Tag Archives: GLBT

Gayin’ Up DC Comics!

So there was much discussion back and forth about who the big DC hero coming out was and it’s been announced:

Alan Scott  – Green Lantern

So whipping out my comic book cred a bit. Alan Scott is not the Green Lantern most of you know. He’s very rarely appeared in media beyond the comics. His original origin had nothing to do with the Green Lantern Corps (or as I like to call them SPAAAAACE COOOOPPS!) it had to do with him finding a green lantern fashioned years ago in Ancient China that instructs him to make a ring which it then empowers.

Most folks don’t know Alan Scott as the Green Lantern, he’s old school – the Lantern of the 50’s and the JSA. Most people know Hal Jordan the 70’s era Green Lantern who was called out for being privileged and white by his privileged and white friend Green Arrow.

So number one why this “coming out” is bullshit is that Alan Scott is not a major superhero any longer. In most recent comics he’s taken on a more wise elder mentor role but he’s not a huge name. Also it’s not a coming out of Alan Scott, if they were keeping him in the main continuity and having an older man come out as a gay man long after he had kids who are now adult I would be  all over this. We so rarely get the POV of the older man coming out of the closet post-family and kids that it would be extremely interesting to see it in a superhero context.

That’s not what they were doing.

What they are they doing are retconning the whole thing.  Alan Scott is not in the main DC universe. He’s no longer an older man with kids, he’s a young hero on Earth-2.  So he’s not in the main storyline, he is no longer the mentor to Kyle Rayner or the father of Jade and Obsidian (we’ll come back to this later) instead he is on a different earth. Okay do I really need to explain the issue with taking a character, reinventing them as GLBTQ and then shunting them into the secondary world (tertiary? quartary? quintary? who knows with comics?)?

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Is He or Isn’t He? Take 5,890,763,111 – The Zachary Quinto Edition

Politically I’m quite a bit to the left (quelle suprise, I know) so it’s fairly often that more mainstream media pisses me off. Mainstream GLBT media especially which tends to be very white, male and “normative”, ignoring a lot of other parts of the queer community and thus pissing me off. So I tend to stay away from sites like Afterelton.com, the exception to this is the Glee Recaps which I enjoy and head over to read every week. This particular week I clicked on a link in the sidebar to a weekly column entitled, “Best Gay Week Ever!” and was scrolling through when I came across this charming little tidbit.

There was a lot of discussion this week about Zachary Quinto’s declining to address his sexual orientation when asked by the New York Times. That is certainly Quinto’s right and we here at AfterElton.com firmly don’t believe in outing in any way, so that’s pretty much all of what I have to say about Quinto.

But I just as firmly believe that every GLBT person who is able to live a life today that is more free and open than ever before has an obligation to do their part to make things better for those who come after us.

That’s why I’ll always champion out actors like [Chad] Allen and Cheyenne Jackson and Jonathan Groff, and won’t spend much time thinking about those who benefit from the sacrifices made by others yet live in glass closets.

Okay. *Deep Breath* Let’s ignore the hypocrisy of “[we] don’t believe in outing” and ending the rant with “others yet live in glass closets” and the fact that after saying that’s all that will be said about Quinto that the following two paragraphs are pretty much a passive-aggressive statement all about Quinto despite the fact that his name doesn’t appear. This isn’t even really about the person who wrote this column as much as it’s about  this pervasive idea in mainstream GLBT media that being out is the only way to live your life and that it’s worth anything and everything and on and on. It’s happened with rumors about Elijah Wood and Queen Latifah and Ne-Yo and a hundred other entertainers, along with the continual refrain of “Why won’t you just come out?” and frankly I’m sick of it.

First of all, let’s talk about the fact that the only reason that Quinto has had his sexuality questioned is his support of GLBT causes and issues. Take a moment to contemplate the sad fact that any straight man cannot support GLBT causes without it become a question of his sexuality and inevitably his manhood as well. That’s a whole research thesis in and of itself.

Now, let’s also look at the fact that Quinto [and Wood, Latifah, etc...]  could very well be straight, that his denial to reveal his sexuality could actually be a strong and interesting position of basically saying, “Despite my heterosexuality I don’t feel the need to confirm or deny my sexuality and make that the issue here rather than the GLBT issues we’re talking about”.  I don’t subscribe to the idea that a ‘No comment’ is the same as admitting to something. There are simply too many variables that we don’t know, that we can’t know, to make it that simplistic.

And let’s say they are queer in some fashion (or even straight!), maybe they just feel it’s none of  our damn business and that’s okay. It’s okay for someone who lives their life in the spotlight and has everything scrutinized to want to keep their private life private. Now I’m not one to jump on the “woe are the celebrities/rich” whiny bandwagon by any means and I admit to an unhealthy love of celebrity gossip and reality TV but should someone be judged and held up for (albeit mild) contempt because they didn’t answer a question the way you wanted them to? I don’t think so.

There is a contract between entertainer and audience, it says: you will entertain me and I will pay you. That’s it. That’s all she wrote.  Somehow it’s shifted to this entitlement that we as the audience have the right to know everything about an entertainer and put them on some pedestal as a leader, a hero and it’s an insidiously pervasive idea our society. Bottom line is that none of these people that (the generic) you believes to be in the closet ever promised to be your: leader/lover/healer/hero/figurehead/and the list goes on. To put that expectation on them and then be angry when they refuse to live up to it exhibits a level of arrogance that really bothers me.

And finally, and this hearkens back to what I said about not knowing all the factors, the idea that just coming out is the solution is too simple and too one-pronged a position to take for such a complex issue. (This at the base is the same issue I have with the It Gets Better campaign, even though I get the motivation and impulse, because it doesn’t always get better for some folks and others can’t wait that long). The thing is that you can’t know what is best for someone else. It’s impossible. You don’t know their family dynamics like they do, their religious affiliation and level of belief, their ethnic culture, their racial identity, their connection to community and that community’s value system, their political identity, their age and how they’ve identified so far, their class background and a hundred other things of both large and small effect that determine whether it’s better for someone to come out of the closet.

Basically by taking the position of out being the only way, the GLBT mainstream not only makes an amazing display of privilege in urging everyone that one way is the right way, they are also saying that coming out is worth everything you might change. And that’s probably the case for some and some of have less to lose but for others maybe they don’t want to deal with familial fall-out, maybe they don’t want to change the way people look at them, maybe they want to keep their career on a huge uptick [anyone remember how quickly Rupert Everett's rocket ride to leading man came to an abrupt halt, Hollywood is always more comfortable with gay actors when they play gay/desexualized characters] and maybe they just don’ t think it’s any of your business. And maybe just maybe they’re fine with that decision, maybe it actually makes them happy. Maybe things are more complex than ‘in the closet’ = sad panda and out = healthy vibrant queer.

Because I’m not talking about staying in the closet miserable and afraid by any means, I think every who wants to come out should be able to in a safe and loving environment. I also think someone should give me a billion dollars. Not only does not everyone exist in a scenario where they are able to come out but some people don’t feel the need to, some just don’t care about making an announcement to anyone. I’m saying that this is a much more complex and minefield laden issue than a simple “Hey, come on out, the water is fine.” and that whatever decision someone may make on the spectrum of ‘out’ to ‘in’ their choice is a valid one and one that should be respected.

Really it all amounts to the fact that we should be praising Quinto and others for supporting GLBT issues however they identify. This focus on “Well are they or aren’t they?!? And if they are they should be out!” makes it seem as if the only reason they could ever be invested in the politics is if they had a personal stake in it which is surely not the impression that should be given out.  And I think that with his activism and voice Quinto is (as the columnist above stated of GLBT out actors) doing his “part to make things better for those who come after us” whatever his sexual orientation may be.

Manifesto! 5/5 – Not The Marrying Kind – Statements…The End

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I think there’s humor in the hypocrisy of a movement that fights for marriage equality while lauding a film like “Brokeback Mountain” as romantic when the core basis of the film is an extra-marital affair. But it seems being on the down’low is acceptable as long as those engaging in it are white and only betraying women. Although the theme of pretending to be something you’re not fits in quite well with the homogenizing view of the large GLBTQ organizations.

Manifesto! 4/5 – Not The Marrying Kind: Statements…(cont.2)

Previously – Not The Marrying Kind: Statements…(cont.)

I believe that the fierceness and power of the movement has been bled out by the constant focus on marriage equality as the only issue of importance perpetuated by large, wealthy, privileged groups such as GLAAD and the HRC who are looking out for themselves as opposed to the community as a whole.

Manifesto! 3/5 – Not The Marrying Kind: Statements…(cont.)

Previously – Not The Marrying Kind: Statements…

I don’t understand how fighting tooth and claw for inclusion in such a problematic power structure such as marriage is a fight for everyone’s equality. A marginalized group fighting for a bigger piece of the pie rather than the eradication of the system has never led to liberation.

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Manifesto! 2/5 – Not The Marrying Kind: Statements…

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I understand that marriage is a prison, has a historical basis in silencing women and trading them like pieces of chattel and that a mere fifty years of “change” or transgressive reinterpretations can in no way wipe out a history of oppression and inequality stretching back centuries.

Manifesto! 1/5 – Not The Marrying Kind: Introduction

So both my readings last week went exceptionally well. I got a bunch of compliments on my prose piece and am going to submit it somewhere this week and despite my fear the Manifesto reading went swimmingly. The audience got what I was saying and was whooping and hollering in agreement. In fact after the reading I had a few people come up to me and ask if they could find it online or if it was posted anywhere. I had been on the fence about putting it up online simply because it is pretty radical and the blogosphere is a very different environment than the very radical space I was in for the reading. I’m not up for some of the comments I’ll inevitably get but having folks ask me if they could find it online made me realize that if no one sees or hears a manifesto what is the freaking point?!

So my Manifesto, Not The Marrying Kind will be going up in five parts this week. I’m breaking it up, not to make more posts out of it (or at least not just because of that) but because it’s the way I wrote it – in a series of chunks – and I like the idea of it being experienced in that way. In fact at the reading since we had interruptions from the audience they got it broken into sections as well and I think it worked very well, allowing folks to take in the previous points before moving on. Keep in mind that this is an early iteration of the work and it may grow, shrink, shift during any future re-writes however the core of it will not alter.

Not The Marrying Kind: Intro

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Talking Amongst Ourselves

Now something I’m sure most folks who are knowledgeable about anti-oppression politics and discuss them in their everyday life have seen is the attitude that you only hold those beliefs to be politically correct or to be argumentative about “the way things are”. I know when I’ve told people that “No, I talk about these things all the time because they effect my life everyday.” I’ve gotten disbelieving looks or right out accusation that I don’t discuss race when I’m with other People of Color, etc. Now anyone who knows me, has talked to me at a convention or has hung out with me for more than a few hours can tell you that’s bullshit but the attitude is always there, that thought that you only talk this way or feel this way because of the company you’re in or whatever other outside factors. First of all it’s straight out insulting to insinuate that I can’t form my own opinions or that my opinions are so ludicrous that there must be some outside force exerting pressure on me. Secondly it’s just untrue. 

Now the documentary U People which I’ve been desperate to see for months and is now up for free in it’s totality on Logo Online explores the conversation people have within their community. Hanifah Walidah a poet, rapper, actress and black lesbian was filming the video for her song Make A Move where she recreated a house party. Now black GLBT folks have a long history of house parties that stretches back for decades. It arose out of a number of factors but a major one was the racism they tended to encounter when they tried to enter GLBT watering holes and forming a vibrant community outside of that hostile environment. Since they couldn’t go to the limited number of GLBT bars/clubs at the time they made their own parties and clubs in each others houses. Some of the parties were exclusively for men or women and some were mixed. And this is not a tradition that has died out, it’s still alive and strong – moreso on the west coast than anywhere else but the legacy is all over.

Anyway, while Hanifah was filming this music video she heard the conversations that were happening all around her and decided that those were just as important as what was going to end up in the music video. She calls it an accidental documentary for just this reason but go and read about it in her own words at the website linked above.

But there it is: a group of 30 People of Color, mostly lesbian women and a couple of transfolk (I also believe there are two or three straight women who talk about being straight in a majority lesbian environment) talking amongst themselves. Talking about gender and the “definition” of woman, talking about coming out, talking about the intersection of race and gender, and all of it to each other, with each other, about each other. It shows not only the complexity and differences among the supposed monolithic horde of “you people” but is also a chronicle of community and the way we form it around ourselves.

Go check out U People even if you don’t think you’ll learn anything from it because it is a touching, smart and funny documentary that shows a segment of society so exceedingly overlooked by the mainstream.

Even leaving aside the personal connection I feel to this documentary despite not being a lesbian – because in so many ways these are the women I grew up around and connect with very well – it’s an amazing film. Now if only I could see black./womyn.:conversations sometime soon. 

“Prop. 8 It Passed ‘Cause of Black People!” …. Yeeeeeeah, no.

So the new screed for the No on Prop. 8 people is that it’s the fault of black people that the proposition passed. So let’s break the numbers down, black people make up 6.7% of California and 52% of people voted yes on Prop. 8! Even if every black person in CA voted Yes on Prop. 8 it does not equal even remotely the number of white people who voted for it, so how is it our fault again? Why is the focus all on us?

Is there queerism within communities of color? Yes abso-fucking-lutely, but that’s present within all communities and we all need to do that work. I don’t mean to diminish that queerism at all but I also do not want it elevated because it’s occurring within a community of color which is the M.O. of a lot of the focus around the intersections of POC communities and queerism. Rarely if ever when queerism within POC communities is discussed do queer POC get a chance to speak on their experiences at the intersection of those two or more identities.

The whole campaign for ‘No on 8′ was fucked from the jump.

As my friend Jackie said – “The Yes on 8 people were smart, they campaigned heavily in People of Color communities from the beginning and their commercials included People of Color (POC)”.

The No on 8 people came into communities of color late and they came soft, the whole push for No. on 8 was soft. In so many ways the current push for gay rights is predicated on assimilating into the mainstream and yet somehow trying to keep enough status to call on People of Color communities and say, “We’re just like you! We’re allies!” But here’s the thing we’re only allies when you need something. When initiatives for/about POC have come up the gay community has mostly been completely silent. For more on this read LadyJax’s post Something told me this was going to happen. Where she talks about gentrification, coalition building and reciprocity. Like she says the No on 8 folks needed to come hard and say ‘Bottom line our rights are being taken away. We are a minority who is having our rights stripped and if it happens to us it can happen to you.’

Do two wrongs make a right? No absolutely not (and that’s not what LadyJax is saying either).

What is being said is that you can’t act just like any other cog in the oppressive system one second and then try to play on some invisible connection to POC the next when you’ve done nothing to nurture any kind of bond or relationship there. In so many ways the big GLBT organizations – HRC, GLAAD seem to ignore POC as much as possible you just have to look at the amount of praise that shows like The L Word & Queer As Folk receive as opposed the silence that shows that feature queer POC like Noah’s Arc are greeted with. They would like to ignore the fact that there are in fact queer POC. Communities of Color, our issues and problems are completely ignored and a lot of that has to do with the fact that rich gay white men, the focus and funding of GLAAD and HRC profit off of not remembering that – especially in regards to gentrification and the way that POC get treated in our own neighborhoods when gentrification begins. Because they would prefer to ignore us the outreach that happens is minimal if there at all. Is it any wonder that when we’re approached a couple of weeks before the election with comparisons to segregation and civil rights that we’re more likely to scoff than join hands and sing a round of kumbaya?

In so many ways liberals just expect the support of minorities just for being liberal but guess what it doesn’t work that way. We’re just like every other group of people, there are going to be some who are queer, some who aren’t, some who support Prop. 8 and some who don’t and you need to do the work, to do the outreach and to build communities not just come to us when you need something.

The bottom line is if the support of communities of color is sought then coalitions need to be built, we need to be acknowledged as a constituency that have power and pull and treated like any other. I mean the NAACP of California came out against Prop. 8 but was that mentioned anywhere that you saw? I only learned it this morning and that’s something that should have been explicitly brought up in their ads and literature.

I went a bit off point there but the fact is that not only is the assertion that it’s black people’s fault that Prop. 8 passed racist as all get out for spotlighting the their support for Prop. 8 as the deciding factor as opposed to the majority of white people that voted for it but it’s also exactly the kind of attitude that DOES NOT lead to coalition and relationship building. You want to win next time, you want POC support next time? Then you go into the community, you speak to people, you communicate, you build relationships. You don’t wag a blaming finger in the face of black folks and say “Oh it’s all your fault how could you?!” because that? Won’t get you any kind of positive reaction next time around.

For more posts from POC check out rydra_wong’s awesome linkspam.

Elves, Elves and more Elves!

I’m sick of elves! Their pale-as-moonlight, arrogant, earth controlling, long-lived, ivory-skinned,  lawful-“good” (oh, except when they have black skin, forgot that!) always-hollywood-skinny asses make me throw up in my mouth.

Okay so maybe that’s a little harsh but it’s true. I’m tired of Celtic urban fantasy in general and elves specifically. Although I should say that like any overused trope there are ways to make it new and interesting again, such as Marie Brennan’s Midnight Never Come which linked faerie England with Queen Elizabeth I from her rise to power to her golden age. Those instances aside I’m sick of elves. 

Maybe this is because I didn’t have a “proper” introduction to elves. I didn’t read about elves in Tolkien or any of those authors who followed in his tradition. My introduction to the fanciful creatures came from a comic called – Elfquest. Created by Richard & Wendy Pini this series explored a tribe of elves that lived in the forest and their ongoing altercations with both humans and trolls. Eventually they escape and make a trek across the desert where they run into another tribe of elves  who’re guess what? Brown! And the Sun-Elves of the desert aren’t more savage and wild than their whiter forest cousins, in fact they view the Forest-Elves in that way while they are more civilized and urbane.

Already Elfquest is a step ahead in the race department with y’know an actual biological basis for elves that dwelled in the sun developing darker skin as opposed to the ricockulous idea that elves going underground and being cut-off from sunlight would darken their skin to midnight black. There is no evilness connected with the darker skin, there are heroes and villains on all sides but beyond even that the villains are all complex. None of the villains are simply evil they all have motivations and reasons for doing what they do and being the way they are.

It’s more than that though. The way the series dealt with sex/love was so innovative and progressive.  These elves had bonds between pairings of all genders and even three-bonded relationships. They weren’t shy of their bodies, they had open marriages, they had relationships with many differing levels of commitment and investment as opposed to the normal dichotomy of spouse/partner/mate versus friend. And the different relationships had varying levels of intimacy – some that included sex not only as a benefit but as a tool to connect and keep those connections strong. The series acknowledged the idea of soulmates while also stating that great love was possible and important even without a mating of souls. Basically the elves in this series valued love, family,  loyalty and friendships above all else – across all differences. Of course there were also fights with power-mad witches, searching for past ancestry, exploring different worlds and times and being haunted (literally) by someone you both loved and killed.

So after reading Elfquest being introduced to the more traditional fantasy elves was quite a let down. Sure there were occasionally elves that weren’t white but they were invariably the more savage “wild elves” or the universally evil “dark elves”/”drow”. Or if the main character was one of these “savage” or “evil” races then they were a good person but only as an example of how the rest of their race fit the stereotype exactly, the exception that proves the rule.

These elves were rigid and boring and more hide bound than the humans in the stories, they took forever to move and seemed to lack empathy or sympathy and run on pure arrogance…and this was the “pure/lawful good” race? This is what we’re supposed to consider good? This belief that they are always right, this arrogance that they know best. That very idea will sound familiar to anyone aware of colonialist reasoning. And this post isn’t even really getting into the HUGE problems with morality being connected to race, where whiter skin usually marks the race as good and dark skin marks them as evil and the colonialist thoughts that went into the creation of that trope and the racist notions it perpetuates.

Maybe it’s my politics or how I was raised but I much prefer the elves that accept folks for who they are, don’t think they know everything and value emotions and fighting for what’s right above tradition and safety. I’d rather the baseline for elves be ones that come in all different shades with no savagification or evil tied to their skin color. I’d rather if writers wanted to adapt an elf mythos they chose Elfquest over Lord of the Rings. The Elfquest elves take diversity and progressive writing in mind while the elves of Tolkien descent just seem to try and reestablish old stereotypes of race and gender.