Real Man Adventures

Real Man Adventures, shown below, is a novel by a transgender man named T Cooper. It was published in 2012 making it a pretty recent book. This book is essentially a transgender memoir. Although the word memoir is never actually used to in the book, that’s basically what it is. Cooper talks about many different things throughout the novel ranging from sex to violence to transgender violence to when he “knew”.

t cooper

My favorite chapter in this book is called “A Few Words About Pronouns”. This chapter starts out with “what’s the first thing people ask when a woman is going to have a baby? Is it a boy or a girl?” Everybody cares about a baby’s sex and nothing more. The main concern of people is what’s in someone’s pants. The question second to that is, as T Cooper says, “is it healthy?”, but that isn’t the main concern. This links in to queer culture because as we all know sex does not necessarily correlate with gender. Within the chapter Cooper goes on to talk about how when he first started using male pronouns people would screw up, and he would be like no it’s okay, it’s probably hard for you. He then said “I stopped being so goddamn accommodating and started gently correcting people”. That’s a big deal. The point in which you stop letting people screw up because they don’t feel like getting it right is a big step. It is an uncomfortable thing but as he said “…you know what’s mildly uncomfortable? Not being seen for who you are, especially by people who are supposed to know and love you”.

This chapter of the book as well as the entire book relates back to our class very well. I think it connects very much with Susan Stryker’s transgender rage. The novel itself is all transgender rage filled. Throughout the book, Cooper words things in a somewhat bitter and cynical way with a hint of some “dark” humor. In the chapter I spoke about, when he wrote “…you know what’s mildly uncomfortable? Not being seen for who you are, especially by people who are supposed to know and love you”, I believe it channeled the anger and bitterness of how he felt when people screwed his pronouns up without really trying. I personally understand that feeling of anger and bitterness about things like that. It’s easily equated with Stryker’s description of transgender rage.

Lesbian Love and Sex in Afterglow

Afterglow: More stories of lesbian desire, sequel to Bushfire: Stories of lesbian desire, is a collection of seventeen stories edited by Karen Barber. The stories offer much diversity, covering love and sex that is long distance, unconventional, for pay, for life, or simply in the moment spontaneity. The stories take the reader all over the country, even as far as Hawaii, and span lifetimes, all the way from tales of teenage awakenings to end-of-life memories. While the stories do generally focus on sex and passion, the stories are about more than that. The stories express the search for lesbian community, history, and belonging. As works of fiction, the stories are real and raw, without relying on characters who are confused or ashamed of being lesbians.

The stories touch on these themes in many ways; where one story might only allude to something, another spans the gap. Starting in the first story in the collection, titled “What is the goal & how will we know when we get there?”, issues of belonging, closure, and certainty (or uncertainty) start to be asked and answered. In this particular story, conflict arises when two women’s life circumstances – living in different states, having families and jobs – generate doubt that any type of long-term relationship is possible, and the story ends with only a slight sense of closure. Two other stories, “Carol’s garden” and “Streak of blue” deal with uncertainty, but here they end in comfort and possibility. All three of these stories represent the struggles of life, and it is important that they come from different angles. Variety is abundant in this collection, and many sides of lesbian existence are shown, even ones that are rarely acknowledged such as prostitution and female masturbation.

Surprisingly, history and legend also factor into a number of stories. The search for history is most notable in “Gardenias,” in which two young lesbians vacationing in Hawaii discover, with the help of an old lady named Eva, the belongings of a performer known as the great Wah Ta Ta. The great Wah Ta Ta was a remarkable woman who, as legend goes, was able to suck whole beer bottles into her vagina. Eva shows the two women some of the items she performed with, such as the emperor’s teacup and ivory and leather dildos. The two women end up using some of her items to have sex while Eva watches from afar. This account is reminiscent of Cheryl Dunye’s quest to find the Watermelon Woman since most of Dunye’s research is gathered from talking to other women and by finding historical artifacts. In both cases, fact and fiction are likely mixed, but the importance of the Watermelon Woman and the great Wah Ta Ta rests on the search for history and identity rather than truth. History and the handing down of knowledge is also important in another story, aptly named “Cunt cult.” Here, a community of lesbians exist to pass their knowledge of love-making down to younger lesbians. Initiation into the cunt cult community means acceptance into the community, but members are expected to spread knowledge rather than keep it amongst themselves.

Of course, “Cunt cult” isn’t the only story centered on sex; to some extent, all of these stories are. Despite this, even the smuttiest ones serve a purpose. None of them feel like filler stories, even though many are very pornograpic. This does not mean that they lack substance; in fact, the focus on pleasure is important because it is a portrayal of lesbian pleasure authored by lesbians for lesbians. “Siesta” and “Telefon” are two good examples of how pleasure is used not only to satisfy the reader but also to emphasize the joys of giving and receiving pleasure. “Siesta” is perhaps the closest to “classic” porn on levels of fantasy and submissiveness, but the narrator is still able to assert the importance of her own pleasure. On the other side, “Telefon” is about the joy of giving rather than receiving pleasure. Additionally, three stories in this collection are stories of sex on the job, titled “Cinema scope,” “Filth,” and “A working dyke’s dream.”

This emphasis on pleasure becomes an emphasis on sharing throughout the entire collection, whether it’s sharing of sex, love, knowledge, history, community, or a sense of belonging. So instead of watching the newest lesbian tragedy on Netflix, check out these and other stories in Afterglow, written by lesbians for lesbians.

Human Puppy Play

Puppy play, or dog play, is a form of animal roleplay that first appeared in the United States in the leather community around the 1960s. Today there is a growing community of human pups and handlers who gather to socialize and play at events all over the United States and Europe. While the majority of the puppy play community is gay men,  people of any gender and sexual orientation can be involved in the subculture. Puppy play is a variation of dominant/submissive relationship that emphasizes the fun dynamic between an owner and their pet. Papa Woof, a long-time member of the puppy play community, described his interest in the roleplay in an interview with Vice.

” ‘Have you ever owned a pet?’ Papa Woof asks. ‘How many times have you come home from a stressed day and thought, what a wonderful life they have? Someone to pet, feed, play with them. They are happy, mostly carefree… That’s what the headspace of puppy play is all about.’ “

Pups have the opportunity to be free of their human personality and embrace a new, carefree headspace. Puppies take on the persona of a biological canine and embrace animal instinct. Most of all, puppies love getting pet and getting love and praise from their handler. Puppies may like to play with chew toys, play fetch, bark, walk on all fours, explore and get in to trouble. Many pups wear gear to enhance the play. Most commonly collars and masks are worn,but all sorts of rubber, leather, and neoprene gear is used in puppy play.

The relationship between a puppy and its handler is a spin off of the master/servant dynamic present in BDSM culture. There is a lot of variety in the relationships between handlers and pups. Some handlers may be more strict and controlling, focused on having a well-trained, obedient pup. Others can be more playful and nurturing, caring for pups in a less strict way. While the dominance of the handler is maintained in all puppy play relationships, there is a lot of flexibility in the way that the handler plays their role.

For many people, puppy play is not necessarily sexual. Many events, such as the popular Pup
Social
 are purely fun, social events that do not allow any kind of sexual play. At such gatherings, puppies play with each other in a puppy mosh pit while handlers observe and socialize. Some events may have vendors, dances, contests, gear demos, classes and more. These events allow people involved in puppy play to meet up in a safe social environment

In this course we have discussed a lot about sex and sexuality and self-identification. Puppy play is definitely to be erotic and sexual, usually restricted to private households and clubs, though it does not necessarily involve sexual acts. The genders of a pup and its handler can conflict with their individual sexual orientations. For example, a gay male pup may have a lesbian handler. Each participant can get pleasure and satisfaction from their role in the role-play, though they may not be sexually attracted to one another. The dominant/submissive relationship and emphasis on gear in puppy play is definitely erotic, but it may not make sense to identify yourself in the puppy play community exclusively by your sexual orientation. For some people interested in non-sexual puppy play, it may make more sense to identify only as a handler or pup than as a gay man or lesbian woman.

 

Tomboy

Tomboy is a graphic novel authored by Liz Prince, and published in 2015. It humorously, and very simply, illustrates the many struggles gender-nonconforming females experience growing up. While specific to Prince’s own life, it is a fantastic representation of youth (and typical youth struggles – parents/family, developing friendships, romantic attraction, ideas surrounding sex) intertwined with the struggles of being a masculine presenting girl/young woman in a culture that is largely unaccepting of this type (“tomboys”).

The novel opens with a scene of four year old Liz Prince in emotional disarray from the thought of having to wear a dress that her grandmother bought for her and ends with a humorous layout of her preferred display of masculinity. As she explains the recurrent theme of her own masculinity throughout childhood and young teenage years, along with the resulting emotional turmoil she experienced because of bullying and the general lack of acceptance from her peers, she continually breaks down her own evolving gender display with humorous commentary.

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A particular struggle for Liz Prince was trying to date boys. A boy she admired and fell for was a boy every girl in her school dreamed of dating; he was a school heart-throb. She was not the typical feminine presenting girl – she presented as more masculine, wore men’s clothes – and he rejected her because of it. This seemed to contribute to her struggle of general acceptance, understanding, and good-feelings of herself.

In An Introduction to Female Masculinity, Judith Halberstam asserts that displays/modes of female masculinity are perceived to be the rejected scraps of heroic and legitimate masculinity, in order to make legitimate masculinity legitimate – the right way to be masculine. It instead, according to Halberstam, is a window through which we can see how masculinity is constructed. When Liz Prince began realizing that she embodied a gender display that is not in line with traditional display for females (being feminine), she captures the emotion perfectly in a single page:

The second image on the page shows the pervasive idea that female masculinity does not equal legitimate masculinity because legitimate masculinity can be found only in males and this is the only way to have a legitimate masculine identity. In the first image, female masculinity also means not being legitimately female (female = co-occuring femininity under this logic), and the last illustration shows utter confusion – a sort of, “what am I?” crisis. If not considered – looking through the lens of the binary – to be truly feminine or truly masculine, where does that leave the gender non-conforming female/woman? It leaves them with no legitimate identity. Judith Halberstam points out that tomboyism is harshly punished (including attempts to “reorient” the individual) and seen as a real problem only when it continues into adolescence and adulthood. As Liz Prince grows up, her continuing tomboyism is more harshly punished by peers, and I believe that the partial results of this punishment of the tomboy individual is the emotion that can be seen in the image above. To quote Judith Halberstam, “Female adolescence represents the crisis of coming of age as a girl in a male-dominated society.” Living within this male dominated society, it is possible to assert that whatever most legitimately masculine males perceive as attractive is the rule, and legitimately masculine males are not attracted to displays of masculinity – so not attracted to Liz Prince; I consider this to be one of the many forms of punishment. She felt this strongly and couldn’t seem to figure out why she was never fully accepted throughout her childhood and young teenage years.

I like Tomboy because it illustrates in pictures, as well as words, the struggles of gender non-conforming females, but with the comfort of humor. Thinking of my own childhood, teenage, and adult experience as a tomboy, I can relate strongly to the experiences of Liz Prince, which made this a very enjoyable read for me.

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-Towards the end of Tomboy, Liz Prince illustrates a time when she discovered the works of Ariel Schrag – another graphic novelist. I highly recommend reading Awkward and Definition, Potential, and Likewise if interested in a story about a masculine presenting woman’s struggle with discovering her sexuality throughout high school…and if you’re as enthralled with graphic novels as me.

Here is a pretty great illustration from Potential –

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House of Ladosha

House of Ladosha, musically starting in 2007, is a hip-hop group unlike any other. Composed of Antonio Blair (Dosha Devastation) and Adam Radakovich (Cunty Crawford Ladosha), House of Ladosha was inspired by New York ball culture. Not only do they throw shade with the beats of their music and their lyrics, but they also dress mostly in drag.

Their music is not a force to be reckoned with. Their performances can be described as ‘an explosion of glamor and terror.’ When watching their performances, you are likely to see Adam dancing more than Antonio, but the atmosphere of the places they perform is definitely like one of those rave clubs. They get their inspiration for their music as they are sleeping at night or while meditating. Antonio normally finds wealthy suitors at her feet, sex with mythological characters and a royal house of cannibalistic “cock pussy bitch faggots” that wear elaborate costumes. Respecting her body, Antonio abandons the usual references to the penis, vagina and butt replacing the hyper-sexualized language that goes with these words. The metaphors she uses instead almost describe interpretations of Salvador Dali paintings.

Both Antonio and Adam had very different childhoods, but they had one thing in common: their parents accepted them for who they were. Antonio grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. His parents were both “art-raging,” so he was always surrounded by everything art related. His parent’s did not care about gender norms either; he had over 30 Barbie dolls when he was younger, and he also wanted to be a gymnast as a child because of their outfits.

Adam grew up in a small town in Ohio. Although his parents were conservative schoolteachers, they always let him explore and do what he wanted to do. His older brother, Brian turned him onto rap music. As a child, he also loved any sort of television show that made him feel excited and fashionable.

As well as music, House of Ladosha is also considered to be like a second family. The starting members of the house all met in New York. They had all traveled from all over the country to attend New York’s fashion school. They started out going to parties together, but then it became much more as they got more comfortable with each other. Their family is described differently than the standard American family, however: this family consists of people that they have ki ki’s with. Those who are apart of this family also have dinner together and talk on the phone with each other. As a whole, the House of Ladosha family is a group of artists who rage.

Vampire Eroticism of “American Vampire”

Reproducing by blood and bite, the eroticism of vampires is already rather strange. Yet, mainstream culture of the past few decades has accepted it with open arms from one vampire horror flick to the next, novels, movies, and TV series, coming to a halt with the unfortunate release of Twilight (which is a rant all its own…I digress). The dark fiend first popularized with ancients such as Dracula and Nosferatu has since become fetishized for its powers: immortality, supernatural enhancements, mesmerizing stares, and more all for a change in diet. While fascination with the dark and mythic is perhaps unsurprising, Trevor Little’s choreography displays an incredible display of progress in the popularization of homoeroticism with its intersectionality of the vampire genre. Not only does his choreography exhibits the erotic in the scene, but does so through partnering in the highly traditional form of ballet (ignoring contemporary opinions of guys in tights, that is).

American Vampire: Please Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
Choreography by Trevor Little, Nov. 6, 2006, Wicked Boy Ballet Company

In intimate space, it’s uncertain if there is a magical whisper of sweet nothings that leads the man to turn his head so gingerly towards the vampire, or if there is another attraction in play (:00-:12). Regardless, from that moment on an exchange of dominant display and body fluids ensues between two male dancers. Utterly drained of life, it is through blood that the man is able to regain “life” from the vampire and does so through aggressive means, grabbing, biting, and climbing the vampire for a taste(:45 onward). The vampire, instigator of this encounter, is aware of this with constant teasing and taunting holding the man-turned-vampire’s needs just in reach (1:12). The vampire holds, supports, and swings the newly turned in a manner typically reserved for female roles in the traditional form (1:20, 1:25, 1:40, 2:34), which even reserved for a moment (1:47) suggesting a fluidity to the roles of these men in their exchange of fluid and power. The sensation of blood flowing through the vampire’s arms is met with a longing stare and intimate brushing of the hand over the vampire’s bicep (2:09), and exposure of his torso as the former man goes down for another bite (2:14). Not to last long, the vampire reestablishes himself as the new turned vampire seems to calm and agree with the transformation; the vampire continues in his assists, his hands grasping at those parts we might consider vulnerable or intimate (2:34), grabbing at the ankle, upper thigh, and lower abdomen. We get pauses as well (2:43) where the intimacy of an attempted bite resembles more of whispers, nibbles, or kisses between lovers, ending with the newly turned jumping into the vampire’s arms (2:47) which at least reminds me of the archetypical scenes of a groom carrying his bride.

While the homoerotic in its actual form (two human men) might elicit disgust, the mechanisms of the vampire (regardless of abject origins) have become something of fascination. Although signs of this projects completion are absent, this clip has spread across the web with multiple uploads to Youtube and other blogs or websites. The appreciation for the homoerotic vampire has a presence on the web, as if EdwardxJacob was not enough… Although short, it is an artist’s movement towards what Shelley envisions in a dissolving of labels and full integration of the homo and hetero; recognizing they are of the same kind. Even if Little’s work were just a study, it’s presence may still serve as inspiration. Ideally, arguments like this will no longer need to be made, but rather we will be able to appreciate this work and others by the merit of their craft, as Little’s choreography beautifully blends drama and form in his tale of vampires.

God Is Gay

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“God is gay” was a spoken slam poem by 20-year-old University of North Carolina drama student Elliot Darrow. It was performed during the 2013 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational finals. Elliot Darrow identifies as a straight, male Christian despite the fact that he does not currently attend church due to the time constraints of college life.

Most of Darrow’s poetry portfolio is made up of social issues, but “God is gay” was one of his first pieces that directly addressed his faith. Darrow started wondering if God were gay about a year and a half before writing “God is gay”. Though he doesn’t believe that God is a sexual being, his goal was to show that even God could have human traits such as sexuality.

When starting the piece, Darrow studied the bible to see how the church should view homosexuality. He wanted to break out of the idea that God hates gays and instead show that God loves all. Darrow challenges conventional views using bible passages in his poetry.

I chose to include this piece in our archive because it gives a fresh and interesting view on homosexuality. Many Christians view homosexuality as being wrong, so it is refreshing to see someone challenge that. Darrow directly opposes the view of most Christians, specifically when he suggests that Mary is a lesbian and Jesus’s two fathers could have been gay.

One thing that we discussed in class and read about was the straight mind. I feel that this poem essentially “calls out” how the church lives in a straight mindset and believes that anybody who is not that way is doing life wrong.

“What if I told you God is gay? Do you think belligerent bible-belters would still holler hate speech to the hilltops in His name?” When Darrow says this, he’s implying that the church is so straight-minded that even if God was gay, they might still condemn homosexuality.

“And although it has been accepted in recent years that there is no such thing as nature, that everything is culture, there remains within that culture a core of nature which resists examination, a relationship excluded from the social in the analysis — a relationship whose characteristic is ineluctability in culture, as well as in nature, and which is the heterosexual relationship.” This is a quote from The Straight Mind and blatantly displays the idea and logic behind the straight mind. Those that possess the straight mind believe that heterosexuality is the “natural” way to go, but Darrow is challenging that.

In “God is gay”, Darrow poses interesting points such as the fact that the Garden of Eden seems to have been designed by a queer and that God created the rainbow, the symbol of the queer community.

Darrow quotes two important bible verses in his poem: “Judge too and you shall be judged” (Matthew 7:1) and “Condemn not and you shall not be condemned” (Luke 6:37). These both show what Darrow believes to be God’s true message. He then contrasts these verses with a quote by the head of the Westboro Bapstist church, “You’re going to Hell. God hates fags.”

“The Living End” – Fuck The World

the living end

FUCK THE WORLD!

Greg Araki, “The Living End”: [an irresponsible movie] (1992). Both HIV+, Jon – a pessimistic movie reviewer – and Luke – a borderline psychotic wanderer (to be modest) – take a road trip across the states. Filled to the lip with violence, alcohol, sex, and just really, really poor decisions, the duo’s embodiment of the opening phrase “FUCK THE WORLD” becomes something of comedy. While a vital move in bringing the immediate issue of HIV/AIDS to the mainstream with support for an LGBT community through that lens, “The Living End” also embodies a significant amount of rage and pain felt by many who were abandoned during the AIDS crisis. More than a tribute, the exaggerations of this film manifest the raw emotional anguishes likely faced by many of the LGBT community, especially gay men.

Jon’s rather ordinary life is immediately disrupted by his positive HIV test and Luke (another HIV+ man with a known kill count of at least 3). We are immediately immersed in a seeming binary of extremes for those diagnosed with HIV: try to continue living as normally possible, or take life by the balls in light of an untimely and inevitable end. Faced quite literally with the end of living, Luke persuades Jon through multiple means (seduction, coercion, intimidation) to explore the latter alternative. Jon complies and indulges himself, with continual reluctance as he constantly keeps in touch with his best friend and primary support Darcy – who even then seems rather helpless in the ordeal despite her best efforts. Jon is thrown back and forth between Darcy’s pleading for him to come home, and Luke’s exhilarating (and criminal) antics.

So yes, there are moments of humor, at Jon’s complete oversights of Luke’s violent side in favor of his sweet and sometimes deviant sexual behaviors (public nudity/sex, choking at climax). However, we’re still left with Jon’s sense of apathetic loss of direction as he constantly asks “Why,” and Luke’s senseless disregard for any aim whatsoever, attempting suicide at sexual climax to avoid the slow decay of disease. Too bad, they figure, they were not born sometime later after the seeming invention of “safe sex.” Yet this was the places thousands of people found themselves in while a presidential administration turned away.

Many tried to just keep on living, something more akin to Sir Ian McKellen’s character from “And the Band Played On”, although a diffusion of enjoyment of life towards cynicism, depression, and apathy are unsurprising if not expected. Luke offered an excitement for Jon, a means to live life to the fullest with what little was left, so much so that he abandons possible treatment (as if he could have afforded it). Conversely we have Luke, who has been so pushed to the edge every day of his life is a fight to survive. People of all sorts of crazy and ignorant come out to kill him on the premise of perceived sexuality (Luke having that “something” that marks him as gay in the time period; never mind the disease is slowly destroying his immune system too). Rage of all sort manifests with Luke, for his illness, for the hate he receives, for the end he can do nothing to stop or put off. And it burns out at some point, leading him to rape and suicide. So for as much as there might have been a laugh at Jon’s reaction to all of that, from a slap across the cheek to a deep, passionate kiss, there’s also a terrifying truth to it. There is a necessity for presence, real understanding.

It’s not that Darcy didn’t mean well trying to help Jon keep life “together,” but life couldn’t be that way after his diagnosis; nor is Luke’s wild ride of liquor, guns, blood, sweat, sex, and more a means of fulfilling what’s lost with the acquisition of the virus. To have someone there, to hold, to love, in the dark final hour, it was worth it for Jon. He pleads with himself all the time, “Why,” why does he stick around with some psycho rather than go back to his normal life. He was truly displaced and, on a macro scale, abandoned. The actions of the LGBT community and allies during and immediately after the AIDS crisis deserves applause, such that Luke’s rage was not widespread, but rather efforts were made to educate and learn more about the virus and means of caring for people. It could seem appropriate, only in the progress of history where HIV/AIDS is no longer equal to death, that we can take a camp look at the ordeal and just how sensible it would have been to take a rampaging road trip when the people with the means to help didn’t give a fuck.

Sharon Needles

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Sharon Needles is by far my favorite drag performer. She embodies a drag persona that consistently challenges it’s own culture – the high-femme of drag queens – with her love of shock value. Her persona is strongly androgyne, and at other times “dusty-femme,” (defined below) but is presented within an art that most often deliberately acts in strict opposition to traditional gender display. Traditional here meaning consistent with one’s biological sex and accordingly masculine or feminine. Drag performers typically embody the opposite side of the gender binary to an exaggerated degree, which often produces a parody and theatrical performance of culturally constructed traditional gender – this can be seen in Ru Paul, Adore Delano, Alaska Thunderfuck, Courtney Act, etc. Sharon Needles does not seem to follow this “rule” of drag queen culture.

I consider dusty-femme to be a persona that is not traditionally feminine, but still is feminine: it is hard to see (it is “dusty”); it is rough around the edges, blunt, and/or crude, yet ultimately femininely styled. The mode of dress, including makeup and hair, is not always finely groomed, or elegantly presented, but the bodily movements are. This aesthetic is exemplified in the video “Kai Kai” with Sharon’s frizzy yellow hair, dark lipstick, and marijuana-leaf dress paired with femininely stylized movements. It is exemplified also in the glam-goth aesthetic of “Dressed to Kill” and “Call me on the Ouija Board.”

 

Call me on the Ouija Board

In both of these videos, Sharon Needles embodies a glam-goth aesthetic, which I consider to fall under the category of dusty-femme. In my observations and understandings, goth-aesthetic embodying females are generally viewed as unfeminine in relation to traditional female identity as a “pretty woman” (the woman we see in mass media) and thus mostly undesirable to our heterosexist and misogynistic culture at large – it is not the “proper” way to be feminine and female. It’s heavy and dark, blunt and overt, as opposed to light and passive.  Sharon Needles is the goth woman with traditional power, creating glamorous femininity with elegant movement on the fashion runway in “Dressed to Kill.”

Note: Not that upholding traditional values of the necessity of femininity in females and/or women is a great thing, but drag is an intentional performance of gender, and Sharon Needles performs well.

However, in “Call me on the Ouija Board” for a portion of the video she creates a sort of meta-drag with goth aesthetic – a male, impersonating a female, dressed in partial men’s attire. She pulls it off well, maintaining an air of femininity with elegant movements, but in partial male dress – producing a very powerful androgynous glam-goth woman complete with dark eye makeup, short black hair, long black nails, red eyes, red tie, white button-up, black dress, an aesthetically pleasing black hat, and words of ouija boards.
Sharon Needles
The androgynous figure she embodies in “Call me on the Ouija Board” calls to mind Judith Halberstam’s An Introduction to Female Masculinity as well as Judith Butler’s explanations of performance and performativity.

 

Kai Kai – Sharon Needles and Alaska Thunderfuck

I’d like to consider the approach of this video to be a parody of Pure Camp. According to Susan Sontag in “Notes on Camp,” Pure Camp is essentially naive and serious, in that the seriousness fails to be serious. This means that Pure Camp cannot be obtained with the intention to produce Camp because then it is not naive. The very statement of “going camping” is an act of deliberate Camp; deliberate camp is produced with the intention to be Campy. Alaska and Sharon fantastically, with exaggerated inflection, refer to going camping declaring, “It will be Pure Camp!” I analyze this to be a statement with deliberate intention to be paradoxical. It is not Pure Camp, and is thus a parody of Pure Camp. It is Camp that knows itself to be Camp while claiming the opposite. Camp itself has an element of parody, and self-parody, seeming to make this production a parody of parody, and under this analysis, is unquestionably humorous.
It’s certain that “Kai Kai” is Camp – it is very stylized, very exaggerated, and essentially contentless – much like John Waters film “Pink Flamingos.” In “Pink Flamingos” it is impossible to draw symbolic meaning. Every image is exaggerated and stylized to a point of unreal-ness. It is a great example of Camp (maybe even parody Camp) and is a fantastic representation of, to quote Susan Sontag, “things-being-what-they-are not.”

 

“Notes on Camp” – Susan Sontag: http://faculty.georgetown.edu/irvinem/theory/Sontag-NotesOnCamp-1964.html

Korea Queer Culture Festival

Korea Queer culture festival is the largest queer cultural festival in Korean and second largest in Asia. It first took place in the year 2000 and usually happens in late May to early June annually for about 15 days. Different year the event takes place at different locations throughout South Korea. Korea is a conservative country and many people see homosexuality as a foreign phenomenon. Homosexuality remains largely taboo in South Korean society and same-sex people are seldom seen in public. LGBT people in South Korea face discrimination that heterosexual people do not. However, unlike many similar events photography is limited in this event. This is done to minimize public exposure of LGBT people to avoid discrimination.

Even though there is no law against homosexuality in Korean history, homosexual couples and households are not entitled any legal protection from the government, unlike heterosexual people. Transgender people are allowed to have surgery to reassign their gender after age 20. People in dominantly religious country are more likely to reject the idea of homosexuality according to the Pew Research Center survey published in Washington Post. According to the survey 18% people in South Korea support homosexuality only. Homosexual people are often stigmatized and sometimes not classified as humans, as the country remains largely conservative on matters of sexuality. Political parties and most elected politicians of South Korea tend to avoid addressing LGBT rights issues except the Democratic Labor Party. The Democratic Party is the third largest political party and has a political panel known as ‘Sexual Minorities Committee.’ Their agenda includes discrimination against homosexual people and discrimination based on sexual preferences and equal rights for sexual minorities. I chose this event for my post because it shows even though Korea is a developed country but still the way people thinks is greatly influenced by religion and political influence. It relates to our class discussion of how politics and religion shapes a person’s view and on a much border scale a nation’s view. Military service is mandatory for all men Koreans. Active homosexual military members are categorized as ‘personality disorder’ or ‘behavior disability’ and honorably discharged. Korean Queer Culture festival receives no support from the government except the Democratic Labor Party.

The festival normally begins with opening events followed by a parade and after-party at club Pulse in Seoul’s Itaewon neighborhood, although celebrations continue in all LGBTQ clubs across the city People attending the event wear mask to avoid recognition on a website or newspaper for fear of reprisal by family, friends or co-workers. Demonstrators continue to disrupt the annual gay pride of South Korea where all gay and transgender Koreans meet together for a series of events and parades, recognized internationally as a gay pride month. The number of participants attending the event increased over time-but the increased visibility of LGBT supporters has also meant that the number of protestors also increased. Christian groups ran a campaign for weeks to try to block the parade. In May 2015, they camped out for weeks in front of the police station where parade organizers had to apply for permit and filed a counter request to hold the parade. Police initially ruled in favor of the anti-LGBT response committee, however a court ruled on June 2015 that the parade had to be allowed. The parade was banned in 2015 and this has attracted international attention to the event. This progressed LGBT rights in South Korea. Photography was banned in this event until 2010. The organizers issued no photography stickers, ribbons and bands. People who will allow photography will have to register or else faces will be blurred before publishing online.

senhanced-9237-1435489058-1Parade

Largest counter-protests was organized by merging some of Korea’s largest Christian Church associations together as anti-LGBT response committee. The committee held a worship service across the street from the gay pride event and the committee was blasting sermons, hymns and prayers loudly enough to overwhelm the sound system of the event. Protestors held sign on their laps which says, “We pray for Korea not to be diseased/sick with homosexuality.” Girls performed ballet which resembles God’s angel and purity and to show what real beauty looks like. Some protestors laid down on the street to block the parade. But they were immediately removed and the parade went off without any major incidents.

korea-queerPictured, a demonstrator protested the 2014 Korea Queer Festival by holding a sign to obscure the view of the performance behind him

General awareness of homosexuality remains low among people in Korea because people are afraid if they come out, they will be face difficulty both in work place and among families. However there is increased awareness of homosexuality and gay-themed entertainment in the media can be seen now. According to a number of advocates for sexual minorities, two major issues are holding LGBT human rights- lack of awareness in society and strong opposition from the Christian Church.