We’ll have an interview with Duck Duck Punch up on TQAN in the coming weeks. Come check them out at the entry tonight.
We’ll have an interview with Duck Duck Punch up on TQAN in the coming weeks. Come check them out at the entry tonight.
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.
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.
I’m no statistician, but I would venture a guess that at least half of all relationships (open and non-open), marriages, engagements, and “it’s complicated”s on Facebook are fictional. On Facebook, a site informed by idealized projections and presentations self-mediated through a policy of hyper-openness, relationships and friendships are made instantly public.
I am particularly intrigued and troubled by the relationships of two female-identified friends. I am not alone in knowing two best friends who are “married” or “in an open relationship” on Facebook. Often, seeing two straight women claiming to be engaged to each other frustrates me. What a blatant unawareness of privilege! Why are they turning relationships between two women into a joke? Why do they joke about being married when they couldn’t even get married if they tried? Are they sure the notion of two women being in a romantic relationship is preposterous, so they aren’t even concerned with being misread? When I see those relationship statuses, I often feel silenced, erased, or mocked.
But maybe I judge too quickly. After all, there is something liberating about re-imagining relationships. Maybe marriages or open relationships are labels that fit certain friendships because of the emotional fulfillment that comes with those relationships. Perhaps these women are engaging in play and ambiguity in their relationships, blurring boundaries between friends and more, regardless of sexual or gender identity. Now, when I find myself frustrated, I try to check myself. Who am I to dictate what a relationship is? Maybe these two women feel like they are in an open relationship, where they are emotionally committed and find sexual satisfaction somewhere else. Or maybe they do find it within one another, and still identify as straight. Women in “fake” Facebook relationships, thank you for helping me pause and rethink public relationship presentations, as I push myself to redefine relationships for myself and how I read relationships onto others.
for anyone who missed it a few weeks ago, please do read viking’s punter chris kluwe’s open letter to maryland state delegate emmett c. burns, jr. mr. kluwe wrote delegate burns after baltimore ravens linebacker brendon ayanbadejo had the audacity to speak out in favor of the maryland ballot initiative to legalize gay marriage, which mr. burns replied to by telling ravens owner steve bisciotti that he should ”inhibit such expressions” from his employee. the letter is incredibly incisive, funny, and full of swears (“mindfucking obscenely hypocritical” is a favorite phrase of mine). it made me proud to be a minnesotan, and it’s timely as well, seeing as how our own gay marriage amendment battle is still much, much too close for my comfort.
last week, on the one-year anniversary of the repeal of DADT, former pittsburgh pirates owner kevin mcclatchy came out to the world and became the first mlb owner ever to do so:
“i’ve spent 30 years… not talking about my personal life, lying about my personal life,” said mcclatchy, who was the pirates’ ceo from 1996 to 2007. “there’s no way i want to go into the rest of my existence and ever have to hide my personal life again.”
despite the fact that i don’t really care about sports, it remains an arena where “traditional” masculinity is heavily policed and hostility towards queer sexuality and gender is rampant, and this is unacceptable to me. there are no active male professional athletes who are openly gay, and this will continue to be the case until players, owners, and fans state publicly that they will support any and all gay people in major league sports.
so good news from down under, where the australian football league is making big strides to demonstrate that gender-and-sexuality-based harassment and sports do not go hand-in-hand. in addition to airing this psa encouraging people to speak out against homophobia before two finals games, the afl is considering “a special gay-pride exhibition game next season to help make the sport more inclusive”:
“a pride game is one of the options we’re looking at. if we get behind something we genuinely believe in and if it’s something that we think we can help raise awareness and shift attitudes then we would support it,” league boss andrew demetriou said. “we would consult with experts in this matter and get the best advice to see how we can address this issue properly like we did with illicit drugs. i want to make sure then if we do go down this track we do it properly.”
just the thought of mn-based sports teams having gay-pride exhibition games makes me positively giddy. and, again, i really don’t care about sports. but lots of lgbtq people do, and god dammit they should feel like they’re recognized, both as fans and as players. i know one guy who agrees with me…
VOTE NO, GUYS!
On August 17, The Queer and Now content was lost in a complete server failure. Unfortunately, we did not have a backup of the site. We are now in the process of rebuilding the site with content captured from Google Cache pages of the old site. The text of posts should be back some this week, with videos and images added back in over a longer period of time. In the meantime, if you were looking for a particular post, you can search for it on Google and then click on the “cached” link next to the search result you’re interested in.
back in the unseasonable warmth of february (hello, record temperatures)
i decided that turning my fourth of july into a five-day weekend would
be a good use of p.t.o. this proved to be true, as i was later
invited to a friend’s family cabin with ten other lovely people that
very weekend. we journeyed to the woods of wisconsin to drink
beer, eat meat, shoot fireworks, and dance to drake.
an excellent time was had by all, but there was a group consensus
based on pit stops for food, beer, and gas that small town wisconsinites
were not feeling us. like, really not feeling us. i personally
felt i was getting more side eye than mary-kate olsen and olivier
sarkozy (probably) do strolling through the city of lights. it
could just be paranoia brought on by certain aspects of rural midwestern
culture, despite the fact that i’ve come to expect them, such as the
ubiquitous anti-choice billboards. the first one i noticed was a little
different than most, in that it shared half its space with an ad for
cremation services, as if to say “we are constantly thinking this whole
(what we think is the) life cycle ALL THE WAY THROUGH.”
while we are certainly a lively bunch, we are also far from
obnoxious, our politeness and hygiene both impeccable.
nevertheless, it felt as if we were immediately recognized as
liberal, city dwelling outsiders and subsequently treated with an air of
disdain. what i imagined them thinking was something along the
lines of, “we’re red. you’re blue. and purple doesn’t exist in this
country, so we hate you.”
full disclosure, i’m smack dab in the middle of franzen’s freedom, so
competing notions of freedom and the uglier memories of the bush jr.
administration have been occupying my mind a bit more than usual lately.
but even if that hadn’t been the case, the following picture of
what i found in a gas station ladies room still would have sent me right
the french freedom tickler. now, as i’m sure most of you
remember, back in 2003 when the u.s. decided to invade iraq, our french
friends were strongly opposed and expressed this opposition loudly in
the united nations. this led to some americans boycotting french
goods and, to really drive their point home, alter the name of perhaps
our most beloved fried food, french fries, to freedom fries. as
far as i know, this phenomenon was relatively short lived, but the
evidence of its existence still lives on in google image search:
i can only imagine that the maker of the french freedom tickler
thought that, unlike with fries, to completely replace “french” with
“freedom” might prove too confusing for people, and they would pass on
buying it. so what they did instead, that clever person, was put
the word “french” up in the corner, ablaze in the fire held by the very
statue that the french themselves gave us in 1886. how does that liberté
“tickle her fancy with the real thing,” the tickler proclaims,
because everything real exists on american soil. and just in case
you weren’t sure you were buying what you think you were buying adjacent
to the coin-operated condom dispenser, they put “adult novelty” at the
bottom. for those of you who don’t know, this phrase is a rather
abhorrent one, because (in the united states) by selling products in
this particular category, you are entitled to all sorts of legal
loopholes that let you sell (cheap) toys that people insert into their
most private of parts containing b.p.a. and other shitty chemicals and
can also be totally porous and unsterilizable, allowing bacteria and
s.t.i.s to be fruitful and multiply (and, if you share them, shared!).
LET FREEDOM RING!
this trip to the ladies room made me sad at first, thinking that
perhaps the only “novelty” to speak of in this town was a sad,
heteronormative freedom tickler. then i remembered it’s the 21st century
and started to recall other things that made me think i shouldn’t fret
so. like how there are a great number of sex toy stores that are
decent and don’t sell shitty toys and, most importantly, sell shit
online. i thought back to my own days working in such an
establishment, and how i would smile a little when i would see that some
finely-crafted leather cuffs or high-quality dildo were being sent to
someone in bumfuck (pun intended) america. even target now sells a number of vibrators and (generally vibrating) cock rings in stores and online.
while this may or may not seem like a huge deal to you, i’m sure that
the people of alabama certainly appreciate it, seeing as how in
2009, the alabama supreme court upheld their ban on the sale of sex toys in
a 7-2 decision. so, you know, feel free to sell and stockpile weapons,
but pack up your leather harnesses and butt plugs and get the fuck out
of here. this is what freedom sounds like in alabama:
public morality can still serve as a legitimate rational basis
for regulating commercial activity, which is not a private activity,”
associate justice michael f. bolin wrote in the majority opinion.
there is nothing `private’ or `consensual’ about the advertising and sale of a dildo,’” the majority opinion said.
after reflecting on ideas of sexual freedom in this country, i took a
moment to be grateful to live in a time and place where i can choose to
have sex only for recreation and not for procreation and can buy a
variety of birth control methods and sex toys, not to mention get an
abortion should that birth control fail. this doesn’t mean that i
don’t hope for much, much better for the people of america when it comes
to having a nuanced and fully informed grasp of human sexuality, but i
do want to appreciate the battles that were fought to get us to where we
now, for the proof that i really was in wisconsin, the leinie lounger:
if my hair had been as long as it was a few weeks ago, i might have even tried a freedom braid:
Hi All. I hope you had a happy Pride. I had a good weekend. I spent Friday at a dance and burlesque party (Grown & Sexy Pride)
organized by my favorite queer party planners, Shannon Blowtorch,
Nadine DuBois, and Sweetpea. The party was at First Avenue instead of
Hell’s Kitchen, which gave people plenty of room to move around. I have
to say I missed Hell’s Kitchen a little bit. I’m not sure why I like
being packed into a bar like a sardine but I (mostly) enjoy it. All of
my Minnesotan counterparts were much more comfortable at First Avenue,
where they didn’t have to touch and they had a better view of the
burlesque. (It was nice to have a better view of the burlesque) If you
click on the Grown & Sexy link you can see a few photos of the action.
Sunday I saw the parade. No matter how many years go by, I still love
going to the parade. I remember when I was a gay teenager and didn’t
know a single gay adult. Other than Ellen, who explicitly came out, I
thought pretty much everyone was straight. Even people like Elton John
were straight as far as I knew (seriously). Back then it was pretty
mind-blowing to see so many gay people in one place. Even though I have
plenty of GBLTQ people in my life these days it still feels really
life-affirming to see all the people who come out to celebrate.
After looking at a slideshow of Pride Parades Around the World
on the Daily Beast and wishing it included more places in the world, I
thought I’d put up a few pictures from the Minneapolis Pride Parade. It
felt like a good turn out year for the parade. Minnesotans United for
All Families was out in force telling people to Vote No, and things felt
a little more political in general this year. I think people are
energized to kick this amendment’s ass.
last april, i wrote a post about outsports,
a great website that provides a forum for the sports community (fans,
coaches, and players alike) to come out and/or deal with issues of
homophobia in sports. last week, former nfl player and closeted
cornerback wade davis came out to outsports in a touching article. davis is now the assistant director of job readiness at the hetrick-martin institute, a non-profit that advocates and provides services for lgbtq youth.
davis also gave an interview to outsports’ sister website, sbnation. he talks to amy k. nelson about
his work with hetrick-martin institute and his campaign efforts for
barack obama. but, to me, the most interesting part of the interview
came when amy asked him if he thinks that the leverage of talent is
necessary when deciding to come out as a professional athlete:
wade davis: i believe that it’s okay to be gay and play sports or be a
rapper or an actor. i just think we’re moving in that direction. i
can’t say it’s in the next five or ten years, but i definitely think
it’s on the horizon.
amy k. nelson: does it have to be the quarterback [who comes out]? can it be the reserved player at first?
wade davis: i’ll be flat-out honest with you. it probably shouldn’t
if he wants to keep his job. if he wants to keep his job, if he’s the
53rd man on the roster, if he’s a free agent who’s fighting for a job,
maybe he shouldn’t. i would hope that he would, i would hope that he
feels that he can, but if you want me to be flat-foot honest with you,
it probably shouldn’t be, just because i don’t want to tell someone to
give up their lifelong dream of playing in the nfl to … you know what,
yes, it should be. you know, screw it. it should be. i don’t want to be
in the business of telling anyone they can’t live their life
authentically. i don’t want to do that anymore. it’s just not what i’m
about anymore. so I want anyone, whether you’re the first man or the
25th man or the last man or even someone on the practice squad, to come
out and say, “you know what? i’m gay, i’m still a great athlete, and i’m
an even better human being.”
i think this is a fantastic moment, because you can see (literally, if you watch the video)
how, as davis gives his initial answer, the wheels are turning in his
mind as he realizes, “goddamn it. the status quo is bullshit, and i
can no longer reinforce this bullshit by saying that a man should
sacrifice his right to live authentically and love who he wants for the
dream of playing professional football.”
it’s insane that we live in a world where you have stronger job
security in professional sports by discriminating against others and
trying to prove that you’re not gay than by being a great athlete who
openly loves other men. wade davis, i applaud your courage and thank you
for taking a step forward in making sports an arena of tolerance and
respect instead of homophobia and bullying for the athletes of tomorrow.
As a recent contributor to MN United For All Families (I gave
$10), I am now a part of their e-mail list. Their latest email, entitled
“Family,” began with the statement:
Nothing says ‘family’ like marriage.
The email then featured the story of the Retain family. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYxvkL6CAWQ&feature=youtu.be
Below is my open letter:
If you’re looking for something to do in Minneapolis tonight or tomorrow, I would highly recommend going to see Question One, a documentary film by Joe Fox and James Nubile.
The Question One website
says, “On May 6th, 2009 Maine became the first state in this country to
legislatively grant same-sex couples the right to marry. Seven months
later, on November 3rd, 2009 Maine, thru a referendum election,
reversed, becoming the thirty-first state in this country to say “no” to
gay and lesbian marriage.” Question One documents both sides of the
emotional battle that took place over this issue.
One thing that made this documentary so compelling to me was its
commitment to showing the complexity of opinion that led to people
taking one side or the other. I was also fascinated by the doubt felt by Marc Mutty,
chair of the “Yes on One” campaign. Watching this film gives you a
clear sense of how low conservatives are willing to go to win the battle
and Mutty fights with his conscience throughout the film about actions
that are being taken in the name of winning. I think the
documentary is especially relevant for Minnesotans since the state is
currently facing its own vote to amend the constitution of the state to ban same sex marriage of couples.
The showing is at the Mall of America and you can get tickets here.
If you’re catching this blog post late or aren’t from the Twin Cities, I
believe the DVD will be out in the fall. I would highly recommend
checking it out then.