Deaf and Queer (or Bi) | #BiWeek

Video: https://youtu.be/h4gdmqoWflI

Bye (bi) week! *chuckling* Okay, that was a really bad joke, let’s move on.

Hello, and welcome to another post. I know, so soon! I filmed this in advance then wrote it after editing and this is not scripted so… I don’t know how long this will be.

Image result for bi flag

So…I’m a bad bi person. I didn’t realize this week was Bi Week until today. From when you’re seeing this, two days ago. Yeah, so. Whoops. Can I just quickly say that I think it’s great that International Week of the Deaf and Bi Week are the same week? No complaints from me! Oh yeah, if you didn’t know I was bi, well. Hi, I’m bi! I’ve never explicitly said this in a video. I have said that I am queer (but not bi). And that’s not because I don’t like that label, no. It’s just… I like queer. It fits me. Bi fits me too.

Let me clear something up first. Bi, generally, equals two. Yes. That is correct. But! In this case, I saw this definition three times in like a week, and I really like this definition. For me, bi means I’m attracted to the same gender…and ALL the other genders. [finger guns]

Okay, I feel like this post will end up with me using finger guns a lot. That’s a bi thing, just so you know. For those of you who are really confused, the joke in the bi community is that you can tell someone’s bi if they use finger guns…a lot. Which I do. My YouTube outro is a variation on finger guns! Anyway, that’s not the point of this video. I just wanted to say this is Bi Week, and hi I’m bi!

I’ve had a lot of people be a little confused about me. They’re like, “Hmm…Are you gay, or are you straight?” Then when they ask me: “Are you straight?” No. “Oh, so you’re gay.” No. There are other things other than straight and gay, you know. People forget that bi people exist. We’re in the LGBTQ+! B! Hello? We’re there for a reason. There’s a lot of videos out there for Bi Week, I’m sure. I just haven’t really looked for them. I should though. But if you go on Twitter and search #BiWeek, there will be plenty of posts. Also, GLAAD is the one who’s promoting this week, so that’s great. I will link the video here that made me think yeah, I should make my own video.

The video is by Jackson Bird, a trans YouTuber. The title of the video is “Why I Don’t Talk About Being Bi.” I thought it was interesting, but his reason is not the reason why I don’t talk about being bi. I’ve never actually talked about this before on my channel/blog. I’ve always said yes, I’m queer, but I’ve never explained more about that. So! Basically.

At this point, it’s a little over three years since I figured out oh, yeah, I’m bi. Once I figured it out, I’m like wooooow. It’s really obvious now, thinking back. Yeah. I wish I could say, “Oh I’ve always known my whole life.” No, I didn’t. I probably knew though, subconsciously. I didn’t really have much exposure to the queer community until college, really. Yes, I lived close to Seattle, a hour away. I have a few friends who live there, from there, whatever. But… I went to a high school at a really small, very white, really Christian high school. So…you can say that the queer community wasn’t really there. I’ve had queer people in my life growing up. My best friend growing up was gay. Well, he didn’t come out until early high school, but that’s not the point. It’s not like I had NO exposure so I never thought about it, no.

I had exposure.

I just…didn’t have those feelings, I guess?

Until college. Even then, it still took me a while. I think part of that is because generally, I don’t feel any romantic attraction to a person until I’ve known them for a while or I feel I have a strong emotional connection (possible demiromantic). That might have contributed to my delay in figuring out that I was bi. Hella bi. If you look at my YouTube channel art now, it’s the bi flag. If you didn’t know that, that’s the bi flag. On a slant, but yeah.YT Channel Art 2017.png

I have experienced biphobia. Well not phobia, not a fear, but certainly erasure. They will say, “Oh, which do you like more?” As if it really matters? Or… “You can’t like more than one gender!I don’t see how you can like only one gender. I’ve had people tell me bi isn’t a real thing. I’ve had people tell me, “Oh you’re really pan, not bi.” Hm, no. I like the term bi. I connect with bi. So I will use bi.

For you little bis out there, you are valid. Bisexuality is a real thing. If you feel you are bi, you are bi. There’s no “bi enough.” No. Forget that.

Jackson said this in his video, and I absolutely agree. I would love to more characters in media – TV shows, movies, whatever – say “I am bi.” And not, “I’m not into labels.” Come on! That’s a cop-out. Following up with that, I would love to see more characters say “I’m ace/I’m aro.” And not, “I’m not really into people.” Again, cop-out. Also, it would be fantastic if the writers decided to go ahead and make Wonder Woman come out as bi on the big screen. And before any of you bros say “The liberal media is ruining it! All of these snowflakes!” Hush! Wonder Woman is bi. It’s in the comics. So, it’s canon. [finger guns]

I don’t really know where I was going with this video. I didn’t really have any list of thoughts or anything. I’m just. Bi week! Woo! Make a video and post! So. Here you go. I hope it kind of made sense? I hope you enjoyed this video, and learned something more about me. If you are bi, or want to support us, go ahead and make your own videos, posts, pictures, whatever. Use the hashtag #BiWeek, and also check out GLAAD’s website for this week.

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made an one-time donation to my ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time. Bi!

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Disability and Queerness | Deaf Awareness Month

Video: https://youtu.be/qBb8csox3d0

Welcome to the first post of Deaf Awareness Month! I’m starting off big – combining disability and queerness. I want to be clear here that when I say disability, I’m including physical, emotional, and educational disabilities. Basically, any kind of disability – and yes, I’m including deaf people in this. For those who aren’t aware, Deaf people generally don’t consider themselves disabled, just Deaf. If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice the capitalization of deaf changed. Quickly – large D is culturally deaf, small d is medically deaf. I will be making a post/video discussing that later on. With that being made clear, let’s get into today’s video. Far too often, in ANY organization, business, company, disabled people and queer people are either forgotten or marginalized. This is obvious to anyone who pays attention. That isn’t really what I want to discuss today. What I DO want to discuss is that I’m pretty disappointed in the inclusion of disabled people when it comes to queer organizations, businesses, companies, and even events. Actually…especially events. I did a basic search for the word disability on websites connected to queer organizations. The pages that I searched are: GLAAD, PFLAG, HRC, GLAD (law), Pride at Work, Out and Equal Workplace Advocates, and ILGA. On most of these websites, the only mention of disability is in the Equal Employment Opportunity policy or job postings. I understand that these organizations are focused on advocating for queer people, and disabled people aren’t a priority. Some of you might even say that shouldn’t be a part of their advocacy, leave it to the disability organizations. However, that’s the same argument people gave when gays and lesbians said “us first, then trans people.” Or something along those lines. The same mentality often happens in any other civil rights group: us first, then you. I disagree with that sentiment. The more you include now, the less work later. Queer disabled people face two different sets of discrimination, and in some cases, a whole unique set of discrimination that one or the other doesn’t experience. Too often, advocacy is narrowly focused on one aspect of a person’s identity, at the cost of other aspects. A really good word here is intersectionality. I have a collab planned to discuss more in-depth about that, so I won’t elaborate too much here. But basically, intersectionality is being mindful of the fact that a single identity does not exist in a bubble and WILL be influenced by other identities. I want to give you some stats related to queer and disabled students. These stats come from the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the findings show that these students are:

  • more likely to have experienced all types of disciplinary actions (47.8%) than their LGBTQ non-disabled peers (36.9%);
  • more likely to drop out of school (5.8%) than their LGBTQ non-disabled peers (2.6%);
  • more likely to have been involved in the justice system (4.4%) than their LGBTQ non-disabled peers (1.7%).

In addition, queer disabled youth who are also POC are even more likely to be unfairly treated. Unfortunately, that doesn’t come as a surprise. The stats I just gave you are focused on youth, but I’m sure the stats in the adult population would look fairly similar. There are a lot of studies out there that show what percentage of disabled people have been in the justice system or are unemployed. And, of course, how many queer people have been in the justice system or are unemployed… But what about that intersection? I honestly don’t know. There’s also no definite number of how many disabled people are also queer (or vice versa). However, I did find this HuffPost article from 2016 that quotes from a Center for American Progress report. The quote says, “nearly one in five adults has a disability, or will experience one at some point in their life. It’s estimated that between 3 to 5 million Americans with disabilities also identify as queer.” The article also discusses different ways how the queer community does/doesn’t include disabled people. However, most of the disabilities this article mentions are HIV/AIDS, PTSD, or invisible disabilities. No mention of other types of disability so take this article with a grain of salt.

I think this is a good place to stop, so that’s all for today. I’m sure there’s a lot more information, but this is a good start. When I make that collab, I will link it here. I want to know your thoughts on this, please leave them in the comments! (Also, if you happen to know of a job that’d be good for me, that’d be awesome!)

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made an one-time donation to my ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Invention of Heterosexuality | Queer History

Video: https://youtu.be/4m5kNyPb1IM

Publishing early since I’ll be out all day! Enjoy!

(Credit: Alamy)

What if I told you… Heterosexuality didn’t exist until 1934?

Hello and welcome back! I’m being slightly silly. Heterosexuality as we know it today didn’t exist until 1934. The 1901 Dorland’s Medical Dictionary defined heterosexuality as an “abnormal or perverted appetite toward the opposite sex.” More than twenty years later, in 1923, Merriam Webster’s dictionary similarly defined it as “morbid sexual passion for one of the opposite sex.” It wasn’t until 1934 that heterosexuality was graced with the meaning we’re familiar with today: “manifestation of sexual passion for one of the opposite sex; ‘normal’ sexuality.” You know how people always talk about “the rise of the homosexual?” We can pinpoint when homosexuality came into existence in human history. The same thing happened for heterosexuality. The reason why people don’t think about this is because heterosexuality seems “normal” and has always just been there. The problem here is that people assume that heterosexuality equals reproductive intercourse. News flash: it doesn’t.

Obviously, different-genital intercourse has been around as long as humans have been. However. Queer theorist David Halperin at the University of Michigan wrote, “Sex has no history” because it’s “grounded in the functioning of the body.” But sexuality does have a history, because it’s a “cultural production.” Another way of saying this: there have always been sexual instincts throughout the animal world (sex). But at a specific point in time, humans attached meaning to these instincts (sexuality). When humans talk about heterosexuality, we’re talking about the second thing. Prior to 1868, there were no heterosexuals. Neither were there homosexuals. It hadn’t yet occurred to humans that they might be “differentiated from one another by the kinds of love or sexual desire they experienced.” Sexual behaviors, of course, were identified and catalogued, and often times, forbidden. But the emphasis was always on the act, not the agent. So what changed? Language.(Credit: Wikimedia Commons) In the late 1860s, Hungarian journalist Karl Kertbeny coined four terms to describe sexual experiences and two of them were heterosexual and homosexual. Kertbeny used the term “heterosexual” a decade later when he was asked to write a book chapter arguing for the decriminalization of homosexuality. The editor, Gustav Jager, decided not to publish it, but he ended up using Kertbeny’s novel term in a book he later published in 1880. In the Western world, long before sex acts were separated into the categories hetero/homo, there was a different ruling binary: procreative or non-procreative. The Bible, for instance, condemns homosexual intercourse for the same reason it condemns masturbation: because life-bearing seed is wasted in the act. While it was mainly reinforced by Christianity and Judaism, this ethic actually came from Stoicism. Stoics argued that sex could only be moral in the pursuit of procreation. Early Christian theologians took up this conjugal-reproductive ethic, and by the time of Augustine, reproductive sex was the only normal sex.

The article I drew from goes on to discuss Krafft-Ebing, an Austro-German psychiatrist, and his work in defining sexual love and what was “normal.” It also discusses about how the invention of heterosexuality corresponds with the rise of the middle class and seemingly increasing degeneracy. This was when cities were exploding in size in the 19th century. It wouldn’t be an article/video without mentioning Freud and his psychosexual theory of development, which is really messed up but was happily accepted as the explanation for “normal” sexuality. So bizarre. Kinsey is also mentioned, and his work in defining the spectrum of sexuality which reinforced the idea that sexuality was between two ends. I’ll quote from the article here: “Once upon a time, heterosexuality was necessary because modern humans needed to prove who they were and why they were, and they needed to defend their right to be where they were. As time wears on, that label seems to actually limit the myriad ways we humans understand our desires and loves and fears.” The article closes out with this: “The line between heterosexuality and homosexuality isn’t just blurry, as some take Kinsey’s research to imply – it’s an invention, a myth, and an outdated one. Men and women will continue to have different-genital sex with each other until the human species is no more. But heterosexuality – as a social marker, as a way of life, as an identity – may well die out long before then.”

And with that, I will end for today. I found this article a while ago, and had been saving it for a good time. There’s so much more in the article that I left out, and it is a bit of a long read, but worth it! There’s a book that it mentions called “Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality.” The article often draws from it, but I want to read it in full! Okay, I hope you enjoyed this post.

If you want to support my content, I have Patreon and ko-fi. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Queer Media Thoughts

Video: https://youtu.be/yBiaYY4Hc1k

Hello, welcome back! I’m so sad I can’t be at VidCon this year, but here’s a post/video! It’s a bit long whoops, but I’ve added timecodes in the description of the video so you can jump if you want to watch specific parts.

This is all or mostly my thoughts. Before we start, I want to ask you all a question. It just so happened that the past three posts/videos for Pride month were all about history — about the Pride flag, the Pulse shooting and UpStairs Lounge fire, and the Stonewall Riots. It just happened, I didn’t mean to do that, but that’s fine. A couple posts/videos upcoming will also be about history. My question is this – should I go ahead and make Queer History an official series on my channel, like I do for ASL Ponderings? The title would look like this: “_(insert title here)_ | Queer History.” Let me know if that’s a thing I should do! (Editor note: Many of you said you liked this idea and would love to see this series happen, so it’s going to be a thing!)

Okay. If you already saw the title, I will be talking about some queer media in general. I will be talking about my thoughts on three things: When We Rise, Moonlight, and Gender Revolution.

Image result for when we riseI’m going to start with When We Rise. It’s a series on ABC, it first aired on Feb. 27th and ran until Mar. 3rd 2017. (Currently, it’s available for free and is captioned.) It’s basically about relatively recent queer history. This miniseries starts right after the Stonewall Riots in 1969. It starts around 1970 and goes to, well, now. It follows three main people in queer history: Cleve Jones, Roma Guy, and Ken Jones. They’re the ones that are most consistent in all four parts of this miniseries. It includes Roma’s girlfriend (later wife), Diane Jones. They also have appearances from Gilbert Baker, the creator of the flag; Cecilia Chung, a transgender activist. I’ll sum up what it’s about first, then I’ll give you my thoughts about it. It’s broken up into technically eight parts, but if you go to the ABC website, it’s split into “nights” and there are four nights in total (two parts each night). Night I & II happen during around 1970 to 1980s. Like I said, right after the Stonewall Riots. It follows Cleve and his coming out as gay to his family, moving to San Francisco because he heard it was really good for queer people there. So he moved, got involved with activism, all of that. The same with Roma after she came back from Africa and decided to become involved with NOW, and moved to California, hoping for a more open group of women. Basically, that whole growing of the queer movement in that time period. Continuing into the 80s, that’s around when AIDS started to spread. At the time, it was called GRID (gay-related immunodeficiency). They tell the story of the whole crisis and attempting to get care, figuring out what was going on. Night III jumps to a decade later, in the 90s. Night III happens during the 90s, around 1992 and 1997. That’s when Cleve Jones created the AIDS quilt and put it on the White House lawn. His visiting ACT UP, Human Rights Campaign, more political activism becoming commonplace. All of that, the establishment of different political activist organizations. Night IV starts in the 2000s, around 2006, 2008 and ending in 2015. That section follows Prop 8 in California, Prop 8. For making same-sex marriage illegal and banning people from marrying. The protests, Supreme Court overturning Prop 8, saying it’s unconstitutional. All of that. It ends in 2015 when Supreme Court declared marriage is legal for everyone. That is a basic summary. I want to mention that all of the people I named earlier – Cleve, Roma, Ken – were consultants on this. Like, the real people were consultants on this show, so it’s not like they made up the story. They had the real people tell their story, and made a series from it. Now my thoughts on it… Um. Night I and II, a little of III, but Night I and II were really specific, in depth. It actually had details of how things happened. I feel a little bit… The beginning had good details, was actually interesting but then starting around Night III, I felt..mm… I don’t know. It could have been done a little bit better. And it doesn’t help that it had a different director for each of the four parts. So… That complicates things. Night III and IV felt really superficial, not very in-depth compared to the first two parts. The plot wasn’t—yes, it’s real life events but it didn’t really add that many really touching, REAL stories so… It felt a little bit lacking at the end. But overall, it’s a good basic overview at recent queer history. So yeah, I would recommend you watch it but only if you have a lot of time [laughs] because each part is about a hour and half. I don’t really have that many thoughts about it because I feel a little meh about the ending of it. Overall, good. Moving on.

Image result for moonlightMoonlight. Really good! I watched it just two days ago, it’s on Amazon Prime if you want to watch it. It’s so good. It definitely deserves that Oscar. The movie was a little bit unexpected. The whole thing focuses on one person, and is split into three chapters. The first chapter is when he’s about 10 years old, I think 10? Second is around high school, so 16, 17? The third part is in his 30s? Early 30s, late 20s? And… it is good. One thing that I really liked is that they never actually SAID gay. They were vague. He could be gay, he could be bi, he could be queer. But there was no specific labeling, “I am gay.” Nothing. I liked that. I liked that they left it ambiguous. Really, it’s good. I would definitely recommend you watch it.  I don’t want to tell you too much because I want you to watch it, it’s really good.

Image result for national geographic gender revolution dvdOkay, now Gender Revolution. It has a companion magazine issue. I have the DVD from National Geographic, I also have the magazine. I bought the magazine in the store because I don’t have a National Geographic subscription. But if you have a subscription, that specific issue will have a different cover, as shown below (left: subscription, right: store). But yeah, I got that magazine when it was first released because I was like, I need this. It…is fascinating, really good. And then the DVD is, it’s a little bit… Hmm. It’s interesting because it’s kind of like a documentary with Katie Couric. She travels the country, talking with people who are in different parts related to this, like intersex, trans, whatever. I think it’s good. I’m really, really disappointed that the special features don’t have captions.Image result for national geographic gender revolution dvd They almost never do. I’m always pleasantly surprised when they do actually have subtitles. But this doesn’t, so that’s a little unfortunate. I’m hoping to maybe look online and find them with subtitles but. Anyway. This is good because Katie Couric, she is learning during this, she’s learning about gender, how people relate with it, about intersex, about trans people, all of that. So I thought that was cool. However, it’s a lot of stuff that if you are trans, intersex, or have a good understanding of gender, this is nothing really new. I would recommend this to people who are struggling with understanding gender, and the magazine as well. The magazine is probably better because you can read at your own pace. Plus the magazine has more specifics in it about certain things. So. Yeah. That was a really quick overview.

What I would recommend most of these three: Moonlight. Watch that first, hands down. Watch that first if you haven’t already. If you have, comment below the video and let me know what you thought of it.

Image result for madam secretaryI do want to add one more thing before ending. Spoiler warning! Spoiler alert for Madam Secretary. If you watch that TV show, and you haven’t caught up on all the recent episodes, and you don’t want to be spoiled, stop now. In the second-to-last episode of the most recent season (S3.E22), there is one character that came out as bi. This person was Blake Moran Aaaahhh! Finally! In media, in general, there aren’t really any good representations of bi characters. Yeah, we still don’t really have good representation for “mainstream sexualities” – gays and lesbians, plus trans people. It’s still ehh representation for those, but bi people? Pfft forget it. They don’t get any representation to begin with. SO. When I saw that they had someone come out and say they are bi, ah, yes! And the way they did it, beautiful. It was done really well, they did it really well. So far, it’s only between Blake and Madam Secretary. No coming out to their co-workers. For the whole series, people read him as gay. But no, he’s bi. So I’m like yes! Thank you, M. Sec. writers, for making him bi, not gay.

If you want to support my content, I have Patreon and ko-fi. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

The Stonewall Riots | Queer History

Video: https://youtu.be/f8iPeQlhkeY

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome back! Before we continue, if you’re a $5+ Patron, you can see a list of what I hope to have uploaded by the end of this month! I realized that I had a list, but no plans of which day and there’s only a couple weeks left so I’m doing this to hold myself accountable! Let’s get to today’s post.

Image result for stonewall innToday, we will be discussing the Stonewall Riots. The spark happened on the morning of June 28 1969, when police raided Stonewall Inn. Raids on gay bars were routine in this period, but this one came as a surprise, because they hadn’t been tipped off by police like they usually were. Armed with a warrant, police officers entered the club, roughed up patrons, and, finding bootlegged alcohol, arrested 13 people, including employees and people violating the state’s gender-appropriate clothing statute (female officers would take suspected cross-dressing patrons into the bathroom to check their sex). Fed up with constant police harassment and social discrimination, angry patrons and neighborhood residents hung around outside of the bar rather than disperse, becoming increasingly agitated as the events unfolded and people were aggressively manhandled. At one point, an officer hit a lesbian woman over the head as he forced her into the paddy wagon — she shouted to onlookers to act, inciting the crowd to begin throw pennies, bottles, cobble stones, and other objects at the police. (Conflicting sources say that this woman was Stormé DeLarverie.)

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Stormé DeLarverie

I want to be clear here that there’s a lot of debate out there about who REALLY started the whole thing. Some say it was DeLarverie. Some say it was the street queens who started it. Regardless, I don’t think you can really pinpoint ONE person, especially with something like this – riots are nearly never started by one person. They’re started by several people or when the whole crowd reaches a breaking point. Back to the story.

Within minutes, a full-blown riot involving hundreds of people began. The police, a few prisoners, and a Village Voice writer barricaded themselves in the bar, which the mob attempted to set on fire after breaching the barricade repeatedly. The fire department and a riot squad were eventually able to douse the flames, rescue those inside Stonewall, and disperse the crowd. But the protests, sometimes involving thousands of people, continued in the area for five more days, flaring up at one point after the Village Voice published its account of the riots. Though the Stonewall uprising didn’t start the gay rights movement, it was a galvanizing force for queer political activism, leading to numerous gay rights organizations, including the Gay Liberation Front, Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD (formerly Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), and PFLAG (formerly Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).

Image result for marsha p johnson sylvia rivera
Rivera (left) and Johnson (right)

Two other major players in the riots were Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. They co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a group that worked with homeless drag queens and transgender women of color in New York City. I think at a later date (probably not during Pride month), I will make a full video about Johnson and maybe Rivera too. In 2016, President Barack Obama designated the site of the riots—Stonewall Inn, Christopher Park, and the surrounding streets and sidewalks—a national monument in recognition of the area’s contribution to queer and human rights.

I am aware of the film, and I haven’t seen it – but from what I’ve seen online, the film is summarily awful. It erases all the trans people and PoC who were involved in the riots. The lead character is a white boy from white bread America, and the film portrays him as the one who threw the first brick. Sure, there were people like him in the movement, but the film is not historically accurate. I’m done for today. There is SO much out there about this, and I will put six links at the end of this post. I drew from some of them for this post. Some of them are more in-depth about the major players – DeLarverie, Johnson, and Rivera – and some are more in-detail about parts of the riots. One of them is an article from a person who was there at the riots, and what he thought of the film. I hope you learned something from this post! If you want to support my content, I have Patreon and ko-fi. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Links

Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonewall_riots
History.com: http://www.history.com/topics/the-stonewall-riots
NYT: https://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/26/who-threw-the-first-brick-at-stonewall/
Thoughts on movie: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/art/stonewall-movie/
Marsha P. Johnson/Sylvia Rivera: http://bit.ly/2rJruvE
Stormé DeLarverie: http://bit.ly/2rszMsD

Pulse Nightclub Shooting and UpStairs Lounge Fire | Queer History

Video: https://youtu.be/FKRRpg8u8tk

CW: Talking about death, shooting, arson. Image of burned body.

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome back. Before I continue, you probably already know that this post is going to be a heavy one since I’ll be talking about the two largest massacres of queer people in US history. This post will have some graphic images below, but I will not be showing any in the video. Stop right now if you don’t want to learn about some very heartbreaking history. There is no shame in clicking away from this post, this stuff is hard for anyone.

Image result for orlando pulse shooting
Memorial outside of Pulse

Most of you have at least heard of the most recent one – the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando that happened a year ago today. It was June 12, 2016 at 2 AM during last call when the shooter came in and started shooting. He killed 49 people and wounded 58 people, then had a three-hour standoff with Orlando Police before being killed by them. The night it happened, Pulse was having a Latin Night, so many of the victims were Latinx themselves. This was classified as a terrorist attack and a hate crime. It was both the deadliest shooting by a single shooter and deadliest incident of violence against queer people in US history. It was also the deadliest terrorist attack in the US since 9/11. After this, there was a lot of Islamophobia due to the shooter affiliating himself with Daesh. That needs to stop, Daesh is not Islam. (Daesh is another name for ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State – though that last one is problematic for several reasons.) Since this is such a recent event and many people are still hurting from this, I will end here about Pulse. There is a lot of information out there about this event.

 

Until the Pulse shooting happened, this was the largest massacre of queer people in the US. June 24 1973 was Sunday, the end of Pride Weekend in New Orleans. This was four years after the Stonewall Riots, and anti-queer sentiments, discrimination and violence were still common. However, there were spots that people generally left them be, and one of these was the UpStairs Lounge, a second-floor bar. That Sunday, dozens of members of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), the nation’s first gay church, got together there for drinks and conversation. The atmosphere was welcoming enough that two gay brothers, Eddie and Jim Warren, even brought their mom, Inez, and proudly introduced her to the other patrons. Laughter filled the room.Image result for upstairs lounge fireJust before 8:00p, the doorbell rang insistently. To answer it, you had to unlock a steel door that opened onto a flight of stairs leading down to the ground floor. Bartender Buddy Rasmussen, expecting a taxi driver, asked his friend Luther Boggs to let the man in. The attacker had sprayed Ronsonol lighter fluid on the steps and tossed a match on it. After Boggs opened the door, the fireball exploded, pushing upward and into the bar. The ensuing 15 minutes were the most horrific that any of the 65 or so customers had ever endured — full of flames, smoke, panic, breaking glass, and screams. MCC assistant pastor George “Mitch” Mitchell escaped, but soon returned to try to rescue his boyfriend, Louis Broussard. Both died in the fire, their bodies clinging together in death. Metal bars on the UpStairs Lounge windows, meant to keep people from falling out, were just 14 inches apart; while some managed to squeeze through and jump, others got stuck. That’s how the MCC’s pastor, Rev. Bill Larson, died.Related image When police and firefighters surveyed and began clearing the scene, they left Larson fused to the window frame until the next morning. Thirty-two people lost their lives that Sunday night 44 years ago — Luther Boggs, Inez Warren, and Warren’s sons among them. Homophobia being what it was, several families declined to claim the bodies and one church after another refused to bury or memorialize the dead. Three victims were never identified or claimed, and were interred at the local potter’s field. When the Rev. William Richardson, of St. George’s Episcopal Church, agreed to hold a small prayer service for the victims, about 80 people attended. But many more complained about Richardson to Iveson Noland, the Episcopalian bishop of New Orleans. Noland reportedly rebuked Richardson for his kindness, and the latter received volumes of hate mail. The UpStairs Lounge arson was the deadliest fire in New Orleans history and the second-largest massacre of queer people ever in the U.S. Yet it didn’t make much of an impact news-wise.Image result for upstairs lounge today The few respectable news organizations that deigned to cover the tragedy made little of the fact that the majority of the victims had been gay, while talk-radio hosts tended to take a jocular or sneering tone: What do we bury them in? Fruit jars, said one, on the air, only a day after the massacre. Other, smaller disasters resulted in City Hall press conferences or statements of condolence from the governor, but no civil authorities publicly spoke out about the fire, other than to mumble about needed improvements to the city’s fire code. Continuing this pattern of neglect, the New Orleans police department appeared lackluster about the investigation (the officers involved denied it). The detectives wouldn’t even acknowledge that it was an arson case, saying the cause of the fire was of “undetermined origin.” No one was ever charged with the crime, although an itinerant troublemaker with known mental problems, Rogder Dale Nunez, is said to have claimed responsibility multiple times. Nunez, a sometime visitor to the UpStairs Lounge, committed suicide in 1974. In June 1998, a memorial service was held on the 25th anniversary of the fire as part of the Pride celebrations.

That was a tough post/video for me to make. The pictures… It’s really important that we remember this part of our history because… Yes, we can be happy, being who we are today. But we didn’t get here without all of this happening, and we have to remember the sacrifices that our queer siblings made for us today. Thanks for reading, see you next time.