Family Acceptance Project

The Family Acceptance Project is an evidenced based best practices research, intervention, and education project on family therapy for families with queer and questioning youth. It’s goals are to decrease health risks, suicide rates, substance abuse, HIV, and homelessness of LGBTQ youth through family therapy and education. They are housed at SFSU but need your donations, no matter where you live, and your voice, if you are in CA, to keep the project going.

One of the things they do is record family stories about how individual family members understand sexuality and how queer kids see themselves within the context of their families. Here is an example:

CFP: Hip Hop Feminism

Rosa Clemente/former VP Candidate for Green Party/unattributed

There have been strong women of color at the center of Hip Hop theorizing since its inception. Many of these women have never received the recognition they deserve for their artistry or their profound critical feminist eye focused clearly on the experience of women of color at the margins and intersections of multiple identities. These artists have struggled to have their voices heard in and outside of Hip Hop even as they inspire, mentor, and help provide strength to face any number of gendered oppressions. Many of them have worked just as diligently at empowering young women and providing critical analysis of engendered experiences as they have at being the best at their craft. Often these things are inseparable. And yet, these women’s work has been overshadowed by the racist and racialized sexist discourses that only want to focus on the “video ho” until recently. (see my posts on Hip Hop for AfAm herstory and LGBT history month for more thorough posts and links to Hip Hop feminism and Hip Hop feminists.)

kin4life/outhiphop.com

While this shift has been important, I think currently there is far too much mainstream attention to Hip Hop feminism as the *only* form of feminism(s) of color. On the one hand, the emphasis represents a needed intervention into mainstream discourse about the “video-ho” in which black men are seen as the most misogynist men in the world and women of color are internalized sexists needing rescue from their “culture of violence, sex, and drugs.” On the other, the slowly won recognition of feminists for whom Hip Hop and B Girls have been critical forms of expression, solidarity, and empowerment has come at the price of the recognition by mainstream of feminists of color outside of these stereotyped (tho not stereotypical) scenes. This is not the fault of Hip Hop feminists or people doing needed documenting work on their movements but rather the ongoing problem of tokenizing woc feminist contributions by mainstream academic theorists and educators. In the last few years, scholars like myself who work on race and gender have been introduced as or referred to verbally and in print as “hip hop feminists” or asked what we think or will we write an article about Hip Hop feminism in the same way we were referred to as Womanists when Alice Walker coined the term and still have to fight for the right to define ourselves and our affiliations. My concern then is that there are at least two camps here: (1) those who want to embrace, document, and explore the meaning, history, and empowerment behind Hip Hop feminism and (2) those who see it as just a new word for “black feminists over there”. One way to posit a counter-narrative to the latter is to keep writing, keep filming, keep talking about what Hip Hop feminism is and about all of the feminisms engaged in by women of color in which Hip Hop feminism is only one iteration.

La Bruja/unattributed

So I am publishing this call for papers on Hip Hop feminism to encourage the continued struggle to talk about feminisms by women of color in arena that often posits us as both singular (ie one kind of feminism) and perpetual victims (in this case the video-ho) in need of feminism. I do so out of solidarity with the project of naming, claiming, and documenting our feminisms and our activism but also with the caution to take on the task of clarity and specificity in your writing so that you lend to both the needed discussion of the specific feminism under discussion and to the larger discourse about the longstanding presence of women of color in activist, feminist, circles.

melange Lavonne/David Laffe Photography

Also I would encourage readers to consider some of the queer and/or differently-abled black and Latina Hip Hop artists highlighted on this blog or even in this post for your potential papers/presentations. Just as interventions need to be made in the way mainstream feminist academics are approaching Hip Hop feminism as the new Womanism, interventions need to be made into the ways scholars have often shied away from discussions of queer sexualities or assumed able-bodiedness or cis gender. There are sub-topics in the call specifically open to making this challenge, where you could take the advantage.

Please find the CFP below:

Black and Brown Feminisms in Hip Hop Media

University of Texas at San Antonio – March 4-5, 2011

Submission: 500 word abstract to Kinitra Brooks and/or Marco Cervantes blackandbrownfeminisms@gmail.com on or before November 15, 2010.

Description:

Black and Latina feminist scholars offer multiple ways of understanding feminist cultures that transcend ideological borders and patriarchal conventions. More recently, Black and Latina feminists have negotiated the positionality of the woman of color in the ever-changing world of Hip Hop since its inception.  The Black and Brown Feminisms in Hip Hop Media Conference situates Black and Latina feminist theory in the context of Hip Hop representation to discuss ways Hip Hop music, film, and club industries fetishize, exploit, celebrate, empower and/or disempower Black and Brown women.

This interdisciplinary conference will feature unpublished work on women in
Hip Hop to exchange ideas, share research, and initiate a sustained conversation by and about Black and Brown women in Hip Hop media.  Vital to this discussion is attention to the blurring lines between Black and Latina feminist studies and a dialogue that attempts to understand an interweaving history of objectification, struggle, and potential for agency. How do we read Black and Brown women in Hip Hop culture? What readings of Black and Brown women other than conventional black feminist readings and Latina feminist analyses are cogent? What theories enable those readings? Finally, what would an investigation into autobiographical stories of video models yield? How would those narratives differ from that of more conventional readings?

A select number of accepted papers will be included in a one-day, academic
conference at the University of Texas at San Antonio as a part of UTSA’s celebration of Women’s History Month on March 4, 2011 with a Hip Hop performance from local Texas as well as national hip hop artists on the evening of March 5, 2011.  This conference will be an opportunity for presenters to share views and concerns on the growing intersections between Black and Brown women in hip hop culture.  Possible Panel Topics Include:

  • Interdisciplinary Approaches to Gender and Race in Hip Hop
  • Colorism within Hip-Hop video culture
  • The New Female Entrepreneur
  • Negotiating Sexualities
  • Black and Latina Diasporas
  • Video Vixens or Video Models?
  • Female Rappers
  • Chicana/o Rap
  • Alternative Models of Black Femininity
  • Latinas in Video Model Culture
  • Intersections of Video Models with Youth Culture
  • Performing the Black Body/ Brown Body
  • Reggaeton
  • A Case Study of Karrine Steffans
  • Strip Club Culture
  • Confessions of Video Vixens
  • Eroticism vs. Pornography
  • Women as Exchange among a Male Economy


Another Martin Comes Out

Ricky Martin/unattributed

For many people, celebrating the Monday mid-day Coming Out tweet by Ricky Martin, and the post to which it linked, seems a little late. Very few celebrities who have garnered as much critical acclaim and public adoration have been so clearly living inside a glass closet than Ricky Martin. However, it would be wrong to dismiss Martin’s coming out story just because we all saw it coming. His struggle for self-acceptance is no less relevant or heartbreaking than any other. Perhaps more importantly to the rest of us, his struggle highlights the continued power of homophobia and heterosexism to make people turn on themselves and deny the very heart of who they are just to be accepted. And unlike 18 year old Derrick Martin from the previous post who is learning the lessons of hatred far too early, Ricky Martin is unlearning them so very late.

As he put it in his own words:
ENGLISH:

Many people told me: “Ricky it’s not important”, “it’s not worth it”, “all the years you’ve worked and everything you’ve built will collapse”, “many people in the world are not ready to accept your truth, your reality, your nature”. Because all this advice came from people who I love dearly, I decided to move on with my life not sharing with the world my entire truth.  Allowing myself to be seduced by fear and insecurity became a self-fulfilling prophecy of sabotage. Today I take full responsibility for my decisions and my actions.

SPANISH:

Mucha gente me dijo que no era importante hacerlo, que no valía la pena, que todo lo que trabaje y todo lo que había logrado se colapsaría. Que muchos en este mundo no estarían preparados para aceptar mi verdad, mi naturaleza. Y como  estos consejos venían de personas que amo con locura, decidí seguir adelante con mi “casi verdad”. MUY MAL. Dejarme seducir por el miedo fue un verdadero sabotaje a mi vida. Hoy me responsabilizo por completo de todas mis decisiones, y de todas mis acciones.

This is the lesson that not only society but often our loved ones (friends, family, mentors) teach us. Derrick Martin learned it from his parents when they kicked him out this month for wanting to bring his boyfriend to prom and is re-learning it every day from the adults in his small town. Ricky Martin learned it from his own friends and colleagues, some of whom just wanted to ride the Vida Loca gravy train and some who really thought they had his best interests at heart. Everyone who has ever come out to themselves and to others can point to these people in their own lives. The “good intentions” of homophobia unite us across regions, languages, spaces, classes, etc. And each of us has had to ask who will we love more? How will we love?

So no, Ricky Martin’s coming out saga is not a revelation to anyone paying attention. But to watch a young boy go from Menudo to Soap Opera Heart Throb to evasive denial on 20-20 complete with a beautiful beard to claim he “was always the macho” to finally, this:

ENGLISH:

But fear of my truth? Not at all!  On the contrary, It fills me with strength and courage …

These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn’t even know existed.

I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am.

SPANISH:

Pero miedo a mi naturaleza, a mi verdad? NO MAS! Al contrario, estas me dan valor y firmeza.

Ha sido un proceso muy intenso, angustiante y doloroso pero también liberador. Les juro que cada palabra que están leyendo aquí nace de amor, purificación, fortaleza, aceptación y desprendimiento. Que escribir estas líneas es el acercamiento a mi paz interna, parte vital de mi evolución. Hoy ACEPTO MI HOMOSEXUALIDAD como un regalo que me da la vida. ¡Me siento bendecido de ser quien soy!-

is not just a thing of beauty, it is a reminder. The path we travel is hard not just because of the people who openly hate but those who, whether wittingly or unknowingly, disguise their homophobia as love. For me his words, though late, remind us that it is never too late to love ourselves and to let that love be strong enough to demand that others love us back as we are.

—-

all quotes come from Ricky Martin’s Coming Out story on his official website here. (You can read his whole story in his upcoming book.)

By Request “Cool Queer People of Color indie films/documentaries”

A post in progress:

The request has come in for “cool people of color indie films/documentaries” from Black Folk. Part of the request is really about films that are Mangos with Chiliteachable since the goal is to find films to use in class. For me, teachable films may not alway be “cool” films. Many of the films below are among my favorites to watch and to teach. You can follow the links beside those that have been reviewed on this blog or listed in my movies to watch over and over post. I’ve committed to posting more reviews of the films on this list after realizing how many people are unaware of the breadth o films by, for, starring or co-starring a queer person of color particularly those that do not recreate stereotype.

However, despite the plethora of movies on this list and others on the blog that I absolutely love, it should be noted that there are many documentaries and films I use in class that have problematic elements or that are not among the movies that I would watch regularly myself. As learning material they are amazing because they provide opportunities to both learn from the good points of the films and to critically examine the slippages. I’ve never been one who subscribes to the all or nothing school of intellectual inquiry, ie I don’t think we can educate ourselves and others if we subscribe to the idea that film or politics have to perfectly reflect a single definition of identity or desire in order to be accurate otherwise it is killing people. After all, our communities are wide and varied & just looking at some of the discussion on films on this blog alone point out to differences in how we define queer cinema, critical interventions in queer media, etc.

I’m also not a big fan of films that victim blame, play oppression olympics, vilify cultures rather than anti-gay or trans ideologies, etc. While us-grants-panel-2008these are also teachable, they require advanced standing and are not entertaining unless you too subscribe to the unexamined ideologies they present. I’ve tried not to include any of those films here, though there are a few that will require supplemental reading for students inclined to see poc as more homophobic or to question the legitimacy of transgender identity. I have marked them accordingly.

Also since I teach globally, many are also “foreign films.” It can get muddy to include global people of color in a list on N. American people of color and vice versa, however I think it is equally important to think about global constructions of the intersections of race, sexuality, and gender transgression to better develop a language for understanding those intersections truly mean. To be honest, sometimes “foreign films” do a better job of representing intersections and cultural perspectives outside of white N. American norms than what is available in the U.S.

So here is my list. Many of these will be reviewed on the blog at some point or have been reviewed already (see links):

documentaries

  • Tal Como Somos/As We Are Dir. Judith McCray
  • I Exist Distrib. Arab Film Distribution
  • Brother Outsider Dir. Sam Pollard
  • China Dolls Dir. Tony Ayres
  • Honored by the Moon Dir. Mona Smith
  • Tongues Untied Dir. Marlon T. Riggs
  • Latino Beginnings a Logo Documentary Dir. ?
  • Khush Dir. Pratibha Paramar
  • Looking for Langston Dir. Isaac Julien
  • Jihad for Love – Parvez Sharma (review forthcoming)
  • Milind Soman Made Me Gay Dir. Harjant Gil (read my review here)
  • Paris is Burning Dir. Jennie Livingston
  • Bricando el Charco Dir. Frances Negron-Muntaner
  • Jumpin the Broom Dir. ?
  • Coming out Coming Home Distr. Asian Family Pride
  • still black Dir. Kortney Ryan Zigler (read my full review here)
  • The Hunting Season Dir. Rita Moriera (requires literature to balance against seeing poc as more homophobic)
  • Juchitan Queer Paradise Dir. Patricio Enriquez
  • Pecah Lobang Dir. Poh Si Teng
  • Be Like Others Dir. Tanaz Eshaqhian
  • For Straights Only Dir. Vismita Gupta-Smith
  • BD Women Dir. Inge Blackman
  • Cities of Lust Dir. Raul Ferrera-Balanquet
  • Kim Dir. Alyn Gajilan
  • Almost Myself Dir. Tom Murray (will need accompanying literature on gender queer identity)
  • Boys from Brazil Dir. John Paul Davidson
  • Cruel and Unusual Dir. Dan Hunt
  • U People Dir. Hanifah Waldah (best if also used with music video for context)
  • And the March Continues Dir. Guadalupe San Miguel
  • Pick Up the Mic Dir. Alex Hinton (nice when used with music by out rappers of color, see my post on lesbians and rap here)
  • Shinjuku Boys Dir. Kim Longinotto
  • 1 in 2000 Dir. Ajae Clearway  (includes interviews w/ intersex ppl of color that can be pulled out)
  • Transgression Dir. ?
  • The Agressives Dir. Daniel Peddle
  • The Body of a Poet Dir. Nancy Kates
  • James Baldwin Dir. Karen Thorsen
  • In the Name of Allah Dir. Parvez Sharma

films

  • Watermelon Woman Dir. Cheryl Dunye (read my partial review here)
  • Saving Face Dir. Alice Wu (see clip under my Top Queer Films post here)
  • Clandestinos Dir. Antonio Hens
  • Love My Life Dir. Koji Kawano (review forthcoming)
  • Fire Dir. Deepa Mehta
  • Adios Roberto Dir. Enrique Dawi
  • Before Night Falls Dir. Julien Schnabel
  • The Journey Dir. Kaya Behkalam
  • The Amazing Truth of Queen Raquela Dir. Olaf de Fleur (read my review here)
  • Noah’s Arc Dir. Patrick Ian-Polk (read my review here)
  • Drifting Flowers Dir. Zero Chou (my review forthcoming)
  • A Brazilian Dream Dir. Limongi Djalma
  • Desi’s Looking for a New Girl Dir. Mary Guzman
  • Floored by Love Dir. Desiree Lim (this movie is very cute & two movies in one; my review forthcoming)
  • Finding Me Dir. Roger S. Omeus Jr.
  • Round Trip Dir. Shahar Rozen (my review forthcoming)
  • The Color Purple Dir. Steven Speilberg
  • Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros Dir. Aureaus Solito
  • Truth Hall Dir. Jade Dixon (really fluffy borderline teachable)
  • Frida Dir. Julie Taymor (minimal lesbian content)

multiculti films w/poc lead

  • When Night is Falling Dir. Patricia Rozema (see clip under my Top Queer Films post here)
  • Nina’s Heavenly Delights Dir. Pratibha Parmar
  • The Bubble Dir. Eithan Fox
  • Making Maya Dir. Rolla Selbak
  • Chutney Popcorn Dir. Nisha Ganatra
  • Incredible True Adventures of Two Girls in Love Dir. Maria Maggenti (see clip under my Top Queer Films post here)
  • Under One Roof Dir. Todd Wilson
  • The Buddha of Suburbia Dir. Roger Michell (I prefer the book)
  • Chicken Tikka Masala Dir. Harmaqe Kalirai (my review forthcoming)

What movies would be on your list?

——

  • Mangos w/ Chili. promotional image. unattributed.
  • members of Astrea Foundation. unattributed.

Top 10 Queer Movies to Watch Over and Over

A person on twitter asked me what my favorite, “watch over and over” queer movies are . . . Long time readers know I teach queer media and it is one of my favorite subjects to get all femme-fantastic fangirl about. So you know I am sharing my answer with you all right?! (Long time readers should also be able to answer this question w/me.) One thing, this list is supposed to be films I’d watch repeatedly for entertainment and is not the same list I would generate if I was listing the top GLBTQI movies. Several of the movies that would make that list would be much older than the ones on this list and include films like Watermelon Woman, Boys Don’t Cry, and Lilies. Nor does this list include movies I find deeply amusing or intriguing but don’t watch nearly as much as the ones on the list or I have stopped watching as much as the other ones, those films would include East Side Story, Johns, D.E.B.S, Puccini for Beginners, Nico and Dani, & Imagine Me and You. And as if cheating by putting all these extra films into this preamble were not enough, you know I listed more than 10 right?

Latter Days – b/c I know what it’s like to grow up in a religious tradition that denies our right to exist and yet provides a foundation from which your moral compass on most things is set; the good news is you can have both see my post on Bible lawsuit if you just shook your head

When Night is Falling- tho the exotic can be problematic it is still cinematically beautiful and the love story at its center is entralling and b/c like Latter Days it dares you to reject a faith that denies love but not faith in general.

The Incredible True Adventures of Two Girls in Love – this movie has everything you could possibly want in it, loving same sex parents, crazy academics, and a love story to move mountains

Zerophilia – cutest comedy ever about gender confusion, gender acceptance, and sexuality and ever since Blood Ties, I’ve always wished kyle Shmid was a girl anyway so . . .

Nina’s Heavenly Delights – magical realism meets lesbian love story all wrapped up in yummy food preperation. hello.

Urbania – its depressing but fascinating and I love teaching it b/c it gives us a way to talk abt “truths” and meaning in a world that denies oppression while perpetuating

Show Me Love – this is the cutest coming out story you will likely ever see

Donald Strachey Mysteries – yes I’m cheating b/c there are 4 but Chad Allen turns in one of the most heart felt performances in this series talking about DADT and Sebastien Spence’s performance in Ice Blue is spot on. besides you know I love thrillers

Hedwig and the Angry Inch – if you don’t want to sing along, there is something wrong with you I love the “Origin of Love”

Saving Face – b/c I love the way it juxtaposes several women’s issues and thoroughly grounds women’s sexuality at every turn

No Regret – it is a depressing film abt repression and desire, as well as class and classism, but amidst all the bad happening to the fam in this movie, when they get it right there is something so beautiful about it I could watch this movie multiple times in a single night

Family Pack – the juxtaposition of ability and desire are often problematic but some times quite poignant. Again this is another family drama in which women’s choices and desires take center stage across a wide spectrum and there is something quaint and sweet about it that resonates.

The film listed on youtube as “Family Pack” is actually Feulle

Broken Sky – its lyrical beauty and ability to express profound emotion without words is cinematic magic. (warning lots of naked in this unofficial trailer)

Better than Chocolate – art, bookstores, first love, and musical numbers, with a wide range of lesbian identities and an equally centered trans woman, can you ask for anything more?

Antarcitca – b/c it is so beautiful, seriously if you’ve forgotten what love is or fallen into a rut, rent this movie and be reminded.

Shelter – which as I have said before resonates at a cellular level for me and leaves me unable to write a review not b/c of the coming out issues but b/c of the class ones.

Butch Jamie – b/c its just great. watch it.

Want to really know what I think about this subject, read the blog, ask about obscure queer films, and representation on tv. I am currently crushing on both the representations in Skins on BBC America & the Israeli show Until the Wedding & that’s just for starters. 🙂

So what is your top 10?

Teatro Q in TX Deadline Extended

Adelina Anthony facilitates her award winning TEATRO Q

almademujer - Copy


Teatro Q is a safe space for Queer People of Color and Allies to explore performance and theater, develop skills and grow as artists in this 4-day workshop.
September 9-11, 2009 from 6:00-9:00 PM
and September 12, 2009 from 12:00-3:00 PMWhere:  Alma de Mujer Center for Social Change 13621 FM 2769 Austin, Texas 78726

Who should attend: Established, emerging and inexperienced artists who are interested in enhancing, developing, and experimenting to increase their artistic depth through performance.

Fee:   $50 love offering is asked/suggested from participants. (Fee is waived for those unable to pay/scholarships available)
An application process is necessary due to limited space. Please complete the brief application no later than September 4, 2009. You will be notified as soon as possible if you are selected for participation. Please e-mail applications to xiqana@gmail.com.
Extended Deadline for apps: Sept. 4, 2009

Pedro – A Film Review

DVD_SleeveConferencing with the boys this weekend meant that we had the chance to have a movie night at Dean GQ’s casa like old times. 🙂 Several of us have been debating whether to watch Pedro, a film based on the life and death of former Real World SF participant and activist Pedro Zamora who died Nov 11, 1994 of AIDs related complications.

My own mixed feelings came from a promo for the film that compared Puck’s oppression based acting out to Pedro’s own disappointment at not getting more air time b/c he had joined the cast of the Real World to raise awareness about HIV/AIDs. I was concerned that the project was financed and directed by the Real World Team.  The potential for MTV to spin Pedro’s life in ways that would benefit the television station and/or the show was high. I worried that they would soft peddle the ways they allowed tensions between Pedro and Puck to go unchecked during filming, even when it posed health hazards, and how they have continued to make money off of Puck (and other seemingly bigoted people or people involved in bigoted moments in their reality shows) by providing ongoing platforms for them while ignoring or minimizing the ongoing exposure of those people who actually worked to make social justice choices in their lives; after all, if we’ve learned anything from reality tv it is that obnoxious or bigoted sells.

The boys also worried that the Pedro some of them had known personally and all of them have been inspired by in their lives and their careers would disappear into a poorly funded and/or poorly executed film.

On the other hand, I was excited to hear that Pedro Zamora’s life story would get a chance to influence a new generation of youth, especially youth of color, around the topics of sexuality, honesty, and HIV/AIDs. I could not imagine a better script writer than Dustin Lance Black who was a fan of the Real World and inspired by Pedro. Black’s work on Harvey Milk, who also inspired him, was academy award winning and his acceptance speech highlighted his powerful and passionate soul. Black is also committed to HIV/AIDs activism who recognized that Pedro had made the message about awareness accessible and relevant to communities largely ignored by mainstream education projects.pedro18

Ultimately, we decided to watch it b/c Pedro was such an important figure to all of us.  My own use of MTV films in my classroom also gave us hope for production values and critical analysis of the important issues embedded in Pedro’s life.  As a group, we were also the same folks I wrote about bursting into collective tears when Black accepted his academy award, so you know . . . we had high hopes for his writing talent in this film as well.

Pedro Zamora was an important activist for AIDs and HIV awareness, especially among youth and communities of color. He wrote a book, did radio and television interviews, spoke in schools, rallies, and at events, and stayed on the Real World despite emotionally damaging and sometimes physically threatening circumstances. His activism and stint on the Real World encouraged youth of color and white youth to embrace who they were and work to fight the spread of AIDs and HIV that are disproportionately impacting communities of color.  He initially worked raising awareness in Miami amongst his own Cuban community and then outward to other communities in the same area. Unlike other large urban centers, Miami did not have a huge HIV/AIDs movement at the time, making Pedro’s work essential. When he fell in love with a San Fran resident and activist, he joined the HIV/AIDs fight there but also parlayed his stint on the Real World to national level awareness campaigns. For a certain generation of Xueers, he was a hero whose honesty and struggles made him wonderfully human.

The film about his life gives us small glimpses into his dynamic story. Through vignettes and flashbacks, we learn about his mother’s struggle with cancer, his sister’s initial heterosexism, and the growing relationship between him and his partner. Despite my misgivings, the MTV portion of the film is minimal; while it does not valorize the show, it does present a largely benign relationship which I think is misleading. Much of the film is done in flashbacks, with a disjointed narrative that not only moves back and forth between time but also between seemingly unconnected moments. This style makes it hard to connect with the film or become enmeshed in the pedroyseanstory. Worse, the narrative stays on the surface, failing to give us a clear picture of Pedro as a person or activist when he is healthy.

As Pedro becomes ill, the film abandons disjointed narrative for a linear one based in character development and plot. The shift greatly enhances the film, by finally telling us who the people in Pedro’s life are and how they interact with him and cope with his illness. The writing and acting are strong in this section of the film and speak to how much better this film could have been if they had trusted the audience to invest in the life of a Xueer Latino with AIDs. Unfortunately, by the time they trust us as viewers and themselves as writers and directors, Pedro has already fallen ill and cannot even talk. He is a ghost in the strongest part of his own story and that is a terrible shame.

I wanted to like Pedro the film in the same way that I had loved Pedro the activist, and I am sad to say, I did not. While I don’t regret having watched the film nor do I think other people familiar with Pedro Zamora will, if they see it, I’m not sure there is enough of a storyline and/or information at the beginning of the film to make non-fans keep watching. Despite strong acting and powerful resource material, Nick Oceano’s directorial decisions ultimately robbed viewers of Pedro’s voice and the things that made him so important to a generation and a cause. While the first half of Black’s script falters the second was powerful and will tug at your heart as Pedro fights from within illness induced silence to keep his lover involved in his life despite his family’s interference and then slowly withers away on screen. The final images of actual footage of Pedro’s commitment ceremony and updates on what happened to all of the major characters is perhaps the hardest to weather because it reminds you of how many people were impacted by Pedro’s life and that he is really gone in ways the film fails to do.

Pedro initially aired on MTV in April of 2008. It was highly rated by other reviewers whose reviews praised the film for providing some previously unknown information about his life, but also largely criticized the production value and format. The rights are currently owned by lesbian owned Wolfe Video. You can watch it on DVD through netflix or buy it directly from Wolfe Video or other mainstream distributors. You can read the full plot of the film here.

———–

images

  • Pedro the Movie promotional image/unattibuted
  • Pedro Zamora/unattributed
  • Pedro and his partner Sean on set of Real World/unattributed/MTV Productions

Segregation: Are You Sure You Know What That Word Means?

two pieces of information passed my desk at the same time a few days ago:

  1. Raven’s Eye’s reference to the Freedom Bike Rides for African-American Riders
  2. Bilerco proudly discussing a queer blogger meet-up outside of Stonewall (sorry can’t find link)

0-BlackWomenCThe goal of the Freedom Bike Rides is to encourage African American’s in Los Angeles to ride bikes and to encourage African Americans who already ride to ride more often. These simple goals are things one would think would excite the entire biking community b/c at heart most people who bike do so both for health and environmental reasons. In other words, we’d all like to see people bike more. The focus on African Americans also seems like something that the mostly liberal biking community would get behind with all their stated enthusiasm for “a better planet” and diversity. And yet, members of LA’s Fixed Gear Biking Community called the black only rides “segregated” and “racist.”

Freedom Bike Rides founder James Spooner responded with:

Ever been on one of the many organized bike rides in LA, seen another black person and thought “Would it be weird If I say hi?” (Spooner’s MySpace 2/11/09)

As I, and anyone familiar with actual racism, suspected, Freedom Rides was born partially out of unexamined 0-grouprideGdiscrimination in mainstream liberal environmentalism and social circles. His statement implies that there were very few black people coming to other LA ride events, events often organized thru websites like LA Fixed Gear’s. Worse, the milieu at these events made at least some black riders feel uncomfortable talking to the handful of other black riders for fear of making the white riders uncomfortable and thus being ostracised or given too much “friendly” attention for the rest of the ride.

Spooner also points out that other groups have rides, like women and children (and I would add lesbians to the list), and no one questions their right to ride together.

Even before I read Spooner’s comments, I assumed this was the case. The bike community is one of the most segregated I have been around b/c, unlike the feminists who at least talk about diversity every other day, bicyclist have no pressure to examine the absence of diversity in their rides or meetups and like most liberals, they assume that their politics exempts them from being participants in oppression.

The criticism of the bike community’s unexamined racial dynamics also prompted black folks in St. Louis Missouri to start their own biking information website and scheduled bike rides. Grouptrails has some of the most extensive information on health and wellness through biking for black people I’ve seen online. On those days when I go into a bike shop and get treated like a welfare queen (ie I cannot afford anything so stop touching stuff) or the invisible woman, I am grateful to sites like this to keep me biking and informed. (I am also grateful to the makers of Electra who take my long distance phone calls all the time about my two bikes without ever asking why I can’t get this info locally; which when I am visiting my cousins near one of the largest biking communities on the Left coast, as I am now, I really can’t, except at a great bike shop in a semi-downtrodden part of the city that has nary a poc employee but lots of friendly staff.)

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Above is the image of the queer blogger meet up outside of Stonewall. It was this image w/only one woman and only one person of color in it that actually triggered the decision to write about the LA Fixed Gear comment. For those who do not know, Stonewall was actually started by drag queens, transgender people, and queers of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. Some of the most prominent figures of the Stonewall riots were Boricuas (both black and brown) and black drag queens and by all accounts two of the most vocal people galvanizing the crowd were women (Sylvia Rivera and Marlyn ). Despite these facts, the collective queer imaginary quickly white washed Stonewall, replacing its diversity with white gay men.

The image above, while an exciting chronicle of how many white gay male bloggers (and one white woman and one Asian-American) came out for Stonewall’s anniversary, accomplishes the same thing. There are innumerable queer bloggers of color from the NYC area not to mention around the nation. Many of them blogged about Stonewall in commemoration and several talked about what it meant for them as queer people to look back to that historic event as a place where queers of color took the lead. And yet, with the exception of one Asian blogger in the corner of this photo, none of them were present at this meetup of queer bloggers.

Was it that they were not there? Or worse, that they were and no one snapped a photo of them to commemorate on one the largest queer blogs in the nation?

Regardless of which version of erasure occurred, the overall effect is a hegemonic process of erasure that continues to posit whiteness as normative in the queer and progressive movements in this nation. This helps to foster an imaginary in which progressives participate in liberal events regularly, be they bike rides or blog meetups, in which very few, if any, poc are present and yet they look to those events where poc have explicitly organized themselves and call them “segregated” and “racist.” And it allows white liberals to think of themselves as more committed to the environment, gay rights, social justice, etc. than communities of color and thus exempt themselves from implication in local, national, and even international forms of oppression that by nature of their power in this nation is overwhelming authored, funded, and perpetrated by rich white conservatives not communities of color.

Looking at the image from Bilerco and then at the image from critical mass NYC below, does the definition of segregation hinge on a stated decision to include only certain people who are traditionally excluded from participation or a consistent pattern of excluding already marginalized groups?

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One of the ways in which hegemonic racial narratives manage to exist in liberal and “progressive” circles is because they do not state “whites only” and actively spout the multiculturalism and diversity language most learned in college. This helps distinguish liberals from conservatives who are often quick to name the people they do not associate with and do not want at their events. But are the images of their parties, political, and recreational events any more homoegeneous?

There has been a lot of talk about segregation and oppression in organizations and organizing. But today, I am going to ask you to think about your recreational activities. Do you participate in biking, hiking, knitting circles, reading groups, etc. that are homogeneous or nearly homogeneous? Have you ever noticed the absence of people of color before I asked you to think about it?

Now ask yourself this: what kind of world is your liberal politics building if neither your institutions nor your social or political events creates space for, fosters, encourages, and/or cherishes actual diversity? Ideology is nice but reality is the true test isn’t it?

Free Training On LGBTQI Youth in NYC

Bianca Loreano, a Master Trainer with the National Association of Social Workers/Lambda Legal LGBTQ Out-Of-Home Youth project, is offering free two part trainings on LGBTQI youth issues to anyone interested in the NYC area. The trainings are tailored made for each agency or provider network and all materials are also free.

From her blog:

This collaboration began to provide youth and service providers information and support for young LGBTQ people who are involved with the child welfare, juvenile justice, and homeless service systems. I am providing FREE trainings for service workers (social workers, social work students, case workers, case managers, directors, program managers, program directors, and everyone else working with LGBTQ youth.

Her research area has been on the connections between media, sexual expression and sexuality, and GBTQ Latinos (men) and reproductive health of Latinas from a feminist perspective.

You can contact her via her blog at the link above for more information or by filling out the simple to use request form here.

Specific services offered by the Lambda Legal LGBTQ Out-of-Home Youth Project are listed below:

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