Taxi Zum Klo

The film “Taxi Zum Klo” is a semi-autobiographical movie from the year 1980, and is about an elementary school teacher who is forced to live a triple life at work and then at night. It was written and directed by Frank Ripploh who is played by himself in the film. This movie takes place in West Berlin which an island surrounded by East Germany. When this film was released in 1980, West Berlin was a capitalist culture surrounded by communism. The main character Frank Ripploh pretends to be straight during the day and then lives as an open gay man and sometimes a drag queen at night. In order to maintain his occupation and fit in with society, Mr. Ripploh is forced to conceal his urges to be with other men.

The first side of Frank Ripploh’s life that is revealed is his role as an elementary school teacher. It can be assumed by his lack of seriousness and passion for his job, that Ripploh is not feeling fulfilled by his job and he does not like this part of his life. Ripploh only attends school events when they are required, he grades his student’s papers in the bathroom stalls, and he even used a student’s notebook to write down a guy’s number at a gas station. Immediately after teaching his class, Ripploh rushes to the bathroom to cruise with other men to satisfy his needs and urges that must be ignored as a straight schoolteacher. I would argue that Frank Ripploh is very unhappy while at work, even if he does not realize it. Instead of focusing on his duties as a teacher he is fantasizing about what he will do when he goes out at night.Taxi Zum Klo Teacher

Secondly, Frank Ripploh is shown cruising when he is in pursuit of anonymous gay sex. A majority of this cruising took place in the bathrooms, but there were also some scenes in the woods and other random public places. Despite the constant cruising and random hookups, one of his inner conflicts is that he has a current steady boyfriend named Bernd who is expecting a monogamous relationship. However, Ripploh is not satisfied by a relationship only with Bernd. Frank Ripploh needs more sex and titillation in his life, so he turns to cruising to pursue this alternate lifestyle.

Lastly, towards the end of the film Frank Ripploh goes to Berlin’s annual queen ball where he expresses his third lifestyle as a drag queen named Peggy. During this part of Ripploh’s life, he is free to explore sex with other men and other drag queens. There is a scene where Ripploh is dancing with another guy right in front of his boyfriend Bernd, and this upsets Bernd but also turns him on at the same time.Taxi Zum Klo Drag Queen Peggy

Frank Ripploh’s monogamous relationship with Bernd filled some of his needs. Although it left him feeling bored and he wanted the relationship to work, he knew that it was not fulfilling all of his needs. Bernd was a “wallflower” and Frank needed a “wildflower!” His desire to be free and live without rules eventually had a stronger pull on him, and he gave into it. As Ripploh danced with strangers right in front of his boyfriend Bernd, he gave in to the excitement that he craved even though he knew he could be crushing any chance of maintaining a meaningful, committed relationship.

Frank Ripploh’s worlds collide at the very end of the movie when the reality that his life as a drag Queen, his desire to have random sexual partners and his job as a fourth grade teacher can no longer coexist. At the very end we watch Frank Ripploh struggle with a deep inner conflict when he shows up to his job dressed in drag and gives his students the opportunity to play a game with dice where they write down a list of six things they would do if they had no rules. The students became very aggressive, destructive and out of control which was a compelling parallel to Ripploh’s own chaotic and conflicted life. When the students left he rolled his own dice, but only expressed two options of resolution. Suicide was a thought but was quickly dismissed as too dramatic and the other option of settling down with Bernd just did not seem possible either. It seemed this collision of worlds was a sad but true reality check that forced the realization that although he wished to be a monogamous man and get back with Bernd, he knew that was not a life he could live. He had to face the fact that the same issues would just repeat and he found no resolution at all.

I chose this archive because from the description of the film I felt like it had many parallels to this course. “Taxi Zum Klo” and “Cruising” are very similar in that they both took place in 1980, and they both portrayed a strong emphasis on cruising in the gay culture during that time.

There is a very strong parallel between the aggressive, destructive, and out of control students and Ripploh’s chaotic and destructive life. When Ripploh asked the students what they would do if there were no rules, their unruly response was in fact representative of Ripploh’s life. He is basically living life with no rules, because he was engaging in sex with who he wants, whenever he wants, even when he is supposed to be in a monogamous relationship. The students’ behavior became chaotic without their regular structure and rules, like when Ripploh pursues cruising and dressing in drag, the more exciting part of his life that he feverishly desires.

More specifically, there is a parallel between Ripploh’s relationships with the students and Bernd. On a typical school day, the pupils in Ripploh’s class sit quietly obeying the rules, which can be boring and stagnant, much like the relationship between Ripploh and Bernd. While their relationship could at times be boring, it was also steady, but Ripploh struggles with that lack of stimulation. The students following the rules is parallel to Frank being with Bernd, it is not the most exhilarating relationship but for sure it is a more reliable and stable path.

Born This Way

Lady Gaga is an eccentric, well-known pop artist whose career has never had a dull moment. She is known for her wild antics such as wearing a meat dress to arriving at an awards show in an egg, which she stayed in for seventy-two hours before coming out to be reborn on stage. Since the beginning of her career in 2008 Lady Gaga has won five Grammy Awards and thirteen MTV music awards for her hit songs like ‘Just Dance,’ ‘Poker Face,’ ‘Born This Way,’ and ‘Bad Romance.’ In addition to her music, Lady Gaga pours her heart and soul into supporting the LGBTQ community and fighting for their equality. When she is not on tour or writing songs, she is speaking at pride events, conferences, and being there for her fans which she calls her “Monsters.” For example, she spoke at the National Equality March Rally, the Gay Pride Rally in New York City, in Maine to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and many more across the United States.

Gaga has been and advocate and an icon for the LGBTQ community throughout her entire career, and she continues to use her fame and influence to fight for equality for all of the queer culture. Many of her songs like ‘Poker Face,’ ‘Born This Way,’ and ‘Hair’ refer to her sexuality and many of the struggles the LGBTQ community can relate to. The most controversial of these songs would be ‘Born This Way,’ because a lot of Gaga haters and anti-LGBTQ people were outraged by the lyrics. These naysayers believe that sexual orientation is a choice, which goes against the message the lyrics ‘Born this way’ stand for. Some people take issue with this song due to the reference to loving God, and they do not believe God approves of queer culture and therefore criticize her for putting them together. However, they do not speak for all religions, there are some religious communities that do not condemn queer culture. Although there were many objections to this song, Gaga also gained a lot of fans because the lyrics made a connection with people, and helped them realize it is okay to be different and to love yourself for who you are, because you were “born this way.”

“‘Born This Way’ is about being yourself, loving who you are, and being proud” – Lady Gaga

Some people argue that Lady Gaga is not truly queer, that instead it is an act she puts on to gain popularity and profit and therefore they do not think she should be an LGBTQ icon or advocate. However, Lady Gaga has come out identifying as a bisexual time and time again over the years. It is true she has only dated men, but she says she has always been attracted to females as well and has had many sexual relationships with women. Queer is an umbrella term for many different sexualities like gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning and many more. Lady Gaga is queer, and she supports all of the queer community. She is not discriminating against straight people, her point is that not everyone is the same. There are straight people and queer people and everyone deserves love and acceptance. She advocates for queer equality which relates to the conversation in class about gender neutral bathrooms. They are similar in theory as both concepts make provisions to include not exclude. For example, in our discussion about bathrooms, we talked about how it is not about removing separate sex bathrooms, it is about adding a third option for gender neutral people so that everyone’s needs are met.

“Lady Gaga Is Queer. Always Has Been, Always Will Be” – Queer Voices

Another Lady Gaga song that supports my argument that she is a good LGBTQ icon, is ‘Heavy Metal Lover.’ This song is about one of her past relationships where they shared an interest in leather and BDSM. Throughout the song there are sounds of whips slapping, and lyrics like “Whip me slap me, punk funk, New York clubbers, bump drunk.” This type of sexual behavior directly relates to the film “Cruising” because they both have scenes in the leather bars in New York City where gay men in leather explored their sexuality. Also, BDSM is an aspect of queer or abnormal sexuality, which connects to Gayle Rubin’s theory of sex hierarchy with the “Charmed Circle.” Rubin used this circle to describe good, normal, natural, and blessed sexualities in the inner circle known as the “Charmed Circle.” The outer circle describes the bad, abnormal, unnatural, and dammed sexualities known as the “Outer Limits.” Lady Gaga advocates for the outer limits and for acceptance of different sexual expressions.

“There’s nothing wrong with loving who you are” – Lady Gaga

Mentioning the New York gay leather bars exemplifies her knowledge of LGBTQ history showing she has done her research and is part of the queer community. ‘Heavy Metal Lover’ is also another source of evidence that Lady Gaga is bisexual because her lyrics are gender neutral, meaning she does not show a preference for one sex over the other. In addition to demonstrating her knowledge about LGBTQ history, Lady Gaga reiterates her strong passion for the LGBTQ community by using “Baby we were born this way” in the song ‘Heavy Metal Lover.’ This use of repetition of ‘born this way’ once again emphasizes and proves Lady Gaga is a good LGBTQ icon, and ‘Born This Way’ was not a fluke or a publicity stunt.

“No matter gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgender life, I’m on the right track baby, I was born to survive” – Lady Gaga

As many of our classmates can vouch for, it can be very challenging living as queer in a world where not everyone accepts you. During a time of confusion, loneliness, and self-hate, I believe having the support of a pop star like Lady Gaga can only be seen as a positive, and in fact can be the light at the end of the tunnel for many that are struggling. At the end of the day, we need more people who accept us like Lady Gaga.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Nature Made Him: The Boy Raised As a Girl

John Colapinto Author of As Nature Made Him PictureJohn Colapinto is most recently known for his New York Times bestselling novel “As Nature Made Him: The Boy Raised as a Girl.” The author grew up in Toronto Canada, and earned his master’s degree in English literature fairly close to home, at the University of Toronto. For the next several years he was a freelance writer for many local magazine companies in Canada. In order to pursue a more permanent career he made the decision to move to New York City, and he then wrote for many well-known magazine companies like Vanity Fair, New York Times, and the New Yorker. Six years later in 1995 he became the contributing editor for the Rolling Stones. During his time working there, John wrote a story about a medical scandal involving a botched circumcision. The story became so popular he won a National Magazine Award, and he evolved it into a novel in 2001. Today he lives in New York City with his wife and son.

As Nature Made Him Book CoverThe novel “As Nature Made Him: The Boy Raised as a Girl” by John Colapinto tells the tragic story of a young twin boy who had a botched circumcision. When he was only eight months old, a doctor used an electrocautery needle instead of a scalpel during a circumcision, which burned off his entire penis as a result. This forced a life changing decision for the parents to raise baby Bruce as a girl named Brenda, based on the persuasion by Dr. John Money, who strongly believed that “The sex a baby was born with didn’t matter; you could convert a baby from one sex to the other.” Like many other families, they believed the doctor knew best and they believed Dr. Money’s theory that if baby Bruce had a sex change by age of two and a half to three years old “she could be given a perfectly functional vagina, she would develop psychologically as a woman and would find her erotic attraction to men.” The Reimer’s agreed to the sex change simply because they wanted to give their child the best life he/she could have, and they honestly thought this would be the best option. They could not have been more wrong.

“The bestselling account of the now famous “Twins” case that became a touchstone in the debates on gender identity and nature versus nurture” –New York Times Book Review

Brenda Reimer

However, the family noticed as Brenda grew up that she was masculine in every way, she refused to play with any stereotypical girl toys and even stood up to pee instead of sitting down like a girl. I think her twin brother explained it best when he said, “When I say there was nothing feminine about Brenda, I mean there was nothing feminine. She walked like a guy. Sat with her legs apart. She talked about guy things, didn’t give a crap about cleaning the house, getting married, wearing makeup. We both wanted to play with guys, build forts and have snowball fights and play army.” The story goes in depth about how the Reimer family raised Brenda as a girl, how they dealt with her differences, and how Brenda struggled growing up feeling like a boy in a girl’s body. Everyday Brenda felt deeply confused, alone, and depressed because of her not feeling like the biological sex she was given. Until the age of fourteen, the parents refused to tell Brenda what really happened to her as a baby, because Dr. Money told them it would ruin the process and therefore they had to keep this a secret. Later in life when Brenda found out about this accident, she made the mature decision at the age of fifteen to have another sex change to become a male.

“I didn’t like dressing like a girl. I didn’t like behaving like a girl. I didn’t like acting like a girl.”

I think this novel belongs in the digital archive because although it is a sad and tragic story, it is the reality of living in a queer culture where you are not totally accepted. “I appear to be a tangled knot of gender contradictions. So they feverishly press the question on me; woman or man? Those are the only two words most people have as tools to shape their question.” This idea of gender contradictions would ultimately describe David Reimer’s struggle identifying with masculine things as Brenda, even though she knew this is not what girls are supposed to do.

“You don’t wake up one morning deciding if you’re a boy or a girl. You just know.”

David Reimer

“As Nature Made Him: The Boy Raised as a Girl” relates to the transgender unit in regards to the life of a transgender, as well as the idea of gender identity. I think this novel connected well with the article we read in class from the novel “Transgender Liberation a Movement Whose Time Has Come” by Leslie Feinberg. In the article she says “Our lives are proof that sex and gender are much more complex than a delivery room doctor’s glance at genitals can determine, more variegated than pink or blue birth caps. We are oppressed for not fitting those narrow social norms.” I think that quote explains David Reimer’s life because being raised as a girl, did not make her a girl. She refused to play with Barbies, she detested wearing pink dresses, and only wanted to do things a boy would do. For example, she constantly fought with her twin brother over his toys and clothes. He was criticized daily, teased, and bullied for being different. David Reimer is just one of many stories about living as a transgender, and I believe it is imperative for society to learn about these stories and become more educated about queer culture.

“I was never happy as Brenda. Never. I’d slit my throat before I’d go back to that. I’d never go back to that. It didn’t work because that’s life, because you’re human and you’re not stupid and eventually you wind up being who you are.”David Reimer Transformation

Sadly in 2004, David Reimer decided to take his own life at the young age of thirty-eight. The author Colapinto discussed how there were many factors that contributed to his suicide including the death of his twin brother two years prior from a drug overdose, marital problems with his wife, financial issues, and the constant emotional struggles he dealt with daily due to his painful childhood. This story is truly a tragedy and something that he should never have experienced. I think this fits in well with the digital archive because it shows many aspects of the queer community, and the struggles they endure. People outside of the queer community often do not understand the complexity of gender dysphoria