Archive for the ‘GLBTI’ Category

It seems that this is what loneliness is designed to do: to provoke the restoration of social bonds. Like pain itself, it exists to alert the organism to a state of untenability, to prompt a change in circumstance. We are social animals, the theory goes, and so isolation is – or was, at some unspecified point in our evolutionary journey – unsafe for us. This theory neatly explains the physical consequences of loneliness, which ally to a heightened sense of threat, but I can’t help feeling it doesn’t capture the entirety of loneliness as a state.

A little while after I came home, I found a poem by Borges, written in English, the language his grandmother had taught him as a child. It reminded me of my time in New York, and of Wojnarowicz in particular. It’s a love poem, written by a man who’s stayed up all night wandering through a city. Indeed, since he compares the night explicitly to waves, ‘darkblue top-heavy waves … laden with/ things unlikely and desirable’, one might literally say that he’s been cruising.

In the first part of the poem he describes an encounter with you, ‘so lazily and incessantly beautiful,’ and in the second he lists what he has to offer, a litany of surprising and ambiguous gifts that ends with three lines I’m certain Wojnarowicz would have understood:

I can give you my loneliness, my darkness, the

hunger of my heart; I am trying to bribe you

with uncertainty, with danger, with defeat.

It took me a long time to understand how loneliness might be a gift, but now I think I’ve got it. Borges’s poem voiced the flip side of that disturbing essay I’d read in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine on loneliness’s consequences and mechanisms. Loneliness might raise one’s blood pressure and fill one with paranoia, but it also offers compensations: a depth of vision, a hungry kind of acuity.

Oh my goodness I am so enjoying Olivia Laing’s writing. This is from “Mw, myself and I” in aeon

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Gayby Baby is freely available at the moment on SBS by Demand. I recommend it because it’s incredibly charming. It follows the lives of four kids whose parents are gay. As they each move into puberty, the outside world of Australia is debating the issue of marriage equality, and whether or not kids of same-sex families are at risk.

My children watched it with us and were completely transfixed. Then they laughed and rolled their eyes because “these mums are exactly like you”. So much feminist parenting, so much.

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your auntie & ‘nem done finished the wine & put on that Ohio Players or whatever album makes them feel blackest. they dancin’ nasty & you watching from the steps when you should be sleep. your uncle is usually a man of much shoulders & silence but tonight he is a brown slur in the light, his body liquid & drunk with good sound. you feel like you shouldn’t be looking at how shameless he moves his hips, how he holds your auntie like a cliff or something that just might save him. your mama is not your mama tonight – she is 19 again, unsure what burns in her middle. your not-mama is caught in a rapture so ungospel you wonder if this is what they mean by sin, & if it is, how, like really how, could this be the way to hell? you’ve never seen her this free, this on fire this — “BOY!” she screams at you but not so you’ll go back to bed. she calls you to her, you grab her hands, she shows you where you come from.

From “Notes For a Film on Black Joy” by Danez Smith in Gawker.

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Here’s the thing. When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before.

Right. It’s ridiculous.

So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.

It’s about white people adjusting to a new reality?

Owning their actions. Not even their actions. The actions of your dad. Yeah, it’s unfair that you can get judged by something you didn’t do, but it’s also unfair that you can inherit money that you didn’t work for.

From an interview with Chris Rock by Frank Rich in Vulture.

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My latest column for Fairfax newspapers is here:

Go ahead and brainwash your baby. There are few enough privileges as a parent, you might as well seize this one. If you want to change the world and make it a less sexist place then this little human sponge of yours is the best chance you’ve got. Because truth is, the world is going to try to brainwash your baby right back. I’m wary of anyone being too prescriptive about either parenting or feminism these days, I’ve made my share of compromises with both, and I’m not much interested in perfectionism. But in case you’re after a starting point with anti-sexist parenting then here’s three general tips from my own experience.

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From Michelle Goldberg in The Nation with “Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars”:

Yet even as online feminism has proved itself a real force for change, many of the most avid digital feminists will tell you that it’s become toxic. Indeed, there’s a nascent genre of essays by people who feel emotionally savaged by their involvement in it—not because of sexist trolls, but because of the slashing righteousness of other feminists.

This is a big conversation. The answers won’t be found easily; certainly not in one article. The problems aren’t even going to be identified all that easily. Feminism is messy and difficult, as it should be.

For more on these dynamics see this excellent piece here by Quinnae Moongazer. And other times I’ve discussed Internet feminism here include: Is feminism too cool?, Understanding Internet feminism, and Criticising Twitter activism.

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This is about so much more than hip hop or awards shows; it is instructive reading for any white person. Because we want to acknowledge racism but we don’t want to give up any cake in the process…

The Grammys have long been a source of disappointment because of the recording academy’s lackluster record of acknowledging the gifts and artistry of black musicians. The 2014 Grammys proved to be just more par for the course. The first award given during the live broadcast was to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for best new artist followed by a performance of Lorde’s “Royals.” Lorde went on to win song of the year for “Royals,” a critique of gratuitous consumption in hip-hop culture.

The most egregious error of the night was seeing the brilliant Kendrick Lamar get totally shut out. Everyone knows he’s the best new artist. Macklemore on his best day can barely hold a candle to Kendrick on his worse day. Even Macklemore acknowledged that he “robbed Kendrick,” via a text message that he then sent out screenshots of via social media. However, Macklemore claimed that fear prevented him from taking a courageous stance and saying exactly that when he went up to accept his award. But Kendrick Lamar can’t do anything with a private apology, Macklemore. Far too often, allies refuse to speak up in public while asking for absolution via private confessions. Macklemore failed to use the white privilege that he has readily acknowledged to challenge this structure of power in a moment when the world was watching.

Simultaneous to us witnessing this whitewashing and erasure of the black bodies and black artists who helped create the sound of folks like Macklemore, Justin Timberlake, Pink, Katy Perry and Robin Thicke, the Grammy’s force-fed us a lie of American progress in the form of a diverse marriage ceremony performed near the end of the show, featuring 30 couples, including straight, same-sex and mixed race pairings. As Queen Latifah, who many folks believe is queer, pronounced these folks married, we saw a spectacular display of American multiculturalism. A putatively queer black woman performed a marriage ceremony for the likes of America’s post-race, post-hetero progeny, as Macklemore, rap’s newest great white hope, serenaded the lovers with his hit song “Same Love.”

We know America is no more post-race than it is post-hetero, but each of these lies fuels the other. Macklemore is so popular in part because his music critiques gratuitous consumption and homophobia, both of which are figured to be problems endemic, not to American society, but to hip-hop culture in particular. Thus both he and Lorde scored big awards, he as best new artist, and her song of the year, because the view is that these white folks have come to a transnational consensus, that hip-hop culture is what ails us, and their critiques constitute a cure.

From Brittney Cooper (one of the best new writers around) in Salon with “Macklemore’s useless apology”.

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