aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Sticks & Stones
My sensitivity to racist and sexist language comes, in part, from growing up gay. Verbal bullying is common for people perceived to be gay.
In 1990 I made this video to raise awareness of the problem. That year 4 in 10 gay teens attempted suicide. Ten years later it was 3 in 10, still four times higher than heterosexual youth. The problem has not gone away.
RELATED: Here Hillary Clinton addresses a question on gay teen suicide.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
It’s All Because (The Gays Are Getting Married)
‘Dykes on Bikes’ trademark OKd
A San Francisco motorcycle club gained long-sought legal approval Monday for its trademark of the name “Dykes on Bikes” when the U.S. Supreme Court turned away a challenge from a lawyer who said the term denigrated men.
Without comment, the justices denied review of an appeal by Michael McDermott of Dublin, who challenged a decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to grant the San Francisco Women’s Motorcycle Contingent exclusive rights over the commercial use of Dykes on Bikes.
The motorcycle club applied for a trademark in 2003 after using Dykes on Bikes for three decades as the moniker of the motorized unit that leads San Francisco’s annual Gay Pride Parade. The club’s attorney, Gregory Gilchrist, said the group had no business plans for the phrase but decided to seek legal protection after an offshoot group, now independent, discussed putting the name on T-shirts for sale.
The trademark office initially rejected the application, saying the name was disparaging to lesbians, but approved it in January 2006 after the club submitted evidence that activists were trying to reclaim dykes as a term of pride. Gilchrist said the lawyers pointed out that the office had approved trademarks for other once-derogatory terms - for example, the television show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”
McDermott, a self-described men’s rights advocate, objected to the trademark office and the courts, arguing that the term was disparaging - to men - as well as “scandalous and immoral.” Those categories are grounds for denial of a trademark.
A trademark would put the definition in the hands of a group of “thought police” and contradict the “widespread documented understanding of the term â€˜dyke’ as describing hyper-militant radicals hateful toward men,” McDermott wrote in his Supreme Court appeal.
Monday, January 07, 2008
Tom Cruise: still not gay
I never thought he was. The trashy Andrew Morton biography would have it if there were even the slightest hint. Instead we get that Cruise is second-in-command at Church of Scientology.
And more trashing of Scientology:
According to Britain’s Daily Mail: “[Morton] quotes Hubbard’s son, Ronald De Wolf, who fell out with his father, giving a Playboy interview: â€˜You have complete control of someone if you have every detail of his sex life and fantasy life on record. In Scientology the focus is on sex. Sex, sex, sex. The first thing we wanted to know about someone we were auditing was his sexual deviations. All you’ve got to do is find a person’s kinks, whatever they might be. Their dreams and their fantasies. Then you can fit a ring through their noses and take them anywhere. You promise to fulfil their fantasies or you threaten to expose them.’ Morton says Karen Pressley was at Gold Base one evening when John Travolta’s sexuality was openly discussed. He writes: â€˜’It made my head spin,’ she recalls, â€˜and made me realise that the idea of confidentiality was a chimera.’ As another Scientology executive admitted bluntly, â€˜These files come in handy if they want to blackmail you’.’”
According to the tabloid, the book makes no claims about the actor’s sexuality.
Cruise’s attorney Bert Fields is threatening legal action based on the reaction of the public.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Andrew Sullivan’s sexist id
Queer misogyny doesn’t receive much attention these days but it’s alive and living in our community.
Andrew Sullivan should know better. He comes dangerously close to slipping down that slippery misogynistic slope aimed at Hillary.
On The Chris Matthews Show yesterday:
Mr. SULLIVAN: Then go to the end of the year, where I think the real one-liner happened when it was brought up in that debate with Obama and Clinton about his foreign policy advice and whether he was relying on Clinton’s advisers and how then could he have a new change. And she laughed this devilish cackle that she’s now become known for, which in itself might be the--one of the one-liners of the year. `I’d like to see how he’d answer that,’ she said.
MATTHEWS: I love that--devilish cackle. Where’d you come up with that?
Mr. SULLIVAN: Somewhere in my id.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
No glutton for punishment
Matt Hill Comer, 21, is an LGBT journalist, activist and youth advocate currently living and working in Charlotte, NC. He recently went back to his childhood church, Grapevine Baptist in Lewisville, N.C., - “where the stench of hatred, bigotry and oppression was, and still is, thick in the air” - to talk with the preacher there.
Matt was home for his 14-year-old brother’s birthday. He was motivated to go back and talk to the preacher by that brother’s telling of a Saturday night church youth rally. He took another brother along with him when he went.
Matt’s tale of that awkward homecoming was found on his blog by the Grapevine choir director. From his comment to Matt’s post we learn that he knew Matt as a child. And that he had been present for Matt’s conversation with the preacher.
The choir director’s love-the-sinner justification of the church’s rejection of Matt is one familiar to and experienced by most all gay people. Strong and vulnerable, thoughtful and sensitive, and brave and honest throughout, in Matt’s response to the choir director we see he can give as good as he gets:
Bro. Tarron, you are overweight correct? You are overweight to so much of an extent that you are, without a doubt, obese, correct? I’d dare say that your obesity is bordering on morbid obesity. There are also many other members of Grapevine guilty of the same sin of gluttony, far many more than those who are “guilty” of the “sin” of loving another person.
Gluttony causes more deaths than any the religious right attempts to pin on homosexuality. The entirety of American culture focuses on more, more, moreÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ eat, eat, eatÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ drink, drink, drinkÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ buy, buy, buyÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s.
If Grapevine is so concerned about the total teaching of Scripture and denying “sin,” why isn’t there a bigger focus on gluttony - a sin discussed more in Scripture than any perceived passages of homosexuality, a plague affecting more Americans - and Grapevine members - than homosexuality and a death sentence facing more Americans - and Grapevine members - than homosexuality.
WaitÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ Those words hurt you didn’t it? Welcome to my lifeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ every day of it.
For a deeper understanding of the kind of thinking Matt is up against in that church, see Russell Shorto’s important NYTimes piece from summer 2005, What’s Their Real Problem With Gay Marriage? It’s the Gay Part.
Not much has changed since Shorto wrote his article. What has changed is that people like Matt are standing up to it, and in the process being important role models for family, neighbors and the kids to come. Thanks Matt!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell & Undescended testicles???
Hilzoy’s discovered that it’s not just gays the Army doesn’t want:
If you actually read the Army’s Standards of Medical Fitness (pdf), you’ll discover that the Army seems to have a truly bizarre devotion to the idea that only men and women with absolutely, completely normal genitalia and reproductive systems can possibly defend us in time of war. Among the people who do not meet its standards:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Women who experience unusually heavy menstrual bleeding, or bleeding at irregular intervals, or no periods at all.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Women born without a uterus.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ In men, “Current absence of one or both testicles, either congenital (752.89) or undescended (752.51) is disqualifying.”
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ And, for both men and women: “History of major abnormalities or defects of the genitalia such as change of sex (P64.5), hermaphroditism, pseudohermaphroditism, or pure gonadal dysgenesis (752.7) or dysfunctional residuals from surgical correction of these conditions is disqualifying.”
Undescended testicles??? Unless I am very, very wrong about what exactly service in the military involves, I can’t see that an undescended testicle would affect a soldier’s ability to perform his duties. I checked to see whether undescended testicles might lead to some more severe problems later; apparently, they reduce fertility, which is hardly the Army’s concern, and increase the odds that one will get testicular cancer. But since the Army accepts smokers, I can’t see that this explains why they disqualify recruits with undescended testicles…
Last year, the Army had to grant waivers to nearly one in five recruits because they had criminal records.” If they’re willing to overlook criminal records, I imagine that they’re probably granting waivers to people with undescended testicles as well. But that’s only a stopgap measure: the real question is: why on earth does the Army care whether or not its soldiers have undescended testicles in the first place? Why not just ask whether a soldier is physically able to do his or her duty, and leave it at that?
Monday, December 17, 2007
Saudi King pardons rape victim
You’ll recall that a Saudi court sentences a 19-year-old gang-rape victim to 90 lashes for meeting with an unrelated male. When her lawyer appealed the court upped the punishment to 200 lashes.
Today comes word that King Abdullah has pardoned the victim. But, says a spokesman, the pardon does not mean the king doubts the country’s judges:
‘’The king always looks into alleviating the suffering of the citizens when he becomes sure that these verdicts will leave psychological effects on the convicted people, though he is convinced and sure that the verdicts were fair,’’ al-Jazirah quoted al-Sheik as saying.
It’s unlikely that the king would want to eliminate the kingdom’s strict segregation of the sexes even if he could, but in that light it’s worth revisiting the May Atlantic’s The Kingdom of the Closet to understand some of the unintended consequences of such restrictions.
The piece opens with a young gay man, “Yasser,” touring the article’s author, Nadya Labi, around the gay spots of Jeddah:
Yasser turned onto a side street, then braked suddenly. “Oh shit, it’s a checkpoint,” he said, inclining his head toward some traffic cops in brown uniforms. “Do you have your ID?” he asked me. He wasn’t worried about the gay-themed nature of his tour-he didn’t want to be caught alone with a woman. I rummaged through my purse, realizing that I’d left my passport in the hotel for safekeeping. Yasser looked behind him to see if he could reverse the car, but had no choice except to proceed. To his relief, the cops nodded us through. “God, they freaked me out,Ã¢â‚¬Â� Yasser said. As he resumed his narration, I recalled something he had told me earlier. “It’s a lot easier to be gay than straight here,” he had said. “If you go out with a girl, people will start to ask her questions. But if I have a date upstairs and my family is downstairs, they won’t even come up.”
Sunday, December 16, 2007
The military’s “Lie and Hide” enforcement plummets
That’s what Stephen H. Miller calls “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and he points to tonight’s 60 Minutes for this:
Discharges of gay soldiers have dropped dramatically since the Afghan and Iraq wars began, from 1,200 a year in 2001 to barely 600 now. With the military struggling to recruit and retain soldiers, gay soldiers claim that commanders are reluctant to discharge critical personnel in the middle of a war.
Comments Miller, “So much for the argument that gays must be drummed out to preserve the ‘unit cohesion,’ especially among our fighting forces.”
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Facebook Questioning: Coming Out the Facebook way
A potential suitor I had scoped out for my nephew changed his “interested in” status on Facebook today. Having my nephew living here has given me some insight into how young people come out these days in this rural southern college town… They change their “interested in” status on Facebook!
There’s plenty of room for mystery in these declarations. They change with a frequency that baffles people of my generation.
My nephew has no clue about the Beacon debacle.
Beacon, you will recall, is the ad program that sends word of your web purchases from sites like Fandango and Overstock.com to be listed in your Facebook news feed.
That and the story on the lawsuit brought by former Harvard classmate associates questioning the provenance of Facebook - which has elicited further fumbling on Zuckerberg’s behalf - have convinced me that those questions are legitimate.
Earlier this week AdAge’s Simon Dumenco had a fun column suggesting other apps Facebook users will “love” one day. Here’s the first one:
Are you a closeted homosexual in a small Southern town? Facebook Questioning will automatically suggest to those friends and colleagues who are able to “read between the lines” that maybe you’re “questioning” your sexuality. It does this by comparing Beacon data with thresholds of what’s considered “normal” heterosexual behavior by marketers. “The purchase by an unmarried, middle-aged male of more than two movie-musical soundtracks or DVDs per quarter doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s gay,” says a Facebook veep. “But it will raise a rainbow-colored flag within our algorithm and might even help certain in-denial Facebook users with their own voyage of self-discovery. After a while, we believe that our users will fall in love with Facebook Questioning.”
So my nephew’s been reluctant to pursue that nice young man I’ve been encouraging him to get to know better because he had listed his status as “interested in women.”
Well this morning, my nephew tells me, he changed his “interested in” status from women to men. And listed that he’s “engaged to” a well-known openly gay local pleasure-seeker.
My nephew’s considering his next Facebook move. A poke? Some writing on the wall? Give a virtual gift? Ahh, youth…
Friday, December 14, 2007
Good for Jodie!
Gay internet gossip sites were abuzz last week after Jodie Foster appeared to make a tacit coming out speech at an awards banquet.
Foster, long suspected by some of being a lesbian, concluded her speech at the Women in Entertainment Power 100 breakfast on Dec. 4 in Los Angeles by thanking “my beautiful Cydney, who sticks with me through all the rotten and the bliss.” The Cydney in question was largely believed to be Cydney Bernard, a film producer thought to be Foster’s partner of 14 years.
Adding to the melee was another rumor about a potentially lesbian star: Queen Latifah. Some sites claimed the singer-turned-actress was about to wed her female personal trainer after a blind item in the New York Post’s Page Six gossip column implied it first.
Publicists for both stars did not respond to requests for comment for this article, but Latifah did respond to the rumors with a reporter from the Chicago-Sun Times.
“When you’re famous these days, it’s just part of the deal - unfortunately,” Latifah told the paper. “People will make up all sorts of things that are not true. There ain’t going to be no wedding.”
From the quotes that appeared in the Sun-Times, Latifah didn’t appear to deny or affirm whether she is dating her trainer. [...]
WRITER DAVID EHRENSTEIN, who wrote “Open Secret: Gay Hollywood 1928-1998,” denies that the closet even really exists in Hollywood anymore.
“Nobody can pull this closet crap anymore, even Jodie [Foster] has realized and finally come to her senses after eons of closetiness and [her former publicist] Pat Kingsley making reporters sign contracts before interviewing her to make sure they didn’t ask anything about topic A,” Ehrenstein says.
He, too, points to Harris and Burtka as Hollywood’s hot new couple gracing the red carpet.
“The major leaders in what’s coming down the pipe now is the lovely Neil Patrick Harris and his lovely boyfriend David Burtka - who were never in the closet anyway,” Ehrenstein says. “The two of them have just been out and about everywhere, not that they weren’t before. But now even more so, and they’re gracing red carpets. This makes everybody else’s reticence look terribly silly.”
Nonetheless, not everyone who’s gay is out in Hollywood, a phenomenon Ehrenstein says is shifting.
“It’s habit, and it’s also I would say, publicists who are behind the times on things,” Ehrenstein says. “But this is something that I think is really rapidly changing. It used to be a lot more rigid and when somebody was coming out it used to be a huge deal, but there’s less and less of that now. It’s because of the decline of the studio system - the decline of the kind of control that Hollywood used to have over the culture, certainly the movies.”
Sunday, December 09, 2007
CA diocese votes to leave Episcopal Church
The Diocese of San Joaquin voted on Saturday to cut ties with the Episcopal Church, the first time in the church’s history a diocese has done so over theological issues and the biggest leap so far by dissident Episcopalians hoping to form a rival national church in the United States.
Fissures have moved through the Episcopal Church, the American arm of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which has 77 million members, and through the Communion itself since the church ordained V. Gene Robinson, a gay man in a long-term relationship, as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.
Traditionalists at home and abroad assert that the Bible describes homosexuality as an abomination, and they consider the Episcopal Church’s ordination of Bishop Robinson as the latest and most galling proof of its rejection of biblical authority.
In the last four years, the Anglican Communion, the world’s third-largest Christian body, has edged closer to fracture over the issue. In the United States, several dozen individual congregations out of nearly 7,700 have split with the Episcopal Church. But Saturday’s vote was the first time an entire diocese has chosen to secede.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Iranian execution for sex at 13
The Islamic Republic of Iran murdered Makwan Moloudzadeh, a lad of 21, on the cold morning of December 5. Makwan was dragged at dawn from his jail cell in the Kermanshah Central Prison and hanged in secret within the prison, without the required presence of his lawyer and family, for the so-called “crime” of having had anal sexual relations, which the authorities claimed was rape, with boys of his own age eight years ago, when he was 13.
Given witness recantings during his trial, it is impossible to know what, if in fact anything, actually transpired.
Amnesty International released a statement denouncing the execution as a “mockery of justice.” The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission’s executive director, Paula Ettelbrick, said in a statement, “This is a shameful and outrageous travesty of justice and international human rights law. How many more young Iranians have to die before the international community takes action?” [...]
The state murder of young Makwan - who was only 20 if one uses an American calendar, but 21 if one uses an Iranian calendar - was triply illegal, in violation of international law and Iranian law.
As we’ve come to expect, the details are horrendous. Ireland’s story features an interview with the only Iranian journalist to have covered Makwan’s case extensively, Mitra Khalatbari:
“[E]ven in the last hours of Makwan’s life, the authorities continued to break the law… There was no prior notification of the execution to the family or the lawyer, as the law requires, so Makwan’s lawyer was not allowed to be present, as the law also requires.
“Thus, Makwan was not allowed to say goodbye to his family, nor were there any plaintiffs present at the place of execution with whom Makwan could plead for his life and ask their forgiveness to escape death.”
Iran ignored two international treaties to which it is a signatory. Its chief justice ordered the execution halted and a retrial. Iran was intent on killing that kid.
As many as 78 other Iranian children are facing execution right now in Iran, as are several dozen more Afghan children arrested in cross-border smuggling operations. In June, Amnesty International issued a report entitled “Iran: Last Executioner of Children;” which you can read here.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Baltimore Sun: DADT is “pointless discrimination”
A brigade of 28 retired generals and admirals, following the lead of a former chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, has joined the campaign to repeal the insult that forces gay military personnel to stay in the closet.
Congress should take its cue to quickly dispatch the infamous “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that denies the most fundamental personal freedom to the men and women who are fighting to protect such freedoms for all other Americans. [...]
This policy of pointless discrimination perhaps serves only cowards in Congress and demagogues on the campaign stump. Anyone who truly supports the troops will vote to treat all of them with the dignity and respect they deserve.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Michelle Bruce, transgender pol, loses reelection bid
She blames bigots. I do too:
Georgia’s first transgender elected official lost her bid Tuesday for a second term on the Riverdale City Council.
Michelle Bruce, who fell to political newcomer Wayne Hall, blamed people she referred to as “bigots” who questioned her gender in a lawsuit. [...]
In Riverdale, Bruce - surrounded by supporters from Georgia Equality and the Human Rights Campaign - dabbed her eyes as the results were read. Her loss came a day after a Superior Court judge threw out a lawsuit by two losing City Council candidates that alleged she lied to voters when she ran as a woman.
“I think the lawsuit had something to do with it [the loss],” she said. “I think we have a lot of work to do in Clayton County, especially Riverdale. I think we need to come together and the bigots need to go.”
LATER: The vote count:
“I lost,” Bruce said after hearing she lost to political newcomer Wayne Hall in an unofficial count of 223 votes to 308 votes. A total of 543 votes were cast.
I thought the lawsuit had something to do with the loss, too, but the numbers don’t really tell me anything about that. Bruce says she will “will continue to fight for LGBT rights and for all the citizens.”
And bring a civil lawsuit against those who sued her.
The AJC puts the election in context.
Monday, December 03, 2007
The targeting of Michelle Bruce
The small-town politics in Riverdale, Ga., features some big-time mudslinging in the final weeks before the Nov. 6 election, with a website accusing Georgia’s first transgender elected official of being a man who “used an alias and fooled everyone into thinking he was a woman.”
The website - operated by anonymous supporters of Riverdale Mayor Phaedra Graham - also notes that transgender City Councilmember Michelle Bruce is under investigation by the Georgia Attorney General’s office for allegations of election fraud during an attempt to recall Graham from office in 2005. Filed with the Secretary of State’s office in November 2006 and forwarded to the attorney general last month, the complaint accuses Bruce and her mother of forging signatures on recall petitions, a charge Bruce denies.
..."The referral to the attorney general’s office is in no way an implication of significance,” said Matt Carrothers, media relations director for the secretary of state’s office.
...More troubling to Bruce than the pending attorney general’s investigation is what she calls a “hate website” that features pictures of her and ridicules her for being transgender.
“The man at the left tricked us last election. He used an alias and fooled everyone into thinking he was a woman,” reads an entry on www.getinvolvednowga.com. “Riverdale is the laughing stock of the county with him presently in office.” [...]
Bruce, who was born intersexed and identifies as transgender, said the website is a result of Graham’s “cronyism.”
“They’re just trying to use anything they can to smear me and get me out of office,” Bruce said. “The website itself is nothing, but - it hurts, don’t get me wrong - but it’s a shame someone has to go after someone’s race or gender and that’s all they can use.”
“They’ve made comments previously [about being transgender],” Bruce said of Graham and her political allies. “She’s gone around and said we need to get that transvestite out of office - that freak of nature.”
I loved the movie Transamerica. I notice now that the DVD cover is a photo of the real life gorgeous Felicity Huffman, rather than her Transamerica character, Bree (formerly Stanley). If that’s what it takes to get America to rent this movie, so be it. I posted this a couple years back when I went to see the film in NYC...
A friend with a featured role in Transamerica - she was outstanding, by the way - commented to Doug last night on the heterosexual cast. As with Brokeback Mountain, I think it’s a good thing. I don’t want ghettoized movies preaching to the choir, I want movies that reach out and spread the good word.
Transamerica is that kind of movie. It is outstanding; Felicity Huffman’s performance brave and brilliant:
To call Felicity Huffman’s performance in “Transamerica” persuasive would be an understatement, as well as somewhat misleading. Her character, Bree (short for Sabrina), is a pre-operative transsexual who lives in a modest bungalow in Los Angeles and in a condition she refers to as “stealth.” In other words, though still technically male, Bree passes for a woman, though there is nothing very stealthy about her elaborate, almost theatrical displays of femininity. In her tasteful pink outfits and meticulously applied makeup, she presents an image of womanliness that harks back to an earlier era. Her voice soft and breathy, she avoids cursing and peppers her conversation with Latinate words and foreign phrases.
In this debut feature by Duncan Tucker, who wrote and directed it, “Transamerica” sets out to affirm Bree’s dignity, to liberate her and others like her from any association with camp or freakishness. That the film succeeds without slipping too far into sentimentality or didacticism is in no small measure the result of Ms. Huffman’s wit and grace. (She may also be the first film actor of either sex to do frontal nudity, in a single movie, as both.) Her work on “Desperate Housewives,” for which she won an Emmy earlier this year, suggests a knack for gender parody, since that series is in essence a drag show that happens to star real women. The challenge Ms. Huffman faces here is more complicated: she must convey the layers of Bree’s identity and the spaces between those layers. It is not just that the actress must play a man who is playing a woman - that much is a matter of technique (with some prosthetic assistance, to be sure) - but also that she must impersonate a performer in the midst of learning a complicated role. Her performance is a complex metamorphosis, and it is thrilling to watch.
SEE ALSO: Felicity Rulez!
Gender neutrality. And why the T belongs in LGBT!
Physical gender is not always just a matter of XX or XY, girl or boy. In approximately one out of every 100 births, seemingly tiny errors occur during the various stages of fetal sex differentiation, causing a baby’s body to develop abnormally. Problems in the formation of chromosomes, gonads, or external genitals can lead to a range of intersex conditions. The most common and well-researched of these conditions are explained below. For information on intersex conditions not mentioned here, see http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/pediatricendocrinology/.
Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH)—One in 13,000 births
Two hormones are critical in normal sex differentiation. The testes of normal 46,XY males secrete both MÃƒÂ¼llerian Inhibiting Substance (also known as MIS or antimÃƒÂ¼llerian hormone) and masculinizing androgenic hormones, while the ovaries of a normal 46,XX female secrete neither. In CAH, the absence of a critical enzyme allows a 46,XX fetus to produce androgens, resulting in ambiguous external genitals. A CAH individual may have an oversized clitoris and fused labia.
Testosterone Biosynthetic Defects—One in 13,000 births
In a condition related to CAH, some 46,XY individuals do not have the properly functioning enzymes needed to convert cholesterol to testosterone. When such enzymes prove completely incapable of creating testosterone, the genitals appear female; when the enzymes function at a low level, ambiguous genitals form. [READ ON]
That’s from the Nova website of an excellent 2001 broadcast, Sex Unknown (unfortunately not available for viewing online).
In it, they tell the story of Max Beck:
When I was born, the doctors couldn’t tell my parents what I was: They couldn’t tell if I was a boy or a girl. Between my legs they found “a rudimentary phallus” and “fused labio-scrotal folds.” They ran their tests, they poked and prodded, and they cut open my belly, removed my gonads, and sent them off to Pathology. My parents sat in the hospital cafeteria, numb, their hearts as cold as the Manhattan February outside. [...]
After five weeks of study and surgery, they weren’t any closer to the truth; mine was a fuzzy picture. Not even the almighty gene provided any clear answers, since it was discovered that I was a mosaic, with some cells in my body having the XY genotype and others having XO. The decision was made to raise me female.
So begins the story of Judy, now Max, whose parents tried desperately to raise her as a girl, even as he knew - as only he could know, from the knowledge deep inside him of his essential self rather than from any external signals or anything anyone said - that he was a male.
Back in October, John Aravosis asked in Salon, How did the T get in LGBT?
Like an ever-expanding mushroom cloud of diversity, every few years America’s gay leaders and activists welcome a new category of member to the community. [...]
A lot of gays have been scratching their heads for 10 years trying to figure out what they have in common with transsexuals, or at the very least why transgendered people qualify as our siblings rather than our cousins. It’s a fair question, but one we know we dare not ask. It is simply not p.c. in the gay community to question how and why the T got added on to the LGB, let alone ask what I as a gay man have in common with a man who wants to cut off his penis, surgically construct a vagina, and become a woman.
Aravosis says, “I’m not passing judgment” and wonders “Is it wrong for me to simply ask why?”
Well, no, but the tone of his piece suggests an answer. And it’s not the one I would agree with. I may agree that compromise requires we drop transgender protection from ENDA (though it doesn’t get my support) but I think it should be obvious why our causes are related.
Like Max Beck, when I grew up a gay child in a straight family in a straight world, my parents raised me as straight. They knew of no other option. I knew from the knowledge deep inside me of my essential self - rather than from any external signals or anything anyone said - that I was gay.
I was effeminate enough that the gender signals I sent seemed wrong to my childhood peers, so they came after me (names, physical threats and violence) for who I was. That has continued through my adult life. People feel entitled to discriminate against me (in hate-crimes language, to hate me) for the way I was born.
Now lesbian and gay people argue vehemently that we were born gay. But a large faction of us - those who see a gay identity as little more than a sexual preference, rather than as a cultural orientation - are just as uncomfortable with transgender inclusion in the gay world as the straight world is of gay inclusion in the straight world.
This is merely a continuation of gay male ambivalence toward effeminate gay men. We’re much more comfortable with our leather brothers than those who don a wig and a skirt. For me the goal is cultural empathy and understanding. I want to work to help my neighbors and my world to understand that naturally occurring difference need not scare us.
To that end, I embrace my transgender brothers and sisters, respect their struggle and will do everything in my power to support them.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
More gay men describe sex w/Craig
If there’s anyone left who doubts Craig did it:
David Phillips. Mike Jones. Greg Ruth. Tom Russell.
Four gay men, willing to put their names in print and whose allegations can’t be disproved, have come forward since news of U.S. Sen. Larry Craig’s guilty plea. They say they had sex with Craig or that he made a sexual advance or that he paid them unusual attention.
The Idaho Statesman has audio clips of the men telling their stories.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Cruise ain’t gay!
I’ve never been one to believe the rumors.
Canada’s Globe and Mail:
In its Dec. 3 issue, the National Enquirer is publishing this, its yearly tease about closeted “TV stars, movie stars, politicians and more!,” as a sort of index to the bigger news of celebrity biographer Andrew Morton’s forthcoming book about Tom Cruise (who is, conspicuously, not mentioned in the tabloid). Morton has, according to TMZ, spent the past several months interviewing a large number of Cruise’s associates about his “career, his religion and even his sexuality.” The biography is rumoured to be “explosive,” though it’s hard to say why.
Rumours about Cruise’s homosexuality have trailed him since the beginning of his career. Many of his films out him as well, through innuendo and a system of aesthetic clues (an extreme, if not prurient focus on the actor’s chunky, radiant physicality is a near-constant in these films). Yet surely this kind of speculation has become old hat, after his parsed-to-bits marriage to Katie Holmes, and almost three years after the infamous South Park episode about Cruise being Trapped in the Closet.
The Enquirer’s omission of Cruise may speak to its own exhaustion with the subject of this particular star, and to The Gay Rumors: FINALLY THE TRUTH “exclusive” by the Enquirer’s new rival, In Touch. (The story is couched as an interview with “porn-star-turned-private-investigatorÃ¢â‚¬Â� Paul Barresi, a.k.a. Joe Hammer.
Barresi claims to have conducted “an extensive investigation” of Cruise and to have turned his report over to Morton. The result? “Everything that I’ve found and everything I know points to Tom being heterosexual.”
Via Gay News Blog.
Michelle Bruce update. And gay Republican elected in GA.
The Riverdale City Council voted unanimously Monday to move forward with a runoff election despite a pending lawsuit asking a judge to halt the race.
But the real decision will be made Dec. 3 - a day before the election - when a Clayton County Superior Court judge will decide whether a transgender Riverdale City Council member lied to voters when she ran as a woman. That allegation, along with accusations of voting machine tampering and improper campaigning, could push the election back even further. [...]
Bruce says she became the first transgender elected official in the United States when she took her seat on the Riverdale council in 2003.
The National Center for Transgender Equality said they have seen gender disputes arise in custody battles and insurance claims, but never in an election.
“There is nothing to hide. She is who she is,” said Mara Keisling, the center’s executive director. “She has served for four years and never lied to the people.”
On Monday night, Bruce and the rest of the council voted to move forward with the Dec. 4 runoff election. Several residents and council members at the meeting encouraged citizens to support Bruce.
Also in today’s AJC, Georgia’s first openly gay Republican elected:
Brian Bates is a 36-year-old business owner in charge of Doraville’s annual Police Appreciation Day.
He’s active in his neighborhood association and staunchly supports popular police Chief John King, who became a major issue in elections earlier this month.
So Bates’ victory in a race for city council didn’t come as a major surprise in this town of about 10,000 residents. But, it was, in fact, groundbreaking.
Bates is now the state’s first openly gay Republican elected to office Ã¢â‚¬” a development that has gained the attention of politicos and pundits across the country.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Simon: Southern pol wears dresses to be popular?
Just a couple of weeks ago, Michelle Bruce was reelected to her second term on the city council there. She’s 46 years old, tall, sturdy and repossesses cars for a living. She wants to attract more industry to Riverdale. Michelle Bruce, frankly, in fact, proudly identifies herself as transgender, which the dictionary defines as appearing as; wishing to be considered as; or having undergone surgery to become a member of the opposite sex. Ms. Bruce finished first in a field of three.
But this week, Georgia Fuller, who finished third, filed a lawsuit, charging election fraud, a phrase usually tied to bribery or stuffing ballot boxes. Georgia Fuller charges that Michelle Bruce misled voters by identifying herself as transgender. She says that Ms. Bruce is merely a man who masquerades as a woman to keep her seat in the Riverdale City Council.
Now, I think this is a moment to note in Southern political history right alongside Bobby Jindal being elected governor of Louisiana. Not so many years ago, a Southern politician running for governor ridiculed his opponent, who’d been in a high school drama club, as an admitted thespian. Now, we have a losing candidate in the Southern city council election who charges that her opponent pretended to be transgender just to be popular, the way candidates used to boast that their great, great grandfather fought with Stonewall Jackson. [...]
Now, if being transgender has become a political asset in some parts of the South, like getting endorsed by Pat Robertson or the NRA, it could have urgent implications for the presidential campaign ahead as both parties try to win votes there. Everyone running for office says I’m the candidate of real change; a transgender candidate can add, and that’s not just talk.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
GA trans pol accused of gender fraud
This in the reelection battle after she served as openly transgender for four years:
One of the few openly transgender elected officials in the U.S. faces a lawsuit from opponents who allege she deceived the public by identifying as female.
Two losing candidates in the Nov. 6 city council election in Riverdale, Ga., filed a lawsuit last week in Clayton County Superior Court against incumbent City Councilmember Michelle Bruce, accusing her of fraud for identifying as female.The lawsuit also alleges election fraud and seeks to stop a Dec. 4 runoff election between Bruce and the second-place finisher for her post. [...]
Deana Johnson, city attorney for Riverdale, said an answer to the lawsuit was filed Nov. 20 and denies all allegations in the suit including fraud by Bruce. She said the city is awaiting a hearing date.
“She is Michelle Bruce and has been for the past four years,” Johnson said. “She is identified as female on her drivers license. This is a frivolous suit. I really don’t understand what the allegation is.”
Matt Carrothers, spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s Office, said there is no place to identify gender on the form people file to run for political office in state, county or municipal elections.
“Nowhere on the form does it ask for the sex of a person,” he said. [...]
Bruce, who lives with her mother, said Tuesday that the lawsuit is painful, as is an anti-transgender website administered by anonymous opponents to mock her.
Via Autumn Sandeen:
As a transwoman, It’s a little frustrating to have the word “deceit” frequently linked the to “transgender” and “transsexual”—based on the concept that my transgender peers’ and my gender presentation is a bald-faced lie as too our “real” sex.
When I know how I present my gender isn’t a lie, but knowing that it’s widely perceived as one—well, it’s a little frustrating.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Tucker Carlson: Mr. Right Now
MSNBC has been accused by many rightist pundits of adopting a liberal editorial policy. The sole basis of this charge appears to be the existence of Keith Olbermann’s Countdown. In an interview with NPR, MSNBC Sr VP Phil Griffin denies the charge saying that it is the host’s personalities, not their positions that make them popular. So Tucker’s already starting at a disadvantage. Griffin acknowledges that the network is trading on the audience identifying with the program’s anchors.“Keith Olbermann is our brand; Chris Matthews is our brand. These are smart, well-informed people who have a real sense of history and can put things in context.”
That is an unequivocal expression of the faith Griffin has in Olbermann and Matthews. But when he is specifically asked whether Tucker Carlson is also their brand, he pauses and says…
“He is right now.”
Not exactly a vote of confidence. Griffin seems to be hinting that his answer might be different if you ask him again in a week or two. Looks like the only thing Tucker has to be thankful for is his well-connected family and a contract for an upcoming TV game show pilot. I still can’t get over this project - a remake of “Who Do You Trust?”
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Philadelphia’s Boy Scout Ultimatum. And gay wedding.
Gay-friendly news from Philadelphia. WaPo:
This may be the last free Thanksgiving dinner for the Boy Scouts of Philadelphia.
Citing a local 1982 “fair practices” law, the city solicitor has given the Scouts until Dec. 3 to renounce its policy of excluding homosexuals or forfeit the grand, Beaux-Arts building it has rented from the city for $1 a year since 1928.
And this weekend Philly mayor John Street will preside over a gay colleague’s wedding.
With 125 guests expected, it will resemble in every way a traditional wedding but will have no legal standing, since Pennsylvania prohibits gay marriage.
Mahjoubian, 33, and Ryan Bunch, 32, will wear matching black tuxedos with orange vests. There will be a 10-person wedding party; each groom’s best man happens to be a woman. Mahjoubian and Bunch will say their vows, exchange wedding rings, then leave for a reception at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. [...]
For Mahjoubian and Bunch, it’s as much a political statement as a show of their love before family and friends. For Street, who has performed fewer than 10 weddings as mayor, it’s anything but.
“Micah is my friend. He has been in my campaign and has been in my administration for eight years,” Street said. Currently, Mahjoubian is his deputy secretary of external affairs. “I’ve come to respect him as a person, and if this is something he would like for me to do, then I’d like to do it for him.”