Tagged: LGBTQ women

Pride 2015: Steps Forward, Miles to Go

Over the past several years, states opposing same-sex marriage have fallen like dominoes. One by one, states across the country erupted in celebration as state courts struck down the bans. However, there have been some hold-outs (Here’s looking at you, Ohio). On Friday morning, the United States Supreme court ruled that same-sex marriage should be legal in all 50 states.

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Image courtesy of ABC Australia

Other countries recently celebrated victories for the LGBTQ community. Last month, Ireland held a referendum to legalize same-sex marriage; citizens turned out in droves to cast their votes. In Mozambique, the government struck down laws that criminalized homosexuality. While the country’s sole gay rights group, Lambda, views the ruling as a victory, there is little faith that it will make a tangible impact on daily life for LGBTQ people.

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Image courtesy of International Business Times

But for every celebratory parade, reminders of the work that remains reared their heads. In Istanbul, Turkey, riot police broke up pride parades with tear gas and rubber bullets. The government declared that the LGBTQ community did not have permission to hold the parade, an event that has occurred on the same weekend in June for the past 13 years, because it coincides with the holy month of Ramadan.

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Image courtesy of Mashable

While people across the United States used Facebook’s rainbow profile picture feature, many in Russia and countries across the Middle East were not amused. Russia recently passed staunch anti-gay laws, forcing people with the means to do so to seek asylum. According to a recent poll, 80% of Russians oppose gay marriage; in response to the Facebook rainbow, some Russians overlaid national flags on their pictures and tagged them with the hashtag #ProudToBeRussian.

Although same sex-marriage is now legal in the United States, discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender remains poorly defined and policed. Same-sex couples can be denied housing and jobs based on a landlord’s or hiring manager’s own preference. In 2014, California banned the “gay panic defense,” but other states consider it an acceptable excuse for unwarranted violence against LGBTQ people. The very fact that these defenses gain traction illustrates how, in parts of the country, members of the LGBTQ community must still fight for their right to live. So while this landmark victory deserves celebration, let’s not forget that there’s still much work to do.

Dame of the Day: Cherrie Moraga

Cherríe Lawrence Moraga

Today’s Dame of the Day is Cherríe Moraga (September 25, 1952-). Moraga channeled her own experiences with racism, passing as white, and her own sexual identity into a collaboration with Gloria Anzaldúa titled This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. Moraga, along with Barbara Smith and Audre Lorde, founded Women of Color Press, the first United States publisher to focus on women of color.

Dame of the Day: Gloria Anzaldua

Gloria E. Anzaldúa

Today’s Dame of the Day is Gloria Anzaldúa (September 26, 1942 – May 15, 2004). In spite of her family’s presence in south Texas for six generations, Anzaldúa felt the sting of discrimination against her Mexican heritage and her female identity. While she began her career as a preschool teacher, Anzaldúa continued to study and share her perspectives on Chicana history, feminism, and the dangers of binary definitions. Most famously, she edited This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, a text calling for greater focus on intersectionality in feminism.

Schoolin’ Life: Beldan Sezen

For today’s Schoolin’ Life, we get to know videographer and graphic novelist Beldan Sezen.

Beldan

Give us a quick bio: who are you, what are you into, and how do you spend your days?

Okay, I’m a graphic novelist and I live in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I’m into comics, graphic novel, sequential art, cartoons, name it whatever you want, I dig it. I freelance as a videographer, image manipulator and care taker, all jobs which have given me enough space to start my graphic novelist career. My days (and nights) are often spent in the studio.

 

When you were in your 20s…

What expectations did you have for yourself over the coming decade? 

I don’t think I had expectations.

In what ways did society shape your expectations of yourself?

Which society?

What was your first job like?

I started working as lab assistant when I was sixteen. At nineteen, I decided to go back to school so I could apply for a university program. In my twenties, I was studying and had, in addition to a study grant, various side jobs to support me.

What was your first apartment like?

I had a tiny room under a roof in an apartment shared with three other students. It fit a bed, a desk, a closet and bookshelf and had one small roof window. The kitchen was so disgusting that I lived off instant Chinese noodle soups and pizza for quite a while. No, I didn’t feel the urge to clean the kitchen since the other two housemates were fine with it and the third never really showed her face. I was happy and proud to call the room my own.

Did you experience any big life changes?

I came out in my twenties and I moved to a city in another country. I’d say that’s big.

In what ways did your friendships change?

They changed from superficial drinking buddies to more honest and sincere friendships where I could be more like myself. I made some lasting friendships in my twenties.

What did you learn through your romantic relationships?

Languages. And, in the first part of my twenties, through my male relationships, that I really should be with women.

How did your relationships with your family change?

I became more independent and less involved in family matters and expectations.

How do you feel society viewed you?

Oh I dunno, pick a label…

How did you change emotionally and intellectually?

Emotionally and intellectually, my eyes opened to a much bigger worldview and I’m very happy about that. Since then, I no longer feel the need emotionally to belong to a nation or let myself squeeze into an ethnic concept.

In what ways do you feel your identity changed?

I had my coming out in my twenties, as a lesbian and as a woman of color.

Being aware and more importantly admitting to my sexual and cultural identity did change how I take space in general and in my daily life. I went from being defined to defining myself. I was engaging in a life of my own instead of submitting to one dictated by the terms of the societies I live in.

How did your worldview change over the course of the decade?

It broadened. Luckily!

What was the most embarrassing moment?

Asking a police officer in Manhattan where I could find a cab to go to my hostel because I had that cliché in my mind that it wasn’t safe in NYC. He laughed at me, pointing out that it was just a block away and that I could easily walk! Yeah, I felt embarrassed.

Who was your biggest influence and why?

I think being part of an activist women and lesbian scene did shape me tremendously. It gave me acknowledgment and strength. I saw everyday role models who didn’t look and act in a passive, submissive way but did what they wanted. I hardly ever question myself in regards of gender roles, if I can do things or not. I just start doing and see how far I can get.

Is there any one experience that you feel defined the decade? Or one historical moment that changed you? 

Yes, the rise of Neo-fascism in Germany in the early nineties. It narrowed my perspective and shook my confidence. After a year or three of actively working to fight fascism (in the streets, and in theoretical discussions etc.), I couldn’t see anything else and felt there was nothing else for me to do but fight. It was a very narrow minded and claustrophobic, slightly paranoid feeling which was harmful to my well-being.

Do you have any regrets? Are there things you wish you’d done, hadn’t done, or done differently?

Uh-oh, Frank Sinatra lurking around the corner…Regrets: I had a few but then again to few to mention… I had some periods where I was lethargic. It feels like I wasted my (precious) time which I’d rather not have done. Then again, it goes as it goes.

Is there a story that you feel best sums up the decade?

Too many, so I made a book out of all the stories. The final product, Snapshots of a Girl, will be published this fall by Canada-based Arsenal Pulp Press.

Dame of the Day: Geena Rocero

Geena Rocero

Today’s Dame of the Day is Geena Rocero (1984-). Rocero grew up in the Philippines but immigrated to San Francisco with her family when she was 15. After a fashion photographer discovered her in New York City, she began booking international swimsuit shoots. In 2014, Rocero started Gender Proud, a non-profit advocating for transgender rights. In 2014, she and 13 other trans women posed for the fifth anniversary cover of C☆NDY Magazine.

Dame of the Day: Andreja Pejic

Andreja Pejić

Today’s Dame of the Day is Andreja Pejić (August 28, 1991-). During the Bosnian War, Pejić and her family relocated from their home in Tulza to Belgrade, Serbia; they later immigrated to Australia. A modeling agent scouted Pejić when she was 17 and, in 2015, she became the first openly trans woman to be profiled by Vogue. In addition to her modeling career, Pejić seeks to make a documentary about her experience as a trans woman in the modeling world.

Dame of the Day: Sybil Lamb

Sybil Lamb

Today’s Dame of the Day is Sybil Lamb. In 2009, Lamb was traveling across the United States when, one night in New Orleans, two men beat her with a pipe. Lamb survived despite sustaining serious neurological damage. She channeled the episode into her new book, I’ve Got a Time Bomb. Today, she continues to paint portraits and murals and write books and zines about her experience as a trans woman navigating queer and straight culture.

Dame of the Day: Pauli Murray

Pauli

Today’s Dame of the Day is Pauli Murray (November 20, 1910-July 1, 1985). As an activist and law student, Murray spoke out against “Jane Crow” laws that strategically targeted black women. Later in her career, she argued civil rights and women’s rights cases and founded the National Organization for Women. In 1973, Murray became the first black woman to become an ordained Episcopal priest.

Schoolin’ Life: Alice Meichi Li

For today’s installment of Schoolin’ Life, we check in with illustrator and cartoonist Alice Meichi Li.

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I’m an illustrator who works in both the comic and pop-art gallery world. My art has been in Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Archie Comics, MOCA NY, MoCCA, and various galleries around the country. I’m also a huge geek who grew up on comics and cartoons, finding escapism in them while growing up in one of the more dangerous neighborhoods in Detroit. As a queer woman of color, I’m passionate about social justice and have spoken on various panels about women in comics or people of color in comics. You can find me on FacebookTwitter, or Tumblr.

When you were in your 20s…

What expectations did you have for yourself over the coming decade? In what ways did society shape your expectations of yourself?

I told myself that if I hadn’t hit X, Y, and Z goals by the time I was 30, then I should just give up and do something else. But now that I’m 30, I’ve realized I hit so many other goals along the way that I hadn’t even realized were there, that inform and support my overall goals. In many ways, that decade delineation was completely arbitrary and likely spurred on by ageist attitudes in society — which is something that women are far more affected by than men. I know I’d been told on multiple occasions, mostly by men, that my things that denote my value to others (my youth, my appearance, my talent, etc) would magically vanish when I was no longer in my 20s. Thank goodness that I’m far too stubborn to fall for that.

What was your first job like?

My first freelance job was a private commission of a woman imagined as a “goddess of dreams.” It made it into two different illustration contests, but I couldn’t publicize upon my client’s request. I then took my first day-job out of college because freelancing wasn’t earning enough income for me to live in NYC and look financially-stable enough on paper for the U.S. government to approve bringing my fiancé over to the States from England. I worked at Forbidden Planet, pretty much the coolest comic book store in NYC, doing everything that wasn’t straight-up retail (web design, graphic design, social media, finances, HR, admin, shipping/fulfillment).

What was your first apartment like?

My first apartment was this tiny 8’x10′ room in an all-women’s Salvation Army building called the Parkside Evangeline. (It has now been turned into a luxury condo, like so many buildings in NYC.) It was so small that if I set up my painting table to work, I would have to climb over it to get out. Other than the size factor, it was almost exactly like Peggy Carter’s building in Marvel’s Agent Carter, complete with the strict Christian no-men rules. But I loved it because I was floormates with Tintin Pantoja, who was one of my best friends in comics at the time, and taught me so much about the industry. She was an inspiration to be around.

Did you experience any big life changes?

My father passed away suddenly and unexpectedly when I was 22, and then I got married about 2 months after that. It wasn’t planned that way. My dad was only diagnosed with stomach cancer after he collapsed 3 weeks before he died. And I legally had to get married within 90 days of my now-husband entering America on a fiancé visa. Everything was out of my hands, and I never felt so helpless in my life. And everything after that was all a blurry tailspin out of the original 5-year plan I had for myself, with me desperately clutching onto any form of security I could.

In what ways did your friendships change?

I took a much more pragmatic approach with friendships. It became less navel-gazey, less prone to over-analyzation, less judgmental, and more about acceptance and supportiveness.

What did you learn through your romantic relationships?

My early 20s saw the ending of my relationship with my then-girlfriend and the overlap/beginning of my relationship with my now-husband. I think that the previous relationship taught me how to prioritize what I really wanted in a partner by hitting me over the head with unresolved issues that I absolutely never wanted to deal with in a relationship again. And for that, I’m grateful. Even though my husband was living an ocean away, was uneducated, and we were both unemployed at the time and both from poor families… I chose him instead because he had qualities she lacked that were very important to me.

How do you feel you changed emotionally? 

I lost faith in invisible things. I became much more skeptical and less trusting, constantly double-checking everything I was presented with. I came to terms with the fact that death was permanent. The real weight of its permanence never affected me so much before, and began to accept that I may never stop grieving. And if I never stopped grieving, then perhaps happiness would be forever elusive — and I’m at peace with that. It’s ironic that I’m so much less optimistic/idealistic when I was an actual goth.

How did you change intellectually?

I became far more vocal about the injustices I saw in the world, and that I personally experienced. As a teenager, I would passive-aggressively speak in vague terms about the racism and sexism I saw/experienced in my social circles because I wasn’t yet equipped with the right tools and logic to address it in open discourse. My 20s was a long exercise in appropriately identifying these issues and addressing them. I have a lot to learn still, but I’m increasingly excited that more and more people in my generation are interested in shaping the world for the better.

In what ways do you feel your identity changed?

When I was a teenager, I was internet-popular (as much as one could be before social media) under a fandom-based pseudonym. A lot about how people perceived me was influenced by the character whose name I used rather than who I really was. When I turned 20, I revealed my legal birth name to my network and vowed to make a name for myself based on my true self. Throughout my 20s, there was definitely a theme of getting in touch with Reality and becoming less of a daydreamer/escapist as I was throughout my teens. I was operating under my Real name, pursuing Real goals, and had Reality kicking me in the ass with my dad’s death.

How did your worldview change over the course of the decade?

I’ve actually gotten more liberal/progressive — says the girl who once tore up an anti-gay propaganda pamphlet when she was 16 in high school Theology class. There are more resources and more communities out there that support the causes that I’ve always been invested in, and I’m just so fortunate to be able to constantly challenge myself and my perceptions of the world. If I ever stopped learning, trying to become a better person, and do better in terms of my relationship with society… then that’s the day that I no longer deserve to be here.

Is there any one experience that you feel defined the decade? Or one historical moment that changed you?

If it wasn’t clear before — my dad’s death. After that, I came to the conclusion that I needed to get as much out of this life as I possibly could. None of my spiritual beliefs up to that point prepared me for or relieved me from it. I used to spend so much time over-analyzing everything, finding meaning in everything, but now I focus on getting shit done and moving onto the next task. Life is just too short to spend too much time working towards the imaginary and the undefined.

In terms of a “historical moment”, the Great Recession in 2009 definitely hit me and my peers hard. Suddenly, our financial futures weren’t guaranteed anymore and the stereotype of the Boomerang-Generation Millennial was born. This amplified the sudden clutching-to-security state I found myself in, and I started to get serious about my professional hustle and building a future for myself.

Do you have any regrets? Are there things you wish you’d done, hadn’t done, or done differently?

I have many regrets, but it’s useless to dwell on them. See why above.

Is there a story that you feel best sums up the decade?

When I got married, I put away the silver-and-amethyst jewelry I’d been wearing since I was a teenager and wore the gold-and-jade jewelry that my mother gave me for my wedding instead. I used to be really into New Age-y concepts like gem-work, and I felt that this symbolized me putting away my younger pursuits into spirituality and the ethereal and focusing more on tangible success. The kind of person I am now, I’d be hesitant to say that the jewelry I wear affects me in any significant way… but maybe it was more effective than I thought, eh?

 

Dame of the Day: Martine Rothblatt

Martine Rothblatt

Today’s Dame of the Day is Martine Rothblatt (1954-). Armed with an MBA and a law degree, Rothblatt began her career in communication satellite law and later became involved with the Human Genome Project. Today, she remains the founder and CEO of United Therapeutics Corp., making her the highest-paid female executive. In her spare time, she advocates for the rights of trans people and promotes the Terasem Movement, a philosophy she developed which promotes technological immortality through nanotechnology.