U C L Aâ€™ s Q u e e r
OUT w r i t e and
A lly N e w s m a g a z i n e
LWithin o sThet Rainbow:
Lesser Known Queer Identities Spring 09
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CONTENTS FEATURE 10-11
Beyond LGB: Lesser Known Queer Identities “...LGBTIQAAPFPGQ...”
On Campus Queer Groups: Exxxposed
NEWS UPDATES.............6 OPINION.......................7-9 Breaking in the Scale: How Gay Are You? by Kaya Foster Where’s the White in the Rainbow? by Justin Sedor So You Call Yourself a FagHag? by Leslie Shim
Queer Identity in Other Cultures HIV/AIDS and the Gay Male Identity by Lior Ben Ayal
Note: Does not fall under L, G, B or T
Confessions of an Ex-Ex-Homosexual by Lior Ben Ayal The Hair Problem by Tory Adkisson
CREATIVE WRITING.......16 May We Know the Start by Kela Mori The First Reply by Cassandra Tesch
COMING OUT STORY............................17 Shocking, humorous, and inspiring stories of queer bruins: The Gaysian Struggle by Rich Yap
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT.......18-19
10 Gay Literature Essentials by Tory Adkission Living the L Life After the L word by Krystal Rincon
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Letter from the Editor Queer: an umbrella term for all identities outside of the heteronormative. It is the identity to scream out: I am radical. I am deviant. I am none of your labels. But so often ‘queer’ becomes just a synonym for gay. Even in the most politically conscious environments, it tends to translate to LGBT. If it is the fully inclusive non-heteronormative identity term, why do we only ever hear about a handful of identities? Even with a full list of all the queer identity terms ever imagined, can the terms’ perimeters ever really describe the complex and dynamic nature of a human being’s gender and orientation? Does the term you use to describe your identity fit you... or do you strive to fit it? Does it bring people closer to understanding who you are... or cloud their view? Who are you? Are you defining yourself by someone else’s terms?
This is UCLA’s queer students’ (and allies!) resource and outlet, so feel free to submit articles, creative writing, coming out stories, artwork, etc. to firstname.lastname@example.org or join our staff! Applications are available at the beginning of every quarter at apply.studentmedia.ucla.edu/recruiting/outwrite/
SAY WHAT?! “The ENDA [Employment Non-discrimination Act] would elevate multiple-sex-partner relationships into a federally protected “right.” By including “bisexuality” in the definition of sexual orientations, the government would go on record supporting the practice of having sex with more than one person.” -Concerned Women for America “I think that gay marriage should be between a man and a woman.” -Arnold Schwarzenegger “I also have the memory of working at the Human Rights Campaign’s Pride booths each summer at a time when transgender people were excluded from the ENDA. Inevitably they would confront us and I would dutifully defend our policy. The more I thought about it, however, the less I could justify my words and I could barely look them in the eyes. We were essentially saying, “stop piggybacking” on the gay rights movement. That is the same self-centered argument that right wing African Americans use today to justify exclusion of gay people from civil rights protections. What our community must do is tell Congress that it is morally unacceptable to dole out rights to only groups that poll well. Either a legislator believes in the principle of equal justice for all or they don’t… we must reject a compromise that compromises our core values.” -Wayne Besen
“We’re a bisexual nation in denial.” -Southland Tales “In the past few days, much has been made of the words of Miss California USA, Carrie Prejean. She stated that marriage is between a man and a woman... She said, ‘It’s not about being politically correct, it’s about being biblically correct.’ While this sentiment is shared by many who seek to condemn gay people and gay marriage, citing pieces of the Bible to further one’s own prejudice fails to meet the Bible on its own terms. Most people seeking to condemn gay people point to the Book of Leviticus, where we read that men lying with men is an abomination. However, we rarely hear of other verses found in the book of Leviticus that are equally challenging. For example, Leviticus also tells us that eating shrimp and lobster is an abomination. And that a person should not wear material woven of two kinds of material—an impossible mandate for a pageant contestant!” - Miss California 2003 and minister at Cotuit Federated Church, Nicole Lamarche “We are not the first but I am sure we will not be the last. After us will come many other countries, driven, ladies and gentleman, by two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality.” -Jose Luis Rodrigueaz, Prime Minister of Spain (in a speech given after Spain legalized gay marriage) “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.” -Harvey Milk
OutWrite www.outwritenewsmag.org email@example.com Ed i to r- i n - C h i ef Vanessa West Wr i te rs Kaya Foster Kela Mori Krystal Rincon Leslie Shim Lior Ben Ayal Rich Yap Tory Adkisson Design L. Andy Hernandez P h oto Ed i to r Justin Sedor C o py Ed i to r Armen Ter-Barsegyan C o n t r i b u to rs Cassandra Tesch Kianna Goodwin M e d i a D i re c to r Arvli Ward M e d i a Ad v i s o r Amy Emmert S p e c i a l t h a n ks to : Campus Progress The UCLA Queer Alliance
OutWrite is UCLA’s queer and ally newsmagazine. OutWrite, formerly called TenPercent, was established in 1979 and was the first LGBT collegiate newsmagazine in the nation. OutWrite is the queer community’s voice at UCLA. OutWrite aims to cover the queer experience on a college campus with depth by providing students with something to relate to - stories that reflect their own, as well as stories of diversity that broaden horizons. As writer Carlos Fuentes said, “Writing is a struggle against silence.” The UCLA Communications Board has a media grievance procedure for resolving grievances against any of its media. For a copy of the complete procedure, contact UCLA Student Media at 310. 825. 2787.
Copyright 2008 ASUCLA Communications Board
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On Campus Queer Groups:
Organization for queer African individuals and allies Once upon atime there was a top secret agent of UCLA who’s mission was to find out the secret to BlaQue’s success. So she followed them on their retreat to spy on them and what she found was remarkable. These Bold Loud Astonishing Queers are United through Eating!!! She had never seen such a feast at a retreat before and now knew there was no way to break the unity or stop the growth of BlaQue Contact Info: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.studentgroups.ucla.edu/qa/blaque.html
Delta Lambda Phi
Gamma Chapter, Fraternity for gay, bisexual, and progressive men
Organization for queer Latino/a individuals and allies
Delta Lambda Phi Pride Prom
Performance as Papi Chulitos for Queer Cultures Night
Room rental $330 Decorations: $40 2 tickets for you and a friend: $20 Reliving a memorable night the way it should have been the first time: Priceless Contact Info: email@example.com Website: http://www.dlp.org/gamma
Red Clownish Bowtie: $3.99 Lens less glasses: $4.50 Lip Liner for a fake Beard: $2.00 Having Tomás grab your “sock”: Priceless La Familia, the family you want to be a part of.
Organization for the Raza LGBT community Contact Info: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.myspace.com/uclajoteria
Mishpacha Shabbat candlesticks: $0.36
Bottle of Kedem grape juice: $3.89
Celebrating Shabbat with LGBT Jews:
Potluck dish: $5-$10
Organization for bisexual, pansexual, fluid, and gender fluid individuals and allies Trip to the Pleasure Chest (sex shop) Bus fare: $0.25 The Karma Sutra: $15 Handcuffs: $20 Edible underwear: $12 Catching your friend in a relationship trying to buy a bright orange dildo without you noticing: Priceless Contact Info: email@example.com Website: http://www.studentgroups.ucla.edu/qa
FindOrganization out more about Mishpacha: E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for queer Jewish individuals and allies or find us on Facebook! Shabbat candle sticks: $0.36 Challah: $3.49 Bottle of Kedem grape juice: $3.89 Potluck dish: $5-$10 Celebrating Shabbat with LGBT Jews: Priceless Contact Info: email@example.com
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Exxxposed Organization for queer Asian and Pacific Islander individuals and allies Spring retreat Gas to Redondo Beach: $10 Food for 15 people: $100 Two rooms for two nights at the Holiday Inn: $600 Trusting your friends with your biggest fears: Priceless Contact Info: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.studentgroups. ucla.edu/qa/paq.html
Organization fighting to legalize same-sex marriage in California The 5th Annual SCME Same-Sex Wedding Arch and fabulous decorations: $150 Shot-glass wedding favors: $237 Gorgeous flowers: $198 Flyer invitations: $280 Wedding cake: $200 Coming together to celebrate love and equality: Priceless
Contact Info: scme.la.@gmail.com Website: http://www.studentgroups.ucla.edu/scme
Organization for Filipino/a queer individuals and allies Best moment: “...whenever I get to see everyone’s lovely faces as we come together as a community. Whether it is a small meeting or a large-scale Queer Pin@y Conference, I’ll never forget our collective empowerment and shared experiences as Queer Pin@ys striving for the betterment of our community!” - Ruth Mendez
QueerXGirl Organization for female identified queer individuals and allies
Contact Info: email@example.com Website: http://www.samahang.org/
Trip to the Uh Huh Her concert at Avalon Tickets: $20 Gas: $8 Pre-concert “beverages”: $30 Being surrounded by hundreds of lesbians as your favorite song by the band plays: Priceless
Contact Info: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.studentgroups.ucla.edu/qa/qxg.html
Organization for queer identified individuals and allies Queer Cultures Night Alice in Wonderland Decorations: $10 Drag outfits: $60 Chairs for lap dances: $20 A night of queer expression, gender and sexuality mind fuck, and hot drag queens and kings dirty dancing: Priceless Bar-B-Queer Hamburgers: $30 Water balloons: $5 Pinata: $10 Meeting queer individuals from other LGBTIQ organizations on campus, soaking your friends, and beating candy and condoms out of a bizarre looking pinata: Priceless Contact Info: email@example.com Website: http://www.studentgroups.ucla.edu/qa/
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NEWS UPDATES Prop 8 Gays in the Military Take Stand
Lt. Dan Choi, a National Guard Platoon Leader and Arabic linguist, was discharged from the military after admitting he was gay. He was one of 38 West Point graduates to come out of the closet in March in an effort to demonstrate the valuable role gay and lesbian soldiers play in the military. Choi said he intends to fight the dismissal vehemently. The Obama administration, which has quietly allowed the president’s campaign promise to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to fade into the background, has not made any comment on the subject.
The same-sex marriage question took center stage at the Miss America pageant on April 19 when, Miss California, Carrie Prejean, was asked by celebrity blogger Perez Hilton whether she believed in gay marriage. Prejean said, “We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite. And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised.”
On May 26, the California Supreme Court decided to uphold Proposition 8, but also decided that the way Prop 8 was written prevents it from being retroactively applied. Thus, the 18,000 same-sex marriages that took place before the passage of the initiative will stand.
UCLA Transgender Health Insurance
UCLA’s Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center recently passed an initiative that will offer insurance to cover the needs of transgender students. With the passage of this initiative, UCLA has become the ninth UC to provide access to hormones and sex reassignment surgery insurance benefits. UC Merced is the only campus that does not offer these benefits. In the UC system, student health insurance programs are organized campus-bycampus, often with separate insurance bidding processes for undergraduate students and graduate students. Some campuses renegotiate with providers every year, while others secure 2-year insurance contracts.
ENDA and DOMA
President Barack Obama is taking heat for his inaction in addressing two of his campaign promises to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community. President Obama pledged to Prop 8 Protest in West Hollywood, 5/26/09. Photo Credit Rich Yap. lobby congress for the enactment of the Employment The comment sparked outrage in the Non-Discrimination Act, which would protect gays and lesbians from lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community and prompted Keith discrimination in the workplace, and the repeal of the Defense of Lewis, the director of the Miss California competition to state that he Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a was saddened by Prejean’s answer. woman. Pressing political issues, not least among them a failing economy and However, Prejean defended her answer and stated she had “no regrets” wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, have diverted the president’s attention, about what she had said. yet many LGBT activists argue that the president’s campaign promises should be addressed regardless of the political climate. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, commenting on the president’s reluctance to lobby for LGBT issues including the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the military, stated Obama was willing to work with Congress on these issues but that changes “require more than the snapping of one’s fingers.” Regardless, President Obama has disappointed many in the LGBT community who feel that he has not lived up to the promises that helped get him elected in November.
Same-Sex Marriage Update
On May 6, 2006, Maine’s Governor John Baldacci, signed his state’s same-sex marriage bill just one hour after it passed through the legislature. “I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage,” Baldacci said in a statement released after he signed the bill. Five states have now legalized same-sex marriage: Massachusetts (2004), Connecticut (2008), Iowa (2009), Vermont (2009), and Maine (2009).
A Brentwood, Tennessee man said he was fired from his job at a local hotel because he was gay. “They literally said to me because of my orientation and my alternative lifestyle, that I was not a fit for the hotel,” said Hill to a local news station. Hill, a former human resources director at the hotel said he was shocked at the owner’s decision to fire him. According to Hill, Tarun Surti, the owner of the hotel, stated that “He would not have any of the gays in leadership positions at his hotel.” Leonard Stoddard, the assistant general manager, said that he did not agree with Surti’s decision and added that ““It is in our employee handbook that no one should be discriminated against, harassed verbally, physically or any other means for their sexuality, their sexual orientation, gender, race or anything of that sort.” Hill has already filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Labor.
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OPINION Breaking the Scale: How Gay Are You? by: Kaya Foster Staff Writer
It’s Friday night and I’m out at a “lesbian establishment” with my usual gang of friends. Anyone observing us would assume we‘re just your standard group of lesbians…and I‘d argue, that we are. However, this “standard group” is comprised of Leslie and her girlfriend Sarah, both of whom are spouting out feminist rhetoric bordering on lesbian separatism, although Leslie has seriously dated men, and Sarah makes out with her gay male friends and will admit it quite candidly. Then there’s Hannah, whose been in a monogamous relationship with a man for two years, and is happily and guiltlessly enjoying making out with a girl on the dance floor, but won‘t be getting her number. I’m chatting up my “gold star lesbian” friend Kat*, whose telling me she would never sleep with a man, but she loves gay male porn even more than lesbian porn. I’m in no way criticizing my friends’ actions or the way they identify. I bring this up because I think its an honest portrait of how people experience their sexuality and their identity. When I observe my friends, it becomes clear that whether we identify as lesbian, bisexual, queer, straight, etc- none of us is quite like the other. And yet, we are so restricted in the options we have to discuss these differences that we end up in categories that mean almost nothing. Is my friend who has slept with men in the past not a lesbian? Is my friend who kisses girls but isn’t interested in dating them bisexual, bi-curious, or straight? What about my friend who has no interest in sleeping with or dating men, but finds gay porn erotic? Is she bisexual? The reason labels don’t work isn’t only because we limit the identities available to us. It’s also because we have such a limited understanding of what “sexual orientation” itself means. Sexual orientation is most generally understood as the particular gender that a person is attracted to. But what does attraction really mean? How are we understanding “orientation” and “attraction”? What do we mean when we say we are only attracted to men, to women, to both, to none, etc? The model of sexual orientation that people usually use to understand what attraction means is the famous Kinsey Scale, created in the late 1940’s. For those unfamiliar, Kinsey argued that sexual orientation is a continuum, and people fall somewhere in a range between zero and six, where zero is completely heterosexual and six is completely homosexual. He argued that most people fall between a one and a five, which meant that most people were at least somewhat “bisexual“. Even today, Kinsey’s scale is the way in which people who don’t identify as strictly gay/straight most often explain their sexual orientation. “I’m about a 1.5 on the Kinsey Scale” is not an uncommon way to hear someone describe themselves. However, even people who do identify in the hetero/homo binary are influenced by Kinsey’s work. When someone says “I’m a six”, we think we understand what that means about that person…but do we? What did Kinsey mean by “attraction“? Dr Fred Klein in “The Bisexual Option,” explains that “Kinsey did not separate psychological reactions from overt experiences”. What this means is that someone’s rating on the Kinsey scale takes into account both their behavior and their fantasy. This doesn’t seem
problematic because we assume that most people’s fantasies and behaviors will match up on the scale. But will they? Surely there are people who fantasize about something they might never experience, like my friend Kat, who certainly isn‘t going to be having gay male sex (at least in this lifetime). According to Kinsey, is she a 6? Even beyond this, Klein argues that there are lots of difference facets that make two people’s orientation different, like the temporality of one’s behavior or fantasy. For example, some people exhibit bisexuality their whole lives, while others only for small amounts of time. And what about the quality of that attraction? Me and my friend might both identify as bisexual, but she is only interested in entering into casual sexual relationships with one gender and more serious sexual relationships with another, while maybe I view all sexual relationships in the same way regardless of gender. And is attraction only sexual? These issues lead Klein to develop Kinsey’s ideas about attraction into a more complex and sophisticated way of interpreting attraction. He suggested that a person’s orientation includes the following six separate categories: sexual attraction, sexual behavior, sexual fantasy, emotional preference, lifestyle (community), selfidentification. Hypothetically, someone could fall in very different places on a continuum like Kinsey’s in these six different categories. That would better explain why someone could be a six in sexual behavior, but a three in sexual fantasy. Or maybe they are a four in sexual attraction, but want to feel part of the gay community (which isn’t easy to do if you don’t identify as gay or lesbian). While Klein’s categories can certainly be critiqued, the complexity he allows certainly makes his theory superior to oversimplifying what sexual orientation means, allowing us to realize that what “sexual orientation” can be based on everything from our physiological desire to our affiliation with a community. We fumble miserably attempting to make current labels fit because they cannot address emotional preference, fantasy, temporality, etc. Klein wrote “The Bisexual Option” in 1978, yet society hasn‘t widely acknowledged the challenges he made to oversimplification. His work is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to alternatives to how we might understand sexual orientation and the identities that follow from that understanding. Kinsey was radical for his time, as was Klein, but we need to keep pushing the boundaries and accepting the complexity of human sexuality and identity. In the words of Kinsey “Only the human mind invents categories and tries to force facts into separated pigeon-holes. The living world is a continuum in every one of its aspects. The sooner we learn this…the sooner we shall reach a sound understanding of the realities of sex”.
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I am one of two Caucasian people on staff here at OutWrite, and sometimes it makes me just a bit uncomfortable. UCLA’s Queer Alliance has considerably more white members, but only a few show up regularly to meetings. The fact that I’m the only Gay White Male (GWM) at the magazine, is a topic that comes up a lot at our staff meetings. This awkwardness isn’t only present at our magazine, UCLA’s Queer Alliance has considerably more white members then OutWrite does, but only a few show up regularly to meetings. It’s something that makes me think hard about our community, about the LGBT movement at UCLA and at large, and about the role of the Gay White Male in today’s progressive society. Working through it has helped me to assume and embrace my own role as an active participant in queer culture and advocate for queer issues, as well as to understand the often subtle but powerful racial dynamics that lurk behind the rainbow. First, a bit about the Gay White Male. He is probably the most widely recognized cross-section of the Queer community. He is wellgroomed, well-spoken, the best friend, gym buddy, and dance partner a girl could have. He’s passionate and often promiscuous, prone to fits of emotion and brash outbursts, and he wears Prada sunglasses to dress up his True Religions. In short, he’s fabulous. If you walk up Bruin Walk or down Janss Steps on any given day, you are bound to encounter at least one specimen of the GWM (they do, after all, call it UCL-Gay for a reason). They are a definite presence at this university. So why don’t they come to Queer Alliance meetings? Why do they seem to be silent, seen but not heard? You could call it an image thing. Growing up around San Francisco, I learned that there are two types of gay young people: the activists, and the rest. In my admittedly limited experience, the “activists” tended to be much more diverse, a colorful and often more interesting set of people who always spoke up for something. On the other hand, the latter group seemed shallower, tighter, whiter, more homogenized, even a bit elitist. The image of the GWM appeared to be associated with this last set. Here at UCLA, it seems that not much is different. The activists tend to be Latino, black, or Asian, they go to PAQ and LaFa and Blaque, they march down Santa Monica Boulevard on November 5th and they keep quiet on National Day of Silence. They call themselves Queer People of Color. They are the ones that make a tangible difference, the ones that lead and represent the LGBT community at our school, at least in the context of the Queer Alliance. So why does the Gay White Male take a backseat? Is it laziness? Fear? Indifference? Perhaps they feel they have been accepted by society to a satisfactory degree, as a familiar and rather comforting demographic. Maybe they feel like they have nothing to protest about, nothing to fight for. Maybe it’s just not cool. I have a confession to make. I am a GWM; but I don’t fit the stereotype anymore. I used to feel apathetic, to fail to see the point in going to a protest about something that I thought was already done, to view meetings as borderline pointless. I used to allow others to speak up. But then it clicked. I realized that it’s about me just as much as it’s about any of them, that I deal with ignorance and oppression and flat-out hate just like the rest of them, internally and externally, every single day. And I realized that I’m not okay with that. I actually wanted to be part of a movement that meant something, something more than a character, or a stereotype, something less manufactured and easy to swallow. I realized that I needed to fight in order to find my place in this community, to define my identity among all of the fabulous masks. I’m not asserting that white queer people do not care about the issues plaguing our community--far from it. Some of the most passionate queer activists I know are white, and I respect them greatly. Yet I’m still one of the few white people at Queer Alliance meetings. There seems to be a stigma attached to being an “activist,” especially among gay white males, almost as if it means the same as being “hippie” in today’s society. From my perspective, I think it’s partly an image thing; and that’s what I decided to get past and what other
GWM’s on campus may be struggling with as well. Of course, there are numerous other potential complications. Maybe they haven’t heard about how to get involved. Maybe they feel uncomfortable in a setting with so many strong-minded queer people of color. Maybe they feel left out of the intense sense of community facilitated by groups like Blaque, La Familia and Pan Asian Queers, groups that are fundamentally centered around queer issues as they relate to specific ethnic groups. Needless to say, there is no GWM group at UCLA. This is not to suggest that there are no white people involved in queer groups on campus. Student Coalition for Marriage Equality, among others, has numerous white members and is an organization that plays a defining role in queer activism here, especially with events like the annual Same-Sex Marriage Ceremony. But it is worth mentioning that although the SCME does take strong stances on other issues, like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and DOMA, its primary focus is arguably the issue of same-sex marriage, at least when the name is taken into account. What does it say that the highest concentration of GWM activists at UCLA is contained in a group called the Student Coalition for Marriage Equality? Is that easier for them, and the hetero public, to swallow than “Queer Alliance?” Is same-sex marriage the only issue that the GWMs feel is worth their time, effort, and support? Obviously, the answers to these questions are very complex and beyond the scope of this piece,
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White In the Rainbow Can I Get Some Mayonnaise Please? but they are worth asking in this context. But in reality, a discussion of the different queer organizations here at UCLA, and their various demographic breakdowns, misses the point. The lack of white representation in our queer activist community has nothing to do with queer ethnic groups, no matter what conclusions may be drawn by observing who actually shows up to meetings. The point is that there is a gap, an empty seat at the table. The point is that the GWMs need to show that they care, and the Queer Alliance is one of the best places on campus to do it. The passing of Proposition 8 in November was felt by the entire queer community, both GWMs and activists alike; it’s hard to be oblivious to something as deeply disturbing as Prop 8. Everyone had an opinion, whether they admitted it or not. I believe that with
the passing of Prop 8, something stirred in the LGBT community, at UCLA and beyond. The GWMs realized that even they, in all their fabulousness, could relate to this, were hurt by this, were not exempt to this degradation to second class status. Now, denial is not an option, and neither is giving up. I believe that more of us than ever have come to the realization that we must join together, do our part, and most importantly of all, make our presence felt, seen, heard, if we are to win the fight. And I believe that as GWM’s continue to wake up, it will be possible to transform them - the elusive, mysterious, fabulous gay white male - into “activists,” into people who care, into people who stand up by showing up, and a good place to start is at the Queer Alliance here at UCLA.
So You Call Yourself a Faghag?
at UCLA was desperately in the closet and as his best friend I witnessed his struggle. I was aware that I could never truly understand what it was like to be queer. As much as I am involved in “queer culture”- I could never by: Leslie Shim understand the staff writer hardship of being queer. That’s when I became an ally. Faghag: a slang term referring to In the straight world, straight girls who hang out with gay men. I was criticized, Faghags make great party accessories: People always asked someone fun to make out with when drunk, me, “Why do you a necessity to an impromptu photo shoot, a care so much?” In dance partner at Rage when the hot guy you the gay world, I felt targeted at the beginning of the night ducks like faghags were out early, or the perfect accompaniment voice seen as tag-alongs when loudly and obnoxiously belching out who just wanted to popular songs over the radio. dance and talk about pop-culture But is that all we are? their faghags were seen as tag- with gay boys. I don’t alongs who just wanted to And in remember the first time dance and talk about pop- the I was called a faghag. lesbian I’ve always inherently world, culture been a one; I just didn’t I know it. experienced strange I remember the first time someone looks and much came out to me like it was yesterday. In suspicion. But, as the beginning of freshman year, my friend I stuck to my guns and classmate Sam and I were checking about my beliefs and educated myself about out the people walking by in De Neve Plaza LGBT issues, people began to respect my before our class started. As I commented support. with jealousy on the girls walking by, she In January 2008 a very close family asked me, “So, do you like girls?” Startled, I friend drunk-dialed me. She was sobbing and said, “Uh, no.” For a moment, my forehead wasn’t making any sense, so I stayed on the crinkled in confusion because I wasn’t even phone repeatedly asking her what was wrong. thinking about that. Then it clicked. “Do She told me she was in love with someone. you?” At this point, I didn’t notice the gender Nonchalantly, she responded, “Um, yeah.” neutral pronoun usage because she was I didn’t know that she had “come out” to me someone I had known my whole life. In a very at the time. I was curious, so a week later heteronormative way, I just assumed it was I asked my friend, “So did you always like about a boy and said, “What’s the problem? girls?” If you’re really in love with someone, it’ll That’s when it all really started. always work out.” Eventually, my best friends from high school My friend responded tearfully, “The thing is, came out to me, and that’s when I learned the it’s really long distance – and it’s a girl – she first rule of being a faghag: never out your lives in another state.” You know how people queer friends. Ever. It is entirely a private say that when you die, your life flashes before identity issue and the personal decision of the your eyes? At that precise moment, a flood queer individual . One of my best friends here
By: Justin Sedor
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of memories from our childhood together flashed before me - all the signs I had noticed but didn’t think much of at the time, the moments where she said or did something that confused me - it all just clicked. For some reason, I wasn’t surprised or shocked even though I never would have guessed the truth. We talked for the rest of that night until she got too tired to stay on the phone. That night enlightened me. I am an ally. I am also a Christian. Though these identities are often considered opposites, I can’t imagine a god who would condemn someone over what gender they love. I can’t imagine a god that wouldn’t want us to support those in a marginalized community. I feel that I was always meant to be an ally and that it is as much a part of my identity as anything else. I’ve pretty much been an ally since birth. I grew up with a queer person by my side (albeit unknowingly) and all my best guy friends in high school were in the closet. I don’t think that was by accident at all. I know that as a faghag I have a responsibility to my friends in the LGBT community and to myself. Even though I may not be gay, I am an ally, and that means I have a stake in what happens to the LGBT community as well. Hags, this is a call to arms and you’re already in a position to meet it. Being a hag is basically synonymous with being an ally. It is listening, being willing to talk, being openminded, and being active in helping rid this world of discrimination and prejudice. More than anything, of course, it is being a friend, often the most helpful thing in the world.
A person born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit the typical definitions of female or male.
An Intersex individual can be: • A person born with genitals that are in-between the typical male or female • A person appearing to be one sex on the outside but having mostly the opposite sex anatomy on the inside • A person born with mosaic genetics: for example, some cells having XX chromosomes and some with XY
Intersex is a socially constructed category that reflects natural biological variation. Nature presents us with sex anatomy spectrums: Breasts, penises, clitorises, scrotums, labia, gonads, etc. all vary in size and shape and morphology. Humans simplify the spectrum to female, male, and intersex.
Asexuality is characterized by an absence of sexual attraction or desire for sex. It is sometimes considered a lack of sexual orientation. Some asexuals may masturbate for the purposes of solitary release, but many don’t feel the urge to do so; some have a strong aversion to the idea of sex, while others are indifferent and may consent to intercourse in order to please their partner. Asexuals may have purely emotion-based relationships with individuals of either sex. A widely accepted statistic suggests that around 1% of the world’s population is asexual, but this is a rough figure; many scientists believe the proportion to be considerably higher. Famous Asexual Individuals: Issac Newton and Steven Morrissey
An umbrella term for all gender identities other than man or woman. The term rejects the idea of a gender binary (the idea of a limited, two-gender system). The identity therefore strives to break free from these confines and acknowledge the multifaceted nature of gender. The area of gender identity is relatively uncharted territory, so it’s no surprise that the Genderqueer identity is evolving and changing with the idea of gender itself, and dispelling preconceived notions in the process.
Genderqueer Identifications: • One who’s gender identity is constantly changing, • One who identifies with more than one gender, • Or one who refuses to categorize their identity under one word or description Within Genderqueer: Androgyne: A gender neutral individual or an individual with both masculine and feminine characters Ze: A gender neutral pronoun, used instead of he/she Zir: A gender neutral pronoun, used instead of his/her Bigender: A tendency to move between feminine and masculine gender-typed behavior depending on the context. Androphilia: Attraction to men by people of any gender, describing one’s orientation independently of one’s own sex/gender Gynephilia: Attraction to women by people of any gender, describing one’s orientation independently of one’s own sex/gender
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An individual who has the capability of attraction to others regardless of their gender identity or biological sex. A pansexual person could be open to someone who is male, female, transgender, intersex, or genderqueer. Spring 09
Do you fit the rigid perimeters of LGB?
LESSER KNOWN IDENTITIES FLUID
Gender Fluid: someone who sees their own identity as constantly changing at different parts of their life Sexually Fluid: Someone who can be attracted to different genders at different times in their lives
A constantly evolving term that loosely denotes individuals or behaviors that subvert, compliment, or question normative gender roles (the traditional male/female binary). In it’s earlier stages it served as a gender identity that followed a much stricter definition; one that is now more typically associated with transsexuality, which is the misalignment (mentally/spiritually/ physically/emotionally) between one’s natal genitalia (corresponding birth sex) with their “true” perceived and non-actualized self. Transgender is typically now used as an umbrella term to house variant gender expressions, including but not limited to: transsexual, genderqueer, cross-dressing, transvestite, and intersexed individuals. Spring 09
An individual who shuns sexual orientation labels and chooses not to label oneself with a sexual orientation. Pomosexuality is “erotic reality beyond the boundaries of gender, separatism, and essentialist notions of sexual orientation.”
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Queer Identity in Other Cultures by Leslie Shim
Two Spirit – Native America
“Two Spirit” is an identity that can be found in nearly every Native American society. Two-spirit individuals are thought to be in possession of two spirits that inhabit the same body. While they are physically either male or female, they often assume aspects of both male and female gender roles. Two-spirit individuals have traditionally been revered and sometimes even feared in Native American cultures. They often served as chiefs, prophets, healers and powerful warriors. Today, LGBT Native Americans have revived the legacy of the two-spirit individuals by reclaiming the term and applying it to themselves.
Hijras – South Asia
a third gender of biological males who dress and act like women in South Asia. Hijras refer to themselves using feminine pronouns and expect others to do so. Unlike transsexuals, most Hijras do not attempt to “pass” as the opposite sex (they are unmistakably visible as Hijras), and engage in behaviors considered inappropriate for ordinary women. An estimated 50,000 Hijras lived in India as of 1990.
Muxe (or muxhe) – Southern Mexico
In Zapotec cultures of Oaxaca (southern Mexico), a biological male individual who dresses and behaves in a feminine manner. If a muxe chooses a man as a sexual partner, neither of them are necessarily considered homosexual.
Waria - Indonesia
Waria’s are similar to the kathoeys of Thailand, although they are not assimilated or accepted into the Indonesian culture. The name waria comes from the Indonesian word wanita combined with the word for man pria. The waria are tranvestites (males who crossdress as females) who make money off the reactions of their audience. Their occupations consist mostly as street performers and musicians, often making money singing, dancing, and rattling home-made instruments. Since waria are not considered man or woman, they have a special Koran school in the Muslim country of Indonesia.
Xanith (or khanith) - Oman
Xanith (or khanith) are the transsexuals of Oman in the Middle East. The Arabic name translates to effeminate and intersex. According to that account, the khanith is the gynecomimetic partner in a homosexual relationship. A gynecomimetic individual may retain his public status as a man, despite his departure in dress and behavior from a socio-normal male role, providing that he also gives proof of a legal marriage to a woman and proof of having consummated that marriage. The clothing of these individuals must be intermediate between that of a male and a female. His social role includes the freedom to associate with women in the entire range of their social interactions, including singing with them at a wedding (instead of playing a musical instrument as would a male), but he can travel about unaccompanied as would a male, live unaccompanied, be hired as a domestic servant, and to be hired by men as a prostitute. There is no element of feminizing the body, either by surgical or pharmacological means.
Fa’afafine - Samoa
A third gender specific to Samoan culture. Fa’afafine are biologically men who in childhood choose by their nature to be raised to assume female gender roles, which is not discouraged in the traditional “Fa’asamoa” (Samoan society). A fa’afafine may or may not still marry a biological woman.
Sworn Virgin – Albania
In Albania, a biological female who decides to live in the manner of a man while swearing never to marry or have sexual relations with another. As long as the Sworn Virgin follows these terms, he is accepted by his family and community.
Kathoey – Thailand
Guevedoche (or Guevedoces) – Dominican Republic
A Male-to-female transgender person or an effeminate effeminate gay male Thailand In 2004, the Chiang Mai Technology School allocated a separate restroom for kathoeys, with an intertwined male and female symbol on the door. The 15 kathoey students are required to wear male clothing at school but are allowed to sport feminine hairdos. Thailand has more people who are openly transgendered than anywhere else in the world. Hormones for transgenders are available in Thailand without any kind of prescription.
Spanish slang a condition originated in the Dominican Republic, where more than three dozen cases have occurred in the small village of Salinas, all descended from a single individual named Altagracia Carrasco. It is an intersex condition called 5-alpha-reductase deficiency, and individuals can live as women and men, depending on what they feel they identify with. Guevedoche stands for the colloquial expression huevo a los doce, which translates literally as “eggs at twelve” (“eggs” being a common slang term for “testicles”). It is also known locally as Machihembras (literally “malefemale”).
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BEYOND UCLA HIV/AIDS and The Gay Male Identity Did you know that there is an HIV clinic a few doors down from Rage in West Hollywood? Right next to that clinic is yet another, and if you missed the first two clinics, there’s also a van parked out front where you can get tested, too. Whether we like it or not, gay male identity is defined, not only by the positive aspects of gay life, but by the grim aspects of it, as well. And one of the most significant examples of the latter is the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which has ravaged our community since it was first identified in the early 1980s. HIV/AIDS continues to have a significant impact on the gay male psyche, being a factor in shaping our fears, our attitudes towards our health, our relationships, the precautions we take (or don’t) when we have sex and how we are perceived by others outside our community, regardless of our actual HIV statuses. HIV/AIDS was at once so readily identified with the gay community that it was referred to, not as AIDS, but as GRID, short for ‘gay related immune deficiency’. Doctors were unsure as to the cause of the disease, but it originally seemed to affect only gay men. As the disease started affecting more varied sets of people, the stereotypes about who the victims of HIV were grew broader, with the ‘4 H’s’ (Homosexuals, the Homeless, Heroin-users and Haïtians) being the next primitive explanation of who the epidemic was affecting. Soon enough though, it became clear that while gay men were disproportionately affected by the epidemic, HIV could infect anyone. In order to understand how the HIV/AIDS epidemic initially affected the gay community, as well as what is currently being done within the medical community to counteract the virus in the LGBT community, I sat down with Dr. David Malebranche, a physician from Emory University’s School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a respected member of the black and gay communities, who has been performing research on behavioral prevention and black men who have sex with men (BMSM) for years. He also works in a clinic, treating those who are uninsured and live with HIV/ AIDS. For those who were not alive during the 80s, the picture Dr. Malebranche paints of the initial breakout of the epidemic is foreign yet sobering. He recalls, “Our friends and family died like flies in front of our eyes. We would literally go to two or three funerals a week. And we were constantly wondering, ‘Who’s going to be next?’” While frightening, Malebranche characterized the time as one of mobilization for the gay community – there was no stigma attached to the disease, people
simply wanted to find out what the disease was and stop it in its tracks. Nearly 30 years later, the LGBT community is still enveloped in a battle against HIV/AIDS. In 2005, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that men who have sex with men (MSM) make up 68% of all men known to be HIV+, even though a mere 5 to 7% of men nationwide reported having sex with other men. While we now know what HIV is and how it is transmitted, we still do not know how to bring the infection rates down in our community. The MSM population continues to have high rates of unprotected anal sex, colloquially referred to as ‘barebacking’, the acceptance of which is reinforced by readily accessible pornography which romanticizes the practice. Additionally, the advent of the Internet has made it easier for men who are interested in barebacking to find each other. To make this scenario
worse, many gay men engage in unsafe sex in conjunction with the use of dangerous substances, such as meth and poppers. Such drugs increase one’s willingness to participate in unsafe sex and lower the immune system’s defenses to be able to fight the virus if it enters the body. “There is no longer that urgency surrounding the prevention of HIV that there once was,” Malebranche commented. In accounting for the higher rates of HIV infection in the MSM population, Malebranche also cited ‘serosorting’ as a significant cause of infection. ‘Serosorting’ consists of sizing up a potential partner’s HIV status and then deciding whether or not to have unprotected sex with them or not, without confirmation of a medical test. This practice also carries considerable risk of HIV infection. Within the LGBT community, gay males of color, particularly black gay males are the most significant risk group for contracting HIV of all demographic groups in the United States. This is why Dr. Malebranche finds it is so crucial to do research on behavioral prevention in black gay males. “Being gay looks different in different races,” he states. “What we have found to be effective in white gay communities has not always been successful with black MSM.” Malebranche’s innovative research has shed light on trends
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by: Lior Ben Ayal staff writer
in the health of BMSM. For instance, while safe sex in white communities is often correlated with living an ‘out’ life, in black populations, males who are not open to everyone about their sexual orientation have higher condom usage rates than those who are completely out of the closet. “What is there to come out to?” Malebranche asks. “Racism? The stigma of being gay in the black community? The objectification of black bodies by white gay men?” As researchers such as Dr. Malebranche are looking into the health disparities in the LGBT community along racial lines, they are finding that the traditional reasons given for higher rates of HIV infection in communities of color – drug use and low condom usage rates – are not holding up. Rather, there are more intricate and complicated factors, such as lower circumcision rates, co-infection with other STIs, the makeup of sexual networks and genetic predisposition, which also account for the higher rates of HIV/AIDS infection in minority communities. The HIV/AIDS epidemic is not farremoved from us at all. Just hours before we hit the clubs of West Hollywood after classes are over for the week, physicians, HIV counselors and others work tirelessly to prevent HIV transmission in our own neighborhood. While retroviral drugs have lengthened the lives of people who live with HIV/AIDS, they have spared us from seeing how debilitating the disease can truly be. Malebranche expressed frustration over seeing patients of college age and younger infected with HIV come into the clinic where he works, saying that the condition is “largely preventable”. In ending his interview, he concluded with a warning to UCLA students: “If HIV gets into your sexual circles, it can get between people pretty quickly if you are not protecting yourselves. Don’t think it can’t happen on your own campus.”
The Ashe Center offers both confidential and anonymous HIV Testing. For more information contact the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center at (310)825-4037 http://www.studenthealth.ucla.edu/ OTHER RESOURCES AIDS HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION Administrative Offices 6255 W. Sunset Blvd. 21st Floor Los Angeles, CA 90028 (323) 860-5200 www.aidshealth.org Hollywood Clinic 1300 N. Vermont Ave. #407 Los Angeles, CA 90027 (323) 662-0492 Public Health Division 1300 Scott Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90026 (213) 481-7307 Westside Clinic 99 N. La Cienega Blvd. #200 Beverly Hills, CA 90211 (310) 657-9353
Medical services for people living with HIV/AIDS, mobile testing and counseling for HIV and STDs, testing and counseling for HIV at Out of the Close Thrift Stores and hospice care.
PERSONAL Confessions of an
I’ve come out to those who have been accepting and to those who have been hostile; I’ve spoken out so that the gay voice wouldn’t be silenced. I have a pride flag hanging (proudly, of course) in my room and stand quick to challenge an ignorant or disparaging comment made about the LGBT community. It would seem that the gay aspect of my identity is something that I have accepted and even embraced. But there is one aspect of my sexual orientation that I have only recently come to terms with – that I tried to change it. I am…an ex-ex-gay. For two-and-a-half years, I went through the ex-gay therapy regimen prescribed to me by the priests of my former religion, the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I realized I was gay when I was only ten years old. As a good, pious Jehovah’s Witness, I looked up “homosexuality” in my religion’s secret database, the Watchtower Library. I was distraught. Article after article was filled with hatred of gay people, condemnation of their socalled depraved lifestyle and demands that they become heterosexual. Some articles went as far as to refer to gays as ‘dogs’ and detailed various ways in which they are inferior to heterosexuals, especially highlighting alleged higher mortality rates and feelings of loneliness and depression that gays, young and old, are supposedly plagued with. Reading this at such a young age changed everything about my life and how I perceived my gay identity. I felt as if my fate were sealed; if I lived a gay life, I would die miserably, and if I followed my church’s teachings, I would die miserably, too. I decided to avoid thinking about my predicament. When I was a teenager, though, my homosexuality became impossible to ignore. I came out to my parents when I was fourteen, hoping that they would be understanding and perhaps clear up some of the misconceptions I drew from looking in the Watchtower library. They took me back to the library, though, and told me there was no mistake at all. They believed every word that I had read, and this is where the trouble started for me. Soon, the elders, or priests, came regularly to pray over and ‘help’ me, in hopes that I would one day be ‘cured’ of my homosexuality. And for two-and-a-half painful years, I went through exgay therapy. The therapy worked like this: I was given an older male mentor that I met with once or twice a week; he would be the father figure that I needed in my life, since my dad was so often traveling for his job. I didn’t really need this ‘mentor’, but I won’t lie, he was hot! I was forced to read and meditate on the chaste and masculine example that Jesus set out in the Bible and to pray constantly – these prayers naturally included petitions to make me straight. I could not watch anything on TV with shirtless men or ‘gay propaganda’, which included anything that even featured a gay character – from Will and Grace to the Real World series. They forbade me from eating certain foods, such as bananas and cucumbers. (Ironically, I only think of these fruits sexually after the therapy.) I also had to reflect on my thoughts and how they were destroying me and learned about the self-destructiveness that is the ‘gay lifestyle’. And I constantly had to reaffirm my belief in the end of the world and its imminence. While none of this was terrible in itself, the mindset it instilled within me was terrifying and paralyzing. Even if I did not become straight, they ensured that I would be too afraid to take up a life of homosexuality. Even though I went to an art school for high school, where almost half of the guys were gay, I remained celibate. Everything changed when I met Justin. He would write me sweet
Ex- Homosexual by: Lior Ben Ayal staff writer
letters, call me late at night and hang out with me after class every day. I really liked him. And I didn’t understand what I was doing that was so wrong? Why were my feelings supposed to be so vile and evil? Even with my therapy, I didn’t truly believe that I was doing anything wrong. As much as I liked Justin, though, I was still afraid to ‘act on my homosexuality’. I needed to have my questions answered. And to search for the answers, I alienated myself from everything in life, looking exclusively within myself and my holy book. I left my art school, even though staying there for only 40 more days would have meant performing in Carnegie Hall. I cut friends that I loved and cherished out of my life because I felt that these non-Christians were encouraging me to live a gay lifestyle. And while I didn’t realize it then, I did one of the few things that my therapy actually taught me – to stifle my every emotion, even in emotionally charged situations, such as this one. I spent hours at a time in church and in the conversion work, continuously seeking to understand why I couldn’t be gay, but I never came any closer to finding the answers to my questions. I only found that my life was spinning out of control as I thought of suicide on a daily basis. Eventually, when I was 16, I attempted it. I didn’t know what God put me here for, why He gave me a family who wanted me to torture myself like this and why He didn’t want me to be able to experience love like everyone else. But I didn’t care anymore. I didn’t know what I was doing; I only knew that I should at least have the decency to kill myself outside of my mother’s house, so I went somewhere else… I don’t know how much time passed. But I remember that my neighbor who happened to be a nurse found my in a pool of my own blood with a knife and a suicide note at my side. Knowing my parents, she took care of me herself and hours later, she told me something that I heard for the first time. “God loves you as you are.” It was nice to hear, but I didn’t believe her, and even resented her for encouraging me to remain homosexual. Days later, I sat my mother and father down to talk to them separately. “I’m still gay,” I confessed softly. And then I finally let them feel my anger: “And I am never going to let you hurt me again! Not you, not the elders, none of you,” I screamed through my tears. The therapy ended then and there. My parents did not want it to, but after years of abuse, my crazed rage frightened them, and they were unsure what I was capable and willing to do if they continued it. Just over two years have passed since this painful ordeal ended, but I still bear the scars of this time in my life. I am still prone to depression and suicidal feelings. My faith in God was so shaken that I abandoned my religion to become an atheist, before eventually adopting another faith. The fear of gay people that I developed through my therapy remains with me. When I hear about HIV/AIDS in our community, I can just see my old elders shaking their heads in a strange mix of disapproval and self-righteousness. And I am often overcome with feelings of panic, anxiety and isolation when I go to gay clubs. And perhaps most noticeable of all to others, I have a great deal of trouble expressing emotions that I was taught for so long to suppress – this has proven to be especially paralyzing in relationship settings. As I look back at my experiences, I can see that the treatment was not only ineffective, but profoundly traumatic. Ex-gay therapy is dangerous to the mental well-being of those who are made subject to it. After two years, it still affects me every day. For years, I prayed to God to change my sexual orientation. Now, I believe that God’s best answer to my prayers was to not answer.
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The Hair Problem by: Tory Adkisson staff writer I’ve always felt a little uncomfortable in my own skin, but the first real demarcation of adolescence was more than I, as an erstwhile thirteen year old, could bear: body hair, which started a “happy trail” from my belly button to my chest, was beginning to consume the whole of my body, transforming me gradually from an arid desert to a dense forest. By the time I started high school, I was a whole different ecosystem. Before the follicle invasion, I liked the bareness of my body (the pudginess, not so much) as it was something that remained constant, even as my face was starting to bristle with whiskers and my voice was finding a lower octave more fitting for my future. The hair was uncomfortable, hot, itchy, but I worried more about what people might think about me. Being an effete child with a wandering and often anxious imagination, I considered the hair a sign of beastliness, and felt that others would see me in a similar light: as a savage monster, dragging his knuckles on the ground—his HAIRY knuckles—wanting to sink his teeth into something he freshly killed (with his bare hands)! I felt somehow like my body was not my own, that it was being transformed into something altogether different, and foreign, that the mind inside of it was failing to correspond. I felt out of order. In some sense I came to terms with the way I looked, ignoring it, or covering it up in the fall and winter months with heavy layers of clothing. Pants dominated my wardrobe and I longed for the mystique and security a hoody or a sweater could afford me. I was closeted (not too convincingly) in high school, had a “girlfriend” for some time, and even acquired a friend or two, but for the most part I was a walking safety deposit box. Within me were valuable things, things someone might want to claim, but I wasn’t opening up for anyone. I was looking for a key. I guess the key was accepting myself for who I was, and am—a gay man. After coming out, I felt immeasurably better about myself. It allowed me to transform from a somber social recluse, into an anxious social misfit, but one who had friends, felt confident and able to talk to people, and allowed himself to occasionally enjoy his life. But still, there was hair! Glancing at the pages of most gay magazines gives you the sense that hair is on the whole, not permissible—unless it is sparse and artfully sculpted, accentuating your pecs, that sort of thing. If only I were so lucky. My hair is everywhere: on my arms, knuckles and the backs of my hands, on my toe knuckles (I’m seriously tempted to call them tunkles) and legs, on my chest, tummy (it makes potbelly sound so much cuter!), groin, back and…yes…even my booty. At this point, I am over the hair, and think about it as any other part of me. Sometimes I even indulge in the idea that it is attractive. However, when I see hair on other guys, it turns me off. Sometimes, it makes me feel like a hypocrite. Blaming
the gay media seems like a good strategy for defending why I feel so torn between accepting the way I look and rejecting how “my look” looks on other guys, and I do think that the way magazines manufacture images of “acceptable beauty” is partly the reason, but not the whole story. For me, it’s also just
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a natural preference to be attracted to people that are the opposite of me (except for, you know, that whole having a penis part). My evidence? The fact that I like the opposite of me in ways that are not physical, too. I like guys who are more grounded and stable, but with a touch of immaturity, to balance out my temperamental, neurotic and so-mature-he’s-practically-mygrandfather personality. Hair isn’t a big deal in the long run. If it became a real problem, I could shave it off. But I probably won’t do that because for me, it would be akin to a whole renovation—it would require more time than I, as an avid reader of perezhilton.com could possibly set aside. The physical, thankfully, is mutable. Sadly, body image issues are prevalent among gay men, especially in a city like Los Angeles where everyone and their mother stresses out about their waist size to the point that they feel obligated to post it on craigslist. Adam4Adam has a field for it, below height and weight, and above penis size. Maybe that’s the world we live in, a world where the sum total of how attractive you are can be measured by the inches of your waist, or the bareness of your skin. We’re not interested in the sincerity of a smile, or the knowledge that can be gleaned by looking that cute guy in the eyes. Who cares what he’s thinking? We’re more obsessed with how we look and whether that is important or not is up to debate. Some guys have found the hair on my body repulsive. Other guys have found it very sexy. One guy even pulled some off of my chest when he was drunk. That just goes to show that beauty is not standard. Thin may be in, but there are also chubby guys and they have chasers who are often stick figures in comparison. You can argue that that kind of attraction is based more on the fetishizing the other person’s physical attributes, but don’t we also fetishize muscles, naively believing guys who have them must be masculine, successful, attractive and interesting. Some definitely are, but I’ve known guys who had amazing bodies and faces that gave Joan Rivers something to brag about. We put too much stock in what physical attributes, and things like muscles, can tell us, for better and for worse. My body hair is just that, a physical feature, and can tell you nothing about me other than I’m not high maintenance enough to shave it off religiously. I am my own person, my own hairy person. What are you?
CREATIVE WRITING In Medias Res by: Kela Mori staff writer A conversation in trans-it Leah laughed, “But seriously, changing genders is a pretty big deal, you would need a lot of conviction and a lot of certainty.” “I suppose, but even I know there are little absolutes in life. Transitioning was something different, it was more like returning to something known than it was transitioning into something new. They should call it returning if anything,” I said in response. “Ha, I would have never thought of it that way, but it makes sense. So tell me more about it…” “Well, there isn’t much to tell, the initial fascination with hormones has become a part of my daily routine and I don’t think you want to hear about horrendous mood swings and random food cravings.” I groaned, out of breathe from the brisk lunges, as we walked into Bruin Cafe and ordered smoothies. “Are you kidding me? Tell me what being on hormones is like. I mean, what do they do exactly?” “Physically?” “Sure, why not.” “They make your skin smoother, they change how your body distributes fat, they give you breasts, all the great things in life you know?” “How about emotionally” “All the worst things in life. Just kidding, but it does alter how you perceive situations. You definitely become more affected by emotions and the emotions of others. I don’t know, this is just me, everybody is different.” The boy behind the counter called the number for our drinks. I grabbed straws for both of us and we walked to a table outside. “Like for instance, you may think I’m making this up and it’s not scientifically backed or anything but I have a better sense of smell now. I’ve begun to notice the different fragrances of bodies; it’s interesting.” “No way! You’ve acquired some of the mighty powers of the natal female.” Leah said jokingly sipping on her mango smoothie as she watched me ignore mine. I lit a cigarette and leaned back in my chair. “Should you be smoking? I mean on hormones and all?” “Nope.” “Then why...” I cut her off midsentence, “because...because…” I really didn’t have an answer; I just looked off into the distance feigning deep thought. “Because what?” she said more engaged and a little perturbed by my attempt at deflecting her question. “Because” I started again, “Because... sometimes we don’t do the things we’re supposed to do. Sometimes there is just an overwhelming urge to resist who we are.” The words left my mouth, carried by their
own will, wispy and afloat like a stream of unconscious smoke seeping out of my mouth and into the world. “That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” She looked angry. “Seriously, that is ridiculous, why would you even consider jeopardizing what you’ve worked so intently for?”She spoke with genuine curiosity and a hint of annoyance. “Because, I’m still a kid, and I do what I want. I choose myself over others, because quite honestly, the world is all about me.” I leaned back further and lowered my sunglasses to avoid the intensity of her gaze. “Do you honestly think like that? She asked, a little confused, “but that doesn’t make any sense, if you’re truly that selfish, which I know you aren’t, you would be more concerned about yourself and thus not smoke.” It was as if she expected her logic, sound and intelligible logic, to prevail—to instantly
persuade me into her point of view simply by the sound of the right words. “When I said me, I meant the me of now, this short term me that has to deal with the more immediate problems of a definite moment in time; the twenty year old me without any health complications or joint pains.” I came off a little too selfcertain, a little too believable, lacking the melodramatic cynicism I intended. She stood up with her head down and spoke through her hair, “I can’t believe you would even say something like that.”As she turned to leave, I reached out and grabbed her hand, slipping my fingers through her thumb and forefinger, not squeezing but letting the concavity of our curled fingers hold us together. “By the fading powers of my male privilege, I demand that you stay” I said in a deep robotic voice. She smiled, “you’ve given up that luxury along time ago I’m afraid.” “It’s been a little rough, what can I say.” “Fine. I’ll stay by an act of my own volition and not in subservience to your matriarchal law either.” “Haha, fair enough.” I ashed the
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cigarette and tossed the butt, exhaling the last of the smoke. “You really should care more, about other people I mean, and not think so much of yourself,” she said as she returned to her chair. They were honest words, words that linger about longer than the actual sounds they produce. I hesitated to speak, letting the mental echoes of her voice remain in the thickness of thought and silence. I finally began, “do you remember when you were younger, that feeling that anything was truly possible? The time when all the doors were open and all the paths lay ready for exploration?” “Yeah, vaguely” “Well, that’s what this is like. It’s as if the solidification that comes with chosen paths have eroded away, it’s as if I get a second chance to a new life, old doors once sealed by wisdom break before the forces of reinvigorated youth. It’s like puberty all over again.” “Dang, I had no idea it was that intense.” “This is the second chance to have what we knew in a previous life we could never obtain, but at a cost of course.” “The pangs of puberty and the joys of teen angst?”she guessed rather accurately. “Unfortunately that’s pretty spot on.” I sat up and began drinking my untouched smoothie, letting its coolness wash through me. “What I don’t understand is, if you know this, if you’ve already acknowledged these forces, why do you let them affect you?” The question reminded me when my ex-boyfriend forgot our three year anniversary and I had to be the one to call him, listening to him talk completely unaware of what day it was. At the time I couldn’t bring myself to accept the things that I knew, the understandable reasons for his unfortunate lapse in memory; I could only feel what I felt, and not know anything beyond it. Neither words of solace nor functions of logic could simply change things. “I think that has been the hardest part for me. Knowing that the previous solutions I came to regarding life and the whole of existence exist in another temporal space, a dimension of an unfinished life, it’s as if the me of then had somehow made sense of the world or at least managed to cope with imaginably adequate responses and the me of now is left to figure them out all over again.”I looked up to see an empty chair and suddenly remembered her mention something about having to pee. “Shit, I must be boring.”
OUT On Thursdays in high school I frequent Berkeley Psychic Institute seers say when you’re 26 a life changing event will occur they untell me details refuse to spoil my destiny
S t r u g g l e by: Rich Yap Staff Writer
I occupy my mouth with chardonnay she tales her life story in Portuguese reminds me how sweet my accent is mango lassi on lips Her voice is a linguistic orgasm
The First Reply
by : C a s s a n d r a Te s c h
I’ve never had a girlfriend before five months ago I finally decide to utter secrets through fingertips type life on personal add post to Craigslist first in Portuguese until I find comfort in my first tongue I unknow if this is the moment psychics speak of I burry the scent of Bhindi Masala bide seconds between the phrase that dangles over our table like mistletoe “I’ve had fantasies about you.” platonic cuisine on Pico converts into curried earthquakes underfoot I grip table edges crave a second glass of matured liquid grapes any cue to force the words out it never occurs to me someone a she would fantasy me she asks “do you feel the sexual tension?” larynx defies my orders to toss language forth instead I nod head disconfess clandestine desire who says these things? as I regain speech she outsounds me and utters “so, are you ready to go?” I struggle to ambulate when she drops me on residential road kisses me on both cheeks then light on lips
I fall into myself on street corner a wave goodbye gritty ground cracks reteach me to walk again
a decade later her fingers touch mine as as we tear pieces of naan grab pinches of okra onion and cumin seeds with right hand
she says maybe we could get nervous together sometime
Over spring break, I came out to my mother. Her reaction turned out better than I expected, but she didn’t exactly welcome the news with open arms. I had expected her to start crying and then to kick me out of the house. She didn’t do either. Instead, she asked me why I didn’t tell her when I first knew. She explained that had she known about it earlier, she would’ve tried to help me fix it. Excuse me? And that was just the beginning. She then proceeded to ask me a series of very homophobic questions. “Do your roommates know?” “Do your professors at school know?” “Do other people at school know?” “Do people treat you badly at school?” “Have you thought about AIDS?” Say what? I consider my mother an intelligent and worldly woman so I was quite thrown when she asked me these questions. First of all, she’s been living in LA for over 20 years, and LA isn’t exactly discreet about queerness. Not only that, but my mother is not religious nor did she have a religious upbringing, so the fact that she has such a homophobic and antiquated view of homosexuality was very jarring to me. And honestly, how could she have been so surprised? I think I’m pretty blatantly gay. But alas, my mother does not think it is normal to be gay. She is also against gay marriage (although in the weeks since I’ve come out to her she says she doesn’t know where she stands on the issue now). In spite of this, she still loves me and just wants me to be happy and successful. Ultimately, she’s just worried about the struggles I’ll face as a queer individual. But I can’t help but worry what her reaction implies about the Asian American community’s perception of the queer community. My mother’s reaction to my coming out led me to question many things about my identity as a queer Asian American. I look back on my childhood and my home life, and I can’t remember a time where queer issues and queerness were seriously discussed. In fact, I feel that the topic of queerness was avoided altogether, almost as if it were taboo. But was this something unique to my family, or is the majority of the Asian American community still retaining old stereotypes about the queer community? I thought back to the moment I first realized that I was gay. I remember
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now that I didn’t exactly welcome myself to the gayborhood when it clicked for me that I liked boys. In fact, I remember that I felt disgusted with myself, and that there was something wrong with me. I thought and hoped it was just a phase, and I was in denial about my same sex attractions. I also felt this overwhelming sense of fear taking over. I was afraid of myself and I was afraid to tell anyone. Worst of all, I was afraid of disappointing my parents. At 15, and having never been exposed to homosexuality in any way, how could I be blamed? But when I look back on my attitude towards queerness with a critical eye, I wonder why I too had such a negative initial reaction. Why did I inherently think that it wasn’t okay to be gay? I attribute this fear to the fact that I had little to no exposure to queerness and queer issues. Whatever exposure I did have was always negative. So perhaps my mother is just going through the same initial reaction that I went through. She hasn’t had enough exposure to it nor the time to learn more about it to understand it. But as I mentioned before, what does this imply about the Asian American community’s stance on queer issues? Does the Asian American community even have exposure to homosexuality or is their perception based solely on negative stereotypes? And most importantly, where does this leave me in the Asian American community? As an Asian American, I think I’ve already grown up with enough issues of alienation. I’m already a foreigner from mainstream society because I’m Asian, so when you throw the queer factor into the mix, where does that leave me? Now, not only am I alienated from mainstream society, but I’m also left out from heterosexual society. And if the Asian American community is still culturally homophobic, does that mean that the only place for a person like me is in the queer community? But even within the queer community, especially the LA queer community, I still don’t feel that I have an identity within that space. The gay community in LA is predominantly white, privileged and wealthy. And here’s me, Asian, a student and from a working class family. There is no place for a person like me—I’m still forging this new identity of gay, Asian and American from the intersections of my labels.
Ten Landmark Books of LGBT Literature
by: Tory Adkisson staff writer
Orlando: A Biography (1928) By Virginia Woolf Surely one of Virginia Woolf’s most peculiar and talked about novels, Orlando concerns the exploits of its titular character as he decides not to age. Chronicling a life that includes a number of torrid affairs, including one with the decrepit Elizabeth I, Orlando’s most notable feature is the protagonist’s inexplicable change from a man into a woman. Remaining the same Orlando, regardless of his/her body, the book comments imagintively on whether gender really does matter in the end if the mind stays the same.
lover Alice—all as a pretense, of course, to recount Gertrude’s own significant impact in her wife’s life. Though a bit egomaniacal for some, this book of fictionalized nonfiction questions our assumptions about the authority of the author just as it questions the issue of dominance and subordination (at least from an intellectual standpoint) in lesbian relationships. Whatever the dynamics, Stein and Toklas remain a signature lesbian couple, and as long as Alice B. Toklas’s famous brownies continue to be made (check out her cookbook), that isn’t likely to change.
Giovanni’s Room (1956) By James Baldwin An odd duck from one of the fathers of modern African-American literature, this novel is primarily concerned with Giovanni, one of Baldwin’s few white protagonists, and his love affair with David, a white American, whose girlfriend has left him for Spain. Audaciously, this book treats the protagonists’ homosexuality not with disdain, but with sympathy (Baldwin himself was gay), something Baldwin’s publisher thought merited the book’s burning. Due to his acclaim as a writer, Baldwin did not experience the kind of loss of readership his publisher feared.
A Boy’s Own Story (1982) By Edmund White Considered by many to be the definitive text for young gay boys on the cusp of adolescence and adulthood, it is remarkable to see how well it still holds up, despite what some might think of as its “dated” prose style. It is a carefully wrought, semi-autobiographical tale of a nameless youth’s first homosexual experiences and charts his development as he grows up to be a gay man. Bravely and tenderly depicting sodomy between two prepubescent boys is a hard task, but White, considered now to be the contemporary master of gay literature, is up to the task. Tackling issues both erotic and familial, and showing the effect parents have on their children, for better or for worse, the novel remains wide in scope yet never loses its all-too-intimate focus on the boy’s life.
Nightwood (1936) By Djuna Barnes Djuna Barnes’ celebrated novel is one of the first to ever deal openly with lesbian and bisexual characters, and does so in a characteristically modernist way, by forcing them to search for some contentment in a bleak, post-WWI landscape. After the birth of her disabled son, Robin, the novel’s protagonist, realizes she does not want to be part of any heterosexual life, and travels to America where she encounters Nora, who moves back with her to Paris. Robin proves to be the novel’s most provocative character, as her uninhibited and zealous pursuit of sexual pleasure seems years ahead of its time. Barnes’ novel is unafraid of same-sex female attraction, and far from taming it, instead embraces it. Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948) By Truman Capote If you’ve seen the recent biopic, Capote (2005), then you know Truman Capote was anything but a humble, modest man. His persona—wild, catty, flamboyant, gossipy—was the definition of camp, but at the same time he was a keen intellectual and capable of tremendous nuance. Thus we have both aspects of Capote in this novel, which features the effeminate Joel exploring the gothic south of his childhood as he searches for his father. Along the way he meets debauched transvestites, sullen drag queens, mouthy tomboys and “queer ghosts” though it’s questionable whether he is referring to queer as in “strange” or if the meaning is somewhat more familiar to us in its current context. It is a touching and often humorous story about one boy’s coming of age amidst a world that is both dangerous yet, oddly, full of life. Skin: Talking About Sex, Class, and Literature (1994) By Dorothy Allison Dorothy Allison is aggressive, and has a way with words that is at once rough, heartfelt, heavy, and excessively fierce. The essays of her seminal anthology, the simply and deceptively titled Skin: Talking About Sex, Class, and Literature, engages in all kinds of frank (and even raunchy) examinations of the modern non-normative non-heterosexual woman. Perhaps the best and most provocative essay in the collection is “Her body, mine, and his,” which begins with perhaps the most exultant lesbian sex scene ever bound in a book cover. A startling, threatening, earth shattering piece of literature; for its pure grit and lack in pretension, it is a highly entertaining book. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933) By Gertrude Stein Don’t let the title fool you, this is the ultimate example of lesbian butch authority. Gertrude Stein, literary patron extraordinaire and a fine poet and prose writer in her own right, sets out to tell the story of her
The Color Purple (1982) By Alice Walker A novel read far and wide, and intimately interested in the lives of black women, Alice Walker’s Pulitzer prize-winning masterpiece features a female protagonist, Cellie, who gradually learns to gain control of herself from the men who have always oppressed her. Through her relationship with Shug, her husband’s mistress, which begins platonically but becomes gradually romantic and sexual, Cellie finds strength, understanding and power she never knew she had. Walker’s play with gender elsewhere—such as in the meek Harpo’s marriage to the brusque and defiant Sofia—critiques ideas of manliness while empowering the bonds between women, whether they be sexual or not. Confessions of a Mask (1948) By Yukio Mishima Like A Boy’s Own Story, Yukio Mishima’s novel features a nameless narrator who grows up struggling with his own homosexuality. However, Mishima’s tale takes place in Tokyo just after World War II, as the Japanese, much like the protagonist, are searching for their own identity. The novel is principally concerned with the types of masks people hide behind, with the narrator’s mask covering his own homosexuality. He gets a mask in the form of a girl (in much the way we might think of “beards”) who is the sister of young man he is truly interested in. Things don’t work out. Mishima hid his own sexuality for much of his life, in a similar way that our protagonist does. Details of his homosexuality only emerged after his suicide by seppuku in 1970, but cast an interesting light on a novel that seems so at odds with itself—representing and examining same-sex male attraction, but always with violent or lethal undertones. The Hours (1999) By Michael Cunningham This Pulitzer prize-winning book, famously adapted into the film Nicole Kidman’s prosthetic nose won an Academy Award for, is one of the most well-known pieces of recent “gay” literature, due to its non-linear examination of the lives of three bisexual women, one of them being Virginia Woolf herself, written by a gay man. It represents a series of complex, and later intersecting lives, and muses on the challenges, both socially and personally, that can mire the relationships between people, whether they are women with men, men with men, or women with women. Crisply written, and infused with an ample dose of Woolf’s flitty, stream of consciousness spirit, The Hours never settles for quiet or simple resolutions: Virginia, Laura, and Clarissa have to deal with realities of their lives, and the difficulties of their loves, no matter the consequences.
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E N T E R T A I N M E N T & ARTS Living the L-ife after the L Word by: Krystal Rincon staff writer Last summer, I worked as Resident Assistant for a 1-month high school political camp. At the end of the session, my director took the staff out for a final meal together. During casual conversation, a co-worker commented on our waitresses “sloppy” style decisions. She had choppy short hair, very low and tight dark jeans, and a masculine button up blouse. I responded: “Yes, she was very Shane-esque.” At that moment, my director looked at me from across the table, full of excitement and fried chicken. “OMG! You watch The L-Word?!” And that was that. By the end of the night, my director and I had exhausted every great moment of Seasons One through Five and collaborated on what unforgettable moments should come in Season Six. I’m not ashamed to say, I liked her a little more after that night. And even though I haven’t seen her since, I think we share a bond. It’s not out of the ordinary for TV shows to foster a sense of community in their dedicated viewers. After all, isn’t that their job? A television program’s success hinges on its ability to properly identify universal problems within culture and deliver dramatic, romantic, or comedic solutions to the dilemmas at hand. In the case of The L Word, it’s the sweet mixture of all three solution mechanisms (and a full cast of gorgeous leading ladies) that has kept the lesbian community hooked on the show. From the countless number of unofficial websites, fan pages and blogs dedicated to some aspect of The L Word, I think it’s fair to say, that many of us have opened our hearts to L Word creator Ilene Chaiken’s fantasy community. Much to our dismay, the risqué Showtime series took its final adieu on March 8, 2009, and we are left with nothing but memories of our love and despair for some of our favorite characters on television to alieviate our sense of loss. And since there’s nothing left for us to look forward to in this dream world, I invited a few friends to reflect a little on their final perceptions of the show. I asked three members of the queer community these three questions: What sparked your love, like or disgust for The L Word? Did The L Word reflect our community or have we mimicked theirs? And the inevitable, what’s the next step for lesbian portrayals in the Mainstream Media?
in was that lesbian social networks were a novelty for me, I thought the concept was fascinating, and it was a way for me to entertain the idea of being gay (yes, I suspected, haha) by sort of living vicariously through the characters, which was much less scary than admitting to myself or anyone else that I thought I might be gay! I also had a huge crush on Bette... and then Alice... and then Helena... and then Tasha...HUGE crush on Tasha. Casual Viewer: For once, it was comfortable watching lesbians in a TV show. It’s easy to relate to the characters and they are all beautiful women. Hater: Through the series, the cast has been predominantly white, feminine powerhouses. It’s fantastical and difficult to relate to.
What’s next for the L-Word generation? was that it made lesbians more accessible
Did The L Word reflect our community, or have we mimicked theirs? L: I think that the L Word is to the lesbian community what most successful shows are - a glamorized version of reality. Obviously not all lesbians are high femmes with the money to be living in upscale WeHo, just like most doctors are not models who sleep with all of their coworkers. That being said, the L Word effectively addresses a lot of issues that are unique to the lesbian community: the straight community’s perception of us, the obstacles to raising a child as a gay couple, the infamous web of who’s-slept-with-who. Then again, describe someone as a “Shane” and any lesbian will automatically know what you mean. The L Word is a reflection of us and we have in turn integrated it into who we are. CV: I think the show reflects on upper classed lesbians. In a way, we have mimicked them by idolizing their lifestyles and fashions. H: It doesn’t really reflect our community, but I don’t feel we’ve mimicked theirs either. In this respect it’s the same as any other show in which the cast and circumstances are unattainable in reality.
Here’s what they had to say: What sparked your love, like, or disgust for The L Word? Lover: So, I was first introduced to the L Word by a gay friend when I was still floating around in the straight world. I guess what pulled me
What’s the Next Step? L: One of the great things about the L Word
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to the straight community, and especially now, in the fight for equal rights, the most important thing is visibility. While it would be awesome to try and get something that would take into account a broader representation of the lesbian community, I don’t know that mainstream executives would try to sell a love story between two butch girls. Hopefully though, we can get something that continues to push the mainstream toward understanding the lesbian community as a whole, not just very particular segments of it. CV: I would personally like to see someone show low and middle class lesbians and their lifestyles and real life experiences. We have not seen much of the hardships lesbians endure. H: Just like for all other minorities, it would be optimal to see characters that were not primarily built around the fact that they are lesbians. A large percentage of the LGBT community in mainstream media is either created on stereotypes or is hyper sexualized. Whatever your opinion of the show, it’s still the only show on mainstream television dedicated to the lesbian community to date. Despite it’s flaws, we must accept it as, at the very least, a landmark – a foot in the door into an industry that is infamous for skewing reality. And in the end, I’m not one to complain about a show with a full cast of beautiful women in love with each other – but maybe that’s just me.
Photos Credit Rich Yap
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Published on May 29, 2009
OutWrite's Spring 2009 issue sheds light on lesser-known queer identities through interviews, graphics, and creative writing.