Tag Archives: Trans*

Queer News!

Marriage for everybody

New Mexico gets ‘equal marriage’! Doña Ana County is the only county in New Mexico issuing same gender marriage as you may want to call it. Their county clerk declared their laws were gender neutral and therefore did not permit same gender marriage. Hey gender neutral laws sound like they permit the marriage of any gender with any other gender. Is that the joyous sound of progress? Maybe it’s wedding bells because by the end of day one of this new practice over 40 marriage licenses had been issued. Fuck yeah.

Gender: it ain’t just a girl/boy thing

Ok so this happened last week but it’s too good not to mention. Germany became the first country in Europe to legally recognise a gender outside of the gender binary on birth certificates. But isn’t a birth certificate a little too early to be naming anyone’s gender so shouldn’t we call get to be ‘undetermined’ until we know better? Oh we can dream but at least arbitrary terms ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ aren’t forced on everyone. Would it not be great if anyone could get a legal definition of ‘undetermined’ at any point? As this now creates the legal definition of ‘undetermined’ gender in Germany which these people can keep or change as they see fit this certainly sets a legal precedent that can be developed over time.

fuck gender norms and barriers

Vaginas!

Here’s a fun fact – I used to think vlogs were feminist blogs and the v stood for vagina reclaiming the word from connotations of sexy or dirty to give women a voice. I was really quite saddened to discover the v was for video. Anyway, the University of Sydney’s student newspaper, Honi Soit, also wants to challenge our connotations associated with vaginas so they ran a cover of 18 glorious vulvae in their naked, hairy, different loveliness to show that vaginas belong to women and we can feel whatever we like about them without pressure to shave them, jazzle them or put them in tight clothing for long periods of time. However, the Editors were told to censor the vulvae specifically the clitoris – no one wants to think of pleasurable for the person they are attached to now do they – but when printed the black bars of censorship just weren’t dark enough so the print run had to be recalled. 4000 copies of the paper were trapped in an office after being pulled from shelves but those 72000 feminist vulvae could not be silenced. I have trouble silencing my one. This week that issue is back in circulation with its vulvae proudly on the cover. It’s now sealed in plastic with an R18+ rating which somewhat undermines the intention to liberate vaginas from their sexualised and stigmatised trappings but R rated vaginas are better than no vaginas. Also a quick google of Honi Soit reveals a phrase, honi soit qui mal y pense, that roughly translates to ‘shamed be they who think evil of it.’ Indeed.

Funny Feminists!

So Foster’s (yes the beer people with the sexist ads) have this award called the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award (formerly the Perrier Award) and it’s kind of a Big Deal in the world of lols. This year it was won by a woman, Bridget Christie, for ‘A Bic for Her’ a title referencing the heavily criticised pens produced by pic for women’s delicate lady hands so they didn’t chafe writing shopping lists. I have some that I like to use to write ‘smash the patriarchy’ when the mood takes me. As you may have guessed from the title this show is about feminism, everyday sexism, lads’ mags, the whole shebang. Christie said “I decided to write a show about the emancipation of women and put it on at 11 in the morning. I didn’t think anyone would come, but the audiences have been unbelievable.” Fuck yeah.

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I went to Hamburg Pride 2013 and it was awesome!

Hello, rainbow friends!

As part of my summer holidays/travel shenanigans this year I went to Christopher Street Day Hamburg (or Pride for short) and I have lived to tell the tale! And show you lots of pictures, of course.

Let’s start with some stats: Hamburg is a city in Northern Germany and is known for having a big-ass harbour (one of the 20 biggest world-wide). Tourists tend to forget about Hamburg, because Berlin exists, even though it is Germany’s second biggest city as well as the biggest city in the EU that is not a capital. So yes, it does have a respectable gay scene. 😉

Another fun fact: Hamburg had a gay mayor from 2001 until 2010, Ole von Beust. He was outed in 2003 accidentally by his father, but he didn’t mind. And apparently it also didn’t harm his political career, as he was re-elected twice afterwards. He also participated in Hamburg Pride 2009!

But let’s move on to this year’s Pride, shall we?

This was actually the first proper Pride March I had ever been to! I have been to CSD Münster last year, buuut it was rather small affair, so I was pretty excited to see what a “real”, big Pride looks like. And what can I say… It was absolutely amazing! The weather was really nice (eventually), there were fantastic costumes, the music was great and people were dancing in the streets. I really don’t have much else to say, other than that I had a fantastic time and was really happy to see so many diverse, proud and politically active people.

So without further ado, why don’t you have a look at the pictures below to get a better impression? You could just scroll through them, but I also wrote some extra info in the captions and translated all the German signs and banners, so just click on the first photo to start a slideshow and learn a bit more about the event. Enjoy!

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Glasgow Pride: our top picks!

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Pride is always a fabulous day! Here are hots and nots from Glasgow Pride 2013

The top 5 hot topics of this Pride:

1. Equal Marriage: the discussion started almost two years ago now, yet it just hasn’t happened! Hurry up Mr. Salmond….

2. Russia: in light of new laws and various state endorsed (or at least ignored) atrocities Russia is featured on a number of placards to remind us that our queer struggle stretches across the world.

3. Independence: the all-round hot topic in Scotland. Both Yes Scotland and Better Together made their appearance, each presenting brighter futures for queers in Scotland.

4. Religion: whether it’s religions saying that they will accept queer members of the faith, or queers protesting religious intolerance: everyone has something to say about it!

5. Feminism: there were lots more placards displaying feminist messages this year – yay!

The top 5 ‘not for next years’:

1. Charity stalls:  I cannot see you for all the beer! In 2012 the charity stalls were right along the edge of the stage. There were dancing folk literally falling into charitable activities, and this is what I like. Next year, don’t hide them!

2. Parade: Pride is a protest. It’s here to remind everyone what we’re fighting for. Don’t call it a parade, because that makes people think of balloons and carnival queens… And makes others question the point. Which leads me onto another point…

3. Silence: or more accurately the sound of people chatting amongst themselves and I like to imagine wondering why they’re going on a really long, slow walk. The point of Pride is to be big, brave, loud: sending the clear message we’re here, we’re queer and we will not live in fear. Don’t get me wrong I’m all for poignant silences to remember those who have been victims of hate crime. But seriously the majority of the march was chitter chatter. Get your chant on!

4. Pervs: hi there I’m a person, I have thoughts and feelings and everything! You’re gawping. At my ass. No seriously, your mouth is open. Leave me alone. Now, my fellow queers, if you like a woman go up and chat to her, don’t just creep from a distance, it makes everyone really uncomfortable.

5. Queens of Pop in AXM: just gross.

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The Gay Agenda is Proud: Brittany

This week, in the lead up to Glasgow Pride, we decided to interview some of our writers to find out what Pride means to them!

What’s your name, age and where do you come from?

Brittany – I was born and raised in Devon, UK. I’m half German and also I’m part Scottish/English and I’m 19.

Why did you get involved in the Gay Agenda?

I love to write, it seemed like a fantastic opportunity to write about something I feel really strongly about. I want to become more involved within the LGBT+ community as I was never able to before having grown up in a somewhat homophobic area.

What do you write about?

For the Gay Agenda, I tend to write about gender and sexuality, however, I am more than happy to widen that to include art, music and religion, as I am pretty involved with all of that.

What do you do in real life?

I am an artist pretending to be a scientist. I am studying Developmental Biology/Biochemistry. I work in a museum, I write for the Gay Agenda as well as short stories and novellas. I’m an artist and I do take commissions for virtually anything and I’m an archer and I compete for the University of Edinburgh. I have absolutely no idea what I want to do with this life, but I’m going to keep as many options open as I can. I’m just trying to make my way in the world and stay as far away from the past as I possibly can.

She really is an artist, look!

She really is an artist, look!

Why is Pride important to you?

Having never been to a Pride, the following questions aren’t as easy to answer, however, I’d say that the meaning behind it is particularly important – the message that we should be proud, or at least happy, with being who we are and not having to hold back or hide ourselves from the world. It would be idealistic to be able to not have any worries about not being straight and I only hope that Pride and anything to do with that will help us move in that direction, as I’m sure we all know, we are far from that. I think Pride is potentially a fantastic way of allowing people to accept themselves for whom they are and what they want to do – or at least, that’s what I’d love to get out of a Pride.

What is your best and worst part of pride?

I’d say that the best thing I’d like to get out of going to Pride would be to meet more people of varying sexualities, I don’t know how I’ve managed to do this, but I literally do not know anyone that isn’t straight. It would be so refreshing to meet some people that I can relate to, especially in regard to actually coming out (I haven’t really come out to anyone and so I’m still trying to figure out how to go about that.) I’m sure just being able to not have any walls up around other people would be lovely as I have never been able to let my guard down too much. The worst thing about a Pride? I can imagine that you can come across some people that are narrow minded about being something other than completely gay and that would worry me, as I identify as one of the many sexualities in the middle. I’m sure they’re relatively few, but I have known of (at least) in the past a few people that are “straight/bi/pan-phobic”.

What’s your must-have item for Pride?

I’d definitely say that I’d like to have either a camera or a sketchpad and graphite. I’d love to keep photos of whatever happens as I’m sure it’d be such an amazing time, but if that doesn’t work out, if it doesn’t irritate too many people – I’d sit there and sketch people as they’re having a drink (or several).

If you had a placard for Pride what would it say?

I’d have to really think about that; all I know is that I’d have to include “Never be defeated” in there.

What’s you Pride soundtrack?

Roses – Poets of the Fall, it may seem a little random, but it is one of my favourite songs (and bands) and it’s always managed to brighten up my day.

Best ever Pride you’ve been to?

We’ll see soon, I hope!

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to ask the hard question is simple

There is very little love lost between the LGBT community and the Christian Church. For every vitriolic, fire-and-brimstone preacher, there is someone like George Takei poking fun and holes in every biblical argument. It doesn’t help the Church’s cause when celibate priests have wandering hands and their gay-cure advocates clearly didn’t finish the whole course.

I grew up in a conservative Christian household – my mother still thinks Britney Spears is devil music – and homosexuality was never conversation fodder. Even in church, the minister rarely broached contentious topics. Then, one week, the vicar stood up to speak, and he opened with 1 Corinthians. The passage was essentially a list of sins that the apostle Paul deemed would inhibit entry into heaven. When he got to ‘sexually immoral’, the minister elaborated to include pornography. I was moments away from cheekily elbowing my suddenly quiet dad when I heard homosexuality being added. The elbow never happened.

For a whole week, my dad’s browser history was squeaky clean. The next Monday, a whole slew of interesting URLs cropped up. He’s human, but he made an effort, and I have no problem with that. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been exposed to some form of porn, willingly or in a Brazzers pop-up.

That still left me with the same problem. I couldn’t just make an effort and be straight for a week. When this sermon happened, I was 15 and had only recently accepted my gayness – as I was simply not nun-material, I desperately wanted someone, something to tell me I could be in a relationship and keep my faith without being a complete hypocrite.

My parents left me confident that if I ever came out, they’d pack my bags for me. Subsequent sermons by other church ministers were of the vitriolic variety, and most religious friends were edgy. The relevant bible passages were damning at best, and you need to think very late rally if you were to read anything condoning homosexuality in them.

Months went by, and life soldiered on while I struggled with my faith. One of my best friends, one of the strongest Christians I knew, told me she was bisexual and then promptly told me she didn’t believe in God anymore. I fell in love and into a relationship with my first and only girlfriend – ironically, a wonderful straight girl from a Catholic school. My religious conflict took the backseat for a while, but I never stopped praying.

It was summertime when the same vicar stood up again and delivered a sermon completely unrelated to homosexuality. While I’ve long forgotten what the sermon was actually about, one sound bite still resonates with me: the church isn’t full of hypocrites, because there’s always room for one more. No matter how much we preach, we all sin – as a result, we don’t have the right to judge. I am not proud to be gay, but neither am I ashamed. It’s a part of me that I cannot change and, while God can do things that we can only dream of, such a core part of us can only really be suppressed. My mother is lactose-intolerant; she is neither proud nor ashamed, and no amount of prayer is going to make her able to drink a pint of milk. But the best we can do is not to give up on our faith, simply because one aspect of ourselves isn’t up to scratch. Not being perfect is no excuse to dismiss Christianity as homophobic mumbo-jumbo.

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First Date Food

So you have finally done it. Plucked up the courage and asked that really awesome girl on a date. Even better, she said yes! Congratulations. So now what, you could take her to the cinema, go bowling, the world is your oyster. All that stuff is great and I am sure you will have fun, but everyone knows food is the road to the heart so get out there and cook for her!

Now, as a professional chef this is one of my favourite first date options. And, yes it is pretty easy for me, but the reason it is easy is because once you take the time to learn a few basic skills it really is simple to impress in the kitchen.

Rule number one don’t take on too much too soon.

Pick something simple and do it well and you are bound to impress. Food makes people smile and it doesn’t have to be complicated and fancy.

So in light of the recent heatwave, (which may or may not have left us never to return) lets talk salads. I’m not talking a few bland leaves strewn across the plate as an after thought, thanks to chefs like Yotam Ottolenghi the humble salad is experiencing a revolution and I think a few simple tips can help to impress any girl you like.

Step 1. Start with your washed salad in a bowl separate to the one you want to serve it in.

Step 2. Chuck some lovely fresh herbs into the mix, think outside the box dill, mint, tarragon, all work really well.

Step 3. Next season the leaves with salt and pepper don’t skip this step it makes the world of difference I promise.

Step 4. Finally the dressing, you can make something simple by sticking to the basic rule of three parts oil to one part vinegar.

A simple recipe is 30mls veg oil10mls olive oil10mls red wine vinegar and 10mls sherry vinegar and if you have one blend these up with a hand blender if not a fork will do it. Dress your salad right before serving and there you have it, the basics of making a beautiful salad.

Now you know the basics you can start to experiment, how about trying some beetrootgoats cheese (makes sure this is room temp) and pine nuts mixed through your salad.

 

Food always tastes better when it's well presented, right? Photo by ConVidá Verde: http://bit.ly/11JgNcp

Food always tastes better when it’s well presented, right?

Photo by ConVidá Verde: http://bit.ly/11JgNcp

Nic is lending The Gay Agenda her skills to write a regular column. If you would like to see a particular food or recipe covered or need her expert help with your food woes email in to thegayagendauk@gmail.com

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Orange Is the New Black

We’ve all been there before. Reeled into a new TV show by the promise of in depth queer characters and heartfelt emotions. Then there is the inevitable disappointment felt when you tune in to find that the promised characters are in fact harmful stereotypes used by the media that reinforce the casual homophobia that frequents our screens or the honest story line promised to us is in fact a casual fling stuck in to boost ratings and that will never be mentioned again.

So you’ve been burned by the promise of real characters before and you’re reluctant to let it happen again. Maybe you’ve seen the advert for Orange is the New Black or you’ve heard someone talking about it and you are wondering why open yourself to another let down?

Please stop right there. I know your time is precious and you’ve been hurt before, and I’m not promising this show won’t hurt you (please someone give me the cure for a broken heart), but please watch this show right now.

Full cast 'Orange is the New Black'

Based on a true story, Orange Is the New Black (OItNB) follows Piper Chapman as she enters a federal prison for carrying drug money ten years ago. As if this wouldn’t put enough strain on her relationship with fiancé Larry, it turns out Piper will be locked up with ex-girlfriend Alex who got her to carry the money.

First let’s chat about the women in this show. This show passes the Bechdel test so hard that I’m having trouble to remember if it would past the reverse Bechdel (if such a thing existed and if you think such a thing should exist please go and slam your head in a door). The women in this show are complex and flawed characters with diverse backgrounds and moving stories. The women are at the heart of this show and they make you laugh, shock you and punch you straight in the heart.

I don’t know what you look for in a queer show but there are a few things I like and OItNB ticks a lot of those boxes. I look for complex lesbian characters whose sexuality isn’t used for ratings or as a joke. This one gets quite a few ticks. We have Alex, whose international drug ring antics kick start the whole thing for Piper. Alex’s sexuality is not questioned or laughed at, it is honestly presented and explored.

Character Alex

Alongside Alex we have multiple queer stories varying from the hotly debated straight girl who sleeps with a woman while incarcerated to try and stop the wash of loneliness to the jealousy of a love triangle. There are plots that we’ve seen a million times before but with fresh twists and a dash of sensitivity that is lacking in so many of its queer predecessors.

I look for realistic trans* characters and oh did I ever find one here. Sophia is a trans woman played by Laverne Cox, what makes this character even more wonderful than the very few that we’ve seen before is that Laverne is a trans* actress. Sophia’s story is the one that stays with me more than any others, it definitely made my tear ducts betray me more times than I want to admit. Not only is the character’s story delicately handled by the show but in flashback’s of Sophia pre-transition, they have Laverne’s twin brother playing that character. The entire show is worth watching for her story alone.

Character Sophia

Sophia

I look for non-stereotypical black characters. This is where the show drops the ball a little. There are quite a few truly brilliant black characters (I forgot to mention that Sophia is a black trans woman). The ones to truly watch out for are Miss Claudette, Taystee and Dayanara. They are all stories that will punch you in the heart and make you examine the way you look at the reasons people may be locked up. I will just stop here for a second to give Taystee a massive shout out for referencing Harry Potter – one of the ways to my heart.

… it isn’t without it’s issues…

The show isn’t all equality positive though, it is problematic in so many areas. It is however, difficult to say if it is due to insensitivity and discrimination or whether the show is being problematic on purpose to force viewers into examining the prison system and how inherently discriminatory it is.

The Racism:

There are numerous examples of this throughout the show – at one point we have a white guard calling a black inmate ‘monkey’. Another one is the factions within the prison, the inmates are all separated by race, this has the potential to be an interesting insight into prison discrimination, and at some points it is, but the factions are inconsistent and it never addresses the consequences of attempting to exist and socialise outside of your faction.

The Sexism:

There are many moments where the guards use their power of position to harass the prisoners, one example of this is when they use the excuse of searching for a lost screwdriver to molest the women. Using media to highlight sexual harassment in female prisons or just sexist? Fingers crossed it is the first.

Bi-erasure:

The show ignores Piper’s sexuality throughout the show. It refers to her as an ex-lesbian and does nothing to address her fluid sexuality or how she could have feelings for both a man and a woman.

Watch it still…

For every one thing the show does wrong it does two things right. It is by no means perfect but with all of the truly awful queer shows and films around on Netflix this one stands out a mile. I beg you, give it an episode, if you aren’t in love with it by the end of the first one then I won’t mention it again. I can’t promise that I’ll ever stop reblogging gifsets of it on Tumblr though…

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Straight Hate

A few weeks back I spotted the fun, new Twitter account ‘Straight Pride’   (they’ve even got a blog  now). At first I thought it was genuinely some sort of misguided heterosexual just feeling jealous of the floats and glitter. But it did not take very long to realise that these folks were not-so-loosely veiled homophobes. The kind that deserve literally none of my thought processes.

Come out and tell everyone you are straight and proud

So, that’s that. But I think that it does raise some important questions. I had never really questioned pride. Never wondered by there was a queer pride and not a straight pride. But then a friend’s mum asked me. She’s always been 100% supportive and lovely and so I knew it was a genuine question.

Why is there a gay pride?

I think the problem is that people do see a ton of glitter, fabulous clothes and beautiful floats, and not a whole lot more. And sometimes it can be a bit unclear what Pride means to us. That as a queer community we are not simply ‘proud’. We are proud in the face of discrimination. We are proud in the face of adversity. And we are proud in the face of hate. And all for being who we are, and loving who we love. Something our heterosexual friends and family do not have to face. So, I want to talk a little bit about why I’m proud.  Because I am proud. I’m super proud.

London pride 2012

I’m proud because despite fear and nervousness I come out monthly, weekly, sometimes even daily to new people in new environments. Because I shouldn’t have to be afraid and nervous to be who I am. And if I make it easier for one other person to come out, then I’ve made a difference.

I’m proud to challenge the casual homophobia that we experience on a day-to-day basis. Because it’s that very low-level discrimination that allows for bullying, and harassment and eventually hate crimes.

And I’m proud because despite the headlines, the homophobic arguments made by ‘legitimate’ politicians in our ‘democratic’ parliament, the name-calling in the street, everyday I walk down the street holding the hand of the woman I love. Because I will not bow down to bigotry.

So tell me, why are you proud?

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No thanks for same-sex marriage

Over the last couple of days there’s been a lot of praise and thanks given. Thanks to the Lords. Thanks to the Queen. Even thanks to the Prime Minister (boke).

Thank you Ma'am

Now I personally think that this ‘thank you’ rhetoric is taking the wrong attitude. It is behaving like somehow the Government has done us a big favour, affording us our basic civil rights. They haven’t. For years they have been withholding those rights, now they have done the right thing. So if anyone has the details of a card store selling ‘Congratulations you’re no longer homophobes’ cards then I will be on board!

Every time I go to polling station I do not feel the need to send a quick thank you note to the government for affording me the right, as a woman, to vote. Every time I am able to open a bank account in my own name I am not over-whelmed by the urge to race towards Clintons. And let’s remember those that are left out of this bill. In particular those people who will affected by the spousal veto on gender reassignment. So let’s not fall over ourselves to thank anyone too quickly!

So yes thank you to all of the fantastic activists that have helped us make the government see sense. For those that helped us take another step in the right direction. Thanks to everyone who wrote to their MPs, that pulled amazing stunts and to all of you that had quiet conversations and one by one changed people’s minds.

But lets not thank those who quietly stood by and said nothing, did nothing, fought for nothing. Simply voting does not deserve our thanks. Let’s be proud and say this is the least we deserve.

And carry on fighting!

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Hello Gays!

Having heard so much about the Gay Agenda in recent press, we thought if there’s going to be a Gay Agenda we want to have written it! So we are! The Gay Agenda is written by queer women in the UK, for queer women. So however you define take a look and get in touch at thegayagendauk@gmail.com or on twitter @thegayagendauk.

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