Queer ASL
Queer ASL is a queer & transgender positive environment with a focus on creating a more accessible, affordable, and safer space for folks who want to learn ASL in Vancouver, BC.

Queer ASL focuses on introducing basic American Sign Language and Deaf culture to queer & transgender learners in Vancouver, BC. This involves learning the alphabet, finger-spelling, facial expressions, vocabulary, and grammar structures. At home, students access homework videos that feature the local queer signing community and a collection of Deaf culture information such as identity politics, cultural norms, history, current topics and issues, etc. The courses have a voice-off policy in order to both be respectful of signing spaces and to immerse ourselves in a signing environment. People who complete Queer ASL classes are able to carry basic conversations with signing queer folks and have a better understanding of the deaf/signing community.

The courses are taught through using powerpoints, videos, demonstrations, dialogue practice via partners and groups. All instructors are deaf and queer. Deaf queer guests (often folks featured in the homework videos) at times visit to provide additional perspectives and show students how we all have different signing styles. By having guests, this allows both signing queers and Queer ASL students become familiar with each other, thus building a bridge.

We generally have 3-4 cycles of classes per year. To keep an eye on upcoming classes, email us at queerasl@gmail.com to be added to our mailing list. Also, liking our facebook and keeping an eye on our events can be helpful.

Bold, black and brilliant  - Unsung heroes of the Civil Rights Movement

Murray wrote. A prolific poet and author, she penned influential works like Dark Testament and Negroes Are Fed Up. History books don’t often value the stories of people of color, favoring a whitewashed version of the past over the harsh honesty of historical racism. This spin makes history more comfortable, especially for those who don’t want to confront their role in the oppression of people of color.

A direct challenge to this sanitized version of the past is Black History Month - a time to explicitly honor the struggles, triumphs and excellence of the black community.

There are countless heroes of the racial justice movement who are often denied the platform to be celebrated. Though the impact of their work is still felt, their names and contributions aren’t widely known.

It’s time for that to change.

Nannie Helen Burroughs

In 1907, Burroughs, with support of the National Baptist Convention, began creating a trade school for black high school- and junior college-aged girls. The school was called the National Training School for Women and Girls, with themotto “We Specialize in the Wholly Impossible” — a testament to Burrough’s belief in educating those whom others thought were unworthy. The students were trained industrially, also learning about the liberal arts and Christianity. Burroughs was well-known for speaking publicly about harsh truths of racial inequality.

Pauli Murray

A prolific poet and author, she penned influential works like Dark Testament and Negroes Are Fed Up. Her dedication to racial justice law and activism was recognized in 1961 when President John F. Kennedy appointed her to the President’s Commission on the Status of Women Committee on Civil and Political Rights. In 1977, she became the first black woman to be ordained as a priest within the Episcopal Church.Though deeply passionate about racial justice, Murray was critical of the Civil Rights Movement. She often challenged dominant male leaders, coining the phrase “Jane Crow” to hint at the overlooked intersection of gender and race. Throughout her life, however, Murray struggled to find a label that honored her gender and sexuality. Her name switch — from Anna Pauline to Pauli — was a nod to this complexity.

Bayard Rustin

If Martin Luther King Jr. was the star of the Civil Rights Movement, Bayard Rustin was the director. Most notable of his activist work was the organization of the March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. Organizing the march was an uphill battle for Rustin, though, as many objected his leadership because Rustin was a gay man. King, however, stood firm in his belief that Rustin was the right man for the job. Rustin had been one of his early mentors and continued to work with him as a “proofreader, ghostwriter, philosophy teacher and non-violence strategist.”

He was involved in human rights locally and internationally, including advocacy for black labor unions, economic justice and the protest of the Vietnam War. He also became more outspoken on the rights of gay and lesbian individuals starting in the early 1980s.

Claudette Colvin

Before Rosa Parks, there was Claudette Colvin. Born Sept. 5, 1939, Colvin made a name for herself at just 15 years old when she took a stand against bus segregation in her hometown of Montgomery, Alabama. In 1955, she boarded a crowded bus with her school friends in Montgomery, and when she refused to give up her seat to a white woman who boarded after her, Colvin was removed from the bus and arrested.

Despite being a pioneer for bus protests, the NAACP didn’t publicize Colvin’s resistance because she was dark-skinned and became pregnant by a married man soon after. But Colvin continued to be an activist, and testified in the federal court caseBrowder v. Gayle in 1956, which determined bus segregation laws to be unconstitutional.

Fred Hampton

Hampton’s extensive knowledge, leadership and oratory skills accelerated his rise within the BPP — he was chairman of the Illinois chapter and deputy chairman of the national chapter by 1969. In his time with the BPP, he helped facilitate creation of a number of free initiatives, including a children’s breakfast program, health clinics, political education classes, transportation to jails and day care centers. He encouraged the pursuit of education for all black people, especially Black Panthers. To become a member of his chapter, prospects had to go through six weeks of education so they knew what they were fighting for. While leading the Chicago chapter of the BPP, Hampton created the Rainbow Coalition, a multi-ethnic revolutionary group composed of organizations and street gangs. 

 In June 1969, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover described the Black Panther Party as “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.” As the deputy chairman of the national chapter, Hampton was one of the FBI’s major targets in efforts to “neutralize” the BPP, and he was put under high surveillance. On Dec. 4, 1969, the FBI conducted a raid in the home where Hampton, his pregnant girlfriend, and other members were sleeping. Hampton along with fellow Panther, Mark Clark, were killed in the raid. Hampton was only 21 years old.

Angela Davis

Angela Davis is a major force in the fight for racial justice, using her radical — and sometimes controversial — activism to build upon the solid framework of the Civil Rights Movement. 

 Her activist work first caught mass attention in 1969 when she was removedfrom a philosophy teaching position at UCLA for her affiliation with the Communist Party and the Black Panther Party. A year later, she was placed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List after being accused of aiding in a deadly prison escape attempt. The manhunt forced her underground, where she was eventually caught by officials, tried and found guilty. She served 16 months in prison, until an activist fought back with the Free Angela Davis campaign, which successfully led to her acquittal in 1972.

Though passionate about prison reform before her own incarceration, Davis’ experience with law enforcement propelled her to become a central, critical voice toward police, prisons and law. She became a founding member ofCritical Resistance, a national organization dedicated to radical prison reform. She is also notable for popularizing the idea of the prison industrial complex, coining the phrase to critique prisons as inherently corrupt, advocating for their abolition.

Davis brought her activism to paper, authoring nine books, including Women, Race and Class, Are Prisons Obsolete? and several works on historical black leaders. She was a professor of feminism and the history of consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz, until her retirement in 2008. Her current work and advocacy focus on gender equality, prison reform and the realities of systemic racism.

Fannie Lou Hamer

Hamer began to work tirelessly for the Civil Rights Movement, not only helping other black individuals vote in elections, but also working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which participated in acts of civil disobedience in protest of segregation and racial injustice.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Hamer remained dedicated to her activism by helping set up organizations for black people to find more business opportunities, quality health care and family services

Ella Baker

Though Ella Baker wasn’t as visible as others involved, many activists agree there would not have been a Civil Rights Movement without her.

Baker didn’t believe there should be a sole leader of civil rights. Instead, she believed in grassroots political action and collective activism. This pushed her to fringes of the movement, as activists were so eager to champion leaders like Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and Malcolm X as representatives.

Seeing young people take up interest in racial justice throughout her time as an activist, Baker realized the new generation of young activists were going to be assets to the movement because of their new ideas and eagerness for change. This led her to focus her attention on students for the later part of her activist career, creating the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which organized the Freedom Rides.

Here’s your history lesson for the day.

Beate Klarsfeld (b. 1939) is a German activist and Nazi hunter who dedicated her life to documenting the Holocaust in order to bring was criminals to justice. Thanks to her and her husband’s efforts, multiple German and French officials responsible for the killing of thousands of Jews were discovered and brought to court for prosecution.

She was arrested several times for protesting antisemitism in her native country and in others, such as Poland or Czechoslovakia. The couple also founded an association for the children of deported Jews.

The 'Black, Queer, Feminist' Legal Trailblazer You've Never Heard Of
Pauli Murray championed the fight for gender equality, achieved sainthood and helped desegregate schools, all while pushing against Mad Men-era social norms.

Dr. Pauli Murray is hardly the household name that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is, but a recent profile in Salon argues she should be. As Salon’s Brittney Cooper explains, Murray, who graduated from the Howard University School of Law in 1944, was one of the first lawyers to argue that the Equal Protection Clause’s approach to racial discrimination should apply equally to gender-based discrimination. Ginsburg credits Murray’s work as the inspiration for her 1971 brief in Reed v. Reed, which ruled that women could not be excluded as administrators of personal estates based on their gender. The Supreme Court case marked the first time that the Equal Protection Clause was applied to sex discrimination, and has served as precedent for many arguments in the decades since then. Ginsburg found Murray’s prior arguments so important to her own that she elected to put Murray down as an honorary co-author on the milestone brief.



Erykah Badu will assist in styling PyerMoss designer Kerby Jean-Raymond’s show this weekend for New York Fashion Week.

“The black experience in America is the ultimate double bind; a place where natural born citizens live an immigrant experience in the only land they’ve known as home. A place where black culture is praised, commodified, and appropriated, while black people are criticized [and] vilified…“

READ MORE: http://bit.ly/1KLk4R9 ‪#‎NYFWM‬

Transphobic Bathroom Bill Dies in Washington State
The state Senate barely defeated legislation that would have repealed the state's new gender-neutral bathroom policy.

Washington’s state Senate has killed a transphobic bill — but only by a hair. Legislators voted 25-24 to defeat SB 6443. The bill would have repealed a new rule issued by the state’s Human Rights Commission that allows transgender people to use public restrooms that correspond with their gender identity.


Outfest Fusion LGBT People of Color Film Festival Announces Lineup
Marking the important intersection of queer cinema with other minority voices, Outfest Fusion 2016 will take place early next month in Los Angeles and its lineup is looking pretty impressive.

Opening the fest on Friday, March 4, is the 20th Anniversary screening of (digitally restored) cult film The Watermelon Woman, followed by a panel discussion the next day with writer-director Cheryl Dunye on her film’s lasting influence. Other screenings include the GLAAD Media Award–nominated BET documentary Holler If You Hear Me: Black and Gay in the Church, Jake Witzenfeld’s Oriented, exploring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Made in Bangkok, Flavio Florencio’s fabulous documentary about a prestigious transgender pageant in Thailand and star contestant Morganna.

Receiving this year’s Fusion Achievement Award is Emmy-nominated and Golden Globe–winning director, producer, and writer Nisha Ganatra, who directed arguably the best episode of Transparent Season 1, “Moppa” (although it’s very hard to choose just only one). Ganatra is also responsible for the vivid late-90s treat Chutney Popcorn, an ahead-of-its-time story about love, family, and surrogacy.

For complete listings and to purchase tickets, log on to www.Outfest.org/fusion2016.


David Cameron, join us in leading the world with renewables, not fracking the good people of Lancashire.

Panel - Beyonce's Political Halftime Show
The panelists weigh in on Beyonce's controversial halftime performance of her song "Formation."

In case you missed it, last night on The Nightly Show we chatted with Keke Palmer about Beyonce’s epic halftime show performance. People (meaning FOX news) are upset that Beyonce brought politics into the super bowl, but….did she really? Should celebrities share their political views through their work? And does ‪#‎Formation‬ mean Bey is an activist? Check out what we had to say on last night’s panel!

Jim Obergefell and Andreja Pejic Get Real About the 'T' in LGBT
Jim Obergefell, a leading advocate for marriage equality, and the world's most famous trans model talk about the adversities faced by transgender people.

With the recent media attention and public support surrounding transgender male models such as Ben Melzer and Aydian Dowling, one might think that broad acceptance of all trans people is inevitable. However, even within the so-called LGBT community, prejudice against trans and gender-nonconforming people still arises, as a recent petition to LGBT media and advocacy groups asking them to “Drop the T” illustrates.

This tension was the topic of discussion for Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the marriage equality suit that resulted in the freedom to marry nationwide, and Andreja Pejic, the world’s most famous trans model, as they sat down for an interview with Amanda Silverman of Foreign Policy.

Pejic was adamant about the impact that sharing one’s own story can have.


Why what Irish people experienced is not the same as what Black people experience

Just for Black History Month, I’m going to explain something that should not have to be explained: Why what you believe Irish people experienced is not the same as what Black people experience  (emphasis on the tense of the word “experience”).

I hear this argument a lot when the struggles of Black people are brought up and when White Privilege and the lack of white oppression are pointed out. You hear things like “ White people have been discriminated against, have you forgotten about the Irish?” or “White people were enslaved too!” 1. All white people are not Irish, and 2. yes, those things are true, Irish people were discriminated against. Were.

This is where the parallel between the struggles of Black an Irish people abruptly ends. Surprise, it’s a false parallel. o be short, I will list out why these are not comparable experiences

1.  Discrimination against Irish people in America ended in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as they became integrated into the dominant white culture and keeping Irish “slaves” became more expensive; discrimination against Black people is alive and well, drinking ice-tea on the porch of a your local enshrined plantation.
2. Yes, Irish people were enslaved; however, this term is suddenly broadened whenever this argument arises. Irish people were taken as political prisoners and indentured servants and then sent to the “New World” to work. While sometimes this was forcibly, it was also voluntary in some cases and indentured servants, as humans in the eyes of slavers, were allowed far more autonomy than chattel slaves.
3. Irish people in America do not have to worry about being pulled over, harassed, raped, or killed for looking Irish, but that tends to happen if you look like a “thug”.
4. I don’t hear people calling for an end to St. Patrick’s Day because it further divides us and it’s selfish of Irish people.
5. Anti-Blackness crosses more bounds and does further leaps than most forms of hatred known today. It is almost global. People will bleach their skin to stay away from Blackness. The same people in America that follow me around the store will be following me, my children, and their children’s children in a multitude of other countries without thinking twice. Black is seen as suspicious, dangerous, uneducated, “ghetto”. The first thing that comes to most people’s minds when they think of “Irish” is green.

To be frank and short, stop proposing these false parallels because you know that’s what they are. The reason why even though" Irish people were enslaved, you don’t see them bitching" is because they aren’t still affected by it today. So, please have several seats and let us relish in our Blackness and the one short month of the year you have a slightly harder time avoiding it.

I know artists are usually supposed to keep their mouths shut and just post pictures, but I think I’ve decided what kind of artist I want to be and it’s not the kind to hide parts of my person for maximum viewage or likes. I am a proud supporter of Blackness and my Black womanhood and that affects my art deeply. So, enjoy!


The United Nations has released a new collection of postage stamps called “Free & Equal,” a trilingual series celebrating the campaign for LGBT equality worldwide. 

The six designs were created by Cuban artist Sergio Baradat, and the stamps are available in dollar, euro and Swiss franc denominations. In related news, I will now be sending much more snail mail. (via the United Nations