Being Queer: Personal Reflections on Identity, Gender, and Relationships | Marina Rose Martinez

Commentary | November 2nd, 2017

I've written about this a dozen times, but in my house growing up there were two genders: abuser and victim. Men did what they wanted to your body so that you could do what you wanted with their money. Or drugs. Or property in general. It's a raw deal when you get older and realize that women can get jobs and have money of our own. It's an especially raw deal when you look back on a childhood of trading punches for shelter and realize that you were the only one getting hit while older women told you this was woman's lot. Although I do remember the time my mom came home covered in blood. Head to toe. She was matted with it. She took a shower and then she left, pinkish white drops lazily drying on the plastic shower walls the only evidence she was even there.

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On Queer Anarchism: An Interview with the Pink & Black Collective | Devon Douglas-Bowers

Interview | November 23rd, 2016

From what I have seen these last few months, the history of anarchism is a principled one. More often than the adherents do not, an ethical stance is chosen through careful consideration of the complexities of a topic until it is picked clean as though carrion beetles defleshed it themselves. Emma Goldman's explanation for why she chose to stand up for her friend Oscar Wilde when he was convicted for his sexuality in the 1900s struck the biggest chord with me, "No daring is required to protest against a great injustice."

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Gay Liberation through Socialist Revolution: A Political History of the Lavender and Red Union's Gay Communism (An Interview) | Marquis M.

Interview | November 4th, 2016

Regardless of the specific politics of the Lavender and Red Union (which should be seen as a product of their time and of their relationship to the rest of the mid-'70s US left), we can gain a lot from studying the experiences they made during their brief life before they decided to merge with the Spartacist League in 1977. One of the points that came up in this interview again and again was the perspective that queer people will not be able to win alone. If we want liberation, then we will need to fight together in the same struggles as all the other oppressed groups that make up the working class with us. We cannot only focus on building organizations that just address our own concerns or our own narrow community (which the Lavender and Red Union called 'sectoralism'). This lesson, and many of the other points discussed in this interview, continue to be of importance for those of us who struggle with pushing back against the liberal, reformist, and class collaborationist tendencies in our movements.

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Orlando: Deeper Than Terrorism | Devon Douglas-Bowers

Commentary | June 17th, 2016

The recent shootings in Orlando are, without a doubt, a terrorist attack. However, it is not the terrorism that so much of the mainstream media is playing into, with their focus being on shooter Omar Mateen's alleged pledge of allegiance to ISIS. Rather, it is terrorism against the LGBT community, especially Latinx LGBT people, and, due to the backlash from the far right and politicians who want to focus on Mateen's religion, Muslim LGBT people. We need to understand and realize that this shooting goes much deeper than just terrorism and touches on a number of aspects of American culture itself.

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My High School Sweetheart: Violently In Love and In the Closet | Leah Johnson

Commentary | October 8th, 2015

I have openly and authentically shared so much of my life, but there's one major part of my life that I haven't shared. This experience has hurt me, changed me, and molded me. This shameful experience has helped me evolve and mature. I hit her. We were 15 and 16 years old, and we were in love. After being together for almost a year, I found out that she cheated on me, lied to me, and humiliated me. I gave her the benefit of the doubt, and I listened. She convinced me that she would never do it again and that she would change. Then it happened again, and she was cheating consistently. I lashed out. I was immature, depressed, angry and closeted. I responded to emotional abuse with physical abuse. At 15 years old, I was in a cyclical, abusive, same-sex relationship.

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Apologetics Over Liberation: Same-Sex Marriage, Trans* Death, and the Role of Queer Clergy | Hillary Brownsmith

Commentary | September 4th, 2015

I met Ash* when I was working as a caseworker in a large men's homeless shelter and referral agency in Atlanta. Ash came to get a referral to another service agency for homeless people in town. I initially assumed she lived in a women's shelter or slept on the street. But she told me during our first meeting that she slept in a bunk upstairs, surrounded, any given night, by between 700 and 1000 men. As an adult trans woman, this was Ash's only option. Ash's situation was unbelievable. New to Atlanta and to homeless services, I couldn't trust that this men's drop-in shelter with minimal security and poorly trained staff was Ash's only possible placement. So I called around. I talked to staff at other shelters. I talked to housed trans women. I read public accommodation ordinances. I contacted a transgender right's attorney. But Ash had, of course, been right.

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Transgender Life and LGBT Politics: An Interview | Devon Douglas-Bowers

Interview | July 24th, 2015

I was raised in a religious household, where gender roles were fairly strict. In my church, wearing pants was controversial for women, and skirts above the knee would result in chastisement. It's in many ways fortunate that my tastes, preferences, and hobbies fit fairly neatly within the realm of feminine, so it was rare someone would criticize my gender expression or choice in clothing. My behavior was considered atypical from what one might expect from a young girl, but it was just as likely to be attributed to a difference in socioeconomic difference between my family and my peers, or just a personal oddity.

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Internalizing #BlackLivesMatter: A Queer Project in Loving Blackness (Part 2) | Jonathan Mathias Lassiter

Analysis | May 5th, 2015

Blackness is an integrative state of being that firmly aligns the spiritual with the physical realm. Linda James Meyers, a psychologist in the radical school of thought of Black Psychology, articulated that an optimal Afrocentric belief system emphasizes holistic-spiritual/unity, communalism, and proper consciousness (Meyers, 1988). Along these lines, Blackness is an embrace of wholeness, universal and local kinship, and active movement toward a higher understanding of self and the world. Blackness is not egocentric but harmonious. People who internalize Blackness are in tune with their spirit and understand that their existence and potential is not finite. They understand their purpose and, thus, who they are. They understand that part of who they are is connected to every other living being. They are not suspicious of others because they know that giving love to others is a nurturing of themselves. There is no zero-sum mentality. People who internalize Blackness are able to integrate themselves into a whole greater than their parts.

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Artistry of the Subalterns: Homosexuality and the Poetry Small Press | Jeremy Brunger

Analysis | April 10th, 2015

"The word of man," wrote the 19th century enlightened pessimist Arthur Schopenhauer, "is the most durable of all materials." The language of the thoughtful animal would outlive any of its physical constructions, as the histories of empire, in their rises and their falls, would astutely attest; lotteries of birth could bestow their gifts as swiftly as they took them away. Schopenhauer's philosophical ephebe, Friedrich Nietzsche, thought that art, like the word, was the highest form of expression available to the human species. Though he placed a great value on music for its insistence on universality without the philological distinction between nationalities, he considered poetry just as fine an avenue into the Absolute. For Nietzsche, all poetry was philosophical and all philosophy poetic. And what of poetry today? Has it "died," how the God of Nietzsche's century did, or has it merely hidden itself behind academic veneers and the auspices of the gray market? It turns out it has survived in better form than the Christianity Nietzsche so harshly criticized, for its audience is increasing.

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Internalizing Black Lives Matter: A Queer Project in Loving Blackness (Part 1) | Jonathan Mathias Lassiter

Analysis | January 27th, 2015

Black lives matter. And #BlackLivesMatter, a movement founded after the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, is bringing this fundamental truth to the masses. As cited on the movement's website, "Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. It centers those that have been marginalized within Black liberation movements. It is a tactic to (re)build the Black liberation movement." #BlackLivesMatter's mission is a radical one. The mission takes seriously the plight of the "least of these" to which Jesus often referred.

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Rediscovering Dialogue: An Interview with Son of Baldwin | Devon Douglas-Bowers

Interview | October 10th, 2014

One of the things I deeply dislike about much of the social justice activism and social justice spaces I've encountered is how intentionally vicious they are. And I'm not talking about viciousness between social justice activists and trolls. I'm talking about the viciousness between peoples with the same goals, but who might have different strategies for obtaining those goals. I've seen some really hateful, ugly, deeply dishonest and self-serving stuff happening in conversations in these spaces-including my own. I'm not talking about disagreements or even heated disagreements. I'm talking about full-on attempts at destroying each other-from credibility to personhood. I'm talking about people who truly get off on making others feel as small as possible so they can feel big.

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Shoulders Back: Combating the Consequences of Gender Stereotypes | Syard Evans

Commentary | September 11th, 2014

She stood, stone-faced, with her shoulders back and her chest held high. Her face was expressionless, and her chin was tucked in tight. This was her "nervous but determined stance." I marveled at how distinctive and developed a "nervous but determined stance" could get in just 11+ years of life. The whispers were occasionally interrupted by blurted shouts, "Look! It's a girl." As if a person possessing female genitalia had not been seen in public in the last three decades. She cut her eyes to me and said, "So stupid," without ever relinquishing the solidity of her stance. She was firmly committed to being there, and nothing some half-pint sized little boy said was going to move her from her steadfastness. As I looked at her, I saw the three-year-old who once told me that she really liked climbing trees, but climbing trees was a "boy" thing. I responded to her then by asking, "What makes something a "boy" thing? If you like it, why can't it be a "you" thing?"

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Unpacking the Bags: Self-Reflection at the Intersections of Racialized Masculinity, Sex, and Slut Shaming (A Conversation: Part Two) | Jonathan Mathias Lassiter

Commentary | May 6th, 2014

I certainly have had my own process I had to unpack. I was playing into the hands of patriarchy, body policing, masculinity policing, and etc. I felt the same way. Like, 'the guy I'm going to be with has got to be super manly, whatever that's supposed to mean, and he's got to be a jock. I did not appreciate my more feminine brothers within the gay community because of that. It took a lot of unpacking my own issues and my own prejudice to step away from that. I finally got to a point where I was, at least, masculinity policing a lot less, and I was embracing my more effeminate brothers within the gay community. I don't necessarily need to be with someone who is uber masculine. I also wondered if it's because I didn't appreciate women and femininity as much. I guess I really was playing into the hands of patriarchy. It's interesting now looking back on it. There is definitely an issue in the gay community and I was part of it at one point. It took me a little while to unpack it.

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Whiteness, Space, and the Meaning of Community: A Conversation | Jonathan Mathias Lassiter

Commentary | April 3rd, 2014

One of the reasons I think that happens is because of the same reason that happens when heterosexual people of color try to advocate for their own spaces. I think it's because…a classic example is around Black History Month. When people ask, "why don't we have a white history month?" I think it's this sort of narcissistic worldview-a very white-centric worldview-where everything revolves around whiteness and white culture, which is in and of itself is invisible. White culture is especially good at erasing itself. Through its erasure of itself it can normalize its power effectively. Something that is invisible is hard to deconstruct and fight against. So with this invisible white-centric world view, one can say, "this isn't white BDSM or anything like that, this is just BDSM. So now why do you want to separate from BDSM?" When the actual separation is already in place; however, it is not highlighted, it is erased.

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The Politics of Abandonment: Abandoning Chelsea Manning and Siding with the State and Heteronormativity | Devon Douglas-Bowers

Analysis | February 21st, 2014

Chelsea Manning is a hero. She stood up for American values and for the American people when she leaked classified documents to Wikileaks. Due to her courageous actions, we became aware of a number of issues, from unsavory diplomatic backdoor dealings to war crimes committed by the US military. Yet, when the time came to defend her, the American people failed. They were told by a media that has sided time and time again with the government that Manning was a "traitor who had endangered the security of the nation and other soldiers" (something that was proven false by the Pentagon no less). The American people listened and turned their back on her. Yet, the worst betrayal came from the LGBT community.

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Fashionability Politics: Leveraging anti-Russian Sentiment to Perpetuate Racial Hierarchy within the LGBTQ Community | Mike Perry

Analysis | February 14th, 2014

The 2014 Winter Olympics are here: A time when 204 recognized countries partake in competitive winter sports to prove their physical prowess and superiority to all other participants. Therefore, it is rather ironic that Russia, the country in which the Olympics are being held, seems to be going for the gold in the events of queer-antagonism and bigotry - that is, at least, what one could safely conclude from all of the media brouhaha. Whilst Russia's issues with the LGBTQ community is, without question, an atrocity that should not be overlooked, we should question why there is a particular focus on that part of the world and take a deeper look at the nuances of this negative publicity. In particular, we should look at its role in leveraging anti-Russian sentiment to perpetuate white supremacy and racial hierarchy within the LGBTQ community.

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Facing Horror: Implications for Life and Activism | Jonathan Mathias Lassiter

Analysis | January 22nd, 2014

Facing horror is hard. When you read that sentence you might think to yourself, "duh." However, how often do we really face horror? You and I may come in contact with it but how often do we really look at it in its face? Take notice of the acne scars, the discoloration, the lines in its face? Horror is ugly. The horror I write about in this essay is not the image of a serial killer or supernatural monster portrayed on a movie screen or read about in a Bram Stoker novel. The horror that I am writing about are the feelings generated when we are placed face-to-face with the darkest aspects of humanity. Such horror is generated by jagged, heavy, shocking, and revolting experiences and is not intended for our pleasure. It can be felt when we are discriminated against, abused by loved ones or strangers, harassed in our schools and churches, and when faced with real and perceived threats to our lives and livelihood.

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