May 052011
 

I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that May is both Mental Health Month and National Masturbation Month. If you think about it, they’re both about taking care of yourself and your needs… and they can certainly go hand in hand (or, hand in… um. I’ll stop there).

I’m a little skeptical of some of the language around “Mental Health Month.”  I understand the importance of educational campaigns, but the reliance on the talking point that “one in four adults struggles with a treatable mental health condition” makes me a bit uncomfortable because of it’s emphasis on ‘treatment.’ I’m in favor of people seeking treatment if they personally desire it, but our current mental health industry is so focused on pathology and profit that the available “treatments” often don’t support the overall well-being of the individual seeking care. At worst, an individual may enter treatment and lose their right to consent or to leave.

As such, I am cautious about a Mental Health Month that advocates ‘treatment’ without some significant caveats.  As I see it, Mental Health Month should be more about addressing the failures of the psych industry, focusing on self-care (there’s where the connection to National Masturbation Month comes in!) and community wellness… and for that matter, we shouldn’t limit it to the month of May!

May 042011
 

Last night I attended “Sleeping on the streets or walking down the isle? Prioritizing LGBT youth” a panel hosted by The Center here in NYC.  The panel was moderated by Cathy Renna and the panel consisted of Carl Siciliano, Lewis Fidler, Tobias Barrington Wolff, Kai Wright, and Nico Sifra Quintana.  The premise of the evening was a good one, to talk candidly about the ways in which federal, state, and local governments have continued to fail homeless LGBTQ youth, as well as the ways in which the mainstream political agendas of the LGBTQ community with its emphasis on marriage has quite literally allowed our youth to be left out in the cold.

 

I was tweeting for some of the evening – you can find all those quotes here, but these are a few highlights:

“If were working so hard for marriage equality, but not working so hard for homeless youth, why are we working so hard at all” –audience member

‎”There are reasons why our community is not caring about these kids (like we did Matthew Shepard) and we need to pay attention” -Cathy Renna

“We need to come together and cause an uproar ” -youth speaking at the panel

‎”We need vision & leadership. Folks who are experts & folks who have personal experience. It matters who is at the table” -Nico Sifra Quintana

 

Everything from the climate of being a service provider in NYC, to a broader understanding of the ways in which the federal government is systematically failing our youth came up.  Did you know that less than 5% of federal money for homelessness is going to youth? That’s all youth, not even specifically culturally competent services designed for LGBTQ homeless youth! That information came from panelist Nico Sifra Quintana who co-authored the report “On the Streets: The Federal Response to Gay and Transgender Homeless Youth” and is himself a formerly homeless LGBTQ youth from Oregon. You might remember that he and I did an extensive interview last summer. I was particularly heartened to see folks explicitly addressing the ways in which our community has its priorities backwards with this continued emphasis on marriage, as well as the ways in which other youth issues like suicide and bullying have in recent months been under a spotlight, and yet queer youth homelessness remains incredibly silenced and stigmatized.

 

One of the best parts of the evening in my opinion came when youth were given the floor and spoke about their own experiences of family rejection, as well as mistreatment from social service staff and agencies.  This video is via Edge Boston includes some of the youth who spoke last night:

 

During the Q&A some youth organizers came forward and spoke pointedly about their frustration with the broader LGBTQ community. The ways in which people in the community are willing to show up at forums, but fail to actually do the work to make things safer for homeless LGBTQ youth.

‎”We sit here and sit here and say we want to advocate but how many of us actually go home and do something? We have to step forward! We loosing our youth!” -youth organizer

 

 

 

May 032011
 

Here’s the second batch of my favorite shots from my promo photo shoot in an abandoned institution with Syd London.  I posted the first batch a few days ago, but there were too many good shots to fit into a single post!  If you’re hungry for more, you can view the entire set from the shoot (over 100 photos!) on Flickr.

And no, we don’t know why there was an old coffin in the middle of that last room either.

May 032011
 

NEW YORK • MAY 12, 2011

Bluestockings Books
172 Allen Street, New York, NY 10002
7:00 pm Reading

Readers: Eileen Myles, Michael Klein, Sassafras Lowrey, Barbara Hammer, Ann Herendeen, Daniel Talbott, Rob Stephenson, Gayle Salamon, Eleanor Lerman, Kathleen Warnock, Georgeann Packard, Rafael de la Dehesa, and Richard Stevenson.

I’m absolutely busting at the seams with excitement about Kicked Out having been named a finalist for this years Lambda Literary Awards in the LGBTQ Anthology category.  The awards are pretty much the highest honor in the queer literary world and to be a finalist is a tremendous honor.  The awards are only a few weeks away now, and next week  is the NYC Lambda Literary Finalist Reading at Bluestockings.  I’ll be joining the other local finalists, and if you happen to be in the city I’d love to see you there!

May 022011
 

The US Department of Labor has added gender identity to the protected classes listed on equal opportunity policies for federal employees.  Along with pregnancy, gender identity is now listed under sex discrimination as a protected category.  It’s unclear whether these protections include gender expression as well.

The new protections do not impact local or state government employees, or employees working in the private sector.

You can view the statement from the Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, here.

May 012011
 

Sassafras: How do we start?

Kestryl: I don’t know.

Sassafras: Ok, how about: “Hey y’all!”

Kestryl: “Y’all?!”

Sassafras: I say that all the time.

Kestryl: I don’t.

Sassafras: Fine.

Hey everyone, PoMo Freakshow here, with an exciting announcement about a new blog series that we’re debuting.

Kestryl: Is it a blog series or is it a column?

Sassafras: It’s on the web.

Kestryl: Does that make it a blog? What’s the definition? How about, blog/column?

Sassafras: Fine.

Hey everyone, PoMo Freakshow here with an exciting announcement about a new blog/column

Kestryl: No, I was wrong, that sounds dumb. Really. Let’s go back to series.

Sassafras: Fine.

Hey everyone, PoMo freakshow here, with an exciting announcement about our new blog series all about love, sex, and relationships.

Kestryl: Should it say queer? This is pretty queer. I mean I guess straight people could probably get something out of it too, but it’s really queer. I think that should be there, that we’re big old homos.

Sassafras: Do straight people even read our site?

Kestryl: Google Analytics doesn’t tell me. Was that alienating? Sorry straight readers (if you’re out there).

Sassafras : Fair enough.

Photo by Syd London.

Photo by Syd London.

So this is our new blog series all about queer love, sex, and relationships. The idea for it came after a whole bunch of our friends, and folks that we meet on the road  approached us asking  1) how we do it (the relationship part – not so much the sex) and 2) how  they can do it too.  In addition to being artistic partners here at PoMo Freakshow, we are “partners in life” and have been together for what will be 7 years this Pride Season (yes, we got together during Pride. We will tell you the full story when you’re older).   We’ve both had our fair share of unsuccessful, unethical, and downright abusive relationships, so when we got together we knew pretty well what didn’t work.  We’ve also watched friends struggle through more bad relationships than we can count.

Over the last seven years, we’ve spent a lot of time figuring out what does work, and now we want to pass along what we’ve learned to all of you. We decided to start this blog series because we really want to see more queers in relationships that are vital, fulfilling, and meaningful to them–whatever form that takes.  We’re not trying to be prescriptive, and we’re not pretending that what works for us will work for everyone else.

You might be wondering why we think we’re qualified to write about this, other than the ‘being together for seven years,’ which we’ve been told is the equivalent of “forever” in queer years. Neither of us are professional relationship counselors or therapists. We’re just two crusty queer kids that found each other, grew up, and built something beautiful along the way.

Kestryl: So lets tell them about what we’ve built.

Sassafras: Where do we start?

Here’s a brief overview of our relationship: As we mentioned earlier, we’ve been together for about seven years. We’ve lived together for six of those, including a cross-country move. We’re poly (more about what that looks like for us in a later post), and we exist in a conscious negotiated power dynamic (more on that later, too).  We’re not going to say that the only successful way to have a long term committed queer relationship is to be poly and in a leather dynamic, but we think there are things that work for us that will work for other relationship formations as well.

Kestryl: So now we’ve done the polite thing and introduced ourselves.

Sassafras: We like manners and etiquette.

Kestryl: Other than when we don’t.

Sassafras: Maybe we should start the relationship stuff.

Kestryl: Oh, you mean actually give people advice?

Sassafras: Something like that.

One key  we’ve found to keeping a relationship healthy, functioning, and hot is taking care of each other. This doesn’t just mean making soup when someone’s sick, or helping them put their air conditioner in.  It’s also all the little things that let the person or persons that you’re with know that you’re thinking about them, and that you care. It can be small and simple—

Sassafras: I like to leave Kestryl little notes and drawings all over the house, often featuring dinosaurs.

Kestryl: Yes you do….and they are adorable…and  this is the point where I feel the need to tell our readers that we’re going to endeavor to not make them  throw up in their mouths.

Dandelion chains in Prospect Park.

The caretaking can be of a more practical nature too such as making dinner (which Kestryl does frequently) or whimsical like a spontaneous spin on the carousel in the park. Taking care of each other, mentally physically, and emotionally is what feeds a relationship. It’s not just about doing cute things when you first get together, but making the other’s well-being, amusement and joy an everyday concern.

Kestryl: Didn’t we talk about this while we were outlining in the park? What do we have in the notes?

Sassafras: Notes? You made me a daisy chain.

Kestryl: You are never going to be our note taker ever again.

Sassafras: I’m cute!!!!

And folks, we’re out of time.  Catch us in two weeks for our next installment. We will be bringing you anecdotes, relationship tips, and answers to your questions.  If you have a question, just email it to sassafras@pomofreakshow.com and/or kestryl@pomofreakshow.com and we’ll consider it for a future post!

Til then—keep it cute!

May 012011
 

As many of you know, I've been a blogger here at the Femmes Guide for several years now, and after considerable thought I’ve realized that with my schedule the way that it is, the time has come for me to say farewell.

 

Over the years I’ve written on numerous occasions about how femme community is something that I've struggled with. My roots, my home, my base community has always been amongst butches and bois and other generally masculine of center folks. That’s the community I came out into, they are my closest friends, and on the whole are the folks that I feel most seen and understood by --even though femme is the presentation that I at this point in my life feel the most at home in.  Consciously engaging in femme spaces, and with queer femininity explicitly over the past few years on this site has been a really interesting and at time challenging experience. Though my craving for femme community hasn’t increased in anyway, the act of being here, and writing about the world I inhabit with an explicitly femme lens has been one that I cherish

 

Over the years here at The Femmes Guide, I’ve had the chance to pull in some of my favorite longtime femme friends in guest posts, and even been able to convince a few to come onboard as regular bloggers.  It’s been fun to connect with femmes out in the larger community who have recognized me from my posts here, and I have generally enjoyed being part of a group of femme bloggers. Writing can often be a solitary art form (one of the things I like best about it), however it also can be an exciting change to be able to connect with folks collaboratively in this space.

 

With all that said, my touring schedule has increased substantially over the past couple of years since the release of my anthology Kicked Out.  Right now, other than biting my nails waiting anxiously for the Lambda Literary Awards (which I have a super cute dress picked out for) I’m fully in the midst of finishing my novel, and know that I don’t have the space in my schedule for some other projects like Femmes Guide.  For folks interested in keeping up with me and my adventures moving forward you can follow my blog at www.pomofreakshow.com as well as www.kickedoutanthology.com and please feel free to add me on twitter and facebook.

 

xoxo