Tag Archives: queer

Why Ricky Matters (to me.. and maybe a few other boys)

by Guest Contributor Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano, originally published at Hairspray & Fideo and Blabbeando

There’s been a lot of commotion regarding Ricky Martin’s recent coming out statement on his official website. As with most things in life these days, I learned about the news on Facebook. So, I immediately posted about the news as well and quickly joined in the jubilee of queerness and pranced about the office like a middle school-aged boy who accidentally touched hands with his classroom crush. I even committed the blasphemy of comparing the news to that of Health Care Reform and the release of Apple’s iPad (insert sound of angel choir here).

And then, of course, there was the storm of cattiness that followed the news. As a queer Xicano, I admit that sarcasm is built into my genetic code. The survivor of four Christian-themed religions and 500+ years of white supremacist occupation, I find humor, irony and disbelief in most things. Still, yesterday I just wanted to celebrate.

I agree that the fact that Ricky is gay is not all that shocking. Queer men and not long speculated or asserted that he shook his bon bon far too well to be straight. Plus, for us jotos/maricones/patos, there was the added benefit of dreaming him up queer, which somehow put us that much closer to his arms.

Still, as the catty remarks continue, as people boast about how they knew and think he should have done this 10 years ago, or sassy queens dismiss the news as inconsequential, I say, look beyond our borders (geographic, cultural, and age-based) and take a minute to honor the fact that for many, Ricky’s coming out is groundbreaking, perhaps even life-saving.

So Ricky was doing more than living la vida loca; he was, in fact, a loca. To the trained eye, this is just confirmation that our gaydar runs on more than hormones and dreams.

Hormones, dreams and cattiness aside, I challenge the ungleeful remarks about Ricky’s coming out. Continue reading

Toward A More Colorful Queer Future

by Guest Contributor Alex Niculescu


Over the last few years mainstream gay advocacy groups have focused their efforts on one issue, a panacea to seemingly solve all forms of inequality that gays are faced with: marriage rights.

With the passage of Proposition 8 this summer in California, many people’s hopes that gays would achieve full equality in this country were dashed. What was even more distressing, however, was the wave of racist backlash against people of color in California, who were accused of being the cause of Prop 8′s passage (this is a completely unfounded claim, as studies have shown). When I look at the actions of HRC, GLAAD, and other mainstream gay advocacy groups from the past years, they make me sad to call myself queer. In particular, their perpetual focus on marriage rights as the most pressing issue facing queers, the only obstacle blocking the road to full equality, is an awfully myopic and misguided claim. To assume that marriage is the main issue all queers should be organizing around automatically constructs an essentialized version of a gay person, when the very existence of queer people should enough to  contradict and confront any attempts to standardize our lives.

As anarchists say that “our dreams won’t fit in your ballot boxes,” queer bodies and experiences are too, well, queer, to fit in the state’s centuries-old definition of marriage. For queers to appeal for marriage is to desire assimilation into a heteronormative conception of sexuality, gender, and relationships, things which the government should have no business regulating or legislating in the first place. What scares me even more about assimilation is that it compels us to ignore the structures of power and interaction of power dynamics in this country.  Supporting marriage is supporting a means of institutional oppression. Historically, marriage was never rooted in religion, but rather it was a way for the state to regulate the transfer of property from a womyn’s family to her husband. This effectively bound the wife into a slaveholding document – she too became part and parcel of the man’s life possessions.  Consider the language that we use to describe when a womyn weds -  Mrs. is a possessive form of Mr.  For queers to appeal to an institution that has historically oppressed womyn (as well as non-whites – through miscegenation laws and the inability of slaves to exercise the so-called ‘human’ right of marriage, because, of course, it would humanize them in the face of their oppressors) baffles me. Continue reading

Quoted: Adelina Anthony on Comedy as Resistance


Making queer Chicana experience comedic affirms our pains and glories – hijole, just the fact that we exist and thrive. If I flip the dynamic around and poke fun at whiteness or heterosexuality, that’s the work of resistance, because I’ve inverted the paradigm and I’m using comedy to laugh at those structures that work to make us invisible. Since I’m writing with a queer Chicana audience in mind, it’s meant for us. We recognize the stereotype[s] – even how we sometimes play into them ourselves. If I pole fun at lesbians of color (with a progressive agenda, of course), then it’s the work of healing – and that’s the best effect of laughing in a group setting. The roar of the audience on some jokes points to that collectivity of experience and culture.

—Adelina Anthony, Bitch Magazine “Sit Down Comedy” Fall 2009 issue.

Quoted: Andreana Clay on Queer Women of Color and Hip Hop Masculinity

Excerpted by Latoya Peterson

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A variety of clubs cater to queer women of color in the San Francisco Bay area. Some are wall-to-wall women of color – Black, Latina, Asian and most play hip-hop music non-stop. In each club, there are all different kinds of women. For instance, there might be women over forty with long ‘locks, Hawaiian shirts, shorts, and Teva sandals in one corner of the room and younger, Butch, women wearing crisp, indigo-colored Levi’s with thick black belts, large belt buckles and perfectly gelled hair in another. There are also femme women in tight jeans or skirts, heels, and short T-shirts, some cut around the collar so that they slide down their shoulders. In every club I that I’ve been to, there is always a clearly designated dance floor, which is usually packed tight with sweaty bodies. Some clubs have elevated dance floors or stages with one or two go-go dancers dressed in hot pants and knee-high boots. Below them are women lined up with dollars. In the background, hip-hop music fills the room with beats and voices, sometimes the only male presence in the room. What type of male, and ultimately what type of masculinity depends on the club.

On Gay Pride weekend this year, I went out to several of these clubs. Two in particular stuck out in my mind because of their similarities and differences in relationship to queer sexuality and black masculinity. For instance, at one of the clubs I went to, the deejay played songs that characterize more of the nigga, or thug image in hip-hop- 2Pac, Biggie Smalls, the Game, and 50 Cent. At the second club, the music had much more of a playa or sexualized tone – the Ying Yang twins, David Banner, and Khia. While there are two different types of masculinity being played at each club, in a room full of women of color, the lyrics fall to the background as the performances take center stage. For instance, nigga masculinity in the first club is reflected in a particular style, stance, or code. It is more about an individual identity, one that each person can take on. Women throw up hand gestures as they dance, make eye contact with one another and mouth the words to the lyrics. Some women even had on T-shirts with the ultimate “nigga 4 life,” 2Pac. The tone set at this club is also about community. The mood isn’t so much about sex or domination sexually, but rather, a stance about who someone is or declares herself to be: being down, being able to take what comes in life, being loyal to this group, this identity, and this community.

In the second club, the playa image was much more prevalent. If you wanted someone to help you get your groove on, this was the place to be. Women would grind their bodies into one another, and move one another’s bodies around to the direction of the lyrics. Queer sexuality was much more on display, as a woman, you wanted to be looked at, have somebody notice you, and maybe take you home. For instance, at one point, I noticed two women on the stage, dancing with one another. One of the women, in baggy jeans and a baseball jersey picked up the wman she was dancing with who was wearing a short, silver skirt and tank top. She then lifted her up onto the bars surrounding the stage and then put her face into the woman’s skirt under the musical direction of “work that clit, cum girl.” I had to sit down. Continue reading

Nina’s Heavenly Delights: the cheesecake factory

by guest contributor Manish, originally published at Ultrabrown

Nina’s Heavenly Delights is the latest badly-written desi flick to hit enough recognizable truths about the diaspora that it’s fun in spite of itself. It’s a Glaswegian lesbian romance interpreted chastely, as if for kids. The female leads nuzzle and kiss without tongue, lest director Pratibha Parmar offend the focus group, while the drag queens camp and vamp to stereotype but are never permitted to smooch on screen. FSM save gays and lesbians from friendly filmmakers.

The problem with gay, desi, and gay desi flicks is that they’re made out of a crying need for representation, but neither ‘boon’ automatically makes one a good director. Nina’s is infested with clichés, begins with a spice metaphor, and ganks not only the ghostly chef from Ratatouille, but also the spirit guide from the atrocious Touch of Pink (Jimi Mistry, Kyle MacLachlan). It rings false and fantastical, with the most understanding desi mom ever written into film. But it leans on an indie soundtrack and a cinematographer who loves slow pans and tilts. Save for a tacky Taj Mahal model-slash-heartlight, it’s not as obviously amateur as Flavors.

Shelley Conn, great niece of stealth desi Merle Oberon, is taller with darker skin than her white love interest. She’s the top in this film, which is unusual for gay desi flicks. (Daniel Day-Lewis’ tomahawk cheekbones were clearly dom in My Beautiful Laundrette.) The plot is yet another battle-of-the-bands exercise, a ‘curry competition’ helmed at last by the great Kulvinder Ghir (Goodness Gracious Me) in burr, kilt and rabbits’ feet. The movie’s relentless focus on Indian food makes it more commercial, as does the lesbian angle; knowing her mainstream, Parmar let the girls get to first base, while any guy-on-guy takes place off-screen. It’s not that one wants to see Ronny Jhutti (Rafta Rafta) get it on — not that there’s anything wrong with that — it’s that it’s a blatant double standard, genuflecting in the direction of heteronormative marketability.

This movie was made earlier with more wit and bite as East is East, which too made great use of Jhutti and Raji James. But its ending video sequence has queens, twinks, brown highland dancers and white Bollyornaments naachofying to Briton Nazia Hassan’s classic ‘Aap Jaisa Koi.’ If you enjoyed Rocky the drag queen’s camp performance in Bollywood/Hollywood, you’ll have fun with this. And Shelley Conn (and Atta Yaqub) aren’t exactly hard on the eyes.

Nina’s opened in NYC and San Francisco recently. Here are the trailer and clips. For more desi Scots, check out Psychoraag and Ae Fond Kiss, among others .

The Office recap: Branch Wars

by guest contributor Jasmine

In the time that we have come to know and love Stanley Hudson as one of the beleaguered employees on “The Office”, we have seen the myriad offensive ovations suffered at the hands of his boss, Michael Scott. Stanley is recruited by Michael for a pick-up basketball game because he is Black. Stanley, though, always seems to prevail, confounding Michael’s racist presumptions with hilarious consequences. The problem, though, is that Michael never learns. He never learns that it’s wrong to assume that Stanley is a good basketball player because he is Black. He doesn’t understand why he can’t drop the n-word when impersonating Chris Rock. He finds it hard to believe that the White woman with Stanley at the Dundies is actually his wife. He’s surprised to learn that Stanley and his family don’t celebrate Kwanzaa. You know what I don’t understand? I don’t know how Stanley held out so long, and for so little.

Stanley finally gets his due, though, when he gets an offer to join the Utica branch, for more money and presumably a better boss: Karen, formerly of Stamford and Scranton, the girl Jim dated before he finally broke it off and started dating Pam. The Utica branch appears like an oasis in comparison to the dysfunctional drudgery of Scranton. Who can blame Stanley for wanting to leave? Apparently, Michael can: in a fit of exasperation, he announces Stanley’s leaving to the office. Unexpectedly, Stanley’s fellow employees applaud. Michael is beside himself: “You cannot take the hilarious Black guy from the office.” Going on, he lists Stanley’s assets: “bluesy wisdom, sassy remarks, crossword puzzles, his smile… those big, watery red eyes.” He pauses, then continues: “I don’t know how George Bush did it when Colin Powell left.” Stanley insists that the reason he’s leaving is money, and anyway, it’s probably his sales record that got him the job. I don’t see Karen running an want ad for “bluesy wise older Black gentleman”. Michael, still, is incredulous: “Mo’ money, mo’ problems, you of all people should know that.” Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! Again, I’m wondering why nobody calls Michael on his ignorance, but then I remember that Michel, not being smart, would never get it. But does that make it any less reasonable to try? How do you reason with the unreasonable?

Elsewhere in the office, Pam, Toby, and Oscar have started The Finer Things Club. Oscar says that, apart from having sex with men, it’s the gayest thing about him. Way to embrace the stereotype! Mainly, though, the Club discusses a book over a lunch tied to the book. E.M. Forster’s “A Room With A View” with tea and sandwiches. “Memoirs Of A Geisha” with sushi. Andy tries to join, but is unsuccessful. Jim’s eventual admission seems short-lived, as he may not have actually read “Angela’s Ashes”.

Eventually, the episode wanders from Stanley’s narrative to Michael who, if he cannot keep Stanley, will exact revenge on the Utica branch by sneaking into their office to steal their industrial copier. An interrogation from Karen, and Michael returns defeated to Scranton. He gets Pam started on a want ad: “Wanted, middle aged black man with sass, big butt, bigger heart.” Fortunately, we don’t hear any more of the ad, as Stanley surrenders. He’s staying — in fact, he never meant to leave. He just wanted to see if Michael would counter Karen’s offer of more money, and was surprised to see Michael calling his bluff. Which makes Stanley wonder if perhaps Michael is a secret genius after all. I doubt it. I’m disappointed in Stanley — he could have moved into a more diverse office with a boss who isn’t a racist for more money, but he stayed. I’m sure he has his reasons. What they might be, I can only hope to figure out.

Third Shot and I’m Starting to Feel It – Shot at Love Recap

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

Okay – I’m starting to get bored with the extensive recaps. So, I’m going to leave that to the official MTV blog and just highlight a couple interesting notes from the show.

The Trouble Same Sex Reality Shows

I’m going to let Dan Savage speak on this one, because he nailed it a couple years back:

Sometimes the mail is sooooooooo depressing that I just want to think about other things.

Like Next. Last weekend I was stuck in a hotel room in Portland, Oregon, on account of a teensy, weensy hangover, and I caught a marathon of the MTV dating show. Here’s how the show works: One person—say, a boy—goes on a blind date with a girl. If the boy doesn’t like the girl, he says “Next!” and one of four other girls, all waiting on a bus, takes the first girl’s place. The rejected girl returns to the bus to be cruelly mocked by her rivals. The boy continues barking “Next!” until he finds a girl he likes. Sometimes there are five boys on the bus and a girl barks “Next!”, and every once in a while five gay boys are on the bus and another gay boy barks “Next!”

While the gay episodes demonstrate to MTV’s impressionable viewers that young gay people are really no different—they’re every bit as shallow, vapid, and crude as their straight counterparts—not one of the gay episodes really worked. Instead of anxiously waiting to see which of the five will be chosen, viewers of the gay installments of Next anxiously wait for the five boys on the bus to strip down and get it on. The gay boys on the Next bus aren’t rivals, MTV, they’re all potential matches, which makes the one guy who isn’t on the bus nearly irrelevant. In all three of the gay episodes I saw, the boys on the bus were more into each other than they were into the boy for whose affections they were supposedly competing; in gay Next, the boy who “won” a second date with the boy-who-wasn’t-on-the-bus declined, preferring to run off with one of the other guys on the bus.

Recreating the “five bitchy rivals” dynamic that makes the hetero episodes of Next so entertaining wouldn’t be that hard, MTV. Here’s all you need to do: Put five hairy bears on the bus that are only attracted to pretty twinks, and let them compete for the, er, hand of one pretty twink. Or five white guys that are only into Asian guys competing for an Asian guy. Or five tops and one bottom. Or five Log Cabin Republicans and one CPA. Take a little more care with the casting and preinterviews, MTV, and you’ll be able to solve Next’s gay problem. You’re welcome.

Dan Savage, July 5, 2006

MTV, Tila…why are we acting surprised when some of the non-butch, lipstick lesbians (who are attracted to other, non-butch, lipstick lesbians) start hooking up? You knew that was going to happen. And you’re on a reality show – which means you know at least half those people are lying about their motives/background/sexual orientation just to get on TV.

Snitching Clusterfuck

I personally can’t stand those fucking “Stop Snitching” tee shirts. Every time I see one, I have to forcibly restrain myself from lunging at the wearer and choking them out on the metro. However, while watching Domenico and Ashley screw over Brandi, Rebecca, and Steve, I was overcome with the urge to grab one of those shirts and add the phrase “on yourself.” Seriously, yo! It’s the oldest trick in the book. Domenico said nothing, and Steve snitched on himself. Brandi said nothing and Rebecca snitched on herself. If this was a scripted program, we could have at least got a laugh track. Or a “dun-dun-DUN!”

The Ellen Factor?

Everyone loves Dani. Seriously. From my friends to the commenters on the message boards, it seems like most of the support is behind Dani. According to societal standards, we should not be cheering on the futch as she is outside of society’s prescribed roles for lesbians. She isn’t porno ready. There are other girls who are using their T & A a lot more and accomplishing a lot less. So what is it about Dani? Why is she just so damn likeable?

“She kind of reminds me of Ellen DeGeneres,” commented my boyfriend during the last show.

It was as if someone hit me over the head with a squeaky hammer. She IS like Ellen. Is that why we like her? Has Ellen DeGeneres become the archetype for the acceptable butch? Is Ellen the original futch? Hopefully, someone a bit better versed in queer politics and theory can school me in the comments section… Continue reading

No homo… black male intimacy

by guest contributor Dumi Lewis, originally published at Black At Michigan

So for the past few years nearly every time I hear Black men nearing a point of emotional intimacy two words quickly have haunted the moment, “no homo.” Picture this Sicily… err, I mean, so picture this, you’ve mentored a brother for the past 5 years, talked him through some major life issues: college, divorce, depression, women, etc. and he’s about to take off for a far off land. He takes a moment to express his thanks for the love that you’ve showed him over the years and how you’ve improved his life and he punctuates his statement with “no homo.” Not only has it happened once, but it’s happened multiple times with the brothas that I’ve worked with. But the reason it urks me so much, is that so many of these brothas are the “good brothas”, the brothas who have attempted to push on issues of gender, inequality at large and sexuality… well maybe not so much the latter.

The “no homo” movement seems to have grown directly out of Hip-Hop’s obsession with hyper-masculinity. As Hip-Hop has pushed the masculine through performance of actions, be they violent or non-violent, the realm of intragender intimacy has consistently been silent. Now of course there are songs for my crew, my niggas, even back in the day my posse, but these songs fall far from carving out a space to discuss close relationships between Black men (except when the subject of the song is dead, then you can talk freely). But this is nothing new to our community, as Black men at large, and those embedded within the Hip-Hop generation.

Now to be clear, I don’t think Black men lack intimacy, I think we simply truncate it for the “sexuality safety.” To me sexuality safety is about the maintenance of an image of heterosexuality (meaning: I’m a guy, I mess with women); and a by extension a vehement rejection of homosexuality (meaning: I’m a guy, I’m not for that gay shit). They are two sides of the same coin in our music. While some are already chomping at the bit to say, not all of Hip-Hop is like this, let me take this moment to pre-emptively strike like GWB and douse some of your righteous indignation and remind you that many of our favorite rappers follow this logic. Nas, Common, Andre 3000, the list goes on. Just search through their catalogs, it’s there!

Hip-Hop’s response has been to dodge or turn a blind eye to homoeroticism, but sometimes it comes full frontal. While rumors about rappers being homosexual have long directed Hip-Hop (check out Marc Lamont Hill’s forthcoming book on more of this). In recent months, rumors have become specters. The Lil’ Wayne and Baby kiss started a firestorm, that I hoped would have lead to a different discussion of male intimacy, but lord knows that fire burned out as quickly as it went ablaze, leaving most people with the same ideas of equating black male intimacy with sexuality. In recent days T-Pain has gained significant attention regarding his comments about Ray J’s sex tape and endowment. After making multiple comments about penis size he attempts to absolve himself of homoerotic overtones by saying “no homo.” See, no harm, no foul. No way in hell. Most folks who read his comments and reacted offered up their own theories of the boundaries of masculinity and appropriate references to another man’s physique. The bottom line that could be taken from most comments that I could stomach was “a real man never even notices another man’s penis”, sure, right.

While the popular attention that Wayne and T-Pain garnered is important, it tells us little about how Black folks, and Black men in particular, understand the boundaries between intimacy and sexuality. I’m most concerned with the use of “no homo” when it comes to interpersonal intimacy. I know that we as Black men have historically bottled emotion, but punctuating our sharing with “no homo” is troubling. By using “no homo” are brothas saying the only men who share emotions are homosexual? Are brothas saying that sharing emotions will immediately lead to some form of sexual encounter? And more importantly, to myself I’ve asked and am asking, do I create an environment with my brothas where they think I’m so anti-gay that they need to qualify their emotions and distinguish them from sexuality?