E.J. Graff

Masculinity Patrol Strikes Again

Oh lordy no, not another gay teen suicide . Have you noticed that these are almost always boys? I believe it's because of the masculinity patrol , which can be, quite literally, deadly.

Blame the Supreme Court

Dahlia Lithwick explains that "Blaming Congress for the corporate takeover of American democracy is only half the fun; blaming the Supreme Court is almost better ." But Occupy Wall Street is lacking in ambition, she suggests, if it only focuses on Citizens United, she explains: Of course, if you want to focus the blame somewhere for big business growing ever richer at your expense, by all means start with Citizens United. But trust me, that's not even the interesting part of the story . The paradox is that the little cases we've all missed will hurt the little guy far more. And there are more to come, she says, from a Roberts Court that has been radically siding with the one percent and signing away the rights of the 99 percent.

Comings & Goings

The New York Times has posted a riveting graphic representation showing where Americans are moving to and from, by race. I noodled around this spot for awhile, finding out some surprising things, but you could find more. Manhattan has become 22 percent more white--okay, housing prices have pushed out most people, and whites are richer than everyone else, while the Bronx has become eight percent less so, and has gotten much more Latin. My own county of Middlesex, Massachusetts has become -- at long last -- six percent less white, gaining both blacks and Hispanics. That wouldn't take much; one of my friends says that her friends from back home ask her how she's doing up here in "The Big White." But I think that's right; the Boston area is, slowly but steadily, shedding its image as impossibly racist. We'll never be New York, but we're getting a little more mixed, with the neighborhood lines far less fixed than when I first moved here in the late 18th century. (Okay, I exaggerate a...

DADT Repeal Not the End of Discrimination

Since "don't ask, don't tell" has been repealed, all's peachy for lesbians and gay men in the military, yes? Umm, no. Serving openly has made it much clearer all the more subtle ways that lesbians and gay men are excluded from full participation -- particularly, the fact that the military does not support its gay service members' families in the same way that heterosexual service members' families are supported. For more, check out the Los Angeles Times report on OutServe's first-ever conference, held in Las Vegas. (Which is amusingly ironic; isn't Vegas the epicenter of don't ask don't tell -- you know, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?) "Under 'don't ask, don't tell,'" said Lt. Josh Seefried, OutServe's founder, "inequality was invisible. You just had to kick someone out and you could ignore the problem." Read more here .

Lost in Detention

What happens to you when you sneak into the U.S. without papers, hoping for a better life? You might make a living working at jobs that the native-born wouldn't take, supporting your family back home. Or you might end up in indefinite detention. On Tuesday at 9 p.m., PBS's Frontline airs Maria Hinojosa's in-depth, year-long investigation of this system, Lost in Detention . As you may know, Hinojosa's powerful journalistic career has been dedicated to telling the stories of social injustice and exposing the machinery that perpetrates it. I suspect this will be powerful and disturbing. Here's what her production house, Futuro Media Group, says about this show: [ Lost in Detention ] takes a penetrating look at President Obama's vastly expanded immigration net, explores the controversial Secure Communities enforcement program and goes inside the hidden world of immigration detention ... tracks the enforcement sweep from the neighborhoods of Illinois to the expansive Willacy Detention...

Jane Austen Lives!

Jane Austen lives -- in India. Once upon a time, the course of your life was determined by the status you were born into. As cheeky as Jane Austen could be, she knew perfectly well that each character's income and background determined their marital fates. The young lady of the manor better not run off with the dashing blacksmith, because marrying him would cast her out of all "polite society." You might say that things aren't really so different today; if a Yale Law graduate married a janitor, the rehearsal dinner might be a bit tense. But if the janitor magically put herself through law school -- and it does happen, despite the many barriers -- allowances would be made. That's not true yet in India, however, as Seema Chowdhury of Women's E-News reports. Young people from different castes are mixing in the new capitalist system's computer schools, call centers, and other new enterprises that depend on talent and drive instead of family status -- and the results are tearing families...

When Did You Stop Beating Your Wife?

Here in the People's Republic of Cambridge, you occasionally see street signs declaring that the city is a "domestic violence-free zone." Those always make me feel a little snarky: Does my city really believe that we've ended coercion, control, and violence between intimate partners and family members? But while I might roll my eyes at this symbolic gesture, I am proud that the city announces that it takes violence against women and children seriously. I remember, as a child, watching the Jackie Gleason show. His character, Ralph Kramden, would regularly threaten his TV wife with a punch that would send her "to the moon, Alice! To the moon!" It's upsetting to glance back at how, once upon a time, that threat was treated as ordinary and even funny. I'll take Cambridge's zero-tolerance policy over that pre-feminist symbolism any day. Over in Topeka, as you may have heard, the commitment to prosecute intimate partner violence has been in question recently. According to The New York Times...

First They Came for Abortion ...

Do not miss Katha Pollitt's latest column , which begins: First they came for abortion, but I didn't care because abortion was for sluts. Then they came for sex ed, but I didn't care because the kids can learn all they need to know at home. Then they came for birth control, but... Wait a minute! Birth control? They're coming for birth control? In brief: Yes. Read the column for details.

Thanks, Frank, for Everything

So it appears to be the week for visionaries and pioneers to die. Last night, at age 86, Frank Kameny died at home. Kameny was the genuine article: a trailblazer in gay rights, suing the federal government -- in the 1950s -- for firing him for being a homosexual, back before we all graduated to being called "gay." From the Washington Blade 's obituary: Kameny, born and raised in New York City, served in combat as an Army soldier in World War II in Europe. After the war, Kameny obtained a doctorate degree in astronomy from Harvard University. He went on to work as an astronomer for the U.S. Army map service in the 1950s and was fired after authorities discovered he was gay. He contested the firing and appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, becoming the first known gay person to file a gay-related case before the high court. In the 1950s, they were still raiding bars and jailing people for dancing with someone of the same sex. It was the height of McCarthyism, the terror obsession...

The Masculinity Patrol

Over at The Huffington Post , Soraya Chemaly absolutely nails one of the great injustices of childhood (and adulthood, although it's less visible by then): the masculinity patrol. She makes a fabulous proposal: National Let Your Boy Be a Girl Day : Because every other day of the year they have to make sure they are NOT girls. Because if a boy acts like a girl the national press gets involved ... I love this piece of writing; if I could, I'd quote it here whole. Chemaly points out that, because of the feminist movement, girls now have a range of acceptable gendered behavior: They can wear pants, choose pink or blue, play sports and take ballet, go crazy with both Barbies and trucks, "grow their hair as long or as short as they want and decorate it." A girl can wear long basketball shorts and oversized jerseys and decide to be an engineer. But a boy can't wear a skirt and decide to be a nurse without being bullied. Girls are allowed a full spectrum of behaviors and interests (with,...

What's Up With Brewster County, Continued ...

Earlier this week I wondered what was up with Brewster County, Texas -- waaay down on the Mexican border, which according to the census has 8.2 same-sex couples for every 1,000 households. While that doesn't approach the numbers you find in some of the more famously gay-friendly regions, that's almost as high a density as Dallas County (8.7), although not quite as many as Austin (11). Why? Texas expat @AmandaMarcotte was kind enough to tweet me her answer (in six parts): I'm from Brewster County, TX. I can probably fill you in on why it's become a gay couple mecca. It's a combo of Western MYOB attitudes and that the biggest employer in the one town there, Alpine, is a university. Also, nearby Marfa, TX (Presidio County) has an art colony, and it's had a liberalizing effect on the whole area. It was a conservative place when I lived there, but they went for Obama in 2008. It's a good place for non-city liberals to live.

Paula Ettelbrick Dies

Another reason to grieve (and to read Hopkins): Paula Ettelbrick is dead. She was a fierce and important LGBT advocate, working in the movement for her entire adulthood, in just about every capacity, including Lambda Legal, the Empire State Pride Agenda, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and the Stonewall Community Foundation. I didn't know her personally, although I debated her in print -- we disagreed -- but I deeply admired her dedication and feel the loss keenly. More here .

Obit Day

Today is obit day. The nation lost three visionaries , as you’ve heard by now: Steve Jobs , the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth , and Derrick Bell . Others have said what there is to say, brilliantly. But such a day of losses made me think of a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem I try to say to someone every autumn. Close your office door and read it aloud. Spring and Fall to a young child MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving Over Goldengrove unleaving? Leáves, líke the things of man, you With your fresh thoughts care for, can you? Áh! ás the heart grows older It will come to such sights colder By and by, nor spare a sigh Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie; And yet you wíll weep and know why. Now no matter, child, the name: Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same. Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed What heart heard of, ghost guessed: It ís the blight man was born for, It is Margaret you mourn for.

My Body, Myself

(Homepage photo credit: Georgia O'Keeffe, Grey Line with Black, Blue, and Yellow, 1923. Houston Museum of Fine Arts.) So you've been watching those early '60s nostalgia shows in fascinated horror -- oh lord, women really had to live like that -- and wondering: How in the world did that world change into this one? Here's one part of the answer: Forty years ago this week, a dozen women published a book called Our Bodies, Ourselves , which explained the basics of how our physical equipment worked and how we should maintain it. All that was served up with a revolutionary philosophy: Women should know -- and make our own decisions -- about our bodies, sexuality, and health. It sounds ordinary now, but a glance at Mad Men tells you it wasn't once. When I was barely a teenager old enough to drive, waaaaay back in the mid-1970s, I came across an early copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves (OBOS) in the Dayton, Ohio, mall's chain bookstore B. Dalton. I've puzzled for decades over how it got there...

Where Are All the Same-Sex Couples At?

Thanks to the tireless demographer Gary Gates of UCLA's Williams Institute, NPR has an interactive map of where in the U.S., according to the census, the most same-sex couples live. (Or at least, where you can find same-sex couples who feel safe enough to tell the census that they're together.) As you'd imagine, every state has an outpost where the lesbians and gay men flock if they want to get a little bit away from their unwelcoming small town or family -- but not so far that they can't go home to visit the nephews or help with Thanksgiving. They're also, often, the outposts where the college students are, drawing the "creative class" that Richard Florida noted awhile back. And the place you go to meet others like yourself is often the place where you get married and settle down. I checked out some of the highly coupled counties, where self-identified same-sex couples make up 6.9 or more of every 1,000 households. Some are relatively predictable. For Ohio, it's long been the city of...

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