In case anyone reading this doesn't know, I'm bisexual, meaning I'm attracted to people of more than one gender. It's relatively easy/safe for me to be out, both because of where I live and because I'm semi-retired, but it feels both more important and a bit riskier to be out now than it did two years ago.

I'm also polyamorous, and have both female and male partners: that makes it pretty clear to most friends and family that I'm bi, but I suspect some people who see me in passing assume I'm straight, and a few assume I'm a lesbian, depending on which partner they see me with.

"Queer" also fits, enough so that I have a "Queerville" shirt I bought from the Somerville High School Gay-Straight Alliance. (I say "bi" rather than "pansexual" because it's the term that people were using when I came out, not because one feels more accurate than the other.)

(Thanks to [personal profile] eftychia for her post, which reminded me of National Coming Out Day.)
redbird: clenched fist on an LGBT flag background (angry queer)
( Jun. 28th, 2018 03:21 pm)
This image of a clenched fist on a rainbow flag background speaks for itself, I think. You may be seeing a lot of it. Assume anything with this icon is political.

The image is a lapel pin/button I picked this up at Boston Pride a couple of weeks ago. It's the version of the rainbow flag with brown and black stripes, to be more inclusive of people of color.

ETA: Obviously, I have no claim on this image; if anyone else wants to use this icon, help yourselves.
Last week was LGBT Pride week in the Boston area. [profile] adrian_turtie and I decided to march in as much as possible of the Dyke March Friday evening and, if we weren’t too worn out and if the weather allowed, go to the parade on Saturday. The Dyke March was my priority because it’s more political, and a lot less corporate, than the Pride Parade is these days, for the values of “political” that matter to me, not “how many politicians are going to try to shake my hand?” Conveniently, what I wanted more also occurred first, so I didn’t have to guess whether the less-desired thing would use too many spoons.

We got to Boston Common Friday evening while people were still gathering, and looked around at the assorted tables; I took a “Rise Up, Resist, Repeat” button that a gay legal aid group was giving away. Then we sat down, and listened to the MC give an introduction and play a bit of music. She started with something like “I want to talk about the land we’re on,” which had me expecting her to say something about the people who lived in Massachusetts before European settlement; instead, she talked about Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, the trans women of color who started the Stonewall Riot.

At that point we were sharing a bench with another woman, and chatting with her, which was fun. She said she was trying to go to every Dyke March (meaning every city’s, not every instance), and asked if she could take our picture. We happily said yes, and posed. Other than that, we talked to a bunch of people who were representing different causes, including some unrelated petition carriers and a random tourist who asked me whether gay people can get married in the United States. I told him yes, everywhere in the country now, but Massachusetts was first. (I didn’t grow up here, but sometimes it feels right to boast about this state.)

Last year, we marched almost the entire route, and then I had to lead Adrian into the T station at Park Street because the large number of police car strobes had triggered a seizure. So, this year’s plan was to leave when it got dark enough for the strobes to be a problem.

That turned out to mean we had to leave a few minutes after we started moving, just before we got to the edge of the Common: there were police cars, with strobe lights, lining the march route. I realize they were intended as helpful, but part of me is thinking “the police stopped me from marching in the street.” More seriously, there seem to be more, and sometimes more intense, strobes out there every week. At least some of them are intended as safety measures (e.g., to get people to pay attention to stop signs), but strobes are also a seizure trigger for some people.

So, we grumpily got back on the red line, went to Harvard Square for pho, and then home to Arlington. [continued on next rock.]
A couple of friends' posts have reminded me that this is National Coming Out Day (where "national" means "United States").

For anyone who doesn't already know: I'm bisexual, and often self-identify as queer. I'm also polyamorous, and have both female and male partners.
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redbird: a pin with the text "Bi-Furious" above a drawing of flames. (bi-furious)
»

GIP

( Jun. 12th, 2017 11:29 am)
Gratuitous icon post: "bi-furious" pin I got at last Friday's Dyke March.

I claim no exclusivity here, if you like and want to use this icon: it's a cell phone photo of a pin someone else created. (The original image may be under copyright; as the photographer, I hereby place this cropped photo of it in the public domain.)

ETA: I am pleased by all the positive response this one is getting.
redbird: women's lib: raised fist inside symbol for woman (fist)
( Jun. 10th, 2017 04:44 pm)
[personal profile] adrian_turtle and I went to the Boston Dyke March last night. I had a good time: there was a fair-sized (but not overwhelming) crowd of queer women. The event consisted of some general milling around and socializing, then a bit of music and a speech, which started by name-checking Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, and then we walked out of the Common and along a bunch of streets, winding up back at the Common.

A big piece of what I liked is that the event was noncommercial: there were a few tables for LGBTQ groups, including La Red (which helps people who are dealing with domestic violence), a trans* activist group, and a Christian congregation, but no corporate anything, no floats, no amplified music. (The list of exhibitors at the more organized/mainstream Pride Festival today includes not only banks but at least one major pharmaceutical company.)

People walked and chanted and carried signs (I still don't have any), and it was a very nice evening to be walking down Comm Ave and Boylston Street in that sort of company, with people waving at us from the sidewalks. There were some motorcycle cops keeping the cars away from us, but not the barriers along the edges of the sidewalks that I got used to at New York Pride, with the much larger crowds.

The chanting was a mix of queer/dyke/trans* specific slogans (like "We're here, we're queer, we're fabulous, don't fuck with us," and "hey hey ho ho, homophobia's got to go" alternating with "hey hey ho ho, transphobia's got to go") and some of the same things I've been hearing and chanting at other protests, especially in the last year: "Black lives matter" and "Black trans lives matter," "This is what democracy looks like," and "No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA."

Adrian suggested that we do this, saying that her congregation "isn't having an Erev Pride service this year." I'm glad she did; she said afterward she wouldn't have gone by herself, and I probably wouldn't have either. We saw a few women she knew, and nobody I recognized, and any sort of march, from the very political to the mostly celebratory, is more fun in company. Yes, sometimes I go alone, when it feels important—for myself or for the cause—but it's more draining that way.

This march felt political enough that I've included it in the spreadsheet tracking my political activism that I started after the election; if I'd had the energy to go to Boston Pride today, I probably wouldn't have counted that. When I started marching in Pride, doing so was absolutely a political act; it's not apolitical now, but somewhere along the line we got a level of acceptance that meant banks and beer companies sponsor floats, and tourists bring their children to watch the parade, not just because they support us but because it's a parade, and kids like parades and floats and marching bands.

It still matters that people are out there, but I don't feel like I'm letting anyone down by passing the baton to someone who handles the late-June heat and sunlight better than I do these days. (That's in the same way that anti-Trump/anti-fascist activism is a relay race, or a marathon, not a sprint.) I was rummaging for buttons the other day, and found one from New York Pride '92. The long march through institutions.

(I need at least one better queer or bisexual icon, though the feminist one also feels appropriate.)
I just got back from a rally and march for trans* and queer liberation and in support of immigrants, starting at Boston City Hall. This definitely felt more left-wing than the other protests I've been to since the election, as well as being smaller. (The speakers were all community organizers, not elected officials, and there were people carrying both black and red flags as well as the rainbow flag and lots of signs.)

We ([livejournal.com profile] cattitude, [personal profile] adrian_turtle, and I) left before the end of the march, rather than going to the community meeting/further organizing part, because we were worn out and my feet were cold, but we were there for most of it, including a lot of the march.

On the one hand, I can't believe we still have to protest this shit. (That's a sign I've seen a couple of times this year; I don't know whether it was literally the same sign both times.) On the other hand, I know how to do this, even though most of my experience protesting has been in warmer weather. One of our chants today was "we're here, we're queer, we're fabulous, don't mess with us" which is an update I like (it's a long time since I heard the original "we're here, we're queer, get used to it"). Cattitude commented that he's always wanted to be a fabulous beast.)

I had thought I would be doing this alone (the event wasn't finalized until yesterday afternoon), but when I told Cattitude last night that I was doing this, he said "I'm coming with you," and when I mentioned it to Adrian this morning, she asked for details and then told me "I can't be there until 12:35" because she was teaching this morning.
I spent most of yesterday on a bus from Boston to Montreal, where I made the happy discovery that I can comfortably read from my kindle on a moving intercity bus. (Paper books, not so good.)

The trip from Boston to Montreal is about two novels (plus random looking at the landscape) long. So (apologies to Mris, who got most of this in an email):

The Pilgrim of Hate, by Ellis Peters: this is I think #10 in her medieval mystery novels about the Benedictine monk Brother Cadfael and his friend Hugh Beringar, the local sheriff. For some reason, I was able years ago to find approximately 1-7 and then from 14 or so on, and am trying to fill in gaps from the library. Since it is an ongoing story (though each book's mystery stands alone), there were not only references back, but things I knew about from having read about them in books set later.

The Cadfael books are set during the English civil war between King Stephen and Empress Maud (which is not either of the English Civil Wars that most Americans are at least vaguely aware of); this one involves two murders, and the complications of trying to find a missing person based only on his name and the vaguest of descriptions, at a fair (so a place full of strangers) in a time and place where it's taken for granted that he will of course have changed his name when he left home. I enjoyed this, both for the mystery plot (which I didn't figure out early on) and the general story-telling (though I gather that Peters took serious liberties with both history and herbal medicine.

Marionette, by T. S. Markinson: if I had to describe this, it's a sort-of mainstream lesbian novel, about relationships and coming of age (the narrator is 17 and a freshman in college). I read this after a couple of her other books, all found via an email list that sends out announcements of free or discounted ebooks (sorted loosely by genre). Based on this, I have concluded that Markinson is a good writer, and that I hope she has a good therapist—what I have read so far are this, and two books about an unrelated character, and both protagonists have similarreally problematic family backgrounds, not just "they can't deal with me being a lesbian" but "my well-off parents hate me, and don't seem to like each other, and all my father cares about is money and business, and nobody in my family ever had a real conversation while I was growing up" level. I liked this, but it's not exactly light and cheerful: large chunks of the book are set in and around the protagonist's therapy sessions, which she started going to after she attempted suicide and her girlfriend found her in time. (Also, the past, even the recent past, can be a foreign country: this is set in Colorado at the time of the anti-gay Proposition 2, and it's not just that the main character is closeted—given her parents, that makes sense—but the people she's at school with include several who don't think they know any gay people, one of whom apologizes for homophobic remarks when told "my brother is gay."
I am pleased and relieved by the Supreme Court ruling striking down part of DOMA, and unsurprised that they have ducked the issue on the California marriage cases.

IANAL, but it looks as though, in addition to symbolism, this is a significant benefit for same-sex couples in a dozen states, in terms of federal income tax, benefits, and immigration.

Oh, and try a google search today on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer.
This morning, [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel and I were at a halal market, which they say has good meat, including good cold cuts, to get fruit and something to put on sandwiches. As rysmiel was looking at the ingredients on some smoked chicken, I looked at a package and went "Matjes!" in pleased surprise. Since I was enthusiastic, and we couldn't find smoked meat (only pastrami, which is a bit different), we got a package of matjes herring, as I wondered idly what language that word is from*. The rest of the large print on the package was in Polish, which neither of us knows. (The legally required small print was in French and English, of course, but the ingredients list just said "herring.")

There is absolutely nothing to stop herring from being halal (or kosher; I regularly buy kosher pickled herring in sour cream). I'm not sure how much of my surprise was seeing matjes in neat packages, and how much was the Polish package in a Montreal supermarket that has lots of hummus and date paste and other Middle Eastern foods (and fairly standard brands of tea and kinds of apple and such).

So, city life.

For dinner we went to an Italian restaurant in the Gay Village and ate pasta. On our walk back to the metro I saw banners on the street with amusing and/or inspirational quotes about various aspects of gay life and liberation. (I couldn't read all of them; my French isn't what it might be, though I can read more French than I can speak.) I spent some time chewing over "Being gay is not a choice; it is a necessity," going quickly from "not for me" to "yes, it is" to wondering what "being" means here. (I may be misremembering the phrasing, and what I'm working with is my on-the-fly translation, not what was printed on the cloth.) I trust the writer's description of his own experience, but once the text is printed on a banner above the sidewalk, people are going to apply it more broadly. For me, it's more complicated; the "not for me" tangles in with the different choices that come with being bi, as well as other people's tendencies to assume I'm straight if they see me with a male partner. But how much effort I make to be visible is separate from not making an effort to hide.

It would be nice to have a similar collection of banners in English, and maybe some in other languages, in my own Village.

*[livejournal.com profile] cattitude was sitting at his computer when I told him this story, so he asked the net. With that spelling of "matjes," apparently either German or Swedish (Dutch would have another "a"). But I suspect that matjes is the English, and maybe French, for that kind of herring, just as "biscotti" is the French and English for a particular kind of Italian-style cookie.
The state legislature has passed a same-sex marriage bill, the governor has signed it, and it goes into effect in 30 days. For everyone who is saying this will "destroy" marriage, I have no problem with our divorce rates reaching the shocking levels currently seen in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

If this was a threat to mixed-sex marriages, I'd have divorced [personal profile] cattitude and run off to Massachusetts years ago. Of course, our relationship isn't really what the people who talk about "traditional" marriage believe in either, even if their speeches suggest that gender difference is both necessary and sufficient for their idea of a good relationship.

Also, a shout-out to Republican State Senator McDonald, who announced his support for the bill by saying he was going to do the right thing, and "They can take this job and shove it."
A couple of days ago, in the course of conversation, [livejournal.com profile] cattitude showed me one of the "Old Spice Guy" ads that came out a little while ago. (It was relevant, and I hadn't previously bothered to look at any.)

So, the thing starts "look at me. Now look at your guy. Now look at me." So I did, and I smiled at Cattitude, and then looked back at the screen. In the course of 30 seconds of boasting, the Old Spice spokesman insults "your guy" (who I like better than that random muscled stranger) and then argues that "smells like a lady" is a disadvantage. For me, if "smells like a woman" means anything, it's pleasant thoughts of [personal profile] adrian_turtle, so positive rather than negative. And those smell-memories aren't from scented deodorant.

I can see how this ad might work on a lot of people, but my reactions were "don't dis my beloved," "what's wrong with that?" (the "smells like a lady" part), and "I am clearly not the target market here."

This isn't a "why would anyone do that?" moment, it's a case of pop culture/marketing passing me by because I'm not what they're looking at: in purely numerical terms, an ad that works on straight women and/or men who are or want to be involved with straight women, but puzzles or alienates some bi women and our partners is worthwhile. (This is "alienates" on the level of "I am not going to suggest someone use this," not "avoid people who have anything to do with this" or even "if you enjoyed these, you're weird."

(I am not a potential customer for the product itself because, as an anti-perspirant, it contains aluminum compounds that make me break out. This does simplify choosing a deodorant.)
As [livejournal.com profile] roadnotes put it, spreading this story because it's terrifying:

Sonoma County officials deliberately ignored a twenty-year relationship between two men, despite their having mutual powers of attorney and medical directives naming each other. They were forced into separate nursing homes, their property seized and sold, and their lease nullified.

One evening, Harold fell down the front steps of their home and was taken to the hospital. Based on their medical directives alone, Clay should have been consulted in Harold’s care from the first moment. Tragically, county and health care workers instead refused to allow Clay to see Harold in the hospital. The county then ultimately went one step further by isolating the couple from each other, placing the men in separate nursing homes.


The county workers told the judge the two men were just "roommates."

The article notes that this happened in relatively liberal Sonoma County. But without that legal status, "safety" is the luck of the draw: is the county or city worker who happens to get your case a decent, accepting person, or are they homophobic?

Right here, right now, I'm safe from this kind of oppression: I'm legally married to someone of the socially acceptable gender. And I'm still feeling both angry and a little bit scared.
redbird: women's lib: raised fist inside symbol for woman (fist)
( Nov. 9th, 2009 08:22 pm)
We just lost in Maine, and that hurts.

But Governor Patterson says he's putting a same-sex marriage bill on the agenda for tomorrow's special session of the New York state legislature.

If you live in New York, contact your state senator. If you know they're on our side, thank them and remind them that this is urgent. If not, explain to them why they should vote for equal marriage.

(Last week, state senator Ruben Diaz was quoted as saying that if this passed, he would take this as a slap in the face. Because civil rights are less important than his ego, or something. I don't know if any of you live in his district, but if so, you might remind him that if he blocks it, that's a slap in your face and you'll remember it come 2010. A long shot, but he needs to remember that this is not about him.)

I am making no predictions here: the governor can make them show up, but after that, it's up to the state senate. (It's up to the state senate because it has passed the assembly and Gov. Patterson has promised he will sign a marriage bill if he gets one.)
redbird: women's lib: raised fist inside symbol for woman (fist)
( Nov. 9th, 2009 01:10 pm)
We just lost in Maine, and that hurts.

But Governor Patterson says he's putting a same-sex marriage bill on the agenda for tomorrow's special session of the New York state legislature.

If you live in New York, contact your state senator. If you know they're on our side, thank them and remind them that this is urgent. If not, explain to them why they should vote for equal marriage.

(Last week, state senator Ruben Diaz was quoted as saying that if this passed, he would take this as a slap in the face. Because civil rights are less important than his ego, or something. I don't know if any of you live in his district, but if so, you might remind him that if he blocks it, that's a slap in your face and you'll remember it come 2010. A long shot, but he needs to remember that this is not about him.)

I am making no predictions here: the governor can make them show up, but after that, it's up to the state senate. (It's up to the state senate because it has passed the assembly and Gov. Patterson has promised he will sign a marriage bill if he gets one.)
redbird: Photo of the spiral galaxy Arp 32 (arp 32)
( Jun. 28th, 2009 01:50 pm)
This weekend is the fortieth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

A lot has changed since then. Not everything, not enough, but a lot: people who would once have been wondering "is it safe to be seen in public with my partner" are fighting to have their marriages recognized.

I'm not, physically, up to being downtown at the NY Gay Pride March celebrating today, but it's important that it's there. It matters that it's part of the fabric of the city and the year: the cycle of parades, the MTA noting which buses will be rerouted (most parades go right down Fifth, and this one turns west to go down Christopher Street), the local newspaper Web page with photos of previous years and lists of events as the front page for New York City yesterday. That, and the sponsorships and banners hanging from the lamp posts on Fifth Avenue, are a different message from how it felt when I first marched in the 1980s, and we had to deal with counter-protestors shouting insults near St. Patrick's Cathedral. I can miss the extent to which it felt political, but I don't miss having people trying to get in our face to tell us we were evil.

I'm not much connected to specifically LGBT social groups, because I haven't felt much need, and haven't always been sure I would fit there. A piece of that is that [personal profile] cattitude is male, and was my only partner for a long time. But another piece is that I've got a social group, defined on other axes and interests, that is basically queer-friendly, people who don't react differently to "this is my partner" when I'm introducing [personal profile] adrian_turtle than when I'm introducing Cattitude. And that's not my cleverness, that's time and change in large parts of US and other western society.

When I mentioned a girlfriend to my parents at 17, they sent me to a psychologist. So I didn't introduce them to more girlfriends for a long time. But when I told my mother about Adrian, she said "I want to meet her," and did, and they like each other. That's not just that my mother is a cool person; it's a quarter century of progress and people pushing and being visible in a lot of ways and places.
redbird: a male cardinal in flight (cardinal)
( Apr. 7th, 2009 12:50 pm)
Yay Vermont!

In the same week as Iowa. A week ago, there were two U.S. states that didn't limit marriage to mixed-sex couples. Today, four, and one of them by legislative action, after a few years of trying the "civil union" compromise.

Any bets on whether Malcolm Smith can get the New York state senate to follow Vermont's lead? (We have no need for a veto-proof two-thirds, just a majority of each house of the state legislature: Governor Patterson has said he’ll sign a marriage equality bill.)
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redbird: a male cardinal in flight (cardinal)
( Apr. 7th, 2009 12:50 pm)
Yay Vermont!

In the same week as Iowa. A week ago, there were two U.S. states that didn't limit marriage to mixed-sex couples. Today, four, and one of them by legislative action, after a few years of trying the "civil union" compromise.

Any bets on whether Malcolm Smith can get the New York state senate to follow Vermont's lead? (We have no need for a veto-proof two-thirds, just a majority of each house of the state legislature: Governor Patterson has said he’ll sign a marriage equality bill.)
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Yay, Iowa! The Iowa Supreme Court has unanimously upheld a ruling that limiting marriage to mixed-sex couples violates the state constitution, and ordered that marriage licenses be issued to same-sex couples within the next three weeks.

I'd lost track of this case, as we were all watching California and I kept a cautious eye on the NY legislature*


*always the best kind, though in this case I was hopeful they'd do something good, not wary that they'd take something away.
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