Showing posts with label gay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gay. Show all posts

11.10.22

National Coming Out Day is October 11th: Here's is How One Teacher in Queens Talks About Coming Out as Both a Personal Journey and in Their Role as a Teacher

For National Coming Out Day, Tuesday, October 11, 2022, the LGBT Network sent me a box of pride rainbow and trans ribbons to distribute to students in my school to support "coming out" against violence, discrimination, and abuse against members of our community. Here's more tea: 
Wearing Blue Greig Relaxes Somewhere in South Louisiana Circa 2010

The LGBT Network distributed ribbons to schools to celebrate National Coming Out Day on Tuesday, October 11, 2022.
Coming out as a Teacher
I came out as a teacher in 2017. I remember the moment — it was on a school trip to Nantucket. On a whim, a group of kids, a few other teachers, and I went to an author talk: the novelist Benjamin Alire Sáenz, who wrote Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, was speaking at the Nantucket theater. Mr. Sáenz spoke about writing young adult fiction, a term, he said, didn't apply to him, but apparently, young adults find his novels appealing. I asked a question about coming out, and I said, "As a gay kid growing up, we did not have representation of gay, lesbian, or trans youth, and I told him how grateful I was for this generation that is changing.

Since then, I have been out as a teacher. I have helped start a GSA club at my school, and I included Sáenz's book in the English Langauge Arts curriculum for our teachers. I even created an elective course, "History Comes Out," where we explored biographies of queer figures in history and pop culture. 

Not that I was in the closet, necessarily, before that time, in Nantucket, but I feel like I kept my sexuality to myself and did not talk about it in the classroom, sticking mainly to the role of "single, guy, teacher vibes." I was out to my close circle of co-workers and family, but I bifurcated who I was from my role as a teacher.

Now, the fact that I am a gay male in New York City is not a huge deal. We are legion. But, the number one reason I am vocal about my sexual orientation and gender expression is that I want to normalize the experience for kids who might need or want a different kind of adult. I feel like, sometimes, I have to conform to some heteronormative script that I have concocted in my head. And it has taken a while; I am still learning that I can just be myself.

Growing Up Gay
I grew up as a gay boy in South Louisiana in the 1990s. It was like going to a crawfish boil and telling everyone you don’t eat seafood. They’d look at you like you just grew two heads. 

Now — as an adult — I’m out and proud. So shut your face if you don’t like it. Just kidding! Kinda.

National Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day. Thank you, @lgbtnetwork and @nycschools, for supporting my school @gardenschoolnyc and @gardenstudents with LGBTQ+ ribbons. The kids who participated love love loved it. 

Here are details from the day: 
A twelve-year-old girl came to me with a drawing she had made on her art 🖼️ app of me as a woman. She was so proud to show me. It made me appreciate my feminine side. A boy talked to me about transphobia and discussed strategies to combat it. And @bats4k gave a heartfelt speech at our school's weekly morning meeting. At dismissal, one of my students was sure to say, “I wore my ribbon all day!”

I am one proud teacher, gay man, gender-affirming, inclusivity-loving individual. Sprinkles!


#gaypride #gayteachersofinstagram #gay #schools #nationalcomingoutday #queer #trans #kids #lgbtqia

20.8.22

Sprinkles! We Did That!: Amira and Greig's First High School English Teacher Duo Podcast (Now on Soundcloud)

In this post, Greig, and Amira, both high school English teachers, share, talk, and laugh in their first-ever inaugural podcast, "Sprinkles! We Did That!"

I repost the first (and probably last) podcast of Amira and Greig's show Sprinkles! We Did That! We talk about teaching, funny moments in the classroom, starting a Gay-Straight Alliance at our school, our favorite words to describe each other, how we became friends, Dolly Parton, improbable events, and gayness!


Please listen and give a shout-out! Share, too.

4.8.19

Coming Out Stories: Inspired By a Quotation From the Documentary Paris is Burning, I Write about Growing Up Gay in Louisiana

Paris is Burning © 1990 - a documentary about the gay ballroom scene in New York City.

N.B. This post is about growing up gay; and as such, it deals with content that some may find offensive. I know there is a lot of heat about the Tayler Swift Song "You Need to Calm Down" - but I will say to my possible haters: "You are somebody that I don't know / But you're taking shots at me like its Patron." And I don't even drink Patron!

     I am a slow learner. Growing up gay in South Louisiana in the early 1990s I had no idea there was a subculture just for me. I could have had a family. I could have been like the fem boys and the drag sisters and mothers of the street. I could have jumped on the Greyhound bus in Mandeville, Louisiana and landed as a street kid in New York City. However, as a twelve-year-old kid who had a semblance of his own gayness, I did not come out to my friends as gay until I was seventeen years old (which is an entirely different story) - and I was not out to any of my family members until way later in life (when I was in my 20s and 30s). I remember my mom asked me when I was about sixteen if I were gay and I flat-out said: "No, Mom." I did not have to think about it. I was not ready to go down that road. I think I had a deep sense of secrecy because I had internalized that my gayness was not something to share. It was a part of me but it was not something I wanted other people to know. And as the kids in Jennie Livingston's documentary Paris is Burning attest to - coming out as gay was not a safe option - even for the ballroom kids. In fact, it was the rejection of their gayness that led the ballroom kids to ascend on New York City's underground club scene in the first place where they ineluctably formed their own version of families (called "houses").
     I recently watched the documentary (which I am ashamed to say was my first viewing). I had only seen clips on Youtube and had listened to Ru Paul Charles preach about the film on her cable TV reality show Ru Paul's Drag Race  - which has gathered a lot of its aesthetic and jolt from the ballroom culture. Ru Paul rightfully references the show on her show - and I think she sees it as "a peering into" the world of drag culture that perhaps not many people are privy to. I could have used the truth of Paris is Burning growing up. I am sure my story is not unique. Growing up in the suburbs - which the filmmaker Xavier Dolan once said was "the place where dreams and ambitions go to die" - I wanted something more than "this provincial life." Thank you, Belle. Little did you know that as a gay kid Disney's animated bibliophilic French country girl was my hero. When you are gay - and you do not have a lot of representation in movies and on television - you go and find it; you make it; you see it in the subtext - which is probably why gay folk are really good at reading between the lines (and why some of us have made a name for ourselves in literary theory). Looking back on it I was crafty as a kid. I consumed gay identity - but I did it covertly and I was careful about learning how to be gay. I think I failed because when I went to my twenty-year high school reunion no one was surprised; I realize now that the superlative I received in the yearbook for "most friendly" was actually a substitute for "most gay." In the 90s there were emerging examples of gay representation but you had to look for it. I did buy a copy of XY magazine at the newsstand (I had to go in the back and look behind the Playgirls; but I found it - and I was internally satisfied by the magazine's outright celebration of gay male beauty. As a way of marking my gay desire, I did cut out my favorite pin-ups and pasted them in my notebook (that is a true story). I also hunted the shelves of the local public library for gay-themed books. I stumbled upon a copy of Gore Vidal's The City and the Pillar and read its frank discussion of surreptitious male desire and came to understand that homosexual desire was not only universal (not just tacked on to my identity) but something that existed and has existed for a long time and in different civilizations and dispensations.
    I say I am a slow learner because I have accumulated gay culture in drips and drabs. In 1996 I discovered the musical Rent - and I listened to it with my friend Jonathan like a billion times - along with tracks from Tori Amos's album Under the Pink and Crash Test Dummies. As a teenager, I was a theater kid. Being involved in community and school theater helped me to form my first sense of belonging. It was the closest I got to the ballroom scene as a kid. Not to say I was out in the small theater world I participated in (nor were any of my friends). We were the kids who did not do sports, were not especially interested in academic accolades, and we just wanted a space to hang out, to be on stage, to work together and to put on plays. My closest friends were straight boys and girls; and very rarely did sexuality ever come up in conversation; I never had a gay friend or lover in high school, and, as an adult, I was surprised when someone I knew in high school had come out as gay as an adult. Austin, for example, was a shy kid in my Seventh Grade American history class; his father was the vice principal of the school; he made excellent grades and he was intelligent and well-spoken; however, I don't think we ever socialized. Ever. Why didn't we connect as kids? Being gay is not an immediate reason to become besties, apparently. I had heard on Facebook that he had come out in college and he was, according to a mutual friend, very gay.

4.3.18

Book Review: Absolute Brightness by James Lecesne

Absolute Brightness is a young adult novel.  
Absolute Brightness
by James Lecesne


Paperback, 352 pages

Published May 31st, 2016 by Feiwel & Friend
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I am reviewing the gay YA novel, Absolute Brightness by James Lecesne.

The Amazing Life of Leonard Pelkey
In the late 90s, James Lecesne raised awareness about gay teen suicide. He wrote a novella that was adapted into a short film about a precocious boy who feels rejected by his family and attempts suicide - only to be rattled back to his senses by a cute candy striper at the hospital. This was back in 1998. Trevor lives. Almost as a counterpoint, in Absolute Brightness (2016),* James Lecesne tells the story of a teenager, Leonard Pelkey, who is murdered in Neptune, New Jersey. 

Leonard is characterized as a nice, talkative fourteen-year-old boy. When he first arrives at his aunt's house - to move in - he is met with derision by his cousin, Phoebe, who is also the narrator of the story. Leonard seems oblivious to the fact that Phoebe does not take to lightly to his fashion decisions - pink and lime-green capri pants and a "too small T-shirt." However, for Phoebe, Leonard was "way too different." And it is this aversion to difference that Lecesne grapples with in this book.


Leonard has all the Packaging of a Gay Stereotype
While he is never outright labeled as gay, Leonard carries all the packaging of the gay male effeminate stereotype. He is characterized, in the novel, like Dorothy - "more the type to be heading toward a place like Oz, as in The Wizard of." He never gets there. And the novel turns directions.

2.6.11

Guest Blogger: Pensacola Palette 2011


Summer Sunbathers at Pensacola Beach in Florida
Now that summer is upon us, Americans hit the beaches en masse. To commemorate the start of summer, allow me to publish this piece I received from an anonymous blogger in Pensacola, Florida:

The True Colors of Freedom
I find it interesting that once people held true to the claim that at the end of the horizon the world just dropped off. Worldly travel and exploration was stifled from fear of falling off, losing everything. Fear of falling and failing in life is the deadliest and at the same time most universal of all fears. When people face their fears, the world is a more free place to live. I don’t mean freedom in the “free for all” sense; I’m talking about the freedom that brings about peace, the kind that tears away at discrimination and prejudgment. 

I experienced true freedom this weekend. A group of friends and I took a trip to Pensacola for the Memorial Day weekend. We were among thousands of others who set up tents along the beach. Some spaces were more elaborate than others. One site even had a professional DJ, with disco balls and all. We had a nice canopy tent and some chairs. In the American sense, we were middle class. Our arrangement was nothing elaborate but we had everything we would ever need or want: salmon and turkey sandwiches, vodka and lemonade,  beer, and towels. We decorated the side of our tent with groovy flags with an image of Louisiana, our home state. Now that I think about it, everyone had a flag of some sort posted at their site. 

Two of our girlfriends embraced freedom by putting beach friendly pasties on their breasts and were topless while on the beach. They said they would have never done that if everyone around them was straight. Not only was it Memorial Day; it was Gay Pride. They were a hit--everyone loved them. Passersby's asked if they could take pictures of them. Our friends agreed as long as their faces wouldn’t be in the pictures. Everyone was free. When people are truly free, they can truly trust. Isn’t that what Memorial Day is all about? 
Like the freedom of the early teen girl standing next to the anti-gay protesters who were shouting in front of one of the bars. The protesters reminded me of the demon figures at Mardi Gras. The girl next to these protesters reminded me of the little girl on Little Miss Sunshine. In the middle of men holding banners with scriptures on them and forcing patrons to read their tracks, this girl gently made her peaceful voice heard: “We love you, gays. Be free to be you...” She was with an adult who was holding a rainbow flag. Maybe it was her uncle, a friend or a parent. She spoke with gentleness and love that only comes from a free spot in one’s heart. 

Our second night out was spent at Patty’s Irish Pub. We played darts: only $2 for 2 hours. We drank beer and ate pizza. At around 10 PM, the bartender made a courteous announcement not to play any jukebox songs because karaoke was about to commence. The karaoke singers were awesome--so much so, we did not want to ruin their night by trying to sing "Bad Romance" by Lady GaGa. We heard songs like “Brown Eyed Girl” and “I Love This Bar”. Our first night and our second nights out had something in common – diversity. I love the country I live in because of the people. For the most part people in America embrace true freedom, not at the cost of others but out of a sense of love of self, sister, and brother. This is what I remember on Memorial Day – thank you for all of us who stand for the true colors of freedom.

Thank you to an anonymous guest blogger for letting me post this piece.

© 2011 Stones of Erasmus

28.11.10

Gay Rights and Teen Suicide: A Polemic

Why Tyler Clementi’s Death is a Hate Crime
Tyler Clementi, a gay college student, committed suicide
                  by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
In 2010 gay men and women enjoy more acceptance in the United States than they did fifty years ago. Being gay has entered the social vocabulary, more so in urban areas than in rural parts of the country, but for the most part, gay rights have reached a middle ground in America. Gay people are not rallying in the streets with the same intensity as their older gay counterparts did. The LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Questioning) community has successfully mainstreamed itself into secular society. So, the question remains, why does hate continue to exist? Has Gay Rights really won? Even though a gay man or woman can more or less exist in America as an openly gay person, everyone in America does not entertain a copacetic harmony with the integration of the Rainbow flag with the American flag. The sobering statistic is not even Gay Rights can ameliorate hate completely.
The Case of Tyler Clementi
According to the Massachusetts Youth Risk Survey, lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. Why is that? What makes being gay harder to deal with, then say, being too tall or too short, or too wide or too shy? What makes “being gay” a driving force for a young person to end their own life? Hearing the story of Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University student who jumped off the George Washington Bridge because his roommate broadcast a video of him kissing another guy, my first reaction is to think homophobia kills gay kids. Hate kills. Tyler’s death was driven by the same hatred that killed Matthew Sheppard. I say hatred because hatred is the only human emotion that I know of that actively and forcefully seeks to expel another person outside of the human circle. Tyler Clementi’s death is a hate crime because he was punished for being openly gay in the internal forum. If this is the case, then, Gay Rights has still far more reaching activism to spread.
An objection can be made, of course, that Dharun Ravi (with the help of Molly Wei) was not driven by hate when he chose to broadcast to the world his room mate’s private life to the world. People who use this argument miss the point. The intention of the perpetrators, in this case, does not wipe away what happened. Only a deep-seated feeling of hatred drives a person to end his own life out of shame. Tyler Clementi’s wall post on Facebook captures his shame: “"jumping off the gw bridge, sorry." The statement feels like a self-indictment and an apology for his own actions. The question of whether it is legitimate shame or not is a moot point. It is the same argument the bully uses. “I did not mean it.” Does it matter if the bully means what he says if the person bullied is obviously affected? If not, then these cases would be called mere pranks or pallor games. Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei’s action go beyond bullying because the actions extend beyond face-to-face harassment and into the broader social sphere.


10.6.10

Poem + Image: "Lane"


girls in a gay bar
hold his hand
on the dance floor













image credit: detail of Rembrandt's painting, The Jewish Bride snapped by koe2moe


PDF Copy for Printing

1.6.10

Alfred E. Neuman and the Upstairs Lounge

This photograph (above) was taken in New Orleans at the Contemporary Arts Center Prospect.1 exhibit, "Remember the Upstairs Lounge" by artist Skylar Feins. The piece is an artifact from a gay night club, the Upstairs Lounge. The club was deliberately burned down in June of 1973. 32 people died. The exhibit memorialized the people who perished in the flames and also showcased memorabilia from the club.

Including this piece:
The exhibit is no longer showcased but if you want a good review, read the Times-Picayune op-ed piece.

1.1.10

Poem: Four Loves

The shrink’s nose told me to read The Four Loves
so i did

i read the whole book in two sittings,
even the bibliography,

well,
sorta −

and pondered the book’s message,
you know,

how there are four loves,
according to the greeks,

those sexy helens

and

like how i used to love diecast cars and bowling
and now i mainly instant message.

how i used to love you in some other symbol,

how i used to gaze on you and blush.

how you ran away and closed the book.

how i came to sit and read

wonderin’ where it all went,

me,

stitching together a story

10.8.09

Movie Review: Some Like It Queer


Some Like It Hot — Directed by Billy Wilder — Starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Joe E. Brown

    Some Like It Hot (1959) directed by Billy Wilder cleverly uses musical language to code for queer behavior. I will admit I had queer on my mind when Taryn called me and said, “Hey, Greig, they’re playing Some Like It Hot at the Prytania Theater.” I said to her, “I cannot wait for a gender-bender adventure!” The theater is a one-screen cinema that plays blockbusters at night and classics in the daytime. The house’s proprietor, Mr. Rene Brunet, a sweet, intelligent geriatric, bemused us with some benign trivia about the film. When he talked about Marilyn Monroe I wanted to quote Roger Ebert, who said of the star: she’s "Poured into a dress that offers her breasts like jolly treats for needy boys.”
    But, after Mr. Brunet gave his spiel he motioned the camera guy — “Hey, Robert get those melodies rolling!” — and played “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” before the show started. Seated in a nearly full house, as if we were back in 1959, Bugs Bunny gave his last grin and the feature began.
    The black and white film is covert homosexuality created under a suspicious McCarthy era period posing as a comedy of errors murder mob mystery — the cross-dressing so seamlessly dropped into the plot as to seem virtually harmless even to the most suburban, collected type. Seeing the film fifty years after it was made, it is easy to see the sex beneath the subtext. Almost every line is a double entendre if you can catch it quick enough. Daphne (Jack Lemon) proposes a cross-dressing scheme to Josephine (Cary Grant) to get them out of debt in circa 1920s Chicago. 
    The rest of the movie is all out drag. Let me just say this about the film: Daphne is queerer than Josephine. If you know the film you know what I mean. If you don’t know the film, then you are in for a treat and I won’t spoil the uproarious ending. Josephine resists until both are found by the mob as witnesses to a murder. Donning a wig and a dress, Josephine and Daphne take a train to Florida to join "Sweet Sue's Society Syncopaters."
    Ostensibly a pair of straight guys has to save their asses dressing up as women, retaining their straight status only by the extension of voluptuous Marilyn Monroe. Without her Daphne is a drag queen in love with a millionaire played expertly by Joe E. Brown and Josephine is a dominatrix queen with a penchant for saxophones.
    It is here we hear the film’s title, “some like it hot,” when Jack Lemon’s character refers to the women’s syncopated rhythm as “hot.” I cannot help but think the word hidden beneath the word is “queer.” Plain Jane straight people probably prefer un-syncopated tunes, but we queers like our beats syncopated! Some guys and girls like it different than other guys and girls: they like it hot, suggesting breaking musical boundaries is akin to crossing over into sexual taboos. 
    Geraldine warns Daphne not to sleep with Sugar, but in the end, it is Josephine wooing Sugar and Daphne running with the girls on the beach enjoying his womanhood. Cary Grant, with angular lines and a pair of succulent lips, is a more beautiful woman than Jack Lemmon’s less than beautiful ogee and awkward broad shoulders Marilyn Monroe seems to admire!
Some Like It Hot is an example of queering straight.

14.4.09

List: 31 signs your significant other don't love you no mo'


Unrequited love sucks.
  1. Jacking off in the study is his only crime of passion.
  1. You cheat on him and when he finds out he says, "I am so glad you've found someone special!"
  1. You begin to realize why your relationship began with an NSA agreement.
  1. The part of his body you know most intimately is the back of his head.
  1. "I'm hungry" is the extent of his emotional vocabulary.
  1. When you explain to the kids you're getting a divorce they ask with a straight face, "Wait, aren't you divorced already?"
  1. What you thought were text messages to you from him are actually ads from a 1-900 number.
  1. You realize one day you forgot what he looks like because he seldom looks at you.
  1. The only time he uses the word "moist" is during dessert.
  1. The only time you can cop a feel is when he's sleeping.
  1. The last time you slept together was during an emergency evacuation.
  1. The couple next door tends to wake you up on a Friday night.
  1. The emotional energy you share together is as dead as two corpses in a nursing home.
  1. It is one thing to forget your birthday or even an anniversary but last night he even forgot your name!
  1. Discovering his pornography stash, you realize none of the models even remotely look like you.
  1. The only way you can get him to relieve sexual tension is to say,"But, it's for health reasons!"
  1. Every time you want to have sex, he thinks you want a baby.
  1. Or: he thinks you are checking his prostate.
  1. The last time he said "fine," he was angry.
  1. He talks about you in the past tense.
  1. And he refers to you in the third person.
  1. You get more attention from the dog than him.
  1. When you go to grab his pole he reacts like you are his physician: "Is it that bad, doctor?"
  1. When you plan a romantic vacation he says, "Have fun with your friends!"
  1. He seldom gets your jokes.
  1. The last time you played around was on the first date.
  1. The only text message you've gotten recently did say, "I Love You" But it was quickly followed by, "Sorry, I meant to send this to my sister."!
  1. You desperately find ways to say goodbye so you can at least get a kiss.
  1. You come home with a hatchet in your head and he wonders if you got a haircut.
  1. The love letter you wrote to him is still unopened in the mailbox.

28.12.08

Report from Louisiana: Gay Friendly Libraries Are in Danger

A children's book that features two princes who marry
has garnered outrage in a local Louisiana library.
Gay books may be banned in local libraries in Louisiana and the State Congress agrees.
***
Or why gay-themed books in libraries are in danger...
In Slidell, Louisiana, a patron complained that the Saint Tammany Parish Library should not make available gay-themed books to young people. You can read the story here.

Basically, a state representative is trying to write a bill banning public libraries in the state from having books with gay characters available to children and young people. In other words, a book cannot have two prince charmings in love with each other. Similar to this was a movement made by concerned citizens that Fontainebleau High School, also in Louisiana, should not have a gay/straight alliance (Read here What the ACLU has to say).

20.7.07

Poetry: "For Tammy"

        with a sock puppet, dear, she carved out a few queers
        to love her —
            the most kind of women,
            to love us deviants

        she wiped away our tears with her touché kleenex —
           
            on television everyone is a performance
            the difference being only in the self-awareness

        appendix:
        this hero of a guy chris cries on a streaming video
        that the media needs to leave Chutney Shears alone! —
        or you’re going to have to deal with me —
        she’s not well right now —
       
            and we rouse up our spirits with equal fags
        who stand up for the underdogs, yup

        even pee-wee fucking herman,
        a champion of gay rights —
       
            his onanism in a girly porno theatre
    warmed the cockles of our leftist fag hearts