Category Archives: News

Lady Gaga’s Google Interview

Lady Gaga’s Interviews 

I freak out everytime I see an interview of her online for any reason. Admittedly, I am sort of obsessed with how amazing she is, even though she does crazy shit, like show up randomly to drag queen shows of “I Was Born This Way”. Either way though, her interview with Google was great and I am going to talk about it.

Also! Her new album is coming out in May! Who is excited? I am.

In one of her interviews she talks about how her cheeks bones jut out on the album cover and the interviewer asks her about when she got the prosthetic put on her skin and Gaga says that they naturally come out when she has creative energy. That everyone has them. WHAT?! Even though I love her, she’s sort of crazy.

Anyway, to the interview!

Google Interview

The first place where I watched the interview was on autostraddle (http://www.autostraddle.com/lady-gagas-epic-73-minute-interview-with-google-82407/), which is where they also provide a recap, telling what their favorite quotes are and providing pictures. You can also watch the interview on youtube.

In this interview, Lady Gaga is incredibly articulate and I love Google even more for being the one who provided this interview. The interviewer herself is a bit awkward, but whatever, they have Gaga on the screen. In the beginning of the interview, Google presents a video that they put together of how many hits Lady Gaga has gotten through Google’s search engine set to the beat of her songs “Poker Face”, “Just Dance” , “Bad Romance” , and “Paparazzi”. After seeing the video compilation, Gaga comes onstage and begins answering questions from fans via video and her youtube channel.

Her first interaction with the crowd starts off with loud applause and replying to calls of “I love you!” by saying “I love you too!” In the background is a screen lit up with the phrase “Google Goes Gaga”.

One of the audience members is dressed like her from her video “Telephone” and Gaga asks “Did you just get out of jail?” and the audience members says something that we can barely hear and Gaga says “Me too”.

Of course at the beginning of her interview she compliments Google and the interviewer tells her how she has been the most searched person in the world in 2009 and in 2010.

For the interview Gaga has received 54,000 questions via her youtube channel, only some of which could be answered.

In most of the videos, the fans put up the monster hand. The cutest video is the first one, where one fan asks her “How she is” because she is never asked that question during her interviews.

Most of the interview she is very calm, composed, and articulate. She thinks about all of her answers very carefully and connects well with the audience. Despite her worldwide fame, Gaga is very aware and connects very well to individuals, never seeming like she is above anyone. She also remains positive through out the interview, never once criticizing her fellow stars or herself. I really admire her for that.

Some of my favorite moments that she has during the interview are:

Commenting on her Single “Born This Way” :

“What’s so funny when I put that song up is everybody was like oh, the lyrics are so literal, and I’m like, yeah. When you get bullied you kind of try to, its almost like there is this emotional poetry that you go through in highschool. Oh, well someday, and you just kind of try to hide from it and be the bigger person, but “Born This Way” is about saying “This is who I am. This is who the fuck I am.”

On Creativity:

“If God calls you, pick up the damn phone” Pauses “Hello? I’m listening”

What her favorite Youtube video is:

It’s so embarrassing, but I love it so much. I love the boy that when he comes home from the dentist. I can’t…because I always sit, whenever I’m really tired before a show I say ‘Is this real life?’. Because I’ll have been up for 30 hours straight doing interviews and then I’ll hear the duh duh duh brrrr and the show starts and I’ll say ‘Is this real life?’ and everybody goes ‘It is, you have to go on stage’. I love that video, that poor boy”

The greatest piece of advice she has ever received:

“If you don’t have any shadows you aren’t standing in the light.  I say that to myself everyday. Every single day I say that because I am not a squeaky clean person, you know. So, there is nothing about my music, or the Monster Ball, or my fans, we’re not squeaky clean. People always say to me ‘Who is the real you?’ when in reality, I’m pretty much an open book about my life and what you are asking me about is magic. If you’re magical, you always have shadows. If you’re in the light, you must cast a shadow”

The best part though is at the end when she has a bunch of people in the audience step up to podiums to ask her questions and they all have costumes on. A lot of them get hugs from her, which is just adorable. She also talks about faith, which I really like.

She’s so funny and this interview makes me want to be her friend. Also her new GagaVision videos, which she mentions during the interview, make me want to hang out with her. She’s so real, all of her answers to her questions, I have experienced. Even though she does crazy shit, I still feel like she can be a role model and I think this interview does that statement justice.

Conclusion

No matter the criticisms about her, I am still in love with the things she does. I admit, she does crazy things, but she does great things for the queer community and no one can complain about that.

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Filed under glbtq, Music, News, Pop Culture

Suicide and LGBTQ Youth

Introduction

I just started watching the video Dan Savage does with his partner about teenage glbtq suicide and it started out “I went to an all boys catholic highschool…” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IcVyvg2Qlo). It reminds me of my adolescence, not only because I went to a catholic all-girls highschool, but also because I was becoming comfortable with my sexuality, my non-heterosexuality, my bisexuality, my pansexuality, whatever sexuality is, my sexual nature? Either way, my sexual self. What I knew about my sexual self as a sophomore was that I liked girls, I had crushes on girls. I was incredibly lucky because there was someone who was out who I latched on to and told about my sexuality. Either way, being a non-heterosexual person in highschool can be difficult. Highschool can be difficult. Being gay is difficult in America, most of America, unless you have a strong support network and even then, there are your peers, and community members, and others who might not be so supportive.

A very large issue in the glbtq community is the prevalence or wide occurrence of having depression sometime in life. Depression or prolonged sadness is common for many people and possibly because its becoming less of a stigma, depression is being revealed more, but it seems to be really common for gay youth. For this reason, there are many non-profits that combat and try to prevent glbtq youth from committing suicide (which are among the most likely to commit suicide of the youth population). The reasons for glbtq wanting to commit suicide may range from lonliness, societal stigma, secrecy, constant conflict at school or home, emotional or physical isolation, homelessness, and more. Every person’s experience with depression is unique.

What I am going to talk about in this post is something one of my good friends just brought to my attention, Dan Savage’s organization to prevent youth suicide among the glbtq population through his project called “It Gets Better”.

In Dan Savage’s video (which I provided a link for above) is the message “It Gets Better” and it will and it can. So, you can live a better life when you get out of a tough time. During the video the two (Dan and his partner) share their highschool experiences, how they met, how they have supportive family networks, and how they have an amazing family with their son, DJ. Then they share really cute memories, which you should watch the video to hear about. My favorite message is “you will find love and a community”. Truth Dan, Truth.

It Gets Better Project

Dan Savage, author of the sex advice column and podcast Savage Love, started a campaign called “It Gets Better” with his partner Terry after hearing about the death of Billy Lucas, age 15, on the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day (more here: http://www.examiner.com/sex-education-in-national/dan-savage-launches-it-gets-better-project-to-reach-out-to-lgbt-teens).

Savage’s message is that we can spread hope to others, simply through the internet, by being a supportive friend, family member, or community member. After being introduced by another friend of mine to Savage’s podcast “Savage Love” this summer I am extremely supportive of what Savage is trying to do. In his podcast Savage combats heterosexist assumptions about gender roles, relationships, and sex, which is one of the first steps as an individual to combat homophobia.

The Trevor Project

Another project that strives to prevent glbtq youth suicide is the Trevor Project. The Trevor Project is based out of Southern California.

On their website (http://www.thetrevorproject.org/about-trevor/organization) it states their vision:

“The Trevor Project is the national provider of life saving resources to LGBTQ youth and their families. We advocate acceptance and help prevent teen suicide by promoting mental health and positive self-esteem through a premiere on line destination, nationwide 24/7 call centers, and empowering social activities”

The Trevor Project is an amazing resource and on their website they state a strategic plan of how they are going to reach their goals of preventing suicide among glbtq youth.

Conclusion

A very large influence on teen depression is homophobia. Homophobia is not always a direct attack, but also comes in assumptions about desire and experience. Homophobia is oppressive, individually and to the lgbtq community because it makes being attracted to a person of the same-sex a stigma and that should not be the case.

When I was home the year before my senior year in college, three people committed suicide in front of train tracks. The city posted police cars at every stop in my city and they saved two kids lives. Our local glbtq organization spoke at a town hall meeting offering their services. I hope they save more kids lives because every life is valuable.

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DADT: The Battle and the Story

Introduction

I find it ironic that one of our most loved and charismatic presidents promoted the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the government (President Clinton) and that it still exists to this day. Right now in the Senate, according to the New York Times (NYT) as of yesterday afternoon the votes were 56-43, having the Democrats fall 60 votes short of a filibuster. All I can say is: WE”RE SO CLOSE!!

It was just this January that President Obama made a promise to the gay community that he was going to end the harmful DADT (http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/21/senate-democrats-dont-filibuster-gay-service-ban/?ref=politics). Many of the comments that I read under this article stated that there was no research done on the repercussions on those in the military. The day after the above article was released, another one came out, detailing the stories of seven gay and lesbian people in the military, four of whom remain anonymous.

Gay Service Members Discuss “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Throughout the stories, I felt myself sighing. Over the past year, I have encountered a family friend who served in the Air Force as a gay man and later became a psychologist. I’m not sure if he lived under DADT, but either way, I couldn’t believe that he could go through the Air Force as a gay man. Also, someone from my college just entered the Marine Corps and he is gay and sends one of my previous housemates letters from his training. Before he went I asked my friend “Why is he going? Isn’t he gay?”. I guess many of these stories that I just finished answered this question. They say its because you love the work you do, you think you are strong enough, and hiding doesn’t seem so bad when you are surrounded by a different kind of family, the Army family. Even with all of these things, it seems as if every individual broke under the pressure.

Here is an excerpt I found to highlight most of the readings:

“For anyone serving in the military, certain hardships come standard: long hours, too little family time, and yearlong deployments to name but a few. But because of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” my hardships seemed different from those faced by others.

Other soldiers don’t get enough time with their families; I’m prohibited from having a family. They spend a year of deployment isolated from their significant other; I was never allowed to have a significant other. They are obligated to never lie; I am told I must lie to keep my job. They work hard to “do the right thing, even when no one is looking;” I am fundamentally unacceptable to military service according to United States Code, and it feels like everyone is looking.

When people ask me why I stayed in, I tell them it’s for the same reason everyone else does: We are all dedicated to “taking care of soldiers.” There is no responsibility more serious than that, and also none more rewarding. Not only are we growing an effective Army that will keep people safe, but we also feel we are instilling soldiers with values and growing them into even better Americans” (Stephen Farell 2010: 1).

And this one:

“No mention of the exasperating home-improvement projects that my partner and I have faced, no discussion about the surprise anniversary getaway he had planned for us, no sharing of the struggles I faced while he was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The very things that all of us share, gay or straight, that bring us closer together, I had to avoid. Rather than lie and make up a cover story, I damaged the vital esprit des corps inherent to military life. The very thing that supporters of “don’t ask, don’t tell” fear will be eroded by openly gay and lesbian service members is already jeopardized by the inherent aspects of not “asking” and not “telling.”

Over the years I have had good days and bad ones — not unlike any other job. I love my job as a helicopter pilot, so the only bad days are those when I am placed in the unwanted position of having to lie or deceive my coworkers because of D.A.D.T” (Stephen Farell 2010: 1).

Also:

“I was not suicidal, but there were some dark days when I wondered what it would be like if I decided that I didn’t want to live any more. Being gay in the military under “don’t ask, don’t tell” really is a private hell. The psychological effect of feeling alone and depressed was more damaging to me than any emotional effect of being shot at or a bomb blast (both of which I have also experienced). The only thing worse for me was the loss of one of my soldiers” (Stephen Farell 2010: 1).

I recently heard a slam poet earlier, when I was still in my senior year of college, Andrea Gibson. I was surprised when she did a lot of poems about soldiers because whenever I saw a sticker on backs of cars saying “Support Our Troops!” I always sort of grimaced because I thought it meant supporting the war and what the troops were doing. After hearing her poems about bringing troops back home and about homophobia in the military the phrase “Support Our Troops!” started meaning something else to me. So now, SUPPORT OUR TROOPS! REPEAL DADT!

Conclusion

If you’re not obsessed with the L Word like I used to be and haven’t seen the scene in Season 5 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNjRVYVax5s) when Tasha gets discharged…yeah, made me cry. She also hires a lawyer and goes through the whole citing of cases where she has been found to be conducting homosexual behavior.

I don’t think a civilian will ever know what it is like to be in the military unless they have a loved one who is involved, or a friend, but even then, I don’t think I will know, even with reading the stories. After reading these stories, I definitely wish for DADT to be repealed, even if I don’t exactly know what it is like to be in the military, or how it will be changed if DADT is repealed.


MORE!! LINKS!!

Legal Defense Network: http://www.sldn.org/

OutServe: http://outserve.org/

Autostraddle’s Comments on DADT (there are numerous): http://www.autostraddle.com/on-countrymen-and-honor-60373/

http://www.autostraddle.com/dont-ask-dont-tell-hangover-day-60434/

http://www.autostraddle.com/lady-gaga-rocks-dont-ask-dont-tell-rally-and-if-you-dont-like-it-go-home-60233/

http://www.autostraddle.com/9-perspectives-of-john-mccain-60401/

http://www.autostraddle.com/repealing-dont-ask-dont-tell-its-a-thing-60113/

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Alice Dreger’s Blog: George Rekers, The Closet of Medicine, and David Reimer

Introduction

Alice Dreger is a professor of Clinical Medical Humanities and Bioethics at the Feinberg Medical School at Northwestern University. Her background and interests are in history, philosophy, and medical ethics. For a more extended biography, you can see the excerpt she has on Psychology Today (http://www.psychologytoday.com/node/43918) or on her page at Northwestern (http://bioethics.northwestern.edu/faculty/dreger.html).

What brings me to writing this article is some of Dreger’s recent articles about use of antibiotics for pregnant women to prevent CAH (congenital adrenal hyperplasia) and also, that I used many of Dreger’s books and articles for my thesis on intersexuality. Currently, Dreger blogs for Psychology today and is writing a book due to the Guggenheim grant that she received.

The article that I will talk about in this blog post is one about having “closets” in medicine. The person who Dreger talks about in her article “Cleaning the Closets of Medicine” published on July 21, 2010 in her blog entitled Fetishes I Don’t Get: Thoughts on Love, Life, and Lust mostly, is the psychologist George Rekers.

George Rekers and The Closet of Medicine

If you have not heard about George Rekers, here is an excerpt from the article:

“You may remember Rekers as the anti-gay-rights psychologist who hired a pretty young fellow via rentboy.com (a gay escort site) to lift his luggage and provide him massages during a ten-day vacation in Europe. Presumably the rub-downs did not coincide with the tender counsel Rekers claims he provided to the comely young gay “sinner” (Dreger 2010:1)

Reker was also one of the psychologists who worked on reparative therapies for homosexuality. When uncovering his many works done to say that homosexuality was basically a thing of the devil and turns out, he was a self-hating gay man, Dreger asks the question: Should we disregard all of his work? Should we count any of his work as reputable after what was revealed about his personal life and desires?

I feel like this question can be asked of anyone. For example, the last person I wrote about, John Money. After uncovering one of his most unethical cases on a nonintersexed boy (of a set of twins), David Reimer, Money’s reputation sunk, but yet, many of his theories about gender development are still part of a dominant paradigm.

David Reimer: The John/Joan Case

To backtrack, the David Reimer case started out with John Money trying to disprove one of his biggest critics, Milton Diamond, a biology professor. The case is most commonly referred to in medical literature as the John /Joan case and was made accessible to a larger audience through the book As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who was Raised As a Girl by John Colapinto.

The claim that Diamond made against John Money was that his scientific work was fundamentally flawed. The first point he made was that children are not fully psychosexually neutral at birth and gender malleable in terms of gender identity development because, as Money argued, enivornment is not the key contributor, but as Diamond argued, brain composition also played a part. Basically, what they were arguing about was the famed nature vs. nurture for gender argument.

The next few excerpts are from my thesis, which includes some points which I am beginning to rethink: mainly the sentence stating that none of Money’s previous empirical work should be disregarded. The one point that I think should be retained is that this case led to Money’s dominant treatment paradigm for intersex infants to being questioned first by Diamond and then over the next decade by the medical field and loudly by intersexuals themselves.

Thesis Section

Mostly what Diamond targets Money for is his gender identity theory, “… [Diamond] rejected Money’s theoretical conclusions that his findings provided insight into the psychosexual development in non-intersex persons” (Karkazis 2008: 66). In order to prove his theory, Money would need a biological male raised as female or vice versa. Soon, a case would be brought to Money that would change his reputation and would be key to Diamond’s attack of Money.

Diamond in no way denied that possibly Money’s interpretations may be correct, but stated that “their works shed no light on what [Money] called ‘normals’” (Fausto-Sterling 2001: 68). Money repeatedly used intersex and transgender people in order to say something about those who were born biologically male and female.

In order to dispute Diamond’s claim, Money started research on a normal. The Joan/John case, which is how it is known as in the medical world, documents the life of David Reimer who was assigned as a girl as a child after having his penis cut off in a circumcision accident when he was seven months old. Reimer’s parents, not knowing what to do with a boy without genitals, in desperation contacted Money after seeing him on TV. Money told them to reassign David as a girl, which is how he remained until senior year of highschool when he transitioned back to boy and obtained sex-reconstruction surgery.

This failure was revealed to the general population in the UK in the 1980s and in 2001 (by form of media) in the United States.

In 1980 the BBC produced a TV documentary on the John/Joan case….But the BBC reporters had found that by 1976 Joan, then thirteen years old, was not well adjusted. She walked like a boy, felt boys had better lives, wanted to be a mechanic, and peed standing up….In an attempt to bring the facts to light in North America, Diamond, in 1982, published a secondhand account of the documentary in the hopes of discrediting Money’s sex/gender theory once and for all (Fausto-Sterling 2001: 69-70)

In publishing this article Diamond argued that there be a transition to a new treatment paradigm. Diamond’s interest in this was to postpone surgeries for intersex infants.

Although the story of Joan/John is incredibly unfortunate and horrible, what has to be remembered is that it in no way disregards Money’s previous empirical work. “It does not follow, however, that the case invalidates Money’s other empirical research in intersex cases (or that of other researchers supporting his theory), nor does it follow that this case provides unequivocal support for Diamond’s theory” (Karkazis 2008: 75). In this case, what is more important to focus on is how Diamond’s theory about biology influencing gender identity began to reign again. Also consequently, intersex medical management began to change.

Diamond repeatedly hounded Money for citing this case, which Money used as false proof to show that environment heavily weighs on gender socialization: “Throughout the 60s and 70s [Diamond] published at least five more papers contesting Money’s views. In a 1982 publication, he recounted how psychology and women’s studies texts had taken up John/Joan ‘to support the contention that sex roles and sexual identity are basically learned’” (Fausto-Sterling 2001: 69). Unfortunately for Money, his failed case was publicly announced and also targeted for its ethical violations.

After publishing Reimer’s case, Sigmundson and Diamond suggested a set of revised guidelines to medically treat the intersexed. The guidelines are as follows: 1) intersex conditions are not shameful; 2) doctors need to involve the patient in the decision making process; 3) surgeons need to consider more than just the size of the phallus in gender assignment; 4) there should be disclosure that the surgery could take away sexual function and pleasure (Karkazis 2008: 83). “These suggestions proved controversial and engendered debates in part because they went against forty years of medical knowledge and practice. They were also based on little empirical evidence” (Karkazis 2008: 84). As years passed, doctors started to cite Diamond and Sigmundson, lending credit to what they said. The change in intersex surgery protocol and the opening of space for the intersex to be heard came about because of the

Changing cultural understandings of sex, gender, and sexuality (and their relationships), concomitant movements for the acceptance of non-normative sexualities, gendered ways of being, and bodies, the decreased authority of the medical profession, and the rise of principles of medical ethics were changing the context in which intersexuality was understood and treated (Karkazis 2008: 64)

By the 1990s the protocol started to be challenged and by 2000, it was almost dismantled. This started to come about because of the rise of the intersex voice.

Work Cited

Fausto-Sterling, Anne. Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality. New York : Basic Books, 2001.

Karkazis, Katrina. Fixing Sex: Intersex, Medical Authority, and Lived Experience . Durham: Duke University Press, 2008.

Conclusion

Why I point out first, the article by Dreger, was to show how medicine is not fallible. It was also to introduce the famed Alice Dreger, who I will no doubt talk about later.

Second, why I point this specific section is not only to point to medicine, intersexuality, and changing in relying on scientific articles, but researching what gender theories are based on. One of the most discussed theories in the first gender studies classes I took was the claim: gender is influenced by environment. When that claim was said, I was immediately skeptical as I came from a chemistry background. This claim, the environment hypothesis, was made bigger by the debate between Milton Diamond and John Money.

So I guess, to finish. What do you think? Should data still be relied upon when a researcher is found to hypocritical or unethical? And also, how is gender influenced?

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Caster Semenya

Introduction

Caster Semenya is an 18-year old runner from South Africa who was about to compete in a 4000 meter run after she had run a previous race and won the gold medal. There had been reports that she was suspected of not being a woman because of her musculature and her deep voice (and I highly suspect people were sort of jealous) . This speculation led her to get an examination by the IAAF (International Association of Athletic Federations). A doctor from Otago tested and examined her and found her to have an intersex condition, meaning that she possesses both female and male gonadal tissue (she did not have ovaries or a womb, but possessed inner testes).

There is a lot of controversy going around her right now because she may not be able to keep her medal due to the tests showing she had three times the amount of testosterone a normal female would have.

Since sports is so divided because of supposed biological advantages and body compositions of men and women, Semenya may be banned from participated anymore in the competition.

Since ideas of gender are so built into self-identity and also are very emotionally bound (for example if someone accused you of not being man enough or much of a woman, you would probably be taken a back or maybe offended), this is a very sensitive issue. Many people in forums, on blogs, and on the news are now not considering her a woman. She has been raised all her life as a woman and ran as a woman and probably identifies as a woman. Her family did not report knowing of her intersexuality, nor does it seem to matter much . Since this supposed “discovery” of who Semenya really is, apparently she is not a woman anymore.

In a wordpress article (http://identityrevealed.wordpress.com/2009/09/10/man-or-woman-revisited/) I found out that You magazine did a make-over of Caster. All I can say to that is, interesting.

Intersexuality

In this section I want to highlight some things I find highly problematic and troubling with some of the reports on Semenya.

First, In the news people are referring to Caster as a ‘hermaphrodite’. Hermaphrodite is a controversial term and considered offensive because of its connotations with the authoritative power medicine has had over the bodies of people who have been born with both female and male gonadal tissue (ovaries and testes). The correct term, that is still used in science, would be psuedohermaphrodite because she does not have ovaries.  Hermaphrodite is an old term and is used in old scientific journals. DSD (disorder of sexual development) has been determined by the ISNA (Intersex Society of North America) and Alice Dreger to be the term that is to be used in scientific texts from this point on. This term is also considered offensive by some because of the use of “disorder” and the term VSD is more commonly used or “Variation of Sexual Development”. This population has been too often referred to as freaks, monsters,  not human, not woman, not man, in between, etc. Refer to them as they prefer. If they have been raised a woman, call them a woman. If they have been raised a man, call them a man. Its about respect, call them what they wish to be called.

Two, do not make it about gender identity. Just because Semenya has been found to have typically male gonadal tissue does not make her less of a woman. Gender is complicated. It is not just about biology or raising a person or self-identity. It is about all of the above and more and it is a personal thing and should not be contested publicly.

Third, I think most of this is a Western thing to be concerned with, gender. We are all about categories and who fits where and how so that they can have a certain role. Races and sports are all about categories and natural selection at its own form of visible entertainment. Displaying physical agility and ability started out as a Grecian thing, a male thing. Sports usually have been a Western male white thing. Since Semenya performed so well especially at something that has been so predominantly and historically white and Western, she is bound to come under scrutiny and one of the first things to be on the list is that since she performed so well, she must be a man!

Finally, LANGUAGE. For the last time, language. It is not a shame, a horrible thing, or “at worst” that she may be intersex.

Conclusion

Caster Semenya’s controversy in sport may lead to categorization about what makes a man or a woman, which IS problematic. In the past there have been distinctions about how much of a hormone, how long your clitoris or how small your penis is, how long your labia is, or how deep your vagina is, either makes you or leaves you short of being a “man” or a “woman”. Categories in popular culture are oppressive to individuals. The Western world is obsessed with people fitting and being able to fit into designated categories and sports has made this issue clearer. Be aware of what these categories mean to the individual before making policy or law about it because that is dangerous.

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Milk and No on Prop 8

Sean Penn is amazing. After seeing Milk, I felt inspired, renewed, and empowered. Harvey Milk , played by Sean Penn in Milk, was amazing and is definitely my new hero. He reminded me of myself in many ways. Half way or more through the movie, Harvey’s lover, Scottie, talks to him about a soap box speech Harvey just made. Scott, played by James Franco, confronts him about wanting people to be out, where Harvey referred to Scott as “his roommate” or acted as if he wasn’t there. Most of Harvey’s lovers had committed suicide because he wasn’t out. This reminded me of myself, not because my lovers have committed suicide or because I had hidden them, but because I tell people to out and I didn’t come out or feel comfortable with it until college. The movie made me become more aware of the division between personal and political, theory and practice. The movie also made me feel more passionate about what I want to promote, what I want to do, and how I want to go about doing it.

Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man to be put into public office in California. California is now known as one of the most open-minded states in the United States. It is known for voting democrat, for San Francisco, for Los Angeles (to much dismay from some), the Gold Rush, and one of the birth places of the Gay Liberation Front. Then, the castro district in SF was just about to be born, there were police riots, and there were a man and a singer who were trying to get homosexual teachers out of schools because they would convert the children to their way of life.

Sean Penn renewed the legacy of helping the minority, of bringing human rights into focus, and hate based on ignorance. The history of Harvey is not irrelevant, but is a lesson that is timeless. He is someone to look up to because he fought for what he believed in even though his way of having sex and openness about it was being openly targeted by authority. His courage and political will was not based on power, but more on love and the desire to help others like him.

After many attempts at gaining office in San Francisco, Harvey did not stop though he was discouraged. Prop 8 is something Harvey would be fighting against because it is blatant discrimination. There are many criticisms of the issue that the Prop is backing, such as it backs a white gay issue and is backed by the HRC, a human rights corporation. The Prop though, is not about gay marriage if you look at the wording. The Prop is about equality and rights. The Prop should not be about corporations backing it such as Google or car companies, which it was. The campaign needs to change to progress.

The thing that needs to be kept in mind is that the Proposition even got on to the ballot. That is the first step and it is a major step because it was in the spotlight. Harvey Milk was finally in the spotlight in 2008 and the film was a part of pop culture. Even straight people cried when Harvey died.  That is a step. Gay rights is having steps, small ones, but steps nonetheless.

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A Town in Oregon Elects the First Openly Transgender Mayor: Stu Rasmussen

Introduction

How exciting is this? Right after the election was over and Obama (yes!) became the President-elect this article was sent out to one of the listserves I belong to at school. Oregon elected its first trangender mayor: Stu Rasmussen. Stu, according to the article, identifies as a straight man and enjoys dressing up in high heels, a dress, and a wig from time to time.

The Article and Important Quotes

The article covers questions that the news and electors has about Stu. You can read the whole article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/11/09/americas-first-transgende_n_142503.html

“Rasmussen has been a fixture in Silverton politics for more than 20 years, and had twice before been mayor of the small city 45 miles south of Portland. Those terms, however, were before his breast implants and before the once-discreet crossdresser started wearing dresses and 3-inch heels in public.”

Also, another quote from the article:

“I am a dude,” he said. “I am a heterosexual male who appears to be a female.”

His longtime live-in girlfriend, Victoria Sage, told The Oregonian newspaper that she and Rasmussen have been an item for almost 35 years.

Conclusion

Basically this means a change in politics (hopefully…) and I hope that it keeps going on this path for all of the glbtq community. Obama has not spoken much about glbtq issues, though he did not support prop 8, but I still have my dreams set on the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) winning in the end.

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Filed under glbtq, history, News, Queer