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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?

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 found this article interesting because it says sexual identities can be a solution to solve the crisis of urban poverty in the cities, linking the poverty to gender, race, and culture. I have never thought of the connection between sexual identities (or gender, race, and culture) and poverty, so it gave me a lot better idea of understanding 'living' segregation based on identities.

What really upset me was there are restrictions to housing along races,gender, sexual identities, which eventually lead to increasing of crime rate and doesn't give everyone same rights to live wherever they want to live. Home is where people should feel comfortable with, but many of people had to leave the city not because of their choice.

What I didn't understand from this reading is how can GLBT communities (or any other indentity groups change some places better? I mean, I understand diversity can make environment unique and somewhat special, but then again it doesn't really affect on poverty itself. Of course, GLBT coumminity can bring money into economy, but can it be really a solution to economic dilemma?

Anyways, I really enjoyed this article, so I can't wait for the class today :)

Hello esteemed classmates,

Murphy's article is espeicially enlightening to me because it discusses my community. It also appeals to me because of my research on White privilege.

I am conflicted but somehow at ease to gain this knowledge about my city. I have been quite excited and proud of the GLBT community for turning around regions within the metro. I have payed particular attention to the changes in Northside, as I have friends who have been instrumental in the changes in Northside. As I read this chapter, I immediately wondered if I should e-mail it to them. Could they know? Do my GLBT northside friends think they're establishing a gentrified island? Are they subconsciously disregarding the black communities that surround them, leaving them in the dust? And what about me? All this time I've thought that these gay makeovers were wholly amazing. I've never thought about the logistics and casualties.

in my research for my senior thesis, I read a lot of George Lipsitz--a real dose of reality. Since blacks have been "free" citizens in the US, the banks, and government have been hellbent on keeping property out of their hands Blacks have remained monetarily powerless because of accumulation by dispossession--especially in terms of property ownership. Please consider this passage from Lipsitz:

Blacks are not likely to number themselves among the forty-six million Americans today who can trace the origins of their family wealth to the Homestead Act of 1863, because almost all of that land was allocated to whites through restrictions expressly designed to deny access to blacks. They cannot include themselves among the major beneficiaries of the trillions of dollars of wealth accumulated through the appreciates of housing assets secured by federally insured loans between 1932 and 1962 because 98 percent of FHA loans made during that era went to whites via the openly racist categories utilized in agency's official manual for appraisers. Most blacks know that past discrimination continues to influence contemporary struggles to accumulate assets because wealth is inherited and passed down across generation. In recent years, moreover, changes in the tax code have further skewed opportunities and life chances along racial lines by giving favored treatment to those forms of income most likely to represent the fruits of past and present discrimination like inheritance income and capital gains, while lessening the value of income through work.

The Homestead Act was 50 years ago, but it's disheartening to read about MPLS bankers denying blacks loans to this day and in such an organized manner.

Most recently, I'd like to bring up a rehab program from MPLS. Here is a quote from the City of MPLS Webpage:

"Beginning April 25, homeowners and buyers in foreclosure-impacted neighborhoods of Minneapolis can apply to the City's Rehab Support Program, which provides $750,000 in financing to complete improvements, potentially increasing their home's market value."

These neighborhoods qualify:

Jordan Folwell McKinley
Central Webber-Camden Hawthorne
Shingle Creek Near North Willard-Hay
Lind-Bohanon Bryant Cleveland
Harrison

Considering how many homeowners in these neighborhood are people of color and meet all the criteria for receiving the loan, good credit being one of them, I am doubting that this rehab program will help anyone but middle class white people.

I am happy that I gained the knowledge I did. I am still happy for the GLBT community and I am proud of them for building strong communities amongst GLBT people, but people of color simply cannot be left behind while more white people benefit.

The Gay Land Rush

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I am realizing after reading a number of the readings for class that I am having a hard time finding a fit for me personally. I think a lot of this comes from seeing viewpoints from both sides of many of the readings and I am dealing with that same struggle this week.

Ryan Patrick Murphy's chapter was really hard for me because I remember much of what he referenced, especially the "Condo Queen" bench ads and all the condo sales at one part. I will equally admit I was glad to see the Eat Street flats go up, that corner of Nicollet and Franklin was always a sketchy area. I will admit that at the time I didn't think about the displaced poor and homeless and the change in property values, taxes, etc. I do find it interesting to read this article and note that the development STILL is not sold out! Murphy goes on to mention the Midtown development and the impacts the development has had. When I first moved here that was all the buzz, the closed Sears building and what to do with it, at the time I remember people discussing the fact that the building was a refuge for homeless and the area was for some, less desirable. Similarly, when the development started to happen, many people applauded the re-invention of the Sears building rather than destroying a landmark. Having visited the area, shopped Midtown and visited friends in the area, I am still not sure how to rectify my feelings and reactions to this reading.

Throughout this article, I continued to recall a lecture in an class I took at MCTC, Intercultural Communications. We discussed gentrification briefly and never in this manner. One of the points my professor made at the time was that many people look for and move into neighborhoods that have GLBT population. They do this because for a number of reasons some of which included increased property values, access to the arts and education as well as feeling like people really are a part of the community. It seems to me that these are the very reasons why gentrification is a bad thing and what Murphy tells us is a bad thing... UGH!

Land Rush/Rant @ Bachmann(that stupid so-and-so)

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I liked this article a lot. I could relate to it as it centers around where (and many of us) live. I guess I need some clarification on some things. When was this written? Somewhere I saw that it was published in 2010, but when was it written and who is it geared to? There are many instances of gentrification in Mpls and elsewhere but no one seems to bring in other groups of people that have done this. Many Jews were pushed into mostly black neighborhoods, and did the same thing. If you drive around Near North Mpls and take a close look at churches you can see the star of David all over them. But it is always the same story,one group or culture gets pushed out of the housing market because they are undesirable, but as soon as they move into a predominately black neighborhood they can take out loans and buy up whatever they like.
I feel that I got this rant out a couple of blogs ago with the "Flag Wars" posting on gentrification, but why is it always the black people that are so low down? I almost got into a fight with some one about well fare, because he claimed they were lazy. Well how is it lazy to be denied a loan, or a job, or anything because of where you came from or your last name or skin color!?

Another thing that was brought up in this article was the idea of heteronormativity, and how money is distributed based on that. I still cannot believe the mind set of some individuals, and how rich white people can write off others that do not share those attributes as being lazy. Michelle Bachmann's little thing at the end of this article on how MN is the "workingest" state, because people have two or more jobs and that shows how great we are. UMMMM NO YOU STUPID BITCH! People HAVE to work all those jobs, because people like YOU lock up there partners in prisons for some times being at the wrong place at the wrong time and have a "high risk" skin color. YOU cut their federal funding so they need to start paying out of pocket for medical and child care, that many fast food and retail positions do not offer. YOU drive up taxes for things like new stadiums and big box stores, but when it comes to socialized medical care, transportation and education you are more then happy to cut those taxes; because social means equal, and we can't have that! So thanks Michelle Bachmann, and others like you. I just hope the next time your mother in law is in a nursing home recovering from a surgery her white husbands/son's salary paid for, I hope you think of my boyfriend, or the other CNA's and CN's, and remember, he doesn't have health insurance, or sick days and is forced to work 47 hour shifts. Which could result in him, dropping your mother in lay in the tab and letting her drowned because of sleep deprivation, illness or just being over worked and under paid. Think about that you Christian conservative selfish brat, in your safe northern suburb safe from black people, close to those who think a like and love Jesus.

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