The Exit is the Goal

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Nikhil Pal Singh wrote about an "exit" - a "representation of some credible alternative." This is an important idea, but I think it also applies to persuasive argument. Okay, do you remember that argument you had with that asshole who sat behind you in Spanish class or some person on the bus that you wished had just left you alone? Now, you had a really sound argument. You whipped out all of the right statistics and facts to prove their thesis wrong. And, the person you were arguing with was classically educated enough to understand what you were saying and the implications of your argument. But, still, they didn't agree with you. They didn't admit that they were wrong. Why? Because the point of this conversation was probably not to have an intellectual debate of ideas but to prove that the other person was wrong. You did this: congratulations. But nobody likes to admit that they were wrong. Instead, this person that you were talking with is now quickly backtracking to the land of "who are you to tell me this?" and something about an eternal deity permitting or not permitting whatever it is.

If the point of a discussion is to prove that you are right (and, therefore, that the other person is wrong), then, even if you "win," there will be no consensus between you. If, instead, you present your facts amicably and acknowledge some of the other person's points as valid but show them gently why they are incorrect, then perhaps this person might agree with you. In essence, you have provided this person with an exit.

I think a lot of political issues could be resolved if people were less keen on winning and more focused on change. To do this, the party with the weaker facts must be let down gently and not made out to be an idiot. As Singh says, "It isn't legislation. It's presentation."

sex WORKERS

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Legitimizing sex as work has its implications. I think its interesting because I have read a similar article in a different class. Pretty much it relates because it has to do with claiming ones sexuality. And, how ones sexuality is viewed and put into context in the first place. I think its interesting because in India -where the article I read took place had much to do with the realms of who controls sex (especially for women). The article had to also do with how rights come form unionizing sex workers as to aim for rights and claim for the views as the work as a profession.
I think number one you have to look at the implications of how sex is to be viewed. (private sphere/holy union)
How sex is to be controlled.
How sex is taboo.
Feminist views and state views for and against the legitimizing of sex work as a job.

From Websites to Wal-Mart

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The article "From Website to Wal-Mart: Youth, Identity Work, and the Queering of Boundary Publics in Small Town, USA" by Mary L. Gray talks about how homosexual people who are living in rural areas have limited places to hang out. The article also explains two examples of the places that those people could gather and spend some time.

I agreed with the author's idea of having the ideal places for homosexual people especially in rural areas. People should work harder to create the places that are physically comfortable places for homosexual people that they can hang out without any resistants and also are psychologically comfortable places that they do not have any limitations of having different sexual, "economic, political, social, cultural, religious, legal, and artistic" standards (Gray 52).

The first example that Gray explains is about AJ, who is a female-to-male transgender. AJ got a sex reassignment surgery and created the website to give the information about the surgery and create a place for the people to share their experience for free. I believe the website allows those issues to connect to public and the world. It also allows for the homosexual or transgender people living in rural areas to access and meet the people who have similar concerns as they do.

The second example is Wal-Mart in Kentucky. One of the guys in HPA told the author that Wal-Mart is a great spot for the members of this organization because they are able to gather around and do not have to get any resistance because they are the customers. Even though I was glad to see that they have a spot to gather around and hang out, it was sad the fact that they still do not have a place for gathering. I mean, the purpose of going to Wal-Mart, for most of people, is to shop. So people should have more liberal mind in order to accept homosexual people as who they are and not give dirty looks or negative attitudes toward homosexual people so they can hang out in any places they want.

Wesbsites, Wal-Mart and Beyond

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Okay so here's the deal: The rural, small towns of America are oppressing the gays. Or so we all thought. The popular narrative of queers coming out of their closet in our nation begins in these small, desolate towns. The queers come out slowly to their families and friends and they are outright rejected and thrown out onto the streets. With no queer community to speak of in their midst, they move away to big cities to join the utopic urban gay family.
Mary Gray effectively details how this story is becoming more and more fallacious as we progress in the 21st century. Queer people (of all ages, but predominately youth) are coming out and building communities within their rural settings. They are turning to the internet and to previously unexplored avenues to make their bodies visible and to speak out for change. It seems like the people Gray focusses on in her article are real partners in LGBT social movements. They ensuring that their specific, contextual issues are addressed without relying on the numbers of supposedly progressive urban communities. Brava!
In other news, rural and southern sections of the US have historically harbored more extreme homo and trans phobia than urban centers. Am I right? Am I missing something? This nation can be a scary place for people with non-normative bodies. I know Gray isn't claiming that these areas are entirely safe, but her study suggests more tolerance than I was previously inclined to imagine.
Let's discuss.

Reflection on the Class as a Whole

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I wanted to take this last blog post to reflect on the class as a whole. I think this was a very interesting class, and I'm glad I took it. I've learned so much not just about the history of the GLBT movement, but also have learned much about the theory behind social movements. I think the former is important to know (for if you don't know where you've come from, how will you know where you're going?), as well as the latter: we must be aware of criticisms of our strategies, for how else will we improve them?

I admit I was nervous about the service learning aspect of the class. I worried it would take too much time, or that I would get stuck with an unsatisfactory organization. However, I think it is an important aspect of this class. Much of what I've learned from class time and class readings would not have had as much of an impact if I hadn't been able to connect that to a "real life" experience. I think, also, the service learning component of this class makes that important link from theory to praxis, which is often left by the wayside in classes, as we tend to focus on theory.

Finally, I think the people in this class have been great. It's been a pleasure to work with all of you, and I will sincerely miss you after this semester. Thank you all for making this class great!

Love,
Nyssa

Websites to Wal-Mart

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I have to say at first I did struggle following the studies cited in this article but when you look past them and to read the article there are some interesting points to be found. I grew up in a rural Montana town with a population of approx 4000, so not super small but pretty similar to the towns referenced. As a result, my experience was similar, lacking in resources, places to meet, etc.; the major difference for me is that this was well before online resources so we didn't have ways to find each other online or to organize, rural youth today make do with what they have... the internet, a local donut shop and Wal-Mart. Gray mentions AJ's website documenting his transition process because he wanted others to have access to information. This is the perfect example of becoming a source when there was a lack of a source, so meeting a need for yourself through yourself. I had one other thought while reading this and it was about Wal-Mart, a company not known to be all that gay friendly or small business friendly for that matter. Wal-Mart has historically had a very low score on the Corporate Equality Index and is known for not being gay friendly. Yet in a small Kentucky town, the local Wal-Mart serves as a place to hangout and even stage an impromptu drag show. Why? The local store is open and an easy place to hangout and for Wal-Mart it means business, they aren't going to kick out customers who are having a good time while shopping... even if they don't support GLBT employees in a way they support their GLBT customers.

"Trollops & Tribades"-- a mini tangent.

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In a way, capitalism comodifies everything. Regardless if a facet of identity resides within a direct labor market or not, the lines of private and public blur and intersect at times. Social capital and standing can buy a certain degree of private; capital can be used as a buffer for the public sphere. But what happens to those who lack that capital or deviate from 'traditional' forms of obtaining that capital? Is the private self still kept separate from the occupational self? How much monetary capital is necessary to erase the stigma within sex work? Are high-class escorts held to the same pathology and social taunts as street sex workers or those who work at venues? Another random question a friend asked me the other day, which I don't exactly know what to do with, where do drag performances fit in?
Koy's article, Trollop & Tribades " addresses unionizing sex work as though it were any occupation, "Our campaign was about a worker issues, rather than a sex worker issue." Ultimately that should be the case. As reflected in the article, people often portray the sex worker as this poor frail creatures and rally behind the need to save their sisters from the patriarchy. Yet, how is one empowered by being stripped of political and personal agency through this construct of broken victim? What about those who do see it as a job, strictly a temporary or simply a way to make things meet? Though, it is important not to mute those bodies who are forced into prostitution, sex trafficked etc., for the sake of this post I am just addressing those actors who see sex work as just work and voluntary. Through reconstructing the discourse around sex work to focus solely on it being work, abuses and violence committed within the industry can be prevented and curved a little bit more easily. By maintaining this stigmatized barrier, nothing is being solved and muting of identities and marginalization of bodies is further perpetuated. Feminists can yell about how porn is detrimental to women and this evil thing, but by continuing to delegitimize sex work, they are doing the same evil as the system they are fighting against. It becomes a level of self-mitigated oppression within the oppressed, as Decadence makes a point to in the article.
Furthermore, "They're on an assembly line and we are in a peepshow. But it is just a basic labor issue" reminded me of an article I read for one of my classes last year (I wish I remembered the title or the author). But the article created this slippery slope argument about sex work. The gist of the argument was if we permit sex work, pretty soon social services would be telling the poor that their only choice of employment is sex work. Also with our capitalist nature, places like McDonalds will run brothels and it will become so normalized our society that our bodies will be nothing more than comodified Big Macs. The absurd lengths that this scenario was taken made me laugh, because, in a way, it dismissed the power that language holds within our understanding and construct of reality. But is it really that absurd? Is it necessarily a bad thing or should this be spun as a critique on capitalism and all the facets it permeates and acts within?

Service Hours Available at BECAUSE!

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Conference is this Saturday. You must register here: http://www.becauseconference.org/REGISTRATION-2011.html

And then you must e-mail Lou Hoffman and tell her that you want to volunteer. E-mail her at LouAHQ@gmail.com

If they are interested, tell them to register before midnight Thursday. They
will get service hours for the entire time they are at the conference (not
the evening entertainment) plus a free lunch plus attending a cool small
conference!

Go to the BECAUSE site and you can check out the workshops if you're interested in being a room monitor.

http://www.becauseconference.org/

It's pay what you can if anything :)

That's cool, but so what?

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As the end of our class time approaches and we've been asked to reflect on our service learning for the semester, I've been thinking a lot about my work this semester. I've been working with the Tretter collection, doing data entry to help create an online database of the collection's Pride posters. It's been a lot of fun, and it's been very cool to look at Pride posters from the 70s up until now, and it's certainly been informative to see a visual representation of how Pride has changed over the years.

However, I've had a hard time tying my work with the Tretter collection to what we've learned in the class. The literature we've read had often talked about either direct action groups, or service provision groups, and the Tretter collection doesn't seem to fit into either of those paradigms. I certainly have a sense that the work I've done has been important in some way, but I'm not sure what it is. I want to justify the work that I've done, to show that it's important and has had/will have an impact on GLBT social movements, but I'm unsure what that justification is, or if it even exists. I just really hope that the work I've done hasn't just been, "Well, that's cool ... but so what?"

Gay Land Rush

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I think its really cool to think about all our consumer habits in relation to our identity and the desire to belong. How want is created in a capitalist nature and kept going really goes deep. If, I can create a space where a city becomes hip than it can be believed that profit will be made. So, if gay people are brought into the city they may be able to cover up the previous poverty that rested in the city through reinvestment in the structure of the city. Motives may be seen as impure to drive one population out and bring another in to gain profit, but economically the motive has its incentives. And, who's supporting this? Those who made it happen and those who keep it going by inhabiting the area. Can blame really be put on one group or person? Is blame even necessary? I think at this point its interesting to see what benefits were gained and/or lost during this process.