An eight-year-old girl named Sunnie Kahle was recently informed that she was no longer welcome at a Baptist elementary school in Virginia via a letter that informed her grandparents (who are her guardians) that her gender nonconformity is out of line with God's plan. One particularly scintillating excerpt reads, "God has made her female and her dress and behavior need to follow suit with her God-ordained identity."
Let's leave aside, for the moment, the possibility that Sunnie is trans*. Let's assume (as her interviews seem to suggest) that she sees herself as female. This means the school administrators at Timberlake Christian have taken it upon themselves to decide what female "dress and behavior" look like. Unless the exactitudes of gendered fashion are spelled out in the Bible (and I don't remember reading that--do you?), this argument is absurd even on its own terms. God has "ordained" that this kid has to wear the kinds of clothing and play with the kind of toys that the execs at Disney and Walmart have decided is most effectively marketed toward her gender? Got it.
As a former little girl who was occasionally mistaken for a little boy, I know first-hand that it's not always fun. Kids have hundreds of ways, subtle and not, to single out their norm-defying peers. Expressing gender nonconformity, especially as a kid, is hard. Sunnie Kahle should be lauded for using her God-given guts, not bullied by her school's administration for not fitting into their idea of what girls are "supposed" to be.
I'm glad Sunnie has loving grandparents who stand by her just the way she is. If all kids were so lucky, I bet teen suicide rate would be a lot lower. In one interview, Sunnie's grandmother said that if Sunnie grows up to be a member of the LGBTQ crowd, she will "love her that much more." Unconditional love, total acceptance... sounds awfully Biblical. Maybe Timberlake Christian should take a page from grandma's playbook.
Spoiler alert: Don't read this post if you haven't seen ALL of Season 2 of "House of Cards" and there's even a remote possibility that you'll ever watch it.
I'm not much of a TV person. We don't even have cable. But when I am addicted to a TV show, I don't mess around. The shows to which I have been Super Into in the past five years are few: "Breaking Bad," "Downton Abbey" (yes, it's a soap opera; I don't care), "Mad Men" (Jon Hamm! Christina Hendricks! John Slattery!), and most recently, "House of Cards."
Before we get down to our Queer Business, let's catalog the two main reasons "House of Cards" is so awesome:
(1) Kevin Spacey. I love KS. Love. In my opinion, the best working actor. I'd pay to watch the man sit on a chair and smoke a cigarette for two hours.
(2) Robin Wright. (Yes, the same RW who was in "The Princess Bride" way back when.) With that fantabulous haircut, icy-hot smile, and killer acting instincts, she's more than equal to the task of playing opposite Spacey.
Together, the new First Couple's chemistry is elegant, dynamic, multi-layered, beautiful, and frightening--often all at the same time. We started Season 1 with Frank Underwood jogging alone; Season 2 opens with Frank and Claire jogging together. This is a not-so-subtle foreshadowing of the season's dynamic, in which Frank and Claire are no longer working at cross-purposes. They subtly undermine the sitting President and First Lady, quietly understand the implications of Frank's murder of Zoe (best season opener ever, BTW), and even seduce the cautious-but-willing Meecham together.
...Which brings us, of course, to one of the two queer subplots. While we don't get a whiff that Claire has an, erm, softball-playing past (let alone bats for both teams), Frank does. In Season 1, we got a hint at Frank's college reunion (when he tells an old friend, "You meant something to me," with unmistakably romantic overtones), but weren't beaten over the head with it. Which I LOVE, because it would be waaay too easy to show Frank lusting after congressional intern boys. We don't get the sense that Frank is hiding some big dark secret; he's simply attracted to both men and women, so in the context of his selectively-open marriage (remember Claire's icy "What does she give us?" re: Frank's liaison with Zoe in Season 1?), it makes sense that he would sleep with both men and women.
What makes this so interesting and weirdly modern (no judgment, just my own prudishness showing) is that Claire is not only cool with Frank's predilections, but helps them along. The morning after the couple seduces Meecham, Claire asks how Frank slept, and when he says he slept great, tells him, "Good. You needed that." OMG, Claire. OMG. Not to mention, how many threesomes have you ever heard of that involve two men and one woman rather than the other way around? I love that this turns the typical straight male fantasy on its head.
And, of course, there's the other Big Queer Subplot, which involves Rachel Posner, the ex-sex worker with whom Frank's chief henchman, Doug, has become obsessed. After meeting through a proselytization attempt on public transit, Lisa Williams moves in with Rachel, and soon converts her... in more ways than one. I saw this one coming a mile away, yet I was still surprised by it--and surprise + inevitability makes for great drama.
Sure, "House of Cards" isn't exactly brimming with homos, but it's a heck of a lot gayer than most of the other good dramas around these days. Plus, I love that a character's being gay isn't the be-all and end-all of the character. Rachel's relationship is a big deal because she's finally found love and Doug is devastated, and Rachel has to break with Lisa because of her (Rachel's) sex-working past--not because Rachel is--gasp--queer. Same deal with Frank. He's bi--maybe--but he doesn't seem to be "struggling" with this fact. Another way "House of Cards" does queer so well is that it doesn't flinch or pull punches or leave the gay stuff to hints and allusions (like, say, "Mad Men" does, and "Downton Abbey" has done since Episode 2). Nope, the gay kisses get screen time. Almost like they're equal relationships or something.
I bet my DGF and I aren't the only "House of Cards" binge-watchers out there. What did you all think? (And what should my next addiction be?)
I love sports (almost) as much as the next dyke, but I have awfully mixed feelings about the Olympics this year. Russia's LGBT community is under constant, hateful, and often violent siege from its government. Gay "propaganda"--defined as anything depicting LGBTQ relationships in a positive or neutral light in a form accessible to minors--is illegal. This includes, as you can imagine, such "propaganda" as holding hands with your partner, wearing a T-shirt with a pink triangle on it, or even just being queer parents. Just a few weeks ago, the Russian government fined the editor of a newspaper who published an interview with a gay teacher. An interview, people. In a newspaper.
Gay people in Russia are regularly bullied, chased, beaten up, and subjected to all kinds of hateful acts. In a way, maybe it's good that the Olympics are being held in Russia this year, since it will draw attention to the human rights violations that go on in Russia every day. Principle 6 is the Olympic principle that forbids discrimination on the basis of politics, race, religion, gender, or otherwise--a principle decidedly not embraced in Russia.
The Principle 6 campaign is designed to raise awareness of the way LGBTQ people are treated in Russia and "and underscore that Russia's anti-LGBT discrimination is incompatible with the Olympic movement." I urge you to take the Principle 6 logo and make it your Facebook or Twitter image. I guarantee that people will ask you about it, which will give you more chances to spread the word.
And if you're a schwag-lover like me, you'll be happy to know that American Apparel has designed a very cool "Principle 6" clothing line, and it's money well-spent, since proceeds will support LGBTQ groups in Russia.
I hope you'll spread the word, and help LGBTQ folks in Russia imagine a better world.
I mentioned this on my Facebook page recently, and it continues to chap my proverbial hide.
The New York Times ran this story about how one butch went to a (male) tailor and asked him to make a men's suit for her. Last year. Yeah, you read that right: when Tomboy Tailors, Saint Harridan, Androgyny, and other companies were already on the scene. (I profiled some of them back in January and April.)
Worse yet, the Times's story implies that this tailor had some amaaaazing new idea. The story begins with, "Breakthrough ideas often come from the least expected sources." The idea that a mainstream male tailor would make some suits for butch women is not a "breakthrough;" he was merely introduced to a market that he didn't know already existed.
I don't fault the tailor--his quotes don't make it sound like he thinks he's a pioneer--but "discovery" is the thrust of the Times's story. Here's a quote:
In a coffee shop near his home the other day, he [the tailor] seemed still struck by the world that opened to him after that initial email. "The whole thing is really strange, and sometimes I can't — " he said, his voice evaporating into the wonder of it all. He was not even sure how to identify Ms. Tutera [the Handsome Butch], gender-wise. Was she transgender or just mannish? Sometimes it was hard to know such things.
In other words, Regular Person discovers Weird Queer Market.
While the story pays lip service to the fact that queer-owned companies with this mission already existed, this bit of info comes several paragraphs into the article, after the article's framework is well in place.
I'm happy to see any butch coverage in the media (see here and here for previous posts on the subject), but the Times article was one more reminder that butch visibility--and queer equality generally--still has a long way to go.
Occasionally I get email from other aspiring queer bloggers asking for advice, and I received another one recently, so I thought I'd share some general, hard-won blogging advice. Take it all with a boulder of salt.
BW's Tips for Bloggers
What about you, dear readers? What are your favorite qualities in a blog?