queer utopia, gay utopia, future lgbtq

Our Queer Future and Beyoncé’s Accidental Impact

The amazing feeling when someone sums up your thoughts perfectly… I was lucky to get that feeling. How so? Like most good things, it started with Beyoncé.

Now, I frequently tweet about Beyoncé:

Exhibit A

Exhibit B Read More

Mindfulness Meditation

WHEN YOU HAVE HAD IT UP TO HERE AND YOU JUST CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE JUST CALM DOWN AND TAKE A DEEP BREATH. THEN RELEASE IT. THEN KEEP REPEATING. AND ANYTIME YOU START THINKING ABOUT WHAT GOT YOU TO THAT POINT, ACKNOWLEDGE THE THOUGHT AND THEN LET IT GO.

Eventually you’ll leave your CAPS LOCK mode.

Mindfulness meditation is a Western (European/American) take on an ancient meditation practice found in Buddhism. Appropriated so as to leave out its native spirituality, mindfulness meditation in this Mainstream/New Age context is centered around the Western values of efficiency and optimization–that is, living a better material life by proactively seeking that which gives us advantages competitively at work/school and mental peace in this digital age of “instant-everything-everywhere-ness.” Read More

Preventing Activist Burnout by Stepping Back

Have you ever felt like a plastic bag drifting through the wind wanting to start again? This analogy of activist burnout may be one of the only things Katy Perry got right in a long career of being a problematic attention seeker fave. From Tray Martin to Renisha McBride to “Jane Doe” to Veronica Bolina to Freddie Grey–it’s enough to make someone feel like nothing will change as it hasn’t for centuries. It’s enough to give anyone paying attention activist burnout. Read More

laverne cox nude photoshoot

CQ Weekly Review (April 19-24)

So, how has this week been for the Contemporary Queer?

 

For Real HRC? For Real, For Real?

trans support marriage equality hrc

So yeah… Found this on Twitter.

Really, HRC? #LoveCantWait but trans people can take a number? Y’all just gonna… But I had thought…. But y’all had said… I thought we was gonna… Here’s why this is a slap in the face to trans people. Again. Or is it a constant slap that never really ended despite promising to do better?

 

Youth Empowerment Conference (Boston/NE)

The Hispanic-Black Gay Coalition is getting ready for it’s annual Youth Empowerment Conference and is inviting you to present in what it calls “currently the largest conference gathering of LGBTQ youth of color and their allies in New England”. So if you plan to be around, why don’t you share your knowledge and skills with these awesome and deserving kids? Here’s the signup sheet!

 

Perspective on Black Gay Privilege

Tabias Wilson complicated Black Gay Male “Privilege” in Gawker this week, breaking down a piece published earlier by John Fitzgerald Gates about the same topic. In his piece, Tabias went in on what that the “privilege” entailed and offered us a glimpse into his life to demonstrate the high price black queer men paid for the so-called “privilege”:

Walking into the office felt like I was on the auction block. I was clothed and free-ish—but my socioeconomic future depended on the presentation of my blackness, the (imagined) invitation of my queerness, and her unfettered, unregulated, and unencumbered access to it. This was the price I paid in order to work on an issue vital to the survival of my people, black people, BlaQueer people. In order to pitch policies, garner grants, and direct funding to black HIV survivors and those at-risk for acquisition, I had to mortgage my body and use the proceeds as license to work on a leash. …Read More>>

 

 American Vogue’s First Openly Trans Model

Finally! 23 year old model Andreja Pejic is the first transgender model to be featured in American Vogue.

“If at the beginning of my career in the modelling industry or half way through it or even this time last year you told me that I would end up having a 4 page feature in American Vogue I would have probably told you ‘oh I dunno about that…  So you can only imagine what I’m feeling right now,” wrote the 23-year-old transgender model on an Instagram post to announce her breakthrough appearance on the magazine. …Read More>>

 

 Laverne Cox Subverts the Gaze

Actress and activist Laverne Cox slayed in her empowering nude photoshoot with Allure Magazine! In Laverne’s own words:

“But I’m a black transgender woman. I felt this could be really powerful for the communities that I represent. Black women are not often told that we’re beautiful unless we align with certain standards. Trans women certainly are not told we’re beautiful. Seeing a black transgender woman embracing and loving everything about herself might be inspiring to some other folks. There’s beauty in the things we think are imperfect. That sounds very cliché, but it’s true. …Read More>>

 

Your Take

So what’s your take in the news presented this week? Good news? Bad news? Got something we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

Got any news you wanna see here next week? Tweet us at @ConQueerMag (use our sidebar too!)

8 Undeniable Signs Your Child is Queer or Trans

Is there something not quite straight about your kid that you can’t put your finger on?

Do they seem to be more interested in playing with toys not arbitrarily marked as belonging to the gender they belong to with splashes of color that, only 100 years ago, had a different signification?

Do they question why when it comes to the obvious and meticulously thought-out reasons that some people only wear pants and some people only wear skirts and dresses? (Unless they’re Jaden Smith or Kanye West or preserving Scottish heritage?)

But you don’t wanna slam down any accusations of queer or lesbian or gay or transgender prematurely, do you?

384883_500590996625247_1674954897_n
Science is finding ways to improve our methodology as we speak.

 

This post is for parents and parental figures who want to know for certain that the signs are 100% correct with no ambiguity whatsoever. In order to activate, you simply begin to listen to your kid when….

1. They tell you in the living room.

2. They tell you in the car.

3. They write you a letter telling you so.

4. They email you telling you so.

5. They text you telling you so.

6. They do an interpretive dance act and ask you to interpret the dance and upon your multiple failed attempts they sigh and finally tell you but not before asking you to go to take a class.

7. They sit in silence after calling you over and then say nevermind and then call you back and blurt it out quickly and you ask them to repeat and they tell you.

8. They make a riddle based on words and the revelation is the answer and you confirm to make sure “I’m Gary” wasn’t the answer and they’re not telling you about a secret double life.

And these are only the tip of the iceberg.

Fun fact: There’s no “way” to know. Sexuality and gender are very subjective experiences that are shaped and molded by the individual and their environment. No matter how “your sister always knows” and you caw-caw and kiki about how you knew so-and-so was such-and-such, the winning bet is creating a comfortable and inviting space and waiting for them to tell you. If they so choose.

Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments below telling us how you create open and inviting space for others to be able to share. Or tell us about someone who made it extremely easy for you to come out or just be yourself without having to say anything.

Day of Silence Alternative Options

So in another post about Day of Silence, one of several “queer holidays” and observances, we discussed what it is in depth and why it might not be for everybody due to the whole top-down privilege thing and who gets seen as human (ergo, whose silence matters most and whose goes unnoticed because they weren’t being listened to anyway).

While Day of Silence is noble in that it stands in solidarity with bullied students, it frames interpersonal bullying solely for one’s queerness as the only hurdle to those students. Not playing “Oppression Olympics”, but anyone with eyes can see the hurdles are surely stacked.

So. We already know everybody isn’t here for Day of Silence, so in this quickie post, I’m just here to make some noise about a potential alternative to Day of Silence: Day of the Silenced.

So what that be?

What if instead of acting as though queerness exists solely in a vacuum impervious to privilege and oppression, we use Day of the Silenced to give voice and recognition to people who face oppression for being queer in addition to the obstacles they already face. It would require folks examine themselves and their stations in life before and after LISTENING to people who are silenced. In this way, not only are white queer folks centered, but we can recognize that class, race, religion, disability, etc. play a large role in what we define as queerness. Day of the Silenced would show that queer is complicated and multidimensional and stand in solidarity with a greater number of bullied students.

Idk, just a thought.

What do you think would be a great alternative to Day of Silence. DO you think there even needs to be one and Day of Silence represents everyone by itself? Let us know in the comments section!

Day of Silence: None for Me, Thanks

So as you may know, tomorrow is the “queer holiday” Day of Silence. While they won’t let you out of work for it, it’s still something you may choose to observe and participate in. So what is it?

Day of Silence is a day meant to bring attention to queerphobia (transphobia and homophobia) at schools and other educational institutions. According to the offical Day of Silence website by GLSEN:

In 1996, students at the University of Virginia organized the first Day of Silence in response to a class assignment on non-violent protests with over 150 students participating in this inaugural event. In 1997, organizers took their effort nationally and nearly 100 colleges and universities participated. In 2001, GLSEN became the official organizational sponsor for the event.

In practice, people involved in Day of Silence remain quiet and, when asked why they aren’t speaking, point to a button somewhere on their person or hand out cards/pamphlets about Day of Silence and why it is necessary. Many campuses end the day with a teach-in or presentation about bullying or homelessness–really anything having to do with the disenfranchisement of youth.

While many people on campuses across the United States recognize and support Day of Silence as it was intended, others have criticisms and observe it in a different way. Originally this post was meant to be solely informative, but as I wrote and inquired, it seemed that contemporary queers are a tad more vocal than the Day of Silence permits.

I asked you all to speak up on the Day of Silence

Here were your responses:

Marcus (EastEndChild)

Dia Materialista (@diamaterialista)

Jayy Dodd (@JayyDodd)

Reina (@ReinaAtlantico)

https://twitter.com/ReinaAtlantico/status/585411173937385472

Andressa (@CYBERSTALIN)

Josh Lee (@j_manasa)

Marcus (@MarcusInE17)

So let’s look at what all these points of view have in common: To choose silence on this day is a privilege.

If you are not “out” to your family, friends or work, you may have suspicion cast on you and the likelihood of being homeless or unemployed (or just living in a toxic environment) increases. If you are already a part of a silenced marginalized group based on your race or religion, choosing silence can be seen as almost the ultimate de-arming of yourself in the face of attacks–attacks that can be really triggering of past queerphobic violence. There’s also the idea that we already have very little say in our day to day lives, so why glorify the act of silence?

When we take white supremacy, cis-normitivity, male-domination and heteronormativity into account, it becomes abundantly clear that “Day of Silence” is an observance whose narrative says that, prior to your voluntary silence, your voice was valued and you were deemed human because people are supposed to notice your silence. What does it say when historically silenced people continue to be silent and revel in it?

So while Day of Silence may be seen as taking a bold stand (and it is probably effective at some levels of society), many don’t feel like it’s as big a bag a chips as it is made out to be. And while it is certainly your choice to observe and practice it or not, know that there are reasons that some people do not find it the least bit applicable to their daily lives and don’t do that thing where you shame people for having different opinions or accuse them of not contributing to “unity”.

It ain’t cute and it ain’t contemporary.

*Featured image courtesy of anacriszim.

How to Start a Blog

There’s no reason you can’t make your own these days. If you want a platform to express yourself, to give your takes on important topics, or provide a space for others, you have the ability to do just that. You can do podcasts, you can vlog–anything.

If you’re here, I’d imagine you were looking to start a blog because someone said “well if you don’t like it, make your own” and you were all like “well maybe I will” and so you set out to do so but you wanted some queer intersectional sauce up in your startup. We got you, boo.

We gotchu.

In this post, we will go into the “program” aspects of creating a blog and not so much of the technical aspects.

1. Theme & Purpose

So why are you starting a blog? Are you doing it so you can build up your writing experience? Draw in readers from a particular community and become an authority voice? Just want to be one of the cool kids? Or even make a space that can be a conduit for other voices?

Your purpose is important because then you’ll have a driving force behind your platform. It’s like the mission statement to a business: What are you serving and why?

For example, Contemporary Queer has a mission to bring relevant topics and nuggets of thought to queer Millennials while empowering them to be agents in their own destinies. Everything we do here is meant to reflect that.

If you were to make a blog, what would it center around and how would you drive that theme forward? Is there a group already into what you’re thinking that could lend a hand or an ear? Could you do it without getting bored for a long time or would you have to develop discipline like none other just to create a few weeks worth of content?

2. Audience

Audience is very important. And it’s important that you be genuine or else you’ll be seen through immediately. Why? People prefer authenticity.

When you are authentic, there’s just something that other people (especially other people in your community or group) can recognize and identify with. There’s an air of “walk the walk” that, when you fake it, doesn’t go very far. So why is that important for audience?

If you want loyal readers (especially from a community based on the same interests and way of life) you have to speak to them in the same language and tone they use with each other (if appropriate). You’ll have to speak to them in the tone they want to hear what you have to say in and it’s easier when you’re not speaking at them, but to them or with them.

And even if you aren’t writing for a community, having one in mind may help your writing direction. More on that in the next topic…

3. Community (or Nah?)

So while I just waned poetic about the necessity of speaking to folks in their language, that’s kind of dependent on a few things. Like–are you trying to appeal to a community/specific type of person? Conventional wisdom holds that when you communicate it is likely to another person/group, but it could very well be that you’re just throwing blog stuff at a wall and seeing what sticks.

But even if you do decide to write without a community in mind, you’ll still want to keep your blog’s tone consistent. This way people can know what to expect from you, and if they appreciate your content (while perhaps not being a part of the community you’re writing for/writing for “theoretically”) they’ll come back often.

But aside from writing/content, it also comes down to this: Are you allowing yourself to be beholden/accountable to a specific group of people? When you write for a community, you embed yourself into the community and its members will accept, tolerate, or reject you. Likewise, you begin to customize your writing based on the specific issues affecting them at any given moment in time.

If you choose not to be a part of a community but still write content that concerns them or on behalf of them, you are more free to write however and whatever you choose, but it will be your content that gets praise/shared when it is good and you personally who gets dragged/called out if it is insulting.

When we want to praise, we uphold the words. When we want to drag, we look for the @.

~Sage Nenyue, “Yes, I Quoted Myself” Vol. 3

In my case, I’ve been “in the community” since I was 15, in the sense that I have always looked at things equality-wise and used my writing to serve my understanding of justice and liberation. So personally, if I’m going to blog about LGBTQ stuff, I’d rather write for the community as a part of that community.

4. Reward

If you love creating, there’s reward in blogging for the sake of blogging. You can do you for you and can’t nobody but you hold you back. There might also be other reasons you blog which I break down into “glory”, “impact”, and “gain”.

A. Glory

Glory refers to the social capital you want to build or your own personal brand. When people hear your name and they think of how you brought them a smile or how you always liven up their days, that’s glory. The positive in this one comes off as two-fold, because if you’re looking for glory and you try too hard, it will show. People will clock you quickly. On the flip side, if you’re humble (or at the very least have a good humility mask on), people will speak highly of you and your refined dignity and creations.

B. Impact

Blogging with impact as the focus mostly takes you out of the equation and makes you the byline with the message as the most important part. While you don’t have to be as stiff as a news blog, your writing will come off as informative and heart-touching without all of you and your feel-feels getting in the way. It will feel neutral/natural and the reader will be able to see themselves in your creation. And if it’s great content (and you protect yourself against being plagiarized or cut out of the credit), you’ll find yourself with relative glory and gain in time while belting out Bey’s “I Was Here”.

B. Gain

When you blog for gain, you do so with the intent of making money or getting presents from brands that you can deliver the eyes of your audience to. Instagram and Youtube bloggers are the first ones that spring to mind when creating that visual lifestyle of ostentation. It’s not wrong or bad–everybody needs to make a buck under capitalism–but blogging for gain is associated with ugly things for those who can spot it: Shoddy content, unnatural writing (SEO), quantity over quality, shallow community relations (if any). It makes the readers feel cheated, especially if they aren’t getting any value in return.

So if you blog for gain, either make quality content that readers enjoy and can identify with, or make it worth their while to be associated with you.

In the spirit of full disclosure: You might notice some ads on Contemporary Queer. Well, until we get funding from a rich daddy or mama that’s tryna pay our bills but not expecting us to compromise our message or audience, Google is one of the few low-cost investments I know to make money to be able to pay writers and develop programs in the future.

Conclusion

These are some things to consider when starting a blogging platform and it’s only the tip of the iceberg. I share these because I want to see more spaces that prioritize us flourish and thrive. Do you know how it broke my heart when I couldn’t find a compact trans take on “Trans Day of Visibility” in time for the Five Queer Holidays post and had to use the MSNBC storify? Nothing against major mainstream news networks, but I am more interested in empowering our folks first and foremost.

If you have tips to add, leave a comment and we’ll share them on Twitter. If you are interested in writing for Contemporary Queer, here’s how!

How to Engage Problematic Media

“Your fave is problematic!”

You know you’ve heard that said at some point in time. But what does problematic mean?

Problematic media is the term for media that clashes with the values and attitudes that you hold–something like a guilty pleasure but on the ideological level. Problematic media is subjective so it varies from person to person and group to group–in fact, members of a group might not even agree that the same media is problematic.

An example might see an environmental activist Ian watching a television show that has an anti-recycling messages. The activist would never throw a glass bottle in the container intended for paper products, but they do it so frequently on the show. And with glee!

So should Ian stop watching the show? Some say yes, but I say no. Ian isn’t going to suddenly stop recycling and rallying on behalf of trees just because they do it in a show. But he doesn’t have to like that aspect of the show.

It’s OK to enjoy problematic media. They are, after all, guilty pleasures. But you can indulge yourself without being mindless. By keeping true to yourself and empowering yourself to call out the aspects you disagree with, you can successfully engage with problematic media and emerge victorious. Here’s how.

problematic, your fave is problematic, queer

Understand Boundaries

Keep yourself grounded by reminding yourself who you are and what you’re about. If you are a Christian but you LOVE House of Cards where the Kevin Spacey’s character constantly berates Jesus and talks trash about religious people, remember that you are not Kevin Spacey and you don’t live in the House of Cards universe. While media engages people by getting them to identify with characters and situations, you have to be grown enough to draw your line in the sand and just be like “lol that aint me.”

A great way to do this is reminding yourself what you value and that what you’re watching is a program that, while it can attempt to persuade you, does not make the decisions in your life.

Take me for example–I love pop music. But I am not a fan of the n-word or the b-word. So tell me why some of my favorite songs are Niggas in Paris and Bitch Better Have My Money.

I could be at a party and if either of those songs come on you’ll only see the trail behind me as I get to the dance floor. You will see me dance to the words as the music bump-bump-bumps. Does this mean I’m now gonna take to calling everyone I see the n-word or that all women (friends or enemies) are now b-words? Absolutely not.

Knowing boundaries means remembering who you are and maintaining that no matter what is going on outside. And while you may love your media, you are not music or television.

Actively Remind Yourself that you can be Critical

Listen closely because this is important: Critiquing a thing does not diminish your love for the thing. I’ll say it again for the folks in the back:

Critiquing a thing does not diminish your love for the thing.

~Ancient Proverb

A critique is an understanding that you are taking something apart and separating it’s elements and evaluating what is good and what can cause harm (if that’s the kind of analysis you’re making). We do it in art, media–heck, we even do it with people!

You love Auntie Ya Ya but she can’t give good advice for crap! And that’s OK. Eat her specialty mashed potatoes at family reunions, laugh at her stories about what times were like in her heyday, let her pray for you (even if its not your thing but you’re OK with it) when you have a big exam that day. But when she tries to tell you what you should do, remember the last few times you listened to her and make an excuse to hightail it out of there! (Also, pro-tip: Maybe don’t tell her to her face that she gives bad advice. You’re welcome.)

Aunt Ya Ya... hopefully not giving advice.
Aunt Ya Ya… hopefully not giving advice.

When it comes to media pieces (individual television shows, songs, video games, etc) , figure out how to dissect it and understand it an decide if you want to continue to partake.

Remember Nicki Minaj and the time she used Nazi imagery in her video? Even her biggest fans found it difficult to get down with it. That doesn’t mean they immediately began hating her. They called her out on her mess up and continued.

A quick rundown I do is something like this:


What

What is the piece and what is it about? From the jump, do you rock with what it’s about or do you have some hesitations? What are they and why?

Audience

Who is the intended audience? Based on the way it’s presented, can you figure out who the maker of the piece had in mind when they were creating it? What language is used?

Benefits

What do you gain by consuming this piece? Does it make you laugh or smile when you’re having a rough day? Are there good life lessons to be learned? Does it validate you with a kudos?

Negatives

How do you feel after you finish consuming? Do you feel dirty? Is that level of dirt worth re-consuming? Is this something you’d recommend to your squad/associates/family?


This is kind of how I continued watching Don’t Trust the B* in Apartment 23 whereas I fell off the wagon on 2 Broke Girls and never quite picked it back up (and never really wanted to). I find 23 hilarious for reasons unknown to my conscious mind whereas Broke Girls gets my laughs because I have a surplus of joy in my heart. Anyway, here’s an example of the method I use.

What: Both were silly sitcoms that centered around two women living together in New York City where one was responsible (relatively) and the other was fiercely independent and intense. They get into crazy situations. In 23, the plot revolves around a Millennial who had a promising future trying to make it in the real world (and the shit of her crazy roommate). In Broke Girls, it’s about an heiress that lost everything trying to build a company with a perpetually poor city girl.

Audience: I see both audiences as being white Millennial girls from maybe 16 to 30, give or take. The humor and scenarios seem to be those that would resonate with them.

Benefits: The benefits of watching the 23 is that I get a laugh every time. The one liners and situations are hilarious. It also speaks to me as someone who left college expecting the world and having to start small–like most Millennials. Broke Girls also has laughs, but it really speaks to me as someone who enjoys entrepreneurship. It lays out lessons on how to save, make, and deal with money in a way that’s anything but boring.

Negatives: The negatives of both are that a lot of their jokes fall flat because I’m just not hip with ironic/casual racism and sexism. Some of the tones of the humor are cringeworthy and fall flat–the mockery of other cultures falls on the doing it for the sake of doing it side. Also I’m not keen on their representations of “real NYC” as being uber-not diverse and taking on a Let’s Gentrify aesthetic. But to each their own.

So both of them are problematic to me (in ways that may not be to you–or at all) and I acknowledge that. And if I decide to continue either series, it will be because I decide the benefits outweigh the negatives. While I haven’t gotten past half of season two of Broke Girls four seasons, I admit I’m lowkey upset that 23 was cancelled.

Don’t be Shamed for Liking what you Like

The mouth is yours so you can say what you want. The ears are yours and you can listen to what you want. The  preferences are yours and you can prefer them all you want.

So often we fall into the trap of curtailing our tastes and preferences to match those of other groups and people. As I said earlier, if you keep your values close to your heart and know that it’s perfectly fine to critique and evaluate the media you intake, engaging with problematic media is no big deal.

Someone who doesn’t agree with my point can argue that by watching it or recommending it, we give power to those who create and perpetuate the problematic aspects. That’s a valid argument. This is why it is important to analyze and evaluate the things we take into minds and share with others while simultaneously taking the action to call it out. For example: “Last episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta was hilarious, but the way they portrayed the situation around so-and-so was NOT OK in the slightest.” Share your thoughts. Talk to others about it. Write a piece discussing what was wrong. Connect with others who share that opinion and, if you want to take it a step up, campaign to raise awareness of why so-and-so is a problem in media.

Someone can also argue that consuming any problematic media is problematic in and of itself because you perpetuate problematic forms of problematic thoughts and problematic behaviors in this, our problematic world. I think that’s a little extreme, but if it suits you and doesn’t hurt anyone else, do you boo. It’s extreme because we live in a media-saturated world and to disengage (barring a boycott), while it is certainly a noble choice on the part of the person, takes an immense amount of energy that not everyone possesses or has time to employ. You can choose not to watch something (as I discussed above, I no longer watch 2 Broke Girls despite having stopped mid-season), but I promise if you take that route with every piece of problematic media, you’ll have no media.

Stated simply: Your fave is problematic, and that’s OK.

If you want to share how OK you are with your problematic fave, get this awesome shirt and support the blog! It’s the perfect gift! 🙂

your fave is problematic, social justice