some February readings

February is such a funny short month – Black History Month, Valentines Day, Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week, all rolled up into the shortest month of the year. Still, some reading happened and some reflecting happened and here’s a bit of what I’ve been thinking about.

 

Reparations for Black People Should Include Rest

 

“Just as sleep deprivation was used as a means to control slaves, the modern-day sleep gap continues to weigh down many Black people, like me, today. I can feel it in me: It breaks my spirit, as I exist in between half-conscious states; never fully awake or asleep, never able to distinguish between the two. This may be the true power of racism—its force encompasses everything, seeping into our dreams at night and deflating our capacity to envision a better future. How can the radical Black imagination rebel against a system that so thoroughly seeks to destroy us? What would a future look like where we are liberated, reparations are paid, and we can finally rest?”

 

You Don’t Need to Forgive Anyone to Live Your Best Life

 

“American culture loves the idea of forgiveness. Adores it. If I’ve learned one thing about being Black in this culture, it’s that you need to be suspect of anything white amerikkka loves because if white amerikkka loves it, it’s probably exploiting and killing Black people.”

 

Relationship hierarchies: Defending queer friendships, community and being single

 

“My understanding of queerness has less to do with ‘relationship status,’ and more to do with creating communities that value friendship and social movements to end oppression. I struggle with belonging to the hierarchy in queer circles that values romance over all else.”

 

Happy Valentine’s Day, me: How being single became central to my queerness

 

“I could make sense of flying witches but seeing someone actively deny love – something we’re told to follow, trust, and give absolute devotion to – and live a liberated, whole, content and happy life was an extremely foreign and thrilling idea.”

 

What Disability Leaders Want To See From 2020 Candidates

 

“Every issue is a disability issue. Disability and disabled people should be front and center in every aspect of modern political campaigns. In 2016, we saw new highs and lows in terms of what’s possible. Democrats competing in a crowded field would be wise to engage people with disability as an uncommitted, yet increasingly politically active, community.”

 

 

 

 

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some January readings

So, I’m going to be honest – my January got eaten up by the very real  time suck of job applications and interviews and reading didn’t happen as much as it usually does. However, what I found was really quality stuff. Every single reading here has inspired me or made me uncomfortable in that very, good think-y way, and I super recommend all of these to everyone.

 

 

ACE

A poem by Laura I.

 

This Boston Community Activist Created a Platform for Self-Healing through the Power of Art

 

“In a nation where we are faced with mass shootings, economic inequality, mass incarnation, drug crisis, sexual violence, a partisan-divided White House, poor race relations and unemployment, it’s so easy to lose yourself while maintaining some peace of mind.

Destiny Polk knows the feeling all to well and wanted the opportunity to create a space for healing through the power of art. Polk is the founder of Radical Black Girl, an art-activist platform tailored to educate communities on pressing social issues while uplifting them through high-quality performance art.”

 

For Our White Friends Desiring to Be Allies

 

“I have been asked by two dear friends, “how can I be a stronger ally?” Being the slow emotional processor that I am, I wanted to spend some time with this before I answered them. I surely appreciate and love these two individuals, and I appreciate their vulnerability in asking me this question.”

 

When People Ask Me About My Gender I Want To Tell Them It’s Survival

 

“My gender is I’m Afro Brazilian and First Nations Brazilian. Then I am a woman. I come from a long line of women whose bodies and land were stolen and raped. Women who were used, abused, discriminated against. When I think about my gender I think about those experiences, some of which were inflicted upon my own body. My memory and my trauma are personal and collective. They are private, public and political. Some of my scars are visible and others aren’t, but they are forever and they will carry on being forever. And they are not just mine, they are theirs, and they are ours. They still hurt but they remind me to rise. My gender is survival. It is survival not in spite of, but because of.”

 

Queer Dance Theory: On Smashing the Heteropatriarchy, Creating Body- and Sex-Positive Dances, and What it Means to be a Queer Artist

 

“I am a dancer, choreographer, and art consumer; I’m also a woman and gay person. I don’t see myself represented in the dance work that’s currently being made and performed. That’s a problem for me and I know I’m not alone. Fortunately, as an artist with a big voice and an unstoppable spirit, there’s a lot I can do about it.”

 

Some December Readings

So, uh, I read so much in December that I had to hold some things for January (so, I promise my January reading list is going to be incredible!) The new exciting thing is that I discovered the incredible Yasmin Benoit, a UK-based asexual activist (that’s the first video linked here). She’s suuuuper cool and I highly recommend keeping an eye on her work. This list also includes lots of great thinking around art, gender, expression, and representation. All the usual subjects and a great way to round out the year.

 

2018 has been hard, but 2019 is going to be great. Woohoo!

 

Video: Asexuality is not a ‘white thing’ | Asexual activist Yasmin Benoit

 

Does Abstraction Belong to White People?

 

“Who has the right not to explain themselves? The people who don’t have to. The ones whose subjectivities have been naturalized. It enrages me. No, it confuses me. I’m all for being confused, for searching, for having to do a bit of work. But the absence of explanation is somehow … somehow … somehow what?”

 

Personal, professional and deeply political: On being femme and non-binary

 

“In addition to this, as an ‘AFAB’ (Assigned Female at Birth) person who strongly identifies with the label of ‘queer femme’, I have to work hard to find alternative strategies for self-affirmation. Usually, I communicate my gender identity through fabulous drag-informed fashion, writing, and performance.”

 

21 Queer Jews on Why We Love Being Jewish

 

“For this round table I asked Autostraddle staff and readers, A-Camp staff and participants, and a few of my close friends who I hope will become avid Autostraddle supporters: What do you love about being Jewish? I’m going to be honest, I thought I’d get a bunch of bullet point lists about food and summer camp – and don’t get me wrong, food and summer camp are definitely strong themes in this roundtable – but instead I actually received 20 thoughtful, joyous, resilient, and beautiful short essays about what Judaism means to the folks in this roundtable.”

 

Becoming Anne Frank

 

“These public relations mishaps, clumsy though they may have been, were not really mistakes, nor even the fault of the museum alone. On the contrary, the runaway success of Anne Frank’s diary depended on playing down her Jewish identity: At least two direct references to Hanukkah were edited out of the diary when it was originally published. Concealment was central to the psychological legacy of Anne Frank’s parents and grandparents, German Jews for whom the price of admission to Western society was assimilation, hiding what made them different by accommodating and ingratiating themselves to the culture that had ultimately sought to destroy them. That price lies at the heart of Anne Frank’s endless appeal. After all, Anne Frank had to hide her identity so much that she was forced to spend two years in a closet rather than breathe in public. And that closet, hiding place for a dead Jewish girl, is what millions of visitors want to see.”

 

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore Talks Coming of Age As a Genderqueer Person in the 1990s

 

“Growing up queer in the ‘80s and ‘90s meant many things, but in particular, it meant looking for images of yourself — your life, your desires, your fears — in imperfect mirrors. It meant investing a lot of time and energy in mentally re-writing the books and movies you encountered to create a narrative that even came close to representing queerness.”

 

Inside the “Yes on 3” Campaign’s Hidden Transphobia and Disorganized Politics

 

“Watching the results trickle in from each district on Tuesday night, it was hard not to notice that even though the Yes effort had succeeded, a full third of Massachusetts voters still mobilized to oppose my rights. (Worcester towns ended up skewing heavily conservative, with Oakham being one of the few areas in the state to register a majority “no” vote.) For as much as this referendum has sent a message to the country that trans rights can be defended, it’s also been a grueling reminder to trans people in Massachusetts that there are large pockets of hostility to our presence, and that organizations supposedly dedicated to our protection can easily be harmful in their own way.”

 

Boys Don’t Cry and Hollywood’s Ongoing Obsession With Trans Suffering

 

“What does it mean when one of the only major films with a transmasculine protagonist is about a character who is killed because of his transness? What does it say that the most celebrated thing about Boys Don’t Cry is Swank’s performance, and how the “bravery” of a heterosexual, cisgender actress in drag has overshadowed that of the slain real-life man the film is based on?”

 

Some (late) October readings

I know, I know, it’s not October anymore. I’ve been hit with a whole slew of overwhelming things, so this blog has been sitting dormant for a little while. I did compile this list a little while ago, so keep in mind these are things I read and looked into in October, from intersex awareness day (woo!) to gender in Zouk dancing. We’ll hopefully get back on track in November.

 

Maybe, no promises. But, in the meantime, lots to read!

 

Lost this year

 

London Moore (North Port, FL)

Read more

 

Nikki Enriquez (Laredo, TX)

One of four victims murdered by a Border Patrol agent targeting sex workers

Read more

Statement from the Transgender Law Center

 

Ms. Colombia (New York, NY)

An integral, cheerful part of her Jackson Heights community

Read more

 

Ciara Minaj Carter Frazier (Chicago, IL)

Part of Chicago’s ballroom scene

Read more

 

 

Reading

 

How to Support Intersex People on Intersex Awareness Day — And Every Day

 

“Since the 1950s, intersex people have been the targets of nonconsensual medical interventions in attempts to fit our bodies into a false sex binary. The first time intersex people took a stance and demonstrated publicly against our medicalization was on October 26, 1996 in Boston. We celebrate that act of courage annually on Intersex Awareness Day, and on every other day of the year.”

 

Searching for a Place to Call Home While Queer and Trans in America

 

“The queer and trans organizers and artists I most admire are those who stay and build; those who do the difficult, unsexy work of holding space in their communities, creating and maintaining resources for those who do not or cannot leave. I survived that night in Birmingham because of those folks, because of a thriving, loving community that exists as the result of their tireless organizing.”

 

The Superstition that LGBTQ+ People Are “Contagious”

 

“Within a few short years, suburban folks went from wanting to believe that nobody they knew was queer, to wanting to know who was queer or who was not. This may have been for the worst possible reason. But for the first time in my isolated, suburban life, people began acknowledging the reality that queer folks lived amongst them. And being queer suddenly seemed like an actual possibility to me — not merely a slur, but something that somebody could actually be.”

 

Gendered Roles in Brazilian Zouk: An Interview with Bruno Galhardo

 

“Yet even dance is not something so common for the society. Myself, I started dancing because I wanted to feel part of something. When I was a teenager, I didn’t feel like I was part of anything. I wasn’t good at playing sport, so I found something that could make me feel that I am good at something.”

 

Hamish Henderson

 

“His work in folklore revival helped change the cultural landscape of Scotland, and his poetry and songs are well known. It would be easy to dismiss his social activism and fight for gay rights in Scotland and focus on his writings, but that would do him a great disservice. His politics were intrinsically tied to his identity as a queer Scottish man from an impoverished Gaelic background and he drew from his experiences to raise the voices of those who were often silenced and devalued.”

 

The Importance of Not Drowning

 

“You don’t know the term “asexual” yet. And when you learn about it, thanks to social media and fanfictions and other asexual friends, you push this idea away. This is not you. You are gay, right? And you have spent too much energy being ashamed of it, so it is too late to change your label now. You are just not ready for sex, not interested yet. You may be ace for now, but things will change. They always do.”

some September readings

[cw: discussions of racist, transmisogynistic anti-trans violence]

So, September was a month to look back into history (it was on accident! I know October is LGBTQ history month in the US). It also was a chance to look at the trans lives we also lost in late August that I missed at the time. These days, I feel like every year we’re saying “this is the deadliest year for trans women” and  we’re constantly saying “there is a crisis for trans women of color” and, instead of getting better, it gets worse and worse and worse. This has been a terribly deadly year for trans people in the US and internationally. Vontashia Bell, on this list, was eighteen fucking years old.

 

So, as we head into US LGBTQ History Month (and the UK’s Black History Month), let’s remember the history we’re making right now. This a dark moment in history, particularly for trans women of color. Let’s do better.

 

I went back and forth on whether or not to include folks from outside the US. In the end, I decided that there is no reason not to include a name on this list, because these are names we must honor. That said, I do usually focus on murders in the US because there are so many murders worldwide that no single person could keep track of and honor them. I’m in the US, so these are the murders most relevant to me. The fact that I cannot truly honor every member of my extended trans family who is murdered is disgusting.

 

Lost this Year

 

Esra Ateş (Istanbul, Turkey)

Read More

Begüm (Bursa, Turkey)

Read More

 

Vanessa Campos (Paris, France)

Peruvian sex-worker

Read More

Statement from Acceptess-T (in French)

 

Dejanay Stanton (Chicago, Il)

Loved to travel

Read More

 

Vontashia Bell (Shreveport, LA)

Eighteen years old

Read More

 

Shantee Tucker (Philadelphia, PA)

Straight-talker, worked in an area beauty store

Read More

 

 

Reading

 

Almost Forgotten Voices: The Transvestite Magazine of Weimar Berlin

 

“From 1919 until February 1933, somewhere between twenty-five and thirty separate homosexual German-language journal titles appeared in Berlin, some weekly or monthly and others less frequently. These supplemented, of course, Berlin’s first homosexual periodicals: Adolf Brand’s Der Eigene and Hirschfeld’s Jahrbuch. By contrast, there were practically no such journals published anywhere else in the world until after 1942.” (Robert Beachy, Gay Berlin)

 

Whitewashing HIV History

 

“At that time, no one knew what HIV was. It would be another 12 years before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a mysterious pneumonia and immune deficiency that had afflicted “five young men, all active homosexuals.” Deaths started mounting in 1981, and HIV would not be identified by scientists until 1984. In 1987, HIV was found in Rayford’s tissue samples. Very few noticed.”

 

Kimberlé Crenshaw and Lady Phyll Talk Intersectionality, Solidarity, and Self-Care

 

“We spoke with Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw and Lady Phyll to talk about the gifts they’ve given to a generation of Black LGBTQ+ people: the tools to dismantle the master’s house, and a blueprint for the promised land to be built on its grave thereafter.”

 

The Real-Life LGBT Outlaws of the American West and Writing Queerness Back to Historical Fiction

 

“Here’s the setup of my soon-to-be-published novel, The Best Bad Things, in a nutshell: The year is 1887, and in the wild west of the Washington Territory, a hard-boiled, rule-bending Pinkerton’s detective goes undercover to infiltrate a smuggling ring. The detective’s name is Alma Rosales. She’s Latinx, she’s gender-fluid, and she’s queer. One of my writing friends and I fondly call her the “manic pixie butch stud.” I’m kind of in love with her — and I hope you’ll love her, too.”

Some August Reading

August is HOT (so were June and July). I’m not one for the heat, but I did get some good reading done. We’ve got some conversations around trans representation (and how to do it right), asexuality, and queer history. And a small tribute to the incredible dancer, Angela Bowen.

 

Lost this Month

 

Silva, Galway, Ireland

A friendly person who enjoyed cooking

Read more

 

Casey Hoke, Los Angeles, CA

Trans activist, artist, and speaker

Learn more about his work

Donate to the Pride Center at Cal Poly Pomona in his memory


Dancer, Professor, Queer Activist Angela Bowen Dead at 82

 

“Most recently a professor at California State University, Long Beach, Bowen taught in the English and the women’s, gender and sexuality studies departments. Bowen was a beloved fixture on campus who passed on her organizing and activism to her students. Bowen’s career in higher education was just one of many acts in her 82 well-lived years.”


 

Reading

 

‘Interstate’ Proves that Trans Inclusion Makes Better Musical Theater

 

“So I think it proves that, when people say, “Oh, there’s nobody who can fit this role” or “Oh, you’ll never be able to cast this,” you just have to try a little bit harder. You just have to be committed to doing that, because they’re out there, and it’s important to cast somebody who is a trans person in a trans role.”

 

This Guide to Trans Inclusion in the Media May Change Hollywood As We Know It

 

“According to TRANSform Hollywood, 80 percent of Americans say they don’t personally know a transgender person — not at work, not at school, and not in their families. “That’s where Hollywood comes in,” says the guide. While many Americans might simply be unaware of trans people in their lives who aren’t publicly out, or whom people assume to be cisgender, those who say they don’t know a trans person will likely learn everything they know about trans people from film and television. That’s why it’s so important that the people they see in these roles are trans and represent the reality of what that means — and ideally, what being trans could mean in a world free of transphobia and rampant discrimination.”

 

Ace Jam created a space for games with asexual characters

 

“Ace Jam, then, was an important step in bringing attention to a-spec people, and creating more respectful media that reflects them. The jam page curated helpful resources for developers wanting to create well-rounded characters without resorting to tired tropes. It also encouraged developers of all skill levels to take part without pressure or judgement, empowering many developers who are themselves asexual or otherwise a-spec to take part.”

 

“Bi Ace… is that a thing?” 

 

“For a while, I thought I was exclusively into men. Then, for two years, I thought I was only into women. Fast forward a bit, I discover that I’m into no one physically, but I do like the way certain faces look, both male and female. And that was confusing at first. We’re conditioned to associate the acknowledgment of a nice face to sexual attraction. It’s a part of heteronormativity that is taught to us and projected onto us from the time we are born until we die. I’m still working on convincing my friends and family that you can like someone’s face and never want them to be anywhere near you. The two are not mutually exclusive.”

 

Hugh Ryan Recounts Our Forgotten Queer History—And Makes Us Remember Our Past

 

“I think the importance of queer history is both seeing actual queer people, like we are today, functioning in the world and understanding how their lives and their actions and their identities changed all of history, but also seeing queer people who are not like us and that show that what we think of as the way sexuality and gender functions has not always been the case.”

 

Some July readings

Another busy month of lots of reading, including something that quotes me (not that I’m surprised and vaguely pleased with myself or anything)! I’m pretty pleased with this collection – it’s eclectic and a bit random, but all worthwhile reads that I do highly recommend.

 

 

Lost this Year

 

Roxana Hernandez

Honduran immigrant, died in ICE custody in New Mexico

Read more

 

Cathalina Christina James, Jacksonville, FL

Loved to travel and dance

Read more

 

Keisha Wells (Pokey), Cleveland, OH

“Loved the most expensive high heels and stilettos”

Read more

 

Reading

 

The Tumblr bloggers building a canon of asexual history

 

“Combing through archives, bloggers have claimed historical figures like the 17th-century French poet Catherine Bernard as one of their own. Queer historian and dancer Jo Troll depicted Bernard as “an outsider looking in on relationships and find[ing] it easiest to see the negative messiness of a relationship.””

 

How White People Handle Diversity Training in the Workplace

 

“Despite its ubiquity, white superiority is also unnamed and denied by most whites. If we become adults who explicitly oppose racism, as do many, we often organize our identity around a denial of our racially based privileges that reinforce racist disadvantage for others. What is particularly problematic about this contradiction is that white people’s moral objection to racism increases their resistance to acknowledging complicity with it. In a white supremacist context, white identity largely rests on a foundation of (superficial) racial tolerance and acceptance. We whites who position ourselves as liberal often opt to protect what we perceive as our moral reputations, rather than recognize or change our participation in systems of inequity and domination.”

 

Disability Tales: PRIDE

 

“Pride season is here, and is love really saving us? Or is it saving the lives of the cis, white, and able bodied world that Pride caters to? Convincing others why we don’t care, want to, or feel comfortable celebrating “Pride Month,” Is a laborious process. More than likely these heavy conversations will lead to burn out, and feeling isolated. Our friends and family who are able bodied and neurotypical can’t seem to recognize why we don’t feel like going out to our local “Pride” themed events.”

 

The joys of being overdressed

 

“What happens when we stop worrying about what other people think and start dressing for ourselves, or for the person we want to be? It might not be the answer to all our problems, but I’m not going to pretend that the idea of being a bit unsettling because I’m not dressed the way I’m “supposed” to isn’t appealing. I refuse to become invisible to pander to someone else’s idea of “normal”.”

 

As de Corazones: Does Sex Really Matter in a Relationship?

 

“Uplifting perspectives and representations that challenge normative sexual expectations in society is important in altering how the public perceives the role of sex in relationships. It’s also crucial to acknowledge the origins of the films production company Meraki Films. Being based in Peru, Meraki is providing an often unheard perspective on the field of representation and (a)sexuality in As de Corazones through addressing the issue of sexual expectations in relationships and society overall.”

 

The Political Provocations of Asexuality

 

“One pernicious outcome of this kind of thinking is that it implicitly derides the notion that asexual expressions of intimacy might be just as good as sexual ones. While “critics of asexuality warn self-identified asexuals not to pigeon-hole themselves as sexual too soon,” writes Chasin, “nobody seems concerned if non-asexual people pigeonhole themselves as sexual or non-asexual too soon.” For Chasin, sexual freedom can never be truly achieved until every person is free to be sexual… or not.”

 

Why the British Media Is So Transphobic

 

“And we’re actually being expected to be really highly specialized in a lot of things, like gay history and feminism and endocrinology and the history of the LGBT movement and politics — and sports science, I’ve never cared about sports and then I had to look up the rules about trans women in women’s sports because every time I would do a panel someone would ask about that. You’re forced into being more and more of a really specialist expert just to defend the fact that you’re existing in the world.”