I thought for today's column I would key into the overt issues that are involved in several discussions around a more covert one that I expect to tackle fairly soon head on, and with all the vigor I can manage.
On Tuesday, I took a break from the usual LGBT blog scene, and I didn't do it on purpose. I wasn't tired of hearing about how some new story is out where either trans folk are bitching about something or cisLGB folk are defending the same thing, or cisLGB folk are bitching about something and trans folk are defending it, and all the various possible permutations of all that stuff.
Instead, I read several national newspapers, a few national magazines, watched the local news, the cable news, and paid attention to my local newspaper, of which I am not all that fond.
The reason is that on Tuesday, the majority of the elected representatives to the Arizona State Legislature passed a law. It is, in my personal and professional opinion one of the worst laws that have ever been passed.
It is, at the least, an equal law -- it doesn't specifically single out LGBT folks. So, ultimately, a lot of folks likely won't see it as something that affects us, that really has much to do with us.
The law made it a criminal offense -- trespass -- to be in the State of Arizona without documentation. It also gives the law enforcement agencies in the State the expectation of having to add stopping someone who looks like they are not a citizen of the US and asking them for their papers.
"Your papers, please." Or you are arrested and taken away. They don't need a reason to stop you other than you look like you don't belong here.
And, in much of my state, you look like you don't belong here if you happen to walk funny, dress funny, or talk funny -- inclusive of the stereotypical portrayals of LGBT people in mainstream media.
Bravo, Logo -- these are not mainstream media channels. And when people say mainstream media channels, they do not mean *stations* or *dial positions*, they mean the routes through which mainstream media reaches people.
For those who don't follow such things, Arizona has a fairly large population of persons whose descent traces through pretty much everything south of the border of the state -- all of Central and South America -- plus the islands between North and South America, plus the Philippines -- basically, places where the colonial reach of Portugal and Spain were very strong.
Latino/a is one of the terms for them. Hispanic is another. I am often taken for a member of such on sight. I grew up here, where the heritage of this state includes a great deal of Mexican and Spanish influence. I have cousins who possess the "typical features" of persons of Latino/a descent.
Anyone know what those are, by the way? Not a rhetorical question. I'd really like for someone to answer that question.
The person to whom I am legally married is a woman who is proud of her Mexican heritage. Although there is a great deal of other crap in the way, the truth is I still love her. She is the mother of my children. And, it follows, as such, that they are at least somewhat Mexican.
This law just placed these people, these human beings, these members of my family -- even if they don't have anything to do with me because I'm a transsexual -- in a bad place. Until this law is repealed, they can go nowhere without carrying "proper identification." Then, on top of that unspecified and questionable request, they have to present it when asked for at any time, on the basis that they look like they don't belong here.
All of them were born here.
On her side of the family, there is a track back to long before there was an Arizona, long before there was a United States. On my side, the track goes back to both the original Dutch colonies and the Lakota people who were here long before any of them. In my son is the blood of the Native peoples who were here long before the Vikings or Colombus, or North America and Central America, both.
And this angered me. It angered me just as much as I get angered by the idea that when I fly I have to carry every single document I own to prove my identity. Or the idea that I can go in for an interview and be told I will not be hired because I am a transsexual. Or the idea that I'm married to another woman and yet my gay and lesbian and bisexual friends and family cannot marry someone of the same sex. Or that trans folk cannot serve in the military -- openly or in the closet, even post-operatively -- and get treatment for it.
Those things propelled me run for office in 2012. This new thing propelled me to walk down to the District Democrats meeting and participate, and walk out with the start of running for precinct committeewoman.
And while I was there -- and I know you are all wondering why it is that I titled this thing the way I did when I haven't talked about such yet, I did what I do in political situations.
I made sure that people knew I was trans. The member of Equality Arizona that was there, he sorta vanished quickly. The attorney who had an HRC sticker invited me to the women's group at the local community center. I was asked if I would be at Pride. I answered yes, since this Saturday, I and a collection of trans folk will march under the banner of the political group of which I am co-chair.
And I was told several times that they were so glad I was dong this because there are so few positive portrayals of LGBT people.
Not merely trans, but any of them. But yes, trans in particular.
And that left me walking home that night thinking more deeply about the portrayals of LGBT people in the media. This is particularly interesting to me given the reactions to that horrible film and to the CNN show and then, of course, my friend Jillian's satiric posting recently, which is really interesting to contrast with Bil's post that same day.
I've seen people make claims that the horrible film is being censored, but they were silent when it came to saying the same thing about the CNN thing.
I've seen LGBT people defend a show's homophobia and transphobia with "but it was a fictional character!", apparently forgetting the way that LGBT people were portrayed in media in the 1980's and 1990's and the reactions those things sparked.
All surrounding the idea of how we are portrayed.
So here's two simple questions for all of you.
When was the last time you saw a fictional, positive, non-biographical portrayal of an individual in each of the various kinds of LGBT people in the mainstream media where they were not a victim? Television show, newscast, that sort of thing. Logo and Bravo don't count.
When was the last time you saw an individual of each of those things played in a way that was not all that pleasant -- such as for laughs (including camp) or as some sad pathetic thing or as the villain of the piece?
So each list should have one lesbian, one gay man, one bisexual, and one trans person in it.
I ask because I can't think of one positive portrayal -- and I figure maybe I've just been missing something. I'll toss mine into the comments later...