Pride Dance Party 2013!

It’s Pride weekend and we have so much to celebrate! DOMA got struck down, Gay marriage is back in CA now that Prop 8 is dismissed, and you no longer need to have sex reassignment surgery to change your gender identity on your Social Security Card.

Yes, obviously, we have so much more activist work to do, but for fuck’s sake let’s take a minute to have a dance party. Cool? cool.

Kelly Clarkson: People Like Us
“They try and knock us down/ But change is coming, it’s our time now”

Daft Punk: Get Lucky
“We’ve come too far to give up who we are/ So let’s raise the bar and our cups to the stars”

Janelle Monae: Queen

“I can’t believe all of the things they say about me/ Walk in the room they throwing shade left to right/ They be like ooh, she’s serving face/ And I just tell em, cut me up, and get down”

Fergie: A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)
“Speak easy, rocking the feathers I’m breezy/Hope you can keep up boys, cause believe me, I’m the bee’s knees”

Macklemore: And We Danced
“I am not, I am not going to stand on the wall/ I will dance, I will dance, I will break that ass off”

Sylvester: You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) Re-release of Mighty Real: Greatest Dance Hits
“I know you love me/ Like you should/ Oh you make me feel mighty real”

Happy Pride! Have fun and stay safe. xoxoxoxo

Happy Place

I’m not sure if the world is getting more terrible or if I’m just getting more sensitive. Lately I’ve taken to listening to NPR for hours a day, which might be part of my problem. I find myself sitting in my car in traffic, shedding tears over children trapped under rubble, etc. By the time I’ve gotten through my work day and driven home all motivation has left me and I sit on Pinterest for hours staring at picture after picture after picture. I mean fuck, have you been on Pinterest? If you’re a visual person you could develop a problem, a serious problem which as I’m typing this, I realize I probably already have.

Here’s a list of what I’ve been cheering myself up with on the internet.

1. Since I already mentioned it: Pinterest. Here’s a link to all of my boards at pinterest.com/alisonnowak/. If you feel like looking at pictures of skulls or interiors that have houseplants or celebrities posing with poodles, I’ve got you covered. Also illustration and lettering and some other things. Eventually I will get around to posting some overtly queer things on Pinterest, but for now you’ll have to satisfy yourself with my other queer-ish hobbies and interests.Alison Pinterest

2. (This should probably be #1) Pictures of people celebrating Gay Marriage legalization in MN. I really haven’t fully processed this yet but I’m definitely excited to acquire some legal rights. Health care! Hospital visitation! Joint Fishing Licenses! I loved seeing how everyone celebrated. City Pages, and MPR had some great pictures.

People Celebrating Gay Marriage.

From City Pages’ blog: The 12 Best Things About Gay Marriage.

People Celebrate after the marriage vote in the Senate.

Photo from MPR’s story: Minn. Senate approves same-sex marriage; sends to Dayton

Both Hell’s Kitchen and Glam Doll made celebratory donuts and Hell’s Kitchen is even going to throw some lucky gay people a wedding.

Glam Doll made gay donuts for the occasion.

Glam Doll made gay donuts for the occasion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3. George Takei responded to signs written by gay marriage opponents on Buzz Feed with signs of his own. If there is an award for dispersing shit on the internet that cheers you up, George Takei should win that award.

 

4. And finally, this video of Lesbians watching “lesbian” porn. It’s easy to get caught up in disagreeing with them (about the existence of good lesbian porn, for example) but if you just take it for what it is, it’s hilarious.

Speeches from Minnesota’s Historic Vote for the Freedom to Marry

It's Time, All Minnesotans Deserve the Freedom to Marry.By a vote of 75-59, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the freedom to marry for same-sex couples yesterday afternoon, Thursday May 9, 2013. Prior to the vote, there were a number of moving speeches from Representatives. In case you didn’t have time to be glued to the news coverage yesterday, I thought I would post several of my favorite moments from yesterday.

 

You might remember Representative Steve Simon (DFL) for a different speech he made during the marriage amendment. In a previous speech, Simon asked a Republican controlled committee the question, “How many more gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether or not God actually wants them around?”

Yesterday’s speech was equally compelling. Representative Simon told the house, “I think slowly, as a society, we are coming to the realization, some faster than others, that those in the GLBT community do not have some sort of condition to be pitied or prayed away. What they have is a god-given orientation which should be celebrated and welcomed.”

Equally moving was Representative Tim Faust’s speech explaining how he changed his mind about same sex marriage. He asks, “Do we as a society have the right to impose our religious beliefs on someone else?”

This bill moves on to the Senate on Monday. Take action to help it become a law. Find out what you can do on the Minnesotans United for All Families website.

Have YOU Changed Your Profile Picture For Marriage Equality?

Maybe I’m only Facebook friends with homies (it’s possible), but my entire timeline turned red and pink last week with equal signs in support of marriage equality as the Supreme Court discussed the constitutionality of Proposition 8 in California and the Defense of Marriage Act and legalizing same-sex marriage.

At some moments I was pleasantly surprised to see who of my peripheral friends “came out” in support of same-sex marriage. Other times I just wanted to vomit. Was Facebook going to send a tally of all those who changed their picture to SCOTUS? Who put forward the equal sign anyway? The answer is the Human Rights Campaign, whose logo is usually a yellow equal sign on a blue background.  For an awesome critique of the equal sign, read here: http://agnesgalore.tumblr.com/post/46709012222/why-i-almost-defriended-everyone-who-had-an-hrc-logo-as That post made me wonder about complacency, who speaks for who, and of course, White-washing, cis-washing and mono-sexual washing a movement, a group of people, an identity. What does it mean when my straight, cis friends who never expressed any interest in civil rights and human rights generally OR LGBTQ rights specifically change their avatar for a day or two? Should I be thanking them? Should I gag? Should I engage in a real conversation in Facebook comments?

 

And if you just want to look at some pink on red equal signs, look no further  http://www.buzzfeed.com/adambvary/21-fabulous-red-marriage-equality-profile-photos-on-facebook

The Queerest Super Bowl Ever? It’s Not That Simple

Trigger Warning: Homophobia, misogyny, transmisogyny and sex trafficking

transparentrainbowhelmet2This week, the internet happens to be all a-twitter about a marked change among pro-athletes “coming out” in support of LGBTQ rights and marriage equality. Denver Nuggets (Basketball, for all you readers like me who had to Google that) player Kenneth Faried spoke out in a video with his two mothers in support of civil unions and marriage equality. In football, Minnesota Viking Chris Kluwe wrote an open letter to Emmett C. Burns, Jr., another football player who opposed Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo’s support of marriage equality. Upon knowing he was going to play in the Super Bowl, Ayanbadejo reached out to see how he could speak up against LGBTQ bullying and in support of LGBTQ rights.  Which brings us to Sunday…

This Sunday, February 3rd, 2013, is the Super Bowl. With all this buzz, it’s possible to think that this Super Bowl might be different, it might be Super Queer. But let’s not forget. This is also the time for traditionally sexist and homophobic and transphobic commercials (For example, this 2007 Snickers Ad- Trigger Warning), a time when beer and women’s bodies are sold in thirty-second slots. And children’s bodies too. Last year was the first time I read about the Super Bowl’s history of child sex trafficking, the largest child sex trafficking event in the U.S.

Maybe I’m too cynical, but I’m not sure how different things will really be this year. Will we see different commercials? Will commentators no longer resort to language rooted in homophobia and sexism? Will children no longer be trafficked for sex? Will mass consumption of beer and other booze go down and thus a decrease in Super Bowl-related domestic violence? Will the Destiny’s Child reunion lead to a threeway makeout session?  I can only hope so, but I wouldn’t count on it this year.

An Interview with Duck Duck Punch

Duck Duck Punch

Duck Duck Punch & Friends on the set of RGB.                  photo credit: Davin Haukebo-Bol

The other day while I was at work a friend of mine had me watch Duck Duck Punch‘s first video, RGB. The video was awesome (and gross) and the music was great. By the time the video was over I knew I wanted to interview them for The Queer and Now. Bryan Rudell was nice enough to answer a few of my questions for me.

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Q: In the book, Camp: Queer Aesthetics and the Performing Subject, Fabio Cleto writes, “Camp has the power to force attention onto bodies in a culture that seems increasingly interested in burying, suppressing, or transcending them.” Your first video, RGB, made me think about the relationship of the grotesque to camp and definitely confronted viewers with the realities of bodies. What was your thought process in creating that video?

A: The concept for RGB had been kicking around in my head since 2009. I guess, the whole goal of the video was to do 2 things: be “interesting” enough that it would be worth sharing online, and evoke a little wtf power. The song is about finding comfort through a digital screen. Maybe it’s watching Amélie to feel good, or pumping up your ego on twitter, or getting off on xtube — it’s just a component of our culture. That said, it’s not physical. It’s not real life. The video has a bunch of distortion to emphasize the medium — it’s a video. You’ve got these cute girls popping up, but they’re not actually real — they’re just moving pixels in a video.

The climax is just deconstructing every other video selling sex & pretty women — we’re just making a joke of the “sex sells” philosophy.

Q: Your songs have a synth feeling that brings me back to groups like Duran Duran and Depeche Mode. Are you creating that sound in a similar manner to those bands? What’s the deal with the whole analog vs. digital debate? Do you guys take a side on that?

A: Those are in among my top 3 favorite bands, so they heavily influence my style. Depeche Mode has actually had an interesting career because they’ve been through the analog > digital > analog cycle. Though we record / mix / add effects with a computer, we primarily record with analog synthesizers and tube preamps. Analog & digital both have their advantages/disadvantages, but I’m partial to analog. Speaking specifically about synthesizers, I’d just never truly loved any of the digital ones I’ve had. It’s a personal preference, but I think it’s easy for digital synths to sound too “perfect,” whereas I like less-than-perfect instruments with less-than-perfect tuning & performance. It adds character, and that “warmth” everybody talks about.

Q: Will you talk a little bit about how being in your first gay relationship impacted your songwriting? How different would Human Chemistry be as an album if you hadn’t had that experience?

A: Absolutely. Human Chemistry would be a much different album if it hadn’t progressed along my first gay relationship. Even if some of the same relationship events happened and I was with a girl, it would be a completely different story — I honestly think one of the benefits of being in a homosexual relationship is understanding your partner. Gender does play a role in our human perspectives. Aside from that, I became completely comfortable with my sexuality. Finding that “meant to be” relationship with the man I’d always dreamed of gave me the confidence to write about things like closeted gay culture, which is the theme of “Degenerate Public.”

Q: There’s a little bit of unease/trauma in the lyrics of your songs. How do you decide what to write about?

A: Life. Things that happened to us or people we cared about — it’s much easier for me personally to write about things that carry emotional weight. It just happened to be a few years packed with some volatile moments. I did write a song about falling in love with my fiancé, but it didn’t really fit with the rest in the end. The album thematically evolved after 6 or 7 songs were recorded—I noticed they all had to do with the way humans interact with one another, and how those interactions influence our brain chemistry. It just also happened to be kind of pessimistic.

Q: Duck Duck Punch got its start in Duluth, MN, right? Do people get into electropop up there?

A: I love Duluth, but I kind of don’t love Duluth music culture. It’s very much secluded to its own folk bubble. That’s the big thing, there — people worship it. (I… do not.) There were some rock/punk things going on with synths, and some EDM kids, but there was really nobody else doing what we were doing. I guess it made us stand out a little more, though.

Q: Anything else you want to tell The Queer and Now readers?

A: Thanks for taking the time to read all the way down to this sentence, and we hope to meet you soon! Hi-fives all around!

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For more Duck Duck Punch check out their website. Right now you can even download a 4-Pack of songs for free.

High 5! It’s 2013

Glenn BurkeHappy New Year! Did you know the high five was invented by Glenn Burke, the first openly gay major league baseball player? According to ESPN.com the high five was birthed late in the 1977 Dodgers season. Burke was on plate in the batting order following Dusty Baker, who had just hit his 30th home run and was coming around to home plate. When Baker ran past him, Burke lifted his hand, Baker did the same and their hands slapped, creating the first high five on record.

After being traded to the Oakland A’s in 1980 Burke faced a hostile work environment. Rumors of his sexuality followed him and the A’s manager, Billy Martin, called him a faggot. After a knee injury Burke felt there was no choice for him except early retirement.

The newly retired Burke took solace in playing gay softball and bringing the high-five to San Francisco’s Castro district. Jon Mooallem writes:

He became a star shortstop in a local gay softball league and dominated in the Gay Softball World Series. “I was making money playing ball and not having any fun,” he said of his time in the majors. “Now I’m not making money, but I’m having fun.” Jack McGowan, a friend in the Castro who has since passed away, once said of Burke: “He was a hero to us. He was athletic, clean cut, masculine. He was everything that we wanted to prove to the world that we could be.”

In the Castro, Burke’s creation of the high five was part of this Herculean mystique. He would regularly sit on the hood of a car — whichever one happened to be parked in front of a gay bar called the Pendulum Club — flash his magnetic smile and high-five everyone who walked by. In 1982, Burke came out publicly in an Inside Sports magazine profile called “The Double Life of a Gay Dodger.” The writer, a gay activist named Michael J. Smith, appropriated the high five as a defiant symbol of gay pride. Rising from the wreckage of Burke’s aborted baseball career, Smith wrote, was “a legacy of two men’s hands touching, high above their heads.”

Sports aren’t your thing? Celebrate the new year by making your own My Little Pony with General Zoi’s pony creator.

 

The Lavender Menance

When I was in eight grade, I started getting into feminism. I was reading Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique when I got to the part about the “lavender menace.” Without thinking I grabbed a sharpie, pulled a t-shirt out of my closet and wrote lavender menace in huge letters across the front. I then freaked out, shoved the shirt under a pile of clothing, and hyperventilated for a few minutes. It was like some part of me I’d never heard from before wrote those words.

This was the first moment I was aware of my queerness and it scared the shit out of me. I threw the shirt away, but I also stopped reading Feminine Mystique. I had a loyalty to something I didn’t yet understand.

1970-lavender-menace-640x439

I recently came across this picture from the 70′s of three women wearing Lavender Menace t-shirts and it reminded me of that day in eighth grade. I had no idea what I was doing, unlike the ladies in this picture who were part of Rita Mae Brown’s consciousness raising group.

In Karla Jay’s book, Tales of the Lavender Menace, she talks about a public demonstration that occurred at a meeting of the Second Congress to Unite Women.

“The Second Congress to Unite Women got under way on May 1 at 7:00 PM at Intermediate School 70 on West Seventeenth Street in Manhattan. About three hundred women filed into the school auditorium. Just as the first speaker came to the microphone, Jesse Falstein, a GLF member, and Michela [Griffo] switched off the lights and pulled the plug on the mike. (They had cased the place the previous day, and knew exactly where the switches were and how to work them.) I was planted in the middle of the audience, and I could hear my co-conspirators running down both aisles. Some were laughing, while others were emitting rebel yells. When Michela and Jesse flipped the lights back on, both aisles were lined with seventeen lesbians wearing their Lavender Menace T-shirts and holding the placards we had made. Some invited the audience to join them. I stood up and yelled, “Yes, yes, sisters! I’m tired of being in the closet because of the women’s movement.” Much to the horror of the audience, I unbuttoned the long-sleeved red blouse I was wearing and ripped it off. Underneath, I was wearing a Lavender Menace T-shirt. There were hoots of laughter as I joined the others in the aisles. Then Rita [Mae Brown] yelled to members of the audience, “Who wants to join us?”

“I do, I do,” several replied.

Then Rita also pulled off her Lavender Menace T-shirt. Again, there were gasps, but underneath she had on another one. More laughter. The audience was on our side.” (Jay, 143)

I love the combination of activism and humor. The picture of the activists came from an awesome Autostraddle post: 150 Years of Lesbians and other Lady Loving Ladies.

 

 

Vote November 6th!

Vote No Twice

Vote No on both Constitutional Amendments November 6th!

 

 

Hey Friends. It’s time to vote!

Did you remember to research all your Constitutional Amendments, Judges, Soil and Water Supervisors, and School Board Members?

 

 

If you’re from Minnesota/Minneapolis and didn’t have time to read through the details of all the races, here’s the slate I’m voting. The best thing to do is research it all yourself, but in the absence of having that time, feel free to use my State General Election cheat sheet.

State General Election Cheat Sheet:

President and VP: Barack Obama and Joe Biden

U.S. Senator: Amy Klobuchar

U.S. Representative District 5: Keith Ellison

State Senator: Scott Dibble

State Representative District 61B: Paul Thissen (Not that many people will have this on their ballot but I wanted to remind those of you who do, not to vote for the Republican: Nate “Honey Badger” Atkins. Yes, it’s hilarious that he’s known as the Honey Badger, but actual elections are the one time we can’t vote for comedy.)

Constitutional Amendements:

Amendment 1 Recognition of Marriage solely between one man and one woman: NO (obviously. See Minnesotans United For All Families for more info)

Amendment 2 Photo Identification Required for Voting: NO (this one is seriously important. There are no real details on what this amendment entails, just that the next legislature gets to decide what ID is required and how it’s going to get paid for. Voter Fraud is not a problem in Minnesota. This is a waste of money and disenfranchises people who have a right to vote. As the ACLU puts it, “while showing a photo ID may seem like a common sense idea, the actual amendment is poorly written and would cause too many unintended consequences.” )

County Offices:

Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor 1: Eleonore Wesserle

Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor 3: Brian T. Peterson

Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor 4: Richard B. Strong

Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor 5: Abstain. Danny Nadeau is a Republican and as far as I can tell he’s running unopposed. If anyone has a better idea please post in comments!

School Board Member At Large Special District 1: Carla Bates

Judges:

Chief Justice: Lorie Skjerven Glidea

Associate Justice 1: Dean Barkley

Associate Justice 4: David R. Stras

Judge 22: Elizabeth Cutter

Judge 44: Lois Conroy

The remaining Judges are running unopposed.

Ok folks, that’s all I have for recommendations. November 6th is a big day. Go participate in democracy!