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Glee: Eating some hats

9 May

While there were a lot of amazing details in “Prom-asaurus,” — the predatory theme of the prom; Brittany’s run for king; the Faberry fan-service; the references to both Medusa and Icarus (we’ll definitely be coming back to Medusa and the snakes in the toilet here at this blog); some important stuff regarding Kurt and Puck and the faerie court (which we’ll also be spending some time with soon); the heavily foreshadowed implosion of Tina and Mike; and pretty much everything involving Becky and Puck — because of one tiny little thing, this episode has me eating my hat (or, probably actually Brittany’s and Kurt’s) about something.

Kind of.

One of the big debates around Glee is whether the lack of physical affection shown by the gay couples is a concession to the realities of Lima, WMHS, and personal history, or a concession to a squeamish network. For me, historically, the distances have worked consistently and plausibly on an intradiegetic level, especially considering Kurt and Blaine’s experiences with violence, and I’ve got a pretty decent track record of pissing people off for defending what I’ve seen on screen because it makes sense to me.

Plus, Glee usually reserves physical and sexual affection for couples about to be broken apart or who are busy being publicly dysfunctional while trying to derive status from theie relationship. It’s generally a narrative tool (with the exception of Mike and Tina, who, in exchange, don’t really get a narrative), and in the face of smooth and steady Klaine, there hasn’t been much cause to use it.

Last night’s episode was largely consistent in this for me. The boys continued not to touch, even in a relatively safe-space of the anti-prom. Considering the overall social awkwardness of that room, I actually still on board with the state of things, in part because there was such a comfort and tug between them even in that distance.

But then there was the prom itself.

Or, more specifically, the closing montage of prom, where each couple got their little closeness moment and the closing prom photo. And Kurt and Blaine just had less time. That’s all. And I can’t do anything with that intradiegetically, because it’s an editing choice; and I can’t do anything with that structurally, because it actually runs counter to the law of prom episode structure on Glee, and yeah, it just didn’t feel right.

Now, this is where the “sort of” comes in on eating my hat. It doesn’t matter.


Because in one scenario I was just having an on-point emotional night last night (which I was, thanks to the passage of an anti-gay amendment into North Carolina’s constitution — North Carolina has a long history of breaking my political heart), and the problem I feel was there in terms of visibility and affection wasn’t.

In that case, the intradiegetic truths I’ve always highlighted remain, that Kurt and Blaine have to be so conscious of their safety so constantly, that they can’t even stand to be closer than two feet from each other in a hotel room with a small group of people they at least know won’t physically hurt them, lest they get out of the habit of constant vigilance.

But in the other scenario, Fox has a hit TV show it hates filled with gay content and involving many gay people in the creation process and at every single moment the show’s powers that be are having to bargain with the network’s powers that be for what we see.

Both of those scenarios suck.

No matter how much what I’ve viewed as consistency and plausibility within the narrative has allowed me to side-step the question of network drama about all of this (because it’s so much more than the shows I grew up with — although with everything I have to say about Kurt and magic, maybe Kurt and Blaine just like Buffy‘s Willow and Tara and also perform magic instead of actually having sex), last night just felt like I really, really couldn’t, even if, I believe that given free-reign by the network, the content the show would give us between those characters would remain almost identical to what we’re getting now.

But either way you slice it, Glee remains what it’s always been: a show about terrible people in a terrible place, that somehow suggests we all deserve a little bit better than we’re getting.

Sadly, that includes the audience too.

8: Realer than real

6 Mar

I’ve been watching the big star-studded benefit performance of 8 in bits and pieces since it was performed and broadcast on the Internet. I’ve been fighting not just against time zones and travel but a series of remarkably spotty Internet connections to do so.

Obviously, the piece is interesting to me for what it is as its core – mostly actual text from the Prop 8 hearings. While the transcripts are accessible to the public, video of the proceedings has not been and really, who reads transcripts like this anyway? Sure, we all know someone who does, but the fact is most of us just don’t.

What’s really interesting to me about 8 – other than that it exists and that the cast of this particular performance involved enough A-listers (among others) to command some serious attention, is the way it straddles the line between fact and fiction, and the way it reminds us, constantly, about both. 8 is relentlessly knowing about its content and the context of the stars who have performed in it.

I also know that it being a staged reading can throw people. Why don’t the actors know their lines better? and Ugh, I can hear them turning pages. I’m by and large no fan of staged readings myself. They’re a useful vehicle for some material and often enjoyable, even if I personally prefer a more immersive experience when I got to the theater.

However, in the case of 8, I love that it’s a staged reading, because it reminds us, at every moment, that these are the words of real people, not characters, that we are hearing, and that the documents exist for us to find life and truth in. It also means that every moment on stage reminds us that this is what we were not allowed to see.

8‘s casting is also fascinating and chilling. I’m only talking about the recent benefit performance in Los Angeles right now, but watching Jane Lynch (who is openly gay) portray, with a truly ferocious anger that’s as frightened as it is frightening, a leader in the anti-equality movement is just about one of the most wrenching and exhausting things I’ve ever seen.

And while it’s humorous in its way, Lynch in such a role is also a sneaky nod to the suspicion that many of us have that at least some vehemently anti-gay individuals may be struggling with their own experience of same-sex attraction and taking it out on the rest of us.

So 8 is a weird animal. It’s largely a preaching to the choir show that tells us nothing we didn’t already know, at least in the abstract. Were there any surprises in Chris Colfer’s performance as Ryan Kendall, a witness in the case who was enrolled in reparative therapy by his family? No. But did I feel shocked and unable to breathe during those two and a half minutes he was on stage anyway? Yes.

On some level, 8 may be a more effective tool than the video of the actual proceedings we’ll never get. Because 8 is not just an act of information, but of protest, and it makes the courtroom environment as vibrant and dramatic as most people expect from TV but quickly learn it rarely is in non-fiction life after an experience or two of jury duty.

8 will go on to have performances with celebrity casts in other cities in all probability, as well as be performed in smaller cities and towns and colleges as an act of information, protest and fundraising, much as The Laramie Project and The Vagina Monologues have been and continue to be. There is also talk of it being turned into a film.

What I’m curious about is what 8 can do beyond preaching to the choir (and raising money). Do you know anyone who has watched it and gone from silent support of equality to activism or contribution? And more than that, have you seen it change anyone’s minds? I’m really curious to know people’s personal experiences with it.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t seen the Los Angeles performance yet, it is currently available online for the next few days only. I’d urge you to check it out, even if you are already deeply familiar with this case and its issues.

Switzerland: I’ve done this before, but it’s always a little complicated

26 Feb

After a very long trip, I have arrived in Switzerland. It’s a funny thing, because Switzerland and I don’t have the best relationship, but I’m here often enough that it’s familiar, and I can mostly find my way around and be unobtrusive.

Why do I want to be unobtrusive here? Well, because Swiss politics, while vastly different from US politics, have a significant dose of cruelty in them. That cruelty is usually a mix of racism and religious intolerance; remember, this is the country with the political party that brought us the anti-minaret initiative that featured posters in which minarets that looked like missles were spread over the Swiss flag while a woman in niqab looked on.

Other posters from that party, the SVP, which is particularly popular in the area I am visiting, have included things like black sheep being kicked off the Swiss flag by white sheep, and white crows attacking black crows shown trying to rip the Swiss flag apart. I could go on, but you get the idea.

So I was oddly relieved when I saw that the worst the SVP seemed to be dishing out this week was simply a poster that translates to, “More Foreigners = Fewer Jobs.” We all still know what they really mean, but it feels a little less assaultive than usual.

On the other hand, then I found this while going grocery shopping. It’s one of several I’ve found in this town today, all defaced the same way: Jew.

Anti-semitism, of course, isn’t something unique to Switzerland or Europe, but my experience of it here is markedly different than my experience of it in the US, and particularly in New York, where, yes, even with the large Jewish population, I’ve experienced related slurs a handful of times.

Secular Judaism here in Switzerland seems to be a pretty foreign concept, and Judaism is viewed as a clear racial difference with what is to me shocking frequency.

So even when reactions to Jewishness here aren’t overtly toxic, they can feel a little weird. People that I am friends with here are curious about my Jewishness; they ask me, “what is it like?” and they tell me stories about their families and the War.

I don’t mind the stories, because I have the luxury of not minding them; the Jewish side of my family came to the US long before WWII, and I’m a huge history buff. It’s honestly fascinating to me to be given these insights no matter how awkward the reasons.

But I don’t ever really know what to say. I can’t absolve or reward people for actions taken long before my birth, that didn’t impact my family, and that have nothing directly to do with the people telling me the stories.

And for me, who is not religious, trying to explanin what it’s like to be Jewish is just weird (I think it would be weird even if I were religious); it’s like the same way I am also Sicilian. There are words I use, in-jokes, food I like, and a sense of the world my family came from, versus the one I live in. It’s unremarkable, and nothing I can explain.

But here it is different, in a way I also can’t explain despite the efforts of this post. And as terrible as it often is (I have been chased out of stores by old women flapping their hands at me and naming what I am), it’s also interesting, valuable, and terrible to come somewhere where how I am perceived is completely different than how I am perceived at home (I am also, often, asked about my racial makeup here; I am not read as white in the same way as I obviously am at home).

All of that said and without ignoring or minimizing it, this is a beautiful little town. Exquisite, really; it even has a reindeer viewing park thing by the medieval church. I’ll try to get pictures for you.

But, in the meantime, a seasonal sight, because I’ve never been here around Easter before and I have been utterly taken with the way the grocery shops are filled with cakes shaped like lambs.

This weekend, I head to Berlin for 48 hours I have desperately wanted to have since I was 16. I can’t wait. I’m also terrified. I’ll try to do some writing about Glee or other pop-culture items this week before that trip, but that particular travel update is probably also going to be entirely about pop-culture because Berlin is where art tells me the entirely of the 20th century happened, and when I was in high school, a song called “Heroes” saved my life.

Police brutality and that thing I haven’t been writing about

20 Nov

I like to pretend that I don’t really write about politics here. After all, when I talk about marriage equality or anti-gay violence, I can link that to Glee or Torchwood or at least to my own life. It’s politics, but the sort of politics I give myself a pretty free pass on, because it’s not really politics, I like to say. When it’s my life up for debate, that’s not fucking politics.

You know, except that it is.

Anyway, I’m a political person and an opinionated one.

I guess you know that.

And I do write about media, and these days everything is media. But I guess you know that too.


One of the things I haven’t been writing about here, or, well, anywhere, is Occupy Wall Street. There are a lot of reasons for that, including that the movement really ramped up when I was out of the country, and I just sort of missed the initial sweep of impetus.

But there are other reasons too.

One is my frustration with the American left’s seeming inability to organize in an effective, message-focused way, even if identifying OWS as a movement of the American left isn’t exactly accurate.

Another is my sense that many parts of the 99% aren’t welcome in the OWS movement; that includes both the homeless and the people who are doing pretty well for themselves but certainly aren’t that 1% or benefiting from the taxation and regulatory absurdities than the 1% benefit from.

Various accusations around particular OWS groups regarding racism and sexism also haven’t helped earn my comfort.

But none of that is really here nor there. I agree with many of the complaints that have spawned OWS even if I don’t always agree with my perception of its methods, (un)focus, suspected goals, or apparent consensus model (for the record, I sort of loathe consensus models). And I think it has initiated a desperately important conversation in American life and politics, and I hope the protestors are able to hold on, even if I’m not necessarily sure of what I mean by that. Which gets us to why I am writing about this, finally, now.

I did my university senior investigative reporting project on police brutality in Washington DC, centered around, but not limited exclusively to, the events of the Adams Morgan riots. One of the most most notable incidents I remember from that project was the story of man beaten by police when he would not answer their questions. The man was deaf, and the police were accused of additionally ignoring his family providing this information during the confrontation in question.

So police brutality is one of those things I know a lot about. I know that when we hear about police brutality, as lay people, it’s hard to understand how scary a cop’s job is, or what their training is like, or how a situation that doesn’t seem threatening to us can seem threatening to them. But I also know how much utterly grotesque brutality happens, how little it gets reported both within the system and within the media, and how little it gets resolved by institutions like DC’s Citizen’s Complaint Review Board.

Today, things are a lot different than in 1991, when the Adams Morgan riots happened, or in 1994, when I wrote my report (the brutality cases from the riots were still languishing in the CCRB process at the time). When increased hard evidence of brutality was starting to emerge through cheaper, smaller video technology then, the sense was that incidences of clear-cut police brutality would drop. Twenty years later the tech is ubiquitous, but egregious incidents of brutality, because they happen at the extremes, still happen. These days, they just get documented.

And there are things happening in response to Occupy Wall Street that are not okay.

The UC Davis incident is just one example of the severity of the problem It is one particular detail of this story, not caught on camera that anyone is currently aware of, that caused me to write this. It pushes a personal horror button for me so hard, I have found myself wanting to turn away from the news, and in my experience, that’s usually when it’s the most important to talk about the news.

There have also been cases of critical injuries at OWS protests (including a war vet who suffered skull damage), protestors being denied medical attention (such as the dude with the lacerated spleen), and significant video footage in NYC of a police officer dragging a woman out of an authorized protest zone and assaulting her. There have also been significant reports of reporters being arrested while doing their jobs.

So something’s happening here. Seriously, even Forbes is blogging about it.

With the UC Davis incident, there is the sense that a moment has arrived that changes everything, even if we’re not sure what’s changing or how. But it is a moment where I think it is important for us to look, and to speak. Because for the first time in a long time there’s a movement in America where patience has been lost, and where people are willing to make explicit, personal, physical sacrifice for change. That’s notable; it’s not something I’ve seen in my adult life-time in this form and was only hazily aware of as a young child in the 1970s.

But more than all that, this is a moment where at least some police action has stepped outside of the bounds of appropriate behavior. It’s become violent, punitive, and medicalized.

And even while sitting in a comfortable hotel room on a business trip, it’s hands down the most frightening trend in response to American protest I’ve seen in my own life and experience, and let me tell you, I didn’t just do that one piece for my degree — I covered, and participated in, a lot of protests as a student journalist when I lived in DC. I saw people two feet away from me get bloodied by police batons, and I don’t even want to talk about the humiliation and nastiness that went on in response to Act-Up protests in those days in DC. I know how things can get ugly, and I know how these things can be more complex than they seem, but this, this is something else.

If there’s something you’re unhappy about in America, if there’s a cause you’ve ever protested for, or would ever consider protesting about — whether it’s gay rights or pro-choice issues or the death penalty; the wars or the union stripping bills or internet censorship; homelessness or the environment or nuclear power — whatever it is, on some level, what’s happening out there in response to OWS, is about you and your rights.

And no matter how uncomfortable it is — and this one is uncomfortable for me — I think we have to stop and look and ask ourselves what happens next.

So what happens next?

National Coming Out Day

11 Oct

October 11 is National Coming Out Day in the US (it’s the 12th in the UK), and since I’ve been out (and really, really out online) for a long time, today, what I’m thinking about is those times when I’ve not been.

Like two nights ago when I played the pronoun game at an awards banquet thingy when someone took “partner” to mean “husband” and it just seemed too awkward to correct them. It’s hard, I’ve always found, in small talk with strangers, even if you’re comfortable being out, to have to say, “Oh, by the way, you’re wrong.”

I’m lucky enough to run into situations like this rarely, but they always linger with me, long and strange.

And the world is changing so fast; I don’t always even know how to keep up.

When I met my guitar teacher, for example, she asked if I’m married, and I said, “Oh, no, I’m gay,” which actually didn’t make sense as an answer in New York State anymore (unless we’re actively talking about non-assimilation, which is a great convo, but was not the one at hand). Anyway, she’s surely forgotten about it, but I think about it from time to time; how it marks my age; and how my age has marked me.

So, on the odd chance you were one of the few people who didn’t know: I’m queer. Queer is my preferred word because it lets me get the genderqueer stuff and the attraction stuff and the fact that I feel like bisexual is too binary a word for me (but I’m really interested in gender, it’s not an afterthought, so apparently pansexual is wrong too? I don’t know, I’m not great at keeping up with the ever expanding QUILTBAG terminology) and the probability that I really can’t pass all into one neat little syllable.

I’ll also take gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, whatever, because they’re all varying degrees of accurate and I know queer isn’t a comfortable word for everyone. Mostly, it’s like my pronouns — if you’re not using it as an insult, with that nasty little hitch in your voice — we’re good. As ever, in case anyone still needs to know this, don’t use queer for people who don’t self-identify as queer, and please, it’s an adjective, not a noun.

Meanwhile, coming out is a privilege and should be a choice (political figures who actively support anti-gay agendas and who later turn out to be queer, being a common, but not universal, exception to this belief).

Additionally, coming out is complicated. For a lot of us, it involves not a sentence, but paragraphs, about sexual preference, romantic attraction, personal history and gender presentation and identity; and if we pass for whatever reason(s) (which is this whole mess of a thing filled with advantages and disadvantages and all sorts of complicated stuff), it can feel even harder to speak up.

Coming out can also often involve not just speaking personal truth, but often, countering assumptions or offering reassurances (No, mom, you didn’t make me gay). This can be everything from tiring to amusing to heart-breaking to just plain weird.

Of course, coming out also carries real, serious risks — homophobic violence still exists around the world (including even in my precious New York City) and in most US states you can still be fired from your job for no other reason than being or being perceived as being LGBT.

However, in spite of that (and perhaps because of it) if coming out, if being out, is a thing you feel you can do, it’s probably a good thing, not just for yourself, but other people in your community. Secrets are, I think, a dangerous currency, easily stolen.

National Coming Out Day has a lot of purposes. It says we are not silent. It says we are not invisible. But it also says you are not alone.

And that’s true regardless of whether you’re out or not.

This blog welcomes anonymous and pseudonymous comments that are non-abusive in nature. That’s true every day, but that’s especially true today. If you want to make this random little corner of the Internet a place you can be out in today, you are welcome to do so, but if you just want to keep reading along, that’s cool too. Either way, we’re honored to have you.

The Emmys: Was that a flicker of feminist awesome I detected?

18 Sep

Did I just watch the most feminist Emmys ever?

First there was the amazing Mad Men gay marriage moment in the opening video thing (it’s around the 4:20 mark).

Then, we had a whole bunch of female winners who were over 35 and/or not size fours. “Regular” looking people can be just as talented and luminous as what you’re used to seeing on the red carpet.

Next, we had Jane Lynch’s dig at Entourage, which was pretty hilarious.

And finally, there was the long sarcastic bit about the power and diversity of roles men finally have access too.

Was this awesome and subversive? Is feminism (and lesbians) the new (old) edgy? Was it so not enough (the whole thing was still epically white, among other things) that those glimmers just don’t matter?

And most importantly, did any of it even remotely make up for the fact that we were subjected to the Emmytones?


It’s been ten years since a whole lot of things

9 Sep

So, in about 36 hours, it will be the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Like The Onion says, remembering that day can seem less awful than remembering everything that’s happened since. Of course, no, not really, especially for people who lost people, but there’s a kernel of truth in the sentiment. Everything’s been so wrong for so long.

And everything is still wrong. Government officials give these weird announcements about vague, credible, unspecific terrorist threats against my city (this information is useful to me how?) and talk about “the Homeland” like we’re in some badly written, bizarreo-world AU where the Nazi’s won. Any day now, we’ll be allowed to keep our shoes on at the airport though. Really. Any day. They swear. That’s what we’re supposed to be grateful for in these last ten years, and I just can’t even… there’s some screed I could write, something poetic about feet and vulnerability and slavery, and I just do not have it in me anymore.

All of that’s without getting to the racism and xenophobia and violence that 9/11 unleashed, and in the eyes of too many, seemed to justify. Do you know how many civilian casualties there were in Iraq?

But on a personal note, the thing that keeps sticking with me, particularly as a New Yorker who hates the city being used and exploited and pitied and revered and even exiled (it’s like lower Manhattan has become some sort of tragedy theme park) for all of this crap instead of the things it should be (Broadway, 24-hour restaurants, night clubs and possibility), is that it’s been ten years since a lot of other things too.

It’s been (almost) ten years since I stayed with someone because without them cooking dinner for me twice a week the level of my food insecurity was more than I could bear, and it’s been (more than) ten years since the boom wasn’t. It’s been (nearly) ten years since I held a job I couldn’t talk about in polite company, since I first met my friend Anton in person, since I decided I couldn’t live alone, and since I had the tiniest apartment in the world (but it was all windows< I swear) in Gramercy Park.

None of these things are that interesting to you; nor should they particularly have any reason to be, but I've found them a good reminder as the anniversary looms. Life continued on, continues on. What still often feels like a line in the sand of before and after, isn't. We are not, as a nation, required to be irrevocably changed for some fearful, cruel and wasteful worse. In the midst of really bad things, the minor tragedies of life do not disappear. Neither do the joys.

Anniversaries as we normally celebrate them reflect achievement related to love or memory related to loss. Certainly, in that context of loss the massive attention being paid to September 11, 2011, makes absolute sense, and it is a good, right thing that the occasion be marked. The human mind isn't, after all, really well made to remember fear and pain; if it were, we'd never do anything twice, I often think. September 11, 2001 was a real thing that happened, to us, and it was devastating. It is worth being able to recall it as it was and not, as so many of us thought when we turned on the TV that day, as just a movie.

But the last ten years on a national level are not something to be proud of. And too much of what I see in the impending anniversary coverage is pride in the mess we’ve made out of anger and fear.

I have hope, perhaps unreasonable (but that is what hope is, optimism, even when it may not make any sense), that after this anniversary, things will get better. That the eleventh or twelfth or thirteenth won’t be as compelling as these first ten. That the big wallows in all of this will come every five years, every ten years, that all of this will begin to seem farther away, and as it does, we will return to ourselves.

Because “Ground Zero” (a name I loathe, born out of our nuclear imaginations) has become a tourist site. And while there are numerous reasons that can be justified or called crass, I’ve got just a single reason it infuriates me: coming to New York City, this island off the coast of America, has never, ever been supposed to be about the end of things. I grew up in this place with its poisonous myths, understanding New York as a city where people celebrate the end of wars, not as one where they come to revel in the criminal tragedy that helps make certain they begin.

Diner en Blanc: some accomodations aren’t that accomodating (now with a positive resolution!)

11 Aug

Tomorrow, registration for New York’s first Diner en Blanc begins, and I want to go, badly. It seems like a manifestation of so many things I adore: the power of cities and the cheerful clinging to things passing out of the world just a little too quickly.

Today, I received an email explaining how the registration process for the event will work. It contains the following sentence: “In order to avoid any discrimination toward homosexual couples, you will be able to register up to 2 tables at a time (2 men/2 women).”

At first, I could not parse its meaning, but after discussing it with friends and reading the rules, it seems to indicate the following:

Women must be seated on one side of tables; men on the other. Thus, a single individual may register up to two tables, so if they are gay, they can register themselves and their partner, and then two individuals to gender balance them.

This does not, however, prevent discrimination, as the email suggests. Rather, it places an undue burden on gay couples to find beards for the sake of gender balance. Our gayness is welcome, but only if it looks all nice and neat from afar.

Additionally, who decides what gender I am? Regardless of how I feel about my gender, the reality is I rarely pass as male in the US (I almost always do in Europe, it’s sort of weird), and since we’d be registering on my credit card would my very feminine legal name cause me not to get invited back as per the rules?

And I’m just genderqueer and ornery. How’s it going to go for trans people who don’t have legal name changes yet or who the organizers feel can’t pass? Will they not be invited back?

Diner en Blanc seems like a GORGEOUS thing, and I feel like I am most probably jeopardizing my potential participation in it by raising these questions. But an event that strikes me as about the ghosts of finer things should be not about the world as it was (and is) often cruel, but about the world as we have always wished it to be.

At the end of the day, I have to believe that people like me are part of our collective daydream; sometimes, in fact, it has seemed as if it is only in daydreams that we exist. So I certainly hope the organizers can figure out a way towards making our participation as easy and full of grace as the event itself strives to be. Because the current solution isn’t actually much of one at all.

EDITED TO ADD (8:40pm 8/11): An email from Diner en Blanc announces a resolution to the problem. A discussion of what formal dining traditions should be anywhere in this modern age, however, is probably merited.

holiday weekend trash day is sort of filled with serious stuff

1 Jul

Greetings from Boston after one hell of a week. Patty’s in Ohio dealing with some family stuff and I’m up here for work, although I am headed back to New York tonight.

Not a lot has changed since the amazing adventures of last weekend. We’ve replaced our electronics; there’s still plywood on the window and we’ve been dealing with tons of apartment/lease related stuff. We’ll be moving out of our current place by August 15, and would love to find a new place with a lease that begins on or around August 1. If you have any leads for us (2 bedroom, around 2K) in Brooklyn or Manhattan, please get in touch.

Perhaps the most upsetting part of the entire situation at the moment (and there are a lot of upsetting parts, I’ve been a bit sparse on some of the more aggravating parts of this publicly) is that I’m in a really good mood today, but I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. This is not normally how I do things.

Meanwhile, I know I’m always like “I have news, soon!” but I really, really do! The RSN is getting RSN-ier.

Lately, I’ve been having a great time on Twitter. Some of that’s been a small world theater experience that’s been slightly surreal, some of that is all the new people that I’m talking to in the wake of all my #NY4M tweets, and some of that is the wackiness of the Glee fandom (Chris Colfer needs to know where to buy sea monkey food, okay?).

Via one of those channels I was recently pointed to Dorothy Surrenders which bills itself as “A Gay Gal’s Guide to Pop Culture.” I’m just so glad this thing exists. I’m so sick of the whole “lesbians are dour” thing (among a million other stereotypes that screw over pretty much every one).

The piece that pointed me there was also interesting because it was about gay by association, but what really startled me was that I assumed the piece would be about “look at how gay and straight public figures can’t be seen in public together because everyone assumes the straight one is gay and then it’s a big PR headache.” Instead, it’s about this sort of thing from the queer perspective, i.e., “I wonder if she’s on our team.”

So, a bit less grim than I expected, but wow, I’d really like a world where closeting and speculation weren’t so part of the game, because this whole thing where speculation, regardless of whether with positive or negative intent, adds a layer of scandal and whisper to sexual orientation conversations that serve no one.

Which brings me, oddly, to another topic entirely. While I’ve been focusing on and will continue to focus on queer equality issues, there’s also a war on women going on in the U.S., specifically as regards reproductive rights and access to both birth control and safe, legal abortion services. One very prominent example is in Kansas.

As regards queerness, I believe that coming out is a privilege, but also that it is a responsibility. If you can come out safely (and safely doesn’t mean “without risk” it means “without what you define as unreasonable risk”), you have a moral obligation to our community to come out. I also believe it is inappropriate to out anyone unless they actively, publicly work against queer causes.

But there are, in this world, a whole lot of things to come out about other than sexual orientation. And abortion is one of them. 35% of all women in the US of reproductive age will have had an abortion by the time they are 45. 35%.

But we never talk about that do we? Do you want to know why? Because when women write articles about their abortion experiences, such as Mikki Kendall’s “Abortion Saved My Life” they get harassed, threatened and publicly shamed; they wind up in danger.

So I would like to add to “if you’re queer and you can be out, you should be out” with “if you’ve had an abortion and you can be out about it, you should be.” Because being out about issues that put people at risk does, over time, make everyone safer. I promise I’ll be revisiting this topic in a few weeks when my life is a little less consumed with plywood, brokers fees and moving, because I believe in the obligation.

In completely different and more cheerful news, since people keep asking since it’s programming season: no Dragon*Con for Patty and I this year (I’ve mentioned this before, but that was months ago and it’s slipped everyone’s minds, including ours). We’re going to San Francisco instead. I promised I take her one day right when we first started dating and this is the year. Woo!

life happens out of order; that’s how I know it’s real

25 Jun

Life happens out of order. It’s one of the only things I’m really certain of.

It’s a screwed up certainty, though, because it’s this thing in my head that comes solely from being too attached to story, where even complicated, unsettling events are neat and always driving towards a conclusion, or at least a pattern. Non-fictional life isn’t like that; hence that out of order feeling.

But if you have the relationship with fiction that I do, and considering how many of the people who read this come from fandom, you just might, there’s always a drive for narrative that distorts our non-fiction messiness into something neater and more elegant. It is, at its most basic level, why we play where were you when games. It’s how we make stories about the true things that happen in what is generally a clumsy manner.

A week ago, I was at a gig at Irving Plaza, half distracted by the NY Assembly’s passage of the marriage equality bill. When I got home, amped up and a bit tipsy and my voice hoarse from singing along with the show all night, and Patty was asleep and I knew I wasn’t going to get even four hours of rest myself, I emailed my buddy Christian and said: “This is a stupid thing man, but I want the Senate to pass the bill tomorrow, so Colfer can reference it in that stupid skit about the proposal at Glee Live.”

Christian has a narrative compulsion too, and we met through Torchwood fandom, so he got it immediately. It was a trivial desire in the face of a non-trivial thing, because it made for shinier narrative and thorough distraction. It was also a way to make fiction seem a little more real — although whether that was about the skit, or the bill I didn’t think would pass, it’s hard to say.

Of course, I actually saw Glee Live in New Jersey (it’s one of the cruel ironies of living in New York City, that many convenient stadium shows are in another state, that we hate, and the shout-outs are never for us), and it never came up. Then it did, in the reports from the shows on Long Island later that weekend.

There was just one tiny, embarrassing problem (other than this whole post) — marriage equality still hadn’t passed in New York; our congress is bicameral. But it sure didn’t stop the screams for Colfer giving a shout out to the law (supposedly) passing or delivering the most marriage-y of the non-marriage proposals the skit (in which Kurt asks Blaine to join glee club) had yet seen.

I sent Christian a link to a vid of it someone had linked me to. “When this doesn’t pass, I’m going to be gutted because of these fictional kids being dumbasses.”

“Maybe it’ll be okay,” he said.

“Maybe it’ll just be like how everything always happens in the wrong order,” I said.

Thank god.

My whole fixation with it seems stupid now, but I’ve been involved with the marriage equality story for twenty years now, and maybe I just needed a buffer from it that was young and optimistic and not all this life and death; a whole hell of a lot of people didn’t get here with us.

When I joined my LGBT student group in college, I was 17. And other than a lot of really bad crap happening to me and mine, the other thing that happened was we talked about marriage equality a lot. I knew people who were involved in some of the earliest court cases about it, and we all spent endless hours shooting the shit about how we could get a marriage equality case to the Supreme Court.

“Can we do it on a religious freedom basis? If a religion recognizes gay marriage, doesn’t the government have to?”

I was so young. And I was, and remain, of a generation that was taught (even if we didn’t believe) that marriage was not just a marker, but perhaps the only marker, of adulthood. A wedding, in my eyes, those 21 years ago, seemed like the only way I was ever going to be something other than the property of my parents, with whom, at that time, I had an extraordinarily difficult relationship.

21 years I’ve been talking about marriage equality, because I was precocious and wounded, because I wanted to be chosen, because I was a born a girl, because I felt like property. It’s never been anything but a bucket of screwy symbolism and pedestrian magic for me, and despite a profound, sometimes yo-yo’ing, ambivalence about the institution now, it’s been a huge part of my queer story.

Which is probably why I spent the last week, not just frantically tweeting about the New York bill and calling senators all the time, but also trying to insulate myself from my own history and from an expected legislative disappointment with stories about fictional kids who weren’t even a potential concept on the narrative landscape of my childhood.

See, this sort of painful, annoying drive I have to personalize everything and make everything a narrative? Well that was the only way I was ever going to get stories about people like me twenty, twenty-five years ago, because there weren’t any. I had to be self-involved because there was no one else to be involved with instead.

Marriage equality doesn’t change my life. It’s just a thing that makes it seem like the fight’s a little smaller, and I’m a little realer. It makes me feel safer walking down the street (although, in truth, anti-gay violence is expected to rise in the city in the wake of this), more comfortable calling the cops, and freer to say “my partner” without getting any damn backlash. With marriage equality in my state, the idea of being in any closet seems antiquated.

This morning, I’ve seen a flurry of emails and tweets along the lines of “did that really happen?” And that’s when I smile at my supposedly petty defense mechanisms of the last week. Of course it did.

You know how I know?

It happened in the wrong order.

But it happened. It really did. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t as happy for the idea of stories as I am for all the real people (myself included) who never should have had to fight to get here.


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