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Archive for the ‘lesbian’ Category

Where are all the gay romanians?

Posted by E on January 7, 2008

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Where in the world are all the gay Romanians hiding? Come on, deal with the times, people – being gay has been decriminalized since 1989! It’s time for all those closet doors to bang wide open. Why are they not?

Following up on my last post about growing up under communism, I reflected on the legacy that has been passed down: one of hatred and fear of people who are different. Romanians are among the most intolerant people in Europe when it comes to gays, gypsies, and basically anyone who stands out from the self-imposed norm.

Until the 1989 Revolution, homosexuality was illegal and punishable with a 5-year mandatory prison sentence at hard labour. Since communism was toppled, however, the laws against gays were lifted, but in name only. I know there have been queer marches in Bucharest, and that there is a club or two out there. But there is virtually no internet presence to speak of.

There are plenty of sites that talk about Romanian gays, but they are written and hosted by foreigners. So where are all the Romanian gays and lesbians? What is attributable to their silence? Perhaps a combination of lack of computer skills and fear of retribution from friends and neighbours (since homosexuals have very likely taken over the number 1 most villified group in Romania, toppling the long-standing champions of that title, the Roma people, closely followed by jews and hungarians).

But whether I look online, on Facebook, on any of the other social-networking sites, there is a distinct absence of Romanian gays and lesbians.

The “New Right”, smugly claiming philosophical lineage from Eminescu and various other historical intellectuals, have marched and attacked gay parades, trying to cover up their hatred with an appeal to religion and questionable science of the sort that goes something like “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” But just like all through Eastern Europe, skinheads, neo-fascists and even staunch supporters of the old communist regime have banded together calling for “normalcy”, displaying Christian symbols (what else is new?) and ranting about “we don’t want to be a nation of faggots.” I guess they have to cling to such delusions, since they’ve lost the battle over the fact that the rest of Europe sees Romania as “a nation of gypsies.” Just ask any Italian. But I digress.

The point is – where is the gay presence in Romania? Where are the websites, the online journals, the activist logs? Romania is a deeply anti-gay country, and it will stay that way until people realize that gays are not some weird creatures who stand in the shadow of street corners, trying to corrupt their children. They ARE their children, their relatives, their spouses, their co-workers, their friends. It is only fear that keeps people from living authentic lives.

This week I decided to finally write my cousin in Romania, a woman who has been pestering me to keep in touch and write more often. There was a time when she wrote only to complain and ask for money, and I usually sent it to them whenever I could. But as of late, she has been asking me more questions that I have hesitated to answer. The point is, the woman is a bigot. I remember going back to visit several years ago, and being increasingly tired of her spewing rants against the gypsies and the “poponari.” I didn’t want to stay in touch more than the occasional holiday card or two.

But finally, I wrote back and told her exactly why I didn’t feel compelled to write back often, and how this had more to do than just the simple fact that my Romanian is somewhat shitty, especially when I try to express myself – after all, I left when I was 10.

So there we have it. I’ve done my contribution to come out. I only wish I could help out in the Romanian gay community, but I can’t do much at all if there is no community beyond guys cruising in the parks.

There has to be more, there has to be more done or nothing is going to change.

http://www.owlspotting.com/2006/06/06/romania-is-so-not-gay/ – This is a cool article that I just stumbled onto while I was looking for a romanian gay presence on the web. I encourage you to read it. But one of the best parts of it is this quote:

Romanians will deny they have an aversion to gays. They will go even further and deny any form of intolerance. They might even tell you the idea that Romanians can be intolerant is part of a Western smear campaign against our country. Romanians don’t hate gays. Nor do they hate gypsies, Hungarians or blacks. They just don’t believe any of these groups are really necessary for the country to function. After all, if God intended for the Romanian people to be Hungarian black gypsies attracted to people of the same sex, he would have passed on that memo to the Orthodox Church leadership.

Romania may hide under the EU blanket, or claim that globalization has broadened the horizons of its people, but reality remains as ugly and unobstructed as always. And the only way to change things is for all its gays and lesbians to come out of the woodwork and live their lives without shame or regret.

The only site I could find on the subject is Accept’s site: http://www.accept-romania.ro/ It is well-meaning, but half of the sites in the Links section are to porn sites. Great.

Are there any Romanian gays or lesbians out there in the blogosphere? on the net? helloooooooooooooooooooooooo………………

Are there also any Roma gays or lesbians? hellooooooooooo to you as well. Please feel free to write! The only mention of roma gays is on this site: http://www.globalgayz.com/g-romania.html

If you know of any cool Romanian lesbian or gay blogs or sites (and no, not porn), please add them here and I’ll link to them. Thanks 🙂

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Posted in activism, blog, communism, culture, freedom, gay, homosexuality, ignorance, lesbian, politics, rant, revolution, romania | 10 Comments »

Memories of my communist childhood – growing up under the red banner

Posted by E on December 28, 2007

 

 

After my last post, in which I wrote about my impressions of Cuba, I received some mixed feedback – exactly half of the commentators were against the Cuban regime, and half advocating earnestly for it. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of middle room for discussion when it comes to communist systems of government, does it? I’m not entirely sure what a middle ground would look like, but like any other battle of sectarian ideologies, this battle-line is drawn down the middle with a clearly-defined marker.

My opinions differ from most people I know, not necessarily in their ideology as much as from the formative experiences that have shaped who I am. I am a product of a so-called utopian society that like most others, found its end in a bloody revolution. There are many who still long for the good old times, simply because nobody ever was taught to think for themselves. For many decades, the people of my homeland were brought up to fear what was above them, the Golden Father of all Children, and when his regime fell so many older people didn’t know how to take care of themselves since they had always relied on the state to provide, to teach, and to think for them.

I was one of Ceausescu’s last batch of communism-raised children. We were an experimental generation of youth raised under the shade of a red star, in the Golden Epoch of our Fatherland. Our homeland, our Patria, was what we swore allegiance to. In grade 2, I received my Red Scarf and became a Pioneer. I remember that day clearly – for weeks I practiced memorizing a poem about our Great Father Nicolae Ceausescu that I later recited flawlessly in front of the Pioneer Assembly. In grade 3 I was stripped of one of my pioneer medals because my mother was a political defector. My father and I were followed by the Securitate for two years while we waited for our departure papers under the Red Cross Family Reunification program. In grade 4 I learned how to shoot a rifle. Officially, I became a child soldier for our homeland.

I loved my country. I truly, deeply appreciate that I had the opportunity to grow up sheltered from violence, from materialism, from being over-sexualized at an early age. I loved my uniform, my internal sense of fairness truly appreciating the equality that this white shirt and pleated navy skirt represented: all children, gypsies, christians, jews, all faiths and social classes brought together under one flag, one song, one classroom.

At the same time, I saw a country brought to its knees under the weight of its foreign exports. All of our rich resources were being exported to pay for Romania’s increasing debtload, a debt incurred as part of Ceausescu’s attempts at civilizing its people from its bourgeois roots: churches and villages were raised to the ground in order to pave roads and build collective farms and factories. People were reduced to a name on a ration card, one kilogram of flour and sugar per month, a litre of oil. Nothing more or less.

I remember standing in those lines: the line for bread, for butter, for meat, for books – any leftover money from people’s salaries was spent in a desperate attempt to buy food. There was never enough food for everybody. You could line up at 5 a.m. and it still didn’t guarantee there would be enough left by the time your turn came to the cashier. People made a habit of lining up: they didn’t know what kind of meat would be available at the butcher’s that day, but they arrived promptly at 5 in the morning, always five in the morning – for bread, for clothing, for various amenities.

And what did those people do in those lines? They laughed, they cried, they cursed “Him” who could not be named, but everybody knew – we were all co-conspirators, well-versed in the language of innuendos, scathing jokes and trepidation. Unlike the socialist red banner we lived in, nobody loved their neighbour. Everybody was jealous of each other – tried to figure out who had more, how they got it, and if we could get it too. People called secret, anonymous phone lines and denunced their neighbours for nothing more than a move to a better apartment or a better job assignment.

Under the red banner, I knew hunger, I knew pain, and what I experienced most of all – was fear. A deep, breath-taking fear that crushed your voice inside your ribs. You didn’t look up, you didn’t ask Why, you just obeyed. I knew people who worked at collective farms who went to jail for holding back a chicken from the monthly counts, just to feed their families a bit more protein. Only those who worked for the Party, the State, the Securitate, would have access to foreign currency and could go to that wondurous place we only heard stories about: the Shop. At the Shop, you could buy toblerone bars and Nescafe coffee, and loads of products we spied foreign tourists being served in fancy restaurants. Unfortunately, I never bought anything at the Shop. It was not for people like us. While Ceausescu was building the second-largest palace in the world after the Taj-Mahal, replete with gold bathroom fixtures, I remained underweight for my age.

Sometimes I wonder if anybody who glorifies a system like that of Romania, the Eastern Bloc, like Cuba and China’s, has ever lived inside this world. I don’t wonder this very often since I already know the answer: they have not. Nobody who has lived inside this world of sensory and emotional deprivation would wish for it again. Sure, nowadays Romanians will grumble that: “Before we had money but no food, now we have lots of food but no money to buy it.” But if questioned again about their past, their eyes glaze over and deep sighs can be heard. The emotional blackness of those days will always scar the lining of our souls.

Ceausescu meant well. So did Marx, and Che, and even Adolf (yes, I am mixing political affiliations!). Nobody starts out with the desire to massacre the spirit of their nation. But through deeds that are meant to be “for the good of others”, the result remains the same. Atrocity and sadness remains the legacy of so many regimes where scores of nameless people perish in the name of a warped ideology. Even after the 1989 Revolution, the scars remain, and they will remain there, imprinted on my heart, for the rest of my life.

I miss my childhood, the people I will never see again, the friends and neighbours who we have lost touch with, who all fled in the night to Australia, America, and Europe. One day you had lunch with somebody, the next day they were gone – and you didn’t know whether they had been arrested or paid someone to smuggle them over the border. As for myself, I never wanted to leave my homeland – I was dragged, kicking and screaming, away from it at age 10. In retrospect, it was already too late – I inherited my country’s history in my genes; its pulse beat in my veins like a tumultuous river. Even when citizenship was forcibly stripped from me as a defector, I remained Romanian. It was a thing they could never take away.

Nowadays, when I meet other Romanians I search for the legacy of the terror in their eyes: there is a darkness there, always, a haunted look that lies behind their smiles, their happy countenance. I see other survivors of my generation, other experimental byproducts of a world where walls cound talk, and where a whisper could mean exile. We walk like aliens among Canadians in this country, like wolves in sheep’s clothing – we are not of your world, this world of smiles and polite conversations. We are survivors of something that cannot be fathomed by those who are fortunate enough to have been born here.

I came from a world where being a lesbian would have meant a mandatory five-year jail sentence with hard labour. A world where my writing would be censored and condemned. Where my poetry would have to be dedicated to the Party. Where my life would forever remain not a burning flame, but a sigh.

I have realized that those people who continue the lovely fairytale of a communist utopia surely must not have experienced it. To be perfectly honest, I would absolutely love it if a true socialist state could exist in this world – a state of egalitarianism where all are cared for and provided by a loving government. But that will never happen, since it is not within the boundaries of human nature – it is by default that we strive to compete with each other, to outdo each other’s accomplishments, to work harder and seek greater peaks than those of our neighbours’. By default, true socialism cannot work. I have met leftists who said to me “Oh, but Elisa dear, what you experienced wasn’t truly communism, but state capitalism.” Because of course, they considered themselves experts of socialist systems, and every time one failed, it was attributed to the fact that “Well, that wasn’t REALLY socialism anyway, or a failed attempt at communism.” This came from well-meaning but confused activists, naive individuals who refused to acknowledge that every failure of communism over the last hundred years has been a sign of its instability and profound inability to ever be implemented.

Because as tough and hard-core a leftist as you can be, when you are inside oppression and you suffer in silence, you have but one of two choices: become the enemy, or be broken. On the tree-lined boulevards of Bucharest, in Moscow’s squares, on Beijing’s winding streets, and in the slums of Havana, people survived the only way they know how: a breath at a time.

To all deniers of oppression worldwide – shame on you. What is so quickly forgotten is destined to be repeated.

Posted in activism, canada, censorship, children, communism, cuba, freedom, gay, lesbian, life, politics, propaganda, revolution, romania, russia | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 17 Comments »

The sadistic psychosis of writing a book

Posted by E on December 9, 2007

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Last night a friend from California emailed and asked what others have wondered as well: how is the Nanowrimo-challenge book doing? I thought I would paste partions of my response to her, in the hope that it would kill several birds with the same stone.

The marathon novel has been gathering dust since precisely november 20th… I had reached 50,000+ words but had to call it short since we were hosting a friend of mine from Spain and I cannot multitask – be a host and a writer, which is strange since she’s a writer herself, but alas! nothing more written since.

I estimate there is still about half a book to write, and then have to get onto cleaning it up for a 2nd draft. Which will be so difficult since I am convinced that it is utter crap. But I’ve been warned not to dismiss it as complete crap until at least the 2nd draft is finished….

A factor that has impeded my writing for the last years is my reluctance to read….I get so frustrated when I read good books and feel that I can never get a manuscript to that polished point…of course this is all a chicken before egg sort of thing, since good books are never written by people who don’t read. Therefore I am perfectly aware that I need to read before I can write anything decent, so herein lies my conflict. I hate reading anymore, though I am surrounded by books.

But having my friend Sofia here for so long has changed some things, and I feel that her arrival was an impetus for me to take up writing again, and not in a lackluster, lackadaisical way but seriously. I mean to get something done and published over the next year. And for the first time ever, I have ventured out into a gay writers’ group here in Toronto, though I am still too terrified to read in public. But I know I have to get there too, because everybody knows that half of being a writer is the ability to posture and sprew bullshit on a stage.

So, if and when the crappy novel gets to 2nd draft, I will be sure to let all my creative friends in on the misery of having to suffer through it. I have stumbled across a quote I am now particularly fond of, written by Nabokov of perverse Lolita fame: “Only ambitious nonentities and hearty mediocrities exhibit their rough drafts. It’s like passing around samples of sputum.”

The biggest issue I have come across is that of too much creativity: since I’ve been suffocating under a big load of blockage, now that the door is open, there are too many voices trying to shove through the door, not allowing one another polite access, kind of like trying to get in and out of the subway in Seoul, that nobody can get through intact. During my nano month, there were 2-3 other novels that were trying to break through. I kept notes on one of them, but there was constant conflict. I find I stumble across my most brilliant ideas when I am obligated to do something else. It may be a masochistic trend most writers share, I think, since others I’ve mentioned this to also concurred.

I don’t think I’ve ever been a writer before now, or I deluded myself. What I was, was a poet; but being a bard is such a different thing from a novelist. Writing non-fiction is also so vastly different. Only now am I entering the schizophrenic playground of a fiction writer. There are so many observations I have noted as the process unfolds. I become characters, entering their realm and seeing everything as though I was there, like a virtual movie going on parallel to my everyday life, and I feel pulled in both directions since both realms have the same weight of reality inside my mind.

I am glad to have a month to come up for air; when I am inside a book, it feels like I am scuba-diving into another world, and both the process of submerging and resurfacing are somewhat traumatic. I believe I am the type of writer who works best in strong, intense spurts – I cannot imagine how some people can take years to complete a book. They must go insane after that much time. Kind of like mathematicians who apply their brains to the numbers for so long that they eventually just go mad. Like those guys in A Beautiful Mind and Proof – utterly, droolingly, electric-shockingly insane.

As it is, once I am inside that parallel reality, I don’t want to do anything but live it through – I don’t go out, don’t cook, don’t clean, don’t do anything but live it out in real-time. It may be a bit drastic, but it’s the only way I can do this. I barely eat and barely talk to others. I live on coffee, wine gums and gummy worms, anything I can reach with one hand while I furiously pound at my keyboard with the other.

I would love to reenter the book right now and process it through to the end of a first draft, but the situation of the moment does not allow the insanity to return, at least not for the next month. I will be travelling to Cuba soon, and then moving into a new home after I return. The insanity will have to wait until February.

Not that I haven’t manifested my psychosis in other ways: though I am about to fly to Cuba, I am terrified of flying, and at this point I am less concerned about a wonderful sunny beach vacation than the prospect of crashing on takeoff or landing. Of course, about a week or so ago the sadist in me compelled me to watch a marathon of Mayday shows: six hours of gory, no-survivor, all hope lost reenactments of various plane crashes.

That’s being a writer for you. 🙂

Posted in lesbian, life, literature, nanowrimo, poetry, publishing, writer, writing | 1 Comment »

Spending time with my Spanish friend

Posted by E on November 25, 2007

Today my partner and I drove all the way to Barrie to pick up my friend S. who had been staying there. How did a girl from Madrid end up in Barrie of all places? Well, you’d have to ask her, and needless to say it’s a long and sordid tale. But the funniest part of it is that her former friend, a Spanish-Canadian girl she’d met online who was supposed to be just a friend, became insanely infatuated with her (despite being in a long-term relationship with someone who is completely clueless about what she is doing online), and enticed her to come to Canada with the promise that Barrie was only a “suburb of Toronto.”

Now, other than the obvious lesson of You Never Know What Psychos You’ll Meet Online, you might be sitting there thinking “How on God’s green earth could someone assume that Barrie is a bleeping suburb of Toronto?” I concurr, but needless to say, my friend from Madrid is finally free of -20 degree cold Barrie and back in the real world.

This is such a cool friendship, although we’ve a psycho bipolar individual to thank for bringing us together. How did I meet S.? None other than at the wedding of the former friend, who decided to marry her long-term girlfriend when she realized that she had no possibility to be with S.. How pathetic is that? To tell someone two days before your wedding that “Well, the only reason I’m marrying K. is because you won’t be with me anyway because I’m not butch.”

Talk about a passive-aggressive guilt trip. Pretty sad, huh? 

Anyway, S. and I expect nothing from each other other than having fun together and being the creative individuals that we are. It is so refreshing for her to have friends in this country who don’t want, expect, or resent her for not returning their affections and endless love letters. I know that I’ve done my part in showing her that not everybody here is weird a la Single White Female. lol

S. has already stayed with us several times over the last couple of months, but this time she’ll be staying a bit longer. We plan on doing lots of things over the next while. But the best part of it, is I have a sister-writer now who has inspired me to get back into my creative works. And on her part, she is finally freeeeeeeeeeeee!

Posted in lesbian, thoughts, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Girls 2 Men

Posted by E on November 14, 2007

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Earlier this year, Ariel Levy of NY Mag wrote a provocative and controversial article entitled Where the Bois Are – Why some young lesbians are going beyond feminist politics, beyond androgyny, to explore a new generation of sex roles. I would post excerpts but I can’t copy the text and have to content myself with posting the above photo from the article and the article’s beginning paragraphs:

A girl in a newsboy cap and a white t-shirt with rolled-up sleeves is leaning against the back wall at Meow Mix and telling her friend, “Some femme… just some femme.  I met her at a party three weeks ago, but now she’s like e-mailing me, and I’m just like, chill out, b****!”  …  She thrusts her forearm in front of her face as if she’s rapping as  she says, “Some of these chicks, it’s like you top them once and then they’re all up in your face.   It’s l like, did I get you off?  Yes.  Am I your new best friend?  No.  You know what I’m saying, bro?”

Her friend nods and keeps her eyes on the blonde go-go dancer in tiny white shorts undulating on a tabletop.  “Bois like us,” she says, “we’ve got to stick together.”

Now, the Village Voice has published an article written by Chloe Hilliard  entitled, Girls to Men and subtitled Young lesbians in Brooklyn find that a thug’s life gets them more women.  Following are excerpts:

At the Lab, a Brooklyn nightclub and rental hall, a petite Hispanic bartender sporting braids down the middle of her back and a baseball cap is taking a break on a recent Friday night. Then she spots something in the crowd and leaps onto the bar. She sees another woman dressed in boyish hip-hop gear hitting on her femme girlfriend on the crowded dance floor. The bartender jumps to the floor, pushes her way past dancers, and grabs her woman by the arms. After giving her a rough, disapproving shake, she drags her quarry back to the bar, where the girlfriend will remain standing in silence the rest of the night.

“It’s a property thing,” explains Siya, who, like the bartender, looks like she’s walked out of a rap video. Among the 15 tattoos that adorn her beige complexion are a large Bed-Stuy on her forearm and Brooklyn on the back of one hand. She’s 20. “You can be holding your femme girlfriend’s hand in the club, and she could be looking around, searching for a flyer AG. She’s going to want to stray, slip her a number. All lesbians are sneaky,” Siya says.

At the weekly 18-and-over females-only hip-hop party going on, about half of the black and Hispanic crowd is femme, the other half “AGs,” or “aggressives,” who also refer to themselves as “studs,” whether they’re fly or not.

Later, when two AGs get into a pushing match over a femme, one shouts, “Suck my dick, n****! I’ll fuck your whole shit up!” Friends break it up, pulling one outside the club to get the story. One of the women had tried to talk to the other’s girlfriend while her back was turned. But it’s a common occurrence. No femme, committed or not, is really off-limits.

“When you go to the club and you’re an AG, your mission that entire night is to find the baddest femme in the club and make her your girl,” says another woman, who calls herself Don Vito Corleone. “Just like every rapper wants the baddest video chick on his arm, so do AGs.”

…for increasing numbers of very young black and Hispanic lesbians, the bitches-and-’hos lyrics of their musical heroes are the soundtrack for a thug’s life they pursue with almost as much passion as they do the hottest femme in the club.

… For these women, there seem to be few older lesbians they can look up to, or organizations that mean much to them, other than the crews they create themselves.

…After a previous location closed, the women moved their weekly dance party to the Lab after a five-week hiatus. “When we had our grand opening, almost two years ago, the fashion trend had changed dramatically. Our grand opening night we had 650 females. Half the crowd had on ‘do-rags and the whole thug look going on.”

…Siya dreams of success in the music market, but she’s already a steady presence at the Lab. And one thing she has in common with some of her musical idols: a rap sheet.

“It’s hard for me to find a legit job because of my criminal record.” At 16, she ran away from home with her then girlfriend. The two became engaged and moved to Albany, where money got tight and Siya, like many AGs, took to hustling.

It’s a pressure many young AGs feel as the dominant figure in their relationship. If you have the sand to knock down another woman in order to grab the hottest femme in the club, you don’t want to admit that you have little cash to keep your prize happy.

Don Vito Corleone

Siya served four months for grand larceny, first degree assault, and attempted assault, and was placed on three years’ probation. “Hustling is the next best thing if you can’t find a legit job. There are a lot of females that boost or sell drugs,” she says. “I wouldn’t say it’s hard for all aggressives to find jobs because there are some that are sacrificing: putting on tight clothes, female suits, or business suits to go to work. Then there are a lot of us who wouldn’t feel comfortable like that. I could apply for a whole bunch of jobs and if I don’t come in looking like the girly girl or because of my tattoos or just by me being gay raises a red flag.”

During the day Don Vito (she’s reluctant to give her up real name) works on Wall Street in the IT department of a prestigious law firm. Her co-workers don’t know that she’s gay, but some of her female co-workers wonder why she never talks about a boyfriend.

“I’ve never been with a man,” she says. “That’s gross. But I’ll tell you what’s funny: I did have to go to prom when I was high school, and what made it worse was that I was a debutante.” She laughs at the thought of herself in a dress and heels. ..She stands around five foot eight, and though an AG, doesn’t deepen her voice or bind her breasts. She walks with a light bop and likes wearing a bandanna over her face when she’s in the club. It gives her mystique.

Two years ago, Vito moved to New York with her then girlfriend to attend film school. After the program ended she got the job in IT but writes screenplays in her spare time.

 Notorious Corleone aka Jenell Hall

She’s the “father” and creator of House of Corleone, a tightly knit group of young black and Hispanic lesbians. Modeled on the extended-families structure used by previous generations of New York gays and lesbians, a number of hip- hop houses have sprouted up recently with names like the Da Vincis, House of Mecca, and the Bossalenos and Belladonnas. Vito’s crew has attracted young AGs like Chick Murda, a/k/a Aisha Sampson.

“I joined House of Corleone four or five months ago,” Sampson tells the Voice during a photo shoot held at the Lab. “I was on downelink.com and Vito hit me up. She told me to look into it. I didn’t know gay women had houses. As time went by, I saw the house’s progress. I like to meet new people, and met a lot of people in this house. It’s a lot of exposure.”

Vito says she was motivated to start her house as a result of the self-destruction she saw many young lesbians headed toward. “There are a lot of AGs that are going down the wrong path,” she says. “A lot of them are selling drugs. I used to sell drugs and almost went to jail for a long time. A lot of these AGs do it because the girls think it’s cute. They are so serious about keeping up appearances that they’ll either hustle or take a fast-food job so they can wear their low haircut or gold teeth.”

Life as a young lesbian of color, of course, has its risks. In 2003, a young AG named Sakia Gunn engaged in a shouting match with a man named Richard McCullough at Newark’s Penn Station after Gunn had returned from an evening of partying in the West Village. The altercation turned violent, and McCullough stabbed and killed Gunn. He’s serving 20 years in prison. Last August, Patreese Johnson and six other women got into another shouting match with a man named Dwayne Buckle, a street vendor outside the IFC Center. Buckle was stabbed, and identified Johnson as his attacker, telling the press that he was the victim of a hate crime against straight men. Johnson has pled not guilty to charges of attempted murder and gang assault.

Well aware of such incidents, Don Vito has recruited 50 women—a mix of femmes and AGs—including Siya, from across the country and even overseas into the family just since January. But a rash of other groups are giving houses like Don Vito’s a bad name.

“…In my house I require my members to partake in at least two charity events a year. I want a family bond and I don’t want it to be about drama.”

Growing up in Atlanta with a preacher for a father, Don Vito wasn’t able to talk about her feelings or her sexuality. “To this day I can’t say to my parents, ‘I’m gay.’ I didn’t come out to anyone until I was 26. I don’t want my ’sons’ to have to go through that.”

…Behind these brick walls, the girls are free to be badass rap stars and their girly dates. They’re free to grab their crotches, kick it to a pretty girl, or dance in a tight embrace. It’s a life you might not imagine when you see one of them on the street, look at her face, and think to yourself, “She looks like a boy.”

Photo Gallery, Entire Hilliard Article

Many of you will see this as exploitation – others as subversive. Tell me what you think, let’s have some discourse here.

Posted in butch, femme, gay, lesbian, transgender | 7 Comments »

Sex Kitten, Radical Feminist, or Mommy-wannabe – what kind of girl blogger should I be?

Posted by E on August 7, 2007

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For a while now I have been musing about which angle I would take this blog toward. In order to attract a good amount of readers, a blogger has a choice to make:

1. Drive readers toward you based primarily on your personality – and you can write on any subject you like, since visitors are interested in you and what you have to say, OR

2. Develop a niche area that you preoccupy yourself with, thus becoming a blogging expert in that field. In this case, readers come to your blog because of the subject, instead of you personally.

For the last couple of months I’ve wondered how I could do both and get away with it. I would like to be visited by repeat and loyal readers, but I’m not sure how entertaining I can be to each person since I don’t know them personally! And as a writer, I tend to like to cover a wide variety of subjects, and really don’t see much appeal to cornering a niche market, even one on the subject of writing.

I find niche bloggers who focus on writing and the writing process to be among the most tedious and boring offerings on the net. God, even I as a writer can’t stand posts on end that cover grammar, how to attract agents, or how you’ll never be published unless you do X, Y and Z.

What niche am I in? I’m a woman, so I could write about woman stuff – that basically renders me to choose between a radical feminist angle (The Bitch), a mommy-and-kiddies angle (The Saint), or a sexual vixen with a penchant for odd-shaped toys and wild encounters (The Whore). Those archetypal personas just about sum up 99% of the girl blogs I’ve come across.

Ok, so since I’m not a mommy that eliminates me from possibly commenting on the subject, or so many would think. So since I won’t be blogging about my daughter’s birthday party invitations or how much fun face-painting and pony rides might be, or the tantrum she threw last night when she has to share her Bratz doll with her visiting cousin. Oh, but what if I don’t want to be a mommy, after all? Yikes, I couldn’t possibly write a blog about the joys of being childfree and not be attacked by my mommy readership!

Being a lesbian, however, almost demands that I take a radical feminist or a sex maniac angle, thus blasting the doors open to new blogging possibilities. Hmmm, so many decisions, so little time!

As a feminist blogger, I could tackle the mass genocide and abandonment of millions of female infants in China and India, or how I don’t think anyone wearing a hajab can call herself equal to a man, or otherwise truly delude herself into thinking that she is liberated from western sexuality rather than oppressed.

But I can just see all the flamers and critics already get choked up in a flurry of ruffled feathers and muffled indignation as they get ready to peck my eyes out.

I will now allow myself the pleasure of fantasizing about the kind of attention a sex blog might bring – lots of adoring readers, a stalker or two, various requests for odd and unusual tête-à-tête, and a genuine elevation of my ego to unheralded proportions.

All I would have to do is put together some scantily-clad photos of myself kissing a girl, maybe some free graphics of fetish wear – stilettos, black leather, you get the point – and an occasional review of the newest and most improved dildo and flavoured lubricant. Couple that with a link of my fav music video from YouTube (replete with semi-nude whiny vocalists) and we have ourselves a winner!

The only flaming I’d receive is from the burn-in-hell type (and we know those types love their sex blogs!), but maybe as a Sex Kitten someone would actually buy me a damn latte and maybe a few books on my Amazon wish-list….

So if you’re reading this, dear visitor, please add your two cents as to what kind of blogger you would love me to be – Bitch, Saint, or Whore! I welcome all comments on the matter!

Either way,  I am beginning to add different categories to this blog, so I can appeal both to niche readers and those who like me for me.

Any thoughts?

Note of discretion to all regular readers: this post is more of a tongue-in-cheek, ironic commentary on the trend I’ve noticed in women’s blogs recently, rather than a definitive attempt to categorize myself. But just out of curiosity, do you find you read a certain type of blog more than another? Artsy stuff, political blogs, satirical/funny blogs, feminist or family-centered material? I’d like to know what you find interesting.

Posted in blog, blogger, blogging, commentary, feminism, gay, girls, lesbian, life, niche, personal, sex, thoughts, women, writer, writing | 8 Comments »

Gay adoptive parents make great parents :)

Posted by E on June 29, 2007

gay-flamingos.jpg

Here’s more for all of you who got your feathers in a ruff over my last blog entry on gays and surrogacy. Maybe you can take a “chick” pill 🙂  Don’t delude yourselves by thinking that by calling me names and hurling insults you are making yourselves look any less bigoted or full of internalized hatred.  I’ll chalk it up to your suffering from just a tad bit of homoerotic tension 🙂

UK: Gay flamingos’ adoption joy (Courtesy of The Sun Online, May 21, 2007)

A pair of gay flamingos in the UK have become proud foster parents after taking an abandoned chick under their wings.

Carlos and Fernando had been so desperate to have chicks that they had resorted to stealing eggs to fulfil their unlikely dream of a starting a family at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust in Gloucestershire, reports The Sun newspaper.

But their egg-sitting and hatching skills impressed staff so much that when one of the Greater Flamingo nests was abandoned last week, they were considered the number one choice to ‘adopt’ the chick.

The unhatched egg was taken to an incubator where it was warmed up and monitored.

Hours later a healthy chick hatched, but staff were concerned the duo would not bond with the newborn because the process normally begins when the chicks are ‘calling’ them from inside the egg.

So the chick was carefully placed in an old eggshell, which was taped up and returned to the unsuspecting couple’s empty nest.

The pair were soon seen ‘talking’ to the chick inside the egg and a short time later it hatched for a second time – to be greeted by its loving new foster parents.

WWT spokeswoman Jane Waghorn said: “Fernando and Carlos are a same sex couple who have been known to steal other Flamingos’ eggs by chasing them off their nest because they wanted to rear them themselves.

“They were rather good at sitting on eggs and hatching them so last week, when a nest was abandoned, it seemed like a good idea to make them surrogate parents.”

The pair, who have been together for about six years, can feed their chick without any female help – by producing milk in their throat.

The chick, who is being brought up in a ‘creche’ with 15 other newborns, has been welcomed into the flock, under the watchful eye of its new parents.

Gay flamingos are not particularly rare and enjoy an elevated status with their choice of partner.

“If there aren’t enough females or they don’t hit it off with them, they will pair off with other males,” Ms Waghorn said.

The pair are Greater Flamingos, the most widely dispersed of the six flamingo species, being found in Europe, Asia, Africa and North and South America. The average lifespan is about 30 years.

Posted in adoption, children, gay, lesbian, news, pregnancy, surrogate, thoughts | Comments Off on Gay adoptive parents make great parents :)

Expats, Writers, Degenerates and other Rarities

Posted by E on April 18, 2007

with-korean-students.jpgKorea, 2001

Sitting here a full six months after publishing my first book, I can’t help but reflect on my progression into a pool of mental stagnation.

From the euphoric high of finally holding in my hands a complete book and brimming with excitement over the next project – “Now that this is done, look how easy it can be! Let’s do it again! Now!”, to being torn at having to choose between different projects, and finally burning out inside my ideas while barely touching the keyboard. And so lately I have been revisiting much of my time as an English teacher in Seoul, South Korea. Life was chaotic, full of stresses and joys that entwined into a symbiotic landscape inside my head, and out of that emerged the most fierce independence I have ever experienced.

I hardly put a pen to paper then, and the temporary act of relinquishing my masochistic need to create, that painful expulsion of memory into creative form, was blissful. I could feel “normal”, no longer propelled to stand apart from others, imbibed with my own secret stories. There was nothing to me but my suitcase and my resume. There was power in this hollowness of spirit. Albeit for a short while in the context of my life, I was free of the compulsion to create anything.

Within that hollowness there were many other life forms, all drawn to the East because, paradoxically for a place where so many natives are fiercely inhibited, it was the land of the unrestrained. I met teachers there who were drunks, expelled from their jobs back in the US and Canada, most who had no certifications whatsoever save for an online degree in TESOL that can be purchased with $400. Korean private language academies were so desperate for teachers they took anyone whose passport photograph conveyed as Caucasian and under 40. A sad but true fact. I was given return flight tickets, a very generous salary, and my own bachelor apartment.

That was the time for people of my generation to escape their student loans, minimal wage jobs and lack of respect – by taking the first offer from an Asian school who afforded you the title of honorable teacher. And yet while there, while seeking solidarity from others, I found myself in a minority of expats – I did not drink, smoke nor use occasional drugs, and well, just about everyone did just about everything. The attraction for male teachers was hooking up with pretty Korean girls. There were lots of them to fit the demand, very skinny and superficial girls who were drawn toward “Meegook” American boyfriends and preferably more than a couple.

And then there were the teachers who had other intentions, who were there simply for the children. I could see it by the void in their eyes and by their sheer inability to converse with other adults; these were people who would never hold a job back home. Eventually they would be fired in Korea, and drift along, from school to school, working without a legal visa, until they simply disappeared.

The appeal for social rejects and pedophiles to just disappear from their home towns, to be handed a flight ticket and a free apartment in a foreign country where children are so much more accessible, can be irresistible to that type of individual. It’s just too easy.

Although I may get some flack for this, I do believe there are more degenerate expat teachers with transparent “degrees” than there are genuine ones.

Asia is a haven for transient backpackers looking for quick cash and young grads who have a hard time finding employment after graduation. Standards for hiring are abysmally low – you only have to look presentable in a photo and speak English with no accent – not that the latter criteria is easily enforceable: I worked for an entire year with a French Canadian guy who could barely be understood by the foreign teachers. But he was nice-looking with blue eyes and was interviewed over the phone by a director with almost no English conversational ability.

During the time I was employed at my school in Seoul, out of seven foreign teachers, four were regular drug abusers who liked to chase their pot down with hard liquor. When Steve and Andy, two New York-based teachers, took their week-long holiday together in Vietnam and Thailand, they returned with a sizeable amount of marijuana and hashish. As they got high in their apartment, they laughed and shared how they managed to pull off such a feat – part of the stash had been smuggled in Steve’s rectum.

Aside from the “good” times, there were many things I disliked about my stint in Korea, but there was nothing I hated more, more than the crowding and shoving on the subways, more than the spitting and the open stares from ugly men, and that was the expats.

But as I sit here reflecting on my year and a half in South Korea, I am reminded of another type I met abroad. There were not many of them around, but the few who did come were wonderful, inspiring individuals who genuinely wanted to make the most of their experience. They loved the children and were warm with all the students, young and old, who entered their classrooms.

me in Koreaat a Korean festival in Inchon

I came across people like that at expat community groups who met in pubs and restaurants across Seoul. There were lots of gay people there too, and one of the groups I’d joined was Seoul Sisters, a network made up of lesbian Korean adoptees who had returned to explore the land of their birth, and Western women who were either teachers like myself or stationed at the US army base.

I met creative people who were artists, writers, photographers and far beyond such definitions, and had transformed their lives and experiences into art. Such individuals humbled me; they had the strength to be themselves entirely, to drop the interchangeable masks that most people hold up in front of their genuine selves.

During the times I was desperate and wanted to do the “midnight run” back home, I would go on the internet and read the personal accounts of others who were in my place. Isolated in Korea, sometimes the only places we could interact was through the internet. Some isolated teachers had their own blogs or contributed to message boards such as Dave’s ESL café, where just about every ESL-teaching expat eventually makes a stopover. Even after returning back to Canada, I continued to read the accounts of likeminded spirits, people who were not deterred, either by site monitors or the pressure of other teachers and bosses, from speaking truthfully about their experiences.

One individual in particular made potentially the biggest contribution to the Korea ESL experience, by keeping up a significant blog and writing a book titled Island of Fantasy that became published through Lulu, the same press I used for my own material. His experiences paralleled my own to such degree that I often felt as though in some way I knew him. Indeed, I could easily have ran into him since we were in Korea at the same time and frequented some of the same places.

Shawn Matthews was a brilliant writer, full of humour and sarcastic wit to satisfy even the most jaded of readers. When I finished reading his book I must admit to feeling somewhat jealous – he had beaten me to the punch line, he’d written the book I intended to write. He was around my age, and there he went, putting out a memoir that took words and experiences right out of my mouth.

Over the last year I thought of his book as I put together the final draft of my own manuscript. Although what I was writing was on an altogether different subject, I derived some inspiration from his adventures, and was very satisfied with myself after I finally published my own book.

So this brings me back to a few months ago, when I was trying hard to tear myself away from the writer’s block that had enclosed my new project. Suddenly, it occurred to me to look back on Shawn’s blog for some satirical inspiration. But as I looked it up on the net, I quickly discovered that it had disappeared. The blog was gone! What had happened to it?

I googled Shawn’s name and to my shock, found out that Shawn had killed himself a month before. This person I had not met but had become synonymous with my own Korean experience, with my own desire to be a successful writer, had taken his life by leaping off the roof of his apartment building in Beijing, China. He had been teaching in China over the last year and apparently over the later months became constantly jeered and harassed over the internet by other teachers who disliked his opinions. They had gone so far as actually call him a pedophile on some chat boards, which could impact his teaching career. This turn of events, coupled with his state of depression over a girlfriend and perhaps other personal matters, made him snap. So on May 23, 2006, this young man could not take it anymore and committed suicide.

My effort to process his death was surreal. It was a tragedy that so much potential be lost, be thrown away like that. And as I found myself crying for someone who had been so alike myself, I was suddenly given the lesson of worth. On a deeper, more significant level, this realization snapped inside my body like an chord, resonating louder, reverberating though my being. I was outside my own self, looking at this other person who was beautiful and talented and did not value his own life enough to preserve its magic. A young man who had everything going for him – his youth, his health, and a brilliant mind. All gone in an instant.
For the first time in my entire life, the message finally sank in. In the past I had come so close to being where Shawn was, to throwing away all the good I had but did not see it right in front of me.

And the other thing I did not see until recently: the very act of not writing, of not fulfilling my potential, as an act of defiance against my spirit. As a lashing out against my own sense of self-worth. For every day I do not create, I tear another page out of the manuscript of my own fulfillment.

Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s words never had more weight than today – When one man, for whatever reason, has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself.

Posted in books, china, commentary, culture, death, ESL, expat, korea, lesbian, life, poetry, suicide, teacher, thoughts, writer, writing | 4 Comments »