Category: LGBT Issues

Why Kevin Hart Shouldn’t Have Played a Victim on ‘Ellen’ (Guest Column)

His interview tried to diminish the actor’s critics as “trolls” and “haters” rather than spotlighting the real-world consequences of his own words, ‘The Fosters’ and ‘Good Trouble’ writer Kris Rehl writes for The Hollywood Reporter.

Watching Kevin Hart’s interview on The Ellen Degeneres Show, I was shocked to see Ellen throw her weight behind his self-victimization. How could this saga go on without Hart taking any real responsibility? “It’s tough for me because it was an attack, a malicious attack on my character, to end me,” Hart said.
When I was a freshman at NYU, a straight guy who lived in my dorm called me a faggot. When I told him he couldn’t talk to me like that, he physically assaulted me, a few steps from my front door. That was a malicious attack. I was 18, alone and spiraled into depression.
It’s hard to sympathize with Hart playing the victim of outrage when he contributed to this culture of violence toward gay men. I’m glad he has grown and stopped using that slur, but his decade-old tweets reached a larger audience when he was offered the Oscar hosting gig. He keeps referencing an old apology that most people haven’t seen, and his fans continue to defend this homophobia, making it even more important that he use larger platforms like going on Ellen to denounce the type of violence he “joked” about inflicting on his potentially gay son. It’s now his responsibility (and, by extension, Ellen’s) to make sure his fan base understands the deeply rooted effects of homophobia in our culture. If Hart has grown like he claims, it’s time for him to listen, learn and speak out.
I believe in the power of television — it’s changed my life, and it’s why I’m a writer. A 2015 Variety survey showed that The Ellen Degeneres Show was more influential in changing audiences’ minds about same-sex marriage than any other media. But Ellen, for all the good she’s accomplished for the gay community, is not our spokesperson.
She also isn’t a gay man, the group that Hart’s violent jokes targeted. Only three days ago, I was walking through Griffith Park with my boyfriend when a man got off a bus, saw us, and screamed “fag” at us multiple times. So I was incredibly disappointed with how Ellen advocated for Hart, diminishing his critics as “trolls” and “haters” rather than spotlighting the real-world consequences of Hart’s words, the people they’ve emboldened and the ones they affect.

So much of Hollywood, even trailblazers like Ellen, can be quick to brush queer people aside. It’s not OK to be openly homophobic like it used to be, but the overwhelming majority of gay actors still can’t come out until after they make it. Every June, studios trot out their floats at Pride as a show of strong allyship despite featuring next to no LGBTQ characters in their major releases. Every gay writer I know has a story where they’ve been told their script or pitch is “too gay.” Homophobia may now be closeted here in Hollywood, but it’s something that queer people have to deal with every day.

I’m not sure how the Academy could honor a movie about conversion therapy and homophobia at their ceremony this year when their host refuses to acknowledge his complicity in that same discriminatory culture. But if Hart doesn’t make things right, I would like to nominate Billy Porter or RuPaul or A Star Is Born’s Shangela to host, because representation matters.

‘Transgender’ Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration

Screen Shot 2018-10-21 at 6.25.10 PMWASHINGTON — The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a governmentwide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.
A series of decisions by the Obama administration loosened the legal concept of gender in federal programs, including in education and health care, recognizing gender largely as an individual’s choice and not determined by the sex assigned at birth. The policy prompted fights over bathrooms, dormitories, single-sex programs and other arenas where gender was once seen as a simple concept. Conservatives, especially evangelical Christians, were incensed.

Now the Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times.
The department argued in its memo that key government agencies needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender as determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” The agency’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with, according to a draft reviewed by The Times. Any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified using genetic testing.

“Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” the department proposed in the memo, which was drafted and has been circulating since last spring. “The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”

The new definition would essentially eradicate federal recognition of the estimated 1.4 million Americans who have opted to recognize themselves — surgically or otherwise — as a gender other than the one they were born into.
“This takes a position that what the medical community understands about their patients — what people understand about themselves — is irrelevant because the government disagrees,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, who led the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights in the Obama administration and helped write transgender guidance that is being undone.

The move would be the most significant of a series of maneuvers, large and small, to exclude the population from civil rights protections and roll back the Obama administration’s more fluid recognition of gender identity. The Trump administration has sought to bar transgender people from serving in the military and has legally challenged civil rights protections for the group embedded in the nation’s health care law.

MORE ON THIS STORY: https://apple.news/AApI1C7vASruuUKqJyd5nEA

A Path to the Runway, Paved With Hardship

Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 7.40.10 AMFor a long time, being online was where Aaron Philip felt most confident.

She began documenting her daily life on Tumblr when she was 11, writing about her love of anime and the experience of growing up in New York City with cerebral palsy. In those days, Aaron got online with a MacBook and a personal Wi-Fi hot spot at a homeless shelter in Manhattan, where she lived with her father after her medical bills became too expensive.

“I took to the internet to find community and build a space for myself where I could be loved and appreciated,” she said.

Despite her circumstances, Aaron projected a positive attitude online, once telling her followers: “Sometimes, it’s you who has to trigger your own happiness.”

Aaron, 17, now lives in an apartment in the Bronx. She doesn’t go anywhere without her iPad, which usually sits on a tray attached to her motorized wheelchair. She’s graduated from Tumblr to Twitter and Instagram, where she has become a champion of issues affecting gay, transgender and disabled youth.

Last fall, Aaron announced her ambition to become a model. “I bleached my hair, and I bought a new wardrobe with the intentions of going viral, which is crazy,” she said with a laugh.

Aaron’s confidence is no longer confined to the internet. To jump-start her modeling career, she used Instagram to send messages to fashion photographers and set up photo shoots, which landed her campaigns with brands such as ASOS and H&M. In July, she became the first black transgender model — and the first physically disabled model — to be signed to Elite Model Management.

The signing comes at a time when the fashion industry is starting to respond to decades of criticism for practices that made tall, thin, white women its standard for beauty.

Nearly 40 percent of the models at New York Fashion Week in February were models of color, up from 21 percent in 2015, according to an annual diversity report conducted by The Fashion Spot.

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‘Pose’ Shows The Importance Of Accurate Casting While Scarlett Johansson Drops Out Of ‘Rub & Tug’

Screenshot_2018-07-13 'Pose' Shows The Importance Of Accurate Casting While Scarlett Johansson Drops Out Of 'Rub Tug'(1)Scarlett Johansson has dropped out Rub & Tug vacating the role of the role of kingpin Dante “Tex” Gill. Johansson’s involvement in the role was controversial because Gill, a real-life figure, was a transgender man, whereas Johansson is a cisgender woman.

Johansson had taken a huge amount of online criticism for initially taking the role, and things only got worse when Bustle reported that Johansson said in a statement from a representative, “Tell them they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” Also, the film would have reteamed her with Rupert Sanders, who helmed Johansson’s other controversial film, the Hollywood adaptation of Ghost in the Shell, in which she plays the Major, who was originally Japanese character Major Motoko Kusanagi in the manga and anime adaptations. In this new statement, given to Out.com, Johansson states how she’s learned more about the lack of sensitivity held in her initial comments about her involvement in the film.

“In light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting as Dante Tex Gill, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project,” she states. “Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realize it was insensitive. I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity continues.”

Johansson also brings up a GLAAD statistic that LGBTQ+ characters dropped 40 percent in 2017 with no representation for trans characters in a major studio film.

“While I would have loved the opportunity to bring Dante’s story and transition to life, I understand why many feel he should be portrayed by a transgender person, and I am thankful that this casting debate, albeit controversial, has sparked a larger conversation bout diversity and representation in film. I believe that all artists should be considered equally and fairly.”  While Johansson might credit her debacle as advancing the conversation, Rub & Tug is only part of the larger conversation. FX’s Pose created by Ryan Murphy and renewed for a second season has made history each week thanks to its cast of transgender women of color, MJ Rodriguez, Dominque Jackson, Indya Moore, Hailie Sahar, and Angelica Ross. The show also has trans women behind the scenes, including Janet Mock, who recently made history as the first trans woman of color to write and direct a television show, musician Our Lady J, and dancer/choreographer Leoimy Maldonado.

Not only does Pose show that the talent is out there waiting to be discovered, but it also shows how, when people are allowed to be in charge of their own stories, an authenticity is added that only heightens the film or television show, making it better than it could have ever been if cast otherwise. Pose has great writing and great style, but it wouldn’t be what it is if it didn’t have the authentic voices of the women behind the scenes and in front of the camera, women who have lived through similar struggles as their characters.

In terms of Rub & Tug, Johansson wouldn’t have had any struggle to pull from; instead, she would have been using what is a reality for many people as an actor’s choice in the hopes of gaining recognition during awards season. If anyone should be getting recognized, it should be a trans actor who gets cast as Gill, a colorful and interesting figure in modern American history.

SOURCE:https://shadowandact.com/pose-shows-the-importance-of-accurate-casting-while-scarlett-johansson-drops-out-of-rub-tug

Cape Town’s New Masculinity

CAPE TOWN — To cut themselves free of the gender norms fed to them since birth, young South Africans aren’t using sharp edges but rather soft fabrics and turns of phrase. Their fashion and styling choices, as well as the words they use to describe their own bodies, challenge essentialism and the notion that any of our outward characteristics are fixed.

These young South Africans, most visible in urban centers like Cape Town, are playful in the ways they present themselves to the world. They eschew European designer labels manufactured for consumerism in favor of local designers, many of whom have caught the spirit of the moment.

That Cape Town, known as the “Mother City,” has become a front in the war on Western gender roles is somewhat fitting. It’s where the Dutch and, later, the British began their colonization of South Africa in earnest.

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Rights Law Deepens Political Rifts in North Carolina

12carolina-web1-sub-master675RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina has been pummeled with boycotts, criticism and cancellations in the wake of its new law on gay and transgender rights. Now liberals and conservatives in the state have turned to pummeling one another.

For North Carolina, a state that has long been considered one of the South’s most moderate, the intense reaction to the law, especially from business interests, has provided an ego-bruising moment.

But beyond ego and self-image, the legislation is exacerbating the political divisions in a state almost evenly divided between conservative and liberal forces. The acrimony is certain to play out not just in one of the nation’s most closely contested races for governor but also in the rare Southern state that can be up for grabs in presidential politics.

And while the state has been pilloried from the left, it is not at all clear who will be the ultimate winner in the battle set in motion by the law, which restricts transgender bathroom use and pre-empts local governments from creating their own anti-discrimination policies.

Democrats inside and outside North Carolina have been supported by a number of corporations, and the opposition looms large in a state with a long pro-business tradition.

Over the weekend, the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina N.A.A.C.P., vowed that the Moral Mondays movement, which flooded the State Capitol with liberal activists in the past to protest the policies of the Republican-controlled legislature, would begin “a campaign of mass sit-ins at the General Assembly.” The protesters plan to take the action if the General Assembly does not repeal the bill before it meets again in regular session on April 25.

But Republicans have been sweepingly dismissive of the fallout. When PayPal said it would cancel its plan to open a global operations center in Charlotte and employ more than 400 people there, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest said, “If our action in keeping men out of women’s bathrooms and showers protected the life of just one child or one woman from being molested or assaulted, it was worth it.”