Monday, June 30, 2014

Queery: Bronies, Asexuals and Straight People

The Q in LGBTQ has always bugged me.  Whether you define it as “Queer” or “Questioning,” that fucking Q is ambiguous as shit.  The term Queer is anything outside of the social parameter of normativity, while questioning is, well, let’s face it—life is nothing without questions.  That damn Q can literally mean ANYTHING!

Okay, so maybe it DOES have a place in our spectrum of pride. 

The truth is sex and sexuality is more than just skin deep.  Sex penetrates the deepest, darkest regions of our brains, brightens our prefrontal cortex like an orgasmic Christmas tree.  Sex binds us together at the molecular level and connects us as humans.  And at the same time sexuality is all-encompassing; it can be confusing and scary.  Lots of crazy shit is happening inside us when we’re sexually aroused, or when we slip into the skin of our identified gender.  And that vulnerability both connects and detaches us from the world around it.  I mean, let’s face it: society doesn’t make it any easier for any of us.  As much as society worries over and controls my cock, you’d think their arm would be tired by now—or at least that they’d switch hands.

So today I am celebrating the Q, in its entire queer splendor, with three groups I feel embody what it is to be queer in this society.  Whether you and I understand it or not is unimportant.  Pride Month is about otherness, something I think we can all relate too.  It’s about acceptance, tolerance and inclusiveness.    
Pride IS the Q and the Q is us.

And cheers to us! 

Bronies


There is a wave of rainbow magic sweeping the nation.  It has claimed such people like John de Lancie (Q from Star Trek), and my brother-in-law Jon.  At its heart, this group has nothing to do with gender or sexuality, but it does embody everything LGBT Pride strives to accomplish—love, tolerance and community.
When the children’s cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic first aired, even the voice actors were taken aback by the show’s instant popularity.  Not by the kids…nay.  It was the adults galloping and rearing and whinnying their way to the front of the lines just to get a little taste of the magic.  They had even given themselves a name:

Bronies. 

I’ll admit that when my brother-in-law first came out as a Brony, I had a “What the fuck are you talking about?” moment.  It was the craziest thing I had ever heard of, and I have heard some shit.  But now I realize it isn’t crazy.  Queer as hell, but not crazy.

Bronies represent the ostracized in our culture, a people on the fringe of society with hearts full of love and grace and respect with nobody to share it.  So, like in the show, Bronies have taken control of their own magic.  They have banded together in a proverbial herd and formed their own subculture of creative, talented individuals who share their heart for community.  And their love knows no bounds, whether it is Applejack or you.  In essence, love is their power to defeat the crazy ass real-life Discord that seems all too mighty until somebody starts making some noise.

So here’s to the Bronies far and wide!  Keep doing you, and the world will be a better place for it.  Now come on you queer sons of mares…give me some hoof.

Asexuals


Nobody embodies the queer community more than asexuals.  For those who may not be familiar with this group of people, an asexual is a person who does not experience sexual attraction.  Defined in the DSM-IV as hypoactive sexual desire disorder, society (myself included) would label these people as broken.  Who DOESN’T want to fuck, right?    

Asexuals, that’s who.

And they’re tired of all of us telling them they’re missing out.
While I myself have criticisms to the asexual movement, I can fundamentally agree with them on one thing:
Society tells us to fuck.

Sex sells.  Turn on a TV or computer.  Everywhere we look someone else is telling us how to look, to act, to fuck…or not fuck, as is the case with asexuals.  And because of this absence of sexual desire, we assume the asexual must be a miserable shell of a person.  But that isn’t the case.  

According to The Asexual Visibility and Education Network, “Asexual people have the same emotional needs as anyone else and, like in the sexual community, we vary widely in how we fulfill those needs.”  Alfred Kinsey even had a place on his scale for the asexual community, determining about 1% of the population identified as asexual.  Today, research into asexuality remains scarce.  This is due primarily to the asexual community standing up and demanding that there is nothing wrong or “broken” about them.

And good for you asexuals! 

Just because our culture tells you to fuck your brains out doesn’t mean you’re messed up because you don’t.  Fucking leads to a host of shit that can often decimate otherwise beautiful relationships.  Focus instead on the relationships you hold most dear.  In the end, that is the only unrequited love that matters.  And never stop celebrating, you beautiful asexual beasts.  You are here and you are queer—and the rest of us can just get used to it.

Heterosexuals 

In his new book American Savage, Dan Savage discusses why straight people should hold their own straight pride.  But they don’t need their own pride.  They can just hop on the love train with the rest of us.  After all, is there anything queerer than being strictly heterosexual?  Alfred Kinsey himself determined only about 10% of men are strictly straight or gay.  Overall, though, Kinsey discovered something far more significant about human sexuality:

It is a characteristic of the human mind that tries to dichotomize in its classification of phenomena….Sexual behavior is either normal or abnormal, socially acceptable or unacceptable, heterosexual or homosexual; and many persons do not want to believe that there are gradations in these matters from one to the other extreme.”
In short, Kinsey’s report determined that sexuality is fluid.  One cannot simply label themselves one thing and simply adhere to those classifications.  But that is exactly what society expects from the heterosexual individual.  They provide these stereotypical prototypes by which straight people should adhere, and anything outside of that paradigm is scrutinized to determine the hetero-ness of the individual. 

“You married?” 

“Kids?” 

“You at least seeing someone?” 

“What’s his/her name?” 

Essentially what they’re saying is:

"Who are you fucking and is it a guy or girl?" 

But what about the rising number of people deciding not to marry?  Or the women choosing not to have children?  What about that single guy you know whose best friend is a gay guy?  Is he gay?  Straight? 

Does it matter?

Absolutely not!  The only thing that matters is YOU, and you are a beautiful queer creature whether you know it or not.  You are judged harsher and on a much greater scale than the rest of us, and for that you deserve to be celebrated.  

So here's to you straight people.      


Happy Pride!!

Friday, June 27, 2014

The T



Pride month is a time of community and celebration, and none have more reason to celebrate than the transsexual community.  The past year has been an exceptionally exciting time for transsexual rights.  Only a few weeks ago the Obama Administration lifted a ban on insurance coverage for sex-reassignment surgeries, as well as any transition related care for federal employees.  Now, coverage for transitional care falls to independent carriers—who are now faced with the choice to cover transgendered individuals or be labeled a dick hole by this guy:


But Pride isn’t just about celebration.  Pride is looking back on the fight and seeing how far we’ve come in the fight for equality.  Pride is looking to the future and stoically embracing the leagues we have yet to go before reaching that shimmering rainbow on the horizon. 

And honey, the trans-community has a long way to go.

Just last weekend,Trans Pride, L.A. was called to an abrupt end when a bomb threat was called in to the Renberg Theatre where a transgender film festival was taking place.  The second bomb scare of the day, organizers decided to evacuate the building “out of abundance of caution and with input from the LAPD.”  A few days later, activists in Turkey gathered for their annual Trans Pride in Istanbul amidst a host of protestors.  Police kept opponents at bay as the gay community made their way to Tunel Square where they issued a statement:  “We will keep on fighting until finally throwing a monkey wrench into your corrupt regime.  We will resist and protect gay pride on the streets, in the parks and prisons.”  Meanwhile, LGBT advocates are being denied visas to Uganda, where being gay or transgendered is punishable by imprisonment and death. 



This is all proof of the ripples the trans-community have made in the social discourse, and the struggles our trans brothers and sisters across the globe still face on a daily basis. 

For many people, gender is a black and white issue.  For example, I was born male.  A gay male, but a cock-bearing male nonetheless.  I identify with the dick between my legs.  Never have I looked at it thought, “That shouldn’t be there.”  But according to the American Psychiatric Association, gender dysphoria—described as distress over one’s assigned gender—often manifests itself during childhood.  We see this in the story of Ryland Whittington who, at 6-years old, identifies as a boy rather than a girl.  In response, little Ryland’s parents have allowed him to express his gender the way he likes.  And to Ryland’s parents I say, “Cheers to you, folks!”

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for most transgendered individuals.  Society assigns our gender according to that tiny, insignificant organ between our legs before we're even pulled from our mother’s body.  And with that tiny little cock or vagina comes a shit load of responsibilities.  But according to a recent article by Huffington Post, a transgendered person’s most validated sexual organ isn’t what’s between their legs—it’s their brain.  As Leslie P. Henderson writes:

“Studies of xy males and xy male to female transgender subjects have shown significant differences in the size of specific brain regions, as well as in the numbers of neurons and the chemical signaling systems within those regions. How these differences arise and precisely how they relate to gender identity is not known, but there are differences in the brain that correlate with gender identity. And the brain is biology.
But our culture isn’t set up according to our neuro-biological functioning.  Pussy and dick—that is all that matters—and one is more understood and socially accepted than the other.  A binary sexual system that serves a singular purpose.  And if you have one but identify with the other, society would have you labeled as an “other” yourself—something beyond the scope of understanding. 

But we CAN understand it.

At least, we can try.

I’ll admit that I have no idea what it’s like to feel entrapped in the wrong gender.  It sounds like a living hell—the scrutiny of family and co-workers; feeling the need to hide behind whatever socially acceptable facet it takes to successfully blend in and go unnoticed as I try to just…live my life.  Even within the gay community, the trans-community has had to struggle for a place in the spectrum of pride.  It wasn’t until 1994 the gay community even found a place for the T, and even then transgendered individuals found themselves shunned and misunderstood, their issues placed on the back burner in lieu of safer LGBT issues.

 

Well, today is your day trans-people.  Stand up.  Make your voices heard.  In 1966, three years before Stonewall, a group of transsexuals stood up against oppression in a tiny cafĂ© in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco, California.  Today, transgendered individuals are some of the most influential movers and shakers we have in the fight for equality.  Don’t stop.  Demand freedom and protection each and every step of the way, and force the rest of the world to see you--to really see you--as more than just a walking sex organ.  And never stop celebrating yourselves.


Happy Pride!!  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

LG...T Pride



You know who gets a bad rap? 

The bisexuals.

During this month of pride, bisexuals are the group which receives the least amount of focus.  Just over the weekend New York City Pride announced gay, lesbian and transgendered grand marshals for their event, conveniently glancing over their bi brothers and sisters.  The third color in our inclusive rainbow, and still one of our most misunderstood allies.  Even in the gay community, a bisexual person is viewed with mistrust.  They’re confused…greedy…unable to commit to a monogamous relationship...

Blah…blah…blah…

But the truth is that these misconceptions are a reflection of the gay and lesbian community’s plight to carve out their own niche in society.  Take marriage, for example.  While the LBGT Community has made great strides in its fight for marriage equality, marriage has historically been used as a form of social and sexual manipulation and, in some places, still is.  Now don’t get me wrong—marriage equality is an important issue, and one I will continue to fight for.  But, gay marriage is just an example of a desire to adopt this heteronormative identity most comfortable to the society around us…not necessarily ourselves. 

 Similarly, gay and lesbian communities have defined bisexuals in the same binary terms society has imposed on them.  Sexuality is black and white.  Gay or straight.  Top or bottom.  Male or female.  But this most certainly isn’t the case.  Gender and sexual identity are spectrums humanity is still striving to understand.  Defining sexuality in such narrow, subjective terms cheapens it and complicates the discourse.  So instead of understanding bisexuality, we view it as an other—something outside of our own perceptions of what sexuality is supposed to look like, what it represents.

According to this article on bisexual exclusion, bisexuals make up nearly half of the LGBT Community, yet receive the least amount of resources to address the specific needs of the bisexual individual.  Like mental and sexual health.  Studies show that more bisexuals experience suicidal thoughts than their gay/straight counterparts, and when it comes to STI prevention most of the material is geared toward homosexuals.  In other words, bisexuals are grouped with the “safer” classification of gay, lesbian or straight, instead of defining their own sexuality, thus marginalizing bisexuals and making for an awkward visit to the hospital.

Bisexuals aren’t the only group that has come to be marginalized by mainstream LGBT culture.  For years the trans community stood side by side with bisexuals on the fringe of gay and lesbian culture.  Historically, both groups have been largely ignored.  We don’t give much consideration to the trannys who fought with the cops on the night of the Stonewall Riots, no more than we think of a bisexual woman organizing the first open gay march through New York City.  But as we saw over the weekend, transsexuals have become a more integrated part of the LGBT Community.  Maybe it’s because they’re louder than our bisexual brothers and sisters.  (Just look at the stink they made over Ru Paul Charles’s use of the word “she-male”.)  But just because the bisexual community is quieter doesn’t justify excluding them from the festivities.  Bisexuals should be as proud as we are, more so, because they have owned their sexual identity more than some gay and lesbians.  They are honest with themselves, and for that I applaud them.  As bisexual activist Robyn Ochs said:
“We are pointing out that we are already here, we have been here for a long time, and we ask that our presence as citizens be recognized legally, culturally, and interpersonally…It would be a lot easier for me and for a lot of my bi and trans friends, as well as for my forward thinking gay and lesbian friends and allies, if conservatives—heterosexual and gay—would acknowledge what already exists.  I’m sorry that some people have such a hard time accepting reality, but I am not going to disappear, or keep quiet, to make biphobic or homophobic people more comfortable.”
And you shouldn’t have to Robyn.  Sexuality is fluid, even for gay and lesbians, and just because someone doesn’t understand it doesn’t give them the right to be a d-bag.  But be sure to remind those biphobic assholes of all of this newfound privilege they enjoy because of people like you—the fighters who refuse to keep silent.

So here’s to the bisexuals!  Get out and celebrate with the rest of us, and to hell with anyone who doesn’t understand.  This month is as much for you as it is for them.


Happy Pride!! 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Pride and Prejudice



The National Organization for Marriage held their March for Marriage in the nation’s capital yesterday afternoon, and it was…well, redundant.  If I had to listen to one more speaker give a biology lesson about where babies come from, or explain how the gays are redefining marriage, I might have marched myself right off a fucking cliff.  After about the third person repeated the same tired rhetoric, I realized with a bit of a heavy heart that this was going to be the rest of the rally. 

The March for Marriage comes during a month often celebrated by the LGBT Community as Pride Month.  Just last Saturday, Indianapolis held their annual Circle City Pride, and the numbers (over 95,000) dwarfed yesterday’s march on Washington.  But the numbers don’t matter as much as the message preached yesterday afternoon in Washington D.C.  And some of these people PREACHED, honey.  The problem is they preached so much their message got convoluted, if not completely lost. 

Watching this circus, I saw everything from state senators to college students to a white dude wearing a Barack Obama mask.  That’s right, some good old fashioned blackface.  To NOM’s credit, however, there were a number of minorities who stood up to speak on behalf of marriage, and the whiteys made certain to point it out whenever they could.  They even marched out Doug Mainwaring, Cofounder of the National Tea Party Candidates and fellow friend of Dorothy who opposes same-sex marriage.  Somehow, that one gay guy who is fine with social inequality is going to negate the millions of others who are fighting for marriage equality in their own home states.  They’re even fighting for you Doug, whether you like it or not. 

But in the end, three ideas continually bobbed to the surface of NOM’s trickling river of indignation yesterday:

Biology
For anyone under 12-years old who didn’t already know how babies are made, they do after yesterday’s rally in Washington.  Daddy fucks mommy and baby is made…a family, and the cornerstone of American society.  But what if daddy’s a dick?  What if momma hits the cooking sherry once in awhile and takes it out on little junior son of a bitch?  I think Ludovine de la Rochere’s example was the best when she essentially explained how tragic it is when a child’s parents are snuffed out, but this isn’t about that.  Yesterday’s march was solely for and about heterosexual couples and their children—apparently, NOM’s only definition of a family.  Divorced or single-parents, orphaned or abandoned youth, gay and lesbian parents, or any number of other X-factors which collapse NOM’s marriage paradigm were never considered. 

I think my favorite definition of marriage came from Rick Santorum, who said, “Marriage is the union of a man and a woman for the purpose of making two people as one—a unity—and secondly, to have and raise children.  No other union can accomplish those two purposes.”  Apparently, Rick Santorum believes his cock only works if he’s married.  Of course, if you look up the definition of bullshit in the dictionary you may find this same quote, alongside Santorum’s comparison of the family unit as a small business and good for the economy.  But if your dictionary says see Santorum…DON’T!

Religion
I hate talking about religion on my blog.
I mean, I LOVE discussing religion, especially when it comes to sex.  But on the subject of marriage equality, the overly-pious just plain get it wrong.  A lot of what was heard at the March for Marriage yesterday was regurgitated Bible verses twisted to fit an agenda.  If someone told me that King David didn’t fap it when he saw Bathsheba by the bath that night, or that Christ wasn’t taking a bite of Mary’s forbidden fruit once in awhile, I’d call them a liar.  And here’s the kicker!  Nobody can tell me I’m wrong.  Sex, especially in Western religion, is so taboo that people are actually afraid of their genitals.  If God created everything and everything is good, it seems like it would be a sin not to understand the full potential of our dicks and pussies and ass holes.  All are erogenous zones that have the potential make a person see the face of God.

But when it comes to the subject of marriage equality, all that matters is this simple equation:
Man + Woman = Baby

And why not?  Besides being a sordid blue print for life, the Bible lays it out clearly that God created Adam and Eve, and thus marriage.  But for any Bible-believing American who quotes Genesis to me as the definition of marriage, I would ask “Do you think Santa Clause really brings your kids all those toys each Christmas?”  It’s tantamount to the same thing!  Literature is literature, and authorial intent can never be known.  Adam and Eve didn’t write the book of Genesis, nor did Moses or Noah or any slew of other theorized authors.  The story of Adam and Eve is a place marker.  The beginning of a story.  A story, I will admit, that is not without merit. The Bible, like many religious texts, holds many lessons in humanity that should not be disregarded.  But like Samual Clemmons said:

“It is full of interest.  It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies.”

One thing you’ll never hear in the political argument for same sex marriage is the mounting evidence that gay marriage was actually practiced in the early church.  According to historian and religious scholar Josh Boswell, the early Christian church practiced same sex marriage without discrimination.  According to Boswell:

“The burial rite given for Achilles and Patroclus, both men, was the burial rite for a man and his wife. The relationships of Hadrian and Antinous, of Polyeuct and Nearchos, of Perpetua and Felicitas, and of Saints Serge and Bacchus, all bore resemblance to heterosexual marriages of their times. The iconography of Serge and Bacchus was even used in same-sex nuptial ceremonies by the early Christian Church.

Also in contrast to NOM’s arguments that marriage is between a single man and a single woman is that marriage was essentially an economic transaction—a deal to be agreed upon and not something necessarily wanted.  The National Organization for Marriage disregards the millennia of polygamy that existed before someone stepped in and said, “No more.”  This in and of itself is a redefinition of marriage, but in modern American society we don’t see polygamists standing up for marriage equality (even though they should).  Today we see a group of LGBT Americans stepping forward and demanding the same rights as everyone else—to be recognized under the law of the land, and afforded the same rights as everyone else under the 14th Amendment.

No Civil Rights?


Perhaps one of the saddest aspects of yesterday’s March for Marriage was the Reverend Bill Owens, founder and president of the Coalition of African American Pastors, who fumed that marriage equality “is no Civil Rights movement; this is a bully movement.”  Reverend Owens then proceeded to shout and preach how he was willing to go to jail for this conviction, and the rest of the marchers should be too.  After all, the main thing these bigots seem worried about is that their right to discriminate might somehow get stripped from them.

But this is America, where everyone has a voice, whether it is behind the anonymity of a computer screen or at a rally in Washington, D.C.  And as far as I know, ignorance is not a crime.  However, freedom of speech does not protect you from the freedom of speech of others.  It would be akin to someone throwing around the N-word at a Black Expo and expecting everyone to just turn the other cheek.  You won’t necessarily be jailed, but that doesn’t mean you won’t experience some sort of backlash because you were an inconsiderate ass.  And why?  Because the black community knows of the horrors their ancestors faced during the Civil Rights movement and before, where black youth today are raised in a culture that still points to their blackness as otherness, and where religiosity and culture force gay African-Americans to hide their sexuality.

So yes, Reverend Owens, this IS a civil rights issue.  Any movement that strives to deprive the rights of another human being is a civil rights issue.  Perhaps you should look back over your own history, Reverend, seeing how you seem to have forgotten.


Harlem, for example, was crucial in the “actual” Civil Rights Movement in the '60s, as well as promoting gay rights.  Coretta Scott King, wife of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., made it clear in her lifetime that civil rights wasn’t just a black issue, but a human issue.  In 2004, she explained that “Gay and Lesbian people have families too, and their families should have legal protection" and that "A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is a form of gay bashing, and would do nothing to protect traditional marriages.”  And let us not forget the late, great Maya Angelou who told the Lesbian website, After Ellen, “I am gay.  I am lesbian.  I am black.  I am white.  I am Native American.  I am Christian.  I am Jew.  I am Muslim.”            

So yes, Reverend Owens, the Gay Rights Movement IS a Civil Rights movement, and it is sad to see someone who was part of something so historically powerful align themselves with that same type of oppression today.  I encourage you, Reverend, to read “On the Pulse of the Morning,”as read by Maya Angelou at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration.  It is a deeply moving piece of work, and one that places in to perspective the plight of all humanity, plucking even the lowest of us from the murk of class and culture, and placing us beside the same communal river that is life.

So there are my thoughts.  Marriage equality is not about a bunch of petulant children getting what they want.  Regardless of the rhetoric explaining away the hate and vitriol of this March for Marriage, the underlying message is still clear:  there are a substantial number of people who throw money at organizations whose sole purpose it is to deny a group of people their rights.  The Supreme Court, whose job it is to decide what is and is not constitutional, is doing just that—overturning same-sex marriage bans hand over fist—and still these “defenders of marriage” want to vote on LGBT rights.  The problem is that a voting majority cannot control the rights of a minority.  And that is precisely why this is a civil rights issue.

And one last note about the religiosity of marriage:

I don’t believe in religion, an institution I think has consistently been manipulated to deny people of their freedoms.  But I do believe in the power of prayer, of meditation, and of positive energy.  So continue to pray for marriage.  I do.  Ask your God to guide the hands of lawmakers and politicians on this divisive topic.  Just don’t get shitty when God answers your prayers, and you don’t like the answer. 


Happy Pride! 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Pride in the Face of Inequality


I’ll never forget the first year I went to gay pride.  I was seventeen years old, fresh out of the closet and debating whether or not I should jump back in.  A lesbian couple invited me to go to pride, though at the time I had no idea what that meant.  The sights and sounds, but mostly the people, blew me away, and for the first time I realized I had a place in this world—a community where I didn’t have to hide the truth from myself or others just to make life a little easier.  Years later, after I met my husband, I had the privilege of taking him to his first gay pride event.  We drove over an hour to Indianapolis, searched for twenty minutes for a parking space, all for him to look at me and ask:  “You just want to go home?”
            
Well fuck no I didn’t want to go home. 

Gay pride was a celebration, and I wanted him to experience it too.  Luckily, I convinced him to stay and, as I knew he would, he loved it.  And we’ve been going back ever since.
            
Last Saturday marked the 25th Anniversary of Circle City Pride, an event that continues to grow larger and larger each year.  This year, over 90,000 people came out to partake in the festivities, which consisted of a week’s worth of events beginning with a Rainbow 5K walk/run and culminating in the largest pride event Indianapolis has ever seen.  Quite a difference from the first Indianapolis pride which was held at the, now gone, Essex Hotel in 1981.  Back then, Indy wasn’t the safest place for the queer community, so attendees entered through a side door and wore masks so as not to be recognized.  But if you were anywhere near the Circle City on Saturday, you saw how far we’ve come. 
            
Of course, the LGBT community of Indianapolis has a lot to celebrate when only a few short months ago House Joint Resolution 3, which would ban same-sex marriage in the state, was being positioned to be placed on the ballot this November.  But it was struck down when members of the Senate voted to strike the second sentence from the amendment, making 2016 the earliest Indiana could see the likes of HJR-3 on a voter ballot.  A small victory, and proof of Indiana’s on-going fight against inequality—but victory nonetheless.  And we’ll take it!  After all, if there is one thing LGBT Hoosiers know it’s the power of community. 

And we’re not finished yet.

In Indiana there are no hate crime laws, despite the 45 other states which have enacted those laws—and gays can still be fired from their jobs without fault.  Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia recognize same sex marriage while Indiana watches from the sidelines as if afraid of what other states might think of us if we stepped out.  Our politicians have made a mockery of what should be our natural-born rights.  When a cancer patient is forced from her bed to fight for the rights of her wife, then something is sincerely fucked with our political system.  We’re a backwards state, forever on the wrong side of history.  But times change, and the LGBT Community has proven it will no longer sit quietly as we wait for the powers that be to give us what should have been ours all along, especially when they’ve ignored us for too long.
            
So here’s to you, Indiana, you beautiful red bitch.  We’re here and we’re queer, and you’ll get used to it. 


Happy Pride Month!  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Tale of Pride



Let me tell you a story...

            A story of revolution and change, of the hope that sprung from a movement.
            
             It was a long time ago, and the world was a tumultuous place to live in.  A war had just been fought.  A war had just been won, and the people were nervous.  Nervous that evil would infiltrate their world once more.  Difference was the oppression that breathed life into the monster that had wrecked havoc on them for far too long, and all the countryside was united in stilling the beast’s slashing claws.  
            
            Men laid down the weapons which had been used to slay so many others.  They went to work in factories and office buildings, reestablishing the world they left behind—a world they barely recognized anymore.  Meanwhile, the women who had labored here on the home front fell back behind the walls of their homes.  Their calloused hands grew soft and wrinkled in pools of dishwater while they grew round with child, immersing themselves in the delusional fairytale that this is the magic that would keep the draconian monster of change at bay.  Fear grew into paranoia, as it so often does, and soon a proverbial witch hunt ensued for anyone or any ideal that promoted difference.

            But evil still existed, and over time new monsters arose. 

A new war was brewing in a land far different from our own, and people were frightened it would slip us over the precipice from which we were still recovering.  People rallied to keep others from dying meaningless deaths, while others rushed to the frontlines.  Meanwhile, Jim Crowe worked at oppressing anyone with a darker flesh tone, re-enslaving an already freed people, and a man named McCarthy strived tirelessly to further his own name and end anything he viewed as a threat to our “traditional way of life.”

But people were growing tired, tired of being scared, and so tensions began to rise.

            Men and women soon began to stand against the challenges society imposed on them.  Writers took up their pens.  Painters went to their easels.  A King arose.  They killed him.  A woman of color dared to keep her seat while a white man demanded it for his own ass.  They jailed her, for as much being a woman as the color of her skin.  Injustices were answered with riots, people taking to the street in force to demand a change…a whole-hearted change.  Their pleas were answered with a fire hose of force until the stinging blanch of water washed away their tears, replacing it with something far more powerful—righteous anger. 

These were a scarred peopled.  A people engaged in civil war, though nobody would yet admit it.  Those wounds were still too fresh in their minds.

And in the midst of it all there stood a people—men and women who fit just outside of the social parameters.  Even those of color already fighting one social movement were cast to the waysides of their own culture.  These were a people who didn’t fit the heteronormative role McCarthy had long-since laid out before them.  These were men who challenged the goals of masculinity, kissing other men or wearing dresses.  They were women who kept their hair short, and didn’t feel rushed to marry or start a family as their mothers had done.  This was a people who dared to be free. 

And suddenly they were under society’s microscope—deviants who posed a very real danger to the cultural fabric we had tried so hard to stitch.    

But these people had a fabric of their own.  It wasn’t a perfect quilt by any means.  The pink and blue checkered cloth was frayed and worn, the stitching uneven in some places as if someone had gotten discouraged with the needle.  Blood stains smeared parts of the tapestry like tiny red tear drops, some so faint you barely noticed, and entire sections were simply gone, as if they hadn’t existed in the first place.  But it was theirs—the culminations of all their lives and fears and freedoms—and they would protect it whatever the cost.   

            In that day, the authorities were called Lilly Law, and she made it impossible for this subclass of humans to live.  Some tried to blend in, marrying and starting the families they’d been indoctrinated to believe they needed…and a spiral of denial and depression began.  Others remained outside the spectrum, ostracized and ridiculed and alienated from the rest of us.  Even among this oppressed group of outcasts, people were set aside whenever they called too much attention to the cause.  Who could blame them?  They were scared and alone.  Wherever they gathered, Lilly was there to shut them out.  Their faces were posted on street corners, on the nightly news, exposed as the “deviants” they were.  Entire families turned their backs on people who had been their brothers and sisters, daughters and sons, and soon they were casting children into the clutches of the night.

Our future.

This ragtag group of youngsters gathered in local parks, scared and homeless and hungry, accepting love in whatever form they found it.  Even here they were prosecuted—thrown out or jailed or worse—but at least they were together.

            By the time the Stonewall opened its doors, this motley crew of kids were ready for its embrace. 

Stonewall wasn’t the safe haven they wanted by any means.  Everyone knew Lilly Law was lining her pockets from the mobsters who worked to keep the place open.  It was a dingy, dark hole in the wall that rarely had running water or proper plumbing, where the drinks came from the discarded cocktails of other more culturally appropriate establishments.  But it was warm inside, where people hugged and kissed and fucked without discrimination.  Where a man could beat his face with powdered makeup or a woman in jeans wasn’t judged by her hair. It was the fortress these youths had been searching for their entire lives.  At long last they had found their home. 

            Everything changed, however, on a sultry summer night in June.

            It was a night much like any night at the Stonewall.  A bouncer waited at the front door, a crowd of dancing, writhing bodies behind him as he peered through a peephole.  Identification was a password that changed regularly, or by appearance.  Patrons were judged by whether or not they looked queer enough, and sometimes they even allowed trannies in to the mix.  Precautions were set in place in case Lilly Law made her appearance.  At the bouncer’s signal, the lights turned up, all dancing stopped, and everyone assumed a more business-like evening out until the coast was cleared.  On those nights when Lilly was particularly thirsty, stores of extra swill waited in hidden compartments behind the bar. 

Lilly came, she saw, she took...and then she left. 

But that night, something was different.  The bouncer missed something at the door.  The lights were never turned up.  Lilly Law was in their midst, and nobody knew until they heard her booming voice:

“We’re takin’ the place!”

            Everything happened at once.  Light blazed to life around them as people scurried for the windows and open door like ants scattering to escape the pinpoint of light suddenly fixed on them.  But Lilly had her ways, and the Stonewall was surrounded.  Some were allowed to go.  Others were gathered like farm animals so women could inspect their genitals.  Those who weren’t what they appeared to be were arrested, as were a number of people who refused to identify themselves.  Lilly called these fighters names like “Sissy” and “Faggot” and “Dyke”, while those who were released were set back out into the night where they were instructed to go home, that there was nothing to see here.

            But these people had no homes, and this was definitely…something.

            For the first time “sissies” butched up.  Dykes fought back.  And trannies refused to be gawked at like animals in some other person’s circus.

            Meanwhile, the air outside grew electric with excitement.  Crowds had gathered, drawn by the whir of lights from the raid as much as the people who refused to leave.  Some hurled insults back and forth with Lilly and her brood, but for the most part everything was silent.  Even Lilly Law with her cloak of cash was beginning to look uneasy.  People were refusing to leave the Stonewall, and there had been problems with the wagons.  In the streets the crowds continued to swell—outcast upon outcast—justice gathered in mass. 

Lilly was outnumbered.

Nobody knows how it began exactly—a mix of persecution and solitude, centuries of societal oppression…of anger—but the thunderhead finally erupted.

            A mob charged Lilly Law, pelting her with stones, upturning cars, starting fires—but for once the fire hoses that had sent them running before were out of pressure, and Lilly was forced back into the Stonewall where she quickly barred the doors. 

But this wasn’t her fortress. 

The Stonewall was theirs—the outcasts who had for so long been cast aside by the same people now walling up in their new home.    

            And so they took it back. 

            Using a parking meter as a battering ram, they smashed the doors in, the windows, while the mob raged outside.  They danced in the streets, sang “We Shall Overcome” as they taunted Lilly and her minions.  Lilly fought back, as she was wont to do, but this was not a crowd to be silenced.  Whenever Lilly overtook one of them, the others took him back in a bloody game of cat and mouse.  They had finally had enough, and the sounds of revolt filled the village, and soon the world.   

            For once, they were not exposed that night as deviants. 

            For the first time, they were seen…truly seen as the individuals they were, not as a cultural other.  And they would not be silenced.

            A year later, they organized a march to commemorate that night when everything changed, and that march continues today.  It’s never been easy.  To join the parade, some had to leave everything they knew behind, and there were those who stood in their paths every step of the way.  Still, they were here, and the opposition could no longer ignore them.  No longer would they be put meekly away so their families could turn to them a blind eye.  No more would they watch their lovers die from afar, or be cast out by the country they had fought, bled and died for. 

“We are here!” they cried.  “We love.”

Over the years, some have fallen by the wayside or grown weary from the march, but there are others—countless others who have taken their place, determined to carry the torch of hope.  This march of pride is as much for them as it is for me.  Because of these veterans of the cause, we can love openly.  But we have a long way to go before we reach that fabulous horizon where the rainbow arcs over the silver clouds. 


So let’s make it count.