Weekly Round-Up

This week in my life: was four days long, sandwiched between two weekends out of town. Maintenance finally got around to fixing the leak over my window, and I finally got around to doing some more settling into my new apartment, once the dripping water stopped destroying my sleep and it no longer felt futile. I thought about blogging a lot, but never quite managed it. Slowly, slowly life is coming back under control and I’m finding the time and energy to do the things that are important to me.

This week on the internet:

Two bi magazines folded. Joining a general trend of print magazines that don’t want to tell you how to lose weight or decorate your home or which celebrities are smooching each other folding. I should really find out if there are any bi magazines left at this point, so I can subscibe before I lose my chance entirely.

This piece in the Washington Post charmingly blames DC’s high HIV infection rates on male bisexuality and black folks’ promiscuity. Joshua Lynsen  ably counters the former {ed: link fixed…I really was careless this week}, though I’d like to see someone take on the latter in more depth, as well.

Britain’s Office of National Statistics is going to start asking people about sexual orientation. This might actually give us the first accurate picture of what percentage of the population — that population, at least — identifies as straight, gay, bisexual, or other. Information that could easily be used for good or evil, but it should be interesting.

Binghamton, NY’s City Council has proposed a law to extend freedom from discrimination from the basics (and not so basics) of “age, race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, marital status, sex, and sexual orientation” to “sexual orientation, sexual identity, gender presentation, gender identity {ed: oops!} weight and height.” Awesome! Does anyone know if this is the first potential protection from size discrimination, nationally or internationally? {ed: Apparently  not.  See TGStoneButch’s comment below for more information.)

I’m a little bit confused by this keynote speech about LGBT research. The speaker is suggesting that the same studies are being done over and over, and it’s time to actually learn something. Which sounds good to me. I also think it’s important to point out how often “LGBT” research is actually research on (usually white) gay men except when it’s being used to blame usually black bisexual men for spreading STIs). But I wonder about this quote: “He also questioned whether the LGBT research community was too inclusive. ‘It may be the case that in trying to be inclusive we have failed to recognise the exclusivity that some of our research requires,’ he said. Services labelled LGBT often serve ‘G’ and hopefully ‘L’, occasionally ‘B’ and rarely ‘T, he said. “How can we justify the fact that LGBT sexual health usually means gay men’s health? We accept a need to fund gay men’s health projects, but what about lesbian health, transgender health, bisexual health? In trying to be inclusive have we ‘played’ to the lowest common denominator?‘” “Lowest common denominator?” Does he mean what I think he means? ‘Cause if so, that’s fucked up.

And this piece on Bilerico about whether sexual orientation needs to be an immutable characteristic to deserve equal protection under the law is insightful and interesting, and also reminds me of a piece Girlfriend, Esq.. wrote on her brilliant legal blog about sex and sexuality back in March about whether political powerlessness is a good criterion for same. Both pieces are somewhat lengthy, but well worth reading. (And speaking of Girlfriend, Esq’s blog, she also expanded on the EHarmony settlement I mentioned in last week’s roundup.)

Have a lovely weekend! My bus is just pulling into Philadelphia, and I know I will.

11 Responses to “Weekly Round-Up”

  1. 6 December 2008 at 10:58 am

    On the size discrimination question:

    Santa Cruz, CA has a local ordinance protecting from discrimination on the basis of appearance. So does Washington, DC. San Francisco CA protect size discrimination, as does the state of Michigan.

    There’s a book by Sandra Solovay that discusses weight discrimination and the law in depth: “Tipping the Scales of Justice: Fighting Weight-Based Discrimination”

    I know there is also case law that may help protect as well. Here is one place to go on the web for more info:

  2. 6 December 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Services labelled LGBT often serve ‘G’ and hopefully ‘L’, occasionally ‘B’ and rarely ‘T, he said.

    There was an Amnesty International poster up at my school this week, urging people to get involved with their programs working for justice for “LGBT” people around the world. I was happy to see it, until I noticed that it actually said, to explain the acronym: “LGBT (Lesbian, Gay…) people.”

    And, you know, I guess they thought the rest was obvious, but, wow. Just wow.

  3. 3 Jen
    7 December 2008 at 9:13 am

    bi magazines left?

    See the BiMedia.org links. You two are I think in the USA where there’s BiWomen and Journal of Bisexuality.

  4. 4 Aviva
    7 December 2008 at 6:21 pm

    TG, thanks so much! Clearly I should have bothered to do some research myself rather than just slapping up links before the bus arrived in Philadelphia. But it’s so awesome that protections from discrimination based on size and appearance are starting to become law.

    Daisy – oh, ick! Ellipsis indeed! I’ll ellipsis them…
    I really love how the gay and lesbian movement is trying to get the resources of bi and trans people and the credibility of standing more without ever actually doing anything for us. Love it love it love it.

    Jen, thanks! I was looking at the Journal of Bisexuality, but it’s, um, really expensive. Maybe someday. I may also be more interested in magazines than in academic journals, but if it were in front of me I’d definitely read it.

  5. 5 Jen
    7 December 2008 at 7:07 pm

    JoB really does cost an arm and a leg – cos they are mostly selling to university libraries and such. It’s why it is the one English language bi title I know about but don’t get!

    Many volumes of it have been republished as books, it might be worth a little browsing of Amazon 🙂

  6. 6 rkt
    10 December 2008 at 3:04 pm

    for what it’s worth, it looks like JoB is accessible through new york and brooklyn public library systems online after logging into one’s account.
    i’m not so sure about other locales.

  7. 15 December 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Re: the LGBT studies article, I agree that his point about “lowest common denominator” is obtuse and awkward. Unfortunately, without the context of the rest of his speech, his meaning may be hard to puzzle out.

    He could be saying that lesbian, bisexual, and transgender health is irrelevant. I think, however, that “lowest common denominator” might be used in the mathematical sense and not in the pejorative political sense. The “lowest common denominator” of LGBT, that is, the group of characteristics all four groups have in common, is their status as marginalized groups. Gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals have some similar concerns and some radically different ones, as can be shown through the history of the queer civil rights movements. And transgender people have another set of concerns irrespective of sexuality, and trans people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or straight can also have distinct concerns from their cisgender counterparts.

    And if the research is in truth focusing on the commonalities, “LGBT” is an accurate description. But to label research as “LGBT” when it really only targets or studies gay men is patently ridiculous, just as it is ridiculous to sell pharmaceuticals that were only tested on cismen to all genders.

    I agree and disagree about the repetition of research segment. Research is supposed to be repetitive. You can’t make a statement of fact on the basis of only one study, or only a handful of studies, or many studies that are only conducted on a statistically insignificant group of subjects. The problem is that there are limited funds available for research on LGBT issues, because there are limited organizations and institutions that care. So while everyone is busy testing whether homosexuality is genetic or not, there is a lot of other vitally necessary research that isn’t being done because of the zero-sum game that is funding. It’s true that more research needs to be done on everyone, and new questions asked, I completely agree. But that doesn’t mean that the old questions are necessarily bad, just for that reason.

    And the tag of LGBT whether or not the study actually says something about all of those populations masks this problem. Such a superficial nod to inclusivity damages everyone. The queer community is not monolithic, and research on gay cisgender men alone cannot stand in for research on all our diverse groups. Moreover, even gay cisgender men aren’t monolithic, and have as much need of nuanced research as anyone else. Lip-service is not meaningful.

    Anyway, I hope that is what he was trying to say. If we had the entire context the answer might be more clear.

  8. 8 Jen
    16 December 2008 at 11:05 am

    Following on the research line:

    I’ve seen the text of the whole speech and the lowest common denominator is, as I had imagined from the newspaper article, clearly being meant in the mathematical sense of the term and makes more sense when not being turned into a journalist soundbite. I don’t agree with everything in the full version of what he said, but I think it helps in terms of bi visibility and recognition of bi difference to have someone of his profile opening up some of these areas of debate in as respected a space as the Times Higher Ed.

  9. 9 Aviva
    16 December 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Wow, Jen, where did you get the text for the whole speech? I looked and didn’t come up with it.

  10. 25 February 2009 at 5:22 am

    Damn this blogging platform that doesn’t notify me of updates/comments, I only found this comment as I was crawling back through your blog with something else in mind.

    I got in touch with the speaker seeking clarification for BCN. The joy of having a media hat to wear when it helps! 😀

  11. 11 Aviva
    26 February 2009 at 1:45 am

    Jen — sorry about that! I think if I left WordPress, it would be for a platfom that threads comments and lets those who comment sign up for such notifications. ‘Course it’s easy for me, they always let me know!

    And thanks for letting us benefit from your media hat!

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