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Archive for the ‘Gender and Sexuality’ Category

DOMA Down, Queers Up


by: Donna Schaper on June 26th, 2013 | 1 Comment »

The Supreme Court has done us a big favor. In supporting gay marriage, it has encouraged the larger movement for human rights for gay people to deepen and to spread.

I won’t pop the cork on the champagne or say alleluia just yet. I want to get through the night in Greenwich Village and hope that the haters will not come out in too much force. Their hate now has nowhere to go but its final destination, of destroying that which they can’t abide. Once again, I am reminded how important it is to stop hate speech the second it starts. Otherwise it has nowhere to go but violence against the thing it hates, which has to be eliminated, according to the self-imprisonment created by hate.

It is going to be a scary night in the village, as have been many of the previous ones. We are going to do something small to stop it with dozens of other village churches. The Rainbow Sanctuary sticker will go on our door, saying quietly and firmly, this place is a safe space. It is a rainbow sanctuary at a time when the rainbows do need sanctuary. We do so on behalf of our sacred texts and equally sacred conversations.


Why Pinkwashing Matters


by: Max Coleman on June 21st, 2013 | 7 Comments »

(Crossposted from Jewish Voice for Peace)

Last night, Jewish Voice for Peace hosted an online workshop entitled “Why Pinkwashing Matters.” The event was hosted by Wendy Elisheva Somerson and Tallie Ben Daniel, both experts on the subject. Somerson has written about pinkwashing for outlets like Tikkun and Bitch Magazine, while Ben Daniel is a Ph.D. candidate whose dissertation – Branding Israel – is currently in the works.

Pinkwashing, Ben Daniel explained, is a propaganda effort that attempts to brand Israel as a “safe space for gay people.” At first glance, this may strike us as unproblematic. After all, Tel Aviv has often been called the gay capital of the world, and the country as a whole has widely publicized its Pride events and queer-friendly practices, such as the inclusion of gay soldiers in the IDF. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, which asked “Should society accept homosexuality?” Israel’s support was the highest in the Middle East.

But the discourse of safety that Israel employs requires painting other countries as patently unsafe. What this means, in short, is demonizing Palestinians. Throughout the Middle East – and especially in the United States – Israel is portrayed as a gay oasis in a desert of Arab intolerance.


Reflections on the Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre


by: Andrew Lam on June 4th, 2013 | Comments Off


There came a startling moment when everything shifted. A man carrying two plastic bags, one in each hand, stood directly in the path of a column of armored tanks, effectively preventing them from proceeding down the avenue toward Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

The day before, on June 4, 1989, hundreds of pro-democracy students and workers had been gunned down in and near the square. The image of “Tank Man,” as he’s now called, stays indelibly in the mind. Some have said his name is Wang Weilin, a 19-year-old student, whereabouts unknown. There is speculation that he either was executed or is living in exile in Taiwan. Whoever he is, wherever he is now, dead or alive, it is certain that for a brief moment he managed to stop the machines with just his body. This unknown rebel, unarmed, stood up against the awesome power of the state and, as the world watched, gained something priceless in return: He liberated his body from the collective, from being subservient to the ideological machine, and opened the floodgates to a next world.

Although direct political confrontation failed, a new sideways rebellion began in the cultural and economic sphere, one that has succeeded. If Mao launched the cultural revolution in 1966 to be rid of “liberal bourgeois” and to continue the revolutionary class struggle, the bourgeois liberals have struck back. The real cultural revolution, stoked by individual desires and ambitions, is happening now. “The level of societal openness and individual freedom now enjoyed by the people in China was unthinkable to the protesters at the Tiananmen Square,” says Ling-chi Wang, professor emeritus of Asian American Studies at Berkeley.


‘Undocuqueers’ at Crossroads Over Immigration, Gay Rights


by: Valeria Fernández on May 22nd, 2013 | 1 Comment »

(Cross-posted from New America Media)

Daniel Rodriguez has been a part of the immigrant rights movement for as long as he can remember. He is gay, 27 and a law school student who hopes to become an immigration attorney one day.

Rodriguez has no doubt that LGBT rights should be part of comprehensive immigration reform. But these days he finds himself in an uncomfortable position.

“This is one of those times in which our community has to sacrifice something to have a win,” said Rodriguez.

In the coming days, the Senate could consider an amendment to the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill that would allow U.S. citizens to sponsor their same-sex partners to get a green card.


To the Religious Right Trashing Jason Collins: He Was Born Gay. You Were Taught to Hate.


by: on April 29th, 2013 | 4 Comments »

Jason Collins today became the first active NBA player to reveal his gay identity in the league’s history. And he did so on the pages of Sports Illustrated with the grace and stoicism befitting an accidental activist, which indeed is what Collins has become: a brave activist determined to combat the homophobia and hatred rife in American sports.

Not because he set out for this to be his mission. But because nobody else has done so.

I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.

I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, “I’m different.” If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.


Muslim Women Don’t Need To Be Rescued


by: on April 10th, 2013 | 23 Comments »

Courtesy: Huffington Post UK

It seems that controversy over the hijab – the Islamic tradition of covering a woman’s hair and body – will not die down anytime soon. Governments such as France and Germany seem to be dead set against it, while theocracies such as Saudi Arabia go the other extreme by forcing women to cover. But ask the average Muslim woman, and she will probably wonder what the fuss is all about. Since when is dress a political statement, even a weapon? FEMEN – a feminist Ukrainian protest group – seems to think it is, and is up in arms over the hijab, declaring April 4 as International Topless Jihad Day. What FEMEN activists perhaps did not expect was that Muslim women who wear the hijab are a tad possessive about their right to wear it, and don’t take lightly to a declaration of jihad (Arabic for struggle) against it.


Retelling the Story of Marriage and Families


by: on March 27th, 2013 | 1 Comment »

Marriage equality is an emerging story useful to both same sex and the “one man/one woman” kind of marriage. It is even helpful to families who are single parented. By story I mean the tale we tell ourselves about ourselves. The big word for it is narrative – and what the nation is missing right now is a narrator in chief about gender. Without a commanding narrative about what it means to have a gender, we are each and all lost in the woods of personal confusion, which results in national confusion, which results in many long dark nights of the soul, for those with any kind of sexual equipment. Marriage equality is helping, not hurting, this gender confusion. It helps by allowing for experiments it what it means to be married, what it means to be a person with a gender, and what it means to cling to each other, in the world beyond consumerism. We promise richer/poorer; better/worse; sickness and in health when we get married. Our word is our word here. Multiple attention dissolves into singular attention, the kind we want from a lover. We stop “shopping” and start living.


Muslim Women’s History Month: Spotlight on Afghani Women


by: on March 25th, 2013 | 4 Comments »

Perhaps no other country of the world has received so much censure about its treatment of women in recent years than Afghanistan. First the cold war, then the civil war, then the oppressive rule of the Taliban, and finally the American war on terror – Afghanistan’s female population has been continually left in poverty, danger, and tragedy as long as memory serves. In recent years, however, with the help of American troops in some cases, and as a result of more education and awareness in others, Afghani women have made great strides in their standard of living, from serving in the police force to hopefuls in politics, and it looks like their luck may finally be changing.


Yari Yari Ntoaso: An Upcoming Conference for African Women Writers


by: on March 12th, 2013 | Comments Off

Members of the Organization of Women Writers of Africa Inc's Board of Directors. Credit: OWWA.

As International Women’s Day celebrations continue, the Organization of Women Writers of Africa Inc (OWWA) seeks to bring Black women writers to Ghana. Yari Yari Ntoaso: Continuing the Dialogue is the theme of OWWA’s conference scheduled to be held in Accra on May 16-19. The word yari, from the Kuranko language of Sierra Leone means future while ntoaso from the Akan language of Ghana translates as understanding and agreement. According to Conference Director, Brooklyn College Assistant Professor and poet, Rosamond King, “this Yari Yari will extend the dialogue of the first two Yari Yaris, which put hundreds of women writers and scholars in discussion with thousands of people”.

As stated on their website, OWWA is a nonprofit literary organization concerned with the development and advancement of literature of women writers from Africa and its Diaspora. It is associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information In 1991, the legendary activist-poet Jayne Cortez together with Ghanaian writer Ama Ata Aidoo founded OWWA. The Founding Board members of the organization are: J.e Franklin, Cheryll Y. Greene, Rashidah Ismaili, Renee Larrier and Louise Meriwether.


Muslim Women’s History Month: Spotlight on Noor Inayat Khan


by: on March 8th, 2013 | 12 Comments »

As a woman, I welcome the month of March – Women’s History Month – each year as an opportunity to pay tribute to women who have made significant contributions to our world. As a Muslim woman, I also look forward to this month as a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions Muslim women have made to the sciences, literature, honorable struggles such as the French Resistance, and so much more. During a time when women in Islam are viewed as dependent, covered up, and oppressed, I look forward to the narratives of strong, independent, and intelligent Muslim women of the past as a much-needed boost to the generally negative and (incorrectly) chauvinistic paintbrush that Islam has been painted with over the last few centuries. This month I will write a series of posts about several little-known Muslim women from whom I personally am honored to learn, and who can demonstrate what Islam really offers to women in terms of freedom, creativity, and authority.

My first historical profile is someone from the recent past. Noor Inayat Khan (1914 – 1944) was an Indian Muslim descended from Tipu Sultan, but more importantly the first female radio operator sent from Britain into occupied France to aid the French Resistance. Interested in music, poetry and writing from a young age, Noor decided to set aside her pacifist Sufi upbringing and participate in the war in order to help change Western perceptions about Indians and Muslims. According to Ayahs, Lascars and Princes: The Story of Indians in Britain 1700-1947, she once said: “I wish some Indians would win high military distinction in this war. If one or two could do something in the Allied service which was very brave and which everybody admired it would help to make a bridge between the English people and the Indians.”