What’s a Family?
By Jaime Grant, Contributing Editor, Genders and Sexualities
As recently as a generation ago, conventional wisdom held that LGBTQ people had no family. The story told was this: cast out of our families of origin, social pariahs “incapable” of creating our own families, LGBTQ people led lonely, singular, queer lives.
The truth is that despite powerful obstacles and a modern movement for LGBTQ liberation that is only 50 years old, LGBTQ people have always formed families – working against institutions and attitudes that often prompted their more traditional families to deny them; creating new families out of extended kinship networks of friends, lovers and life-long beloveds; and finally, for some, choosing to parent in creative and multi-faceted ways against myriad social, legal and medical prohibitions.
Once a barely visible “wing” in the LGBTQ movement, the struggle to secure the rights of LGBTQ families has grown into a vibrant part of the larger LGBTQ movement. In 1979, a group of gay fathers came together to form what became the first national LGBTQ parents’ organization; at the same time, the first LGBTQ families programs were emerging at larger city-based community centers. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force founded its families program in the early ‘90s, launching a census education campaign to record same-sex partnerships and creating seminal coalitions with organizations like the Children’s Defense Fund and the National Association of Social Workers.
In November of 2008, I had the privilege of organizing a gathering of LGBTQ activists involved in organizing for family policy and services within the LGBTQ movement. Continue reading →
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Freedom through Exile: The Unfolding Stories of Cambodian Son
By Shayna Plaut, Contributing Editor, Human Rights
Three years after a meeting in the bustling streets of Phnom Phen when the co-founders of Studio Revolt, Masahiro Sugano and Anida Yoeu Ali, first “experienced” Kosal Khiev’s poetry, a documentary about his life is coming to the big screens throughout America – a country Kosal calls home but is barred from returning. Khiev was born in a refugee camp in Thailand after his family had escaped from the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. At the age of one he began his new life, resettled in Southern California growing up eating fried chicken and enjoying pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. As a teenager Khiev got involved in street life and when he was 15 years old he was charged with attempted murder and tried and convicted as an adult. Khiev served 16 years in prison, including solitary confinement. Through a prison writing program he found his voice and power, and spoken word poetry became his means of redemption.
After serving his sentence, when he was thirty-two years old, Khiev was released from prison and deported to the Kingdom of Cambodia: a country he had never known. He became one of the thousands of people who, after doing their time, were exiled from America. And this is where the worlds of Studio Revolt and Kosal Khiev came together. Khiev became an artist in residence with Studio Revolt offering his time and talent in return for their mentorship and management in the world of art. Although Sugano identifies as an experimental filmmaker who had never previously considered documentary, he “decided to take on the responsibility to do it.” Continue reading →
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#CancelColbert and the Politics of Being Dismissed
By Kenzo Shibata
Last Thursday, I came across this tweet from the official account of the Comedy Central show The Colbert Report.
It was not something that normally would have entered my radar since I don’t follow the show. Frankly, I lost interest after its first season. We get it. He’s a fake pundit. His shtick is that he acts slightly more ridiculous than right-wing Fox News talking heads, which makes for passable segment fodder, but I don’t have the patience for 22 minutes of ironic racism, sexism, and classism. This is on the network that put Daniel Tosh’s punch-down-and-laugh-at-rape brand of humor as a nightly delight and made famous comic, Anthony Jeselnik, whose show The Jeselnik Offensive exists solely to give a national platform to racist, sexist, and classist jokes. With a line-up like this, sometimes it’s hard to tell where the winks-and-nods exist.
Initially, I wasn’t all that offended by the fact that Colbert told a racist joke. I was offended by the fact the tweet was a racist, UNFUNNY, CHEAP joke.This was the kind of joke that 5-year-olds would tell to bully me when I was in grammar school. Upon watching the full sketch, I failed to see any kind of high satire from it. The construction of the joke was indeed satirical, but sometimes it’s hard to tell when someone is laughing at you or with you when the punch line is basically the same punch line of an actual racist’s joke..Regardless of how someone whose never been slurred ethnically may feel, the difference between ironic racism and racism is a liberal arts degree. Continue reading →
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