Tag Archives: LGBT

Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: An Interview

As a member of the greater LGBTQI+ community, I am constantly on the look out for creative projects that help spread the word and inform the public about issues affecting us. As a writer, I am particularly drawn to the written word, so when I heard about a book trying to gain traction on IndieGoGo that tackled transgender* issues, titled Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, I was instantly interested to learn more. I spoke with editor Laura Erickson-Schroth to get a deeper look into the project and what it’s hoping to achieve:

A.J.: Tell me a little bit about the book. What can readers expect once it’s published?

Laura: Trans Bodies, Trans Selves was inspired by Our Bodies, Ourselves. In the late 1960s, a group of women living in Boston got together to teach and learn from each other about their health, and saw that they were their best source of information, not the male doctors taking care of them. They wrote about really radical things like abortion, lesbian identity and rape. Today we’re following in their footsteps by writing a book by and for transgender people and having trans experiences speak for themselves. We’re hoping that the book will be a resource for people just beginning to explore their gender identities and those farther along their paths, as well as friends, family and service providers.

A.J.: Who are the writers who’ve contributed to the book?

Laura: Hundreds of people have written portions of the book. There are over 50 chapter authors who are all transgender or gender nonconforming people with expertise in a particular area. For example, the legal and immigration sections have authors who are trans lawyers and trans immigrants. Within each chapter are short pieces written by trans people, their friends and family members. There are also photographs of many of the short piece authors, as well as art produced by trans people.

Zil Goldstein, one of the authors of the Social Transition and Employment chapters of "Trans Bodies, Trans Selves," and also a board member for the organization, talking at a trans* forum held in NYC. Photo by Katia Ruiz.

Zil Goldstein, one of the authors of the Social Transition and Employment chapters of “Trans Bodies, Trans Selves,” and also a board member for the organization, talking at a trans* forum held in NYC. Photo by Katia Ruiz.

A.J.: Why did you decide to go the crowd funding route for Trans Bodies, Trans Selves?

Laura: We have two goals with crowd funding. From the beginning, Trans Bodies has been a volunteer project. However, at the late stages it became apparent that there were things we needed, such as an experienced editor, that we just didn’t have the expertise to do in-house. Once these expenses are paid, we will continue to raise money for our second and more important goal, which is to get the book out to as many people as possible, regardless of ability to pay. We’d like our fundraising efforts to help us donate copies of the book to community organizations and to sell reduced price copies of the book to individuals at conferences and other events.

A.J.: What will the funding you receive through IndieGoGo go to exactly?

Laura: First, to cover expenses incurred during the four-year production leading up to publication, including our web designer, two illustrators and a professional editor, all of whom offered their services at reduced rates, and were necessary to logistically get the book done and in print.

Second, and more importantly, to support a national outreach project to improve the lives of trans and gender nonconforming people. This project will expand on the publication of the book by enabling us to offer the book at reduced or no cost to individuals unable to pay, to schools, libraries, community centers and other support services. Also, the project will focus on the education of providers, community and online forums for the exchange of information and for support, to be a visible presence at national conferences, and to produce ongoing editions of the book as issues evolve.

A.J.: I can see why this is an important project, but how would you explain the need for such a publication to someone who doesn’t understand?

Laura: One of the most important things about this book is that it is written by and for trans people. But that is what makes it so valuable to non-trans people too — it is a view into trans life that is not edited for another audience. Friends and relatives can learn about identity categories and coming out, parents can read about kids, health professionals can find up-to-date preventive and transitional care information and partners can find tips on relationships, all written by the experts — trans people themselves.

For more information about Trans Bodies, Trans Selves visit their website HERE or their IndieGoGo campaign HERE.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Gender, LGBT, Writing

My Review of Shiri Eisner’s Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution

I just finished Shiri Eisner’s Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution and, I must say, I am geared up and ready to make change! Looking back over the book now, I realize I have highlighted almost every single page in this non-fiction call-to-action and will have quite the challenge to synthesize my thoughts into a digestible review. Nevertheless, here we go…

First off, overall I would like to say that this is a definite must-read for not only every bisexual activist, but every bisexual, pansexual, monosexual, homosexual, heterosexual, genderqueer — heck, everyone! The research Eisner has done for this book is clear from the beginning and the result is an incredible historical review of the bisexual movement from a whole host of perspectives and views, as well as clear ideas for revolutionizing it from here on out. With chapters on bisexuality, monosexism and biphobia, privilege, feminism, women and men, trans*, radicalization and what Eisner calls the “GGGG movement,” or the Gay-Gay-Gay-Gay movement, readers are exposed to the major issues that have impacted bisexuals over the years and those that are affecting us today.

While I could easily write a series of articles based on Bi, I have instead chosen some specific quotes that truly spoke to me to comment on; we begin with, “our political struggle needs to reflect the interests of everyone, address everyone’s needs, and endeavor to attain resources for and empower people of all groups — not just the ones who fit a certain palatable standard.” Eisner continues: “A very long list of people is being thrown overboard in the effort to ‘fight biphobia.’ In this way, the rebuttal in fact imposes biphobic normative standards on the bisexual community itself, drawing a line between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bisexuals.” And further on: “It seems that in order to receive mainstream approval and acceptance, bi communities adopt and repeat the same mainstream values that are normally used against them.”

These quotes truly jumped out when I read them because of the fact that, in my own writing and in the Bi the Bi column I have co-written for The Huffington Post, I believe I am at fault for trying to make greater society accept bisexuals by assuring that I am a monogamous bisexual, for instance, attempting to counter the stereotype that bisexuals cannot be monogamous. Eisner is spot on here — some bisexuals are monogamous and some aren’t, and that is okay, that is beautiful. We cannot hope to move forward in bisexual activism by scapegoating anyone. I will be sure to check myself in this area in my own writing and speaking engagements from here on out, and I thank Eisner for calling this aspect out. I hope others will do the same.

Perhaps one of the most important points for bisexual activism is that we cannot continue to neglect specifically bisexual causes in order to assimilate into the “GGGG movement.” We have put a lot of force behind repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the fight for marriage equality, for example, which do impact bisexuals — but perhaps not as much as issues of health disparity, homelessness and domestic violence. Eisner writes:

“People with more urgent needs than marriage are neglected from the resources and activist efforts of the GGGG movement. GGGG organizations spend many millions of dollars on the struggle for marriage, while organizations addressing the issues of queer and trans homelessness [sic] youth, HIV+ queers, queer and trans people of color, queers in poverty, queer and trans survivors of violence, and many others suffer from a constant lack of money and resources.”

And when bisexuals are affected by these issues to a greater extent than lesbians and gay men, it truly makes you take a step back to reassess where our time and money is going — as well as why we are trying to assimilate to begin with.

There are definitely some radical points of view Eisner poses that may not be for everyone; but regardless, the messages within Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution are important and ever so relevant. We must actively build up a varied bisexual community that is welcoming to all gender identities, races, ethnicities, abilities and disabilities, etc. so that bisexuals no longer have to, in Eisner’s words, “[come] to terms with our identities in, and through, communities where we are strangers.”

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Leave a comment

Filed under Gender, LGBT, Politics, Social Justice, Women, Writing

QUEER GREER Giveaway

Head on over to Goodreads to enter to win an autographed copy of Queer Greer today!

Leave a comment

Filed under LGBT, Queer Greer, Women

The Story Behind Fire Dragon Love Sauce

Ever since launching my own Kickstarter for my upcoming novel, Vuto, several months ago, I’ve kept my eye on the crowdfunding site in search of cool and interesting projects to back. One that recently jumped out as a rather innovative campaign is one by Heather Cox Carducci and Gigi Otálvaro-Hormillosa for Fire Dragon Love Sauce – proclaimed by the creators as “the official hot sauce for gay marriage.”

“Let’s spread love and spice to kitchen tables around the world.”

Fire Dragon Love Sauce originators Heather and Gigi named the sauce after their signs in Chinese astrology; the couple also tied the knot in San Francisco last year, which happened to be the year of the Water Dragon. Put it all together in a hot sauce and Fire Dragon Love Sauce was born.

When asked why they decided to equate their hot sauce with the fight for marriage equality, Heather and Gigi said,

“Gay marriage is a hot topic, so we’ve decided to launch a thematic product in the heat of this very historic moment. We’ve been inspired by chefs and artists who work at the intersection of food, art, and activism, and are excited to join this growing community of innovators. We think that an interdisciplinary approach to reaching marriage equality is important. Thus, we are doing our part to spice up the movement and the dialog about gay marriage.

“An integral part of our creative process is the cultivation of the sauce’s synesthetic qualities, such as its ability to stimulate the creative, sensual, and intellectual senses by way of the gastronomic ones. In other words, we want to reach the hearts and minds of people through their stomachs. There are a lot of people in the world who love their hot sauce, but do not love their gay neighbors, so we’d like to make them think twice about marriage equality through hot sauce!”

According to their Kickstarter bio, “Gigi and Heather share a deep love and passion for hot sauce and began experimenting with their own hot sauce over a year ago. They truly believe in the power of hot sauce to transform communities by helping people reconnect with their bodies. They have delighted friends, family, and co-workers with their sauce and are now ready to share the love with the rest of the world.”

The couple added, “We consider the hot sauce a smart product, in that we are creating something that exists beyond consumption – something that makes people think and that engages them politically. In this day and age, people are preoccupied with their devices and disconnected from their bodies. So we want to encourage them to put down their smart phone, and to pick up their smart hot sauce! It’s also very delicious and synthesizes unique ingredients such as such as ginger, cocoa powder, mezcal, and of course, Dragon Love!”

Their campaign page states, “Spice up your Pride with Fire Dragon Love Sauce, a gastro-galactic hot sauce that engages multiple senses & promotes love, spice, and equality for all people!”

Heather and Gigi are trying to raise at least $4,500 by July 5th; funding will go towards business registration licensing, nutrition labeling, insurance, legal fees, permits and all of the supplies needed to create Fire Dragon Love Sauce.

This venture is not without its risks. Heather and Gigi explained,

“Notwithstanding our success thus far, we have also encountered challenges and animosity toward the hot sauce, not only from heterosexual people who do not support marriage equality, but also from LGBT people who do not support marriage equality because they consider it assimilationist and mainstream. Some leftist artists and activists consider this project too capitalistic in nature, whereas those on the other side think the project is too gay, political, weird, and edgy. Nevertheless, our approach to and ideas about marriage, capitalism, and subversive art practices are based on transformation and a vision for social change. We think it’s crucial to participate in these structures and practices, in order to transform them, rather than be defeatist and not participate at all.”

For more information about Fire Dragon Love Sauce, check out their Kickstarter page or visit their website.

Leave a comment

Filed under LGBT, Same-Sex Marriage

LGBT+ Facts from GLBT EXPO 2014

The following facts are courtesy of GLBT EXPO 2014. I found many of these interesting and wanted to share a few. Enjoy!

Interesting Facts About LGBT

1.       The planet Mercury is a symbol used by the transgendered community. The sign for Mercury is a crescent shape and a cross, which represents the male and female principles in harmony in an individual. Additionally, the god Mercury fathered Hermaphroditus, who had both male and female sex organs.

Image courtesy of polyvore.com.

Image courtesy of polyvore.com.

2.       The labrys, a double-edged hatchet or axe, is a symbol of strength and unity for the lesbian community. Demeter, the Goddess of Earth, is said to have used a labrys as her scepter, especially in religious ceremonies.

Image courtesy of wholesalecentral.com.

Image courtesy of wholesalecentral.com.

3.       Records of same-sex relationships have been found in nearly every culture throughout history with varying degrees of acceptance.

5.       Historians note that in some cultures, homosexual behavior was not viewed as effeminate but as evidence of a man’s masculinity. Examples include the Celtic and Greek cultures.

7.       An estimated 1% of the population in America is confirmed as transsexuals.

8.       Approximately one in three gay men prefer to not engage in anal sex.

9.       In some American Indian cultures, having a same-sex attraction was called being Two-Spirited. The tribe honored such people as having special gifts and being especially blessed.

12.   Homosexuality has been recorded in China since ancient times and has often been referred to as “the cut sleeve” and “pleasures of the bitten peach.”

16.   If one identical twin is gay, the other has about a 20-50% chance of being gay. Because it is not 100%, scientists speculate that homosexuality is a result of the interplay of environmental factors (e.g., surge of hormones in the womb, a virus, etc.) and genetics.

17.   One of the earliest recorded accounts of bisexuality in America was by Spanish explorer Álvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca who, in the early sixteenth century, mentions “effeminate” Indians in Florida who “go about dressed as women and do women’s tasks.”

18.   In 1860, Walt Whitman published the homoerotic Leaves of Grass, which later inspired numerous gay poets.

Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org.

Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org.

19.   The Drag, written and produced by Mae West, is the first play with gay male content to be produced in the United States.

20.   In 1930, Hollywood studios enacted the Motion Picture Production Code, prohibiting all references to homosexuality or “sexual perversion” in the movies. It was strengthened in 1934 under pressure from the Catholic-led Legion for Decency. It remained in effect until the 1960s.

22.   In 1948, the Kinsey Institute published its groundbreaking study of sexual behavior in American men.

23.   In 1952, the Unites States Congress enacted a law banning lesbians and gay foreigners from entering the country. The law was on the books until it was repealed in 1990.

24.   The Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop was founded in 1967 in New York City and was the first gay bookstore in the world.

25.   In 1968, Dr. John Money performed the first complete male-to-female sex-change operation in the United States at Johns Hopkins University.

26.   The 1969, Time magazine’s “The Homosexual in America” was the first cover story on gay rights in a national magazine.

Image courtesy of thenewcivilrightsmovement.com.

Image courtesy of thenewcivilrightsmovement.com.

27.   In 1972, William Johnson became the first openly gay man to be ordained as a minister by a major religious denomination, the United Church of Christ, in California.

28.   In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association decided that homosexuality should no longer be classified as a mental disorder. Also the same year, the American Bar Association passed a resolution recommending the repeal of all state sodomy laws.

29.   In 1974, Elaine Noble became the first openly gay elected official in the United States when she was elected to the Massachusetts state legislature.

30.   Gilbert Baker, also known as the “Gay Betsy Ross,” designed the rainbow flag, or Pride Flag, in San Francisco in 1978. The flag is the most prominent symbol of lesbian and gay pride. The colors, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet represent sexuality, life, healing, the Sun, nature, art, harmony, and the spirit, respectively.

Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org.

Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org.

31.   A lavender rhinoceros has been often used to signify the lesbian community. A rhinoceros was chosen because it is generally docile, but when it is provoked, it can become ferocious. Lavender is often used to represent the GLBT community, because it is a mixture of red and blue, which represents the female and male principles, respectively.

32.   In 1984, Berkeley, California, became the first city in the United States to extend domestic partnership benefits to lesbian and gay city employees.

33.   In 1995, British actor Nigel Hawthorne, star of the film The Madness of King George, became the first openly gay Best Actor nominee in the history of the Academy Awards.

34.   The term LGBT or GLBT or LGBTQ was adopted in the 1990s and refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (and queer or questioning) people. However, the term is not without contention with some groups, such as those who are intersex, who want to be included, and others who don’t want to be included.

35.   The pink triangle was the symbol gay men were required to wear in Nazi concentration camps during WWII. Lesbians were sometimes required to wear a black triangle.

36.   Pride Day or Pride March refers to celebrations that typically take place in June that commemorate the Stonewall Inn riots of June 28, 1969. These riots are considered the birth of the modern gay civil rights movement.

[NOTE: Bisexual activist Brenda Howard is considered the “Mother of Pride,” organizing the first Pride March in 1969.]

37.   In the 1960s, the term “AC/DC” referred to a person who had sex with either men or women. The term came from the abbreviations for two types of electrical currents, an alternating current and a direct current.

38.   A “beard” is someone of the opposite sex who knowingly dates a closeted lesbian or gay man to provide that person with a heterosexual “disguise,” usually for family or career purposes.

39.   The term “closet” refers to the confining state of being secretive about one’s homosexuality. The word cannot be found in lesbian and gay literature before the 1960s and was probably not used before then.

40.   A recent study in the Drosophila (the fruit fly) shows that a mis-expression of a gene called the “near white gene” causes male flies to mate with other male flies. However, researchers are careful to note that it is highly unlikely that just one gene causes homosexuality in humans.

Image courtesy of imbrickle.blogspot.com.

Image courtesy of imbrickle.blogspot.com.

41.   German psychologist Karoly Maria Benkert is thought to have been the first to coin the word “homosexuality” in the late nineteenth century. He argued that the Prussian sodomy laws violated the “rights of man” and that homosexuality was inborn and unchangeable.

42.   The entire species of the dwarf chimpanzee is bisexual. Lions have also exhibited homosexual [and bisexual] behavior. Homosexual [and bisexual] behavior has been observed in 1,500 animal species and is most widespread among animals with a complex herd life.

45.   Same-sex intercourse is generally believed to be against Islamic law; however, there are differing methods of punishment. For example, in some fundamentalist Muslim regions, such as in Nigeria and Iran, homosexual behavior is still punishable by death.

47.       Hitler first curtailed, then prevented, and finally destroyed all German sex research and a flourishing sex reform movement. This was the first step in the systematic persecution of German homosexuals between 1933 and 1945.

What do you think about the above facts? Do you agree with them all? Do any stand out as particularly interesting? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Leave a comment

Filed under LGBT

Finding Bisexuals to Relate To: Media Portrayals

As an avid reader, television and movie viewer, I am constantly on the look-out for characters in print and on the screen that I can relate to on multiple levels. Time and time again, however, I tend to be disappointed by the lack of bisexual visibility across these mediums.

I wrote a blog for The Lesbrary last year on “The Dearth of Bisexual Literature.” Being interviewed by New York Times columnist Steven Petrow in mid-May, my Huffington Post co-blogger and I were asked about “good, positive” media depictions of bisexuals that “have influenced attitudes for the better.” Such a question made me turn to the screen to see how many bisexuals I could find.

I must admit, it was difficult to come up with a lengthy list.

My go-to answer for this question is always the character Dr. Calliope “Callie” Torres from Grey’s Anatomy, played by actress Sara Ramirez. Callie has had successful relationships with both male and female characters over the course of her story arc on the show. She is portrayed as a well-rounded character, her bisexuality being just one aspect of her identity among many other positive characteristics.

Sara Ramirez as Dr. Callie Torres on GREY'S ANATOMY (image courtesy of loving-makeup.blogspot.com)

Sara Ramirez as Dr. Callie Torres on GREY’S ANATOMY (image courtesy of loving-makeup.blogspot.com)

One particular facet of Callie’s arc that spoke to me and my own coming out process involves her first same-sex relationship with Dr. Erica Hahn, played by Brooke Smith. During the course of their relationship, Callie’s confusion over what her attraction means leads her to reach out to a male character, Dr. Mark Sloan (Eric Dane), and sleep with him. While some bisexuals might see such a trope as playing into negative stereotypes about bisexuals being incapable of monogamy or always being cheaters, I’d beg to differ.

I actually found that episode particularly comforting when I first saw it because I went through a similar situation during my evolution into accepting my own bisexuality. I was dating a girlfriend for the first time, and it was new and strange and exciting — but there was a part of me that questioned if I should be with her and what being with her meant about me. I stepped out over a break from college and hooked up with a male friend back home — it was terrible and made me realize how much I really felt for my girlfriend.

While I certainly understand the qualms some may have about the potential “negative” of such a portrayal on Grey’s Anatomy, for me I simply viewed it as accurate and realistic to my own story. I’m certain I am not the only bisexual who feels this way.

When I polled the bisexual activist community via Facebook to ask about other positive bisexual portrayals in the media, the following list was generated:

For an even larger list, check out the Wikipedia page HERE.

*NOTE: There are mixed feelings about the Harkness character from Torchwood since, technically, he has relations with extraterrestrials as well as humans of multiple genders; Harkness is also a bit morally ambiguous. Similarly, Willow from Buffy is labeled a lesbian later in the series, despite having had opposite gender relationships previously.

Considering the tens of thousands (if not millions) of heterosexual characters in literature, television and film over the course of history, as well as the hundreds, if not thousands, of homosexual characters, bisexuals have a ways to go to be properly represented – especially considering studies that conclude that bisexuals actually make up a majority of the LGBTQ+ population.

Now it’s your turn — have I left any major bisexual characters off of this list? Who are your favorite bi protagonists? Please share in the comments below.

3 Comments

Filed under Advice, Bi the Bi, LGBT

Writing a Trans* Protagonist

As of this month, I have decided that my novel, Queer Greer, is due for a sequel.

What comes next for Greer?

What comes next for Greer?

This won’t be a sequel in the strictest sense, however, considering that Greer MacManus will not be the protagonist in this next book, but a secondary character. In that Queer Greer follows the evolution of a girl in high school coming to terms with her bisexuality, the sequel — tentatively called Straight Nate — will be about a freshman in college coming to terms with the fact that “she” is not and never has been a girl, but is actually a transgender individual who has always been truly male.

I have always been an activist for trans* issues. As of late, I am seeing more and more stories about trans* individuals in the media. One story that is currently getting a lot of play revolves around 6-year-old Coy Mathis in Colorado who has been fighting to be allowed to use the girls’ restroom at her elementary school. This past January, a beautiful video made by YouTube member iiGethii showing her three-year transition from male to female was highly publicized on Internet news sites and blogs, garnering over four million hits to date. The same month, 11-year-old Sadie wrote to President Obama, telling him, “It would be a better world if everyone knew that transgender people have the same hopes and dreams as everyone else.” In February, the Massachusetts Education Department decided to accomodate transgender students by mandating “that transgender students be allowed to use bathrooms and play on sports teams that coincide with their gender identification.” Just this month, Mississippi high school student Leah challenged her school’s dress code that stipulates students must wear “gender-specific” clothing.

These stories are heartening! With trans* issues becoming more and more mainstream, as an author I cannot help but wonder if the literature available for trans* individuals to turn to is keeping up.

Just as there seem to be more and more books about lesbian, gay and bisexual protagonists being written every year, fictional stories about trans* protagonists are as well. Being Emily by Rachel Gold comes to mind. Still, considering how many MILLIONS of books about heterosexual characters are available in comparison, I think there is room for many more books on trans* topics.

Since I am not trans*, I am actively seeking trans* individuals to answer a set of interview questions as I begin my research for Straight Nate. If you are trans* and would like to be involved, please feel free to email me at walkleyaj@gmail.com; tweet to me @AJWalkley; or message me on Facebook at AJ Walkley or through the A.J. Walkley Author Page.

Leave a comment

Filed under Gender, LGBT, Queer Greer, Social Justice, Writing

Fight to Give Life: End the FDA Ban on “Gay” Blood

I came across a story on The Huffington Post today by Dr. Ken Schneck entitled, “Dear White House: End the Ban on Gay Men Donating Blood. Now. Please?” Before I read any further than the headline, I recalled my own connection with this issue back in my junior year of college when several classmates and I put together a campaign called The Fight to Give Life.

Run via Dickinson College’s gay-straight alliance, Spectrum, The Fight To Give Life was a simple campaign to bring together college campuses all over the nation with a petition that called for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to end their ban that prevents any man who has had sex with a man, even once, since 1977 from ever donating blood to any United States-run blood bank. The ban also includes women who have had sex with a man, who have had sex with a man even once since 1977 — which means bisexual individuals are greatly affected by this rule, as well as gay men. The stipulation was first inserted in blood donation rules when the AIDS scare of the 1980s began and HIV contraction was equated to anal sex, primarily, making it the “gay” disease.

Photo courtesy of wdsiemer.blogspot.com.

Photo courtesy of wdsiemer.blogspot.com.

Over my spring break in 2006, my friends and I went on a road trip across the U.S. to gay bars and colleges from Pennsylvania to Kansas and back, on a mission. Here is a sample of the press release that went out regarding The Fight to Give Life:

It is as easy as 1,2,3 on 4/5/06!
MAKE A DIFFERENCE! TRY TO GIVE BLOOD!
Are you a man who has had sex with a man, even once, since 1977 and WANT TO “GIVE LIFE?” 

The importance of giving blood is enormous. We are constantly faced with a blood shortage throughout America, however. Due to social stigma and an antiquated policy, an entire demographic of American society has been turned away: gay men. That is why on April 5, 2006, we are uniting throughout the United States of America to attempt to give blood, knowing we will be turned away. 

There is a lack of knowledge of how many men who have sex with men (MSM) exist in the United States and how their inclusion would change the blood pool. Therefore, we must show our numbers and willingness to donate blood to prove to the FDA that this is something that would be beneficial to all.

It is as easy as 1,2,3 on 4/5/06. 

On April 5, 2006, The Fight to Give Life campaign urges you to attempt to give blood at your local American Red Cross and answer YES! to the question, “Are you a man who has had sex with a man, even once, since 1977?” By uniting on a common day, we can show the FDA the sheer number of people affected by this policy and the diminishing effect it has on available blood for those in need.

We created a website for our campaign and urged all genders to bring a petition declaring their disagreement with the policy to their local blood banks on the same day. We were so successful in getting our message out, that members of The American Red Cross, American Blood Banks and America’s Blood Centers contacted us — they agreed that the rule was outdated and needed to change, but their hands were tied by the FDA. Once the FDA got wind of our campaign, we were invited to DC to meet with FDA representatives, as well as representatives from the aforementioned blood banks.

Unfortunately at that time, we were told that there was still too much testing that needed to happen to assure that men who have sex with men didn’t pose an additional risk when donating blood — for us, that translated into the FDA being stuck in the past. Just because a man has sex with a man doesn’t mean he had or has unprotected or unsafe sex, and it doesn’t mean he has HIV/AIDS or any other problematic diagnosis either.

Even more unfortunately, although we left with the promise that the FDA would be looking into this matter, nothing seems to have changed over the course of the past seven years or so.

This definitely needs to be brought into the public’s view again, as it has been a matter that has flown under the mainstream media’s radar for far too long.

Leave a comment

Filed under AIDS, LGBT, Politics, Social Justice

Welcome to my new blog!

Hi everyone and welcome to my new blog. I’m excited to keep everyone updated on what I’m up to as an author and LGBT+ activist moving forward.

Image

This Saturday I’m happy to report that I will be at the Tucson Festival of Books in Arizona with fellow authors from my publishing company, Rocket Science Productions. I will be at a table selling and signing copies of my book, Queer Greer, for all who are interested from 9:30 am – 5:00 pm on Saturday, March 9th.

As I get ready to celebrate my 28th birthday next Wednesday, March 13th, I am so thrilled for the festivities to begin early. This Sunday, my favorite modern author, Jodi Picoult, is coming to town for a book reading and signing of her new title, The Storyteller. The timing could not have been more perfect! Here’s to hoping I can snap a photo with her!

Last week I had two blog posts go up on The Huffington Post – the first around the topic of LGBT+ inclusivity in surveys and questionnaires; the second, a part of my Bi the Bi series on why a bisexual individual would want to identify by the term “bisexual”.

There is much more to come! Come back for weekly updates and be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and The Huffington Post.

Leave a comment

Filed under General Updates

Bisexual in a Gay/Straight World Spanish Translation

Several weeks ago one of my first blogs for The Huffington Post went live: Bisexual in a Gay/Straight World. The article sparked some debate and one of my readers was kind enough to translate it into Spanish for all of the Spanish-speakers in the LGBT community. While I don’t speak Spanish myself, I wanted to post Manuel’s translation for all who do to enjoy:

Bisexual en un mundo gay/lesbico/hetero

By A.J. Walkley

Translated by Manuel Sebastia

Todos hemos oído hablar de los estereotipos: indeciso, confundido, queriendo lo mejor de ambos mundos, promiscuos, homosexuales o lesbianas en la transición, la participación en una moda, la búsqueda de atención. Si usted se identifica como “bisexual”, es probable que hayas encontrado al menos algunos de estos tópicos durante y después del proceso de salir del armario. A mi me pasó. A pesar de la gran cantidad de nosotros que vamos por ahí tratando de disipar los mitos diariamente, siguen  perpetuándose, y continúan haciendo la vida difícil para todos nosotros. La verdad es que puede ser más que difícil ser bisexual que homosexual o lesbiana en este mundo en que vivimos, un mundo de blanco y negro, esto o aquello. Cuando usted no es un modo u otro, sino a ambos lados de la línea, la vida puede estar llena de problemas, tanto externos como internos, que los homosexuales y los heterosexuales no encuentran.

‘Los bisexuales son simplemente incapaces de elegir’

No siempre está rondando en mi mente cuando me encuentro con la gente, sobre todo dentro de la comunidad LGBT, quienes creen que los bisexuales simplemente no han “elegido” un sexo / género o el otro a sentirse atraídos. La comunidad LGBT está constantemente luchando contra la “naturaleza-contra-educación debate”, llegando en contra de quienes creen que la homosexualidad es un pecado y una opción. Si no es una opción para los gays y las lesbianas, ¿por qué iba alguien a pensar que era una opción para los bisexuales? Las mismas reglas se aplican. Cynthia Nixon tiene un montón de críticas por utilizar la palabra “elección” para describir su relación con una mujer. A pesar de que lo calificó diciendo que ella no “elige” ser bisexual sino simplemente para entrar en su relación homosexual actual, me desafía ese concepto al decir que ninguno de nosotros “podemos elegir” de con quienes nos sentimos atraídos – gay, heterosexual o bisexual. No tenemos ningún control sobre la atracción. Cynthia no eligió ser atraída por el hombre que la acompañaba durante una década y por lo mismo para estar con la mujer que ahora se va a casar. Aunque algunos todavía puede ver la bisexualidad como querer lo mejor de ambos sexos, lo cierto es que más a menudo, los bisexuales se citan con una persona de un sexo / género cada vez.

‘Los bisexuales no pueden ser monógamos’

Muchos, si no todos los que son bisexuales han sido presentados con la afirmación de que no podemos ser monógamos, si nos atrae a más de un sexo / género. Un antiguo empleador de la mina, incluso tuvo el descaro de preguntarme si yo “pensaba mas en el sexo que otras personas” porque yo era bi. Sé que hay momentos en que las personas que se sienten atraídos por nosotros no se citan con nosotros porque nos identificamos como bisexuales, creyendo erróneamente que somos más propensos a engañarles. Si bien no puedo hablar por todos, desde mi propio punto de vista yo diría que el hecho de que alguien pudiera ser atraído a más de un género no significa que ellos van a querer tener más de una relación o tener relaciones sexuales con más de una persona a la vez. Claro, hay personas que tienen relaciones poliamorosas a la vez, pero muchos que se identifican como bisexuales quieren estar en una relación amorosa con una persona a la vez. Ser bisexual no iguala automáticamente a la promiscuidad a la igualdad o la necesidad /querer múltiples parejas en un momento dado.

‘Los bisexuales están en transito’

Esto puede ser un estereotipo que tienen mas que ver con hombres bisexuales  que las mujeres, pero es casi una certeza que si se identifica como una persona bi, alguien en tu vida te dirá que “tal vez tu eres realmente gay / lesbiana y no lo sabes todavía “.También es probable que lo contrario se produzca: “Tal vez sólo estás experimentando y realmente eres hetero”, sabes, que “estas pasando por una fase”. Para algunos, puede ser cierto que la transición o la fase que esté ocurriendo, pero para la mayoría que se identifican como bisexuales y mantienen esa identidad, no lo es, y para estas personas puede ser muy insultante escuchar estas líneas de razonamiento una y otra vez.

‘Los bisexuales están siguiendo una tendencia’

“LUG” y “GUG” son las siglas típicas que muchos en edad universitaria hombres y mujeres escuchan, que se traduce en “Lesbianas hasta la graduación” o “Gay hasta la graduación”, respectivamente. En estos días, es casi considerado “cool” el ser “bicurioso” en algún momento de su vida, sobre todo para las mujeres en la universidad, que se animan a fingirlo para la diversión y la emoción de los hombres heterosexuales que los rodean. Mientras que la experimentación sexual debe ser alentada, en mi opinión, estas representaciones son perjudiciales para los bisexuales reales. Para nosotros, no es una moda pasajera, y no estamos participando en la conducta bisexual para la atención de los demás, es nuestra vida.

‘Estamos aquí, somos Queer…’

Cuando todo está dicho y hecho, los bisexuales existimos, no importa a quien podamos o no estar en una relación en cualquier momento en particular. Estamos una parte tan importante de la comunidad LGBT como las lesbianas, los gays o los transexuales, y no  reconocernos como tal, niega un aspecto importante de nuestra identidad y un componente importante de la comunidad en su conjunto.

Leave a comment

Filed under Guest Blogs, Translations, Writing