Why the “T” belongs in LGBT

I recently read an article that stated that people who are Transgender should not be counted as part of the LGBT movement.

This article was in response to Caitlyn  Jenner. As most of us well know, Caitlyn Jenner does not support gay marriage. This makes little sense to those in the LGBT community.

Now this article suggests that people in the community are confused because many of us believe that being Transgender means you are gay. Or, in other words, that being Transgender directly ties to your sexuality. But that’s not why I believe that Transgender individuals belong in this community.

There were two people who changed the world by sparking the Stonewall riots (without which LGBT activism as we know it would not exist today.) One of those people was Sylvia Rivera.

Sylvie Rivera was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, and the co-founder of STAR (dedicated in part to helping trans women of color). She was also gender fluid.

What does this mean? It means that Transgender issues have been tied with the LGBT community since its conception. The community as we know it literally would not exist.

Unfortunately, although a Transgender rights activist had a pivotal role in sparking the gay rights movement, Transgender rights are still woefully absent from our society.

This is where the LGBT community comes in. We can change history again the way it was changed at Stonewall; it’s already starting.

We need to repay the Transgender community for what they did for us by doing the same for them. We don’t need the “T” out of LGBT, we need it to be front and center.

TV Review: MTV’s “Faking It”

Like many people, my initial exposure to MTV’s show Faking It was the controversy it raised as a result of its subject matter. And, again, like many people, I avoided the show altogether. But after reading a little more into what the show actually involved, I gave it a chance. I found myself watching all of season one in one night, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Faking It is not a perfect show, it’s far from it. But it’s much more than I was expecting from MTV. We’re talking about the MTV that gave us the debacle that was the American version of Skins. The MTV that introduced the world to Teen Mom. The very same network that is still derided, a decade later, for their decision to stop running music videos. So, needless to say, I went into Faking It with very low expectations.

To explain why my expectations were so low to start with, I have to give the basic premise of the show, so here goes.

Faking It is about two (very close) best friends who decide to fake being lesbians to become popular.

There it is, the basic premise. This is something that could have easily been done by following a formula, and thereby offend a large amount of people; but Faking It takes this premise and turns it on its head.

Karma, a girl who is unhappy with her social standing in high school (big surprise) enlists her reluctant best friend Amy to pretend to be her girlfriend after the two are (mistakenly) outed at a house party. The two girls quickly find themselves thrust into popularity at their Austin, Texas high school. Soon They are nominated to be homecoming queens, and it’s at this nomination ceremony where everything changes.

At the behest of the large, cheering crowd, Amy and Karma kiss to prove their “Relationship” is the real deal. And while Karma is ecstatic that their kiss was believable, Amy finds herself reevaluating her feelings for her best friend. And thus ends the first episode of Faking It.

This seems, again, like it could go very, very wrong. But, fortunately, for the most part, it doesn’t. What first sets this show apart is the acting, especially from Rita Volk, as Amy. The rest of the cast does a decent job, most are relatively believable, but Volk stands out all on her own. She captures the role of someone suffering from unrequited love perfectly, and she really sells her character.

The writing also isn’t too bad, and while some jokes fall flat, most of the dialogue is solid, and the characters are varied. So, let’s start with what else this show does right.

Aside from the acting and writing, there’s the characters themselves.

Every character feels like their own person. You’ll never hear Amy saying something Karma would say, and vice versa, and, most importantly, no character is truly a stereotype. Sure, they have stereotypical qualities, but those are (wonderfully) parodied with each passing episode. But I think the best characters are the ones you’d normally root against.

Amy has a very Christian, and very rude stepsister named Lauren. And she is wonderful. She’s mean, and crude, and just an all around bitch, but she’s not a bigot. Her Christianity is just a part of who she is, and it’s not overall part of what makes her a bad person, the writers are content with letting her actions play that out. But at the same time, she is sympathetic. We see her soften around her gay best friend (because of course she has one), and she’s even sometimes nice to Amy. Which brings us to the “Good” characters.

I have to admit, at first glance I hated Karma. She’s just the kind of attention seeker that makes you find her insufferable, and sometimes downright nasty. But, her attempts at popularity do make her somewhat endearing, and when she’s around Amy, she shines. We see how warm and decent she can be when shes with her best friend, and, as a result, we see part of what Amy loves about her. Karma is very, very flawed, but deep down, she’s a kind and decent person.

Amy is by far my favorite character on the show (followed closely by Lauren). She is somehow both deeply insecure and strangely confident. She balances out Karma’s oddities quite well, and brings some of her own to the table. When she gets angry, or sad, we see her make highly regrettable decisions, and we see her beat herself up for it. Seeing her pine after her best friend is pretty heartbreaking, to say the least, and extremely relatable.

Which brings me to the relationship between Amy and Karma. These two best friends are insanely close, and with the chemistry that Rita Volk and Katie Stevens have, it’s no surprise that they’re mistaken for lovers. You can see the history these two have whenever they’re together, it really makes their friendship believable. And as something that’s the crux of the show, it speaks for the talent of the two actresses that they can pull it off.

Enough about what this show does right, what does it do wrong?

Well first off, as an MTV show, it’s still got quite a few problems. There’s the ridiculous censorship, for one thing. Which, after a while, I stopped noticing, but when the first “bleep” comes, it takes you out of the show entirely.

Then there’s the fact that it doesn’t quite know what audience to appeal to. There’s lots of, for lack of a better term, fanservice, and most is male-oriented.

And then there’s Liam. No offense to Gregg Sulkin, who, try as he might , can’t lock down a believable American accent, but Liam is boring. He is so, so boring, I almost find myself dozing off when he’s onscreen. The love triangle is such a tired trope I can’t believe it’s even in the show to begin with, and then I remember this show is on MTV. The very fact that Liam is a main character hurts my brain, he’s secondary character material at best.

Next is the complete disregard for the idea that either one of the girls could be bisexual. Sure, it would be contrived if Karma was also in love with Amy, but they could have at least made Amy bisexual. But no, as soon as she kisses Karma it’s made explicitly clear that she is a lesbian. To me, that’s just lazy writing, and missing a chance at even greater conflict for a greatly varied character.

So all in all Faking It is a show I’ll be adding to my weekly roster. It holds my attention, and it’s pretty well done. But, I feel the need to conclude with this. Please, writers, let Amy and Karma at least stay friends. I’ll at least accept that they won’t get married (even though they’re so obviously in love), if you’ll give me that.

Mutual Acceptance

I’ve talked about the hypocrisy of the LGBT community before, but there’s so much more to say, it would probably cover many more posts so here I go again.

And yes again I consider myself an activist for this community, having volunteered for my local pride festival twice (and planning a third time), often publicly speaking out when I see intolerance. But at the same time, this community, like any other, is not without its faults.

First, I’ll talk about the problem with the concept of “tolerance” as opposed to “acceptance” as the aim for many LGBT organizations. Of course, 100% acceptance of any cause is highly unlikely, but it’s a better thing to aim for than tolerance. You tolerate a small child kicking your seat on an airplane, or a hair in your soup, but neither one of those things is a positive experience. Tolerance implies something inherently negative, and I believe that we should instead aim for acceptance.

Which brings me to my real topic. Someone wanting acceptance, or even tolerance, from others should pay the same respect for people who they don’t agree with. There is an inherent disrespect in the LGBT community toward Christianity. This is understandable, considering the stance that some Christians hold toward homosexuality. But this is a stance not taken by all Christians. And in fact, there are several Christian organizations that accept and welcome gay members of the church, and even gay pastors.

But still, mentions of Christianity in LGBT circles is met with at best, a roll of the eyes, and, at worst, outright contempt.

This is the worst hypocrisy I’ve seen from the LGBT community. Tolerance goes both ways (pun intended) and yes, even most Christians cannot stand the Westboro Baptist Church.

So, I you’re looking for someone to disrespect, choose the WBC. They’ll get the same level of respect they give everyone else, none. And when you see a church-run booth at your next pride festival, keep an open mind, thy go in knowing the level of disrespect that could come their way, and that takes an incredible amount o bravery.

Coming Out: My Story

Yes, I know this type of thing is pretty played out, but since Pride Month is coming to a close, I figured go big or go home. So I’m gonna do something I honestly should have done a long time ago, tell you my coming out story (in full detail).

It should be no secret to anyone who reads my blog that I am bisexual. I’ve done a few posts about it, and it’s not something that I enjoy hiding about myself. But, If I had started this blog three years ago, I would have never written about it. The short version of the story is that I came out on October 11, 2012. But I promised the long version of the story, so here it is.

For a long time, I knew I liked boys. I had little crushes on guy friends in elementary school, that would eventually turn into full-blown boy craziness in middle school. It was my feelings for girls that threw me for a loop.

I realized I might be attracted to girls when I was about 10 or 11, and I saw the movie Josie and the Pussycats for the first time. Josie gave me butterflies in my stomach, especially when she sang, and I had no idea why. And, of course, as I said before, I got the same butterflies when I watched Coyote Ugly a short time after.  Of course, I quickly became confused. I’d tell myself that I must be gay, and have the same thought that there was no way that I was gay, because I liked boys so much. And it didn’t help that I was a somewhat sheltered (no offense, Mom and Dad) 12 year old at the time.

So, I did what I do best, and I started researching sexuality. I pored over every book I could find on the subject, I Googled before Googling was a  verb. This was also around the time I started noticing a trend around my middle school. Girls were kissing other girls. It was happening in alarming volume, and I knew from my research that it was a statistical impossibility that all those girls were gay. So, after I caught a couple of girls I vaguely knew kissing, I asked them why they were doing it. (yes, it was awkward)

“We’re bi.” They said, with utter confidence

“What does that mean?” They giggled at how naive I was about the subject, but told me anyway.

“Duh, it means you like to kiss girls and boys, it’s like gay but cooler.”

I was confused, because from a lot of what I’d heard, it certainly wasn’t cool to be gay. I’d heard enough “That’s so gay” and “What are you, gay?” from the boys, and girls, at school, to know they didn’t find it cool at all.

“Why is being bi cool?” I asked. The girls went into another fit of giggles (this is only slightly exaggerated).

“Cuz’ guys like to see girls kiss each other.”

That night I looked up the word “Bi” on the internet, and got the predictable results (bicycles, bifocals, etc.). but what stood out to me immediately was “Bisexual”. I read a whole article on how it was a trendy thing for girls to say, but nothing about whether it was an actual orientation. Sadly, my Google-fu was weak in those days. so I put it out of my mind for two years.

And it wasn’t that hard. I’d had crushes on guys steadily after that point, but never really on girls. I’d even started dating one of my best friends. And then I played a game of truth or dare.

It was the usual thing, there were tame dares, and risky ones, and I never knew which I’d get, so I kept picking “truth”. unfortunately my mischievous BFF, T had other plans.

“Have you ever kissed a girl?” she asked.

“No.” I wondered why she would pick that particular question, and we moved on. When it came to my turn, and I picked truth, once again, she asked another, equally weird question.

“Have you ever liked a girl?”

“Do celebrities count?” she gave a nod and I immediately felt myself turn every shade of red imaginable. My boyfriend was there as well and (of course) he was curious about my answer.

“Yes.” I said, without another word.

“Who?” I shook my head, insisting that someone else take a turn. She relented, but I knew that she would have that same question coming.

“Dare.” I said at my turn. T looked surprised but she smiled. And I swear, I did that “gulp” like they do on TV. she had a true dare up her sleeve, and I had a feeling what it was.

“I dare you to kiss her. ” she pointed at the girl next to me. One of the girls who claimed to be bi in middle school, but I didn’t know if she really was. So I kissed her, I had to.

Fast forward about half a year, and I found myself walking with T, preparing to tell her what I haven’t told anyone.

“I think I’m bi.” I said. she just smiled.

“I know.”

That was the first time  came out to anyone. The next day I told a few other friends. But there was one friend who I shouldn’t have told, because after I told her, she informed the whole crowd that surrounded us, loudly, and pointed straight at me.

I was mortified, so I ran.

Another half a year went by, and I was still with my boyfriend, but I also had a crush on a close female friend. I told my boyfriend about it, over the phone. He suggested I start a relationship with her, while still being with him. I hated the idea, I knew it would be a disaster but I did it anyway.

Three months and one breakup later, I had a girlfriend. The relationship with her lasted almost ten months, and it ended in a very messy, very public way.

For the net few years I dated a few guys, kissed a fair share of girls, and hid who I really was from my parents. Finally, on October 11th, 2012, I saw a message on Facebook saying that it was national coming out day. I decide I was sick of hiding. But, my parents were in Monterey. So I came out via Facebook status.

I apologized to my mother, in advance, in the status update. A few of my friends commented, but I got no calls or messages from my parents. As it turned out, they hadn’t checked their Facebook pages for the entire day. I asked them to look, and finally they saw.

My mom told me the only problem was that I didn’t tell her in person, and my dad didn’t really say much at all.

There you have it, my coming out story (stories, technically).

It may not be as tumultuous, or as dramatic as some other stories, but it took a lot of courage, and a lot of heartache, for me to even attempt to acknowledge my sexuality. And it’s the same for most people like me.

I’m lucky enough to have parents that support me through times like this, and I know that not everyone has that. And as anticlimactic as I make my coming out sound, it had me in state of anxiety I haven’t experienced since. Of course it felt good to finally get it off my shoulders, but it terrified me. And, as it turned out I didn’t have a reason to be scared.

My heart goes out to those who had a difficult time with coming out, and those who weren’t nearly as supported and accepted as I was. It makes me unbelievably angry to know that there are parents and families who disown their own flesh and blood for their sexuality. Sometimes, the cruelty of others astounds me.

As for any parents who might be reading this. If your child comes out to you, they aren’t expecting you to lead a pride parade for them, they just want to know that you love them unconditionally. So, despite any issue you may have with anything to do with LGBT awareness and rights, just give your child your attention, and let them know that you love them.

Happy Pride month.

 

 

Guess What Day It Is

No, it’s not hump day. Sorry, no camel for you.

It’s Pride day! Throughout the day I will post updates on the festivities, and maybe include a few pictures and videos (don’t hold me to that.)

I’m just excited it has finally arrived. I’m getting ready to have an awesome day, and this short post is just the beginning.

Pride revisited

Sacramento Pride is exactly 7 days away, and I’m ridiculously excited. But it makes me think, why do we celebrate?

Why do people of the gay community flock to pride, enduring the crowds, the noise, and the heat of June? The answer is simple, community.

We long to find people who are similar to us, whether it’s in sexual orientation or just the same television shows. We love being around people who are like ourselves. When I go to pride, I’m not the awkward girl who likes to stay in the back, I’m accepted.

I dance to music I don’t even like, I talk to people who, on the street, I would pass without a second glance. I thrive in the crowd while I would normally feel my mouth go dry. I love the attention I get from other people. But, most importantly, I feel like I belong, like I’m actually being myself instead of hiding myself from everyone.

I recently went to a comic convention as a volunteer, and I had the same feeling. I was able to act like myself without fear of judgement, and I actually felt confident. On my day off I even went to a few panels and I actually talked to James Marsters. My legs were shaking, and I had to stand on tiptoe to reach the microphone. Bu,t when my voice came out, it was strong, I spoke without a stutter, without a shake, and i felt confident. Once again, it was because i felt like myself.

When I’m at a convention, no one gives me a blank stare when I talk for way too long about Harry Potter. And when I’m at Pride, no one rolls their eyes when I mention gay marriage, and no one laughs at my dance moves (even though they probably should). I’m accepted for who I am and it’s exhilarating. I become social, my anxiety disappears, and I can speak with total confidence.