Archive for the 'queer' Category Page 3 of 3

What’s good for the gays…

…is apparently not good for the soldiers.

As reported in this article from the New York Times, 31 states have either passed or are considering legislation that restricts demonstrations at a funeral or burial. Additionally, Congress is expected to address the issue of protests at federal cemetaries. This legislation stems largely from responses to the most recent disgusting behavior of Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Cult, I mean, Church. It seems that Phelps and his despicable cohorts got tired of spewing their virulent homophobia at the funerals of queer folks; now, they’ve taken up conducting similar demonstrations of hatred at the funerals of american soldiers who were killed in Iraq. In their truly twisted logic, soldiers are dying because of the wickedness of american society, which has apparently embraced queer folks. Funny, I didn’t get the memo letting me know that we’re no longer largely maligned and discrminated against by american society and law. Wonder how we missed that one.

So, in turn, politicians are turning towards legislation to limit the effect that these protests can have on grieving families.

“Repugnant, outrageous, despicable, do not adequately describe what I feel they do to these families,” said Representative Steve Buyer, an Indiana Republican who is a co-sponsor of a Congressional bill to regulate demonstrations at federal cemeteries. “They have a right to freedom of speech. But someone also has a right to bury a loved one in peace.”

“I haven’t seen something like this,” said David L. Hudson Jr., research attorney for the First Amendment Center, referring to the number of state legislatures reacting to the protests. “It’s just amazing. It’s an emotional issue and not something that is going to get a lot of political opposition.”

Now, don’t get me wrong – I think that what these people are doing is disgusting and, while I worry about laws that infringe upon first amendment rights to free speech, I do think that people have the right to mourn their loved ones without having to endure such harassment. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be a grieving friend or family member and to see these fuckers desecrating your loved one’s memory. Well, I’d probably feel something like Jonathan Anstey, who spoke to the Times about his experience at his friend’s funeral: “It’s hurtful and it’s taking a lot of willpower not to go down there and stomp their heads in.”

Yet still, I can’t help but think: where was all the outrage when Phelps and company were pulling the same awful bullshit at the funerals of queer people? I didn’t see much outcry (outside of the queer community, of course) when that was going on, and they’d been at it for nearly a decade before they started picketing soldiers’ funerals. There was certainly not this remarkably widespread political response. There were no vets on motorcycles circling the families and trying to shield them from the awful chanting and sign-waving, as there are at the soldiers’ funerals.

And why is that? Did those queer folks, some of whom died of AIDS, deserve to die more than the soldiers did, by virtue of their sexuality? Did their families not deserve to grieve in peace as much as the families of the soldiers? Were their memories less sacred and less deserving of dignity than those of these soldiers?

Of course, my answers to those questions are no, no, and no. But I can’t help but take away that, for many of the politicians and other people taking action now, the answers would be yes.

Nothing new in The New World

The not-so New World

I’m really waiting for the Religious Right to flip out over the obvious immorality of this film – hello, pedophilia?
When white America comes out with a movie that prominently features Native people, you can’t really expect much good to come of it, can you? So, when I saw the previews for Terrence Malick’s The New World, I was appropriately dubious. Yet, I was also slightly intrigued, because even though I should know that the first line of this entry is absolutely true, the cinematography looked beautiful and interesting enough to make me wonder – maybe it’s not so bad?

Well, I’m glad that my brief moment of naivete didn’t drive me to go out and see the film (in fact, it didn’t come close), because it appears that it’s the racist, revisionist garbage that one would expect. Gabriel over at Modern Fabulousity offers a sharp and insightful take on the film.

Thinking about the film spurred me to learn a bit more about the history behind the incessantly sentimentalized story of Pocahantas, which brought me to the website of the Powhatan Renape Nation. They’ve posted a response to the Pocahantas myth as promoted by the Disney movie and countless other sources. I learned quite a few things from it – for instance, that her real name was not Pocahantas (a childhood nickname meaning “naughty one” or “spoiled girl”) but Matoaka, and that she was only 11 when her supposed romantic interest, John Smith, arrived in her land. Additionally, the whole thing of her saving Smith’s life was probably a total falsification. All of this being, of course, totally unsurprising, given the white man’s insistance on twisting Native history beyond recognition and to their own racist advantage. From the piece by Chief Roy Crazy Horse: “Of all of Powhatan’s children, only ‘Pocahontas’ is known, primarily because she became the hero of Euro-Americans as the “good Indian”, one who saved the life of a white man.”

Somewhat unrelated: upon finding the Modern Fabulousity blog in search of writings on this movie, I also found this amusing take on the “gay trend” in the Golden Globes:

Most Annoying Oscar Trend: The Year of the Gay. Expect to hear this repeated ad naseum, due to Brokeback, Transamerica, and Capote. But three films do not make a trend, people. You could just as easily call it the Year of the Country Folk (Brokeback, Walk The Line, A History of Violence and North Country), or the Year of the Effete Novelist (Capote, The Squid and the Whale), or, God forbid, the Year of the Overblown Literary Adaptation (Narnia, Constant Gardener, Pride and Prejudice, Memoirs of a Geisha, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Proof, Breakfast on Pluto, Brokeback, Munich). But I guess none of those have as much incendiary appeal as The Year The Queers Took Over The Planet And Held Your Children Hostage.

I’m not queer or trans, but I play one on the big screen…

… or the big screen, as it were.

So, on tonight’s Golden Globes, Brokeback Mountain won Best Drama, Best Screenplay, Best Director and Best Song, Felicity Huffman won Best Actress for Transamerica, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman won Best Actor for Capote. A strong year for queerness and, um, transness in the movies. Too bad none of the queer and trans characters in these films could actually be portrayed by, oh, I don’t know, queer and trans people? Ah well, I suppose we can only ask for so much. (That’s sarcasm there, folks.)

Of course, that’s not to say I wasn’t very happy about Brokeback Mountain winning.  Though I think my personal highlight of the night was Sandra Oh winning Best Supporting Actress in a Drama for Grey’s Anatomy.  My girlfriend and I both cheered very enthusiastically when that happened.  We <3 Sandra Oh!

Slightly disturbing; also, the required post-election snippet

Today, while reading this ABC news article about al Qaeda’s attempted justification of the bombings in Jordan, I glanced down at the bottom of the screen and noticed the “Most Sent Headlines” section:

  • Can Your Cat Make You Crazy?
  • Cat Show Plans Memorial Service for Dog
  • Warm, Fuzzy Winter Bra Unveiled in Japan

Apparently, ABC News readers have some strange priorities when it comes to the news that matters most.

So, Ferrer and Mattera lost. Sigh. Not that it either result was terribly surprising – I had very little hope for Mattera’s campaign, and things weren’t looking so good for Ferrer for quite a while. Well, at least this year’s results aren’t heartbreaking like last year’s were. Republicans lost many key elections, and we even had a state (Maine) vote in favor of the rights of queer folks for a change. (Texas, of course, came through strong for the homophobic, rabid right.)

Legislating love

From my friend Dex: He looks too ‘aloof’ in photographs, so Immigration rejected his wife. This is a Canadian incident, but similarly racist, xenophobic, and just plain heartbreaking applications of immigration laws occur in the US every day. As Dex put it, “this is what happens when the government tries to legislate love.”

Speaking of legislating love, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Latino/a Coalition for Justice recently released this report about queer Latina couples, based on the 2000 census (thanks to Julie for the link). Some of the findings: Latina queer couples earn less and are less likely to own a house than white queer couples, which is not very surprising – racism and classism affects queer Latinas just as it affects all Latinas.

What was particularly interesting to me were findings that about two-thirds of Latina queer couples are raising kids, and nearly half of Latina queer couples include someone who is not a US citizen, both statistics indicating that gay marriage could have very important affects on Latina queer folks – and that a lack of gay marriage can have very negative affects, when it comes to raising children and immigration struggles.

I often hear (and often agree with) arguments that the mainstream gay movement leaves many people out by focusing so singularly on gay marriage, that gay marriage is not priority number one for many low-income queers and queers of color, and that gay marriage is all about legitimizing certain kinds of queer relationships (monogamous between two people) and delegitimizing others. But it’s important to remember that gay marriage really could have an important and beneficial impact on many queer immigrants and queer people of color.

ACTION ALERT: Help FIERCE fight for queer and trans youth’s right to be in the West Village

The quick of it, if you don’t have time to read the back story: New Yorkers who care about queer and trans youth of color should show up on Monday at 6:30pm at the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center, 3 Clarkson Street, 3rd Floor (7th Ave) for an important action by FIERCE against a plan to barricade Christopher St after the 1am curfew. (Also, while I’m speaking to New Yorkers – y’all need to VOTE on Tuesday! Vote Ferrer!)

Now, the back story: Christopher Street and the nearby Pier in Manhattan have been a gathering point and something of a safe haven for queer and trans folk for time immemorial. The area has served especially as one of the few safe public places for queer and trans youth, many of whom are youth of color and many of whom are homeless or low-income.

Some of the people who can afford to live in the West Village – mostly rich, white folks – have decided that they’d rather not have these queer and trans youth in “their” neighborhood.
These people have been quite active in trying to drive queer and trans youth out of the West Village, Christopher St. and the Piers. They’ve organized in their community board, lobbied for earlier curfews for the area, blocked efforts to create a queer and trans youth drop-in center in the neighborhood, requested and received increased and biased policing of the area, and have generally done all they can to drive the youth out. They’re supported in this by the NYPD, who frequently harass queer and trans youth (no sir, absolutely no profiling going on there. Uh-huh.)

Since 2000, FIERCE!, an organization for queer and trans youth of color, has been one of the few voices raised against these forces – as stated on their website, against the “displacement and criminalization of queer and trans youth of color and homeless youth at the pier and in the Village.” They work hard to make the voices of queer and trans youth of color heard by the powers that be, and they’ve consistently challenged the racist, homophobic, transphobic and classist policies that the rich residents and business owners of the West Village have tried to push through. I’ve had the privilege of working with them on a few actions, and they’re pretty amazing.

Right now, FIERCE is gearing up to face yet another challenge from the residents of the West Village. Now, those “concerned citizens” have managed to come up with some pretty fucked up “solutions” to the “problem” of queer and trans youth of color over the years. At one point, residents requested that Park Enforcement Patrol officers, who are not police officers, be armed in order to deal with the “special population” of the Piers, the queer and trans folks that one woman at a community board meeting dubbed “leftovers.” But what they’re trying to push through now is exceptionally disgusting.

Currently, there’s a 1 am curfew in place on the piers; at that time, the Park Enforcement Patrol clears folks out. The logical route for one being forced to leave the piers is Christopher Street, which is a busy commercial street lined with shops, bars, and restaurants that are open until all hours. However, the residents are apparently put off by the queer youth who walk down Christopher and other nearby residential streets as they leave. FIERCE and other groups have advocated for a later curfew of 4 am, which would allow pier-goers to leave in a more gradual, interspersed manner, thereby reducing noice and crowding.

But that’s not good enough for the residents. Their solution?

They want to install metal barricades at the entrances to Christopher Street and other residential streets, blocking access to those leaving the piers and corraling them along the West Side Highway, either north to 14th St or south to Houston St. Advocates of this plan claim that no discrimination or profiling will be applied when directing people away from the barricades. However, as a friend and FIERCE organizer said to me a few nights ago, it’s highly doubtful that the wealthy white person walking their dog in the park who claims to live just a block away will be turned away. As FIERCE stated in a recent action alert, “only ‘some’ people will be allowed down Christopher Street – and they have no answers, other than discrimination, to tell the difference between us and the people who pay for property in the West Village.”

This Monday, there’s going to be a meeting of the Community Board 2 Parks and Waterfront Committee in the West Village where the plan will be discussed. FIERCE is planning to show up in force to protest this unacceptable move by the West Village residents.

FIERCE needs the help of its allies to demonstrate disapproval of this plan! If you’re a New Yorker who thinks that this plan is total b.s., show up at 6:30pm at the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center, 3 Clarkson Street, 3rd Floor (7th Ave). Hear FIERCE’s plan and help save seats inside so that as many FIERCE members and allies as possible can pack the meeting and make their voices heard. And if you’re a queer or trans youth, contact FIERCE at 646.336.6789 x108 to find out how you can join up and fight back, too.

For more info on this fiasco, check out this article from the Villager: Gate may be closed to gays in park’s crowd-control plan. A choice bit from this article that demonstrates the attitudes of these folks against queer youth:

Asked what the gay youth would do once they leave the park at 14th and Houston Streets, [David Poster, president of the Christopher Street Patrol], noting there are many subway lines on 14th Street, said: “Let them go home. Let them go where they want. The idea that they have to be on Christopher Street is a fallacy. Maybe they’ll find something much more positive than being with prostitutes down there. Maybe it’ll help them.”

Yes, I’m sure that this guy is really concerned about or knows a damn thing about helping queer and trans youth. Clearly, making it more difficult and less safe for them to be in one of the few safe spaces they have in this city is a great way to help them. Yeah. Right.