E. Winter Tashlin

What You Need To Know for 3/4/13 [Holy Crap: 2013 Edition]

Filed By E. Winter Tashlin | March 04, 2013 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: Anoka-Hennepin, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Five College Queer Gender & Sexuality Conference, Hampshire College, James Sears, Judge Tracy Thorne-Begland, Lech Walesa anti-gay, trans* children

It has been pointed out to me that last week I consistently listed the WYNTK as being in 2012, when it is in fact now 2013. I'm still not sure how that happened, it already being 2013 that is.

2013.jpgNonetheless, here we are: a whole three months into the new century's teenage years. Before you know it the 21st Century will be hiding used tissues and sneaking drinks from Father Time's liquor cabinet (which would be stocked with Early Times Kentucky Whiskey I assume ).

It's a point I had driven home this past weekend. As I mentioned in Friday's WYNTK, I presented two workshops at Hampshire College for the Five College Queer Gender & Sexuality Conference this past weekend. Standing there with my husband, whom I met nearly fifteen years ago on our freshman orientation at that very school, it was hard not to be struck by just how much had changed. The social and political landscape the students who organized and attended the conference have grown up with is already a very different one from what we experienced as children of the Reagan/Clinton era, who entered college in 1998.

Admittedly, the Pioneer Valley has always existed in its own sociopolitical bubble, witness that a vast number of my peers honestly believed Ralph Nader would win the presidential election in 2000. Even taking that into account though, a four hundred person sexuality and gender conference, which this year expanded from one to two days, entirely student created and run, is a remarkable thing, and not something we would have seen in our time as students.

A few years ago at this same conference, I asked a student organizer how accommodating professors are around trans* and genderqueer students at Hampshire. They looked at me a bit oddly and said "well... if a student changes pronouns mid-semester it can take a bit for the professor to get it down, but that's to be expected." When I explained that I was more curious about how the topic gets raised in the first place, and how do the professors handle it, I was told "most professors ask people's name and PGP (preferred gender pronoun) at the beginning of the semester, and that's that." I think they were as surprised by my surprise as I was by their explanation. I had a hard time imagining it being that simple, and they had a hard time imagining it had ever been another way.

When I graduated in 2003, Hampshire didn't even have a queer students' center yet, although throughout the school's life it has always been progressive and queer/GSRM positive. Additionally, during our time there, my partners and I were the only really visible poly folk on campus, while multi-partner relationships and dynamics are now an accepted part of student life. And while we weren't the only kinky folk at Hampshire, I was taken aback when asked on Saturday about teaching workshops for the campus kink/BDSM organization, simply by the fact that it existed.

Obviously Hampshire College and the Five College network in the Amherst/Northampton/Mt. Holyoke area is not representative of the state of colleges or youth across the nation. Nor, being in my way an old fuddy-duddy, am I sure that everything I saw there was for the better (that's a whole other essay). But overall, if what I saw this weekend is a sign of where the world is going as the 21st Century enters its teens, it's going be a damn thrilling ride.

Here's what you need to know today:

  • In what is being called a medical first, a child born with an active HIV infection and treated with an aggressive medication regiment, has remained free of the virus without medication for an extended period of time, leading doctors to declare the infection "cured."
  • Nobel Peace Prize holder, democratic activist, and former president of Poland, Lech Walesa has angered many with recent deeply homophobic comments, including saying that gays shouldn't be seated on the floor of Parliament and must accept that "They must know they are a minority and adapt themselves to smaller things."
  • Twenty-five years on, people are acknowledging a brutal streak of anti-gay violence in Sydney during the 80s and 90s that left at least fifty people dead.
  • Puerto Rico's former governor, who during his administration signed a bill to ban recognition of foreign same-sex marriages, now supports marriage equality for LGBT people.
  • In a simultaneous failure of both compassion and logic, CBS's Dr. James Sears argued (while mis-gendering her) that a trans* girl would be likely to walk around a girls' bathroom with her penis exposed (because that's what boys do, see: mis-gendering).
  • While not going quite as far as some might have wished, the Obama Administration's Supreme Court brief opposing Prop 8 is an historic document.
  • A lesbian mother in Texas was beaten unconscious on a public playground by the parent of a child who had been bullying her son.
  • Although there's work still to be done, in the year since a lawsuit by the Southern Poverty Law Center forced the Anoka-Hennepin school system to implement major changes to counter anti-LGBT bias and bullying, there has been a marked improvement in the school climate and lives of LGBT students.
  • Notoriously anti-LGBT Catholic Cardinal Keith O'Brien, who abruptly resigned last week, has admitted that at times his "sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected (of him)" regarding sexual involvement with other priests.
  • The American Sociological Society has filed a brief in the Prop 8 case before the Supreme Court, that effectively destroys any shred of credibility the study by Mark Regnerus that anti-equality forces are so fond of may have had.
  • After an uphill confirmation battle, the state of Virginia now has its first openly gay judge.
  • This gay (marriage) inclusive ad from Amazon has the internet abuzz:

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