As I rework my dissertation into a book manuscript — cutting sections here, smoothing out passages there, tugging at paragraphs like taffy over there, finding the through line — I have been sneaking out and doing some last-minute oral history interviews. Even though many people have told me to stop, that I need to get the book done. I can’t quite help it.
People and families come in many forms, as any LGBTQ person can attest. Now, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company or MassMutual, as it's more commonly known, is using that concept to improve upon its already [...]
NEWS ANALYSIS Jan. 28, 2019, Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C.: Four self-defined feminists present on a panel entitled “The Inequality of the Equality Act: Concerns from the Left.” Featured speakers: Jennifer Chavez, lawyer and board member [...]
As a lesbian, I often feel the urge to be vocally happy in my engagement to a woman. It’s a spiteful parry to a book I keep on my shelf as a joke: "The Unhappy Gays," a messy assortment of Christian ramblings about how queer people are actually miserable, pilfered from the collection of my deceased grandmother.
One would think that in the field of burlesque, sex and the discussion of it would be welcome, but this may not always be the case. In 2019 there is open discussion about all things LGBTQ as well as openly gay celebrities, but in the burlesque world, sex and sexual orientation are still considered dirty words by some. Why is this the case? Perhaps the answer to this and many other questions lies in pondering why humans readily embrace some things and people and not others. Normally, that which is deemed different is looked at with suspicion and approached with caution — as is the case with the LGBTQ or queer burlesque performers.
I am a Detroiter, born and raised. So was my mother. My father, although born in Kentucky, grew up in Chatham, Ontario, before settling in Detroit.
So, once again, we reach the closing of the year. For many of us, this is a time of trees festooned with tinsel and glass baubles, or nights filled with candlelight or a myriad of holiday traditions. It's a time of gingerbread and gelt, kinara or hanukkiyah, and all sorts of things we hold dear.
This year I finally came out to my best friend as bisexual. But first, I have to tell you about my first pap smear. You see, I have cerebral palsy and often my legs spasm [...]
PQ: As long as Michigan continues to criminalize people living with HIV for engaging in sexual behavior that may not even transmit the virus, the genetic clustering work could be abused by zealous prosecutors. Perhaps those prosecutors believe they are working to stop HIV transmissions. Perhaps they are driven by animus against certain at risk populations.
My religious teachings tell me that I should not be fearful. However, real and tangible fear should always be met head on. I struggle with that. On voting day, which has come and gone, there are two fears that I confess I faced:
One of the lasting lessons I learned from Detroit’s legendary activist Jeff Montgomery was no matter what the outcome was of an election, we must prepare for the morning after. As I write this before knowing the results, I know that things could go either for or against us, but we have to be prepared. When he said this advice, Montgomery was talking about the 2004 Michigan vote that made it unconstitutional for the state to recognize or perform same-sex marriages or civil unions. So much was at stake.
A friend reached out to me yesterday to see if I was OK. She said, “Everyone I care about is under attack.” My dear friend was referring to the administration’s desire to “erase” trans identities [...]
What to say to get you to vote that isn’t already in a meme? That’s my task and conundrum. So let’s start with this: LGBTQ Michiganders, when sufficiently motivated, vote and do so in large numbers. For example, 2014 post-election modeling done by the national Stonewall Democrats determined that 14 percent of all Democratic voters in Michigan were LGBTQ. Assuming that we’re 3 to 5 percent of our state’s overall population, that outsized voting percentage is hugely significant.
It’s been a challenging week this week for members of the transgender community, their allies and supporters. Over the weekend, the New York Times revealed that officials within the Trump Administration are pushing for a narrow definition of sex in enforcing federal civil rights laws. By defining sex as “either male or female, immutable and determined by a person’s genitals at the time of birth,” governmental departments could refuse to recognize and address incidents of discrimination against transgender people in employment, education, housing and access to health care.
1968 was indeed a year that had a profound impact upon this country - the assassinations of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, protests of the Vietnam War and racial inequality - most notably during the Democratic Convention in Chicago and the fist raised during the Olympic ceremony by two Black athletes. And 1968 saw winners – Richard Nixon won the White House and the Detroit Tigers won the World Series! The year also saw the birth of the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), and yours truly was born in December of that year.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, making it an important time of year to raise awareness for the need of screening and early detection, advocacy, support and ongoing research. Unfortunately, the reality is that breast cancer doesn’t care what month it is and doesn’t just go away until October. It's vital that any person with breast or chest tissue, meaning everyone, understands that they may be at risk of developing breast cancer.
So, for this year’s National Coming Out Day, bring out your dead. If you have deceased LGBTQ friends or relatives who may not have been out during their lifetimes, bring them out, even in some small way. Help them take their next step. Tell someone about them. Write up an account of their lives for some future reader (or perhaps a historian). Maybe, in the fashion of cemeteries planting American flags on veterans’ graves, place a rainbow flag at their final resting place.
The stories are all different, but they are the same. The family friend or member who comes into the bedroom at night. The uncle, grandparent or friend who touches inappropriately with a hug. The boys who cop a feel in the hallway. The “nice” guy who after a few beers forgot that “No means No.”
To me, it becomes an issue of accuracy versus truth. It may indeed be accurate, for example, to include the name I was born under, answered to and used on legal documents until I was in my early 20s — but this isn't exactly my truth. That surely isn't me, and isn't my identity now. It's not the person who pens these words, or has been under this name and gender for the more than half of this life.
So, in the spirit of inclusion, LGBTQ organizers should make it a responsibility to pick venues that are as accommodating as possible — even for disabled LGBTQ people. More importantly, organizers should put an effort into making disabled participants feel welcome, not like it is inconvenient to include them.
“Drug addict,” “philanderer,” “lifestyle” ... these are the pejoratives that substance abuse professionals used in a workshop I recently attended at a national conference on substance abuse. I was shocked to hear such judgmental and stigma-laden words casually thrown around the room by trained professionals. I have issues with judgmental words and labels; not only on a professional level, but also when talking to others from the LGBTQ2+ community. We are already fighting for our equality on many other fronts, specifically fewer barriers to health care and we don’t need labels to be used against us.
Our older son in particular was harassed from the beginning. Not only was he biracial and darker than most of the kids who attended his school, but he also had two gay dads.
There are more than 13,000 children in Michigan’s foster care system who are need of permanent loving and supportive homes.
I look at that photo from 1921, at those proud, resolute transgender people from nearly 100 years ago. How many of them were able to escape what was happening around them, or were they forced into hiding? We're any of them amongst those beaten when the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft was destroyed? Dare I even ponder if these folks enjoying a nice day in the sun would, just a few years later, be forced to wear the pink triangle and live out their remaining days in a concentration camp?
I had explored a variety of options but nothing seemed very viable until, one day, I was having a conversation with one of my staff and she mentioned that she had worked for a child welfare program. She said that they often had difficulty in placing children who were older than the average child up for adoption. I called the agency to set up a meeting, and no sooner had I walked through the door than I realized that the woman who was interviewing me was a lesbian and very sympathetic.
It is not the time for us to be silent, to be fearful, to go back in the closet or to give up on building bridges and alliances. Our vote counts. Every vote counts We have to bring every vote — LGBTQ and all our allies - to the polls beginning now and send these chickens home to roost.
It's pride month, and this means a whole lot of people will take or have taken to the streets across the world, festooned in their best rainbow gear. We'll march, party and do all those things we'll do at pride. It will be crazy and chaotic, and we will be the big messy community we are, in all our glory.
Some are misinterpreting last week’s Supreme Court’s decision in the Masterpiece Cake case, as providing a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people. This is patently false. The Court’s ruling in favor of the cake shop was based on very narrow and specific circumstances regarding respecting religious freedom while enforcing antidiscrimination laws.
It’s BTL's silver anniversary, and for 25 years we have been dedicated to providing news for Michigan’s LGBTQ community. So now, as we celebrate this incredible milestone in not only our history, but that of our readership, we invite you to look back with us. Over the next 12 months BTL will revisit Southeast Michigan's historical milestones, traveling back in time to reexamine those events that have changed the face of our community. We’ll be releasing regular historical graphics that take a look at some of the LGBTQ community's greatest triumphs as well as some of the biggest bumps we’ve encountered on the road to equality. The first of these graphics can be found on page 8.
Finding housing is complex and terrifying. With rent skyrocketing while quality plunges, even middle-class families are struggling to find something that works for them and is also affordable, especially if they have children, pets, and/or special needs. Initial payments are financially overwhelming, comprising of rent for the first month, plus a security deposit, plus any additional fees. If a person cannot find accessible housing, the generosity of friends and family is the only thing protecting them from homelessness. Those who are marginalized - people of color, disabled people, and those within the LGBTQ+ community - face even greater challenges.
Pride season is here, and so are two new picture books that tell the story of the rainbow flag and the individuals who both inspired and created it.
As June gets closer and LGBTQ people start marking their summer calendars for over a dozen pride celebrations across Michigan — a huge achievement on its own — it's a great time to take stock of the unprecedented positive political action that has been achieved over the past year — seemingly despite all odds.
There is a certain popular culture view of transgender people that cannot be easily shaken: transgender people are born as men or women, and choose to become women or men.
Trans people - and I am using the term in its broadest sense, inclusive of gender fluidity and nonbinary identities - tend to have a pretty short list of wants. Really, I can boil it down to one simple statement: we just want to live our lives.
I am a Michigan State University alum. Currently, I am a faculty member at Central Michigan University, where I and my colleagues are entrusted with thousands of young adults beginning to negotiate the world on their own. I am a former female college athlete, I am a social worker whose clients who include young victims of sexual abuse and women who have experienced violence at the hands of men, I am personally connected to many young adults who have experienced sexual assault and, finally, I am the adoptive mom to four kids — including a daughter — who all went to college. From these many perspectives, I keep trying to untangle the MSU/Nassar scandal.
Members of the LGBTQ community face many unique health care challenges. They suffer from higher rates of smoking, depression, anxiety, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Compounding these challenges is the fact that LGBTQ individuals are more likely than others to experience difficulty accessing health care, due to a long history of anti-LGBTQ bias.
To be transgender in 2018 is to deal with challenging, difficult times. We face attacks from all sides, and the specter of death itself lays heavy upon our community. As a result, I find I often have to spend a lot of time ringing the alarm bells, and warning of dire times.
The Trump Administration has once again attempted to ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. military. This time out, the ban was secretly drafted by Vice President Mike Pence, with assistance from Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (FRC) and Ryan T. Anderson of the Heritage Foundation.