Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Friends don't let friends vote Republican this year.

If you're a fiscal conservative, great. If you think private enterprise is the most efficient way to get something done, great. If you think part of keeping the US strong is investing in the military, great. We can have these discussions, and more, later on. But you don't want to vote for these guys. They'll take your ideals and debase them with
 racism, sexism, and jingoism. Worst of all, even those sentiments are just being used to make money for banking and business interests. You know this. So do I. But you can fight this. Find a place for your own conservatism. Claim the term, own it, the way our community did with queer. Go grassroots. Fight. Build coalitions, publish zines. Make your beliefs matter. We need dissent and argument, but between well-informed and vested members of the community. You have four years until the next cycle. And you know, in your heart of hearts, President Obama will not make us a Communist state or sell it to the Muslims. The country will be waiting in 2016. Clean your party or start a new one. Organize! Find your voice and strength. We can argue and debate then. And may the best visions for the country help all of us.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fuddy duddiness

Maybe I am a fuddy duddy. Maybe I'm a workaholic. Maybe I'm a spoilsport, a killer of dreams, a wet blanket. Maybe I need to go to Disneyland again. But I have to say it.
Most of us will never become movie stars. Even here in Hollywood, most of us will not be discovered by a director, or a music producer. A very few of us might. But not really too likely. We may start in this queer film or that queer film, but are you really expecting to parlay that into major studio success?
Nobody is going to become wealthy and secure by lip synching Lady Gaga, no matter how well. We already have someone who does this. She is called Lady Gaga and, from what I can tell, she performs her own stuff.
Besides, I know people who have succeeded in these businesses. You may know some, too. Most of them are fanatics. They put everything into their art--it's not all glamour--it's a lot of effort and most of it is unnoticed and misunderstood.
I worry about selling such dreams to our queer youth. We are stars and special, and amazing, yes--but to present the dream of success in a field that has destroyed so many--a field where being out is still a career killer--where people are paying their dues night after night without ever being in front of a camera. Are we really doing queer youth a service by saying you can be a star by just coming to our programs and being the fabulous you?
Everyone is fabulous, but that is both a great thing and a problem. Being fabulous is not enough. It takes luck and powerful friends and connections and often being monomaniacal to the point of insanity about your craft. It is not about being too cool for school. It is LIVING at school. Oh, and you can't just be fabulous--you have to be brilliant...gifted. Do you have any idea how GOOD some of these performers are?
When I ask an LGBT youth of color "What do you want to be?" and they reply with Madonna or Gaga or West or Minaj or whateverever, part of me breaks inside. Somewhere, somehow "achievement" has been conflated with "fantasy." If you want to be an actor, great. A musician, great--but do you have the will to practice your craft and get better at it? Day in night in? As in not seeing your friends because you have to practice? As in having door after door shut in your face? As in dealing with all the cruelty the entertainment industry can throw at you?
Some people will say yes, and for them--go for it! But know what you are in for. You are going to be a trailblazer and the odds are that you will fail. If you have it in you, you won't care. In fact, you're probably too busy working to be reading this now.
But for those who want to be a star for the image, the identity, the fun... For those who won't give up partying now--it's just not going to work. And even if it did, chances are, you'd be too fucked up to enjoy it.
I wish we wouldn't present stardom as the end point. I wish we would push continually reaching for excellence. I wish we would talk about working hard for something and getting closer each day. I wish we valued glitter less and determination more. I wish it would be less about building self esteem and more about building literacy. Less about being gorgeous for the cameras and more about improving living conditions.
Most of all, I wish we could present other options to our youth. A queer youth in LA has a greater chance of becoming a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a police officer, a restauranteur, a nurse, a CPA... than becoming the next media darling. This sort of excellence does not require luck nor knowing the right people, nor cameras nor glitter.
All it requires is a certain faith...a faith that you will be here tomorrow, and the day after. That if you work hard, you not only will get better. That better means more opportunities and pride for yourself. That is what I wish we would present. That we'd work to help give our youth a faith in their tomorrows, and an accountability to their futures. Flash and glitter fades. Skills, knowledge and wisdom take you forward. Our youth are beautiful, yes... But we can help them be more than that. We can start them on the paths to being wise. We can help them believe that they can grow older, more fulfilled and grateful for every day ahead, that life is not something to burst in a dream, but something that can be nurtured, loved, and raised into ever more meaningful, beautiful and rewarding tomorrows.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Who Watches the Watchers?


I don't know...

Probably the same people who electrify the electricians, beautify the beauticians, surge the surgeons, dent the dentists, dog walk the dog walkers, and plumb the plumbers.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A note to a friend on "Tranny"

Hey L--!
I remember I was going to send you my thoughts on "tranny." This is one of those words that depends so much on context. I believe that humanizing, inclusive language is a good thing, and dehumanizing, othering language is a bad thing. When I say "tranny" to my friend Jamez, who is out as trans, it is because we both share many of the same experiences and struggle. It is a tacit acknowledgment of all we have in common. I think that is fine. When a snotty cisgendered person uses "tranny" as a slur, it is an othering tactic, and instead of referring to our similarities, it emphasizes my differences with the communuity (and, consequently, places my heatlh, dignity, and safety at risk). Not kewl.

When a cis gendered loved one uses tranny, or trans artist refers to hirself as a tranny, these are gray areas. I have actually gently asked my girlfriend to keep from using that word with me, because I want to submerge myself in the ways in which we are similar, not different. And, of course, a trans artist who uses "tranny" as part of hir message or medium, should have every right to do so. However, I cringe when I see "tranny" performances become exploitative.

In the end , uses of "tranny" that build and affirm and nurture seem fine, while those that separate, isolate, and dehumanize are not.

I hope that helps.

If I had a lot of money and/or influence as a LGBT Poohbah.

If I were some sort of mover/shaker in the LGBT community, right now I would send help and supplies and whatever else was needed to those people in the Midwest and South devastated by the tornadoes. I would clearly indicate we came from the LGBT group I was poohbah of, but then just get to work helping people.

We try to build bridges to others when we need them, but the best way to change hearts is to be there when they need us. Besides, it would simply be the decent thing to do.

A Quick Note on Rush Limbaugh and Fresh Flowers

From "More Limbaugh advertisers jump ship" at

"ProFlowers, an online flower delivery service, said in a Facebook posting Sunday Limbaugh's comments were at odds with their corporate image.

'At ProFlowers, our mission is to delight our customers with fresh and long lasting flowers, and that is our singular focus each and every day,' the statement read."

I wonder how the Limbaugh show could have EVER been consistent with ProFlowers' mission. Caveat emptor applies to advertisers as well. You should be careful of where you throw your advertising dollars. Your oversight, carelessness, or flat out greed helped fund and propagate this show. Find shows where listeners might truly be "delighted" with giving and receiving fresh flowers. They are out there. Some of them are even women, some are even queer and our money is just as green as any Rush listener's.

Come on, ProFlowers. Support AIDS walk. Donate to a feminist bookstore. Give a big chunk o' cash to the Special Olympics. Go for it. We could all use a few more flowers. ;)