As promised, here’s the second post where I wanted to discuss Memorial Day. Again, this is a day meant to pay tribute to those who died in service of the United States Armed Forces. If you’ve paid your own tasteful tribute today, even if it’s as simple as offering condolences or planting an American flag on a military member’s grave, good for you… for you understand the gravity of this solemn day.
As I noted in my previous blog post, I’m skipping participating in the Crazylegs Classic today, mentally recuperating from a very grueling work week. However…
At least I did take the time to do a little something for me. Friday night, I got out of the house, hit the town, and considered a significant event that occurred way back in the past. June 28, 1969, to be exact.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the famous Stonewall riots in New York City. As they occurred during an era of social upheaval in the United States (the late 1960s), they are widely considered to be the catalyst of the gay liberation movement and the modern-day fight for LGBT rights and freedoms.
With the golden jubilee of Stonewall upon us, the Madison-based LGBT theater group Stage Q commissioned an original play that reenacts that important night in history. The result was RAID! Attack on Stonewall, which ends a 7-performances-over-2-weekends run at the Bartell Theatre this afternoon. Continue reading
A couple of thoughts that surfaced to the top of my mind the day after an important spring election. Well, it was important here in Madison, and I’ll bring up why in a second. If you had spring general elections where you lived, know that it was important for your locale as well, and that you exercised your right to vote.
Perhaps the most noteworthy election occurred in the city of Chicago, which in Lori Lightfoot will see only its second female mayor, not to mention its third African-American mayor. (That her opponent was also black and female made it an historic campaign.) Lightfoot is also gay, and will become Chicago’s first openly LGBT mayor.
Lori Lightfoot’s victory is certainly noteworthy and historic in Chicago, certainly perking the spirits of her supporters and some optimism within the city’s LGBT community. But here in Madison, we had our own significant election this week, involving the person pictured to your right. Satya Rhodes-Conway has called Madison home for 20 years. She served on Madison’s City Council for 6 years and had been working with a UW—Madison-based think tank when she decided to run for the office of Mayor of the City of Madison.
Satya was among 6 candidates for mayor and placed in the top two when the first round of the election was held in February. The other person who advanced to this week’s election is perhaps best known by this moniker: “Mayor for Life.” No, don’t take that literally, but he did spend 22 years over 3 tenures as mayor that covered parts of five decades. That and the fact that his viewpoints and fighting spirit matched that of most of the citizenry (progressive, radical) gave one the sense that he could be mayor for as long as he lived on this earth.
Today (March 31) is the International Transgender Day of Visibility. This is the tenth anniversary of this day, which is intended to highlight trans people of all stripes worldwide, as well as the accomplishments we’ve made and the difficulties we still face.
For sure, it’s good that in recent years the trans community has made so many positive advancements. As well, it’s great to see positive representations of our community (the TV series Pose, for one). These have helped foster a much-needed acceptance of us by those in the cis-gender community.
But for all our personal and collective gains, modest or otherwise, there have been equal amounts of disgust backlash toward us, especially from the extreme portions of the politically and culturally conservative corners. Just one example is the “mission” of You Know Who and his cronies to prevent trans service members from serving openly in the United States Armed Forces.
It’s anti-trans attitudes like these that still makes the need for cis-gender allies all the more greater. The activist Miss Major said it best in a Twitter video that went viral this week, stating that those who care for our community are “the people who need to become more visible.” In other words, we need allies to stand up and tell the dismissive world that we’re not the pariahs the closed-minded think we are.
The following poem is inspired by TDOV; the anti-trans attitudes that sadly still linger; the need for cis-gender allies to come out from their closets, so to speak, and stand up for us; and to a lesser extent, the news this week that there will be no LGBT+ pride parade here in Madison this summer. Again, we’re not evil or deviant. It’s just that the rest of the world still needs to recognize that and stand to our defense.
I still need to take this stand
And remind you of who I am
I’m not what that certificate says I am
But I am still more than that
I can do so many things
Build buildings, fly planes
Or put out flames
Even run a mile in 10 minutes flat
I can be a pilot or a poet
For too long, I’ve been flat on my face
But I getting back into the race
With the help of allies who’ll be my friends
I can stand and deliver
I can serve and protect
I can fight to defend your freedoms
But Lord knows that I’m in need of them
We are one nation, indivisible
But I can’t be invisible
I’m human, can’t you see?
Why can’t you and others get get past my identity?
You only want an explanation
As to my gender identification
Why such the rush?
Does it matter to you where I flush?
I may be a guy or girl
Or somewhere in the middle
My identity shouldn’t be a riddle
Really, why can’t you see that?
I don’t blame the doctors who had to write down
That I was only one gender
The day into this world I entered
But since then, I know I don’t define as that
There’s no need for examination
I live my life not as a fabrication
I don’t need your interrogation
So put away your spotlight
Help me make this stand
Please take my hand
And let’s tell this land
That for trans rights, we must fight
Don’t wish us into a cornfield
Or put barricades before us
Be our allies, and forward let’s thrust
Across this great, yet still terrifying, land
Let’s have vision of persistence
Against those who still deny and resist us
Remind them that we’re not just trans, but also human
And always and forever part of our Maker’s plan
So, please take my hand
And together, you and I
We’ll make this stand
Time to fire up that recognizable theme music and… oh, wait, this isn’t supposed to be about Felix Unger disdainfully looking at his roommate’s pig sty of an apartment? Okay then, sorry. [sound of record needle scratching] Yeah, this is about last weekend’s big event, the 91st Academy Awards. And, yes, I’m late to the “pile on the Oscars” party. In my defense, I’m still trying to shake off a very long, grueling, and stressful work week, so please give me some slack.
Anyway, it goes without saying that the Academy Awards are the most scrutinized entertainment awards show on the planet. Even just hearing the word “Oscars” makes a human being consider at least one of three Oscar-related questions: How glamorous were the celebrities on the red carpet? Was the ceremony worth watching? And were the actual Oscar recipients deserving?
In my last post, I sang the praises of newly inaugurated governors here in Wisconsin and next door in Michigan signing executive orders aimed at prohibiting discrimination toward state employees or those they serve based on gender or sexual identity. Both Tony Evers and Gretchen Whitmer were elected governors of their respective states last November, when a nice “blue” wave washed across much of the United States. And their pro-LGBT orders were a nice start to 2019. But they weren’t the only ones to make such an awesome move.
The lady sitting at that desk is another newly elected governor, Laura Kelly of Kansas. Kelly took office this past Monday, and in her own first official act as governor, signed an executive order that reinstated protections for LGBT workers within the executive branch of state government, as well as extend such protections to businesses that have contracts with the state. I say “reinstated” because back in 2007, the governor at that time put into place protections that prohibited harassment, termination of employment, or any form of discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Eight years later a successor governor who was nowhere near as progressive rescinded those orders, claiming it’s the responsibility of Kansas’ legislature to enact any changes.
By now you’ve probably read my previous post where I sang the praises of Angela Ponce, who this week is competing for the title of Miss Universe 2018. You also probably saw the first couple of paragraphs in that post and learned that I don’t get into beauty pageants too much. Yes, I’ll still admit that the sight of lovely looking women parade up and down a stage wile a certain panel of luminaries pass judgment on their beauty and composure, has never been my cup of tea.
Perhaps part of my thinking on that is the likely rules that are laid out in such competitions, and how the members of said judging panel — and, for that matter, the viewing audience who doesn’t have an official say in who wins or is runner-up — interpret them. No two judges or audience members will interpret those rules in the same way, nor do they have in their minds the same form of beauty, talent, and virtuosity that make an “ideal” woman. By comparison, the judges and audience at a drag show may have similar ideas of the “ideal” drag performer, especially if performance is the biggest factor in judgement.
I’ve mentioned on here in the past that I don’t really get into two types of television programming very much: Awards shows and reality television. Not to fault anyone who enjoys said programming, but I’ve never got my kicks watching events where glamour overshadows the rewarding of good accomplishments, nor do I take satisfaction in watching how a likely normal person with good intentions get painted in a vicious light for the want of winning a half-million bucks (uh, thanks, prodding producers?).
One other TV staple, or at least it was when I was younger and my mom and sister commanded what we watched on the TV, is the beauty pageant. Admittedly, a dresser-upper like me would have an inkling to tune in and marvel over the elegant evening dresses and hairstyles the contestants wear on the stage. And, yes, the women on those stages deserved to compete and present their grace and talent. But the then-corniness of the Miss America pageant left me with the impression that it and other similar events were the product of a time when when an older, more conservative, and, let’s face it, mostly male mindset decreed a certain kind of feminine beauty. ([cue old timey music] “I say, ol’ buddy, ol’ pal! Just look at how that pretty little thing struts across that stage. That dame’s the bee’s knees, I tell ya.”)
But rather than go on and on about how beauty pageants feel antiquated (perhaps a topic for another post), let’s use this particular space to highlight one particular beauty pageant figure on the verge of doing something historic.
That, on her official Instagram feed, is Angela Ponce. Yes, she looks photogenic and fashion model-caliber glamorous, which is un modo requerido in beauty pageants such as Miss Universe. Angela has been competing in beauty pageants since at least 2015, when she won the title of Miss World Cadiz. She is the reigning Miss Spain, and is representing her country this week at the Miss Universe 2018 competition in Bangkok, Thailand. Continue reading
I haven’t been on here the past several days, what with trying to earn a living and fighting an achy cold since Thursday. But I’m back to share some lingering stuff related to my last post about the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and more importantly comments by Victoria’s Secret’s chief marketing officer, Ed Razek, expressing that the show has no place for “transsexuals” (his term) or plus-size models on the catwalk (“because the show is a fantasy,” he reasoned).
Well, any hope that Victoria’s Secret and ABC would generate great ratings for the 2018 edition of the fashion show turned out to be a bigger fantasy. Last Sunday’s (December 2) airing of the event registered an all-time low viewership number. And that’s coming off previous all-time lows for viewership in both 2017 and 2016, the last two years the event aired on CBS.
No, this post isn’t about Playboy, though hopefully when you finish reading you’ll understand why I titled this post with that magazine’s former tagline. This is going to be a rant about a recent controversy a certain fashion retailer got into. That company is Victoria’s Secret, the (in)famous designer of lingerie and women’s wear that are nowhere near the dowdy floral gowns its founder frequently found on sales racks. It’s a safe bet that the mall near you has a Victoria’s Secret selling scantily designed undergarments and/or a PINK store selling sleepwear for the college-age set.
Before I get into the controversy in question, take a gander at this photo. (Gentlemen, don’t drool.)
What do you see in that photo? Obviously, you see a multitude of beautiful women. That photo is from last year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Every year since 1995, and every holiday season since 2001, Victoria’s Secret sets up a very glitzy show to showcase and promote its lingerie, sleepwear, or whatever else they’re selling. It’s not a sedate affair for sure: The setting is elaborately designed; the music is live and pulsating; the costumes are extravagant; and the star wattage is high, with A-list stars both strutting the catwalk and providing the music.