I was born in Wisconsin and have spent time in Nebraska, where my mother’s vast set of relatives gathers every year to celebrate family and place. Although today I call California home, I’m always happy to return to the region of the country where I was born. Just recently, I traveled to Chicago for Equality Federation’s Midwest Leadership Summit, the annual gathering of our Midwest Cohort.
The 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination brings back many memories. It reminds me how growing up in the 1960s was as traumatic as it was exhilarating.
“Valentine Road,” a heartbreaking and disturbing documentary screened at the Milwaukee Film Fest, explores eighth-grader Brandon McInerney’s 2008 slaying of fellow classmate Letisha King at EO Green Junior High School in Oxnard, Calif.
Still exploring her sexuality and her gender at the age of 14, Letisha hadn’t openly identified as transgender at the time of her death. The filmmaker, interviewees and the media continue to refer to her as Larry King and use male pronouns, but I am going to refer to her as she requested in her last days.
Despite my hard-earned rep as an atheistic radical commie lesbian, I turn into a hopeless ball of schmaltz when the holiday season begins. Every year, I succumb to the sentimentality of Christmas movies.
American culture is schizophrenic about sex: promiscuous and repressed; kinky and coy; salacious, insecure, hypocritical, clueless. We live in a sex-drenched culture that, paradoxically, is sex-stupid. No wonder everybody’s in a muddle.
You’d think the proliferation of sex manuals, sex therapists, sex videos, sex clubs, sex products, sex surrogates, sex drugs, phone and online sex, sex research and sex education would make us more informed and satisfied. A number of studies suggest that it just makes us more anxious and confused: Am I getting too little? Am I doing it too much? How can I tell her/him what I want? Am I too vanilla? Too kinky? What’s wrong with me?!
International Transgender Day of Remembrance is a time to reflect on those who have been killed because of transphobia and hate. For those who are transgender, genderqueer or non-binary — and their significant others, friends, family and allies (SOFFAs) — not remembering isn’t even a possibility. Because we know that when we leave the house, or when our loved ones leave the house, there is some chance that some person out there will decide our loved one’s gender is wrong or bad. We know there are people in the world who think that violence will fix their own fears, law enforcement officers who think our lives aren’t important, and courts that think panic is a legitimate reason for murder.
It may not be a high profile marriage case, but to those 2,000-plus same-sex couples who’ve registered in Wisconsin, Appling v. Walker is a case that’s poised to have a tremendous impact on their lives.
LGBT leaders are fond of declaring marriage equality the “civil rights issue of our time.”
This is rather arrogant, because it ignores a number of ongoing struggles for freedom that are equally compelling and involve the fates of millions of people. Because October is Disability Awareness Month, I will address that struggle. It is really “our” struggle because any of us — due to injury, illness or quirky chromosomes — can develop a disability at any time.
One of the key questions that plagues the LGBT equality movement in Wisconsin and beyond is the question about whether it is better to be “grassroots” or an “a Capitol insider” playing the game of politics.
In my opinion, playing one strategy off the other is a red herring that undermines our collective ability to move forward.