When we were talking about the lack of LGBTQ representation in TV and media, it made me think about all of the shows I used to watch as a kid, because I don’t watch all that much TV these days. Every show I watched, I cannot remember one character AT ALL who was LGBTQ. Often times, characters who acted outside of their gender norms were mocked, or purposely depicted as weird. I feel like this was an attempt by major media outlets to culturally condition the youth to dislike or discourage “non-normative” behavior. Normative, of course, by their definition, being a heterosexual white person.
On Netflix, there’s this show I’ve watched called Schitt’s Creek (HIGHLY recommend) and one of the main characters, who also happens to be a fan favorite is pansexual. The show, while very funny, does have its important moments where valuable lessons are taught, and sort of makes me wonder what the problem/hold up is for mainstream US television to start having more representation from that community. The pushback would come from evangelicals, I imagine, and to that I say, who cares what sort of sexual preferences are implied by a character in a show if the show is good regardless? What could possibly be the criticism in this scenario besides simple discrimination and hatred?
I’m glad that there are more platforms for media in today’s day and age though, because it allows for competition and representation for communities that wouldn’t be otherwise. I believe this pressures the mainstream to join us here in the 21st century and decide that it’s time to stop being so exclusive to anyone whom falls outside of the “norm”.
The “Sexual Orientation Laws in the World- Overview” map really opened my eyes to how diverse LGBTQ+ rights are on a global level rather than staying within the realm of the United States. It also gave me some perspective; although there are many issues/ changes I would like to see made in the US regarding LGBTQ+ rights, I am happy we are a “dark green” country on the map. Sadly, it looks like not even half of the globe is dark green. This lead me to look deeper into some of the criminalization/ death penalty countries in dark red. I found that in 2005, the IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) released a report describing how homosexuality has remained extremely “taboo” in Iraq. There is a common practice called “honor killings” or “shame killings”, which to summarize is when a family/ a family member LEGALLY kills another family member for bringing dishonor to the family name. Engaging in anything remotely homosexual is enough “disgrace” for the family to LEGALLY kill you. The fact that this is not only legal, but is commonly practiced is really unbelievable and breaks my heart. It really made me step back and reflect on some of the injustices the LGBTQ+ community faces outside the dark green countries. However, I did find something super interesting on a happier note; “IraQueer” is the first (and only one ever) queer activism group that has just recently came out of the shadows. Like any queer activism group, one of their main goals is to raise awareness for the LGBTQ+ community. I can imagine this must be extremely hard though in a society where these members can be killed by their families if desired. However, every activist movement has to start somewhere and I am happy to read that (maybe and hopefully) change is coming.
With what happened this week during UD Day I wanted to talk about the protesters and the protests to the protesters. I know we talked in class about this topic but I wanted to voice my opinion here. Someone in class mentioned the signs that people made. Many of the signs were in support of the minorities and groups that the protestors were shaming. A lot of them said that UD accepts everyone. Some of the signs were jokes however. The one that mentioned Finding Dory and Finding Nemo stuck out to me. I know in class that sign was said to have connected everyone being great even if they are different but I thought it was not. I saw it as a guy who wanted to stick out in the crowd by making a sign for something completely irrelevant. Although it did bring a little bit of comedic relief I also found it annoying. I feel like if you are going to make a funny sign at least refer it back to why everyone is gathered. There are plenty of jokes that he could have made to stick out instead of talking about movies that has nothing to do with the protesters. I know that he was probably just trying to be funny with his friends and I know that it was just a small tiff on campus but for some reason it did not sit right with me that some people were taking that situation as a joke. These groups are constantly discriminated against and the fact that so many people rallied together to protect them and support them made my heart swell. When I saw the joke signs however I kind of get a little bit disappointed.
In class we have been discussing the global LGBTQ+ community and the hardships of being queer at home or abroad. In today’s class it was mentioned that Africa is sometimes overlooked when discussing foreign LGBTQ+ issues. Mikael Owunna is an American Nigerian photographer who uses his work to highlight the experiences of LGBTQ+ Africans across the diaspora. In a profile piece written by Leah Donnella, Mikael talks about the measures his parents took to “fix” his gay-ness. His parents believed that his American upbringing and proximity to American culture had somehow made him gay and attempted to remedy this by sending him to Nigeria twice a year to stay with family. His parent’s desperation ultimately resulted in them trying to have the “demon” exorcised. Mikael’s continuous trauma resulted in the fracturing of his relationship with his family, Nigerian culture, and Africa in its entirety. Mikael used photography as a way to reconnect with his culture and tell the stories of other queer Africans in Western countries. His project “Limit(less)” involves a number of interviews and portraits of LGBTQ Africans abroad (across the US and Canada). “Limit(less)” explores the lives of both Africans born in the West and those displaced by violence/bigotry at home. Mikael wants to dispel beliefs that identifying as LGBTQ does not negate one’s “African-ness” and bring to light the deleterious impact of colonization on African culture and society. His work offers insight into something that is rarely discussed or talked about in wider social circles. If you are interested in his work you can check out his page here and the kickstarter for his project here.
After reading the links to the advice columns for LGBTQ people and families I was really pleased to see that not all advice columns are bad. Usually when reading advice columns…well I don’t, because usually there just that bad, sex advice always is about hetero relationships, or they tell you never to double text your crush etc. Reading the LGBTQ advice columns were also really enlightening to see the daily struggles and thing that affect these people that I wouldn’t necessarily have thought about. Around this time a lot of people see to be asking questions on how to cope with the elections outcome and still feel excepted in todays society. Also the intersectionality that was present was really a great thing to see, muslim queer people especially were interesting to hear from since i have no real connection to either. I feel bad though that these people have to go onto the internet for some type of connection or answers I feel like they must be longing for acceptance when they shouldn’t have to 😦
I decided to write about the status of LGBT rights and legitimacy in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is perceived to be one of the few Islamic states which exercises considerable tolerance towards the issue of homosexuality. Practicing homosexuality is strictly prohibited by the law under Section 377 A of the CrPC (Criminal Penal Code).The law says- “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman, or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall be liable to fine.” In the Guardian Article we read, What’s it like being LGBT around the world?, they described a reality in which people of LGBT status live in a “comfortable closest”. They call it “comfortable” because the actual actions of same-sex relations are not policed well and are normally looked over. However, those citizens are still crammed into a closet, nonetheless! I think this really draws into the E. Patrick Johnson’s theories and the idea of Quare theory. There’s explicit restriction of personal expression and processes. How do you feel about this? It it worth fighting the traditions and outing oneself even if there’s loose enforcement? Things are slowly changing however, I have difficulty imagining real changes being made. How much of an impact do you think this restriction has on civilians of LGBT status? Do you think it would be best to live comfortably and not combat the tradition? Even with the support of many human rights groups and individuals, I’m not sure it will be enough to overturn traditional convictions. But, you never know until you try. Right?
After talking a lot in class about national and worldwide issues involving other countries law and regulations towards the LGBTQ community it really opened up a whole other side of things I usually don’t think about. I am so focused on what is going on in our country right now regarding LGBTQ and politics that I don’t even think about what it is like in other countries. We talked specifically about Russia and my jaw dropped in shock of how liberal things are over there. The clip today bout their fear of gender “abnormalities” and fear of LGBTQ really showed me how stuck in the past some of these countries are. It is time to move forward with new and different views on the world, having those views being more accepting. Equality is not a new concept for my generation and it blows my mind that due to religion and other groups in society, some things just seem like they will never change. I read an article about Chechnya, to explore more about the topics we covered in class. There is a movement to evacuate those who are gay and are in fear of their lives, but this movement is being produces by a very small support group for LGBTQ which typically has to stay under the radar to avoid getting killed or prosecuted. The article states that they have helped and supported 30 survivors so far. This is a small number compared to how many people most likely need their help. The torture done to these individuals is now being called the “Chechen Purge” which I cannot believe is still happening in this day in age. It is a difficult situation because I think it is hard to get people into the country and help them, because who is going to listen to a bunch of Americans telling them how to run their country? I hope that issues like this can be solved through education of what someone who is gay really goes through and that it is not a choice for them. I think those in Russia clearly do not understand the reality of what LGBTQ is. This probably relates back to the fact that their leader is a white, straight male and the thoughts and personal opinions of his obviously translate into the regulations and movements that go on in the country.
Here is the link made by the small activist group for aiding LGBTQ in Russia:
“News Update: Persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya, April 17.” News Update: Persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya, April 17 | Российская ЛГБТ-сеть. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2017.
It’s kind of no surprise to me that Russia does not promote the LGBTQ community and they have laws limiting freedom of expression. When I think of Russia, I always think of a rigid community that doesn’t accept anything that’s not considered “normal”. But like we’ve said in this class, there’s no clear definition “normal”. I’m not really sure what Russia does and does not like overall. I’m sure it’s ok for the women there to dress in a tomboyish fashion but when the opposite occurs, I guess all hell is going to break loose. I know the US sometimes has some backwards opinions but they seem much farther behind us when it comes to acceptance. It was also sad to see the firsthand account from the drag queen from the RuPaul’s drag race video that we watched in class. It was heartbreaking to see what the one drag queen had to go through just because the way he was dressed didn’t match up with the typical male outfits in Russia. Then to hear that the other contestant who lived there for a couple years had to censor or hold back everything he did or said. It kind of reminds me of this other thing that I saw regarding one of my favorite youtubers went through. Her name is Gigi Gorgeous and she’s a transgender woman. She was completely humiliated in a Dubai airport for just the same reasons. She made a whole video about it where she talks about her experience and just sounds like she was so scared because she had no clue what was going to happen to her and no one would give her any information. When she finally got to catch up with the group she was with, she was so overwhelmed to realize that she was going to be ok. This is no way to treat human beings. I mean I understand not everywhere is equal on the laws for the LGBTQ but we’re all still people. I just don’t get why people tend to treat the others that are “different” than what they are used to, then they are treated as if they aren’t real living human beings. The end result of these people getting detained at airports always ends badly and needs to stop. Or there’s got to be a better way to go about it.
I was unaware that Trump began to rescind the already little amount of protections for transgender students. It is terrifying to me that one man is given all this power and is hiring individuals in powerful positions who share the same hateful values. It feels like more of a dictatorship than a democracy at this point. Honestly, I am scared for the LGBTQ community, as well as all minority groups, including women and reproductive rights. Gavin Grimm is fighting against his school board and it is very likely this case will make it to the Supreme Court. This issue, although local in Grimm’s case is a nationwide issue that may very soon erupt. The only downside is that the LGBTQ community is relatively small, compared to the women’s march, the population hardly compares, it will be difficult to make a difference if the group has a small following. This is not just an LGBTQ fight, this is a fight for minorities, for basic human rights, but conservatives are very reluctant to change with the times and unfortunately, it seems that they are running the country. America used to be referred to as the melting pot, but now that America truly captures that name, people seem so adverse to anyone who is even a little bit different. I understand that there are a lot of other important issues going on nationally and internationally, but any issue regarding the LGBTQ community is generally pushed aside and hardly ever publicized. This is an issue regarding human rights, and until people start viewing transgender individuals as valid and legitimate members of society there will be little to no progress to improve their lives. The way that I understand transgender and its legitimacy is the way I feel wearing a sundress (hear me out). I am a heterosexual white woman who is constantly told to dress up and wear sundresses and ‘girly’ clothes. The feeling that I have whenever I put on a sundress is cringeworthy, I feel so uncomfortable and that I am not ME. I take that feeling and I amplify it 100 times and I believe that is how it feels to be trans. Feeling like you don’t belong in the skin you’re in, constantly wanting to be someone else. Of course this is all I have to base it on, but I try to use this example to explain to skeptics and it seems to get them to understand a little bit more. I can’t imagine living that way everyday and having the majority of the nation delegitimizing everything that I feel and making life-changing laws based on those close-minded views. Just because the lawmakers are not harmed does not mean that other people are not drastically effected.
The reading that I’m choosing to write a blog post about this week is the assigned reading “What’s it Like Being LGBT around the World?”. This article caught my attention because I was curious to see how people who identify as LGBTQ+ live their lives freely in other countries. Although Americans are becoming more accepting and making laws and rules to accommodate all sexualities, there are still people in our country that are against the LGBTQ+ community. I was wondering if it were different for people in foreign countries, if LGBTQ+ communities are able to express themselves more openly without scrutiny. What I liked about this article was that it was real stories from real people all over the world. Not surprisingly, which kind of disappointed me, other countries are pretty similar to America when it comes to the acceptance and law enforcement regarding the LGBTQ+ community. I was hoping to see a huge acceptance of all genders and sexualities in some particular part of the world, but for the most part there was nothing drastic. Bangladesh is known to have a pretty relaxing view of the LGBTQ+ community, particularly since they are so uptight about heterosexual sex before marriage that they don’t have time to worry about others. Germany is a pretty accepting country as well, but there are still always people against the community who initiate homophobic attacks. The only country that somewhat surprised me (but not really) was Russia. Russians are known for their strict demeanor and lack of PDA, so when I read that people in Russia are afraid to come out, I wasn’t too shocked. The writer stated that the only solution to this problem was to stay quiet. Hide your sexuality from others, and you’ll be fine. So all in all, other countries are pretty much in line with America when it comes to the acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community and the changes we are making to include all genders and sexualities, except Russia. Russia is a little behind. Honestly, America should step it up, we like to be the best at everything so why not get ahead on the inclusion of all identities?