Category Archives: Gay

Changing culture vs. changing laws: gay marriage

It is important to understand the distinction between changing culture and changing laws.   Legal institutions (courts, legislatures, or leaders) might grant rights to people, but other people (some of them prejudiced) are likely to impliment those laws.   Many will circumvent legal changes and continue to use systems of power to discriminate.

Thus we have a lengthy history of changes in law that required years of enforcement.  For Example, federal troops being sent to Arkansas to protect the Little Rock Nine — black students attempting to enroll in a previously white high school.

It is worth viewing the 30 for 30 “Ghosts of Ole Miss,” an ESPN documentary that gives some similar context to educational changes for civil rights.

It is always worth taking note of the tactics used to resist change.  Thinkprogress has an astounding rundown of the circumvention efforts of Hood County (Texas) clerk Katie Lang to deny Jim Cato and Joe Stapleton a marriage license.

Since June 29, the Monday after the ruling, Jim Cato and Joe Stapleton, who have been together for 27 years, have been trying to obtain the marriage license they’ve waited so long for. When rejecting them, Lang claimed that her staffers would issue the license instead, but Cato and Stapleton were then told they couldn’t be helped because the clerk’s office did not have the new gender-neutral forms, which would supposedly take “three or more weeks” to arrive.

Last Thursday, they brought their own copy of the state’s new form, and still they were refused a license. When they insisted, Lang told everyone to leave the office and called the Sheriff’s Department, who stood guard but did not force anyone out. Cato and Stapleton had been in touch with their lawyer, who arrived at Lang’s office to deliver a letter warning of a suit if a license wasn’t issued. A staffer began to process their application, but then asked, “Which of you will be the husband?” When they insisted upon the new form, which lists “applicant 1″ and “applicant 2″ instead of “husband” and “wife,” the staffer then refused to accept their payment of the $83 fee. Lang reappeared and confirmed that they would still have to wait several weeks to get their license anyway because she had to wait for revised certificate forms, even though a different-sex couple could have filed the form and left with a license the same day.

Monday morning, Cato and Stapleton filed a federal lawsuit, which describes their experiences being rejected as “humiliating and degrading.” Less than two hours after the suit was filed, Lang’s office issued the couple a marriage license.

via This Is What Happens To Court Clerks Who Refuse To Issue Same Sex Marriage Licenses | ThinkProgress.

Cheers to Cato and Stapleton for their fierce pursuit of equal rights.

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Filed under Gay, gender, human rights, representation, resistance

Gamergate, autoblocker, anti-trans violence and sea lions: Katherine Cross for the win

One of the most productive commentators about so-called gamergate is Katherine Cross.  Her recent post on Feministing is so on point that it deserves some archival / expansion work.

1.  There is an autoblocking program for twitter that removes most of the posts from gamergate trolls.  For anyone out there interested in civil space, this is a big improvement.  Cross describes it this way:

What offends GamerGaters about the autoblocker, aside from the fact that a woman found a technical solution to a social problem, is that it denies them the ability to impose themselves on targets. The idea that the women, people of colour, and queer folk who’ve comprised the majority of GG’s targets might be able to curate their online spaces and have certain discussions only with those of their choosing is repugnant to many GamerGaters. In the absence of genuine legal recourse, the worst thing you can do to a bully, harasser, or troll is ignore them after all.

via Revenge of the Sealion: GamerGate’s crusade against blocking.

2.   Underscoring much of the gamergate vitriol is a toxic anti-trans politics.  Much of the visibility of the violence seems to have a direction.  Again Katherine Cross gathers enough targeted tweets and message board quotes to rile me up.   For those who are trans-inclusive, trans-positive, or simply kind human beings, it is worth marking gamergate as a particularly anti-trans moment in time.

3.  Katherine Cross introduces me to the idea of “sealioning” — a refined bullying tactic.  Cross explains:

“Polite” GGers, defined as those who do not explicitly swear or use slurs, nevertheless harry the people they target because they do not take no for an answer and come in packs. The phenomenon of “sealioning”– barraging a target with politely worded but interrogating questions asked in bad faith– gained a name under GamerGate because of how common the tactic was.

via Revenge of the Sealion: GamerGate’s crusade against blocking.

Also provided is this nice comic!




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Filed under Animals, communication, feminism, Gay, hacking, human rights, intersectionality, protest, representation, resistance, sexism, Surveillance, technology, video games

Gay stormtroopers, DIY art and becoming more villainous: Suck Lord

Thanks to Boing Boing for the link!

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Filed under art, do-it-yourself, Gay, juxtaposition

Describing the call out as oppression: Paula Deen

There is something toxic about people who have public histories of being offensive arguing that being criticized for hateful comments is comparable to experiencing hate itself.

Here is Zerlina Maxwell explaining why Paula Deen’s recent articulation is exactly this kind of hijack of experience.

“In a recent interview with People, Deen said (via CNN):

“I feel like ‘embattled’ or ‘disgraced’ will always follow my name,” she tells People. “It’s like that black football player who recently came out,” referring to NFL prospect and former University of Missouri football standout, Michael Sam.

“He (Sam) said, ‘I just want to be known as a football player. I don’t want to be known as a gay football player.’ I know exactly what he’s saying.”

It’s no surprise that Deen would feel embattled, but as someone who said racially insensitive things, it is a surprise that Deen sees herself as the oppressed, instead of the one doing the oppressing.  How is Paula the victim if she was the mastermind behind the slave themed wedding?  It seems to me that actually being oppressed and embattled by structural inequality and policies that lead to disparate outcomes for people of color is worse than being called out for your bigotry.  And being the first openly gay player in the NFL like Michael Sam is nothing like being a celebrity chef exposed for referring to your Black employees in explicitly racist terms.”

via Paula Deen thinks she’s oppressed like “that Black” gay NFL player.

1.  Writing words or speaking it aloud usually archive ideas marked to bodies.

2. It is worthwhile developing critical vocabulary for this rhetorical maneuver.   It is one of the best tactics to resist the call-out.

3.  Thanks Feministing.  You rock.

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Filed under communication, Gay, learning, media, representation, rhetoric

Changing hateful language in hip hop

decline in language

I like this article on anti-gay language in hip hop (although the title seems unnecessary).  The above graphic is from the much hated (not affiliated with the GZA).   But the graphic was included in a nice long write up on Gawker by Rich Juzwiak where he does some lyrical analysis.  While discussing a Frank Ocean lyric Juzwiak writes:

“This is a conversation that hasn’t made its way to mainstream hip-hop before now. It’s probably not as tidy as the most sensitive listeners would prefer. There’s ambiguity there as to whether Ocean’s proposed gunplay is a reaction to homophobia (because saying “faggot” is wrong) or an insult (because being “faggot” is wrong). Ocean is typically terse and selective on these identity matters—it’s possible that he’s still working out this question himself.”

When talking about the number of hit records that seemed to have made it without needing verbal violence toward gay people, Juzwiak explains:

“Hip-hop doesn’t hate gay people. Not all of it, at least. Even when it stumbles in these attempts, even when rappers don’t exhibit the full enlightenment that we’d want from them (Too $hort: “Just go with it, it’s just a lifestyle, you know, so whatever“), it’s still making attempts at engagement, which is more than it was doing even last year and far more than it was doing two years ago.

Still, we’re talking about a vast, varied pool of points of view and opinions. There’s still plenty of homophobic language.”

Here is the link to the article.

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Filed under communication, Gay, hip hop, music, representation

Elton John in Russia

I appreciate Elton John speaking loudly about his opposition to the Russian  anti-gay legislation in Russia.  I also think this is an elegant justification for Elton John to circumvent a boycott.

It also happens to be a justification that probably makes Elton John a whole lot of money.

Don’t get me wrong, it is excellent to see pop stars expressing their politics.  And I think Elton John is a super bad-ass.  (Remember that he stood up to some heavy bullying and blackmail from a newspaper in the UK).  And I think that he has credibility and status for his opinion to be widely amplified.

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Filed under capitalism, communication, Gay, human rights, protest

Happy Birthday Sylvester

The illuminating blog Dangerous Minds noted that today is the birthday of the electric-disco-star Sylvester.   I appreciate that they frame Sylvester’s radical elements within his Disco successes:

. . . .if it wasn’t for disco there is no way that a linebacker-sized, black, openly gay, outrageous, gender-bending performer like him could have reached the top of the world’s charts.

via Dangerous Minds | Excellent documentary on the life of Sylvester.

Happy Birthday Sylvester and all who party with ya!

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Filed under funk & soul, Gay, memorial, music, punk, race, representation

Frank Ocean (and Malcolm X) read disrespectfully

Two things about my bias on the topic of Frank Ocean fighting Chris Brown:

1.  I’ve been on team Frank Ocean for a while.

2. I think Chris Brown is a douchebag.


Thanks to for the nice graphic.

In the days following the fight between Frank Ocean and Chris Brown a lot of discussion about both of the artists were made visible in the commentary about the fight.  One of the most interesting to me is the January 28 MissInfo report on the disagreement.  Shortly after this post appeared, Frank Ocean chose not to press charges and forgave Chris Brown, but for a day in January 2013, the hip hop world thought Frank Ocean was snitching.  When the reports came out that Frank Ocean was going to press charges, MissInfo authored a funny send up of the New York Post’s coverage and added her own humorous image seen above.

It is worth taking time to talk about Missinfo’s choice of representation.  I assume that this graphic suggests that Frank Ocean took it too far — fighting for a parking space.  A tactic to minimize the significance of the violence and in particular associate the violence with the parking space rather than . . . say . . . anti-gay slurs.  MissInfo explains why she asked her friend to make the parody image of Frank Ocean as Malcolm X:

At least that hogwash about this being a “hate crime” got kiboshed. That would have been absurd. Correction…more absurd. This whole thing is already all the way Absurdistan.

In reaction to the story, I asked my buddy Phil to create a parody-homage for my instagram.

via » Frank Ocean Wants To Press Charges Against Chris Brown, Says L.A. Sheriff.

The image of Malcolm X has such an amazing history — it was taken during the under-discussed late years of El Hajj Malik El Shabazz where he was actively struggling with the Nation of Islam and building a new organization all while under heavy government surveillance.  Death threats, shootings and the 1965 firebombing of his house (almost killing his family) are necessary context for this image itself.  Separate the visual from the history or context and it becomes malleable, able to be bent to the representation at hand.

(I wonder if MissInfo thinks that the armed Malcolm X is absurd, or is this just one more heavily armed person taking it too far and fighting over a parking space?  If it is Malcolm X in this parody — reduced to someone who is a stand-in for armed extremist then we cut out a serious political history — sanitizing Shabazz.  If this is a comparison intended to mock Frank Ocean’s choice to press charges — in essence anchoring the act of violence to the parking space.  “Defend your parking space.” then the seriousness of Malcolm X is used to trivialize Frank Ocean.)

Today’s lengthy piece on Frank Ocean in the New York Times magazine gives a slightly more journalistic edge to the history between Chris Brown and Frank Ocean.

A feud with the notoriously violent and thin-skinned singer Chris Brown began on Twitter in June 2011 and included a couple of Brown’s associates following Ocean’s car after he left a studio. They posted footage of their interaction — the cars side by side, threats being hollered through open windows — to Worldstar Hip-Hop, a Web site that does many things but mostly hosts videos of fights. Ocean made an oblique mention of that situation when we were together, but I thought it was over. Then last month, the feud boiled over again, with conflicting reports that agreed on one thing: There had been an altercation between Ocean and Brown and a few other people on the street in Santa Monica.

via Frank Ocean Can Fly –

I’m pretty sure that last sentence is the best the New York Times editors feel safe releasing — without knowing more they don’t make a claim about what caused or what happened.

TMZ got a copy of the police report, and we get a slightly more direct choice of representations here.

Our Investigation revealed Victim Breaux, a music artist also known as Frank Ocean, was battered by Suspects Brown, Omololu, and Glass due to an apparent argument over a parking space.

The victim was initially uncooperative and did not want to give any details of the fight at the location of the incident, except for saying that he was assaulted.  The victim also refused any medical treatment for a cut to his right index finger and minor cut on his left temple.  The victim went to Cedars Sinai Hospital on his own and agreed to talk to us once at the hospital.  Therefore no arrests were made at the time of this report.

Once at the hospital, the victim told us Suspect Brown, also a music artist, was parked in the victim’s assigned parking spot at Westlake Recording Studios.  he walked to Suspect Brown in the lobby of the Studio and told Suspect Brown that he was parked in his parking spot.  Suddenly, Suspect Brown punched the victim on the side of his face.  Thereafter, suspects Omololu and Glass jumped in to help Suspect Brown beat the victim.  The victim fought back to defend himself as all three suspects pushed him into a corner and attempted to kick him while on the ground.  The entire fight lasted 1 to 2 minutes.  The victim believes he might have heard someone yell, “faggot!” but was unsure, who if anyone, made the statement.  After the beating, Suspect Brown said, “We can bust on you to! “Bust” is a slang term sued on the street to mean shoot.  The three suspects left the studio in an unknown direction.

There is a lot in this segment of the police report to contrast against MissInfo arguments.  Layer the police report against her choice of language to describe the fight.

Late last night, our worlds were rocked by the outbreak of violence between two sweet R&B crooners, Chris Brown, of the Greenish-Yellow Locks Vs. Frank Ocean, of The Exotic Headband. The two bumped heads (and a finger) after an argument in the parking lot of the Westlake recording studio. There were reports that Frank was upset over Chris parking in his space, and that Chris was blocked from driving off, and that Chris attempted a handshake, but then the scuffle popped off between the stars and their crews…and then doves cried.

via » Frank Ocean Wants To Press Charges Against Chris Brown, Says L.A. Sheriff.

There is a sexualized tone to her trivializing writeup in the choice of “sweet,” “bumped heads,” and “doves cried,”  to describe the fight.  And of course the notion that the fight is about the parking space instead of perhaps the long-standing disagreement that the New York Times was unable to uncover, or the refusal of the offered hand shake.  (I dunno, would you shake Chris Brown’s hand?)

Mostly MissInfo is enforcing — quite effectively — the ideology of no snitching.  She writes: “Frank Ocean doesn’t care about your silly “code of the streets”…He wants JUSTICE!”

And the funny part of this is that Frank Ocean has embodied the same code.  The police report makes this clear: “The victim was initially uncooperative and did not want to give any details of the fight at the location of the incident, except for saying that he was assaulted.”

And regardless of the cultural impact the fight and the representation present in MissInfo’s blog, Frank Ocean never did actually press charges.  Not only does he stand firmly with the wave of no snitching, but he recognized the intense negative public relations effects of being the person who testified sending Chris Brown to prison would have on his career.

Isn’t that how abusers often get away?  Relying on the fact that it sucks for any survivor of violence to have to deal with the police and courts.  It is totally unfair to suggest that it is Frank Ocean’s responsibility to press charges. I don’t know and can’t begin to judge.  But I can be sympathetic to the forces at work triggered by this sublime moment of violence.  And I suspect that most people would do the same thing — and like any other survivor of violence whose perpetrator is not in any way accountable — live with the conflicted reality of that choice.

As an anti-violence educator, I always make clear that the choice of violence is in the hands of the person being violent.  You don’t blame domestic abuse on survivors of domestic abusers.  The choice and responsibility for violence is solely — and intensely on the shoulders of those who choose violence.

It might seem like nit-picking, but I think it is fruitful to look at this one moment and the choices of this one hip hop intellectual (MissInfo) in her choices in telling the story of this fight.


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Filed under communication, Gay, hip hop, juxtaposition, media, music, police, propaganda, representation

Amazing Randi

Wonderful kickstarter to help fund a documentary on the Amazing Randi.  Drop ’em some cash.  For reason, inquiry and love.

Thanks to boing boing for the link.

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Filed under documentary, Gay, magic, representation

Asking Scalia the hard question: why insult gay people while denying their equal rights?

“Justice Scalia, I’m gay, and as somebody who is gay I find these comparisons extraordinarily offensive,” Duncan Hosie, a freshman at Princeton, said to Antonin Scalia on Monday.

via Antonin Scalia Lectures a Princeton Student on Gay Rights and the Court : The New Yorker.

I read this Amy Davidson short essay in the New Yorker and thought it was well written.  But under the recommendation of Maria Bustellos in the RSS-essential Longreads I gave it a second read.

I appreciate the judicial history of anti-gay decisions framed in comparison to cultural change.  I also like Amy Davidson’s tone, writing about the issue with sincerity and compassion, all while basically arguing Scalia is a prejudicial prick.


I’m also retiring the #hashtag “homophobia.”  It is often used to write about anti-gay discrimination, but it is a term which does not convey correctly what I mean.  I can’t read the mind of the person who is discriminating, I can only judge the behavior.

The AP style manual is now much more clear on the subject:


An irrational, uncontrollable fear, often a form of mental illness. Examples: acrophobia, a fear of heights, and claustrophobia, a fear of being in small, enclosed spaces. Do not use in political or social contexts: homophobia, Islamophobia.

via AP Style update | indystyle.

It also nullifies strategies for resistance if we choose to assume that actions against people (followers of Islam for instance) are driven by irrational therefore presumably ideas which can not be informed by teaching and/or rational discourse.  I ain’t into that.

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Filed under communication, Gay, human rights, propaganda, representation, resistance