Tag Archives: lesbian

On Being Latina & Lesbian in the U.S.A.

On Being Latina & Lesbian in the U.S.A.:

  • My published interview about “coming out” for the site New Latina.
  • My essay titled “Being Cuban, One Afternoon at a Time”, which encapsulates what being Cuban means to me — featured in the Tiki Tiki Blog.
  • My article “In Italics: Queer Latino Nuances in American Literature”, which discusses the psychology underlying the customary italicization of Queer Latino-American phrases in American literature.  A spotlight feature in Lambda Literary

1) My published interview about “coming out” for the site New Latina:

Tracy Lopez interviews Vanessa Libertad Garcia, a filmmaker and writer living in Los Angeles, California, about lesbianism and her story on “coming out” and dealing with her sexuality as a Latina.

When did you first realize you were gay?

I’d known since I was very little, about 4 years old, that the way I felt about certain girls or women was to be kept secret because it wasn’t “the norm”.  I didn’t know, however, what the label or categories were for those feelings.  I didn’t know they were “lesbian” in nature.  I just knew they were uncommon and could be used to ostracize me so I stuffed them down for years.

Have you “come out”?

I came out to myself and, immediately afterward, to all of my friends in the first year of college when I was 18 years old.

When you “came out” to your family, tell us what that was like. How did you feel? How did they respond?

Coming out to my family was a sort of gradual process.  I came out to my immediate family such as mom and close cousins around the same time I came out to my friends.  All my other family members learned about my lesbianism through the grapevine and that was that.  It hasn’t been made a big deal thus far.  It took my mom about a month after I first told her to get over the shock because she never expected me to come out, but even then she was sincerely supportive.

My whole family, thankfully, has been really accepting and loving. Especially my mom.  There’s been no fuss made about my being a lesbian.  Even my grandma, whom I recently told, took the news refreshingly well.  I mean, once in a blue moon, cliche questions will pop up in conversation like, “Maybe you just haven’t met the right boy yet?” or “Why don’t you just give a man a try to be sure?”  To which I always reply, “Well, maybe you just haven’t met the right girl yet?” or “Why don’t you just give a woman a try to be sure?” They usually empathize and we laugh it off.

I think it helps that my eldest aunt (on my mother’s side) came out of the closet 20 years before I did.  Sadly, she had to barrel through our Cuban family’s old world homophobic disdain and rejection, but I believe her painful process ultimately humanized “the gays” in our family and paved the way for the smooth acceptance I later experienced.  By the time I came out, being a lesbian in the family was old news.

I definitely felt nervous about telling my family that I was a lesbian. Nervous that they’d think I was creepy or strange… Honestly, I still don’t feel completely comfortable talking about my love life with them because, well, girls just didn’t talk about other girls like that in the Latin families I grew up around.  I am more aware now than ever, however, that my uncomfortableness is just internalized homophobia flaring up and that, in fact, I have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.  Consequently, I’ll challenge myself to share with them about my lesbian lifestyle, more than I’d like to, as practice.  Discussing it helps me practice embracing the naturalness, normalcy, and beauty of my homosexuality.

What problems have you faced with your family as a result?

Nothing serious so far, thank goodness.

What problems have you faced in the Latino community as a result?

None so far either.  Gratefully, I’ve experienced warmth, acceptance, and support from the Latino communities I form part of — mainly film and literary.

What is your advice to other gay/bi Latinas out there who may feel alone – who maybe are younger or just haven’t come out yet?

Whether bi or gay, your sexuality is perfect.  There’s nothing wrong with you. You have nothing to be ashamed of, I promise.  You are not alone. There are millions like you. We are everywhere. The GLBTQ community is huge and powerful and loves you very much. We defend and stand by you. Come find us.  There are Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender centers and organizations all around the world. You don’t have to hide who you are ever again.  A distant Christian family member once told me, “But it’s just not natural, Vanessa.  Being gay is not natural.”  To which I replied, “Then why did it naturally happen to me?”  We’re all Nature’s children and equal in Her eyes.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Come out of the closet and go fall in love in with some gorgeous chicas, ya lezzies;)  Have a blast loving and being loved!

2) My essay titled “Being Cuban, One Afternoon at a Time”, which encapsulates what being Cuban means to me — featured in the Tiki Tiki Blog.

Being Cuban. Being Woman. Being Lesbian. These are all concrete identifiable experiences for me that melt into a puddle of vagueness whenever I try to grab them and hand them over to someone else for understanding.

But, I think the best way to explain the Being Cuban part to someone not Cuban entails describing one afternoon of my life.

I was born Cuban-American a.k.a. a Cuban in the United States. Therefore, I’ve always lived at the point where two distinct worlds briefly brush against each other while on a rush to separate destinations. This dot in the space-time continuum is an unusual locale where two opposing atmospheres converge to form a rare hybrid of people: Los Cubanos-Americanos. I like to think of this planetary meeting place as my grandmother’s house.

Every Thursday from 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. for the last three years, I’ve hung out with my grandmother “Mamaita” at her home in a suburban outskirt of Los Angeles. She lives in a primarily middle-class/lower-middle class Mexican-American neighborhood. I live in a similar barrio five minutes away.

Her well-kept, peach-coated, wide 4-bedroom property faces a groomed yard adorned in pastel flowers, Aloe Vera plants, and heavy concrete ducks. During her 25 years there, she’s used the Aloe Vera to cure everyone’s everything — from derrieres wounded by poodle bites to minor burns to acne breakouts. If you really want to clear the acne for good, however, she highly recommends using Azufre three times daily.

As soon as you walk into her living room, you find yourself standing on a light-yellow shag carpet surrounded by shelves of books, family portraits, certificates of achievement, and aged trinkets from my childhood.

Her books are medical, psychological, and nutritional in nature and all in English. Although she mostly writes, speaks, and listens to the radio in Spanish, she prefers reading in English as a means of practicing the language. Her comprehension of the English language is impressively vast especially since she still struggles from time to time to wrap her mouth around the English translation of her Cuban phrases. Barack Obama becomes Arak Oama, in other words.

Our family portraits change weekly, but include us all – at one point or another – standing or sitting next to each other while looking pensively or forlornly off into the distance. Including the babies. Framed above us all, my great-grandmother, her mother, stands between two Alice In Wonderland Characters Tweedledee & Tweedledum at Disneyland, taken years back when she flew over from Cuba for a visit.

Mamaita’s certificates of achievement range from the University of Havana to college in Cali to an award she won for poetry in 1989, the Golden Poet award. A killer poet and bona fide book addict she can usually be found humming behind gold-rimmed glasses while writing with her left hand or holding a book she’s reading with her right.

When I arrive, the radio tends to blare ballads by Olga Guillot, Benny More, Celia Cruz, and Joan Baez from the “It’s a Cuban Chreeesmas” music mix I made her. Mamaita also enjoys ’60s American Folk songs and various genres of American music. One time I found her listening to Nirvana on the radio. She told me that hard stuff often helps her get the inner knots of AAH! out.

We then walk into the kitchen where she’s cooked the most delicious food I ever will eat. Hers are healthy versions of classic Cuban meals: platanitos fritos, ropa vieja, yucca, arroz prieto, y ensalada Cubana.  And from behind a plastic child-protective gate, my grandmother’s heart-melting mildly obese dog “Angelita,” resemblant of a chubby little lamb, barks for me to pet her.

After petting Angelita, my grandmother and I sit down at her round 1970s dinner table. Sitting relaxed on her walker seat across from me, she cups her glamorous 1940s crop, lifts her classic gold-rimmed glasses from the tip of her nose up to her eyes, and begins gently twirling her Sagittarius necklace with her right pointer finger. Instantly, her left fist opens up and begins expressing all the ideas, memories, and feelings she’s started telling me about.

We speak about poverty in 1930s Cuba and surviving El Barrio de Jesus Maria, the positive effects vitamins and good nutrition have on the body’s different organs, and how my aunt Mamadina prayed as a little girl for La Cigüeña to bring her a little sister, and then my mom was born.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see a large Cuban coffee maker on the stove and know that after lunch we’ll drink her incomparable Cafésito Cubano con Leche de Cabra. After which she’ll recite a poem she wrote for me when I was very little and emphasize the line, “mi nietesita de ojos color caramelo.”

For me, Being Cuban means being Cuban-American one afternoon at a time.

3) My article “In Italics: Queer Latino Nuances in American Literature”, which discusses the psychology underlying the customary italicization of Queer Latino-American phrases in American literature.  A spotlight feature in Lambda Literary

Nuanced identities are amassed by an amalgam of experiences which include particular terminologies. Specific terms weave together the distinctive fabric of their unique existences.

Applying this summation to our group, the Latino-American Queers of the United States, we note that expressions such as maricon and tortillera, among many others, have poignantly shaped the dynamics of our multidimensional lives, but they require italics in American literature because they haven’t yet been accepted by the dominant White-Anglo Saxon Protestant (WASP) culture as being intrinsically “American.”

Many would argue that our Latino-American terms haven’t been adopted because they only reflect a certain minority’s experience and don’t encompass or accurately relate the wide experiential scope of the US’s cultural melting pot; neither, however, do the intricacies that comprise British, Dutch, or German customs, yet American English has adopted much of their verbiage.

Their classifications don’t require italics because American literature assumes that if you’re “American,” you understand what they mean.

“Faggot” and “dyke,” among other derogatory terms for gays and lesbians, form customary part of the American vernacular, as opposed to maricon and tortillerabecause of the particular LGBT community they reference. Descendants of the more financially and politically powerful North American colonizers, the ruling ethnic class of “White People,” comprise the list of American authors who were traditionally published from the early 1600s onward.

Notable white LGBT writers, such as Margaret Fuller and Ralph Waldo Emerson, entered the American literary scene through cautious works in the nineteenth century and were followed by a long list of more direct and outspoken queers like Walt Whitman and Gertrude Stein, etc. Their books spoke to a readership that possessed the societal clout and monetary resources necessary to successfully mass-market, mass-produce, and mass-distribute them into bookstores, educational institutions, and curricula across the country.

White people dominated the society in which they lived and considered their positive and negative nuances intrinsic to “American” culture. “Faggot” and “dyke” emerged in early 20th century American literature and language as a response to LGBT members of this powerful and well-documented ethnic community.

Even though Spanish-speaking citizens, primarily Mexican-Americans, have existed on North American soil since the white colonizers arrived and extend from California to Texas, their nuances went either undocumented or inaccurately represented by Anglo-American writers for centuries.

Classic American literature treated the Spanglish & Spanish speaking Latino-American population like an afterthought. The unique terminologies and experiences of Latino-American Queers, like all Latino-Americans before the mid-20th Century, were customarily dismissed.

They were a people pummeled into silence by poverty, lack of education, and racism as they labored on the sidelines of the mainstream America they helped build. Lost in the rubble of their struggle were the unrecorded terminologies unique to their nuanced identities such as maricon and tortillera, which are now surfacing in Latino-American literature.

1960s America brought about massive positive change for expanding the exposure and accurate documentation of minorities in the US, through a string of successful Equality-Movements such as the Civil Rights Movement, the Feminist Movement, and the LGBT Rights movement.

Post-Stonewall US saw an influx of Spanish-speakers emigrate from various South-American and Caribbean countries, from Cuba to Colombia. Many of these immigrants and/or their children turned out to be the Queer Latino Writers, who along with the already present Mexican-Americansproactively document(ed) our once glossed-over tales. Over the last five decades, authors past and present such as John Rechy, Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Carmelita Tropicana, and Nilo Cruz have written about the American experience on behalf of Queer Latino-Americans for all Americans.

Since the 60s, there’s been a notable rise in published Latino-American Queer literature; yet, terms like maricon and tortillera continue employing italics because, although we may consider them commonplace and essential to ourAmerican stories, they have yet to be embraced by the Anglo-American ruled literary world as representative of the “central American experience.”

That being said, I don’t think we Queer Latino-American authors, who were born in or immigrated to the US, should reject italicizing our own cultural terms, even while we dislike when Anglo-American writers do it.

We should reclaim the practice of italicization in American literature and change its direction from implying that our experiences are foreign/otherthan American,toward rarely documented American norms anyone can learn more about—we must consider that we’ve only been presenting the nuances of our American experiences and their accompanying terms for the last 50 years.

We haven’t always existed in American literature like we do now. As Latino-Americans increase in number, so do the queer members of our community and the publication of their voices. When we italicize a word or phrase, we’re referencing a part of us that is often uncharted territory and merits further investigation. Italicized words can direct readers, most of which never read about us through our own eyes, to investigate the multi-dimensionality of our American norms.

The US is a diverse country with immigrants from all over the world—a myriad of ethnicities color our American Identity landscape. We can facilitate learning, deepen understanding, and broaden acceptance about our particular brand of American identity by employing the proper use of italics. If practiced in moderation and abiding by a specific set of guidelines, italicization can serve to homogenize traditionally Queer Latino-American terms (many of them Spanglish and/or Spanish in origin) into American literature.

The guideline could go as follows:

Only italicize a word or phrase which pinpoints a unique factor that differentiates our American cultural experience from others and therefore warrants further investigation—as opposed to the traditional Anglo-American use of italicization, which serves to magnify the proof of our innate otherness a.k.a. separateness from “real” Americans.

One might also want to limit italicizing a particular word or phrase to the first three timesit’s mentioned in a book: the first italic carries a footnote, which explains the term’s definition, while the other two italics repeat to reaffirm that this term is vital to the plot of the novel. The rest of the time, the term is used in the book like it’s used in our lives, without any additional attention paid to it. We just accept it as a normal part of our book’s American life and so should the reader.

The idea that any American citizen should consider and reference their American experience and its language as other is a harmful separatist notion that has no basis in reality; my life as a Cuban-American lesbian in the US may not be a common American experience, but it is, nonetheless, fundamentally an American experience.

As a writer, I navigate through my multiple identities, Cuban-American and Lesbian, by employing the use of italics. Even though I regard my multiple identities as intrinsically American, I also embrace the reality that most Americans don’t yet relate to them that way.

The Latino-American experience isn’t just as the “Hispanic” term implies: a non-specific mosh-posh of indistinguishable brown-faced Spanish-speakers—Latino-Americans are a mix of complex cultures with differing Spanish dialects and traditions. Italicizations give American readers the permission not to know how to differentiate one American sub-culture from the other and the opportunity to learn how.

For example, maricon and tortillera are general derogatory Spanish terms used throughout Latin America, but the more culturally specific machua exists in Cuban, not Mexican, vocabulary. Through italics, we can honor the nuances within our Queer Latino-American experience.

Some might argue that by italicizing our generally Spanish terms, we prevent our nuances from infiltrating mainstream American literature because many Anglo-American writers have italicized our phrases to re-enforce our otherness. I believe, however, that by reclaiming italics and employing their appropriate use, we can blend the Queer Latino-American experience and the WASP definition of “American” into a harmonious homogeny.

The contemporary American landscape is one of minority empowerment; in the last 50 years, a different type of Queer American writer has emerged to serious acknowledgement and acclaim. Queer Latino authors are sprouting up around the US and telling American tales in their own words.

If we continue to regard Queer Latino-American Identities as intrinsically “American” in our writings, we won’t always have to italicize maricon andtortillera. Over time, they’ll grow to co-exist with the terms “faggot” and “dyke.” Just as it happened for the Irish, Jews, and African-Americans, eventually many of our culturally specific terms will become commonplace within the mainstream American vernacular.

Thanks for your support & hope you enjoyed the read!  

Big Hug!  🙂 V


Compare & Despair no more, oh deary! Luckily, Queer Films are here to stay.

First Off, HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!!! I love being a woman and I love loving women.  Yayeeeee!

Secondly, I’m trying to snap out of my sullen funk.  Sulking in the drab anguish of “I suck” feels nicht gut.

My Mission: To cease & desist Operation Compare & Despair.

Compare & Despair: To compare myself — as a whole or in separate parts — to another in order to pinpoint the specific ways they fit the mold of my version of “perfect” more completely than I do.  They are the perfect beauty, perfect filmmaker, perfect strategist, perfect body, perfect lover, perfect lesbian … and well I am … not.

Immediately following this brutal self-flogging, I sink into the tar pits of nihilistic hopelessness, and despair for numerous heart-wrenching hours.

Until I say, “Ya basta!”  Let’s breast stroke up through the thick gunk toward the surface again …

In my opinion, “Perfect” is an objective concept interpreted by a subjective human mind that can’t help but capture only a variation of it.  In other words, every individual’s idea of perfect proves innately biased and therefore imperfect. Consequently and contrary to popular belief, perfection isn’t limited to one version of itself, but branches out into countless versions.

What I’m trying to say is that I know feeling simultaneously “not good enough” and “too much” is a futile masochistic act with no basis in reality that hurts, like a brick slammed against my forehead, and makes me want to sleep all day.

So, let us refocus!

I’m striving to expand this experience:


I
is the total black, being spoken
from the earth’s inside.

– A. Lorde

Into this one:

I
is the total black, being spoken
from the earth’s inside.
There are many kinds of open
how a diamond comes into a knot of flame
how sound comes into a words, coloured
by who pays what for speaking.

Some words are open like a diamond
on glass windows
singing out within the crash of sun
Then there are words like stapled wagers
in a perforated book – buy and sign and tear apart –
and come whatever will all chances
the stub remains
an ill-pulled tooth with a ragged edge.
Some words live in my throat
breeding like adders. Other know sun
seeking like gypsies over my tongue
to explode through my lips
like young sparrows bursting from shell.
Some words
bedevil me

Love is word, another kind of open.
As the diamond comes into a knot of flame
I am Black because I come from the earth’s inside
Now take my word for jewel in the open light.

– A. Lorde

— I believe this the best opportunity to discuss the fabulous films I saw at Fusion: The LGBT People of Color Film Festival this past weekend.

On Saturday, I picked up my little sister and we drove over to the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood to catch Pariah: The Making Of Q & A, which proved informative and inspirational. Director Dee Reese and producer Nekisa Cooper gave a priceless discussion on making their first feature film Pariah — based on my favorite short film EVER by the same name.

Afterwards, we saw the Fusion Short Films Program, which ROCKED-my-socks-off-onto-everyone’s FACES because it twas’ sooooo good.

I’ll recount my favorite shorts in the order they screened:

STOP IT – ALMA


Dir: Mike Rose
A spoof on intervention reality shows that features a woman, who compulsively cooks to the dismay of her family who just wants her to Stop It!

— All around HEELAREEOUS.  What a blast!

REVOLUTION


Dir: Abdi Nazemian
A coming-of-age story about Jack, a 16-year old Iranian boy growing up in 1989 Los Angeles.

Fascinating and educational.  I didn’t know much about the Iranian queer experience before this film, which has piqued my interest in it.  Additionally, I enjoy films that explore the interpersonal dynamics of families exiled from their homelands after a revolution.

Ah yes, and the Iranian mom was super hawt!  Gorgeous woman.

REMEMBER ME IN RED


Dir: Hector Ceballos
Fidelia must find a way to honor what would have been her friend’s wishes before it is too late.

— Amazing.  Almodovar-esque.  When a transgender woman dies her birth family, a traditional Mexican family, attempts to have her buried in men’s clothing.  All the while her adopted queer family of trans women — namely her best friend Fidelia — struggle with how to honor who she really was i.e. appropriate their impulse to bury her in her beloved diamond-encrusted pageant outfit.

Favorite quote in the movie: At the funeral, a trans friend looks into the casket and sees the deceased dressed in a man’s grey suit .  She rushes over to Fidelia and whispers in her ear something along the lines of, “They dressed her like a lesbian! She’d be pissed.”

LOL! Amazedawg.

THE QUEEN


Dir: Christina Choe
Bobby, a Korean-American teenage outcast, is working at his parents’ dry cleaners on prom weekend. When the prom queen and her boyfriend, stop by with their dress and tuxedo, Bobby has his own prom to remember.

Memorable, Endearing, & Comedically Sharp.  The overall execution was Grade A tight: concept, script, directing, lighting, cinematography, acting, etc.  You’ll LOL out loud throughout it.  Would be a great short flick to show high schoolers to help promote GLBTQ awareness and acceptance in the classroom. 

CHANGE


Dir: Melissa Osborne & Jeff McCutcheon
A gay African-American teenager grapples with his young identity on the night Obama was elected president and Proposition 8 passed.

LOVED. loved. LOVED.  Wow.  Emotional & Monumental.  From beginning credits to end credits, mind salivated while heart palpitated.  A moving reflection on the profoundly complex dynamics of African-American identity — on both individual and group levels — and the poignant role that played in the black community’s 2008 votes.

On Sunday, I went with Baby Dewds to see The Legacy Project restoration of three Queer Cinema antiques. The Legacy Project is my favorite Outfest arm because it focuses on restoring, preserving, and showcasing rare GLBTQ films of the past. In my opinion, the films are usually masterpieces due to their brilliant insight, artistry, and/or exposition of the ancestral GBLTQ community.  Most times all of the above.

My faves were:

QUEENS AT HEART


Dir. Unknown, 1967, USA, 22 min.
An extraordinary bit of ephemera, this proto-scientific documentary, verging on exploitation, presents four male-to-female transsexuals in candid discussions about their private lives and identities. The four subjects gamely respond to probing questions providing an intriguing portrait of Americans on the fringes of gender identity just before the Stonewall Rebellion two years later.

Fascinating and heartbreaking.  Borderline funny at times due to the campy style of the documentation.

CHOOSING CHILDREN


Dir. Debra Chasnoff and Kim Klausner, 1984, USA, 45 min.
Debra Chasnoff and Kim Klausner’s groundbreaking documentary presents with grace and towering authority, portraits of several lesbian mothers who were among the first to make the historic choice to become parents. Free from didacticism, the film exerts a powerful emotional undertow as it frames the lives of these families as arenas of love, commitment and work.

Well-executed:  Intelligent investigation of lesbian families, which still prove pertinent today.  Great film to show people who voted “Yes” on Prop 8.  Humanizing. Straight baby-making masses can relate to our trials and tribulations.  GLBTQ families also deserve the legitimacy, protection, and rights that marriage contracts afford!


Transgender Film Fest, rah rah rah! The 2011 Oscars, hellz nah nah nah!

Alright, I’ve got movies on the brains.

On Thursday night, I attended the Los Angeles Transgender Film Festival at the Echo Park Film Center with my little sister who identifies as bisexual.  Twas’ a gaydies family night!   We had a blast.

I am madly passionately in love with cinema, more now than ever before. Probably because the passing years have exposed me to a multitude of films that reveal the medium’s innate power for educating and changing people. For educating and changing me.

Back in 2007, I was a femme lesbian who was attracted to other feminine women. Never lesbians — always bi-curious potentially bisexual women or straight women who questioned in secret.  I mainly hung out with gay men and straight girls, rarely any lesbians.  Maybe 1 or 2 lesbos from time to time.  My hair reached down past my shoulders, I wore stilettos and was obsessed with my weight — how fat and ugly I was, and how well I did or didn’t hide it.

I’d developed an aversion, a disdain really, for all things masculine — especially in women.  I had not yet begun to question why it was I proudly owned and cultivated this prejudice within me.  Until Outfest: The Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival accepted my lesbian short film A Two Woman One Act in June 2007.  That year at Outfest, I became aware of the fluid nature, and varying expression of human gender and sexuality.

On a gender front, the films at Outfest explored the lives of butch women, feminine women, androgynous women, boyish women with soft feminine edges, feminine women with strong masculine edges, women who identified as / were transitioning into men — transmen, and men that conversely fell under similar categories.  On a sexuality front, they depicted the experiences of bisexuals, gays, lesbians, closeted homosexuals, the bi-curious, and transmen and transwomen who identified as straight, bisexual, & homosexual.

I spent most of the festival watching documentaries on the Transgender community because my film fest partner-in-crime was gay filmmaker Dante Alencastre whose documentary works focused on Transgender issues and rights. Through these Trans-world expositions, I became aware of my own internalized homophobia and began the lengthy process of understanding the wondrous, brilliant, NATURAL NORMALCY of our “otherness,” our “queerness” and how negatively affected I’d been by a media-centric society where the media predominantly represents the white straight population’s take on normal.  In learning about the Transgender community through these movies, I began uncovering the layers of my identities — as woman, lesbian, and feminist — and learning to whole-heartedly accept their often unboxable nuances.  These films united me in understanding, solidarity, and passion with my GLBTQ cause and community.

The Movies have always been my great love — ever since I was a wee little girl watching The Neverending Story on repeat.  Long before I understood the terms “woman” and “lesbian,” I connected with, felt impassioned by the word “moobie.” The older I’ve gotten the deeper I’ve fallen in love with cinema arts.  The Transgender Film Fest provides a great example of why.  The Transgender (TG) community is an underrepresented group of people that are often trivialized, villainized, and dehumanized by mainstream culture — both in media and mass society.  Their lives and identities are often ignored, pigeonholed, and misunderstood.  Sadly, even by some of the GLB’s  (Gay, Lesbians, & Bisexuals) in our GLBTQ community.   I’m grateful to relay, however, that the TG community has taught me much about their experiences and causes through film.  A medium of expression that stirs the viewer’s individual mind by touching their universal heart. In other words, one person’s experience is another person’s experience no matter how different their outside circumstances may appear.  In my opinion, it’s through empathy that one little movie …  a string of little movies …  a narrative feature film …  a documentary … changes someone’s perspective.

Over the past 4 years I’ve seen about 15 films on the Transgender community at film festivals, Laemmle’s Movie Theaters, and streaming online.  Following the triumphs and tribulations of their oft overlooked tales, I’ve come to relate with a group of people I had little knowledge of or interest in before 2007.  Films like the 1987 narrative feature Vera (An Outfest Legacy Project restoration) and the 2008 long-form documentary STILL BLACK: A Portrait of Black Transmen have transformed my relationship to my own gender-expression (female) and sexual orientation (lesbian) from a place of self-loathing and ignorance to one of self-knowledge and acceptance. They’ve broadened my consciousness and conscience …

Movies are a powerful tool for education and change.  I am honored, grateful, and proud to be a part of the Queer Film community.  I am constantly blown away by all I have left to learn on the human “being” itself — especially being its self in TRUE form.  I was thrilled to take my little 18-year old bisexual sister to a film fest by and about Transgender people where she learned more about the profound and complex GLBTQ community she embodies and represents.  Especially since, unlike myself, my sister tends to be romantically/sexually attracted to women with a more masculine bent, butch women, questioning trans.  I’m glad to say that in these years I’ve healed that senseless prejudiced self-hating side of myself, and grown to relate to, respect, and appreciate the varying expressions of human sexuality and gender-identity.  As a result, I’ve been blessed to form beautiful priceless friendships with butch lesbians and transmen in my community.

That being said, I also acknowledge that movies — being a powerful medium that affects change on individual and mass scales — can also be used to oppress people. Sadly, many movies still often perpetuate negative stereotypes or ignore an entire section of the population by choosing to spotlight one group experience over another. This is especially evident in Hollywood.  The world according to Hollywood films tends to center around Anglo, straight, and Jewish populations.  Once in a while, when Hollywood films do stray from depicting formulaic characters in regurgitated plots and strive to convey the stories of “minorities” — a.k.a. all other members of society — we’re often victimized, marginalized, or turned into one-dimensional caricatures of ourselves.  The Token Black, Gay, Latina, etc. gets to star in their own token movie … yay!  Not yay.

One of the many reasons I won’t be watching The Oscars this year.

Another reason is because I’m tired of supporting the community-destroying system of Meritocracy.  Meritocracy: A competitive system in which human beings earn self-esteem through achieving merit i.e. outside validation. A system where professional colleagues are pinned against each other, compared, and then anointed “1. Better than the rest.”  Maybe that system works for boxing or sports, some physical game built around the accumulation of points, but I believe Meritocracy has no real constructive place in the arts — a subjective realm of individual expression.

At the Oscars, 5 supposedly “best” actresses, writers, costume designers, etc. of films — that were LOBBIED into nomination by usually affluent companies — go up against each other for the Homecoming Queen crown.  Nominees wear abhorrently expensive outfits, blow winks at each other, and weep at tha’ podium o’ “success” upon receiving a statue of naked golden dewd while shouting, “I haven’t had an orthodox career, and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, YOU LIKE ME!”

I once bought into that?  Yuck & sad.  (P.s. I think Sally Field is an AMAZING actress.  Her acceptance speech just makes me sad.)

My dislike for Meritocracy isn’t just limited to The Oscars, however, but stretches outward to all award shows with set nominees.  You want to take a fair vote and choose “best” film or “best” artistic anything of the year?  Fine.  Let all the Academy members actually vote for THEIR favorite film of that year then.  Don’t choose their nominees.  Just ask them very simply, “What’s been your favorite film this year?,” “Who’s been your favorite actress this year and for what role?,” etc., tally the votes up, and then announce the results at the award ceremony like so, “We’d like to congratulate Sophie’s Choice for being chosen by The Academy members as their favorite film of the year.”  Let’s call a spade a spade.  The Oscars like most award shows are not an objective forum where “high quality” projects get the recognition they deserve.  It’s a circus tent where rich people who know other rich people entertain their egos by jacking each other off in front of a TV screen for millions to see.  The Oscars are, in essence, a televised 4-hour group masterbation session between professional exhibitionists.  At least when they have a comedian host — like Ricky Gervais — who calls out the event for exactly what it is, the audience derives some joy from the lewd acts of heavy petting taking place on stage.  The Oscars enjoy pretending they were created to award the most worthy piece of art (i.e. film) and artist (i.e. director) of the year the acknowledgment they deserve. When the truth is, and everyone knows it, The Oscars are as objective as art/film itself, which is NOT objective at all.

Maybe I’m just annoyed by the fact that The Oscars confuses its 100% subjectivity for 100% objectivity, takes itself too seriously, and then doesn’t hire Ricky Gervais to host.

If you’d like to read the brilliantly hilarious introduction Ricky Gervais drafted (in jest) for this year’s Oscar hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco, read below or directly from his blog!

—->

(Drum roll)V.O.
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Please welcome your hosts for this evening…
James Franco and Anne Hathaway 

(Music and applause)
(James and Anne walk out looking absolutely perfect)

JF
Hello and welcome to The 83rd Academy Awards,
Live from Los Angeles.

AH
That’s foreign for City of Angels.
And this room is certainly filled will those angels.

(Applause)

JF
Thank you. I’m James Franco.

AH
…and I’m Anne Hathaway.

JF
You probably know me from 127 Hours where I play a man trapped in an enclosed space who decides he would rather cut his own arm off than stay where he was. Now that sounds “way out” but wait till half way through this fucking ceremony and you’ll start to identify with him.

AH
And I’m the new Catwoman. The first white woman to play that role since Michelle Pfeiffer. I want it to be an inspiration to all white people everywhere. Your dreams can come true in Hollywood too.

JF
It’s a daunting task hosting The Oscars but we’re not alone. Presenting awards tonight will be a string of Hollywood legends and some other actors who have a film out in March or April.

JF
Usually they hire comedians to host The Oscars, but tonight, instead, you get us!

AH
No comedians tonight. And do you know why? Because comics are ugly.

JF
Especially that rude obnoxious one who played the Steve Carell part in the English remake of The Office.

AH
But you can all relax because Ricky Gervais is in London…

(Nervous laughter)

He’s doing some charity work.
Yeah, he’s visiting orphans with cancer.
He’s telling them what bald little losers they are…

JF
Yeah, cos he’s rude right?

(Applause)

Thank you.
No rudeness tonight.
It’s going to be a night of the most privileged people in the world being told how brilliant they are and thanking God for loving them more than ugly poor foreigners.

(Applause)

That’s not to say that we don’t care. No, apart from all the great movies we made this year we continued our life-saving philanthropy. Mega stars like Angelina Jolie, George Clooney and Ben Stiller brought light to third world poverty and famine and shocked the world with visions of children so hungry they’d been living off dead beetles all their lives.

AH
Yeah and Yoko Ono said. “What’s wrong with that?”

(Laughter)

JF
Oh Anne you are naughty. In a respectful, wholesome way.

(Nodding and smiling)

That Ricky Gervais should do more for charity.

(Murmurs of agreement)

Ricky Gervais is now worth $80,000,000. The obnoxious Brit confirmed the figure, adding,”Yes and my dentist hasn’t seen a penny.”

AH
Yeah, why doesn’t he get his teeth straightened and bleached like everyone else in Hollywood?

JF
It’s a good question Anne. For the same reason he doesn’t have botox or suck up to important producers – there’s something wrong with him.

AH
There must be. Why isn’t the stocky, fangy, little slob more like us, right?

JF
That ugly dude needs to get a Hollywood makeover, big time.

AH
Quite. And even though most of the actresses here have eating disorders, that’s better than being fat right?

JF
You bet it is gorgeous.

AH
You are so handsome.

JF
Exactly.
You know Ricky Gervais used to be bulimic.

AH
Really?

JF
Yes. He’d often gorge himself for hours with cheese and cakes.

AH
And then vomit right?

JF
No he left that bit out…

(Mild laughter)

AH
That’s because he couldn’t get his fat fucking fingers in his stupid mouth.

(Big laugh)

JF
Anyway let’s get this show on the road.
There were some great kids’ movies this year.
I took a five year old to see Toy Story 3 last week.

AH
Did you enjoy it?

JF
No it was ruined for me because the little brat was screaming and crying all the way through the film saying, “Who are you?” “You’re not my daddy.” “Take me back to the park where you grabbed me…”

(Laughter)

AH
Oh James, you are a card. And your slightly risky jokes are not threatening because you’re one of us. And you are so handsome.

JF
Absolutely.
So let’s get this show on the road.
Our first presenter is a Hollywood legend whose boots Ricky Gervais would not be fit to kiss…
The wonderful…
Mel Gibson…

(Standing ovation)

And so on…



Venti Agoraphobia Latte w/ a shot of Awesomeness!

Alright, I’ve decided to take a break from the mania of emailing the 60-page list of killer blogs I compiled with queries for review of my book The Voting Booth After Dark: Despicable, Embarrassing, Repulsive.

It’s truly been a blast revisiting their pages, and clicking on their recommended links through which I have discovered a whole nother’ slew of kick-arse blogs!  The author of the now closed Readerville blog put it best in 2009 when he said:

“It’s been an exceptional nine years. In June of 2000, the web was a very different place than it is today. Online resources for readers were comparatively few but pretty terrific, and Readerville was proud to be among them. Back then, if you told someone you talked to people on the Internet, they still looked at you funny, and most in the book industry couldn’t really grasp the idea of readers handselling books to each other in forums such as ours. These days, I’m thrilled at the vast assortment of tools for people to connect online—from blogs to Facebook and Twitter, to the many social book cataloging sites, and beyond. Readers have resources nobody could have imagined nine years ago, and it’s a joy to see books being talked about in every corner of the Internet.”

Not only books, but ALL the arts!  There are SO many AMAZING Art & Literary Blogs. Visual, Performance, Culinary, & Journalistic (Politics & News), Activism. The list goes on.  Finally, we the world’s citizens get, and give each other, choices. Yum.  I have to stop subscribing to all their RSS feeds though or I’ll never be able to clear my inbox! Gah! We live in some fabulous times — Tis’ truly the Information Age. I’m thrilled!!!

I’m also pooped and I have group therapy/meditation in an hour so I’m going to make this short.

From ages 18 – 23, I was one of the hugest party girls — in Gucci look-alike Payless Shoesource stilettos — to ever strut the planet .  At age 25, I’d partied the party out of my system.

Being an extremist by nature , I have since then grown to hate leaving the house unless it’s to go to a film festival, art showing, or performance (theatre, dance, etc).

Contrary to the V-Dawg of yesterday, I hate parties, clubs, and 99% of social engagements.  Not only do I dislike them.  I loathe them.  A panic runs from my toes up to my head and back down again from the phase of anticipation until I am out of the situation.

Me & Kim Basinger are apparently the only agoraphobics in entertainment, lol.  The anxiety doesn’t come from being “afraid” of people or what they’ll think of me or blah blah nah nah.  I rarely buy into that boring nonsense.

I think mainly it comes from feeling wildly out of place, like a train that’s been derailed.  All I want to do — ALL THE TIME — is work on my writing and films.  Or hang out with friends 1 or 2 at a time — go get dinz and catch a flick, save the world one convo at a time.  You know, I’m 80-years old.

From reckloose to recluse.  Yikes!

I must face and accept that I am a bona fide introvert.  I absolutely positively do not like “hanging out” and absolutely positively love staying home and working on my art.  GAH!  My party-girl inside never thought she’d have to embrace this day, but alas … so it is.  What a pain-in-my-arse I have become at 27-years old ;p

Ah vel, I must accept my newly mutated ways and stop telling people I’ll go to their parties so I don’t have a panic attack, cancel last minute, and then suffer the punches of guilt in my chest for the rest of the day 🙂

Gah!  Tis’ sort of duro. Oh vell …

Anyway, speaking of working on art.  In doing my book promotion email fest 5000 today, I came across some awesomeness I’d like to share with you before I jam out the door to group therapy/meditation a.k.a. therapeutic convos with other like-hearted cray crays ;p

Enjoy!!! :

Some of Today’s Fave Blog Discoveries:

Some of Today’s Fave Photo Discoveries from Awesome Blogs: