Having a Political Identity

Once you come out as being part of the LGBTQIA+ community, society labels your sexuality as “political.”

Part of this is because sexuality and gender have always been seen as a political issues. Getting married, having children, going to the bathroom, and even just existing in public are political fights we’ve had over and over, and continue to have. We’ve been labeled “other” and our rights are not a given like our heterosexual and cisgender counterparts. Our rights are debated on stages and we’re often thought of as an issue on a ballot rather than human beings by homophobic and transphobic law makers.

Not long after coming out I remember having an a-ha moment. “People hate me because of my sexuality and I am now considered a minority.” In my privileged white-suburban-Christian-girl world, this took my brain for a tale-spin. I had never been hated for just existing before, and it didn’t feel good. The other thing that set in, especially after the 2016 election, was that my right’s could be taken away at any time no matter how unconstitutional or morally wrong that is.

Due to these reasons and a million more, I embrace society viewing my sexuality as political. I believe being an out LGBTQIA+ person is a form of resistance. While being LGBTQIA+ isn’t a choice, being out is (Most of the time.) I feel pride in actively resisting our cultures standards and beliefs by simply existing. Personally I live in a largely republican area in Texas, so I feel an even greater urge to exist as my queer self. I needed to see other people who were LGBTQIA+ just living life when I was younger, and now I want to be that for someone else. It truly humanizes the experience to see other queer people in public enjoying life and being care-free.

I no longer have the privilege of not being actively engaged in politics. Between being gay, being a woman, and being disabled, someones always trying to take away my rights. So I will continue to embrace my “political identity” and practice acts of queer resistance.

How do you practice queer resistance?

What do you think about having your identity politicized?

 

How To Be a Good Ally

Allies are great.

They help us fight for equality and often offer love and support as friends, family members, and significant others. Where do you start? Here’s how I think you can be a good ally:

  1. Listen – Listen to those in the LGBTQ+ community and don’t talk over us. Wait for your time to talk and recognize when your opinion isn’t needed. Let people tell you what they need, instead of assuming. Listen to how your friend/partner/family member feels and what they need from you. An open mind and listening ears goes a long way, especially when someone is trying to figure things out or has just come out.
  2. Educate- Educated yourself about the community, all of the community. Learn different sexualities, genders, and romantic identities. Learn about LGBTQ+ issues and stay up to date on news that involves the community. Try to educate others, especially when other people are saying bigoted things or using slurs.
  3.  Love- Everyone just wants to be loved. Respond to the LGBTQ+ people in your life with love even when you don’t understand what they’re going through. There’s no way you’ll be able to understand it all, but listening to them and loving them will make a huge difference.
  4.  Vote- Voting is one of the biggest ways, in my opinion, that you can help our community. Vote against discriminatory laws, and vote for people who are going to bring about positive change. Do not stand idly by while bigoted people try to attack our community, especially right now.
  5. Respect- Respect everyone’s identity. Use the correct pronouns and preferred name for everyone you meet. Respect that someone may not be open to talking about their sexuality or gender, or being queer in general.

 

What did I miss? How can someone be a good ally to you?

 

Self-Expression After Coming Out

A few months ago BuzzFeed released a video on how people’s style changed after coming out, and they had a group of people dress like their closeted selves for a day. Honestly I didn’t think other people had thought this through as much as I had.

Before I came out, and before I accepted my sexuality I was overtly feminine. I worse lots of skirts, dresses, jewelry, heavy makeup (ugh someone should had told me I looked terrible), and I had long hair. I never had a girly style before but I felt more pressure as I got older to trade in the messy bun and basketball shorts, for long curled hair and a mini-skirt. A lot of it was sub-conscious and I didn’t really realize what I was doing until years later.

I would see things I wanted to wear, but thought “no that’s too masculine.” In reality it wasn’t masculine at all, it just wasn’t nauseatingly feminine like I had made myself used to. After coming out something just switched. I wore whatever I wanted, which was usually still leaning towards feminine, but I felt more comfortable. I normally wear jeans, a shirt, and vans or clarks. So does sexuality affect style?

I would say yes and no. In some instances once people are comfortable with themselves and come out, then they feel they can dress how they’ve always wanted to. Like any culture or community there is a specific style that a lot of people follow. Some stereotypes are here for a reason, I mean a lot of lesbians do wear flannel, like a lot. I don’t think it’s bad thing though, unless you feel like you have to change the way you dress in order to be taken seriously or fit in.

My self-expression changed when I became comfortable with myself, and I think that’s true for a lot of people. When you spend months, years, or even decades being uncomfortable the second you stop feeling even a tiny percentage of that awkwardness, you never want to go back.

Did your style or general self-expression change after coming out?

What changed?

 

The Truth About Texas

Texas is the butt of many jokes, specifically about how conservative it is.

While it may be a red state, Texas isn’t always the hell it’s been made out to be.

I’ve lived half my life in South Texas – San Antonio, and the other half in North Texas – Dallas. I’ve always lived in the suburbs so my experience stems from that. Cities like Dallas, Austin, and Houston are all incredibly progressive and you’ll find more democrats than republicans there. San Antonio is a little different. There’s a heavy catholic influence so people tend to lean more conservative, but there re still more progressive people in the city than other places in Texas.

The high school I went to was predominately white, but also had a sizable asian population. While there was the occasional super republican kid who spit out all the bigoted phases they heard at home, most people were pretty chill. I came out to a few of my friends at the time, and while they were shocked, it wasn’t a big deal. There were LGBTQ+ kids who were out and dating and most people didn’t care or at least didn’t care enough to say anything.

You will see protesters outside planned parenthood or standing on an overpass with their open carried guns, but those kind of people are everywhere. Even in the most liberal areas in the US there are still conservative people. I think most people would be surprised how many progressive and moderate people live here.

My narrative may be different from someone who grew up in a small town. The small town conservative mentality reaches much farther than the South though. Being LGBTQ+ in Texas isn’t always the death sentence its made out to be. While I would never want to erase the struggles of people who have experienced abuse for being LGBT in Texas, I think it’s important for people to know that isn’t everyones narrative. There are happy LGBTQ+ people who live in the South and people who come from religious families who have positive coming out stories.

Do I daydream about living in San Fransisco where most people identify with being LGBTQIA+in some way or another? Yes of course, but for now i’m pretty happy right where I am. I want to see the Texas legislature be reformed and more sane people go into power. These past few weeks a lot of bigoted laws have been put into place, and that has to change. I don’t think running to leave Texas the first chance I get is going to help anyone, and for now I want to stick around and do my part to make Texas a place where everyone is respected and receives the equity they deserve.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

Queer-Baiting and Representation

We’ve all been there, a “hit television show” brings in a queer character or reveals one of their characters is queer and we start binge watching the show solely for the LGBTQIA+ representation.

All too often the characters are either killed, written out of the show, or declare being queer a phase and “go back” to dating the opposite sex as if bisexuality isn’t a thing. Most recently the shows that have made headlines for doing this are The 100 and Supergirl. These are two examples of blatant queer-baiting, but many shows queer-bait in a less obvious way. They make two girls/guys have a flirty relationship that’s implied but not explicitly stated, then once the ratings go up from queer people flocking to the little representation we have, they kill one of them off. TV shows shouldn’t be using the LGBTQIA+ community for views only to get rid of the queer characters the first chance they get.

While we have way more representation now then we did even three or four years ago, a lot of it still has problems. I’d like to see LGBT people in healthy relationships just living life every once in a while. Maybe that isn’t “good TV” but it’d be nice to see. It seems like big problems arise in most characters situations or sexuality is the premise of their character. Why can’t they be gay without it being a big deal or being one big stereotype?

The killing of LGBT characters specifically queer women is what’s most alarming to me. It happens so often that it isn’t a coincidence at this point. I feel that it sends a very clear message that Hollywood does not value LGBT lives or at least sees them as expendable. Some people may think that conclusion is dramatic, but these repetitive actions seem very straightforward. LGBT lives are disposable and unworthy; They are deserving of physical harm, death, or to be cast aside when Hollywood is done using them. Sending these messages is incredibly dangerous to the community, specifically young people who are looking for guidance and an image of what their future may be like.

Most representation is good, but accurate and diverse representation in more important. I’m happy to see more LGBTQ+ characters on TV and in films, but I’d like to see more diverse stories. The tale of a cis-white-middle class gay person isn’t the narrative of many people in the Queer community or even most. There also isn’t a lot of representation for non-binary, intersex, or asexual people. What’s up with that?

I think we should be a little more picky about the TV shows we choose to support. We shouldn’t just accept any representation, but rather demand the diverse and accurate representation we deserve!

– Alyssa

When We Rise

When We Rise is a four part mini-series documenting the journey of LGBTQIA+ activists Cleve Jones, Roma Guy, Ken Jones, and Cecilia Chung who were leaders in the civil right’s movement which later turned into the Gay right’s movement.

As someone who is a part of then LGBTQ+ community and is too young to have been alive during the time of many of these historical events I believe it’s very important to educate myself on Queer History and culture. We don’t learn these things in school and they definitely aren’t in our textbooks. Even the biggest events like the Stonewall Riots were never spoken of in any classroom I’ve been in. Our textbooks are white-washed and filled with the the accounts of straight white men, so it’s up to us as individuals to learn about the history that the rest of society actively tries to erase.

When We Rise covers Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the AIDS epidemic, police relations with the queers community, and marriage equality. While none of this was news to me, it was quite heart wrenching to see it played out. I think ABC did a good job showing just how brutal the world was to the LGBTQ+ community during the 1970’s. One critique I have of the series is it is mainly based in New York and San Francisco, which is where the movement took place so it makes sense, but this doesn’t show how much more danger people were in when living in different areas in America.

I thought one thing they did really well was covering the AIDS epidemic. It was incredibly informative and if you had never been told about the governments response ( well lack there of ) then this would be very eye opening. They showed the resilience of the community and how they banned together during this difficult time. We lost nearly an entire generation of queer men and a lot of people don’t realize that.

I would have liked to see LGBTQ+ people play these roles and I’m not sure why the casting directors chose not to cast queer people for the majority of the roles. I looked up pictures of many of the real people in this series to see if they chose actors who looked like them, but that really wasn’t the case. They were great actors and did a good job, but I think queer people should play queer roles in films and on TV.

Overall despite a few things I would change, this was an amazing series and couldn’t have come at a better time. It was raw and didn’t hold back or sugar coat any situation. When We Rise showed the revolution and resilience of the community like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I think everyone, gay or straight, should watch this mini-series and learn about this piece of history that we often don’t shed a light on. We are still living the “LGBT civil rights movement” with things like the bathroom bill in North Carolina being passed, revoking the protection of trans kids in public schools, and the laws in Texas that are being considered right now.

Did you watch When We Rise? What did you think?

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

Fried Gay Tomatoes?

Over the Holidays I watched Fried Green Tomatoes with my sister. I had heard of the movie before, but I had never seen it, and I’ve got to say it is so queer!

Idgie the main character obviously is a lesbian and has a thing for her friend Ruth. It may be cannon, but i’ts there. The whole time we were watching the movie, I kept saying “this movie is so gay!” My sister who had seen the movie before didn’t realize it, but once I pointed it out, she couldn’t stop seeing it either. The sexual tension between the two of them is crazy.

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Maybe I’m just looking too far into it, but I don’t think that’s the case. I’ve never heard anyone talk about this movie having gay characters and that’s crazy to me. The movie was made in 1991, but is set in the 1920’s. From the way they dress Idgie, to her mannerisms and they way she talks, they made her a pretty stereotypical lesbian. She wears button down shirts, slacks and suspenders, while all the other female characters dress overtly feminine.

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Idgie also was friends with black people during a time where it wasn’t considered socially acceptable for white people and black people to be friends. There is a strong prevalence of the KKK in this movie, and Idgie is always fighting them. While this isn’t a direct sign that she’s gay, minorities do tend to stick together, because we can understand some of each others struggles. Maybe I am looking too far into this?

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I think the ultimate deciding fact is the way Idgie looks at Ruth. When Ruth marries Frank Bennett, Idgie is devastated. Also when she figures out Frank is abusing Ruth, she doesn’t hesitate to get Ruth out of there, and take care of her. Idgie takes care of Ruth up until the day she dies, and continues to love her when she’s in her old age and Ruth is gone. This movie really delves into the true meaning of love, and what that looks like.

Their romantic relationship may be played down a bit, but the love they had for each other is undeniable. I did some research to see if I was the only one who thought this, and I’m definitely not alone. So what do you think? Are Idgie and Ruth a couple? Let me know!

-Alyssa