Even If You Don’t Ask, I Will Tell: the Military, Activism and Queer Families

(written Tues. 5/27)

I’m on the second (or technically third if you include our stint in Boston) day of the Right to Serve Tour. In order to protest the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy of the U.S. Military, about 20 Harvard students and I are busing around the East Coast doing sit-ins at military recruitment centers and trying to talk with Senators to encourage them to introduce a bill in order to repeal DADT.

I had some discomfort signing up for the trip only because everything military makes me extremely uncomfortable, and I felt that somehow supporting LGBT people’s right to serve openly means that I am pro-military. I assumed however, that for most people on the trip it would be much more about the bigger picture of LGBT rights and our treatment as second class citizens not deserving of equal treatment, and less about the military specifically. I have felt however, that there is pressure to respond to the press as if we are all here because we want to serve or might be interested if we knew it was an option for us or else we will not be taken seriously. I figure that because of my immediate rejection of all topics military, I’m very uneducated about this topic, and this week will be a good educational experience. I have learned a lot about the military so that I can speak about it more knowledgeably, but I will never claim that I am here because I have any interest in signing up or seeing any of my LGBT friends do so.

I have also found myself uncomfortable with how easily as a group we have fallen into using pro-military rhetoric without really thinking it through. One sign that we held yesterday at the memorial day parade in Old Orchard Beach, Maine as we tried to intercept Senator Susan Collins read “Gay troops support America. Do we support them?” I realize that the military itself has the potential for good such as in disaster relief and the ending of WWII. I also realize that until there are no countries with militaries, the United States is going to have one so it does no good to pretend it doesn’t exist, and instead should be engaged with and reformed. There are so many things wrong with our current military (such as the military’s current involvement in world affairs, the way soldiers are recruited, the misogynistic and homophobic culture fostered within the military, to name a few) and DADT is just one of those things. The military might support an America (or a corner of it), but it is not the one that I subscribe to, belong to, or want to see supported.

Although I see people’s service in the military as much more a detriment than benefit to the world I live in (and the world I want to see/take part in creating), I still believe that forcing a person to live closeted is a huge disservice to that person as a human being, as well as a hugely symbolic disservice to the LGBT community. The main reason for DADT is that it is predicted that the existence of openly gay troops in the military will lower “team morale.” This is where my unequivocal, forceful support of our trip comes in. The government’s official and legal stance on LGBT people is that when allowed to talk openly about our loved ones, we only cause discomfort and are therefore a hindrance to team building. There is something very very wrong there.

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Protesting the National Erection: Another Morsel For Your Weekend.

Anarchists Against the Wall Protest 40 Years of Occupation with Giant, Pink, Penis- Shaped Tank in Downtown Tel-Aviv last summer.

(That’s my cousin yelling about 60 years of militarism, chauvinism and sexism!)

On Cuddling, Queer Presentation, Elitist Institutions, and The Lesbian, Capitalist Board Game: Random Reflections on a Week.

A list, even though I really don’t love lists. Linear lists, at least. Alliteration at it’s finest.

1. I played the L word board game today for the first (and probably last) time. In the game, the photos of the characters are so strange. The trans guy (Max) is femmed up. The (monopoly style) point of the game is to compete with the other characters to spend your money to buy “The Planet,” a cafe that features in the show. Capitalism, femmed up male identified queers… and me and my teammate had to sit out a turn because we were “leaping lesbians” and “lost our handbag on the cruise.” I get it: all rich and overly sexed femme queers carry hangbags, go on cruises, and have instant money they use while spending all of their time competing with each other and getting laid. That’s what I call a cooperative vision for a better world. Don’t you just love what capitalism does to queerness? I sure do.

2. I am newly obsessed with this video by awesome Athens Boys Choir. Check it out:

(Except for no POCs. Thoughts?)

Cause I got a V- to the – A- G-I-N-A but no P-E-N-I-S- ENVY, cause for real tho- i got a dildo, i got two dildos, i got three dildos.

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(Pre-)Friday Frivolity: Camp and Contraception

Tomorrow I head to New Jersey for a camping trip with my student co-op.  (I know what you’re thinking. Camping in Jersey?  What, you’re gonna roast marshmallows over a roaring smokestack?  But don’t cry for me, friends: we’re going to the pine barrens, where I’m told there is a creek and a historic bluegrass music hall.)

Before peacing out, I wanted to leave you with this delightful video.

Hat tip to my fellow co-opper, AMZB.

Have a great weekend, y’all, and be safe!

Friday Frivolity: Tactical Brilliance

Ever wondered what a queer punk anti-racist fundraiser might look like?

punk girl hair

Below the fold, an email from folks in Chicago who put their heads together, so to speak, to support the Day of Expungement in New Orleans. Co-sponsored by Safe Streets/Strong Communities, Critical Resistance, and the Orleans Public Defenders, Expungement Day was part of an ongoing movement to counter the racist criminal justice system and help communities flourish.

Recently I’ve been re-reading Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals (using it to analyze Bram Stoker’s Dracula for my English class — good times), alinsky rules for radicalsand I’ve gotta say, despite the flaws in his philosophy, the book is beautifully written, and there are some real gems in there. The creativity and good humor of this Chicago fundraiser exemplify the spirit of his sixth rule of power tactics: “A good tactic is one that your people enjoy. If your people are not having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic” (128). An important sentiment to keep in mind, I think, especially when student organizing so often reverts to the same old speak-outs and die-ins, marches and petitions. I mean, Alinsky and his crew once bought up all the tickets to an enemy-owned symphony, hosted a potluck feast of baked beans beforehand, and then farted their way through the whole concert. Now that’s a tactic.

Anyhow, read, enjoy, and see y’all next week!

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Dykes, Fags, Trannys: Ride that Mechanical Bull! Guerilla Queer Takeover of Mysogynist Spaces.

Last Friday night some friends and I went to check out Guerilla Queer Bar. In case you haven’t heard of it, this is a monthly occurrence here in Boston in which 1, 500 or so queers and allies are notified via an email list at the last minute which straight and misogynistic club we are going to show up at, with the hopes of overrunning the place.

This time, The Liquor Store was the target. I had never been there before, despite hearing that some Harvard events have taken place at this venue in the past. The place was in part chosen this time around because on the same night they were having a wet t shirt contest and a mechanical bull riding contest (I feel that the sarcastically toned feminist rampage i feel an urge to place here is unnecessary. I have faith, in you, reader. You get the picture. Or at least you see the picture right above.)

I went for several reasons. Firstly, as one of the event organizers is a friend of mine, I had heard that last month the bar of choice refused to let the queers and allies upstairs, and had only allowed them out of the building one at a time to smoke. It’s easy to forget that blatant homophobia exists completely unchecked and un-self aware when only frequenting queer friendly spaces, or at the least, surrounding myself with queer-friendly people to shield me from the structural homophobia in the institutions I choose to inhabit nonetheless. (This is a good place to insert a shout-out for two of my favorite QUEER and QUEER CELEBRATORY dance nights Boston: Gross Anatomy and The Neighborhood- which is happening this upcoming Saturday night.) And so, as hearing this enraged me, and I was filled with HOMO-militant desire to be a body in the loving struggle towards claiming woman hating and queer hating spaces as our own.

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4,000 US troops dead

$341.1 million per day

5 years of war

49 Iraqi civilians dead per day