Syracuse University, SUNY-ESF The Independent LGBTQA Magazine table of contents Spring 2012 / Issue #8
letter from the editor
Last semester, The OutCrowd ran a story called “Welcome to Faeridise” — a feature about the Radical Faeries, a group of queer individuals (mostly men) who find a spiritual connection both to their queerness and to nature. Inspired by the story, we organized a nude photo shoot in the woods. It was the end of October, it was raining, and it was cold. The models were shivering, and we all had one blanket to share. Although the photo shoot was fun (and an excellent bonding experience), hanging out in the woods at night did not make it to my list of favorite things to do. I did not expect to be at an actual Faerie gathering four and a half months later. A good story will inspire the reader to go further. My friend told me a story about the Radical Faeries, which inspired me to pitch a story and an accompanying photo shoot to The OutCrowd editors about the Radical Faeries, which inspired my friend and I to go to a gathering in Upstate New York. At the gathering, we tapped maple trees and I learned how to make maple syrup. I helped to prepare meals, feed sheep and build a temple. I made several new friends that I hope to stay in touch with for a long time. I hope that our stories this semester can inspire readers to go on some adventures of their own. In this issue, we meet Trexx drag queen Frita Lay, and we visit a controversial store close to campus. We explore the controversial It Gets Better campaign and the issues of invisibility and intersectionality in the LGBTQA community, among other interesting topics. I encourage you to go out and see the drag show, boycott the store or make an effort to better understand a sexual minority that you might not see often in the media. Go out and make a difference, or just have a fun experience like I did. In addition, The OutCrowd staff would like to apologize for neglecting to include the bylines for the following stories in our last issue: al•ly (n) was written by Raul Ramos and Queer Events of 2011 was written by Ben Aaron. The OutCrowd sincerely regrets this error.
Calvin Iverson Editor-in-Chief
table of contents
narrative 3 4 6 8 10
Or EE En Tay-SHUN This is Why We Remember Evolved This Way An Alternate Path #UnpopularOpinion
sex & health 12 14 16 18
The Harder Coming Out Abused and Confused Sexual Apathy Sex Toy How-To
feature 20 28
Flying Under the Gaydar Crossroads
spirituality 32 35
So Bad, Itâ€™s Good Psalm in Your Palm
arts & entertainment 36 38 40 42 44
Q&A with Frita Lay The Cluttered Closet Case Fashion, Bitches Queer Ladies Find Home on Tumblr No Climax, No Resolution, No Meaning
The views expressed in The OutCrowd do not represent those of the entire staff of the publication, its sponsors, or of Syracuse University as an institution. The OutCrowd welcomes all submissions and suggestions but reserves the right to refuse materials at the discretion of its editors. All contents of the publications are copyright 2012 by their creator and may not be reproduced without their consent.
editorial Editor-in-Chief Managing Editor Production Director Features Editor Arts & Entertainment Editor Sex & Health Editor Spirituality Editor Narrative Editor Copy Editors
Calvin Iverson Yiwei Wu Shaun Janis Katie Dupere Katie Dupere Matthew Bennett Jr. Vittorio di Ventura Bryan McKinney Briana Murrel, Michael Harper
creative Design Director Art Director Contributing Writers
Sarah Foley Jill Stromberg Elizabeth Bennett, Raul Ramos, Elliot DeLine, Nicky Zamoida, Kassie Brabaw, Cassie-Lee Grimaldi, Marty Biando Melissa Smith, Molly Mendenhall, Marty Biando, Carolyn Glavin, Jee-Min Hong, William Burns, Kristin Leonard, Katherine Flores, Midge Scully Bryan McKinney
special thanks The LGBT Resource Center
Or EE En Tay-SHUN poetry by Elizabeth Bennett
She leaned in to kiss me I thought If this happens … it makes it real. Lips salty like sardines Caffeine in my sixteens Nicotine in my eighteens That unseen, unclean routine Her obscene ravine Can’t take it, can’t take it. I represent something they tell her to repent for Underwent therapy for (fucking torment) relentlessly lamenting my or-ee-en-tay SHUN OOPS! looks like you’ve found yourself a thespian lesbian fellas are jellas, “but … you’re too pretty!” Does that mean I’m a waste cuz I’m hastily chased Or that I’m misplaced? Or that they should be lacing my drinks With that date. rape. thing escape. straight. thing. Only sleep when sedated Sob when negated Hate those related Underweighted and underrated Since we conjugated We anticipated that day when miles turns to millimeters … or less Now jaded and faded and fated for waiting waiting. spring 2012
This is Why We Remember Why we should remember trans* issues all year round — not just in November
by Bryan McKinney
There were well over one hundred names on the list memorializing the deceased trans individuals this past November 20, yet many deaths go unreported. The Transgender Day of Remembrance all started with Rita Hester, whose murder on Nov. 28, 1998 sparked the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved. This past November was the 13th Transgender Day Of Remembrance. There are many names that never make it onto the list. There are those who will never see any news reporter tell their story. While these names are placed on the list for being victims of anti-trans hate crimes, one has to recognize that there are many more that could be on this list. Why did Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson beat Matthew Sheppard to a pulp? Was it fear that being hit on by a gay man meant they were unmasculine? What causes someone to come up on your “gaydar?” I would argue that the reason for showing up on someone’s “gaydar” would be the breaking of gender roles and transgressing mannerisms. We all break the stereotypical gender roles in some fashion, which is why when gender identity is left out of antidiscrimination legislation, we all lose. Trans-identified individuals are subject to jaw-dropping amounts of discrimination. 63% of trans people have experienced a major act of discrimination, which is defined as an event that would have major impact on a person’s quality of life or ability to sustain themselves financially or emotionally. Examples would be loss of a job because of bias, eviction, school bullying that forces the individual to drop out, and physical or sexual assault. 23% of trans individuals have
experienced catastrophic levels of discrimination, meaning they have experienced three or more of the previous mentioned examples. Trans youth from K-12 grade report that 78% of them have experienced harassment, some of which comes from the teacher. 47% of trans adults report being fired, not hired or denied promotion. 41% report having attempted suicide compared to the 1.6% of the general population. Many bloggers believe the average lifespan of a transgender individual is 23 years old. Wait, what? Excuse me? Although no empirical data exists to verify this staggering number, considering how many of us fly under the radar, it’s not surprising that one can’t officially release a number. If that statistic is true, I am 22, meaning I have a year left before everything after becomes an added bonus. I have always maintained I will not be just another statistic. I will not be a victim. However, one man made me a statistic and that is all it takes. I came out as a transmale February of my freshmen year. I wasn’t out to a whole lot of people, but there was a definite shift in my appearance. I went from presenting as what I would consider a soft butch to very androgynous, a product of being pre-hormones. On a Friday night toward the end of March of 2009, I went to a party on South Campus with a
photo by Molly Mendenhall couple of friends, some of whom I was not out to. Over the course of the night I started dancing with a girl who I had only just met. She read me as male. After quite a few drinks, at around 2:30a.m. while we were dancing, she grabbed my crotch. Upon realizing that there was no package there, the surprise was obvious on her face. She excused herself to get a drink and I went outside for a cigarette, trying to convince myself that everything would be fine. At this point, as I look back on it, it all plays in slow motion. She comes out the front door followed by a 6’ 5”, 300-pound man. As soon as I could see his face I know what’s coming. The drunken rage and hatred in his face says it all, and he starts yelling every name in the book. “You fucking faggot, you freak … tranny … queer … dyke, motherfucking…” I have heard all these words used hatefully toward me many times before, however this was different. There was pure evil in that face. I only had enough time to throw my arms up to protect my face before his fists met my flesh. I ended up with bruises all over my sides, ribs and arms. After about five minutes of constant pounding and beating they went back inside. After spitting on me and one last epithet of “freak”, I was left on the pavement struggling to breathe. I pulled myself up and walked from Slocum Heights back to my freshman dorm room in Haven, arriving close to 4:30 a.m. I didn’t go to the hospital. 19% of trans individuals have been outright denied medical care because of their gender identity and 50% report having to educate their doctors. I didn’t report it. I was not going to be a statistic. I was violated in a place I call home. The “bubble” of a college campus had completely burst, and I felt I couldn’t ask for help.
To me, the Day of Remembrance previous to this incident was always something off in the distance. It was a day of paying respect to people I didn’t have a connection to. In March of 2009, that connection was made forcibly apparent. Even here, on this five-star rated LGBT-friendly campus, I came uncomfortably close with the reality of that list of names. The Transgender Day Of Remembrance is a way of honoring those who have fallen to bigotry and hatred. It is also a day to remember how much needs to be done and what we still need to fight for. The “T” cannot be silent. Transgender issues are also gay and lesbian issues, they are human issues, and until there is just as much equality for my fellow trans brothers and sisters, none of us should rest. *All statistics taken from The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey unless otherwise noted.
Searching for rhetoric between “choice” and sexual fluidity by Sarah Foley
Almost everyone has heard the phrase “sexuality is fluid.” Some may agree with this, but some may not. At the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force’s Creating Change Conference this year in Baltimore, the idea of sexual fluidity was discussed during a session called “The Future of Sexual Orientation.” Participants were asked to fill out a worksheet that analyzed aspects of their own sexual orientation. On it were five lines, each representing a different aspect of one’s sexuality. Participants were asked to compare their sexual orientations during two distinct parts of their lives by placing Xs and Os on the spectrum representing a certain period of time. For example, one could compare their sex life when they were in high school to when they were in college, as I did. Some examples of parts of our sexual identity we were asked to analyze were our own gender expression. One side of the spectrum was 100 percent feminine, the other masculine. Then the gender our sexual partners was analyzed, one
side male, the other female. Finally, the types of sexual encounters we had, one side committed relationships, the other hookups, were also analyzed. When I was in high school, I expressed my own gender in a much more feminine way. I wore make up and jewelry everyday, and woke up at 5:45 a.m. every morning to do my hair. However, in college I tended to express myself further toward the masculine end of the spectrum, but still more towards the middle. When it came to what type of sexual encounters I had, both in high school and college, I was in committed relationships, so I placed both an X and an O on the same end of the spectrum. Participants in the session analyzed their sexual identities in these categories in their own
way. In the end, almost everyone came to the realization that some aspects changed over time, while others have remained constant. This brings up the idea of the “born this way” argument. Lady Gaga has greatly influenced the discussion on LGBTQ identity with this catchphrase, but according to this workshop it doesn’t apply to everyone in the LGBTQ community in all aspects of sexual identity. Many members of the community, such as myself, are subsequently left out of the conversation because the “born this way” argument might not be accurate for us. Unfortunately, it puts the community in a difficult situation. According to the extreme right, if we weren’t born this way, then it must be a choice, a disease, or something that can be prayed away or cured. The “born this way” phrase makes it difficult to argue against the idea of it being a choice. Yet I can’t look back on my childhood and pinpoint instances that make sense, all of a sudden, now that I identify as queer: I didn’t always want to dress in masculine clothes or play with Tonka trucks, I was happily enrolled in dance classes for six years, and I enjoyed playing with my mother’s makeup. My past relationships with men didn’t have anything missing sexually. Nothing felt off or weird about them, and when I came out, I didn’t realize that I had been attracted to women all along. I wasn’t born this way, but that doesn’t mean I had any more of a choice when it came to my sexual identity and how it transformed over time. So how do we as LGBTQ individuals reconcile the very real concept of sexual fluidity with the idea of being born a certain way? Presenter Jaime M. Grant, director for the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at
Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Mich., gave the participants the perfect point to bring up if we were ever found presented with this type of argument. She suggested arguing that sexuality for LGBTQ individuals can often times be considered as integral to our identities as religion or nationality. Religion and sexuality are similar in the way that it can be argued that you are not born into a religion, much in the same way the argument is being made that people are not born gay. However, religion and religious people are protected under the law in many ways, such as freedom of expression and workplace discrimination laws. Some individuals change religions throughout the course of their lives and transition from one religion to another, or from one religion to no religion. LGBTQ individuals often experience similar changes during their lives when it comes to their sexual identities, and they may or may not believe that they were born a certain way. So then why do religious people enjoy federal protections but LGBTQ people are still fighting for their rights and their dignity? Why is whether or not we were born this way, and whether or not we chose to be the way we are, such hot button topics? If more government officials were asked about the disparity in federal protections, maybe the LGBTQ community would stop being a part of the national conversation when it comes to our rights. Regardless of whether or not people believe they are born the way they are, or whether or not they believe in the concept of sexual fluidity, it shouldn’t matter. Sexuality is an inherent part of the human experience, and there shouldn’t be controversy over our sexual preferences to begin with.
An Alternate Path A homeschooler’s discussion on bullying and education
by Vittiorio di Ventura
illustration by Jee-Min Hong
Until recently, I had tried hard not to think about the rough time I had in middle school; it was much easier for me to store those painful recollections in the deepest recesses of my mind. I could simply pretend I had a fantastic, normal, middle class pre-adolescence, that I wasn’t the quiet introverted bookworm, whom my fellow classmates so playfully referred to as “faggot.”
Over winter break, I had the chance to talk with my old friend Britt, who had left the public school to be homeschooled shortly after me. As we sat in her room talking about the past and ruminating about the future, we were constantly drawn back to those dark years we spent in the public school halls. We tried to play off the pain of the constant rejection and isolation that we tried to disassociate ourselves from, yet there was a nagging feeling in both of us that finally forced us to reconcile with the past. Britt said to me, “I like to think that being teased all the time was normal, but it still haunts me, being ridiculed. Some days, I would come home from
school with absolutely no sense of self-worth.” After that, we looked at each other with a sense of shared experience. The relentless bullying was not normal: it shouldn’t have happened. The painful realization forced us into a cathartic dialogue, prompting us to ask many other moral and emotional questions regarding bullying, homeschooling, and whether or not things do get better for those facing relentless ridicule. After we talked, I couldn’t stop the torrent of emotions and unanswered questions that we had unleashed. I began to think about the breaking point at which I decided I wanted to be homeschooled. Certainly, there were many instances that came to mind. I was constantly barraged by a slew of intolerance and bigotry. I finally realized that there was no one incident that drove me to leave. It was the constant every day bullying that had made me feel, as my friend Britt put it, “without any sense of worth.” I had let their words almost consume me. Still, something within me forced me to seek change. At the time, I knew that the adversity I was facing was not fair, and I didn’t want my negative experiences in school to shape who I would become. Fortunately, however, toward the end of eighth grade, my very perceptive parents decided to homeschool me. If it weren’t for this, I don’t know that I’d be the optimistic, cheerful, and ambitious individual that I am today. That is not to say I was completely and wholly certain that homeschooling was the right choice. Even to this day, I occasionally wonder whether leaving school was a good decision. Certainly, from an academic perspective I don’t think I missed out on much. If anything, I studied and read more than my peers from high school. However, from an activist’s perspective, I wonder if I should have stayed to expose myself
to society. There was also a part of me that wondered if the bullying would’ve just stopped. The constant “It Gets Better” rhetoric, in recent times has made me reflect on this even more. In retrospect, whether it would’ve gotten better, or whether I should have been more representative of the LGBTQ community is irrelevant. I’ve come to the conclusion that a young person, who is already facing the social awkwardness of puberty and growing up, shouldn’t have to constantly wonder if it will get better, nor bear the burden of changing social norms. Schools should be safe for everyone, and when they are not — for whatever reason — children should have the choice to choose another form of education. It isn’t enough to tell young people that it gets better. Of course, normative values change in the long-run. But, in the short-run, parents should consider whether or not leaving their child in a hostile environment is the right choice. Had I not been removed from school, I can’t say that I’d have learned as much while constantly having to hear gay epithets, or that I’d still have the same happy disposition. My intention in writing this piece is not to repudiate the It Gets Better Campaign, it is to reexamine it. Attitudes toward the LGBT community are evolving; indeed it is getting better. However, we also mustn’t forget that hostilities are still endemic. Particularly in schools, where the most vulnerable are most at risk. We have to consider that for some people, depending on where they are and the social climate, things won’t get better soon enough. Just because they don’t get better though, doesn’t mean that social ridicule and emotional duress should be a part of their reality.
#UnpopularOpinion Issues with the It Gets Better Project
story by Bryan McKinney illustration by Carolyn Glavin
I feel a bit hypocritical writing this piece. I submitted a video to the It Gets Better Project on October 6, 2010, exactly 15 days after Dan Savage and Terry Miller began the project. It currently has 1,522 views. While there is something to be said about #ItGetsBetter trending worldwide and big names participating, ranging from the President, to the staff of Apple and Google, to the Boston Red Sox, Anne Hathaway and Ke$ha, there are also a lot of things that aren’t perfect about the It Gets Better Project. Part of me very much believes in the good intentions of the project, but this piece isn’t about that. It’s about the part of me that believes in the #unpopularopinion. In the wake of so many white gay male suicides plastering the news, we now have a white, upper-middle class, gay male couple telling kids that it will all get better. There are sentiments expressed in their “It Gets Better” video that unfortunately run rampant in the queer community: that religious and rural automatically mean bigoted. There is such a focus in the project on the future and a very ageist assumption of who is the target audience; not just high school and middle school “kids” get bullied. Dan Savage and Terry Miller don’t say it outright, but the message they are perpetuating can be easily interpreted as “if you don’t make it through this tough time, you’re cheating yourself, and it’s your own fault that you can’t take it.” Telling someone the future will be better denies how hard it is right now in the moment. By saying, “I know how you feel since I have been there, but now I’m a success,” you are insisting that the audience will relocate itself to the future while you are talking about your present. There is a whole lot of talking going on in this project. A whole lot of people, including myself, are speaking from a place of privilege.
By speaking from a place that is portrayed as the past, it denies the struggle that these kids — but not just kids, people — are going through now. This project is not an effort to listen to what is happening to LGBTQ people in the moment. This project is not an opportunity for the targeted audience to ask for or receive information on how to cope or what actions they can take to make it better. As a member of the trans community, a demographic that is almost invisible, I felt I needed to partake. Campaigns like this lump everybody together. The main reason I made my video was so there would be some kind of representation of a transmale perspective, especially considering that Mr. Dan Savage is very prone to using problematic language when it comes to trans* subjects. Words like ‘shemale’ and ‘tranny’ should never come out of anyone’s mouth, let alone someone who is in the spotlight as an LGBT activist and role model for youth. Even more importantly, when that someone is campaigning against bullying, they shouldn’t be using words that are used to bully and harass trans* folk on a daily basis. I can’t deny that this project has done some really great things. From raising money for The Trevor Project, to reaching a widespread audience regarding what it’s like to be bullied (even if their stories are from the past), to getting big names to participate and make their own videos, thus amplifying the number of people it reaches. There was even an MTV special on the It Gets Better Project. With all that potential and promise to reach such a vast audience, I would only hope there would be a greater effort in attending to the problematic areas of the It Gets Better Project. Create a way to let those suffering from bullying and feelings of hopelessness to have their voices be heard. Use the network to help mobilize for anti-bullying legislature. At the same time, it wouldn’t hurt to get a new non-transphobic project leader.
sex & health
â€œThe Harder Coming out as HIV+ proves potentially more difficult than coming out as LGBT by Elizabeth Bennett
photo by Molly Mendenhall
According to ADVERT, an international HIV and AIDS charity, it is estimated that over one million HIV-positive individuals live in the United States. Twenty percent of these individuals are, either intentionally or unintentionally, unaware of their HIV status and potentially spreading the infection.
Although HIV awareness is rising, both infected and non-infected people are still ignorant to their risks. According to a Kaiser Public Opinion Spotlight Study in 2006, 37 percent of the public thinks HIV can be transmitted through kissing, and 22 percent thinks it might be transmitted through sharing drinking glasses. Another 16 percent believe the disease could be transmitted through touching a toilet seat. The reality is human immunodeficiency virus is only spread through semen and precum, vaginal fluids, blood and breast milk. Most commonly, HIV is transmitted through unprotected sex or shared
sex & health
Coming Out” needles. This misunderstanding of the disease may be the reason that such a stigma follows the identity of being HIV-positive. According to the World Health Organization, the fear of being diagnosed positive and consequently shunned or rejected from society is the main reason people are still refusing to get tested. ADVERT states that the stigma placed on HIV positive individuals creates a “coming out” challenge analogous to that of any LGBTQ person’s challenge. Similar to the identity of LGBTQ individuals, someone’s HIV status is not always evident to the outside world. There is also an aspect of “coming out to oneself” before sharing with others. According to the Human Rights Campaign, “Coming out is the process in which a person first acknowledges, accepts, and appreciates his or her [identity] and begins to share that with others. … Most people come out because, sooner or later, they can’t stand hiding who they are anymore.” Although people find it necessary to come out as both HIV-positive and LGBTQ, some believe that the former is a more difficult process. Brandon Lacy Campos, an HIV-positive spokenword artist from “Op-ed: The Harder Coming Out—As HIV Positive” says, “No other illness comes with such stigma or is surrounded by quite the same level of fear and ignorance.” Other individuals, such as Rondel in “Patient Story: Telling Your Family You’re HIV Positive,” discover that the loved ones who find out about the HIV well after the diagnosis feel “[they’ve
been] cheated […] out of a lot of years of being a support system.” Instead of being blinded by their devastation, family members of HIV-positive individuals can be a source of relief, support and love. Support groups, media attention and even HIV-positive dating sites are being created for and by individuals with HIV. Similar to the way people deal with other difficulties, addressing HIV through art, writing and poetry has proven a way for many HIV-positive individuals to get through and even to embrace their disease. HIV-positive artist Daniel Goldstein’s art was inspired by illness. Goldstein’s sculpture, “Medicine Man,” is composed of empty pill bottles that once contained his antiretroviral medicines. The bottles are put together to form the shape of a man, and needles are sticking out from approximately half of them. Goldstein says he uses art as therapy — a way of dealing with the loss of his partner and many of his friends to AIDS. In the words of Campos, “By claiming my identity, through poetry and performance, of being positive in front of often times unsuspecting audience members, I have watched faces consume my body, my face, my presence, and watched it force aside their notions of what an HIV-positive person looks like, acts like, lives like.”
sex & health
Abused And Con
The prevalence of sexual violence and domestic abuse in the LGBT community continues to climb
In the fight for LGBTQ equality, it often seems like homosexual couples are fighting to legitimize their relationships in relation to heterosexual couples. Because of this, there is also a struggle for recognition that domestic violence exists in these relationships — and that it is an equally legitimate crime against humanity as abuse in heterosexual relationships. In any relationship, a partner can be abusive for a variety of reasons, such as control or emotional instability. This abuse takes place in many forms: emotional, mental, physical, and sexual abuse are some examples. Whether or not someone is emotionally or physically abused has different ramifications. People who are physically abused may have proof of the abuse on their body (bruises or scars), but emotional abuse may not be as easy to identify. Sexual abuse includes pressuring their partner into undesired sex, tricking or pressuring their partner to have unsafe sex, and sometimes even forcing their partner to have sex with others. While the LGBT community is currently fighting for equality, recognition and respect, abused members of the community are fighting for their own recognition. There is also a growing
rate of abuse within relationships along with specifically honed tactics for abusing their LGBT partners based on sexuality. According to David Mixner, a civil rights activist and best-selling author, “National AntiViolence Project reveals that rates of domestic abuse and violence have increased among couples in the LGBT community and that support and protections for survivors is low.” According to Advocates For Youth, samesex partner abuse occurs at the same rate as opposite-sex partner abuse. However, an LGBT-specific issue is, unlike in heterosexual relationships in which the male is stereotypically the more physically capable, it’s not always easy to identify the abuser in same-sex couples, where there is often a balance of physical strength. Another method of abuse used specifically in LGBT relationships is using “outing” as a means of control. Abusive partners can threaten to tell the victim’s family, friends, or anyone who doesn’t know about the victim’s sexuality. They can cut the victim off from LGBT media, friends, and family in order to further isolate the victim. Another problem with abuse, especially sexual abuse, is the tendency of society to not validate lesbian sex as sex — and therefore not legitimize lesbian rape cases. In abusive lesbian relationships, questions like “how were you, a girl, raped by another girl?” can be raised. This way of invalidating their abuse can sometimes prevent the victim from coming forward.
sex & health
fused by Elizabeth Bennett
Illustration by Kristen Leonard
Interviews of six victims of LGBT domestic abuse, including David, Adam, and Ruth, revealed that every single victim was unaware that he or she was a victim at the time of the abuse. It wasn’t until years later, reading a magazine quiz about “is this domestic abuse?” or talking to a counselor that the victim realized he or she was a victim. All of these people were able to escape from their abusive relationships and try to start fresh. David said, “I am safe, I control my own life and I don’t live each day terrified of going home.” That same type of control over one’s life is reflected in David’s life after abuse.
“I have overcome the limitations that he placed on my life and remain comfortable in the knowledge that I am not capable of treating another human being the way he treated me,” he said. Ruth has gained awareness through her experience with abuse, stating that the culture needs to change before the situation for LGBTQ abuse can get better. “We need a culture that supports the development of [individuals] with a robust sense of self, a strong sense of self-respect and a sense of their right to … non-violent relationships,” she said.
sex & health
APATHY by Vittorio di Ventura
An analysis on the fundamentals of asexuality, and its negative societal perceptions
In the hyper-sexualized world of countless porn sites and mobile apps devoted solely to the purpose of “getting off,” it is easy to see how sex is fundamentally instilled into our brains. Even scientists invariably decree sex to be a human imperative, in terms of evolution, genetics, and the continuation of humankind. However, an emerging group has begun to argue the fundamentality of sex and human identity, and how these two things may not be so firmly entwined. The group to which I am referring is the asexual community. Definitively, an asexual is someone who does not experience the desire to have sex with another person. However, there has been a
tendency to generalize or undermine what it means to be asexual, leaving this group greatly misrepresented. An asexual couple was aired in a recent episode of “House”, in which Dr. House examines a woman whom he asks if she might be pregnant, to which she then reveals her asexuality. Dr. House is bewildered to say the least, not even knowing what box to check on his sheet. During the episode, he then makes it his mission to discover the reason behind this couple’s “disorder.” The script and plot of the show reveal some of the very prevalent attitudes and misconceptions toward asexuality. So then what does it mean to asexual? First, there is the dual-identity asexuals sometimes assume. In addition to being asexual, some people also identify with being gay, lesbian or bi; these people are known as homoromantic asexuals. Second, many asexuals may experience libido; i.e. physiological sexual functions. However, this does not translate into the desire to have sex with someone else. Third, there is the gross misconception that asexuality equates to
sex & health
not desiring love or companionship. In contrast to other sexualities, asexuals clearly distinguish between love and sex. Although they do not desire sex with a partner, asexuals feel attraction and fall in love. Indeed, the truth about asexuality is different from what the stereotypes convey. Still, the stark contrast between truth and fiction begs us to analyze the controversies, considering how pertinent they are to sexuality as a whole. Asexuality is no doubt new to research within the scientific community, and there is still much inconclusiveness. However, the questions brought forth aren’t different from what has been asked about homosexuality, namely, whether or not asexuality is a choice. Others have also questioned whether or not it is a delusion or even a disorder brought on by certain biological factors. Some scientists point to an imbalance of hormones or problems within the hypothalamus gland, which regulates human arousal in the brain. In light of these theories we must consider a point that may be rather familiar to gay people:
that it is difficult to argue the invalidity of one’s asexuality, unless you yourself are asexual. From the mere existence of this commonality it seems hypocritical that certain members of the queer community would be so apathetic. Nonetheless, asexuality forces us to reflect on certain ideas; especially the fluid and nebulous nature of sexuality. Another question would be, “Is the LGBTQ community too exclusive?” It forces us to ask ourselves, “What does it mean to be gay, lesbian, or bi?” Is it the fact that we partake in sex that forms the most fundamental aspect of our identities? I would argue no. Our identities are much more complex than that. Increasingly, it seems that the controversy has less to do with disproving asexuality and is more a reflection of the sex-centered society in which we live, and humanity’s own tendency to force its way of living on to others.
sex & health
SEX TOY researched by Raul Ramos
Designed to stimulate prostate inside anus. Useful for a hands-free orgasm.
Clean with mild soap & water before use.
Apply lube to larger helix & opening of the anus.
Relax sphincter muscle and slowly insert bulb into anus.Â
Reach point of climax.
Continuously tense and relax sphincter muscle, allowing Aneros to massage prostate.
Vibrates according to beat, bass, and tempo of music. Turn setting on vibrator to music note. Insert in anus or vagina.
Plug iPod into OhMiBodâ€™s music transmitter.
Press play on music device.
OhMiBod will pick up on the beat of the music playing. Faster music, more intense vibration.
sex & health
HOW-TO illustrated by Jill Stromberg
No explanation necessary.
Suck, rub, and touch nipples to start.
Begin with teasing to induce fun & pleasure. Open clamp fully and gently close over nipple.
Use as form of foreplay
Use during sex
Gently pull on chain to increase pleasure.
Retains warmth for life-like experience. Apply water-based lubricant.
Slide over penis.
Soak in bowl of warm water.
Adjust cap to increase or decrease pressure.
After orgasm is enjoyed, run under warm water.
Store in a safe place.
Flying the Under Have you ever felt invisible? Like you are walking around every day unintentionally wearing a mask? You want so desperately for people to recognize you, but they just don’t. For many lesbian, bisexual and queer women who don’t “look like lesbians,” this feeling is a daily battle. These girls find that the general public expects girls who like girls to look and act a certain way. When they do not fulfill those stereotypes, they disappear. Lauren Adamski, SU alum and program coordinator for the LGBT Resource Center, said she is passionate about the issue of “femme invisibility.” “I don’t ever want to be seen as heterosexual,” she said. “I know people who don’t mind, but I have this constant awareness. When I’m out in public I get a lot of looks from men — it’s annoying and exhausting. I wish I could have a blinking sign above my head.” Kimmi Isaac, a junior bioengineering major, said she would also like one of those blinking signs. Her frustration with invisibility, however, is
less about intrusive men and more about finding connections within the queer community. With a schedule that hinders her from joining groups at the LGBT Resource Center, Isaac is frustrated with trying to find friends within the LGBTQ community. Though she has found ally friends, Isaac’s said that her femininity prevents her from finding friends within the queer community because they do not recognize her as part of the community. “Being able to talk to them [her ally friends] helps, but allies’ experience is never the same,” she said. Invisibility affects senior television, radio, and film major, Alicia Aiello, in yet another way. For Aiello, invisibility is most frustrating when looking for a potential partner. She said she feels most invisible at gay clubs, such as TREXX and the now-closed X-Bar. “Every time I go I am hit on by the creepy straight guys there or no one at all,” said Aiello. Being a feminine woman looking for feminine women has proved to be an issue, Aiello said, because she has trouble finding interest due to misconceptions. Before X-Bar closed, Aiello would go on Thursday’s “College Night.” She
Gaydar by Kassie Brabaw
Femme women sound off about their invisibility within the queer community
said that she was frustrated in that environment because she would always attract the more “butch” girls whom she had no interest in. The feminine girls she wanted to talk to would often ignore her. Some women who experience this femme invisibility often become frustrated and make efforts to counteract it. Whether it is by putting gay pride pins on their backpacks or just stating their sexuality straight out, queer women who feel invisible often find some way to become seen. Mary Capparuccini, a senior international relations major, and Aiello both attempted to adopt a more androgynous appearance in order to conform to society’s expectations of queer women. Yet both were disappointed with the outcome. “Dressing that way is not my style,” Aiello said. “It’s uncomfortable — like I’m playing a role.” While Aiello attempted to change her clothing style to fit in, Capparuccini made a different change. After hearing one too many people say, “You don’t look gay,” Capparuccini decided to cut her hair to look more androgynous. She, like Aiello, felt uncomfortable with the change and
let her hair grow back out. “What you wear doesn’t mean that you can’t be gay,” she said. Capparuccini became more comfortable with herself as she grew more apathetic about those around her. “I’ve come to understand that some people just understand stereotypes,” she said. Those stereotypes, however, are a major problem as well. All of the girls spoke of common misconceptions they have seen or experienced around their feminine queer identity. They said people often think that they are actually straight, are passive in a relationship, only like masculine women, will end up with a man if they have the opportunity, or that the right man can change their sexuality. Aiello said she always dates feminine women, stating that more than once she has been asked, “Who wears the strap-on?” Some of the women said that they are asked questions like these and find responding difficult.“ I don’t like to answer,” Aiello said. “It’s offensive. I don’t pry into my straight friends’ lives.” The questions may be uncomfortable, but sometimes it is not just a question that needs to
be addressed. Adamski recalled a time when she was on a date with another feminine woman. “A guy thought it was appropriate to come up to us during dinner and hit on both of us,” Adamski said. “I just wanted to punch him in the face.” Now, Adamski brushes situations like this off. “You have to make constant decisions about how you react. If you are going to directly tell them that you’re a lesbian, there is some self-satisfaction and empowerment to that — but there’s also the possibility that it will engage them more,” she said. “They want to know all about it or they think they can turn it around for themselves.” Some women said the most problematic misconception is that feminine queer women have it easier because they can blend into heterosexual society, leading to the impression that they do not have to endure the same ridicule as the rest of the LGBTQ community. Blending in, however, can be just as painful as standing out. Adamski said that when she is in “any place that reeks of normative masculinity,” she feels as though her “queerness is erased.” However, for Aiello, invisibility is frustrating
because it makes it more difficult for her to form a relationship.“It’s really hard because I’m expected to act a certain way to attract certain people and I don’t,” she said. No matter how it affects their lives, all these women said femme invisibility is a major problem for them. Aiello and Adamski said it is a problem that is not often talked about within or outside of the community. Aiello said that she talked about feeling invisible with her friends, but realized that as an overall topic, femme invisibility is seldom discussed. Adamski expressed the same sentiment. “If you don’t talk about it then the silencing and the invisibility becomes all there is,” she said. Adamski specifically stressed the importance of talking about this issue with other members of the LGBTQ community. “Everyone has things that make them angry,” she said, “but if we don’t share those things then we’re not helping each other.”
REALITIES photo illustrations by Bryan McKinney
When race and sexuality collide into one identity
ROADS by Nicky Zamoida illustration by Katherine Flores
Throughout history, race has been an important factor in the workings of power. It has granted authority and privilege to some, and kept it from others. It has created minorities and identities among the human population that are still present now. In today’s society, however, another identity has become important — sexuality. How one labels their own sexuality has created another set of identities and another separation of power. Sexual identity, much like race, has created a minority. But what happens when these two identities cross? What happens when one finds themselves underrepresented for being a sexual minority, and then more underrepresented within that community for being a racial minority? These intersections are a major part of some people’s lives, and sometimes these intersecting identities force them to answer the question, “Where do you put yourself first?”
The concept of intersectionality has come into the spotlight in recent history. The combination of one’s possible identities has allowed people to reach out to different communities, different sides of themselves, and different people. Unfortunately, this can mean different causes of oppression. Being a part of an intersection consisting of race and sexual orientation can raise many questions. Many people over the years have dealt with trends regarding styles, colors, and fashion. With identities becoming a new trend, some may ask, “Is gay the new black?” This question can be taken both ways, regarding a trend of being open with sexual identity, or regarding which minority is facing the most discrimination. Tiffany Gray, the associate director of SU’s LGBT Resource Center, said she did not agree with this trend. “It is important to recognize that there are other people who are privileged and oppressed in other ways,” she said. On the other hand, sophomore Chelsea Lorenz views it differently. Lorenz is a biracial and bisexual identified student who agrees that gay can be seen as the new black.
“I agree only because of how much attention When asked about her identity, Rachael the gay community is getting political-wise,” Card, who identifies as Belizean, Guatemalan she said. “I find this to be true because of all and queer, said she thinks about both sides the attention aimed towards the LGBT frequently. “My gender expression reads as community. But I think black will always masculine,” she said. “And, because of my race, I be the minority.” know it comes off more aggressive. So, I guess I Junior Jorge Miguel Lopez, who is Latino, would say my race.” said he does not agree with calling gay the Lorenz holds race as more important as well. “new black.” “My race is more important to me because the “It is its own genre and doesn’t have to be stability of my race overpowers the fluidity of my compared,” Lopez said. sexuality,” she commented. However, Whether or not someone Lorenz believes most views it as a trend or an oppression is caused A human being is not one observation, it can be through her other or two traits that identify based on personal marginalized identity. him or her, but a myriad experience. This “Associating with a that live in sync. experience differs gay identity causes for everyone. the most oppression -Jorge Miguel Lopez “I know when I enter because it’s considered SU Junior, VPA a space, I am an African the new battle for American woman,” Gray said. “My sexuality or equality,” Lorenz said. orientation is not outwardly perceived as much Lopez finds himself in a similar situation. as my race is.” “Between being homosexual and Latino, being Lopez said that both his racial and sexual homosexual has definitely been more oppressing identities are equally important to him. to me,” he said. “I have never had any problems “A human being is not one or two traits for being Latino.” that identify him or her, but a myriad that live SU has taken some of the necessary steps in sync,” he said. in this battle for equality by working toward
achieving intersectionality. Gray, who was just what they’ve noticed on campus in the queer appointed as associate director of the Resource community and if there is anything that can be Center earlier this semester, discussed the done to change it,” Card said. offices of SU coming together to accommodate Card uses her identity of being a person intersecting identities. of color in the LGBTQ Sometimes you just “I’m new, so part of it community as a chance need a space for people is me trying to observe to share her story and who identify with that culture and get to know make a change. different offices,” she said. “A lot of people have a particular group, but we “We have some pretty lot of questions,” Card said. also need to recognize fantastic offices that focus “I get interviewed for a lot intersectionalities, too. on different people’s of things because I’m seen -Tiffany Gray identities and that is great as unique. I feel as though Associate Director, to have. The question is, I can provide something LGBT Resource Center how do we all partner with new to the community.” each other? Sometimes The topic of you just need a space for people who identify intersectionality can be complicated and with that particular group, but we also need to personal, but some value the virtue of recognize intersectionalities, too, and we have to openness in their struggle for equality for their partner up to do that.” complex identities. Card believes that the Resource Center is “It’s good to talk about race, or any form trying to incorporate intersectionality into of difference, within any space just to be its programming. One way she sees this able to relate to and welcome everyone in happening is through the discussion group that space,” Lorenz said. “Especially when Fusion. Fusion is a program run by the LGBT struggles are shared.” Resource Center where people of color within the LGBT community have a family-style dinner and discussion every week. “They talk about
illustration by William Burns
SO BAD, IT’S GOOD Queers, camp, kitsch, and Catholics
kitsch, noun: art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way. “I intend to die a Catholic,” Oscar Wilde once said, “though I could never live as one.” Wilde, something of a gay martyr, was drawn to Catholicism all of his life. Andy Warhol, too, was reported to have a passion for Catholic kitsch. In 2010, the Catholic League fought to have David Wojnarowicz’s silent short film, “A Fire in My Belly”, which featured Catholic imagery, removed from the Brooklyn Museum of Art. What is it that draws queer artists to a religion that condemns them? I come from an Irish Catholic family. Growing up, my mother not only had a saint trading card collection, she also kept a Jesus scrapbook (why, why, WHY couldn’t she have held onto these?). Even though I am now agnostic, I find it upsetting when I hear Catholics say hateful things about the LGBTQ community. As silly as it is, I hate that Bill O’Reilly is “one of my people,” and I love that Stephen Colbert is. I still identify as a cultural Catholic.
by Elliot DeLine
“Camp is a solvent of morality. It neutralizes moral indignation, sponsors playfulness.” –Susan Sontag I sometimes think that queer people should be identified, not by their sexuality, but by a particular shared sense of absurd humor. It could be called a survival tactic. It would be a mistake to think this is mockery. It’s not. Rather, it is dragging something down to your level and deriving unintended pleasure from it in unintended ways. It’s taking something serious and corrupting it with your strange, unwarranted affection. Our identification with someone is only offensive if that someone is prejudiced against us. “The whole point of Camp is to dethrone the serious. Camp is playful, anti-serious. More precisely, Camp involves a new, more complex relation to ‘the serious.’ One can be serious about the frivolous, frivolous about the serious.” –Susan Sontag When I look at Catholic art, or Catholic anything for that matter, so many forces are at play. Growing up in the 90s, my generation largely sees priest and pedophile as synonyms, and with good reason. Everything Catholic is
suspect; everything once seen as holy has a deviant sexual undertone. I feel anger toward such a hypocritical institution. On the other hand, I wonder what it was my mother, grandparents, great-grandparents and all the others saw that made them believe. Even though I know better, a small part of me feels guilty for my sex life. And yet, the art seems so homoerotic at times! The only sane reaction is to laugh. I have a theory that Catholicism is saturated with queerness — sometimes repressed, painful queerness, sometimes subconscious, hilarious queerness. Many of my queer friends have confessed that they wanted to be a nun or priest when they grew up because they didn’t want to get married. I can’t help but suspect that this has been the driving force for many priests, nuns and saints over the course of history. If one did not wish to participate in heterosexual society, where better to take refuge and try to “redeem” yourself? (Please note that I am not saying this is the root of sexual abuse in the church. Pedophiles, too, would seek to escape normative sex roles, but desiring a child is not the same thing as desiring an adult of the same sex.) People have a tendency to think the world is
naturally straight and that queer people impose ourselves onto pre-existing things, such as marriage. But I’m apt to believe that the customs of Western civilization have always been teeming with nervous, twitching queerness, right beneath the surface. In other words, me think the Church dost protest too much, and I think that many queers have picked up on that. I think that is why Catholic kitsch strikes some of our fancy. It exemplifies the power of a camp-sensibility, to take something antagonistic and render it playful. And in a strange way, maybe for some it is even a form of forgiveness.
Psalm in your Palm poetry by Elizabeth Bennett
Who wrote that pile of pages that’s lived throughout the ages? Who calls himself God and slaps his holy rod Down on any man that has a plan to stand for Or Uncover his love for his brother Those “men who lie with other men” are: Still human, still suffer, still lose, still discover That love for another soul, Shoved in a governed hole Nervous to surface their purpose Refused from the service By a mob of tin-chested mimes Invested in lines infested with fine print Divine HINTS suggesting that we’ve sinned. My passion thrives within I rival those lines in the bible inside of each fiber Outside I seem calm But I’ve got a qualm with that psalm in your palm.
f r i ta arts & entertainment
Drag Queen and host of the college thursdays Drag Show at TREXX takes us beind the scenes of everyones favorite Syracuse gay bar and gives readers an inside look at the fabulous Frita Lay.
How did you get started doing drag? What made you say/think: “Hey … being a Drag Queen. I wanna do that!”? [I] got started when my boyfriend said I should do this amateur pageant called Wigfest. I was so nervous and full of stage fright, if you can believe that. [I] did well in my first pageant — came in first runner up.
How did you get the job as the emcee of College Thursdays? [It] kind of just happened. My boyfriend, BB James, was the original host of college night at Charades. I helped out a few times and, next thing you know, I was doing the show on a regular basis. And have been doing it now for over 12 years.
How did you formulate your drag persona? What goes into creating a new personality? Frita is a combination of my boy name, Fred, and my moms name, Rita — hence Frita. And Lay just sounded good with it. Hi, I’m Frita Lay, are you?
Have you ever portrayed other personas and/or characters? Frita Lay was my first attempt in drag and it was for Wigfest, which was meant to be funny and trashy. I gave another persona a try [named] Donna Fredericks, but I tried to make her all glamorous and serious and she only lived for a couple months. Frita Lay emerged as the winner and is still going strong.
How do you come up with your jokes? Are they pre-written? I don’t write any jokes. Most of it is just off the cuff. I talk to people and try to find humor in that.
interview by Cassie-Lee Grimaldi photos by Marty Bianco
How do you define drag? I can’t really define it. It’s just not possible. There are so many types that there is always someone out there that will make just about anyone smile.
What makes drag at TREXX unique? TREXX is the fourth venue that I have brought College Thursdays to. What makes it unique? I’d say is that we try to make everyone, whether gay, straight, lesbian, bi or transgender feel at home. I encourage all performers to mingle with the crowd — it makes the whole thing a more personal and memorable experience. Then there is the part where I call all the Virgins to the stage. The definition of Virgin on College Thursdays is someone who has never been to the bar or is celebrating a birthday or other special event. Then we call out to the crowd with a 1, 2, 3 countdown and the crowd yells back, “Fuck you!”
What’s the best part of your job? The best part is all the different people I have met over the years. I still hear from kids that went to the shows back when I just started.
arts & entertainment
Syracuse students experience discrimination at local store by The OutCrowd Staff illustration by Midge Scully
arts & entertainment
Imagine yourself wandering into a store in search of the perfect outfit. It needs to embody your huge personality, with just enough pizzazz to catch the attention of a room full of people. Luckily, you find that perfect garment. But, one question remains: will it fit? You walk up to the counter and ask to try on the outfit that you have found. However, you are met with a definite “no” from the salesclerk. The problem is simple — you are trying to buy clothing socially designated for a different gender. The clerk’s opinion is final, because she apparently believes your masculine appearance will not complement that dress, or that shirt and tie will not complement your feminine features. You are left with two options: walk out emptyhanded or buy the outfit without trying it on. For some SU students, this story is a reality. Stationed just a few blocks down from campus on South Beech Street is The Cluttered Closet, a clothing establishment at which some students have felt discriminated against. One of these students is senior Nicholas Haas. Haas was looking for dresses to purchase for the Totally Fabulous Drag Show Preliminaries this year when he was told he could not try on dresses at The Cluttered Closet. The shopkeeper explained it was against her religion for her to observe him doing so. Haas responded, “Well, why can’t I try on the clothes, you won’t have to see me in them. I will be in the dressing room.” The clerk replied, “Sorry, I can’t because it is against my religion.” This response did not go over well with Haas, who said that it left him in a “controlled anger.” “I walk over, toss the dresses on the counter and reply, ‘I guess I will take my business somewhere else, where they are not bigoted,’ and I walked out of the store to never return again,” he said. Though the Cluttered Closet staff seems to be uncomfortable with the idea of genderbending
in the store, Haas said he has never had a problem with purchasing an item from the store — only with trying on a “feminine“ garment. Haas remarked he hadn’t had a bad experience prior to this incident. He said he has even tried on a few dresses at the store before, but in those cases, he entered dressing room without interacting with an employee. Jill (Gilles) Stromberg, a senior illustration major and The OutCrowd’s art director, said she tried on male dress pants at the store the afternoon of Feb. 24. The dress pants did not fit, but she found a “perfect” red bowtie and cummerbund for an upcoming appearance in SU’s drag show. “The salesclerk didn’t have a problem with a female-bodied person trying on male clothing,” she said. Stromberg said she was looking for other dress pants when a male friend, Joseph Trevino, entered the store. She said they chatted for a few moments, then Trevino – who was shopping for the same show – picked out a dress and tried it on in the dressing room. According to Stromberg, a middle-aged salesclerk then approached her and said, “Can you tell your friend that we don’t allow men to try on dresses at our store?” “I was dumbfounded,” Stromberg said. “I didn’t want to go on a rampage, but I also didn’t want to be totally compliant.” Stromberg waited until Trevino was out of the dressing room to share what had happened, and two left the store saddened and empty-handed. Students who have had negative experiences at The Cluttered Closet can find comfort at Modern Pop Culture, a boutique on Walton Street. Nathan Schafer, the owner, said customers may try on whatever they want as long as they do not intend to harm a garment. “Men’s clothing is generally thought of as unisex in many ways,” he said. On men trying on women’s clothing, Schafer said, “a garment is a garment.” Contributing writers: Katie Dupere, Cassie-Lee Grimaldi, Shaun Janis
arts & entertainment
FASHION, BITCHES. You are what you wear
by Matthew Bennett Jr. illustrations by Jill Stromberg
The first time I realized that I was a human being, and not an article of clothing, was in September 2010 during my first excursion to a gay bar. Twist had just recently opened, so Pink Pumps and I decided to check it out. Much like all of my other subsequent visits to Twist, there was about a handful of outfits there at most. Music roared as a disco ball created mesmeric designs across a naked dance floor. From the bar, Dusty Suits and Scuffed Black Shoes turned to look in our direction. I could feel the White Button Downs staring at us as we made our way to the floor, as if deciding whether they might like to try us on. In the midst of awkward stares from the Outdated Attire at the bar and my manic dance moves, a young gay outfit that I had never seen before came over to confront me about an extremely serious matter. “Umm … can you explain your shoes to me?” the Red Plaid Shirt said, with a hint of disgust. “I’m sorry?” my White V-neck With A Pink Stripe replied. “What do you mean?” “My friends and I were wondering what’s going on with your shoes. Like … are you straight? Or gay? We’re just, like, confused about your shoes.” The Judgmental Skinny Jeans peered at me as they spoke. “Well … I don’t know … they’re comfortable, I guess?” The Cola-Colored Desert Boots sneered.
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“Are your ugly shoes supposed to be making some sort of statement?” I scowled. “I just like these shoes. They’re TOMS shoes, so whenever you buy a pair, they send a pair to young outfits in need all over the world. I think that’s pretty cool.” “Oh! I get it now. So you’re, like, making a political statement?” the Fancy Wristwatch sparkled in the disco light. “Uh … sure?” Just when I thought the outfit couldn’t anger me anymore, it went to go talk to the rest of its wardrobe to make an announcement. “OK, listen up, bitches! So, he’s wearing TOMS shoes, which send shoes to poor outfits or whatever, so he’s making a political statement, and that explains the hideous shoes!” The outfit shouted this statement over the music, just loud enough so every outfit in the bar could hear (approximately nine now, including the bartender). At that moment, Pink Pumps and I decided to leave. We had had enough fashion lessons from over-priced, poorly made clothes for one night. As Pink Pumps pressed the pedal down, I looked out through the car window. Rundown
buildings stood sadly, faded from sunlight and sorrow from past decades like clothing forgotten on the line. I began to think about the events that had transpired that evening. I had just recently come out, a brand new outfit. I had finally found the courage inside of me to accept who I am and step out to make new, like-minded friends. I didn’t realize that judgmental outfits are, unfortunately, everywhere. No matter who you are or what the situation, some outfits just want to make you feel cheap, ugly, and poorly made. But, honestly, that’s okay. The outfits not being able to see past the shoes on my feet made me realize that I have feet — and that I am a human being. The day a person realizes he is a human being living inside of clothes, as opposed to a J. Crew Cardigan, Button Down, Jeans, Desert Boots and Fake Glasses, that is the day he can start to break free from the bondage of hangers and price tags and truly live.
arts & entertainment
Queer Ladies Find On Tumblr The queer queens of Tumblr talk social networking and sexuality by Nicky Zamoida illustration by Carolyn Glavin
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A charismatic slam poet. The creator of a YouTube weekly video series. An open, honest advice giver. An aspiring musician and photographer. Ashley, Lauren, Kali and Erin are from states across the U.S. While most of the nation may not know these ladies, one community in particular is very familiar with them. These four women have varying interests, but they have two major things in common: they are all girls who like girls and they love Tumblr. These two things, in fact, go hand in hand.“Tumblr gives you the support and ability to be who you are,” Erin said. The popular website, however, has a lot more than that to offer. Started in 2007, Tumblr is a simple blogging site for people to post pictures, text entries, videos, music, and essentially everything and anything they want to share with the Web. The user can “follow” users that they like and “reblog” posts that interest them. What makes Tumblr so unique as a blogging site is its appeal to the queer community and its general acceptance toward its members. When asked how she met other girls who like girls on Tumblr, Ashley said she posted her writing, videos, and self-portraits, which started getting attention. Erin found other queer ladies by following people with interesting URLs, reblogging posts, and sending simple private messages. For some users, these interactions extend beyond the Web and they decide to meet in person. “I’ve met up with many people, both individually and at Tumblr meet-ups,” Kali said. Lauren said that meeting people from Tumblr allows one to “feel comfortable in their own skin” by meeting other gay people when there are “not many gay people in their area.” Such was the case for Lauren and Erin, who met on Tumblr and
traveled across the country to meet in person. “There was no awkwardness when we met,” Lauren said. “It went well.” Erin agreed, saying that she and Lauren are now best friends. The two are planning to move in together in the near future — and it’s all thanks to Tumblr. Friendship is just one of the things that can come out of Tumblr. Kali said that Tumblr has given her the opportunity to take part in three long-distance relationships. All four girls have had some sort of personal connection with someone they met through Tumblr. When it comes to long-distance relationships and friendships, traveling money can be a problem. However, many users use Tumblr as a means to mitigate these problems. Using ad services and other promotional items that generate income have helped many people on Tumblr gain money for travel or achieve something more. “I use it for my own benefit, music-wise, because I want to start doing new things with my music,” Erin said. “I use the ads to help me out with that.” So one question remains: what exactly is it that draws so many members of the LGBTQ community — especially queer ladies — to Tumblr? That is one thing that everyone is trying to figure out. “I don’t know,” Ashley said. “Maybe it’s one of those things where the demographic is looking for a place to convene, and that’s where Tumblr came into existence and it just kind of happened.” “We all come together and we just become friends without really trying,” Erin said. “Tumblr gives you the ability to be who you are and not be ashamed of it.” Author’s Note: Only first names are used to protect the privacy of those interviewed.
Kali: homoarigato.tumblr.com spring 2012
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No Climax, No Resolution, No Meaning by Jill Stromberg illustration by Melissa Smith
A look into Japanese illustrated gay male erotica
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Our environment is what we consume. When we start talking about queer objects of consumption, it’s important to recognize, but also transcend, the typical objects and media we have been expected and forced to consume in order to find our communities: Gay bar culture, activist movements, pride parades, Logo shows, gay icons, penises, vaginas, sex toys — Lord knows I “consume” the last three. While these things have become objects of shared experience of contemporary American gay-ness, intersectional and outside communities have borrowed these or have found their own queer items of consumption for the benefit of their own narratives and spaces — one of these communities being the fandom of illustrated Japanese gay male erotica. Genres such as Bara, Yaoi and Shonen-ai have shaped, informed and, in many ways, tainted a large international fanbase of women, men, and genderfucks alike about what it means to be “gay.” Mostly written by cisgendered older women in Japan, these illustrated tales of male-on-male love and sex are both in their illustration and in their prose
hypertrophic, portraying muscular Japanese gangsters in a secret love affair, samurais in warriors bonds, sex therapists curing men of impotency, friends from uniformed high schools exploring their sexualities, rock stars, cops, prisoners, gay Nazis, violin players, single fathers, historical figures, vampires,and werewolves. Taking influence from pulp fiction paperbacks from the 1950s, these campy comics are Japan’s take on trashy emotional romance. These media have such diverse directions and plots, yet their men and their sex are all depicted the same, depending on the genre: In Shōnenai, or “boy love,” readers are exposed to young and young-adult hyper-feminine twink boys with impeccable hair — their bodies stylistically skinny. Their drama stems from high school or the plot of their magical or macabre story line. Never going past a kiss, Shōnen-ai is typically not pornographic, but that doesn’t stop their fanbase from making it so. Yaoi is an acronym for Yama Nashi, Ochi Nashi, Imi Nashi (“No Climax, No Resolution, No Meaning”) and follows the aesthetics of Shōnen-ai but concentrates on the sexual aspect of the genre. Bara (which is a take on the English word “bear”) is very much like Yaoi in its sense of concentration on sexual images. However, it takes many visual influences from Western bear culture, as well as hyper-masculine and hairy images of men. What’s most interesting about pornography overall in Japan are the censorship laws that regulate what pornography they specifically depict. In Japan’s criminal code under Article 175 (which is a coincidental number for all you German homophiles out there [paragraph 175]) states: “A person who distributes, sells or displays in public an obscene document, drawing or other objects shall be punished by imprisonment
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with work for not more than two years, a fine visibility in Japan. Kirara, a woman growing up of not more than ¥2,500,000 (equivalent to during the inception of Japanese illustrated $30,178). The same will apply to a person who gay male erotica, said these comics helped her possesses the same for the purpose of sale.” development into a Japanese lesbian identity. Many artists choose to either limit the views “There was still no information on of the genitals, or not draw genitals at all. With homosexuality, but comics by women writers the current interpretation began coming out that of the bill, this usually depicted love between The prevalent success of includes the entirety of boys…with such shapely predominately male gaythe genitalia — including and delicate bodies that comics is a reflection of pubic hair. This absence of they didn’t appear to be the disparities between gay junk is typically referred male,” she said. “It was easy and lesbian acceptance and to project my feelings.” to in Western cultural visibility in Japan. spaces as a “glowing” or For many American “invisible” penis. preteens and young adults Maki Murakami, author of the shōnen-ai growing into themselves during the anime Gravitation as well as the graphic side-stories of boom that began in the late 80s up until it’s Remix & Megamix Gravitation, has consistently slight decline today, Japanese gay comics were a said “fuck you” to the censorship laws by not safe, accessible exposure to an alternative from only vividly depicting genitals, but also going the hetero-norm. With Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! the extra mile by depicting in-anal shots of creating a front of innocence to the general ejaculation. This practice of graphic portrayal, population about Japanese media, illustrated which is illegal, is what would be called “Urabon.” queer Japanese comics went under the It’s also important to note that while these radar for many parents and peers of Japanese stories are all at some point stories about men comic consumers. who have sex with men, they typically only Shirakawa (a name taken from her favorite mention or briefly note queer oppression within Shonen-ai, Love Mode), a self-identified “people their stories. But the oppression, they note is one person,” said the shōnen-ai genre has created a that is uniquely Japanese. In Kizuna by Kazuma “rabid objectification of gay men by fan-girls.” Kodaka, one of the first majorly successful gay“[The genre is] this whole space of women oriented novels, the prevalent queer struggle and girls screaming over boy-love,” she said. “It’s was family continuation and reputation within extremely different than real life. I feel super both of the main characters lives as opposed to terrified for gay men if these stories were realistic. religious or sexual apprehensions. My love for Shonen-ai isn’t sexual or realistic — Also, the prevalent success of predominately it’s just objectification of romance in a strange male gay-comics is a reflection of the disparities way that was an alternative to Shoujo’s (comic between gay and lesbian acceptance and books marketed solely towards younger female
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audiences) gross romanticisms.” gay dudes in the Syracuse area are,” he said. “I Takaba (a name taken from her first Yaoi, also long for the simple-minded affability that “You’re My Love Prize”) a self-identified straight the bara men exude, and unfortunately in my woman, said that Japan has a more relaxed view experience the university gays put a premium on of homosexuality, which comes across in Yaoi. being manipulative divas. That being said, it has She said she wasn’t always into the comics until definitely motivated me to get in better introduced by friends. shape and be as straight forward as possible “Though I prefer Yaoi to Yuri (girl on girl), with my sexuality.” I think it has helped me become even more Tatsuha (a name taken from one of his most tolerant to everything; be it Yaoi, Yuri, tentacles, influential Yaois, “Gravitation”) a self-identified or Hentai (heterosexual pornography). It’s queer transmale, said that Yaoi & shōnen-ai definitely a form of pass time if I’m ever bored, can affect a viewer’s opinion on gay male and although I’m a closet Yaoi fan, I’m proud.” relationships, giving them a stereotypical slant. Jiraiya (a name taken from his preferred bara “It seems like a lot of fans I had encountered art style), a self-identified gay man, has this to say in the past … have created these fantasy images about his views concerning bara, and how of gay male couples based on what they see in he thinks it works within Yaoi culture and these comics/show, like every gay male couple within his own. is supposed to be a masculine/feminine role “Bara is such a fringe art that it hasn’t shaped relationship, and also be gorgeous,” he said. the views of too many people,” he said. “On Yaoi “When some of these fans see an actual real life forums, it comes up against some antipathy for gay couple, it’s almost like they’re disappointed.” being too macho compared Growing up in east to the traditional bishonen Tennessee, he said having When some of these fans relatively no positive (pretty-boy) style, which is see an actual real life gay exposure to gayness was almost exclusively targeted couple, it’s almost like at straight women. That troubling. However, when his they’re disappointed. being said, I like bara’s place group of friends discovered between the hyper-macho Yaoi, the comics started to and aggressive American/European art like have an effect their perceptions. Tom of Finland and the sadistic, serpentine, “Yaoi had a huge influence on our personal skinniness of Yaoi’s typical bishonen fare — the views of ‘real world’ relationships, whether for perfect men in my eyes. better or worse,” he said. “I feel like even though His preference of more masculine men, which we might have held stereotypical images at first he says has been shaped by bara, has infused of what a gay male couple ‘should be’, into his romantic life. “I wouldn’t be remiss in we also had a much more positive ‘it’s okay to saying that being exposed to it has made me a be gay’ outlook.” little disappointed with how muscle-less most
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Contributing artist Kristen Leonard will be showcasing her work at Spark Art Space on May 11th at 7pm. Free admission, reception & live music. 48
Overall, I hated high school. I struggled with my sexuality and was constantly ridiculed for being into visual and performing arts and having mainly female friends. I had an especially hard time once my mom passed away.
self portraits by Marty Biando
VPA, Photography - Class of 2013
When I entered SU, I still hadn’t really come to terms with my identity. As a commuter student, I felt disconnected from the campus, and I still tried to deny that I was gay to everyone. It wasn’t until spring semester, when my professor, Emily Duke, did a two to three week long lecture on queer theory in my transmedia colloquium class that I started to realize that I’ve denied my identity for far too long. Emily Duke was the first person I came out to, and I felt liberated for the first time in my life. As the semester finished, I came out to a few friends. When sophomore year started I fell into my first real relationship. He introduced me to the LGBT Resource Center, and I made a lot of new friends that continue to be a fantastic support system. As my relationship progressed, my dad began to notice and questioned me. I came out to him during a fight and it has been a struggle, but he is slowly coming to terms with my identity. My coming out has been filled with its ups and downs. But I’m thankful for the support system I have in my friends and family. Without them, I don’t think I would be as open as I am today.