“One of Us?” Not As Much…On Fatboy Slim’s Queer Behavior

“The most ironic thing is that most of what we do was invented by black, gay Americans in the first place.”

– Fatboy Slim, on EDM / House Music

Fatboy Slim: Queer…or Just European?

Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim) is not one to dither around or dilly-dally when it comes to sonic expansiveness and creative perception. While serving as producer, writer or DJ, Fatboy “Jack-of-All-Genres” Slim happily bounces from genre to genre to suit each new mood, project or opportunity. His range of landscapes at-play include Independent Pop, British Hip Hop and House, Big Beat and Dance music, naturally.

Born Quentin Cook, this UK underground boy gone massive came from punk rock beginnings and scruffy indie aesthetics before heading away to college in Brighton, then segueing into club and DJ culture.

Cook enjoyed a brief stint as the bassist for UK alt-pop outfit The Housemartins and experienced his first dash of fame during the band’s “Happy Hour” phase. Soon enough, Cook worked his way back to clubbing and DJ’ing, finally gaining a critical mass of attention and fans with his production and mashup skills, and eventually coming into his own with the fame and success of the hypnotic tracks “Praise You” and “The Rockafeller Skank.”

Some lads hear it more than others, but the “Is He Gay or Just European?” trope prevails in a culture where a metrosexual is a term the British media coined to describe a distinctly European look, sensibility and sexual fluidity (often but not always attached to disposable income and class). Such themes include but are not limited to: effeminate fashion, unisex/asexual presentation and (ahem) sexual experimentation or fluidity. The fact that all metrosexual men are “straight” is of course hogwash. Too–more and more, youth culture refuses to “pick a team” or define themselves by any label whatsoever.

So now, we have the news that Fatboy Slim is a regular Pride entertainer, a staunch LGBTQ advocate, and has ‘experimented with’ men sexually.

If you’d hear it from Cook himself, it’s N.B.D., but perhaps of some interest: back in 2004, Fatboy Slim told the press, “Well, everyone’s had one try-out experience, haven’t they?”

On his relationship with wife Zoe Bell, Fatboy Slim went on, “Me and Zoe have always been convinced [our son is] gay anyway.”

The fact that such goings on were mostly laughed off and minimized typifies the sexual fluidity that is our shared human experience. In less of a “bi-chic” moment and more of a “yeah, that happened” moment, Cook’s language wasn’t quite politically correct but his sentiment speaks to a nonchalance that reveals how natural and fluid sexuality is.

Is this something we can or should ignore?

Being that Fatboy Slim’s son’s still of a tender age, Cook may be keeping laser-point specifics of his son’s life private and deflecting the concept of queering personal life or relationships. However last year, Cook told Pink News UK his that supporting equal marriage is a ‘no brainer’ and revealed, “I talk about the issue with my son.”

Cook, who’s done much education and advocacy work for local young artists in his hometown, once performed at the Terrace Bar of the House of Commons to support even more community-based music initiatives for youth. By having done so, could he be, however subconsciously, helping to open the minds of UK lawmakers to queer culture, sexually fluid living and LGBTQ art and iconography?

Time will tell.

Meanwhile, are Fatboy Slim’s remarks about his own ‘sexual experimentation’ dismissive…or “normal?”

In essence, you cannot un-queer yourself, culturally or sexually. What’s definitive here is that Cook is decidedly an ally. And for the time being, the rest is none of our “B.I.-IZ-NESS.”

Have a nosh on the concept while you nod your head to Fatboy Slim’s video, “Weapon of Choice” feat. Christopher Walken.  (Yes, Hunty’s: come back and share your thoughts with us after the jump-off.)

 

 

Gay Activist & Writer Larry Kramer Weds

Marries Long-time Partner Architect David Webster

Larry Kramer has always done things his way.  While many people would shop for the perfect venue for their wedding and the perfect outfit to wear, Larry, on July 24, 2013, married David Webster his long-time partner in the ICU unit at NYU’s Langone’s Medical Center.  Wearing a hospital gown and recovering from a surgery performed on July 21, owing to a bowel obstruction, Kramer and husband Webster, an architect and designer, were married by Judge Eve Preminger in a noon ceremony. Twenty friends and relatives attended the unscripted vows that included an exchange of Cartier rings. The groom, Kramer, was not able to make his own reception afterward at Riverpark. ”We’ll have a party once he’s out of the hospital,” said Webster, 67, who met Kramer in the 1970’s.

The couple had planned to be married on their Greenwich Village terrace of their apartment (they also have a Connecticut home that Webster has renovated) a few weeks earlier before Kramer’s health flared up while Webster was on a trip. Kramer, for a long time, was critical of state laws permitting what he called “feel good” marriages for gays without federal benefits. Once the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down in states where same-sex marriage is legal, Kramer decided it was time to marry his partner of over twenty years.

A Lifetime Spent in Opposition

Larry Kramer now seventy-eight, attended Yale University where The Larry Kramer Initiative for Lesbian and Gay Studies is now named in his honor.  After the Centers for Disease Control declared that a “gay” cancer, Kaposi’s Sarcoma, was affecting young gay men in New York and San Francisco in 1981, Kramer founded, along with others, in 1982, The Gay Men’s Health Crisis, a New York City-based non-profit, volunteer-supported and community-based AIDS Service organization still active. It was the first and largest advocacy and protest organization.

Once called “the angriest man in America,” Kramer resigned in 1983 to form the more militant ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) in 1987 when the AIDS crisis was in full bloom.  New York’s and President Reagan’s Administrations were not responding quickly enough to the tragedy – the thousands of lives that were lost.

Kramer’s play, “The Normal Heart,” dealt about this 1980’s plague and had more than 600 productions.  Revived in 2011, the same year that New York legalized same-sex marriage, it was a roman a clef about his involvement with Act Up.  Winning a Tony for best play revival, I happened to see the riveting drama after which Kramer was handing out fact sheets about HIV and AIDS at the theatre exits.  He’s never lost his chutzpah nor energy for which he received a Special Tony for humanitarian service in June.

 

 

 

Log In, Get Off, Tax Write Off? Charitable Pornography Making A Stand

With vision and the internet, you can basically do anything anymore. Two organizations are showing how that is possible using the pornography industry to raise money for different types of charities. I’ll let you read that again if it seems surprising.

A newly-launched all-male porn studio—Boys Town Studios—will be releasing videos and donating all profits to the lgbt community to support gay rights.

Mike Kulich, owner of Monarchy Distribution, says that in order to benefit from the charity, “Anyone will be able to write Boys Town Studios and tell their stories about how bigotry and homophobia has affected their lives, and we will step in to help those victims as much as we can.” The first video’s profits will go toward helping queer Russian refugees because of everything happening to the lgbt community in Russia.

The first film to be released is entitled Deep In The Dark sometime in October, and the studio is planning to release at least two films per month, including branching into genres like twinks, bears, s&m, and other fetishes. Kulich’s reasons for launching the not-for-profit porn studio is because he wants “to help the people suffering all over the world and living in persecuting countries using the best way I know how: making quality porn.”

Not only will the studio have videos, they’ll also be branching out into other markets. As Kulich explained, “100 percent of the profits from all these movies, including DVD sales, video-on-demand, cable and broadcast will be donated to our newly created non-profit.” Monarchy Distribution is the parent company for the new studio and primarily handles straight titles, so it should be able to give a quality backing for everything Boys Town Studios creates.

Another creative solution to issues facing queer people worldwide comes in the form of something you can not only buy, but actually participate in.

Michael Wondercub has created a Rockethub, a “crowdfunding machine” similar to Kickstarter or IndieGoGo, for his brainchild “Benevidz—Sex for Charity” project. The website is made up of webcam models who perform for money, and then can donate between 10 and 15 percent of what they make during their time online to a specific charity, of which the site has six so far willing to accept donated money from sex workers.

The Rockethub announcement describes the idea stemming from Wondercub’s past, and why charities he has lined up include aiding victims of domestic abuse and cancer research. He also got the idea for cams for charity from his college days, when according to an interview with The Huffington Post he raised money for college masturbating online and felt empowered by it.

Benevidz.com will have male, female, and trans performers; gay, straight, old, and young (over 18 of course), and work to appeal to a large range of people. Wondercub hopes that if he can tap into just a tiny percentage of the adult entertainment industry, he could donate more than $1 million to charities in all of his causes, which his video speaks a lot to.

Wondercub is looking to raise $15,000 for overhead costs associated with starting up the website in order to more quickly be able to donate money toward his causes. He’s hoping that you’ll be able to give you a helping hand so he can give you one back when his website goes live. You can also sign up to be part of the action and star in your own show.

Maybe the world of pornography is changing, or maybe porn studios are hoping people will pay for pornography based on moral grounds. If both endeavors are successful, it sounds like they’ll be doing good things for everyone involved, so be on the lookout for some new things.

Remember The Alamo, And How It’s A Little Bit Homophobic

Planning a trip to the Alamo anytime soon? Nationwide, people are remembering the city where it’s near but not for positive reasons.

LGBT grassroots social justice organization GetEQUAL Texas recently issued a travel advisory warning for queer people wanting to visit San Antonio. In its official statement, the advisory includes a warning that, “The city of San Antonio does not currently protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (“LGBT”) people from being legally ejected from their hotel rooms or other places of public accommodation.”

The reason is twofold. The first came after attendees at a city council meeting on August 16th booed a gay marine for advocating for a non-discrimination ordinance that is in front of its council for consideration.

Eric Alva, a gay Marine and a Purple Heart recipient who lost his leg during combat in the Iraq War, spoke in front of the San Antonio council that Friday. He testified that the seventh largest city in the U.S. was the only major city in Texas and the country without a non-discrimination ordinance that includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in city employment, public accommodations, housing, city contractors, and appointments to boards and commissions. An audience of around 300 people booed and hissed Alva after he said, “Without this ordinance I can be denied from applying for a job or thrown out of an establishment, regardless of if I’m a purple heart recipient or a wounded warrior.”

Alva was shocked and upset at the reaction of the crowd. Opponents to the ordinance demonstrated outside of the city hall before the measure, riled up after radio talk shows and webpages claimed that the ordinance would be used to discriminate against Christians who opposed same-sex unions and homosexuality on religious reasons. After the crowd’s negative reaction, he exclaimed, “To all you people that preach the word of God, shame on you because God loves me, like the day I laid bleeding on the sands of Iraq and that’s why he saved me!”

The second reason comes from secretly recorded anti-lgbt comments made by San Antonio Councilwoman Elisa Chan released just after the meeting.

In a May 21 meeting, a former aide to the councilwoman recorded a conversation of Chan where she called homosexuals “disgusting” and said they shouldn’t be able to adopt children. Chan has made her views clear from the start that the recording was an infringement of her First Amendment rights, that the meeting was closed-door and meant for freedom of expression, but that hasn’t alleviated peoples’ concerns of the city or its reactions to lgbt issues.

Alva and others have disagreed with the travel warning, saying that the city as a whole is welcoming to lgbt individuals and that it is a safe place. Mayor Julián Castro said that, “This advisory unnecessarily stands to hurt the city. The fact is that San Antonio always has been and remains welcoming to all.” Some say that the alert doesn’t mean much, that visitors will still go to the city and it won’t affect their travel plans. Supporters of the alert cite discrimination at the hands of the city council and their unwillingness to meet with lgbt groups and talk about political issues.

The city’s non-discrimination ordinance will be put to a vote September 5th, and the travel alert will expire September 6th, although GetEQUAL Texas assures that it could be extended.

As long as you avoid angry-looking conservative Christians and aren’t someone who’s sacrificed body parts for the freedom of this country, you’ll be more than fine on a romantic vacation to the Alamo.

“Moscow Is Not Sodom:” Valeriya, Russia’s Madonna, Worries About Gay Propaganda

| “ RT @BBCNewsnight: Russian Singer Valeriya Perfilova says she worries about..influence of ‘gay propaganda’ on her children #newsnight ” |

Don’t Tell Me.” I Won’t Ask You.

Gay? Out? Don’t tell Valeriya about it. The living, thriving spirit of Pussy Riot continues to push the dialogue forward and keep LGBTQIA rights, allies’ rights and progressive activism in the planet’s consciousness.

In what’s being called a new gay holocaust, Russia’s resurgence of anti-gay sentiment (including myriad anti-gay/anti-ally/anti-activism laws) continues to change hands and to be bandied about by various talking heads. The revolving door of anti-gay rhetoric moves from the streets to the legislature to celebrity mouthpieces and back again.

One of the more prominent voices fearful of “gay propaganda” is Valeriya Perfilova, considered by many to be Russia’s version of Madonna. The singer directly benefits from (but does not publicly acknowledge) the love of her LGBTQ fans.

 

Using the Word “Propaganda” As Propaganda

Having sold over 100 million records worldwide, Perfilova is mainly known by her one-name moniker (see: Cher, Madonna) Valeriya. In her press materials, she appropriates much of Madonna’s heat, style and vibe—but somehow, she manages to kick the gay-friendly part of Madonnaisms to the curb. This is particularly unfortunate, as the singer’s a domestic abuse survivor and her body of work does much to buoy the spirits of female abuse survivors (all the while redirecting abusive behaviors toward another culture).

In a June 2013 broadcast with BBC Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman and Russian gay activist Anton Krasovsky, Valeriya championed a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell-esque” viewpoint, towing the party line that LGBTQ persons should not be seen or heard as such.

Regarding Russia’s anti-gay legislation, Valeriya began:

“It was funny to me, because it’s nothing to do with politics. Being the mother of three children, I approve this [anti-gay] bill… I don’t want to meddle with other people’s lives. I don’t care what they do behind their doors. But I do care about my children’s bringing up [i.e. upbringing]…. The vast majority of people in Russia, 88 percent of people, support the ban of homosexuality propaganda. That’s a fact. And this bill responds to people’s demand. That’s all.”

 

L.W.Q: Living While Queer & Beingness As Illegal

Here’s a bit of a backgrounder: in January of this year, former Russian TV journalist and presenter Anton Krasovsky came out on Russian television and was fired immediately thereafter.

Now, back to Newsnight—during the BBC television broadcast, Krasovsky brought forth the idea—and his lived experience—that essentially now in Russia, it’s illegal to be gay.

Holding back uncomfortable laughter, Krasovsky couldn’t hold back the irony of the situation:

“I’m glad that that situation is funny for Valeriya,” he responded. “But it’s not fun for me. I think it’s against me. Against my family. Against all gay people in Russia…. From today, I cannot say that I’m gay and I’m the same human being…like all of you. From today, I’ll have to pay for this. From a hundred to two-thousand pounds. Because these words could be taken as propaganda.”

The beingness of gay life, being LGBTQ, being a questioning soul, being LGBTQ and out, or even advocating for those who are—in Krasovsky’s experience and in his own words, now this is a crime in and of itself, no matter what one does or does not do. It’s about the beingness now. Beyond being a thought-crime, this is L.W.Q. “living while queer.”

Illegal.

 

Some of My Best Friends Are Gay…

Ironies continue to prevail. In 2008, Valeriya became a goodwill envoy for the Russian Federation on behalf of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), an agency to combat human trafficking. She’s been bequeathed with honors and endorsement deals from Avon, from a custom perfumier, from MuzTV and MTV Russia. She was awarded the title of “Honoured Artiste of Russia” by Putin, and has been cited by Forbes magazine as one of the 50 most highly-paid people in movie, sport, literature and music.

All this to say her platform and audience is immense, and the Russian government is using her star power to their full advantage.

During Newsnight Valeriya continued, “I have a lot of friends who belong to gay society, and they do not support their unisexual marriages. They would never take part in gay parades. They’re just normal people. They do their business…. are still working on TV, the media. I don’t know why it happened to you [Anton].”

But of course, the “friends” are not out—or as Anton Krasovsky put it, they are not “open gays.”

To watch the full video, visit the YouTube link below.

BBC News – What gay ‘propaganda’ vote tells us about Russia Today:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-KfROu8AaU

Connect with Anton Krasovsky at @krasovkin and share your thoughts with BBC Newsnight @BBCNewsnight.

 

Mainstream Hollywood Needs To Come Out A Little

This year marks the first year GLAAD, an organization that works with media (social, cultural, and entertainment) on the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and issues, has released a report that measures the representation of lgbt people in the mainstream film industry.

GLAAD reports that it has followed and advocated for lgbt character and issue inclusion in television for almost twenty years, and that this year, because of how quickly television shows have become inclusive, the organization has shifted its focus to the behind-the-times film industry. It started the research because “major film studios appear reluctant to include LGBT characters in significant roles or franchises,” and from its research, that certainly seems to be the case.

The “Studio Responsibility Index” looked at the six largest film studios in Hollywood: 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Sony Columbia, Universal Pictures, Warner Brothers, and The Walt Disney Studios. Only films released during the 2012 calendar year were chosen, amounting to 101 films (and Dalmatians). What was searched for in each film was an lgbt character, they were classified into minor or major characters, and then counted under demographic information, including race/ethnicity and sexual orientation/gender identity.

What the report found is that less than 14% of the films had a character which identified as lgbt. The majority of these (56%) were gay males, followed by lesbians (33%), although male representation almost doubled females. Almost 84% of all queer characters were white, and none were Asian, Pacific Islanders, or multi-racial. The films which were the most inclusive? Comedies, while no family-oriented movies contained a hint of queerness in them.

Of the six studios studied, none got a passing grade. Two—20th Century Fox and The Walt Disney Studios—are considered failing, with one lgbt character between the two studio powerhouses.

The report also establishes its own barometer test for the stereotyping and flatness involved in creating queer characters. The “Vito Russo Test” takes its name from GLAAD co-founder and celebrated film historian, has three points a film has to pass in order to be considered having a queer character that matters. The test takes direction from the famous “Bechdel Test” for women, and reads:

1.     The film contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender.

 2.     That character must not be solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity. I.E. they are made up of the same sort of unique character traits commonly used to differentiate straight characters from one another.

 3.     The LGBT character must be tied into the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect. Meaning they are not there to simply provide colorful commentary, paint urban authenticity, or (perhaps most commonly) set up a punchline. The character should matter.

Of the 14 films identified with lgbt characters, less than half of them pass this test, showing that the “LGBT community may be increasingly well represented on television, but clearly there is a lot of work remaining in Hollywood film.”

Recommendations made by GLAAD for the film industry touch on the importance of queer characters and their positive portrayal, especially in greater frequency and in more important roles, though at the very least in “normalizing” roles of everyday encounters. The report also underscored the importance of diversity which the entire entertainment industry has been struggling with for years. Issues of race, gender, socio-economic background, religion, and age are just as important as lgbt issues and are routinely glazed over. Lastly and perhaps most expectedly, there needs to be far more improvements when it comes to transgender inclusion in film. GLAAD points out that “transgender representations remain at least 20 years behind the curve [in both film and television].” They go on to say that since there has been more publicity about trans issues nationwide, the portrayal of trans issues should keep pace, rather than contribute to the marginalization of the trans community, something that has been becoming far too commonplace.

Picture this Romance: Gorgeous Lesbian Indian Wedding Photos

Apart from Love, everything passes away.

The way to Heaven is in your heart.

Open and lift the wings of Love!

When Love’s wings are strong, you need no ladder.

– Rumi

“We are a typical couple, at least to us. We are an interracial couple of Indian and American descent who found love at first sight. Well, let’s make that Shannon found love at first sight. The day I met Seema, I was teaching one of my boot camp classes and I turned to another instructor and said ‘I’m going to marry her.’ Of course, Seema fell in love shortly after, and six years later it became true.”

Shannon and Seema, to Buzzfeed

With Love, From Shannon and Seema

Bringing with it all the vibrant, colorful imagery of Deepa Mehta’s “Fire,” this story, these images—it’s the stuff of modern myth—but what a beautiful surprise—this is in fact the real deal.

Huffington Post Gay Voices recently profiled photographer Steph Grant and her dear friends, newly-wedded couple Shannon and Seema, complemented with gorgeous, romantic and exquisitely rich images of two women who are deeply in love.

Put A Ring On It And Take A Picture, Please

“I have photographed Indian weddings before and I have photographed gay and lesbian weddings before, but never have I ever shot an Indian lesbian wedding,” photographer Steph Grant wrote about her recent (and lovely) wedding photography assignment.

While it is decidedly challenging to be out and proud in India (most especially for women) as well as in Indian diasporic culture, this recent news item is a hopeful reminder that change is possible. The wedding itself took place in Los Angeles, though the ceremony incorporated Indian wedding traditions and attire.

Continuing the story on her blog, Grant enthused, “I have been anticipating this wedding for years now! Shannon and Seema are special to me and I am honored that they chose me to be their wedding photographer. I flew into Los Angeles a few hours before the wedding festivities began. I was greeted by a house full of friends, family and a lot of laughter. It was going to be an exciting day.”

“Beautiful Indian culture, stunning brides & style for miles!” she continued. “Couldn’t ask for more. WOW. My heart! There was so much love that consumed the SmogShoppe that evening. Friends and family came pouring in with smiles, hugs and tears… these two are clearly loved and in love. I am writing this blog a month after the wedding and I am proud to say that so much progress has been made in our country with the Supreme Court striking down DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and Prop 8 in California! Love wins. ALWAYS. Congrats Shannon & Seema. Love you guys!”

To check out the rest of the exclusive photos from this auspicious occasion, visit Steph Grant’s blog here: http://www.stephgrantphotography.com/blog/shannon-seema-indian-lesbian-wedding-los-angeles-ca

Have you ever seen such fabulous wedding photographs? And do you think you’ll ever get hitched? If you do, will you go “flossy-flossy” fancy, or do you think you’ll elope instead? Share your thoughts, Darl’s.

 

LZ Granderson: The Myth of The Gay Agenda

“…I have taught myself to sew, cook, fix plumbing, build furniture – I can even pat myself on the back when necessary…. There’s nothing I need from anyone except for love and respect. And anyone who can’t give me those two things has no place in my life.”

– Arnold from “Torch Song Trilogy.”

Visit Bing or Yahoo. Google or Duck Duck Go.

(Don’t worry, we’ll wait.)

Now: search for the words “Gay Agenda.”

(We’ll be right here, so be sure to come back. Better yet, open up another window or tab. There you go.)

Here’s what you’ll find: you’ll discover and learn more about us here at GayAgenda.com (please do that!).

You’ll also see many, many other “interesting” finds. Most notably, you’ll encounter a lot of people who have coined the hateful term and idea of the “gay agenda,” words we happily reclaim.

Among the search results you’ll find will be CNN reporter-journalist LZ Granderson’s world renowned, fact-filled, heartwarming and humorous TED Talk, “The Myth of the Gay Agenda.”

Remember that “Gay Agenda” search engine quest from before? LZ really, really went there too—in fact, he went into some extended search action…!

The results he found included a wealth of hate-monger speech and ignorance-laden articles and updates about the “dangerous gay lifestyle,” and the “dangerous gay agenda.”

On thumbing through result after result of anti-gay propaganda, Granderson reflects: “If I’m gay and I’m doing something that’s going to destroy civilization, I need to figure out what this stuff is. And, I need to stop doing it right now!” [The audience laughs.]

“I took a look at my life—a hard look at my life,” he goes on, “And I saw some things very disturbing. And I want to begin sharing these ‘evil’ things that I’ve been doing with you, starting with my mornings.

[The audience continues laughing along with LZ.] He continues the in-joke: “I drink coffee. Not only do I drink coffee. I know other people who drink coffee.”

Granderson directs us to the first slide of a PowerPoint presentation with the laughable title, “The Super Duper Evil Gay Lifestyle,” emblazoned with the rainbow flag.

He walks us through his happily partnered life and the daily goings on of being a busy parent. He then goes on to masterfully, ironically illustrate his points. “Run for your heterosexual lives, people!” Granderson humorously “threatens” during the conference, dismantling the hateful rhetoric that anti-gay bigots just so happen to throw around.

At the end of the day, LZ Granderson’s presentation fights for, in his own words, “Love and respect….trying to find your place in the world.” It seems so simple—the real “agenda” has to do with those who seek to complicate it. To destroy rights that have already been granted, and to prevent acquisition of others.

Finding and enjoying “love and respect:” in essence, this is everyone’s “agenda.” Granderson brilliantly brings these and other heartening ideas to the fore.

When he talks about love, his family, adoption and marriage equality, your eyes will get misty, your lips will quiver, you’ll be reminded of your own humanity. His talk is quite lovely and forever relevant.

LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. He spoke at TEDx Grand Rapids in May 2012. TED is a nonprofit organization dedicated to “Ideas worth spreading” which it makes available through talks posted on its website. (http://www.tedxhappyvalley.com/lz-granderson-the-myth-of-the-gay-agenda/)

You can tweet your reactions and support to LZ  @Locs_n_Laughs.

Click here to watch the video—with choreographed light saber moves and all the belly laughs you can stand included. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CstD6O95L-o)

So what did you think of LZ Granderson’s TED Talk ?

Keep It Together: Resources and Support for LGBTQ Families

It’s All in the Family

“Keep it together in the family

They’re a reminder of your history

Brothers and sisters they hold the key

To your heart and your soul

Don’t forget that your family is gold.”

– Madonna, from “Keep It Together”

For those who may oppose or who may not understand LGBTQIA culture (which often includes ourselves, those in-community), it can be easy to forget we are individuals who come from families. Who make up families. Who make up families of choice.

As we seek out kin, allies, a tribe, BFFs, support, resources and fellowship, because it is so common for LGBTQIA persons to experience marginalization even for supporting queer culture (as well as of course for being in it), we forget about our extended family. We don’t realize the broad spectrum of resources made available to us for finding connections, assistance, and even family-focused entertainment or advantages (such as social, educational financial or medical help).

We may then perhaps lose hope for reconciliation with our birth family, and/or don’t seek alternatives for creating new and more empowering familial networks.

Partying, playing and freedom of sexual expression is all well and good: it’s a blessing to have an opportunity to fully express all sides of ourselves (and fight for our rights in places where this is not yet a reality).

When it’s time to come down, gather together, find home and hearth, your family/family of choice is your go-to place to touch down, reboot, chillax. Find peace of mind.

But what happens if you don’t have a family, your community doesn’t support your family, or you don’t have a stable family?

Here are a few helpful resources, for finding family support and structure, below:

 

Get Help, Find Fam, Keep It Together

PFLAG / Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – http://www.pflag.org

In addition to education, outreach and public speaking, PFLAG provides regionally-based support groups for queer and questioning persons (including youth), as well as for people who are trying to understand their LGBTQ family members, or people who do not have family support.

Family Equality Council – http://www.familyequality.org/get_involved/programs

Per their website, “The Family Equality Council is a community of parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren who for 30 years have raised our children and raised our voices toward fairness for all families.” While they do quite a bit of advocacy work, they also sponsor Family Equality Pride events and regionally-based family outreach programs (such as support groups and activities for queer parents and the community).

COLAGE – http://www.colage.org

For people with an LGBTQ parent: focused mostly on kids and teenagers, COLAGE unites peer-based networks and helps youth find support. Their specialty, in their own words is to help: “nurture and empower each other to be skilled, self-confident, and just leaders in our collective communities.”

Transforming Family http://transformingfamily.org/about-us

Championed by Chaz Bono. With a trans* focused outreach in its purview, Transforming Family is a Los Angeles based family support group creating a positive environment for children, adolescents and their families to explore issues of gender identity.

Our Family Coalition http://www.ourfamily.org/programs

This is a community of leaders who provide family-based policy and advocacy for change as well as sponsoring various family functions and social events.

Gay Parent Magazine –http://www.gayparentmag.com

A leader in gay parenting resources – founded in 1998.

API Family Pride http://www.apifamilypride.org

The mission of Asian and Pacific Islander Family Pride is to end the isolation of Asian and Pacific Islander families with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members through support, education, and dialogue.

Soffa Support – http://soffasupport.tumblr.com

An online zine that helps to connect people with support and advice for significant others, family, friends, and allies of the trans* community.

National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth http://ncfy.acf.hhs.gov

The National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth is an information resource of the Family and Youth Services Bureau within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They help to provide various resources of support for many, including LGBTQIA-specific assistance, referrals and education.

Intersex Society of North America

Support Groups and FAQ (For FAQ, Click FAQ Link on this page) http://www.isna.org/support

The Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) was founded in 1993 in an effort to advocate for patients and families who felt they had been harmed by their experiences with the health care system. From these scrappy, brave, and confrontational beginnings, ISNA evolved into an important resource for clinicians, parents, and affected individuals who require basic information about disorders of sex development (DSDs) and for how to improve the health care and overall well-being of people with DSDs.

R Family Vacations – http://www.rfamilyvacations.com

R Family Vacations is an LGBT vacation entertainment company that provides luxury cruise ship trips with a focus on inclusive activities for children and services including same-sex marriage ceremonies.

National Resource Center on LGBT Aging –http://www.lgbtagingcenter.org

Resources include – Caregiving services, Aging in Place Providers, LGBT Organizations, referrals, help for LGBT older adults or caregivers.

JQY / JQYouth – http://www.jqyouth.org

JQY is a nonprofit organization supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Jews and their families in the Orthodox community.

 

A Word About Finding Local Resources

If you find these suggestions aren’t close to you, don’t be afraid to shout them out on social media, email or call them, and ask for help finding resources that are local for you. Should they be unable to, they’ll be able to provide other alternatives for you. Never give up.

There are many more resources where these came from. Have you got a good recommendation? Please let us know.

When times get tough or you’re looking for support, who do you call your “family?”

 

Why LGBTQ or GLBT? Why Trans* or Trans? A Look at Queering the Acronym

We communicate, therefore we abbreviate.

Social media may be viral, but without the words we say and the language we speak, it would have no foundation from which to travel and spread ideas.

Culturally, words are important to LGBTQIA folks. Not only for communicating concepts, but for fighting for our rights, for inclusivity, for assisting in diversity training, and of course, for us to find and to connect with each other among many other helpful purposes.

For instance, writing the word trans* with an asterisk at the end has its own special meaning. In short, the addition of the asterisk is more inclusive. Please click here to learn more about that in a full context.

Also, there are many people who find the word “transman” or “transwoman” to be dehumanizing or offensive, and who feel you should insert a space between each word for that reason.

But then of course, language is complex and contradictory. For example, the organization Black Transmen articulates the experience of trans* men by writing “transmen” as one word in their official parlance.

This brings to mind similar linguistic differences reminiscent of calling oneself “gay” versus calling oneself “same gender loving” or SGL. (“SGL” was a term created in generally African American circles, initiated to take one’s focus away from sex and place it on relationships, but SGL automatically excludes many trans* persons).

Or, there’s articulating queer culture as being “gay” rather than the more inclusive “LGBT” “GLBT,” that’s another example. Too, people can be attached to the order of the letters, favoring starting with “G” or “L.”). Next, there is “LGBTQ.” However, writing or saying “queer” can be an issue to some, as if there is something so-called “wrong” with being gay or having another sexual or gender orientation, rather than the intended meaning of reclaiming the insult as a word of empowerment (“We’re here, we’re queer. Get used to it.”).

Also, many acronyms and terms exist to behoove inclusivity-focused communication (e.g. LGBTQIAU for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer, intersex persons, allies and undeclared), and the lists go on and on.

Here are a few others:

SOFFA – Significant Other, Friends, Families and Allies – Generally used in trans* culture.

GAY – (This word didn’t begin as an acronym, but it has become one. Aside from literally meaning “homosexual,” “happy” or as shorthand for “LGBTQ”) – Gifted and Young, Good As You, Gay. Are You?

IMRU – I’m Queer/Gay. Are You?

LGBTQ / TBLG / LGBTQQIAAS / GLB / LGBTQIAP Any combination or order of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, straight, pansexual and so forth. When letters are excluded, this might have to do with, for instance, trans* activists who are exploring ideas of inclusivity when it comes to trans* culture. They might say, “We deserve to have a voice at this convention where the majority of the speakers are LGB-only.”

LGBTIH Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexed and “hijira” (third gender).

TS Two-Spirit.

FABGLITTER Shorthand for Fetish and BDSM community, Allies or Polyamorous.

QUILTBAG Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender/Transsexual, Bisexual, Allied/Asexual, Gay/Genderqueer.

Social critics and in-community critics tend to think of all of these acronyms as “over-corrected political correctness,” too focused on sexuality, not separating sexual and gender expression properly, or too exclusive in nature.

Generally, living in queer culture involves many elements of culture, lifestyle, privilege, preference, sexual expression, race, class, gender identity, social and hierarchical challenges, religious and moral backgrounds, geographical diversity, preferences not to be labeled, and so much more that is exceedingly difficult to encapsulate or summarize.

If anything, the acronyms can become a code, a way of transacting in the world, a way to find and befriend allies, a way to encourage others to think differently or more broadly, or a way to regain respect and grounding among others in our environment who would seek to derail or exclude others.

As a communicator and mediator myself, this can make communication, sharing information and reportage seem somewhat challenging, but not impossibly so. Prosaically, I do tend to use many different terms interchangeably as well as alternating them—so it’s likely that will offend some or many without having an intention to do so.

Personally, I tend to go by the M.O. of: “I’ll address you respectfully and earnestly in the way you prefer to be addressed. I’ll do my best to honor y/our culture going on what I know, today, and using the breadth of terminology that’s available to us, so that we can all connect.”

Which acronym, term or shorthand do you prefer? (“None” counts, too.)