So good to see you again! Today is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, so please feel free to call up a bigot in your life and let them know you’re celebrating.
Netflix has ordered another season of “Arrested Development,” which means more Portia de Rossi and Alia Shawkat! Maybe this time around, Ellen will make an appearance.
The New York Times provides some guidance on figuring out if you identify as LGBT or Q. There’s a large focus on finding safety and support, and “embracing the spectrum” so that even if you’re still figuring things out, you can feel secure knowing that there’s no need for rigidity. It’s quite the opposite.
Asia Kate Dillon talked with WWD about identifying as non-binary, and how it was their role on “Billions” that introduced her to the terminology. When I read the breakdown for Taylor and it said ‘female non-binary,’ and I looked up those words, I had a light-bulb moment,” Dillon said. “For the first time, I understood that gender identity and assigned sex are two different things. And sometimes they conform and sometimes they don’t. Up until that moment I hadn’t understood that I could’ve been assigned female at birth, but that didn’t automatically make me a girl or a woman. And that light-bulb moment was really extraordinary and very freeing.”
“The Handmaid’s Tale” star Samira Wiley isn’t necessarily concerned America is turning into Gilead, but she is worried about the very real threat of “women losing rights of their own bodies.” “I identify that as something I’m afraid of because of the extremities in this show,” she said. “Especially being a bunch of different minorities myself—a black, gay woman—there are things that I can’t help but think of about people infringing on my rights.” So say we all.
All of those images of Donald Trump and Putin making out aren’t funny or helpful; they’re actually homophobic and dangerous. “This administration is trying to undo every protection LGBTQ people have enjoyed over the last eight years,” said Russell Roybal, deputy executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force. “What’s unfortunate is that the resistance is jumping on that bandwagon, continuing to exploit queer people — and queer men — in a similar way to take on the administration.” That means you, Stephen Colbert.
The Fierce Queer Burlesque Festival is celebrating five years on the road, and the Colorado Springs Independent has a lengthy profile on its creators and performers, who talk about the importance of queer visibility in burlesque. “Queer folks have always been drawn to burlesque,” says founder Viva Valezz. “Ever since burlesque was burlesque and before it was burlesque as we know it today. There’s a freedom to it. … It’s part of our [queer] culture, our DNA. We love to be bigger than life and we love to express ourselves in whatever way makes us happy.” Drag, burlesque, all things performative and campy. The world would be so boring without queer people.
Artist/activist Angela Davis Fegan uses her queer-themed artwork as protest signs, and vice versa. She even does that with what she wears, telling the Chicago Reader that she sports a “protester look.” “Including as many voices as possible is important, but queer is an identity that applies to me and most of my other work,” she said. “Queer people often manipulate and enhance outward signifiers for survival and to silently communicate among each other. So I am hyperaware of what I am doing with clothing choices at all times.”
Chelsea Manning is now a free woman, but what’s next? Her lawyer, ACLU attorney Chase Strangio, tells Rolling Stone, “She needs to be able to have access to housing, health care, mental health care in particular. She’s going to need food, and she had debts that she has to pay off. Getting your rent together, getting a cellphone, setting everything up, protecting yourself from threats that might be out there for her in particular. Paying for security if that’s necessary. Paying for health care when you don’t have access to health insurance. Finding a doctor, finding a community of friends. Finding a place where you do your laundry.” It’s back to the daily grind, and the system is not set up so well to support trans people. Manning herself released a statement: “As I rebuild my life, I remind myself not to relive the past. The past will always affect me and I will keep that in mind while remembering that how it played out is only my starting point, not my final destination.”
Australian ACT Greens candidate Veronica Wensing and her partner appear in a new domestic violence awareness campaign, “Same Love Same Rules,” aimed specifically at the LGBTIQ community down under. “We helped the Women’s Centre for Health Matters identify other couples for the shoot … and provided advice along the way,” Wensing said. ” The overwhelming feedback from the consultation was that people wanted people they knew in the posters. Krish and I have been together for 20 years, and a lot of people look up to us because we’ve raised four kids, and we have a stable relationship. I’ve been a long-term advocate against domestic and family violence – so I have interest there as well.”
Sadly, Australia still hasn’t legalized equal marriage, and out politicians like Penny Wong continue to deliver powerful arguments in support of its hopeful passing. “Religion-based moral codes continue to limit the freedoms and the rights of those who, in the view of religious groups, do not ‘conform’ to their views. In advocating, and indeed proselytizing, their own views, they too often restrict and constrain the rights of others,” said the Senate’s Labor opposition leader in a recent speech. “Why, one might ask, should gay people be expected to show ‘gratitude’ that their sexual relationships have been decriminalised? And why, one might also ask, should the gay and lesbian community be merely ‘tolerated’ when the heterosexual community takes for granted ‘acceptance’ and recognition of their sexual preference as ‘the norm’? Religious freedom means being free to worship and to follow your faith without suffering persecution or discrimination for your beliefs. It does not mean imposing your beliefs on everyone else. And it most emphatically does not mean deploying the power of the state to enforce one set of religious beliefs.” SET IT OFF, PENNY WONG.
So the It Gets Better idea is great in theory, but it doesn’t necessarily help LGBTQ youth deal with the stress they feel in their daily lives. The most helpful strategy for today’s queer youth is their involvement in “LGB-specific strategies (where they got involved with LGBT organizations).” Newsweek reports that “teens actively engaged in activities, organizations and resources targeted at the LGBT community” were “found to have better psychological adjustment and were more likely to graduate from high school.” This is why GSAs and LGBTQ-friendly environments and spaces are so pivotal. Help the kids feel that life can be better for them today, not tomorrow.
Congrats to Brazilian UFC fighter Jessica Andrade, who popped the question to GF Fernanda after winning a title match Saturday night. (She said yes!) And on the same day, Strawweight fighter Tecia Torres and bantamweight Raquel Pennington announced on Twitter that they, too, were engaged. Love is in the air for athletes this week, I swear.
— Tecia Torres (@TeciaTorres) May 14, 2017
A new documentary about the life of Mexican lesbian singer Chavela Vargas is premiering at AFI Docs in June, and filmmaker Daresha Kyi said one of the hardest things about telling her story was enlisting one of Chavela’s ex-girlfriends to share their stories of her. “From the very beginning we wanted to find one of Chavela’s former lovers but because she thought it was crude to kiss and tell, it was really difficult to find anyone — other than Frida Kahlo and Ava Gardner, both deceased — that she claimed to have been with,” Ky said. “We did get a lead on one woman in Costa Rica, but she was only willing to let us use her voice and didn’t want to be on camera so that was a no-go. We’d pretty much given up on the idea of finding anyone until the day we shot what we thought was our last interview. Marcela Rodriguez, a composer and guitar player who had accompanied Chavela for three years, said she’d be in New York if we wanted to interview her. Marcela talked a while about one of Chavela’s lovers and actually mentioned her by name! Although I’d seen the woman’s name from the very beginning of our research, no one ever mentioned that she had been Chavela’s lover so we hadn’t reached out to her. .. Adding her into the film brought an incredible new dimension to the film. Plus, when I walked into her house for the interview Alicia had two albums full of stunningly beautiful photos of her life with Chavela that she allowed us to scan — every single one! They added so much beauty to the movie. Some of them are so beautiful we included them in our press kit!”