Jul 052010
 

***Cross Posted***

Thanks to my lovely partner, I had the opportunity last Wednesday night to go check out the new movie with Annette Benning, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo, entitled The Kids Are Alright.

Now, the basic plot, as advertised, is that there is a lesbian couple, who have an 18 year old daughter and a 15 year old son. The son convinces the daughter to get in contact with the sperm donor that provided said sperm to create the kids (each mom carried a child). They meet him, and now the family dynamic changes, and the movie ensues.

Voila. It’s supposed to be cool and trendy and did super well at Sundance. I had some hopes for this movie, in that it was showing an LGBTQ family as a REAL family, not as hot and sexy lesbians, or those with issues coming out, or any of the other many ways lesbians have been portayed. They have kids, they have a dining room table, and a house, and conversations and the same issues that every other type of family has with communication, and teenagers, and so on…

And now, for the spoilers. If you don’t want to hear about the actual movie, stop reading now.

Ok, so basically, you have fairly happy family. Some issues, like all families, but there are two teenagers, and two moms, and everyone seems to communicate fairly well and get along, although the moms definitely could have used a couples counselor to help them work through a feel control/free-flowing hippy issues.

Then suddenly, the sperm donor (Paul) is brought into their lives. Jules (Moore) is a more woo-woo, free flowing femme-ish type, and is open to him. Nic (Benning) is a bit more andro/butchy, and seems to be nervous (understandably) about letting this guy into their kids’ lives. Long story short, Nic starts doing Paul’s (Ruffalo) landscaping and BAM. They kiss. And if that wasn’t enough, they start having sex, and the noises she makes with him are waaaay different and seemingly “better” or “more satisfying” (according to the movie) than the sex she has with Nic. She tells him she’s married, she’s gay, she loves Nic, but then, more sex between Paul and Jules. Jules keeps it a secret from Nic until they have a family dinner at Paul’s place (Nic is willing and trying to get to know him better), and Nic goes to the bathroom and finds Jules hairbrush…and hair in the drain (like at their home), and then in his bed. The movie ends with them removing Paul from their lives and getting back together and talking about how marriage is tough, but they love each other and will work through it.

My beef? It’s two fold. First of all, this movie perpetuated lesbian stereotype right and left, from the drinking massive amounts of wine to the butch/femme to the station wagon of sorts to the watching gay-male porn, to the being woo-woo and wanting hugs in unison (you’ll have to see it to get it). It made a big deal out of Jules not shaving her legs (gasp!). And worst of all, it perpetuated the stereotype that lesbian relationships don’t work out not because of family/relationship/communication/wants and needs issues, but because truly, all every woman, lesbian or not, wants is OBVIOUSLY a man. Every woman must have a penis in order to feel fulfilled. It also perpetuates the idea that lesbian (or gay or queer) relationships are not as “real” as straight marriage; Paul seems to glaze over the fact that Jules is married to Nic, and even suggests that he and Jules start a life and family together at one point, as if her 18+ year marriage to Nic was completely invalid. Way to give the anti-gay movement fuel for their fire about how dysfunctional lesbian families are.

Issue two? The fact that I feel that this movie is going to stir up even MORE biphobia in the queer community. For some reason, we as a community tend to exclude bi folks as being queer, as if them having a relationship with a cis-man (bi women) or cis-woman (men) makes them “less” queer. Now, while Jules never openly identified as bi, her sexuality was clearly a bit more fluid that just “lesbian/gay,” as she openly enjoyed sex with Paul. So basically, we have a queer or bi acting woman on screen, cheating on her lesbian wife with a man. Which seems to be the issue that is ALWAYS brought up when biphobia rears its ugly head; don’t date bi-women, because they’ll leave you for a man.

Now, I know that this generalizing statement is bullshit. As if dating a lesbian-identified woman will somehow protect you from cheating/being cheated on. Infidelity hits ALL types of relationships, regardless of the gender or orientation of the partners. Period. However, movies like this seem to reinforce this misnomer, that bi-women of any sort will always end up going for a man. NOT FUCKING TRUE.

So in the end, I AM glad that their is a movie bringing lesbian visibility to the big screen, as I think this movie will be a hit. I did like that it was a lesbian family, with gender presentation diversity in the two women. However, I have a LOT of reservations about how the content of this movie will be used against the LGBTQ community by those who are against it, as well as the issues surrounding bisexuality that this movie may serve to worsen.

And those, dear readers, are my thoughts on the upcoming movie The Kids Are Alright, to be released July 16th at an Indie theater near you.

-Shanna

Jul 022010
 

Student panelist needed for LGBTIQ & Disability panel (7/16)
Kelly Leonard, Asst Director of Purdue University’s Disability Resource Center, has been asked to pull together a panel on the intersection of LGBTIQ and Disability/Deaf identities in college students, for the Association for Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) conference at the Sheraton Denver Downtown. The panel, which will also feature two staff members and reference resources such as http://eliclare.com/background/queer-disability-resources, will be held Friday, July 16th 2-4pm at the national AHEAD conference in Denver (Sheraton Denver Downtown). If you or someone you know identifies as an LGBTIQ college student with a disability, and would possibly be interested in participating, please contact Kelly Leonard at kleonard@purdue.edu .

Jun 122010
 

I found this project from a reader for my other blog. What project?  This project. It’s freaking brilliant.

Why? It is a bit similar to the idea behind Queer Eye Candy, in that they both are striving to create more queer visibility in this world. Reclaiming our bodies, and celebrating our bodies, and not apologizing for who we are, what we look like, and more. This project is a huge step in the right direction.

Who? This rocking project about queer bodies is being created by a undergrad student in Arizona named James, who is doing this project to get a large variety of pictures of queer bodies, whoever and however they may be or may identify; different abilities, different sizes, different gender presentations, butch, femme, boi, grrl, , etc. Here is a little from the info page about this queer bodies project:

Queer communities counter, reject, and reinvent ideas of family, home, love and beauty. We try to make spaces for ourselves: for bodies and desires and lives other than those we were taught. Our bodies become our stories of assimilation and resistance and redemption and gender and love. They bear the scars and stretch marks and laugh lines of lives in progress, and I feel such love and pride for each of us, these queer bodies, these people who are so marked.

I want to document the variation and ferocity of queer experience. I don’t want to situate queers in opposition to straight people. This isn’t about them. We do not need to justify our existence. We are people, and that is enough. I want to paint people who are making and working and loving and becoming whole, happy, and healthy. I chose portraits because I know that there is no one person or image that shows the whole of queer experience, it is different for each person. There are only small snippets, pieces of the greater picture, that can be found in each individual queer life.

I’m collecting images of queer people to paint so that I can document some part of queer experience.

Honestly, this is such an amazing concept, and I really suggest that everyone who feels comfortable enough participate and bring more visibility to queer bodies.

-Shanna

May 192010
 

Sadly, my quest to queer (and plus-size-ify) Say Yes to the Dress has ended, and I’ve refunded the donations I’ve gotten (unless I was told to keep them for other purposes, like Sexually Able).

Why?

Well, originally, I told them I had a $1000 budget (twice what I was expecting to pay, but worth it to be on there for my own marketing). They told me I need $1500-$2000 to shop in Kleinfeld’s, the shop featured on the show. I was going to give up, but you, dear readers and twitter followers, encouraged me to go on it, and started donating money to make it feasible.

I was excited. My partner was going to come with me, my best friend was going to fly out from Denver, I was set. I even had my little sister scan pictures of my mother and father’s wedding from 1969 (my mother wore a peacock blue dress, and the producers wanted pictures).

Then last Monday, I was told that apparently, Kleinfeld’s “can’t” do a red plus size dress for less than $3500. Never mind than apparently almost any white dress is dyable to red…they just couldn’t do it for such a “low” budget, and they wouldn’t book me an appointment.

And so, I gave up. Why? Because my own ethics won’t allow me to spend a huge amount of money on a wedding dress for ONE DAY, and I’m certainly not going to ask other people to help me pay for that. I’m sure I can find, or even have a custom dress made for under $1000. I’ve found ones I like online for $500, but I really do want to try in on, obviously.

So thank you, for your support. I will say that the producer I worked with on the show (Katy) was nothing but nice, understanding, and open-minded.  She seemed super excited in the first place, and very disappointed at the budget levels from Kleinfeld’s.  I just wish they’d either be willing to subsidize dresses, or perhaps also have a “budget” location for filming.

Thanks again for all your help, tweeting, support and more. It’s been more than appreciated.

-Shanna

May 102010
 

The other day, I twittered something about how I was having trouble finding the right red corset/skirt/bustle combo, and jokingly suggested that I go onto Say Yes to the Dress to have them help me.  Some of my followers thought it was a great idea, and so I half-jokingly applied online, making it clear that I am a queer, plus size woman who does NOT want a white dress, but have my heart set on a red dress. I made my application a bit political, telling them I thought it was important for them to have more orientation and size diversity.

You can imagine my surprise when I actually heard back from them.  They loved my story, and wanted to know more about me and my partner, and get more pictures of me, and of the two of us.  I sent them.

The casting producer seems to really like me, and my partner and I were actually getting really excited. However, I had only budgeted $500 for my outfit, and while we could probably save $1000 for it, that was it.  The dresses at the store on the show (which is on TLC) start at $1500. Ergo, my budget needs to be $1500-2000 to get to go on the show.

At first, I was like “this is crazy. Spending over a grand on a dress that will only be worn once (or a few times, for costume parties, etc, in my case) is out of control. I guess I just won’t go on the show.”  But then everyone I talked to pointed out the importance of having a plus size woman on TV, and a queer woman (with a gender queer presenting partner), on NATIONAL TV.

So I’m going to try to do it. Many people offered to put a few dollars towards the dress. I’m going to use my frequent travel miles to get there, and stay with my partner’s family.  So the cost is all the dress.  Ergo, I’m trying to raise as much as I can towards the dress, and hope to bring attention both to size diversity and same-sex marriage on national TV.

If you’re willing to help me find the perfect red dress, and queer SYTTD at the same time, and have a couple of bucks lying around, I’d love it if you’d be willing to donate. If not, I completely understand.  Just please don’t threaten me (one person on twitter said he’d like to shoot me in the head for being a queer plus size woman trying to get on TV).  If it’s $5 or $50 (or $500? *looks around hopefully*), every little bit counts, and I would appreciate it very much.  Please don’t donate anonymously — if for some reason this doesn’t go through, I want to make sure everyone gets their money back.

EDIT: I just spoke with the producer and I am officially on the show. My filming date is June 12th.

So without further ado, here is the donation button to get a queer, plus size (disable) woman on national TV trying to find her wedding dress. Please, and thank you, and please pass it on if you’re willing.

Thanks,

Shanna





May 042010
 

With all of the discussion about Constance and the hate put upon her as she tried to bring her date, a woman, to prom in a tuxedo, and with all the talk about that poor high school senior who was left out of their senior year book because they refused to wear a dress for pictures (and instead wore a tux), we forget about the triumphs.

Like this boy in New Jersey, who identifies as a cross-dresser and wanted to wear a dress to his prom. He was originally told no by school officials, but students, his classmates and peers, started a petition to allow him to come dressed as he wanted to. In the end, the school changed their mind, and he went dressed in the dress he’d wanted.

Yes, this was in New Jersey, a state often seen as more liberal than the Southern states where the other instances occurred. But note, this is also a state that voted against marriage equality. So it’s not San Francisco.  Ergo, it doesn’t matter where it happens, we should still celebrate when diversity is welcomed, and when open minded-ness triumphs.

Congrats Derek – I hope you had a fabulous prom!

-Shanna

Mar 282010
 

Are you gender non-conforming?  Perhaps you’re queer, trans, a genderfucker, a gender bender, a cross dresser, a drag king or queen, or someone else whose gender does not conform with that society says that it shoud.  Big group of people, right?

There is a call for submissions out now for an anthology on gender non-conformity, whatever that means to you, and how YOU identify.  They are looking for submissions from people of all different genders, orientations, ages, races, abilities, backgrounds, experiences and more, and would love to hear from you.

Want more info? Click here now, or read on for a longer 411.

 

Call for Submissions:

Working Title: Stalled
Editors: K. Bridgeman and A. Lee Crayton
Contact: stalled.the.book [at] gmail [dot] com
Submission Deadline:
December 31, 2010

The range of gender non-conforming folks is broad. We are men, women, genderqueers, two-spirits, trans women/transwomen, trans men/transmen, intersex, bois, grrrls, butchs, faeries, FtMs, MtFs, tomboys, drag queens, transvestites, transexuals, queers, none or maybe all of the above?* In a society that preaches gender as rigid, fighting for gender self-determination can be challenging. For some the process is finite, traveling from point A to point B, while others wade continuously through the mire or transcend altogether. But despite the trajectory of our own personal journey, we all experience the polarizing demands of the binary.

One way these demands are evident is in sex-segregated spaces: changing stalls, detention centers, restrooms, group homes, homeless shelters, locker rooms, and security checkpoints.* These places can be hard to avoid, and interaction with them demands we make a choice about how we will present ourselves. With this anthology, we want to explore the sometimes difficult, layered, isolating, heart breaking, frightening, awkward, frustrating, challenging, funny, and/or queer experiences people are faced with in these settings. Stalled is a space for us to share our stories.

Gender-nonconforming individuals of all ages, published and unpublished, are encouraged to contribute to Stalled. We welcome submissions of all types: stories, poems, photos, art pieces; however you feel most comfortable expressing your personal experiences around sex-segregated spaces. Submissions should be non-fiction and based on actual experience. However, we respect the author’s prerogative to maintain characters’ anonymity.

*We recognize these descriptions are not exhaustive and are not intended to be restrictive. We encourage and hope to engage a broad range of experiences and identities.

Submission Instructions:
• Submissions should be sent via e-mail to stalled.the.book@gmail.com.
• Written submissions should be 1500 words or less, and submitted as a .doc or .docx file with pages numbered. Illustrations should be submitted in jpeg format.

• You may submit up to 2 different pieces of work.
• We welcome both published and unpublished authors; however, if the piece you’re submitting has been published, please note where and when.
• In your cover email, please include Author’s Name, Pen Name (if applicable), Title of Submission, email address, and a brief Bio (150 words or less).

Submissions will be accepted throughout the year. The final deadline is December 31, 2010 (11:59:59 pm EST). All submissions will be responded to by the end of April 2011. Early submissions are encouraged.

Feb 182010
 

I don’t know what is is about this week, but lots of people have been talking about some of the ‘nilla hate that goes on in the kink community.  First, there was Lee Harrington to who mentioned on twitter that vanilla is a valid and delicious flavor (both in food and sex).  Then Mollena got up on her rockin’ soap box, and wrote this excellent post on anti-vanilla bigotry.

This has always been something that bothers me, and it is not specific only to the kink community.  Marginalized groups and minorities have started to become bigots towards the “traditional” and the majority.

Example A: Lesbians/dykes who tell straight identified women that they “just haven’t come out yet” or who joke about converting them to be dykes.  Yes, lots of people haven’t come out yet, but not all straight women are lesbians. No matter how much we want it to be. And it is offensive to tell a person that their orientation isn’t valid; and that goes for straight, gay, bisexual, queer, asexual, etc.

Example B: People who are poly/non-monogamous telling other people that ALL of monogamy is a social contruct, and that everyone is really inately non-monogamous and that monogamous people are doing it wrong.  Just because one group has to struggle in being outside the norms of society (being non-monogamous), and it works perfectly for them does not mean that it is not ok to be the norm. Acceptance for ALL methods of relationships please.

Example C: Partially from Mollena, partially from my experience; kinky people/those in the BDSM community who use vanilla like a perjorative term.  “God, we were being all pervy and then this vanila person made us stop doing our thing” or “They SAY they’re vanilla, but they just don’t know what they’re missing.”  Some people are not kinky. AND THAT IS OK. They have fun, exciting, arousing, satisfying awesome sex with no kink. And I know people who are kinky as heck, and have really bad sex (according to them).  Ergo, fabulous sex is not based on how kinky you are.  So we do we pretend that there is something wrong with not being kinky?

Then even within communities, we create levels of how kinky we are. I’ve been told by some people that I’m extra super kinky because I like to do fire play and light people up.  I’ve been told by other people that I’m really not kinky because I don’t identify as a top/bottom, Mistress/submissive, and I choose not to live the lifestyle 24/7  or have power based relationships. So I’m either really kinky or really not kinky. How come I can’t *just* be kinky with out putting levels on it?

In understand that there is an inate need to make our wants/needs/identities/kinks the best, especially if we’ve been oppressed as a community. However, the answer it NOT to do it by telling others that they are wrong. That just perpetuates the binary and is stupid. The end.

Feb 092010
 

I’m not going to lie. I’m not usually much of a Sarah Silverman fan. In fact, I don’t like most “main stream” comedians.  Give me good ol’ British wit (Monty Python, Are You Being Served, Red Dwarf, Fawlty Towers, Eddie Izzard) any day.

However, Sarah Silverman said something that I think is important to talk about.  She talked about marriage equality, and compared it to the racial exclusive country clubs. Why would you want to belong to such an organizations that promotes inequality and hate?

So I take my hat off to Sarah Silverman. Whether I like her jokes her not, I do like her stand and the way she’s gone about speaking on this issue.

Jan 232010
 

This is not my research project, but I think it’s very important that they find participants. If interested, contact email is at the bottom of the page.

-Shanna

Engaged volunteers needed!

I am looking for volunteers for a study of attitudes towards marriage and parenthood among engaged couples.  The study consists of a 25-30 minute online survey. To qualify for the study, you must be 20-35 years old, live in the U.S., and plan to marry or have a commitment ceremony within the next 365 days. You and your romantic partner must not have children, and this must be the first marriage for both of you.

You can:

-Help a doctoral candidate;
-Increase the pool of scientific knowledge;
-Support research on marriage and families; and
-Spend some time thinking about your relationship!

I am working with Dr. Charlotte J. Patterson, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia.  This study has been approved by the University of Virginia Institutional Review Board #2009025800.

If you and/or your romantic partner are interested in participating or want further information, please email me at survey.couples@gmail.com.  I will send you a link that you can use to access the study.

Thanks!

Cristina Reitz-Krueger
Doctoral Student
University of Virginia
(434) 243-8558
survey.couples@gmail.com