up ways, but I have no way of assessing HRC’s claim that companies need that long to bring themselves into compliance. Of course I’m less concerned than HRC is about employers who don’t treat trans employees well getting to keep their perfect scores for a couple of years while they fix that, but they may have a point that companies are more likely to comply if they’re not ticked off. Since after all we’re not hoping they’ll do this out of the goodness of their hearts; we know they have to be shamed into it/get something out of it. And it is a positive change. Also, because he wins all of the links today, Bil talks about his disappointment that HRC will still not be assessing companies on their behavior internationally and factoring that in.

Have a lovely week!

20
Feb
09

More in common than we thought?

I am so woefully behind since last weekend’s conference. Especially since Girlfriend, Esq. got into town last night, so I spent the three days since I got home getting ready for her visit. If I owe you a personal email or haven’t responded to your comment yet (thanks for all the birthday wishes!), I swear I haven’t forgotten you and it is on my list of things to do. If you could give me until Monday before you give up on me, I’d be eternally grateful.

I’m still catching up on Google Alerts and Bilerico emails, too. In one of them I came across a link to this reaction to Rea Carey’s speech at Creating Change, from Americans for Truth About Homosexuality. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that it’s a vile piece. They play up the Leather Leadership Award as evidence that the Task Force isn’t qualified to speak on right and morality, and clearly only have to say the words “transsexuality,” “prostitution,” “polyamory/nonmonogamy,” and “sexual freedom” to get their readers all grossed out and riled up. I also giggled at “If you are reading this website, you are seriously concerned about the homosexual activist agenda.” Yeah, actually, I am. Mostly I’m concerned with advancing it.

What I find fascinating about the article, though, is how similarly it reads to many things I see from the queer-positive radical left. The way they set the Left up as a monolithic, powerful Goliath against their poor, disorganized, minority David is awfully familiar. Check this out: Continue reading ‘More in common than we thought?’

24
Jan
09

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

It was a truly glorious weekend in DC. And I’m going to continue to refer to it as a weekend, even though it was five days long and I got home Wednesday afternoon (and I’m writing about it on the eve of another weekend.) Because I can.

Being at the inauguration was a marvelous experience, and one that’s been written about extensively elsewhere. We got lucky as far as travel goes. We slept optimistically late, and ended up getting on the Metro around 9:30. But even with train delays and a long walk on crowded streets to get around the parade route, we manage to get to the Mall (if the foot of the Washington Monument even counts as the Mall) by 11:15. We had a decent view of a Jumbotron (I cannot get over this word!) and could hear even though what we had taken for speakers when we chose our spot were actually lights for the Washington Monument. Within minutes of our arrival thousands of people had piled in behind us, with more coming.

It was an amazing crowd to be in. For one thing, it was probably the biggest crowd I will ever be a part of in my life. Possibly one of the biggest crowds that’s gathered to date, anywhere and for any reason? Instinct says yes, but I have no facts, and we all know how reliable instinct is in the absence of facts. Anyway, everyone was excited and remarkably good-natured. I always assumed that crowds of that size are, by their very nature, moments from turning into a mob or a riot. But this felt nothing like that. It was incredible to be surrounded so closely by so many people sharing the same moment of excitement, awe, and — oh, I hate how every time I use this word these days I feel like a campaign slogan! — hope.

Girlfriend, Esq. and I refrained from booing whenever Bush showed up on the screen, and from turning our backs when Rick Warren was speaking (nor were we wearing rainbows, aside from my ever-present shoelaces. That was more about not having any handy, though). Instead, we spent Bush’s moments on the screen and the entire invocation making out. Because sweet, loving same-gender kisses seemed a pretty clear, and thoroughly enjoyable, way to register my feelings about Warren’s presence. Mmm, peaceful protest.
Continue reading ‘Meanwhile, back at the ranch…’

21
Jan
09

Elsewhere on the Internet

I thought I would have a couple of chances to post while I was away this week — ha! It was a wonderful trip, though. Thoughts on the inaguaration and the aforementioned Bar Mitzvah when I have a chance to write them up, but in the meantime:

Alex Blaze has a great piece up on Bilerico about the religious right’s attempt to frame everything anyone does that offends them as an infringement of their freedom of speech or religion — in short, their attempt to limit others’ freedom of speech on the faulty premise that it violates theirs. I don’t really have anything to add, but he makes some really good points. And I wanted to share my outrage at the way donors to Yes On 8 think they should be able to hide from the natural consequences of their actions (queers and allies not supporting their businesses! Well, yeah, that happens when you donate to have homophobia written into law…).

There’s been a bit of a blow-up in the blogosphere around Elizabeth Bear’s novel Blood and Iron, which I have not read and on which I am not qualified to comment. But that prompted an important conversation about cultural appropriation on The Angry Black Woman. It also prompted this brilliant essay by Deepa D. on writing sf&f as a person of color, and this follow-up for white people who can’t seem to keep their own issues around racism out of POC space. I found all of these posts interesting and very helpful in my mission to become more aware of racism and develop a more nuanced analysis around it, but be careful wading through the comments, which can get pretty offensive.

15
Jan
09

On hope and compromise

I fell asleep last night thinking, again, about Rick Warren. A question in this week’s Savage Love brought it back to the surface of my mind, a girl asking how she could visibly but respectfully protest while Warren is speaking next Tuesday. But this time, lying in bed thinking about it, I was feeling optimistic. Mostly because my sister pointed out to me a few days ago that Obama has chosen the Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop, to pray on Sunday at the kickoff event for the inaugural festivities.

It seems to me that this means a couple of good things. The first is that Obama is listening. People were loudly, persistently furious about his choice of Warren to give the invocation, and that seems to have had an effect. We are getting to have a voice that’s loud and powerful enough to demand change, to point out when we are injured and disregarded so that people have to actually listen. That’s important stuff. And I still don’t know what moved Obama to choose Warren in the first place, but including a gay voice in the festivities as well lends a lot more credence to his claim that he plans to give everyone a voice, rather than selling out the people who supported him in order to court those who, most likely, never will.

The other thing I find promising about this choice is actually Warren’s reaction to it. Look at that quote from the end of the article:
Continue reading ‘On hope and compromise’

05
Jan
09

Fort-nightly Round-Up, Part 2

Whew! This should be it on everything that happened in the past month. We should now be back to our regularly scheduled weekly round-up.

It’s been a fun couple of weeks for me. My sister is in town between a semester in Russia and her last semester in Wisconsin (she should have something to say for us about that soon!), and I’ve been spending tons of time with her. We hosted a dinner party last weekend, spent this week getting my apartment from mostly-moved-in to fully set up and looking like a home, and two nights ago broke it in with a housewarming party. It’s been lots of fun, but blogging and spending time with my other friends have been falling by the wayside a bit as I try to stock up on time with her enough to last me the next three months. They say that how you spend the New Year is how you spend the next year, and I would be so okay with spending this year in people’s living rooms with a few close friends. Eating homemade soup, tearing apart neocon craziness, and laughing til it hurts. Bring it on.

Meanwhile, in the world:

Continue reading ‘Fort-nightly Round-Up, Part 2′

30
Dec
08

Libraries are a Queer Issue, or, LGBT Politics Beyond Marriage


Remember all those nationwide rallies last month against Prop 8? I didn’t go to the Philadelphia one because I was at a rally to save the Kingsessing branch of the Free Library from closing. That pretty much sums up my political priorities these days. But this isn’t a case of libraries trumping queer issues or local politics trumping national issues or anything silly like that; rather, I see the fight to save 11 branches of the Philadelphia Free Library from permanent closure as exactly the kind of intersectional issue I’d like to see included in a broader sense of what constitutes “LGBT politics,” which is all too often overshadowed by gay marriage.*
Continue reading ‘Libraries are a Queer Issue, or, LGBT Politics Beyond Marriage’

07
Nov
08

Election Reflections

The world is a much brighter place for me right now than it was even a week ago. All of the tension I’ve been holding about the uncertainty of the future might finally have a chance to dissipate. There are two reasons for this, one personal and one shared:

1) I’m moved! Moving really is possibly my least favorite thing to do in the entire world. I just hate it. But I managed to get the packing done in time, and my friends showed up and carried and smiled and laughed and made the day itself a pleasure, and since Sunday I’ve been giving myself a break and slowly settling into my new place. Now that I’ve had a chance to recover a bit from draining myself so dry, and don’t have to spend every spare moment packing, I’m determined to follow the news more closely and blog more often. Also to put more time and care into my close friendships

2) President-Elect Barack Obama!! I can’t express how surprised I am that the democratic process actually worked (I was convinced this election would be stolen), and how thrilled at the idea of a regime change. The state of the world has been wearing on us all, I think. And while I don’t expect it all to turn around in an instant — and don’t even get me started on how this election is not the death knell of racism – I admit that I’m inspired and full of hope. The majority of voting Americans voted for a black man. A man who is, while not perfect, maybe as liberal as could possibly elected. A man who might be able to inspire people to do the things that must be done. Now I’m hoping that it’s not too late — for the economy, for the environment, for foreign relations — but I know that at least we will not be sitting back and watching the world go to hell, doing nothing and patting ourselves on the back for it.

As far as queer issues go, this election was not nearly so awesome. Obama himself seems fairly positive on LGBT issues, but has basically not mentioned us, and spoke out against Prop. 8 but has also said that he’s not for legalizing gay marriage. And Prop. 8 has almost certainly passed, and similar measures in Arizona and Florida have certainly passed. Which is disheartening, particularly in California, where it’s a definite step backward rather than a failure to step forward. (More on why I don’t prioritize same-sex marriage in another post, but if it’s going to be on the ballot I’d at least like it to pass. People voting against it is still bigoted and infuriating even if I think it’s a poor use of our community’s energy and resources.) Arkansas’s ban on unmarried couples adopting passed, and is horrendous, and clearly aimed at keeping queers from raising poor, innocent, impressionable children. Because it would be so much better for those children to grow up in orphanages! Finding enough foster homes is enough of a hardship without going around disqualifying people for ridiculous, hateful reasons that have nothing to do with children’s actual wellbeing. Ballot propositions on abortion went well, but as far as queer issues go, not a banner election.

But Girlfriend, Esq. pointed me in the direction of Kate Brown, today’s official Bisexual Politician Of The Day. She was just elected Oregon’s secretary of state (the second highest-ranking elected official in the state of Oregon), which makes her the first LGBT secretary of state in the country. Even before Tuesday’s election, as the Senate majority leader in Oregon (a post she’s held since 2004) she was the highest-ranked out bisexual elected official in the United States, and Oregon’s first female Senate majority leader. And she’s used that position to do all sorts of great things: she was involved in passing a domestic partnership bill, and the Bay Area Reporter quotes the Oregonian as also crediting her with pushing through “civil rights legislation for gays and lesbians, stronger ethics laws, solid budgets for schools and universities, and health care reform, including insurance coverage for contraceptives.” That’s, um, pretty awesome.

Of course, while I was googling her I came across this nonsense from Just Out, which suggests that none of that is as important as the fact that Ms. Brown is partnered with a man and no longer has short, dykey hair. Because whether she looks and acts like their conception of a queer woman is so much more important than whether she openly identifies as one. And hey, she may do a lot of LGBT advocacy, but any gay-friendly straight person could do that! (Yes, they said that.)
I’m infuriated. It would be one thing if Just Out was criticizing Ms. Brown for hiding her identity, or not fighting on behalf of the community when she’s in a position to do so, or anything like that. But they’re suggesting that all of that isn’t good enough, and if she wants to represent the community she needs to (I am not making this up) “please just butch it up a bit.” What is she doing representing herself as the bisexual candidate and taking money from LGBT donors if she’s not going to dress and act like a big ol’ dyke? That would help queer people identify with her so they’d want to vote for her. ‘Cause no queer women can identify with someone who chooses to have long hair. Would one little drag show really hurt her?
I’m offended by this as a bisexual and as a femme. I’ve spent enough time thinking I’m not good enough or queer enough because I don’t have the right haircut, I’m over hearing other people given grief over it. Come to think of it, I’m outraged as a woman as well; I can’t imagine a gay man being told to be a bit more nelly to get community support, and I think that’s all about a demonization of femininity and failure to take it seriously. And as far as getting on her case for having a husband and kids, when will people would stop questioning bisexuals for our partners’ genders when choosing those partners is totally consistent with the identity we’ve claimed all along? From what I can tell, they’re also taking out of context her statement about hoping her sexuality won’t be an issue in the campaign — from a longer quote (in the same Bay Area Reporter article) it seems she was hoping her opposition wouldn’t stoop to smearing her for it, which strikes me as a totally reasonable hope. I was already going to email Kate Brown to congratulate her on her victory, and let her know how awesome I think she is. Maybe while I’m at it I’ll leave a comment or email the man who wrote the article (stephen@justout.com) and let him know how offensive I find it that they’re judging a bisexual politician on her haircut and the gender of her partner rather than her openness about her sexuality, the ways she’s used her power as a state Senator, and her advocacy for the community.
I, for one, am proud to have Kate Brown representing bisexuality. No matter how she dresses.




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