“Can We All Come Together?”

This week (in addition to other far less culturally sensitive holidays), National Coming Out Day is observed.


“Rainbow umbrella , Gay Pride 2007, Paris, France” photo © Olivier

Do you have an acquaintance who will occasionally say things like “I don’t have a problem with homosexuality, I just wish Teh Gheys weren’t, ya know, so… in my face about it“, presumably because they have mistaken your distraught Oh-God-I-Feel-So-Trapped-and-Small-Right-Now silence for tacit approval? Frightened into denying your sexuality or your gender identity when a gaggle of high school kids pull you into the bathroom to interrogate you? Tired of turning the other cheek when your church-bake-sale-organizing grandma makes decidedly unChristian comments about Chaz Bono during your dutiful seasonal phone calls back home?  Stung when someone rolls their eyes or accuses you of being hypersensitive after you voice disapproval of casual slurs? Tormented that you can’t be more forthcoming about your personal life at the office without it resulting in being ostracized from the unofficial-but-highly-influential social club that you know being a part of will ensure your career a more, well, straight-and-narrow ascending trajectory during these scary economic times? Heartbroken that your relatives require you to call your domestic partner your “roommate”, or to answer to an incorrect pronoun, when you’re around their Rotary Club friends?

Friggin’ sucks, doesn’t it?

No one should ever feel unduly pressured, strong-armed or bullied into coming out when they’re not ready, don’t feel like they have a safe environment in which to do so, or simply don’t wish to. But here’s a cheerful idea for everyone who’s feeling a bit stifled (whether out, closeted, or somewhere in-between): maybe, just maybe, today’s as great a day as any to randomly unleash some loving Kevin Aviance style glossolalia on the more backasswards, empathy-challenged weeniepoopers in our lives…

SRSLY. Even those of us who are not in a safe enough space to run our LGBTQA banner all the way up a social flagpole can observe today with more subtle gestures of acceptance, and honesty. Let us each consider bringing some bright “Din Da Da” DaDaism into the world!

Can’t say “I’m gay”? Say “DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN BRAAAAP. DOOKUH BRRAAP.” Can’t say “I’m bi”? Cry “BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM. BOW. BOW.” Trans and can’t say “c’est moi”? Just say “MMMWAH” and plant a big, warm, hella non-”heteronormative” smooch on those sourpusses, then walk away. Think about it: even if they have no idea what the heck just transpired, it’ll probably the most exciting thing to happen to them in ages! Maybe they’ll get the message. Maybe they’ll recalibrate a few things. Even if they don’t, chances are that a spontaneous “RRREEE BOBBA BREEEE BUUPPAH” tinged outburst of voguing will, at the very least, lighten the mood.

“Can we all come together?” Can we all come out, free of fear? Coilhouse hopes YES. Maybe today’s not that day for all of us. But someday. Let’s continue working toward it. In the meantime, we can keep visions of super-out, super strong, super-gorgeous Kevin Aviance dancing in our heads in that florescent pink top hat.

And may today be full of friggin’ rainbows, damn it.

Deco Future: The Seductive Draftsmanship of George Stavrinos

George Stavrinos was a fashion illustrator who lived from 1948-1990. Not much is written about him on Wikipedia at the moment, but according to illustrator Thomas Heller Buchanan, “his softly modeled pencil drawings were a mainstay of Bergdorf Goodman and Barney’s fashion ads, though Stavrinos did not consider himself a fashion illustrator. He was an artist, photographer, commercial illustrator, and filmmaker.”

A graduate of RISD, Stravinos was known for his representational style and strong draftsmanship that “created an arresting new look that set the pace for his contemporaries and still continues to be an influence,” according to his bio in the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame. A huge fan of J. C. Leyendecker, Stavrinos crafted striking illustrations that mixed time periods and transcended the world of fashion. He died from pneumonia complications at the young age of 42.

Despite the bizarre scarcity of information available about  Stavrinos on the web, one unlikely source turned up to give a glimse into his life: this auction website. In describing a rare book of Stavrinos illustrations printed in Japan, a person who may have known Stavrinos writes:

When my dear friend George Stavrinos arrived in New York in November 1973, he had but five hundred dollars in his pocket and a portfolio of dreams tucked under his arm. At that time Fashion was the almost exclusive province of the photographic image. Fashion Illustration, which had once flourished under the magical touch of Lepape and Benito, or much later, under Gruau, had devolved into bland, linear sketches of half hearted ads.  … Into this vacuum enters Mr. Stavrinos whose illustrations for Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys New York, brought back a lushly representational style of Fine Art Illustration not seen since the days of Charles Dana Gibson, Howard Chandler Christy, J.C. Leyendecker and Antonio Lopez. The Stavrinos style was characterized by a great attention to detail, an exactness and a symmetry normally associated with classical works. His work revolutionized fashion illustration in much the same way that Bruce Weber, Herb Ritts & Scavullo revolutionized fashion photography. For while his work is highly representational, it’s imagery evokes those tender, tingling feelings of Romance & Longing. Memories of a time that never may have never existed, except in our imaginations.

In addition to his contributions to the fashion world, Stavrinos also has a place in the history of LGBT art. He created a smoldering cover for first edition of The Deformity Lover, a book of queer poems by Felice Picano, his illustrations ran in Christopher Street and Blueboy, two seminal gay magazines of the 1970s, and he may have contributed an uncredited cover for Paul Monette’s “Taking Care of Mrs. Carroll.” His most overtly homoerotic works, The Bather and Lifeguard, appear in the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art.

Previously on Coilhouse:

BTC: “Waking up to say…”

“…HEY GIRL!”

Yeah, admittedly, we’re a little late to the party re: this amazeballs Beauty and the Beast parody by Micah McCain. But it’s just too good NOT to post as a BTC, and surely, not all of you have experienced the spiffiness yet. Bonjour!

Tilda Swinton, The Woman Who Fell to Earth

This month, timeless alien beauty Tilda Swinton (the polyamorous, gender-defying star best known for starring as the hero/heroine of Orlando, based on the Virginia Woolf novel of the same name) appeared in a photo shoot for W Magazine by Tim Walker inspired by David Bowie’s The Man Who Fell to Earth. In the interview accompanying the shoot, Swinton cites both Bowie and her father as figures who influenced her style. “They are individuals with whom I share the same planetary DNA,” she says. Of her father’s uniforms, Swinton says: “from childhood, I remember more about his black patent, gold livery, scarlet-striped legs, and medal ribbons than I do of my mother’s evening dresses. I would rather be handsome, as he is, for an hour than pretty for a week.”

This is not the first time that Tilda Swinton has appeared in a David Bowie-inspired shoot. Previously, she emulated Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie in a 2009 shoot with Craig McDean.

I don’t know if I’ll ever understand Tilda Swinton being a Roman Polanski apologist, but these photos sure are stunning.

Wooo! Historic Vote for Same-Sex Marriage in New York!

“We knew it was going to be a matter of when – not if,” said Robert Ostergaard, 44, of Chelsea. “That’s the arc of history.


Photo by James Keivom

Congratulations, New Yorkers! Tonight, we’re celebrating with you.

(California, you’re NEXT. Time to step up.)

“IT”: A Poem Confronting Trans-Hate

This is poet Kavindu “Kavi” Ade from Philly performing a spoken-word piece called “IT” at the Brave New Voices 2010.

The poem deals with gender identity and anti-trans hate (trigger warning!), and watching Ade perform is an intense, emotional experience.

Amazing line: “they wanna paint you the color of smashed hymens.” Holy shit.

[via DarkSKIN]

Something Old, Something New: The Vintage Lesbian Tumblr Blog

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue: the Vintage Lesbian Tumbr Blog.

“Vintage lesbians, affectionate women, Boston Marriages, lesbian innuendo, antique erotica, [and] women who may not be lesbians but we wish they were.” Something for everyone. Collette, Marlene, Bettie, Renée, Anna May. NSWF.

Chrissy Lee Polis: A Rally for Peace

For many of us who have been following the story of Chrissy Lee Polis, the 22-year-old transgender woman who was brutally attacked in a suburban McDonald’s near Baltimore ten days ago, it’s been a difficult week. Watching the story go viral provided a sobering look at the amount of phobia and ignorance that still surrounds many people’s concepts of both gender and race.

The attack occurred on April 18th, when Polis stopped at the restaurant to use the ladies’ room. Polis told the Baltimore Sun that she heard her assailants saying “that’s a dude, that’s a dude – and he’s in the female bathroom.” Immediately afterwards, she was beaten, dragged across the floor by her hair, and kicked by two teenagers as a McDonald’s employee recorded the attack on his camera phone and other workers stood by idly. The cell phone recording of the attack (TRIGGER WARNING: extremely violent) shows several employees gawking and laughing as the attack progresses. A sole employee makes an attempt to break up the fight, but retreats almost immediately. A grandmotherly woman attempts to come to Polis’ aid; a police report revealed that she was punched in the face by one of the assailants when she tried to intervene. After two minutes, Polis collapses into a seizure on the floor. The McDonald’s worker who is taping the scene warns the attackers that they need to flee because the police are coming.


A crowd rallies outside the McDonald’s where the crime took place

Coverage of the story on the web has been as painful to watch as the footage itself. It was awful to witness the first wave of discussion, which appeared almost exclusively on white supremacist blogs, with transphobia piling on top of racism as details about Polis’ identity emerged. It was painful to watch mainstream, high-traffic blogs use the word “tranny” in their coverage (the best example of this being, if memory serves correctly, Time-Warner-owned blog Smoking Gun, though their posts appear to have now been scrubbed of the slur). And it was painful to watch Polis’ own twin brother continually refer to her as “my brother” and pointedly use male gender pronouns at her support rally (here, at 1:15). All around, a damning look at the country’s state of gender awareness, or lack thereof.

Polis has been released from the hospital, and spoke to the Baltimore Sun about her experience living as a transwoman in her neighborhood. The McDonald’s employee who filmed the attack has been fired. Both attackers have been apprehended and charged with assault. Hate crime charges may or may not be applied to the case; we’ll likely know in about a week.

In the face of the ugly, seething hatred that surrounds this story, the most encouraging element has been the turnout of support. Over 135,000 people have signed a petition demanding that the McDonald’s Corporation holds its employees accountable for the assault. More inspiring than anything have been images of the rally held at the scene of the crime this past Monday. Hundreds of people showed up outside McDonald’s to voice their solidarity with Chrissy Lee Polis. One of the right-wing hate sites covering the assault early on asked the question, “what happens when sanctified leftwing grievance groups collide over black homophobia?” In their small imagination, people can only choose one side: black vs. white, gay vs. straight, trans vs. cis. There are no gradations or complexities in their world.

Except, that’s not what the images and footage of this rally show us. There are people from all across the race, gender and class spectrum standing up for Chrissy Lee Polis. Trans activist Dayna Beyer, who helped organize the rally, recounts the event:

What was initially intended to be a vigil as the victim appeared severely injured… evolved into an upbeat rally of a united community demanding an end to violence and discrimination.

Having been involved in far too many vigils for murdered trans women over the years, and accepting the general apathy in both the trans and LGBT communities, I expected 30 people to ultimately show up. Instead, 300 did.

…when the program ended and the crowd would have normally dispersed, a funny thing happened. No one left.

People mingled for another 75 minutes until the lights were turned out in the parking lot. There had been no trouble, no counter-demonstration, no hate speech – just love and sisterhood and camaraderie. Locals and activists, gay and straight, cis and trans.

Maryland still has a long way to go. Earlier this month, the Maryland Senate voted down a bill that would have provided protection for trans people against discrimination in housing and employment. Before the bill even hit the Senate, language pertaining to use of public accommodations was stripped from it. Blogger Amanda Hess writes, “opposition to the bill largely focused on the toilet issue—a hysterical concern over gender non-conforming people sharing public restrooms.” Perhaps the tragedy of this event will push lawmakers to rethink their position.

Perhaps things will change.


Image by Anne’s Legacy Photography

Wonderful Irish Anti-Bullying PSA


Written & Directed by Anna Rodgers & Aoife Kelleher. Produced by Zlata Filipovic. (via Sarah Forrester, thanks!)

This moving short was “created as part of BeLonG To Youth Services annual Stand Up! LGBT Awareness Weeks. The campaign promotes friendship amongst young people as a way to combat homophobic bullying. For more information on the campaign please visit BeLonGTo.org.”

Bravo, BeLonGTo. You’re doing it right!

Seriously, Facebook? WTF.

EDIT: Dangerous Minds just posted an update on this story, clarifying a few things. It included this response from the Kiss-In organizer, Paul Shetler:

“Hey I just saw this. Before it goes too far, I just want people to know that FB have NOT removed the kiss-in event page; it’s still there, but _I made the event private after the event_ was over and only visible to those who had been invited as there were starting to be trolls posting abusive nonsense on it.”

(Thanks for the heads up, Kevin!)

While it’s already a well established fact that Facebook is ethically bankrupt, this particular example of arbitrary heinousness is the worst in a while. The story’s already gone viral; just doing our part to ensure it disseminates as widely as possible. Reposted verbatim from Richard Metzger over at Dangerous Minds:

This is perplexing. And annoying. And infuriating.

I woke up this morning to an email from Facebook with the subject “Facebook Warning”:

“Hello,

Content that you shared on Facebook has been removed because it violated Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Shares that contain nudity, or any kind of graphic or sexually suggestive content, are not permitted on Facebook.

This message serves as a warning. Additional violations may result in the termination of your account. Please read the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities carefully and refrain from posting abusive material in the future. Thanks in advance for your understanding and cooperation.

The Facebook Team”

Ah… yeah… it seems that the sight of two fully-clothed men kissing was too much for Facebook, or too much for some closet-case asshole (Hi Jerry! Remind me why you and I are “friends” again? I sure didn’t ask to be yours, pal…) who complained about it. The photo appeared here on Dangerous Minds in the context of Niall’s post about the “kiss in” demonstration that was cooked up, ironically ON FACEBOOK ITSELF, in London to protest against the rude treatment two gay patrons experienced at a pub called The John Snow. The two men, Jonathan Williams, 26, and Jamie Bull, 23 were sitting in a corner kissing when the owner asked them to leave. Over 750 people signed up for the protest.

Oh, WAIT A MINUTE, I went to check on the Facebook page that organized The John Snow pub protest… and it’s gone, too.

WTF, FB?

I’ve written to Facebook asking them why this content was removed, but have at this point received no reply. I’ll update this post when I do. In the meantime, why not share this photo on FB as much as you can? I’m hoping they’ll restore the post as it was so everyone can pile on the jerk who wrote all the homophobic stuff on my FB wall. I think that’s the best outcome here, Jerry getting a taste of his own medicine…

In any case, the protest went off last night against The John Snow pub, with protesters chanting “We’re here, we’re queer and we won’t buy your beer.” You can see the BBC News report here.