In the wake of Orlando, there appears to be a move by the well-meaning to dredge up and bring up every example of anti-Muslim bigotry and non-Muslim anti-LGBT sentiment as well as absolve Islamic homophobia. All are well-meaning, and some are less blatant in their erasure of Islamic homophobia, but none reflect reality or do anything to help anyone except straight, cis Muslims.
One example I have seen across my feed one too many times is a screencap of this tweet:
The Christian Right has introduced 200 anti-LGBT bills in the last six months and people blaming Islam for this. No. #PulseNightclub
Yes, the Christian Right has been behind a lot of awful actions against LGBTQ people. Yes, never-Muslims of all stripes have been, can be, and are anti-LGBTQ. No, that doesn’t somehow absolve Islamic teachings and bigoted Muslims from their culpability and complicity in anti-LGBTQ sentiments. Erasure and denial of a problem never did a thing to solve it. Continue reading “Erasing LGBTQ Muslims & Islamic Homophobia”→
Frivolous Fridays are the Orbit bloggers’ excuse to post about fun things we care a lot about that may not necessarily have serious implications for politics or social justice. Although any day is a good day to write about our passions outside of social issues, we sometimes have a hard time giving ourselves permission to do that. This is our way of encouraging each other to take a break from serious topics and have some fun.
Content Notice: Discussions of sexuality and kink.
For my first bout of official network-sanctioned frivolity (which coincidentally coincides with my 28th birthday) I will be taking a look at three songs where some aspect of them made much more sense after a coming-out by the singer, in the case of Livin’ La Vida Loca by Ricky Martin; the first person I ever asked out, our date involving the song Big Spender from Sweet Charity; and me, which explains my love for Depeche Mode’s Master and Servant.
If you’re scratching your head at “radical queer” and “pansexual,” I ask that you pardon my preference for precise terminology. Laci Green breaks down pansexuality pretty well. As for being a radical queer, that’s the more political side. To quote Nick Benton:
Those who see themselves as oppressed—politically oppressed by an oppressor that not only is down on homosexuality, but equally down on all things that are not white, straight, middle class, pro-establishment. It should harken to a greater cause—that cause of human liberation, of which homosexual liberation is just one aspect.
This isn’t really about me, though, and for those who suffer, I offer a prayer not to a god so indifferent it appears not to exist, but to myself and others with the ability to make things better.
On this National Coming Out Day, let us remember those whose situations make it difficult or even deadly to come out. Let us remember that being not-straight and/or not-cis is a death sentence — literally, economically, or socially — in many places in the world, including places within the Western sphere. Let us remember the brave trailblazers who sacrificed their emotional and/or physical well-being in order to make the places where coming out is no longer as scary as it was what they are today. Let us remember those who died alone thanks to the bigotry of others and those who watched all too many die due to ignorant silence.
Let us not forget the trans women, especially those of color, who experience daily the fear that they are not safe no matter where they might live. Let us not forget the homeless gender nonconforming young people who make up an appallingly disproportionate majority of homeless LGBT youth but who are often forgotten in the charge forward for LGBT rights.
Most importantly, allow our thoughts to continue to lead us to action as they have with us and with those before us. May we all work to the best of our ability to make it so that we can all live openly without fearing multiple forms of violence. May we rejoice in the victories that encourage our actions and mourn the setbacks that motivate us to do more. May we carry the lessons of both our joys and our sorrows with us as we build a better world.
Why do so many people think that Macklemore was the first pro-LGBT rapper, then? Sadly, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a white rapper who spends the first verse of his song asserting his heterosexuality before speaking out in favor of same-sex marriage is more likely to get attention than a pro-LGBT person of color. Indeed, there have been openly LGBT-identified rappers, white and of color, for years now. To be clear, the problem here isn’t Macklemore’s message (and he seems to be at least a little aware of what’s up), it’s that we aren’t hearing the voices of the very marginalized people allies like him claim to support. Record labels flock to promote straight white allies (yes, your favorite pro-LGBT straight white rapper isn’t actually indie) while mostly ignoring LGBT rappers of color.
I suppose one could argue from practicality about the matter. A man like Macklemore can get the pro-equality message out in a way that, say, a black lesbian rapper can’t. That aside, this isn’t an exercise in telling you that Macklemore is bad and you should feel bad. There are many better critiques of him than I could ever write. Instead of feeling bad about liking Thrift Shop or Same Love, you can go listen to some of these artists and tell your friends about the ones you like.
Though rumors have surrounded her sexuality for years, she prefers to keep her private life private. However, many other rappers have said that she’s been with women. Also, she’s a positive figure and role model in many ways and thus warrants a mention regardless of her sexual orientation.
Frank Ocean He’s more R&B than hip-hop or rap, but is, if I might speak so soon, historically significant. After all, his coming out was what spurred many of the aforementioned hip-hop artists to come out in favor of LGBT equality.
God-Des & She
I am unsure of their race. They look white to me but will always have a special place in my heart as the first hip-hop artists I listened to who I knew were queer (I discovered them the summer I came out, no less). With such songs as “Lick It” (yes, it’s about what you think it’s about), God-Des’s swagger is swoon-worthy.
Syd The Kyd
She might hate the word “lesbian,” but the Odd Future member definitely and openly loves women.
[Update: After Jessica Wakeman of The Frisky covered my piece and tweeted her coverage tagging in STFU Parents, Blair Koenig aka STFU Parents clarified what was meant (and not meant) by the tweet. We conversed via Twitter (see the conversation). Basically, Koenig says that she considers herself pro-LGBT and pro-trans* and intended the RT to reflect on social media trends, not to imply that the trans* opinions contained in the compilation were absurd. In other words, she did not tweet with malicious intent although she found some elements of the compilation “amusing.”
While the intentions were not malicious, I do not personally believe that intention is what matters here. Therefore, on my end, the conversation has not changed my initial assessment that the posting of the compilation is problematic. Whatever the personal intentions of its founder, STFU Parents is a blog dedicated to mocking people’s social media entries. In light of that, an account called the exact same thing re-tweeting a compilation of people’s social media entries feels dismissive regardless of personal intention. This is especially true when the compilation lumps together trans* people’s pain with Monty Python jokes. YMMV, naturally.]
All the plebes are talking about it while all the cool kids are talking about not knowing, caring, or talking about it. I’m talking, of course, about the bonny new baby born to the British royal family.
Popularly gossipped-about news items are often used as opportunities for people to converse about topics that are of interest of them. While this can be considered in poor taste in the case of tragic events, this one certainly was no such downer of a story.
I noticed that many news outlets used the word “gender” in place of the word “sex” to describe the baby being assigned male at birth. Now, I am far more a descriptivist than a prescriptivist. I understand that people use the word “gender” in the place of the word “sex” for various reasons ranging from squeamishness (ew, teh sex) to ambiguity (i.e. the fact that “sex” can refer to genitals). The latter, however, reveals exactly the point: what we know is that the doctors in question examined the baby’s genitalia and determined that they think that the little one is a boy.
This is not a judgmental or political statement, it states the facts — unless you consider CNN to be a bastion of gender radicalism:
Using the information gathered from these tests, your doctor may suggest an appropriate gender for the baby. The suggestion will be based on the genetic sex, anatomy, and future reproductive and sexual potential. Usually, a family can make a decision within a few days after the birth. Parents should be aware that as the child grows up, he or she may make a different decision about gender identification.
CNN might have been talking specifically about babies whose genitalia don’t readily conform to what is considered definitely male or female by social and/or medical standards. Ultimately, however, this is what is done to all babies, just with less examination and consideration in the case of babies whose genitals aren’t considered “ambiguous” (and those babies aren’t exactly uncommon).
In this case, descriptivism and practicality are somewhat at odds. It’s useful to be able to talk about the concepts encapsulated within each of the terms “sex” and “gender” when those words are distinct rather than interchangeable.
Based on that reasoning, I tweeted…
YOU DO NOT KNOW THAT BABY'S GENDER. YOU KNOW WHAT SEX IT HAS BEEN ASSIGNED BY DOCTORS. THAT IS ALL YOU KNOW.
…to the great amusement, apparently, of someone whose followers await his RTs of silly post-modern liberals in the hopes of pouncing on us. According to a friend who mods r/LGBT, someone parodied the tweet in such a way that the offender was banned from that particular subreddit. In responding to my tweet, people took the most issue with my use of all-caps (fair), my alleged attribution of malice to the doctors in question (citation needed), and my daring dictionary-thumping attitude towards the words “sex” and “gender.”
The assholes of the Internet didn’t stop their fun with a dictionary-thumping, capslock-using cis girl, though, and that’s where it gets really ugly.
Collection of Royal Baby tweets by people who are angry about Prince George being assigned a gender: http://t.co/iEQIJKlKPt
All of the people in that tweet compilation aren’t necessarily parents. More importantly, some of them are trans* and spoke up and out about their pain and struggles. This, apparently, renders them just plain hilarious in the eyes of STFU Parents and its readers. The last time I checked STFU Parents, it was filled with people complaining about TMI status updates from parents regarding the bowel movements produced by their precious bundle of joy, not a bastion of transphobia. Another formerly adored humor page bites the dust.
Though it might annoy some, it’s not reprehensible to take a popular gossip item and use it to talk about serious issues that affect you and/or other human beings (though it might be to use all-caps). Using people’s disclosures of the pain of their lived experiences to mock and deride them, on the other hand?
Note: I’m going to use more than one term to describe similar things. All less usual terms regarding gender and sexual orientation are linked to explanations of their meanings.
Of all the misguided things Woody Allen and his movies have stated about gender and sexuality, the most grating to me is his quip about nonmonosexuals:
Bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night.
This was perhaps intended to be tongue-in-cheek but sentiments along those lines are often expressed in earnest, resentment, envy, or some combination of the preceding feelings. Essentially, the claim is that people who can be attracted to more than one gender identity must be multiplying their number of potential non-platonic options.
On its face, it seems to make simple mathematical sense. Let’s pretend that I’m a woman who is only interested in men. As a straight woman, I’m limiting myself to less than half the population, i.e. excluding all non-male people. Now, let’s say that I’m bisexual, pansexual, or otherwise into not only men. The more gender identities I’m potentially attracted to, the more people are options for me, right?
It ain’t necessarily so. Love (or lust or attraction) is not a straightforward lottery system. If you’re calculating your perception of someone else’s odds, you may not be seeing all of the factors at play.
If by “options,” you mean “people that person could be attracted to,” perhaps such is the case. However, the word “options” (as well as what Woody Allen is saying) quite strongly implies that the attraction is reciprocated. Someone is only an “option” for you if they’re into you, too. This complicates matters significantly. Just because a person could potentially be attracted to more members of the human population doesn’t mean that more members of the human population are attracted to them in return. It could mean that for some people, perhaps, but such is not necessarily the case. Monosexuals, even the queerer ones, aren’t always the biggest fan of nonmonosexuals.
Further limits may arise when considering the preferences that nonmonosexuals may have. Specifically, I will venture to guess that many people who identify as pansexual (as opposed to those who do as bisexual) have political reasons to limit their dating pool. Pansexual people both acknowledge and could potentially be attracted to people who aren’t cis men or cis women. This could mean that they would be far less likely to accept intolerance of trans* and non-male/female-identified people in their partners. Basically, my conjecture is that fewer pansexual women will brook bigoted boyfriends and vice versa.
To be fair, I definitely know of pansexuals who experienced an increase in options when going from identifying as straight to identifying as pansexual. Such is not universal, however. To cite my personal experience, I had far more options (albeit only male ones) available to me when I was a straight-identified woman than after I started identifying as bisexual. While the culturally-assumed straight male fetish for female-on-female “action” might have just caused a collective eye-roll, consider the important difference between reality and fantasy. Plenty of men who enjoyed porn featuring only women expressed insecurity about my leaving them for another woman, believed that homosexuality is generally wrong, or otherwise felt uncomfortable with dating a bisexual woman. Then there were the fetishists: men who had a pre-made fantasy about femme women performing sex acts on each other for his viewing pleasure rather than for their own pleasure (i.e. the ones scared off by my talk of butch lesbians).
As for women, many of the lesbians I met were wary of me, fearing that I might leave them for a man — that I was just “experimenting.” Validation for their fears existed with some of the bisexual women I met, the ones who were only interested in sexual play with other women, not necessarily anything beyond a casual encounter (and sometimes one that had to involve her male partner, no exceptions).
Later, when I started identifying as pansexual, my pool shrunk even further to preclude the option of people who think “pansexual” is a silly and pretentious orientation (you wouldn’t believe how many people there are who think that way) and those whose transphobia was revealed when they realized that some of the people to whom I am attracted are trans*. Good riddance, certainly, but still a limit placed upon number of options. My lived experiences as a radical queer, atheist, and feminist woman of color further constrict my options: I am wholly uninterested in anyone who opposes or questions the rights of my friends and I to exist and live as we do.
Orientation aside, one’s attractiveness (or perceived attractiveness) plays a significant role in the number of one’s options. A very attractive straight person would likely have more options available to them than a less-attractive pansexual person.
Individual experiences notwithstanding, saying that pansexuality or any other nonmonosexual orientation by definition and by default means more options available is a false generalization The number of available options really depends on the person in question.
This piece is adapted from my research and notes for the speech I gave this past Sunday, May 20th, at the Orange County Freethought Alliance Conference. The talk was entitled “Push and Pull: The Role of Religion in Social Justice.” The titles of the previous two pieces, as well as this one, have been altered thanks to the very apt observation by Pseudonym on the US-centric nature of my writing.
This piece is adapted from my research and notes for the speech I gave this past Sunday, May 20th, at the Orange County Freethought Alliance Conference. The talk was entitled “Push and Pull: The Role of Religion in Social Justice.” The follow-up to this piece will address the present-day role of religion in social justice and whether there is a secular alternative.
There is no doubt that religion has hindered social justice movements and continues to do so. I am not saying that said movements were dependent on religion, that their achievements could not have been accomplished without religion, that religion didn’t have its place in hurting the efforts of the movements, or even that religion didn’t necessitate them in the first place. At the same time, to deny religion’s role in certain aspects of specific social justice movements is to ignore an incredibly important aspect of American history, especially for certain minority communities. Continue reading “Religion and Social Justice in America: The Pull”→