Happy Holidays!

As final exams are finishing up, I would like to wish everyone a happy holiday season! I hope you travel home safely and are able to avoid the snow storm coming our way. Enjoy your well-deserved break, and I look forward to seeing everyone next semester.

This blog will be taking a break until the first week of January. After the new year, check back periodically for updates and posts over the break!

Reader's Comments

Earlier this month, I wrote a blog post referencing a NY Times article about a community of "men who consider themselves women" in Mexico who are called Muxes (pronounced moo-shays) and are accepted in their society as a third gender. This blogpost was found offensive to some, and for that I apologize. One person left a great comment about why this was offensive, and what her views are about genderqueer vs. transgender issues. I want to share this with everyone incase you missed the comment on the original post:

So according to the article, Muxes are considered "men who consider themselves women." That, quite literally, indicates that many Muxes are probably transwomen (some might be crossdressers), and also that they are not accepted as women. In other words, it's akin to calling a transwoman a "man in a dress" or calling a transman a "woman with a beard". This is what we call transphobia, or, to use a more specific term, "cissexism": The belief that transpeople have a less 'authentic' or 'real' gender than cispeople.

It's a pattern that seems to emerge mostly in countries or communities with no or little access to medical resources for transpeople: Transwomen don't pass well and (hence) are not accepted as women, and instead get grouped into a "third gender" category. Other comparable instances besides Muxes include Kathoeys in Thailand or Hijras in India; I'm sure there are plenty more. Of course, it is preferable for transwomen, who might otherwise be considered men, to be labeled a third gender. However, this shouldn't mislead us into thinking that what's going on there is anything else than plain cissexism.

To be honest, as an apolitical person, I'm not making it my problem if some communities somewhere don't get trans-acceptance right. However, what I do take issue with is the general pattern that this blog-post seems to be a part of:

People in the genderqueer/genderqueer-allied community seem to be fond of anything that supports the prevalent ('progressive') ideologies that (a) "gender and sex are independent" and (b) "there are more than two genders". Note that both ideologies can be highly threatening to transwomen (and I assume also transmen, but I don't know enough to speak for them). Feel free to talk to me in person for examples of why and where notion (a) can be harmful. Notion (b) can easily cause transpeople to be grouped into some "third-gender" category -- for instance, I suspect that the "male / female / transgender" checkboxes that I've seen on several surveys before are a result of badly-done (= miscommunicated) gender-spectrum advocacy.

This doesn't mean that the ideologies are wrong (well, (a) does need some qalification to be factually correct), but I'm politely asking to please consider the effects on transwomen when you push any of these things. I am not saying here that genderqueer people's interest necessarily conflict with transwomen's interests, but that people in the genderqueer community seem to have a tendency to not be mindful of transpeople's (or maybe just transwomen's) interests. In this particular case, I find it remarkable (and ironic) how a probable instance of transphobia gets relabeled as "transgender acceptance" (in the title), simply because it fits with the prevalent ideologies.

Study Hours at LGBTQ Center!

Finals week is upon us! We would like to offer the LGBTQ Center as an alternative study space since this is the busiest week of the semester in the library. Instead of our usual drop-in hours, here is our schedule for this week:

Monday, 12/15: 4-8pm
Tuesday, 12/16: 4-10pm
Wednesday, 12/17: 5-10pm
Thursday, 12/18: 4-8pm

Good luck to everyone!

"Bottom Monologues" Organizers Seek Men's Narratives

A new play being developed entitled Bottom Monologues will reflect diversity of gay, bi, trans, and queer men's lived experiences as bottoms.

The organizers of The Bottom Monologues invite gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer men to log-on to this website, where they can submit their stories to be used in the production of a groundbreaking play about –you guessed it -- bottoms. In the spirit of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues, The Bottom Monologues will feature provocative and challenging stories from GBTQ men about sex, desire, identity, and the politics of men proudly proclaiming their desire to get fucked.

To bring the play to life, The Bottom Monologues is asking GBQT men from around the world to log-on to and submit their thoughts through an anonymous online questionnaire. "We're hoping to get stories from men who identity as top, bottom, versatile – or not at all. Any queer man who has something to say about bottoms is welcome and wanted,"says one of the project's organizers, Trevor Hoppe. Questions range from the basic ("So… what's a bottom?") to the more complex ("Are tops, bottoms, and versatile guys all that different?"). Guys who log-on can choose to respond to the questions as-is, or step outside the box and develop their own prompts.

The Bottom Monologues began at the recent 2008 Gay Men's Health Summit in Seattle, where the project's three organizers – Alex Garner, Trevor Hoppe, and Erik Libey – met for the first time. In Seattle, Garner organized a reading of the late Eric Rofes' screenplay, Test / Positive / Now, a beautiful collection of stories from gay men who have recently tested HIV-positive. The next day, Hoppe presented his research findings on bottom identity in a session title, "What Makes a Bottom?" During the Q&A, Garner commented that bringing the narratives described in Hoppe's research to the stage would be a much needed public proclamation of bottom desire – a topic typically seen as taboo even for many GBTQ men. With some encouragement from Libey after the summit wrapped, the project was born.

Once the stories are collected, the organizers will sift through the submissions to look for common themes, major differences, and particularly exciting stories. "We're basically going to take a few hundred submissions and distill them into a handful of composite characters," Hoppe says. "In this way, guys who log on and submit their story will have a direct hand in the stories well tell on stage." The deadline for submissions is March 31, 2009. Those interested can log on to the project website for more information about the project and to submit their story.

Organizer bios can be found here.

Yet Another Face of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

(Posted by Eva, '12)
I read an article on 365gay today about Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) and the holidays.  The article discusses an aspect of DADT that isn't usually discussed: queer service members who have partners at home.  Not only are their partners unable to receive resources that the Army provides to opposite sex partners such as counseling and support groups, but also their communication with their partner is limited.  

The article describes one woman in the Navy who was unable to record a holiday message for her partner, even though all of her fellow comrades were.  She couldn't record one for fear of outing herself.  Another woman couldn't call her partner because calls off of Navy ships are monitored.  

While these situations arise all throughout the year, they become even more prevalent and even harder to deal with during the holidays.  Queer service members can't join in conversations about their significant others or if they do, they have to use gender-neutral pronouns or invent an opposite gender partner.  This makes it difficult for them to bond with other service members and create that camaraderie that some people ironically claim will be destroyed by having queer people serve openly in the military.  Just imagine trying to create a close bond with someone - close enough that you would trust them with you life - and not being able to mention the one person that means the most to you.

Point Foundation Offers Higher Education Scholarships for LGBT Students

The Point Foundation, a scholarship-granting organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students of merit, has announced the opening of its 2009 application season.  Students who will be enrolled in undergraduate or graduate programs for the 2009-2010 school year are eligible to apply for the multi-year scholarships.

The scholarship program's selection criteria include academic excellence, leadership skills, community involvement, and financial need.  Particular attention is paid to students who have lost the financial support of their families and/or communities as a result of revealing their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

On average, a Point Scholarship awards $13,200 in direct financial support, in addition to programmatic support in leadership training and mentoring.  The average amount of annual support devoted to each scholar is between $26,000 and $31,000.  Point Scholars agree to maintain a high level of academic performance and to give back to the LGBT community through the completion of an individual community service project each year.  In addition, scholars are matched with mentors from the professional world who lend their expertise and career guidance and serve as role models for scholars.

For further information and application guidelines, visit the foundation's website

**The above was taken directly from an e-mail I received from the Point Foundation.

A Day Without a Gay - One Man's Story

This article gives a personal account of what "A Day Without a Gay" means, and why it's important.

David mostly focuses on same-sex marriage rights, but don't forget about employment non-discrimination and bullying protections that are important as well!

A Day Without a Gay

Today, December 10, has been named "A Day Without a Gay" by many in the queer community. Queer people, and their allies, have been encouraged to go on strike by "calling in gay" - meaning not go to work or school and not contribute anything to the economy for the day. Instead, we should volunteer our time to helping others and our surrounding communities. The goal of this is to raise awareness about the LGBT workers, business owners, consumers, and taxpayers who contribute over $700 billion to the U.S. economy each year, yet are still treated as second class citizens when it comes to legal rights and protections. Being absent from our jobs/classes help to show what would be lost if were not here to begin with, and volunteering for the day helps to show the message is about love, not discrimination.

This day of activism was inspired by the film A Day Without A Mexican and the nationwide strike in 2006 called "A Day Without Immigrants" which were attempts by Latinos and other immigrants for equal rights and employment non-discrimination. December 10 was selected because it is International Human Rights Day.

Word was spread about this day largely via the internet. The official facebook group about it has over 9,000 members, and there have been countless e-mails about it. The official website is www.daywithoutagay.org, and from there you can search or post volunteer opportunities for various geographical areas.

For full disclosure, I must admit that I am at work today. Unfortunately, I heard about "calling in gay" after I had scheduled a couple important meetings for the day. Working on a college campus makes it difficult to rearrange my schedule during the last week of classes. Though, the objective for the day is to raise awareness about the issues presented above, so hopefully this blogpost will do so. And there's always next year...

Vassar is a Desert

(Posted by Nick, '11)
I'm going to admit it: I'm in a romantic rut. I haven't had any substantial hookups this semester, much less any kind of romantic relationship with anyone. I just find the whole concept of going up to some random guy on the dance floor at an event and making out with him, seducing him with my admittedly awkward dance "moves," unappealing. I want to feel EMOTION if I'm making out with someone - I want it to be with someone whom I know has likes and dislikes similar to mine, whom I know something would likely continue with after the first hookup.

Call me old-fashioned, but I want a relationship.

And I seriously chose the wrong school for that. The dating scape at Vassar is like a desert. You wander in it aimlessly for a while, and all of a sudden you get hungry or thirsty. You search and search, and you might find something that satisfies your immediate needs, like a leafy plant or a small iguana, but it doesn't last long. What you're looking for is something that you can find shelter in against the storm of life, something that will provide nourishment for a long time, like the leafy shade and never ending water of an oasis. The problem with Vassar is the oases are few and far between - you're more likely to encounter small lizards lying around.

Add that to the fact that there's a "gay elite" here at Vassar. It's not often talked about, nor is it generally called the "gay elite" but frankly that's what it seems like to me. They travel in a group, always hang out, and are completely undateable. Not to mention if you're not one of their close friends, you'll be lucky if they acknowledge your existence. My belief in the essential goodness and likeability of human beings makes me want to believe they're the cacti in the desert, things you'd rather avoid touching if at all possible, but if you do end up getting close to them and really find out what they are on the inside, they can provide the nourishment you seek. One can dream.

So I've given up on romance at Vassar, at least for the remainder of the semester. The end.

LGBTV - Tonight!

LGBTV Presents the Last Movie of the Semester:
The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love
TONIGHT - Wednesday, December 10
8pm @ LGBTQ Center (CC 235)A sweet story of two high school girls from opposite sides of the tracks who fall in love. Randy works at the gas station and lives with her lesbian aunt and her lover. Evie drives a Range Rover and is one of the most popular girls in school. When they fall in love, all hell breaks loose.

Iowa Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments in Gay Marriage Case

That's right, Iowa might be the next state to legalize gay marriage! Check out the Advocate article here.

Blegen House Update

As promised, I want to use this blog as a way to be transparent about the LGBTQ Center and Blegen House situation.

A decision was made recently that I would like to share with everyone - the LGBTQ Center will not be moving back to Blegen House. This was decided mostly because of the college's financial situation right now. Like most of America, we have been hit hard by this recession, and the college needs to cut back on many of the capital projects that were originally planned. The Blegen House upgrades to make the house wheelchair accessible is just one of those projects that was cut. Also - we have received much positive feedback from students about our current location. Being in the college center has made this a more convenient place for students to visit and attend programs.

So what will happen to the LGBTQ Center? As of now, we will remain where we are indefinitely. This is not a permanent solution for us, since we still have many materials that can not fit in CC 235 (especially our 1700+ book library collection). We will be using storage places accross campus for the time being, and will work towards a more permanent larger space that remains in a central location on campus. (This will probably happen once the bookstore moves out of the college center and many offices get moved around.) We will do our best to continue computer access to our library until we find our permanent location.

What will happen to Blegen House? Blegen House will go back to being a single-family residence for faculty, staff, or administrators of Vassar. Details are still being worked out for how quickly this will happen, but we will most likely be moving all our stuff out of there over winter break.

In general, I think this is great news! Most students seem very happy about our current location, and our attendance at events and the center in general has drastically improved since last year. Feel free to leave comments to let us know what you think about our current location!

Transgender Acceptance in Mexico

I've been hearing about this lately, and wanted to share this article from the NY Times called A Lifestyle Distinct - The Muxe of Mexico.

The “muxes” (pronounced MOO-shays) live in the town of Juchit├ín in the southern state of Oaxaca. They are a community of men who consider themselves women and live in a socially sanctioned netherworld between the two genders.

This is just another example of a third gender recognized in cultures outside of the U.S.

For more pictures of this community, click here.

LGBTV - Tonight!

LGBTV Presents:
The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green
TODAY - Friday, December 5
7pm at the LGBTQ Center (CC 235)

Based on the underground hit comic strip, this hilarious, gay romantic comedy follows the story of Ethan Green, and adorable 26 year old professional 'assistant' looking for love in all the wrong places.

If you are not familiar with the LGBTV series of movies we offer - join the facebook group here!

There's Only Two Types of People in this World...

(Posted by Nick, '11)
The ones that entertain, and the ones that observe.

Or so says Britney Spears, whose performance on Good Morning America I went to see on Tuesday! It. Was. FANTASTIC. TRULY beyond words. It was possibly the defining moment of my life thus far. Sounds silly, I know, but I've loved her music for a loooooooooong time (like since my sister got "Oops... I Did It Again" for her birthday one year) and the energy in the tent (it was appropriately at the Big Apple Circus in Lincoln Center) was out of control! At 7:00am! I know! Crazy!

I won tix last week through her website, in case you were wondering.

But though the performance was astoundingly awesome, that's not what this post is about. What struck me as intriguing was the composition of the crowd. Though there were exceptions to this generalization, the audience was mostly composed of teenage to twenties-age girls/women and gay men. Here at Vassar, it's no secret that Britney is a superstar among those of the homosexual male persuasion. Why?

I mean, sitting about 3 seats down from me were two adorable gay guys - one of them was critiquing Lynne Spears' outfit (Brit's entire fam except Jamie Lynn was there), saying that she looked GREAT. The other responded "WELL she better look good - she gave birth to GOD!"

What is it that makes female pop stars so appealing to gay men? Britney is perhaps the ultimate for my generation - but let's not forget Madonna, Cher, and (dare I say it) the up-and-coming Miley Cyrus. I honestly don't have an answer for this - what are your thoughts??

Personally, the reason I love Britney is her songs are infectious, and she's so widely renowned and famous that I find her star power very appealing and attractive. How 'bout you?

Prop 8 - The Musical

If you have not seen this yet, take a peek. Totally worth 3 minutes of your time!

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Free HIV Testing

FREE HIV Testing
Today - Thursday, December 4
10am-2pm in Baldwin Parking Lot
This test is done with a quick and easy mouth swab - no needles! You will receive the results in about 20 minutes. And did I mention it's FREE?!
Sponsored by Health Services

More AIDS Day Events Tonight!

TODAY - Wednesday, December 3:

Guest Speaker - Randy Baron, MD
5pm at Rose Parlor
Pro-Health and the Office of Health Education are sponsoring this event with Randy Baron, MD who will be sharing his experience of living with HIV.

Film Screening & Discussion - RENT
8pm at the LGBTQ Center (CC 235)
Come see the movie adaptation of the broadway musical about modern Bohemians in the East Village of NYC struggling with life, love, and AIDS.
Co-sponsored by TransMission and the LGBTQ Center

It's that time of year again...

(Posted by Loghann, '10)
With Thanksgiving over we've reached the time of the year when it's actually morally ok to play Christmas music 24/7. If you're anything like me, what this season is really about trying to figure out just how much damage you can do with your credit card buying gifts for friends and family and still make it to January (note to self: not a heck of a lot).

To help me in this consumerist endeavor, the folks over at the HRC annually put together a buyer's guide for shoppers looking to spend their money at companies that treat their LGBTQ employees with fairness. While on the surface this seems an incredibly helpful undertaking, like many things the HRC does, it is lacking when it comes to the "T" part of LGBTQ.

This link is to a blog I regularly read that covers many issues of interest to the queer community. A blogger there recently wrote about trying to find accurate information in the HRC Buyer's Guide regarding trans policies. Check it out!

I am, of course, not saying not to use the Buyer's Guide, there's a lot of helpful stuff in there. However, this is only another instance of the HRC leaving out the "T" in our community.

[Side note from Julie: Keep the above in mind, but here is the 2009 buyers guide if you are interested.]

World AIDS Day Event Today

TODAY - Tuesday, December 2
6pm @ ALANA Center
Film Screening & Discussion: Life Support
A woman of color faced with the challenges of raising her family, educating her community, and living with AIDS.

World AIDS Day!

Today - December 1st - is World AIDS Day. World AIDS Day is the day when individuals and organizations from around the world come together to bring attention to the global AIDS epidemic. 2008 marks the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. We have come a long ways since 1988, but there is still much more to be done.

Join us TODAY for the Vassar World AIDS Day Kick-Off event from 3-7pm in the Villard Room. Here's the run-down of events:

-- Reinstallation ceremony of the Vassar AIDS memorial plaque. (hear from family members of alumni whose names were recently added to our AIDS memorial plaque)
3:30-5pm -- Open mic. // Tabling from relevant student organizations and offices // See the Vassar AIDS quilt on display // Make a square for an AIDS quilt to honor someone you know.
5-7pm -- Panel discussion about the effects of AIDS on the Vassar community and worldwide. Moderated by Eric Marcus '80; Panel members include other alumni, Professor Diane Harriford, and others.

Did I mention there would be free food?? Yummy food.

Check back later for the schedule of AIDS Day events throughout the week.

Wanda Sykes Came Out!

I know this is "old" news by now, but in case you missed it, Wanda Sykes officially came out during an LGBT equality demonstration in Las Vegas on Saturday, November 15. The demonstration was one of many protests following the passing of Prop 8 in California on election night.

Sykes has been rumored to be gay for awhile now, but has not discussed the issue publicly until now. Watch her coming out speech here:

TransAmerica - TONIGHT!

LGBTV Presents...
TONIGHT - Friday, November 21
7pm @ LGBTQ Center (CC 235)
One week before her sex-change operation, Bree receives a call from a 17-year-old identifying himself as her son from a college liaison.  Bree's psychiatrist won't approve the surgery until Bree deals with this relationship, so Bree flies to New York City, bails the youth out of juvenile detention, and offers him a ride back to Los Angeles without disclosing that she is his father.  Both her plans and his go awry, and as secrets will out, what might become a friendship (or more) founders.  The lad's step-father, a sex-change support group, a peyote eater, a Navajo wrangler, and Bree's family all play their parts in this exploration of family, gender, and expectations.

A Spectrum of Possibilities

(Posted by Nick, '11)
Before coming to Vassar my perception of the world was one of general dichotomies.  You were either male or female; white or black; gay or straight.  There were no "in-betweens" allowed.  Of course, I was raised (and still identify as) Catholic, so one could easily see why this was.  Since then, my view of the world has been forever altered.  I no longer take for granted the gender binary perpetuated by heteronormative society.  I recognize that people can identify their gender as truly anything under the sun, and who are we to question it?  We should be more concerned with an individual's comfort in their own skin rather than society's comfort with how they identify.  Just because the majority of the world falls under the male and female labels doesn't mean that we should discriminate against or somehow illegitimize those that identify outside or somewhere in between those labels.  What truly solidified my "new" perception of the world was Dominic's (LGBTQ Center Assistant) presentation last night, "A Place to Call Home."  Topically concerned with being born and living in a state of intersex, it truly opened my eyes to a whole segment of the population (1 in 2000) that did not choose to be intersex, and had no control over how they were born.  How can people be so cruel as to make fun of and discriminate against aspects of a person that they have no control over?  We learned about this in sociology - social "abnormality" no matter if one has control over it, breeds social hatred.  It's an embarrassing truth about humanity - historically, we hate those that are different from us. 
My altered perception of gender also extends to sexuality - I now recognize that one's orientation no longer has to be gay/bisexual/straight.  There's a whole spectrum of sexuality that exists, and for us to discriminate against someone if their sexuality doesn't ascribe to social "norms" goes against the notion that America is the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Committing hate crimes against someone because of their orientation is not a brave act and certainly sends the message that all are not free to express themselves.  Society has a long way to go before universal equality is recognized for all citizens of the United States and the world, but I think if more people come to have a more open mind and see things like gender and sexuality as a spectrum rather than as defined labels, we can take a huge step towards it.

Good News for California!

Court will hear appeal of same-sex marriage measure.

Upcoming Events!

Sorry for the lack of posting on here this week...I ended up getting one of the Vassar sicknesses going around and have been unable to function for the past couple days. Let me do my best to catch you up on some upcoming events though...

Wednesday, November 19
5-6:30pm in Faculty Commons
A Place to Call Home
An exploration of what it means to be intersex in the Vassar community and the world. A journey of breaking down the boundaries of sex, gender, and sexual orientation to find community.
FREE PIZZA and Refreshments!

Thursday, November 20
12-1pm in LGBTQ Center (CC 235)
Fruit Salad! Transgender Panel
A panel of people from the Mid Hudson Valley Transgender Association will share their stories.
Part of our Fruit Salad! series about diversity in the queer community.

QCVC Presents...
Kiss Me and Betray Me: Queer musings on gods, sacred texts, and power
Thursday, November 20
5pm in Rocky 300
Presented by: The Rev. Edgard Francisco Danielsen-Morales, Ph.D.
They say the name of God is sacred, the Scriptures are sacred, and the church is sacred. This truth has been revealed and it is this revelation what supports the three most common arguments in religious debates about social justice: “God says…” “The Bible says…” “The Church says…”

This is what we have heard: to be faithful to God we must receive this revelation with a kiss and embrace it.

Not anymore!

During this event – part lecture, part workshop, and part discussion – the presenter and attendees will engage in a conversation about the calling of queer people in this postmodern era: to kiss and to betray in order to be faithful. It is time to desacralize what has been made sacred.

The attendees will kiss and betray ideas of God, the Bible, and the church. They will do this by exploring the connections between revelation and power, by doing an exercise on queer reading of a Sacred Text, and by engaging in queer god-talk connecting various dimensions of social justice, spirituality, and sexuality.

“To be queer is to desacralize what has been made sacred
for the sake of the powers of this world.”
Marcella Althaus-Reid, Latin American Theologian

Hate Crime in Upstate NY

(Posted by Nick, '11)
New reports are surfacing today that 22-year-old Moses Cannon (known as Latiesha Green) of Syracuse, NY was shot and killed over the weekend because she was living as a transgender woman.

Full story here.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

(Posted by Loghann, '10)
This coming Thursday, November the 20th, is the tenth annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The Day of Remembrance began in 1999 in reaction to the murder of Rita Hester. It became a day to remember all those slain in the year since the last DoR because of their variant gender identity or gender expression. Traditionally, ceremonies are held across the country on this day in which the names of the deceased are read aloud during a candlelight vigil.

This year's list contains names that may be familiar, such as 15 year old Lawrence King, or 18 year old Angie Zapata. Just last Sunday, November 9th, Duanna Johnson was found murdered in Memphis, TN. As it stands now, 23 names will be read aloud at candlelight vigils across the country next week. These are only the people we know about, with only 12 states including gender identity in their hate crime laws.

This is the second year I've been involved in doing some sort of awareness campaign for the Day of Remembrance. It's easy to become numb to hate crime statistics, to not feel anything when you read a name on a list. But these people were real. They laughed, they cried, they loved. I have no idea what Duanna Johnson was doing last Friday night, but now she's gone. Lawrence King was 15 years old when his 14 year old classmate shot him. My brother is 15 and I can't imagine losing him.

Too see the complete list of people who have been murdered in the past year, check out this website: www.transdgenderdor.org . Tune into this blog throughout the week while we profile the personal stories of a select few.

(all information taken from www.transgenderdor.org)

Time For a Harry Potter Geek-Out

(Posted by Nick, '11)

So I'm sooooo fired up right now about HARRY POTTER because they just released the new trailer for the sixth movie today and it looks AMAZING.  Like, as good or better than the 4th one!  Which was my fave!  Also, the sixth book is my fave in the series, so hopefully the movie will live up to my expectations. =)

But what does this have to do with LGBTQ issues??  Lucky for me, Dumbledore is gay!  According to J.K. Rowling that is.  So what does that mean in terms of how we should read Dumbledore from now on when we see the movies or re-read the books?  In my opinion, our view of Dumbledore shouldn't change at all.  His sexuality doesn't play a role in the books - Rowling "outing" Dumbledore is an extratextual occurrence that has no relation to the textual world of the novels.  Dumbledore is a mentor to Harry throughout the series, and there are no scenes where he's suddenly attracted to, say, Hagrid.  It just doesn't happen.

What I do think needs to be taken into account is Rowling's decision that Dumbledore was gay in the first place.  Did she figure this out before or after she wrote the books?  The little we know about Dumbledore's personal life has nothing to do with romance, so she could say anything about it once the series was over.  Regardless, it is saying something when the most powerful and well-known author EVER decides that the mentor to her title character, who also happens to be the most powerful and well-respected wizard in the series, is gay.  What it says is that a person's sexuality, when it comes down to it, is that it isn't as big of a deal as people make it.  That we shouldn't discriminate against people because of who they love, but rather because of the decisions they make in their lives - the acts they do, good or bad.

It's good to know that the producers of the next movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, have taken this stance as well (from BBC NEWS):
"He's a wonderful character, Dumbledore - graceful, wise, powerful, quirky, terrific sense of humour, loves knitting.  There's a jumble of things in there and his sexuality is just another thing."

Filming on the sixth film in the franchise, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, began in September [2007], with Yates again at the helm.  But he said not to expect any changes to the way Dumbledore is portrayed on film.

"Michael Gambon hasn't changed his approach.  A person's sexuality is just one part of who they are, and so it hasn't really shifted where we're taking him."

Wanna see the trailer?  Bask in the awesomeness that is Harry Potter!

Runaway Testimonial

(Posted by Eva, '12)
Here is another story that I wrote based off of a call I received:
I have been living since my grandmother since I was two years old. I am now seventeen. Life at my grandma’s isn’t easy. She’s taken care of seven other kids on no money, there are bills to be paid and we can’t pay them, and I think they are going to start cutting off utilities. So when I heard that my mom was out of jail and had settled down, I decided to go and live with her. I didn’t discuss this with my grandmother, I just decided to go. I used all of the money I had saved to get a bus ticket (my grandmother and my mom live across the country from each other). Things seemed to be going pretty well at my mom’s house. She had married and my step-dad seemed like an ok guy. But then I made the decision to come out to my mom. I had been out back at my grandma’s and wanted to be out here too. My mom seemed to take the news ok and it looked like things were going to work out. But then my step-dad started yelling at me, calling me “fag” and the like. I could deal with the verbal abuse, but when he started to hit me I had to leave. I lived on the streets for over a week. I couldn’t go back to my mom’s house because my step-dad was there and I didn’t have any money to get back to my grandma’s. I finally ended up in a Greyhound station where I saw a poster for the National Runaway Switchboard. I called 1-800-RUNAWAY and after talking with them they helped me get a free ticket back to my grandma’s house. I learned something from running away: even if life at my grandmother’s is hard, at least she loves and accepts me and at least it is a place where I feel safe.

CT Gay Marriages Began Today!

In the wake of the devastation of Prop 8 passing in California, and the other anti-gay amendments passing in AZ, AR, and FL - today marks a landmark day for same-sex couples who are now able to legally wed in Connecticut. The first couple to get married in New Haven, CT this morning was Barbara and Robin Levine-Ritterman, one of the eight couples involved with the lawsuit against Connecticut for prohibiting gay marriage.

Other good news about the new Connecticut law is that on election day, Connecticut voters rejected the idea of a constitutional convention to amend the state's constitution -- which means no chance of a Prop 8-esque reversal of this gay marriage right.

Read the full CNN article here!

QTalk: Reader's Edition

In response to our periodic QTalk articles about the coming out experience, an anonymous reader has sent in the following to share:

(Posted by anonymous)
My mother is a great woman.

She works hard to take care of her family and friends, often going without so that her children can enjoy small pleasures. She is fiercely intelligent with an acerbic wit and easy outgoingness that I have envied much of my life. For many years she has been my closest ally in nearly everything I do and has never let me look too hard at my shortcomings or dwell too long on my failures. I could ask for no better parent.

I’m afraid to tell her that I’m queer.

Do I think she would disown me? No. Would she cut off communication, financial support, emotional stability? I don’t think so (but it’s the think that makes it so unbearable). She would simply be so terribly sad, I would hurt her beyond what I know she can handle. And I don’t want to do that. So I’m stuck, dropping hints at every turn because I can’t stand secrets, yet completely unwilling and unable to just come clean. I am fully aware that because of the nature of our relationship, the truth will come out at some point, and I dread that day.

I want to be honest. Sometimes I feel filthy when I get off of the phone with her because I could have just spit it out right there. I’ll make an excuse in my head, coming out over the phone is no way to do it, right? Right. So I’m ok. I’m ok.

This narrative reads like protection, like I’m wrapping up something sharp so she doesn’t get hurt. At what point do I have to trust that she’s an adult and can take care of herself? Where do selfishness and fear end and genuine care and concern begin? I don’t know. I wish I did.

Runaway Love

(Posted by Eva, '12)
The Ludachris Foundation created a partnership with the National Runaway Switchboard (NRS) when Ludachris decided to write the song “Runaway Love.” He not only turned to the NRS for advice when creating the song, but also included NRS in the music video and mentioned our 1-800-RUNAWAY number during televised award shows. Here is Ludachris’s video:

Queer Movie Options - Wednesday 11/12

There are two queer movies being shown tomorrow, Wednesday, November 12:

8:00pm at the LGBTQ Center (CC 235)
Part of a series of movies for those who self-identify as queer women or find a place within that community. All are welcome!
Sultry crime boss Lucy Diamond is back in the states and the D.E.B.S. - an elite team of paramilitary college co-ed superspies - are hot on her trail. But when their top agent, gorgeous Amy Bradshaw, mysteriously disappears after coming face to face with the attractive young villainess, the D.E.B.S. begin a full-scale search for Lucy's secret lair, never suspecting that Amy may not want to be rescued after all, in this smart and sexy spy spoof.

German Film Series
7:30pm at Chicago Hall German Lounge

Manner Wie Wir
Ecki is a young man who works in a bakery in Dortmund and plays soccer on his local team. Already under pressure for playing badly, his homophobic team members find out that he is gay and throw him off the team. With the help of his sister and a cranky former soccer star, he tries to form an all-gay soccer squad to challenge his old team in a grudge match. Ecki's journey toward self-realization is filled with surprises, as he encounters a wide array of characters.

Keith Olbermann's Views about Prop 8

This is a bit long, but if you have 6 minutes or so, check out this commentary from Keith Olbermann about California's Proposition 8, and gay marriage in general:

P.S. Rachel Maddow is on the cover of the most recent Advocate magazine! Check out the cover story here.

National Runaway Switchboard

(Posted by Eva, '12)
Here is a little more about the National Runaway Switchboard and the services we offer.

Transgender Mayor Elected in Silverton, OR

(Posted by guest blogger Megan Habermann, Assistant Director for Campus Activities)
As a native Oregonian I am pleased to announce to the Vassar community that one of our small towns has elected the first openly transgender mayor!

Silverton, OR with a population of less than 10,000 has elected Stu Rasmussen, a 60-year-old self identified heterosexual male, who has had breast implant surgery and lives his daily life dressed as a woman. Rasmussen is a life long resident of the rural community, and won based on his platforms to keep Silverton small (for reference one of their main issues was traffic lights).

I grew up approximately 40 minutes from Silverton in Oregon City, and my only memories of the town were going there for football play-offs, and being killed by their farm boys. My mom teaches about halfway from our home and Silverton in a community where their student body president was sent death threats for being a young, gay, black man. I am the first to profile anything south of my town as being “hick” and “backwards” because incidents of hate were not uncommon. It brings me a special joy to say that I am now wrong about Silverton.

Oregon still has a long way to go on LGBTQ rights, but this is definitely a step in the right direction. I’m glad Stu is a proud resident of Silverton, and wasn’t chased out to SE Portland once he came out.

Transgendered mayor

Check out related articles here and here!

Gay Marriage IS a threat to heterosexuals!

According to this article, a straight couple in California is refusing to register their marriage with the state because of the new gender-neutral license and marriage forms. Instead of referring to the couple as "Bride" and "Groom," these new forms refer to them as "Party A" and "Party B." This language was meant to be inclusive of the same-sex couples who were able to get legally married after the state supreme court verdict in May 2008. However, Rachel Bird and Gideon Codding are personally offended by these forms and will not sign them until they read "Bride" and "Groom" again.

Without registering their marriage with the state, Bird cannot sign up for Codding's medical benefits, or legally take his name. Hmm...sounds like some problems that same-sex couples have faced for some time now huh?

Check out a blog called Gay in Public for more commentary about this article. "Gay in Public" is run by Vassar grad Geoff Wertime, '06. It is a general queer issue blog, but many posts are focused on issues pertaining to New York City and/or the Poughkeepsie area.

The Danish Girl

Nicole Kidman just signed on to play Einar Wegener, the world's first post-op transsexual, in the film The Danish Girl. This movie will be a true story adaptation of the first post-op transsexual and her marriage to Greta Wegener, who will be played by Charlize Theron.

Einar and Greta Wegener were Danish artists whose marriage took a dramatic turn after Einar (Kidman) stood in for an female model that Greta (Theron) was set to paint. When their portraits become wildly popular in 1920s Copenhagen, Greta encouraged her husband to adopt the female guise. What began as a harmless game led Einer to a metamorphosis and landmark 1931 operation that shocked the world and threatened their love.

Pre-production has begun on this film, but no date has been set for its release yet.

Runaway Testimonial

(Posted by Eva, '12)
In my time spent at the National Runaway Switchboard, there are some calls that I will never forget. This is one of them. (Note: This is based on fact, but I put it into my own words. Also, because calls are anonymous and confidential, no identifying information has been added.)

I have nowhere to go, no one to turn to. I’m a 16-year-old guy who has run away from his home. My home doesn’t even seem like home to me. We just moved here, to this small town because my mom wanted us to get a house out of the city. But all of my friends are back in the city. I haven’t been able to make any new ones here. I really haven’t had much time at all. My mom works nights and sleeps during the day so it is up to me to take care of my 6 year old brother and 7 year old sister. I get them up in the morning, I make them breakfast, lunch and dinner, I help them with their homework, I put them to bed. I spend so much time taking care of them that I barely have any time for myself. My grades at school have been slipping because of that. My mom isn’t too happy about that. She actually grounded me so that I can’t talk to my friends back in Houston. I feel so alone. What makes it worse is that, being grounded, I can’t even call my boyfriend. I miss him so much. He’s helped me so much. I wasn’t doing to well back in the city. Twice I tried to kill myself, once by starving myself and once by trying to overdose. My mom knows about the starving, but she doesn’t know about the ODing. She doesn’t care anyways. I try to talk to her sometimes but she never listens. She’s always too busy and she’s never around. She could really care less about me. Except when she gets mad at me that is. She’s hit me before. One time she slammed me into the wall so many times that I started coughing up blood. That was the first time that I ran away, but I ended up going back home so that I wouldn’t miss school. I actually cough up blood fairly often. One doctor said that it might be stress related, but my mom refuses to take me to get tests done. My mom knows that I’m gay. When I came out she said that she was ok with it, but when she gets mad at me she says “I wish I didn’t have a son like you” and I know that is what she’s talking about.

But now I’ve run away for the second time. I ran because my mom was hitting me again. But I’m stuck in this stupid town with no way out. I have no one here who I feel comfortable talking to. No one. I tried calling some friends back in the city to see if they could come and get me but they didn’t pick up and I’m out of quarters now. I have no money, no where to go, no one to turn to. The only reason I would go back would be for my little brother and sister. Even though they are a lot of work I really love them and I know that they wouldn’t understand if I didn’t come back.

I guess I will go back, but I’m going to have money and clothes ready incase my mom starts to hit me again. That way I can try calling my friends again and get out of there.

Queer Streets

QCVC Presents....
Queer Streets Screening
Tuesday, November 11
7pm @ Rocky 300

Queer Streets is an in-depth documentary about LGBT homeless youth and Sylvia's Place, which is a queer homeless youth shelter in New York City. Kate Barnhart (picture on right), the director of Sylvia's Place will be here for the screening, and to answer any questions afterwards.

Think Before You Speak

(Posted by Nick, '11)

GLSEN and Ad Council have teamed up for a campaign against using "gay" as a derogatory word. I think this is a great way to get out the word - not only are there celebrities in the commercials telling you how NOT to use the word "gay," but they're doing it in situations that could REALLY happen, and probably have happened to the vast majority of us. The ads, then, are sort of instructional videos as to how you can handle said situations.

This campaign aims to raise awareness about the prevalence and consequences of anti-LGBT bias and behavior in American schools. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce and prevent the use of homophobic language in an effort to create a more positive environment for LGBT teens. The campaign also aims to reach adults; their support of this message is crucial to the success of efforts to change behavior. You can check out the official website of the campaign, along with other "instructional" videos.

Also, keep an eye out around campus - the LGBTQ Center will be actively supporting the Think Before You Speak campaign!

ACT OUT! Big Action

SAVE THE DATE: Friday, November 21
Marriage Equality Rally in New York City

Marriage Equality Rally Interest Meetings:
Come to one of the following meetings to learn about how you can help bring marriage equality to New York State. Allies welcome and encouraged!!

Monday, November 10
9pm at LGBTQ Center


Wednesday, November 12
9pm at Rocky 300

Also check out the ACT OUT! blog

If I were a drag queen my named would be Jade DeLady

(posted by guest blogger Megan Habermann, Assistant Director for Campus Activities)
I went to my first full on drag show when I was in college. I had a date with me, that I’m surprised didn’t leave me for Poison Waters, because she was out to steal my man. I had seen snippets of drag shows before, and plenty of drag queens in various gay pride parades that I went to throughout my life, but the show was still like nothing I had ever seen. There’s just something about a drag show, the lights, the dresses, the legs that I only dream of achieving on the elliptical machine. It’s magical like Disney, but with way more inappropriate jokes.

I was pleased to discover in my first year at Vassar in the Campus Activities Office that QCVC did a drag show. I was even more excited to find out that it was a pageant (one of my guiltiest pleasures), and that students participated. I was prepared to be wowed.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the sheer popularity of the event. The event organizer (LGBTQ Center intern Rasheed Gonga) wasn’t either. And the past two years the event has beyond packed the house. Each year we look at each other with shock and glee and are startled by the sheer volume of it. It’s amazing, the outpouring of support from students, the fighting for seats, and the production of it all. With extremely limited resources, QCVC creates an amazing show every year that impresses those of us that think they can no longer be impressed.

This has been one of my favorite (shh don’t tell) events to watch grow throughout my three years here. I can’t wait to see what they have up their long satin gloves this year. I would have loved to see something like this at my school; Vassar students are extremely lucky to have such a great event each year. I hope you can find a seat this Spring!

Coffee Hour Returns!

Tomorrow - Friday, November 7th - The LGBTQ Center will be hosting our first Coffee Hour of the year. Stop by the LGBTQ Center (CC 235) from 4:30-6:00pm to enjoy a cup of coffee, snacks, and great company! We will also be showcasing the music of Tegan & Sara.

Check out this interview with Tegan & Sara where they talk about being sisters and being gay.

And click here and here for some of their most recent music videos too.

M.E.Ch.A. Conference Event

M.E.Ch.A. (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlan), the Vassar student organization that focuses on Chicano, Mexican, Mexican-American, and Native American issues is holding a conference on campus this weekend. As part of this conference there will be an event about Latina Lesbians and anyone is welcome to attend. Here are the details:

Friday, November 7

5:30pm at the ALANA Center

A Reading from Sinister Wisdom #74: Latina Lesbians by Juanita Ramos & Students, Faculty,& Others

Juanita Diaz-Cotto, Ph.D. was born in Puerto Rico and raised between Puerto Rico and New York City. Active in human rights struggles for over thirty years - including those of women, lesbians, and gays, prisoners, and people of color inside and outside the U.S. - she considers herself very much both an activist and an academic.

Dr. Diaz-Cotto is author of CHICANA LIVES AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Voices from El Barrio (2006), GENDER, ETHNICITY, AND THE STATE: Latina and Latino Prison Politics (1996), and the editor, under the pseudonym of Juanita Ramos, of COMPANERAS: Latina Lesbians (An Anthology), Lesbianas latinoamericanas (3rd edition, 2004) and SINISTER WISDOM 74: Latina Lesbians (2008).
Dr. Diaz-Cotto is a Professor of sociology, women's studies, and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the State University of New York at Binghamton. She has given lectures and presentations in Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, South Africa, and over 40 cities in the U.S.

Her lectures and presentations have covered a wide range of issues including: criminal justice/prisons; Latinas/os and women of color in the U.S.; women in Latin America; Latin American feminisms; race and ethnicity; gender, sexuality, and heterosexism; class and income inequalities; oral history and ethnographic research; community organizing.

**For more information on this event, and the rest of the M.E.Ch.A. conference, e-mail Mikey Velarde at mivelarde@vasssar.edu.

The Face of Ignorance

(Posted by Nick, '11)
Bob Knoke, of Mission Viejo, Amanda Stanfield, of Monrovia, Jim Domen, of Yorba Linda, and J.D. Gaddis, of Yorba Linda, celebrate returns heralding the approval of Proposition 8 in California, the ban on same-sex marriage.

**Side note - CNN has still not officially called Prop 8, but 98% of precincts have been reported and it is still leaning towards passing.