“But the number-one hurdle to LGBT equality is religious­-based bigotry”

4 Sep

The Rolling Stone report on Homeless Gay Teens is pretty good but even pretty good reports on this issue have a tendency to fall back on some lazy ass tropes that savvy writers and editors should be questioning using the information given in their own articles.

1) LGBT people should be responsible for LGBT homeless problem. Let’s do some math shall we? (I can’t believe I just said that).  From the article

Highly religious parents are significantly more likely than their less-religious counterparts to reject their children for being gay – a finding that social-service workers believe goes a long way toward explaining why LGBT people make up roughly five percent of the youth population overall, but an estimated 40 percent of the homeless-youth population. The Center for American Progress has reported that there are between 320,000 and 400,000 homeless LGBT youths in the United States.

The Williams Institute Review places the adult LGBT population in the States at around 3.8%. Now, an important note here, not every single LGBT person is an advocate, so the amount of advocacy in the LGBT population is going to be LESS THAN 3.8% So how in the hell is less than 3.8% of the total population going to be responsible for 40%  of homeless youth? The Rolling Stone article, displaying all this info, nevertheless quotes Carl Siciliano of the Ali Forney Center
How many tax dollars do gay people contribute? What percentage of tax dollars comes back to our gay kids? We haven’t matured enough as a movement yet that we’re looking at the economics of things.
How does it make mathematical sense for less than 3.8% of the population to be responsible for 40% of homeless lgbt youth? Or to make us responsible for the mess caused by seemingly broken religious straight parents? Two myths are at work. One is gay affluence the other is the belief that “gays” are akin to an ethnicity that is responsible for each other. Our communities exist because of the general population’s haywire belief that Yahweh sent his super son to Earth to convince you all to abuse your own gay children. We are grouped out of political necessity, but in truth, we are your blood.

 

And I say all of this as a donor to the Ali Forney center. It’s my #1 charity as I came perilously close (several times) to needing a shelter in NY myself. I deeply respect Carl Siciliano’s work and the Ali Forney Center but…come on.

 

2) Being Religious Vs Liking Gay People. <– This is a false-ass dichotomy.

But it becomes so natural to vilify parents who’ve abdicated­ their duties or alienated their kids that it is often forgotten how very hard it can be to change one’s worldview in the face of deeply ingrained religious beliefs. “It’s easy to see kids as victims and parents as perpetrators,” says Caitlin Ryan of the Family Acceptance Project. “But most parents would not want to make a Sophie’s choice between their faith and their child. These are parents who have been given misinformation for years.”
Talking about parents who abandon there children like this in “que sera sera” dulcet tones isn’t helping, especially when it contradicts the sheer brutality of the narratives experienced by gay kids in the first half of your article. What LGBT kids experience isn’t “abdication” it is abuse, call it what it is, then try and explain it away as an all sides are tragic. This paragraph is also plainly insulting to religious families who do not abuse or abandon their gay kids, and it’s just dropped on us with no explanation.
Also I’m sure Caitlin Ryan of the Family Acceptance Project is just thrilled that this is the only quote of hers that made it into the article (lol).

 

3) LGBT Homelessness is solely an LGBT advocacy issue.

No. It’s a straight religious issue. If you are a religious organization then you have caused this issue, and you do not get to tell adult LGBT how to run our lives because many of us are survivors of your bullshit.

The face of the gay-rights movement shouldn’t be what I call ’40-year-old well-moisturized couples.’ The face of the gay-rights movement should be a 15-year-old kid that’s been thrown out of his house and taught that he’s a sinner.”
This is the only quote by Mitchell Gold in the whole article, but including it as the only quote makes it sound like the entirety of this issue is on the gay-rights movement. I somehow doubt that the head of organization that advocates for ending the harm of religion-based hate would want the totality of the work to be that quote, but here we are.
Overall the article presents a brutal and realistic narrative of kids being harmed by religious parents, but sticks some (seemingly) out of context quotes to present this issue as a tragedy on all sides. I’m sure many of the advocates thoughts are nuanced, but the quotes as presented don’t paint a nuanced picture.  A stronger article would have followed the logic in this paragraph:
The U.S. government spends more than $5 billion annually on homeless-assistance programs, yet federal laws allocate less than five percent to homeless children and youth specifically (though some money also makes its way to them through more generalized programs under agencies like HUD and the Department of Labor). Most of the dedicated funds are allocated through the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA), which expired last September.

Tech Company Bloopers: You Shoulda Made ‘Em Private Edition

2 Sep

I tweeted this morning that I wanted to read a think-piece accusing cloud computing of being a trap for obtaining women’s nudes half-jokingly because I think there is a measure of responsibility for tech companies wrapped up in third party hacks and harassment of sensitive users.

There’s a lot of talk on twitter and tumblr about the needs of minorities, their lack of voices, checking ones privilege, and all that sort of sociological theory, but there isn’t much talk about the applied ways in which those things can work for technology.

Here are some examples of problems caused by new tech programmed in ways that are negligent of its most sensitive users:

Celebrity Nude Leaks from Cloud Computing

Twitter Harrassment of Women

Grindr Location Based Security Breach for its M4M users

Many of these aren’t just whoopsies, or tiny little cuts caused by hackers. Most of these situations involve a large tech company narrowly designing programming around the needs of its most visible/privileged members without even a hint of imagining what a sensitive users experience would be. In Grindr’s case (as its LGBT focused and that’s the focus of this blog) the needs of white male or urban users are prized above the needs of international users who may require anonymity more than others. To tell these users that they need to turn off their default privacy setting is to blame them for simply using your product, and with that helpful tips also comes the assumption that maybe the product isn’t FOR them.

I get this a lot in tech: The User error. Your users shouldn’t have known about this option or should have known to turn this feature off, to have a stronger password, to not give out this address or that address. This isn’t ONLY victim blaming, it’s alienating. It’s a clear signal that new tech isn’t for a demographic that is bullied and demonized by a larger demographic, despite the fact that new tech can often be a saving grace for people in need. You herd people like cattle to the latest apps, social media, and storage solutions, then you blame them when they find out you haven’t designed it for them in mind.

The solution to this requires listening to feedback and allotting some part of the budget to a response team to fix problems as they arise. Tech companies should also get in the habit of diversifying the people they hire to ensure minority users have advocates within the company.  Tech companies also need to get rid of the White American Man user as default. Go outside for cryin’ out loud.

 

I Am Gabriel Fernandez

21 Aug

I am Gabriel Fernandez and he was me. Living in segregated Los Angeles with a community of latin folk you’d think I’d feel solidarity with them, and sometimes i fool myself into thinking there is, but news like Gabriel Fernandez’s murder is a reminder over what it is I left behind.

Several things are rotten to the core about being latino. Some call it machismo, and others call it a tragic product of colonialism. Whatever you name it, it’s there. I remember the specific way my distant aunt non-chalantly told a joke about “maricons” then laughed and laughed. I remember my mom’s every observation about gay people, all negative. I remember my tio prizing acting like a man above everything else. I remember my friends skirting away from everything womanly with fear in their eyes.

What happened to this poor boy is an extreme example, but it happened, and the people who perpetrated this grotesque violence are only one piece of a very complicated whole. It might not be fair to talk about this as an exclusively brown problem (it’s not), but maybe being fair and dealing with tragedy are incompatible.

If you are brown then you cannot trust the law, and if you are gay then you cannot trust your family. Where does that leave us?

What Not To Say During A Riot

12 Aug

My first thought was whether my mother really REALLY needed to go to work the next day. Then I wondered about my uncle, my aunt, and I thanked God my Grandma and little sister were home and safe. We lived in a studio apartment–very tight quarters–and during the LA riots of 1992 I went from being a 10 year old to being an adult. I was now in direct worry about my family of grownups, telling them with the authority of a school principal that they would not be allowed to go to work while the riots were happening.

I don’t remember if they went or not, but I don’t think they took me seriously. My life then was mostly spent in front of the television, away from the hood which had always been dangerous but had recently transformed into outright hostility and anger. Our little apartment was my cocoon, and the only view I had outside was television.

As a 10 year old brown kid living in Inglewood I knew why the riots happened, even needed to happen. I knew why intrinsically, before I ever read the words “militarized police force” “inequality” or “segregation.” I knew why you needed to push bullies who got physical with you and so I knew why the riots happened, but I also knew that we hadn’t collectively agreed to riot, which was something many people didn’t care to know about us.

What not to say during a riot? Pontifications on the correctness of riots, treatises about why riots are wrong, calling people animals, y’know, all the stuff people say during a riot is not what I wanted to hear. Everything every one said during a riot was wrong, because nothing made me less scared. As an adult I can tell you what scared 10-year-old me would have liked to hear:

“Are you ok?”

“How is your family?”

“Need anything?”

————————

-The Irreverent Psychologist has some thoughts about “gays appropriating femmes” based on a post of mine. Read it.

-Researched the LA riots just a bit to refresh my memory about dates and how old I actually was then (it felt like I was a rugrat) and stumbled on this. Genuinely shocking to me because I vividly remember Reginald Denny’s beating but hadn’t heard about Fidel Lopez until just now, and it turns out he’s Guatemalan like me. It’s one thing to intellectually think about cultural erasure and identification, and it’s quite another to feel it slapped in your face years later.

Privilege New Game + or Check Your Privilege for Lumps

25 Jul

Just like every American homosexual with an opinion I have my issues with GLAAD like how they tend to push a sort of tunnel vision gay/trans utopia. I do think they are mired in respectability politics sometimes, and that they prioritize the voices of white academic elitists over messier (read brown/black and poor) opinions. So you think Andrea James, who shares similar concerns, and I would be simpatico

BUT

queerty

There was a horribly nerdy thing that talked about privilege and oppression like a video game. It helped a lot of people, namely shut-in gamer creeps, to start to understand why internet heroes wanted other people to check their privilege (Oh it’s here I found it)

Above, Andrea James seems to want to push for a New Game + amendment to that. If you are a human being who goes outside then you won’t know what that means. Lemme explain. New Game + is when you beat a game then get to start over but with all of your end game stats intact! That means you can potentially kill Aflammor The Dragon God of Never-ending Pustules in one hit with the Sword of Comets that you can only get after beating Aflammor.

I swear I never played D&D.

So if LGBT thinkpieces are gonna go down that path then that means that every gay person ever to have lived still has straight privilege (or behave like they have straight privilge) because we were all socialized as straight. That also means that black trans women retain male privilege because some people treated them as men at one time, though you’ll have to ignore the astronomically high suicide and MURDER rates for out trans black women for that to be true.

Essentially GLAAD has been taken over by people who have the Sword of Comets but who have re-rolled into pale imitations of their end game characters, which is why they are all now currently killing Aflammor and are about to take over the world. What’s from stopping LGBT people into re-rolling once more as other versions of people, and thus, re-starting with even better stats? I could, potentially, carry the sword of Comets, the Arrows of Pain, Max all of my athletic stats, and speak 77 languages by the age of 50.

Thinkpieces truly do make the world make more sense.

Our Weird-Ass Relationship With Paris is Burning

23 Jul

By moving the talk out of Time Magazine’s trolling, these articles have elevated all the talk about white gay men, black gay men, and black femininity.

‘Bye Sierra': A Slightly Angry Queer Response to the Sierra Mannie Controversy

and

Black Female Survival and the Myth of the White Gay Cultural Savior, or, Dear Anthony — Stop It!

Lots of LGBT history both writers touch on! I’d just like to bring up how pointedly the film Paris is Burning is being brought up, it’s almost like a warning.

Paris is burning! Paris is BURNING!

If you haven’t seen the film go watch it. It’s on netflix.

It’s an alienating being latino and watching latino drag queens and faeries, many who were poor and HIV positive, as they talk about their families abandoning them. It’s evident from the film that the ballroom scene was heaven, a place where they could bring the struggles of daily life and blow them up. Every stereotype is extravagant, made cartoonish, and regurgitated as defiant protest. Most of our stereotypes come from poor people co-mingling like that.

It’s also nearly impossible to talk about being poor when you are no longer poor because something about you lifted you out of poverty and that is that you–in some ways–passed. Anti-poverty activists who used to be poor now have twitter accounts and smiling avis with well informed statistics and articles, but we can’t deny that we were lifted out of poverty by folks who looked at us and said “you know what? You’re alright.”

The people in Paris In Burning are those who didn’t get a pass (mostly, I think Willi Ninja did well for himself). When we are writing about the way people behave, or should behave, or how they should refer to themselves (or not refer to themselves), we brush uncomfortably close to the power differential we have over the poor. That is, people who write thinkpieces, who are paid salaries, who have healthcare, who have people who can prevent us from falling into financial ruin, all of us move closer to condeming bad behavior of the poor the longer class differences go unaddressed.

That is the weird relationship this whole issue has brought up, the relationship to Paris is Burning is one of negative space, of distance. The brown skinned people in the movie look like me but their culture is foreign, and yet, I feel a need to defend them.

 

Good Thinkpieces

18 Jul

I’m hurt by this Andrew, (HURT!). How dare you call me a crotchety old man that only wants to dismiss all things I don’t agree with. lol

Okay I’m not actually hurt, but I’m also not actually against THE THINKPIECE. I just like using rhetorical hate-filled flourishes. There are good thinkpieces out there that are good not because one necessarily agrees with them, but because they shift your mind, or allow a new kernel of info to bloom in your brain.

Y’know? They make you think.

I thought now would be a good time to share what I believe to be good thinkpieces. Stuff that has stayed with me.

‘Bye Sierra': A Slightly Angry Queer Response to the Sierra Mannie Controversy – Liked this one for its tone, it’s sass, it’s a good ole fashioned academic read (and not academic read as in a dry book, but an academic READ darling) and for it’s inclusion of the relationship between black gays and white gay sexuality and for Sierra’s unchecked transphobia via calls for gender rigidity. It spurred further thoughts into the relationships formed between gay femme and trans individuals of the sort who are rarely represented in the media. It also readjusted a lot of things in my mind that I think are important, and others that I think are frivolous.

Postcards From Camp – It’s LONG, but it’s great (that’s what she said). As a young gay who didn’t get camp, musicals, or drag queens this series of articles made me understand a lot about the meaning of camp and why it is that gay men are so drawn to it. It allowed me to embrace a side of gay culture that I wasn’t too comfortable with, and thus, I ended up feeling like I was able to become a much more free and funny individual.

Why Do So Few Blacks Study the Civil War? – I’ve always loved history, but only recently have I been fascinated with individual people’s relation to history and their relationship with suppressed history. Coates writes about things I always suspected about the Civil War but never bothered to find out. It’s personal for Coates, and as a reader I sympathize with his tone. It’s an academic rigor with the soul of an orphan. I mean if you don’t dig all of this stuff then we can’t be friends.

Anything written by MedievalPOC but this was the top hit on Google – Yeah again, history, but it’s personal. Why do academics want to explain away the Black Madonnas, why must their blackness be explained? When I started reading MedievalPOC I started feeling like a small drop in a giant pond. Whatever identifies we claim right now are really temporal in the grand scheme of things. Also history can be written down by some pretty loathsome “race-blind” maniacs.

That’s all. Wow peep those thinkpieces, they were all written out thoughts that make you kinda think. Strange right?

Why Every Thinkpiece Writer Should Be Put In a Rocket And Shot Into Space

17 Jul

Yesterday was the day thinkpiece writers broke me, and today is the day that my hate for the thinkpiece solidified into a beautiful and shiny black rock nestled in my chest.

It feels good.

And I gotta say it wasn’t even the dueling banjo thinkpieces published by Time that did it (though they helped). I read White Gays Should Stop Stealing from Black Women and the whacky followup “Black Women Should Be Allied With White Gays” whatever it was called. I knew that  Time gave about as much shit for either group as a virus cares for its host. Then on twitter the followup hashtags to the article started like a knee jerk reaction from people who wanted to engage with the content of the articles without even questioning why Time would put out said content in the first place.

And then I unfollowed everyone in my timeline taking Time seriously and let me tell you it felt GOOD to do that.

Exhausted, I opened an article at the Advocate about biphobia that started off with a rude joke at the writer’s expense, the writer’s date (who was gay) said his penis might have vagina cooties.

Vagina cooties.

That’s when I snapped. Listen, biphobia is real, but it ain’t a date telling you an awful joke. Homophobia is real but homophobia isn’t someone asking me at a party “who is the man in the relationship?” I’m well aware that thinkpiece writers need a hook, but the hook for these stories always seem to be an encounter with a well-meaning ignoramus who represents (in increasingly cloudy circumstances) a direct connection to a larger injustice. What’s the connection? Who knows, it’s always spurious, always more about being annoyed than oppressed, lacking in numbers and studies, lacking any real oppression.

And let’s be honest here, as a brown and gay person who grew up poor, I should be the golden egg of SJ thinkpieces. I sit on multiple axises of oppression, but I will be the first to tell you that my life is actually pretty good.

How good? Let’s count the ways.

I live in the US, I live in a State where gay marriage is legal, I am getting married, I have income, I can speak two languages, I am a voracious reader, I’ve been published, I can use a computer! Do I need to go on? But it’s a rarity to hear from thinkpiece writers the acute anxieties that revolve around their identities. The better question to be tackled is, why are you here representing your identity when others are not? What do you have that they did not?

I heard from the writer of the Advocate piece, he seemed a little anxious that his piece might have put me off. Today, a friend of mine was contacted by a writer of a thinkpiece that she tweeted about 2 days ago. He was passive-aggressive, invasive even, using his identity as a brown person as a shield to her critiques.

And that is the moment when I realized I fucking hate thinkpieces and thinkpiece writers. I’ve long flirted with this distaste, but it’s official.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”

Socrates said that, and so far thinkpiece writers have refused to examine their own lives, favoring a critique of society so paper thin it’s transparent. The descriptions of oppression have been made historically, but they have been made by people denied housing, denied opportunities, but the average thinkpiece writer transposes those arguments to something so frivolous as a party or a bad date. The Time pieces come from a place of over-educated buffoonery and media frivolity. The thinkpiece beast creates stupid content, and then eats itself with counter thinkpieces and hashtags. Put an end to this and join me in launching all of these people out into space.

Further Reading

-The Thinkpiece Industrial Complex

 

Nash Grier and the All-American Mistake

14 Jul nashgrier

nashgrier

It’s maybe worth asking what the “gay community” should forgive Nash Grier for, the Vine video that went viral or the long history of homophobic speech?

Everyone makes mistakes, that’s a popular refrain, but it seems to me like some of our mistakes are more readily forgiven than others. Some of our mistakes are blasted to an audience of cheering like-minded people, and other mistakes are suffered in shame and silence, and it seems like one type of affluent white Christian sort keeps making the same type of mistake over and over and over again, while the rest of us seem to get along just fine making mistakes in private.

It’s boys-will-be-boys, or “she didn’t know better be nice to her,” and where-is-the-proof? sort of mistake. It’s a parent-less error in judgement. It’s an I’m-sorry-I-got-caught. The-gay-mafia-is-out-to-get-me. It’s the All-American mistake like a nuclear bomb with a radioactive decay completely dependent on the magic of forgiveness and wishes.

The All-American mistake isn’t a mistake for me, it’s a placemarker, a sign reading “here lie fuck heads,” and it has served me well.

Dear College Students, Stop Telling Poor Gays How To Act

9 Jul

Dear White Gays: Stop Stealing Black Female Culture

I’m not sure why, but it is the year 2014 and major publications still think it’s a great idea to publish thinkpieces about how gays should or should not act. It’s a time honored tradition I talk about here where I mention that there is a dehumanization of gay “being” that goes into this tradition, but I didn’t go too into class distinction.

You see, some white gays can be insulting, hooting, and hollering about ratchet-this and weave-that, and, some of these gays are ‘educated.’ Imagine that? Rude educated people! It happens.

But there are some white gays who live in rural areas who are ostracized by everyone in their community, they have no friends because they are too femme, and unlike college kids and me, they cannot “pass,” they are hated, so they make friends with other lonely souls, other black people, women who are themselves shunned in that culture, and they blend together. If they don’t know black people then they cling to starlets, pop stars, yes Beyonce, independent women who flaunt a sexuality that they wish they could flaunt themselves.

If you think this white gay is a fiction then come to New York sometime and you will see them coming in on buses, the teeming masses, mostly boys from Missour-a or deep Florida, and they have big ole affectations that make other gays cringe (specifically white gays from Indiana or the midwest, they don’t have blacks there, mainly too-many-Messicans).

And a part of me feels for them, because it isn’t fair to them to have large publications telling them to “stop acting” a certain way, mainly because all the straights and queers they know have told them the exact same thing.

If your anti-racism is class blind, if it thinks all gay men have the same exact privilege, then I want no part of it. If you wonder why white gays act black and why black gays act white, maybe consider that each of their families don’t want them and do something about it in heterosexual communities.

I’m tired of the hate rained down on gays who don’t act “correctly.” Fuck correctly.

ADDITIONALLY: I would like to point to you to this very transphobic and homophobic article that blames the degradation of black women on “gay men” meaning gay people are currently being accused of both stealing and ruining popular culture. For a moment of bliss, here is trans performer Ts Madison’s response to the article above.

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