Archive for November, 2008

Transgender History- Susan Stryker

Posted in Book, Guide to What's Good, queer with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

I finished reading Transgender History by Susan Stryker during my long post-Thanksgiving public transport journey. It was overall a very informative and straightforward book. It was easy to read and understand, which is a feat for non-fiction, and a contrast to Striker’s recent CUNY lecture, which was considerably more cryptic. I really enjoyed the book, it felt immediate and relevant, engaging the reader with the past 100 years of struggle for transgender rights.

The movement towards visibility has been pretty fascinating. It seems that the first people to challenge the assumption that transpeople are not only mentally ill, but also extremely perverse, were people within the medical establishment, German and Austrian psychologists and doctors. Then it was wealthier white male bodied individuals, who campaigned for the rights to cross-dress, and separately, to be granted sex-change operations. The book moves from that telling, to the history of early FTM agitators for change, who also seem to have started within the upper class, or rather gained initial success there.

Direct action, and quasi-revolutionary groups later emerged in the second half of the 20th century, with Stonewall, and it’s predecessors, such as for example, the staged sit-in that occurred at Compton’s restaurant, inspired and enacted by civil rights activists, who were also queer, many of whom were trans,-rights activists. That intersection between transpeople and LGB folks was a theme that Stryker consistently explored in relation to recent trans history.

It seems that although there was a lot of overlap between struggles during the 60s, that unity was often fractured by both, feminist lesbians, who rejected trans people as impostors of a sort, and gay men who labelled trans individuals somehow not radical enough because they were willing to seek help from the medical establishment. As transgenderism remained a disease in the medical books, certain gay activists, judged the transpeople who sought sex change operations, while some lesbian feminists claimed that by enacting femininity in a stereotypical way, transwomen mocked their struggle towards an androgynously expressed equality, and that anyone not born a woman could never fully understand and experience Women’s Oppression.

With so much fragmentation prior to the late nineteen-nineties when queer emerged as a blanket, inclusive term for a whole wide variety of folks, it is kind of nice to see how much of the old divisiveness has died down. However, recently when transgender people were left out of the new anti-discrimination law, many of those old flames were rekindled. In explanation of this political division the distinctions between homosexuality and transgenderism are offered. As well as the wide ranging differences within the transgender umbrella. People often presume that transgender people are by definition homosexual, when historically and continuously that is often not the case. While for some the distinction between gender and sexuality is obvious, many members of the general public don’t quite get what the difference is. Stryker clarifies this within her large definitions section. For anyone who is still confused please refer to the text!

First iphone post

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 30, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

So I just discovered the wordpress application for the iPhone. I am your budding technological baby, with open eyes and outstretched arms I am slowly learning what this whole Internet/computer thing is all about. Forgive me for my lack of total computer nerdyness and trust that I am rapidly catching up! Wow, what a dream boat you are wordpress iPhone app. + a shout out goes to my two thanksgivings, I got some tech tutorials over turkey and what a revolution it has been! Ok, officially a nerd, going to go check the big screen to see if this worked!

Tristan und Isolde at the Metropolitan Opera

Posted in opera, queer with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Last night I went to see the opening of Daniel Barenboim’s production of Richard Wagner‘s Tristan und Isolde (itself an interpretation of Shakespeare) at the Metropolitan Opera. The opera was five hours, and well, what can i say…It’s a love story, which is more about loss than anything else. Wagner said before writing it, that he had never truly experienced love. Interesting. Maybe that’s why the love depicted is so tragic. Tragic love and tragic death. When the third and final act ends, Isolde is surrounded by Tristan and his two best friends, dead. Perhaps the type of love that Wagner most understood was homeogenic love, as Carpenter called it, better known as homosexuality. Shoot me for saying this, but why didn’t Isolde follow Tristan to death as she promised she would. It ends with her dying, apparently from grief, but not a sword to the chest like Tristan’s two best mates took. I digress…the point is, even if we assume the premise and believe that the man and woman were the only true lovers on set, why should love destroy us? I believe that desperation is not synonymous with passion and strive to see love instead as a sustainable site of healing. love many, love one, love for living, not as a form of torture!

Thanksgiving, Thanks for Taking

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on November 27, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Although there is something really fun about shooting out random “Happy Thanksgiving” emails, it is still important to take pause and call this holiday what it is: Genocide day, Invasion Day, take your pick. Just please don’t tell me that played out old folktale about the peaceful dinner, “pilgrims and Indians sharing corn (or maize, that is.)” Maybe it’s the historical mis-telling that plants the seed of discontent in me, your resident former history scholar. Or, perhaps it’s that always bizarre feeling of being expected to feel on cue. ‘It’s New Years, make resolutions and feel happy!’ ‘It’s Halloween, dress up and feel ghoulish!’ ‘It’s Christmas, give gifts and appreciate others!’ ‘It’s Thanksgiving, count your blessing and list everything that you have to be thankful for.’

I’d rather gorge myself on Pumpkin Pie and wine, and from my curmudgeounly corner, raise a fist in support of the Native People who truly own this land. Happy Thankstaking and never feel afraid to express your honest emotions on any day of the year!

The Last Cigarette-Stranger than Fiction

Posted in film with tags , , , , , , , on November 27, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Last night I went to my favorite documentary series in NYC, Stranger Than Fiction, and I saw a film called The Last Cigarette. It was directed by Kevin Rafferty, who’s most recent film Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 is currently screening at the Film Forum. The Last Cigarette was made in the mid 90s purely out of news and archival footage. It fits into the documentary genre, yet there are no interviews or original voice-overs and it seems in fact that the filmmaker never once picked up a camera while working on this project. All in the editing room, like a modern day mash-up, it meshes scenes from Vertigo and Psycho with footage from the Congressional hearings, in which the cigarette companies were held to task for selling cancer sticks. The middle aged men, who represent Philip Morris et al. bumble and attempt to euphemize their way out of taking responsibility for smoking deaths. They all actually say that they don’t believe smoking is addictive, that it does not cause cancer, and they swear that their companies have never marketed to children. Interesting. The film serves as  a comical, yet frightening glimpse back into the mid-nineties. It is hard to believe how much attitudes  towards smoking have changed in the past 15 years. Plus, quite bizarre that people have gone from thinking that cigarettes weren’t that harmful, to knowing they are, and smoking anyway.

Sheila Rowbotham on Edward Carpenter

Posted in Book, Guide to What's Good, queer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

I went to CUNY this evening to see Sheila Rowbotham talk about her new book and the man that inspired it, Edward Carpenter. This is how the CUNY website pre-described the event:

“Feminist historian Sheila Rowbotham discusses her latest book ‘Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love’. Edward Carpenter (1844 to 1929) challenged both capitalism and the values of Western civilization. He pioneered homosexual, lesbian and women’s liberation along with nudism, recycling, anti-pollution, diet reform and animal rights. He was friendly with such cultural icons as Walt Whitman, E.M.Forster, Isadora Duncan and Emma Goldman. He lived his politics, advocating a minimalist simplification to cluttered middle class Victorians and initiating a craze for country cottages, beeswaxed floors and sandals which helped to prod the modern age into being.”

Carpenter seems like an interesting man, who expressed his gay-ness fairly openly at the end of the 19th cetury. During this time, sodomy was considered criminal and Oscar Wilde was on trial for that very act. Sheila herself is a pretty fascinating lady. Earlier this year I read her 1973 book, Women’s Consciousness: Men’s World. It is a highly readable analysis of British socialist feminism. She tells the story of women who chose to trade eye liner for revolutionary politics, back in the day when it had to be one or the other. I especially like her likening of marriage to feudalism. While I categorically believe that queer people deserve equal rights and protection under the law, in all areas, including marriage. Like Sheila, I personally don’t think that marriage is a goal that any of us need aspire towards. Let’s focus on legalizing free thought instead shall we? It was cool to see Rowbotham, British accent and all, in a small room at CUNY. She is a thinker that holds a vital place in the history of second wave feminism.

Communal Literary High

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on November 24, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Very little compares to a literary high, the only thing better, is that high experienced communally. It wasn’t the red wine, though we 20 souls went through several bottles of it. Not the soup or the thick hot chocolate, although that alone would’ve been enough to make for a sweet evening. It was the temple of past experience, future dreams, present tensions, colliding under the umbrella of openness, community, literature. Last night’s lit-salon was a a truly sacred experience, and I felt blessed to have presided over it in my Ella Fitzgerald party dress.

People shared their own pieces about unrequited love, then that thought was capped by an Austrian poet’s instruction that “Love says,’It is what it is.'” Published Trans stories shared space with emerging confessions of complex nature, or becoming. We had a free write about waterfalls and Spain, while powerhouse confessions of death and the end to mourning neatly fit beside Einstein Stories, a card trick and a report back about Central Park, in broken English and jagged winter. Miles Davis played Sketches of Spain, voices were found, unfamiliarities lost, as Subway Strangers became friends and LA transplants hooked in to Brooklyn. We remembered where we have slept, plus the dreams we had there. Then we decided on the places where we might sleep next, and with whom.

In Bed, Eat Cafe, Superfine, Rhong Tiam

Posted in Food, Guide to What's Good with tags , , , , , , , on November 23, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

I’m in bed with my new baby. I’m referring to my laptop, it finally arrived and now my life can return to some semblance of normality. More posts, less German. I’m excited about the great writing I’m going to do on Franny (mac prompted me to name her, so franny it is) and I’m also very excited about the lit salon I’m having at my house tomorrow night. I promise an in depth report back on Monday morning.

As for today,  I started off at Eat Cafe/record store in Greenpoint for Lattes and French toast with stewed apples. Good coffee, and sweet neighborhoody vibe. It reminded me a lot of Melbourne, which is just the thing I”m always looking for in cafes. The menu changes daily, which seems to be the new theme for hip little joints, Superfine also works that way. I went there on Wed night but it somehow hasn’t made it into posts until now. Maybe because the food was fine, but not super and after all the good things I had heard about it was expecting more. The waitress was friendly and the space super cute but the food combos were a bit off-putting, I’d rather not have chicken liver on my polenta.

Rhong Tiam on the other hand is kinda worth the hype. It blends chic decor, a jazz and blues soundtrack, a fashion savvy host and pretty authentic Thai food. The New York Times says its one of the best Thai restaurants in Manhattan, but they admit, and I agree that the best in the city require a trip to Queens. The desert is decadent, enough for an army and they have a few creative fried rice options, like green curry and coconut. Plus good wine.

ok gotta crash now!

Cave Canem Workshop, Stains Movie,Wild Ginger

Posted in Food, Guide to What's Good, queer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

My fingers have been itching all day, lets face it I’m an internet junkie, the iphone isn’t enough and I’ve been fiending. In an attempt to deal with my separation anxiety, I did what most junkies do, I cleaned my room. After yesterday’s dust film, I figured it was time. I stole a few moments with my broken old laptop and then I did what all good Socialites do, I went out. The first event of the evening was a truly lovely affair. I was overwhelmed, in a good way, by all the beautiful black people in the room. I felt like I was at Aaron Davis hall or in the old BAM. Beyond just staring at beautiful people, which I’m told I have the habit of doing, I heard some really good poetry. The highlights for me were Devonne Heyward, who offered up a shy avalanche of liquid meaning, Erica Mapp, who cautioned us not to pursue those who don’t give freely(amen!), and Amanda Morgan, whose queer suburban tales resonated for me. Pretty much everyone was great though, and Cave Canem seems to be a cool organization. They offer writing workshops for people of color and organize talented writers on a national scale.

Afterwards I got to check out Wild Ginger, a vegan joint on Broome. Prior to entering, I was feeling a little sceptical of its ability to be veganfabulous, but it was indeed. Nice scallion pancakes, mango salad, excellent steamed dumplings, green tea ice cream…all good. The waitstaff are also really cute and human. It’s not pretentious at all and reasonably priced too!

Then I did manage to make it to the Midnight screening at 92 St Y Tribeca of Ladies and Gentlemen the Stains. The leading role in this film is played by Diane Lane and it was made the same year that I was born. Like Times Square, The Stains has a girl power, feminist, vaguely lesbo theme. It’s cool, really funny somehow. Some of the characters include a spoofy, takes itself seriously British band, and a Bob Marley quoting Jamaican band promoter, called lawnboy. He gives a pretty crazy soliloquy at one point. The basic premise it that Diane, her kid sister and her blonde cousin, want to be loved, be fierce, make money and become famous. They realize that the way to achieve all of these goals is to appear on tv and wear incredibly bright eye shadow and no pants. Maybe they’re on to something.

Quicknote2- Things to do this Weekend

Posted in Guide to What's Good, queer with tags , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

I sat by the window all day today, waiting for my mac to come, but alas, it did not. So I am only able to use my old about to crash laptop for a quick sec (my German roommate took hers to work today). I have to make a few shout outs. If your in the shitty come down to Mc Nally Jackson, there should be a great poetry reading in progress, or if you are closer to 13th st, mosey on into the Quad for a screening of the new film I Can’t Think Straight its about Lesbians, yay! There will be a Q & A afterwards, or go to the Kinsey’s Women exhibition or the Cindy Sherman show, then catch the midnight screening at the Tribeca 92 St Y… or…or, I can’t even leave the house because I’m paralyzed by all the choices! Promise to find a better computer option soon, and write more then. x

Dust by Hartmut Bitomsky, learning German

Posted in art, film, Guide to What's Good with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

I feel like I am learning German now, perhaps telepathically. All my housemates are German (yes all, implies more than 2) and one of them has been kind enough to lend me her laptop, while I wait for my new macbook to arrive. The keyboard and the interface are all in German. Whenever an error notice or any kind of other notice pops up, I basically guess at its meaning and then choose one of the options at random, which I translate to mean: yes or no, send or don’t send, save or cancel…I don’t know, I guess there are a lot of options, but the point is that suddenly I am knee deep in language immersion.

My experiential German course was taken one step further this morning when I attended a press screening of Dust. The documentary made by Hartmut Bitomosky, is not only in German, but also about dust. There were subtitles, but when you are a night owl, and then you wake up in the am for a screening, the likelihood is that if the film is a documentary about dust, you may fall asleep. I tried hard to fight the enveloping slumber, but sometimes it won. The parts that I did catch were pretty cool though. Apparently there are a lot of Germans from all walks of life who devote themselves to the subject of dust. Be it scientist, artists, cleaning persons, vacum cleaner manufacturers, devoted homemakers, they all love dust!. No, seriously the film was entirely more existential then that, but since I cull my deep thoughts from bar stools chats and not small particles, I may have not have been fully qualified to understand the crux of it. All I know is that the bit about depleted Uranium was fascinating, and I am positive that the part regarding 9/11 dust would have been great if I had been awake for it. That was what I was most interested in learning about. The visuals were good though, the color fields were stark and monochromatic, and the odd quirkiness of many off the interview subjects charming. As I am still in the process of reading Transgender History, I’ve found that many of the early sex researchers were Austrian and German. Then tonight, I went to the Powerhouse Arena, which is run by another German. Is this a sign that I should seriously consider pretending to be German. No, I don’t think so.

Anyway here’s the trailer in German!

Brooklyn Socialite Italian Comfort Food

Posted in Food, Guide to What's Good with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

For anyone out there who is planning to woo me, things you should know to win me over are…

My favorite food is Gnocci and the best place in the city to score the uncooked variety of it is Murray’s Cheese on Bleeker B 6th and 7th.

murraysbild-002

After you take it home and cook it, it will look something like this.

gnocci

Another one of my winter comfort foods is potato pizza and I reckon the best place to get it in this city in Grandaisy Bakery.

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It goes well with lattes!

grandbakerybild-003

For amzing homeade gellati and cheese plates(really good), excellent wine, check out Otto on 8th and 5th ave. And, for a really authentic Italian coffee spot, Fortunato Brothers cafe in Greenpoint is my recomendation.

What are your foody picks? Do you want to cook for me? Answer these questions and more in the comment section below!!

Bad Art Auction, Tablediving

Posted in art, Party with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

I never did have my latte this morning and I began to feel the burn- of coffee not through my blood-halfway through the Bad Art Auction at Le Poisson Rouge. The premise of the evening was this: Judah Friedlander aka Champion of the World (one of the 30 Rock (which I’ve never seen) writers ) auctioned off bad art, as a benefit for New York Cares. The night was sponsored by New York Magazine and attendees received a free year-long subscription to the rag. The spectacle was amazing, (that’s sarcasm). People were paying one or 2 hundred dollars for xerox copies of 80s faux-art ephemera, macrame owls and racially offensive Christian paintings. It was hipster heaven, I feared that Williamsburg had been momentarily misplaced and supplanted within the walls of Le Poisson Rouge. I was so inspired by my new and trendy crew that I decided to table dive.

judahbild-002

Decidedly sober, I resisted the open Vodka bar after last nights excess. Instead I focused my sights on food, other people’s food that is! There was some kind of staff meeting and several appetizer plates had been ordered, many of which were untouched. At one point everyone at the table just up and left, what was a hungry lady to do? That’s right, I dove. Tablediving rules! It is the word for the day.

Tablediving: The art/science of spotting un-eaten food on stranger’s restaurant tables, then grabbing and eating it in the space of time after the strangers leave the table and before the waitstaff clears the food.

Normal, Better, Drunker

Posted in Party, politics, queer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Sorry I´ve been a little bit out of commission lately. There is a price to pay for being a purveyor of nightlife. Especially when best mates come to town and pour vodka down your throat. It is not that you (me) are saying no at the time, but when you are crawling towards lattes in the morning, the regret does really set in. I can admit that much! In my defense, the work has continued. The joy of The Brooklyn Socialite is not just writing, but also curating, and I have enjoyed the chance to put forth some other perspectives lately. Shannon tells us that Queer is normal, Susan Strkyker alludes to the concept that Queer people may be supra-normal, in fact special spiritual leaders, equipped with extra fabulousity.

Monday night, I attended the GO magazine Nightlife Awards, which suggested that perhaps queers are drunker. Susan Westenhoeffer hosted the affair, a comedian, who actually managed to be quite funny. DJ Stacy was on decks and they hysterically kept giving self-shout outs. “DJ Stacy in the house!!” That was the highlight. The most fun moment came when we went to find food after the party ended. It was in hot mess midtown at a place called Touch (pretty fancy club by the way). We wondered down 8th ave and eventually found a Kashmiri restaurant/deli. It was dirt cheap and we got a selection of quite tasty buffet items, then settled down to eat them at the shop´s single table. We shared the little eating spot, with a  bearded man dressed in traditional Muslim attire. He told us that he was European American, but had long ago converted to Islam. He recommended Briyani and agreed that the food was very spicy, but one gets used to it. I left with my mouth on fire and we wondered down to HK lounge for the Awards After Party. It was a really intense go-go dancer scene and we didn´t stay long!

Last night feels like it was a continuation of Monday night, because my cultural consumption was somehow limited. Not completely though, as I am given to having Existential conversations while under the influence. This is what I love about certain friends of mine. Race, class, gender, identity, art…everything is invoked on the bar stool and when I look around and listen, I notice that other people are doing it too. Last night ended at 4am, me dragging my friend away from a pretty great chat at Mug about Obama and race in America. The Jamaican man told us, he is not African-American, someone said that I wasn´t, my friend insisted that I am, another biracial guy on a  bar stool, said that he considers himself to be black and white and then this white guy said, “I am totally white, I`m Ukrainian!” Wow, I don´t know what was going on. Time for that latte I guess!

Queer is Normal, Shannon Mustipher reflects on Saturday`s Prop 8 rally

Posted in People of Color, politics, queer with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

I am pleased to introduce a new writer, Shannon Mustipher. This is her very personal and intesting reflection on the recent Prop 8 debate and rally.

Fight H8 at NYC City Hall, November 15, 2008.
The Kids Are Alright
By Shannon Mustipher

Saturday November 15th was a remarkable day that was personally significant for a number of reasons. First, the whether was strangely beautiful, unseasonably warm: I barely needed the jacket that I had on, and I even saw a few folks in shorts and flip flops.  There was a kind of drama in the air, due to the threat of intermittent, heavy downpours. You knew that at any moment, you might have to dash for cover or get soaked.  So even though it was nice, the streets were fairly empty and that, along with the thick blanket of grey overhead, gave the day a moody romantic quality more befitting London than New York.

Second, (bear with me as I jump forward in time,) the bar I worked at later that night was teeming with queer boys and girls…it seriously looked like a gay night.  One of my friends got invited on a date (I am proud to say that I get the assist on that), and I made a few new acquaintances as well.  Not that our bar doesn’t have a number of queer regulars…it’s just that most are couples, who come in together and chat among themselves.  My job is not historically a good place for us to make a love connection,  but that was turned on its head Saturday night!  I like to think that Fight H8 had a hand in this, but we will have to come back to that later.

Finally, and most importantly, Saturday the 15th was the day that I became truly proud to be who I am.  Don’t get me wrong:  I’ve been out from day one:  I told my family the same week I realized, (I was 15 at the time). Soon after, I started sporting a rainbow patch on the backpack.  Mind you this all took place in Stone Mountain, Georgia, in the 90’s. The KKK national headquarters was five minutes away from my house at the time.  There was no Queer as Folk, no L Word. It was not cute to be a lesbian there.  A few people even threatened to jump me.  My younger sister, bless her heart, slugged a guy she overheard saying something to that effect. (Thanks, Tamika!)

Later, I was out to my church, where there was no legitimate way for me to express my sexuality within its theological framework.  I really wanted to learn about G-d, and to be part of a faith community, and the price I paid for that was being single. I was ok with that, for a certain amount of time.  A few people did talk to me about seeking reparative therapy (I didn’t), but most of them did not.  And if you’re guessing, I left.  I don’t know for certain what the Bible says about homosexuality.  I know how the text has been traditionally interpreted….and my church’s interpretation of the text could not support my being romantically involved with another woman. Most of my friends from church are married, some have families.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted that per se, but I begin to feel that I was missing out on something that might prove to be very good for me, so I left. All that, is to say I have always known the importance of being out, especially in places historically hostile to us. My silence would have made me a co-conspirator in shame and hate.

I wear a number of “identity hats”: Daughter, Sister, Woman of Color, American, Artist/Creative, Believer. Queer, Southerner, Liberal.  I care about the world, believe me, and I’ve chosen a very specific area in which to make my contribution to the greater good:  I am a visual artist. Still, I might also point out that I never felt like I had much personally at stake in the debates about queer rights and what we need to be able to fully function in this society, as I have felt, up until now, that the social climate is ‘open enough’ for many of us to live our lives as we wish, and certainly an improvement over how things were even twenty years ago in some places:  I’m not afraid to kiss, or hold hands with a girl on the street.  If I’m speaking to someone and it becomes clear that they might think I am straight, I don’t take the easy out and ‘pass’, I’ll find a way to come out, mentioning my preference for women as casually as I would my preference for anything else.  I live in NYC, after all, and it’s not easy to live this way everywhere.  Still, I haven’t done much to involve myself in a larger queer culture and the dialogue about our issues. I haven’t felt called to actively participate in the work for change. I chalked this indifference up to temperament and my thinking that, “well, I’m queer, but that’s not the only thing I am, I have other things I want to focus on.”

A darker, less flattering read of my lack of participation could be that conservatives have succeeded on some level in their desire to repress me: maybe I’ve sublimated my need to engage my identity politically into nerdy philosophizing, art making, and the pursuit of success.  The more I think about it, the more it seems like conservatives don’t just want us in the closet, they actually want us to be gone.  We have to show them that they cannot banish us from existence with laws, as if being queer is a debatable issue, not a fact of life. Some of you may feel sorrow (or anger, depending on your temperament) as you read this.  Might I be the queer equivalent of an Uncle Tom? Could my approach to being out be less about self-acceptance and more about political correctness?  Let’s face it, being in the closet is not only viewed as cowardly these days, but for the most part unnecessary, if not just silly.  I might be a lot of things, but I try to keep my silliness to a minimum.  If my being out was just about being P.C, those days are done.  What I like to think is more true is that I’ve always figured that we are basically free to live as we please anyway, so who cares what the laws actually say about marriage?  You live in a place hostile to queers?  Leave, move to a big city.  You love someone?  Commit to them and make a life together.  You’re family has a problem with your sexuality, or the fact that you’re dating so and so?  Well, don’t talk to them, leave them alone.  Fine.  Easy.  Wrong

Wrong, because by leaving, and ghettoizing ourselves, we make it easy for hate to be justified.  By settling for domestic partnership status, we agree that there is something fundamentally different about us.  By making all the concessions and accommodations, we make it ok for the people who think that they have a problem with us to stay that way.   If you don’t like me, why should I leave?  Why should I need to change, while you get to stay the same?  Forget that.  The Fight H8 rally was the first time in my life where I could stand there and feel like being gay was normal.  Can you believe it?  15 years of loving women and I feel this way for the first time?  The crowd was great, and the vibe of the rally was positive, passionate, and life-affirming.  Not a hint of anger and hostility in the proceedings…it was about focusing on enacting change in our society, to make it more livable for all of us.  Anthony D Wiener (D, NY) gave a rousing speech at the start of the rally, his booming voice and familiar accent beckoning me from three blocks away and affirming my pride in my Brooklyn zip code:  “We are not going to rest at night until every citizen in every state in this country can say, ‘This is the person I love,’ and take their hand in marriage!”.  Kim Stoltz from MTV News declared, “I am done with being a 2nd class citizen,” while Daniella Sea admitted to us that she’d never considered that she might want to be married someday…until now. Former Ms. America Kate Shindle, who made a point to identify herself as conservative and Catholic, emphatically declared that she has always said yes, two people who love one another, regardless of gender, should be allowed to marry.  One speaker gave us the phone number of a state politician from the Bronx who is moving to enact legislation that will ban same sex marriage in New York.  His name is Senator Rubin Diaz Sr, and the number is 718 991 3161 Call him right now to let him know how you feel!

Over and over, the speakers exhorted the crowd to just talk to people.  Talk to your family, talk to the religious and conservative people that you know, let them see you for who you are: lesbian, gay, genderqueer, trans, but most importantly, human, and a person who can fall in love, and who might want to consummate that love in the same way that straight people have been able to for years, by getting married. The people voting for Proposition 8 probably didn’t have any people who were out to them in their personal lives.  I don’t know how you could see your friend, sibling, son, or daughter in a loving, healthy relationship with someone and not want them to stay there and to be supported in it.

The crux of the message I heard at the rally: it’s time for us to do everything we can to contribute to making this country a good place for all of us to be.  We don’t need to blame, or to hate those who hate us. We need to be out in a fuller sense of the word, and in so doing, we will make a compelling collective case to put an end to the toxic fear, hate, and ignorance gripping our society. I feel so proud, and lucky, to have been there, and I have only begun to think about it’s implications for my own life, and some changes I need to make for myself.  That afternoon, I started texting all my friends, looking for someone to share the experience with.  Unfortunately, everyone was at work, or at school, or otherwise engaged, and so unable to join me. I could also only stay for a brief time, as I still needed to pick up my mac, feed the cat, and later on open the bar.

But no matter, I got my chance to celebrate later, by holding court over a queer night that felt ‘normal’ in a typically straight bar, because, guess what?  Queer is normal.  I was born into a culture that has gone to great lengths to tell me otherwise, but after Saturday, there is no room inside of me to harbor those attitudes any longer. Maybe the folks walking past my work that night could sense this from the street, and they knew that my bar was a good place to be.  I don’t know….maybe I never will. What I do know is that I’d like to thank all the organizers, speakers, and supporters of Fight H8, for providing us with some new models on which to base our pursuit of a fuller, more meaningful equality.  I am excited to see the changes taking place in our country and those that lie ahead.

SM

For more information on how to join in the creation of positive change go to http://www.jointheimpact.com