Archive for February, 2019

The Women’s Action Coalition marches in support of lesbian rights in the 1992 Gay Pride Parade.

Lesbophobia Past and Present

By ANN MONTAGUE

Lesbians resist and rebel against institutions and belief systems that oppress us. Starting as young girls we fight against the tyranny of pink. Today, the situation is worse than ever for all girls, as multi-million-dollar corporations become the enforcers of oppressive sex stereotyping.

Over the last 10 years, Disney has marketed over 26,000 “Princess” items. This has not only become the fastest growing brand for Disney, it is also the largest franchise in the world for girls ages two to six. The products are all about clothes, jewelry, makeup, and of course, being rescued by the prince.

Disney enforces oppressive gender norms for girls by idealizing the institution of monogamous heterosexual marriage (Cinderella, Little Mermaid, The Princess, and the Frog). Princesses can only be imagined as heterosexual and their greatest success can only be the fairy-tale wedding, which renders them as property.

At the same time, the proliferation of pink sends more messages to girls. Pink becomes more than a color, and academics have even created the word “pinkification,” which is defined as “teaching and reinforcing stereotypes that limit the way girls perceive themselves.”

Peggy Orenstein, the author of a recent book, “Cinderella Ate My Daughter,” asked a sales rep, “Is all this pink really necessary? There are other colors in the rainbow.” He laughed, “I guess girls are just born loving pink.” There are, of course, girls who rebel, turn their backs on imposed limitations, and shout, “Pink Stinks.”

As lesbians enter their teenage years, the struggle continues as it becomes clear that they are not even trusted to name their own experience.

A young Arab American lesbian did a Q and A interview about her first novel, which was a 2018 finalist in the Wishing Well Book Awards’ “Books For Teenagers” category. She was aghast and appalled when the interview was published. Everywhere that she had said the word “lesbian,” they had changed the word to “queer” in their quotations.

“I was rebranded,” she said. “I became the mythological ‘if the situation were right’ lesbian. Queer has become the ‘I am not going to rule anything out because I am an open-minded girl.’ It doesn’t carry the sting of ‘lesbian.’ The stigma of ‘lesbian.’ The boundaries of ‘lesbian.’ Lesbian is a solid ‘no.’”

She added that she would never have said that the androgynous lesbian character in her book was “presenting a gender,” as her interviewer had made up. “That unwillingness to bend is the very reason lesbians are targeted with insidious psychological warfare.”

Why did she (Julia Diana Robertson “Beyond The Screen Door”) have this strong reaction? It was not just that she was “misquoted,” and it was not aimed at those who choose to identify as queer. It was because lesbians of all ages are seeing themselves, as well as their history erased. This, of course, is nothing new, but after past years of struggle there is now an aggressive resurgence.

She was shocked that words she would never use to describe herself or the characters in her novel were put into her mouth. The interviewer admitted unapologetically what she had done; she was trying to “provide space for all LGBTQ women.” In doing that, however, she excluded Julia from her own story, and by extension, all lesbians.

Lesbian critical theory (more…)

Last week, local media published Hartford Police Officer Kelly Baerga’s detailed report of extensive sexual harassment, homophobia, and sexism within the Hartford Police Department.
If this is how women and LGBTQ police officers are treated, how people in the community being treated?

Local news story: https://www.wfsb.com/…/article_7dea0622-3004-11e9-b027-9fbb…

Full report: https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/…/5c64da650011…

Statement of February 24, 2019 from HPD Not Safe For Women.

Today’s statement

Women in Hartford are not safe and the HPD is our biggest threat.

Officer Baerga is a woman and a Latina and a lesbian, she is one of us. She is a sworn police officer and she is not safe from sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior from Sgt. Rodney at the Hartford Police Department. She went through the proper channels to address her harassment, and those channels made it clear that their Old Boys club would not protect her or take her complaints seriously.

Today we ask, if a police officer is not safe, what about a woman who calls for help or police protection? What about a woman involved in an incident that police are called to? What if a woman is arrested? How safe will they be?

Sgt. Rodney needs to go. NOW! City Hall and the HPD have stretched this out for far too long, hoping that it will disappear. We demand a full and complete investigation of the entire Hartford Police Department and all unresolved sexual harassment complaints.
ALL OF THEM!! Investigate every internal complaint and every community complaint involving women. Go back at least five years. What is the process? Who investigates these complaints? What were the outcomes?

WHY DON’T WE KNOW THIS!

This is situation intolerable. Sgt. Rodney is today’s unfortunate example of what happens when City leadership choses to stand back in the face of abuse because it’s messy and uncomfortable. Welcome to Hartford, we are a beautifully diverse city of messy and uncomfortable. We demand better city leadership. We demand that those at the HPD who knew this was happening, gave Sgt. Rodney the space to abuse officer Baerga and have been dragging their feet since May, step down and allow our HPD to step into the 21st century.
The behavior of the HPD reflects what the Mayor and City Council are willing to allow. If they won’t demand that the HPD treat ALL women with respect, we will vote them ALL out in November!

For years, the Hartford Police Department has cultivated a culture of gender discrimination and homophobia that has allowed officers to abuse each other with almost no fear of retaliation.

For more on the movement in Hartford Ct. HPD Is Not Safe For Women go to their facebook page HERE.

Furbirdsqueerly is compiling a article on the history of ourstories and the interaction with HPD over the long years of our movement.

Powerful Gay Rights Groups Excluded Trans People for Decades — Leaving Them Vulnerable to Trump’s Attack
The LGBTQ community needs to grapple with its history of ignoring its most vulnerable members

By Evan Greer

The U.S. government is reportedly considering policy changes that would attempt to definitionally “erase” transgender and non-binary people from federal civil rights law. In practice, this could make it nearly impossible for many of us to get a driver’s license or passport, go to the doctor for basic medical care, get food stamps or rent an apartment.
An attack on marginalized people from the administration behind family separation policies and Muslim travel bans is hardly a surprise. But there’s a reason the transgender community is in the government’s crosshairs. There was a target painted on our backs. And it was put there not just by the religious right and gender essentialist crusaders, but by the mainstream gay rights movement, which for the better part of the last century has repeatedly backed away from — and sometimes even fought on the wrong side of — the battles that most affect trans and gender nonconforming people.

The Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis, two of the first formally organized gay and lesbian rights organizations in the United States, actively discouraged members from engaging in “deviant” expressions of gender and sexuality. Rather than challenge the rigid and repressive gender roles of postwar America, they embraced them in the interest of political gain. For example, their “Annual Reminder” pickets for gay rights in the late 1960s had a strict dress code: Men had to wear white shirts and slacks, and women had to wear dresses. They fought against discrimination on the grounds that they were “normal homosexuals,” and trans people did not fit under that rubric. These groups thought that conforming to societal standards would advance their singular cause: acceptance.

Throughout the ’60s and ’70s, white, middle-class, cisgender gays and lesbians made advances in both legal protection and social status. States started decriminalizing homosexuality, the American Psychiatric Association declared that it was not a psychiatric disorder, and Elaine Noble, the first openly lesbian or gay legislator, took her seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. But those outside the mainstream continued to live in untenable conditions. For gender-nonconforming people, it was nearly impossible to find steady employment, and police routinely raided bars and establishments where they gathered.

Resistance swelled in uprisings like the Compton Cafeteria riot in 1966, in which trans women and drag queens resisted arrest at a 24-hour eatery in San Francisco, and later the Stonewall rebellion, where crowds led by trans and gender-nonconforming people of color, sex workers and youths fought back against the police who regularly harassed, beat and violated them. Gender-defiant activists such as Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson emerged as leaders. As a direct response to the failure of other gay rights groups to fight for the most vulnerable, they founded the collective Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, which provided a shelter for trans people in New York.

Still, the leadership of the Gay Activists Alliance cut trans people out of New York City’s landmark 1971 attempt to pass anti-discrimination legislation, by removing protections for gender identity and presentation. They claimed that such an “extreme” bill could never succeed. Even with this “compromise,” it didn’t pass until 1986. (more…)

We are a member of the Queer Artist group on facebook and have come to love certain artists in the group and always look forward to their new postings and comments. J. Bruce Wilcox is an artist that we love and admire. Not only for his art but for his social commentaries. Wilcox says about himself “I refer to myself as a fiber or textile artist. I am not a quilter. I do not make quilts. I do not think like a quilter. My reasons for creating and my intended end-use of that creation are different than most quilters. And I don’t give a fuck about the tradition of quiltmaking. I just call it art.” Indeed and we do too. We are showing some examples of his art, work that inspires us, moves us and gets us thinking. We hope our readers from all over the world will find as much enjoyment in his work as we do.

J. Bruce Wilcox has given this blog permission to publish this exhibition and we thank him.

“I am an artist making art not a quilter making quilts!”

J. Bruce Wilcox (this work is unfinished)

“As an out gay male working in a predominately female medium- over time I’ve had to deal with all the stereotypes involved. I learned to sew when I was 8. I’ve been working with/in fiber my whole life. I made my first art quilt in 1977 and won a Best-In-Show award on it. I was 24 and nobody knew what an art quilt was.”

Below is one of our favorite art works, Masquerade. Bruce says about work such as this: “I’m an abstract artist- having little interest in representational art. My history/roots are artists who moved away from representation into pure abstraction- including geometric and math influenced artists- as well as pop/op artists. My work continues to be about vibration- but also texture. And although it’s mostly me who is confrontational- the work is inherently challenging because it simply no longer has anything to do with the tradition of quiltmaking.”

Masquerade.

Masquerade like many of J. Bruce Wilcox’s work captured my interest for their movement, and their vibration adding that whole other dimension to the art works. This work moves us into the great tradition of the Op Artists who I believe have to be some of the most interesting artists creating some of the more interesting art works of the 20th century. Think about it, a flat canvas, an art work that moves, it no longer stays still hanging up there on the wall. It is here and there, vibrating, flashing, swelling, wrapping, moving in and out, disappearing and reappearing. When I was in high school my art teacher was involved with the Op Art Movement. Myself and a few other budding young artists were invited to the opening of the Responsive Eye at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1965. How thrilled she was to have her work hanging in the same room as Josef Albers. The connection, she was one of the people who brought Albers and his wife Annie to this country. Masquerade by J. Bruce Wilcox could have hung brilliantly among the other works in the exhibition. Next up is the eye popping unfinished work that would cause Bridget Riley to applaud.

Existential Foundation

This work above is unfinished but we find it to be extraordinary. It captures the spirit of abstract art and brings it beyond. Truly on the way to becoming a masterpiece. (more…)

Posted: February 19, 2019 in Call to Action, for your reflection

After LA:
The Battle for Education
and the Emerging Labor Movement

Thursday, February 28th
7:00pm
Elmwood Community Center
1106 New Britain Avenue, West Hartford, CT
(Gain access via 11 Burgoyne street on GPS)

After the ground-breaking strikes from West Virginia to Oklahoma to Arizona to Los Angeles – and now likely Oakland – join us to discuss struggles over education in Connecticut and what we can learn from the wave of community-supported teacher-strikes across the U.S.

Speakers Include:
Pam Cobham – Retired Hartford School Social Worker
Josh Blanchfield – Hartford Public School Teacher

Sponsored by CT Socialist Action
For more information: 860-662-6278