Michael Love Michael’s XO Is A Service To Their Queer Ancestors

Michael Love Michael discusses their debut album ‘XO.’
News

How Work It‘s Keiynan Lonsdale Danced His Way To Queer Villainy

‘Work It’ star Keiynan Lonsdale on voguing and the value of queer villainy.
News

15 Songs That Shook New York’s Queer Dance Floors in the 1970s and ’80s

During this fertile period the way revelers received dance music — and what was considered dance music — shifted as new kinds of spaces geared toward L.G.B.T.Q. participants multiplied.
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Vincint’s Queer Eye Anthem, Chloe X Halle’s Clubby Call, And More Songs We Love

This week’s Bop Shop highlights Black artists in honor of June being Black Music Month, including Vincint, Chloe x Halle, Kiana Ledé, and more.
News

WIRED Autocomplete Interviews – Queer Eye Cast Answer the Web’s Most Searched Questions

Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness, Karamo Brown, Antoni Porowski, Tan France, and Bobby Berk answer the internet’s most searched questions about Queer Eye themselves. How long have the Queer Eye guys known each other? Do the guests on the show get to keep the furniture? Is Tan France naturally grey? Does Antoni have a cookbook? The Fab Five answer all these questions and more!

Queer Eye: Season 3 is streaming on Netflix now.
WIRED Videos

Queer Eye’s Tan and Karamo Jokingly Kiss After Jonathan and Antoni’s Fake Romance

Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, Jonathan Van NessWatch out, Jvntoni! There’s a new couple in town!
Remember how Jonathan Van Ness and Antoni Porowski jokingly sparked relationship rumors with a Fourth of July kiss? Well, Tan France…


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Entertainment News! –

Explore the world of Hustler today! Click now and enjoy…

Explore REAL today for the most erotic amateur sex online! Click now and enjoy!

Visit VCAXX Classics for the classics in adult entertainment at its best! Click now!

Hustler Taboo features the kinkiest sex online! Click now and enjoy!

Tyler Blackburn Is Ready To Discuss His Sexuality: ‘I’m Queer’

Tyler Blackburn opened up about being bisexual in a new interview with “The Advocate.”
News

Queer Eye Cast Answer the Web’s Most Searched Questions

Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness, Karamo Brown, Antoni Porowski, Tan France, and Bobby Berk answer the internet’s most searched questions about Queer Eye themselves. How long have the Queer Eye guys known each other? Do the guests on the show get to keep the furniture? Is Tan France naturally grey? Does Antoni have a cookbook? The Fab Five answer all these questions and more!

Queer Eye: Season 3 is streaming on Netflix now.
WIRED Videos

Queer Eye’s Fab 5 Mingled With Some Incredible Celebs at the 2018 Emmys

Mandy Moore, Queer Eye Fab 5At this point, we’re no longer just asking, “Can you believe?”
We’ve moved on to saying, “Can you believe there was ever a time in our lives when we didn’t have…


E! Online (US) – Top Stories
Entertainment News! –

Explore the world of Hustler today! Click now and enjoy…

Explore REAL today for the most erotic amateur sex online! Click now and enjoy!

Visit VCAXX Classics for the classics in adult entertainment at its best! Click now!

Hustler Taboo features the kinkiest sex online! Click now and enjoy!

Netflix renews ‘Queer Eye’ for Season 2

Netflix has its eye on another season of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”


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GamersGate: The World's Largest Online Game Store

Tom From ‘Queer Eye’ Is On Twitter And God Damnnnnn

Tom From 'Queer Eye' Is On Twitter And God Damnnnnn

Tom From 'Queer Eye' Is On Twitter An…
Tom, our favorite stud from ‘Queer Eye’ has a Twitter account and it’s a beautiful thing.
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Here’s How Even A Drop of Queer Identity Increases Victimization

Each week HuffPost Gay Voices, in a partnership with blogger Scout, LGBT HealthLink and researcher Susana Fajardo, brings you a round up of some of the biggest LGBT wellness stories from the past seven days. For more LGBT Wellness visit our page dedicated to the topic here

Even A Drop of Queer Increases Victimization

Researchers found survey respondents reporting they were “mostly heterosexual” are 47% more likely than exclusively heterosexual people to have experienced childhood sexual or physical violence, abuse, or neglect.

JAMA Dermatology Issues Call To Action On Gay Male Skin Cancer

One more study just came out showing queer men were up to twice as likely to report skin cancer versus non-queer men. The study’s findings were so alarming that JAMA Dermatology, a scientific journal focused on skin health, issued a call to action.

Not Passing Can Hurt Health For Trans People

A new study found that people who are recognized in public as transgender are more likely to face discrimination and harassment, which in turn makes them more likely to smoke, use drugs and attempt suicide.

Smoking Linked to Systematic And Everyday Discrimination 

Researchers recently found a link between smoking and systematic or everyday discrimination among trans folks. Having an I.D. with one’s preferred gender, having private insurance and some college all decreased the likelihood of smoking.                    

 

North Carolina Gets its First Clinic for Trans Children, Youth

Good news! Duke University Medical just opened a health center for transgender youth and children. The Center for Child and Adolescent Gender Care is the first of its kind in North Carolina and one of only a few in the South. Go Duke!

Obamacare Increases Health Insurance Access for LGB

A new study found that since 2013 heath the percentage of LGB people with health insurance has jumped a whopping 10%! Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, now nearly 9 in 10 LGB Americans are insured.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.




Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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Queer Shame and How Liberal Communities Harm the Children They Embrace

In the past I’ve described my coming out process as The Five Stages of Grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Sometimes listeners chuckle when they hear the analogy; it is kind of humorous to me now, too. I’m a self-assured recent college graduate with a supportive family, from a liberal, suburban town outside ten miles outside New York City — The Five Stages of Grief? For a kid like me?

No one ever told me it was wrong to be gay. When I say liberal town, I really mean it. The townsfolk waved their gay pride flags high long before marriage equality came into the national spotlight in the early 2000s. They’re type of people who’d point out two men holding hands on the street to comment on “how nice it is to see.” I mean this is a place where something like 87 percent of people voted for President Obama in the 2008 election, and they were vocal about it, too. Not only is there a Planned Parenthood one block off the main thoroughfare, but there’s an abortion clinic on the main thoroughfare, and there are rarely if ever protesters outside its doors.

The town has packed a staggering amount of diversity into its six square miles — black families, white families, gay and lesbian families, interracial families, interfaith families, low-income, affluent — anything in between. The school district buses white children from the more affluent north side into the working-class, black South End, and buses black children out. The magnet school system that warrants this enormous expense gives every kid equal chance to succeed — it’s progressive! (No matter that the cafeteria tables show students naturally splintering first by race and then again by class.)

Even with such a broad offering of interesting people at hand, my parents’ friends were almost always other straight, white couples, with few exceptions. So no matter how diverse, accepting or tolerant my family or our community was, I never saw much of anything happening in practice. It was more of a political stance than a personal philosophy.

I’ll say again — The Five Stages of Grief? For a kid like me? But my personal history belies my taste. From the time I was very young I imagined my future as a happy young bride in the arms of a tall, dark-haired, tuxedo-clad groom; the live band playing jazz and soul music at our wedding; flowers lining the aisle and the chuppah (a good Jewish girl); my hair, braided and adorned with white lace; everyone dancing with abandon. Regardless of my decidedly left-wing political beliefs — pro-equality, pro-choice, pro-education reform, pro-gun control, pro- pro- pro — I was inarguably traditional, and anything less than a traditional life was not for me. It didn’t matter that I supported the right for others to live an alternative lifestyle; I didn’t want one for myself.

Thus every woman I kissed was a knife in my husband’s back, and every girlfriend thereafter would be a nail in his coffin. As a senior in high school I entered denial and fought viciously against the pain and betrayal I brought upon myself. Even when I transferred from a conservative Jesuit university to a radical liberal arts college, I grasped desperately to the shreds of my dying heterosexuality. But I faced a major roadblock in my commitment to hate my orientation and nurture my disdain for my homoerotic desires: my parents’ immediate and effusive pride.

When I finally admitted to my relationships with women after a year and a half of evading their founded suspicions, they were thrilled. After all, if you’re judging whether your child has been properly indoctrinated with their parents’ liberal values, what better evidence is there than queerness? So there I was, a little traditionalist, paradoxically a bonafide radical and a self-loathing queer, with my parents beside me beaming.

Can you blame me for hating myself? At 18? It would be another 2 years before I reached my liberal arts college and heard the word “queer” for the first time, learned about the variety of identities that it represents. Before then, most people asked me if I was bisexual or a lesbian, my parents included, and so those seemed to me to be the only two options. But I didn’t feel I belonged in either category.

I was appalled at the idea of being called a lesbian, and even now some 5 years later I still cringe a bit at the term. I know many people will find this admission offensive, but I have what my friend calls “internalized lesbophobia.” To be identified as a lesbian in our society means one of two things: you’re a porn star at the pinnacle of the male gaze, or you’re a man-hating dyke, the antithesis of what womanhood and femininity are conceptualized to be. Hell of a choice, right?

In the first 3 years after it surfaced, my queerness evolved from my biggest secret to my deepest fear to my worst nightmare, simply because I had not found the right way to articulate it. “Queer” changed everything, not immediately, but completely.

Dominant culture offers us established formulas to understand both gay and lesbian identities. Sure, you can identify as gay or as a lesbian and go against the grain, but it takes a lot of self-confidence, assuredness and give-no-fucks attitude to buck up against the ways in which we’re socialized to understand sexuality. Before college I didn’t have any of those things. It made me deeply anxious to have either or both of my parents gently inquiring as to how I defined my sexuality.

Queerness, in comparison to gayness or lesbianism, rejects reductive attitudes. The term “queer” as a positive identifier rather than a homophobic slur rose to its cultural prevalence in the late twentieth century in response to the AIDS crisis (Queer Nation, ACT UP, etc.). To be queer was political at the outset, to be unified against the passive and homophobic government that was unfazed by the hundreds of thousands of AIDS-related deaths across the country. Ultimately though, to be queer was to resist definition, and although the AIDS crisis is now decades behind us, the rebellious nature of “queer” has persisted. Now that’s something I could try and stomach.

At 20, I had passed through my year of rage and began bargaining with some higher power because I loved her, and if I could just keep her, maybe I’d forgive myself for it. I was finishing my first year at my liberal arts college where I had been bombarded by queer intellectuals who asked me to position myself within the academic rhetoric of sexuality. Campus was a bastion of sexual fluidity, and anything less than total self-acceptance was considered archaic and anyone found guilty of defending traditional ideals would be tarred and feathered. I tried to wade through the jargon — what was a Foucault? — in search of some authentic identity, skill keen on turning myself straight.

The girl I was dating pushed me to do things like kiss and hold hands in public. Things that are untraditional warrant attention, and the last thing I wanted was anyone’s kind liberal gaze — how “great it is to see” — lauding us for existing. I conceded slowly because I loved her and as the months passed I became desensitized to my own horror to the point where, emboldened by a drink or two, I could kiss her in a bar.

When we broke up I lost the hint of complacency I had started to feel about my queerness. I slept with one man, and then another. I hated myself for how bored I felt to fuck them. I spun through my 21st birthday in a yearlong depression, flitting endlessly between people of all genders whom I hoped could spell out who I was. But the little hedonist in me answered that question. If I enjoyed kissing women, I’d kiss women. That didn’t make me a 6 on the Kinsey scale, and it also didn’t warrant a public explanation of my evolving sexuality. Over the past 5 years I’ve exhausted myself avoiding and debunking other people’s labels rather than trying to discern who and what I am. Queer is as far as I’ve gotten, but it’s not necessarily a complete picture.

I am almost 23 and this is the closest to acceptance I have ever come. I know that relative to most other queer kids, I’ve had it very easy. No one casts hellfire onto me when I say girlfriend, no one prescribes corrective treatments, people don’t even analyze what went wrong in my childhood to make me this way. I was my only true obstacle. But I would argue, despite their good intentions, that the kind liberal folk of my childhood pose a danger to the true social acceptance of queerness as much as blatant homophobia might.

My community, if privileged, is not perfect. The ways in which liberal communities perpetuate heteronormativity, while at the same time claiming to be bastions of acceptance, are dangerous. The ways in which liberal parents think about their queer children as cultural capital or political immunity are dangerous. The ways in which queer kids are told to be authentic while being taught what authenticity means are certainly dangerous.

It’s all flowers and butterflies when your parents validate your non-conforming identity, but when they use you as trump card to justify their closed-minded ideas the warm and fuzzies start to get a little more complicated. It’s the same as if someone white were to make a racist comment followed by “and I have a very good friend who’s black.” So in my comfortable liberal town, “and my kid is gay” has the potential to rear its ugly head and hurt queer kids as much as it hopes to help them.

Plenty of mothers hang rainbow flags in honor of their children and then make a point to make a positive comment about visibly queer couples. To be a spectacle, even for someone’s kind liberal gaze, still makes you a spectacle. I know that I am in an extreme place of privilege in issuing a critique of the way that liberal families and communities often commodify sexual identities, but I worry. I worry that if no one calls these very nice people on their very stinky bullshit, the behavior will become cyclical and continue to slyly degrade queerness for generations to come.

When I was in college I noticed that a lot of young women often made reference to being queer, or were averse to the label of heterosexuality, even if they found themselves exclusively attracted to men. Heterosexuality, in radical spaces, has become akin to closed-mindedness and traditionalism. It’s hip to be “open,” like “free love” transposed onto the millennial generation. My parents and their liberal community regard queerness the same way. In 20 years, when the straight girls I made out with in college have kids of their own, I don’t want them to look at a gay couple on the street and comment on how “great it is to see” in an effort to display their tolerance.

I want queerness to be completely unremarkable. It’s innocuous. Regardless of the intentions behind unsolicited remarks, they are equally harmful in featuring sexuality as a minoritizing characteristic. What I’m saying is: whether a stranger is calling me a faggot dyke and telling me I’m going to burn in hell, or they’re remarking sweetly about me and the beautiful girl I’m holding hands with, the fact that they say anything about my sexuality is the problem. At least someone who is blatantly homophobic doesn’t disavow their role in “othering” queerness.

I don’t mean to scold or scorn the millions of liberal, accepting, tolerant parents who make their queer children’s lives easier. Without them, queer shame might increase tenfold. Our Supportive Liberal Parents are an asset and I think it’s rare that any queer kid would fail to recognize that. In my critique of American ultra-liberalism I simply mean to issue one heartfelt request: I ask that liberal parents and liberal communities support their kids not only in the most visible or vocal way, but also the most thoughtful. Maybe in fifty years there won’t be queer kids or straight kids anymore, maybe there’ll just be kids — and wouldn’t that be the ultimate realization of acceptance?

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Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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Queer Eye for the Messiah Guy

Many modern Christians may be surprised to learn that in the time after the resurrection but before the Prada slippers, those “From Jesus to Christ” years, as the stern but reasoned Frontline narrator said, there was a fierce debate among the early faithful about whether or not physical depictions (statues, mosaics, etc.) of Jesus should be allowed. Those things were for pagan gods, it was argued, not the one true Christ. The Jews didn’t do the idolatry thing and that’s where Christianity came from. So, no statues — too Jewish: statues — too Roman. There were serious brand identity issues going here. Remember, Christianity didn’t instantly dominate the world ala Über. It had more of an Amazonian rise to hegemon status and didn’t really seal the deal until the fifth century.

Some in the pro image crowd argued that rather than buff and towering like the
A-list of the Roman and Greek pantheons, Jesus should be depicted but as more unassuming, a people’s Messiah sort of thing. Others said that was even going too far. One unpleasant critic named Celsus, the name sounds like an intestinal illness, had the audacity to say Jesus was ugly and short.

So, from where did the hottie Jesus of the last thousand years come? One source was a man who thought woman worthless, espoused homophobia and who very well may have tried to pray away his gay: Saint Jerome. I won’t go into too much detail because there are ample scholarly arguments about this poor uptight ancestor of Ted Haggard, Larry Craig and of course, the Log Cabin Republicans. Let’s just posit that poor Jerome, after breaking up with his teenage sweetheart, Rufinus, turned to celibacy. Oh yeah, he had a hand on that too, or rather off it, pun intended.

If you’ve ever read about the lives of the saints, the illustrations often have angels that look like renaissance versions of Versace models, leaning over their canonical shoulders. So, perhaps an image conscious Jesus, via his winged Donatella disciples, slipped into poor Jerome’s repressed mind, what he knew needed to be done to better market his brand: make him smoking hot! Thus enlightened, Jerome, among others, settled the depiction debate once and for all. Christ would be a stud but not interested, kind of like the bartenders at the Abbey in West Hollywood, well unless you direct.

Officially he was as perfect physically as he was in spirit, and to a self-loathing closet case, that meant asexual. Thus, the Christ as anti-sexual sex symbol was born. Only the Catholic Church could come up with such a concept, and whoever invented the Jonas Brothers.

Jesus’ success, because how could he fail, is now inscrutable fact. He is not only the most recognizable person to ever walk the earth, except maybe Lucille Ball, he is also People Magazine’s Sexiest Man of the millennium. Sorry Clooney.

When the renaissance came about and Jesus saw how Michelangelo had made David, a king sure but not Christ, into a gargantuan example of male perfection, he realized the greatest artist of all time had to do the same for him. Via his infallible earthly servant, Pope Julius II, Jesus tapped Michelangelo to further this greatest marketing campaign ever, well until the first Tim Burton Batman movie. The poster was just a batwing, no words, a batwing, how cool was that?

Despite his almost total reliance on buff male models; his showering them with gifts; a vast collection of well-crafted love poems that he quilled where the object of his affection was most definitely male; there is still a debate about whether Michelangelo was gay. Okay. We do know — because Michelangelo wrote it — he believed physical beauty was the outward sign of a beautiful soul. Sound familiar? Gaze upon the Christ of The Last Judgment –Michelangelo’s masterpiece in the most important and Liberace inspiring house of the holy ever built, and remember the loincloth wasn’t painted on the Sistine Chapel’s Magic Mike until after the artist’s death.

Now, to those uncomfortable with sexy Jesus and his potentially wink gay derivation, why not have Paul Giamatti play him next time? — No offense Paul, you’re a genius, but keep your shirt on, know what I’m saying? It’s been tried, sort of… Martin Scorsese gave Willem Dafoe the role –Bomb! Braveheart gave us Jim Cavaziel, — Hit! And Roma Downey, you vixen, you handed the thorny crown to Portuguese soap star / GQ model Diego Morgado! In a bizarre — you can’t make this stuff up — twist, hunky Diego then starred on Satan’s medium, television, as Christ’s arch-nemesis, the dark lord and I don’t mean Ralph Fiennes. Huh?

If gay men — in and out — doing his will were responsible for Jesus’ asexual, sex god status, eye candy depictions are now accepted and embraced by those of all orientations. To not make him a stud would be as blasphemous as not… watching the Super Bowl (straight) or filling out your Oscar ballot (gay). Jesus is just too hot and that is as it should be. It would be nice if we looked beyond the abs once in a while though and not just his but ours too.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.




Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

Chemistry.com gay - First Date 300x250

Queer Eye for the Messiah Guy

Many modern Christians may be surprised to learn that in the time after the resurrection but before the Prada slippers, those “From Jesus to Christ” years, as the stern but reasoned Frontline narrator said, there was a fierce debate among the early faithful about whether or not physical depictions (statues, mosaics, etc.) of Jesus should be allowed. Those things were for pagan gods, it was argued, not the one true Christ. The Jews didn’t do the idolatry thing and that’s where Christianity came from. So, no statues — too Jewish: statues — too Roman. There were serious brand identity issues going here. Remember, Christianity didn’t instantly dominate the world ala Über. It had more of an Amazonian rise to hegemon status and didn’t really seal the deal until the fifth century.

Some in the pro image crowd argued that rather than buff and towering like the
A-list of the Roman and Greek pantheons, Jesus should be depicted but as more unassuming, a people’s Messiah sort of thing. Others said that was even going too far. One unpleasant critic named Celsus, the name sounds like an intestinal illness, had the audacity to say Jesus was ugly and short.

So, from where did the hottie Jesus of the last thousand years come? One source was a man who thought woman worthless, espoused homophobia and who very well may have tried to pray away his gay: Saint Jerome. I won’t go into too much detail because there are ample scholarly arguments about this poor uptight ancestor of Ted Haggard, Larry Craig and of course, the Log Cabin Republicans. Let’s just posit that poor Jerome, after breaking up with his teenage sweetheart, Rufinus, turned to celibacy. Oh yeah, he had a hand on that too, or rather off it, pun intended.

If you’ve ever read about the lives of the saints, the illustrations often have angels that look like renaissance versions of Versace models, leaning over their canonical shoulders. So, perhaps an image conscious Jesus, via his winged Donatella disciples, slipped into poor Jerome’s repressed mind, what he knew needed to be done to better market his brand: make him smoking hot! Thus enlightened, Jerome, among others, settled the depiction debate once and for all. Christ would be a stud but not interested, kind of like the bartenders at the Abbey in West Hollywood, well unless you direct.

Officially he was as perfect physically as he was in spirit, and to a self-loathing closet case, that meant asexual. Thus, the Christ as anti-sexual sex symbol was born. Only the Catholic Church could come up with such a concept, and whoever invented the Jonas Brothers.

Jesus’ success, because how could he fail, is now inscrutable fact. He is not only the most recognizable person to ever walk the earth, except maybe Lucille Ball, he is also People Magazine’s Sexiest Man of the millennium. Sorry Clooney.

When the renaissance came about and Jesus saw how Michelangelo had made David, a king sure but not Christ, into a gargantuan example of male perfection, he realized the greatest artist of all time had to do the same for him. Via his infallible earthly servant, Pope Julius II, Jesus tapped Michelangelo to further this greatest marketing campaign ever, well until the first Tim Burton Batman movie. The poster was just a batwing, no words, a batwing, how cool was that?

Despite his almost total reliance on buff male models; his showering them with gifts; a vast collection of well-crafted love poems that he quilled where the object of his affection was most definitely male; there is still a debate about whether Michelangelo was gay. Okay. We do know — because Michelangelo wrote it — he believed physical beauty was the outward sign of a beautiful soul. Sound familiar? Gaze upon the Christ of The Last Judgment –Michelangelo’s masterpiece in the most important and Liberace inspiring house of the holy ever built, and remember the loincloth wasn’t painted on the Sistine Chapel’s Magic Mike until after the artist’s death.

Now, to those uncomfortable with sexy Jesus and his potentially wink gay derivation, why not have Paul Giamatti play him next time? — No offense Paul, you’re a genius, but keep your shirt on, know what I’m saying? It’s been tried, sort of… Martin Scorsese gave Willem Dafoe the role –Bomb! Braveheart gave us Jim Cavaziel, — Hit! And Roma Downey, you vixen, you handed the thorny crown to Portuguese soap star / GQ model Diego Morgado! In a bizarre — you can’t make this stuff up — twist, hunky Diego then starred on Satan’s medium, television, as Christ’s arch-nemesis, the dark lord and I don’t mean Ralph Fiennes. Huh?

If gay men — in and out — doing his will were responsible for Jesus’ asexual, sex god status, eye candy depictions are now accepted and embraced by those of all orientations. To not make him a stud would be as blasphemous as not… watching the Super Bowl (straight) or filling out your Oscar ballot (gay). Jesus is just too hot and that is as it should be. It would be nice if we looked beyond the abs once in a while though and not just his but ours too.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.




Comedy – The Huffington Post
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As Much As I Can, As Black As I Am: The Queer History of Grace Jones

Grace Jones is perched on a ledge above the dancefloor of New York’s 12 West, the state-of-the-art, members-only gay disco, about to take the stage for one her first performances. The year is 1977, and no one is prepared for what’s about to hit them.

Tom Moulton, father of the dance mix and Jones’ early producer, describes the scene: “All of a sudden the spotlight hits her. She starts singing ‘I Need a Man’, and the place goes crazy. After she finishes, she goes, ‘I don’t know about you, honey, but I need a fucking man!’ Talk about a room-worker.Whatever it takes. She was so determined.”

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Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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This Artist Is Using ‘Artivism’ To Break Down Queer Stigma And Stereotypes

A Venezuelan artist is making a bold statement about queerness and art’s power to aid in the breaking down of stereotypes related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) identity.

 

The “I’m Not A Joke” campaign from Daniel Arzola is a series of images inscribed with compelling truths about human diversity that encourages individuals to live as their authentic selves. He wants the images to eventually appear on buses and subways, exposing audiences to the realites of queer experiences in an attempt to breakdown prejudice in a form of activism that he calls “Artivism.”

 

Much of Arzola’s work comes from personal experience as an LGBT person growing up in Venezuela. “I had an violent adolescence because of [Venezuela’s intolerance],” he told The Huffington Post. “When I was 15-years-old they tied me to an electric pole and tried to burn me alive. I was able to escape that but I spent six years not being able to draw because they destroyed all of my drawings. After escaping that I transformed everything into lines and colors instead of returning the violence – I wanted to break the cycle.”

 

The Huffington Post chatted this week with Arzola about “Artivism,” his artwork and what he hopes to see accomplished through the “I’m Not A Joke” series.

Want to see more from Arzola and his “I’m Not A Joke” series? Head here to check out the artist’s Tumblr.

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Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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Silencing the Screaming Queens: Roland Emmerich’s ‘Stonewall’ and the Erasure of Queer Rage

Although I grew up over 2,000 miles from New York City and was born more than 20 years after the Stonewall uprising, this moment in history has profoundly influenced my understanding of what it means to be queer.

I come from small-town Southern Alberta, the type of place where cattle-branding parties are eagerly anticipated social gatherings, and getting stuck behind a slow-moving tractor is a perfectly reasonable excuse to be late for school. Gayness was seen as an exotic urban sensation rather than a universal human reality. So, when I realized I was gay in ninth grade, the queer world seemed an almost mythical place, a far away land. The Stonewall riots, with their pantheon of queer heroes and ensemble of repressive villains, represented the most compelling story of that distant gay world.

Whenever I had time alone, I would flick on the family computer and read about the heroes of those tumultuous six nights in the summer of 1969. I learned about legends: Stormé DeLarverie, the butch lesbian who goaded the angry crowd by fighting off a crowd of baton-wielding policemen; Sylvia Rivera, the Puerto Rican trans woman who threw one of the first bottles to protest the cops’ physical abuse of the arrested drag queens; Marsha P. Johnson, the African-American street queen who led a crowd of queers and misfits into clashes against the police. These and many other tired, angry, and frustrated queers who eschewed respectability in the name of a greater responsibility, spat in the face of mainstream society, and showed me that it’s possible to be queer, proud, and strong.

But when I finally visited the site of the riots for the first time last June, I was underwhelmed.

I had just begun my ethnographic research on queer youth homelessness in New York City, and had managed to persuade one of my research participants, a 25-year-old black trans woman named Jessie*, to take me to the site of the original Stonewall Inn. Together, we sat on one of the bony wooden benches in Christopher Park, silently studying the pale acrylic statues that commemorated the riots of 1969. And I felt empty. The site communicated none of the rage, frustration, and passion I envisioned when I thought of Stonewall. It recognized none of the uprising’s real-life heroes, instead exuding a sense of decorum that masked the riots’ intensity. In fact, if I hadn’t known better, I might have assumed that Stonewall had been nothing more than a quiet, peaceful protest. After several minutes Jessie shuffled her feet awkwardly and looked at me.

“I don’t know why you wanted to see it.”

Now, much as Christopher Park has sanitized the memory of Stonewall with its lily white statues and bland commemoration, Roland Emmerich’s upcoming film Stonewall has replaced the riots’ trans, lesbian, female, black, and Latina heroes with a gay, white, male protagonist from Kansas named Danny. Sections of the queer community have responded with outrage, accusations of trans erasure and racism, and calls for a boycott — and for good reason. After all, this is the functional equivalent of buying tickets to Selma only to find that Martin Luther King, Jr. is played by Robert Downey, Jr. Replacing the real heroes of Stonewall with a cis, white, gay guy doesn’t only erase the contributions trans women of color, butch lesbians, and street queens to the queer liberation fight. It also erases the unequal distribution of risk and privilege in the queer community and contributes to the harmful narrative that, as Emmerich puts it, “we are all the same in our struggle for acceptance.”

In reality, we never were, and still are not, all the same in our struggle for acceptance.

Stonewall is often seen as the night the gay liberation movement began and the moment America’s queer community “came out” of its societal closet. According to gay author Eric Marcus, “Before Stonewall, there was no such thing as coming out or being out. The very idea of being out, it was ludicrous. People talk about being in or out now, there was no out, there was only in.”

However, while this may have been true for white, middle-class gay people, it certainly was not the case for the trans women, drag queens, homeless youths and other misfits who fought for queer rights at Stonewall. After all, unlike middle and upper class gays and lesbians, these radicals didn’t — or couldn’t — hide their orientations, work respectable jobs, and blend into the mainstream in the years prior to Stonewall. As Stonewall veteran Miss Major Griffen-Gracey bluntly put it, “I’m six feet and two inches tall, wearing three inch heels and platinum blonde hair and the lowest-cut blouse and shortest skirt I can find, I’m not assimilating into anything!”

As upper and middle-class gays blended into heterosexual societies as ostensibly reputable teachers, nurses, lawyers, bankers, and countless other professions, it was the misfits — the transgender people, the drag queens, the butch lesbians and the homeless youths — who were living openly, defying societal expectations, and bearing the risks of gay life. They were the ones who faced the police batons, anti-gay vigilantes and societal hate. They were the ones who — after years of repression — finally snapped on that hot summer night and struck back against the anti-queer structures of oppression.

While middle-class white gays and lesbians picketed the White House wearing suits and skirts, trans women of color threw their heels at police officers and taunted the cops by forming kick-lines and singing raunchy songs.

While assimilation-oriented gays pleaded with the queer community for peace in Greenwich Village, enraged queers used parking meters as battering rams to break down the door of the Stonewall Inn and reclaim their safe space from the mob and the police.

And while homophile movements across the United States tried to show mainstream society that queers weren’t dangerous, the screaming queens of Stonewall perhaps illustrated something else: that they would neither accept the status quo nor assimilate meekly into the mainstream, even if that meant accepting danger and risk. They sought to reshape society such that queer people could be accepted on queer peoples’ terms.

Replacing the real heroes of Stonewall with the fictional Kansan, Danny, expunges this history. It delegitimizes the unequal burden of risk within the LGBT community in the years prior to and immediately after Stonewall. And perhaps most dangerously, it minimizes the very real differences in privilege that still afflict the community today.

One night as my research in New York was coming to an end, one of the queer homeless youths I had been working with throughout the summer turned to me with a simple question that has lingered in my conscience for the past year.

“So what are you gonna do now that you’re finished with us? I bet you must have this nice cushy job all lined up, on Wall Street or something, where you can go, drink your coffee every morning, read the newspaper, dress all fancy…”

Although his speculation was said in jest, it had a stinging truth to it. As a middle-class, white, gay guy, I would go on to graduate from an elite college. I could choose to find a conventional middle-class job, blend into conventional middle-class society, and never think about those queer people who don’t have the same opportunities as me. Indeed, if I’d been alive 45 years ago, I could very well have been one of those white, middle-class gays who carefully hid their sexual orientation, worked in the city from nine to five every day, and went home to their houses with a white picket fence in the suburbs every night.

But luckily, I’m not. I can be open about who I am and whom I love. And I have transgender people, butch lesbians, queer youths of color, and angry drag queens who rejected the status quo to and fought to revolutionize society to thank for that — not a cute boy from Kansas named Danny. Not a boy like me.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.




Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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The Club of Queer Trades – G. K. Chesterton

G. K. Chesterton - The Club of Queer Trades  artwork

The Club of Queer Trades

G. K. Chesterton

Genre: Historical

Price: $ 0.99

Publish Date: June 30, 2015

Publisher: MysteriousPress.com/Open Road

Seller: OpenRoad Integrated Media, LLC


G. K. Chesterton’s masterful mystery features men who earn their livings in the most peculiar ways The Club of Queer Trades is an incredibly exclusive society that comes with a specific conceit for entry: Its members must have a talent that is extremely unusual and use that skill to earn a living. For judge Basil Grant, the club is also a mystery that he must solve. Basil first learns of the group when his brother tells him about an army major who believes that this strange band of men is plotting to kill him. To get to the bottom of the threats against the major, Basil must track down each member of the organization one enigma at a time. Along the way, he crosses paths with a real estate agent who specializes in tree houses, a business that creates great adventures for its clients, and many other strange entities.   In The Club of Queer Trades , Chesterton has created a loving parody that is sure to delight any fan of Victorian mysteries.   This ebook has been professionally proofread to ensure accuracy and readability on all devices. “It is . . . [Chesterton’s] proximity to Poe and Kafka and indeed Borges that makes him not just still readable but still curiously modern.” — The Guardian G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936) was a prolific English journalist and author best known for his mystery series featuring the priest-detective Father Brown and for the metaphysical thriller  The Man Who Was Thursday . Baptized into the Church of England, Chesterton underwent a crisis of faith as a young man and became fascinated with the occult. He eventually converted to Roman Catholicism and published some of Christianity’s most influential apologetics, including  Heretics  and  Orthodoxy .

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New Queer Web Series Takes An Inside Look At Life In San Francisco

Web series about popular “queer meccas” seem to be all the rage these days, and now we have a promising new one set in San Francisco.

Called “This Town: San Francisco,” the  original series will comedically tackle issues currently related to the city, like gentrification and drought, along with commonly discussed issues among gay men, like body image and race.

“This Town: San Francisco” comes from the mind of Accidental Bear founder Mike Enders, a site which aims to “inform, and promote news, art, culture, music and a whole lot of sexy” as well as act as a platform for original videos.

Check out pilot episode #2 above.

 

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.



Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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ASSEMBLAGE: Meet Queer Punk Band bottoms

“ASSEMBLAGE“ is an inquiry into the different ways artists utilize performance and technology to explore and express different notions of identity. An effort to push forward marginalized artists with a focus on people of color, non-western nationalities and those along the queer/trans spectrum, “ASSEMBLAGE” provides a platform for analysis of how art and performance intersect with the lives of these individuals who are visibly and openly existing in the digital age. This is the eighth installment.

Queer punk band bottoms is a musical grouping unlike any other. Made up of two performers — Jake Dibeler and Simon Leahy aka Babes Trust — and drummer Michael Prommasit, bottoms is a project that in many ways explores the complicated, nuanced relationship queer people have with themselves and the world around them in 2015.

bottoms came into fruition a bit over a year ago following the break-up of Leahy and Prommasit’s previous band Teeth. Dibeler joined the group as the lead vocalist — a style of vocalization that can only be described as high-pitched screaming in a way that almost sounds manufactured but, in reality, is Dibeler’s actual voice.

Dibeler’s voice aside, what makes bottoms so unique and important is the hyper-political nature of their work and the shades of queer identity and experience encapsulated in the group’s lyrics.

The queer community is at a strange and significant moment in time, as we move out of the aftermath of the AIDS crisis and into an era marked by PrEP, instantaneous access to sex, mainstream transgender visibility and the legalization of same-sex marriage. As specific types of queers become more visible and our relationships with sex, institutions and governance shift, we are at a place where many people are reimagining or rethinking what it means to be queer.

bottom’s music heavily explores the intersection of this complicated history marked by violence and disease and modern day realities surrounding visibility and sex.

“We’re really interested in a lot of the culture surrounding the gay community during the time of the AIDS crisis,” Diebler told The Huffington Post. “There was a great resistance from the conservatives to acknowledge the crisis, so the gay community had to look to each other for support. I hope that bottoms can harness that same sort of energy — angry queers with a message. I think that we’re in this place as gays that’s very apathetic. Being able to fuck dudes from your phone in minutes is amazing, PrEP is amazing, but it really makes for this sort of ‘pre-AIDS-there’s-nothing-wrong’ mentality — and maybe that’s true, maybe nothing is wrong and this is the end of HIV and AIDS. But at the moment — I think we need to balance this ‘have unprotected sex with a stranger in an alley’ attitude with one of respect and care for a community that lost a huge chunk of themselves in the 90s.”

bottoms also deals with notions of shame and self-hatred, shared realities for queer people navigating the world we operate in since the beginning of time. As with any way of existing the world, it can be hard to communicate the realities of queer experience to those who haven’t felt the effects of growing up as a faggot, trans person, or anywhere along the queer spectrum. For this reason, music — or more broadly, performance — serves as an immensely valuable tool to tell these stories authentically and unapologetically and, hopefully, change our culture.

As Dark Matter mentioned in a previous installment of ASSEMBLAGE, “no matter how many policies we change, no matter how many legislations we pass, people’s hearts and minds aren’t going to change. The only way to actually change people’s hearts and minds is to engage them with feeling and emotion. Because often oppression is incredibly irrational.” Using art and performance to open a dialogue about these different shades of queer experience, like learned shame and self-hatred, is very present in the work of bottoms. The group’s first music video, “My Body,” is about the complicated relationships queer people have with their bodies, from issues of gay body shame to the spectrum of transgender identity. Brooklyn performer Macy Rodman stars in the “My Body” video, below.

Performance, of course, also serves a dual role for the performer in the exploration of their own sense of self throughout this process of authentic storytelling. Within the context of a queer punk band like bottoms, the experiences being talked — or screamed — about are tangible, real and felt by every queer person in the room. At the risk of making a claim about universal queer experience (of which there is none) it can often feel very much that the pain, struggle, freedom and history of what it means to be a queer person bleeds through bottoms’ performances in an unapologetic way that truly does connect with any random queer watching from the audience — which is truly a remarkable accomplishment for any artist.

“I’m definitely always performing — literally always,” Dibeler elabprated. “‘All the worlds a stage,’ all that bullshit. It’s true, every moment is basically a standup comedy show for me, whether you want to be there or not. bottoms doesn’t really step into a role when we get on stage, and it’s the same with my own performances. I think a reason why it’s relatable in this way is because you can actually see a real person on the stage. That’s actually why I don’t really like being on stage when I perform. I’d rather be in the audience because I think it’s important to break down that wall of this ‘We’re a band and you’re an audience and you’re here to stand and listen to us.’ We want the audience to be, like, ‘Those fags in wigs are screaming about death and disease and fear are me, and I am a part of this too.'”

bottoms

As the nature of what it means to be a queer person shifts and changes with the passing of time, one can only hope that we always have art and performance that accurately reflect the intricate nuances of what these experiences are like — politically, socially, emotionally, physically.

At this strange and complicated period for the queer community, bottoms seems to be accomplishing this in an impressive way that is not only informed by our history with AIDS, persecution and violence but also the current climate of agency and self-identification that parallels mainstream LGBT “acceptance.” We hope to see more work like this from others along the spectrum of queer performance in the future.

bottoms is currently prepping to record the group’s second EP later this summer.. Their first EP, “Goodbye,” can be found here or head here for their Soundcloud.

Missed the previous installments in ASSEMBLAGE? Check out the slideshow below.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.



Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

Chemistry.com gay - First Date 300x250

ASSEMBLAGE: Meet Queer Punk Band bottoms

“ASSEMBLAGE“ is an inquiry into the different ways artists utilize performance and technology to explore and express different notions of identity. An effort to push forward marginalized artists with a focus on people of color, non-western nationalities and those along the queer/trans spectrum, “ASSEMBLAGE” provides a platform for analysis of how art and performance intersect with the lives of these individuals who are visibly and openly existing in the digital age. This is the eighth installment.

Queer punk band bottoms is a musical grouping unlike any other. Made up of two performers — Jake Dibeler and Simon Leahy aka Babes Trust — and drummer Michael Prommasit, bottoms is a project that in many ways explores the complicated, nuanced relationship queer people have with themselves and the world around them in 2015.

bottoms came into fruition a bit over a year ago following the break-up of Leahy and Prommasit’s previous band Teeth. Dibeler joined the group as the lead vocalist — a style of vocalization that can only be described as high-pitched screaming in a way that almost sounds manufactured but, in reality, is Dibeler’s actual voice.

Dibeler’s voice aside, what makes bottoms so unique and important is the hyper-political nature of their work and the shades of queer identity and experience encapsulated in the group’s lyrics.

The queer community is at a strange and significant moment in time, as we move out of the aftermath of the AIDS crisis and into an era marked by PrEP, instantaneous access to sex, mainstream transgender visibility and the legalization of same-sex marriage. As specific types of queers become more visible and our relationships with sex, institutions and governance shift, we are at a place where many people are reimagining or rethinking what it means to be queer.

bottom’s music heavily explores the intersection of this complicated history marked by violence and disease and modern day realities surrounding visibility and sex.

“We’re really interested in a lot of the culture surrounding the gay community during the time of the AIDS crisis,” Diebler told The Huffington Post. “There was a great resistance from the conservatives to acknowledge the crisis, so the gay community had to look to each other for support. I hope that bottoms can harness that same sort of energy — angry queers with a message. I think that we’re in this place as gays that’s very apathetic. Being able to fuck dudes from your phone in minutes is amazing, PrEP is amazing, but it really makes for this sort of ‘pre-AIDS-there’s-nothing-wrong’ mentality — and maybe that’s true, maybe nothing is wrong and this is the end of HIV and AIDS. But at the moment — I think we need to balance this ‘have unprotected sex with a stranger in an alley’ attitude with one of respect and care for a community that lost a huge chunk of themselves in the 90s.”

bottoms also deals with notions of shame and self-hatred, shared realities for queer people navigating the world we operate in since the beginning of time. As with any way of existing the world, it can be hard to communicate the realities of queer experience to those who haven’t felt the effects of growing up as a faggot, trans person, or anywhere along the queer spectrum. For this reason, music — or more broadly, performance — serves as an immensely valuable tool to tell these stories authentically and unapologetically and, hopefully, change our culture.

As Dark Matter mentioned in a previous installment of ASSEMBLAGE, “no matter how many policies we change, no matter how many legislations we pass, people’s hearts and minds aren’t going to change. The only way to actually change people’s hearts and minds is to engage them with feeling and emotion. Because often oppression is incredibly irrational.” Using art and performance to open a dialogue about these different shades of queer experience, like learned shame and self-hatred, is very present in the work of bottoms. The group’s first music video, “My Body,” is about the complicated relationships queer people have with their bodies, from issues of gay body shame to the spectrum of transgender identity. Brooklyn performer Macy Rodman stars in the “My Body” video, below.

Performance, of course, also serves a dual role for the performer in the exploration of their own sense of self throughout this process of authentic storytelling. Within the context of a queer punk band like bottoms, the experiences being talked — or screamed — about are tangible, real and felt by every queer person in the room. At the risk of making a claim about universal queer experience (of which there is none) it can often feel very much that the pain, struggle, freedom and history of what it means to be a queer person bleeds through bottoms’ performances in an unapologetic way that truly does connect with any random queer watching from the audience — which is truly a remarkable accomplishment for any artist.

“I’m definitely always performing — literally always,” Dibeler elabprated. “‘All the worlds a stage,’ all that bullshit. It’s true, every moment is basically a standup comedy show for me, whether you want to be there or not. bottoms doesn’t really step into a role when we get on stage, and it’s the same with my own performances. I think a reason why it’s relatable in this way is because you can actually see a real person on the stage. That’s actually why I don’t really like being on stage when I perform. I’d rather be in the audience because I think it’s important to break down that wall of this ‘We’re a band and you’re an audience and you’re here to stand and listen to us.’ We want the audience to be, like, ‘Those fags in wigs are screaming about death and disease and fear are me, and I am a part of this too.'”

bottoms

As the nature of what it means to be a queer person shifts and changes with the passing of time, one can only hope that we always have art and performance that accurately reflect the intricate nuances of what these experiences are like — politically, socially, emotionally, physically.

At this strange and complicated period for the queer community, bottoms seems to be accomplishing this in an impressive way that is not only informed by our history with AIDS, persecution and violence but also the current climate of agency and self-identification that parallels mainstream LGBT “acceptance.” We hope to see more work like this from others along the spectrum of queer performance in the future.

bottoms is currently prepping to record the group’s second EP later this summer.. Their first EP, “Goodbye,” can be found here or head here for their Soundcloud.

Missed the previous installments in ASSEMBLAGE? Check out the slideshow below.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.



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Allah Made Me Muslim; Allah Made Me Queer

Co-authored by Terna and Andrew Stehlik

“I didn’t know there was such a thing as a queer Muslim.”

Even among the most progressive, well-educated and best-intentioned individuals, this is a comment which is heard far too often. People who have no trouble understanding that lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people have existed throughout history, in every nation, culture, religion and ethnicity, still have trouble accepting someone can be both queer and a faithful believer in Islam.

Admittedly, some confusion is understandable, as the Muslim record for tolerance is not commendable. On the contrary, Sharia, which is the most orthodox form of Islamic law, can be evoked to issue a death penalty for practicing homosexuals in Muslim countries such as Iran, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. And, in 2011, when the Human Rights Council of the United Nations passed its first-ever resolution recognizing LGBTQ rights, it gained full support from the Americas and Europe, but was almost unanimously voted against by countries with a Muslim majority.

Nonetheless, there are queer Muslims, and in growing numbers they are making themselves known. The annual celebration of Ramadan (which began on June 17) coincides with Gay Pride Month this year, providing a unique opportunity to consider the current state of LGBTQ Muslims, as well as their likely future.

Why is this? Because Ramadan, which according to Islamic tradition, honors the first revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad, is not only commemorated through fasting from dawn to sunset, but is also a time known for great acts of kindness towards the neediest. Charity is very important to Islam year-round, but it is believed that good deeds performed during Ramadan are looked upon by Allah (God) with special favor.

While it takes discipline to keep one’s mouth shut and forgo all food and drink for many hours a day, it also requires bravery to open one’s mouth wide and speak up with compassion and charity for the rights of all human beings to be whole. This is what we’re attempting to do with “Coming Out Muslim: Radical Acts of Love,” a storytelling performance which has been shared on stages across the United States, and will appear at Rutgers Presbyterian Church in New York City on Wednesday, June 24.

The show’s title is deliberately ambiguous. It suggests both the self-revelation which occurs in publicly declaring one’s queer sexuality, as well as the challenges of being open about one’s faith in Islam in a post-9/11 America, where fears and suspicions linger that all Muslims are terrorists. As recently reported in The New Yorker magazine, statistics from the F.B.I. show that hate crimes against Muslims are five times as common as they were before 2001. Given this environment, it is exponentially more dangerous to proclaim, “Allah made me Muslim; Allah made me queer.”

In making such a courageous assertion, LGBTQ Muslims are becoming more visible at the intersection of faith and sexuality, joining conversations which have been underway for quite some time within Christianity and Judaism. What these three faiths have in common, of course, is not only an Abrahamic tradition but a homophobia based in large part on a single scriptural story, that of Sodom and Gomorrah.

More modern Muslim scholars, along with freer-thinking Jewish and Christian theologians, advocate interpretations indicating that the true offense shown in the story of Lot is a threat of male rape, and a violent failure to show hospitality to strangers. New attention is being paid as well to verses in the Quran which non-judgmentally describe the existence of men who have no desire for women. And, some historians now point out that in earlier Islamic societies, same-sex relationships were celebrated in love poems written by Persian, Urdu and Sufi poets.

As for those contemporary Muslims who now choose to find a rationale for the death penalty against homosexuality in the hadith, or non-Quranic stories that are attributed to Prophet Muhammad, it must be remembered there is also a hadith where the Prophet says, if anything you have heard about me makes you turn away from me, it is not from me. Violence against sexual and gender minorities is not aligned with the Prophet’s example of love and tolerance in community.

Most Americans, many Muslims, and a lot of LGBTQ people do not know that Islam has room for all of us. And, there may be quite a few who, even after hearing so, will respond, “Well, all this is unique to queer Muslims, what does this have to do with me?”

Our answer is, a lot. Because we believe that the more specific a story is, the more universal.

“Coming Out Muslim” speaks to the universal wish to be recognized as multi-layered individuals, who are parts of families and communities, who struggle and strive for wholeness. Time and time again, people come up to us after performances — men, women, heterosexuals, gays and lesbians, Christians and atheists — and tell us exactly this.

Coming out, then, is really about letting the world know who you are. So, yes, there are queer Muslims!

By taking pride in this, change can occur, and love can grow.

2015-06-22-1435009273-6271717-COMINGOUTMUSLIMTerna.jpg

Terna, photographed by Patrick Mulcahy Photography

Also on HuffPost:

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

Chemistry.com gay - First Date 300x250

Allah Made Me Muslim; Allah Made Me Queer

Co-authored by Terna and Andrew Stehlik

“I didn’t know there was such a thing as a queer Muslim.”

Even among the most progressive, well-educated and best-intentioned individuals, this is a comment which is heard far too often. People who have no trouble understanding that lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people have existed throughout history, in every nation, culture, religion and ethnicity, still have trouble accepting someone can be both queer and a faithful believer in Islam.

Admittedly, some confusion is understandable, as the Muslim record for tolerance is not commendable. On the contrary, Sharia, which is the most orthodox form of Islamic law, can be evoked to issue a death penalty for practicing homosexuals in Muslim countries such as Iran, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. And, in 2011, when the Human Rights Council of the United Nations passed its first-ever resolution recognizing LGBTQ rights, it gained full support from the Americas and Europe, but was almost unanimously voted against by countries with a Muslim majority.

Nonetheless, there are queer Muslims, and in growing numbers they are making themselves known. The annual celebration of Ramadan (which began on June 17) coincides with Gay Pride Month this year, providing a unique opportunity to consider the current state of LGBTQ Muslims, as well as their likely future.

Why is this? Because Ramadan, which according to Islamic tradition, honors the first revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad, is not only commemorated through fasting from dawn to sunset, but is also a time known for great acts of kindness towards the neediest. Charity is very important to Islam year-round, but it is believed that good deeds performed during Ramadan are looked upon by Allah (God) with special favor.

While it takes discipline to keep one’s mouth shut and forgo all food and drink for many hours a day, it also requires bravery to open one’s mouth wide and speak up with compassion and charity for the rights of all human beings to be whole. This is what we’re attempting to do with “Coming Out Muslim: Radical Acts of Love,” a storytelling performance which has been shared on stages across the United States, and will appear at Rutgers Presbyterian Church in New York City on Wednesday, June 24.

The show’s title is deliberately ambiguous. It suggests both the self-revelation which occurs in publicly declaring one’s queer sexuality, as well as the challenges of being open about one’s faith in Islam in a post-9/11 America, where fears and suspicions linger that all Muslims are terrorists. As recently reported in The New Yorker magazine, statistics from the F.B.I. show that hate crimes against Muslims are five times as common as they were before 2001. Given this environment, it is exponentially more dangerous to proclaim, “Allah made me Muslim; Allah made me queer.”

In making such a courageous assertion, LGBTQ Muslims are becoming more visible at the intersection of faith and sexuality, joining conversations which have been underway for quite some time within Christianity and Judaism. What these three faiths have in common, of course, is not only an Abrahamic tradition but a homophobia based in large part on a single scriptural story, that of Sodom and Gomorrah.

More modern Muslim scholars, along with freer-thinking Jewish and Christian theologians, advocate interpretations indicating that the true offense shown in the story of Lot is a threat of male rape, and a violent failure to show hospitality to strangers. New attention is being paid as well to verses in the Quran which non-judgmentally describe the existence of men who have no desire for women. And, some historians now point out that in earlier Islamic societies, same-sex relationships were celebrated in love poems written by Persian, Urdu and Sufi poets.

As for those contemporary Muslims who now choose to find a rationale for the death penalty against homosexuality in the hadith, or non-Quranic stories that are attributed to Prophet Muhammad, it must be remembered there is also a hadith where the Prophet says, if anything you have heard about me makes you turn away from me, it is not from me. Violence against sexual and gender minorities is not aligned with the Prophet’s example of love and tolerance in community.

Most Americans, many Muslims, and a lot of LGBTQ people do not know that Islam has room for all of us. And, there may be quite a few who, even after hearing so, will respond, “Well, all this is unique to queer Muslims, what does this have to do with me?”

Our answer is, a lot. Because we believe that the more specific a story is, the more universal.

“Coming Out Muslim” speaks to the universal wish to be recognized as multi-layered individuals, who are parts of families and communities, who struggle and strive for wholeness. Time and time again, people come up to us after performances — men, women, heterosexuals, gays and lesbians, Christians and atheists — and tell us exactly this.

Coming out, then, is really about letting the world know who you are. So, yes, there are queer Muslims!

By taking pride in this, change can occur, and love can grow.

2015-06-22-1435009273-6271717-COMINGOUTMUSLIMTerna.jpg

Terna, photographed by Patrick Mulcahy Photography

Also on HuffPost:

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

Chemistry.com gay - First Date 300x250

This Father’s Day, This Is What Queer Dads Want You To Know

Father’s Day was first celebrated in 1910, and what it means to be a dad, in some ways, has shifted dramatically in the last century, along with our definition of family. Today families come in all sizes and shapes and so do dads.

To commemorate Father’s Day, we reached out to you— our readers—and asked those of you who identify as dads, whether gay, bi, trans, or otherwise situated within the queer community to share your experiences using the hashtag #queerdadswantu2know.

What is it that queer dads want the world to know about their journey to and through fatherhood? How do they celebrate the joys and challenges of parenting? What have they learned by being dads? Find out by reading some of our favorite responses below.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

Chemistry.com gay - First Date 300x250

10 Children’s Books That Paved The Way For A New Queer Protagonist

lgbtqchildrenslitfinal

In Kendrick Daye and Myles E. Johnson’s Large Fears, Jeremiah Nebula may not be a bullfrog. But he is the queer, black protagonist of a children’s picture book — a genre traditionally dominated by heterosexual, cisgender, white characters. Although the politics of representation is an issue for all literary forms, parent sensitivity has made materials for young readers particularly resistant to plots that question gender, sexuality or the institution of the family.

Daye and Johnson were frustrated with those age-old patterns, so they decided to create new ones. Their recent Kickstarter campaign casts the project as both subtle and radical. Jeremiah, they say coyly, is just a boy who loves pink. But they also stress how his queer, black identity makes him “a character that defies gender roles, race politics, sexuality, and his fears.”

Jeremiah’s story builds on over 30 years of children’s books that portray LGBTQ characters, translating complex issues of gender and sexuality to an accessible, picture-heavy format. These books, though, reveal far more than cutesy anecdotes. They are instructional, cathartic, and ethical, explaining different family models, connecting children with LGBTQ identities or parents to fictional counterparts, and teaching values of acceptance at impressionable ages.

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Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin by Susanne Bösche (1981)
This black-and-white Danish photobook was arguably the first to feature gay characters. Two men raise their daughter, Jenny, whose biological mother lives nearby and visits from time to time. Most events are normal children’s books fare like laundry-folding and surprise birthday parties. But the characters also deal with a homophobic comment from a stranger in the street.

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Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesléa Newman and Diana Souza (1989)
Like Bösche’s story, this one follows a child with same-sex parents. New plot points include artificial insemination and an inclusive discussion at Heather’s playgroup about different family structures. In real-life playgroups, the response to this book was far less benign: the story rocked the U.S., and the resulting controversy led to extensive parodies including a “Simpsons” version: “Bart Has Two Mommies.”

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Asha’s Mums by Rosamund Elwin, Michele Paulse and Dawn Lee (1990)
Asha needs to get a permission slip signed by her mother, but she is perplexed when she must decide which of her two moms to ask. While Heather was lucky enough to have an accepting playgroup, Asha confronts a far less hospitable school — and world. It’s a tale for anyone whose family does not fit into educational bureaucracy, and Asha’s African-Canadian identity marks a decisive step away from lily-white characters.

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Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite (1991)
You might recognize the name from the 2008 presidential campaign when it “came out” that Sarah Palin, back in her 1995 councilwoman days, had said the book should not be permitted in public libraries. Why? There’s a gay relationship between the the father and his new roommate-actually-boyfriend, Frank. Plus it all starts off with a divorce and arrives at a pretty clear message: “Being gay is just one more kind of love.”

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King & King by Linda De Haan and Stern Nijland (2002)
Originally published in Dutch, this book offered both a new take on the royal marriage story, with a gay child rather than just gay parents. “I’ve never cared much for princesses,” says the princely protagonist, as he finds a series of potential wives paraded in front of him by his wedding-hungry mother. Then, he spots one of the princesses’ brothers. They are soon crowned King and King, and the story ends with a subversive same-sex kiss — which launched a series of conservative campaigns to ban the book.

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One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad, Blue Dads by Johnny Valentine and Melody Sarecky (2004)
Instead of focusing on a single storyline, the book features two kids comparing different paternal figures. “Blue,” it turns out, is a not-so-subtle euphemism for “gay,” and the children slowly come to the realization that all skin-colors and sexual identities are equally valid. (Bonus points for the enchanting Seussical rhyming scheme.)

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And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell and Henry Cole (2005)
A tale of two male penguins who are chick-less until a zookeeper helps them adopt Tango from a heterosexual couple. Animals are always one of the easier ways to discuss unconventional storylines, but that didn’t stop Singapore from banning the book along with two others last year. In fact, it’s ranked third on ALA’s list of “Most challenged books of the 21st century,” which is hard to explain considering how heartwarming these polar birds are. Did we mention it’s based on real gay penguins at the Central Park Zoo?

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10,000 Dresses by Marcus Ewert and Rex Ray (2008)
Bailey is a boy by day who, at night, dreams of cross-dressing. His night-time escapades are rebuked by his family, until he finds a seamstress in playmate Laurel. Bailey’s story is an early forerunner to Jeremiah’s, for it broke from the gay-character plot to examine what it meant to be a gender-queer child.

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My New Mommy by Lilly Mossiano and Sage Mossiano (2012)
Who says transgender identity can’t be explained to young children? Four-year-old Violet has a transitioning father who carefully walks her — and us — through the process. Like Daye and Johnson, Mossiano was frustrated with the lack of children’s materials, so she took matters into her own hands. She challenged herself to make the content accessible to a young audience, but the real challenge is the one she posed to traditional portrayals of gender in children’s books.

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Call Me Tree by Maya Christina Gonzalez (2014)

The third in a trilogy that opted for gender neutral pronouns, providing what the writer called a “much needed break from the constant boy-girl assumptions and requirements.” Gonzalez took another decisive step away from the “gay parent” trend and gave us an unambiguously ambiguous gender-queer character. Her engagement with the Chicano identity also departed from the classic whiteness of LGBTQ children’s characters.

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Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino and Isabelle Malenfant (2014)

Like Bailey, Morris has a penchant for gender-queer behavior. He loves to wear the title’s orange garment but his fashion choices leave him open to relentless teasing from his classmates. Tensions escalate, and Morris becomes physically ill from the psychological pain. Though his imagination helps him triumph in the end, the book’s real triumph is that it gives a harsh and realistic account of queer bullying.

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The Queer Teen Who Ran Away from Home, Joined a Cabaret, and Became an Seattle Nightlife Icon

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One of the first friends I met when I moved to Seattle was Zak, standing by a urinal trough wearing golden armor down one arm and shiny metallic underwear. To be fair, it was Halloween; but since then I’ve seen him dress similarly on more than one occasion since then. He’s just that kind of star.

I was lucky enough to interview Zak this week for The Sewers of Paris, my podcast about entertainment that’s changed the lives of gay men. I didn’t know it when we met, but it had taken Zak years and a lot of searching to become the amazing man I met at The Eagle on Halloween night. Our conversation on this week’s episode is all about his upbringing in a house full of strippers, running away to become a homeless youth for several years, and eventually finding himself in the underground cabaret culture of Seattle.

That kind of teenage hunt for identity is fertile ground for exploration in movies and TV. Take, for example, the perfect (and therefore doomed) TV show Freaks and Geeks. It’s the story of a high school student named Lindsay — a good kid who suddenly realizes that she’s growing up into someone who is not the mild-mannered girl she’d always been.

She starts rejecting her well-behaved friends in favor of the bad kids. She lets her schoolwork slip, she dabbles with misbehavior, and she does her best to make her parents worry. Throughout the show’s one and only season, Lindsay’s torn between the safe, secure life she’d always led, and that of the freaks: dangerous, disobedient, uninhibited and also unstable.

Lindsay finds herself running away from one life before she really knows what life she’s running to. And so she explores a series of costumes, new outfits, new language, new friends. Lindsay does the same thing Zak did — the same thing we all do when we’re becoming adults, to varying degrees. When we’re teenagers, we’re turning into a stranger, a grown-up we’ve never met. So we adopt new clothes and surround ourselves with friends in the hopes that these things will reveal to us who the heck we’re going to be.

And while adolescence is about searching and transformation, adulthood — hopefully — is when you discover the person you’ve become.

That brings me to my second recommendation of this week’s episode: the 1994 film Ed Wood, one of the most wonderful movies ever made. Tim Burton’s semi-true dramatization tells the story of Ed, an outcast in a lovely angora sweater. He’s a cross-dresser making a series of movies so strange that they will probably be remembered for hundreds of years as the weirdest visions ever committed to film.

Ed carries his secret deep down inside, never letting on that this is who he is. And like any attempt to deny yourself, Ed’s secret tears him up.

It’s only when he reveals himself — his true self — that things start going Ed’s way. In part, that’s because he’s been lucky enough to have cultivated a circle of people as weird as he is. His friends are freaks, and they like it that way. A vampire hostess, a local psychic, a meathead wrestler and a strange homosexual: Grown-up freaks who’ve decided that it’s better to live authentically as weirdos for themselves than try to squeeze into an a ridiculous business suit.

When Ed embraces his secret, he’s embraced by his friends. And he can finally embrace himself. The real himself. It’s means he can finally be Ed Wood, dressed in heels and panties and a delicate sweater. Just like he’d been doing all along in his heart.

None of this is to say that costumes are bad and dress-up is wrong, as long as you control the costume and not the other way around. By all means, go out, search, wear a suit or a skirt or a mohawk or crop-top.

Just remember to look in a mirror every now and then and ask the question Zak asked himself: do my outsides match my insides?

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FABRICATIONS: Meet Queer Fashion Designer And Artist Ben Copperwheat

This is the twelfth installment in a miniseries titled “FABRICATIONS” that elevates the work of up-and-coming queer individuals working in the fashion world. Check back at HuffPost Gay Voices regularly to learn more about some of the designers of tomorrow and the way their work in fashion intersects with their queer identity.

Originally hailing from the United Kingdom, Ben Copperwheat is a queer fashion designer and artist living and working in New York City. His clothing is heavily informed by both his background in screen printing and his work throughout a variety of facets of the fashion industry, and his designs have appeared on the likes of Boy George, Liza Minnelli and Pat Cleveland. Read the interview below to learn more.

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The Huffington Post: What has your journey as a queer artist and fashion designer entailed?
Ben Copperwheat: I was born in Luton, England, 30 miles north of London and lived the first 28 years of my life in the United Kingdom. I had an interest in art at a very young age and drew pictures of Disney characters in my childhood and Madonna in my teens while listening to the pop music my mum would play. At 18 I enrolled in the local art college and, with the nurturing of wonderful tutors, I went on to complete a bachelor’s degree in Creative Arts at Bath Spa University. My aspirations led me to London and the Royal College Of Art of which I graduated with an MA in Printed Textiles in 2001. This jumpstarted my career and since then my journey has been a wondrous ride of exploration and growth.

After graduating I taught textiles for fashion at Northumbria University in England. This was great as I enjoy working with students, but it also enabled me to pursue print design projects with a variety of different people and companies. After two years working in London I felt ready for a big change. It doesn’t get much bigger than New York City! I had visited New York twice before and had fallen in love with its fizzy energy and sky-high possibilities. My cousin was already living in NYC, so this made the transition easier.

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Upon arrival in 2003 I applied for jobs, and almost immediately I was offered a position as a print designer at Calvin Klein Jeans. I worked at CKJ for five years and I had a great time. I learned a huge amount about the fashion industry, met some lifelong friends and travelled the world to cities such as Tokyo, Hong Kong, Berlin, Paris, London, Barcelona, Dehli and Jaipur, shopping for inspiration. During my time at CKJ I also designed print collections for Stephen Burrows, Sue Stemp and Peter Som. In 2008 I desired more freedom so I left my job and transitioned to a freelance print designer.

In 2009, in partnership with my cousin Lee Copperwheat, came the formation of the clothing label COPPERWHEAT. We produced five seasons for New York Fashion Week in a variety of venues including Soho Grand Hotel, the Maritime Hotel and Cappellini store in SoHo. This was a huge learning curve, a tumultuous ride, the outcome of which was some beautifully made, very cool clothes. Ultimately, this label and partnership was not meant to be. In 2012 we went our separate ways, at which point I threw my creative energy into what I know best: screen printing. This juncture felt like a new beginning, and came with it a freedom of expression more vibrant and unrestrained than I had previously experienced. With a print area built into my duplex apartment in Bushwick, I went for leather and printed clothing, wallpaper and interior fabrics. I started selling pieces in Patricia Field’s store on the Bowery and producing commissioned outfits for clients.

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Where have your designs appeared?
Through my work with Stephen Burrows, my prints have adorned the bodies of Liza Minnelli, Pat Cleveland, Gail O’Neill, Alva Chinn, Anna Cleveland and Lily Cole. With the label COPPERWHEAT we were featured in Dazed, Surface Magazine, Vogue Italia, Style.com, collaborated with Palladium Boots, Singer Miguel and Bruno Mars. For my own brand, Ben Copperwheat, my prints have been worn by NBA star Russell Westbrook, commissioned for Will Sheridan, Rod Thomas of Bright Light Bright Light and, most recently, I designed the stage outfit for the Boy George/Culture Club reunion tour and merchandise T-Shirts. Boy George debuted this outfit on “American Idol” in March 2015.

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What does it mean to you to be a queer designer? How does your queer identity intersect with your work?
Queer has always been a tough word for me to embrace, as growing up in England I was bullied for my sexuality from as early as I can remember to the age of 8. Queer was one of the words I was called, along with “bent” and “puffter.” I feel, as time goes on, the word “queer” is becoming more of a friend. So, therefore, to be a queer designer, living in New York City is a gift. I feel incredibly grateful to have the freedom to express myself through my clothing, art and interactions in such a vibrant culture — especially when there is so much oppression and suffering throughout the world. I have been openly gay/queer for over 20 years, so my queer identity is without a doubt synonymous with my work. Bright color and graphic pattern are predominant features in my designs, which is not the norm in current fashion and art. I feel “queer” represents that which is not the norm.

Who does Ben Copperwheat design for? Who is your audience and how do your designs cater to them?
I design for anyone who is looking for something different and visually exciting. My designs are a cross between artistic streetwear and high-end fashion. Whomever wears them brings their own personality and dimension to the prints. I have fans and clients of all ages and backgrounds. I wear my designs daily as I find this to be the most comfortable form of self-expression and I am regularly stopped on the street by a cross-section of admirers. I am inspired by the world around me — in particular New York City — and I feel my work reflects this.

Historically the fashion world has been extremely queer friendly — what role do you think the fashion world has played within mainstream acceptance of LGBT identity?
I feel it definitely has played a part in mainstream acceptance, especially Vivienne Westwood, with her embracement of all things queer. Also, other designers in tandem with popular music, specifically artists such as Madonna working with Jean Paul Gaultier, Lady Gaga with Alexander McQueen, Pet Shop Boys with Jeffrey Bryant to name a few. On the other hand, designers such as Dolce & Gabanna and Giorgio Armani are trying to turn the clock back with recent comments. Such is the push and pull nature of progress.

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What does the future hold for Ben Copperwheat?
With 15 years working as a designer and turning 40 this coming September, I feel that I am only just starting to realize my full creative potential. To be an artist/designer is a lifelong vocation, so with, I hope, at least another 40 years left on this planet I have many great things to come. I am currently in a group show curated by my friend Walt Cessna, “#INTERFACE Queer Artists Forming Communities Through Social Media” at the Leslie-Lohman Museum in New York. I am also planning work for a solo art show in NYC. I would like to show solo again at NYFW when the time feels right — branch out more into interiors (wallpaper/murals/fabrics). I am turning my apartment into a “museum” of my work, where every surface is printed/painted. Design costume and sets for theater. Get back to painting — I started out as a painter while at art school. Continue to nurture relationships with recording artists and performers and design more stage outfits. My ethos is that prints can be applied to anything. The nature of my work is very versatile, and I intend to continue to evolve in this way.

Want to see more from Ben Copperwheat? Head here to check out the website. Missed the previous installments in this miniseries? Check out the slideshow below.

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Style – The Huffington Post
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Sarah Deragon’s ‘The Identity Project’ Challenges The Way We Think About Queer Identity

“The Identity Project,” from photographer Sarah Deragon, challenges the way that we compartmentalize and think about queerness and identity.

The photo series captures the way subjects want to present themselves to the world around them and communicate their personal ways of self-identifying. Mainstream understandings of what it means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) tend to be narrow and specific, but with “The Identity Project,” we can see the infinite shades and hues of queerness that make up the spectrum of human identity.

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The Huffington Post chatted with Deragon this week about her work and how the project has grown.

The Huffington Post: What is your driving vision for The Identity Project?
Sarah Deragon: My main vision for The Identity Project is to expand what we normally understand to be the LGBTQ communities. I wanted to create a photo project that allowed participants to self-identify and stand up and be seen for who they really are. I honestly thought that the project would be a small collection of 50 or so photographs, but the response to the project was so profound that I decided to expand it and travel to several US cities like New York City, Portland, Chicago and soon Austin to photograph more people. I imagine that this will be an ongoing project for me throughout my lifetime.

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Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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Nicolette Mason Proves Why Queer Voices Matter In Fashion

The fashion industry is quick to embrace new trends, colors and styles. But when it comes to including diverse voices and physical representations, the stylish set still fails.

PBS Digital Studios’ “First Person” series sets up conversations about gender, sexuality and queerness in our cultural landscape. In this week’s episode, “Queering Fashion,” host Kristin Russo (of Everyone Is Gay fame) talks to writer and entrepreneur Nicolette Mason, BuzzFeed beauty editor and writer Arabelle Sicardi and Rae Tutera of The Handsome Butch.

The conversation touched on many fascinating points but an interesting exchange occurred when Russo asked what the fashion industry needs to do in order to change the narrow way in which queer style is defined.

“Personally, I would love to stop seeing the centering and prioritizing of thin, white masculine-of-center, affluent bodies,” Mason said.

While Mason added that that particular group should be represented, she continued, saying, “There are so many other identities and cultures and body types and shapes and expressions that exist in the queer community and they’re so rarely put front and center.”

Sicardi and Tutera agreed, noting that androgyny doesn’t necessarily mean looking masculine or feminine, but depends on how a person chooses to define it.

Watch the rest of the video above and catch up on “First Person,” which airs on YouTube on Thursdays.
Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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ASSEMBLAGE: Meet Queer Artist And Musician NEOCAMP

“ASSEMBLAGE“ is an inquiry into the different ways artists utilize performance and technology to explore and express different notions of identity. An effort to push forward marginalized artists with a focus on people of color, non-western nationalities and those along the queer/trans spectrum, “ASSEMBLAGE” provides a platform for analysis of how art and performance intersect with the lives of these individuals who are visibly and openly existing in the digital age. This is the first installment.

Irish-born artist and musician NEOCAMP has an other-worldly, ethereal aesthetic that gently demands your attention whenever he walks into the room. He has spent the past two years living and working in New York City, having never truly felt like his life had begun until moving there in 2012.

Queer individuals have routinely and historically been oppressed by the social and political climate in Ireland and they largely still experience these realities today. For this reason, NEOCAMP had few outlets to connect with other queer individuals or artists throughout his adolescence, except for one — the Internet.

“Before leaving Ireland I was living purely through my work, which I think is true for a lot of queer artists living in small, repressed countries,” NEOCAMP told The Huffington Post. “In Ireland I completely lived through the Internet. My Internet friends were really the only people in my life that I felt a commonality with in terms of what kind of work I was doing and what I was interested in. Then I came to New York and found an incredible, like-minded community and haven’t really looked back.”

NEOCAMP is a part of a generation of artists who have found the Internet not only formative to their work, but fundamental to notions of queer community-building on a global level. This loose grouping of artists, who are largely stepping into the spotlight at this moment in time, are responsible for an understanding of cultural production that critics describe as Post-Internet. At its foundation, Post-Internet is a term used to talk about work that moves beyond using cyberspace to just create one’s work, but utilizing the tools of the Internet age to provide commentary about other subjects and create tangible work in the real world.

In a similar way to how cultural notions of identity informed and shaped the trajectory of the Internet, the Internet is now informing notions of identity and shaping culture. Creators in specific parts of the world have rapid and instantaneous access to both information and one another. This reality has laid the groundwork for an age of radical agency and self-determination, as well as the ability to craft an idealized version of oneself in an infinite number of ways on the Web. Feeding these ideas back into a real, lived performance framework is at the heart of NEOCAMP.

The name itself — NEOCAMP — references both camp and theatricality. It instantly conjures up and activates the notion that the style and sensibility of camp as a mode of performance informs his work as an artist, as well as signaling his queer identity. He explained to The Huffington Post that NEOCAMP functions as a collation of systems of camp — a way of consuming and performing culture with a sense of irony but also with a sense of sincerity.

“I’m really interested in this idea of traditional camp as being this mode of operation for queer culture as a way of debunking the straight patriarchy,” NEOCAMP elaborated. “There’s a lot of commonalities between traditional camp sensibilities and contemporary web culture — using these ironic tropes as a way to subvert these mainstream systems. Meme culture, in particular, is inextricably linked to this history of camp… there’s so many links for me between these kind of drag sensibilities and queer performance as entertainment and this kind of avatar online experience.”

In this way, NEOCAMP utilizes the tools of the Post-Internet age to inform his work as a performer and musician tangibly in the real world. Performance, to NEOCAMP, is not only a way of exploring identity in the digital age, but a way to creatively articulate what it means to be queer through a framework of camp sensibilities.

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Apart from this, NEOCAMP’s work and performance of camp also serves as a platform for questioning — a questioning of what an imagined, idealized future could look like for queer people. The tropes of ironic “selfie-dom” and “avatar as god” that are prevalent throughout his work play on, what he views as, prevalent narcissism and self-involvement, not just within the queer community but as a larger social observation informed by the rise of technology.

“For queer performers, it’s often been this kind of play on narcissism and identity that’s such a huge topic for queers,” he elaborated. “I do feel like there’s some sort of power play or an attempt to create this kind of perfected self as a kind of an armor, but also as a futuristic ideal or trying to create a vision of what is possible… I’ve become really interested in trying to play my work into this kind of expected pop language and make it digestible whilst all the while trying to propose a somewhat avant-garde idea of what it is to be a person.”

But what about the role of queer performers in the trajectory of the mainstream lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) movement? NEOCAMP doesn’t think that, as a culture, we are anywhere near a nuanced or liberating understanding of queerness.

“I feel like people are willing to tolerate queers but they’re not willing to buy into them. They’re still seen as ‘other’ and I feel like we’re far away from mainstream audiences being ready to try to understand and identify with queer performers, artists and musicians across the board… That is part of the much larger battle that we’re facing now.”

NEOCAMP is currently working on an album, “wavewave,” with an expected release date at some point this year. Head here to visit his Instagram or here for his Twitter. Check HuffPost Gay Voices next weekend for the second installment in “ASSEMBLAGE” and a continued analysis of the intersections of art, performance, queerness, identity and technology.
Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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At Williams College, Andy Warhol Casts His Queer Eye On Books

This article originally appeared on artnet News.
by Blake Gopnik

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THE DAILY PIC: These two images are from the exhibition called “Warhol by the Book“, which opened on the weekend at the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, Mass., as a collaboration with the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. (A smaller version will also travel to the Morgan Library in New York.) Today’s two Pics are for book covers, one realized and one not, and capture one of the most important take-homes from this important show about Warhol and publishing: That Andy’s work, especially in the 1950s, was deeply bound up with his being gay, and was usually best when it was gay-est. (When it’s completely “straight”, as with his children’s book illustrations, it can often be undistinguished.)

The book cover at right was for a novel of Venice called The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole, written by Frederick Rolfe, the “Baron Corvo”, in about 1913 and re-published in 1953 by New Directions Books, which used Warhol on a number of projects. In his forward to the volume, the gay poet W. H. Auden said that the book gives a view of the world “through the eyes of a homosexual paranoid.” Warhol’s cover gets at the subtle tensions involved in being gay in 1950s New York (or turn-of-the-century Venice): The two men in the image are close as they could be shown but, as it were, no cigar. As curator and archivist Matt Wrbican has discovered, Warhol gave a copy of the cover to his close gay friend Ralph “Corkie” Ward, with the smaller figure inscribed “This is a drawing of you.”

The image at left, inscribed with the words “Fat Fairies: A Book for Fairies”, is most probably a first idea for the cover of a self-published artist’s book that Warhol finally produced as In the Bottom of my Garden – a reference to the song “There are Fairies in the Bottom of Our Garden”, from the repertoire of the comic singer Beatrice Lillie, but leaving out the title’s one crucial word. (Warhol once depicted Lillie.) The original cover idea may have been too direct even for Warhol’s most intimate, and mostly queer, circle. Anyway, the circumlocutions, misdirections and obliquities that were forced on Warhol by his culture’s homophobia led him to devise an art of glorious misdirection, circumlocution and obliquity, whatever its subject matter or audience. (Fat Fairies is from The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, founding collection, contribution of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.; Desire and Pursuit of the Whole is also from The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, gift of Matt Wrbican)

For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

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artnet News is the world’s first global, 24-hour art newswire, dedicated to informing, engaging, and connecting the most avid members of the art community with daily news and expert commentary.

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Queer and Muslim

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Coming of Faith believes in the power of stories. We’re founded on a simple idea: minority voices deserve to be heard in an inclusive and thought provoking space. This article was originally published on Coming of Faith.

On our first date, she asked me if I believed in God.

I told her that I did, but I wasn’t sure about religion.

She, too, was raised culturally Muslim. She told me that she didn’t drink alcohol, that she prayed regularly, and that her relationship with God was very important to her.

I was quite surprised that we were talking about this on our first date. Both of us were comfortably “out” to our friends and were involved in social justice activism – where sexual politics are familiar topics – but I wasn’t used to discussing my relationship with religion and faith in this context.

The first time that I fell in love with a woman, God was with me every step of the way.

From the moment I saw her, I thought she was adorable. There was something special about her that made me want to introduce myself to her. As soon as we started talking, we clicked. It was instantaneous and magnetic and ever since then I just wanted to be close to her. I wanted to get to know her, I wanted to spend time with her. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I didn’t want to lose the feeling that I had with her – a sense of optimism and hope, excitement of what could be.

It wasn’t my first time crushing on a woman, it wouldn’t even be my first relationship with a woman, but there was something with her that I couldn’t explain or articulate. She just got me. We understood each other in a way that I had never experienced. After only a week of knowing each other, she told me that she had never felt as comfortable with another person as she did with me.

Everything was so natural with her. I had never felt so fully understood and appreciated before – and I know how corny that sounds, but when you’re in love you’re corny, and I was happy to embrace my corniness, because I loved her.

Of course, I wanted her in every way that you can want someone romantically. But even when she held my hand or tucked my hair behind my ear, it felt like the most intimate thing in the world to me. I was in love with her, and I think it was mutual.

Being with her made me brave. I experienced the fullness of being loved, and the fullness of my capacity to love another person. It was a short relationship but it was incredibly meaningful to me. I thank God for bringing her into my life.

Breaking up with her was devastating. The day after, I could barely get out of bed. My heart hurt so much I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t sleep on my bed because it reminded me of her. I didn’t want to walk through my neighborhood because every street and every place still had her memory attached to it. What got me through the heartbreak was praying to Allah. I repeated my favorite hadith until the pain stopped : اللهُمَّ لا سَهْلَ إلا مَا جَعَلتَهُ سَهْلا وَ أنتَ تَجْعَلُ الحزْنَ إذا شِئْتَ سَهْلا “O Allah! There is nothing easy except what You make easy, and You make the difficult easy if it be Your Will”

Faith and spirituality were a huge part of this experience. I never doubted the sacredness of our relationship. Our relationship made me want to be more honest, compassionate, understanding, and generous: values that I believe are inherently Islamic. She was a good person, and being with her made me feel closer to God.

I am not going to argue about how my feelings or behavior may be judged by anyone else, but I believe that Allah is the most just, the most compassionate, the most merciful, the loving, the all-knowing.

I’m not here to give a sermon about coming to terms with my sexuality. I’ve been aware of my potential attraction to women as long as I can remember. I can’t point to a moment in time where everything changed and I realized “oh, I’m queer!” but I remember when I was about twelve I became more cognizant of my attraction to boys, and then I realized that the feelings I had towards some girls was the same as that.

I tried to convince myself that the bi-curious thing was a phase. Of course you like her, she’s beautiful and kind! It doesn’t mean you’re into girls! Well, it’s been over ten years and the phase hasn’t passed.

Sometimes even now it’s hard to draw the line between “wow she’s a lovely human being – I admire her and want to spend lots of time with her” and “I really want to be her girlfriend.” I think most heterosexual women have experienced the former.

Religion and culture have always been intertwined for me. I could never give up my religion, as it would mean losing my culture and my family too. I would never want to make that sacrifice. I don’t need to be “out” to my family or community for me to feel like I am being true to myself. I think the insistence or focus on being “out” reflects an individualistic, Eurocentric paradigm. I accept myself as I am, and I believe that God does too – that’s what is important to me.

I am Muslim. I identify as such because that’s what makes me feel safe and whole. I have issues with the way our religion has been interpreted and practiced by many, but I believe that my relationship with God is what truly matters. I frankly don’t care what any imam or scholar says about how queer people “fit in” in Islam, whether there is a space for us, or whatever texts may or may not apply to us. My space in Islam is established by virtue of my existence. I am Muslim, so Islam has a space for me. My relationship with God and my sexuality are not at odds with one another. As far as I am concerned, there is no conflict.

Like everyone else, I am in a constant process of evolving and trying to better myself. I think we should learn and grow from our experiences, and my relationship with her made me grow as a person and as a Muslim. I know that Allah is with me and will guide me through my life and my relationships, regardless of the gender of my partner.

Mithleya is a queer, desi, Muslim, cis-woman living in North America. Queer is an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities that are not heterosexual, or gender-binary. Mithleya identifies as queer because she finds this an inclusive term for her romantic and sexual preferences. She defines her queer identity as a potential sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction towards a person of any sex or gender identity.
Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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