My Favorite It Gets Better Videos

A new fan of OLGINYC commented reminding us that actions are better than words.  I cannot agree with him more, still I find that the It Gets Better Videos are beacons of hope for individuals who cannot find a person to help them.

President Barack Obama

Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton


And the Latest from Pixar


Black Women I Wish Were Gay (or Just Come Out, Already) Part Deux

This is a Rant so be prepared.

There are only a few Lesbian Websites that I visit with any regularity and one of them is AE.  I don’t visit too much because as of late, the content has been a little lack luster.  I’ll mosey on over every other day and find something that I like to read, something inspiring, something about a Queer woman of color, or amazing list of books I absolutely must read this summer.  Wednesday was no different, I found a sweet article about Dyke Fashion (cut off shorts are back!) Did they ever go away?  (No)  and my favorite would-be lesbo, Queen Latifah article about her recent Upscale Magazine cover.  Here’s the AE Link. Hopefully you can read all of the silly comments behind mine.

Sorry you have to cut and paste but hopefully you did.  I mean, am I crazy or is it not important for Black Queer Visibility for these women to come out?!  I mean, come on!  I totally get that what you do behind your closed doors is your business but the importance of celebrity, possibly the most important thing about celebrity is the visibility.  I’m not a Black Pride, Down with the Man black woman.  As much as my father tried to make me, I’m not.  I’m in love with a Jew (which is better than white yet in some cases not, right?)  I mean, really.  But as a black woman who will be raising black jewish children seeing a face that you can recognize is important.

I don’t relate to all black people, I never have and I never will.  I don’t like it all the time when people refer to me as “sister”  on the train (mainly because they’re leering men and I find it disturbing)  I never ever quite had as much rhythm as I’m “supposed” to have and I don’t, under any circumstance, think that all black people are the same but we’re not.  There is something to be said, though, about the recognition of blackness around you.

Did I vote for Barack Obama because he’s a black man?  No.  In my opinion he’s mixed race but in this race-obssessed world he’s black.  I do, however, feel a sense of pride in knowing that he’s a black man and my president.  I would feel the same pride if Senator Clinton had won the nomination and inevitably one the presidency.

On the same token, do I feel a kinship with Ellen or Margaret, yes but when Wanda Sykes came out I was overjoyed and overcome with a sense of happiness and pride.  Unfortunately, the responders of my post are white women, and the majority of them are under 25.  Such naivety, and so much growing to do.  As much as we like to pretend that it doesn’t exist, racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, anti-Semitism is very much alive in our country.  Unfortunately with the election of our president it’s on the rise.

The tagline for After Ellen is “Visibility Matters”  Google “Famous Black Gay People” and tell me what you come up with.  I’ll wait.  First hit is the Black Voices list of 29?  Notice anything about the women??  There are a handful of black women mentioned-mostly all men.  A large amount of the black women have passed away, may all of their souls rest in peace.  Now, google Famous Gay People.  Famous and Gay is the first website with an alphabetized list of 700 famous gays.  Granted there are black folks in their too, but really?  Can you really not see the importance of Black Gay Female Visibility, people!?  Am I alone here?

Is it bad that I didn’t know about the TS Car bomb, or bad in a good way?

I’m going with Bad in a Good Way.  There are some things that I don’t think about on a constant basis and terrorism is one of them.  Every since I heard That Fucker Formerly Known as the President, talk about “terrists” and their threat to our country I stopped worrying about terrorists and their threat to our country.  I’m no fool and I’m definitely not naive.  I am fully aware that there is terrorist activity in the World and some of it goes on right here on the soil of the good ‘ole US of A. 

For instance, in Arizona, it is now legal for state governing officials to terrorize people who look like they could be an illegal immigrant.  I’m not quite sure what an illegal immigrant looks like but I sure as fuck won’t be going to Arizona any time soon.  The thing that pisses me off about that is that I actually wanted to go to Arizona in the near future.  Something about the desert, Native Americans, cacti, the desert.  Some how, though, I fear that with this dark skin, this nappy hair, the suspicious way in which I drive my car  that I’d most likely end up behind bars than posing next to a Saguaro cactus.

The other day I got a phone call from a panicked associate because she was running late.  Ever the strict boss-lady I put on my most severe tone and asked, “And just why are you going to be late, ___?”  Her response, “Because the NJPD just searched my duffel bag because I look like a terrorist, it must be my Arab eyes”  I’m not sure what nationality this girl is but she definitely could be of Arab decent which means that she’s a terrorist.  I’ve gone through Rockefeller Center with HUGE suitcases, duffel bags, empty bags and breezed right passed the NYPD table with not a second look.  I’ve also seen women with full head coverages and no purses being stopped by cops.  Clearly, I’d be the terrorist in that situation.  Woman with huge bag vs woman with no purse and head scarf-GO FOR THE ARAB!!

As a black woman I suppose I should be a little bit happy to see the “heat” deflected on another ethnic minority but I’d rather just give the man a huge middle finger in defense of all people of color-head scarf or not.  My associate, who’s not a terrorist but happens to look like one, is the sweetest girl you will ever meet.  She’s humble, a little awkward and has a heart of gold.  She doesn’t look threatening at all and on her way to work she gets stopped for over fifteen minutes just by how she looks?  The fact that cops in Arizona can stop and arrest someone for looking like an immigrant is preposterous.

If I were a white guy right now I’d go fucking nuts.  There’s an episode of the Boondocks in season one when two guys go into a convenience store to rob it and turn to accuse the Arab-looking man of having a gun.  He clearly does not have a gun and the white police officer who happens to be strolling in doesn’t see a gun either.  The original two guys continue to claim to see the gun until finally Officer Frank (Whitey) “sees” the gun and they shoot at the owner of the store.  If you’ve not seen the episode-watch it right here…It’s amazing start around the 4 minute mark if you want to get to the scene I’m talking about

It’s funny and provocative, as the Boondocks often is, but there’s something very telling there.  Thankfully, I’ve only been discriminated against based on my color a few times.  Pretty fucked up sentence, eh?  But it’s rare that a black person, and a black woman for that matter can say that.  I know a lot of people who have been discriminated against more than I have.  It’s almost as though none of us are safe these days.  It was such a huge step when we had not only a black man but a woman as candidates for the presidency.  You’d think that with a black man in office that the world would begin to see color as just a part of someone rather than what makes them.  Instead, our president is barely called by his rightful name from most right-winged Fox News watching Americans and half of them think he’s a terrorist based on his Arab name.  In this progressive country with the first black president  anyone who’s skin tone has even the slightest amount of melanin is looked at as illegal, a terrorist, or out to rob or rape you. 

I’d like to say that it’s bad but it’s really just bullshit.  I forget that the civil right’s movement was only 50 years ago and while that is a long time, in the history of discrimination, prejudice, and segregation it really isn’t.  With this new law on the books in AZ it’s almost as if we’ve stepped back into time rather than move forward.  It’s easy to complain and to bitch but what to do?  What can I do?  It’s one of those questions that I don’t have an answer to.

LBGT…minus the T, if you please

I was just cruising around my favorite (but getting to be a little annoying) cyber lesbian hangout, After Ellen.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the site for the most part.  There’s always such interesting information and the forum topics, although mostly posted by 17 year old baby dykes, can be entertaining as well as educational.  One, in particular, annoyed me today.  An AEer was pissy because an AE staffer posted a blog about President Obama’s newest nomination of a transgendered woman to the Department of Commerce.

When I read the headline I immediately thought, “Bravo, Mr. President!  Way to make good one some of your campaign promises to be a bigger support to the LBGT community!”  Most of the commenters had the same sentiment.  Great start-now keep on truckin’ man!  One, in particular, ruffled my feathers because the woman newly nominated to the Department of Commerce wasn’t a lesbian she didn’t feel she should be mentioned on the site.  Really?  Is that where we are as a community?  I think not.

The thing about a community is that you have to be in it to win it.  Each member of the community has to do their part in order for the community to be successful.  In order for the community to be successful they have to work together, towards a common goal.  That common goal, in the LBGT community is equal rights.  The thing that was the most frustrating is the ignorance.  It’s the same kind of ignorance that the straight world has in regard to LBGT issues.  Some straight people are completely clueless to our issues as a community, to the injustices we face as a community and just because someone gets gender reassignment surgery doesn’t mean that their problems magically disappear.  As far as I know (and I could be wrong) you can’t alter your birth certificate.  You definitely cannot alter your internal organs.  Therefore, while being respectful of a transgendered person’s identity and using masculine or feminine pronouns, that person is still trans.

For Thanksgaving this year I got to hang out with one of my friends and her boyfriend.  This friend is a gay girl and her boyfriend is transgendered.  He’s one of the most open transgendered people I’ve met in that he referred to himself both ways throughout the entire night because he is male but he’s also transgendered.  I know that in all situations that way of referring to yourself isn’t the safest.  God knows that so many transgendered men and woman are brutally assaulted every day because of who they are.  On the other hand, having a voice and letting your voice be heard is what the main-stream straight world from Podunk, Idaho needs to hear and see.  They need to see that being transgendered doesn’t mean that you fly a freak flag.  Transgendered people are not oddities or weirdos or whatever folks who are ignorant say.  They are people.  Period.

Reading ignorance from a person who’s part of the LBGT community, in defense of her safe cyber space as a lesbian was enraging.  It reeks of elitism.  It was as if this person thought of herself better than this woman who is forging the way for so many LBGT people.  To be a transgendered woman working for the government of the United States of America!?  What a coup.  I salute you, Amanda Simpson.  Bravo!  I’m so glad to have you as a part of my community and family.

Happy Obama Day

Along with millions of people from coast to coast and nation to nation I watched Barack Obama take the oath of office and become the 44th President of the United States. His speech was very moving, motivational, and inspiring. It has filled me with a sense of real hope for equality and justice for all people in our nation. My hope is that with this historic change in command we will see justice and equality for all citizens.

More Political Talk

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.”

The beginning of the Victory Speech that president elect, Barack Obama spoke to the crowd of thousands at Grant Park in Illinois on Tuesday night. The YouTube link is also there for you to check out as well.

I just got off the phone with my mom. I was telling her that rumor has it that there are bids as high as $300 on Ebay for a copy of the 2 New York Time sitting on my bed. I bought it for her and it’s hers, even though I could totally use that $300! Nonetheless, it is on it’s way to Mama Davis in Toledo, Ohio.

We were talking about the aftermath of the elections and was shocked to hear some of the remarks that people are making there in Ohio. Apparently, they’re “sick of hearing” about the victory and historical landmark that is Barack Obama as the next president of the United States. She had a classmate sit her down and ask her why it was so important to blacks that Barack Obama is the president elect. My mom, dear sweet woman that she is, extremely shocked by the girls lack of historical facts. Instead of calling her a moron and sending her on her way, my mother told her her personal story.

She told the woman that she was born in 1954 in North Carolina. Granted, she moved to New Jersey as a young girl but spent her summers in the south to be with her family. She told her of her favorite Aunt Josie who worked at a diner in town. Aunt Josie was the cook, my mother recollected having to enter the building at the side entrance, rather the main street entrance because she was a black girl. She told her how she remembered seeing water fountains marked “colored” and “white.” She told her that, although she was too young to march, reading about and hearing about the marches on Washington. Lastly, she told her where she was when Martin Luther King died. She told her in what was, I’m sure, a patient tone and the girl was relieved and thanked my mother for her story.

In speaking to my mom, I confessed that the victory is, and never was about race for me. It cannot be about race for me, because I’ve never faced the sort of racial inequality in my life as she had in hers. I know that it’s a difference of how you were raised. I was pretty lucky to live very well and never want for anything for my entire life. My parents rarely said no to the many material requests of my youth. To put it plainly, I was a spoiled brat. And while I was the only black girl in my private, Catholic grade school, and possibly one out of a hundred (give or take) black girls in my private, Catholic, all-girl high school I never felt out of place or different because of the financial freedoms of my family. (Lots more complicated life, and the theme of my memoir) Because of those freedoms it was instilled in my not only by my parents, but by every influential adult in my life that I could do and be what ever it was that I dreamt. I never thought it would be “strange” or “radical” for me, a black girl in Toledo, Ohio to be the president of the United States.

I realize that not all people, people of any color, have had it as good. My ex/last boyfriend/friend, Ty, told me during the primaries that Barack would never win because of the color of his skin. I was appalled, that a black man could say such a thing. It was crazy and insulting for me to listen to him limiting not only Barack, but himself based solely on the color of his skin. I think that’s what’s happening around the world. My mom says that some of the sistas and brothas need to calm it down a bit in the media, but it is cause for celebration. It just shouldn’t be the only cause for celebration.

As I said in my last blog, we clearly have a long way to go in terms of equality in this country. I hope that as we continue to move forward in this historical election that the words spoken in his speech ring through-across racial barriers and into the actual people. While we as a people are often identified by race, creed, sexual orientation, and religion; one fact remains true-we are all people and as people we all deserve the same rights.

A Bitter Sweet Victory

Last night Miriam and I watched with the world as Barack Obama was announced as the 44th President of the United States. We were in a lively and crowded bar in Park Slope, Brooklyn with some friends-one of whom is a fellow Ohio-native. When the polls on the West Coast closed down, the feeling in the room was a lot like New Years. As we watched the countdown an onslaught of all the emotions I’d been feeling for the entire election season were rushed into 30 seconds. Would he win? If he won, would he remain safe? What if he loses? What will become of this country? What will the world think, do? The last ten seconds the entire bar counted down and erupted into cheers of relief, joy, excitement, pride, and most of all hope. I immediately burst into tears, looked at my girlfriend and held her for a long time. It’s not that I didn’t believe that he would win, because I always knew he would. It was the gratitude in the rest of the United States for taking the vital step towards a better and brighter future.

My tears started again when I saw my mother’s phone number flashing on my cell. To say was in tears would be an under statement; she’d been through the civil rights movement, being a girl growing up in North Carolina in the early 50’s. Hearing her voice, strained by the tears in her eyes I couldn’t contain myself. She whispered to me, “Erika, I thought I’d never see the day!”

My tears lasted only a few seconds and I was immediately on my feet, cheering, jumping up and down and chanting “Yes We Can!” with the rest of the bar. The cab ride home was like nothing else I’d seen or experienced, honking horns, people in the streets celebrating, people of all colors and nationalities were laughing, dancing, honking horns, setting of fire works, banging pots and pans, yelling, hollering, and having the times of their lives. My friends and I were among them all. We didn’t pass a single car in Brooklyn that was not celebrating, smiling, or giving the thumbs up to us.

We retired to Miriam’s in time to watch President Obama’s speech in Chicago. I got instant chills listening to him speak as though only he and I were the only two people in the room. The thing that attracted me to Barack in the beginning wasn’t his race, it was the hope that he spoke of. He gave me hope that the world that I lived in wasn’t as bad as everyone thought it was. He gave me hope that positive changes could be made in the United States, he lit the fire of excitement in the dream that is America. He inspired a nation of disbelievers and those who were ready to give up that all was not lost, and that something could be done.

The victory is bitter sweet. This morning on the way to work from Miriam’s my eye stopped on a particular Obama button. It’s the same button I been wearing for weeks. Obama Pride. I caught the gaze of the guy sporting the button and we both smiled at each other faintly. While last night’s victory is truly monumental and truly amazing, last night was not victorious for me; a gay woman. California voted yes on Proposition 8, banning the thousands of gay marriages just performed the previous months. Florida also voted to ban same sex marriage and Arkansas voted to ban gay adoption. A giant leap forward in terms of bringing down racial barriers but the banning basic human rights, not to mention lack of separation of church and state, is not real equality.

So me and this guy on the subway exchange the same knowing glance and weakly smile at each other, knowing we’ve come so far but have a long way to go. The following stop a black woman sat down next to me and says “It’s an amazing day, isn’t it, sista?” All I could do is smile, nod, and agree. Because it is an amazing day. A truly amazing, remarkable day. All day I struggled with my feelings to the point that my co-workers and my roommates all asked me why I wasn’t happy. It’s not that I’m not happy, because I am. That said, you can be overjoyed with happiness that is unimaginable and still be a little disconcerned.

As I said, last night the United States took an amazing step forward with the eyes of the world watching. My thoughts and good “bugga wugga” go out to the new First Family and I’m so excited for the next four years. I just hope that we keep making those steps for true equality that’s not based on skin color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, or religion. Equality that is for all people.