Taking Children From Their Homes: Russia Introduces Bill To Remove Gay Parenting Rights

“Waves of protests surrounded Vladimir Putin’s return to power as Russia’s President in March 2012. Since then, parliament has passed so many new laws restricting civil liberties that some people now call it the ‘mad printer.'”

– Amnesty International Wire (Amnesty.org)

Russia’s Civil Liberties Record: Getting Worse and Worse In Word & Deed

“Everything you add to the truth subtracts from the truth.”

                                                                          – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

According to the Associated Press, Russian State Duma Deputy Zhuravlev (Putin’s United Russia Party/parliamentary caucus) is introducing a law making “nontraditional sexual orientation” viable grounds to remove child custody for LGBTQ parents.

In the draft bill for this proposed new law, Zhuravlev wrote:

“Following the letter of the law that forbids propaganda of non-traditional sex to minors we must restrict such propaganda not only in mass media but also the family… if one of the child’s parents indulges in sexual contact with persons of the same sex, the damage to the child’s psyche is immense as a mother or father serves as an example for their offspring.”

Additional grounds for denial or revocation of parental custody include alcoholism, drug abuse or any amount or type of drug use deemed inappropriate, which has nothing at all to do with gender, sexual orientation or law-abiding families established in-place, having committed none of these substance-related offenses.

Here we see yet another instance of punishing allies in addition to homosexual persons, as once passed, this bill would affect families and children who aren’t even LGBTQ-identified. Custodial rights could then be revoked if both or either parent were gay (out or not), so if two parents happen to have an understanding in their relationship, share post-divorce custody, etcetera, the parent who happens to be gay can be penalized, or a child can be taken away from one or both parents for any so-called ‘homosexual-affiliated’ reason(s).

As it is already illegal to mention homosexuality around children or to advise or counsel LGBTQ or questioning youth. This recent unfortunate move is thought to be the next step in Russia’s plans to eradicate gay tolerance, inclusiveness or protections altogether for LGBTQ persons, friends, allies or families.

At this point, though the bill is to be debated before it is formally passed, it seems such motions are little more than a formality. Russian lawmakers keep clinging to the through line that their anti-gay motions and laws are being instituted to protect the children, rather than being anti-gay.

Putin has already banned LGBTQ people residing in other countries from adopting Russian children, and as of this writing, the Russian government is also considering reinstating a gay blood donor ban.

Though boycotts and protests are occurring worldwide, even Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge is throwing his hands up in the air, saying Russia will not change their minds or policies in terms of its anti-gay legislation, and Rogge’s sharing little more on the matter.

Rogge told the press, “…one should not forget that we are staging the games in a sovereign state, and the IOC cannot be expected to have an influence on the sovereign affairs of a country.”

Activists, lawmakers, PR representatives, athletes, spokespeople and officials can make all the claims they want leading up to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, but we won’t know who’ll be arrested or how LGBT people or allies will be treated (both on arrival, during the events and while attempting to leave Russia) until it’s too late.

Many LGBTQ folks (like Johnny Weir) are Russophiles and/or have Russian spouses or partners. Have you been to Russia? Did you love it? If so, how do you feel now that Russian policymakers are passing all of these awful anti-LGBT laws?


Men At Twerk Are NSFW: Big Freedia, Drag DJs and Men In Queer Culture — Are they Putting Miley Cyrus to Shame?

“Miley Cyrus’ twerk-filled performance at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards has become the most discussed, polarizing few minutes in a show that saw an ‘N Sync reunion and silhouetted Kanye West singing “Blood on the Leaves”. More than one think piece has accused Cyrus of appropriating and exploiting black culture for her own benefit at the detriment of its pioneers [like Big Freedia].”

                                                                                          – Jason Newman for Fuse.TV

On The #MileyTwerk Controversy and Queer Black Culture

“I’m a singer. I’m not a twerker, I’m not a rapper. I’m a singer…. I really can sing. And you know I can twerk—watch my videos. So there.” – Singer/Pop Artist Miley Cyrus 

[Note: In principle and practice, many of the clips and links below are NSFW. Not. Safe. For. Work. Surf with caution. Some of the content doesn’t prepare you for this fact pre-launch.]

Feminists are not having it.

Kids in San Diego are getting in trouble—like “suspended” in trouble.

Hannity and Limbaugh are hornswoggled, all about this “shocking new twerking thing.” The word “twerk” has made it into the dictionary. Women are even twerking in church…on camera.

But y’all know twerking is nothing new. By now, you’ve likely traced its roots back to Africa’s diaspora, strip club feasts of fancy or your garden variety YouTube/Vine video. Let’s just say it’s familiar.

Twerking’s “a new thing” for Miley Cyrus to do in public (not counting press campaigns planned far in advance of any twerk attempts), so therefore it is “news.” Girlfriend is owning it as-is—so by now ya gotta know, it is Miley’s full intention is to twerk poorly and call attention to the fact that there’s not all too much junk in her trunk.

Ms. Miley ain’t out to win twerk-a-thon championships, and nothing that a Disney grad does—one who’s still on top—is accidental.

Now that that’s out of the way: folks can’t tell what they find most offensive about Miley’s runaway bootie: her lack of hip gyrations, her cultural appropriation, using African American folks as props alongside teddy bears, or her choice to milk every last drop of so-called shock value from ratchet living ’til it’s dry.

MC’s camp is well aware that the so-called American TV demographic isn’t ready for a real-deal twerk. Why would she practice twerking aiming to make that look authentic when it wouldn’t get on the air for the world to see? (Let the “people props” get closer to that.)

As for cultural appropriation, using people as props et al—this is nothing men (and/or Madonna!) haven’t done for decades in the entertainment industry—does that make it okay?

While ratchet/twerking music and culture’s aimed at dancing and partying all night (among, ahem, other ideas), twerking draws upon elements of queer culture. We are everywhere, so why would this not be the case?

LGBTQ folks find Miley’s new-found popularity scenario to be familiar: she’s shining in the spotlight, riding the wave of a cultural trend that’s been around in this form for at least 20 years. When such a trend makes its way to heteronormative culture and is performed by (at least more) heteronormative superstars, it’s salacious, sexy and provocative. “Controversial.” When it’s performed by LGBTQ folks in-community, people are confounded and disgusted. Granted, “disgust” is a subtextual form of interest and arousal, but most folks don’t take much time to process through that appropriately.

Too, to hear Huffpost/AOL tell it, their #MenAtTwerk compilation is one of America’s funniest home videos. As it’s taken out of context, that’s one viewpoint—but because of the platform and audience Huffpost has, such a viewpoint leaves room for much misinterpretation. In-culture, the #MenAtTwerk bootie-clap collage could be considered to be hot, fierce, authentic, queer-inclusive and/or funny at the very least. Not just “funny.”

Back in February, RuPaul and Big Freedia released the hypnotic video and single “Peanut Butter” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFoRH-VtFO4) flanked by raw, hot models and dancers (courtesy of Chi Chi LaRue and Big Freedia), and a whole…lotta…arse. (The title of the track is “Peanut Butter,” so no surprises there). This underground club banger’s selling well and re-popularized twerking in-culture in a way that Miley still has yet to understand. Ru and Freedia are internationally famous pop stars too—you just don’t hear about them in the press every…other…second on every other channel.

‘Bout That Actual Life: On Actually Fierce Twerk Game

“I haven’t really seen one bad comment about my twerk video,” she said, then added jokingly, “This is the first thing! All right, I can’t sing, I can’t act, I’m dumb, I’m a hillbilly, but I can twerk, so whatever!” – Miley Cyrus

What did not get as much mainstream press time in this latest cultural case study? Rap Artist-Musician Big Freedia, killin’ it with a jaw dropping set at the Afro-Punk Festival, which took place on the same day as the VMAs did, in the same city and cultural mecca (Brooklyn).

Still, Rap Artist-Musician Big Freedia’s mic is on. People are watching, listening and learning. Big Freedia isn’t any fly-by-night dilettante or hobbyist. This artist is the real, live deal—she’s been all up in Bounce culture and then some since 1999. While promoting her new FUSE show Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce (http://www.fuse.tv/shows/big-freedia), she’s making her voice heard, sharing her reflections about the repeated #MileyTwerk spectacle.

While she’s honest about leveraging this strange, emerging opportunity, Big Freedia minces no words: twerking has been screwed and chopped by mainstream culture, and someone from within the culture itself needs to set the record straight.

Sissy Bounce is here, it’s queer, and it’s always been with us.

Reigning Sissy Bounce Queen Diva: Big Freedia Takes New Orleans Bounce to the World Stage

In Her Own Words

“… It’s offensive to black culture and black women who’ve been twerking for years. Every time we do something, people want to snatch it and run with it and put their name on it. And they still don’t even have the moves down yet. Just get me and Miley together so I could give her ass some lessons.” – Big Freedia, on Miley Twerk-A-Mania

Big Freedia doesn’t just make Bounce music—she makes Sissy Bounce music.

She had plenty to share regarding Miley’s twerk-storm. From a recent interview with Fuse TV (http://www.fuse.tv/2013/08/big-freedia-miley-cyrus-twerk), here are a few thoughts Big Freedia shared with her audience:

…. she was trying to twerk. For one thing, we have a dance in bounce music called ‘exercising’ where you just open your legs and shake your butt a little bit from side to side… but she still didn’t even get that right because she didn’t have any butt control. She needs more practice.”

When you have my dancers, they’re professionals. They’re from New Orleans and know what they’re doing . When they started dancing, it was original twerking. Miley’s dancers were prop dancers. None of them were professional dancers.”

They could’ve used girls from New Orleans, even if they were not black, who knew what they’re doing. They’re just using anybody possible just to get that buzz since twerking is hot now. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this, though. I knew the twerking thing was really taking off, but I didn’t know it would blow up like this.”

FUSE asked,Going back to Miley, let’s say you were the choreographer and saw her performance as a dress rehearsal. What specific tips would you have given her?”

Big Freedia responded, “Don’t do it.”

Big Freedia also told Colorlines.com she plans to release a response track called “Twerk It,” which “explores the roots of twerk vocabulary.”

Twerk Couture: Bad Girls Twerking Badly Still Puts Twerking On the Map

You can’t really explain [twerking],” Miley said. “It’s something that comes naturally…It’s a lot of booty action…. I’ve been practicing probably for the past two years, in my own time in my living room.” – Miley Cyrus, to E Online

This is an achy-breaky trend that will not die, and Miley isn’t even attempting to backpedal her way out of it. She is riding it for all it is worth to her—and she’s not in this twerk game alone. She of course has handlers and press people. In her mind (from all press interview accounts), Miley really is just chilling with her friends and doing what she loves.

It’s A Feminist/Black/Queer Thing: Miley Isn’t Here to Make It Rain.

On Channeling Nothing

RT @MileyCyrus “Mile, if twerkintwerkin woulda been invented…. And I had a foam finger…. I woulda done the same thang you did.” – DAD

If you watch Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” video or even Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” the point of the shimmery video spectacle is not about making sure celebs and models are “dancing well.”It’s all about the performative pantomime. Again, we already know this yummy aesthetic quite well: Andrew Christian and Chi Chi LaRue’s underwear ad campaigns alone take bootie-shaking to beatific heights, masterfully conjoining commerce, spectacle and eroticism. – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8S94OlPt7o.

Don’t let Miley’s twerk game fool you: titillation sells, and you can always take that to the bank. Twerk is another set of clothes for Ms. Cyrus. Miley’s still got time for high fashion photo shoots with Terry Richardson and has covered V, Cosmo, Harper’s, Elle UK and counting in recent memory. Those magazines don’t (yet) encourage ratchet couture spreads, and this twerking thing is but another momentary fashion prop for some.

Too, engaged to a man or not, Miley is gay-friendly and (many say) a queer lass indeed. Playing at queering culture isn’t something that can be shut on and off. Cyrus makes a proactive point to remind her fans about this, and the We Can’t Stop video is all about playing at bi-chic tropes and omnisexual aesthetics that may or may not keep happening when cameras stop rolling.

In terms of controversy and criticism goes, Miley takes it all in stride. Trained to deal with the public from a very early age (at least years old), she and her handlers know how to keep people talking and to take “faux rebellion” nowhere near the bleeding edge of real rebelliousness.

As for the pop star’s heiney? Here we have the good ol’ “Goodie I still get to look trick:” you criticize a woman for shakin’ what her momma gave her, telling your partner, the press, your friends, “Oooh! This is just scandalous!” All the while, you’re never taking your eyes off her bum and assorted hijinx. Scandalous attention is still attention.

We Can’t Stop Miley Cyrus. We Won’t Stop Miley Cyrus.

Cyrus’ only responses to criticism have moved along two main streams of thought.

Here’s one: when criticized for her unicorn onesie twerk video, Cyrus essentially said [paraphrased] “J. Dash is happy…no one heard of his song “Wop” before I did that.” And two: when hip hop legends such as Jay Z shout her out in their rhymes and in the press, people tell Miley he’s dissing her. Her responses?

RT @MileyCyrus Somewhere in America a Jay Z song is onnnnnn

RT @MileyCyrus That’s a win win forrrrrr me.

RT @MileyCyrus Call it what you want. But I don’t see Mr. Carter shoutin any of you bitches out. #twerkmileytwerk

And Jay Z agrees.

Miley is still working with (and yes, twerking with) Snoop Lion (aka Snoop Dogg), Odd Future, Ludacris, Big Sean, Pharrell, Juicy J, Nelly and many other rap artists du jour. The Yin Yang Twins wrote a stripper pole-ready song about her tush and twerking it. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-UXJO-iydM)

The verdict is in: Miley is “right” on all accounts.

Shameless Plugs

Speaking of accounts, Miley’s still posting pictures of her bootie @MileyCyrus, and you can keep up with Big Freedia’s latest pics and posts @Bigfreedia.

So let’s get a move-on #MCTWERKTEAM…. Assume the #MileyTwerk position and represent.

“Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce” debuts Wednesday, October 2 at 11/10C on Fuse TV and you can buy her album “Queen of Bounce” on iTunes by clicking here (http://www.bigfreedia.com).

You can learn (and dance!) more by watching the documentary “Big Freedia The Queen Diva” here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0yrp3nsvAs

You know Miley’s on top of the promo gig too: according to Miley’s Twitter TL, you can of course pre-order #Bangers / Wrecking Ball on iTunes here: (https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/wrecking-ball/id691238659?i=691239109).

Now Playing – Big Freedia – Y’all Get Back Now

Because she is royalty, let’s give the Diva the last word. Big Freedia recently told the Daily News:

Twerking—and it’s a lot more than twerking—comes from a long history of music and dance in New Orleans. Twerkin’ happen around the world for a long time now, so I’m very excited that it’s coming into the public eye, as long as it’s respected.”

We could say more on the matter and likely will.

But wouldn’t you rather be dancin’ and watchin’ all up on this anyway? Let’s free you up to do that. And let’s keep it real: how many times have you had to switch to your “kitty pics” screen-saver so you wouldn’t get caught watching “Peanut Butter” on loop? Oh—that was just us? Oh, okay. Right.


Grok These, Please: Queer Slam Poems and Creative Poetry Videos


Praising and Raising our Work: On Mindshare and Memory

Riveting. Emo. Uplifting. Heartbreaking. Heart-opening. Poetry heals, helps and heartens all who encounter its majesty, power, artistry.

When a poem is passed from hand to hand, eye to eye, heart to heart, soul to soul, the bearer and the receiver are forever changed.

Writer Neil Hilborn’s touching performance in his slam poem “OCD” has recently gone viral, bringing to mind the many LGBTQIA poets and creatives in our midst with their own stories of love and life.

Slam poems and artistic poetry performance videos dovetail so nicely into the framework of social media, aka “Short Attention Span Theater.” All the while, the popularity of such creatives and their efforts debunk the myth that we’re all becoming bots, drones and distracted Internet denizens who can do nothing but lower the bar when it comes to being entertained. As we praise the art, we raise the art.

Queerly Speaking: Queerious Poems & Artistic Feats

There are many queer artists of late who’ve come to shine brightly, find their audiences and clock hundreds of thousands of views for sharing their feelings, style, art, writing and messages in video form—and thank goodness for them. With each new word experienced, we’re reminded to walk through this life: chin up, spirits high, feet facing forward.

Women of the World Poetry Slam winner Denice Frohman’s “Dear Straight People” video is one of the many gorgeous works capturing our imaginations. Garnering clicks, attention, ongoing #lolz and serious praise, Frohman’s hard-hitting truths hammer out insightful words of witticism and encourage laughs of recognition. Here are but a few gems encapsulated in a handful of minutes:

“Sexuality and gender…? Two different things. Combined in many different ways. If you mismatch your socks, you understand.”

“Dear Hip Hop: why are you fascinated with discovering gay rappers? Gay people rap. Just like gay people ride bikes and eat tofu.”

“Dear straight bullies, you’re right: we don’t have the same values. You kill everything that’s different. I preserve it.”

Words cascade like waterfalls. Prosaic glitter and poetic license, new beats and audio treats make their way towards all who have ears to hear, fingers to snap, hands to clap, and believing hearts to respond.

Visit the links below to watch these and so much more: it’s compelling, queer-powered poetry in motion.

Denice Frohman

“Dear Straight People” (WOWPS 2013)





Tanya Davis

“How to Be Alone”




Shane Koyczan

“Pork Chop” from the To This Day Project


Shanita Jackson and Dakota Oder 

“Civil Rights”


Noah St. John 

“Noah St. John Performs at Queeriosity 2010”


Stayceyann Chin

“Feminist or a Womanist”


Andrea Gibson

The Jewelry Store



To watch all of these videos as a playlist, please click the link below.


Mindshare & Memory: Slam Poems & Creative Poetry Videos


“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.”



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:


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


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.)

“Smexy Times” for Summer Lovers: A Playlist for Women-Loving Women

Pride events are still popping off all around the world—no doubt your iTunes playlist is filled to brimming, but there’s always room for one more great song, yes?

You could rock this playlist on the ride to Pride, use it to woo that office cutie you’ve had your eye on, make a little old school digital mixtape for your Honey, or keep them in your arsenal for that special someone on that next “smexy” night together.

Ready? Let’s go!

Love Songs for Lesbians

– MeShell Ndegeocello “Let Me Have You” – As a standout track from the movie “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” home girl’s heart is hurting, her mind is racing, and she just wants a little loving. Your loving. “You’re the only one,” she coos with all the swagger of a rapper. Only she ain’t rappin’, she is singing, wooing, and wanting. Highly recommended for the romantic studs in the bunch who aren’t “too grown to cry,” and “ain’t too proud to beg.”

– The Ditty Bops – When’s She Coming Home –  Delightfully “twee,” charming and delicious, real-life couple and dynamic duo The Ditty Bops deliver sweetness and light on this particular track. Guitars strum melodically as they sing in tandem, “Afraid of the time on my hands…without her, I don’t have a plan.” Bonus for lesbian roomies hung up and crushing out on a roommate or friend, finally wanting to take things to the next level.

– Lady Gaga – “So Happy I Could Die” –  It’s debatable: some folks think this song is about Lady Gaga, referring to one of her many alter egos. And the point is…? Women who love women are a walking metaphor. As for this cut, Gaga goes all Euro-Electro (duh), swooning, “I love that lavender blonde…the way she moves, the way she walks…just give up, Baby. Open up your heart and your mind to me.”

– Peaches – “Boys Wanna Be Her.” –  Play it cool: act like you don’t care. You’re a rock star, right? So you don’t care. “Boys Wanna Be Her” is about you, isn’t it? Yup—that’s what we thought. This song’s full-on glam rock. With an easy, anthemic chorus and knife-edge vocals, “The way you rock nonstop, girl you got the chops…”  see there? You’ll get your lady dancing, you’re moving along in time, you start a mosh pit, party of two…and the rest is up to the both of you. Godspeed.

The Strap Step by The Lost Bois   – Totally NSFW lyrics regarding…well look at the title and make your guesses. This is an advanced track—let’s just say it’s not a first date selection. Strictly for adults only—you feel us? Side tangent, the Lost Bois’ flow on this track is amazing, and they’re not afraid to have a little giggle along the way (chicks dig humor!). Fully confident, fully queer, a tad bit cheeky, ultimately hot.

Namoli Brennet – Stars  – Dreamy, romantic bliss. “Maybe you were somebody’s unfinished symphony,” Namoli sings, pensive and endearing. “What if we, what if we are stars?” Nice pre-party or after-party track. Heck, just take it to the cocktail party. Gorgeous lyrics—Namoli always delivers as much. So chill. Just hold her hand, Mama. Let’s contemplate all this.

Ani Di Franco – Sunday Morning – This song’s vibe streams through mindscapes of a loving couple so very familiar with one another—but still able to appreciate life’s quirks and love’s gifts. She sings it to a lover departed, but it’s tricky, because she sings it in the present tense. Isn’t that always the way? | “Sunday morning, you’re doing your thing, and I am doing mine,” she sings so kindly. “Speaking words more a formality, ’cause we can feel we are of one mind. Sunday morning, sheets still warm and kitty’s swarming ’round our feet. Life comes easy. Your sweet company making it so complete.”Loving this: blast this track on a Sunday Morning and your Love will be so pleasantly surprised.

There you have it—it’s a start, anyhow. To hear all the songs on this playlist, visit this link.

Surely this playlist—with an emphasis on “play”—-is not yet complete. What’s missing? Let a sister know.

Sochi 2014 Olympics Boycott? Greg Louganis: “Nyet!” Stephen Fry: “Da!”

The mounting controversy surrounding Russia’s widespread legal war against LGBTQ persons and allies continues to inspire people to speak out, worldwide. The loudest of these voices are LGBTQ people themselves.

Two notable and diametrically opposed viewpoints have emerged from the United States and the United Kingdom, respectively. Olympian athlete Greg Louganis and world renowned entertainer Stephen Fry, both two out gay men, are speaking up for themselves, in their own words, and taking a stand against anti-gay legislation in their own distinct ways.

Both men took to writing blog posts (Louganis writing exclusively for PolicyMic while Fry posted an open letter on his own blog), voicing their concerns and advocating for the rights of all LGBTQ people affected by the increasing strict, punitive climate in Russia.

Louganis’ post, “I’m An Openly Gay Gold Medalist and I Reject the Sochi Olympics Boycott,” (http://www.policymic.com/articles/58481/i-m-an-openly-gay-gold-medalist-and-i-reject-the-sochi-olympics-boycott) speaks from experience to Louganis’ concern for all the LGBTQ athletes, supporters, families, teammates, coaches and peers who went to great efforts in preparation for the 2014 games.

Though Putin and the Russian government has assured the public those traveling to Russia will not be penalized under the anti-gay laws, none of this is guaranteed. Still, many athletes such as Johnny Weir and Louganis plan to move forward in courage and support and attend the upcoming events.

Louganis’ blog post began, “As an openly gay Olympic four-time gold medalist, you might expect that I would be in favor of joining prominent LGBT activists in calling for America to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympic games in Sochi, Russia. After all, Russia’s recently passed laws cracking down on gays and lesbians violate everything I’ve spent my career fighting for; namely, love and respect for all people.”

However, he continued, “Boycotting sends the wrong message and will only harm the hard-working athletes set to compete in the 2014 Olympics, not the Russian government itself. I know from personal experience. My first Olympics I won Silver at age 16, and then in 1980, at the height of my diving career, President Jimmy Carter opted to boycott the 1980 Olympics in Moscow as a method of protesting the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan. The toll on fellow athletes and me was devastating. We had trained our entire lives for that one moment.”

To mirror his message of support, he encouraged readers to stand behind gay in-community role models and  athletes, and encouraged people to sign the All Out and Athlete Ally petition against Russia’s recent actions (http://gayagenda.com/lgbt-empowered-shaun-t-partners-up-with-athlete-ally).

Stephen Fry’s words were just as impassioned, his sentiments just as vehement:

In his post, “An Open Letter to David Cameron and the IOC,”  (http://www.stephenfry.com/2013/08/07/an-open-letter-to-david-cameron-and-the-ioc/single-page), Stephen Fry drove his points home by writing, “An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 on Sochi is simply essential. Stage them elsewhere in Utah, Lillyhammer, anywhere you like. At all costs Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world.”

As he too spoke from his own experience, Stephen Fry continued, “I am gay. I am a Jew. My mother lost over a dozen of her family to Hitler’s anti-Semitism. Every time in Russia (and it is constantly) a gay teenager is forced into suicide, a lesbian ‘correctively’ raped, gay men and women beaten to death by neo-Nazi thugs while the Russian police stand idly by, the world is diminished and I for one, weep anew at seeing history repeat itself.“

Fry then ended his article by citing the IOC’s own rules, re-purposing them inclusively, in defense of LGBTQ rights. He ended his letter as follows:

“I especially appeal to you, Prime Minister, a man for whom I have the utmost respect. As the leader of a party I have for almost all of my life opposed and instinctively disliked, you showed a determined, passionate and clearly honest commitment to LGBT rights and helped push gay marriage through both houses of our parliament in the teeth of vehement opposition from so many of your own side. For that I will always admire you, whatever other differences may lie between us. In the end I believe you know when a thing is wrong or right. Please act on that instinct now.”

Additionally, entertainers such as actor Harvey Fierstein, George Takei, Dan Savage (http://gayagenda.com/dumpstoli-russias-anti-gay-bill-sparks-creative-boycott) and a growing number of public figures are making themselves heard. While everyone who’s come forth is voicing opposition to the anti-gay legislation in Russia, it seems like opinions run neck and neck: those who feel a boycott is futile or unfair for the Olympians seem to equal those who feel it is unconscionable to hold the event in Russia at all.

Have your say!

Click the following link to sign All Out / Athlete Ally’s petition speaking out against Russia’s anti-gay legislation https://www.allout.org/en/actions/russia-attacks or leave your comments below.


Et Tu, LGBTQ? | Gays Don’t Want to Get Gay-Married

“Men have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the altar – whether they’re straight or gay. Marital data obtained by The Post show a stark, 3-to-2 ratio of lesbian marriages, compared to all-male unions. Can we finally stop pretending that gay men are interested in getting ‘married?’”

– Joe Carter, FirstThings.com

Psst… Opinions Come In All The Colors of the Rainbow

Feelgood marriage equality campaigns make front page news. When it comes to marriage equality, dissent and debate on the subject “doesn’t bleed, therefore it doesn’t lead.”

Emotional appeals, petitions and yummy flash mobs are changing the tides, and they do bring with them a healthy amount of influence. Recent and continued marriage equality victories around the world (http://gayagenda.com/?s=marriage) are a testament to the fact that people are paying attention and spreading the word about freedom for everyone to marry. This translates to success in legislative arenas.

With each new court victory, aftershocks move from one blogger, activist and journalist to another—from one dissenting voice in this or that bar, library, or LGBT center and back again. It sounds like this: “We’re pressured to be good little gays or assimilationist queers, and to fit in. I don’t give a toss about fitting in. You can take your marriage rights and shove ’em!”

You don’t have to go too far to find all any “hell-no’ers.” Just turn your head to the side, away from the press, and voila!

Is it just men who don’t want to hook up…with one person…legally…for life?

Anecdotal evidence could tell you otherwise—check in with your women friends and have a good, long listen. Let’s not talk about the “sanctity of hetero marriage” viewpoint today. But since those dissenters exist (and hold political power), many LGBTQ folks who are politically active or vehemently anti-marriage will align with them—even if those fellow dissenters are anti-gay—so long as they’re against gay marriage in particular. (See” Gay Marriage Agenda” arguments at http://queerkidssaynomarriage.wordpress.com.)

When you think about the concept of “gay marriage,” it can feel confusing. We don’t say “hetero marriage” or “wo/man marriage.” The words “gay marriage” channel utterances of otherness between the syllables. (Like, “Look at this cute kitty marriage on YouTube!” ”Look Honey, it’s the Gays and the Gay Marriage thing on TV!”)

Too, the phrase by nature excludes LBTQ…and IA from the discussion (and other more inclusive acronyms and letters as they evolve, deserving upgraded legal protections as well). Allies are often though not always queer and questioning, and not just straight-identified. Queer culture is fluid like that. The words “gay marriage” can sound like something that needs to be tracked for stats’ sake. The phrase sounds “like an issue: gay marriage, teen pregnancy, drug addiction.”

Here’s the thing—gay marriage is still an issue. When holding hands in public or private space means risking your life, safety or livelihood, that’s a serious issue. When access into hospital rooms to see a hubby or wifey of 10 years (or a month, a year) is denied, what would that be, if not an issue?

The wording is telling: politically in terms of entitlement, agency, money, class (and other bonuses,), it is said that “gay men get the goodies first,” and the rest trickles on over to the other letters in the LGBTQI alphabet. Why, for instance, isn’t marriage equality called “queer marriage” or “LGBTQIA marriage?” “Trans marriage equality” as another concept that’s a tangential, cut-and-paste amalgam of legal and relational ideas still being hammered out.

As for getting goodies first, enjoying the first bits of crumbs when the expectation and norm is the whole damned pie, it’s a “faux privileged” state of affairs, anyhow. This isn’t the space for vilifying gay men by any means, even if they have no interest in sharing spectral space and rights.

The word gay is often interchangeably used in the place of LGBTQIA when we discuss everything from culturality to entertainment, still, the shortcut seems to add “suffer it to be so now” elements to activism work that can’t make good progress if it’s mired in gradualism.

Complicated, no doubt.

The pomp and romance wedding circumstance is something we need to love up on and appreciate. What’s life without love? Weddings are a gorgeous metaphor. Queer folks deserve that option. When the legal equality honeymoon ends and ends again state-by-state, we need to continue to do the work of commitment and marriage to the entire community.

These LGBTQ folks aren’t so keen on everybody getting “gay-married up.” Here are 11 different ways to think about things. Folks are saying:

1) No wedding, thanks: “We just wanna f*ck.” – http://www.vice.com/read/dont-celebrate-the-gay-marriage-victory-with-a-wedding-of-your-own

2) “Just because I’m not married doesn’t mean I have to be gay. Or that I should get married. Even if I am gay. Or…lesbian. Whatever. None of your business. Shut up!” (Anonymous anecdotal pull quote)

3) “Why can’t they take the opportunity to add trans rights into the experience? If I’m transitioning and not the supposed correct legal gender, or if I choose to marry a woman or a man, I should have legal protection for that.” (Anonymous anecdotal pull quote)

4) Poly people can be queer and committed too. Duh! (Anonymous anecdotal pull quote)

5) I just “don’t want to get gay married.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/liz-wallace/why-i-dont-want-to-get-gay-married_b_1544781.html

6) “Hi, I live in Europe.” Non, merci: http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/most-homosexuals-dont-want-to-marry-or-adopt-french-homosexual-leader-admit/

7) “Marriage is dumb. They just want your LGBT money, Honey.” https://creatingclare.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/silly-gay-people-dont-you-know-marriage-is-for-dummies.

Somebody wrote a song about –wanna hear it? Here it comes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQh5G8mOiSA

8) “Congratulations, you’re boring now:” http://nogaymarriage.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/congratulations-new-york

9) “Equality” isn’t enough. “Gay marriage apes hetero privilege.” http://www.againstequality.org/about/marriage

10) “We’re going to be rejected anyway, no matter what we do, so what’s the use of fighting for it?” http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/02/26/gays-who-dont-want-gay-marriage.html

11) You can “find your way,” and stay committed – it doesn’t have to be “conventional.” http://jezebel.com/5328896/nro-valentino-proves-people-dont-want-gay-marriage

Marry Gay? N-F-Way.

If you want to surf the #MarryGayNFWay train, you’ll find many bloggers out there to help you make that happen– many of whom bring to light salient points, and stats upon stats of support. Begin your journey at Gays Against Gay Marriage.(http://nogaymarriage.wordpress.com). Wear protective gear.

This writer believes in love. You can call it what you want, but you’d better get it while the getting is good.

And you? Do you get it?

Where Kids Can Just Be Kids: Summer Camps For Trans* Youth

Childhood can be as magical as it is challenging. Having parents who care enough to walk you through the highs and lows of life, to tend to your feelings, restore your peace of mind, guide your education and plan your health care helps to ease the stress and eustress that kids go through as they’re finding their way in the world.

Kids, just like adults, need to have survival needs met, to interface with a supportive and growing community, and to enjoy plenty of extra time for play, recess, hobbies and making same-age friends who share their interests. (remember scheduled play dates and slumber parties?)

Because people often confuse sexuality with gender, trans* kids might be introduced to ideas, bullying or teasing comments that have nothing at all to do with what they’re interested in or thinking about in terms of their identity. They won’t even understand the words or concepts in grown-up ways, which is all the more hurtful and confusing.

These reasons among many make summer camp that’s not only trans* inclusive but just for trans* kids a very pronounced need. Kids in school, in both public and private shared spaces where children gather, may be in relatively secure environments, but much of their time might be unsupervised, or not monitored closely. Multiply that by the weeks and months packed into the summertime, and now you’re dealing with formative experiences that have the potential to imprint themselves on children’s innocent  little hearts and minds. So why not set them up to be joyful experience?

Why not set them up for having…just plain fun?

There are many parents and supportive organizations who’ve taken it upon themselves to create trans* inclusive and/or trans* specific spaces where kids can just be kids. Here are a few suggestions below.

Summer Camps for Trans* Youth

Camp Aranu’tiq A week-long, overnight summer camp for transgender and gender-variant youth ages 8 – 15, with locations in New England and California. Also, Aranu’tiq Family Camp is a long weekend event in autumn for the whole family.  http://www.camparanutiq.org

Trans Youth Equality Foundation Youth Retreats Twice a year, TYEF organizes transgender youth

retreats, an opportunity to get away for a little while and enjoy activities like swimming, hiking, boating and arts and crafts. The difference between summer camp and TYEF retreats is that all of the youth who attend TYEF retreats are transgender. http://www.transyouthequality.org/youth_retreats.html

NYC LGBT Center  Y.E.S. Program Summer Community Camp The Y.E.S. Summer Community Camp program is a week-long residential camp designed to empower lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people with the support, knowledge and skills they need to take charge of their own health and well-being.  http://www.gaycenter.org/youth/summercamp

Camp You Are You Camp You Are You  is a four-day camp experience for gender fluid boys and their families. The name and location is private, however Slate.com wrote a piece about it recently, and you can contact Lindsay Morris, who is in touch with the organization, at LindsayMorris.viewbook.com and find out more about the camp at this link:


You can find many more trans* inclusive summer camps at Dreams of Hope here: http://www.dreamsofhope.org/page/summer-camps

Do you think trans* only summer school and camps shelter kids too much, or are they absolutely necessary?