One Equal World

Image: Denise Juneau / https://denisejuneau.com

Image: Denise Juneau / https://denisejuneau.com

Bringing your significant other to a fund-raising dinner shouldn’t be a controversial thing for a congressional candidate to do. But for Denise Juneau, rising star among Montana’s democratic party, it couldn’t be anything else. In bringing her partner to the Bozeman political fundraiser, she was coming out. That night, Saturday January 28th 2016, she blew open her ‘open secret’ and became the first openly lesbian candidate for Congress.

In addition, Juneau is also the first Native American to hold statewide office in Montana as superintendent of schools. Her time in that office has been exactly the kind of representation any group could wish for; she’s an effective and competent legislator. Under her aegis, the state’s graduation rate has risen and the drop-out rate for Montana’s Native American population has dropped by 30%. She also backed a state-wide Student Advisory Board that gives children a voice in their own education, and an anti-bullying law.

It’s this last one that gives particular weight to the statement that Juneau’s office released in regards to the general surge of comment following her appearance at the Bozeman fundraiser. It made no mention of her sexuality, but instead spoke at length about how her experience combined with her public office that make her a strong choice to speak against bullying and to address the challenges faced by Montana youth.

Her opponent for the Congressional seat, incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, also released a statement, wishing her the best and congratulating her on having ‘somebody strong and loving’ by her side for the campaign.

Juneau is confident that her sexuality, while exciting a brief burst of news and gossip, will not be at the forefront of voter’s minds come elections, and that they will vote for who they believe will represent them best.

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

Cooper Anderson, the organizer of the Silver Strand Boating Club, loves to sail and wants to share that passion with the San Diego LGBT community. The club is a group event that invites new members in the San Diego area to join him and others in the ocean for a day of yachting fun.

Never sailed a yacht? No problem.

Whether you’ve never stepped foot on a yacht or a seasoned pro, the club is a great opportunity for the community who share the same passion and curiosity. The group is for active adults (singles and couples welcome) who enjoy day sailing, harbor cruises to Catalina Island and beyond. They also enjoy paddle boarding, kayaking, and sail boating and power boating.

The club started in 2014 and is “a way to try and connect our fellow sailors in the LGBT community, and those who might yet be sailors but just don’t know it yet,” says Anderson. He began to pursue his love of sailing after leaving the ranch he grew up in central Washington and eventually moved to Seattle. After meeting two gay sailors who were based in the Navy in the Puget Sound, the two men gave him a sense of adventure and excursions through multiple islands. They were kind enough to take me under their wings and teach me the art of sailing. It wasn’t long before I was hooked,” said Anderson.

After cultivating his sailing skills and going on his own adventures, he ended up owning a number of boats and traveled up and down the west coast. Anderson wanted to give the community the same learning opportunity and experience he received from the two Navy men and hopes that The Silver Strand Boating Club creates and equal inspiration in other LGBT people.

“Anyone can join, as long as they understand a few basic rules,” Anderson says. “One, We are here to have a great time on the water, and that we require everyone to participate in some capacity (we are not a sunset cruise boat). Two, we are an LGBT centered club, all are welcome but this is our main focus. Three, sailing comes with rules, they are in effect for safety as well as comfort, you must be able to take direction and follow all guidelines when a guest on one of our host boats.”

Membership is only $10 a year! For more information, click here.

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

Historically, bisexuals looking to film for self-reflection have been painfully reminded of the public perception of them. Look at any vampire movie from the 60s and 70s and look at any portrayal of Caligula on screen. They’re promiscuous or perverted. At best, they’re ‘confused,’ young women assuming they’re lesbians until the right man comes along. (And then there’s usually a dark seductress who confused them in the first place).

In 2012, James Bond, icon of masculinity, implied bisexuality with a line meant for laughs in the face of a villain fondling him. And that tiny scrap of acknowledgment, in a franchise that has never so much as used the word bisexual, is still progression. That is how low the bar has been.

But there are movies out there, if you dig. And sometimes you have to squint a bit. To name a few:

1928: Sex in Chains. One of the oldest movies about ‘institutional homosexuality,’ the movie is about a man who gives in to sexual frustration while in jail and has sex with a fellow inmate, and ends up falling in love. Rather than making the jokes about prison-gay, the film is heartfelt and honest, addressing the kinds of attraction that can exist between two men. Perhaps if it had been written today, it would not be a tragedy. Probably still wouldn’t use the B-word, though.

1971: Sunday Bloody Sunday. This was the first film in Britain to show two men kiss. There’s no ambiguity about the lead’s bisexuality in this one, as he pursues simultaneous relationships with a man and woman who reluctantly share him. This was only four years after sex between men had been decriminalized, and the same year that same-sex marriage was officially banned in England and Wales.

1972 Cabaret. Widely hailed as an important landmark in gay cinema, perhaps the character with the most complete growth arc is side character Michael York, the bi man who forms the other leg of Minnelli’s triangular affair with the rich baron.

There are more of varying quality and prominence, but they did not become more common until the last half-decade or so. It’s still rare to find a story about a bisexual person that does not slide into the tropes of promiscuity, tragedy, or ‘just a phase,’ but new hopes are hitting the screen every day.

Austin Pride Radio Station

A new radio station targeting Austin’s LGBT community launched last week.

Marking it as Austin’s first-ever LGBT radio station, 97.5 Pride Radio Austin also became the second LGBT-focused station in the nation to be operated by San Antonio-based media company iHeart Media. The first radio station was launched in Minneapolis.

“As we look at Austin’s progressive community, there is no better time to launch a radio station for LGBT listeners and allies. We are very excited to bring 97.5 Pride Radio’s unique programming to a city that thrives on being different,” said senior vice president of programming for iHeartMedia Dallas and Austin Patrick Davis.

Modeled after iHeartMedia’s pppular Pride Radio channel on the iHeartRadio app, Pride Radio Austin kicked off commercial free, playing 10,000 songs featuring top 40 hits, dance music, and special remixes. Artists such as Calvin Harris, Rihanna, David Guetta, Katy Perry and Nick Jonas can be heard on the airwaves. The new station will also offer listeners news, contests, on-air interviews and localized online content of interest to the Austin LGBT community. Listeners can also catch 97.5 Pride Radio on the station’s website, as well as on KASE(FM), iHeartRadio.com, and the iHeartRadio app.

“Austin has one of the most active LGBT communities in the nation, and 97.5 Pride Radio will fit right in with the community. Through our iHeartRadio digital platform, Pride Radio forms deep connections with listeners across the country through relatable programming and entertaining news content, and we look forward to creating a new bond between 97.5 Pride Radio and local listeners through Austin’s very own customized version of Pride Radio,” said Pride Radio Brand Manager Don Parker for iHeartMedia.

Have you listened to the new radio station yet? Leave us a comment below!

Academy-Awards-Oscars-2016

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ recently announced the Oscar nominees for the 88th Academy Awards. Below is a list of LGBT (or portraying LGBT) nominees for this year’s awards:

-Lady Gaga and Sam Smith will compete for Best Original Song
-Mark Ruffalo, Human Rights Campaign supporter was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Spotlight
-Mara will compete against Alicia Vikander, who was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for The Danish Girl
-Eddie Redmayne was nominated for Best Actor for The Danish Girl
-American for Marriage Equality supporter Bryan Cranston was nominated for Best Actor for Trumbo
Carol, a film about a same-sex couple in the 1950s, received four nomiinations for Best Score, Cinematography, Costume Design and Best Adapted Screenplay
-Cate Blanchett was nominated for Best Actress and Rooney Mara for Best Supporting Actress for their roles in Carol

It has been an incredible year for LGBT storytelling and talented LGBT/Allied actors and actresses, however many believe that there is lack of color/diversity within the nominees of the acting categories. Eddie Redmayne, a white straight man, was nominated for playing a trans woman in The Danish Girl, while Oscar hopeful Mya Taylor who actually is a trans woman (of color), was snubbed for Best Supporting Actress for the groundbreaking independent film Tangerine. Some also believe that Todd Haynes’ lesbian-themed drama Carol, featuring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, was snubbed for a Best Picture nomination.

The 88th Academy Awards will air on February 28 at 5:40 pm PST on ABC.

What are your thoughts on this year’s nominations? Does Carol’s best picture snub mean that pop culture is not ready for LGBT contentment?

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

Following the trend of adopting new restroom and locker room policies, New York City is well on its way toward approving legislation that would require all single-stall restrooms to be gender neutral. Last week, the city council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings heard testimony on Intro-0871, a bill that would adjust city housing, plumbing, and administrative codes to require existing single-occupancy bathrooms to be usable by any gender. Most buildings currently require sex-specific restrooms, however this legislation would offer building owners the option of assigning gender-neutral bathrooms. This is believed to be a positive step forward in the fight for safety and equal rights for gender-nonconforming and transgender individuals.

This proposal isn’t the first of its kind – a similar law was signed into action in November in Philadelphia. Nellie Fitzpatrick, director of the mayor’s office of LGBT affairs in Philadelphia, noted that in the state, there was some question about whether the law was necessary. Given that the city’s laws, similar to New York, already allow individuals to access either gendered bathroom based on their gender identity.

“The very simple answer to that is that bathrooms without designated gender or without signage labeling them as accessible to either men or only women benefit individuals who are not comfortable…when facing gendered bathrooms,” said Fitzpatrick.

There has been virtually no pushback against the city’s gender-neutral bathroom law, but Philadelphia does have the ability to fine anyone who does not comply, according to Fitzpatrick. It was recommended by Bobby Hodgson, attorney at New York City Liberties Union, that the City Council incorporate some enforcement measure into the bill and a requirement that new or renovated city buildings have single-stall restroom. According to the Department of Buildings, new buildings are not currently required to have single-stall restrooms.

“The only times I’ve ever felt truly comfortable in a public bathroom is when using a more gender neutral, single occupant bathroom. It’s upsetting that when it comes to speaking in front of [the city council] and using a public bathroom, I’m more afraid to use a public bathroom,” says Rocco Sanabria, a student at Maspeth High School.

There is a good chance of making this bill into law, as there are currently 27 sponsors. If it passes, New York City will join other cities including Austin, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

What are your thoughts on offering a neutral option to gendered restrooms? Leave a comment below!

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

Literature has not treated the woman-loving woman kindly, historically. It’s not always easy to find lesbian romances actually written for women, let alone lesbians and bisexual women in nonfiction, and literary narratives. So, since this winter promises to be a rainy one and rainy seasons are great for holing up with a book or five, here are a few recommendations in alphabetical order by author.

 

Lillian Faderman’s Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth Century America. The subtitle says it all. Faderman ferrets out the women left out of your history books and is a great source for the various historical contexts of women’s sexuality in the last century. Her bibliography is a recommended reading list all its own.

 

Leslie Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues. A novel based partially on the author’s own life, it’s a butch’s coming of age story set in Buffalo New York. Touches a little too lightly on transgender issues as well. This one’s very firmly out of print, but you can download a PDF from the author’s site.

 

Karla Jay’s Tales of the Lavender Menace. This one’s a memoir, and Jay’s life is a fascinating read about 70s feminism and the fight for feminism to include gay rights. Bonus: Her wry humor is beautiful.

 

Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. 15 essays analyzing sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia and classism. This collection is 31 years old and could have been written today. Heavy, compelling reading.

 

This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. Ed. Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa. From 1981, this is still one of the most powerful works of women of color feminism. Art, essays, stories, and interviews – it has it all. Not all of the narratives are non-straight, but the focus is on intersections of liberation.

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