Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
in case you don't know what i'm talking about, here's the article: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/12/21/BAV714SBA1.DTL
Date: Saturday, December 27, 2008
Time: 9:30pm - 10:00pm
Location: 1500 Visalia Street, Richmond CA
ps: this just in, a fundraiser for raising the $10,000 reward to even more for info leading to the arrest of the 4 perpetrators is being planned.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Wow. If you haven't heard about this yet, peep the clip above.
Words/feelings that came to mind when I heard about Obama picking the conservative, anti-gay, pro-life Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the inaugural prayer... disappointed, aghast, sputtering with "oh hell no", feeling for people who already felt hurt by Prop 8... and also still hanging on to tenuous strands of hope. My hope, feeling (and prayer) is that Obama is very seriously front-ending coddling the disgruntled right. On the real, progressives should probably brace ourselves for more moments where we are gonna squirm uncomfortably as Obama goes about being the "uniter". Considering the historical emotional reception of a US President into office, I believe he is also really leaning hard on his kudo points so he can throw the right some symbolic bones. And when it comes to it, that's all it is. Symbolic. I mean, I would prefer Rick Warren to deliver the address than to be appointed to Supreme Court. But it still hurts. And not only the LGBTQ community, and advocates for the reproductive rights of women, but black folks and other folks of color are also like "What??"
But you know what? The tactic is working. Chillingly. On Pam's House Blend, Pam blogs:
How's the whole fundie outreach thing going, Team Obama? Look at who's giving you praise for giving Rick Warren the mic at the inaugural -- Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, the man who paid former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,500 for his mailing list.Whew. So uh... yeah. Basically... people, i know this feels effed up to most of us, and that this may feel like a betrayal of all the votes, support, money, kudo points and prayer we gave him. But I urge people to hang on to hope while Obama placates the crazy citizens of this country. All I know is we on the left got a loooooong progressive laundry list for Mr. Prez when he's done fundie flirting!
Monday, December 15, 2008
Let the parade of Sex Positivity continue!
So on our last trip to Good Vibrations (think you are due for a trip yerself :) my honey picked up some queer porn. It’s called “The Crash Pad.”
I actually know a couple folks in the movie she got, one of them being my friend Jiz Lee, and her awesome partner Shawn (pictured above). This movie now lives at my honey’s house, but I am super glad we got to watch it together! This was unlike any porn watching experience I have had. Dare I say, it was a corrective experience.
I just have to say, this movie has won several awards, including the Feminist Porn Award (another place feminists butt heads!). And it really was not only hot, but super refreshing. The plot was simple but titilating, and will leave you wanting the key to the mythical San Francisco “Crash Pad”. The featured players are hot, with real women's bodies. Different sizes and shapes, no fake boobs. And there is real chemistry on the screen; there are at least two featured couples who are partners in real life. You can feel it. And they talk about it in the special features. What else was refreshing... oh yes, the lighting wasn’t garish and clinical. And whoa... it took me a second to realize... it actually has *good* music! The background tunes range from ambient textures to sexy beats, and you aren’t beaten over the head with it.
Before going more into the movie itself, I wanna more delve into what was so corrective for me. The big differences for me, watching this versus straight porn, go straight into issues of race and gender. It was soooo great to see a movie that was mostly female bodied people of color/mixed race, and for that to not be marketed in a derogatory way. If one wants to see straight porn with women of color, then you usually have to get something that has no qualms about exoticizing women of color in really disgusting and objectifying ways, with titles like “Big Black B****** Who Crave Your Blah Blah Blah” “Geishas Who Blah Blah Blah” "Hot Blooded Latinas Who...." you catch my drift. Well... none of that oppressive racist and sexist crap is in here. I’ll be honest, the last time i tried to watch straight porn was over a year ago, and it just really traumatized me. I managed to find a dvd that had women of color of various ethnicities featuring in it (i have blocked out the name of it) and when i turned it on... each 22 year old looking woman was with a middle-aged, unattractive white man. It was like having a promo for sex tourism of my sistas thrown in my face. I kept flipping ahead to another scene, hoping it would get better, and it would get worse. The white men would get older and creepier, and sometimes there would be more than one on each young brown woman. A brown woman with a welcoming smile directed to men that i’m sorry, she really couldn’t have wanted to have hard penetrative sex with unless she was getting paid. I was nauseous. Effing gross!!! This was clearly not going to win a Feminist Porn Award anytime soon.
That experience broke through my last filter... i had long ago learned that if i am gonna watch straight porn, i am better off turning down the volume (which blots out the dumb music and the really super racist and sexist slurs and comments that get thrown around) and putting on my own music. But those images just fried me. It was such a graphic allegory of oppression to me.
“The Crash Pad” by contrast, had no slurs being hurled, and you knew that the women were *really enjoying themselves*. Which makes a world of a difference. You could feel the hot chemistry as they kissed* (no kissing in straight porn!! what kind of dysfunctional crap is this?!?), feel the intimacy in their eye gazes, witness the women giving each other real pleasure, and the hot build up of women having real, volcanic, orgasms. In this movie my pal Jiz Lee pretty literally exploded onto the queer porn scene with an ejaculation scene that is jaw dropping. It won her and her partner Shawn the Hottest Dyke Sex Scene of 2006. And i gotta say, i feel like i’m a pretty adventurous and open guy when it coms to sexploration, but wow.... Jiz and Shawn make me feel hella vanilla!!! Amazing, y’all. Hats off!!
Jiz also goes into her own critique of queer vs. straight porn in her Babeland: Babe Of The Month Interview:
Why do you see queer made porn as being different from other “lesbian” porn?Jiz also goes into sharing that "Crash Pad" has a special place in her heart :)
The term “Lesbian” is an interesting genre, often appropriated by the adult industry for the male gaze. Thus, it is equivalent to “Girl/Girl” pornography and the sexual acts you’ll see are pretty limited. Queer porn more accurately reflects the sexual identity of many of us in the queer community because the sex acts and gender expressions of the talent portrayed in these films are not held to the ideals of the assumed straight male consumer. It is made (directed, filmed, produced, cast, promoted, etc…) by queer-identified folks for the viewing pleasure of other queers. The sex is unapologeticly passionate, something that puts it closer allined with “gay porn”.
"Crash Pad" also features a refreshing range of gender for people with female bodies. From the high heeled and glitter made up femme, to hot faux hawked and shaved headed wrestling bois (again, see picture above :). This was also a pleasant shift from straight porn, where women can only inhabit a small box of femininity... the high-femme.
It was great to experience this movie, full of hot kissing, sucking, double penetration strap-on action and more. As a hetero-dude, this felt like porn therapy for me! To watch an adult film that wasn’t pitched to me in this narrow, oppressive, dysfunctional way... was really a corrective experience. This was made for primarly for queer folks to enjoy... and maybe its queer for me as a straight person to appreciate this in a heartfully refreshing way... but it left me wondering if other straight-identified men would have a similar experience. To see that kissing is sexy, that listening to each others bodies and eye contact is sexy. To see that women are beautiful, fierce and sexy in their real bodies, and alla that can have a beautiful diversity of expression. Because you know, we don’t get those messages much. I’m sure that there are more progressive adult films marketed to straight folks out there, but i can’t say i’ve come across any good ones.
Jiz has linked this post to the movie reviews, and has stated that s/he feels that my post speaks to some of their mission; which is to humanize queerness and queer sex. In this regard, Jiz sees this work as activism, and I consider Jiz to be one of the Bay Area's premiere sex positive activists.
For now, i’ll just be happy with my corrective experience, and wait til somebody tells me about some hot, feminist, anti-racist, multi-ethnic, pan-sexual porn, perhaps a bit more marketed to straight dudes.... Won’t hold my breath though! And for you bi-curious ladies and queer porn fans out there... this is the naughty stocking stuffer to get!! Available for rental and purchase at Good Vibrations, and you can order it online through Toys Of Babeland. Also look out for Jiz and Shawn's soon to be released film "Champion".... click the link for the teaser trailer (ages 18 and over only people!) and just peep the high production quality, hotness and emotionality people. Its gonna be hot! Something to keep you warm over the holidays...
PS: don't forget to peep the new link list of Sex Positive Goodness!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
when i speak of the erotic, i speak of it as an assertion of the lifeforce of women; of the creative energy empowered, the knowledge and use of which we are now reclaiming in our language, our history, our dancing, our loving, our work, our lives. ~audre lorde
Mostly re-inspired by connecting with the folks at the Good Vibrations blog, I have realized that this blog is missing something. Something i can’t believe i haven’t properly emphasized before. Sex-positive links and posts! I mean, I have a couple links in the blogroll and stuff, and write about sexuality and gender... but haven’t been really getting into the juicy fun stuff :)
and before jumping straight into the hotness, just a bit more heady talk. As a feminist-identified hetero bio male individual, i feel i should qualify what sex positive feminism means to me. First of all, what it *doesn’t* mean to me is that there is a binary where if you don’t identify as a sex positive feminist, then you are a repressed body-phobic wet blanket. Not trying to frame stuff like that. Second of all, there is a radical left feminist theory that all sex is rape, because we haven’t consented to live under patriarchy, and a manifestation of living under patriarchy is eroticizing power dynamics in constructions of gender(anyone have a citation for that? can't find it). I would say sex positive feminism is further right of that, but still on the “left” (what is right wing feminism, one might ask? Sarah Palin apparently!!) Sex positive feminism affirms autonomy of our bodies and consensual pleasure. It also moves away from shame-based ideas around sexuality and bodies that come from institutionalized sexism, religion, culture, etc. In the context of women's bodies, which have been under fire in various ways under patriarchy, Sex-positive feminism strikes me as a movement to reclaim the body.
Personally, i have various intersections with sex-positive feminism. I would say that one of the ways i manifest that is to eroticize communication, respect, balance of power and safety in romantic relationships. Deep and honest communication is just sexy. It has also been affirmed to me that it is sexy for a man to ask if he may enter a woman, even if its the umpteenth gazillion time they have had sex. This speaks to the piece on eroticizing respect and communication. But grounded in real loving respect for a woman and her body, not just saying stuff cuz it sounds hot. Going deeper into communication, i would say that deliberately placing oneself in a space of emotional vulnerability with a lover creates a space where one’s partner can also feel safe to share and be vulnerable. By being a man willing to make myself emotionally vulnerable to a woman, i see this as not only a loving act, but a re-balancing of gendered roles. It is one way to live everyday as a man committed to these issues. It really shouldn’t be like that as far as i’m concerned, that just being a emotionally communicative man becomes *gasp* bordering on radical, but hey. Just to be clear, i’m not lobbying for cookies here, just sayin’!!
Deep mutual communication leads to deeper intimacy and trust. Deeper intimacy and trust leads to safety. And once both people (or more for that matter) feel safety, then the boundaries of consensual sexual exploration may be able to expand deliciously. Respect becomes an operative word here as well, in tandem with the trust. For example, a sex-positive feminist woman should feel free to be lead around on a leash by a man at a sex-party if she wants to, especially if she has the trust and respect of that man, AND most importantly, if that is her CHOICE for how she wants to be pleased. Obviously, a woman can do what-freakin-ever she wants to do with her body, i am just getting at the thing that a woman and a man could act out this scene and still both define themselves as feminists. This is of course where feminists can butt heads, and very understandably so.
My honey also added that although not everyone may know themselves well enough to know whether they are in fact reproducing patriarchal toxicity from sexual power play, it is also not accurate to generalize that all sexual power play is inherently oppressive.
I believe that playing with power and gendered roles in consensual, pre-negotiated and varying ways can be hot, radical, body reclaiming and healing. Because being “top/dominant” in a consensual loving scene doesn’t have to mean reproducing tropes of real oppression. Oppression doesn’t respect, love and pre-negotiate consensual arrangements. In BDSM circles, it is said that the “bottom/submissive” has the most power because the scene can only go as far as they allow it to go anyways.
I also believe that sex-positive feminism literally becomes about being the loving change we want to see in the world. If we can work through issues of power, oppression and love in our most intimate and loving relationships, then we are building progressive community, and really becoming the loving, liberating revolution that is needed. And i am talking about something with a lot more intention than the sexual revolutions of the 60's. I am talking about a sweet union of Love and Justice.
Well that’s some food for thought, enough honey to spread liberally before diving in. I was also going to review this movie that my friend is in, but i think that deserves a post all by itself. But be sure to check out the new sex-positive links in the right margin, which include Black Erotica, a radical manifesto for a poly-revolution, The Center For Sex Positive Culture, Babeland Toys, Feminist BDSM, my friend Jiz Lee’s site, and more!
Hope that this has been stimulating... holla!
come thru and represent Oaktown!
After Prop 8....What Next?
Attend the Oakland Marriage Equality Community Forum
Let's seize this opportunity to create community.
Let's heal together.
Let's advance our marriage equality movement at the grassroots level.
Let's transform homophobia, racism and other oppressions.
Let's convert our frustration with Prop 8 into a positive force.
Wed. Dec 10, 2008
6–9pm (6-7pm potluck; 7-9 forum)
Intertribal Friendship House 523 International Blvd
RSVP at http://activelyout.com/activeEvents/events/10528 or (415) 621-2493 x372
For more information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Sponsoring Organizations: ACLU-NC, activelyOUT, And Marriage for All, API Equality, American Indian Two Spirits, Calafia, COLAGE, Color of Equality, Marriage Equality USA, Network for Religion & Justice for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People (NRJ-API-LGBT), National Black Justice Coalition, Oakland Rainbow and Labor, Our Family Coalition, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), San Francisco LGBT Pride Committee, Sistahs Steppin' in Pride, Social Life Productions , Bay Area
Friday, December 5, 2008
In this book, AMW questions whether men can be feminists at all in her chapter "From Healthy Doubt to Critical Acceptance", she documents the role of Black men in feminist movements hundreds of years ago, quoting Fredrick Douglass saying "I am a radical woman suffrage man." She calls Black feminist men the "Sons Of Sojourner Truth" since Truth refused to prioritize issues of race over issues of gender. In the biographical sketches that AMW has collected of Black men who self identify as feminist, profeminist, antisexist or womanist, all of the men interviewed exemplify this intersectional approach to multiple systems of oppression in our communities. These men talk about the events that became the turning points towards this way of being and thinking, and both AMW and these men share visions of fatherhood, romantic and platonic relationships, and a truly holistic movement for Black liberation and healing. I'm telling you, this is THE BOOK!! I would even recommend this for people who aren't black folks... just because templates for dismantling patriarchy in our communities are here.
Allow me to have AMW and the men speak for themselves:
"What can be learned about feminist Black men's definitions and practices of manhood that would challenge institutional inequities, while contributing to the viability of African American communities and the construction of a humane and just society?" -AMW, pg.2
“Black feminism is frequently misunderstood. It may help to note what it is not. Adding the adjective “Black” to the term feminism does not mean that it is White feminism donned in blackface, for Black women only, or Black people only. Rather, there is more than one kind of feminism because culture, class, sexuality and a host of other experiential factors shape feminist perspectives. Thus. Black feminist thought, as used here, does not assume an essence of Blackness; instead it understands “Black” as a construct that reflects the intersection of a variety of institutional power relations. Black feminist thought has historically emphasized the intersection of race, class and gender, highlighting how African American women and other social groups are positioned within unjust power relations.” -AMW, pg.6
“What can feminist Black men’s narratives teach us about how to raise boys? How do we recognize feminist Black masculinities and support the different versions of it when we them, in the interest of broad social change? What are the public policy implications of their feminist activism?” -AMW, pg.11
“Men have to take responsibility to educate their kids and other men about sexism in the same way that White people have to take responsibility to educate their kids and other White people about racism.” - Jake, social justice activist, pg. 24
“When you become antisexist, you are perceived by others as a defector. Men don’t trust you, and a lot of women don’t trust you either.” -Bruce, Co-ordinator of program for men who batter women, pg. 17
“My experiences as a Black gay man have been at the heart of the anti-sexist work i do.... One of the messages that men get growing up is that the worst thing in the world for a man to be is gay, and to be gay is to be interpreted as being like a woman. People think, “Oh you’re gay so you must want to be a woman” or “You’re a fag because you are acting like a woman.” To come to grips with being gay has meant, for me, coming to grips with negative attitudes that men have about women and to realize that there is nothing awful about being a woman! I mean, tell me, what is so awful about a man being like a woman? So, addressing these woman-hating attitudes is at the heart of my work with men.” - Rex, Social Worker, pg. 27
“I grew up in a family where I saw a lot of violence meted out by my father to my mother. I hated how my father treated my mother. But I had to learn that if you’re not actively involved in unlearning behavior that you hate, you may find yourself repeating what you hate. I know what I am talking about because I became a batterer just like my father. I owe a lot to my ex-wife because she showed me pretty dramatically that being a batterer was not the thing for me to be. She shot me. If that doesn’t get your attention, nothing will.” - Soyinka, Labor Unionist, pg. 28
“In traditional Christian patriarchal culture, God is always male; and in traditional Christian White supremacist culture, God is always a white male. So, my struggle has been- over the course of my life- to remove the Whiteness of God’s image, then- over the course of my feminist life- remove the maleness from God’s image.” -Alan, Pentecostal Minister, pg. 34
Black men who are cognizant of the particular predicament of Black women, as persons who experience both racism and sexism, tend to prioritize race issues over gender issues and argue that Black women should do the same (likewise, liberal White feminist women often expect Black women to rank gender issues over race issues when the interests of both collide) -AMW, pg. 43
Men, primarily, teach boys and men to be violent. Regardless of how badly a father treats his child or the child’s mother, he also teaches, by example, a shameless way of being in the world; his actions say to the boy, “You, too, can behave as I do when you become a man.” Too often, “what fathers pass on to their children is their own unacknowledged pain, and in instances of violence, a male sense of entitlement to inflict pain on others.” -AMW, pg. 48
Boys who show the worst psychological development are not always those without fathers but, often, those with abusive or neglectful fathers.... Current research suggests that the key factor in a boy’s healthy relationship to his father is affection, not some essential, yet vague, role modeling of a particular concept of masculinity. - AMW, pg. 53
....when Black men truly see their fate as linked to that of Black women, they move from sympathy to genuine empathy. In this context, empathy is like the African proverb “I am because we are.” -AMW, pg. 39
...And there are so many other insights to be offered, some of which you can read at the link above. My only criticism, which she acknowledges, is that all of the 20 black men featured are middle class and fairly highly educated. I look forward to any updated work she does.
For those of you who celebrate Xmas (and also those who don't), I would suggest getting this book at Powell's or Amazon for a black boy or man in your life.
Thoughts? Bless up!
Friday, November 21, 2008
"I will listen to you, especially when we disagree." - Barack Obama, Acceptance Speech Nov. 4th 2008
That quote alone toppled a whole reigning archetype of masculinity in the United States. "I will LISTEN to you, ESPECIALLY when we disagree?" This is a refreshing new model of masculine strength, after 8 years of "smoke em out of their holes" trigger happy cowboy/global gangsta rhetoric. The Cowboy archetype does not listen. Is not that skilled in communication period. Power is inherent through whiteness, maleness, access to money, government and tons and tons of weapons. The Cowboy is also the Playground Bully who teases and disrespects men who try to use reason instead of global bully measures. But now enter Barack Obama, whose unfolding archetype of a more balanced, communicative man (to the point of getting really close to people who opposed him, and appointing some to his cabinet!) And Cowboys now see the world shower him with adoration they know they would never receive. Its almost like the looped message we got from so many sweet (albeit heteronormative and problematically gendered in some ways) romantic comedies of the 80's: Beautiful and thoughtful girl is with the jock bully for the dance, but realizes that she really wants to be with the communicative nerd. An allegory for the rise of the outcast.
And the outcast has risen. Barack Hussein Obama, mixed race son of a Kenyan Muslim man and White American Christian woman, born in Hawaii, schooled in Indonesia... 44th President of the United States. History has yet to show the ripples that his appointment caused in the psyche of people of African descent around the world, to see one of our own, historically oppressed people in the most powerful office on the planet. I remember hearing so many fatalist conversations on street corners, brothas sucking their teeth, "They can't let him win. He can't win." And they spoke to something a lot of us felt. But i wish i could have been in their shoes, to experience what may have blossomed in their chests when the news came on November 4th. I was of course busy with my own "blossoming", elated beyond belief, jumping up and down. But i had a positive outlook from jump. And it was great to have that positive stance affirmed :)
In one swoop, there is new cred for black masculinity and strength. We have so many expressions of masculinity (as I explored in my post Nostalgia For The Gender Fluid 80's,) from jheri curls to dread locks and baldheads, from Prince, Earth, Wind and Fire, to Chuck D and Easy E. But after Easy E, it seemed that the only model of black masculinity that was perpetuated in the media was the gangsta. You know, like don't smile when someone is taking your picture, be hard. The ubiquity of these monolithic images is absorbed by all, to the point where a black man who doesn't embody that swagger and hardness may not be perceived by some people to be "really black" or "really a man".
And truly, Obama's blackness (or African American-ness, more specifically) is in question, since he is of immigrant African descent, and bi-racial. And also because he exudes Harvard and Columbia, not West Oakland or South Bronx. This dynamic and others are brilliantly critiqued and parodied in David Alan Grier's hilarious and insightful skit "Is Racism Dead?" Obama finds some solidarity amongst black men of similar masculinity... and the question as to whether racism died with Obama's appointment, is umm, dealt with appropriately :)
At the top of this post is a short documentary by African American anti-sexist activist and filmmaker Byron Hurt, a film called Barack & Curtis: Manhood, Power & Respect. Here the comparision of 50 Cent and Obama is delved into deeply, and how these expressions of black masculinity shift in the mass mind and the black community. Mad props to Byron and his work, he is definitely an inspiration to me.
I am glad that my young nephews are growing up with this new media expression of black masculinity. I am thankful to have balance restored in so many ways, including how black men are portrayed in the media. This is indeed one of the many positive manifestations of the momentum of Change. May Obama be blessed with at least two terms of exemplifying that a man can have access to aggressive power with out relying on that to express oneself, that a man can be communicative and be powerful, that a hetero man can believe in gay rights, that a black man can restore pride to a whole country. Ashé.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Today is the Transgender Day Of Remembrance. This comes at a time when Duanna Johnson's murder should be present in our minds. Statistics tell that at least one transgendered person is murdered every month, often with no justice served. Duanna Johnson's death has also ignited the progressive people of color LGBT blogosphere, since the video taped police brutality leading up to the death of a black transwoman seems to be taking a back seat to the marriage equality agenda. Which in some ways, with no disrespect to Duanna Johnson, i feel is understandable considering the momentum and magnitude of these historical elections, and the millions of people disenfranchized by Prop 8. But issues of class, gender and most definitely race further embroil tensions, even as memes in the news still perpetuate the idea that black people magically voted in Prop 8 while being only 6 percent of the electorate (new studies show age to be a more predicatble factor in who voted yes on 8... lets not start hatin' on the grannies now people...). For some, it would seem that marriage equality is not the priority when people's lives are in danger. Which is also, very understandable.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to join San Francisco and Los Angeles counties in a lawsuit asking the state's high court to void Proposition 8 on the grounds that voters did not have the authority to make, what they claim, is a revision to the state's constitution.
Prop. 8, which passed with 52 percent of the vote earlier this month, overturned the state's Supreme Court's decision in the spring which legalized gay marriage. The measure changes the constitution to limit marriage to that only between a man and a woman.
The suit, which also has been joined by Santa Clara County, claims any measure is not merely an amendment to the state's constitution, but rather a major revision and should therefore have had to pass through the state Assembly and Senate before going to the voters this November.
Its going down y'all.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Wow. I'm just recovering from co-organizing this rally. I have to give mega-props to fellow organizers Monifa Porter, Lawrence Ellis, Maya Scott-Chung, Carrie Leiser-Williams, Jen-Mei Wu and special props to Natalee Kehaulani, Molly McKay, Michelle Rodriguez, Aimee Suzara, Xiaojing Wang, Chelsey Oda, Ruth Villasenor, Sapana Doshi and Tracey Osbourne for all the support, behind the scenes work, and documenting (awesome pics Natalee! check here to peep the beauty!). So much love and respect also going out to those who delivered an uplifting, essential performance. And much love to everyone who showed up, and all who support this cause in any way!
This was really difficult to get together, with zero time for outreach (i still have so many flyers leftover!!) so we are thankful that it actually had a really good turnout!! There was a point in the organizing process where we came up against a huge obstacle. The name of that obstacle was unconscious racism. Without naming anyone, i will say that two queer white men (not listed above) who did a lot of work to procure the permits, and get some high profile politicians to sign on... also then proceeded to feel a sense of ownership over the process, and was expressing their unconscious racism by not wanting to "allow" people of color from Oakland communities to represent on the mainstage. Yes, we are taking about Oakland! They felt that they "couldn't be racist" because they invited Congresswoman Barbara Lee & Mayor Ron Dellums (who didn't show unfortunately). As a straight ally, i didn't feel like i could get all up in their face about how effed up their politics were. This really could have turned into a protest of the mostly poc organizers against a whitewahed rally in Oakland, with a separate stage of people more represenative of Oakland. But in the end, we actually came to a compromise. And it became a micrcosm for the work that has to be done to move forward into positive Change. So despite differences of vision and consciousness, and across lines of race, privilege and sexuality... we worked it out, and shared the stage and had a beautiful program.
There was so much that happened. The Two Spirit-Drummers created sacred space by opening and closing the event with the sacred ceremonial drum Two Eagles, which had been made by Two-Spirit/LGBT Native elders. We heard from LGBTQ families of various backgrounds. We heard from recently married couples. We heard a maybe 8 year old boy speak simple yet immensely powerful words about the humanity of his two moms. There was an emotional testimony from City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan. Aimee Suzara took the crowd by storm, debuting her poem "Dangerous" that was made for that moment in time (go to aimeesuzara.net to read it and see what else this amazing poet/educator/perfromer is up to!)). And there was much much more. I was proud to represent str8 black ally, and to evoke to power of the ally: Bio allies for Transfolks, Men and boy allies for girls and women, white allies for people of color (white allies that would intercept dialogue that would make people look at me and assume i voted yes on prop 8, etc). I also then presented a piece that was directed towards people of faith who interpret their sacred texts to disapprove of love between people of the same sex. I call it the Parable Of Empathy (forward liberally, but please ask permission before utilizing in a program or something):
Parable Of Empathy
You, who love your God, Love your place of worship, love your community
Imagine that your religion, like all religions have been, is oppressed by a majority religion.
Imagine that this majority religion has a lot of power.
Imagine that the people of this majority religion very deeply believed that your ways were wrong, immoral, heathenlike. And though you love your ways and they are so right for you, it was wrong for them.
Imagine that they used their power to take away your places of worship that you so dearly love.
How would you feel?
How would you feel, knowing that instead of just loving their gods, they chose to take the time and energy to strike down how you love your God, strike down your place of worship, strike down your community?
How would you feel, knowing that the people of this powerful religion are people that you work with? Friends? Members of your family?
In your heart, you would know that not everyone in this powerful religion did this, but wouldn’t it be difficult to see the humanity of those who associate with people who assaulted your way of of living and loving?
Is what we need to cultivate right now.
We all have a task up ahead.
And that is for everyone, on both sides
To figure out how to see the Humanness
In the other.
(c) rmw 2008
Yes yes y'all. The work towards affirming the humanity of all continues! And I have good feelings about these revolutionary baby steps we are making. Fight The H8! Liberate The Love!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Coo? Lets do this!
The momentum of change continues people! This very well may be the largest protest in the history of the United States that was organized in **3 DAYS**. Protests have been rallied together to be occurring simultaneously in over 80 cities, all 50 states. And now its gone international, with allied protests in Canada, the UK, France, Puerto Rico, Japan, China...Wow. This is the next level right here people. The unfortunate passing of Prop 8 has sparked what might be one of the largest manifestations of the LGBTQ Civil Rights movement. I know I want to be a part of it. Go To Join The Impact (hosted by Wetpaint) to see where the protest nearest you is, and when it will happening to in order for it to be synchronized, all-city style.
Aw man, they took down the awesome timeline of response to JoinTheImpact.com... basically, how this movement happened! They are juggling servers with all the traffic they are getting, maybe it got lost. Luckily I left a window open with it on there, i cut and paste, check this out:
- November 7th – Launch (original Join The Impact blog)
- 5 Hours post launch – First 10,000 visitors
- Midnight on November 7th – 20 cities organizing
- November 8th (Afternoon)– Thanks to the help of organizers, we made CNN’s iReport.
- November 8th (Evening) – Our site hit 35K visitors
- November 9th (Morning) – 30 cities organizing
- November 9th (Afternoon) – We got the attention of ParezHilton.com
- November 9th (Evening) – The tipping point – Traffic jumped to 50K visitors/hour. With the help of Hostdango.com, we immediately switched to a new webhost (Generously donated by Hostdango!)
- November 10th 8am PST – Our initiative goes international! Now there are protests being planned around the world for the exact same minute on November 15th!
- November 10th 10am PST – Hostdango shows even more generousity by upgrading us to an amazingly robust server to ensure that we can handle the traffic! That server goes live the morning of November 11th!
- November 10th 11am PST – WetPaint.com enters the mix of local Seattle based companies donating time and services. Thanks to WetPaint, we now have an amazing Wiki to upload contact information and protest locations for every single city! They created a social site just for us: http://jointheimpact.wetpaint.com.
- November 10th 11pm PST – All 50 states have local organizers in over 80 cities!!!
- We have had almost 1million visitors to the site since launch!
In the meantime... Say No To H8! And Liberate The Love!
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I know that we are glowing from the beautiful and historical triumph of Barack Obama becoming President Elect. But with the passing of Prop 8, we have left so many of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters behind.
With statistics that showed that 70% of black voters voted for prop 8, it becomes clear that there is urgent discussion and healing that needs to be done in our communities.
You don’t have to be a super activist or anything. Just a brotha with a conscience. I would love to hear from straight ally sistas too, but i really think at this is work that at least initially black men need to take on. If anyone wants to form a sister group, beautiful! Holla!! And for LGBTQ folks reading this (especially those of African descent), please feel free to let me know what your idea of a good straight ally is in this context, though you are not expected to educate me/us.
All who fit these criteria, please contact me at email@example.com or right here. And a way that everyone and anyone can help... start a dialogue here, and also please forward this on to others in the Bay Area (lets start local).
I can’t do this alone, and our LGBTQ family can’t wait. Humanity can’t wait. Let us harness the wave of change that is sweeping our nation. We need to act now. I look forward to hearing from you!
str8 black ally
ps to be CLEAR, black folks were NOT the majority of Yes On 8 voters. I believe we were like 6% of the vote. This is not about vilifying or targeting black people. It is an acknowledgment of deep work that has to be done in our communities, work that i strongly encourage others to do in their own communities as well.
pps i would ALSO like to emphasize that it should not be assumed that same-sex marriage is a priority in all LGBTQ lives. It is a choice. For some, there is a choice to invest energy in other issues where discrimination could actually be life threatening. Also, still others may see marriage as an archaic institution steeped in patriarchy and capitalism, a trope of heterosexual culture that some can do without. All very understandable. To me anyway. To be clear, I am allying with LGBTQ folks who are affected by Prop 8 passing. And i would like to see this heterosexual privilege topple. Blesss....
Monday, November 3, 2008
Thank you Bea, for this most precious image! I am now holding it in my heart and mind with a smile that I will have when I cast my ballot. My good friend, Beandrea Davis CYT of JoyfullyBea.com always BRINGS IT in a most positive and insightful way. A magic weaver, helping others to weave magic too. I invite you to also hold this image, as you vote (if you haven't voted already!!) Beandrea goes on to say:
The image of two Black girls living in the White House, being tucked in at night by their parents – the President and First Lady of the United States of America – fills me with hope. I see them laughing, having sleepovers, playing. (I recently read their mother actually puts “play” on to-do lists for them!) Malia and Sasha Obama are ages 10 and 7, and they are Black. Two Black girls living in the White House. The sweetness of that picture!Mmmm. Yes. I Vote For The New Sweetness!! Ashé! more>>
Thursday, October 30, 2008
NO on Props 4, 6, 8 & 9, YES on 2, 5 & 12, YES on OO, VV & WW.
This was well researched, only props N and NN are leaving us kinda going either way, but we gravitated towards Yes for N, and No for NN.
here are some resources so you can make your own decisions, though i know you trust me just fine :) See you in Obamaland next week!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
For real! When I started this blog, I was amazed at how few online resources there were for transfolk. This website seems to really make up for it though. Its called TransYouth.com. Thanks to the lovely people blogging over at Good Vibrations, I am now able to bring this to you... I think me and GV are starting a blog love affair, posting articles from each others blogs :) They are awesome, and reminding me that i should be putting more sex positive posts out there too.
Monday, October 20, 2008
**CONTAINS ADULT LANGUAGE/PROFANITY. IF UNDER 18, PLEASE CHECK OUT ONE OF THE OTHER POSTS. There's good stuff, truss me
Whooo! I didn't know that Wanda Sykes was this awesome! this is hilarious, and deals with the psychology around this issue with brilliance. Humor is definitely the way to get these kinda points across, kudos to her. I am also amped to see a prominent sista in the entertainment world take this on.
One of my favorite quotes that just says it all with undeniable simplicity: "if you don't believe in same-sex marriage... then DON'T MARRY SOMEONE OF THE SAME SEX!" You know?
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I am proud to feature this PSA on my blog, featuring my multi-talented and kick-ass friend Leslie Mah (who is also my tattoo artist). Leslie Mah and Lynn Breedlove of the hard rockin Tribe 8 band deliver an important message. Its up to us to help ensure that archaic ideas that would deny millions of loving, consenting adults the right to get married do NOT get written into law.
This is a moment in time not too dissimilar from when social movements were galvanizing to topple oppressive miscegenation laws in this country, pushing the idea of illegal interracial marriage further into cultural obsolescence. Lets continue to evolve, shall we?
Also help out by donating to make sure that this and other messages get out to voters who have been deluged with lies (that if the discriminating Prop 8 doesn't pass then churches will be taxed, it will affect education... bald faced, desperate lies!!). See the Equality California site and the No On Prop 8 site for details.
Also be sure to vote No on 4, 6 & 9!!
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Wow. its already been 6 months since i decided to try out this "blogging thing". It actually started as an idea to create a social networking page for women (bio or trans) who wanted to meet feminist men, but it gradually turned into the discourse you see here.
Over the 6 months, It has made me really happy to see that my relatively new blog has been getting thousands of hits comprised of people from every continent on the planet, much less to see that college websites and a campus safety website are listing fem.men.ist as a resource. I have also been really grateful to all the other progressive bloggers who have put me in their blogroll. And of course, I am very grateful to anyone who has commented here, or in person, and to all the lurkers who come back time and time again. :)
SO! Fave posts. Your faves, my faves. I got a couple categories, here goes:
Most Popular "101" Posts.
These posts consistently got a lot of hits, and dealt with fundamental definitions and strategies.
The Male Privilege Checklist (gets many many hits every week!)
Five Ways To Be A Trans Ally (A serious post, very helpful)
The Roots Of Xicanisma (Xicanisma, or Chicana Feminism, defined)
Signature fem.men.ist posts:
These deal with issues that are close to my heart & culture, and pertain mostly to issues of sexuality and masculinity.
Thoughts On Jamaica, Masculinity, Performing Gender, Orishas & House Music (i LOVE this post! This is stuff I have thought about for awhile, which intersects personal identities as a Jamaican, a dj, a man, a follower of Orisha, etc)
Homophobia In Jamaica: Thoughts Intersecting Current Politics, Dancehall, Colonialism, Religion, Slavery & Jamaican Patriarchy. (My signature post on homophobia in Jamaica.)
Nostalgia For The Gender Fluid 80's (Could Ready For The World drop now? Earth Wind And Fire? Or can black men only embody a 50 Cent kind of masculinity in the media? This still gets a lot of hits too)
other fem.men.ist faves
Upstream : Prosem About Being An Ally. (This was my first to take on a more creative poetic structure. Also see the post i did last month which was a haiku tribute to Nanny Of The Maroons and Harriet Tubman.)
Report Back From The SFWAR Walk Against Rape (This was a very special and inspiring day. Spirit willing, I want to do this walk every year. Hopefully will have some other men of color down to walk with me too, but i wanna walk regardless)
What Is One Sexist Thing You Are Trying To Unlearn? (Was really trying to create dialogue with this one! It caused some good discussions, on and offline.)
Not So Nice Outside: Street Harassment Is The Rage This Season. (Did this post during the summer. A VERY surprising comment dialogue came from this one!)
MOST CONTROVERSIAL POST!
Whew. Hands down:
Bob Marley's "Kinky Reggae": A Coded Song Preaching Tolerance For Homosexuality And Jamaican Sexual Taboos? (This also holds the record for most commented post. [56 comments at last count!!] And the comments range from agreement, to drawing anger from Rastas, to somehow becoming delvings into erotica written in patois... and much more. This was an intense one, watch di ride!)
So yes, enjoy clicking and reading and commenting and bookmarking and forwarding! There is of course, much more going on in the archives, and perhaps you will find other posts that are your "hands down" favorites. Already, even the post right below this one is getting a crazy amount of hits (Heterosexuality Is A House Of Cards That Can Collapse Anytime! Too. Frikkin. Hilarious).
Thanks again for helping to make this a successful blog. If this has helped make just one male bodied person change their perspective around their privilege, sexism and heterosexism, i feel like i have done my job. No On Props 4, 6, 8 and 9, Go Obama, all power to the people. Bless up!
with love and solidarity,
Friday, October 3, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
The Women's Building, 3543 18th St.
October 3-6, 2008, San Francisco
Theme: The Persistent Power of Socialist Feminism.
Speakers: Civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart and activists and scholars from Central America, China, Australia and the U.S.
Key topics: Multi-racial organizing; the dynamic leadership of youth and queers; women of color and immigrant women spark a labor revival; declaring independence from the twin parties of war.
Workshops: Skills building for women organizers; political theory; movement strategy and much, much more.Radical Women’s 41st Anniversary Conference occurs at a very important time. Around the world, women are part of a bold resistance to reactionary social and political forces. In Latin America, women and indigenous people are providing vibrant workingclass leadership against crippling neoliberal trade agreements. In Mexico, “Adelita” brigades shut down congress to oppose privatization of the nationalized oil industry. These movements provide a powerful stimulus to the entire hemisphere.
In the U.S., women are both targets and opponents of repression. In the anti-war, racial equality, immigrant, labor, student and queer movements, organizing is sparked and driven by women, especially women of color. They demand justice for Sean Bell and Black youth in Jena as well as funding for services in New Orleans. They oppose racist shock-jocks and lead unionization campaigns. They have stopped shipments of Iraq war supplies on the streets of Washington State. They defend civil liberties and continue the fight for affirmative action, childcare, and an end to sexual violence. They infuse the immigrant rights movement with militancy inspired by anti-imperialist upsurges in Latin America and fueled by the fight against U.S. xenophobia.
U.S. women are fighting tooth and nail to keep gains won by past generations, as well as to advance women’s cause. But feminist reformists and NGOs hold back the movement by diverting organizing into single-issue and Democratic Party politics. Radical Women looks for inspiration and strategies to our revolutionary socialist foremothers, and to the civil rights militants, students, lesbians, and unionists who spearheaded the Second Wave women’s liberation movement. Such women today are the sparkplugs for radical change and, by working in coalition with supportive men who have their own stake in achieving human liberation, they can truly shake the status quo.
For more information or to register, go to www.RadicalWomen.org
or contact the Conference Organizing Center at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-722-6057 or 206-722-2453.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
For Faith, For Love, Forever:
In Support of Marriage Equality
A Fundraiser to defeat California Proposition 8 (Ban On Gay Marriage), featuring the cast of "Noah's Arc"
Thursday, October 2, 2008
7:00pm to 9:00pm
First Congregational Church of Oakland
2501 Harrison Street, Oakland, CA
Central to the debate on same-sex marriage in the African-American community is the institution of the black church. Despite media portrayals suggesting complete disapproval, African-American clergy have a variety of opinions on same-sex marriage. This event will highlight an inclusive vision among African-American pastors and ministers, including:
* Rev. Roland Stringfellow, director of the Bay Area Coalition of Welcoming Congregations
* Rev. Lynice Pinkard, pastor, First Congregational Church of Oakland
* Rev. Francine Brookins, pastor, Wright Chapel A.M.E. Church San Francisco
* Dr. Dorsey Blake, Dean of the Faculty Starr King School for the Ministry
Joining in the discussion will be the cast of the hit Logo network television series Noah's Arc. The cast will share their thoughts on making the first black gay love story for the big screen. Voter registration and "No on Prop 8" information will be available following this forum.
Club Rimshot presents
The After Party @ The Vibe Lounge
2272 Telegraph Ave, Oakland
Thursday, October 2, 2008
9:30 pm - 2:00 am
$20 general admission / $40 dollars for VIP
Advance tickets are available at http://equalitytownhall.eventbrite.com/
100% of the proceeds from the door will be donated to the "No on Proposition 8" campaign.
Monday, September 29, 2008
I saw someone post this on Facebook (shocker! i'm on Facebook :) and i watched it... the woman talks about being invisiblized in social/familial spaces... i was nodding, and kinda waited to hear the commentary grow around how women are invisiblized by sexist cultures and institutions... i really thought it was coming, then it took a turn that i wasn't expecting (is anyone else familiar with Nicole Johnson?). I really liked the cathedral metaphor, but umm, i was a bit disappointed with her final message to women around being invisiblized, which to me felt rather pacifying. That's just me though. But its funny that a 1940's movie, "The Invisible Woman" ended up being more radical around women being marginalized and invisibilized in the workplace. (below). In another blog around presidential politics, Sue Gordon makes a more poignant and personal commentary around being invisiblized as a black woman, which also refers to how Michelle Obama has been invisiblized.
Friday, September 19, 2008
MadCat 12 Women's International Film Festival Starts Today- AND only *9* days left to Frida Kahlo Exhibit at SFMOMA!
hello peoples, just a quick shout out on the bay area art scene, it is highly recommended to peep the MadCat 12 Women's International Film Festival. My friend Therese hipped me to this, it sounds very special. And you absolutely HAVE TO see the Frida Kahlo exhibit before it leaves the SFMOMA. You had a lot of time to peep it, time is running out! I saw it yesterday, i was very emotionally affected, overstimulated, inspired... and you just fall in love with her, and respect her strength, vulnerability, passion, vision and much more as you take in her beautifully visceral and sometimes downright anguished images. Not. To. Be. Missed.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I also like the quote that Miriam of Feministing culled from the conference: "We don't think it's much to break a glass ceiling for one woman and leave millions of women behind." See her article for more links.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Saturday, September 6, 2008
hey everybody, hope you are having a great weekend- sorry about the lapse in time since my last post. But surely, it just gave you an opportunity to go through all the juicy archives :)
So yeah, yeah. Sarah Palin. The insane arrival of the anti-celebrity to Obama's meaningful message celebrity is here. A lot has already been said. About how insultingly transparent McCain's choice is. "Look! I nominated a woman! Some might even refer to her as a VPILF! (not my or McCain's quote, saw that somewhere random)" About how sad it would be if pro-Clinton people actually bought it went and voted for McCain so that a woman with worse conservative politics than anyone running could be elected VP. Shoo, if Condaleeza Rice was running, i wouldn't vote for her just cuz she is black. But something has been gnawing a bit at me... how the media seems to be protecting her around the issues of her pregnant 17 year old daughter. Of course, someone as young as that should be protected from the media. But lets put it this way... what would have happened if the Obamas had a pregnant 17 year old daughter? I think we all know the answer to that one.
The Daily Show did some stuff on "the gender card" in the Palin campaign, and shows so many double standards in the reporting, its funny. The same people who were roasting Hilary and being overtly sexist are now crying foul and wagging shame shame shame at all the criticism Palin is getting, because it obviously comes from "deep rooted sexism". Vomit! Of course, even just the phrase "gender card" is so loaded because, much like "race card", it is usually used by people with privilege who don't want to look at their own crap. But this is such a perversion of it, where people in power who don't actually give a flying @#$! about women's rights are using this as a political strategy to protect a woman who reflects their anti-feminist values.
You'll need to turn up the volume on the actual interface when you go to the Daily Show page. Enjoy!
oh JEEZ. i had to put another addendum to this. i try to not post too much about presidential politics cuz it seems to overshadow everything else. And i think everyone by now knows about the laundry list of why Palin is a very scary person. but DAMN. upon simply visiting Feministing, i see them further elucidating that new polls are showing more white women voting favoring McCain/Palin since her nomination; that not only are major news outlets like the Wall Street Journal, NPR and LA Times referring to Palin as a FEMINIST, but that she is also a Sexy SuperMom, Skirt Wearing Feminist that Hilary could have learned something from (like wearing more skirts). It is chilling to see the media laud this woman with terrifying values as so wonderful. Do newscasters have children? Or do they eat them? Sigh, i guess this is just one of the ways capitalisms screws us, paying people to say stuff that is actually bad for people. And oh yes, Feministing also schooled me that Sarah Palin as mayor made sure that rape survivors would have to pay $1200 to ensure that their rapist could be identified by a forensics rape kit. Ok, clearly, i need to start some grassroots Obama/Biden work very soon.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Just found this fierceness via Uncensored Feminista who in turn re-blogged this from Feministing. Sonya "The Drama" Boom Renee, a finalist in the 2006 Individual World Poetry Slam Finals delivers a performance that makes you want her to stand up and applaud, and book her to represent at any event where the subject of women and choice is being discussed. Well, that was my reaction anyways! "I" statements richard, "I" statements...
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I found this great clip on postbourgie via illdoctrine. It really breaks down the origins and psychology behind the hip hop coined phrase "no homo", which is used by hetero men to qualify that their words shouldn't be taken as "being gay". ie, "man, that was smooth how you just slid the ball up there, no homo." This really defines homophobia for me, when straight folks are needing to re-assert their heterosexuality again and again, for fear (phobia) that they may be seen as gay (homo). Someone once defined homophobia to me in literal etymological translation: homo(same)phobia(fear). Fear that you are the same.
In Jamaica, there is definitely a similar dynamic, maybe there is a new phrase by now, but 2 years ago the qualifier was "a nuh lean talk". translation: I am not making lean talk/talk that leans. I am making straight talk. Its pretty amazing, and a little sad to sit in a group of men and hear this over and over, this self-policing. Really feels stressful, like a lot of energy has to go into this constant self monitoring. So basically, though of course LGBT folks have an inordinately rougher time from homophobia and heterosexist oppression, in my opinion hetero folks also suffer psychologically from homophobia. In every model of oppression, i think it is safe to say that both the oppressor and the oppressed lose some humanity in the process.
Monday, August 18, 2008
We saw men talk about their legacies of inflicting (or receiving) violence, how they learned to do that in the context of manhood, how they came to a place of no longer being violent, and what it took. We saw a man come out on stage for the first time as HIV+, and share a heartwrenching story about how his parents have since completely abandoned him. We watched this man share his struggle, tears welling up, voice faltering, as he still proclaimed himself as an emotional survivor, making the best out of life. He had a tearful standing ovation before he was even finished. We also heard a letter from a transman to his folks, folks still trying to understand him. We saw amazing dance that portrayed aspects of black masculinity and survival in this country. We saw a man with cerebral palsy fiercely reclaim his sexuality and beauty in lieu of being invisiblized by so much of society. Another man dealing with the inevitability of having a testicle removed, which mixed humor with vulnerability in a masterful way. We saw more whimsical pieces, dealing with men's no-eye contact urinal rituals, pieces that dealt with hetero men not feeling able to be affectionate and loving to each other, pieces that dealt with the messages of fathers, some extremely toxic, some good. Stories of women being the formative and positive role models when dads weren't around. Tales of struggling with sexuality, tales of spiritual awakenings, and surviving prison. Tales of reclaiming an emotional life, tales of over coming self-hatred for being male, tales of advocating for other boys so that men can be non-violent, loving men... and testimony that despite the hype and images in the media, that black men are loving and compassionate.
And more, much more. (**YouTube updates of the show coming to this blog soon!)
At the end, there was a long thunderous standing ovation, tearstained cheeks, shouts from the audience.
The question and answer period after the performance was charged. People were intensely moved, and people were also intensely triggered. One woman commented that stories of contributions of women felt absent to her (besides being targets of violence or romantic partners) especially in comparison to The Vagina Monologues where women seemed to evoke male influences all the time. Another woman felt that though she appreciated that men were telling these vulnerable stories around how they have been damaged by patriarchy, that the missing piece for her was the privilege that men have to be in these positions in the first place.
And there were other comments asking about violence, including how men could reconcile loving violent fathers... and one disabled woman who experienced the noise level of the music as violence, which was an intense moment. I saw one of the participants get into a open hearted conversation with her afterwards asking what can be done to have the music "NOT be violent."
My feelings about the first two criticisms was that the legacy of fathers is a huge component around how we reproduce patriarchy. As is the reinforcement of fellow men to "man up". It was powerful for me to hear men admit to when they used to hit women. I have never personally known men who hit women. I can see how that can be triggering for women to hear, on many levels, including the representation that women would have in these stories. If anything, perhaps this was a glimpse into the boys club of power that a lot of us live in, shared with vulnerability and awareness. Around the second comment, Josie Lehrer, the person who conceived the project, introduced the show as being a healing process that deals with the effects of patriarchy and imbalances of power. For me, most of the men's stories were testimonies around the toxicity that comes with our privilege, and a lot were also rays of hope around how to transcend the reproduction of these patriarchal behaviors. I am hoping that most people didn't leave this performance thinking this was about men complaining and being oblivious to the power granted us by society. But the comments were duly noted, and perhaps will be formative in the next show.... which i hope to be in this time!
I left La Peña with my mind twirling. It was an intense show. Possibly one of the most impactful shows i have seen in years. It also left me thinking about gender and organizing men with progressive projects. This might just be a personal thing... but i am finding it interesting that i had zero response from other men to do the Walk Against Rape with me, but Josie, an awesome woman, was hugely successful in getting this already historical project going. I want emphasize that this isn't to detract from Josie, i am so thankful for her doing this. I am just looking at a curious dynamic. Of course, men start projects all the time, i know this is just a reflection of my experience. But perhaps it takes someone who is receiving the oppression to really have the solutions. For example, the National White Privilege Conference was founded by Eddie Moore Jr., a black man.
In the meantime, I am glad that this new expression exists. Not men's stories in the patriarchal canon of his-stories, but a breaking of silence around codes we are expected to maintain in order to keep the status quo. Hetero men being able to look at each other and say "i love you". Men transforming their experiences with violence and being a model for youth so that new generations don't replicate the oppression. I am glad i listened to myself and stepped down from performing this time, but i am so looking forward to making a contribution in the future, and i thank Josie and all the men for bringing the realness.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
A lot of good and important stuff is about to go down Bay Area! Here's a brief rundown:
~Starting Today: Oakland Black LGBT Film Festival, @ Parkway Theater
~This Sunday, August 17th: The Men's Story Project, @ La Peña, 7:30
~Friday & Sat, August 22 & 23rd: Shanique S. Scott's Prisons, @ La Peña, 8pm
Mark your calendars and at least peep one people! I know i am going to the Men's Story Project to see my fellow mens get up and perform truths around our experiences, like growing up conditioned in patriarchy, how that hurts us and others, and also stories of vulnerability, strength, sexuality, triumph over obstacles, and much more. I was actually all set to perform in it as well, but had to pull out for personal reasons... but i am still gonna be in the house! I definitely wanna also catch at least one of the films in the Oakland Black LGBT Festival, would love to see "U People", especially since i've been trying to see that for a minit. They say this is the only (or longest running?) Black LGBTQ Film Festival. And last but not least, Shanique S. Scott is back again with her critically acclaimed one woman show at La Peña, Prisons. I have heard earth shattering things about this autobiographical play of a black woman growing up in the Bronx and dealing with very serious choices and issues of struggle and survival- and i have also been tryin to see this for a minute! I need to stop playing around and get some tickets. Support Oakland art & artists y'all! Details at the hyperlinks above. Bless
Thursday, August 7, 2008
I came across this very interesting clip on the Jamaica Land We LGBT blog. It deals with the idea of LGBTQ folks being Two-Spirit, and hetero-folks being One-Spirit. Its deep!! I just came back from Hawai'i a couple weeks ago, where i was told that the keepers of the sacred dances tend to be mahu... which translates into Two-Spirit. And Two-Spirit is also a Native American term. In the Santeria and Yoruba communities, I see surviving African tradition and dances also kept alive by many LGBTQ/Two-Spirit people. IN FACT, in Jamaica, there is only ONE man who is known to be not-straight, and still is a respected elder by all. Some may call him "Sexy Rexy", but to most, he is The Honorable Rex Nettleford... who among many deeds is majorly responsible for keeping traditional sacred dances alive in Jamaica. I remember my dad introducing me to him when i was a young pre-teen in Jamaica... and simultaneously being in awe, and also being all too aware in my young culturally homophobic mind that i was shaking hands with someone gay. Woy! Come to think of it, I think he is the first essentially out queer person I ever met, though I myself have never heard him own it... it just seems to be island knowledge that is accepted.
In the clip, the commentary on traditional Two-Spirit roles as shamans, priests, "gatekeepers" between earth and the divine realms in comparison to One-Spirit roles of making sure the earthly realm is taken care of (reproduction, making sure families prosper, traditional "hunter gatherer" gender roles, etc) make a lot of sense to me. Though of course, hetero-folks can also be very spiritually connected priests and shamans, and queer folks can also reproduce, have families, and thrive in traditional gendered roles. It however makes me wonder if a part of our colonial experience was the colonizer seeing that LGBTQ folks had roles as powerful medicine people, so it is possible that the demonization of queer folks came in strategic tandem with the demonization of our indigenous ways?
The "gatekeeper" term strikes me personally because the Orisha that i am aligned with in Yoruba tradition is Eshu, the Master Of The Crossroads, The Divine Communicator Between The Earth And The Divine, He Who Teaches Through Tricks... The Gatekeeper. It makes me wonder if I am a child of Eshu because I do not inhabit a masculinity that is common to many hetero black men. The journey continues....