LGBTQ* Issues

Let’s Talk About Orlando.

Gif with many different pride flags
Gif from sammiieus

We need to talk

If you haven’t heard, this past Sunday, 49 people were killed at a club in Orlando, Florida. Many others were injured. Do you know why those 49 people were murdered? Because they were at an LGBT bar called Pulse. This shooting marks the largest mass shooting in US history and it was a hate crime against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and every other non-straight or cisgender person. Also, the shooting occurred during Latin night at the club, so the crime has racial tones as well. It was a horrendous tragedy.

We cannot let their murders go unavenged. Forty-nine people died.

Forty-nine.

That is unacceptable.

The following is a poem I wrote after I found out about this tragedy. Below that is a list of links. The links are direct links to more information, action centers, and some videos. The most important thing to do in the wake of this tragedy is to mourn.

Then, we must make sure it never happens again. With discriminatory laws in many states and low gun regulation, we have a long way to go, but we can make it.

Enjoy my poem.

How do you even begin to honor the dead?
How do you honor a life cut short by useless violence?
I cannot understand.
I am too angry.
Too sad.
Too long have we been oppressed and attacked.
We must fight.
I will fight.
Because without equality,
There is nothing.
Without equality,
There will never be peace.

Links:

Thank you for reading. Stay safe and please help out. Comment below if you want to talk. I am here for you, if you need me. We can mourn together.

With so much love,

-Alora

An Angry Post about Pearl from Steven Universe

Picture of Pearl originally posted by relatablepicturesofpearl

Hey guys

(FYI, this post is very passive aggressive and definitely about a very specific person from tumblr. I’m posting it here, so maybe that person won’t see it, but I can still get my opinions out there.)

So the show Steven Universe is one of many cartoons that I love to watch. It is also the show with some of the most queer representation I’ve ever seen. There is a character, Pearl, who is shown to have been in love with a women in the past and currently could be argued to be in love with multiple other female characters in the show. This of course means Pearl is super gay. I love the idea of Pearl being super gay. That’s totally fine.

However, it is totally okay to headcanon that Pearl is bi/pan. Pearl being bi/pan does not erase the fact that she likes girls. Personally, I think that Pearl is gay. However, some of the arguments I’ve seen online against Pearl being bi/pan are very biphobic and very against non-binary people. The argument is that Pearl has only been seen as attracted to female-coded characters. However, just because characters are female-coded does not mean that they actually are female. It is entirely likely that some of the people that Pearl has obviously been attracted to have been non-binary, in which case, we could easily say that Pearl is pan. We could also still say that Pearl is gay, but just because we’ve never seen Pearl attracted to anyone other than supposedly female characters does not mean she cannot be bi or pan. Her sexuality is not just defined by her actions. It is canon that Pearl likes girls, but that does not mean Pearl can’t like people that aren’t girls as well.

Also, having a headcanon that Pearl is pan is not lesbian erasure. Lesbians want to see Pearl as super super gay, which she is, but that doesn’t mean pan people can’t see her as pan. Pan people still like girls. Nothing in the show says anything about Pearl not being pan. How many pan characters have you seen in media? Everyone just wants to have someone they can identify with. Pan!Pearl does not hurt the queer representation of the show. If anything, it makes it better because there are usually so few pan people in the media. These two headcanons are not mutually exclusive.

gay!Pearl is definitely canon, but that does not exclude pan!Pearl from being possible. I understand there is hardly any good lesbian representation in the media. The bi/pan representation is even worse. In the end, Pearl is gay, but pan people headcanoning Pearl as pan is not the end of the world and it is not homophobic/lesphobic either.

I don’t like seeing people attacked online. Often those doing the attacking forget that they are attacking people. There is always a way to argue without attacking people and that is the best option.

That is all.

-Alora

(Image Source)

Some Thoughts on Yik Yak

Hello,

In the past few days there has been an uproar at my school about the anonymous social media app, Yik Yak. Some posts were made that were racist and I’ve heard hate crimes were threatened, but I can’t confirm that. These comments have created a huge uproar on the campus, which is reasonable, I guess. Yik Yak is by definition an anonymous app. Most people on campus use it for hooking up or complaining about classes. There is a downvote option and posts that have too many downvotes will be deleted. The only record of the racist comments are in screenshots because people did downvote the posts and other users can report the posts and hateful language to Yik Yak staff. Then they can take action against the user that posted the hateful words without compromising their anonymity.

Ignoring the hateful words, reporting the poster and downvoting the post are all great ways to deal with hate speech. However, Mary Baldwin College has decided to ban Yik Yak. The IT department can ban Yik Yak from the wifi, but, from what I have heard, without back up from law enforcement, MBC cannot get the app to stop its services in this area. This means students will still be able to use Yik Yak on their data plans. There was a senate vote today which is when the decision was made to ban Yik Yak. (UPDATE: This vote apparently was just a vote to introduce the motion to ban Yik Yak. The regulation itself has not passed yet.) I understand I should’ve spoken out then, but I could not attend the meeting. Instead, I am writing this blog post to get my ideas out there without accidentally making myself look like a racist asshole which still may happen. I will edit and revise this blog post to keep myself from looking like a fool, but it still may happen. So please, comment below with your opinion and share with your friends to get their opinions too.

Banning Yik Yak is stupid. That’s it. The way to deal with hate speech and the people making it is not to create a huge stink about a few comments and banning a widely used app. This gives the original poster power over us. As I said above, Yik Yak can take actions against the poster and other users can downvote and report the post to have it removed. Talking about the posts and letting everyone know that this type of speech is not okay it important, but banning Yik Yak is just trying to put a stopper into people’s mouths. The free speech argument is often used by assholes to explain why they are being horrible to others, but in this case, I am not advocating for letting people post hate speech on Yik Yak. I am advocating for teaching people that posting hate speech is not okay and will not be tolerated. Some may think banning Yik Yak is the best way to show people that hate speech will not be tolerated, but there are other ways. Reporting the post to Yik Yak works and openly talking about the horrible posts works too.

The comments in these posts were specifically racist which is why they caused a huge stink. However, last year there were hateful comments about LGBT people on Yik Yak and the college did nothing. The students talked about it and said “That’s not okay.” The posts were downvoted and they disappeared. We did not ask the college to ban Yik Yak. We did not give that power to the original poster of the hate speech.

I do not want to make a very long post. I just wanted to offer up my opinions on the matter. Banning Yik Yak is not the best way to deal with this. People who want to make hateful comments will just find another place to do it and banning Yik Yak will only annoy the students who don’t have large data plans. Everyone else will still use it with their 3G. Students will not stop using Yik Yak and the hate speech will not stop if Yik Yak is banned. Instead, we should promote diversity and inclusion by spreading love and not giving power to hateful people.

That is all. Enjoy your day and enjoy using Yik Yak before the college tries to silence us.

Much Love,

Alora

EDIT: P.S. I stand behind removing hateful comments and posts from social media because they are attacking others. I do not stand behind the banning of an app that promotes free speech.

On Speak Now: Marraige Equality on Trial by Kenji Yoshino

Picture of me holding a rainbow that I drew for the occasion.

Hello all,

I recently checked out Speak Now: Marraige Equality on Trial by Kenji Yoshino from my local library. The book details the trial Hollingsworth v. Perry that legalized gay marriage in California for good. The book has three parts: before the trial, during the trial, and after the trial. Each section provides an interesting narrative on the progression of the case and information on Yoshino’s own life and marriage to his husband. As the reader, learns about the monumental trial, they also learn about Yoshino’s two kids and how the trial affected him and his husband. The book is also studded with information Yoshino got from interviews with the trial participants. Speak Now is an exhaustive look at Hollingsworth v. Perry, but it was never boring to read. Yoshino keeps it interesting and I loved learning more about LGBTQIA history.

Yoshino makes a law proceeding that would probably be boring for most people to read, interesting and suspenseful. The book shines with his love of law and it is impossible not to be a little infected by his passion for the subject. I started the book on the day gay marriage was finally legalized in the US. woOT! I was and still am very happy that there is a bit more equality in this world and it was very interesting to read Speak Now and learn about the legal side of the campaign for marriage equality. I’ve been following and participating in the more social side of the movement, but I knew almost nothing about the legal part of it. I’m glad I picked this book up because it may have focused on Hollingsworth v. Perry, but it provided enough background information that I didn’t feel lost in my ignorance.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in marriage equality and how far we have gone to achieve it. It was a very in depth and at times technical book. It took me about a week to read the whole thing, but it is not entirely indigestible by a lay person like me. It just takes a bit more time to get through each page.

I am glad that I’ve decided to read more non-fiction books this summer. The non-fiction books I have read so far have been wonderful and very interesting. I did not realize how much I was missing by sticking to fiction for so long. I don’t think I will ever manage to read almost entirely non-fiction like my dad does, but I definitely want to continue to incorporate more into my reading diet.

I’m going to the pool with my siblings right now, but you, my friend, should go read a book, and then draw a rainbow because we have succeeded in securing marriage equality and it didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would. Hooray!

What non-fiction books have you been reading lately, if any? What new knowledge did they give you?

-Alora

P.S. I don’t have a picture of the book for this blog because I already returned it to the library. Sorry. Enjoy my rainbow instead.

Harmful Stereotypes in the 1961 Movie The Parent Trap*

Good day all.

The other day I watched the 1961 The Parent Trap with my little brother and sister. As a child it was one of my favorite movies. Not many movies have twins as main characters, much less twins that hatch wild plans to get their parents back together. But when I was watching the movie this time, I was watching it with a more knowledgeable pair of eyes. I haven’t watched it in years and I have learned so much about the way society and the media often treat women since then. Even though I knew the plot, I saw the characters with fresh eyes and boy was I in for a shock. The characters all seem to be based largely on two molds. The character was either a woman, with all the specific traits that “come with being a woman” or the character was a man, with a the specific traits that “come with being a man.” I understand that previous sentence was ridiculous, please give me a moment to explain.

While watching the movie, I noticed that the majority of the women and girls in the movie have very similar traits. They often use others to get what they want, they scheme against each other, and they are very passive aggressive when approaching issues that they have with other people. With the exception of the camp counselors, all of the other named women in the movie exhibit the aforementioned traits, even the kids. When Sharon is pretending to be Susan out in California, she meets Vicky for the first time. Sharon can tell that Vicky is not a nice woman, but she pretends to like her and she pretends to be nice to her. To try and get rid of Vicky, Sharon makes up tons of other women that her dad has brought home over the years and messes with her head creating lies designed to hurt her as much as possible. This is not a healthy way to interact with a new person even if it is someone you don’t like. Sharon is thirteen and she thinks it is okay to lie to and manipulate the people you don’t like. Little girls aren’t born knowing how to manipulate people. She had to have learned it from the other women in her life. Namely her mother and her grandmother that also exhibit the same exact traits. Susan, however, has seems to have very little interaction with other women who are conniving and vicious. Rebena, the housekeeper could have taught her some things, but not the aggressive attack that she did on Sharon’s tent at camp. That prank was mean-hearted and thought up by Susan and her friends. I don’t understand how all of the girls we get to know at that camp are so mean and passive aggressive. It is completely unrealistic. Real life girls don’t act like that.

Then there is the “prank” that Susan, Sharon, and Maggie pull on Vicky. All three are involved because Maggie willing stays behind knowing that the girls are going to do something to get rid of Vicky. Maggie lets her thirteen-year-old daughters help her compete with another woman for their father’s affection. That is messed up on so many levels. Two thirteen-year-old girls willingly endanger another person just so that they can show their father that she is just out to steal his money, which they didn’t even try to tell him. None of the three ever talk openly with Mitch about their misgivings for Vicky. They just make snide remarks about how young she is and try to manipulate him into thinking their way. Even when they are talking to Mitch, they are still competing against Vicky. It’s sick.

Louise McKendrick, the girls’ only pictured grandmother is less passive aggressive than the girls, but she is more controlling. This is not to say that a woman who is in charge of herself and those around her is bad. Louise controls her family in a way that seems almost abusive. She dictates the schedule of her daughter, her granddaughter and her husband. When Susan comes home as “Sharon with short hair,” everyone in the house, without fail, says “wait until your grandmother sees you.” Her grandmother proceeds to shame her for cutting her hair short by saying she should pick one and be a girl or a boy, not both. That in itself is transphobic, especially against non-binary people that are agender or bigender or any gender that isn’t strictly “boy” or strictly “girl.” Not to mention the fact that she is shaming her granddaughter for cutting her hair in a way that makes her happy which is definitely emotional abuse. Louise does not interact with her family in a healthy way and she also portrays the stereotype of a conniving, controlling woman just like the other women in this movie.

Mitch and the other guys in the movie are made to fit a different mold. All of the men in this story, without fail, exhibit some very similar character traits. The bumble through their lives letting the women in them run their lives completely. Most of them have little to no idea what is going on around them and they pretend to not understand the passive aggressive interactions the women in their lives are having. In this case, the best example is Mitch just wandering around, chasing after Sharon, who he thinks is Susan, trying to tell her that he is going to marry Vicky. He just bumbles around not really listening to Sharon all the time. Their conversation starts on the golf course where he listens to her very well and tries to give her “the talk,” because that’s what he thought she was talking about. That miscommunication is not entirely his fault because Sharon isn’t really understanding what he is getting at either since neither of them are using clear language. However, later, Sharon kinda freaks out after he says he is marrying Vicky and he just says she’s gone hysterical and doesn’t even try to listen to her. He allows Vicky to go take care of her and disappears for a while. I understand that he may not understand how much Vicky and Sharon hate each other at this point because he hasn’t been in the room when they have been mean to each other, but there are definitely points later in the movie when he is and can’t seem to grasp the complexities of their communication. Also, he should know how to deal with a freaking out teenager by now. It’s not a new thing. I should know. I used to and still do randomly freak out all the time. If Mitch was really the great father he was portrayed as, he would understand how to talk to and listen to his own daughter, even if he didn’t think it was the right daughter.

The farm hand, Hecky, also doesn’t seem to understand tension between Vicky and the other women in the family. During the camping trip he realizes or is told that the girls don’t like Vicky and helps them harass her and stay out of trouble with their father. At the beginning of the movie, the camp leader of the boys camp is portrayed as a bumbling idiot. He walks up to the pedestal with his napkin still in his shirt, like he is completely unaware of his surroundings. Then he speaks slowly and in a way that makes him sound either very drunk, or unintelligent. Later, when Sharon and Susan knock over the table of food. He catches a cake, then throws it aside to catch the punch bowl which spills all over him. I feel bad for the poor guy, he was written to look stupid and be the butt of silly jokes.

As I have shown, despite some minor exceptions and differences, the women of The Parent Trap are all extremely similar and the men are as well. This similarity in characters is just lazy writing and completely inexcusable. There is no reason all of the women in a movie, no matter their age should be conniving, often mean-spirited manipulators. Just as there is no reason that all of the men in a movie should be portrayed as bumbling idiots that are letting women run their lives because they don’t know how to do it themselves and despite being around them for most of their lives, the men do not understand how to interact with people that aren’t male. This is not to say that there aren’t moments where actual differences in the characters present themselves. Maggie is shown to have a temper, Vicky is just out to steal Mitch’s fortune, etc. These do happen throughout the movie, but they are few and far between. I left out more sexist scenes and bits of dialogue than defining character bits. I still like this movie, but I needed to highlight the stereotypes and sexism present in the film. An important part of consuming media is being able to think critically about it and since this movie was one of my favorites as a child, I wanted to analyze it now that I am almost an adult. I am sad to find so many issues in the film since it is one of my favorites, but we must learn from our mistakes and make better movies in the future.

Have you seen the 1961 version of The Parent Trap? What did you think of it? Did I leave something important out of my analysis? Do you think I’m entirely wrong? Let’s have a discussion.

-Alora

*I would like to make a note that I am looking at this from a very modern perspective, so it is possible that women did interact with each other this way in the 60’s, but I still think the writers were lazy with characterization.

RE: I MESSED UP. (ABC’s of LGBT ‘Oops’ edition)

Hello guys. This blog post is in response to Ashley Mardell’s most recent video entitled I MESSED UP. (ABC’s of LGBT ‘Oops’ edition). This blog might make a bit more sense if you watch the video first because I want to address Ashley and Milo directly, but you obviously don’t have to watch the video or even read this blog if you don’t want to.

Now, let’s get down to business. First of all, Ashley and Milo, thank you for making this. I had some qualms about the gender episodes of this series as well, but I wasn’t sure how to voice them since I am a cis-girl and I wasn’t entirely sure my qualms were right. Ashley, I am glad that you are continuing your channel’s conversation on gender. I think it is very important for people to learn about the different possibilities for gender and sexuality. (This is not saying gender and sexuality have anything to do with each other.)

I am so happy that the internet has given people more opportunities to learn about the experiences of others. Blogs like this one and videos like yours enable us to share and connect with others. I think that is an important step in the growing understanding that the world is gaining about the LGBT community. People like Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner are helping bring the conversation about gender to the mainstream and I think both ladies are doing a wonderful job.

Ashley, your endscreen thoughts mentioned people calling the conversation around gender “so tumblr” and “social justice-y” and I completely understand and feel the same way you do about it. The purpose of this gender conversation is to help people who don’t fit into the gender binary gain recognition and, as you said, validation. It is rude to not use the correct pronouns for a person. I don’t care if you don’t believe that they are trans. I do not care if you don’t believe them. They have asked that you use she/her pronouns or he/him pronouns or they/them pronouns when referring to them and it is your job to be respectful and use their correct pronouns. Hint: their correct pronouns are the ones they told you to use.

Let’s bring out a hypothetical story. Say you have a friend, Nina. She is your best friend, and she just told you a huge secret: she was physically abused by her mother as a child. Now, this is a huge secret and she’s asked you not to tell anyone ever. I’m assuming that you would respect her wishes, and not tell anyone. Not even your other friends or parents. Now, how does this relate to pronouns, you ask?

Someone’s pronouns aren’t usually a secret, but they are still a request that someone is asking of you. You wouldn’t disrespect your friend Nina and tell all your friends she’s got “mommy issues,” and that’s why she’s “so crazy.” So why are some people so quick to disrespect others who asked them to use different pronouns than the ones that you think should apply to them.

Imagine you are a girl. You know in your heart that you are a girl, but you like to wear your hair short, and lots of pants, and baggy shirts. Because of this, people often call you “Young man” or refer to you using he/him pronouns. How would you feel if you told them, “Actually, I’m a girl,” and they didn’t believe you. They continued to call you “young man” and “son.” How would that make you feel? That’s how most trans people feel when you don’t use their correct pronouns.

Just from looking at someone. You do not know who they are or what they are. Your mind automatically assigns them to one of two gender boxes our society has created based on their outward appearance, but that box does not always apply to where they fall on the gender spectrum. They may fit into a different box, or they may fit into two or three boxes. Or maybe they don’t fit into any box. If they tell you what box they fit into or don’t fit into, then it is your job to respect them, if only as a person, and categorize them that way in your head. It can be difficult sometimes, but it is only human decency.

That is why it is completely ridiculous for people to call the conversation about gender “so tumblr” and “social justice-y.” These labels don’t really apply. Recognizing someone’s gender is human decency, not a stunt to be “as social justice-y as possible.” As you said in your video Ashley, the conversation about gender is to help people feel validated, and there is no downside to that. The validation of one person does not affect your validation. Not one bit.

Please, readers, remember that people are people, no matter their gender or sexuality and people deserve the basic respect that you would give another human. Now go forth and learn more about gender. There are hundreds of wonderful resources that can teach you about the intricacies of gender and gender expression.

What questions do you have on gender? What are your thoughts on gender expression and pronouns? Did I make a mistake in my explanation? Please comment below, and we can continue the discussion.

I’ll see you down in the comments.

-Alora