Em-URGE-ing Voices

Posts Tagged: LGBTQ

“Man Pregnancy” and Other Harmful Notions that Prevent Inclusivity

Remember Thomas Beatie – the pregnant man on Oprah, claiming to be the first? Well he wasn’t.  He was the first post-transition, transgender man to “go public” about keeping and using his female reproductive organs but by no means the first pregnant man.  In going public and naming himself an anomaly, he attracted audiences much like a circus freak would. More recently, author Benjamin Percy was interviewed on The TODAY Show about his experience of being “man pregnant,” as he actually called it. Percy’s definition of man pregnant: “[wearing] a pregnancy suit for nine weeks in an effort to be a better father by gaining an understanding of what women go through when they’re pregnant.”  There are so many things wrong with this. First off, Percy’s reasoning assumes that the… Read more »

Thoughts On Creating Change, Part II: Let’s Map Our Desires!

In my previous post on The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s annual conference, I wrote about the ways large gatherings like Creating Change help sustain LGBT activism, including queer reproductive justice activism. On the second day of Creating Change, these dialogues surrounding our bodies came to a head when I attended Sex Justice: Mapping Our Desire, an institute which lasted from dawn until dusk. According to the conference program, the session was designed to “focus on our desires: How we have shaped them and how they have shaped us. In this space, we can begin to consider: ‘What is just sex? How can my personal claiming of my desire foster more just sexual communities? Where do I begin?’ I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting myself into. But… Read more »

Sextravaganzas and Other Campus Sex Workshops

Last month, fellow Choice Correspondent Amanda and I attended Creating Change: The National Conference on LGBT Equality.  I may be biased, but Choice USA’s workshops really seemed to start some productive and practical conversations about how to help make our communities more sex positive.  One of Choice USA’s workshops, “Sex (Education) is a RIGHT!,”  facilitated by Sarah Audelo from Advocates for Youth, our own Mari Schimmer and myself, centered around young people’s right to sex and comprehensive and positive sex education, as well as student organizing.  The audience was asked to split up into groups and come up with a creative way to promote sex positivity in their hometowns. This yielded some really great ideas, but one in particular stuck with me.  An undergrad student from Indiana shared that his… Read more »

Thoughts on Creating Change: On Solidarity in Community, Part I

It’s been nearly two weeks since The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Creating Change conference in Atlanta, as recapped extensively by Lydia and Amanda. The high of sharing space with thousands of activists has since tapered off, and I’ve had time to wash the remaining glitter from my hair and reflect on what I gained from those five days of institutes, workshops, and collaboration with queers and allies from across the nation. There’s something to be said for this conference taking place in Georgia, my home state. I’m all too familiar with our ongoing fight for marriage equality, not to mention the Southern state’s problems with homophobia, the KKK, and abortion access. While Atlanta is one the most gay-friendly cities in the US, a short drive into neighboring rural… Read more »

Creating Change in HOTlanta

Attending the 25th National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change was incredible. Thousands of queers and allies from across the country and a handful from abroad gathered in my city, Atlanta, from January 23 -27. The annual conference, run by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, offered over 350 workshops and training sessions, as well as endless networking opportunities. I was pleased (and surprised, honestly) to see such a strong presence of LGBT youth of color – it made me quite proud. It seems like the sessions were hit or miss for some, but I didn’t attend a single session that I wouldn’t have written home about – if I wasn’t already home. Two of my favorites include “Queering Hip Hop: Using the Social Message of Rap’s Storytelling to… Read more »

Creating Change: Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are

So I’m a big fan of inspirational talks. They get me every single time; you can find me in the back tears coming down my face. Creating Change had a few of these talks this year and I’m going to tell you about my favorite. Preceded by Leadership in Leather awards…. Jose Antonio Vargas gave a talk about coming out – as an undocumented person living in America. Brought to America at the age of 12 Vargas detailed a story heard time and time again about children growing up in a country to love only to find out that they don’t technically belong. Vargas discovered this when trying to apply for a driver’s license. This led him to an introspective period and he said, “They said I couldn’t be here… Read more »

Creating Change: Miles to March

Miles to March, the last session I attended, is one of two military-related sessions that appeared in the program for Saturday. Miles to March was facilitated by a local representative of American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER), formerly known as Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Veterans of American. The room wasn’t even close to full – I counted 9 people – which made the entire session more personal and intimate. The facilitator, Danny, had us all introduce ourselves and explain our interest in the military. Among said 9 people were LGB veterans, almost half of them work at their local US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Because the majority of the VA employees in that room were discharged less than honorably, the willingness and desire to help their brothers and sisters… Read more »

Creating Change: Uncomfortable in an Awesome Way

I don’t want to waste your time telling you all the logistics and happenings that went on during Creating Change 2013 – I want to share with you all about what it did for me and my journey. I want to give a huge shout out to Task Force for putting together such an amazing and inclusive gathering. Every time I attend a social justice conference I experience a level of personal, academic and spiritual growth. I believe that Creating Change took it to the next level. I have never been so uncomfortable and fulfilled at the same time. It’s hard to explain these feelings to members of a non-activist community because it’s a unique and challenging experience. It’s challenging because even with the best intentions it’s all too easy… Read more »

We are Overdue for an Update to Our Child Support Laws

Sperm or egg donation is possibly one of the most selfless gifts you can provide to someone who cannot conceive a child in a more “traditional” manner. Hopefully that belief is in the minds of all people who do make a decision to lend a piece of their body to help another family group. Even if the volunteer only seeks money, that should be immaterial in deciding custody of a child years into their life. However, this meaning seems to be lost in the case of William Marotta. The Kansas man is being pursued by the state for child support after donating sperm to a lesbian couple. Because the artificial insemination was done at home instead of under the supervision of a doctor as required by Kansas law, the state… Read more »

The First Same-Sex Wedding at West Point Chapel is a Watershed Moment

Recently, the first same sex wedding was held at West Point Chapel for the seventeen year sweethearts, Brenda Sue Fulton and Penelope Gnesin. The media responded surprisingly positively. Same-sex marriage and military opposition to open homosexuality are both hot topics for the gay rights movement and media outlets alike. Thusly, the marriage of Fulton and Gnesin being taken so well shows an advance for the world around us in more than one area of concern. For lesbian culture visibility in 2012 America this is undoubtedly a monumental event. An Army chaplain married Brenda Sue Fulton and Penelope Gnesin on December 1, 2012. Fulton had graduated from West Point in 1980 in the very first female class. She rose to the rank of captain by 1986.  Soon after she left the… Read more »