Remembering Queer History: The Upstairs Lounge Fire

(Content Note:
This post discusses the two deadliest recorded attacks against the queer community in United States history)

What follows is a raw attempt on my part, with no practice at slam poetry.

44 years

Yesterday marked 44 years since a devastating fire erupted at The Upstairs Lounge, a popular queer gathering spot in New Orleans, Louisiana. This deliberate arson attack caused the deaths of 32 people and was the deadliest attack on the queer community in the United States until the 2016 shooting massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which saw 49 murdered and more than 50 injured. Every time I think about this deeply, massively horrific act of barbarism, I am brought to tears. I am brought to tears because

32 people died.

32 people who loved, hated, and fucked

32 people with stories of heartbreak, joy, sorrow, contentment, apathy, and compassion

32 people who ate,  slept, vacationed, worked, traveled, got drunk, went to church, loved politics, hated politics, and gambled and more

32 people who were siblings and parents, extended family and friends, co-workers and acquaintances, perhaps strangers even

32 people who had hopes and dreams, skills and talents, strengths and weaknesses, character flaws and integrity

32 people were killed.

No. Actually, that’s not right.

32 people were murdered.

Murdered in one of those “god I hope I don’t die this way bc this is unbearable to even imagine” kind of ways. But I can ONLY imagine. They EXPERIENCED it. I truly hope they didn’t suffer and IF they suffered it was for a brief moment. Death by FIRE and STARVED of oxygen and poison SEEPING into your lungs? Is not…is not…is not how one should die.

And when the inferno was out?

And 32 people were dead? Hearts were open. Aid was offered. Condolences were given. Around the world people reached out and shared their candle lit grief. And their solidarity. With the 32 people whose lives were TAKEN in that fearsome. fiery. tragedy. I WISH I could say with ALL of my heart that THAT was what had occurred.

It did not.

I can not and will not. Tell such a tall tale.

There is a tale that I can tell that does not require deceit. And in this deceitless tale that I can tell,

Not 24. Not 12. Not 6. Not 3 hours went by

Before reactions were heard.  Before support was offered. Before commiserations were given. Before outrage was shared. Before the “what can I do”‘s  and “how can I help”‘s were asked.

And not just Orlando. Not just Florida. Not JUST the United States.

There were lit Candles in the Phillipines.

A rainbow bridge in Australia.

Unity placards in England.

Remembrance in Denmark.

Mourning in Switzerland.

Gathering in South Korea.

Homage in France.

Vigils in Berlin.

And on it went. And on it went.

And so it went around the world. Country to country. People to people. The solidarity and vigils and homages and remembrances and candles were a response. A very human response to a horrific tragedy. A very human response to a horrific tragedy that was vastly different than the one that happened 44 years ago yesterday when:

Silence was heard. Silence so loud and so powerful. Like a Silent Sonic Boom went off. So loud and so powerful was this Sonic Boom that the world was engulfed in silence.

Jokes were made that packed a punch. Oppressive punches so powerful they punched down and punched down and punched down until BAM! The Earth’s core. And then continued to punch down some more.

A fearsome fire overtook a bar. Survivors feared the fire and fought the fire and fled the fire and found that they were fired. From their jobs.

****

In the aftermath of the Upstairs Lounge, the reaction of New Orleans officials, church leaders, and civilians in the city was unsympathetic. Jokes were indeed made about some of the people killed. Churches refused to allow memorials. Family members of some of the deceased refused to collect the remains of people who up until they died in that fire, were probably family members they cared for. But for some people, finding out that a member of your family is gay is “::gasp:: HOLY FUCKBALLS! Red is black and blue is sky and and nothing makes sense any longer”. Unlike the response to the Pulse massacre last year–a response that included vigils, commiserations, remembrances, homages, and so much more. And from as far away as South Korea and Australia.

But that was not the case in NOLA. Here, it was as if the city and the religious leaders wanted nothing to do with the case. They wanted it swept under the rug. They cared more about the image of their town than finding the killer (and they never found the person, either). For all that the Upstairs Lounge fire was the deadliest attack on our community until last year, far too many people know nothing of it. They know nothing of this horrific attack or the apathetic-at-best response from the city. In what could symbolize the utter lack of concern about the fire, one of the victims, the Reverend Bill Larson, had attempted to escape, but got stuck in the iron bars around one of the windows. People on the street watched in horror as he burned alive. And the city left his body there for days. Heartless as fuck. The fact that no killer was found (despite one suspect, a gay man who had been kicked out of the bar earlier and apparently threatened retribution; the man took his own life the following year) also points to the lack of care on display by the city.

The Upstairs Lounge fire is part of USAmerican queer history. It was a devastating attack and its aftermath served as a reminder that we were viewed as subhuman deviants for whom care and compassion was in short supply.  In the years since the fire, care and compassion have been found in some cases, and cultivated in other, such that the Pulse attack engendered compassion in people around the globe. Please take a few minutes to read the full details of the Upstairs Lounge fire or familiarize yourself with the names of the deceased as well as the survivors.  We matter.  Contrary to what NOLA officials and church officials said at the time, their lives mattered. Just as our lives matter today. We are part of the narrative of this country. Both in life and in death. We expect society as a whole to recognize that our lives matter and that we deserve liberation and equality. If we expect that in society, should we not also expect that in ourselves?

The Deceased:

  • Joseph Henry (Joe) Adams, 51, comptroller, Sidney Espinache’s lover
  • Reginald Eugene (Reggie) Adams Jr., 24, salesman
  • Guy David Owen Anderson, 41, researcher, visitor from Illinois
  • Joseph William (Bill) Bailey, 29, waiter, Clarence McCloskey’s lover
  • Luther Thomas Boggs, 47, computer programmer, died in hospital
  • Louis Horace Broussard, 26, barber, Mitch Mitchell’s lover
  • Hurbert Dean (Hugh) Cooley, 32, lounge bartender
  • Donald Walter Dunbar, 21, carpet cleaner
  • Adam Roland Fontenot, 32, Buddy Rasmussen’s lover
  • David Stuart Gary, 22, lounge pianist
  • Horace Winslow (Skip) Getchell, 35, freight dispatcher
  • John Thomas Golding Sr., 49, various careers, father
  • Gerald Hoyt Gordon, 37, shipping clerk
  • Glenn Richard (Dick) Green, 32, shipping clerk
  • James Walls (Jim) Hambrick, 45, salesman, died in hospital
  • Kenneth Paul Harrington, 48, federal lab technician
  • Rev. William Ros (Bill) Larson, 47, MCC pastor
  • Ferris Jerome LeBlanc, 50, hair dresser
  • Robert Keith (Bobby) Lumpkin, 29, switchman
  • Leon Richard Maples, 32, auto mechanic, father
  • George Steven (Bud) Matyi, 27, musician
  • Clarence Joseph McCloskey Jr., 48, sales manager, father, Bill Bailey’s lover
  • Duane George (Mitch) Mitchell, 31, salesman, assistant MCC pastor, Horace Broussard’s lover
  • Larry Dean Stratton, 25, died in hospital
  • Eddie Hosea Warren, 24, cook, father
  • James Curtis Warren, 26, carpenter
  • Willie Inez Whatley Warren, 59, unemployed, their mother
  • Dr. Perry Lane Waters Jr., 41, Jefferson Parish dentist whose x-rays identified several victims
  • Douglas Maxwell Williams Jr., 20, truck driver

in addition to three unidentified white males.

Known survivors

  • Theo Ancelet
  • Jessie Baker, 28, beautician
  • Philip Byrd, 40s, hospitalized for injuries
  • J. C. Carrier
  • Courtney Craighead, 30s
  • Richard Robert (Mother) Cross, 29, salesman, Dean Morris’ lover
  • Frank Dean, 34
  • Jimmy Demoll Jr., hospitalized for injuries
  • Francis Dufrene, 21, hospitalized for injuries
  • Roger Dale Dunn, 26, hospitalized for injuries
  • Sidney Espinache, 50, Joe Adams’ lover, hospitalized for injuries
  • Richard Frank (Rick) Everett, 35, computer technician
  • Frank Gaalema, 29, display freelancher
  • Edward B. (Eddie) Gillis, 52, hospitalized for injuries
  • Jean Cory Gosnell, 37, realtor, mother, hospitalized for injuries
  • James Larson
  • Adolph Medina, 32, wig saloon manager, hospitalized for injuries
  • Albert Harold (Uncle Al) Monroe, 68
  • Dean Morris, 37, Rick Cross’ lover
  • Jim Peterson, 31
  • Robert Thomas Price, 19, various jobs
  • Lindy Laurell (Rusty) Quinton, 25, welder, hospitalized for injuries
  • Douglas (Buddy) Rasmussen, 32, bartender
  • Robert (Ronnie) Rosenthal
  • Michael Wayne Scarborough, 27, steel worker, Glenn Green’s lover, hospitalized for injuries
  • Fred Scharohway, 22, Earl Thomas’ lover, hospitalized for injuries
  • Don Sherry
  • Eugene Earl Thomas 42, Fred Scharohway’s lover, hospitalized for injuries
  • I. R. (Bob) Vann, hospitalized for injuries
  • Stephen Whittaker
  • Peter — , bank clerk
  • Harry —

 

 

 

Remembering Queer History: The Upstairs Lounge Fire
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Seattle’s progressive reputation is tarnished by liberal racism

Seattle: Where we welcome queers, Muslims, refugees, but if you're black? Negro, Please!
Among big United States communities, Seattle ranked 3rd most liberal.

I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest area, but I’ve heard a great deal of praise for the region, especially Seattle. Aside from the weather (I’ve been told it’s quite a rainy region), it is apparently a great place to live. At least if you lean left. The city is viewed by many as a bastion of liberal progressivism where forward thinking people from all walks of life are welcome. Seattle is a ‘Welcoming City‘, where immigrants, refugees, and Muslims are accepted and embraced. It was voted one of the top 5 liberal cities in the country in 2014 and given that recreational marijuana is legal there, it’s not hard to understand why. Unlike the Southern U.S. where I dwell (and most of the country, for that matter), Seattle also has extensive public transit and [Hot Damn!] they were one of the first cities in the US to approve a $15/hour minimum wage. Anecdotally, I’ve been told the city is very friendly to transgender people, and with 9 top-rated HRC employers in Seattle, I can see why.

$15/hour, queer friendly businesses, and legal weed? Sounds good to me.  There’s just one problem (well, there’s probably more, but for the purposes of this post, I’m focusing on just one). A problem that has existed in the Pacific Northwest dating back to its beginning. It’s a 500-lb. elephant in the room and is a blight on the liberal reputation of Seattle (as well as the greater Pacific Northwest). If you guessed racism, you are correct. To make matters worse, it appears as if many white liberals were tired of conservatives hogging the “I’m a racist asshole” Spotlight, and wanted their turn. It may surprise some to hear accusations of racism lobbed at liberals, but racial biases and prejudices are not limited solely to those on one end of the political spectrum. And while overt examples of individual race-based public or political* discrimination has diminished significantly** over the last half century or so, more subtle forms of racism, such as racial biases and prejudices, continue to thrive.

Such biases turned out to be quite at home among many of Seattle’s white liberals in the wake of a Black Lives Matter event last year. Conceived of by teachers across Seattle, the event–which was little more than teachers wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts to school–hurt the fragile sensibilities of many liberal parents leading to a White Whine backlash.

Continue reading “Seattle’s progressive reputation is tarnished by liberal racism”

Seattle’s progressive reputation is tarnished by liberal racism

Important Read! A theme study of LGBTQ history in the U.S.

PoC and our achievements have been ignored, demeaned, debased, and erased at all levels throughout US history. It is no different in the queer community. This flag represents the need for the community to recognize our value and worth, just as society at large needs to do. Yesterday.
In response to racial tensions in Philly’s queer community, a new Pride flag was created to honor Queer People of Color.

Yesterday, I talked about my desire to develop a connection to queer heritage, culture, and history in the United States. There are so many people that have contributed to the struggle for the rights that I and millions of others currently enjoy. There are also those people who helped shape our culture and in some cases, help steer the course of US history. Beyond that, there are the places where queers gathered and loved, lived and died, and where they endured great trials and enjoyed amazing successes. Queer history in the US is more than facing down mob violence, defying “the man”, or pushing back against restrictive and prescriptive social norms regarding gender or sexuality. It is also about the quest for love and acceptance (internally and externally) in a harsh and uncaring world, as well as the formation and dissolution of the ties that bind us (whether socially, religiously, or politically). One incredibly important aspect of our history is the recognition among those in our community (and later, by society at large) that the right to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ is our right as well; that our lives have value and that we are an important part of the fabric of this country.

I suspect it is that recognition–that we exist, that our lives matter, that we have value, that we are an essential part of the narrative of United States history–that played a role in the creation by the National Park Service of a multi-part (32 to be exact), peer-reviewed theme study into queer history. Megan Springate, the prime consultant for and editor of the LGBTQ theme study describes it thusly: Continue reading “Important Read! A theme study of LGBTQ history in the U.S.”

Important Read! A theme study of LGBTQ history in the U.S.

Connecting with queer history

I support the changes to the flag bc for too long, QPoC have been erased from the movement for queer rights.
Philadelphia’s new, more inclusive Pride flag includes brown and black to represent Queer People of Color.

I’m not sure what’s different for me this June than prior ones, but for some reason, I feel the need to connect with and learn more about queer heritage and history in the United States than ever before.  And while I plan on reading more on our history (I’ll be ordering Making History : The Struggle For Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights: 1945-1990: An Oral History with my next paycheck), I’d also like to one day begin exploring historic landmarks or places of importance in the fight for queer rights. After inquiring with several friends on Facebook, I’ve begun compiling a list of places to visit.

Continue reading “Connecting with queer history”

Connecting with queer history

Police Behaving Badly 6.16.17

Across the United States, more than 800,000 people serve as local and state law enforcement officials (LEO). These LEOs are charged with upholding and enforcing the law, maintaining order, and providing general services. To carry out these duties, police officers possess certain powers, granted by the state. If the situation calls for it, police officers can frisk, detain, and arrest civilians, as well as seize property. In addition, depending upon the situation, police officers are empowered to use force to defend themselves or civilians (the amount of force extends along a spectrum from police presence through deadly force). Given the powers that police officers have, it is incumbent upon them to maintain a level of professionalism in the course of their duties and to wield their powers responsibly and ethically. Unfortunately, there are countless examples of cops engaging in a range of irresponsible, unethical, immoral, and/or illegal activities from bribery and unjustified arrests to illegal search and seizure and the use of excessive force. Here are five such examples:

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Police Behaving Badly 6.16.17

Racism Round-Up 6.10.17

(political cartoon skewering the SCOTUS decision to gut the Voting Rights Act based on the false assumption that racism was not as much a problem today as it was in 50 years ago. The black and white image is an ocean liner at sea labeled ‘Supreme Court’, which overlooks ocean which is meant to represent racism. From the ocean liner, the few examples of racism are incidents of police brutality or the takeover of the Oregon Wildlife Refuge. These examples appear as icebergs in the water, but as with icebergs in the real world, most of their substance is below the surface)

For many People of Color, incidents of racism appear to have increased since the orange-skinned poltroon took office. Emboldened by an administration that is composed of several open white supremacists, members of virulently racist far-right organizations and so-called “lone wolves” are more willing than ever to publicly espouse their hateful rhetoric, and feel much more confident with public displays of racism. The rising public profile of these hate-filled individuals and organizations, as well as the infusion of far-right authoritarianism into the highest office in the land, have led to a shift in our culture–one that is more hostile to People of Color (and other marginalized groups) as the days go by. If it seems like you can’t go 24 hours without hearing of stories  of yet another white person who went on a racist rant, or a  murderous white supremacist who threatened teenaged girls on a train, or teachers handing out “most likely to be a terrorist awards“, then you’re probably right.

Below the jump are a series of excerpts from various articles detailing incidents of racism that I’ve read about recently as well as the occasional thinkpiece offering a perspective on racism or related issues, such as terrorism (be it domestic or foreign). Some may be a few months old. Some may be from yesterday. All are examples of the reality People of Color contend with on a daily  basis.  This harsh and often deadly reality is a direct result of a poison that, having run unchecked for centuries, has permeated all aspects of this country. A poison this country has never honestly grappled with, let alone attempted to overcome. This poison has destroyed lives, impaired our ability to live out our lives free from oppression, and prevented this country from living up to its admirable ideals. This poison, which provided the foundation for the treasonous acts of secession by the Confederate States, is perhaps best summed up by the Vice-President of those States:

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. [Applause.] This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

The above quote, by Alexander H. Stephens, laid bare the justification for the actions of the secessionist states. It is that justification–the Doctrine of White Supremacy–which continues to poison this country.

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Racism Round-Up 6.10.17

Whiny gay Republican is mad he can’t be in Pride Parade

There are some things that  In My Opinion just don’t pair well together.

The first thing that springs to my mind is pineapple on pizza. When I was 16, I was hired on at a pizza buffet restaurant (my first job). One of the more popular pizzas was a simple ham and pineapple pizza (some places call this a Hawaiian Pizza). Nope. None for me then. None for me now.  I’m not interested in shaming anyone for their food choices. All I have to say is that I find pineapple to be deeply unappealing  in smell, taste, and texture…and I like pizza. So I’m not going to marry the two of them, bc to me, that’s not a marriage made in heaven.

Another thing I’ve found I don’t like together–water, juice, or soda with dessert. Now, I’m a finicky person when it comes to desserts. I like ’em simple.  I don’t eat creme brulee, hate pies (yes, I’ve heard all the jokes on that one) and cobblers, and the texture of cheesecake just does not work for me at all.  I like cakes, brownies, and cookies (the occasional bread pudding is ok, but the portion size on most I’ve seen is ginormous and the sweetness level is often off the charts). These are my go-to desserts. But I can only drink them with milk.  I mean, not literally. If I need something to drink, and there’s no milk, I’ll drink water or juice. Anything other than milk though, just doesn’t taste right.

The Republican Party is evil. What does that make their supporters?
(image of elephant representing the GOP. Elephant is filled in with rainbow colors to designate queer Republicans such as the Log Cabin Republicans)

There are some pairings that not only seem like a horrible fit on paper, but just make me shake my head in profound befuddlement. I’m speaking here of LGBT Republicans. That should be an oxymoron.  You’d think they wouldn’t exist, right? After all, the Republican Party has, for decades, opposed efforts to improve the quality of life for QUILTBAG folks. They fought tooth and nail to prevent same-sex marriage from being legalized. They’ve supported so-called conversion therapy, which is a fancy way of saying “torturing kids into being not gay”. They’ve continually made the reality challenged assertions that gay people cannot be parents and held that children raised by gay people are at a disadvantage (in point of fact, aside from individual physiological issues, we can indeed have children and study after study has found children of same-sex couples are not at a disadvantage). Though much of the harsh rhetoric from the GOP about QUILTBAG folks has become muted over the years, there are still Republicans who make comparisons between gay people and pedophiles (as if there’s a connection between sexuality and pedophilia). Then there are the bathroom bills that states across the nation have considered in the last few years.  16 states have considered such legislation and 15 states have bills pending in legislature. These bills would restrict access to multi-user sex-segregated facilities on the basis of gender as determined at birth. Supporters argue legal protections are needed to prevent predatorial men from wearing women’s clothing and assaulting or molesting girls and women in bathrooms. Such bills are an incredible insult to transgender women. They are not predators. They are women who were assigned the incorrect gender at birth. They are using the bathrooms for the same reason cis women use restrooms. Additionally, there are already laws on the books that criminalize molestation and assault, making these bathroom bills all about one thing: discriminating against transgender women and men.

And all of that? ↑ ↑

Barely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the disdain, contempt, and outright hate that the Republican Party has exhibited towards queer people over the last few decades. From discriminatory bathroom bills to preventing gay people from adopting children, the Republican Party has long been among the loudest opponents of queer rights. So yeah, it’s somewhat confounding to me that transgender, lesbian, gay, or bisexual Republicans exist.

On an intellectual level, I know they do. I accept that human brains being what they are, indoctrination into political parties occurring the way it does (often at a young age, in  a similar way to indoctrination into religion–i.e. before we develop strong critical thinking skills), and who knows how many cognitive biases and shortcuts converge in queer Republicans.  Emotionally, however, it not only boggles my mind, it’s downright insulting. I find insult in the fact that these people are donating time, money, energy, and other resources into aiding a political party that wants to [at best] keep queers as second class citizens. They don’t want us to have rights like being able to marry, adopt kids, own property, or be free from discrimination in public institutions. They don’t want us in scouting organizations or in positions of religious power.  They don’t want to see us doing something as innocuous as holding hands in public.  In fact, they don’t need to literally say it for it to be true: the Republican Party does not want us to exist.

That fact is lost upon the Gays For Trump, a group of whiny assholes who are mad that Charlotte Pride has denied them entry into the Pride Parade:

Continue reading “Whiny gay Republican is mad he can’t be in Pride Parade”

Whiny gay Republican is mad he can’t be in Pride Parade

Bill Maher’s guide on how to be a human trashfire

Image of one Bill Maher, douchebag extraordinaire, suffering from a self-inflicted case of White Male Entitlement Mentality.

Once upon a time, Bill Maher was cool in my book. I vaguely remember watching  a couple of episodes of his old show Politically Incorrect and while my memories are fuzzy,  I remember being quite entertained. Once he made the move to cable television, I started watching him more often. Hell, I used to dvr his show and watched it near religiously.   I used to appreciate the frankness with which he’d talk about religion, his support for legal marijuana, and his vocal opposition to all things conservative and Republican.  At that time, I knew of no one who was an unabashed critic of religion, so listening to Maher mock and criticize religious beliefs was refreshing, as was his no-holds-barred criticisms of Republicans.

But there was a side–several of them in fact–that I didn’t know about and/or weren’t woke enough to recognize. In 2017, however, I can see them plain as day. In fact, they’re so apparent that I’m not sure why he hasn’t written a ‘How to be a Human Trashfire’ guide. Such a guide would include examples from Maher’s various displays of bigotry over the years and include advice like:

  1. Learn to be a Pro. An ableism pro. One of the beginner steps to mastering ableism is to treat disabled kids with contempt like the time Maher equated developmentally disabled kids with dogs.  More advanced human trashfires know how to engage in multiple forms of bigotry simultaneously, as Maher did last year when he blew up at BLM activist Ashley Williams for crashing a HIllary Clinton fundraiser. And don’t forget–no self-respecting ableist bigot can claim that title if they don’t point to cognitive ability and say “POTUS45 is an asshole bc there is something wrong with his brain”.
  2. With boundless pride, you’ve got to share your sexism and misogyny with the world. Fly your “I hold women in contempt and think anything feminine is inferior to me” flag high. This can be done through an ancient male ritual called “I’m not sexist, but…”  or through the not-so-subtle derision of femininity,  or the use of gendered slurs (for someone who isn’t sexist, Maher has a long history of the word b*tch falling–I guess uncontrollably, since he says he’s not sexist–from his mouth when talking about women) or by “joking” about killing women for it doesn’t matter what the reason is   or if you combine your misogyny with ableism or…(yeah, the list goes on)
  3. Another trait often found in the modern Trashfire Bigot is transphobia. An excellent way to show the transgender community that you are the opposite of an ally–an enemy, for those uncertain–is to grant a platform to a White Supremacist Piece of Shit and not only let him speak his mind unchallenged, but indulge in a bit of transantagonism yourself (yes, I’m talking about that time Bill and Milo the douchebag bonded over their disgust of trans people).
  4. Of all the forms of bigotry he has displayed, one of Bill Maher’s favorites, one he can’t seem to go for too long without gushing over (as if his newborn child) is his anti-Muslim bigotry. From his completely unproven claim that millions of Muslims supported the attacks against Charlie Hebdo  to his smells-like-he-pulled-this-from-his-ass commentary about Muslim men, Maher loves him some Islamophobia. Of course, he doesn’t call it that, bc to him, he’s merely criticizing the religion when he condemns millions of Muslims for the actions of a relative few extremists**.

As with so many other bigots with racist beliefs, Bill Maher’s racism is not focused solely on Muslims. He also has room in his evaporated husk of a heart for some anti-black racism. Unlike his anti-Muslim bigotry, however, Maher’s anti-black racism has traditionally been more restrained. For example, on the face of it, his 2012 comment to Wayne Brady about the latter being a “non-threatening black man”, doesn’t appear racist. It is though, bc it  betrayed a view of black men as violent and dangerous. Such a view, which is ridiculously absurd*, is commonly held today and is one of the main biases at play when police officers shoot and injure/kill black people.  His supportive comments to Bill O’Reilly after the latter engaged in some casual racism regarding Representative Maxine Waters’ hair went a step further.  There’s also his comments about wanting President Obama to act like a “real Black man” by pulling up his shirt to reveal a gun tucked in his pants (the image of a black man with a gun hidden under his shirt and tucked into his pants is shorthand for criminal or thug). It’s one thing to have subconscious racial biases and prejudices. We all do (especially white people). It’s quite another to defend the racism of a virulently racist dirtbag like O’Reilly.And it’s something else to playfully allude to black people as criminals  Now, as if he were tired of hiding, Bill Maher has fully embraced his anti-black racism by doing the thing virtually every white person in this country knows is racist:

Continue reading “Bill Maher’s guide on how to be a human trashfire”

Bill Maher’s guide on how to be a human trashfire

Castlevania on Netflix: I’m sold!

 

Sense8
Sense8 soundtrack cover.

Netflix is really doing a good job wooing in new viewers like myself. Sense8 Season 1 (which I still have to finish) has been great, and I have a Christmas episode and Season 2 to look forward to. Captivating characters. An interesting premise. International locations. And a diverse cast.  Good, solid show.

The Defenders
Promotional image of the Netflix/Marvel original series, Defenders, which debuts later this year. Image contains shots of Mike Colter, Charlie Cox, Kristin Ritter, and Finn Jones as Luke Cage, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and the Culturally Appropriated Iron White Savior Fist.

Then there are the Netflix/Marvel joint original series. Hoo-boy, Daredevil was AMAZEBALLS, and set a standard for the other Netflix/Marvel shows to meet. Jessica Jones, though a completely different tone, and vastly more difficult subject matter, actually surpassed Daredevil’s first season in quality (and Kristin Ritter just works magically as JJ).  Daredevil Season 2 was not as tightly focused as the first, but benefited from the introduction of the Punisher (who’s getting his own series in a few years). I’ve not finished Luke Cage yet, but what I’ve seen has been great. Colter plays him so close to the vest, and I like that. He’s not a stereotypical black character on tv and we desperately need greater diversity in the roles black men play in our entertainment.  I’ve not mustered the wherewithal to watch Captain Cultural Appropriation by way of the White Savior Trope aka Iron Fist, and I’m not completely sure I ever will (they should have cast an Asian actor in the title role, and there are ways to work with the character’s history to avoid the numerous tropes of Asian characters in film and tv). Despite my ambivalence towards Iron Fist, I plan on watching Defenders.

But Netflix hasn’t stopped there. They’re giving me something else to watch and just from the teaser it looks AMAZEBALLS.  With a drop date of July 7, the dark medieval animated series Castlevania (based on the old video game, and written and executive produced by Warren ‘The Authority’ Ellis) has my mouth watering. Take a gander at the teaser:

Continue reading “Castlevania on Netflix: I’m sold!”

Castlevania on Netflix: I’m sold!

Congratulations Taiwan!

Growing up, I never thought much about marriage. I don’t recall having any crushes on anyone in elementary or middle school (though I’ve got pretty huge gaps in my memory the further back in time I think about). In high school, I dated one girl. She stands out in ways that my other memories do not for three reasons: we were supposed to go to junior prom together (I think that was the event) and that fell apart, her name was a variation on mon cherie, and my parents did not care for her much. During the relatively short time we dated, I think we kissed a few times, and nothing more. I never imagined myself with her, or any other woman. In fact, I wasn’t terribly interested in dating her. Or any woman. I was playing the do-it-for-survival hetero show. But that’s the show we gay people often put on so that we doing get harassed, discriminated against, evicted, abused, beaten, disowned, or killed by fragile heterosexuals who feel the need to violently reinforce gender boundaries.

This would have been back in 1992-1993, and I was juuuuuuuust starting to explore chat rooms on America Online (gods! That annoying dial-up sound!), and learn what I was. I knew no gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, intersex, or pansexual people. Hell, I didn’t have the language to describe who I was. I knew I was looking at guys around my age (and slightly older, such as some of the senior class boys at my school). I knew I felt certain physiological stirrings when I stared at one of them for too long. Of course staring happened rarely bc even though I didn’t yet know I was gay, I knew even then that it’s “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” (may that homophobic, heterosexist phrase die a fiery death). I couldn’t face the almost certain humiliation and torment from my peers that would result if I was seen staring at a guy.  And if it got back to my parents? I’d already been caught trying to shoplift a PlayGIRL (a companion adult magazine to Playboy, that features men) by my mother and that was a horrifying experience for me. So I didn’t want anyone to even suspect that I was different.  So I didn’t even think about having a boyfriend, didn’t have any clue what sex was (hetero or homo), and certainly had no thoughts on marriage other than the standard “this is what you do when you grow up”. But in my head, there was no image of the person I thought I’d marry. No ideal. No placeholder. Nothing. It was a formless, shapeless void.

Of course, even after I came out of the closet to the world (which took a few years), I still never thought about marrying anyone.  By this time (my early 20s), though still a pretty green gay, I knew enough to know that gay people were the spawn of Satan*, we were responsible for AIDS**, we were immoral monsters***, and our existence (an affront to god) threatened the fabric of society****. I also knew that gay people didn’t get married. We weren’t allowed to. I could never dream of something that was forbidden to me. Too young to yet articulate my thoughts on marriage rights, I pretty much accepted that my lot in life was to never be partnered to someone.

Then came the historic ruling in Massachusetts, when same-sex marriage first became legal in the United States.  I vaguely recall hearing about this at the time (I paid virtually no attention to the news back then), but still, that was some other state. I lived in Florida, and down here I thought, “we’ll see legalized weed before legal same-sex marriage” (I’d have lost that bet). So imagine my surprise when the US Supreme Court took up the issue of marriage equality in 2015.  Imagine my further surprise when I awoke on June 26, 2015 to learn that same-sex marriage (and I’m getting goosebumps just typing this) was legal in all 50 states in the US. I was elated. I remember wondering where and when further pro-marriage equality rulings might occur.  Today, Taiwan added their name to the list of countries that voted in favor of broadening the legal definition of marriage. Their highest court has ruled that Taiwan’s Civil Code (which define marriage as between a man and a woman) is unconstitutional:

Continue reading “Congratulations Taiwan!”

Congratulations Taiwan!