Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation

July 28 2014 1:10 PM

Why Cosmo’s “28 Mind-Blowing Lesbian Sex Positions” Blows My Mind

Lesbians and gay men are used to “translating” material written for straight people so that it applies to us. Horoscopes that predict the reader will soon meet a dreamy person “of the opposite sex” or official forms that appear to define a family as mom, dad, and 2.5 kids are converted with a minimum of effort. But some things defy mental recoding—sex advice is one of them.

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July 25 2014 4:57 PM

OSU’s Marching Band Is a Homophobic, Sexist Mess

 

The Ohio State University Marching Band is pretty high-profile as marching bands go. In recent months their catchy halftime show drill patterns—imitating everything from Michael Jackson dance moves to classic video games—have drawn attention from social media and the press, including Slate’s own Brow Beat. If that weren't enough, they were even featured in one of Apple’s stylish iPad commercials earlier this year.

 

 

As a veteran and fan of the marching arts, I was thrilled to see the OSUMB generating some wider interest in the genre—which is why it broke my heart to read news that the band’s director, Jonathan Waters, was fired this week as a first disciplinary blow against what appears to be a deeply ingrained, creepily sexualized culture of misogyny and homophobia among staff and student musicians alike. 

 

July 25 2014 4:06 PM

The New Gay Agenda, According to Michele Bachmann: Legalize Pedophilia

I generally apply the Fox News principle to Michele Bachmann: Her outbursts of bigoted argle-bargle are so absurdly hateful that they serve as their own best satire. But this week, Bachmann came up with an anti-gay conspiracy theory that, I regret to say, might actually need debunking. On the conservative talk show Faith and Liberty, Bachmann insisted that, once the gay community succeeded in legalizing polygamy, it would set its sights on legalizing pedophilia:

[The gay community] want[s] to abolish age of consent laws. Which means children…we would do away with statutory rape laws so that adults would be able to freely prey on little children sexually. That’s the deviance that we’re seeing embraced in our culture today.
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Where did Bachmann get this idea from? Her own feverish, paranoid imagination, of course. The canard that gay people—mostly gay men—are all salacious child predators was once commonly held in America, but today it’s been relegated to the darker corners of the anti-gay right. We shouldn’t be surprised that Bachmann still clings to this vicious myth; this is, after all, the woman who called the Lion King gay propaganda.

In fact, we may have reached a point in the gay rights struggle when, rather than castigating people like Bachmann, we should thank them for admitting what their Christian conservative brethren are too cowardly to say out loud. Surely there’s still a sizable (if shrinking) contingent of Americans who think gays are pedophiles who should be stoned to death. At this stage, they might as well come out of their own closet and show the country what unalloyed homophobia really looks like. In an era when conservatives can soft-peddle their anti-gay animus as respect for “traditional marriage,” it’s refreshing to see someone come out and admit that they’re just plain disgusted by gays. For the first, and probably last, time in her life, Michele Bachmann may have just done the gay rights movement a favor.

July 25 2014 11:07 AM

Jeopardy! Gets Shady: Is Gay Culture Over?

Outward contributor Rafi D’Angelo brought my attention to a recent instance of cultural crossover earlier this week, when Jeopardy! featured “shade” as the answer to an $800 clue. “One term for talking trash about someone is ‘throwing’ this,” the July 21 clue read, helpfully adding, “like a big elm tree might do.”

While the demographic provenance and “ownership” of shade has been debated fiercely in recent weeks, it is safe to say that the term—which, compressing a fair amount of nuance, refers to the art of communicating a friend or opponent’s inferiority or deficiency through affect, body language, or clever insults (see: reading)—is one of the pillars of a certain school of gay sociality. Indeed, if I had to come up with a few “gay core concepts” off-the-cuff, shade would definitely join camprealnessartificemale femininity, and melodrama on that list. So given the deeply mainstream reputation of Jeopardy, the general in-group reaction of “well, that’s the end of that” is understandable. But should we be so quick to deem this clue a portent of the end times for queer cultural uniqueness?

July 25 2014 9:05 AM

Why I’m Still a Butch Lesbian

I first began wearing men's clothing a few years ago, because I thought that looking like a lesbian might help me get girls. Once I'd started, I realized almost immediately that I was feeling far more comfortable and confident and that I liked the way I looked in the mirror for the first time in my life. Other people who knew me said I looked more natural, more like my clothing fit my personality. It felt a bit like I'd been wearing an uncomfortable, ill-fitting costume all my life. As I adjusted to this new information, it was hard not to notice that many of the people who shared my preference for the men's section and my subtly masculine mannerisms had gone a step further and stopped identifying as women entirely. At times, it almost seemed as if, by not throwing my lot in with these pronoun creators and binary-rejecters, I might be just a little bit behind the times—a little square, uncool, perhaps even cis-sexist. Facebook has more than 50 possible gender indentifiers. So why have I, a female-bodied person who wears men's clothing, decided to stick with the increasingly old-fashioned “butch lesbian woman”?

In part, it's because the language of gender identity has always been a bit bewildering to me—I've felt hungry, happy, gassy, and anxious, but never male or female. Even so, it has been tempting to interpret my experience in ways that separated it from that of other women. This is especially true because cis-gendered women have a distinct tendency to define themselves in ways that don't include me. I hear women throw out things like, “As women, we all know how important it is to feel pretty,” or “We, as women, are naturally more tender and nurturing,” statements that never seem to include women like me. Not only do I dislike feeling pretty and prefer arguing to nurturing, I don't even particularly like eating chocolate. Popular culture, and women themselves, often imply that I lack many of the most essential qualities of womanhood.

July 24 2014 3:20 PM

Stephen Webb Doubles Down on the Inferiority of Gay Love

On Monday, First Thing’s inimitable Stephen H. Webb wrote a spellbinding article explaining that because anuses aren’t vaginas, gay marriage isn’t a civil right. I dutifully responded, noting that Webb’s view of marriage is far too primitivist to capture the complexities of the civil institution. Now, Webb has struck back, doubling down on his claim that a marriage without penile-vaginal intercourse is no marriage at all.

July 24 2014 1:47 PM

Getting Into Drag: The Many Meanings of Being a Queen

When RuPaul’s Drag Race sparked controversy around words like “tranny” and “shemale” in gay—and especially drag—circles back in March, the conversation was largely about who’s authorized to use those expressions, which can be seen as slurs. But another question emerged from the furor that was less predictable, if equally contentious: What, exactly, is a drag queen? Is she a full-fledged resident of the “trans spectrum” or a man who wears a dress for tips? From Facebook posts tosplashy feature stories, queens have been arguing that they are more than divas, dolls, or clowns. But what does that “more” really mean?

As a working queen still trying to figure all this out myself, I wanted to explore the issue further. So last weekend I tossed a notepad in my sequined purse and set off to ask a gaggle of New York City gurls what they wanted the world to know about drag as an identity.

July 23 2014 4:12 PM

And They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love

It was 1997. I was 16, right up front, and one of more than 1,000 delegates to the United Methodist Church’s East Ohio Youth Annual Conference. This was like the pee-wee league for regional annual conferences where bishops preside over clergy and adult delegates, who together govern and conduct the business of the regional church. We followed Robert’s Rules of Order, passed motions, and offered amendments in preparation for the varsity conferencing we might do as adults. Methodism—as a Protestant denomination founded by guys who were into, well, method—is big on bureaucracy.

Packed into a sweaty hall in Lakeside, Ohio, we raised our hands aloft as we sang “Our God Is an Awesome God.” It felt good, alternating between praise-music jam session and calls to vote on the doctrinal nuts and bolts of our church. We were devout and democratic. After a motion passed supporting measures to limit Satanic and pornographic material on the Internet—and another condemning censorship—it was proposed that we express our official disagreement with a single sentence in The Book of Discipline, the church’s official rulebook: “We do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.”

The floor opened for debate.

It was LeviticusSodom and Gomorrah. It was teenagers with unkempt facial hair sputtering damnation. It was hate dressed in Scripture, and it rolled on and on as I sat stiffly in my chair. Something chilled within me. If this sea of believers condemning gays were Christians, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be one of them.

July 23 2014 12:28 PM

Ask a Homo: Bitchy Queens

Welcome back to Ask a Homo, a judgment-free zone where the gays of Outward answer questions about LGBTQ politics, culture, etiquette, language, and other queer conundrums. This week, we address a classic straight-on-gay misconception: Gay men are just so bitchy! While it's true that some queens are straight-up rancid, there's also a venerable tradition of artful insulting that's been an important part of gay sociality for decades. In this edition of AAH, J. Bryan Lowder reads the shady phenomenon for filth.  

If there are questions you’ve been dying to ask a member of the real rainbow coalition, this is your chance. Send your queries—for publication—to slateoutward@gmail.com, and please put “ASK A HOMO” in the subject line. Note that questions may be edited.

July 22 2014 5:24 PM

The Pixilated Beauty of Gaymer Pride

Here at Outward, we focus most of our energy on monitoring the analog world for progress on LGBTQ equality. But every so often, an encouraging sign emerges from cyberspace to remind us that advances are happening there, too. The massively multiplayer online (MMO) game Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn recently offered such an insight, in the form of a virtual pride parade of players organized in response to the announcement that game developer Square Enix would allow same-sex marriages in the role-playing universe.

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