Tag Archives: queer

Discover Your Truth & Claim It

15 Feb

The greatest thing you could ever do for yourself is discover your truth and claim it.  As I was winding down my relaxing, snow-infested, wine-infused evening on Valentine’s Day with a best friend, I decided to check Twitter.  The first tweet and essentially every one thereafter rattled off congratulations among other things to talented actress and all around articulate individual Ellen Page for coming out at the HRC Time to Thrive Conference.  Needless to say my little lesbian heart stopped and began to fill with love and happiness for her.  I don’t think I could have asked for a more appropriate and warm ending to Valentine’s Day (unless maybe… if I had like an actual girlfriend).

Standing tall and proud at 5′ 1″ with a fiery passion in her voice, Ellen Page’s presence engulfed the room and touched my soul through my laptop.  While she was visibly nervous (appropriately so), the mission and purpose of her speech rose above it.  She so eloquently narrated the struggle that countless people are experiencing day in and day out.  She took a community of people and hoisted them upon her shoulders while simultaneously standing beside them.  Not only did Page reassure the LGBTQ community that she hears them and has too crawled through the dark spaces in the closet, but she reminded the entire world of how simply being less horrible to one another could make a significant difference; a seemingly easy task that so many people cannot master or even practice.  Prefacing her coming out with 5’30” of poetic prose describing poisonous Hollywood standards and stereotypes, the importance of finding community, and the significance of everyone’s story demonstrates that she is honorably taking on the behemoth monster that is equality.  She said it herself:

“Maybe I can make a difference.  To help others have an easier and more hopeful time.  Regardless for me, I feel a personal obligation and a social responsibility.  I also do it selfishly because I’m tired of hiding and I’m tired of lying by omission.”

Oftentimes when spotlight figures come out, those who have no grounds to make comment tend to do so in the most careless ways.  High atop pedestals, there are some heterosexuals who feel as though what they have to say is valuable and warranted when it fact the opposite is true.  Comments such as “it’s about time she came out” or “this is news because…” or “I knew she was gay” or my favorite from heterosexual men: “what a shame, she’s good looking.”  I say this to them: until you’ve carried the burden of being closeted, the fear, the hopelessness… there is nothing you can say to that individual that can take away their truth and journey.  Commenting on someone else’s truth and experience is meaningless especially when you’ve never experienced anything resembling it.  Hell, even if in your mind you think you’ve experienced something resembling their experience, I can assure you it is not the same.

Ellen Page coming out is important for endless reasons because there are still an endless number of human beings struggling in silence, on the receiving end of abuse, and a plethora of other byproducts leftover from living your truth when it does not fit into societal standards.  When I was younger and still in the closet the only examples of gay women near my age were fictional characters.  While I found support from those fictional characters, I’m confident that the impact would have been far greater if I had had a significant, real life example.  I can guarantee that hundreds if not thousands of young teens and beyond gained some courage and confidence last night after hearing Page’s speech (the same can be said when Michael Sam came out).  So yes those questioning, every time an important figurehead discloses their sexuality to the public, it is important and it does make a difference. In addition, Page is showing her immense bravery as a member of Hollywood, an industry where image and reputation is the most important factor (mind you she is in the upcoming X-Men film).

“Love, the beauty of it, the joy of it, and yes, even the pain of it is the most incredible gift to give and to receive as a human being and we deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise.  There are too many kids out there suffering from bullying, rejection, or simply being mistreated for who they are.  Too many drops outs, too much abuse, too many homeless, too many suicides.  You can change that and you are changing that; but you didn’t need me to tell you that…”

The closing statements of Ellen Page’s speech that left me teary eyed said it all.  Coming out matters because love is one of the most incredible experiences we can have as human beings.  It matters because you help pave the path to equality a little bit further.  It matters because one day we won’t have to come out anymore.

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Impromptu “Interview” With MTV’s Ari Fitz

29 Jan

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There is a reason I stomp around preaching the benefits of developing an active social media presence (and defending my addiction) because sometimes it will lead to an opportunity, great or small. The right tweet sent at the right time with the appropriate handles addressed and relevant hashtags can get all the right eyes scrolling in your direction. I recently experienced this when I tweeted at current MTV Real World: Ex-plosion badass and visionary Ari Fitz concerning a small blurb I wrote about her in a previous post.

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 11.29.29 AMIn what seems like typical Ari fashion, she happily responded to my tweet and eventually the questions I sent to her via email.  She is a wonderful example of maintaining an active social relationship with her fans as well as those she has an interest in working with professionally. My questions were not the most eloquent or engaging considering they were hastily thought of in the context of my life experiences and what I’ve been reading lately, but still she took the time to reply in which I will share with you. As I addressed in the previous post, these questions (on a very basic level) revolve around the idea of intersectionality and how it poses difficulties navigating through the world of self-identity and dating.

Have you always been aware of your sexuality?

Ari Fitz: Not really. It was never a big realization for me. I just fell for a girl (like hard!) one day and when it continued to happen, I just smiled about it and kept going.

Were you hesitant when you discovered this aspect of yourself?

Ari: No, not really. It’s just another part of who I am, if anything if teaches me a new way to view identity, love, body issues, gender, etc. In short, I have a gift because of the way I love. It’s called unique perspective.

Were you raised in a predominantly white environment?

Ari: Nope. I grew up in Vallejo, Ca which was mad diverse. My best friend is 4’11 confident, tough and Filipina & Puerto Rican. I have really close good friends from where I grew up that are White, Black, Filipino/Pacific Islander, Asian, Hispanic/Latino, etc… Something else I’m thankful for that’s given me perspective.

Your ex on the show is white, have you always dated white women?  Have you felt guilt for doing so?

Ari: Ashley is half Chinese and half “White” (Italian, Irish). She’s the girl I’ve dated that isn’t Black or Latina. She’s one of my best friends, she’s stood by me when I was absolutely nothing and she’s supported me since day one so I have absolutely no guilt about being involved with her.

Were you ever worried your partner would say or infer something racist and not be able to understand why that was problematic?

Ari: Sure and I’m equally afraid I might say something that offends her upbringing as Ashley was raised traditionally Chinese. She and I are human. She and I make mistakes. I know her heart is pure, even purer than mine at times so if she makes a mistake or says something “outta pocket”, I know that’s a conversation we can have and she’ll genuinely apologize/correct.

As you grew and became more educated and experienced adult life, has your perception of being a black and gay woman evolved?

Ari: Oh man. Yes, yes and yes. How could it not?

*BONUS*  For shits and giggles, what are your opinions on sex toys?  Welcomed in the bedroom?

Ari: Quick answer is, I love them and click on my Good Vibes page. Boom! 😉

From what I’ve gathered thus far it seems as though Ari Fitz is quite the motivated creative who is exceptionally conscious of herself and the world surrounding her.  What more could you ask of a woman working hard to have her visions seen and stories heard? Stories that speak to a community who are otherwise starving for any kind of sustenance.  Luckily for us Ari is developing a presence in the film community. Check out her short film The Anniversary costarring her equally gorgeous ex, Ashley:

 

I do believe she is currently working on a prequel to The Anniversary so look out for that.  I don’t know about you all but I’m excited to see what the future holds for her. Keep up with her shenanigans on Twitter and don’t forget to watch her in action Wednesdays at 10pm on MTV.

Blue is the Warmest Color: Not a Lesbian Film

18 Nov

**Spoilers Ahead**  Also  jumbling of random thoughts as the film is very long and I will probably be piecing together my feelings until I see it again.

After months of anxiously waiting, Googling, and Youtubing the internationally acclaimed film Blue is the Warmest Color, I finally got to indulge myself in all 179 minutes of emotionally charged  glory.  This is the first film involving a relationship between two women that didn’t register as a “lesbian film” in my mind but rather a story about self-discovery and exchanging energy rivaling that of the sun.  I walked out the theatre feeling emotionally exhausted and headed straight to the sushi bar with my friends to share reactions and alcohol.  Despite the length of the story I was enthralled the entire time because (obviously) I’m biased towards illustrations of same-sex relationships.  The shots were beautiful and simple, often with warm glows accompanying scenes of intense passion or happiness.  Extreme close ups were used during the most intimate scenes such as eating, kissing, and sex; something we’re not used to seeing in American films.

The infamous and well-lit sex scene started off sensually from my perspective.  I could feel their raw passion being released as they deeply explored each others bodies.  But the longer it progressed the more uncomfortable it got (not to me per say) and I really did not see how the addition contributed any more to the scene or film as a whole.  The male gaze was strongly present here as many articles have pointed out but it didn’t ruin my experience because I received the scene as another step in the evolution of their relationship and demonstration of human beings succumbing to their visceral, carnal desires.  Either way, I thought it was pretty damn sexy.  Another point of probable contention was Adéle’s infidelity with her male coworker, occurring approximately a few or so years into their relationship. Some saw this as the typical queer narration of the “straight” girl going back to guy.  Clearly that is not the case here.  Emma focused much of her time and energy in her work, which made Adéle feel undesired and under appreciated so she sought out another being who could fill the voids.  Attraction of any sort due to proximity is very common and so her decisions or mistakes have some validity.  I’m not condoning her cheating, but Adéle’s condition after Emma ferociously dismissed her from their shared home was indicative of her not “going back to men.”

It was almost physically painful to watch Adéle begin her monotonous life devoid of passion and energy.  She regresses back to her High School self, sleeping sprawled out and child-like, having sexual fantasies, and being mostly alone.  One of the most heartbreaking scenes came towards the end when Emma met Adéle in a café to reconnect.  Adéle’s intentions were obvious even before Emma sat down.  She was waiting poised, primped, and had ordered a glass of white wine, of which she called Emma’s stepdad to make sure it was a favorite of Emma’s.  Emma refused the wine and instead ordered a coffee.  Typical questions of ex lovers were passed back and fourth until Adéle asked Emma if she was sexually satisfied with her new lover (who has a child).  After ambiguously responding, Adéle aggressively and I suppose passionately kisses Emma and directs her hand to the crotch of her tights.  They briefly continue the heated moment in the public space until Emma stops, ultimately ending Adéle’s last efforts to win the love of her life back.  Emma then eloquently states that she has a family now but will always have “infinite tenderness” [for Adéle].  That was when mine and Adéle’s tears flowed in harmony, continuing as Emma got up and walked out, back to the love waiting for her at home.  I teared up because I could see and feel Adéle’s burning desperation.  Her emptiness.  I wanted to jump through the screen and give her words of advice from Sheryl Crow, “the first cut is the deepest.”

Overall, Blue is the Warmest Color met and maybe exceeded my expectations.   I enjoyed watching the passage of love between two very different individuals.  I am delighted the film was French not only for the beautiful language but for the French aesthetic.  Little dialogue and a lot of Mise-en-scène, cigarettes, and eating.  It forced the viewer to  focus on emotions told through eyes and mouths.  In an interview (they are so adorable and attractive) Adéle described the story as one about “skin, close ups, mouths, itching, and cumming” so they had to let their bodies speak.  It is perfect example of showing not telling and that really resonates with me.  The high-tensioned moments were dispersed among mostly uneventful scenes, which may be a more accurate portrayal of love than your average love stories.  The fact that my mind truly did not register this as a distinctly lesbian film, I think means that love honestly was the focus and not the sexuality of the characters.  I am looking forward to seeing how Blue performs during award season and the impact, if any, it makes in the future of film in terms same sex relationships.  Who knows, maybe we can get an actual queer person to write and direct one day!  If nothing else, see the film to gawk at the beauty (and bodies) and talent of Léa Seydoux and Adéle Exarchopoulos.

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I’m partial to Adéle.  The shape of her lips are so curious and irresistible to me.

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I Don’t Want To Be Gay

15 Nov

I was in the midst of writing a post about my current favorite music acts when suddenly I scrolled passed something on a Tumblr (I’m have tech ADD and on any regular day you can find at least 14 tabs open in 2 different windows) that made me sad.  Although this is not the first time I’ve heard or seen this statement from a member of the LGBTQ community, it still makes me cringe and ultimately evokes some emotion within me.  “I don’t want to be gay,” the young blogger posted followed by a series of questions asking her why.  Her response was simple, “I just think it would be easier.”

She is completely right and I am sympathetic toward her.  Life would be twice as easy if we didn’t self-identify as LGBTQ.  I don’t know about other members of the community, but when I came out the last thing on my mind was how difficult life would be if I came out.  I just knew that keeping the secret and those thoughts hidden would be more difficult than anything else.  After being out for almost 7 years now, there have been utterances resembling “I don’t want to be gay,” mostly in the context of dating and social life.

The discouraging reality is that if you don’t live in a major metropolis area such as L.A., Chicago, NYC, D.C., and the like, your pool of potential mates probably resembles the number of Blockbuster stores left.  The  selection of bars and clubs are most likely teeming with heterosexual clients making it doubly difficult for your gaydar to be perfectly calibrated and detect true lady lovers and not “strategic lesbian seekers” (no seriously, strategic lesbianism is a thing according to this Vogue article).  Visibility is such an annoying barrier when it comes to dating.  Your city probably doesn’t have a designated gayborhood like West Hollywood, Boystown, Dupont Circle, etc, for you to stroll the sidewalks and shops looking for a reliable pack of queer friends.  Luckily for me I’ve recently become closer to a couple of queer folk and it has done wonders for my comprehensive outlook on life.  It’s really quite nice to express your fears, happiness, concerns, and problems to someone who is looking at life through a similar lens as you.

In addition to dating being a herculean task, watching television and film  repeat the same heterosexual story lines and stereotypical “queer” story lines is just plain exhausting and again, discouraging.  I don’t have to go into detail about this because you all know… we just want to see something we can relate to every once in a while damn it.  There’s also the whole thing regarding laws and regulations that don’t protect us against discrimination when it comes to housing, employment, marriage, and benefits (making strides though).  Walking down the street holding your significant others hand might be a trying experience especially if you’re not in a progressive city.  The process of trying to have your own child appears daunting while adoption still has it’s hurdles as a same-sex couple.  Concluding findings:  of course it’s difficult being gay.  So how do you deal with your conflicting feelings?

The first step is embracing yourself.  You can’t be something you’re not, so why try to be anything else?  The faster you do this the more quickly you can use your experiences to your advantage. You acknowledged a nagging feeling within yourself and made the conscious effort to address it instead of running away from yourself.  That takes strength and you deserve all the credit in the world especially if you partook in the journey alone.  As a member in a marginalized group you have a perspective that is unique and valuable.  You have a special community spanning the globe that would most likely welcome you with open arms (that is if you don’t have to deal with racism, which is a whole other topic on intersectionality).  Your sexuality is not the defining characteristic of your being, but you should be proud of it.  You don’t have to ride with the Dykes on Bikes at the pride parade or sport rainbow colored everything.  Just love yourself for the progress you’ve made, love your significant other in a way that shows you’re proud of her, love your family and friends for supporting you and making efforts to move society’s acceptance along, and finally accept that none of us ever wanted to be gay… we just got lucky.

You Got Your Orientation Wrong

11 Nov

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Exhalation of relief…  You’re feeling weightless and naked.  After all of these months, years, you’ve finally come to terms with yourself that you are indeed sexually and/or romantically attracted to people of the same gender.  With such bravery and confidence you bare your soul and come out to the people in your life who mean the most.  They accept and support you more than you could have ever asked.  The road before you is paved and ready to discover life as you’ve always imagined it could  be.  Bright, colorful, vibrant, exciting. Exhalation.

A couple of years have passed since your revelation and you’ve bloomed ever so beautifully into your being.  Girls have come and gone, which is fine because you’re exploring what you like and don’t like.  You mostly frequent heterosexual establishments (because there are no gay bars around) and have no trouble catching the attention of male admirers (No offense to the male population, but all a woman has to do is exist and you swarm.  This is also my discontent with women not approaching me with such ease, manifesting).  With all of this male attention your mind starts to wander back over to the land of heterosexual, one that you’ve actually never visited.  A sort of panic rushes over you.

These thoughts of being with men start to intrigue you and your curiosity grows.  You become confused because you can’t figure out if your curiosity for men stems from your lack of attention and relationships with women or if you’re genuinely curious.  In reality, experimenting with a man for the first time after many women is not that big of a deal.  But in your head and your heart it goes against everything you’ve been piecing together about yourself since childhood.  What does it all mean?  After all, you are a red blooded woman and your biological urges still exist despite your declared sexuality.  I’m talking about sex.  You get urges and maybe you start to realize that for you, it doesn’t matter what gender the person satisfying you in that arena is.  Does this mean you’re not gay then?

This brings up the whole complex web/umbrella/scale of sexuality of which I claim to be no expert about at all.  Sometimes you can be sexually attracted to both genders and only romantically attracted to one or the other.  How do you deal with that?  Mention having a fling with a man and your friends will respond  “Told you!  We knew you were straight.”  Or maybe your parents will clasp their hands together thankful that your “phase” is finally over.  Obviously both responses are irrational because sexuality is not  black and white, but most people find it difficult to grasp that concept.  How does that affect you emotionally?  I imagine  the emotions are similar to coming out as something other than heterosexual.  It must be even more difficult especially if you’re a “Goldstar Lesbian” because it’s like My Whole Life has Been a Lie: Part II.  All of this could be avoided if our culture wasn’t sustained on a three choice orientation system.

You’re either gay, straight, or bisexual (but they get a lot of shit).  If orientation was taught, discussed, and accepted more widely on the scale system like it really is, we wouldn’t have such a need to declare a sexuality.  We  would also be less fearful to admit to ourselves and others when our desires and attractions change. We are human beings.  We are meant to grow, evolve, and discover ourselves.  Discovering who you are is both frightening and rewarding I know.  It takes practice, but eventually you’ll make all the decisions that correlate to your happiness.  I’m still working on that too.  We’re all getting there.  We’ll get there someday.  You didn’t get your orientation wrong, you just found something else that also floats your boat.

Your Reality is Through a Screen

5 Nov

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I was debating whether or not I should include another gif and ultimately decided against it as I try to make my posts more content-focused.  But everyone in the lesbian world of shipping knows damn well that one more gif would’ve lead to gifs of every lesbian relationship ever portrayed on television, which we know them all.  The Queer fandom world is unlike any audience I’ve ever been a part of; occupied by some of the most talented, devoted, and passionate people I’ve had the pleasure of admiring.  With social media platforms like Tumblr it’s easier than ever for us to share our fantasies and interpretations of our favorite onscreen relationships in the form of fanfics, gifs, and everything else in between.  While I enjoy every single minute of scrolling and reading, sometimes I stop to think is it sad that I’m practically living an important aspect of my life through glowing screens?

For those of us who don’t have that great group of lesbian friends like the ladies of The Real L Word, where else are we supposed to go for a community that feels like a friendship?  The art of shipping fictional characters (yes it’s totally an art) may appear a bit insane to outsiders, but I completely understand and appreciate the necessity for it. It’s an expression and manifestation of the things we hope for ourselves, the things we don’t see in everyday life because we may not know a lesbian couple personally.  Years ago when South of Nowhere first aired in 2005 I remember so badly wanting to talk to anyone about my love for Spencer and Ashley (Shipping name: Spashley).  I wasn’t out yet and I had never heard of anyone else mentioning the show so I just kept everything to myself.  Luckily I was pretty tech obsessed and ended up finding the Spashley message boards online where I would sift through posts finding obsessed girls like me as well as the confused and scared.  Message boards, the original Tumblrs without the breadth of personalization, gifs, audio, video, and well… pretty much everything.  But it’s all we had and I know how much they helped me discover myself and share parts of me with strangers who felt similarly.

Fandoms of the Queer persuasion also know how frustrating it is to be a devoted shipper, as the relationships we crave are more often than not destroyed and/or ruined in the least favorable of ways.  Yes I’m sure we’re aware that not all of our beloved relationships can go exactly as we’d like, but can we have just one that works out, gets adequate story time, and avoids making generalizations or upholding stereotypes?!  Networks, I do applaud you though for the strides you’ve made and keep making i.e. The Fosters and maybe Grey’s Anatomy?  Calzona of Grey’s Anatomy is one of the few relationships I’m not familiar with because I haven’t watched the show since season 1 aired 100 years ago.  However, you better believe I’ve seen the gifs and quotes from the couple on Tumblr so basically I know them.  I’m glad we can be here for each other in our times of need.

At the end of the day I’m never truly embarrassed or sad that some of my most significant sources of joy come from those awesome users that run fandom Tumblrs like a well-oiled machine.  You can always count on them for gifs generated literally 2mins after an episode airs (seriously how the hell do you guys do that?), questions answered, theories proposed, and overall companionship.  This only becomes a potential social misstep if you lose the ability to keep a grasp on reality and the real life relationships that you should be cultivating. That’s not an issue for me at all but it would be nice to have that close “lezbro” who gets unnecessarily excited when your favorite queer characters look at each other in that way.  I’m sure that lezbro (or maybe even girlfriend) will come along someday so until then I will unabashedly continue to dive deep in the waves of queer shippers and fandoms.