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Colonialism and Queer Representation

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My favorite holiday is also incredibly problematic: Thanksgiving. I adore the food, sitting around the table with loved ones, watching football and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the inevitable food coma that hits an hour or so after the meal. Sadly, that’s not what Thanksgiving is about, and we are still dealing with the aftermath from 1620 in multiple ways.

Thanks, But No Thanks

The English first interacted with people from the Wampanoag tribe. There was probably curiosity, suspicion, and fear on both sides because of their vastly different cultures. Without the Wampanoags, there is little doubt that the English wouldn’t have survived. The Wampanoags shared their land, food, and knowledge of the environment. While relations started out well, things quickly degenerated by 1675 into conflict and war, which sums up the relationship between Natives and non-Natives for the following 200 years.

This “take what you want and then start trouble” mindset is still present today. Urban Outfitters and Coachella are two examples where one can easily find cultural appropriation – the act of taking practices, looks, and even religious elements from a minorities’ culture that can be seen as outcast, and making it “trendy.” When white folks use/wear bindis, dream catchers, dreadlocks, and cornrows purely for #aesthetic, it takes away cultural significance, and also shows that “when we do it, it’s cute – but when you do it, it’s far from it.”

Only Assholes Encourage Assimilation

Merriam Webster defines assimilate as “to absorb into the cultural tradition of a population or group.” This term is often used when talking about immigration and colonialism. This practice was used by Europeans along with forced removals, military massacres, genocide, and sterilization to dispossess Native peoples of their land. When assimilation occurs, the original culture is often practically erased. These cultural traditions are often not easily kept by Indigenous peoples, who have to work hard to ensure dance, language, food and other cultural traditions survive through ongoing attempts to repress them.

This country is a settler colonial nation, and not just in the past, but also today. Indigenous peoples are working daily not just to stave off ongoing settler colonial violence, but also to bring into being different ways of living in the world. Contemporary Indigenous cultural and political movements (including Idle No More and #NoDAPL) model for us how we all might go about restoring relationships with the land we live on and with the Indigenous peoples who have deep genealogies and knowledge about that land. While sad and unjust, it’s important to remember that those in power can destroy the effects of these movements within seconds. After months of protest, the Dakota Access pipeline will continue operating during a new federal review of the project’s environmental impact as of Wednesday, October 11, 2017.  

Thanksgiving and Trans folks

So how does this correlate with the transgender community? It all goes back to assimilation. Dominant queer culture is no longer driven by its rebellion from straight culture, but rather by its assimilation with it. This didn’t happen overnight, there were plenty of signs along the way to show the direction we were heading regarding mainstream queer culture. One of the major signs was the legalization of gay marriage.

According to Meredith Talusan

It has allowed a large number of gays and lesbians to distance themselves from the broader queer rights movement. With the right to wed came a belief among some that the battle for queer acceptability had been won, leaving many marginalized groups under the LGBTQ umbrella to continue the fight on their own. Put another way, many gay people—especially white gay people—have begun to live lives that are not dissimilar from their straight counterparts, interacting with and modeling themselves chiefly after their own kind with little regard for their former allies in the queer community.

I remember when gay marriage was legalized in the United States. I was frustrated. It took the focus away from other issues in the queer community, issues that weren’t as pretty. What about the homeless trans youth of color? What about the everyday emotional, verbal, and physical violence butch cis women and femme cis men face at their workplace? What about queer folks trying to find a safe place within a religious community?

At a time when many queers have signaled their desire for mainstream acceptability, it has been trans people who have carried forth the mantle of radical queerness, both personally and politically. This is nothing new. From the L.A. Riots, to the Revolutionary War, to the Stonewall Riots, trans folks have been at the forefront of change, risking their lives, to make noise, make a mess, and make a difference.

Originally posted 2017-11-03 16:40:51.

Sara Whittington is a genderqueer artist raised in Central Louisiana, but currently residing in Brooklyn, NY. They have had the good fortune to be able to travel across the country, as well as abroad. Some of their favorite trips thus far have been adventuring across Iceland, spending summers on Lake Michigan, and a family celebration in Mundesley, England. In their spare time, Sara enjoys writing letters to loved ones.

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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Trump’s Trans Military Ban

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The LGBTQ community has made significant progress in terms of equality. A person was not allowed to be openly gay in the US military until former president Obama repealed the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in September of 2011. Gay men and women are now allowed to be out, proud, and active members of the military. Unfortunately, this is not the case for transgender individuals. On Wednesday, July 26, 2017, president Donald Trump tweeted that transgender people are not allowed to serve in the armed forces “in any capacity.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Images via goo.gl/mSw8hr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How alarming! This is a clear violation of human rights and extremely detrimental to the fight for equality for the LGBTQ community. (We also have to appreciate the irony of the tweets considering that on July 26, 1948, former president Truman desegregated the military).

What Trump is basically saying is that allowing transgender people in the military would be a financial detriment. I’m assuming that he is referring to the cost of hormones for transgender people. What he doesn’t realize that the cost of hormones is significantly less than what the military is paying for medications such as Viagra. According to the United Press International, the US military spends ten times more on erectile dysfunction medication than transgender care. 

So, what does this mean? Well, it may mean any number of things:

  1. Trump has no idea what he’s talking about
  2. He’s pandering to the conservative right
  3. He’s transphobic

Who really knows? Whatever the reason, it is definitely a step back for equality. However, hope is not lost as many people are taking a stand against Trump’s ban. Celebrities such as Lady Gaga had some things to say about this ban.

 

 

 

Images via goo.gl/JmdNo2

 

Lady Gaga is not the only person fighting against Trump’s un-American ban. The Human Rights Campaign, or HRC, is fighting for the rights of transgender people, saying that the ban is an “all-out assault on service members” and that the ban would affect approximately 15,000 currently serving troops. This will clearly have a negative impact on the US military as it consists of millions of brave men and women who fight for the freedom of the American citizens and losing even one soldier due to bigotry can cause the military to weaken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The American Civil Liberties Union, or UCLA, is also fighting against Trump’s ban.

Image via goo.gl/RxN1n9

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t give up hope! This ban is definitely a step in the wrong direction and it hopefully won’t spiral into something even more horrible which is why it is very important that we speak out against this hateful action. Voice your outrage anywhere where your voice can be heard and stand with the transgender community during this trying time, use the hashtag #protecttranstroops on Twitter, repeat the maxim “trans people are not a burden,” and fight for what is right. It may not be easy but as long as we fight, the rights of transgender individuals can and will be protected.

 

 

 

 

 

Originally posted 2017-07-28 21:19:21.


Also published on Medium.

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48 Hours In...

48 Hours in Mexico City

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Mexico City is a sprawling metropolis full of color and culture. You could easily spend a month there and still not get to see and experience everything the city has to offer. If you only have a weekend, you can get a taste of Mexico City’s delights, but be warned – you will probably be booking your next trip as soon as you arrive home.

With more museums than any other city in the world, amazing architecture, a scintillating LGBTQ scene, delicious street food and many other attractions, Mexico City is one of the most exciting cities on the planet.

Getting There

Juarez International Airport is located eight miles from Mexico City. If you arrive late at night, it is advisable to take an official taxi to the downtown area. During the day, the metro is a good alternative.

Getting Around

Mexico City’s metro system is extensive and one of the cheapest underground systems in the world. Having said that, it isn’t the most comfortable of transport options during rush hour. Taxis are cheap, but make sure you take one from the official sitio taxi stands or use Uber.

Day One

Start the day with Huevos Rancheros, a classic Mexican breakfast – tortillas, fried eggs, salsa and refried beans. Try Café El Popular (5 de Mayo esq Palmas, just off the Zocalo). It’s a popular spot for both locals and tourists and has a diner-style ambiance.

After a hearty breakfast, head to the charming neighbourhood of Coyoacan. The number one attraction here is La Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo’s house, which has now been turned into a museum. It provides a fascinating insight into the life of artist Frida and her husband Diego Rivera. www.museofridakahlo.org.mx

The garden in La Casa Azul

Afterwards, you could head around the corner to the house where the exiled Leon Trotsky lived the last year of his life. It was there that he was murdered by an assassin in his study. In contrast to Frida’s colorful abode, it is an austere house which has been changed little since Trotsky lived there, but is an intriguing slice of political history.

Coyoacan Plaza is a great place to sample some tasty street food. At weekends, it is particularly lively with food and handicraft stalls. There is often live music, adding to the festive atmosphere. It feels like small town Mexico in the heart of the big city.

Back in Centro Historico, take a stroll around the huge main plaza, the Zocalo, the second largest public square in the world after Russia’s Red Square. There are plenty of museums, shops and cool street art to explore in the surrounding areas.

La Catrina, the iconic skeleton lady

El Balcon del Zocalo is a perfect place for dinner. The restaurant has a rooftop terrace, bestowed with spectacular views of the cathedral and Zocalo. It has an international, Mexican and veggie friendly menu. www.balcondelzocalo.com

For a taste of Mexican style nightlife, head to Calle Amberes at Paseo de la Reforma in Zona Rosa. This area is the hub of the LGBTQ scene in Mexico City. Have a wander and take your pick of the many bars and clubs that line the street.

Day Two

Pasteleria Ideal (Calle 16 de Septiembre 18, Col. Centro) could be the largest and most heavenly bakery you have ever seen. The choice of baked goods, both sweet and savory, are a feast for the eyes and as the name suggests, is an ideal place to grab some pastries. With breakfast and coffee in hand, make tracks to Alameda Park and find a bench to sit to enjoy your first meal of the day and partake in a spot of people-watching. You can’t miss the opulent architecture of Palacio de Belles Artes, the grandest building in Mexico City.

Just across the road (Calle Revillagigedo 11, Cuauhtemoc), check out the Popular Art Museum. Housed in an ex-fire station, this contemporary museum is full of colorful Mexican folk art. It’s fun and quirky and the exhibits range from Day of the Dead skulls and skeletons to vibrant piñatas. www.map.cdmx.gob.mx

Museum of Popular Art – fun and quirky

La Ciudadela is an artisan market (Calle de Balderas, s/m Centro, 06040 Cuauhtemoc). It specializes in Mexican handicrafts from 0axacan fantasy animals to beautifully decorated skulls. Prices are reasonable and you are bound to find something that catches your eye.

Even if you have never considered attending a wrestling match before, lucha libre is a unique Mexican experience and not-to-be-missed. (Arena Mexico,189 Calle Dr. Lavista, Colonia Doctores).  Regular sessions are held on Tuesday and Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons. The atmosphere is electric and whole families attend shouting abuse at the bad guys and cheering for their heroes.  

Round off your time in Mexico City with some tequila shots and mariachi music at a bar on Plaza Garibaldi. The haunting sound of roving mariachi bands echo around the square, as you reflect on two action-packed days in this amazing city.

Tequila shots at the ready!

 

Originally posted 2017-07-29 11:22:36.

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Love It, Leave It: The Portland, OR Edition

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Back to the Pacific NW, a not-so-secret favorite destination of mine. It very well could be that I’m just all jazzed up off of increased oxygen levels (man, they have a lot of trees), but I swear that everything tastes better out there. I constantly imagine tiny gnomes in tweed hats and hemp-based sweaters pulling out the freshest, organic vegetables from the depths of the soil. Albeit slightly far-fetched, this fictional scene will hopefully help you imagine just how epic the Portland food landscape is. But, there are two things (that just so coincidentally happen to be my favorite) we should focus on for now: brews and doughnuts.

Love It: Breakside Brewery. Blue Star Donuts.

(Photo credit: Erin Oliveri)

Breakside Brewery: With two locations in this quirky town, Breakside is a hipster mecca churning out solid craft brews and hearty, standout dishes. The newest spot in Slabtown (what a weird, yet endearing Portland name) is a boisterous, bi-level warehouse, that was jam packed on a Sunday afternoon. While most were throwing back some pints (most likely IPAs, since the list is bursting with them), plenty came just for the food. The brewery sources organic seasonal produce and meats; and while menus at breweries are often there solely to help combat hours of drinking, this one is a solid partner, justly accompanying the top-notch beers. The Bavarian pretzel is one of epic proportions — a woman from the table over asked if she could come over just for a photo. And, the fried chicken biscuit sandwich was gone so fast from my plate…but also from the menu since it’s only served from “3 p.m. ‘til gone.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue Star Donuts: A hotly debated topic in Portland just so happens to be one near and dear to my heart (and stomach): doughnuts. I was told by locals on my first visit that these are the “grown up” doughnuts. I agreed once I took a spin around the BSD website — wooing me with phrases like “brioche recipe,” “cage-free eggs” and “the dough takes 18 hours to make.” Well, I wanted all of that, immediately. And what a coincidence, there’s one just a few minutes away from Breakside Brewery. I’d advise snagging a maple bacon or blueberry bourbon basil — or any beautifully baked ring ‘cause they’re so delicious — and sample en route to your future beer tasting. Carbs are your friends.

Leave It: Rogue Distillery and Public House

It’s not without a sad face emoji that this Rogue outpost turned out to be a big miss for me. Back east, I’ve drunk everything from the classic Dead Guy Ale to offbeat collabs with Blue Star rival, Voodoo Doughnuts. The core of Rogue was present, with plenty of beers on tap to sample, but the ambiance was non-existent and the menu was stacked with uninspired bar food. My original excitement for the poutine shortly faded after just a few bland bites. I’d say if you’re looking for the true Rogue experience and you just so happen to be headed toward the Oregon Coast, the original Public House (originally the Bayfront Brewery) and a newer, bi-level brewpub are nestled in the quaint coastal town of Newport. These locales may serve for a more authentically ‘Rogue’ experience.

Originally posted 2017-07-26 18:18:16.

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