Perhaps you’ve heard of some big news that occurred this week, big because it involved, even peripherally, a world of very popular literature — the world of Harry Potter. That world was the creation of one J.K. Rowling. Earlier this week, Ms. Rowling went to Twitter and stood up for someone whose fellowship with the Center for Global Development was not renewed, this after the fellow made statements dismissive of a proposed U.K. law that would allow trans people to self-identify their gender and not have one gender or another imposed on them. The ex-fellow claimed earlier this year that to mis-gender someone is akin to a religious or philosophical belief. But this week a British employment tribunal denied that argument and denied the fellow’s request to have her fellowship reinstated.
There were a couple of items from the week’s news that I want to share with you today. I’ll share one of them in my next post, but I want to here share a tidbit that piqued my interest thanks to an interview that aired this morning on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday. The talk was with the person you see to your right, Anita Noelle Green of Clackamas, Oregon. Anita has competed in several beauty pageant events, and currently holds the title of Miss Earth Elite Oregon. Anita also happens to be an openly trans woman, a fact that is currently preventing her entry in the Oregon preliminaries for the Miss United States of America pageant. The Miss Oregon event’s director, when returning to Anita the application and $195 entry fee she submitted earlier this year, noted that since Anita is not a “natural born female,” they cannot permit her to participate.
I must stop right here for a moment and note a couple of things: First, to alleviate any misconception all y’all may have, Anita’s issue is with the Miss United States of America pageant system, which is not related to the Miss USA pageant, which is part of the Miss Universe system and is a totally separate organization. (Yeah, with pageant names so similar to each other, you need a scorecard to help differentiate them.) And speaking of Miss USA and Miss Universe, it must also be noted that Anita Green was once part of that particular pageant tree: When she resided in Montana, Anita was a contestant for the title of Miss Montana USA 2017; she was at the time the third trans contestant in the Miss Universe organization’s history.
While tumbling through the internet rabbit hole to write up my last post, I came across this photograph:
The photo, rainbow border and all, was posted on the Student Life section of New York University’s website. The photo was taken by the late Fred McDarrah, who was a writer and also a longtime photographer for The Village Voice. Among his many assignments was the photographing of the Stonewall Riots, their immediate aftermath, and many LGBT-related marches and celebrations after that.
The date of this particular photo is significant: Sunday, July 27, 1969. Yes, 50 years ago yesterday. Many people may think that all there was of the Stonewall uprising was what happened in June of 1969, followed by a quiet period and the first organized pride march one year later in 1970. Even worse, many think that the LGBT+ rights movement was only the product of later (i.e. much more recent) generations.
But that line of thinking is incorrect, really. There was a more quieter LGBT movement before Stonewall. It’s just that those hot nights in late June 50 years ago were the propellant that took the movement further. And sure enough, Stonewall led to other protests and rallies in New York immediately afterward, including one exactly one month after the riots, in which a “Gay Power” march culminated in a rally at Washington Square Park.
Admittedly, I don’t know every single detail about the LGBT+ movement. I’m sure a great many not just outside but also within our community will say the same thing. But it’s a great feeling to learn about a small moment or a minor contributor that would help ensure the freedoms we enjoy and inspire the open lives we live today.
Here’s hoping you experience that same “gee whiz” feeling when you peruse though our community’s vast and proud history.
Four years ago, I sung the praises of an advertisement that PFLAG Canada put out to promote and support legal marriage equality worldwide. The ad was titled “Nobody’s Memories,” and it depicted images of what could have been: Weddings of same-gender couples from the mid-20th century, shown as home movie footage from an “alternate universe” that gives the viewer chills with their authentic aged styles. If you want to learn what I’m talking about, check out this blog link to take a look at it yourself; I just watched it again myself and am still struck by how powerful and moving that ad still is.
This week, a news item in the showbiz world made me recall that “Nobody’s Memories” ad and its (*sigh*) imaginary depictions of couples who just happen to be of the same gender in real love. I’ll talk up that TV item in a bit, but while doing some research on it, I went further down the internet rabbit hole and came across this photo of an actual wedding memory that did happen:
The above photo, as confirmed in this 2014 Houston Chronicle article, is from a small ceremony that took place at Harmony Wedding Chapel in Houston in October 1972. The groom is Antonio Molina, a shipping clerk, former high school football star, and Navy veteran. The resplendent bride is William “Billie” Ert, a female impersonator (stage name: “Mr. Vicki Carr”) and former hairdresser. Yes, William Ert was a male, but he had a voter registration card that listed his gender as “female.”
Yep, that’s me taking that selfie. This past Friday night, I dolled myself up, put on this brand new pride-themed shirt I found at Ragstock, and went to Mother Fools for their monthly poetry performance. I hadn’t been there since doing some semi-freeform spoken-word stuff last December, and hadn’t been a part of their first-Friday-of-the-month poetry events in well over a year. I hadn’t been there for various reasons, including my job search last summer, just feeling dog-tired from the work assignment I have right now (more on that in a moment), and lack of creative poetry juices.
This time around, though, I didn’t want to make excuses to myself or wait any longer. So, after I finished my work day late Friday, I made a bee line straight home to get changed into Allison. It would have been a little sooner than late Friday had I not had to stick around for a couple of things I had been meaning to do all day at work (again, more on work later).
Still, it was amazing how I turned out after applying my makeup. I’d say it took under an hour for me to slather on the foundation, blush, eye shadow, and lipstick, not to mention straighten out my wig. (Note to self: The hair goes over the glasses’ arms.) Oh, it also took an extra hour to do some extra shaving of my face and find the maxi-skirt and shirt I wanted to wear (my closet is always unorganized *sigh*).
But how did I do at the mic, you ask? Well, while I was a bit rusty, especially with my less-than-perfect poetry intros, I did all right. And even with the light crowd indoors at Mother Fools on what was an incredibly beautiful Friday evening (perhaps most of the regular crowd was taking advantage of that weather), it was a nice, accepting, and appreciative atmosphere.
Like many of my fellow Americans, I’m taking a respite from work today. And you do know what today is, correct? It is Memorial Day, a holiday designated to pay honor to those who lost their lives while serving in the United States Armed Forces. If you are one of the great multitude who do at least a little acknowledgement that this day is more than just an excuse for a 3-day weekend, thank you. Sure, you may just say something like “lest we forget” while planting an American flag next to a gravestone, or even say “thank you for your service” to someone in uniform (who has their own days, which I’ll touch on briefly in a moment), but you do understand the gravity of this day.
I had a feeling when I wrote my previous post about Mother’s Day on Saturday night, I would fail to include a few important (to me) things about the subject matter. Indeed, I had only made passing mention of three not-so-traditional forms of mothers in this world. One of those was the single-parent setup, of which I was part of during my very young years: My mother was a divorcee, and she looked after and provided for both my sister and I on her own for several years. Even after she remarried, had another child, and took another job, she still cared for us and made sure we were doing alright even with our latchkey kid setup (she worked nights for a while, and Dad was on the road quite a bit). Things weren’t always hunky dory, but we turned out okay for the most part.
So, did the Easter Bunny leave you lots of eggs to hunt for? Did same bunny deliver lots of chocolate for you to devour? Well, Peter Cottontail skipped my house this year, forcing me to buy all that sugary stuff on my own. To be honest, though, I do need to keep watching what I eat, so it’s just as well that E.B. passed me by. Perhaps next year, though.
Does this photo ring a bell, faithful readers?
If you read this post from last year, or if you’ve ever perused through my Flickr album, you probably remember seeing the above outfit, and in particular the black jacket I’m sporting. The black-colored Gitano cotton jacket is probably the oldest item still in my female clothing closet. I found it way back in 1992 in the youth/young adults section of the Shopko department store down the road from where I lived.
If you’ve also read my previous post, you’ve learned that Shopko is in a bit of a financial bind. Shopko is a department store chain founded and based in Green Bay that has been in existence since 1962. Last month, facing a lot of debt and withering competition, Shopko filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and announced a series of store closures, including the last three Shopko stores here in Dane County.
While I admit I haven’t gone to Shopko very much in recent years, the news of their bankruptcy and departure from Madison and other large and small towns in its footprint left me a bit sad. I found myself in agreement with a retail industry observer interviewed by the Green Bay Press-Gazette about Shopko’s bankruptcy. “This one doesn’t surprise me,” he said, “but it’s a company I hate to see go.” Indeed, while the Walmarts and Targets of the world have run laps around Shopko and other department store chains, it has been a nice place with generally good customer service, and where you can get what you want (cute outfit, comfy boots) or need (toiletries, shoes, dining room set).
A few personal things from the past week to catch you up on, going somewhat in reverse order. First, I’m relaxing at home this Friday evening resting up from a pretty annoying head cold I may be (hopefully) in the final throes of. No, it’s not one of those “stay home and deal with the pain” types of colds, rather one of those viruses that starts with a little bit of congestion, spends a day or two blocking one nostril, blocks the other nostril the two days after that, and leaves you reaching for the tissue box more often than you’d like. Or much more often if there’s a lot of sneezing thrown in. I think there must be a lot of dry air in the office I’m stuck in.
The only person I’m blaming for giving me this cold is Mother Nature. She had the audacity to send Madison from bone-chilling -30º temperatures last week to +47º last weekend to single-digit temperatures and icy roads and pavements today. Sure, I enjoyed that nice warm spell we had last weekend (who wouldn’t?), but the whiplash-inducing swings from cold to warm and back to cold again has been the frequent culprit of colds in my lifetime. Oh, well, I’ll survive. Continue reading