Archive for June 8th, 2006

AngryBrownButch in the flesh

This weekend I’m going to be sitting on a panel at the New Fest, the big queer film festival here in NYC. The details:

Masculinity In The Lesbian Community
1pm on June 11, 2006
The New Yorker Hotel
481 Eighth Avenue (at 34th St.)
Grammercy Park Suite

As seen in NewFest 2006 films like Boy I Am and Gender Rebel, there’s a lot to say about FTMs and genderqueer people and how they do and don’t fit into the larger lesbian community. With such diversity now present, is it still the lesbian community? Filmmakers Sam Feder and Elaine Epstein and activists continue the dialogue.

I’m one of the aforementioned activists, along with my friend Naomi; we’re both coming as representatives, so to speak, of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, though we won’t really be talking about SRLP’s work and therefore won’t be speaking as official representatives of what SRLP’s official positions on these issues are.

Note that the premise of the whole panel is a bit weird and is reflective of a problematic trend in “lesbian” communities to focus on the presence of trans men and female-assigned genderqueers and generally ignore the issues and presence (or lack thereof) of trans women in the community. It’s also a bit odd that we’ve gotten to this point where the synopsis of a panel entitled “Masculinity in the Lesbian Community” (and, at one point in the NewFest guide, is even simply called “Lesbian Masculinity”) includes nary a mention of butches, studs, AGs, and other masculine folks who have traditionally been a part of the lesbian community.

I, myself, tend not to identify as a lesbian anymore; my sexuality is queer, though I still do identify with lesbian community and culture, if that makes sense. And I certainly wouldn’t say I belong to a lesbian community, given the wide range of genders and sexualities in the communities of which I’m a part. But the question, “is it still the lesbian community?” is an odd one. It all depends on what you mean by community – is it just a general term applied to all people who share an identity, or is community an actual, localized social group of people who know and support each other? I’ll be speaking to these points and more on the panel. I’ll let y’all know how it goes.

Another reason to scrape that blue equal sign sticker off your bumper

No to HRC
image from bloggy

This past weekend I drove in a friend’s car. While loading up the trunk, I noticed that there was a very faded, barely discernable Human Rights Campaign sticker on the bumper. I was quite amused, especially since, given my knowledge of her general politics, she probably likes the HRC about as much as I do. Which is to say, not at all. For folks who aren’t familiar with them, the HRC is, in a nutshell, an extremely mainstream, pandering, assimilationist LGB”T” organization that seems to work primarily for the rights of the most privileged, white picket fence (and just plain white) sort of queers. Well, not queers, seeing as “queer” is not their sort of word. They are decidedly lesbian, gay, bisexual I guess, and let’s throw in transgendered so that it looks like we care. In fact, their chosen acronym on their website is GLBT, not even LGBT. Clearly, they’re making no bones about who comes first in their hierarchy of gay importance! HRC does not serve the interests of me and many of my friends and many other folks who supposedly fall under their “GLBT” rubric. Last year at the big Pride march here in NYC, my friends and I hollered at them from the sidelines – “Racist, sexist, anti-trans, HRC, we’re not your fans!” We also squirted them with water guns. It was fun times, but it’s also unfortunate that one of the biggest, most established, resource-laden LGBT organizations has such skewed priorities.

They primarily focus on homo marriage to the exclusion of the many other issues that affect many queers on the daily. Now, I’m not an opponent of gay marriage, but I also don’t think it’s the most important issue facing the wider queer and trans communities, and I don’t think it’s going to be some amazing event makes life subtantially better and easier for most queers and trans folks. Of course, I think that the institution of marriage is pretty fucked and fairly discriminatory in terms of deciding which kinds of families are legitimate and deserve certain rights and protections and which are not, and that goes far beyond queer issues. I mean, if you’re not a traditional nuclear heterosexual family unit, you’re fairly screwed under this country’s current laws. So gay marriage, while it will have important benefits for many people, will still primarily benefit those people who want to work within that sort of two-parent rubric. Any other less conventional family formations and you’ll still be out of luck, and it seems rather unwise to push for something that will privilege and legitimize certain queer relationships and families while in turn continuing to delegitimize many others, queer and not queer.

So yes, anyhow, HRC pretty much sucks, and now they’ve evidenced it even more, as bloggy over at the Daily Gotham writes in an entry entitled “The Human Rights Campaign: dangerous to homos”. Apparently, the HRC has decided to endorse Joe Lieberman’s run for reelection as senator of Connecticut. I’m missing how he can be called pro-gay, given his stances and voting record on various issues. (Though, apparently, the “homosexuality is wrong” comment quoted by bloggy is in dispute, so I won’t comment either way on that – his record says enough, I’d say.)

The worst of it, though, is that the very narrow, single-issue focus that the HRC seems to have has pushed them to support Lieberman because, in the weird parallel universe in which the HRC seems to operate, Lieberman is somehow “pro-gay.” Does this perceived pro-gayness somehow counteract his continued pandering to the religious and war-mongering right? Does HRC really think that someone who doesn’t miss a chance to snuggle up to the GOP, as bloggy so amusingly put it, is going to hesitate before completely selling out all queers, from the ones who HRC really looks out for to the ones it purports to represent but doesn’t?

Who knows. Maybe the HRC just likes good ol’ Joe because he’s as much a panderer as they are – Liberman to the Right, the HRC to the straights.


p.s. I know I’m a bit behind on responding to comments, but I’ll be trying to catch up in the near future. Thanks to everyone who’s read and commented. Also, just as a note, I got my first truly out of control comments, the kind where someone doesn’t just diagree with you, but writes a lengthy rant that is largely composed of ad hominems. Apparently this person is really upset about my post on the West Point girlfriends website (which was really rather mild as far as my posts go, probably because the whole topic doesn’t matter much to me and was merely a source of mild amusement and intrigue).

They also seem to think that I am either a hipster, or like hipsters at all, and plan to force my children to be vegans. Uh… sure. (Just for the record, I am an inveterate carnivore, though I do make attempts at obtaining meat from humane sources when I can.) Anyhow, getting comments like that for the first time, I feel like I’ve graduated to some new level in blogging! I mean, I clearly can’t be doing my job well if people aren’t calling me names.