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As the gates open

God grabs a trumpet and plays taps,

and together we mourn the years

I wasted, wondering

if I would ever get to go inside.

The air here is

so crisp, so clean.

I relish in the feeling of finally

breathing easy.

the rock and their hard place

Deep and fast, I found her in the woods –

A river.

A woman.

 

Her rough water soothed my edges,

leaving me nothing but a pebble in her wake.

 

I waited patient on her shore, the same but yet changed.

She kept going by.

Climate Justice is Queer Justice

Today, people all over the world will walk out of work and school to strike, demanding action on climate change. Strikes have started in much of the world, with CNN reporting that 100,000 people gathered in Melbourne, Australia to demonstrate and call for action.

Actions are taking place all across the world, and you can find one near you by clicking here.

The terrors of climate change will ultimately come for us all, but the most marginalized members of our communities are suffering first. Low income people and nonwhite people globally are already facing worsening fires, droughts, and storms, a lack of access to clean water, and more extreme heat without air conditioning.

Trans and queer people are more likely to be low income than their cishetero peers. Low income people are more likely to live in areas with no clean water, and areas that are especially susceptible to severe damage by storms.

Trans and queer people are more likely to be incarcerated than their cishetero peers. Incarcerated people often are kept in cages built on toxic waste sites and are trapped and unable to move during storms. After a severe storm, they may be without power, without water, kept in flooded cells, and less able to contact family and loved ones outside of the prison.

Indigenous communities, including Two-Spirit people whose gender is beyond the binary imposed by colonizers, have been on the forefront of the struggle against capitalist destruction of land and water and yet are often erased from the movement.

Today’s climate strike marks a key moment in larger coalition building, and it is essential that the trans and queer liberation movement centers climate change to protect the most vulnerable members of our community first, and ensure a future for all of us.

A few organizations doing the work:

I love you, anyways

I know you’ve been taught that big and black is scary, that being gay is a sin, and if I don’t repent before the clock strikes life, I’ll reside in the pits of Hell. I know you’ve been taught that going against the odds of fashion means that I’m a bastard, and my father must be to blame. I know you’ve been taught to believe that if I lose too much weight I must have AIDS, yet with all of this hateful “knowledge”…

I must relay this:
“I love you, anyways 💜”

Till tomorrow,
When we are reminded of the worlds sorrow.

PS: When you wake up in the morning, make sure you say “hello,” And be thankful to have laid sin free, propped on a sacred pillow.

RoyalTea: Rebel Kings of Oakland

First or third Wednesday of any month and you and your friends found yourself in the North East Bay with nothing to do?  Hop on the 6 and head on down to the White Horse, the oldest continuously operating LGBT+ bar in the United States. There you’ll find a packed venuw filled with cracking pool balls, the happy buzz of friendly people, and… someone thrusting their fanny pack at you.  You look around but the eye contact is unavoidable.

You just met VERA, one of the members of the Bay Area’s largest drag king collective – the Rebel Kings of Oakland.  From there, you’ll be eagerly ushered to the back portion of the bar where a large mass, small horde of patrons are gathered around a stage adorned which rainbow flags.

After that– who knows what you’re gonna get.  From live singing to kings lobbing candy into the audience, burlesque, gender-fuckery, and more, Rebel Kings brings an open platform to performance artists of all shapes and sizes for what always promises to be a night of humor, intrigue, and quite probably some nudity. …

More Than a Manhole: Gender Neutral City Codes

In Berkeley, CA the city council voted unanimously last week to remove all gendered terms from its city code. It will be read a second time this week and, if approved, go into effect in late August. The ordinance would amend the Berkeley Municipal Code to use the gender neutral pronoun “they” instead of “he” or “she” and update a number of specific gendered terms to gender neutral terms. 

Some examples from page 8 of the ordinance are below:  

CURRENT GENDERED TERM  NEW GENDER NEUTRAL TERM 
“Male” and “female” “People of different genders”
“Pregnant women” or “pregnant woman” “Pregnant employee(s)” 
“Brother” or “sister” “Siblings” 

Despite the fact that this ordinance will change nearly thirty gendered terms and all gendered pronouns, and that it will only cost the City about $600 to update the entire Code, this ordinance has been mocked in press coverage and on social media. A substantial amount of national coverage (NBC, ABC, The New York Times, USA Today, Fox News, CNN)  has highlighted one specific change: the word “manhole” will be changed to “maintenance hole.” 

Why Police Brutality is an LGBTQ issue

Police Brutality has been a source of violence, grief, and fear in both the LGBTQ community and communities of color. The Black Lives Matter movement has made many Americans rethink their relationships with the police. Considering the context of the Stonewall Riots, queer history adds to the discourse on police brutality, exposing the patriarchal nature of law enforcement that is a major component to these violent encounters.

Current-day queer people are still facing these issues. In the 2015 US Transgender study, it was revealed that 58 percent of respondents who interacted with police who were aware they were transgender experienced verbal harassment, misgendering, physical or sexual assault, and being forced to perform sexual acts to avoid arrest. Is it the feeling of power, the patriarchy, brutal transphobia or something else that leads to these encounters?

Succession

a painting of a river running through a mountainous valley. In the foreground there is a human skull, a crown, and some other artifacts. The image is overlaid with the following poem: We must own this grief we have inherited And wear the skulls of the queens that came before us as crowns Raise them high, honored, and remembered Raise them high as we must hold our own heads Raise them high- Raise Hell

We must own this grief we have inherited 

And wear the skulls of the queens that came before us as crowns

Raise them high, honored, and remembered 

Raise them high as we must hold our own heads

Raise them high- 

Raise Hell

 

I wrote this poem about a year ago.  I’m still pretty happy with it.  It’s a good segue, I think, from Pride Month into Wrath Month.  I thought it also deserved a painting, so I played with watercolor and pulled out some acrylics for the first time in a while. We can’t forget that trans women of color are the foundation of the movement, and we must honor them and the others who have fought and fallen in our community. And we can’t stop fighting.

To give credit where credit is due, the skulls as crowns line was inspired by Chrysanthemum Tran’s spoken word poem, “Vampires.” It’s heavy.

RoyalTea: Jota/Emjay Mercury

Howdy folx and welcome back to RoyalTea: the only drag interview segment that puts the lotion in the basket.  This week, we got to wrangle with the sexiest duo to ever grace one body – Jota / Emjay Mercury, a performer who puts puts the “cheese” in Machismo.  Jota is a Bay Area Based Xicanx performer who’s performed across international stages.  He wasn’t always wooing the ladies and crooning the night away though…

 

Gender Affirming Laws: New York State Legislative Session Ends Without Addressing Name and Gender Marker Changes

Despite an exciting session in Albany, the legislature has not addressed barriers for nonbinary and transgender New Yorkers who attempt to access basic updates to identification documents.

[Photos by Andrew Franciosa]

The New York State 2019 legislative session ended last week after six months of its new dynamic of full Democratic control played out. During the three weeks of Pride month while the legislature was still in session, it proudly passed a bill banning the Gay and Trans Panic Defense, and considered (but ultimately abandoned) a bill to legalize gestational surrogacy. Earlier this year, the state passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), a historic piece of legislation to add gender identity and expression to the categories protected under anti-discrimination laws.

However, the legislature failed to pass the Gender Recognition Act, a bill that would have made name changes more accessible for nonbinary and transgender people, and would have added a third gender marker, X, to driver’s licenses and state birth certificates.