Tag Archives: gay

The “Proposal/Counter Proposal” and Other Things I Learned

When I sat down to start writing this Role/Reboot article about what straight people can borrow from their gay friends’ relationships, my roommate asked, “So have you talked to any gay people about this?”

Oh right, I should probably do that…

Turns out, my entire gchat list at 9pm on Tuesday happened to be gay friends, and they were more than willing to share. For one thing, they gave me some great quotes for my essay and some really interesting perspectives on equality, fairness, and making up your own relationship rules. More importantly, I learned about the magic of the proposal/counter-proposal, also known as the “propose, propose-back”. Wondering what I’m talking about?

Read the essay!


Related Post: Thoughts on Senator Rob Portman’s change of heart

Related Post: Six sides of identity, notes from Chicago Ideas Week


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Filed under Gender, Republished!

Six Sides of “Identity”

It’s Chicago Ideas Week here in the Windy City, which means our fair and not-yet-frigid town is full of who’s whos and big wigs. We’ve got mayors and dignitaries, writers, artists, poets, scientists, actors and activists.

Today a coworker stopped by my desk and asked me about the panel I saw yesterday, “Identity,” and I couldn’t shut up even after it was quite clear he was done listening. There was just so much to discuss! What do I do when I can’t get people to listen to me talk? Write a blog post!

LZ Granderson at Chicago Ideas Week

The panel was about all of the ways we identify ourselves and each other, and through six different speakers I got this incredibly well-rounded view on that thorniest of thorny questions.

LZ Granderson kicked it off with a bit of theater. He’s an ESPN commentator who is a black, gay, Christian, single-dad, former gang member, and current country music devotee. He used a bit of theater (big building blocks with those labels) to physically knock around the idea of identity.

Hanna Rosin (editor of XX at Slate) was next, discussing her book The End of Men. Honestly, she was less crazy than I thought she’d be. As I’ve discovered over and over again on the internet, sometimes the value in an incendiary title weighs more than whether it accurately reflects the piece it titles. Rosin was sharp and funny, and her pitch wasn’t so much about the end of men (dramatic as that sounds), but about how this particular moment in history seems to favor (some) women professionally due to a perfect storm of social, political, and economic trends. In fact, contrary to the end of men, she sees an evolution of masculinity (she cited Chris on Up All Night as an example of a caregiving father who is allowed to maintain his sexual appeal).

I thought that the neuroscientist on the roster would be my snooze break, since scans of brains have never really got me going. Instead, James Fallon turned out to be my favorite presenter. He has spent his life researching brain scans of psychopathic killers, looking for commonalities, which he found. The twist, however, was that Fallon’s own brain shares these patterns. After a battery of psychological tests, it turns out that his own physiological profile is identical to the most famous psychopathic killers in history. How’s that for a nature/nurture argument?

There was an artist, Eric Daigh, that I enjoyed (mostly for how uncomfortable his F-bombs made the older members of the audience), and a forensic researcher (the one and only Brooke Magnanti, formerly known as sex blogger Belle du Jour). He talked about portraiture and the myriad of ways a list of characteristics can be illustrated and animated uniquely, and she discussed the history of forensic identification (did you know that finger prints are not actually unique?)

Related Post: Last year’s Chicago Ideas Week.

Related Post: A few hours at the Art Institute


Filed under Art, Chicago, Gender

Video Wednesday

I’m busy, and sleepy, and my coffee consumption is about 8oz behind where it needs to be, so ignore your email for 10 minutes, go find a quiet conference room, and watch some videos that will make you smile:

The Austin Police Department released an It Gets Better video:

Soledad O’Brien is on a serious hot streak. Here she is up against mega pastor Joel Osteen:

Does anyone else have a super crush on The Ill Doctrine’s Jay Smooth? Here’s Jay on why Obama’s leaked tape from 2008 isn’t the same as Romney’s 47%. Can he just talk to me sleep every night? We don’t even have to cuddle.

Related Post: Youtube win: so this is why people hate feminism!

Related Post: The Youtube video that made Elizabeth Warren famous.

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Literary Geek-Out: Bechdel

Last night I went to a reading by Alison Bechdel, graphic novelist, creator of comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, author of Fun Home (nominated for the National Book Critics Award), and her new memoir, Are You My Mother?

Readings by graphic artists are kind of challenging, since much is said with picture instead of text, and Bechdel’s style also draws on large passages of other people’s text (in this case, Virginia Woolf and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott). It’s particularly hard when there are mega pillars scattered throughout the space, requiring much craning of necks, and delayed ooohs and aahs as people read the satisfying end of a speech bubble.

Craning of necks and such

I feel like the act of reading graphic novels is particularly personal, more so than the reading of an average book. Everyone has a methodology and order in which they approach the lay-out of text and images, lingering over one or the other, or jumping back and forth. Me, I read the text first, then take in the picture, then try to zoom out and sync them up as a story-telling unit in my brain.

My favorite part of Alison’s presentation was the detail she went into on her multi-step creative process. She takes pictures of herself in each posture to help herself illustrate. She meticulously researches background scenery (stores, landscapes, and the like). At one point, she showed us a close-up of an illustration of her mother, which turned out to be a short movie clip. If you watch closely, she told us, you’ll see my changes to the image. She was literally deleting pixels from her mother’s mouth, to make the expression exactly as she wanted it.

After the reading, she opened the Q&A with “Does anyone have anything they want to talk about?” No wonder the focus of her current book is psychoanalysis and introspection.

Literary geek-out captured by the lovely Kate D

Unrelated Note: I have never been in a room with so many short-haired women before. Felt strange to look like everyone else.

Related Post: Literary geek out, the Megan McCafferty edition.

Related Post: Literary geek out, the Jennifer Egan edition.

Related Post: Literary geek out, the David Mitchell edition.


Filed under Books, Chicago, Family, Gender

Sunday Scraps 59

1. WEIGHT: Michelle Obama takes a rare misstep with her support of The Biggest Loser. Ragen Chastain and Virginia Sole-Smith (Beauty Schooled) explain why.

2. KICK: New York Times has a kick-ass interactive graphic mapping the fundraising efforts of kickstarter drives over the last three years. What gets funded, and why?

3. GAY: Comedian Rob Delaney explains where homophobia comes from, and it isn’t pretty.

4. THRONES: My writer crush Emily Nussbaum at The New Yorker covers Game of Thrones in all its nude, violent glory and explains why patriarchy, in Westeros and L.A. both, is what it’s really all about.

5. FOOD: Besides Guy Fieri, have any winners of The Next Food Network Star done squat with their title? NYMag breaks it down.

6. PSYCH: Fabulous, fascinating, chilling article in the New York Times Magazine about recent studies in psychopathy in children. At what age can we detect a future psychopath, what does it mean, and what can we do about it?

Related Post: Sunday 58: Alison Bechdel, boy-free prom, 10 most read books

Related Post: Sunday 57: nudity in Central park, David Brooks on higher ed, child stars


Filed under Body Image, Food, Hollywood, Media, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People

Times Change

Look what one of my Massachusetts friends found from back in the day:

Oh hey, remember when Romney was just that moderate Republican that Massachusetts voters elected to Governor?

On the other side of the aisle, as everyone in the world knows, President Obama gave the big thumbs up marriage equality. I’ve since “evolved” in my own views, but my initial instinct was not the cheering/applauding/hooraying of many of my friends and the internet.

My initial reaction was one part skepticism, one part “not enough, Sir,” and one part “too little too late.” It’s hard for me to believe that a black lawyer could ever be on board with a separate but equal policy, which is what we mean when we say we think civil unions are good enough. I felt like the timing, after the crushing blow of North Carolina, was infuriating. And then I got a campaign email and I felt pandered to. The email included this:

I respect the beliefs of others, and the right of religious institutions to act in accordance with their own doctrines. But I believe that in the eyes of the law, all Americans should be treated equally. And where states enact same-sex marriage, no federal act should invalidate them.

This is what would make me a terrible politician, and possibly a dictator handing down mandates from on high, but this is how I feel: I do NOT respect discriminating beliefs of others. I do NOT believe civil rights should be a state-to-state issue. I do NOT believe that the federal government should condone states removing the civil rights of a particular group just because the people in that state feel like it. Obviously, this is not how our government works, and I’m pretty sure there are really good reasons for that. But then I watched this speech by NC’s Reverand Barber (skip to 3:10), and I got all fired up again:

“The question should have been, do you believe that the majority, by popular vote, should get to decide the rights of the minority. That’s a dangerous precedent, because that means that the rights of people are determined by who’s in the majority at a particular time.”

All of the above happened in the first five minutes after I saw the President’s announcement, but I mentioned my views have evolved, so what happened? Well, you internet people happened. I started reading Facebook posts, blog posts, Tweets and the like from some of my LGBTQ friends, and I was reminded of a few things.

My friend Helen, at Bettencourt Chase, wrote this: Today feels momentous and magical and full of hope. Will this change everything? Perhaps not in a big immediate way. Equal marriage is not going to be legalized across the country tomorrow. But things are changing, and they are changing with greater and greater momentum. I am so proud of President ObamaThings are changing. I have so much hope. I feel so lucky to be alive right now, watching this unfold.

My friend Jon, at The Daily Quinn, wrote this: Nothing the President said yesterday will change any law.  It will not erase the passage of North Carolina’s anti-equality amendment.  But if you believe that politics still matters, that words have meaning and make a difference, that symbols are an important part of our culture, yesterday was a big day.  Because the leader of your country was willing to talk about you on TV and say that he supports you.  Supports you in spite of the voices that hound you and the laws that deny you.  The President is the only person who represents the whole country, and so the voice with which he speaks is the vessel of our collected voices.  And so it is the word of the land, going forth to say: Your lifestyle has value.  Your love has value.  And instantly you are a confused teenager again, and that man on the screen, that symbol of your country, is saying the words you so longed to hear at that young and impressionable age.

And I was reminded by Helen and Jon, and so many others, that this really is a monumental moment in our history. What’s more, it’s not really my monumental moment to judge and politically dissect. I was never a confused teenager who wondered if what I wanted was good and right and allowed. I never had an authority figure tell me my lifestyle was “wrong” and I never had to worry that my relationships wouldn’t be validated in the way, however flawed, that we in this society validate them. I was reminded that it took Reagan years to acknowledge AIDS. I was reminded that Clinton put into to place DOMA and DADT. I was reminded that I will get to be there for the weddings of my LGBTQ friends, a pleasure denied my parents.

So perhaps maybe I should step off.

Related Post: Do you hope your kids will be straight?

Related Post: Happy Equal Pay Day


Filed under Gender, Politics

Trending Up

Two years in a row more than half of Americans have reported being in favor of same-sex marriage. That is a trend, and I shall celebrate it as such: Here’s how it breaks down:

From Gallup.com, 5/8/12

This poll didn’t show the split by age, and that’s what I’m interested in. From my vantage point as a 24-year-old who has exclusively lived in Boston and Chicago, the rate of progress is excruciatingly slow. But, in the scope of American history, much less human history, the pace of public opinion is moving at warp speed.

I recently finished Travels in a Gay Nation, an excellent collection of essays and interviews from LGBTQ celebs like David Sedaris, George Takei and Barney Frank, plus pieces about average folks and their experiences growing up queer. Every piece by someone over 40 shared an awe and gratitude at the rate of change we’ve seen in the last ten years. David Sedaris wrote about the mindblowing joy of meeting a teenaged gay couple at a reading. They attended his event together, holding hands.

To me, holding hands is no big thing compared to marriage rights or legal protection, but to a gay man who came of age in the 80s, it’s a world of improvement.

Obviously, such luxuries are not afforded everywhere. Spend a few minutes on this chart from The Guardian:

Click for interactive exploration (from The Guardian)

Hover over each state to see specific rights and limitations for marriage, hospital visits, adoption, employment, housing, hate crimes and schools. You can see big trends by region (though mad props to Iowa, right?) plus really fascinating, minor differences in policy. For example, Massachusetts protects sexual orientation in schools, but not gender identity.

Related Post: Remember when my brother didn’t know gay people couldn’t get married?

Related Post: I don’t like places that discriminate against my friends.

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Filed under Books, Gender, Politics