What’s at Stake?

June 17, 2010

I’ve written before about the euphemizing (euphemization? Neither of these appear to be actual words) of queer relationships–how it marginalizes us, how it feels when straight friends or family do it to us. But lately I’ve been thinking about the dynamics at play when we euphemize ourselves versus when others euphemize us.

What’s at play when I refer to my girlfriend as merely my friend?

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May 28, 2010

There’s an interesting post over at Feministing on a scene from a recent episode of Glee, wherein a (straight) dad takes his girlfriend’s (straight) son to task over the teen’s use of “faggy.” I haven’t seen the episode yet (I haven’t been watching it live due to the timeslot conflict with Lost until recently, so I’m several episodes behind) and I have pretty conflicted feelings about Glee on the whole, but I’m intrigued by the discussion at Feministing about the context of the scene. While I was mulling it over, I came across this comment:

I was annoyed with the parenting that led up to this moment. What the hell kind of parent rooms two teenagers of sexually active age together, when you know that one of them could be attracted to the other? You wouldn’t ask an unrelated teenage boy and girl to room together, surely it’s a bad idea to ask unrelated gay teens of the same gender to do so. It’s just asking for trouble of some kind.

A couple of things strike me when I read this comment. First, apparently it’s only an issue when unrelated boys and girls (or pairs of any gender when one is gay) room together. And secondly, you should always err on the side of caution when one teen could be attracted to the other?

Maybe this just strikes a nerve with me because all too familiar with the perception that queer teens are sexual predators.

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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

February 2, 2010

This afternoon I got so angry at the radio that I had to turn off the heat in my car. I was boiling in my own rage. I don’t think I’ve so forcefully yelled a string of expletives at an inanimate object since since that one time I kicked an irrigation pipe really hard. (Safety tip: bad idea.)

What had me so steamed? Why, former California Representative Duncan Hunter, of course!

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Out of the Mouths of Boys

January 20, 2010

[Mild trigger warning for language]

Since I started working schools, I feel like I’m constant Language Police duty. At my last school it was “no homo.” Here, it’s “That’s gay,” variations on the f-word (no, not the four letter one), and something I didn’t expect at all: rape analogies.

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Rethinking Safe Spaces

October 30, 2009

The concept of “safe spaces” is often the subject of debate in the blogosphere. Is it ever possible to create a completely safe space for everyone? Can we avoid triggers? Can we eliminate hate and ignorance?

I first became acquainted with the idea of safe spaces as physical spaces during my freshman year of college, when a letter published in our student paper endorsed a secret court from the 1920s that investigated and expelled several students suspected of homosexual behavior. (I can highly recommend William Wright’s Harvard’s Secret Court: The Savage 1920 Purge of Campus Homosexuals. It’s quite a read.)

Campus reaction to the letter was swift, and heated. The main queer organization on campus, then called the BGLTSA, responded by distributing Safe Space signs across campus, which are now a staple of materials distributed for occasions like National Coming Out Day.

But do they work?

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Theme FAIL

April 2, 2009

I just got an email from the gay & lesbian caucus affiliated with my alma mater, and here’s an excerpt:

come dressed in your best for a fun evening!

at 7:30 PM – meet at the HARVARD T STOP to head over to a North End
Italian Restaurant (details coming in next week)

Blink, blink.


So, okay, the North End is clearly the place to go in Boston for Italian cuisine. And I can totally understand deciding to go there for a group event. But why is the theme “Mafia Night”? Seriously, can someone explain to me why this is cool? What’s next–Red Guard Night in Chinatown?

Speaking for and with

February 27, 2009

Lately Sig Fig (total star of the week; read the post below) and I have been talking about the dangers of speaking for instead of with when trying to be a good ally. We’re concerned specifically about being trans allies, though I think it’s a question that should come up in trying to be a good anti-racist ally (as white folks), as a good feminist ally (if you’re a dude)… really any kind of ally. Read the rest of this entry »