Eric Leven

Transgender Day of Remembrance: Let's Get Ready to Grrrrrumble!

Filed By Eric Leven | November 20, 2007 3:42 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: HRC, transgender, Transgender Day of Remembrance

Gwentrans.jpg
Gwen Amber Rose Araujo (February 24, 1985 - October 4, 2002)

Ladies and Gentlemen, bois and grrrls, today on The Transgender Day of Remembrance we have in one corner the mighty blue and gold team of HRC gearing up for battle while in the other we have the red-faced angry team of activists and the "Joe Must Go Coalition", calling for the resignation of HRC's leader, Joe Solmonese.

Ladies and gentlemen, when this match is over we may face an environment unlike anything we've ever seen before! There may be torn and tattered rainbow flags, car bumpers missing familiar yellow equal sign stickers, discarded wigs or sequined gowns thrown in the streets. For this, ladies and gentlemen, is the Transgender Day of Remembrance!

Ladies and gentlemen, you may be asking yourselves, "Where in all of this are the transgender of whom this fight is all about?"

Well... they're dead. And on this day, we're supposed to be remembering them. This is a day put into history to remind all of us battling for civil and equal rights that people have died; they were murdered, assaulted, harassed, denied and ostracized all because they wanted to be something or someone they felt was themselves.

Instead, you have two sides screaming at one another and using this day as an excuse to fight, promote their agenda and oust those who they feel have wronged them. This fight will all take place on the very ground on which the transgender we are supposed to be remembering are buried.

It seems to me the ones who will lose out on this are the very trans people that this day is supposed to be about. They'll end up like a baby forgotten in the crib while two parents scream at one another as they fight over a divorce.

Now when that bell rings, rip each other to shreds. Ready? 3-2-1 ding!


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Please take this as an engraved invitation to kindly go screw yourself.

How dare you? Transpeople get unfairly removed from an employment rights bill and you mock us for fighting to be protected by the the very same rights every straight and conventionally person in this country takes granted? On this day of all days? And with a picture of Gwen Araujo?

Y'know, I've got plenty of good specific reasons why I go after the HRC and cowardly politicians, but as low as they can and do go, even they have never gone as low as this.

You just utterly disgust me.

Hey Rebecca,
I'm fighting for you too. I am 100% in agreement that trans people should by all means be included in ENDA too! They should be part of everything that protects everyone else!

But this day is a DAY OF REMEMBRANCE, as in remembering those who are gone. With the fighting and the rallying I don't want these people to go FORGOTTEN. It is a day of candle light vigils, moments of silence, etc...

NOT a day for mud slinging, finger waving and screaming. Save that for any other day. Tomorrow even. But let those who THIS IS ABOUT, be remembered.

Puke on me all you want. I know in my heart I wrote this article FOR Gwen and for the transgendered community past and present.

Actually, I got the point, though your opening was a bit gnarly.

Many of us have also lamented the politicization of this event, and I think it's fair to remind us why.

Are people only remembered through somber silence? Through candlelight vigils? What is the proper way to remember, honor, and reflect upon the dead? One person can’t answer that for another.

The vigil itself isn’t sacred and neither is the date of November 2nd. That's just another rotation of the planet. What is sacred is our collective memory.

NOT a day for mud slinging, finger waving and screaming.

I'd also just like to point out, just so you are aware, that the rhetoric you are using is extremely dismissive. Mud slinging? Finger waving? These are descriptions that imply the reaction is greater than necessary or that the fight is over a very trivial subject. Obviously that isn't the case. You might as well throw 'hysterical' in there as well.

I can totally see what Eric is saying here, Becky. And I find myself agreeing with him. I saw online that trans activists are planning on protesting HRC today at the Stonewall Inn. HRC has dropped their own ceremonies marking TDR. How pathetic is that? As Rodney King would say, "Can't we all just get along?" Maybe not for long what with HRC's recent actions, but on this one day where we stop to remember the dead, let's not protest HRC. It's not about them. It's about our brothers and sisters who aren't with us anymore.

Actually Eric
How dare you drag ouy Gwen Araujo You don't even know what the whole story of her murder was about.
Arayhi was reckless and did all the wrong things a transitioning teen should do in a day and age there she has access thought the internet to find the help she needed. I guess you haven't really watched A Girl like Me the story of Gwen Araujo have you?

Second I think it is time to start burning rainbow flags. it's obvious the upper tiers of the GlB don't give a God Damned about Transfolk.

truthfully i thing you are the least qualified to speak on trans issues. Kindly refrain from doing so in the future.

Susan Robins
President of Neutral corner of SanDiego
Living full time as a female since 1980.

truthfully i thing you are the least qualified to speak on trans issues. Kindly refrain from doing so in the future.

Now wait a minute here, Sue. In other comments you've claimed that you're not part of the transgender movement and that you're not gay or lesbian. We don't ask you to refrain from expressing your own opinion though - and I'd expect the same consideration in return.

We're all adults and can speak to each other in a manner appropriate to civilized people. Play nice! I don't want to have to moderate this thread closer than most just because it's a sensitive topic and raises some hackles.

Well you know Bil
Your not Trans nor have you had a Trans history so i don't expect you to get it.

Eric certifiably doesn't.

He can go screw himself.
I think you need to re think your position.
After all you would be covered by ENDA if it ever saw the light of day.

Have a nice day sir.
and kindly remember you have no Trans history.

Susan Robins


Bill while i have said i am not part of the transgender community I do have a transgender history a rather long one at that.
I do run a support group in SanDiego that has a 25 year history as a non profit support and social group for transgender people I am a supporter of transgender causes. So what is your problem. I have been there you have not.

I think the GLB has shown it's true colors over ENDA and the HRC's attempt at co opting Transgender Day or Remembrance.

There comes a point in time when Enough is Enough.

Lets try to remember who has Transgender history and who doesn't here.
Lets try to remember that others shouldn't speak for Transfolk or those with that history.

Susan Robins

I saw online that trans activists are planning on protesting HRC today at the Stonewall Inn. HRC has dropped their own ceremonies marking TDR. How pathetic is that?

Come on, Bil! Let me get this straight, in order to honor members of the trans community you suggest telling them what to do - namely that they shouldn't protest on TDOR. In what world does that make sense? Trans folks should take the lead on this issue and decide for themselves how to proceed, not have trans allies claim that they aren't "remembering" properly.

you people who are unfairly attacking Eric Levin should become conscious of correct comprehension.

I think Nich has a point.
I would say in resonance with what Rebbecca said in her comment that the rest of you should but out when it comes to what Transfolk decide to do.

I respect many of you enough that I don't post comments on many of the subjects posted here because I am NOT a bear or gay. I think a boundary has been crossed here when it comes to gay folk trying to tell those of us with transgender history or those of us who identify as TG what to think or do.

How would You People Like It if transpeople started to tell you how to lead your political lives?

This is a day for Transfolk Kindly butt out of it.

Thank you

Susan Robins


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Let's be respectful to one another, please.

Bil,

Regardless of it's validity, if Eric had point to make it certainly could have been made in a more respectful way on any day of the year, but to post something like this on the TGDOR is just beyond offensive. We play it pretty fast and loose with the invectives here, and I for one am quite glad of it and hope it never changes. That said, however, to post something like this on the Day of Remembrance with Gwen Araujo's picture, no less, is clearly offensive to transgender people, and in my opinion, intentionally so.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | November 20, 2007 5:15 PM

The sort of tearing one another apart that's going on here is exactly what I feared would be the longest lasting result the moment I read John Aravosis' post in Salon, which was my first awareness over here in Ireland that trans folks were going to be dropped from ENDA.

I am trans AND I'm queer, too. I've risked or been exposed to threats as LGB and T, so maybe I'm qualified according to all to say this: Let's all back off, take a deep breath, and remember that we're allies here. On the same side. We may not each one of us totally understand the lives and experiences of the others in the LGBT acronym, but one thing all the regulars share on this site is a commitment to equality and social justice. We just don't agree on the way to achieve that end, which is reasonable to argue about. But let's keep it respectful.

Rebecca I couldn't have said it better myself.

While i agree with you Brynn that at least some of us agree on social justice for all I do think there has been a crossing of boundaries here that needs to be addressed. While i don't go to gay pride and stand with transfolk and don't identify as trans (since my reconstructive surgery in 2003). I have a trans history and have lived for over half my life as a trans identified person. I have been assaulted more then once and know how slender the thread of life is. This Gay Washing of TDOR is simply the last straw.
I want an apology to make things right.
Best done in a separate blog entry, not this one.

Take care
Susan Robins

Bruce Parker Bruce Parker | November 20, 2007 5:27 PM

Whoa! While I don’t agree with Eric in the least, it seems to me that we need to really work on our ability to have civil discourse particularly with those who are attempting to be on our side.

Eric,

It seems problematic to call out to Gwen Araujo like she is the patron saint of murdered transpeople. So many nameless folks die each year because of their gender identity or expression that to make one a symbol like that seems to miss part of the point. I would hate to see anyone become enshrined the way Matthew Shepherd did after his death. Although, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Gwen was reckless like Sue did, I just don’t know if it is a beneficial strategy to employ to change the way the world works…

I don’t agree that transgender day of remembrance has to be somber and silent. Let’s not remember our dead quietly lets scream as loudly as we can to keep more from dying. I find that the event has to be politicized to have any meaning at all. Perhaps grief and action can go hand in hand?

I don’t really think your post was disgusting and I hope no one pukes on you about it but surely you can understand Rebecca’s anger when someone endeavors to tell people how they should appropriately grieve. I think maybe you should be a little more pissed off about the recent events. Reflection has a place but allies of transpeople and transpeople themselves probably need to see this as a time of action.

It is a little yucky to say your post was for Gwen. I would guess she probably would care much more about you helping stop what happened to her from happening to other people than for you to spend your energy telling folks to sit quietly and be sad.

Thanks

Bruce Parker Bruce Parker | November 20, 2007 5:29 PM

and while I am at it...

While I don't agree with everything Rebecca said and woudln't have said it the same way at least what she said is sensible, consistent and generative of discussion... on the other hand.

Sue,

I don’t understand whom you are to get to decide who can and can’t talk about anything. In a recent comments section you asked me if I was trans or pointed out that I wasn’t. Guess what? I knew that already and think that it is absolutely hilarious that you are so anti transgender activism because your post-transgender and anti-lgbt activism because your straight but still spend so much time on this website in these conversations. Take a deep breath and realize that experience doesn’t an expert make and your experience is no more authentic or meaningful than anyone else’s. Many transfolk think of their identity differently than you and choose to do work based on that assumption. Many folks take the rights of the transgender community extremely seriously and do work around those commitments.

Do you get to decide who gets it and who doesn’t? I don’t really think you have that power. I would argue that your analysis of ENDA is flawed if you think a bill that is passed that doesn’t include gender identity and expression would cover Bil. If you had met him you would know that he is a big-ole girl.

I suppose that I opened a can of worms that is about to get me attacked but after watching you attack folks like Marti who contribute here and have more complex and defined analysis of these discussions based on your bigoted and negative opinions on some level it gets to be time to say something so yea go ahead and tell me about how I am not allowed to speak on these issues and then watch real closely as I do so anyway and you apparently continue to come to the site.

Thanks

Sue Robins: you want an apology and you want to censor people? Get on line. You will be waiting till hell freezes over. Until then i recommend you move to Afghanistan. And good luck there darlin. Talk to you in the next life. You should really not waste time insulting people who are not your enemies. And continue your therapy too. The issues are not resolved. You are an annoying pest.

well Bruce you make me laugh also.
I am not straight i am lesbian.
Female brain (from birth)
Female body from birth save a small defect)
and documentation to back it up all way back to the day i was born thank you.

I am not anti-tg-activism ether.
it's obvious you haven't read everything i have posted here and elsewhere. Your argument with me has to do with my conservative approach to that activism. Lest try to remember Bruce there are many ways to accomplish the same task, politically and otherwise.

if ENDA is passed it Won't cover gender identity Prove me wrong dear the language was removed from the bill. Can i ask what you don't get about that?

You can speak all you want you have the same first amendment i do. (at least for now)

I don't attack people unless provoked by something that is clearly out of line.
I don't attack Marti, we have differing views on issues and it is only right that all sides of an issue be presented.

Now if you want to stop accusing me of attacking others and engage in a constructive discussion i would pleased to do so.

Regards
Susan Robins


Bruce Parker Bruce Parker | November 20, 2007 5:50 PM

I am not sure what a constructive conversation with you on my part would look like since it seems that when you disagree with someone who is not themselves trans on an issue related to transness you assert validity of experience and silence the conversation.

Bruce i have only done this once and it was here because you challenged my validity as a female.

So i had to assert my validity both as a legal and genetic female. There has never been anything straight about my life.

I am sorry you were offended by my comments.
I will offer up my apologies for that.

Everyone feelings.
We all have our own unique experience in life.

Eric's post may have been well intentioned but the way he want about it was wrong.

actually in SanDiego Transfolok do take the oppratunity to protest on Day of Rememberance.


Take care
Susan Robins


Nick Langewis | November 20, 2007 6:02 PM

I'll start by forgetting I read this post as I attend my local Day of Remembrance vigil tonight.

Amen, Bruce.

Personally, I'm tired of hearing from some trans folk how gays and lesbians just fuck them over, but as soon as one of us speaks up we get told, "You're not trans. Shut up!"

Trying to silence a discussion simply means that you don't want to have the conversation - not that you're more qualified or correct.

I'm glad Eric posted this. I don't find it offensive. I think that there is a good point in reminding everyone that while we might be pissed off at HRC, attacking them isn't going to bring back the dead. I can understand the hurt and the frustration and anger. I just don't understand the target of that anger. After all, hate crimes and ENDA are two separate topics.

The most thoughtful response to the post so far has been Bruce's:

I don’t agree that transgender day of remembrance has to be somber and silent. Let’s not remember our dead quietly lets scream as loudly as we can to keep more from dying. I find that the event has to be politicized to have any meaning at all. Perhaps grief and action can go hand in hand?

I can see this point and I have to admit that I didn't consider it. But I don't know that this will have an impression like the AIDS deaths spawned ACT UP demonstrations. ACT UPpers targeted those directly responsible - with "blood on their hands." Protesting HRC over ENDA on a day to remember victims of hate crimes (after HRC lobbied hard for a hate crimes law that included gender identity). It just seems like the target is misplaced in our quest for a whipping post.

And for those who've asked, it's not about enforcing my ideas of appropriateness on another community. We are the same community. That's what pissed me off about ENDA - it cut out some of our community. For that to happen to Eric or I is just as horrible and "disgusting." We get to state our opinions not just as Americans with free speech rights or contributors with front page priveledges, but as part of the goddamn community under discussion.

And I think that was the point of the post. We're eating each other alive - outside the Stonewall Inn and here in the comments section - on a day where we're supposed to be remembering how society at large treats our transgender brothers and sisters. When did it become a day for the fundies to sit back and rest because we're too busy over here fighting each other to defend ourselves against them? Oh. Right. They don't wait. They just keep killing us - no matter what letter of the alphabet we identify with.

Again, it's not with the point being made, valid or not, that I have an issue with, it's with the manner in which it was expressed. Look at that title and tell me that's not mockery. Reread the text and put yourself in my or Sue's shoes.

Imagine if you saw a similar post mocking gay men with Matthew Shepard's picture on the anniversary of his death...how would you feel?

Personally, I'm offended and I think I have a right to be.

Okay, I'm a bit scared to weight in, but here goes...

First, from my point of view, I do see the post as offensive. I think Eric's point is valid, but the way he went about expressing it left a bad taste in my mouth. Using Gwen Araujo to express frustration over people losing focus on TDOR was not how I would have gone about it. That's just my opinion. I think Eric and everyone else has the right to be as shocking and confrontational as they want. That's the beauty of Bilerico. Do I agree with it? Nope. And I’ll feel free to tell them so.

Now on the comment thread, I find it odd that some people take such umbrage at GLB people trying to write their take on trans issues. I'm a gay man, but I write quite a bit about the way I see gender identity and expression. I'm no expert on anything other than my own experience, which gives me the right to post about it.

I can say, as I have in previous postings, that I am about as gender non-conforming as they come. I spent the first 15 years of my life being asked by everyone I met if I was a boy or girl. I’ve been beat up, spit at, and threatened to be killed for being “girly.” Does that make me trans? No, but it was my experience and it makes me want to try to build much need bridges in our community by focusing on common experience. Our community is bound together in our experience of the mutual hatred and discrimination focused on us as GLBT people. I’m not sure why we have started to fight each other rather than strengthen these bounds.

I would think to never tell anyone how to self-identify or how to express their life and thoughts. If you don’t agree with someone when they post, then tell them. But to say people have no right to write about certain topics or have no authority is ridiculous and simply further divides our own community into “us vs. them.”

I'll absolutely defend the right of non-trans people speak about trans issues. (Though it can be problematic when they talk about trans experiences.)

And I agree that Eric has a point.

But the flippant tone of the piece was something -- whether intentional or not -- that was rather crass and pretty much guaranteed to push people's buttons. Imagine if you will, a non-gay person wrote something similar on the occasion of the dedication of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Would a lot of gays be similarly offended? I suspect so.

Sometimes it's possible to be too clever by half....

Bruce Parker Bruce Parker | November 20, 2007 6:51 PM

I hope that if someone wrote something that used Matthew Shepherd the way Gwen was used or something that discussed the AIDS quilt in the same way that more than just gay folks would be pissed. Are we missing something by trying to get people to underwstand why they would be upset if they were trans? Shouldn't they be upset anyway?

*Commenting after only having read the post and not the other comments*

we have the red-faced angry team of activists

It's hard to look past language like this, for some, especially those whose identity is more deeply intertwined with this day, and see the intended message. And since the intended message was a call for more civil discourse, I think that it would have been good to see the writer participate civilly himself in that discourse.

I think that instead of telling others in one of the most flippant ways possible to STFU, we cis people can use this TDOR to listen to trans folks' anger, sadness, and frustration in the face of violence, violence that is intended to silence their self-expression. The message that people, especially trans-people, should be silent on TDOR needlessly pours salt in others' wounds.

How about we expand our idea of civil discourse to include us quieting down to listen to a subaltern voice if for nothing but a day?

Bruce, I'd hope more than just gay folks would be pissed. Just as I hope people don't have to be trans to find the tone of the piece offensive, however well-intentioned the point was.

To echo what Alex said, using inflammatory language to ask for civil discourse seems.... well... ah.... ironic at best.

Sue Robins: you want an apology and you want to censor people? Get on line. You will be waiting till hell freezes over. Until then i recommend you move to Afghanistan. And good luck there darlin. Talk to you in the next life. You should really not waste time insulting people who are not your enemies. And continue your therapy too. The issues are not resolved. You are an annoying pest.

I am not here to censor or stop debate on anything.
I just think some people should exercise caution when discussing topics they are not well educated on.

The comments made about the AIDS Quilt and Mathew Sheppard should be re read for the points they make.

Take care
Susan Robins

Bruce Parker Bruce Parker | November 20, 2007 7:35 PM

Sue,

You excerpt a communication that I don't see in this thread. Where is it from?

The comment that was removed for TOS violation, I believe.

no, Sue in #32 is referencing ewe in #20.

Kathy - dif one from above | November 20, 2007 8:47 PM

"HRC has dropped their own ceremonies marking TDR. How pathetic is that?"
========================================

It was pathetic for them to seek to appropriate this ceremony - particularly so given their recent actions and duplicity. I'm quite happy they were prevented from sullying the memory of our dead by plastering a disingenuous equal sign on their suffering. The only appropriate thing for them to do is attend one of the ceremonies our community is holding - and keep they yaps firmly shut. No speeches, no photo’s to bolster their fundraising to work against our inclusion in civil rights legislation – and no damned HRC logo’s.

It's hilarious to hear people bemoan demonstrations against organizations that prevent a peoples enfranchisement. We should follow the example of gay & lesbian folk when wronged and sit back quietly? I’ve surely never seen that.

HRC won’t change if there if people ignore their actions. Silence is death.

Bruce Parker Bruce Parker | November 20, 2007 8:50 PM

Bil and Alex,

Thanks - maybe when a comment is removed it could be replaced by a comment that says it was removed and why very briefly?

Ewe was pretty nasty.

Wrong Bruce. I am not being nasty by bringing up the truth of a matter. Now in response they are accusing the author of an analogy which involves "a antigay mockery with a picture of matthew Shepard. Sue and Rebecca are flipped out and should be told so. If that hurts your feelings, too bad. I don't cater to idiots like that. Transgendered people of quality will thank those who attend rallys on their behalf just as i appreciate anyone who advocated equality for LGB and yes Sue and Rebecca T too without needing your permission or approval. Self indulgent antagonists.

i am battling phobia by people on this site regarding memorials to transgendered people with one person in particular whose picture was used that was MURDERED. And you are concerned with "nasty" comments. Come out and really play won't you? I don't care if swear words are used as adjectives and never have. Using them as a noun may be a different story but you have gotten completely off topic. NO one here needs your permission to vent and/or participate based on "morality per Bruce or Rebecca or Sue." Grow up. You people are flipped out and damaged with such a defensive stance that you have decided to attack those that are on your same side of ideology. You deserve and are getting the same. You should all say you are sorry to Eric Levin. You changed his piece into something ugly when it was meant to be honorable. Shame on the whole freagin lot of yas. No apology here.

It should be noted that the DOR events that HRC had programmed in Washington DC were cancelled in favor of suggesting people attend a local event run by a coalition of a dozen local and national transgender friendly organizations.

No were not all dead many of us are still in the shadows.Some like me are very carefuly sticking our hand out to see if we will get slapped down or have it cut off.So as we remember in our own ways let never forget the next time you hear of one of my sisters or brothers who had to pay the price for coming out of the shadows.

Love and light to you Cathy. You seem so pained. I wish you personal happiness.
I just want to be in a world where you are who you are and i am who i am.
I feel these previous posts attacking a gay man who is writing in support of remembering TDoR is counterproductive.
Be well.

Heh. Looks like Eric called it.

Janis Walters | November 21, 2007 5:33 PM

Bil, in one of your comments you stated, "After all, hate crimes and ENDA are two separate topics." I agree, to a point. But for us trans people the two are very much related and very much related to Day of Remembrance. I know you read Rebecca Juro's post in today's Bilerico entitled "At The End Of The Day Of Remembrance" If Hated Crimes legislation and ENDA were passed and signed into law that included gender identity and expression it would hopefully decrease the number of names added each year to list of those remembered at TDOR vigils.

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I am sorry to see the that the appropriate language i used to describe the state of Transgender folk was seen as Racist by the powers that be.

Like it or not
That is the way Transpeople are treated by the GLB when it comes to civil rights.

For those of you who missed the comment
you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out.

Take Care


Susan Robins

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Let's be respectful to one another, please.

I am respectful.
many who have lived lives as transfolk agree with my assessment of the situation and the descriptive word i used.

it fits.

and i make no apologies for using that word.

Truthfully the treatment of transfolk didn't start to get bad until the Gays Co opted the TG/TS communities.

Before that TS folk had it fairly easy.

The mainstream saw those of us with TS history for what we are people with a birth defect that needs attention and nothing more.

Susan Robins

I thought this was an LGBTQ blog. Since when is it OK to publish an article bashing one of the letters for fighting the food fight?

Oh, wait. A gay man is openly bashing the T. That makes it OK, right?

Yep, it's an LGBTQ blog.
My bad. Shoulda known...