Thursday, January 30, 2014

Anti-Gay Violence in Russia

While the focus of most mainstream American LGBT organizations is same-sex marriage, it's easy to forget that in some countries, queers are just fighting to survive. American LGBT movements are often caught up in assimilationist goals, neglecting questions of survival and ignoring intersectional identities and oppressions. I found "36 Photos from Russia That Everyone Needs To See" and "Gays in Russia Are Under Attack" to be useful perspectives on the struggle for queer rights and gender expression in the home of this year's Olympic Games. As a queer teacher, I'm horrified to think of the impact this internationally sanctioned homophobia will have on LGBT youth. I've watched so many young people struggle with fear, self-hatred, and rejection. I've counseled countless students who were verging on suicide, terrified and lonely, unable to imagine a future for themselves. Over the past 25 years this has changed dramatically; many of my LGBT students now seem confident, ambitious, and unafraid.  Sometimes they're entirely unaware of the violent history that led to the gentrified identities so popular in mainstream media. The images coming from Russia feel strangely familiar to me, more akin to my own coming out experiences in the Midwest and Great Plains than glossy pop stars and cutesy sitcom characters. Russia has much to learn from America's LGBT culture, but America has much to learn from Russian courage. The photos I'm seeing show an incredible grassroots movement of brave queer people and allies willing to literally risk their lives for love. American queers still put our lives on the line, but for what? A wedding registry at Target? We can do better; we can ask for more. We must learn from our Russian cousins about activism and remember that liberation and assimilation are not the same thing. 

Reviews in PANK and Small Press Book Review

Hello! I'm delighted by two new reviews of X Marks The Dress: A Registry. Thanks to Carlo Matos for a super smart review in PANK; thanks to Erin McKnight for a lovely and insightful review in The Small Press Book Review. Meanwhile, in Russia, being queer or perceived as queer will get you killed. I was thrilled to see Queer Nation revise a Coke commercial in protest of Coke's sponsorship of the Olympic Games, hosted by a violently homophobic Russian regime.
LGBT Russians attacked by police: NPR
Mother Jones

The Guardian

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sunday, January 12, 2014

New Short Story in Mason's Road

Kelly Magee and I are hard at work on a second collaborative short story collection, tentatively titled Your Sick. Each story illustrates an imaginary illness. We're also continuing to focus on nonhuman animals, and simultaneously working backwards and forwards through the alphabet. Our writing process is simple: one of us starts a story and the other person finishes it. Sometimes we revise together, sometimes one of us revises solo, depending on time constraints. In our story "Zero Fever," published in Mason's Road literary journal, we tried to bring together the themes of animals, illness, and the alphabet. Enjoy! And if you're interested in learning more about parrots, check out the World Parrot Trust and FlyFree -- "working to end the wild bird trade and return parrots to the wild." 

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Nonhuman Rights Project

There's such exciting work going on at the Nonhuman Rights Project. From their website:

The Nonhuman Rights Project is the only organization working toward actual LEGAL rights for members of species other than our own. Our mission is to change the common law status of at least some nonhuman animals from mere “things,” which lack the capacity to possess any legal right, to “persons,” who possess such fundamental rights as bodily integrity and bodily liberty, and those other legal rights to which evolving standards of morality, scientific discovery, and human experience entitle them. Our first cases are being prepared for filing in 2013.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

We Were Once Wild

Kelly Magee and I are featured in the Contributor's Spotlight at Hayden's Ferry Review this month. Here we are, musing on the making of our short story "With Animal."While you're reading, consider snacking on some delicious vegan cookies baked from these recipes at VegNews. And for those of you interested in an intense, compelling nonfiction animal story, consider watching Blackfish, which is having a significant impact on national debates about non-human animals in the entertainment industry. I'm excited to think more about this, and other non-human animal related issues, as a member of the University of Washington's Critical Animal Studies work group in 2014.
Slavery / entertainment / we were once wild