Wednesday, November 7, 2012

It's good to be gay in the USA

The Sapphist Gazetteer is feeling good right about now.  I'm celebrating the re-election of President Obama, the first American president to state his support for same-sex marriage and the first American president to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the US military.  There is a long list of other unprecedented positive steps he has taken for LGBT rights.  Much more needs to be done, and we need to keep moving forward.  But I have no doubt we will see more improvement in the four years ahead.  Thank you to the American voters for making it possible.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Maia Sharp is calling

Last night I finally discovered my favorite new gay lady: Maia Sharp.  I'm a fool that it took this long.  Here's how it happened.  I needed a lez night out after experiencing a somewhat disconfirming evening with a bunch of straight couples a few days prior during which a homophobic remark was uttered.  I called it out, but then felt like even more of an outsider, aka the dreaded humorless lesbian ("As a lesbian I resent your laughter. And all laughter.") So when I saw the poster around town for an in-the-round evening at Passim with Garrison Starr, a wonderful out sweet folk singer, and two other evidently queer sisters, I was all in.  I called up my friend Liz and convinced her to come with me.  Before the show I looked up the other chicks and discovered one of them was Maia Sharp.  I soon realized she is amazing. I'm not just throwing that around.  You actually will be amazed by her.  Even recalcitrant Liz was impressed.  Maia's songwriting is smart and beautiful.  Her voice is emotional and grown up.  I also just discovered that she co-wrote, with her father, Randy Sharp, "A Home," which was famously recorded by the Dixie Chicks and is on my list of songs that will reliably make me cry.  I instantly fell in love with "Buy My Love" from her new CD, "Change the Ending."  And to my delight Maia sang it at my request at the show.  I'm the type to shout things from the audience.  When I'm not in front of the classroom in professor mode, I'm a badly behaved student causing disruptions in the back.  But I loved, loved, loved the show.  Maia is a tall shot of tomboy who is a musical master, switching from guitar to bass to keyboards to sax.  She can bring the funk at a live performance, write songs that will tap you on the chest, and sing like she's calling your name.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Empower survivors and end slavery

Here's something you can do today to help a girl in Cambodia repair her life and once again feel her own innate dignity.  To make a $10 donation to the life-saving work being done by the Somaly Mam Foundation text "RESCUE" to 80088. Then reply "YES" at the prompt.  Simple, quick, and important.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Let's go, people

I'm not the most political person you're going to meet.  But this year's presidential election has got to put  a fire under you.  You simply must send some money to the Obama campaign or volunteer or put the sticker on your car or something.  The alternative to a second term for President Obama is unthinkable. No, actually: Think about it.  Not pretty.  Dismal, in fact.  Yes, Obama has been slower than we'd hoped to come around on gay and lesbian rights.  But he came around.  He ended Don't Ask Don't Tell.  That is huge.  As a sitting president he publicly stated his personal support for same-sex marriage.  That is historic.  And during this week's Democratic National Convention the party adopted same-sex marriage rights as part of the platform.  That is unprecedented.  The Obama administration has also made many advancements in gay rights at the federal level, which have been detailed by the HRC.  In addition, most of the speeches I've heard this week — including those of the First Lady and the President himself — included some statement recognizing the need for improved gay rights.  Election Day is just weeks away, and your future will be better with Obama.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Rapinoe comes out into the sunlight

I am grateful for the capacity to find happiness even during a blue period.  Earlier this week I came to the end of my run around the pond, and as I exited the deep shade of the trees and entered the sunlight, the summer insects in the meadow hummed their unrestrained cheer, and I felt blissed out.

You know what else there is to be happy about?  Megan Rapinoe.  She officially and unequivocally came out recently.  This is no small thing.  We can count on one hand how many high profile out lesbians there are in professional sports.  Rapinoe is a welcome bolt of positive life force.  She is adorable and dynamic.  It's also refreshing that Rapinoe's endorsement deal with Nike seems intact after the news.  In fact, Nike (featuring Rapinoe in this ad, above) seems to be embracing Rapinoe more than ever.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Jeanette Winterson is a giant


This post is much delayed but still important.  Literary genius Jeanette Winterson has a new book, a memoir, "Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?"  I've not read it yet because I am disgracefully behind in all my reading (but summer is here, so there is hope for reading for pleasure and for updating this poor, neglected blog...).

I attended Winterson's talk in Boston (Brookline, actually) on March 19, and I took this photo.  She's smiling at me because I just told her she looked great, which she did.  I had never seen her in person before.  She is remarkably small.  But swaggering nonetheless, as you would imagine.

I have adored Jeanette Winterson since I read her first novel  "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit" in the late 1980s.  Her work was important to me as I developed my identity in my late teens and early 20s.  And, still, she is one of few contemporary authors whose writing truly moves me.  When I chose "The Stone Gods" for my book group not long ago, some readers hated it so much they were almost hostile toward me.  But I don't care.  She's a genius.

Aside from calling out to Jeanette that she looked great, the only other interaction we've had is an email I sent to her website a few years ago.  She had misspelled the name of writer A.M. Homes.  I received what appeared to be a brief, personal reply from Jeanette herself saying only: "She'll forgive me!"

Apparently, A.M. Homes has indeed forgiven Jeanette because Amy posted this Facebook item on March 22: "Last Night I Introduced Jeanette Winterson's reading at Barnes and Noble--it was amazing--she is among the brightest, most gifted writers of our time and her Memoir, Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal is a defining book on the subject of adoption-read it!"

Thursday, February 16, 2012

We're still saying it

It's time for some laughs, gals. And why not laugh at ourselves? As you may know, there is a genre of humorous YouTube video called "Shit [insert human category] Say." In that tradition, some very funny and very cute young sapphists have posted their own. I was surprised and reassured to discover that much of the commentary on lesbian culture seems similar to what it was twenty years ago when I was their age. While "heteronormative" and "texting" have entered the lexicon, not much else has changed. Young lesbians are apparently still endearingly earnest, still eating hummus, and still over-analyzing relationship dynamics. See for yourself:

Shit Lesbians Say








Shit Gay Girls Say






Shit Queer Grrrls Say

Friday, January 6, 2012

Carrie Brownstein and historical denial of queers

Did you happen to catch the Carrie Brownstein interview on Fresh Air the other day? I made a point of tuning in because, you know, Carrie Brownstein was in Sleater-Kinney and, hence, she's an important figure in the lesbian community. I also happened to be unloading the dishwasher and listening to NPR, which is how I spend a good deal of my day.

Okay, but bear with me. This is important. I'm not very knowledgeable about queercore and riot grrrl music, but even I know that Brownstein was influential in those movements. I also saw Sleater-Kinney in that L Word episode. Therefore I was stunned while sorting the flatware and listening to Terry Gross that there was no mention of Brownstein's iconic status in the lesbian community. Terry Gross did refer to Brownstein as a "feminist icon," but that's not really the same thing, is it? It's not really the same thing at all. I mean, it's not even really true. Does Carrie Brownstein come to mind as a feminist icon? Not that she does not deserve to be a feminist icon. But it bothered me because the F-word just seemed to be a way to avoid the L-word in the interview. It's not as if there weren't opportunities. They talked about the Portlandia skit making fun of women's bookstores, they talked about tattoos. Terry Gross even went so far as to ask Brownstein about the experience of seeing her own image tattooed on a Sleater-Kinney fan. And the lesbian icon thing still did not come up! Who other than a queer girl would tattoo an image of Carrie Brownstein on her body? Or am I not grasping the fanatical heterosexual scope of the Sleater-Kinney fan base?

I know, I know. Carrie Brownstein identifies as bi, and that's all fine and good. But it's also quite well known that she was in a lesbian relationship with Sleater-Kinney bandmate Corin Tucker. And they have a huge following in the queer community. So all I'm saying is it would've been nice — and journalistically accurate — to acknowledge the undeniably queer component of Carrie Brownstein's career, rather than offer up a sad 21st century example of what historian Blanche Wiesen Cook has called "the historical denial of lesbianism."

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What lesbians wear to work

Hi. I'm back, and I propose we talk about what lesbians wear in the workplace. I know you want to talk about this. Here we go.

I recently received a tattered copy of a Dec. 14 article published in The Hollywood Reporter. It's so 20th century, I know, to receive a paper copy of a magazine article, but, truth be told, it's just my speed. Therefore I thank my lovely friend in NYC who handed it to me on New Year's Day, speaking with the most tender voice, "God, just look at her." She was referring to this photo of Rachel Maddow, which appeared with the profile. My friend loves a tall slim drink of butch, and who better than Dr. Maddow to create that particular cocktail? Rachel does look especially sweet in this photo. But more striking, I think, is how so perfectly gay she is. I mean, it would be clear to even the most unsophisticated eye that this person is a lesbian. And here she is in her office at Rockefeller Center, preparing to go on national television, no less, as one of the industry's most highly rated anchors. I love knowing that this is what Rachel wears around the office. When on camera, she makes a minor adjustment by throwing on some eyeliner and, according to the article, her signature uniform: "I have a monochrome rainbow of the exact same $19 blazers from H&M." She says she dresses herself because when others attempt to style her "it doesn't work. The whole androgynous thing goes away, and I just end up looking like an ugly man or a 14-year-old boy."

When attempting to navigate the challenge of presenting our authentic selves at work without looking like Joan Jett or Justin Bieber, I recommend the blazer. For me, it serves three purposes: 1. The blazer makes my jeans look presentable. 2. The blazer has pockets, which can be filled with lip balm, keys, flash drives, and the occasional sandwich (my students find this amusing.) 3. The blazer suggests androgyny, which many lesbians in the workplace — fighting off the feminine standard of pumps, florals, and skirts — are trying to achieve.

Other arbiters of lesbian fashion to look to: Ellen DeGeneres for the sweater vest and man-pants combo (Ellen, we love you!); Pia Sundhage for those of you in the coaching profession; Bette Porter if you are so good looking you can pull off wearing dreadful puffy silk blouses; and Christine Lagarde, who is not a lesbian, but nonetheless serves as a magnificent example of how to dress if you are, or aspire to be, a power lesbian.