Category Archives: Friends

NOH8 Cindy

Noh8  Cindy McCain has posed for an ad released by the NOH8 campaign, a pro-gay-marriage effort that pictures celebrities with their mouths taped shut. McCain appears in the usual format: dressed in white, with "NOH8" painted on her cheek and silver duct tape across her mouth. 

John McCain opposed gay marriage during his 2008 presidential run, and his wife rarely speaks out on particular issues. McCain's office issued a statement saying that the senator respects differences of opinion between his family members, but still "believes the sanctity of marriage is only defined as between one man and one woman."

Or perhaps "between one man and one woman who thinks her husband is an idiot."?
 

Homogenization

LRLogoStandard

 This morning on NPR I heard an article about the closing of Lambda Rising, DC's oldest, exclusive GLBT bookstore. While I couldn't locate the segment online for this morning's session I did find this interview with All Things Considered from last Saturday. A lot of things ran through my head, well, the economy is sucking and small businesses are failing. Niche markets are hardest hit when disposable income suffers, and queer literature is indeed a niche market.

What hits me hardest though is the sentiment that "every mainstream bookstore has a GLBT literature section."

Though true, Borders and Barnes and Noble both have gay literature sections, they pale in comparison. A mainstream bookstore may carry at most 100-200 titles in a GLBT "section" usually at most five shelves versus 20,000 titles in a store like Lambda Rising. Thinking about the selection process alone and only the most highly rated potential sales would even be chosen for that select shelf. Not to mention that most mainstream bookstores would include the erotica in there as well, thus taking up one of those five shelves with literary porn. Throw in biographies and histories and gay literature standards that are always selling (Jeanette Winterson, etc.) and you've got next to nothing left for new ideas, new fiction, theoretical works, subcultures… You only get what the mainstream bookseller thinks the gay consumer will buy, the lowest common denominator.

With the fading of indie bookstores and the move to the homogenous big box store what we get is a watering down of the breadth of gay culture. We become one small, carefully selected shelf in the vast body of popular literature.

This makes me wonder about monoculture.

When I was a child, I grew up in a small town with little to no ethnic diversity. People weren't German, Greek, Italian, Appalachian… We were all just white people. It didn't even occur to me that my family was of Irish descent until we got one of those family reunion ploys in the mail to get people to travel to Ireland. They must have sent every Riley in the country a mailer. Until I was about 18 years old, the only diversity I saw was on television.

Suffice it to say I didn't understand what being gay was until I was much older, and even then my perception of what it was colored my understanding of who I was. I didn't claim a gay identity until I was 21 or so. I didn't think I was one of the kinds of people I saw on television. I was different from them. It took me actually reading about gay people, going out to clubs, going to the GLBT community center and eventually finding the Radical Faeries before I could truly say that yes, I was gay and that it doesn't look like x, y or z. The kind of gay I am is not even in your alphabet. But it took years and years of learning and time and structure to form the identity I claim now. I had to learn the language, to navigate the wilds of subcultures to find the kinds of people who made sense to me.

I talk to a lot of people, many of them not much younger than I am, who say they're "post-gay" or don't identify as that kind of gay. They're something else, some kind of new-gay. Part of me wonders if they say this because they've grown up with an understanding of gay as some sort of homogenous identity. Perhaps much like I grew up just being generically a white person, these people have grown up with a definition of gay and they reject it because they recognize something more in themselves.

As we transition to a world where the breadth of gay identity is plowed under by mega-corporatizing influences, I suspect I'll hear more of this claim of a "post-gay" identity. Who we are needs the breadth of a library to explicate and understand the diversity of our lives, but our larger society run solely on profit incentive doesn't care about that. They only want to make money, they don't care who we are, where we came from or where we're going. They only care that we'll probably buy erotica. And we probably will.

World AIDS Day

AIDS ribbon It's World AIDS Day. 

That's nice.

…and I'm reminded of some Black comic's comment about February being "African American History Month"…"typical…we get the shortest month."

Which is to say, one day to remember is woefully shy of the task. 

I remain angry at the homophobic, puritanical, punishing, sex-fearing, "christian" response to HIV-AIDS. And how long it took Ronald Reagan to even say the word "AIDS" (and that it took the death of a closeted movie star and a heroic Elizabeth Taylor to finally get him to utter it.) I remain angry at the idea of "innocent victims" of this disease. 

I remain angry at how little memory there is for how Gay people responded to this, growing up, growing together, growing institutions. How little memory there is for how Gay people fed and sheltered and cared for one another…and angry that my friends are still sero-converting in 2009.

I remain angry at how brutally expensive AIDS meds are in the U.S. (and how cheap they are elsewhere) while the nimrods and the bloviators and the moralizing hypocrites in the Congress (yeah…I'm talking to you Joe Lieberman!…you ugly asswipe!) squash a public option…the only real way to provide competition to the profit-seeking, blood-sucking insurance companies…that would provide healthcare coverage for every American citizen, just like every other industrialized nation in the world! 

Shame on the Senate. Shame on our elected officials. 

Shame on the churches who came so late to the aid of the neediest and who still foment discrimination against gay people.

And every time I hear another fear-mongering "news" report on H1N1 and the vast over-reaction to it (several thousand people die from the flu annually, H1N1 or not) and how people with HIV were shunned by their communities, deserted by their families and died in fear, it makes me want to break something. And it makes me wonder …it makes me sad… to think of how things might have been different if the reaction when "Gay cancer" first appeared had been anything approaching the H1N1 hysteria.

YES WE CAN!

If you are on Facebook…and who isn't these days?…you can now help White Crane. JPMorgan Chase is promising that the first 100 eligible organizations (and White Crane is eligible) with the most votes, will receive a $25,000 grant and will have the opportunity to  share how they would put $1 million to use. 

Then, Facebook users will vote on those top 100 charities. Chase will grant the charity receiving the most votes $1 million, with the five runners-up getting $100,000. Additionally, an Advisory Board will distribute an additional $1 million to the organization of their choice from all that are nominated.

So please…if you are on Facebook…take a moment to help White Crane.

Pretty please.

The Maine Idea

Boies "Basic constitutional rights cannot depend on the willingness of the electorate in any given state to end discrimination. If we were prepared to consign minority rights to a majority vote, there would be  no need for a constitution."  – David Boies

Ventura "You can't put a civil rights issue on the ballot and let the people decide. You have to have elected officials who have courage to make the right decision. If you left it up to the people, we'd have slavery, depending on how you worded it." – Former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, responding to Maine's vote on CNN.

Bea Arthur: Hero

Bea The Ali Forney Center in New York City, received a gift of $300,000 today, from the Estate of 
legendary actress Bea Arthur.
 
The Ali Forney Center, the nation's largest organization dedicated to homeless 
LGBT youth, announced at Bea Arthur's Memorial Service on September 14th that 
they planned to purchase a building to house 12 youths and name it her honor. 
 
"We work with hundreds of young people who are rejected by their families 
because of who they are. We are overwhelmed with gratitude that Bea saw that 
LGBT youth deserve as much love and support as any other young person, and that 
she placed so much value in the work we do to protect them, and to help them 
rebuild their lives." says Executive Director Carl Siciliano.
The Ali Forney Center offers emergency shelter and transitional housing in seven residential sites in NYC 
and operates two drop-in centers offering food, clothing, medical and mental health treatment, HIV testing, 
treatment and prevention services, and vocational and educational assistance. It provides 
services to over 1000 young people each year.


Building Connections & Community for Gay Men since 1989