White gay cis men have cultural access to the bodies of black women and black femmes, cultural access that black women and black femmes do not have in relation to white gay cis male bodies. This cultural access allows white gay cis men to caricature black femininities, through mannerisms and voice intonations, as rambunctiously depraved and outlandish. It is a form of ontological mockery that reinforces dehumanizing narratives and racist tropes about black femininities. Perez Hilton, who personifies a homonormative politic, has systematically tapped into the cultural access to which I refer at various points in his career. Indeed, the sassy lexicon he, and so many other upper middle class non-disabled white gay cis men like him, employs rests on the commodification and appropriation of black femme identities. Hilton interjecting himself in a social media dispute between two black women, Azealia Banks and Angel Haze, precipitated the Hilton/Banks altercation, which is emblematic of his (problematic) cultural access.
Because our society subscribes to an insidiously misogynistic sociocultural paradigm, to insult someone, notwithstanding gender, is to invoke the feminine. So what better way for Banks to cut Hilton down to size than to call his masculinity into question? The Banks/Hilton feud had absolutely nothing to do with sexual identity (read: homophobia), but rather, gender power dynamics (read: femmephobia). Azealia calling Perez a “messy faggot” suggests an attempt to assert her status as a no-nonsense, hard ass femcee in a largely masculine of center dominated hip-hop industry. Masculine of center queer men, notwithstanding race, appropriate the word bitch. Very often, they use it pejoratively, and with impunity. They’re seldom called out on the ubiquity of their misguided misogyny. Yet, when it comes to Azealia’s use of the word faggot, she’s quickly characterized as homophobic, reinforcing the dominant narrative that people of color are somehow inherently homophobic, to echo Janet Mock’s recent sentiments. Although Azealia Banks is queer, she is not part of a population that would have this slur used against her. That being said, there are other words that are deeply entrenched manifestations of oppression that go unchecked each and every day. Ironically, many gay men who are up in arms over Azealia’s use of the word faggot are the same men who render femme-identified men invisible and undesirable.
Azealia Banks’ career allegedly hangs in the balance and Perez Hilton’s remains firmly intact. She’s now regarded as the ratchet, violently homophobic black woman. By virtue of his white gay cis male privilege, Hilton did not have to contend with the implications of calling will.i.am a faggot several months ago. This isn’t two wrongs make a right, but rather, one wrong is minimized, and the other, pathologized.
Commonly misunderstood, sex-positivity is not a movement rooted in liberating what’s between the legs. Rather, it is a framework for expanding consciousness, promoting tolerance, and rebuilding human respect. It’s a tool for reimagining our bodies, pleasures, and desires as healthy, normal, and diverse. It’s an instrument for reclaiming our power, challenging shame-infesting ideologies, redefining our relationships, and fortifying our sisterhood.
my favorite part of applying to grad school: finding scholars and book i didn’t know about. lovin’ Jafari Allen right now.
“Expanding on Audre Lorde’s vision of embodied, even “useful,” desire, Jafari S. Allen shows how black Cubans engage in acts of “erotic self-making,” reinterpreting, transgressing, and potentially transforming racialized and sexualized interpellations of their identities. He illuminates intimate spaces of autonomy created by people whose multiply subaltern identities have rendered them illegible to state functionaries, and to most scholars. In everyday practices in Havana and Santiago de Cuba—including Santeria rituals, gay men’s parties, hip hop concerts, the tourist-oriented sex trade, lesbian organizing, HIV education, and just hanging out—Allen highlights small but significant acts of struggle for autonomy and dignity.
In my interpretation of it, the logic of an abolitionist position is that it is a direct and radical historical confrontation with the living legacies of anti-black racial slavery, racial colonialism, white supremacist nation-building, as they’ve differently converged in a nation-building project. So one of the most compelling political alternatives abolition can offer is a pedagogical commitment to learning and teaching how these systems are central to our everyday, historical present. The fraudulence of a “post-racial” (or even “post-racist”) society is not hard to show—you can just go to the US government’s own socioeconomic and criminal justice data to demystify the bullshit—but what’s far more difficult is building a racial/anti-racist politics that is about liberation rather than reform and the abolition of genocide rather than genocide management.
Dylan Rodríguez interviewed in Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex
Hundreds of Americans have been arraigned on charges of alleged nondisclosure of HIV statues or transmission of HIV and many have served time in jail — most often in cases where HIV was not transmitted, experts say. Though laws vary by state, there are currently 33 states that criminalize HIV exposure, according to theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention…HIV advocates and legal experts are trying to get these laws off the books, saying they do far more harm than good. The laws deliberately discriminate against a specific group of people, they lead to innocent people serving jail time, and are often based on an outdated understanding of how HIV is transmitted…
Powerful video documenting one woman’s story of being prosecuted for being HIV positive. HIV is not a crime. For more information on HIV criminalization, check out: Sero Project and Positive Justice Project
I suggest we toss out the notion of an urban prototype for good queer living and work more toward recognizing the varieties of similarities and differences in which we all thrive and struggle to survive. It is time to take the urban queer off the pedestal and end the mythical hierarchy of good, better, best ways to be LGBT. To do this we must describe our various lives and lifestyles—exciting, average, and terrifying. We must celebrate our variety and not just some mythical (unitary) “LGBT community.” Also we must recognize that the biases of the dominant culture (celebrating Whiteness, having money, urban lifestyles) permeate our communities as well and begin to seriously self-examine our own biases. In short, it is time to examine the breadth of LGBT experiences, including regional or geographic differences in the experience of LGBT lives.
Sara Crawley, “The Clothes Make the Trans: Region and Geography in Experiences of the Body” (via feministsociology)
My brilliant friend Chase Strangio wrote a really great piece in the Huffington Post on the underlying anti-mental illness/anti-crazy tone of the movement to get GID or GD out of the DSM, and the effects that has on low income, disabled and people of color who are TGNC! Click the link to read!
People who are into “call outs” often wonder aloud why it’s so rare for people to respond with a simple apology. I wonder why, given that a particular approach consistently fails to produce the intended response, they never consider that the approach might be the problem. Again, I understand expressing and owning one’s anger for its own sake, and the sake of self-empowerment, but I don’t understand anyone who regards the “call-out” as a genuinely effective, long-term strategy for dealing with oppression. I also mistrust their motives, given how the majority of call-out culture seems to have nothing to do with actually making anything better for anyone.
“Mainstreaming, normality, being normal. I understand how much everybody likes to fit into that mainstream gay and lesbian community. You know, it used to be a wonderful thing to be avant-garde, to be different from the world. I see us revert into a so-called liberated closet, because we, not we,