Keith Haring’s AIDS Activism

Keith Haring was an American artist and activist in 1980s New York, whose artwork raised awareness on social issues at the time. One the main awareness campaigns Haring participated on was AIDS awareness and activism. As an openly gay man Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 19.40.18and someone who was suffering from AIDS himself, Haring wanted to break the silence and stigma on AIDS as “gay cancer.” Through Haring’s style and images he was able to reach a larger audience and spread the awareness of AIDS.

 

Haring’s main style for his artwork were cartoon like figures with bold colors and lines as seen in pop art and graffiti art. He believed that art was not only for the rich and elite but rather for the average everyday folk. He was quoted saying, “My contribution to the world is my ability to draw. I will draw as much as I can for as many people as I can for as long as I can.” Because of this, most of his artwork was seen in public spaces like subways and street. Haring would turn empty ad spaces into his artworks. This idea of art for the common person helped his AIDS awareness campaign as many people who would be affected by AIDS were able to see his artwork.

One of his more famous artworks for AIDS awareness and activism is called Silence=Death. In this piece, there are stick figures outlined in bold white lines inside a pink triangle. The figures vary from covering their ears, their eyes, and their mouths. The figures inside the triangle represent all of the people suffering from AIDS who felt as if they havSilence-Deathe been silenced and casted away from society because of this disease.The pink triangle the figures are inside of adds to this message of oppression since the pink triangle symbol was used during the Holocaust to indicate the people that were being singled out for their homosexuality. Haring wanted to give all the people
suffering from AIDS a voice and have their concerns be heard since at this time not much was being done on AIDS awareness.

Another artwork of his that raised AIDS awareness was a piece titled Ignorance=Fear, Silence=Death. The piece has three yellow figures outlined in think black lines behind an orange background. Like the figures in the previous work, each figure has their eyes covered, their mouth covered, or their ears covered. The figures also have a pink “x” across their chest which represents that actual disease of AIDS. The figures again represent people with AIDS, who are too afraid to voice their concerns and have been silenced by society. The top of the piece has the words “Ignorance = Fear” and the bottom has the words “Silence = Death.” During this period, there was a lack of knowledge on what AIDS and HIV actually was because people were afraid to speak up about the condition. People were afraid of the stigma behind the disease. Before the term AIDS and HIV were used, it was called GRID, which means gay-related immune deficiency. So the lack of knowledge leads to fear of the disease. The “Silence = Death” part is about all the people that
refused to get tested or recognize the seriousness of the illness will die. The public’s silence on the issue of AIDS was leading to more death, and Haring wanted to make this known.

ActUpBThrough Haring’s artwork, AIDS awareness and prevention was brought to the public’s eye and it opened up conversations about the disease. As someone who suffered first hand from the disease, Haring wanted people to speak up about AIDS so more research could be conducted in order to understand a disease that was and still is affecting millions of people.

“HA! The Web Series” and Religion

Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 16.17.58HA! the web series is a satire that centers on a young man, Roger, who enters homosexual anonymous (HA) at his local church to overcome his homosexual urges. Throughout the web series, the idea that through Christian faith and threats of a lifetime of sin, a person’s homosexuality can be cured. Although the series is purely satirical, it highlights the absurdity of Christian gay-to-straight reform groups as the name of group is commonly referred to among members as HA (a sign of amusement).

HA is just like all the other anonymous reform groups, but instead this group has a 14 step program for complete recovery. In the meetings, each member goes around and shares their stories of homosexual urges and actions. The group then prays for that person in hope that through God and faith, they will be cured. If Christian faith is not enough to cure the members, then the threat of a lifetime of sin will scare the members to be straight. This plot line sheds light on the ongoing issue of organized religion punishing and pushing away its homosexual members. Many homosexual people feel they cannot truly be themselves and love the people they love because their religion does not condone it and actually punishes it. The rigid beliefs in the Christian faith are made clear through Roger’s mom as she made the comment in episode 2 “We are not flexible. We are Christian.” She also constantly reminds Roger of the lifetime of sin he will be faced if decides to act on his urges. For a religion that prides itself on love and peace, it still excludes and persecutes its members and Roger’s mom is an example of that.
Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 16.16.43Although the web series was made in 2009, it is still relevant today. Most organized religions still do not accept homosexuality or “gay marriage.” The Catholic Church has made some progress in the more recent years with its announcement of accepting homosexual members, but it still does not recognize homosexual marriage. It still believes in the archaic notion that marriage is for a man and a woman. Some of the more accepting religions will still judge and punish its members because they may accept the concept homosexuality, they do not accept the actions involved with it. Organized religions’ complete or partial rejection of homosexuality, impacts queer society as it secludes many people and makes the process of coming out and acceptance harder because of the fear of rejection and persecution.

Flag Wars and Gayborhoods

Imagine a utopia. Queer paradise. A place where you were constantly surrounded by pleasant, like-minded people that all get along. A place where you never had to worry about discrimination or prejudice. Life is just easy-going without any unnecessary negative experiences. Theoretically that’s what a gayborhood, or a neighborhood with a large number of LGBTQ+ residents, is supposed to be. And while there are plenty of benefits to living in a place filled with people like you, there also comes some strong negative impacts.

In George Chauncey’s Gay New York he discusses the queer communities in the late 1800s that were established in different parts of New York. Contrary to popular belief, prior to World War II gay men were able to congregate and share their identities and were not forced to live solitary lives. These are the first gay neighborhoods in the United States that we know of, granted they consisted primarily of cis gay men so they are fairly different from the ones we see in large cities today. These queer oases facilitated the creation of a very strong gay culture and gave members of the queer community outlets to showcase talents, socialize with people that had similar identities, and form romantic relationships with one another. They also served as a sort of barrier to the policing of queerness by creating a safe space.

Linda Goode Bryant and Laura Poitras’ 2003 documentary Flag Wars depicts a more modern version of gay neighborhoods. It follows the conflict in a Columbus, Ohio neighborhood between the gay and African American communities as a large white, LGBTQ+ population begins moving in and gentrifying the neighborhood. Throughout the film the queer population uses civil law to speed up the process of removing the African American community. This includes having parts of the neighborhood declared historic to create restricted housing codes, fighting the presence of low-income housing, and continually making code enforcement complaints. The displacement of these people is treated with such nonchalance. At one point in the documentary, while attending a neighborhood meeting a member of the queer community states, “If you can’t take care of your house then don’t live there.” If only it was that easy. I understand the want to have a clean, beautiful neighborhood but most of these people simply do not have the money to allocate funds to the upkeep of their homes. The woman they were following in particular had a disease and was living off a $500 per month disability check. It is important to remember that people sharing one or both of these identities are all in need of safe spaces and that it is always better to be allied than at each other’s throats.

This is not an isolated incident. Gay neighborhoods typically begin in low-income neighborhoods that are then revamped and given higher taxes, pushing the existing population out of their homes. An influx of LGBTQ+ peoples is now seen as a early marker of gentrification to come.

In addition to gentrification, gay neighborhoods are often not always inclusive to all members of the queer community. Since these neighborhoods are usually of higher income, residents tend to be white and wealthy. There is usually a higher concentration of gay men than women since research shows that lesbians are less likely to live in close proximity to one another. And of course there are populations that are unwanted as in any community, such as prostitutes and those with “strange” kinks, which are pushed out either because of the gentrification or because of harassment by other residents.

I am not saying that gayborhoods are the worst places in the world. I am sure there are some people that have really benefited by living surrounded by others similar to them, especially in the past, knowing they will be safe where they sleep and not hated solely because of their sexual orientation. But it is important to recognize and change the faults of our queer community rather than pretend they don’t exist.

Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color

Society itself has come a long way with the representation of queer peoples in the everyday culture, but there are still a few gaps. Last year, the Lambda Literary Foundation recognized these missing narratives and created Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color. Their mission is to “nurture, celebrate, and preserve diversity within the queer poetry community.” They celebrate the multiple voices and experiences within the community, while keeping the content specific enough that it can be a safe space. They emphasize that this journal is not a place for any type of prejudice, oppressive language, or fetishization of the lives of queer people of color. It invites the reader to contact them if they ever feel discriminated against by the language used. Along with the literary journal, this past summer they also put on a reading series where some of the Nepantla poets visited various US cities to share some of their poetry aloud.

In Joseph Epstein’s Homo/Hetero: The Struggle for Sexual Identity, he makes it very clear that he is not a fan of the queer community. He throws around words such as cursed and appalling, as well as claims there is nothing that would make him sadder than if one of his son’s came out to be gay. He states, “If I has the power to do so I would wish homosexuality off the face of the earth, I would do so because I think that it bring infinitely more pain than pleasure to those who are forced to live with it.” I selected three poems from the first two issues of Nepantla that I see as responses to the previous statement.

Danez Smith’s On Grace speaks on the beauty of the black, male body. He uses metaphor to compare their physique to religious concepts, such as gospels and miracles,
and their sex to Danez Smithworship. He loves both his blackness and his queerness to the point where he calls out God’s name. Considering that to religious peoples God is perfect and all that is good, the comparisons used in this poem make it pretty clear that Smith does not believe queerness causes widespread pain and anguish, but that it is beautiful and something to be praised.

Mariah L. Richardson’s Butter Cream is more abstract when it comes to describing the love of queerness. In this poem she is speaking on one specific partner, rather than a group of people. In the first stanza she describes her as “soft cake / butter sweet / and light,” and what is more pleasurable than cake? I would argue nothing. She uses various beautiful, intricate language to emphasize the pleasantness of their surroundings, which can also be read as the pleasantness of their intimacy. “Bouquets of / myrrh sandalwood / wafts and billows”, “faux ming vase / bursting of cattails / and pussy willow / tease in the corner”, “the big, big bed / royal purple / gold sheets / satin raw silk /  gregorian chants / whisper lusty devotions”. The most obvious depiction of pleasure is in the last stanzs: “I hear the color red.” Their sex is so wonderful that it is making the impossible Danez Smithpossible. Once again, I do not see any form of pain.

The third poem I selected is by far the simplest of the three. Nashon Cook’s Imagine explains what an orgasm feels like for him. While this does not comment on queerness specifically, given the nature of the literary journal we know that he is a member of the queer community. Once again there are references to churches and preachers as to show the purity of intimacy. The feelings he describes in this poem most definitely can be seen as powerful, but none painful.

Many of the pieces we have covered in this class are fairly old and clinical; while I do think it is important to know the history and theory, there is a need for more contemporary representations of queerness, especially regarding QPOC. In the 16th century when the Spanish were colonizing Aztec land, the indigenous people described their experience and culture as nepantla, a state of in between. In between two identities, two cultures. In between the person you are and the person you wish to be. Nepantla celebrates the in between, and I think we should too.

Queer Culture in Japan

When the nail sticks out, it gets hammered down. Although Japan continually leads as an innovative country, it is still a very traditional nation. While queer culture in Japan has been apparent since ancient times, it has always been overlooked. Even today, queer culture is almost entirely ignored in Japan.

In Japan today, most people in the queer community are not open about their sexuality. They will even marry someone of the opposite sex (if they are homosexual) to conceal their sexual identity. While there are currently no laws in Japan that completely prohibit homosexuality, there is one in place for ‘safety concerns’. This particular law regards to the age of consent, which is higher for homosexual adults than heterosexual adults.

Same-sex marriage is not yet legal in Japan. As of 2009 couples can now able to travel to countries where same-sex marriage is legal and get married there. However, these marriages still are not fully recognized in Japan. In modern Japan, there are a few individuals that are leading the way for a progressive queer community. 640_b86a7bfefcb2c094dbc129e4ccf2c0f3Aya Kamikawa was one of the first elected officials that was a part of the transgender community. Just two years later in 2005, Kanako Otsuji (who was an assembly woman) came out as lesbian. Today, legal rights in the queer community are mainly overlooked in Japan. They are a very minor topic in Japanese politics and national laws do not extend to sexual identity discrimination. Although there has been little progress, Tokyo is leading the way in a progressive queer community. The city has banned discrimination based on sexual identity.

In Japan’s popular culture, a handful of ‘idols’ have come out as homosexual. However, they have almost all been males. The comedian Ramon Sumitami uses homosexual stereotypes to gain popularity. Increasing in popularity is the anime/manga category Yaoi which typically features two masculine men in an equal relationship. While this may have helped spread awareness for the queer community, the Yaoi genre is almost entirely pornographic. The Yuri genre focuses on lesbian relationships. Some shows and stories in the Yuri category do contain pornographic plots, however, the majority of the time it does not contain that so it can easily market to straight and homosexual (mostly lesbian) viewers. The majority of homosexual identity that Japan has access to is often hypersexualized and thus is looked down upon by the real homosexual community.

Because of the progress Japan has made over the years, I believe they will slowly move towards a day where the queer community can openly exist. For now, as long as queer culture stays a minor political subject and homosexuality is seen as a pornographic tool in popular media, it will not be taken too seriously. In Women’s Studies 247, queer culture is often discussed and readings date back to time periods in America when homosexuality wasn’t part of the public scope. However, Japan is progressing today in very different ways than America. They focus on technological innovations rather than the individual. As long as Japanese culture still follows traditional gender roles, there will likely be no progress. However, like the rest of the world, growth and change is inevitable, especially when so many other countries have already begun to openly accept the queer community.

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Folsom Street Fair

“The world is not divided into people who have sexual fetishes and people who don’t. There is a continuum of responses to certain objects, substances, and parts of the body, and few people can disregard these and still enjoy having sex.”

This quote from Pat Califia exemplifies fetishes and why we have them, and no fetish community is more prominent than the BDSM community, with its harrowing triple acronym (bondage & discipline, domination & submission, sadism & masochism) that includes most all fetish and kink acts. There is also no larger
BDSM fair than the Folsom Street Fair held in San Francisco. With the fair comes 400,000 visitors who are into all sorts of things, including leather, bondage, sadomasochism, drag, and petplay, to name a few.

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The Folsom Fair itself can be traced back to the origins of leather culture, which is a huge part of the BDSM community and one of the earliest communities for those into BDSM. Leather culture started in San Francisco in part because of the blue discharge, a discharge from military service for being gay. With these came multitudes of gay men who were dropped off in San Francisco and decided ‘why not just stick around.’ Among the areas that became popular among gay men in this early San Francisco, from the mid-40s on through the 80s were the Embarcadero and Folsom. By the 70s there were 30 different leather bars, leather clubs, and leather merchants on Folsom Street.

An extensive list of what each color and placement represents in hanky code

From this time the hanky code also originated, an excellent example of the structure that the leather community, and typically other kink communities, take on to communicate desires and rules. The hanky code is where someone has a colored hanky on their person, with the color and the placement indicative of what they are interested in, placement on the left meaning they are a top, and placement on the right meaning they are a bottom. Some common colors are red for fisting, grey for bondage, and black for s&m. Parallels can be drawn between this informal but almost official set of guidelines with Califia’s explanation of the guidelines the dictate public sex and turn it into more of a “quasi-public” act. Folsom can certainly be identified as quasi-public, as it occurs in the open but is confined to several blocks that are cordoned off so nobody just wanders in. To those inside Folsom though, everything is more public, which is part of the appeal of the fair. Being present at the fair is participation in some form, and as Justin Bond said in Shortbus, “voyeurism is participation.”

What is the appeal of Folsom and BDSM anyway? In Califia’s article “Feminism and Sadomasochism” she states that: “wearing leather, rubber, or a silk kimono distributes feeling over the entire skin. The isolated object may become a source of arousal. This challenges the identification of sex with the genitals.” Certainly appropriate, as the BDSM community deals with fetishes and fetishes by definition are sexual arousal towards something other than genitals. This erotic sensation that can be had from wearing leather and rubber underlies the BDSM community and the Folsom fair, with many participants wearing some or mostly leather and/or rubber. This challenge of arousal at the genitals also extends to other sub-categories of BDSM, most notably petplay. Petplay is a very common sight within Folsom, either very obviously, like wearing the gear that is involved in petplay, to more subtlety, like wearing a collar. Petplay also tackles on the idea of arousal and affection being directed at something other than the genitals. The arousal can come from the dominant and submissive roles that the two partners engaging in the act take on, it can also come from the intimate moments that are shared within the action. These moments also skew the classic sense of what is romantic and erotic by replacing verbal action with non-verbal action such as petting, holding, or stroking. Within this subset we can also find guidelines and rules established by the community, like collar etiquette. If one is wearing a collar, at Folsom or outside of it, one is assumed to have a partner. For those who like wearing collars but who do not have a partner or are not exclusive, having a collar with an open lock signifies this. Within this community and all the communities at Folsom rules and codes create an ordered environment where everyone can have safe and erotic fun.

Someone in full pony gear engages in an aspect of pony play at Folsom, pulling the dominant partner in a cart

Folsom stands out as a very intimate fair that challenges many norms. It is a BDSM fair that occurs outdoors, where many would consider such acts inappropriate. It also has a very large attendance which may contradict those who think that BDSM is a fringe thing and that fetishes are not common among people. The fair itself stands to challenge norms and it also establishes its own norms which is a wonderful thing in itself. On top of this all, the fair raises money for charity so head on out to it with your best leather and rubber gear because you are doing so for a good cause.

Don’t Hug Me .I’m Scared

DHMIS 3Directed by Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling, Don’t Hug Me .I’m Scared is a short film series where the only thing you can expect is the unexpected. Making its YouTube debut in 2011, several years elapsed between the release of the first video and its sequels due to lack of funding. Stylized in the vein of contemporary children’s programming, the show employs the mediums of puppetry, animation, costume, and song. There are three primary characters but we never learn their official names: two are puppets – one a green bird and the other a yellow muppet-like fellow – and the third a human-sized individual costumed entirely in red with a mop-like face. For sake of clarity, I will refer to these characters as “Robin”, “Manny”, and “Harry” respectively. (These are the names the YouTube community appears to have agreed upon.)

loveEach show is centered on a particular theme (creativity, time, love, computers, and health, so far) and text magically emerges midair to introduce new concepts. These videos are not your standard educational programming, however. Innocuous at first, things quickly take a turn for the worst as the inanimate objects/animals that began talking to offer seemingly useful advice turn despot, their guidance becoming flawed and insidious.

RedBesides stating that the series aims to “teach the puppets the most important subjects of life” and to “save them from ignorance” in their crowd funding videos, its creators have offered little information in the way of clarification. As such, the YouTube community has taken the matter into its own hands. Broadly speaking, most fans of Don’t Hug Me .I’m Scared appear to be of the mindset that the show is meant to be a commentary on the dangers of children’s television, calling attention to the indoctrinating and proselytizing qualities of those programs. They don’t stop there, however. Determined viewers re-watch the videos over and again, seeking out “Easter eggs” that shed more light on the relationship between these characters and the context in which the events that transpire occur. Serious theorizing takes place in the comment section as viewers attempt to find logic in the chaos.

While I tend to agree with the notion that the series operates as a critique to children’s programming (and have attempted to posit a narrower explanation for the general proceedings), I think much of its value lies in its brazen inexplicability. Queering the normative, it turns everything we take to be true on its head by taking that truth to the absolute extreme. For approximately five minutes, this show barges into your quiet and comfortable life and just a quickly ends, leaving you reeling. Offering no explicit alternatives, its power lies in its ability to disrupt via the irrational. So it is perhaps pointless to even try to impose lucidity on it.

dinnerIt was only after viewing John Water’s Pink Flamingos that I came to think of Don’t Hug Me as relevant to this course. Like Water’s film, the series is rather dark in humor, capitalizing on the crude and warped. One might even say it’s campy, for it regales with its “embrace [of] the low, the bawdy, and the common”. Death and decay feature in some form in each video, fresh organs nonchalantly make appearances and are sometimes just as coolly consumed, and there is always blood. It is evident, as well, that the series appeals to only a certain range of people, for while the first video averaged 302,169 likes, a notable number of people – 20,154 – disliked it just as much. Could it be they were experiencing disgust?

As Berlant and Wportraiterner suggest, kinship and the notion of the couple are sites that queer culture can invert. In this series, there is no indication as to what binds Robin, Manny, and Harry besides perhaps friendship. They appear to live together (this supposition might be thrown into conflict with the emergence of episode five, however, as the kitchen is not the same as episode one) but are by no means a nuclear family as they vary in species and all present as male (this is only presumed on the basis of voice register).

When it comes to relationships episode three is by far the most notable, focusing on the concept of love. Upset by Robin’s killing of a butterfly, Manny takes off into the forest and soon finds himself greeted by yet another butterfly offering to share the gospel of love with him. Flying over a rainbow, Manny comes to the land of love where he learns that “everyone has a special one”. Monogamous and heterosexual, this love is “perfect” and “pure”, “protected with a ring”, and has “always been” this way. It is then revealed, however, that for Manny to experience this love, he has to pledge himself to Malcolm, the king of love, a giant head who must be fed gravel to be kept content. As the fellow love-goers share, it is also requisite that Manny changes his name, permits his brain to be scoured of certain thoughts, and forgets “about anything [he] ever knew”. Indeed, as this video suggests, there is ample evidence that heteronormativity is in fact a cult.malcolm2

Don’t Hug Me .I’m Scared: the surest and shortest path to WTF.

Check out the YouTube channel here

Alone (Maya Angelou)

maya A1 maya A2   maya A3

Maya Angelou is a poet and also a Grammy honored author known for her famous novel titled ” I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”. A book that goes into discussing Angelou’s life from when she was younger up until she was about 17 years old. For those of you who may not already know, Angelou is also a civil rights activist. Maya Angelou became a writer and poet only after failing at a number of other jobs such as, Prostitution, nightclub dancer, and many other jobs. Maya is also known for her poetry. Some of which many people may know already like ” Phenomenal Woman” by the tone of the poem by saying “pretty women wonder where my secret lies. I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size. But when I start to tell them, They think I’m telling lies. I say, It’s in the reach of my arms, The span of my hips, The stride of my step, The curl of my lips. I’m a woman Phenomenally ,Phenomenal woman, That’s me”. which to me is basically saying just because she isn’t what most people consider beautiful doesn’t mean she isn’t attractive an unwanted. When she says. ” but when I start to tell them they think I’m telling lies it’s in the reach of my arms the span of my hips”. that alone shows that she doesn’t care what other people think or believe because she can prove them wrong.

Throughout many of Maya Angelou poems. You’ll go on to see that she uses a lot of imagery and metaphors. Angelou’s poems touches on her life, family, racism. The poem that I chose to discuss by Angelou is a poem called “Alone” which goes on to discuss how nobody should be alone which I feel relates to queer culture and an article by Adrienne Rich Titled Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence. In this article Adrienne discusses how women dreams of being with other women has been crushed due to the fact that a lot feminist haven’t discussed it. But does that mean that women that like woman show be alone or just settle because it isn’t what society perceives as the normal no. I feel as though if your happy then that’s all that matters, because if your living trying to make other people happy an not yourself than you are alone. If your somewhere where you aren’t happy than you are alone. To be alone doesn’t mean to be by yourself. But to me it’s also a feeling that society has made a lot of people feel.

Faking It

Faking It is a television show that first premiered on MTV in April, 2014. The show takes place mostly at and around Hester High School which is located near Austin, Texas. Unlike every other high school in America, at Hester High School being weird or abnormal is what lands you a seat atop the schools hierarchy of popularity. The show follows a series of main characters, all of which are struggling to not only gain or keep their rank of popularity, but are also struggling to identify their own personal selves throughout the tough journey we all undergo through high school. Throughout the series, the characters display several aspects that pertain to a lot of what we discuss in class, which is queer culture.

When the show begins, we are introduced to two of the main characters, Karma and Amy. They are sophomores at Hester High School and are also best friends. The dynamic duo is portrayed as being willing to do anything to gain a spot amongst the popular crowd. This aspect is tested when Shane Harvey, who is also a main character, accidentally assumes Karma and Amy are a lesbian couple, when in reality they are just best friends. Initially the pair’s reaction was to state that they were not actually a couple; however, when the two of them realized how popular they became from being known as Hester High School’s first out lesbian couple, they decide to hide their true identities rather than losing their new found popularity. Shane Harvey, the boy who ‘outs’ Karma and Amy is one of Hester’s most popular students and plays the role of an out and proud male student who loves unveiling the skeletons hiding in the closets of his fellow classmates. Later on in the series another main character, Liam Booker, who is Shane’s best friend ends up falling for Karma and throwing kinks in Karma and Amy’s attempt to keep their popularity by prolonging their charade of being a lesbian couple. As the series goes on, the show displays many of the struggles faced by students in high school. From Amy falling for her best friend Karma, to Karma falling for Liam and likewise for Liam himself, the show depicts the main characters as finding out tremendous amounts about themselves through the relationships and friendships which they experience throughout their encounters with their classmates. The last main character that is really of relevance to the aspect of queer culture is Amy’s step sister, Lauren Cooper. Lauren is initially depicted as the new girl who is quickly very popular but soon faces her own demons when she is ‘outed’ as being intersex.

I first began watching Faking It when the series first premiered on MTV. I related to the show and even though I found myself constantly thinking, “Wow, this would never actually happen in high school.” I could not help but to fall in love with the show because of the fact that the show handles a lot of issues and is not afraid to throw awkward situations into the audience’s face. The show not only handles issues such as Amy struggling to determine her own sexuality, but it also shows the struggles of Amy’s sister Lauren who is intersex. In many ways the struggles Lauren is depicted to have resonates with our classroom discussions of the struggles which members of the transgender community face. Though Lauren is intersex and not transgender, I found it interesting that she was depicted to suffer from such similar circumstances as those who brave the ridicule that is associated with being a member of the transgender community. Another aspect of the series that I found to be quiet interesting was that many of the struggles the characters where shown to go through made me think back to when we read Martha Shelley’s. “Gay Is Good.” I recall that she spoke about how one of the worst parts about being a homosexual was not the way that they are punished by law enforcement or by society as a whole, but the fact that those who identify as being homosexuals often believed that the fact that they as individuals identified as being gay was something that was not to be revealed. Martha Shelly basically states that it is the general knowledge that being a homosexual means that you are something that is so bad that is should not even be revealed or shared, and I feel that many of the characters in this series show characteristics of identifying with Martha Shelley’s statement. All of the main characters have resentment towards themselves because in some way or another they do not feel that who they truly are is someone or something that can be openly discussed. I feel that many of the characters are shown to  believe that who they are as people is something that they are ashamed to show others which as stated, is how Shelley talks about how it feels to be a member of the homosexual community. I love the manner in which the show depicts the struggles members of the LGBTQ+ community face on a daily basis and how it affects them as people, and I also love how much it pertains to the day to day discussions and readings we have for class.