In which school makes me want to bang my head against a wall.

6 04 2009

I’ve been a terrible blogger lately, and by terrible, I mean “completely absent”. As it turns out, being in grade 12 and being a slow worker is not condusive to blogging 2-3 times a week. I’ll try and get back into the swing of things, though, if anybody still bothers to read this.

But, no, lack of blogging time is not what makes me want to bang my head against the wall.

Last week, in my English class, we were having a discussion about many things. One of those nice tangential ones where a lot of ideas get tossed around. Specifically, it related to the movie Water, which is actually a really good movie. So, my English teacher asks us this question:

“Is there really such a thing as a willing prostitute?”

I knew where this was going. I chimed in with something along the lines of “Uh, you guys, I know willing prostitutes.”

My teacher (who is actually a complete sweetheart, but kind of dead wrong on this one), procceeded to explain the correlation between child abuse and prostitution, and how she read a book about Vancouver’s downtown East Side and all these people live such horrible lives, and therefore, no prostitute would actually, you know, want to do that stuff.

Talk about jumping wildly to conclusions.

Then she said something like “We can’t judge these people, they’ve all had really hard lives.”

Isn’t assuming someone to be a victim a judgement in itself?

Also, in my World Issues class, in our unit on women’s issues, there is a lesson entitled “Prostitution and Slavery.” Same lesson.

I do realize people have varying opinions about sex work. But, wilfully ignoring the voices of sex workers just because it doesn’t fit the script? That’s just ignorant.


Day of Silence Wrap-Up

26 04 2008

It was amazing.

We had an estimated 50-60 participating, although it was hard to gauge, because, it being a Friday afternoon, the turnout for Breaking the Silence wasn’t huge.

It was extremely powerful. At one point in the day, I thought “Damn! I am one of thousands and thousands doing this. And if I hadn’t organized this, there would be about 50 less people.” The responses were almost all positive – my law teacher was taunting me a bit as expected, but I had quite a few positive responses as well. And I saw quite a few teachers wearing their black ribbons. However, apparently some people called one of my friends a “fag”, which was really disheartening. Homophobia and transphobia are alive and well at my school, which is why I think we need to do the Day of Silence.

Did I mention that fate seemed to work perfectly in my favour? You see, kids, I had what can be assumed to be a meeting with some bad scallops the night before. Or something. I wasn’t horribly violently ill or anything, but my first thought was “Dear god, please do not let me have the stomach flu.” And I didn’t – so I guess it was some very mild food poisoning. Or something. I was mostly fine the next day, except for not being able to eat much, and my stomach feeling slightly unsettled.

And today, we have a surprise transit strike. I just found that out about five minutes ago. That’s what happens when you live on the internet and update your blog every day and don’t watch TV. Anyways, I got really lucky. Because if it had happened the day before, we’d have been screwed – almost nobody would be at school.

That hateful asshole Fred Phelps says that “God Hates Fags”. Well, obviously, if there is a god, he/she/they LOVE the Day of Silence.

All kidding aside, one girl, who’s straight, wrote this brilliant facebook note about her experiences doing the Day of Silence. I wish I could link to it – it really is amazing. Anyways, I think she hit the nail on the head when she said that being silent all day taught her how hard it is to be silent.

So I say we stand up and fight, until none of us are silenced.

A few pictures (there would have been more, except I couldn’t track everyone down to ask permission to put them on here):

Some of my friends:

Me, with a friend: (I’m on the right, in case everyone was wondering what I look like)

The folks who turned out for “Breaking the Silence”:

It was an amazing day.

I will be back to my normal ranting tomorrow. No worries.

Update: My friend Sinead wrote a great blog post about participating in the Day of Silence. Check it out here.

Day of Silence Countdown: BLAST-OFF!

25 04 2008

It’s today.

I’m completely silent as I’m writing this.

I will update more later when I have time.

Day of Silence Countdown: t-minus 1 day

24 04 2008

So the big day is tomorrow! Woo-hoo! I am excited beyond belief. It feels so big – much bigger than myself. We have about 50 participants… almost double last year’s participation. And almost 7,000 schools are registered as participating…wow. Although I’m not sure I believe in heaven, I hope Lawrence King is looking down on us and smiling.

I will do a full update with lots of pictures and an overview  of what happened, likely on Saturday. Until then, I leave you with this lovely PSA with Lance Bass. I have a friend who was in this – she’s the one in the green shirt. She is super-fabulous. And so is this PSA.


Day of Silence Countdown: t-minus 2 days

23 04 2008

First of all, I have no idea why the wordpress date function is iffy. Well, actually, I do, I just don’t know whether it’s fixed or not. Anyway, in case you were wondering, it’s the evening of Wednesday, April 23rd as I write this.

Only two more (okay more like, one and a half) days until the moment I’ve been waiting for. I am so excited it is unbelievable. Well, for those of you who don’t know, here’s how my day’s going to work on Friday:

8:00 to 9:00 A.M.: Day of Silence Prep. Hand out speaking cards, ribbons, and optional tape (you know, over the mouth) to Day of Silence participants.

9:00 A.M to 11:45 A.M.: Me, not talking. Weird, huh?

11:45 A.M. to 12:45 P.M.: Silent Lunch. Me, still not talking.

12:45 P.M. to 3:20 P.M.: More of me not talking. And likely being mercilessly mocked by my right-wing law teacher.

3:30 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. (approx): Breaking the Silence. Collective scream, debriefing, music, poetry, and munchies. What could be better?

5:15 P.M. to 6:30 P.M. (wild guess): A loosely organized after-party. Getting either sushi or Vietnamese food at a nearby restaurant. Yummy.

Jealous yet?

All kidding aside, the upcoming Day of Silence has made me think a lot. About a lot of things. Specifically, identity and community.

I tend to prefer the term “queer/trans” to the acronym, “LGBT”, because it’s a lot more inclusive. Although I have seen attempts to expand the acronym (sometimes, into something quite long), I always feel like we’re missing someone or something. For me, personally, LGBT isn’t that good a fit, because I define myself as “queer” rather than as lesbian. I have no problems with anyone defining themselves as the latter, but for me, personally, if you must pigeonhole me, I’m mostly “L” with some “B” tendencies. A 90-10 ratio I suppose. Still, I can’t help feeling like the acronym marginalizes me, as well as other people with more fluid sexualities and gender identities. And a lot of people who might have previously identified themselves as bisexual, identify as pansexual or omnisexual to recognize the fact that there are more than two genders. And a lot of people who are gender-variant don’t necessarily identify as trans, but in terms of gender, they still fall under the umbrella of “queer”. Where would a crossdresser fit? A partner of a trans person, who once considered themself straight, but stayed with their partner after transition? Someone who is mostly attracted to people of the other biological sex, but has “atypical” sexual preferences?

One of the things that’s been really disheartening lately is the tendency of some people in the “LGBT” community to shun others for not being part of their definitions of L, G, B, or T. As if to say, “Get the hell out of my community! Start your own damn movement!” And I find that quite sad. To me, the queer/trans community represents anyone who has an identity or preferences outside the norm when it comes to sexuality or gender. And anyone else who wants to come along, for that matter. Allies too! Really, when it comes to fighting for our rights – all of our rights – we need all the help we can get, so throwing others under the bus for not being part of our narrow definition of “community” is really not helpful.

One thing that struck me about the Day of Silence group, all 40 or so of them, is how diverse a group it is. Queer, straight, male, female, possibly other. All different races, ethnic groups and religions. Some students with disabilities. It wasn’t a homogenous group, by any stretch of the imagination. Well, except for the fact that they’re all high school students, which is self-evident.

I consider all of them part of my “community”. Because, on April 25th, we’ll all be fighting for the same thing.

(edited to fix confusing typo)

Day of Silence countdown: t-minus 3 days

23 04 2008

As most of you know by now, the Day of Silence is on Friday.

We had our sign up/informational meeting today, and guess what? We have about 40 participants in the event. Which is definitely good. They all seemed very enthusiastic as well, which was lovely.

And, thank god, no Day of Truth assholes, at least not to my knowledge. I mean, a few ‘phobes have been whining over facebook, but nobody has said anything negative to my face.

Also, for our “Breaking the Silence” event, a few people are presenting music/writing relevant to the theme. I’m reading one of Julia Serano’s poems; one of my friends (who is really talented), wants to perform a song. Think acoustic; vocals/guitar. Anyways, she doesn’t know what song she should do – any ideas for songs that relate to the themes of the day?

Anyways, I am very excited! I’ll keep you all posted on the developments.

Dear High School Homophobes,

19 04 2008

I’m aware of the fact that you’re probably not reading this blog. And I’m aware that those who are reading are probably not homophobes. Still, maybe this open letter will catch up with you one day. Of course, if it does, you’ll probably be as dismissive and knee-jerk as you normally are, because you are the great warrior against “political correctness”. Or maybe, by some small chance, I’ll enlighten you. One can only hope.

You’re wondering why you’re, in fact, a homophobe? Or why I percieve you as one? Are you wondering how to not make people think you’re a homophobe? Or how to get rid of your homophobia (although that will probably never be an option for you)?

You can start here.

  • Quit using the word “gay” as an insult. Really. If you’re accustomed to using it, you might slip up once or twice. But if you continue to use it multiple times after someone (usually me) has corrected you, and especially if you proceed to taunt that person by saying the word “gay” in an insulting sense over and over again, they’ll probably think you’re homophobic. Because you probably are.
  • Similarly, quit accusing everyone who does something you don’t like of being a “faggot” or “homo”, or the perennial sixth-grade favourite, “gaylord”. This is for the boys, especially. It won’t make you less of a man to say “You know, I have some gay friends”, or “Cut it out, that’s offensive”. And contrary to popular belief, gay men were not put on this planet to threaten your masculinity. And you won’t catch The Gay from them, I promise.
  • Don’t drag out your token fake teenage bisexual friends as proof that you’re not homophobic. Because even if they are indeeed bisexual, and they are, in fact, your friends, you clearly haven’t learned anything from them,
  • Stop making fun of the trannies. In fact, I would very much appreciate it if you stopped using the word “tranny” altogether. Same goes for “he-she”, “she-male”, “chick with a dick”, and “man in a dress”. And, for the love of god, please learn the difference between sex and gender. And the difference between drag king/queen, cross-dresser, transgender, and transsexual.
  • Don’t think it’s acceptable to insult butch women or femme men in front of me, just because I’m femme. Yes, on the surface, I appear to fit in with society’s expectations of what someone of my biological sex should look and act like. If you actually got to know me, you’d realize that I don’t. Similarly, I have many gender-bending friends and a lot on the transgender spectrum, and I have a great deal of admiration and respect for their courage to live their lives in a world that doesn’t respect who they are. My gender expression is no better or worse than theirs – it’s just something that just is.
  • Similarly, please never praise me for being “straight-acting”, “gender-conforming”, “stereotype-defying”, or “not one of those mannish lesbians”. As per the last point, that’s not the type of “compliment” really want to hear. My gender expression is not an attempt to fit in, to break stereotypes, to “pass” as straight, or appeal to the straight majority. I’m just as queer wearing a dress and heels (although I actually can’t walk in heels) as a woman wearing baggy jeans and motorcycle boots. And if conforming to gendered expectations is what it takes for you to accept someone, I really don’t need your “acceptance”.
  • Quit telling us to shut up. If you believe that if we weren’t “rubbing our sexuality in everyone’s faces”, we’d have all our rights by now, you are sadly mistaken. And, as much as you might praise me for not being like “them”, (AKA the bad gays), I really won’t like you much if you say stuff like that.
  • Don’t snicker every time I do a project on a queer-related subject. Yeah, I get it. You probably think queer and trans people are really fucking funny. But mocking me for mentioning trans people in my essay for  my anthropology/psychology/sociology class, or doing a book report on Drag King Dreams by Leslie Feinberg for my English class just shows how immature you truly are.
  • Quit (barely) hiding behind the internet. As in, stop posting overly public facebook notes, viewable to most of the school and most of the city, about why you think homosexuality is a choice, and a bad one at that, or why you hate political correctness, so we should all go out and call people “dyke” and “faggot”. Quite frankly, I’ve come to a point in my life where I don’t give two shits about what bigots like you think of me or how I live my life. Many others have not. I know two grade nines who have just come out in the last few months. When I was running a safer sex/LGBT Youth Line booth for this year’s LGBTQ Health Matters Week, a girl came up to me, eager to know about the LGBT youth line. She clearly seemed to have some questions. I don’t know if she was a lesbian, bisexual, questioning, or just requesting information for a friend, but she needed that support in place. People like the ones I just described need support, not a gang of high schoolers publicly trashing people like them. I know caring about people (especially queer or trans people) usually doesn’t enter your mind, but your words can be really damaging.

You know, several times as I was writing this, I was thinking “Why bother? It’s not like any of the phobes are going to read this anyway.” But maybe some of them will. If you are one of the people that I’m referring to, and for some reason you’re reading this, please take it seriously. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll realize that you were wrong.

Yours truly,

Miss Nomered, proud purveyor of the homosexual agenda.