WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by David Watkins 04.28.2015 24 days ago
at 04:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Queer City Spotlight: The Jenner Interview

Local LGBTQ news and views

Disclaimer: Although Jenner gave ABC, some news outlets and Jenner’s family permission to use "he," "him" and "his" pronouns until people become comfortable with the change, I am using gender neutral pronouns "they," "them" and "their "and dropping Jenner’s first name out of respect to an individual that has dealt being misgendered for a large portion of their life. Jenner also has not released their preferred name. The black and white photo showed what appeared to be a twentysomething with a shaggy bowl-cut. The person was smiling, mouth open, revealing his probably perfect pearly whites as he looked off camera. Who is he looking at? Is he in mid-laugh or mid-sentence? What made the old photo interesting, despite it being posted on Instagram by Kylie Jenner in the first place, was how the person’s chiseled muscles and hairy abs contrasted with the tight clothes that concealed body parts our society likes to label “vulgar” and “inappropriate”. The last place I looked was in the eyes. I had noticed they were looking away, but I never really looked in their eyes and tried to read them. The eyes in the photograph read as distant, unfocused, not fully engaged. Was I just looking at it in a different light because my prior knowledge and context changed? The Instagram post read, “daddy throwback. #Tonight #DianeSawyer #ABC #love”. I had a lot of positive and negative anxiety about the Bruce Jenner Interview with Diane Sawyer. My two biggest passions — the queer rights movement and popular culture — were center stage, about to sing a dynamic duet under a hot spotlight. The iconic event would change my view on the direction of the trans* movement, how I view the Kardashian family — a guilty pleasure turned complete obsession, especially with Kim K. — and how the public views a community they have little knowledge about. Waiting for the interview to start, I was clueless as to what was in store. I only knew the duration of the interview and sneak peeks I viewed online. While I was confident I knew Jenner’s announcement after viewing the illegal paparazzi shots published by the New York Daily News of Jenner in a dress, I refused to give into the stereotypes I made based on photographs. Jenner was the only reliable source. I did not think it was a public relations scheme to promote a new reality show, but I wondered how it could last two hours. What are we in store for — two hours of ignorance and the same pictures on rotation from the 1976 Summer Olympics? As the interview began and progressed, I was pleasantly surprised with Jenner’s well-informed, genuine responses and the educational presence of the interview. I appreciated the inclusion of newsworthy events from the past couple of years, interviews from other transgender figures and the visual approach the interview took in terms of explaining and comparing terminology. Here are the good and bad moments before, during and after the interview that I found the most interesting:Morning talk show host and personality Wendy Williams has made controversial comments about Jenner for years and received flack again the morning of the interview. Then on Monday, she repeated that Jenner was “deceptive and really fame hungry like the rest of the family.” Here is my take on this: Even if the interview was a publicity stunt (which I do not believe it was), it almost does not matter. It educated a record 17 million people Friday about gender and sexuality. For many viewers, it was their first time hearing specifics about the subject. Jenner’s documentary series — premiering on E! this summer — was not mentioned until the last half-hour of the interview, and according to E! Online, writers will consult with GLAAD, The Kinsey Institute and other Ph.Ds. This makes me think the docu-series will have the same educationally driven tone the interview attained. Diane Sawyer played the part of uninformed mainstream America perfectly as she struggled to grasp the difference between gender identity and sexuality, changing her wording but essentially bringing up the same theme multiple times and asking the same questions about gender identity versus sexuality throughout the interview. I thought it was quite comical in the moment, but in retrospect — if Sawyer was playing the part of “at-home-viewer” — it showed society’s inability to grasp nonbinary ideals and accept an individual’s state of unknowing. Jenner shades the Kardashians. Being the Kardashian fanatic I am, I was shocked to realize 30  minutes went by without even mentioning Kim K! Jenner proved critics wrong in a tasteful, informative program without typical Kardashian sensationalism and not many people on social media noticed the family’s absence — proving Jenner really did have the only real story all along. Gasp! *cries in corner* Kim K is still American royalty to me! Kim K is the most accepting? Khloe is having the hardest time?! Jenner explained that Khloe has experienced a lot of heartache with the loss of her father, Robert Kardashian Sr., at an early age and then alluded to her ex-husband Lamar Odom’s downward spiral toward the end of their marriage. Jenner says Kim, on the other hand, is the easiest to talk to about the transition. One of the lighter moments was when Jenner quoted Kim saying, “Girl, you got to rock it, baby. You got to look good! If you’re doing this, I’m helping you. You’re representing the family. You got to look really good.” Jenner’s four children from his first two marriages — Brandon and Brody, who we occasionally see on Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and Burt and Casey (Jenner has another daughter?! Literally, how did I not know this?) displayed unconditional love. It’s always special when former The Hills star Brody Jenner reappears on television, but his brother Brandon had me swooning as he and his man bun sat by Jenner’s side in full support. But where were Kendall and Kylie? When a big televised event is on, social media goes wild with Vines, Tumblr gifs and tweets making fun of highlights from the show. When I scanned social media during commercial breaks, I saw inconsiderate and transphobic content, of course, but positive responses outweighed the negative drastically according to my newsfeeds. Jenner clarified they are not a spokesperson for the transgender community, but mentioned daily struggles the community goes through. “The suicide rates, the murder rates, the difficulty for especially black female women” were issues Jenner shed light on. One of my only complaints is Jenner answering Sawyer’s questions about their political views. We learned from the interview that everyone deserves to live an honest, authentic life. Individuals are entitled to support the political party of their choice. It just bothered me that someone in a newfound position of power to be a role model, which they are and will continue to be, would publically associate with a traditionally anti-queer political party. Jenner lost some clout and credibility I gave them — after an emotional, informative interview — when they said they thought Republicans Mitch McConnell and John Boehner would be receptive to a conversation about trans* rights… Newsweek reached out to both individuals. No comment. Shocker. Jenner’s mom got me choked up again at the end. Eighty-eight-year-old Esther Jenner, who was described as “rather conservative,” sent in a video message from her home to tell Jenner how proud she was. “I was very proud of you when you stood on that podium in Montreal,” she said. “I never thought that I could be more proud of you, but I’m learning I can be.” *chills* After an iconic, progressive and informative two hours spent challenging gender roles and learning about gender identity, Diane Sawyer feels the need to close on a sexist joke made by the Soviet athlete Jenner defeated at the Olympics. He asks, “How could I have lost to a woman?” Really? “I’m saying goodbye to people’s perception of me,” said Jenner. “I’m not saying goodbye to me because this has always been me.” Enough said. Respect. But Jenner was not the only one making national headlines that day. Cincinnati received coverage, but not for anything noteworthy. Senate, a gastropub in OTR that occasionally picks a celebrity or current event as inspiration to name and create the Dog of the Day, featured the “Bruce Jenner 2.0” Friday. The dish, described as “part hot dog part taco,” had a beef frank sliced in half and filled with taco toppings. After experiencing outrage on social media, Senate issued an apology and donated the proceeds to The Heartland Trans Wellness Fund. This whole situation is wrong for multiple reasons. In 2014, transgender folks received an unprecedented amount of media attention. Actress Laverne Cox, model Carmen Carrera and author Janet Mock reestablished how reporters and talk show hosts speak to trans* individuals by speaking out when they felt uncomfortable or triggered in interviews and making it an on-air educational opportunity. One of the main themes in these interviews was America’s fascination with transgender genitalia instead creating conversation about the trans* suicide rate or homeless queer youth. The bottom line was that trans* public figures wanted to be valued for more than what is in their pants. Sexual reassignment surgery is typically the final stage of the transformation, but not required or done by everyone. It is a monumental and hyper-personal moment for individuals that continue on in that journey. The “Bruce Jenner 2.0” was a symbol of how privileged individuals and businesses appropriate minority groups, even for just one day of media buzz, and increased revenue. Senate’s actions were regressive to the strides Cox and others made in regards to how we speak to trans* people. The Jenner interview was unprecedented and a major success for trans* visibility, but it does not change the suicide rate or the fact that seven trans* women of color were murdered the first eight weeks of 2015. Visibility in the media and educating the masses is crucial to the movement, but it must translate to policies and how mainstream society treats transgender people. Jenner is not the first to show public displays of bravery. As the trans* rights movement continues on and we meet new faces, let us not forget the historical events like the Stonewall riots and the unspoken queer heroes that paved the way for Jenner to come out and educate the nation on primetime television. Growing up, you always hear that eyes are windows to the soul. If that is true, why is it the last place we truly look? Why is it so romantic and out of the ordinary when you are on a date and the other person describes your eyes in great detail, as opposed to generalizations like, “You’re beautiful,” and “You look so hot in that”? During Jenner interview, I saw it all in their eyes — the pain, the relief, “her”. I saw it again as they replayed scenes from Keeping Up with the Kardashians. When now-ex-wife Kris made fun of Jenner’s clothing and style, what I perceived as annoyance when I watched the episode years ago I now perceived as hurt and pain in Jenner’s eyes. In the flashback scene of Khloe referring to Jenner as a strong male presence in her life, Jenner looks deep in thought and distant. Context changes a viewer’s perception, and we need to start paying attention. Reflecting back on Kylie’s Instagram photo of a young Jenner, I realized that I had to get past the short jean shorts and cut-off tee to truly see the photograph. You never really know someone’s life or the journeys they are on. Here was the model “masculine figure,” but inside Jenner was filled with emotions and feelings most people cannot begin to understand. Like society’s fascination with what transgender folks have below the waist, we could not see that Jenner had a lot more depth to him that we presumed. Jenner’s closing advice for people was to “have an open mind and have an open heart.” This ideology can be translated to different aspects of our life and the relationships with others, especially those we do not know. Together we are all connected, making up collective humanity. We are one. Watch the full interview with Jenner and Diane Sawyer here.
 
 
by David Watkins 02.09.2015 101 days ago
at 04:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Queer City Spotlight: Queen City Queer Theatre Collective

Local LGBTQ news and views

As Louisville and Columbus receive more national recognition for a growing queer community, especially when it comes to nightlife, it made me think: Where is Cincinnati’s place in all of this? What burgeoning queer organizations or popular queer spots in town are making their mark and promoting education, change and the values that make up the queer movement? First on my list is Queen City Queer Theatre Collective. Conceived by actor and director combo Linnea Bond and Lindsey Augusta Mercer, this uprising theater company presents play readings that speak to the queer experience. The goal: Create conversation, challenge social norms and ideals, and enjoy moving plays in a relaxed environment. With assistance from Below Zero owner Nigel Cotterill and sponsor Absolut Vodka, the group of artists performs readings once a month for free at Below Zero’s Cabaret Lounge. I caught up with Bond to learn more about QCQTC and why it is important to Cincinnati. CityBeat: What inspired you to start QCQTC? Linnea Bond: I wanted to, first, work more. I’m an actor, and I wanted to do more work. And I wanted to do more work that mattered to me. I saw a hole in Cincinnati. Cincinnati kind of fell behind, but there’s also a lot of people who are interested in talking about their experience and there’s a lot of people experiencing life as a queer person who don’t have that kind of outlet to talk about it and are not seeing their stories onstage. And as a queer person myself, it was a part of my life that I didn’t get to experience that much before. I grew up Evangelical and pretty much as an adult came to terms with the fact that I was allowed to explore that part of myself. So it was something I’d been thinking about — how to explore parts of art that I wanted to address, and also be working more. So I decided to start this group and I found a space — I talked to Nigel. A friend of mine from high school helped me make that connection, and I knew that her finance was a director. I’d seen some of her work and I sought her out and talked to her about maybe being a consistent director and working on this project. And she was really excited about it, so she came on and we moved forward together as co-founders and got other people involved. I got together a cast for the first show — of people who were really excited to do this — and we moved forward from there. It’s just really evolved. The community has really come out to support us, and it’s been a really exciting and rewarding process. CB: What was is it like working with Below Zero Cabaret Lounge owner Nigel Cotterill? LB: Nigel actually was so excited about the first reading. He really wanted to support us and I was putting forth money on my own for the rights of the first show. He volunteered to take care of those for us, which was fantastic. And he offered to broker that relationship with Absolut Vodka, so now they sponsor us for rights for every show. That is something we are also so grateful for. And we’re grateful for [Nigel] to be extending that space to us, and it’s been a really positive relationship for the bar, I think, so it’s just wonderful overall. His bar is a huge cornerstone for queer culture in Cincinnati. It’s a place where not only queer people feel comfortable, but I know a lot of not queer people who go there and love the culture and experience. I think it is a really wonderful, inviting, nonjudgmental, celebratory place. I think that it’s really cool that we get to partner with him in that space. CB: What is your view on the queer movement in Cincinnati? Why are organizations like yours important to the city and queer community? LB: From my perspective as an artist, I think that art and artists are the soul of a society. I think that if we aren’t doing things, society will often close up and become cold towards whatever we are not talking about. Especially in Cincinnati, where there is a thriving queer culture, that there still is not legalized gay marriage. There are certain parts of town I’ve worked in before where I’ve received closed-mindedness toward queer rights and the queer experience. I think there are a lot of forward-minded people and there’s a lot of backward-minded people. So we are really hoping to encourage that discussion and make it a normal thing for us to be talking about. My hope in the future is that — as we’ve seen lots of supporters come out [to support], lots of activists, lots of people who share our experience — I hope that it extends to people who might not be comfortable with that conversation. I hope they feel welcome to come experience our art, and gain something they have not experienced before. That is why [QCQTC] thinks [performances] should be free. We want to be accessible to everyone, no matter what their financial background is. CB: What can an audience member expect when attending a reading? LB: We were wondering how it was going to be perceived because people are used to a full presentation. We knew people would like it, but we were surprised at how much people like having that different format. We do it very efficiently, very quickly. We put that show up; so we only have a couple of rehearsals. It is also up to our director, Lindsey, on how it is going to be staged. There is sometimes movement on and off stage. Sometimes there’s a little movement and staging in it. But ultimately, we want to focus on the text and communicating that text and those relationships as well as we can. CB: Your website explains that QCTQC brings “free public theatre to Cincinnati’s queer bar scene, giving locals the chance to celebrate the queer experience in art while enjoying drinks and downtown nightlife.” But what are your goals for the future? Do you ever plan on expanding to an actual theater space or a larger venue? LB: Anything is possible at this point. We love our relationship with Nigel, so we appreciate the space and want to maintain that. But we have thought about possible partnerships with churches. GLSEN is an organization we also respect. We want places that are available to youth. We are very limited by the fact that people who are under 21 cannot come to our performances because it is a bar. We are hopeful for increasing accessibility in the future. We don’t know what that is going to look like, but that is something we think about. How can we expand? How can we reach more people? CB: What is your process when choosing from a plethora of queer plays and literature? LB: Some of it has to do with logistical constraints — you know how big the cast is, that stuff. We really want to do trans* shows, but we’re really sensitive to the fact that we don’t want to put a cis[gender] actor in the position of playing a trans* character. That is something we have to think about in terms of casting in the best way we can. We hope for that in the future, but it is wherever our heart leads. We have plenty of time. We’re in a sustainable position, so if something moves us — that we can’t do right now — we can perform it later. The first play that we did — The Beebo Brinker Chronicles is one I found over the summer — moved me so much because it shows so many different perspectives, especially the queer experience from the woman’s perspective. Additionally — and some people might disagree with me on this — I think that it is an early example of someone who wants to change their gender in a society that doesn’t have that dialogue. CB: The past decade has provided entertainment through television programing like The L Word and Orange is the New Black that gives the queer woman’s perspective as you mentioned. Now TV shows like Transparent and RuPaul’s Drag Race have entered the mainstream, sparking a conversation about gender identity and gender roles in society. This has not always been the case. Still, today, the entertainment industry continues to glamorize the cisgender white male experience. Do these pop cultural themes or the role of cisgender white males in society contribute to the plays you choose to perform? LB: We think of ourselves foremost as educators, but we think of ourselves, also, as artists telling good stories that are moving. I, personally, would like to do more shows that are about the intersectionality between the oppressive queer experience and other experiences of oppression. CB: In high school I read Angels in America by Tony Kushner and it changed the way I see the world, myself as a queer individual and the queer movement. What was the first queer play you read that inspired you to connect your art and activism? LB: That’s a great question! There was certainly stuff before this, but my mind first goes to reading The Beebo Brinker Chronicles last summer. I was able to come across a play that had characters I could really connect to — people who didn’t think they were allowed to feel the attraction that they felt. CB: How can one get involved or audition for QCTQC? Is it only 21 and older? LB: We’re working on it. We don’t have answers yet, but we know there is that energy and we’re really trying to find ways to serve it. The best way is to get in contact with us through our email, which is queencityqtc@gmail.com. We started this through a grassroots energy effort and if people have that excitement to join, we absolutely want to meet that energy. We feel so grateful to the people who have supported us, who have been moved by what we are doing. I feel so grateful. Queen City Queer Theatre Collective presents a reading of The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me by David Drake tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Below Zero Cabaret Lounge. 1122 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, 45202.
 
 

Talking Pride

Local LGBTQ advocates discuss Cincinnati's dramatic progress, and how we can become even more inclusive

0 Comments · Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Cincinnati not so long ago felt mired in the negative perception still lingering after Mapplethorpe, Article XII and the 2001 race riots. The good news is that things appear to be changing.   

Faces of Pride

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 26, 2013
To get a glimpse inside the lives of the people of Pride in the Queen City, we’ve collected personal interviews with prominent members of city’s LGBTQ community to discuss what it’s like to be gay in Cincinnati today and what they’re doing to make this city a more open place.  

Michele Hobbs and Amanda Broughton

Publicly challenging the issue of custodial rights for homosexual couples

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 26, 2013
 Michele Hobbs and Amanda Broughton have been together for almost five years, married for two, and during this time they’ve accomplished everything they set out to do as a couple.   

JAC Stringer

Creating a community for trans* and queer people to connect and express themselves

1 Comment · Wednesday, June 26, 2013
JAC Stringer’s path to becoming your average fuchsia-haired twentysomething living, working and playing in Cincinnati has probably been a little bit different than yours. And that’s OK.    

Cortnie Owens

Breaking down gender and body image walls by publicly discussing her experience as a gay, body-positive woman living in Cincinnati

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Cortnie Owens has come pretty far from her rural East Side upbringing. After choosing to remain closeted about her sexuality during her high school years, Owens escaped the countryside to pursue a lifestyle decidedly more urban.   

Rich Sherman

Connecting LGBTQ and allied businesses with the broader community through a visible local reference publication

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 26, 2013
 Rich Sherman is one of the founders of CNKY Scene (cnkyscene.com), a monthly magazine highlighting LGBTQ entertainment, nightlife, businesses and the allied community in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.   

Chris Seelbach

Forwarding acceptance and inclusion through legislative action

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Like many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, City Councilman Chris Seelbach and his partner Craig Schultz have a skeptical sense of optimism about the city’s changing attitudes.  

Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival in Seventh Heaven

0 Comments · Wednesday, September 26, 2012
This year’s seventh annual Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival lineup definitely addresses a new honest reality, this striving for a sense of urgent authenticity, both through the films and the celebratory events.  

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