In case anyone hasn’t seen it yet, there’s a documentary on netflix with Hawaiian trans/gender non-conforming representation! It’s called Kumu Hina, it’s about Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, a teacher who is a native Hawaiian mahu (someone who embodies both a male and female spirit). It shows many of her struggles as well as accomplishments, and integrates a lot about her experiences of culture and community in Hawai’i. The documentary also features Ho’onani, one of her students who also embodies mahu. I encourage you to check it out if you haven’t already!
TSER’s Eli Erlick was featured in an LA Times article on California’s new trans* student rights bill: “Transgender students ‘just looking for their place in the world’” It is important to note that the fight for “gay rights” has not been won. While people can marry and there is some public support, queer people, especially queer people of color, are still facing disproportionate amounts of violence, economic inequality, and victimization in schools.
In honor of World Book Day, I want to tell you about this book, the best queer novel I’ve ever read.
It’s called Juliet Takes a Breath, it’s written by my dear friend Gabby, and it’s about a Puerto Rican lesbian from the Bronx who’s figuring out identity, relationships, allyship, family, and everything else that happens all at once when you’re coming out. Juliet is the young queer woman of color protagonist that the YA scene desperately needs. Her voice is fresh, funny, thoughtful and authentic. And her story is the book I wish I’d had when I was 16.
Gabby has lovingly agreed to make a video with me to talk about Juliet, and I’ll also be doing a giveaway of the book (maybe even signed copies!), so be on the lookout for both of those in the next month. In the meantime, buy the book, follow Gabby on Twitter and Tumblr, and support queer writers of color who are making the world better one book at a time. Happy World Book Day!
The bi team has one more member! Sara Ramirez came out as bisexual over the weekend at a summit for the True Colors Fund. Ramirez plays the bisexual character Callie Torres on Grey’s Anatomy.
“So many of our youth experiencing homelessness are youth whose lives touch on many intersections – whether they be gender identity, gender expression, race, class, sexual orientation, religion, citizenship status,” she said in her speech, which can be viewed in the video above. “Because of the intersections that exist in my own life: woman, multi-racial woman, woman of color, queer, bisexual, Mexican-Irish American, immigrant, and raised by families heavily rooted in Catholicism on both my Mexican and Irish sides, I am deeply invested in projects that allow our youth’s voices to be heard.” […]
“It made sense for me at this time as it was one piece of a larger context I was communicating,” she told HuffPost. “Our most marginalized youth touch on many intersections, and in describing the concept of inter sectionalities, I decided to describe the ones that exist in my own life.”
She went on to note, “The days of pressuring our LGBTQ youth to conform to one homogenized way of presenting LGBTQ are over. We must acknowledge and maintain awareness around their complex narratives.”
As a black gay man, owning up to my sexuality and being out with it came with a price tag and one that has discouraged many other people to follow suit. ‘Would I do it again’ is a question many black gay men have asked me. In the face of rejection, depression and loneliness, the answer might not be yes. However, when we take time to see the impact coming out has on the lives of many black LGBT people who unfortunately have limited role models in the media, then we realise that every time a famous LGBT person of colour comes out, a taboo is dead somewhere.
There have been numerous debates, articles, columns, movies and documentaries about how the legacy of racism has had a negative effect on so many aspects of African-American community, from our families to the way we interact with each other. It stands to reason that the legacy of racism didn’t leave LGBT people of color unscathed. But information about what LGBT people of color did during those awful times in our history or what effect it has had on us is practically nonexistent.
It is a subject hardly ever mentioned. No one talks about it in the black community and that includes leaders, intellectuals, journalists, authors or any other person with some type of platform.
And this leaves me feeling as if the events of black history, which are supposed to be a part of my heritage, are nothing more than hand-me-downs donated to me out of charity because there are very few, if any, events which are specific to me as an LGBT person of color.
Or at least that’s what I am led to believe by the black community at large.
It’s all part and parcel of being an LGBT person of color. Generally in both the LGBT and African-American communities, LGBT people of color tend to always find ourselves in the background while someone else is doing the talking and planning. Apparently we are only good enough as faces but without voices or opinions regarding strategies or leadership. And our issues are not considered important, but examples of “identity politics” gone too far.
In the Black Community and the Black Church, if you’re queer, you’re forced to wear a scarlet letter. People don’t want to hear about it. They’d rather you suppress your sexuality to accommodate their insecurities, self-hate and comfortability. It wasn’t until one day, I realized something: No one is forcing me to do anything. No one is responsible for holding this scarlet letter to my chest, but me. I have the authority to free myself. The same way God gives us the authority to bless ourselves and our neighbors. We have the authority to free ourselves and free our minds, bodies, and spirits of things that are not of him. Hate being included.
This week, the Senate made two historic votes, and two black LGBT leaders achieved huge milestones.
Darrin Gayles, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, is the first openly gay black man confirmed to the federal bench. Staci Yandle, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, is the second black lesbian federal judge in the nation’s history.
A White House aide said Obama has appointed more female judges than any other president, breaking the record previously set by President Bill Clinton. He has also appointed more Hispanic judges than any other president, breaking the record previously held by President George W. Bush. Obama has also appointed more Asian-American judges than all presidents combined and has nominated 12 openly gay federal judges. Last month, the Senate confirmed the first-ever Native American female federal judge in the nation’s history.
Yes, yes, yes. Many congratulations to them for the amazing achievements, and to everyone who made this possible.
I found solace in my friendships with other gay Latinos, men like me who loved their families but who were estranged from them, men who still craved the flavors and music of home — a nostalgia for comforts that managed, if only for a few minutes, to assuage the pain of separation, of distance. But most importantly, perhaps our strongest bond to our homelands was our language. What a relief to communicate in Spanish, perhaps a chance encounter with the slang or lilt or speech of our towns. For many of us, our first tongue. For many of us, the words through which we first expressed love and fear and sadness and joy. And to have those words while inhabiting our queer bodies felt just right.
The club. Let me be clear about something I’ve learned as a gay Latino: No place is entirely safe, no building is a sanctuary. I have encountered violence and prejudice, or at the very least exclusion, in every social space. Like home, like school, the gay club was another complicated network of human interactions. It was not always pretty, it was far from perfect, but it felt necessary because my queerness was necessary, because my body hungered for attention, for the pleasures of movement on the dance floor where I was in close proximity to the other bodies I desired.
Black and Latino MSM, in facing a risk of HIV infection that’s wildly disproportionate to other populations, are embroiled in a genuine public health emergency. Of course, this won’t come as news to advocates already working on HIV/AIDS among those groups; but it reiterates the need for education, community-specific messaging, and, above all, access to prevention tools in the effort to stem the tide.