MoMA has announced that they've acquired the Rainbow Flag for their permanent collection. The flag has been a symbol of the LGBT community around the world since its creation in 1978. As part of the acquisition, MoMA Curatorial Assistant Michelle Millar Fisher interviewed the man who designed the flag, artist Gilbert Baker.
And I thought, a flag is different than any other form of art. It's not a painting, it's not just cloth, it is not a just logo -- it functions in so many different ways. I thought that we needed that kind of symbol, that we needed as a people something that everyone instantly understands. [The Rainbow Flag] doesn't say the word "Gay," and it doesn't say "the United States" on the American flag but everyone knows visually what they mean. And that influence really came to me when I decided that we should have a flag, that a flag fit us as a symbol, that we are a people, a tribe if you will. And flags are about proclaiming power, so it's very appropriate.
So the American flag was my introduction into that great big world of vexilography. But I didn't really know that much about it. I was a big drag queen in 1970s San Francisco. I knew how to sew. I was in the right place at the right time to make the thing that we needed. It was necessary to have the Rainbow Flag because up until that we had the pink triangle from the Nazis -- it was the symbol that they would use [to denote gay people]. It came from such a horrible place of murder and holocaust and Hitler. We needed something beautiful, something from us. The rainbow is so perfect because it really fits our diversity in terms of race, gender, ages, all of those things. Plus, it's a natural flag -- it's from the sky! And even though the rainbow has been used in other ways in vexilography, this use has now far eclipsed any other use that it had...
After the end of World War II in Europe, homosexual prisoners of liberated concentration camps were refused reparations and some were even thrown into jail without credit for their time served in the camps. From the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
After the war, homosexual concentration camp prisoners were not acknowledged as victims of Nazi persecution, and reparations were refused. Under the Allied Military Government of Germany, some homosexuals were forced to serve out their terms of imprisonment, regardless of the time spent in concentration camps. The 1935 version of Paragraph 175 remained in effect in the Federal Republic (West Germany) until 1969, so that well after liberation, homosexuals continued to fear arrest and incarceration.
After 1945, it was no longer a crime to be Jewish in Germany, but homosexuality was another matter. Paragraph 175 of the German Criminal Code had been on the books since 1871. An English translation of the earliest version read simply:
Unnatural fornication, whether between persons of the male sex or of humans with beasts, is to be punished by imprisonment; a sentence of loss of civil rights may also be passed.
In Germany, homosexuality was considered a crime worthy of up to five years of imprisonment until Paragraph 175 was voided in 1994.
Update: I missed this while writing the post: Paragraph 175 was amended in 1969 to limit enforcement to engaging in homosexual acts with minors (under 21 years). (thx, eric)
At the same time, I believe deeply in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, who said: "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?' " I often challenge myself with that question, and I've come to realize that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important. That's what has led me to today.
For years, I've been open with many people about my sexual orientation. Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I'm gay, and it doesn't seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I've had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people's differences. Not everyone is so lucky.
While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven't publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I'm proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.
Gender identity is someone's internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or as someone outside of that gender binary.) For transgender people, the sex they were assigned at birth and their own internal gender identity do not match.
Trying to change a person's gender identity is no more successful than trying to change a person's sexual orientation -- it doesn't work. So most transgender people seek to bring their bodies more into alignment with their gender identity.
People under the transgender umbrella may describe themselves using one (or more) of a wide variety of terms, including transgender, transsexual, and genderqueer. Always use the descriptive term preferred by the individual.
My wife also gets a load of emails from people asking where our son's father is, as though I couldn't possibly be around and still allow a male son to display female behavior. To those people I say, I'm right here fathering my son. I want to love him, not change him. My son skipping and twirling in a dress isn't a sign that a strong male figure is missing from his life, to me it's a sign that a strong male figure is fully vested in his life and committed to protecting him and allowing him to grow into the person who he was created to be.
I may be a "guy's guy," but that doesn't mean that my son has to be.
Loyalty to my team is the real reason I didn't come out sooner. When I signed a free-agent contract with Boston last July, I decided to commit myself to the Celtics and not let my personal life become a distraction. When I was traded to the Wizards, the political significance of coming out sunk in. I was ready to open up to the press, but I had to wait until the season was over.
A college classmate tried to persuade me to come out then and there. But I couldn't yet. My one small gesture of solidarity was to wear jersey number 98 with the Celtics and then the Wizards. The number has great significance to the gay community. One of the most notorious antigay hate crimes occurred in 1998. Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student, was kidnapped, tortured and lashed to a prairie fence. He died five days after he was finally found. That same year the Trevor Project was founded. This amazing organization provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention to kids struggling with their sexual identity. Trust me, I know that struggle. I've struggled with some insane logic. When I put on my jersey I was making a statement to myself, my family and my friends.
The strain of hiding my sexuality became almost unbearable in March, when the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for and against same-sex marriage. Less then three miles from my apartment, nine jurists argued about my happiness and my future. Here was my chance to be heard, and I couldn't say a thing. I didn't want to answer questions and draw attention to myself. Not while I was still playing.
Writing for Slate, William McGowan tells the story of the Chickens and the Bulls, an extensive and brazen extortion ring that targetting prominent homosexuals (admirals, Congressmen, entertainers, etc.) and the NYPD & FBI investigators and prosecutors who put the kibosh on the whole thing with minimal exposure to the victims.
Though now almost forgotten, the case of "the Chickens and the Bulls" as the NYPD called it (or "Operation Homex," to the FBI), still stands as the most far-flung, most organized, and most brazen example of homosexual extortion in the nation's history. And while the Stonewall riot in June 1969 is considered by many to be the pivotal moment in gay civil rights, this case represents an important crux too, marking the first time that the law enforcement establishment actually worked on behalf of victimized gay men, instead of locking them up or shrugging.
The coda of the case is surprising...one of the members of the extortion ring became one of the gay movement's most powerful leaders.
Over time, however, championing same-sex marriage had become personal for Mr. Cuomo. He campaigned on the issue in the race for governor last year, and after his election, he was staggered by the number of gay couples who sought him out at restaurants and on the street, prodding him, sometimes tearfully, to deliver on his word.
The pressure did not let up at home. Mr. Cuomo's girlfriend, Sandra Lee, has an openly gay brother, and she frequently reminded the governor how much she wanted the law to change.
Something else weighed on him, too: the long shadow of his father, Mario, who rose to national prominence as the conscience of the Democratic Party, passionately defending the poor and assailing the death penalty. During his first few months in office, the younger Mr. Cuomo had achieved what seemed like modern-day miracles by the standards of Albany - an austere on-time budget and a deal to cap property taxes. But, as Mr. Cuomo explained by phone to his father a few weeks ago, he did not want those accomplishments to define his first year in office.
"They are operational," he told his father. Passing same-sex marriage, by contrast, "is at the heart of leadership and progressive government."
The US military is often thought of by many Americans as being identified with conservative politics, making it an unlikely blueprint for progressive reform. But a recent pair of articles demonstrates that the US as a whole might have something to learn about the US Armed Forces' liberal leanings. In the NY Times, Nicholas Kristof argues that the US military's universal healthcare and focus on education is worth looking at as a model:
The military is innately hierarchical, yet it nurtures a camaraderie in part because the military looks after its employees. This is a rare enclave of single-payer universal health care, and it continues with a veterans' health care system that has much lower costs than the American system as a whole.
Perhaps the most impressive achievement of the American military isn't its aircraft carriers, stunning as they are. Rather, it's the military day care system for working parents.
While one of America's greatest failings is underinvestment in early childhood education (which seems to be one of the best ways to break cycles of poverty from replicating), the military manages to provide superb child care. The cost depends on family income and starts at $44 per week.
Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution is pretty simple, It says, 'Raise an army.' It says absolutely nothing about race, color, creed, sexual orientation. You all joined for a reason: to serve. To protect our nation, right? How dare we, then, exclude a group of people who want to do the same thing you do right now, something that is honorable and noble? ... Get over it. We're magnificent, we're going to continue to be. ... Let's just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let's be Marines.
Now that's some semper fi I can get behind. (thx, meg)
Here's the story from a blogger at Nerdy Apple Bottom: her five-year-old son dressed up as Daphne from Scooby Doo for Halloween and mom & boy get shit from some of the other moms at their church preschool, thinking that the boy's gonna catch The Gay for dressing up like a girl. The mom's not having any of it:
But here's the point, it is none of your damn business. If you think that me allowing my son to be a female character for Halloween is somehow going to 'make' him gay then you are an idiot. Firstly, what a ridiculous concept. Secondly, if my son is gay, OK. I will love him no less. Thirdly, I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off.
Right on. Without really thinking about it this year, we dressed my son in a "girlie" costume (he was a butterfly, at his request, and not a knight or robot or Batman like most of the other three-year-olds I saw) and our daughter was a Frenchman. Not an eyebrow was raised, which is unsurprising as lower Manhattan is pretty much ground zero for It Gets Better. (via @choire)
In 2000, David Jay came out to his parents. But they were surprised by what he told them. He was asexual. David knew he was not alone in his feelings. He bought the url for asexuality.org and soon, the forum he created for people to talk about their experiences as asexuals was abuzz around the globe online and on talk shows like The View. Inspired by the LGBT movement of the 1960s, Jay is growing the asexual movement. Other members of his community are skeptical that they are a part of the LGBT community. But Jay and experts, like Dan Savage, agree that asexuals are a sexual minority and therefore eligible. But are members of the sex-positive PRIDE march going to accept a group that has rejected sex?
Though most adolescents who come out do so in high school, sex researchers and counselors say that middle-school students are increasingly coming out to friends or family or to an adult in school. Just how they're faring in a world that wasn't expecting them -- and that isn't so sure a 12-year-old can know if he's gay -- is a complicated question that defies simple geographical explanations. Though gay kids in the South and in rural areas tend to have a harder time than those on the coasts, I met gay youth who were doing well in socially conservative areas like Tulsa and others in progressive cities who were afraid to come out.
America is divided on the meaning of marriage and is understandably cautious about tampering with an age-old, embattled institution. On the other hand, Americans are increasingly sympathetic to gay couples who are pledged to care for each other (and their children) but who are legal strangers to one another, a situation which just makes no sense.
On gay marriage, activists on both ends of the spectrum conspired against radical incrementalism. One side tried to ban gay marriage forever on every inch of American soil; the other side dreamed of mandating it nationally by court order. To its great credit, the country refused to be hustled. Instead it is taking the truly conservative approach, which is to try gay marriage in some places, without betting the whole country.
Transgender Americans are finding increasing support for their gender identities in unusual places: the so-called red states. In a small Colorado city, parents and the school administration were initially upset with the transition of a student's gender from boy to girl, but other students were not.
But on the first day of school, nothing happened. No flood of calls, no angry protests, and no bullying. Michelle was "happy and shocked" that M.J.'s classmates seemed to get it. When one student made a mocking comment to another using M.J.'s former name, one eighth-grade boy dismissed him with a simple insight. "That person doesn't even exist anymore," he said. "You're talking about somebody who's imaginary."
Update: Fuck you too, Arizona and Florida. Also, several people objected to the strong language I used here, saying that I can't curse an entire state where many voted against the ban, it was all the Mormon Church's fault, and in one case, that it was hypocritical of me as a New York resident to complain. You know what? I'm *upset* about this and a little profanity, a little lashing out, is totally fucking warranted.
You've likely seen this by now but I've got to link it up anyway because whenever I think about it, it makes me LOLL (laugh out loud, literally). The American Family Association automatically replaces words like "gay" with "homosexual" in the AP stories they display on their news site. When an American sprinter named Tyson Gay is in the news, the practice leads to hilarity.
Homosexual eases into 100 final at Olympic trials Tyson Homosexual easily won his semifinal for the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials and seemed to save something for the final later Sunday.
Male to female transsexual. This is a manufactured vagina. A Neovagina.
This is genital origami, the cock cut open, carved and folded, crafted by techniques with names like Penile Inversion, the Suporn Technique, and the Wilson Method. The head of the cock morphs into the neoclit. In some methods the scrotal skin becomes the neovaginal canal.
I don't know which methods were used in the creation of this particular neovagina, but surely this is art of the highest caliber. Sculpture in flesh tissue and nerve bundles.
Lots of discussion online about this Garrison Keillor piece in Salon where he seems to assert that gay parents shouldn't be flamboyant and immigrants, while siring lovely children, don't hold a candle to the white cowboys riding the plains. More than anything, this piece just confuses me...is he being truthful about his opinions or is he taking a less-than-successful swipe at himself and his outdated views? I can't really tell...more than anything, it seems poorly written.
Star Trek's Sulu, George Takei, comes out. First Swoopes and now this...the self esteem of young, gay, basketball-playing Trekkies must be skyrocketing. (I keed, but seriously, pro sports and sci-fi geeks could benefit from more confident & successful gay role models for young people who're feeling less than confident with their sexuality.)