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

Venus Boyz

Venus Boyz is a documentary film directed by Gabriel Baur in the 1996 New York City life. Various participants of the LGBT community showed a creative and insightful look into their everyday lives. This documentary showed Drag King and Queens in and out of their characters. These people opened up their sexual life, their family life, and a small glimpse into the inside of their beautiful realistic mind.

The following characters below are biological female:

Bridge Markland who is androgynous person plays Karl and Angela. Karl is a sweet, king and non violent man. Angela is sex bomb that radiates self confidence. Bridge lives in Berlin and expresses herself as a neutral person, not expressing either genders.

Shelly Mars is an aggressive female that expresses that personality as MO B Dick. Shelly has been a Drag King for 20 years and performs alongside other Drag Kings in the bar in New York City.

Mildred Gerestant is a person that does not categorize his/her gender. He/she says in the documentary “I’m not a Butch or femme. I just–whatever im feeling. I can be one way one day and another way the other. I just know it.” Mildred is a quite shy and to herself during her full time job as a computer analysis. But when she changes into Dred he becomes an erotic, lively man that says or does whatever he wants.

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Storme Webber knows Mildred as his “Granny”. Storme was born and raised with a lesbian mother and a bisexual African American father. For being exposed to the queer culture as a young girl, Storme developed the mindset to handle anyone looking at her/him through outlooks only through distinct race and gender. As a transgender he/she is drawn to identity indifference, it gives a sense of comfort. He/she express,

“And so with Masculinity its the same. Its what surrounds it you know, its this its always a, the dichotomy, its the moving forward and the holding back and the being vulnerable and this is what is interesting that’s what i find that makes any performance good passion.”

Diane Torr mostly enjoys portraying herself as male characters. In her previous years before drag she was was married and had a daughter. But she wasn’t happy with herself, and so she found something that made her feel comfortable, which was being a Drag King most of her every day life. She feels more respected and more confident living as a man and dating butch lesbians. She also explains the outlook on women,

“As woman its like were open for access 24 hours a day.

 

People have to like us. That’s like the ruling thing in our psy

ches. So what does it mean to be a woman? What kind of a woman am I? I want you to like me. I want you to hold me. I want you to fulfill my dreams.”

Judith Halberstam a gender theorist says:

“We don’t as individuals reinvent the meaning of gender. Each person individually, one person at a time. We, we come in to genders that have already being constructed for us within political, economic, social cultural context. So what we do, when we are in agenda is perform an already socially constructed script.”

All of these participants may not identify as a female in this documentary biut make no mistake,they love their genitals and do not want surgeries to permanently keep them from being a biological female. Not many people outside of the LGBT community such as myself knew their are Drag Queens and Kings, who are both fighting to break stereotypes given to them.

In class we discussed the comparisons and contrasts of Caityln Jenner and the character Moira in the move “Transparent”. Although Caitlyn does not perceive highly to some members of the transgender community, she still suffered in what every woman in the documentary has gone through; and that is being an outsider.Moira in the show does show authenticity and reliability which more transgender people can gravitate towards but it was just a character in a TV series. Desire, sexual orientation, body, romance have no gender identity labeled with only men and woman, but i feel only pure satisfaction and self acceptance to ones self.

 

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.

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.

dark play or stories for boys

Written by Carlos Murillo, dark play or stories for boys was conceived at a summer playwriting workshop at the University of California Santa Barbara in 2005. In 2006, it was presented at the Latino Theatre Festival in Chicago and in 2007, it gained national acclaim at the Humana Festival of New American Plays.

10631190_10152416392481319_2028894599510406227_oSeveral months of the past relived in the course of a few minutes in the present day, dark play is a mind-fuck-of-world crafted by Nick, the narrator and protagonist. An undergraduate student, Nick finds himself thrown back to his teenage years when the woman he’s sleeping with, Molly, stumbles upon the multitudinous scars that litter his torso. Confronted with the question of how he received them, Nick vacillates throughout the entirety of the show between remembrance and reality, trying to reconcile whether he should tell Molly the truth. The truth, of course, is anything but simple. Originating in a time of virtual chat rooms and seemingly unfounded duplicity, Nick explains how when he was fourteen, he crafted an Internet persona named Rachel and won the heart of a naive sixteen-year-old named Adam. Drawn into the pretense, Nick becomes addicted to the relationship. Crafting numerous other online personas to sustain the world he has created and to permit him to spend what little time in person he can with Adam, he spirals into a pit of lies. Finding it necessary to kill off Rachel, Nick then intricately lays out for Adam a strategic plan that ultimately culminates in Adam stabbing him to death. Nick, however, does not die. The show ends with him sharing this story with Molly, who refuses to believe him, and a nonchalant return to reality.

While Nick never explicitly states it, one can imply that he is gay and devastated by the fact that Adam will never love him because he is not female. Hints are recurrently dropped throughout the show regarding Nick’s sexuality. When slipping back into the memory of the past – specifically what we can infer to be his time with Adam – Nick expresses the sensation as such:

“And that’s when time stops

And I feel the familiar sensation –

Sweat glands juicing up,

A hardening between my legs

That low grade migraine

When I’m like an atom in a particle accelerator

And the world around me slows like it’s moving through peanut butter.”

Each time the audience returns to the present with Nick, he recounts this physiological response. He does this eight times throughout the show.

When offering a hypothetical situation to a teacher, Nick describes the actor in the scenario in a manner that sounds remarkably like himself and adds the clarifier “gay”. A little while later, when delineating the virtues of the Internet, Nick expresses that the worldwide web is the one place “where a kid [his] age and… of [his] demeanor” can escape, emphasis stressed on the word “demeanor” in the script. Indeed, Nick’s activities online seem rather akin to cruising, for not only is he canvassing an extremely public space but also he later appears to be doing so in the interest of sex. For instance, Nick outlines some precursory stunts he pulled online before meeting Adam, one of which included posing as a “pair of nubile, underage, sex-hungry Asian chicks” looking for a “mature American man to show [them] the ‘American way of life’”. This incident is also significant for another reason. Upon opening one of the several hundred email replies he received in response to the ad he posted, Nick finds himself confronted with the photograph of a naked man. While reticent in his reaction, Nick does describe it as “trigger[ing] a feeling in [him]”.

CT  CTH 0127 fringe-ott.jpgThe show is also peppered with the word queer, and interestingly enough, Adam always interjects it when he’s describing his feelings for Rachel. Indeed, it seems like an authorial dig at the homosexual overtones, almost as if Murillo is having Adam subconsciously recognize that his online relationship is actually with a man. What more, there is the fact that Nick engages in oral sex with Adam twice. When reflecting on it after the first time, he admits that he “wanted it to happen” but found himself simultaneously unsatisfied because Adam cried out Rachel’s name, not his. Adam’s participation in sex, once while inebriated and the second time while completely sober does suggest a trade-like-quality to him. While he does present himself as heterosexual and primarily interested in falling “in love” with women, he does not appear to rebuff Nick’s advances.

When it finally comes to the point where Adam is to kill Nick, Nick employs the online persona of Olivia, an ostensible homicide detective, to communicate strict instructions on how to go about the matter. Olivia (really Nick) stresses to Adam that when he stabs Nick, he is to tell him that he loves him. She makes him promise that he’ll do so, in fact. Olivia appears seven times through the show before making the purpose of her character known and recites those very words each time, foreshadowing what is to come.

When one reads the show from front to back, Nick’s resolution to die seems so rational that it feels like an appropriate solution to a horrendous situation. Because of this impression, though, I don’t think we interrogate what is really being implied by not just the act of murder but also Nick’s entreaty of it. Not unlike Paul in Willa Cather’s short story, Nick seeks out particular corners of the Internet because he feels a certain listless emptiness in everyday life. And like Paul, once it registers with him what he is, Nick seeks out a means of self-destruction. He describes it as a “darkness and danger lurking in [his] soul” and when embodying Olivia he communicates to Adam that

“Nick is beyond depraved.

He’s become an inhuman monster.

He must be put down.

We need you to eliminate him”.

It is clear that Nick comprehends himself as abnormal and perhaps within the context of psychosocial development, Freud would point to him losing his father at the age of eleven as the precipitator. Without a father figure to complete the cycle of male-identification with and the added caveat that the man he knew as father lied to him about their lineage for more than a decade, perhaps this is why Nick “became” queer.10383846_10152416404981319_4841902767104532302_o

In any case, while on the verge of death, Nick experiences a resurrection and white light moment, an upwelling of love pervading his body. He lives and when we meet him again some time later, he has only just finished in engaging in heterosexual sex. This leaves us to wonder the implications of his heavily machinated murder. If intended to “kill the gay” within, was he reborn straight? Is he bisexual? Or, does the possibility exist that his feelings for men have simply reposed as dormant for so long? He notes his physiological response to the past to us, but does he really permit himself to realize what those feelings insinuate?

Cool and collected at the end the show, there is a slightly flippant and ascendant color to his tone. And, as he states in the beginning of the play, he has a chronic proclivity to “make shit up”. So, where does that leave us?

Does anybody really know?

After Sex (2007)

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After Sex is both a comedy and a drama film that discusses eight couples and their behavior after engaging in sex with one another. The film was released in 2007. Although I will analyze some of the scenes, I chose to focus on one scene in particular which involves Mila Kunis and Zoe Saldana.

In the movie after sex their isn’t one specific setting for the entire movie, being that the film focuses on eight entirely different couples. For those of you who have not seen the movie. Most of the couples in the film are in some type of bedroom or bed when their situation occurs. The movie starts of with the first couple by the name of Leslie and Christopher. In the film it comes off as if the couple aren’t really together, but there just friends with benefits. Everything is okay until Christopher makes a comment on how he wants Leslie to come out and say how much she loves him. But Leslie feels as though Christopher wants her to say how much she loves him, so that he can say how much he loves her. Simply Because he is frightened by what her reaction might be. But that might be a problem that Christopher needs to work on.

Then we have our second couple by the name of Jay and Freddy too gay men, that have sex. After Jay decides that since he has never had sex with a guy until then that he is not gay. Well, doesn’t want to believe that he is gay, because is he scared of what the people around him might think. So Freddy goes into making him(Jay) understand that he used to be just like him, even went on to tell Jay that he attempted to kill himself when he was younger because he could never fit in he was often bullied. Only then Jay realizes that he might be gay but doesn’t know what exactly to do about it.

Now we have too females by the name of Nikki and Kat. Nikki allows Kat to perform Oral sex on her often but has yet to admit to being gay. She often tells Kat not to catch feelings for her because she doesn’t have time for that. Simply because she likes boys, And Kat then tells Nikki that she is also not gay but Nikki doesn’t believe her. Towards the end of the scene Nikki gets Kat to admit that she is gay for the first time. Kat goes on to say that she has no problem with being gay as long as her parents doesn’t find out. But during a scene in the library when Nikki ask Kat the question of how does she taste? you can see that there is a possibility that Nikki might be a little bisexual or even gay by the way there looking at each other.

I feel as though several scenes in the movie After Sex could be related to Chauncey’s “Gay New York” . Due to the fact that most people in the gay community was once looked at, as disgusting. But the fact that everyone is able to come to together and prove to the world or the society we live in. That we are humans with feelings, and that we are just different from what most people consider normal. Doesn’t mean we have to be looked at as shameful. In Gay New York  we see that they continue to live their lives regardless of how people view them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvQKs5rbUeY

Living the Spirit: A Gay American Indian Anthology

In the published 1988 book the Living the Spirit: A Gay American Indian Anthology coordinating editor Will Roscoe puts together a collection of modern writings from gay and lesbian Native Americans – poetry, short stories, essays – and historical studies of alternate sexuality in some of the tribes. A time when gays and lesbians were starting to be heard and experimented with their own sexuality and identity. This book begins with this empowering quote I found mesmerizing:

The day I saw a poster declaring the existence of an organization of Gay American Indians, I put my face into my hands and sobbed with relief. A huge burden, the burden of isolation and of being defined only by one’s enemies, left me on that enlightening day.
I understood that being Gay is a universal quality , like cooking, like decorating the body, like singing, like predicting the weather. Moreover, after learning about the social positions and special offices fulfilled by Indians whose tribes once picked them for the tasks of naming, healing, prediction, leadership, and teaching precisely because the displayed characteristics we call gay, I knew that Gayness goes far beyond simple sexual/emotional activity. What Americans call Gayness not only has distinct cultural characteristics, its participants have long held positions of social power in history and ritual among people all over the globe
.”- Judy Grahn,

Another Mother Tongue

In the second story “Tinselled Bucks: a Historical Study of Indian Homosexuality” by Maurice Kenny discusses the problems of lack of sources for original material, as well as deliberates between the berdaches – men who lived as women and women who lived as men – and men and women living their gender roles who preferred to be sexually and emotionally involved with others of their gender and gender roles. He discusses the different terms and customs of berdaches in various tribes, as well as the levels of importance that many berdaches held in certain cultures, where they were often respected as people of great magic.

Toleration of the berdache varied from tribe to tribe. Some tribes, such as the Illinois, actually trained young men to become homosexuals and concubines of men. The Cheyenne and the Sioux of the plains may not have purposely trained young men to become berdaches but certainly accepted homosexuals more readily than perhaps other tribes(Maurice Kenny, page 26).

This type of behavior also relates to our class discussion on Ancient Greece, and their pederasty affiliations. Relations in ancient Greece was between adult men and pubescent or adolescent boys, as well as homosexual relationships between adult men did existed. The age limit for the younger member of a pederastic relationship seems to have extended from 12 to about 17 years of age. This was a normal practice among men and was not frowned upon by anyone. In particular the Zuni tribe children were not referred to as girl or boy until around the age of five, before coming of that age, they were perceived as “child”. But as these young children began to grow older a “third gender” would soon be created as adolescents. The 130 North American Indians created a third gender defining as:

“If a cultures sex/gender system makes it possible for a biological female to become a social man, then “he” is not engaging in “cross dressing” when dressing as a male, or in “ross gender” behavior by assuming the culturally defined male role. Neither is “he” engaging in lesbian behavior by having sexual relations with women. Because he is a socially recognized man, such relations would be defined as “normal”(Anishnawbe, page 35).

(page 200)

As I read this poem by Anishnawbe, I felt his pain as a two spirit being afraid to embrace himself, this picture is so beautifully drawn and resembles a perfect unity in one person.

To reiterate discussion on Sigmund Freud, I would put the “two spirits” under the category of “superego”. Not only did these Native American tribes believe the two spirits had a duty to the village, but opened up a new civilization where they were welcomed and praised by past and future generations to come. I chose to write about this topic for the main fact that not much primary source material has been found nor discussed at larger scale even though it is incorporated in the LGBTQ scale. It is important in the Native American culture and should continue to be known In our Americanized culture today. It paved the way for gender identity, reforming outlooks on past history, and acceptance of the “third gender”. It belongs in queer culture as an inspirational embodiment to not only for the organization GAI (Gay American Indians) today, but to people of all ages and races nationwide.

Queer Culture In A Home At The End Of The World

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A Home At The End Of The World is a movie that was released in 2004 and directed by Michael Mayer. Pulitzer Prize-winning Michael Cunningham wrote the screenplay as well as the novel that the film was based off of in 1990. The film was shot in New York City, Toronto, Phoenix and Schomberg and its premiere was at the New York Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.

Cunningham is a gay novelist and lecturer who wrote about what it was like to be a child in the 60’s and 70’s as well as an adult in the 80’s. The movie spans about 12 years and follows the lives of two best friends­— Bobby Morrow and Jonathon Glover. Bobby has been through many hardships in his life. He loses both his parents and his older brother and turns to Jonathon and Jonathon’s family for comfort and friendship.

Jonathon and Bobby develop a sexual and emotional relationship in their youth. They’re reunited in young adulthood when Bobby needs a place to stay. Jonathon lives with a colorful bohemian named Clare whom he is very in love with. However, Jonathon ends up falling for Bobby, his first and eternal love, all over again. The three roommates end up developing a three-way relationship and having a child together. Clare eventually moves away with baby Rebecca and leaves Bobby and Jonathon to themselves. Bobby cares for Jonathon in his last days while he dies prematurely of AIDS.

I chose to include this film in our digital archive because it shows what it was like to be homosexual as a child and having parents that aren’t necessarily accepting. I feel that this is relevant to our class because most of us are still young enough that our parents have some sort of dictation over our lives, and coming out might cause significant problems in our relationships.

This film represents a different type of queer culture. The beginning took place in the 60’s and 70’s when people were a lot less accepting over homosexuality than they are today. While Jonathon’s mother wasn’t necessarily unaccepting when she caught Jonathon and Bobby together, she was definitely less than happy. This speaks volumes coming from a mother who does drugs with her son; she’s clearly very open but still was uneasy about her child’s homosexuality.

To quote The Straight Mind by Monique Wittig, “These discourses of heterosexuality oppress us in the sense that they prevent us from speaking unless we speak in their terms. Everything which puts them into question is at once disregarded as elementary.” This really sums up how I think Jonathon’s mother acted. She sees heterosexuality as the norm and is confused that her son is straying from it.

Gender was represented in this film through Carlton. His part in the film was brief, but he broke away from gender norms. He wore feminine clothing, had long hair and talked about how beautiful the world was. Sex is represented in this film through Bobby and Jonathon exploring their sexuality together when they were young. Jonathon is beginning to come out as homosexual, but it seems as though Bobby is just open to everything. Even when they’re adults and Clare says in regards to Bobby, “The good ones are always gay,” Jonathon insists that Bobby isn’t gay.

This film clearly represents history well since the time period is set between 35 and 55 years ago. As I previously mentioned, it demonstrates how much harder it could be to be a homosexual person during a time period where things weren’t so acceptable. As far as the contemporary goes, some things really never change. Parents are still often upset about finding out that their child is gay. People still struggle to define their sexuality like Bobby. And people still go through tragedies and hardships, lean on their friends and come out better for it.

A Marine Story- Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

A Marine Story, is a 2010 drama film about a female marine officer, Major Alexander Everett, who was honorably discharged from the military. She unexpectedly returns home (a southwestern desert town) from the Iraq War due to the charged filed against her for “Conduct Unbecoming of an Officer”. She accosted a young woman, Saffron Snow, and her boyfriend for illegal drug and theft at a convenience store. Saffron, a disturbed woman turned out to be her neighbor’s granddaughter, who requested her to prepare Saffron for boot camp as the Judge gave her one week to prepare or else she was going to jail. The film is set in 2008 and was filmed in Los Angeles in 2009. A Marine Story is directed by Ned Farr and was premiered at the Frameline Film Festival on 2010. It also won the “Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Feature in 2010.

I chose this film because the film is a good example of the United States “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy and the damage it does to the troops. The film focuses on Lesbian feminism and Native Concept of Gender and it targets audience of all gender and sexual orientation.

Lesbian Feminism: Everett reconnected with her old friends from past, Leo and Holly after returning. She could easily come out to Holly and explain why she was discharged and her sexuality and was accepted immediately with open arms. However, she couldn’t explain it to Leo until later and was surely not pleased to hear that. This shows she is not accepted anymore, because according to the society a “woman” has to be heterosexual. Also she is not a one dimensional soldier, even though she is tough she has a softer, maternal humorous side as well which is often seen when she is around Saffron or her close friends. This concept is also demonstrated by Monique Wittig’s “One is Not Born a Woman” where she says if someone if not heterosexual they refuse to be either a man or a woman and lesbians have to be something else, not-woman or not-man.

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Native Concept of Gender: J. Jack Halberstam said “In other words, female masculinity are framed as the rejected scraps of dominant masculinity in order that male masculinity may appear to be the real thing” in “An introduction to Female Masculinity: Masculinity without Men”. This concept focuses most part of the movie. There was a scene where Everett and Leo went to a bar with Leo’s friends. The egoistic males were criticizing women marines as ‘WM’ (waste of money). According to them they are only good for secretarial work. Someone then said, “Males are better at most jobs due to muscle mass and that females are only as strong as the weakest males”. Leo then suggested the weakest of them should arm wrestle with Everett, where she easily defeated him breaking the traditional norm of men being stronger and masculine.  Even Saffron, who was first shown as a disturbed, brooding woman proved herself to be a capable woman and endure all the pain and hardships to achieve her goal.

The movie goes back and forth between Everett’s present and future leaving the audience in suspense. The flashbacks were about her deployments, her drills and her pride for being an American Soldier. The present was mostly about how she trained Saffron to be tough and pushed her off of her limits to make Saffron like her and the about the conflict she had to face for not being enough feminine. When her Commanding Officer interrogated her, Everett lied the whole time by referring to her marriage (which was basically a sham marriage) to hide her identity. This shows how dedicated she is towards her country. Throughout her life Everett tried to hide her sexual preference in order to be a marine. Her commanding officer advised her to resign before they can find something solid against her, in order to be honorably discharged. This whole situation was horrible to me because for any soldier, regardless of their gender, goes through inhuman training at boot camp to serve the country are advised to leave their passion based on their sexual preference. She was an officer, a drill instructor and Amphibious Warfare School graduate, yet she was looked down as someone weak who could be a potential threat to the military family when it came down to her sexual orientation. The Commanding officer also asked whether she had an affair with any ‘male’ soldier. She replied adultery is also forbidden in military, however, her commanding officer replied it was lesser of the two evils. One of Leo’s friend Dyke was so angry at her that he secretly took pictures of her being intimate with other girls and posted flyers all over the town which jeopardize Saffron’s future of getting into the boot camp. As people assumed she was having an affair with Everett.

The script writer’s main point was we should support troops regardless whether they are homosexual or heterosexual. Everett was punished under the United States Military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy for who she was. She lived a closeted life with secrecy throughout her life. The movie portrays what other queer soldiers have to endure unfortunately. The following statement was posted at the end of the movie which represents discrimination to a whole new different level. Discrimination against queer soldiers and further more discrimination against ‘women’.

“Women are far more likely than men to be kicked out of the military under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” Policy against gay personnel, according to government figures of 2010. Gender aside, more than 13,500 service members have been fired under the law since 1994”.