Tag Archives: gay rights

Being an Ally at Pride

This week for Role/Reboot I wrote about my own exposure to gay rights as a kid, why I love Pride, and how I think children of the future will all be allies by default. Or maybe we won’t even need the word “ally” in this context at all. Maybe the kids of the future will just be like, “Allies to what? Mom,  you’re so lame.”

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Related Post:  Pride 2011 and why I call this blog Rosie Says.

Related Post: NOH8 Photoshoot

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Filed under Gender, Politics, Republished!

The “Proposal/Counter Proposal” and Other Things I Learned

When I sat down to start writing this Role/Reboot article about what straight people can borrow from their gay friends’ relationships, my roommate asked, “So have you talked to any gay people about this?”

Oh right, I should probably do that…

Turns out, my entire gchat list at 9pm on Tuesday happened to be gay friends, and they were more than willing to share. For one thing, they gave me some great quotes for my essay and some really interesting perspectives on equality, fairness, and making up your own relationship rules. More importantly, I learned about the magic of the proposal/counter-proposal, also known as the “propose, propose-back”. Wondering what I’m talking about?

Read the essay!

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Related Post: Thoughts on Senator Rob Portman’s change of heart

Related Post: Six sides of identity, notes from Chicago Ideas Week

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Sunday Scraps 100

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1. GAYS: In the 2010 census, one county in the US reported 0 gay people. None. Zilch. Nada. Explore Franklin County with CNN and find out if the census is true. Hint: Doubtful.

2. SCOTUS: A little late to the game on this one, but Courtney Milan’s concise play-by-play of the Prop 8 Supreme Court case is the first time I actually think I know what’s going on. Sample truncated piece of dialogue: COOPER: But these people were injured. They didn’t want gay people to marry, and now look! Gays. Lesbians. Able to marry at will. It’s very injurious. They’re injured just thinking about it.

3. FEMINISM: I dare you not to cry at this amazing obituary of feminist revolutionary Shulasmith Firestone. Written by the incomparable Susan Faludi, it’s just… a lot. Sniff.

4. POLITICS: To my surprise, I came out of Jonathan Van Meter’s NYT profile of Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin feeling pretty sympathetic for Weiner. Maybe sympathetic’s not the word…

5. FOOTBALL: From Grantland, what would happen if an NFL player died on the field? 8 years ago, Al Lucas died during an Arena football game. Is that where we’re headed?

6. LOOKS: Why does it matter that the President called Kamala Harris good-looking? Amanda Hess at Slate knows why, and I couldn’t agree with her more.

Related Post: Sunday 99: Megan Mullally and Ron Swanson, Tavi Gevinson, Rolling Rock history and more

Related Post: Sunday 98: Chinese marriage market, George Saunders, Lena in Playboy and more

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Dear Rob Portman, Why Is Using Your Imagination So Hard?

portmanSo, as I’m sure you know, Senator Rob Portman (Republican of Ohio) has reversed his position on marriage equality thanks to the coming out of his son:

“It allowed me to think of this issue from a new perspective, and that’s of a dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have — to have a relationship like Jane and I have had for over 26 years.”

On one hand, I welcome you, Senator Portman, to the fold. The fastest way for us to get to marriage equality is for people to change their minds (the alternative is for people to die, which will happen anyway, but it will take longer) and if this is why you switched sides, fine, we’ll take it.

On the other hand, your statement displays a profound and disturbing lack of empathy. You weren’t able to imagine the inequality until your own son was the subject of discrimination? Do you realize how narrow-minded and hypocritical that makes you seem? Even the phrasing of the statement has this weird moral passing-of-the-buck. The subject is “It,” referencing your son’s coming out, and “it” allowed you to see it from a new perspective. Nothing should “allow” or compel you to see from multiple perspectives; that’s basically your job! You serve as a government representative for a state of eleven million people! The whole idea of representative government is that we pick people to, oh, I don’t know, represent us and speak on our behalf. In order to do that job, your #1 skill has to be empathy and the willingness to try on different perspectives!

Mr. Portman, why did you never speak to the parents of the other gay children? Or gay individuals themselves? And if you did, why is the plight of your son the one that tips the scales? Columbus, OH, full of your constituents, is one of the 20 gayest cities in the country, full of thousands upon thousands of gay people. Their friends and family have the same hopes and dreams for them as you do for your son! How can you be so callous of other people’s rights? How can you ignore inequality until it impacts your family? Don’t you see the hypocrisy?

But alas, you’re not alone. Last week Mother Jones took a look at the voting records of members of Congress to see if having a daughter impacted their votes on women’s issues. They used the NOW (National Organization for Women) score as a proxy for “voting well on women’s issues,” and found that, as you might suspect, members of Congress from both parties who have at least one daughter have higher NOW scores. Why does it taking having a female child to get you to think critically about the rights of women? Why is it so hard to get outside your own privileged little skull and walk in someone else’s shoes? 

This is not just an exclusively Republican failure, either. We have a habit in this country of electing people very much unlike ourselves. Congress members are three times more likely to send their kids to private school. About 40% of them are millionaires. They’re overwhelmingly white and male. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, since one does not have to be of a certain group to work on behalf of that group, but this system only works of those that we elect are diligent about understanding the needs of their constituents, not just the needs of their peers. And they’re not.

That’s why I find Portman’s change of heart so… disheartening. It shouldn’t take a gay kid to lead you to the conclusion that our government should treat people the same. It shouldn’t take having a daughter to know that autonomy over your body is the foundation of economic and social equality. Waiting until these realities slap you in the face in the form of your own offspring, that’s just some lazy, lazy representing. Glad you’re with us now, but you should be ashamed it took you so long.

Related Post: A letter to guys who harass women outside of bars

Related Post: That time I started a petition against Facebook

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Family Matters

My piece for Role/Reboot today was inspired by a bunch of things. You’ll see references to Toni Morrison (thanks Alex!), kudos aimed at a documentary called Uña y Carne, and some spectacularly dumb Mitt Romney quotes about family:

Related Post: There’s also no wrong way to have a body.

Related Post: A small world story.

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A Day of NOH8

25,000 photos and counting. That’s the impact of the NOH8 campaign, brainchild of Adam Bouska, a celebrity photographer who has turned duct tape and a temporary tattoo into the defining iconography of the marriage equality movement. In 3 years, Bouska has added unexpected celebrities (Cindy McCain? What?) to the legions of real people who strike a pose and add their faces to the library of those who refuse to live in a society where they, their friends, parents, siblings, and children will be discriminated against.

Today, N0H8 had an open photoshoot in Chicago and on the invitation of a friend I went to add my face to the collage. The official photos won’t be available for a few months, but the joy and energy in the hotel ballroom was something I can share with you now.

I was struck by the diversity, in every identifiable way, of the crowd, and the celebratory buzz in the air. When a young mother finally got her adorable fat baby to smile, the whole crowd literally cheered. There were pets included, families, siblings, friends, and veterans sporting dogtags. I cried at least twice. Here are some of my favorite moments:

Sean, Rachel, and I applying our NOH8 tattoos

Adorable-est family received actual cheers

I loved each waiting line, a perfect way to document the diversity of the crew

My friend Sean and his bunny, Biddie (the first NOH8 bunny!)

Conrad and I

When we left the hotel, a tourist dad asked me what “H 8″ stood for. I hesitated and replied “It stands for ‘hate’, there’s an event in the W Hotel,” and then walked right on by. I was reluctant to tell him the cause for which we had just stood in line for an hour and a half to support. I wasn’t afraid of him, but I was afraid of confrontation, and that is not a good thing. The duct tape we wore in the photos is representative of being de-voiced, deprived of your ability to fully express yourself and your love, and here I was de-voicing myself to this stranger.

It’s that split second of fear, of paranoia, of hesitation, that is indicative of how much work we have left to do on behalf of LGBTQ rights. We should never be afraid to say that total equality is a cause we’re working towards. That’s something to be proud of.

Related Post: Pride in Chicago

Related Post: Do you hope your child is straight?

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How Chick-fil-A Learned about Trade-Offs

Mayor Menino

You’ve probably seen Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s letter to Chick-fil-A floating around the web today, declining the chain a location in Boston’s commercial landscape:

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“There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it.”

There’s also a lot of squawking about free speech on behalf of Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy, who made the homophobic comments that kicked off the shit storm. Those people, the free-speechers, are right. He can voice his opinions and beliefs, and some might even say, as a business leader and community leader, he should.

But, and this harkens back to Daniel Tosh’ internet beating last week, being free to speak your mind is not the same as being free from criticism once you do so. Would I support Chick-fil-A protesters throwing rocks through the storefront window or threatening Cathy? No, of course not. Do I think they should have their licenses revoked due to his personal beliefs? Of course not. That said, say something bigoted, and people may choose to take their business elsewhere.

There are trade-offs to be made, here, right? Between supporting our values with our dollars and living a pragmatic, practical, convenient life. I struggle with clothes shopping for this reason, but we all have to make these decisions every day. How much and at what cost are you willing to compromise?

There’s a gender studies concept called the “patriarchal bargain” in which women (and men) play into gender stereotypes for the sake of their own personal advantage, undermining the overall cause of equality. If Kim Kardashian makes millions playing a hot ditz on television, who cares if she detracts from society’s perception of women and their value? We all make patriarchal bargains any time we choose to adhere to gender stereotypes to make life easier (shaving my armpits, wearing mascara, letting a man pay for my drink), it’s just of question a degrees.

The Chick-fil-A question asks us about our willingness to make a similar bargain, an “I’m-a-real-world-consumer bargain”. If I buy a sandwich at Subway instead of Chick-fil-A today, does it matter? What percentage of my purchase would be supporting, even in the vaguest sense, anti-gay advocacy? 3 cents? 8 cents? How much do I care to not drop 3 cents in an bigotry bucket?

On the other hand, the more successful Chick-fil-A becomes, the bigger platform we give Dan Cathy from which to voice his homophobic beliefs.

Related Post: More from MA: How I wish the Brown/Warren debate had gone down.

Related Post: Kelly Ripa on gendered dating assumptions.

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Sunday Scraps 64

1. WEIGHT: Super stellar essay from my recent Jezebel favorite, Lindy West, on the intricacies of talking to pre-teens about fitness, nutrition, weight, and body image.

2. ART: Ahhh, this short comic by Chelsea Martin, “Heavy-handed Acne”  is just so beautiful and poignant and I love it (via The Rumpus).

3. PRIDE: Buzzfeed collected 32 images from Pride that will probably make you cry… in the good way.

4. WORDS: Basic but superbly addictive word game from Shy Gypsy. Make word associations across the map to keep the game branching out (i.e. Cow and Horse share the word Cowboy).

5. TECH: Fabulous, fascinating interview with Genevieve Bell, the director of interaction and experience research at Intel,  about the contents of our cars and the life cycle of technology (Slate).

6. CAREER: The unbeatable Jessica Hagy (of This Is Indexed) has contributed a series of her trademark line graphs, on the subject of finding a career path, to Forbes.

Related Post: Sunday 63 (Cabrini-Green, Merkel vs. Rae Jepsen, Anne Friedman, school lunches)

Related Post: Sunday 62 (Is this racist? Authors in bikinis, Sandberg, grammar points)

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Feathers, Sequins, Rainbows

Happy Pride, y’all! Nothing restores my faith in humanity or my hope for the future quite like the Pride parade. What color, what joy, what love! I spent the first hour with mascara-laden tears leaking out from behind the my plastic sunglasses. The triple whammy of teachers (“I’m proud of my LGBTQ students!”), veterans, and local high school students was more than my feeble and mimosa-soaked heart could handle.

I feel so lucky to live in a community like this, full of people and businesses so effusive in their support for equality, dignity, and respect for all. The diversity of the crowd (not to mention the participants), is my favorite part. All ages, races, family structures were represented.

Going for some sort of androgynous, punky, patriotic thing

Mayor Emanuel kicked things off

Balloons!

So beautiful!

Happy Rainbows!

Feathers!

Here’s where the leaky tears began

Related Post: Pride 2011

Related Post: Views about gay marriage are trending up.

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Sunday Scraps 59

1. WEIGHT: Michelle Obama takes a rare misstep with her support of The Biggest Loser. Ragen Chastain and Virginia Sole-Smith (Beauty Schooled) explain why.

2. KICK: New York Times has a kick-ass interactive graphic mapping the fundraising efforts of kickstarter drives over the last three years. What gets funded, and why?

3. GAY: Comedian Rob Delaney explains where homophobia comes from, and it isn’t pretty.

4. THRONES: My writer crush Emily Nussbaum at The New Yorker covers Game of Thrones in all its nude, violent glory and explains why patriarchy, in Westeros and L.A. both, is what it’s really all about.

5. FOOD: Besides Guy Fieri, have any winners of The Next Food Network Star done squat with their title? NYMag breaks it down.

6. PSYCH: Fabulous, fascinating, chilling article in the New York Times Magazine about recent studies in psychopathy in children. At what age can we detect a future psychopath, what does it mean, and what can we do about it?

Related Post: Sunday 58: Alison Bechdel, boy-free prom, 10 most read books

Related Post: Sunday 57: nudity in Central park, David Brooks on higher ed, child stars

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Filed under Body Image, Food, Hollywood, Media, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People