Jul 30, 2014

What the T?

No, really – what’s the T in LGBT? We all know the word transgender by now, but how much time do we spend really understanding all of the facets of this word and the communities of people this word represents? I’m by no means an expert when it comes to this sort of thing, but I certainly learned quite a bit from the Town Hall Meeting I attended at the Memphis LGBT Community Center on June 20, 2014, featuring Mara Keisling as the guest speaker.

Pennsylvania native Mara Keisling is a spokesperson and advocate for transgender rights, and is a founding executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality. What she described as “the coolest job in the world” includes talking with legislators, up and coming politicians, and legal experts, to find ways to forward the cause toward trans equality, as well as reaching out to transgender individuals throughout the country to hear the voice of the people she represents, and to spread the word about what’s

Can RnB Divas: Legends Pick Up Where Got2BReal Left Off?

Three months ago, OfficialShadeTV released what it hoped might be a follow up to the parody web series Got2BReal. I came across an episode just this morning when a friend posted it to my Facebook wall. My initial reaction to the idea that there was another web series parodying these divas was one of doubt. The creators of Got2BReal set the standard pretty high. What PattiLaHelle and company managed to accomplish was anything but easy. A lot of skill went into the writing, pacing, and editing of the insanely popular Got2BReal, and the results the series yielded are a good indication of the hard work put forth. With over six million views, two successful seasons, and recognition by the celebrities it portrays, Got2BReal is the established gold standard in the realm of shade throwing diva web series'.

It's no surprise that multiple other internet hopefuls have come along with similar offerings, many of which have fallen flat. Upon watching the introduction of OfficialShadeTV's RnB Divas: Legends, I was optimistic. The level of production seemed on par with G2BR, and then the episode began.

It's not that RnB Divas: Legends is bad. It's just not as good as Got2BReal, not yet, anyway. For one,

Gay and Bisexual Men vs the FDA: Let Us Donate Blood

  As most people know, there is a ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood. The ban on blood donation from gay and bisexual men was put into effect by the FDA in 1983. There is a petition on the White House’s website to strike down a decades-old, extremely outdated ban. The deadline for signatures is July 31, 2014. The ban was placed during the time when HIV/AIDS became a prevalent illness in the country and tests for diagnosis of HIV/AIDS didn’t exist. Before AIDS was known as AIDS, it was called GRID, or gay-related immunodeficiency disease. Gay men were thought to be the origin of the disease in the United States and the primary cause of it, so in order to prevent further spread, gay men were banned from donating blood.
                On July 11, 2014, the second National Gay Blood Drive took place in 61 cities across the country. Gay men showed up to donation centers with and ally or proxy, a straight friend or family member that would donate in their place. Some of the gay men filled out the paperwork only to be denied. They did this so that the organizers could send the paperwork, along with postcards written by the men on why they want to donate blood, to the FDA to show the number of gay men willing to donate if they could. It’s surprising and heartbreaking to see that there’s a huge shortage and that the amount of gay and bisexual men that want to donate could majorly offset the shortage.
                The AMA (American Medical Association) voted to

Jul 24, 2014

Final Fantasy XIV's Pride Parade

This is just awesome to me. In celebration of Square Enix's decision to include same sex marriage in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, gaymers  The Rough Trade Gaming Community organized a pride parade through the streets of Limsa Lominsa (Gilgamesh server).

One statement, from the in-game Free Company's leader said in a message to the game's director Naoki Yoshida:

Our guild's mission, continuing over 11 years across countless MMO games, is to provide a safe environment, free of hate speech for 18+ players of all walks of life, all over the world. 

Thank you for supporting us and including us, we thought you might want to see a small sample of how many of us are on Gilgamesh. We'll continue to support you and FFXIV for a long, long time.

Moments like this often bring up the "why label yourself?" debate. Often times, as can be seen in the comments in the youtube video posted below, members of the gaming community, or people in general, will feel as though the game developers, the media, and homosexuals at large are attempting to "force" something on them. And, I would say that what these gamers fail to realize is that they have become so comfortable in the privilege of not being ridiculed for being who they are, but we're talking about the gaming community here, folks. Draw whatever conclusion about that statement you'd like.

Communities like Rough Trade are still very important within gaming due to the fact that, while the general climate is changing toward members of the LGBTQ community, we are still not fully accepted in society. Online, behind the protection of anonymity, rudeness, prejudice, and flat out hate are exacerbated. For people who want to express who they are without having to endure the ignorance, or even for those would rather not come in contact with any such language, these safe space communities exist online.

Check out the video below for a snippet of the awesomeness.

Jul 22, 2014

Bottom Line 055: Silent Sissies of the Pew

Episode 55! The guys talk about how church gays need to stand up and show the church that they're there.
The shirt in question: http://i.imgur.com/QHEK6iI.jpg

(iTunes and Sound Cloud links coming soon)

Jul 17, 2014

Orientation isn't important. But it is.

Scrolling through my Facebook feed today I happened across a rather interesting “article” written over on io9. I only use quotes because it was a compendium of comments about the coming Constantine TV show. I won’t add all the comments—for that, you can see the article below. But it is very interesting to see the amount of people that are coming to the defense of this character’s sexuality. In the original comic series, John Constantine is a bisexual man. That’s not to say that that is the only thing that is important about him. As the commenters point out, “[in] this particular genre, sexuality of all sorts tends to be downplayed, so I'm not up in arms about it.” 

He has a valid point. In many comic series, it is not important whether or not Batman or Daredevil, for example, is gay or straight. They are crime fighters, vigilantes—general heroes to their populace. But there is certainly more to the characters than the kinds of things that are immediately apparent. In the case of Constantine, that same commenter, dkasper, goes on to say that “Erasure is in fact quite a big deal, so much so that characters who were "just" queer, who were queer without it being a major aspect of their lives, are incredibly rare” and he has a huge point here. In many forms of media—TV shows, movies, anime—sexuality is something that is just given. It’s something that isn’t brought up until it is pertinent to the story or a romance forms. I haven’t seen many shows of any kind that make a point to just include LGBT people and not make it about their orientation. I'm looking at you, TV shows that make flamboyant gays' gayness a joke, instead of giving them jokes.

Most recently, however, TNT’s new show The Last Ship, starring the ever "McSteamy" Eric Dane, broke the mold and brought things a step closer to the real world. The show revolves around Dane and his crew of marines shepherding a CDC scientist around to make medicine. That’s all I’m going to say so I don’t spoil it, but it’s a fabulous show—watch it. Back to my point… Well I think that this Tumblr post says it best.

And this character isn’t a minor character either—every episode so far she has been a major part of, with probably as much air-time as any other high-ranking officer. This is how writers for TV shows and movies take it to the next step. 

Back to Constantine, commenter (on io9) Adultosaur says “it would do so. so. so. much. for this character to be bisexual, and to have it be a complete non-issue. something that happens and isn't a huge part of the storyline. … REPRESENTATION BREEDS NORMALIZATION” [sic] and Jim Hague says (and much more) “I'll bet you anything that if DC released a new Batman TV show where his parents never got shot in a dark alley… that there would be people lining up on the streets screaming about how DC was "forgetting where the character came from.” I myself wholly agree with Mr. Hague. Even if it’s something small, all the minor details are truly important to forming a whole character. Even in this case, it’s not important that John Constantine is bisexual.  

That very thing is what is so important about the comic and the forthcoming TV show. It isn’t important. But the only way that society is going to progress and have different viewpoints on the matter is to realize that someone’s orientation isn’t important and it isn’t any of their business.

Good luck John, maybe you’ll come back to join us someday. Congrats to Lt. Alisha Granderson for her position as an officer on the USS Nathan James.

To read the article on io9, click here.
To see a trailer for The Last Ship (purely selfish, not an endorsement), click here.

Jul 15, 2014

Hobby Lobby Ruling: Does it Affect the LGBT Community?

Late last month, the Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby didn’t have to cover birth control in their insurance plans for their female employees. Hobby Lobby’s insurance plans still cover Viagra and vasectomies. We may think that this doesn’t affect the LGBT community, but it has a direct impact with the female bisexual community, and could potentially lead to bigger law changes that affect the gay community. The Hobby Lobby case serves as a precedent for any religiously-headed company or school that wishes to deny its female employees’ or students’ birth control or Plan B in their insurance plans. This ruling could lead to discrimination in hiring LGBT employees because it is against the owner’s religious beliefs.
Less than 24 hours after the Supreme Court issued their ruling, a group of religious organizations sent a letter to President Obama asking to be exempt from a forthcoming executive order that would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people. The floodgates are open, and now it’s a mad race to discriminate toward anyone while the ruling is still fresh.  
It is unpleasant to see that religion, and a company is seen as people higher on the totem pole than women, and that the LGBT community as a whole is being seen as even less than that. One thing crossed my mind while researching for this article: birth control is the first to be nixed, but the next insurance casualty could be hormone therapy and reconstructive surgeries for the trans* community. If companies began denying coverage of hormone therapy, they’d be denying the trans* community the basic human right to be themselves. In the last year our country has taken many steps to make everything for everyone seem more equal, and now it seems that we are backtracking. Women were the first to earn their rights, and then movements started for everyone else. Now the government is helping corporations take away the right to have birth control through insurance that we pay for.
Health insurance has covered birth control for quite a while, so why is it suddenly an issue? It’s another form of a big corporation, and the government telling us what we can do to our bodies because of religion. There is such a thing as religious freedom, but there should also be a separation of church and state. More importantly, people should have say over anything before a corporation, and women should be the ones to vote on matters pertaining to things such as birth control. Where I come from, and how I grew up, I learned it’s frowned upon to impose your religious beliefs onto other people, especially through law.

Jul 10, 2014

Dear Straight Black Women: Stop Stealing Black Gay Culture

You are not a gay person, and you do not get to claim either homosexuality or our vocabulary. There is a clear line between appreciation and appropriation.

How silly would it be if I did a word for word, LGBTQ friendly version of Sierra Mannie's Time opinion piece "Dear White Gays: Stop Stealing Black Female Culture."? I came across this piece this morning while looking through my Facebook feed. Mannie, a student at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), expressed her opinion on cultural appropriation with regard to the relationship between white gay males and black females. 

Mannie's article aligns with something that we, at Edugaytion, have been discussing for a while now. In our regular podcast plenary sessions, the subject will often come up,

"When are we going to talk about how straight black women are stealing from black gay culture and making it their own?" 

Whether you're looking at Nene Leakes calling a gay man a "queen" and thinking it's fine, or Nicki Minaj parading up and down the streets exclaiming "Yas!", cultural appropriation of gay lingo and mannerisms by black women is present. As alluded by Mannie, thanks to shows like RuPaul's Drag Race, white gays are already taking their pick at which parts of the LGBTQ of Color smorgasbord they'd like to consume. Thanks to shows like Real Housewives of Atlanta, Love and Hip Hop, and a variety of other shows with black gay accessory characters, straight black women are following this social model and doing the very thing to black gays that Mannie so eloquently writes about in her piece. 

Let's talk about the oppression - Mannie writes:

"But here’s the shade — the non-black people who get to enjoy all of the fun things about blackness will never have to experience the ugliness of the black experience ... Though I suppose there’s some thrill in this “rolling with the homies” philosophy some adopt..."

"But here's the shade"... I am very glad that Sierra Mannie, champion for the homosexual cause, an out and proud lesbian who hails from the state of Mississippi, the place where the first "Turn the Gay Away" bill passed, is speaking for her people and was picked up by TIME. Mind you, I'm only assuming she's a lesbian. Is she straight? If so.... Well, then she's definitely an ally, and that's GREAT!  

Now, I want you to think about the last time you (black person reading this) were with your white friends and they got so up-in-arms over the "African-American" cause. So much so that they started using your slang and your mannerisms to make a connection with you. Did that make you feel a certain kind of way? My point, I suppose, is neither here nor there, as we have no confirmation as to whether Mannie is a lesbian or not. 

It is of little consequence if she isn't, however, because we know plenty of black women who identify as heterosexual and use language that originated in gay culture. Using words and phrases like "shade" and "spilling tea" fall precisely in line with what Mannie preaches against. As white gays are "rolling with the homies" when they "steal" from black women, so too are black women stealing from their black gay male counterparts. Black women didn't come up with "Yas", "Hunty", "Werk", and "Chop!", and if those words are making their way to white gay males, it's not via the black female vessel. 

While Mannie types about racial oppression, plenty of black gay males are constantly oppressed by the church of which these very women are members and make up the majority! On Saturday evening you'll find any random Nene proclaiming "Yaaaaas!", "Weeerk!", "Go in hunty!", etc. On Sunday morning you'll see her sitting on the first pew cosigning everything that Eddie Long has to say. Finally, on Monday, you'll overhear her say "You know, what you do is your business, I am not one to judge. God has the final say so." (Sidenote: If I hear "Yaaasss!" in church....) 

In closing, I just want to say, this is NOT an attack on Mannie or black women. That's not what Edugaytion is about. However, I'd like to keep us all honest here. If we are going to acknowledge the truth, then we need to acknowledge the whole truth and nothing but the truth. 

Jul 9, 2014

Bottom Line 054: Is Gay Pride Only for White People?

Episode 54! The guys discuss the article from Mused Magazine Online as well as a few other things.

(additional links coming soon)

Jul 3, 2014

A Gay's Response to the Dorian Controversy

Seeing as to where Edugaytion is, at it's core, a blog, and not a journalistic endeavor by any means (sure we cover news sometimes, but we're mainly about opinion here), I was conflicted as to whether or not I would even do a gaymer post on Bioware's latest announcement involving the character Dorian in the new Dragon Age Inquisition. These kinds of things are happening more frequently, company announces it is doing something, gamers react, argument ensues.

The last time I jumped into the fray was just about a month or two ago with the whole Tomodachi Life controversy. An issue involving equality comes up, and a great many of the straight gaming community, despite the fact that it is marginalized, oppressed, and stereotyped regularly, responds in some of the ugliest ways imaginable. It's really baffling to me.

So it was no surprise to me that when my colleague Tony Polanco published his editorial entitled In a (Supposedly) Modern Society, Gay Video Game Characters are Still a Cause for Controversy, all of hell broke a loose in the comments section. And, while many of my friends have dismissed the commenting "guests", not only on this particular article, but many others, as "trolls", I think there's something more there. I think that these people actually feel and believe what they are saying.

One user starts:
I have no problem with gay people but I do find it odd announcing a gay character. That is like saying "He look at us! We are being progressive! We are good and you should like the game more because we have a gay character!" I just want characters that have context in the story and world they are representing. I never think of their sexual preference. As long as they have a legitimate role, I don't care. Just don't make different characters to satisfy different groups if they characters have no meaning. If they are not, that itself can be disrespectful.

And someone responds:
I think the Bioware's wording of Dorian being "fully gay" is what really got people upset as if it were describing features on a Honda seemed a little odd. Last I check there is no Gay/Straight tech tree to determine fully gay or straight.

There are multiple problems here:

1) Is nobody reading the source material? No, like seriously, let me copy and paste what is being reported with regards to the character Dorian from Dragon Age Inquisition:

"Dorian is gay—he is, in fact, the first fully gay character I've had the opportunity to write. It added an interesting dimension to his back story, considering he comes from a place where "perfection" is the face that every mage puts on and anything that smacks of deviancy is shameful and meant to be hidden. Dorian's refusal to play along with that fa├žade is seen as stubborn and pointless by his family, which has contributed to his status as a pariah."

That's a quote from David Gaider, writer for the character. This quote is at the center of all of the controversy, and I just don't understand why. It would seem that gamer society at large just waits for opportunities to bitch and complain. This is NOT a "gay agenda." This character is NOT a "token" gay. His sexual preference is NOT the core of this discussion, and there is NO mention of anything inappropriate. Instead, we are told that BECAUSE he is a homosexual, he is shunned by his community. A very interesting story, indeed. It's too bad everyone focuses on the invisible gay agenda. 

2) People are getting offended over the use of "fully gay." I'm sorry (not sorry), but the last time I checked the acronym, it was LGBTQ. Since then, I am sure that there has been more added (another discussion altogether). The point is, the B in LGBTQ stands for BISEXUAL, which is what most of these characters (Bioware games and others that allow for marraige etc) are. That is, the character can choose to either marry a man or a woman. There have also been characters that are solely heterosexual. Kaiden Alenko was not a romance option in Mass Effect 1 for Male Shepard. 

Now, this may blow your mind, but did you know that the "G" in LGBTQ stands for "Gay." I am a fully gay man. I have never been nor desired to be with a woman, and I am 30 years old. So tell me, again, why anybody is upset over the use of "fully gay." 

3) His mustache is a big gay stereotype. No it's not. I know plenty of gays of color that do not fit that alleged white gay image. That mustache is not representative of all gay culture so stop it because now we're treading the line of exclusion. 

I could go on forever about this, but I choose peace. You asked for my two cents. I gave you my two thousand dollars. 

Burger King's Proud Whopper: Do Gay People Even Eat Fast Food?

It played out like a regular "What Would You Do" with John Quinones. Cameras were set up in a San Francisco Burger King, and patrons were asked if they wanted to have a "Proud Whopper." As suspected, there were a variety of answers. One man said that he didn't "believe in the homosexual lifestyle" while others willingly went along with the new offering by the fast food chain. Still, many were confused.

While eating, some could swear they tasted a difference, but the truth was simple: All of the burgers were the same! I applaud Burger King for making such a move. We need campaigns like this to show people that homosexuality is not some "gay agenda" that drag queens are using to shove dogma down the collective throats of this "godless" nation. Check out the video below and lettuce know what you think ;)