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Showing posts with label LGBT. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LGBT. Show all posts

13 May 2019

Book Review: Everything Grows by Aimee Herman

A lot of books show up at my home that go unread - to be given away or on the never-ending TBR pile. Thankfully something about Everything Grows urged me to read it and now. And that is exactly what this books does to your heart - it plants into your heart and tears it apart as it blossoms.

Aimee Herman gives us the tale of Eleanor, a teen in 1993 (This GenXer is still floored each time she reads a book that is nostalgic for her own high school days and LOVES it. Even if it is hard to read "historical fiction" for that time.) whose bully has recently taken his own life just months after her mom attempted to do the same. At the prompting for her English teacher, Eleanor journals her way through the months after the bully's death, exploring not just their relationship, but also her relationship with her mother, and most importantly herself.

There are definitely places in this book where I felt it was a bit unrealistic, but it works in the end. It all works. 1993 was a huge year for me. I am the same age as Eleanor's sister, who struggles through her first year of college. Every step along Eleanor's journey was deeply felt due to both superb writing, but also personal flashbacks.

I am not sure how this would go over with someone who has survived their own attempt to take their lives, so please consult someone. I do know that this book is full of hope as Eleanor wrestles with what suicide means - is it giving up? Is it giving in? Why? Why not? This book is also about queer youth, as signaled by the rainbow button on the cover. According to the Trevor Project "suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24 and LGB youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth." From everything I know of LGB youth and young adults, I would like to think this book is a welcome addition to their lives as it is affirming not just for one's identity, but for the really fucked up ways we all stumble through figuring out that identity.

As a parent, I appreciated the insight into the teen mind. As I get older, I lose the finer touch of my memories. Aimee Herman reminded me of all the drama that happens in our minds and hearts. And why sometimes the best thing a parent can do it simply say, "I love you. I accept you." and the shut the fuck up.

I was going to give this to a parent who spotted me reading it at soccer, but I think I'm going to walk this over to our Gender and Sexuality Center over my lunch break.

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

22 June 2015

POV returns on June 22nd with "Out in the Night"

In 2006, under the neon lights of a gay-friendly neighborhood in New York City, a group of African-American lesbians were violently threatened by a man on the street. The women fought back and were later charged with gang assault and attempted murder. The tabloids quickly dubbed them a gang of "Killer Lesbians" and a "Wolf Pack." Three pleaded guilty to avoid a trial, but the remaining four — Renata, Patreese, Venice and Terrain — maintained their innocence. The award-winning Out in the Night examines the sensational case and the women's uphill battle, revealing the role that race, gender identity and sexuality play in our criminal justice system. A co-production of ITVS. A co-presentation with the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC). 

I watched "Out in the Night" over a month ago and it still haunts me. This documentary kicks off POV’s 28th Season on PBS.

In our current environment of #BlackLivesMatter, Charleston and countless Black men, women and children being killed by the police, this documentary is poignant and timely. As the summary above states, one night a group of friends, all black lesbians, were out on the town. A dude walks up to them and starts harassing them violently. They fight back. Most of the incident is caught on camera, but it is not enough to save them from prosecution. The majority of the film is about the impact of not just the injustice of the incarceration of four of the women, but the impact of incarceration on their family's lives.

I won't kid you, it is a difficult movie to watch. For those of you who work in the prison abolitionist movement, few things may shock you. But for those who still believe that incarceration is the best way to punish people, your socks will be knocked off.

The strength of the women who were incarcerated is intense. It is not often that I am left speechless to describe a film. All I can say is that you must watch this film. Check your local listings to see when you can catch this moving film.

07 August 2013

Book Excerpt: Bi by Shiri Eisner

My summer reading has been lower than usual (thanks so much, PhD program!), so I can't review every book that's been sent to me lately. Instead of a review, I am bringing you an excerpt of Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution. I did read the introduction and have high hopes for the book. It's a discussion that is long overdue. I hope you enjoy!

About Bi:

Depicted as duplicitous, traitorous, and promiscuous, bisexuality has long been suspected, marginalized, and rejected by both straight and gay communities alike.

Bi takes a long overdue, comprehensive look at bisexual politics—from the issues surrounding biphobia/monosexism, feminism, and transgenderism to the practice of labeling those who identify as bi as either “too bisexual” (promiscuous and incapable of fidelity) or “not bisexual enough” (not actively engaging romantically or sexually with people of at least two different genders). In this forward-thinking and eye-opening book, feminist bisexual and genderqueer activist Shiri Eisner takes readers on a journey through the many aspects of the meanings and politics of bisexuality, specifically highlighting how bisexuality can open up new and exciting ways of challenging social convention.

Informed by feminist, transgender, and queer theory, as well as politics and activism, Bi is a radical manifesto for a group that has been too frequently silenced, erased, and denied—and a starting point from which to launch a bisexual revolution.

Chapter 1:
Stereotypes are the immediate meanings attached to bisexuality and bisexual people. When people think about bisexuality, stereotypes are what they think about—this is what they “know.” These stereotypes comprise a body of (imagined) knowledge about bisexual people, about the meaning of bisexuality, and of the way it works. A reading of biphobic stereotypes can be enlightening for our understanding of the social and cultural meanings given to bisexuality. Afterward we could proceed to ask: How can we, as bisexuals, use these meanings to our benefit?

Here is a basic list of commonly cited stereotypes about bisexuality. If you’ve traveled through a patch of life carrying a bisexual identity, there’s a pretty good chance you’d find these familiar:

Bisexuality doesn’t exist
Perhaps the most popular belief about bisexuality. According to this stereotype, there is no such thing as bisexuality—and people who do claim to be bisexual are simply wrong or misguided. Needless to say, this notion both feeds and is fed by bisexual erasure. It creates the impression that bisexuality doesn’t appear in popular culture (or indeed anywhere) because it really doesn’t exist. This also causes people to ignore (erase) bisexuality where it does appear for that very same reason. (What you know is what you see.)

Bisexuals are confused, indecisive, or just going through a phase
A “natural” extension of the first one, this stereotype explains how it happens that some people actually do identify as bisexual—they simply have it all wrong. This stereotype also invokes the idea of alternating between partners of different genders, meaning: a perceived failure of consistency. If a “true choice” can only be defined as a single gender preference, then structurally, bisexuality is impossible by definition.

Bisexuals are slutty, promiscuous, and inherently unfaithful
If a single gender preference is the only choice imaginable, then any- thing exceeding that number would automatically be perceived as excess. The idea of excessive sexuality then naturally leads to a notion of promiscuity. According to this stereotype, by virtue of having more than one gender preference, bisexuals are indiscriminate about their choice of partners and are therefore slutty or promiscuous. The idea of inherent unfaithfulness comes from the widely held belief that bisexuals are incapable of being satisfied with only one partner (since, evidently, they can’t be satisfied with only one gender).

Bisexuals are carriers or vectors of HIV and other STIs
Relying on the previous stereotype, bisexuals are often thought to be more likely than monosexual people to carry and spread HIV and other STIs. Often combined together, this stereotype and the previous one both imagine bisexuals—bisexual men in particular—as people who engage in indiscriminate sex with multiple partners, collecting various STIs as they go along and spreading them on as they go. This stereotype, of course, leans heavily upon the assumption that having sex is infectious in and of itself, conveniently dismissing information about safer sex practices as well as other, nonsexual ways of contracting these diseases.

Another component of this stereotype is ableism, as it is heavily charged with negative views toward disabled and chronically ill people. It draws on severe social stigma working against people with HIV, AIDS, and other STIs, as well as the notion that STIs are in fact a punishment for promiscuity or for certain sexual practices.

Bisexuals are actually gay or actually straight
This stereotype draws upon the second cluster of stereotypes that I listed above, according to which bisexuals are confused—that we are actually anything other than bisexual. In hegemonic discourse, this “anything” is usually imagined as the narrow option of either gay or straight. Interestingly, for bisexual women the presumption is that we’re really straight, while bisexual men are often presumed to be really gay. This suggests a presumption that everyone is really into men— a phallocentric notion testifying to this stereotype’s basic reliance on sexism.

Bisexuals can choose to be gay or straight
This stereotype envisions bisexuals as people who can choose between gay or straight identities and lifestyles. The stereotype couples bisexuality together with an idea of “privilege,” and in this way is used to decrease the legitimacy of unique bisexual identity as well as politics. It disqualifies bisexuals from participating in gay movements by imply- ing that bisexuals will always leave their gay or lesbian partners for an “opposite sex” relationship. (Relationships with nonbinary-gender people never seem to be part of this popular imagination).

All of these stereotypes are personalized, relating to particular people (who identify as bisexual), and are taken literally and at face value. They imagine bisexual people—and bisexuality itself—as inauthentic, unstable, predatory, infectious, and dangerous. Implicitly, these stereotypes also entail a demand for normalcy because they present bisexuality as a deviation from the norm, and therefore inherently perverse.

Support Viva la Feminista by purchasing a copy of Bi through Powells or Indiebound.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from a Seal Press publicist.  

30 April 2012

Book Release: Mother-Talk: Conversations With Mothers of Lesbian Daughters and FTM Transgender Children

Demeter Press is pleased to announce the release of:
Mother-Talk is a collection of stories of twenty-four mothers--twelve who found out a daughter was a lesbian and twelve who learned that a child, once a biological female, was planning to transition to male--capturing the complexity of coming to terms with the loss of a daughter who has changed sex or an anticipated relationship with a daughter, now a lesbian, who lives in a different world and will lead a different life. This groundbreaking book will help other mothers as well as lesbian daughters and FTM transgender children to understand their own mothers, their changed lives, and their determination to remain connected.
Sarah F. Pearlman was selected by the American Psychological Association Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues as the recipient of the 2011 Award for Distinguished Professional Contribution. Employed for many years as an Associate Professor in the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at the University of Hartford, Sarah is now Associate Professor Emeritus. She lives in Boston and is active in LGBT elder organizations.

"Sarah Pearlman is one of the leading lesbian scholars and therapists in the world. She was one of the first psychologists to address issues facing lesbians, and has focused on such topics as gender identity, transgender transition, and feminist therapy for sexual minority women. Her book Mother-Talk, continues this ground-breaking work by describing the experiences of mothers whose daughters come out as lesbian or transgender. I found the interviews riveting. It's clear that the mothers were embarking on just as radical and challenging a journey as the daughters themselves. This book will be a classic for all mothers out there wanting to hear from others who are going through similar experiences." - Esther Rothblum, Ph.D., Professor of Women's Studies, San Diego State University 
Spring 2012 / $24.95 pb / ISBN 978-1-927335-05-5 / 6 x 9 / 234 pp.
Please visit our website at www.demeterpress.org for details on how to order this new title!

Demeter Press 
140 Holland St. West, P. O. Box 13022 Bradford, Ontario L3Z 2Y5
Disclosure: I am getting a complementary membership to MIRCI and subscription to the journal in return for posting these updates. It is, however, something I would have agreed to do for free because I think their work is so wonderful.

11 October 2011

Happy Coming Out Day!

Here's a moving video from Basic Rights Oregon's Our Families series:

To all the college students marking their first Coming Out Day, have fun!

17 May 2011

FUNDRAISER: Support The Race for Space!

Chicago Women's Health Center (CWHC) seeks community support to match a $35,000 challenge grant from the Topfer Family Foundation by June 30 to move into a larger space by the end of the year.

CWHC was founded in 1975 to specifically and thoughtfully address the barriers to gynecological health care for women, with special attention to the experiences of those often marginalized by systems of power including the economically disadvantaged, LGBTQ communities and people of color.

With an increasing need for quality, affordable health care, the organization sees moving to a larger location as an opportunity to better respond to Chicago?s health care needs. The goal of transitioning to a larger space has been in place since late 2008 when the organization launched its $150,000 capital campaign. Considering the tough economic climate for non-profits, the matching grant comes at a fortuitous time for the grassroots organization.

CWHC is in the final phase of The Race for Space! 

CWHC must raise $35,000 by June 30th before Topfer Family Foundation matches them. Through this matching grant, your gift can go even further.


11 November 2008

Why the marriage ban is discrimination

At both my Work it Mom! post and AWEARNESS post on the marriage ban in California, I've had commenters who "aren't homophobic, but applaud the ban." Not to mention my letter to my fellow Latin@s.

Here's why the ban is discriminatory. Plain & simple marriage bestows economic & social benefits to the couple. By keeping same sex people out of these benefits, that is discrimination. Marriage itself is both an economic and a romantic partnership. In fact love entered the marriage realm way after marriage was just an economic partnership.

Marriage is also a contract with the government and one with your deity. Most of the reactions I have heard and read about same sex marriage involve ones deity. So I propose that you take your god and leave...leave behind the economic benefits that the government gives you. If your marriage in the eyes of your god is so fragile that you can't stand the thought of two women in love, then leave the economic benefits behind.

It was just in the 1960s that we were allowed to marry someone from another race. The 1960s people! How can anyone argue for that today? And in another generation, people will wonder the same about same sex marriage bans.

I have hope for change, but only after a few more years of the youth of this country pushing us old people to wake up and smell it.

05 November 2008

Overwhelmed by joy & the work ahead of us

That's what my Facebook status was last night and I still think it is true. The hubby keeps telling me to perk up. Obama's win was a validation of the goodness of people. Same for me, but I know that we have a lot of work still to do (not that he doesn't know that) and I'm focused on that.

I just posted my reaction to last night and work we have before us at Work it, Mom! It comes down to fighting for equality and last night showed us that if we have taken a huge step forward in terms of race in this country, we took a huge step backwards for LGBT rights. And that is so very sad for me, for us.

It's even more sad when I read on and who voted for it is looking like "70% of blacks, (with black women at 74%) voted for the amendment. That's about 20 points higher than any other racial group." I expect the break out for Latinos will be similar. That's a lot of work to do.

So let's get to it people...
Join me tonight at 6 PM Chicago time to discuss what comes next.

29 October 2008

A Write to Marry Day Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there was a little girl who had big dreams. She was going to be an archeologist, a teacher, and maybe one day the President of the United States. She knew she wanted to get out of her small suburban town and see the world. When other girls were playing wedding, she joined in, but deep inside didn't think that she would ever find a boy who would marry her. She did dream about having children one day. A husband was always optional. Fast forward to early adulthood and the little girl did find a boy who said he would marry her and tolerate, some days love, her crazy feminista ways. They married in a tiny chapel in Las Vegas. And they left the hotel-casino to live their Happily Ever After.

When I hear people talk about defending the institution of marriage, I wonder if my marriage would really qualify. Yes, as a woman I married a man, but we were not married in a house of worship, even thou the justice of the peace did throw in a lot of "God this and God that." I tried to change up the ceremony so that my dad was not asked "Who gives this woman away" because well, at 18 I left on my own accord, but the JoP still said it. I also thought about having both my parents walk me down the aisle, but was talked out of it. We were introduced as Mr. and Mrs. MYLAST name after we were married, which was a fun surprise for many reasons.

On Tuesday, one of the biggest election days for my generation, Californians will have even more responsibility than usual. The California State Supreme Court has already stated that equal marriage rights are the law of that state. Proposition 8 wants to repeal that and return California to discriminating against same-sex couples.

Why? To protect my marriage? To protect the marriages of Hollywood stars who marry for a few years, get bored, and shack up with their next co-star? As BAC asks, "Hey Newt...Which marriage are you protecting?" This is not about saving us from a crazy judicial system. The same people who want to save us, love that the judicial system gave GWB the election in 2000, and want the judicial system to throw out Roe.

There are times in this country when the judicial system has failed us (Dred Scott) and times when it has pushed us into a new era (Brown v. Board of Education).

Like it or not, this country needed to get its collective butt kicked into this new era of equality and love. Because that's what it is - Equality for all those things us hetero-married folks take for granted and love between two people. How can anyone vote against love? Seriously.

California VOTE NO on PROP 8!!

Photo from Ellen & Portia's Wedding Day album

Don't forget that VLF is participating in the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge. We already have one class funded, let's get that second one funded! The teacher is requesting funding to buy books by women authors. Also don't forget that I'm giving out goodies to a few select peeps who donate!

30 September 2008

CFP: 33rd Wisconsin Women's Studies and 4th LGBTQ Conferences 2009

NWSA Great Lakes regional members:  Wisconsin would be happy to have you! 
Please share with anyone you think might be interested!

*33rd Wisconsin Women's Studies and 4th LGBTQ Conferences 2009.*

The Theme will be:
* Collaboration, Co-operation, & Co-optation in the Academy *
* In Women's Studies, Gender Studies and LGBTQ *
* Research, Scholarship, Teaching, and Activism*

* April 3-4, 2009*
*Pyle Center, UW-Madison*

*Submit proposals by October 20, 2008 here:*


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