Outward
Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation

Oct. 18 2017 9:00 AM

Jeff Sessions Does Not Care About Trans Lives or Trans Deaths  

In a move entirely consistent with his long career as a staunch advocate for tough sentencing, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reported to have sent a federal prosecutor to assist in the state prosecution of an Iowa man accused of murdering a young black student who transgressed binary norms of gender, identifying as both male and female. The New York Times, HuffPost, and other outlets described the move as “def[ying]” and “confound[ing]” Sessions’ image and history on civil rights. But Sessions’ decision to aggressively prosecute individuals and ignore systemic discrimination is neither surprising nor indicative of a shift in his stance on civil rights. The reality remains that Sessions does not care about transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.

In fact, Sessions is an architect of the very types of discrimination that lead directly to the premature deaths of individuals like Kedarie Johnson, whose death he now seeks to avenge through the prosecution of Jorge Sanders-Galvez, who is accused of Johnson’s murder.  (Jaron Purham has also been charged; he is awaiting extradition in Missouri.) Since assuming his current post, Sessions has taken every opportunity to limit legal protections for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. In one of his first acts as AG, Sessions rescinded the extensively researched guidance from the Obama administration’s Justice and Education departments protecting transgender youth from discrimination in schools. He later issued a directive revoking a memo from former Attorney General Eric Holder explaining that the federal government would interpret the Civil Rights Act to encompass discrimination against transgender employees.

By advocating for a world in which transgender individuals are not protected from discrimination in school or the workplace or foster care or in homeless shelters, Sessions is ensuring that transgender individuals, particularly transgender women and femmes of color like Kedarie Johnson, are vulnerable to violence. He may believe in punishing an individual who allegedly murders a transgender person, but it is Sessions himself who creates the conditions in which that murder takes place. The transgender young person who can’t go to school and can’t get a job will be more likely to experience homelessness, more likely to face criminalization, more likely to die young from illness, from prison, from suicide, from murder.

 

Oct. 17 2017 1:53 PM

On Its 40th Anniversary, Revisiting the Powerful Communal Vision of The Joy of Gay Sex

When I started college at Tufts University 30 years ago this fall, my active sex life was a mere two months old and included just two partners. Early in my first semester, in the tiny library in our campus gay group’s cramped office on the third floor of an unmarked clapboard house, I found The Joy of Gay Sex, which Edmund White co-authored with Dr. Charles Silverstein a decade earlier, in 1977. Too nervous to take it back to my dorm, I sat on a rump-sprung sofa behind the office’s closed doors and nervously flipped through the pages. Although the book was only 10 years old, it already seemed like a document from a distant age.

 
 
 
 
 
Outward
EXPANDING THE LGBTQ CONVERSATION
OCT. 17 2017 1:53 PM

On Its 40th Anniversary, Revisiting the Powerful Communal Vision of The Joy of Gay Sex

 

 
 
 
 
 

When I started college at Tufts University 30 years ago this fall, my active sex life was a mere two months old and included just two partners. Early in my first semester, in the tiny library in our campus gay group’s cramped office on the third floor of an unmarked clapboard house, I found The Joy of Gay Sex, which Edmund White co-authored with Dr. Charles Silverstein a decade earlier, in 1977. Too nervous to take it back to my dorm, I sat on a rump-sprung sofa behind the office’s closed doors and nervously flipped through the pages. Although the book was only 10 years old, it already seemed like a document from a distant age.

 
 
 
 
 
Outward
EXPANDING THE LGBTQ CONVERSATION
OCT. 17 2017 1:53 PM

On Its 40th Anniversary, Revisiting the Powerful Communal Vision of The Joy of Gay Sex

 

 
 
 
 
 

When I started college at Tufts University 30 years ago this fall, my active sex life was a mere two months old and included just two partners. Early in my first semester, in the tiny library in our campus gay group’s cramped office on the third floor of an unmarked clapboard house, I found The Joy of Gay Sex, which Edmund White co-authored with Dr. Charles Silverstein a decade earlier, in 1977. Too nervous to take it back to my dorm, I sat on a rump-sprung sofa behind the office’s closed doors and nervously flipped through the pages. Although the book was only 10 years old, it already seemed like a document from a distant age.

 
 
 
 
 
Outward
EXPANDING THE LGBTQ CONVERSATION
OCT. 17 2017 1:53 PM

On Its 40th Anniversary, Revisiting the Powerful Communal Vision of The Joy of Gay Sex

 

 
 
 
 
 

When I started college at Tufts University 30 years ago this fall, my active sex life was a mere two months old and included just two partners. Early in my first semester, in the tiny library in our campus gay group’s cramped office on the third floor of an unmarked clapboard house, I found The Joy of Gay Sex, which Edmund White co-authored with Dr. Charles Silverstein a decade earlier, in 1977. Too nervous to take it back to my dorm, I sat on a rump-sprung sofa behind the office’s closed doors and nervously flipped through the pages. Although the book was only 10 years old, it already seemed like a document from a distant age.

 
 
 
 
 
Outward
EXPANDING THE LGBTQ CONVERSATION
OCT. 17 2017 1:53 PM

On Its 40th Anniversary, Revisiting the Powerful Communal Vision of The Joy of Gay Sex

 

 
 
 
 
 

When I started college at Tufts University 30 years ago this fall, my active sex life was a mere two months old and included just two partners. Early in my first semester, in the tiny library in our campus gay group’s cramped office on the third floor of an unmarked clapboard house, I found The Joy of Gay Sex, which Edmund White co-authored with Dr. Charles Silverstein a decade earlier, in 1977. Too nervous to take it back to my dorm, I sat on a rump-sprung sofa behind the office’s closed doors and nervously flipped through the pages. Although the book was only 10 years old, it already seemed like a document from a distant age.

Oct. 13 2017 2:57 PM

What Would Trans Art Look Like If It Was Only Made by Trans People?

Party 1: An established journalist, author, and filmmaker (white, gay, cisgender man). Party 2: A respected activist and independent scholar (black, transgender woman). Both parties decided, within the last decade, to make a documentary about one of the founding figures of the LGBTQ rights movement, Marsha P. Johnson. And for the past week, both have been embroiled in one of the most heated battles over identity, authorship, privilege, and storytelling that the queer community has seen in years.

David France’s project, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, premiered to much fanfare on Netflix on Oct. 6.* Reina Gossett’s has struggled to find a budget; indeed, the doc was scaled back drastically, reportedly due to concerns she and creative partner Sasha Wortzel had about competing with France for support. Their revised project, an experimental short, won’t be released in full until 2018. This latter film, Happy Birthday, Marsha!, has been in the news along with the premier of the former after Gossett accused France of stealing her ideas and research as well as blocking her film from the resources it needed to get made in a widely shared Instagram post. The specific allegations of direct plagiarism and funding subterfuge, which France strongly denied and from which Gossett seemed to quietly retreat in her subsequent op-ed for Teen Vogue, may not have legs. However, the question of why one film feasted as the other starved, and whether Gossett’s project might have had room to grow if it weren’t for France’s presence on the scene, remains pressing.

Oct. 12 2017 2:12 PM

For Charley Shively, Gay Liberation Was About Sex and Rebellion, Not Equality

On Saturday morning, I received word that Charley Shively died. Shively was a pioneering gay liberation activist on the scale, if not with the name-recognition, of Harvey Milk. He was a journalist, a poet, and a founding editor of one of the most important gay newspapers in the 1970s; but as I read more details about his death, I realized how many people had never heard of him.

Despite growing acceptance of LGBTQ people, many still don’t teach LGBTQ history, and many Americans still don’t know the names of the leaders of the movement. October marks National Coming Out Day as well as LGBTQ History month but even these commemorations fail to inform our national memory.

Oct. 11 2017 4:22 PM

Why Medically Transitioning Is a Privilege of Location

 

When I realized that I was trans earlier this year, I understood that I had two choices: transition or don’t transition.

For some people, the latter option is totally viable. They can live their whole lives knowing that they are transgender without feeling fussed to present as the gender that they identify as. For other people, like me, the real choice that has to be made is much more macabre: transition to some degree socially and medically, or die. Only problem is, the ability to make that life-saving choice depends heavily on where you live.

 

Oct. 10 2017 1:23 PM

Does Being Gay Really Influence Parenting?

Hey, Daddy! is a monthly column exploring the joys and struggles of parenting from a gay father’s perspective. Got a topic idea or question for Daddy? Send your letter along to johnculhane19104@gmail.com.

I need to get meta for a minute.

One persistent line of comments I receive in response to each month’s column under the Hey, Daddy! banner goes something like this: “What’s so gay about that?” Readers sometimes ask what about a particular subject I’m discussing is unique to my experience as a gay dad—as opposed to just any dad from central casting.

Oct. 9 2017 3:46 PM

What’s Behind Some LGBTQ People’s Fierce Love of Chelsea Manning?

From the adulation that greeted her at the Pride parade this year in NYC, to her splashy profile in Vogue, to her more than 300,000 followers on Twitter, Chelsea Manning has been embraced by the queer community with a vengeance. For many of my straight, cisgender friends this popularity is inexplicable, irritating, maybe even alienating. Why Manning, they wonder. When there are trans women who have served with distinction in the military, when there are trans activists who have lived exemplary lives, why has such a controversial figure been the recipient of so much love?

 

Oct. 6 2017 1:58 PM

International LGBTQ Advocates Must Take Action Against the Queer Crackdown in Egypt

 

Next time you see someone waving a rainbow flag at Pride, think about this. In Cairo, on Sept. 22, thousands of Egyptians attended a concert for alternative bands—including the Lebanese group Mashrou’ Leila, whose lead singer is openly gay. Three or four youths in the audience ecstatically, boldly waved a couple of rainbow flags. Now at least 57 people are jailed, according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

 

The horrors started within hours. Photos of the flags went viral on social media. A moral panic spread, fed by the popular talk-show host Ahmed Moussa and others in the tightly state-controlled media, who called for immediate punishment of the unknown flag-wavers.  The Supreme Council for Media Regulation has essentially issued a blackout on LGBTQ people or support in the media. The Ministry of Interior declared that merely showing the rainbow flag or “inciting” homosexuality, warranted up to three years in prison; one lawmaker threatened to ramp up penalties for same-sex acts to ten years. Arrests began almost immediately.

Oct. 3 2017 10:47 AM

Armistead Maupin’s New Memoir Explains How He Found His “Logical Family”

Growing up in the 1950s and ’60s in North Carolina, the novelist Armistead Maupin was a gentle, fanciful child who feared the mandatory dodgeball game at recess and convinced his parents to outfit his bedroom with a stained-glass window. His father, a lawyer who romanced racism and was prone to bouts of unexplained rage, assumed his son would grow out of his delicate constitution. Sensing early on that keeping up appearances was vital to survival, and longing unrequitedly for his father’s love across much of his life, Maupin initially tried to fit in: He embraced conservative politics, worked at a television station then managed by future U.S. senator and rabid social conservative Jesse Helms, and served in the Navy during the Vietnam War.

Lucky for his readers, Maupin ultimately made his way to San Francisco as a newspaper reporter. It is there that he channeled his sensitivity and sense of wonderment—as well as the self-discovery of being gay—into a groundbreaking newspaper serial that served as the foundation for his now-famed Tales of the City novels. The nine-book series chronicles a core of mysterious and at times rather randy inhabitants of San Francisco from the mid-’70s through to this decade, in the process addressing such taboo subjects for their eras as gay sex, AIDS, and transgender identity.

“How could I have guessed then that the thing I feared most in myself would one day be the source of my greatest joy, the inspiration for my life’s work,” Maupin writes early on in his new memoir, Logical Family. In it, as its title suggests, Maupin earnestly conveys a process painfully familiar to many LGBTQ people—that of harnessing the love, acceptance, and magic of people they meet who are kindred souls, if not blood relatives—and forming their own tribes. For Maupin, this has included a rather colorful cast of characters over his 73 years, from the hippies he encountered living on a mountaintop in Vietnam; to the closeted movie star Rock Hudson and the circle of queers who surrounded him, keeping his sexuality and AIDS diagnosis a secret; to his friend actor Ian McKellen, whom Maupin convinced to come out in 1988.

Oct. 2 2017 1:40 PM

Mississippi’s Uniquely Cruel Anti-LGBTQ Law May Be Heading to the Supreme Court

The fight against Mississippi’s HB 1523, the worst anti-LGBTQ law in the United States, may be heading to the Supreme Court.

On Friday, the judges of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reconsider a panel decision holding that challengers to HB 1523 do not have standing to challenge the measure in court. Two judges issued a fierce dissent asserting that the 5th Circuit had “abdicated its mandate to decide the substantive claims raised by the plaintiffs.” These plaintiffs will now ask the Supreme Court to rule that they have standing to contest HB 1523’s constitutionality. Former U.S. Solicitor General Don Verrilli and Paul Smith, a renowned Supreme Court litigator, will join the appeal.

Mississippi passed HB 1523 as a direct response to Obergefell v. Hodges in an effort to stymie LGBTQ equality in the state. The law singles out three religious beliefs for heightened protection: The belief that marriage is between a man and a woman; that sexual relations outside of a heterosexual marriage are improper; and that a person’s gender must always be the sex they were assigned at birth. Individuals who hold these three beliefs get special rights laid out in the statute. Doctors, employers, businesses, landlords, schools, and adoption agencies (including state-funded ones) are expressly licensed to discriminate against LGBTQ people if their religion compels it. No other religious convictions receive extra protection under the law.

By elevating three beliefs over all others, HB 1523 would seem to violate the neutrality principle at the heart of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. The measure favors a few religious beliefs over others, effectively endorsing a specific sect of Christianity. As the Supreme Court has explained, the government runs afoul of the Establishment Clause when it endorses religion in this manner by sending “a message … [to] nonadherants that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherants that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.”

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