Coming Out Cards | Interview With John Hansen

coming out cardsI’m thrilled to announce that today I will be interviewing my friend John Hansen about his new website, Coming Out Cards! You may know John from Teens Can Write, Too! – he’s one of its founders! This new website, however, has nothing to do with writing… it’s all about supporting LGBTQ+ people who’ve just come out!

A couple of months ago, John asked for my input on a project he was working on, and he showed me the initial designs for Coming Out Cards. He’s trying to get some big LGBTQ+ news sites to talk about the website, but in the meantime I offered to do a promo post in the form of an interview!

But first of all, let me explain what the Coming Out Cards are! According to the website, Coming Out Cards are “funny, empathetic ecards designed to reaffirm your support for a friend or close family member who has recently come out to you.”

And here’s a longer explanation from the About page:

“Often, there is something isolating about that day after coming out, at least in the beginning. Instances like these are what Coming Out Cards are for – an hour or a day or a week after a friend or family member has come out to you, when that person might well be feeling worried for the future. These cards are little ways for you to remind them that you support them, that this doesn’t change anything, that you understand what they’re going through and that you’re there for them.

In this way, Coming Out Cards are above all empathetic. Instead of feeling overly sentimental, they are conversational and (hopefully!) funny, so that the person on the receiving end will realize that your relationship is as strong as ever.

Still, Coming Out Cards are useful whether or not the person is deeply struggling. Even if they’ve been out to others for a long time, receiving these cards will, if all goes well, brighten their day.”

At the moment, there are ten Coming Out Cards designed with a variety of sexual orientations and gender identities in mind, and they are ALL free to download. (You can browse the cards right here.) Each card even comes with a “best sent from” and “best sent to” feature, making it easy for you to decide which card is appropriate for your friend or family member!

…and now it is time for THE INTERVIEW.

Engie: Sooooo, I guess my first question is… what prompted you to make the Coming Out Cards?

taste the rainbowJohn: It started out as a random idea – me passively thinking that it would be so cool to have positive greeting cards geared toward coming out, since we have greeting cards for so many other life events. Then, as the idea grew, I started thinking about how amazing it would have been to receive a greeting card like that after I came out, since I think for a lot of queer people – and especially ones who, like me, were pretty terrified to come out – simple reaffirmations of support can go a long way. So I decided to make cards that say, in essence, “I understand, I care, I’m here for you,” except in funny ways. Thus, Coming Out Cards were born.

Engie: I definitely think it’s important to show support when someone comes out to you – whether you’re straight or queer. And I looooove how cute and silly and lighthearted these cards are. Because I think coming out makes a lot of people nervous, you know? Whether they’re the one coming out or whether someone is coming out to them. It can be a very scary, weird, awkward situation, and possibly something they’ve never experienced before. So I think something funny really helps to… diffuse the tension in that situation, I guess?And I would hope that if someone had any lingering doubt/worry/awkward feelings about coming out to someone, receiving a dorky card after doing so might help? It definitely would’ve helped me. I was soooooo stressed.

John: That’s exactly what I was going for. And I also think there’s something really empathetic about sending dorky cards or making dorky jokes or whatever it is after someone comes out to you–to me it shows that you understand that this is hard, and that through these fun little mediums you want them to feel comfortable and know they’re supported. There’s something really amazing about that.ice cream cake doesn't fit into the binary

Engie: I think making jokes – and just trying to be comforting, I guess, but in a funny way – is already a big part of what my LGBTQ+ friends and I do. But these cards work well for allies, too. I think a lot of straight people support us, but maybe don’t know how to do so or where to start. And sending a Coming Out Card might help. I mean, it’s a good start, right? Because it creates an opportunity to have a conversation about this. It’s SO AWKWARD to come out to someone and then they never ever mention it again – I always end up feeling like it didn’t happen, or like it doesn’t matter to them, even though it probably does. Because it just feels weird to have it be a one-time thing, because being queer isn’t something I do once. It’s a big part of my life.

John: In theory it’s nice when people barely acknowledge that you came out, but in practice it’s very… awkward, at least in my experience. Coming out is still a really big deal, and when people never mention or acknowledge it after that first time, you tend to start reading too far into it. Do they think it’s weird? Do they think it’s wrong? Et cetera. And so by just addressing a little bit at the time, especially by addressing it in a light-hearted way as I think the cards will do, you can make someone feel a lot more comfortable. Because your sexuality is a very big part of you. Ignoring it is ignoring a big part of your friend or family member’s identity and experiences.

Engie: Telling allies to just start SOMEWHERE is a big thing for me. Just start! You may not be completely sure of yourself, and you’re probably gonna mess up at some point, but do something. Start small, if you have to. I think sending a card to someone who didn’t even think they’d receive anything other than a “well, OK then, thanks for telling me” reaction is a lovely thing to do.

John: Yes, I completely agree with you!

i aced thatEngie: Do you have a favorite coming out card?

John: I think the one I’d most like to receive is the “I know you don’t want me to treat you any differently” one, because to me it feels supportive, light-hearted, and genuine all at once. But the one that I personally like the best is for sure the nonbinary ice cream cake one.

Engie: BECAUSE FOOD.

John: ALL THE FOOD FOREVER.

Engie: I’m really glad these cards cover so many identities! Like… by no means do they cover ALL identities, but when you originally told me you were making these I thought they’d just be for gay people? But there’s an asexual card! And stuff about the gender binary! Aaaaaand bringing the conversation back to a topic we discussed earlier… you could send these cards to people to show that really, you do understand. It’s hard enough to come out as gay or lesbian – what must it be like to come out as something most people haven’t even heard of before, much less understand? It would be awesome to get a card from someone and be like, “Oh, yay, I don’t have to explain MY VERY IDENTITY to this person. They get it. They understand that I am the ice cream cake of humanity. Figuratively speaking, that is.”

John: Hearing what you have to say re: the asexual and nonbinary ecards makes me so happy. That’s what I was going for! I figured that everyone knows what it means to be gay or lesbian, so I didn’t make any ecards using those specific words. I made a bunch of cards that could apply to any queer person, and then specific ones for identities that still have really strong stigmas for exactly that reason – I wanted it to be a way for the recipient to see a card from their friend and think, “OH MY GOD, they get it.” When someone else gets you, that’s just an amazing feeling.

Engie: Are you planning to add any Coming Out Cards? And would you take suggestions from people?!

John: Yes, definitely! I haven’t started working on any new ones yet – I mostly want to gauge the reaction to this batch of ecards, and hopefully get the word out – but if people want more, I’ll definitely make more. And of course suggestions are always welcome.

Engie: Yayyyyyyyy! All right, time for my FINAL QUESTION. Are there any fictional queer characters and/or couples you would like to make or send a Coming Out Card to? you're my superqueero

John: I mean, I’d really like to make a card for ALL fictional queer characters for being so attractive and brave. But I would probably choose Blue and Simon from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, mostly so I can blackmail Simon into disappearing for a while so Blue and I can have the star-studded romance we were always destined to have.

Engie: Pfffft, nice. I’d send the superqueero card – which is my favorite, by the way – to Professor X and Magneto. And Captain America CLEARLY needs the bisexual card! (Although I suppose he would just punch biphobes in the face. And for a while he’d be like, “Email? What’s that?”) And… well crap, now I wish ALL the Marvel Comics and MCU characters were real so I could send them these cards, because I headcanon so so sooooo many of them as queer. And I’d send them to various ladies on Game of Thrones, because I ship a ridiculous number of F/F pairings on that show – especially Margaery/Sansa and Brienne/Cat! And and and I’d send one to Charlie Weasley because I quite like the idea of asexual!Charlie. UGH SO MANY FICTIONAL CHARACTERS AAAAAAH. Anyway. Thanks for letting me interview you!

John: Thank you so much for having me! You rock!

Engie: No problem! I’m sooooo glad that you asked me for my opinion when you were making the cards, because they’re cute and silly and AJKSHFAKJSHFAJKHF. Hopefully they become super popular! They deserve it!

John: That would definitely be awesome.

-~-

Thanks again for the interview, John! And thanks for making these cards in the first place! Hopefully, they make people feel happier and less stressed after coming out! I hope they initiate some good discussions, too. And most of all, they’re REALLY FREAKING ADORABLE! I think we all know who the real superqueero is… you!

Readers, now it’s your turn: Would you have appreciated a Coming Out Card? Are there any that you think would be absolutely PERFECT to send to someone you know?

…and which Coming Out Card would you send to an LGBTQ+ fictional character?! I’d love to know!

 

Posted in LGBTQ+, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

2015 Pride Recap | And What To Expect In July & August

HELLO, EVERYONE!

My 2015 Pride blogfest thingy officially concluded last night! OMG I AM SO GLAD I DECIDED TO DO IT IN THE FIRST PLACE. And I’m even happier knowing that I didn’t miss a single day, posting-wise!

WOW. That was an experience. I haven’t written that many posts in one month since… oh gosh, I don’t even remember off the top of my head. Let me go check my Archives widget. OK, the most posts I did recently was twenty-four, and that was back in August of last year. And before that? Well, I did write thirty-two posts as part of a blogging challenge wayyyyyy back in AUGUST 2011!

So basically, I haven’t done that for a while. I average around eighteen or nineteen posts each month – one post on each odd-numbered days, and usually a few extra posts thrown in on special occasions.

I DON’T USUALLY WRITE THIS MANY POSTS IN ONE MONTH. So this Pride blogfest thingy was challenging! I’m not used to having to A) get an idea and B) write a decent post about it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!

But please don’t think I’m complaining! I’m glad I did this. It was just… intense.

I’m glad I devoted last month to LGBTQ+ posts. I had a lot of them saved up just for Pride Month, because I am a person with way too many ideas in her head! I’m also glad that I spent the entire month saying things that are difficult to say, as I mentioned in last night’s post. I’m trying to become more comfortable expressing myself and being out and whatnot, and I was determined to stick with this blogfest thingy even when I wanted to quit.

ANYWAY. The rest of this post is comprised of two sections: The past and the future, more or less. First I’m going to do a quick recap of last month’s posts, and then I’ll talk about what posts you can expect to see here in the next few months! Enjoy!

-~-

So in case you missed any of my posts and want to check them out… here are all thirty of them, sorted according to subject!

Reading The Rainbow

General bookish stuff

Movies/TV

Current events

Personal

Miscellaneous 

That one time I did not post about LGBTQ+ stuff

-~-

OH. MY. GOD. I can post about whatever I want now?! YAY YAY YAY!

I mean, it’s not like anyone was making me write LGBTQ+ posts for an entire month, but I did say that I was going to, and I like to stick to my promises. So I spent an entire month doing that, and it was fun, but I’m also super excited to write about ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING now!

Honestly, I think spending a very long time writing about any one topic can be very refreshing. It’s fun to focus so strongly on just one thing, and when you’re done? It’s sooooo refreshing to know that you can post about anything now!

I don’t know about you, buuuuut… if I’m being COMPLETELY honest, I’d been feeling pretty lackluster about blogging before I started my 2015 Pride blogfest thingy. I loooove blogging, but sometimes I also felt like it was a chore! And now I don’t feel that way anymore, because I am SERIOUSLY EXCITED about writing all the non-LGBTQ+ posts I wasn’t able to publish last month!

Now I’m like, “Ooh! I have sixty-three kazillion book tags saved up! SLKDGDFLKGSDLGHD!”

Well, now you know that some of my upcoming posts will be book tags. What else can you expect to see on Musings From Neville’s Navel in July and August?!

+ Collaborative posts. Like, a ridiculous amount of them. I love doing collab posts! I wish I’d started doing them years and years ago!

+ High school / graduation posts. These are all collab posts! I’m SO EXCITED to begin publishing them in a few days. (And if you are one of the three people who still need to send me theirs… you know who you are! Don’t stress about it too much, just send them in as soon as you can. Hopefully no later than July fifth?)

+ Movie reviews. Some of these will be collab posts! Some will not!

+ TV show reviews. I still, um, need to finish some shows first, though.

+ Book reviews / general bookish posts. Duh. This is me you’re talking me; of course there will be bookish posts!

+ 4-H stuff. Because the county fair is rapidly approaching, and this is my tenth (and final) year in 4-H.

+ COLLEGE. I want to tell you all about the classes I’ve signed up for! And about all the work that goes into getting ready for college, and about my occasional panicky “oh my god oh my god COLLEGE IS INTIMIDATING” feelings.

+ LGBTQ+ posts. But, like, wayyyyyyyy fewer than I posted last month, obviously. Pfffft. But I do already have ideas for a few posts!

Aaaaaaaaaand tomorrow – if all goes according to plan – there will be a VERY SPECIAL post! It’s funny, I thought I’d take a break from blogging tomorrow, and I definitely thought I’d take a break from LGBTQ+ posts, but it didn’t work out that way! There WILL be another one tomorrow, one that was completely unforeseen, and it’ll be a collab post with John Hansen, the creator of Teens Can Write, Too!

But as I said, that’s only if everything goes according to plan and we manage to send all of our collab bits back and forth in time. SO. We shall see. If not, then there… won’t be anything new on the blog tomorrow, and it’ll be posted a few weeks from now!

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All right, all right, I’ll shut up now, ha ha. It’s YOUR turn! What was your favorite part of my 2015 Pride blogfest THINGY? Yea or nay? And do you have any ideas about how I could improve?! Because I’m already thinking about Pride in 2016…

Posted in LGBTQ+, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

This Girl Likes Girls

Stealing kisses from your Mrs, doesn’t make you freak out
Got you fussing, got you worried, scared to let your guard down

I don’t want to write this post.

I don’t want to not write this post, either.

I should write this post. It’s important. And I’ll feel better once it’s written.

This post is the final installment of my 2015 Pride blogfest thingy, and this post is about why I don’t want to write this post. It’s also about some other things.

Note: This post contains massive amounts of internalized homophobia.
If that makes you uncomfortable, then I don’t recommend reading it.
Instead, watch this video of a tiny cute kitten!

I came out on June thirtieth, 2013 – two years ago today.

I came out for a variety of reasons, one of which is that I thought it would help me to feel about being queer. I thought that finally being open about who I really am would make me feel better about myself, would help me fully accept that part of myself.

Tell the neighbors I’m not sorry if I’m breaking walls down
Building your girl’s second story, ripping all your floors out

Well, it sort of has, and it sort of hasn’t. It’s true that I am not nearly as panicky and stressed and worried to the point of making myself physically ill, because the fear of being outed is no longer present in my life.

But I also feel that it hasn’t gotten any better for me in a number of ways.

I’m still not as comfortable with myself as I’d like to be.

One of the first things I was told after coming out – by someone I thought would understand, by someone I thought I could trust – was that I didn’t need to tell anyone about “this.” That I should keep my identity to myself because it was a private matter, that “straight people don’t go around telling everyone they’re straight, so why should you tell anyone?!”

These words have remained with me for a long time. Longer than I’d like.

Always gonna steal your thunder
Watch me like a dark cloud

Most of the time, I still feel horrible when I talk about anything LGBTQ+ related. I still feel nervous and uncomfortable and ashamed. It may surprise some of you to hear that, but you can’t get inside my mind and know what I’m thinking, after all. I probably don’t come across as a person who still has major issues with accepting her own sexual orientation – at least, I don’t think you can tell this by reading any of my previous LGBTQ+ posts – but I am.

Writing blog posts about coming out, my favorite LGBTQ+ book, my queer role models, et cetera – anything LGBTQ+ related, to be honest – is not my first instinct. I have to sort of push myself to do this because I know that I’ll feel better after I write them, even if I don’t feel that great when I begin writing them.

I feel guilty, weird, scared, ashamed, uncomfortable when I write these posts. Or when I come out to someone. Or when I talk to someone IRL about some LGBTQ+ thing that’s been on the news lately.

Because even two years after I came out and thought everything would magically get better, I still feel like I shouldn’t be talking about this stuff. I still feel like I should keep my queerness to myself, because that’s what both individual people and society as a whole have told me, over and over and over.

We will be everything that we’d ever need
Don’t tell me, tell me what I feel

I’ve been told that coming out and talking/blogging/writing about my experiences as an LGBTQ+ person is “flaunting it” and “shoving it in people’s faces” and “not necessary.” I’ve been told that I talk/blog/write about it too much, even as I look around me and see straight people being FAR more open about their relationships, crushes, and feelings than I think I will ever feel comfortable being about mine.

This is called internalized homophobia, and it’s not fun.

I’m pretty sure we all know what regular homophobia looks like. It takes the form of slurs, disparaging comments, rude jokes – and, unfortunately, beatings, rapes, and murders as well.

I’m not going to say that internalized homophobia is worse than regular homophobia, because I don’t think it is: It’s just different.

It is more insidious, though.

I’m real and I don’t feel like boys
I’m real and I don’t feel like boys

It took me forever to even realized that I had a major case of internalized homophobia… because I didn’t know I could feel differently. I just kind of assumed that it was completely normal and “right” and “OK” for any and all non-straight people to feel this way. I thought I’d probably feel this way for the rest of my life because that’s just the way things were.

And I probably will feel this way for a long time to come, but I don’t want to feel this way forever. So I’m trying to do something about that.

That’s what this 2015 Pride blogfest thingy was partially about. When I published an introduction to this post series back on June first, some of the reasons I listed for doing this blogfest were “celebrating queer people,” “educating allies,” and “because I freaking want to, that’s why.”

And then about one week into June, I published a post titled Who, Not Why: I Blog For Tiny LGBTQ+ Kids. In it, I discussed my hope that LGBTQ+ youth will find this blog – will find any resource, online or not – and find the LGBTQ+ content helpful and reassuring.

But those posts… well, while they were MOSTLY truthful, they didn’t quite contain all of the truth.

Saw your face, heard your name, gotta get with you
Girls like girls like boys do, nothing new

One of the reasons I did this Pride blogfest thingy was that I wanted to feel better about myself, feel more comfortable talking about my experiences as a young queer woman. One of the reasons I blog about LGBTQ+ things in general – throughout the year, not just during Pride Month – is that I’m trying to reassure myself that who I am is OK, that TELLING people who I am is OK! 

I do this by talking, blogging, and writing about this stuff frequently – so that I become accustomed to it, and hopefully end up not feeling quite so bad about it.

I don’t know how long this will take. A long time, I suppose. Longer than I’d like. Will I lose the internalized homophobia in five years? Ten years? Will I be OLD by the time I finally have this figured out?! Who knows?

Isn’t this why we came? Gotta get with you
Girls like girls like boys do, nothing new
Girls like girls like boys do, nothing new

It didn’t get better right away, but it is slowly getting better. I’m getting better. Talking, blogging, and writing have helped, and so has reading and chatting with my AWESOME WONDERFUL FRIENDS.

Seriously. Wren Ayola @ Alien Cows deserves a special mention for all those times I’ve sent her sad/worried/panicky texts because I was fretting about whether or not I should just shut up about my sexual orientation after all. And every time, she shows a firm, no-nonsense attitude and reminds me that it’s just internalized homophobia.

She points out that after society has told you all these things about yourself – about what you’re worth, and how your very existence makes people angry or, at best, uncomfortable – you start to believe these things are true. You take them to heart.

And then she also reminds me that things will get better, and that if any straight people have a problem with my honesty and openness about who I am – even though they are “flaunting” it just as much, if not more – than that’s THEIR problem, not mine.

I’ve been crossing all the lines, all the lines
Kissed your girls and made you cry, boys

I’m getting better… or at least I’m trying to. I’m trying to work on improving my attitude towards my own self. My first instinct is to curl up into a ball and feel ashamed and embarrassed and uncomfortable about being a lesbian – hell, in my worst moments I’ve considered conversion therapy to make me straight, even though I know it wouldn’t work – but I’m trying to get better.

This Pride blogfest THINGY is, hopefully, a way of moving past my internalized homophobia. I call it the “fake it ’til you make it” approach because A) I can’t think of anything better to call it and B) I can’t think of any other way to move past these feelings. Talking/blogging/writing about LGBTQ+ stuff doesn’t come as easily to me as it might seem, but I keep pushing onward in the hope I will eventually start to believe all this positive stuff I keep telling myself.

Isn’t this why we came? Tell me if you feel it too!
Tell me, girls like girls like boys do, nothing new

And tonight, I decided to be honest with you about what I’ve been doing. I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope this post helped a few people – maybe you read it and realized that internalized homophobia is the name for what you, too, have been dealing with. Or maybe this isn’t something you’re going through at the moment, but you’ve been there before and have some good advice. (If so, put it in the comments section below! I’d love to hear what you have to say!) Or maybe you’re not even queer but this post made you more aware of this issue and what some of your LGBTQ+ friends may be going through.

Happy Pride, everyone.

P.S. The lyrics featured in this post are from the song “Girls Like Girls” by Hayley Kiyoko. She released the music video for it last week and I’ve been watching/listening to it on repeat. I literally SOBBED the first time I watched it because it resonated so strongly with everything I’ve been thinking and feeling lately.

In just a few short days, it’s grown to mean a lot to me because it so simply and so sweetly gives me the reminder that I needed to hear: Who I am is not wrong, and merely existing as a queer person and talking about my experiences and who I really am is not “flaunting it.” It’s just being truthful.

I can already tell that this will be my go-to song of the summer: It reminded me that some girls like girls at a time when I really, really needed to hear that message.

Girls like girls like boys do, and that’s nothing new. It’s not weird, and it’s not wrong. It just is. It’s real. And it’s not going away. I want my “happily ever after” just like everyone else does and maybe if I keep reminding myself that girls like girls like boys do, I’ll finally achieve it.

Posted in LGBTQ+, Neville Sings The Blues, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Always “Marriage Equality,” Never “Gay Marriage”

Marriage equality became the law of the land in the United States this past Friday.

(WOOHOO!)

And already, straight allies are saying some REALLY WEIRD and NONSENSICAL things… in a misguided attempt to show their support, I suppose?

(BOO!)

This isn’t even a rant about the irony of straight people who have literally never bothered to show their support before suddenly changing their social media profile pictures to rainbows – I ranted about that on the very day we gained marriage equality.

No, this is something different. This post/rant/thing is about the straight allies who’ve spent the past few days saying things like THIS:

[Gazes dramatically into the distance and then screams in agony]

And this is just one randomly-chosen example!

I’ve seen this sentiment expressed on social media.

I’ve seen it on blogs.

I’ve seen it in the titles of newspaper articles.

PLEASE STOP SAYING THIS YOU HAVE NO CLUE WHAT YOU’RE EVEN TALKING ABOUT AND IT’S REALLY FREAKING ANNOYING.

Sorry, but I just had to get that out.

Let’s pull apart this statement and examine all the ways that it’s wrong, OK?

First of all, marriage is marriage. My parents’ twenty-fifth wedding anniversary is tomorrow – how ridiculous would it be if I were to go up to them and say, “Congratulations on your successful heterosexual marriage”?

(Answer: VERY ridiculous. Everyone knows real is between a woman and a woman, or a man and a man. LOL.)

There’s a quote I love from the lesbian comedian/actress Liz Feldman. It goes like this:

“It’s very dear to me, the issue of gay marriage. Or as I like to call it: marriage. You know, because I had lunch this afternoon, not ‘gay lunch.’ I parked my car; I didn’t ‘gay park’ it.”

PREACH.

(I don’t gay procrastinate, nor do I gay blog. I merely procrastinate and blog. Et cetera.)

Secondly, LGBTQ+ PEOPLE HAVE BEEN SAYING THAT YOU SHOULDN’T CALL IT “GAY MARRIAGE” FOR YEARS NOW.

(Caps lock because I am FED UP with this whole “LOL, let’s call it gay marriage” thing.)

For years we have been saying that it’s not gay marriage – as I said before, marriage is marriage. We’ve been asking, telling, demanding that straight people stop othering our marriages for years now.

I don’t know any LGBTQ+ people who call it “gay marriage,” except occasionally in jest – like, I’ve said “gay marriage” but only because my friends and I think it is the height of hilarity to poke fun at crappy allies like Macklemore. (I have great friends.)

And yet I keep seeing/hearing straight allies say, “Now it’s just marriage, not gay marriage!” Like… you are the ones who have been calling it that, not us. Please stop telling us something that we’ve been telling you for ages.

And while I’m at it, please stop acting like the recent SCOTUS ruling somehow abolished the term “gay marriage.” YOU said you supported gay marriage; we said we wanted marriage equality.

Please don’t do an about-face and pretend like you haven’t been ignoring our requests for you to stop calling it gay marriage, because we’ve been asking for years and you haven’t listened.

Like… congratulations, straight people, you just figured out an incredibly basic concept! Wow! Look at you! I mean, it’s totally not as if LGBTQ+ people have been calling it marriage equality and not gay marriage for a really long time now!

When we tell people to use the term “marriage equality,” we’re either ignored or told to stop being so pedantic. When you tell people to use the term “marriage equality,” you’re praised for being so “understanding” and “open-minded.”

And the whole thing ends up becoming a self-congratulatory trend on Facebook as you fall all over yourselves clicking “like” on your friends’ statuses as they post updates concerning some REALLY BASIC, EASY-TO-UNDERSTAND concepts that we’ve been saying for ages… and yet apparently you couldn’t understand us back then, or didn’t want to.

It’s a little ironic, isn’t it? And very annoying.

Posted in LGBTQ+, Nevillegirl's Adventures! | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Stonewall

OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS. I AM SOOOOOO EXCITED TO WRITE THIS POST. I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FORWARD TO IT FOR LIKE THE WHOLE ENTIRE MONTH AND NOW I FINALLY GET TO PUBLISH IT.

…sorry, I get a little overenthusiastic about history. Today I’m going to talk about Stonewall! If you only ever learn about one event from LGBTQ+ history, let it be Stonewall. I mean, hopefully you’d learn more than that, but if your mind is absolutely CRAMMED full of information and you can only fit one more thing in there or else your brain will dribble out your ears? Then just remember Stonewall.

The Stonewall riots took place on June 28, 1969 – forty-six years ago today. They occurred in response to a police raid on the Stonewall Inn in New York City. The Stonewall was a bar and, at that time, the largest queer establishment in the United States.

Police raids on the Inn were frequent – for context, the American Psychiatric Association did not declassify homosexuality as a mental illness until 1973, and in some states it was illegal to have sex with someone of the same gender up until 2003. Additionally, the late 1960s were already filled with tension in the form of the African-American civil rights movement and protests against the Vietnam War.

To put it simply, people were already frustrated – and their patience ran out on June 28th.

The police raid occurred in the early morning hours, much later than usual. Raids were common (on both the Stonewall and on other queer bars), but usually there was some advance warning – someone would find out that the police were on their way, and would let everyone else know so they could hightail it out of the bar.

Except the warning never came that night. When the police arrived, there were more than two hundred people there… and they refused to cooperate. During raids, police would arrest anyone who was not wearing at least three articles of clothing associated with the gender they were assigned at birth.

But that night, people refused to hand over their IDs, or go with the police. Eventually the officers decided to take everyone present to the police station, but by that point a large crowd had gathered outside the bar. The police began pushing and shoving people, and the crowd-turned-mob responded by throwing things, slashing tires, et cetera. The riots continued, sporadically, until July second.

Pride has never been peaceful. We fought on that day, and we’ve fought for the right to march in Pride parades in countries all over the world. And the fight hasn’t ended yet – TODAY, police in Istanbul used tear gas, rubber bullets, and fire hoses in order to stop that city’s Pride festival. Pride has never been about quietly blending in with everyone else and following orders.

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There’s something else I want to point out, and you may have already noticed it – Stonewall was primarily about GENDER IDENTITY and GENDER EXPRESSION. People were arrested for wearing the “wrong” clothes.

Some of these people were transgender. Some of these people were gay, lesbian, or bisexual and used crossdressing as a means of indicating their orientation.

If you go to a modern-day Pride parade, you’d think the Stonewall riots were started by a bunch of white cisgender gay guys, because the celebrations focus overwhelmingly on that group of people. BUT THEY WEREN’T.

Stonewall was partially about sexual orientation, but it had far more to do with gender.

I think we’ve sort of lost sight of that.

Additionally, the first Pride parade – held on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots – was mostly organized by a bisexual woman named Brenda Howard, often called the “mother of Pride.” It was her idea to turn Pride into a week-long series of events.

Two bisexual trans women, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera – who were black and Latina, respectively – also played important roles in the first Pride parade. (Both of these women took part in the Stonewall riots, as well.) The two became close friends and worked together on a number of projects including STAR House, a shelter for young homeless trans women.

Rivera, especially, was furious about the marginalization of trans folk. They were the hardest workers, yet were often ignored by gay men (and some lesbians) who wanted to assimilate into heterosexual society, who wanted to make the movement more “mainstream”… more palatable for straight people.

At one point, she worked on an LGBTQ+ rights bill for New York City, only to discover that all the trans and drag rights had been removed from the proposed legislation so that the bill would appeal to straight people. She also criticized the Human Rights Campaign – the largest LGBTQ+ rights advocacy group in America – for standing in the way of transgender rights.

One obituary I found stated that,

“In the early days of the gay civil rights movement Rivera was repeatedly used to front possibly dangerous demonstrations, and then shunted aside by assimilationist ‘leaders’ when the press appeared.”

Transgender and gender-nonconforming people played important roles in both the Stonewall riots and in the first Pride parade, and we must not let ourselves forget that.

If you have five minutes to spare, watch this video from last year’s NYC Pride Rally. In it, Laverne Cox – one of the parade’s grand marshals as well as my biggest LGBTQ+ role model – talks about Rivera, Johnson, and how the “mainstream” LGBTQ+ rights movement has left trans people behind.

Towards the beginning of this post, I mentioned some major milestones for gay men and lesbians – the declassification of homosexuality as a mental illness, and the legalization of same-gender sex. After those things were achieved, what did we do for trans people? Not much. In many parts of the country, trans people are more likely to be fired, be homeless, and be murdered.

And I just… gah. We need to stop doing what we’re doing right now, and start doing something different. The LGBTQ+ community won a major battle with SCOTUS’s recent ruling on marriage equality, and now we must move on to the next fight. Already, I’ve seen many blog posts and articles calling for transgender rights.

The LGBTQ+ community isn’t always as inclusive as we like to think. We need to stop ignoring some of the letters on our acronym – we need to stop discussing some groups only because it makes us look good, and then promptly abandoning them. The Stonewall riots are often referred to as the beginning of the “gay rights movement,” as well as the single most important event in “modern gay history.”

Don’t believe that. Yes, Stonewall was important – and yes, it was the beginning of our modern movement. But was it gay? Um. Only a little bit. Mainstream LG rights groups have more or less co-opted the ideas, momentum, and credit that should go to bisexual women and trans women.

Stonewall was important, but so were the people who fought in it and organized the first Pride parade. If we’re going to remember the Stonewall riots, let’s remember them as they really were.

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12 Pride Celebrations I Want To Attend Someday

Two days ago, I read Lonely Planet’s Guide to Pride: 20 Cities & Their Celebrations and… didn’t really love it? I was SO disappointed. But! I always try to look on the bright side, and find something I can appreciate.

In this case, I love how EXCITED and CURIOUS I am after reading this book’s descriptions of various Pride parades – I have a major urge to travel now! I want to attend SO MANY PRIDES someday, and Lonely Planet’s Guide to Pride made me super pumped about (hopefully) visiting many many different cities and countries some day.

So I’ve made a list! Here are the top ten LGBTQ+ Pride celebrations I would like to attend someday… if I had, like, infinite amounts of money. Or possibly my own private jet. Or the TARDIS.

1. Chicago

It takes only an hour or so to get from my hometown (in Indiana) to this city via train! I really really really want to go because it’s soooo close to where I live that I could make a day trip out of it! I hope to go within the next few years, maybe with some friends.

nyc pride2. New York City

Because this is where Pride began, and I LOVE HISTORY THINGS. I would love to visit the Stonewall Inn… and also Big Gay Ice Cream. (I would get a cone with rainbow sprinkles, obviously.) I wish I could go this year, because Ian McKellen AKA Gandalf the Gay is one of the parade’s grand marshals! ASLKJFASKLJFASLFAASFJALJKF.

3. Madrid

Spain is one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly nations in the world! Marriage equality and joint adoption rights have been the law of the land since 2005, and the country also has trans right and anti-discrimination laws.

And I have a bisexual friend who lives in Madrid! It would be awesome to visit her – after more than five years apart – and go to Pride! I’ve been studying Spanish for the past few years, so I could ask her semi-intelligent questions such as, “¡¿Dónde está la paella y las mujeres hermosas?!”* and she would respond, “¡Aquí están!”**

*”Where is the paella and the beautiful women?!”
**”Here they are!”

4. Indianapolis

Indy is the most boring city in the whole entire world according to yours truly, buuuuut… queerness makes everything better, doesn’t it? And it’s only a few hours south of my house, so I may as well go! I’d love to see the look on our homophobic governor’s face when the Pride parade is happening… or does he lock himself up in his office and hide? Probably the latter.

5. San Francisco

Because San Francisco is SUPER FREAKING GAY. Ridiculously gay. I would totally move to that city if the cost of living there weren’t so high. Also, it has AMAZING FOOD. Someday I would love to go there with my girlfriend for like a week or so, attending Pride celebrations during the day and going out to eat at a different restaurant every night. DUMPLINGS, PEOPLE. DUMPLINGSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.

6. Brighton

I’ve heard that Brighton is the British equivalent of San Francisco! Their Pride is also the largest in the UK, so I’d love to visit – and maybe combine it with a trip to another city further down on this list? (#10.)

7. Seattle

Seattle is HELLA LESBIAN. I’ve been there before but I was only a few months ago, so obviously I don’t remember anything about that trip! Also, I was far too young to be flirting with gorgeous women back then. Soooooooooo clearly I need to visit again for their Pride! And I can go to the EMP Museum and Pike Palace Market while I’m there!

8. Vancouver

Because my cute, funny, sweet, talented friend Orphu @ A Mirror Made of Words lives in British Columbia! Also, Vancouver apparently has one of the largest LGBTQ+ bookstores in Canada, so we could go there to ooh and aah at all the gay stories… and hopefully walk out with an armful of books!

9. Iowa City

So I know this place isn’t WORLD FAMOUS or anything, but it’s where my future college – the University of Iowa – is located! If I stick around during the summer for extra classes (and I probably will at least once), then I’d love to go to their Pride! Fun fact: The U of Iowa was the first college in the nation to have a GSA!

10. London

I would love to visit that city anyway, so why not go during Pride?! As with the other foreign cities on this list, I’d love to see the differences, if any, between Pride in the USA and Pride overseas. Like, what human rights are they fighting really hard for in another country that we either already have or haven’t even begun to campaign for?

amsterdam pride11. Amsterdam

I freaked out about Amsterdam’s Pride parade last week because OH MY GOSH THEIR PRIDE IS HELD ON A RIVER IN BOATS. Oh my god. That’s so cool, and such a good use of one of the city’s most unique features!

12. Dublin

I’ll have to double-check the dates, but the U of Iowa has a study-abroad program held in Dublin. (And it’s aimed at English majors, to boot! YAAAAAAY!) If there’s a summer program, then I would so go to Dublin Pride! Also, they just legalized marriage equality and expanded transgender rights! Hurrah!

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Dublin, Vancouver, and London held their Pride parades today, while San Francisco, New York City, Seattle, and Chicago are all hosting theirs tomorrow! (On the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which will be the topic of tomorrow’s post.) The other cities either celebrated in early June or will do so in July or August. While writing this post, I looked at a bunch of pictures of people in today’s parades / people getting ready for tomorrow’s parades; you may want to as well! It was pretty cool.

Which Pride celebrations would YOU like to attend someday? (And why?!) Have you ever been to any Pride – large or small, famous or virtually unknown – before? Be sure to tell me all about it in the comment section below!

P.S. I recently did a collab post with Chloe @ The Book Hugger on the subject of LGBTQ+ YA books! You can read the post here if you’re interested. Thanks for letting me be part of this, Chloe! Also, kudos to all the other participants – Emily @ Loony Literate, Evi @ Adventuring Through Pages, and John @ Teens Can Write, Too! I loved reading what you had to say!

Posted in LGBTQ+, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Nevillegirl's Travels, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

#LoveWins | Practice Your Allyship Today & On Many Other Days

marriage equality gifI woke up this morning and marriage equality was already all over the news.

Today the Supreme Court of the United States – or SCOTUS for short, for my international peeps who don’t know – handed down a 5-4 ruling that marriage equality is a constitutional right.

To which I say “WELL, DUH” and then “HURRAH!”

This day has been one of mixed emotions for me.

loved seeing the photos of adorable elderly couples who are now FINALLY able to marry after years and years together – I think my heart exploded from all the cuteness.

I squeed when I watched Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi’s cheeky Vine, complete with rainbow confetti and “We Are The Champions” blasting in the background. IAN MCKELLEN IS LIKE THE COOLEST OLD PERSON EVER AND I’M SO GLAD THAT THIS YEAR HE’S ONE OF THE GRAND MARSHALS OF THE NYC PRIDE PARADE OMGGGG.

I squealed when I realized that now, if I want to get married, I can do so in anywhere in America – and that marriage would remain legal if my wife and I moved to another state! Four years ago when I was beginning to think about possible careers, my options were quite limited in terms of location: I didn’t want to live anywhere where I wouldn’t be able to get married.

I giggled at this tweet.

And I have to admit that I got a little bit teary-eyed just thinking about all the little kids, the kids born today, and the kids born in days to come who will grow up knowing they can marry someone of the same gender. The kids who can’t remember a time when marriage equality didn’t exist in America, the kids who never question it. This would’ve meant so much to me when I was a little girl.

I’m thrilled that my nation has marriage equality. This is a defining moment for us, to be sure. My arms hurt from pinching myself all day to make sure this is real – that we really can get married anywhere in the United States, that our relationships are legally (if not always societally) recognized as valid. A few years ago, I would never have believed that this would someday be possible. So I’m happy today.

But I’ve also felt some… rather bitter emotions? Yeah, I think that’s a good way to put it.

This is a day worth celebrating – especially since it’s also the anniversary of two other landmark Supreme Court decisions concerning LGBTQ+ people, Lawrence v. Texas and United States v. Windsor. This is a day worth celebrating, especially if you couldn’t get married before and now you can.

I don’t want anyone to get the wrong message and think that I think this day isn’t worth celebrating. 

I just… I just think BALANCE is key here: There are so many LGBTQ+ issues that still need work.

We can celebrate and keep moving forward. Just as we can work on (and care about) multiple LGBTQ+ issues at once, so too can we continue to celebrate on this day and during the days immediately following it while continuing to work on other causes.

…honestly, this message isn’t even directed at LGBTQ+ people. It’s directed at our allies, most of whom seem to think the fight is over. (I can’t tell you how many Facebook posts I’ve seen while scrolling my feed that declared, “Equality has been achieved!” Um.) And even the allies who do realize that there is more work to be done usually, um… don’t help with it. So why do they need a “holiday” from their allyship?

Look, if you’re an ally and you’ve posted all sorts of congratulatory stuff on social media today, then… thanks! I’m genuinely grateful to know that we are in your thoughts.

But I also wish that so many allies didn’t, you know, save this outpouring of support and love and LGBTQ+-affirming social media posts for one day out of the year – or, at best, for Pride Month.

Once again, let’s use Facebook as an example. My feed is basically NOTHING but rainbows and queerness and glitter right now. And it’s lovely! It truly is.

I couldn’t help but notice, though, that the vast amount of updates made (or shared) by allies were posted by people who never ever ever talk about LGBTQ+ otherwise. I mean, I was SURPRISED to see some of my friends’ ally-ish posts because they have never said anything to indicate that they support LGBTQ+ rights.

I try to be a happy-go-lucky, giggling, glitter-filled nerd ALL THE TIME, and I usually succeed, but this left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m kind of grumpy right now.

I have a grand total of ONE friend who is a good ally. She consumes LGBTQ+ media, stays up to date on news related to us, regularly posts about LGBTQ+ issues, and seems to have educated herself pretty well about LGBTQ+ issues. SHE MAKES ME SO HAPPY.

It’s taken me most of the afternoon to sort through what, exactly, was bothering me about the recent SCOTUS ruling. Eventually I realized had nothing to do with the ruling itself: Part of my grumpiness is due to the exasperation I feel whenever I remember how much work still needs to be done until we do achieve full equality, and quite a lot of my grumpiness is due to the weird ways people are reacting to the news. I tried not to let them get on my nerves, but that plan didn’t work very well.

I’m not annoyed that allies are talking and writing and posting about LGBTQ+ issues today – on the contrary, I love it! But I wish they did this more often. It doesn’t even have to be every day or most days, but more days would be lovely. 

This is not meant to be accusatory. This is meant to be helpful, and I hope to make you think about what you could be doing differently – what you could do to be a better ally. 

I’d like to see allies discussing LGBTQ+ stuff (and writing and learning about it, and especially bringing more attention to things said/written by queer people about queer issues) more often than not. I’m not annoyed that allies are talking about this stuff TODAY – I’m annoyed that for so many of them, this will be the only day they do so.

Where was their support on National Coming Out Day? Transgender Day of Remembrance? International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, & Transphobia? Asexual Awareness Week? World AIDS Day?

Where is their support on ordinary days? You don’t have to wait for a momentous decision or some high-profile celebrity’s coming-out announcement or the death of a queer child or even an LGBTQ+ holiday to show your support.

I’m grateful for allies, but I wish they would stop making themselves known only once or twice a year. I know that many of the straight people following this blog consider themselves allies, and I’m here to point out that a hell of a lot of you – not all of you, but moat of you – are pretty quiet about LGBTQ+ issues throughout the year. 

(The one big exception consists of the book bloggers reading and reviewing LGBTQ+ YA, but even then… the lives of real queer people will ALWAYS be more important than those of the queer characters you fangirl over. Please don’t say things like, “We need marriage equality so my OTP can get married!” It’s weird, and it’s rude. We need marriage equality because real people deserve human rights.)

If you so rarely act like an ally that people are surprised to find out you actually are one, then you have some work to do. 

You don’t have to wait until it becomes fashionable to change your social media profile picture to rainbows or a red equals sign.

You don’t have to wait until some aspect of the LGBTQ+ rights movement is turned into a hashtag.

You don’t have to wait until it becomes cool to be an ally.

You don’t have to wait until “everyone else is doing it.”

You can start any day.

It doesn’t have to be hard and if you don’t know where to start because you’ve never really done this before… just start somewhere. Start talking and writing and blogging and posting about these issues, and keep doing so.

On ordinary days.

You don’t have to wait.

If for some reason you can’t go out and volunteer at some LGBTQ+ organization – maybe you don’t have time, or you’re under sixteen and don’t have anyone willing to drive you, or whatever – the least you can do to fulfill your duty as an ally is to talk and write about it. Raise other’s awareness and enhance your own. This can be as simple as telling someone about a fascinating LGBTQ+ news article you read, or whatever.

If some LGBTQ+ activists choose to take the day off from our fight for rights, then that is their prerogative and I fully support them in doing so.. There are some extremely hard-working straight allies who deserve a break too, but the majority? I haven’t seen the majority of allies doing anything throughout the year, soooo… why on earth do they need a vacation?

If anything, use this day as momentum for your allyship – if you spent the entire day being all “ASLKJFASLKFJALFAJS YAAAAAAAAY!” about marriage equality, then let that attitude stick with you for days and days to come.

Don’t reserve your allyship only for days when practically everyone is speaking up about LGBTQ+ issues. Please be an active supporter on more days, most days, or ordinary days. Please.

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