Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Do you know what happens tonight?

Another safe space meeting! Yep. Yep.

7PM at the lovely Gerber/Hart Library 1127 W. Granville.
Tonight!

As always, meetings are open to anyone looking for a safe space to discuss personal gender issues/ideas, but not to researchers or reporters.

Not sure if you're welcome or not? Get over it, and come on out.

Questions? genderqueerchicago@gmail.com

Monday, December 28, 2009

home

by a. broad

It seems almost obligatory to post blogs about holidays, and this is a bit late but what the hell; I have so much to be thankful for, and not just on one specific day in November. We've nearly reached 2010, and consequently I've been thinking a lot about the past year and how much has changed, how my life keeps taking these twists and turns that I would never have expected but that somehow seem to be bringing me closer and closer to something so good I can't even put a name to it, can't even imagine it. A year ago, I was happy; today, I am ecstatic, and there is no end in sight.

Life is complicated, and difficult to sum up in a few short words, whether I'm doing it face-to-face or on a page. When I try--which I do, occasionally--the beauty evaporates and I'm left with something trite and inane, a soundbite version of the absolutely gorgeous cacophony that makes up my life. To really tell you why I am so happy I would have to take my time, to tell you about so many things and people and places and feelings and moments and images, that often I am simply not up to the task. My joy is too large for easy explanation. But here is something true: some days I'm so in love with the world and my place in it that it seems beyond anything I've even previously conceived of as happiness; it's a whole new thing, this feeling. I can't even explain it to myself. Instead I smile, and write or speak as best I can about what the most immediate source of my joy is, and it's never enough.

I spent Thanksgiving with my queer family, my chosen family. It's a term I take seriously. It's been a long time since I felt all that close to most of my immediate family, other than in a joking cordial sort of way, and I think that for a while I lost some of the sense of the intimacy and emotional support that family can and should entail; I had acquaintances and a few close friends, I had lovers, I had family, but they were all separate entities and I managed to keep them compartmentalized as such. But ever since I started on this part of my life that I've been writing so obsessively about for the past year and a half or so, allowing my connections with people to deepen and realize their full potential and to give myself over and open up to those I love, the lines have started to blur as they are so wont to do when you stop making an effort to keep them intact. My family is still my family, and I still have acquaintances and people that I count as my friends, but there is this whole new grey area of people that I love and who love me back, who let me be who I really am and appreciate me for that and reciprocate in kind, and they have become part of the bedrock of my newfound happiness. They are my recreated family, the ones who are in my life because we have things that we want to learn from each other and because we care enough to make that happen.

My chosen family is spread all over the country, from California to Texas to Alaska and beyond, but it started here in Chicago with my rediscovery of my infinitely queer self. There is a significant history of queer familial patternings--the House system described in Paris is Burning, a documentary about the vogueing scene in New York, is an easy example--in part because it makes sense to build solidarity and kinship bonds in the face of discrimination and in part because of the rather different ways that queer people are more likely to define their interpersonal relationships. Michael Warner, in The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life, says this: "The impoverished vocabulary of straight culture tells us that people should either be husbands and wives or (nonsexual) friends." I'd rather pull a bit of a bell hooks and substitute something like "heteronormative patriarchal culture" for straight culture, but the idea stands. Queer culture, however, can become something like this (and I'm going to type the whole thing despite its length because oh, it's kind of perfect):

"There are almost as many kinds of relationship as there are people in combination. Where there are patterns, we learn them from other queers, not from our parents or schools or the state. Between tricks and lovers and exes and friends and fuckbuddies and bar friends and bar friends' tricks and tricks' bar friends and gal pals and companions "in the life," queers have an astonishing range of intimacies. Most have no labels. Most receive no public recognition. Many of these relations are difficult because the rules have to be invented as we go along... They can be complex and bewildering, in a way that arouses fear among many gay people, and tremendous resistance and resentment from many straight people. Who among us would give them up?"

I would not. I can't, for my own sake and the sake of my life. But given that, is it any wonder that my queer family is where I truly learned what chosen family could mean? When I arrived for our superqueer polymorphous family Thanksgiving potluck, in the midst of a full-on dance party, I was greeted by people cheering my name. My relationships with these people spanned the spectrum from friends to lovers to exes to exes' lovers to exes' lovers' lovers; at some point a while ago we made a chart like the one on The L Word and oh my god it was hilarious. That evening there were two different sets of polyamorous familial groups there, both situations where one person had two partners and all three involved parties were in attendance, dancing together and happy and perfectly fine. There is something to be said for being witness to the joyful playing-out of a connective scenario that many people would find problematic, if not impossible, and there are no words for the feeling I got from watching my genderqueer ex-boyfriend's two current girlfriends--all three of whom, at multiple points during the evening, declared their love for me, which I wholeheartedly reciprocated--doing interpretive dance together to Madonna's Like a Prayer. Seriously.

But that was just a reflection of the larger theme of the evening, which--at least for me--was undoubtedly and absolutely love. Here's the thing about love: it's not as scary as it sounds. In the context of relationships it seems like people tend to get all freaked out about it as a word--more so even than as a concept, I'd almost say--but really it means so many different things that I feel like seeing it only in that way is a rather shallow view of something complex and varied and personal. I love tons of people, and things, and places, and moments in time, and trees, and so on. I get all worked up about it, and it makes me feel like a twelve-year-old girl: "Eeeee! You are my BEST FRIEND EVER and I love you SO MUCH!" But I'm of the mind that I'd rather act like a pre-adolescent than lose my sense of love, my feeling that I have a deep connection with things outside myself, regardless of whether that affection is returned or not. (I mean, I prefer if people return it, but I don't ask that of places, etc. Or trees.) I doubt most people would deny that being in love is pretty amazing, but love itself, regardless of particular goals or aspirations, is one of the best things I've ever personally felt. I feel so lucky that, on a day when people around the country express thankfulness for whatever they feel has been given them, I was brought nearly to tears by the simple fact of my chosen family gathered around me, the love that was so palpable in the air that every single one of us were grinning like damn fools in the first blush of a new romance. I felt like I had reached a sort of home.

Love Song for the Boi on the El

By K. Sosin

Dear Brotherboi,

…and you here finally, looking like all the best days of summer, sprawled like tangled laundry on the bed, cupping the tail of your boihawk, and chattering in giggles about the ache of the life you re-gendered.

Go back. Go back. Go over it.

You were just four years-old when they made you put that t-shirt back on. It was one of those choking summers when the humidity grabs you in June and doesn’t let go until October. Every day was a different chapter on suffocation, Mom in the backyard relieving the flowers with a hose and Dad sweating his free days out under the Volvo. You sprinted between packs of shirtless boys. It was a boy’s world, and you exploded your lungs to keep up. Get it! Catch it! Throw it to first! When it wasn’t headed your way (which was almost every hit because they put you in far right field where the ninnies go) you picked dandelions and tried to dye your chin yellow. Summers in the suburbs droned on like AM radios, scattered between mixed signals and yearning. You wanted some kool-aid. You wanted some UV. You wanted the forgiveness of a neon-blue pool. And so you tore your t-shirt to the grass. It was then that they first came for you, told you to cover what you didn’t have and didn’t know was inescapable.

Crowned in the shame of all good little girls. Their truth, not yours. Never yours. It was always: cross those legs, put on that dress, brush out that hair, sit up, stop chewing on your nails, eat slower… and later… don’t put out, you have to put out, leave your hair to grow out, stop eating, put on some damn make-up, wear something tighter.

I was 237 miles south of you, we were strangers, and they were telling me the same thing.

Go back. Go back. Go over it.

I noticed “you” on the El train, drunk just before sunrise, frowning into the digits of your phone, avoiding my eyes, and looking rough. I had been searching Chicago’s empty streets, the winking stoplights like warning signs, and trying to figure out if I should be scared to walk home alone in a tie. There were so many things I’d have liked to ask you, but when I looked your way, you turned towards the window.

I met “you” last summer outside a dance party in Brooklyn. You sported a ponytail and skin three shades darker than mine. I wanted to tell you that you needn’t shake my hand so hard or apologize when you join conversations between me and another femme-appearing person. You told me I looked good, but not in that way.

“You” took me on a date last January. Your short black hair had been spiked solid and obscure pop music swam out of the windows of your silver two-door. You picked me up at my house, held open the restaurant door, and paid for all four beers. Don’t worry about it, you said to me. You take care of your ladies. And I guess I was one of them. But I wasn’t, was I?

But you’re here now- on drunken curbsides and in hush-lit back rooms, my tie in your incessant tug, your hair in tufts between my fingers. I call you faggot. I call you brotherlover. You push breath into my ears, jeans into my jeans, teeth into my sighing neck. You ask and undress, ask again.

I stop you. Look at me, brother. I am you: gendershit, cut from the same cloth. And you nod.

Brotherboi, you look fucking good. You make me stop before the mirror. I test myself against yourself. And this is how we compete
and know each other
and hate
and become what we tell women we are not-
dumb fucking men.

Three cheers for self-sufficiency: I work three jobs, live and hunger at minimum wage, walk myself home, wake up to my own alarm, cook what I eat, wash what I wear, write what I need to read, get myself off, refill my subway card, visit my parents on Sundays, scrub the shower, and shake out the sheets. This tune is as interesting as a bowl of cereal.

Go Back. Go Back. Go over it.

Brotherboi, it is our ferocity. It is your heart. It is that unshakable goodness that our clothing, our swaggers, our flat response, our need to maintain something invulnerable would mask. And still we know better.

Because we are sisters- gender jokes told around the same campfire.

Now, I take you, with shaking palm and shame-bent back, in too many layers of clothing for summer nights. I take you in sweat and shudders, with arms that do not yet understand how to hold you. Back, back, over it. I take you in, ready to love us.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Girl Is Gone: A Tale of Hair and Unexpected Comrades

by malic moxie

With the flick of a lever, my chair tips back and the hairdresser looms over me—the slope of his belly on my forehead, my future in his hands.

“What can I do for you today, sweetie?”

I freeze up. I slipped through my first year of college with a blunt pair of scissors and three dollar hairwax. I spent the first month of summer with a skaterboy shag that I shaped from choppy remnants of Girl Hair. It’s time for some professional help.

“You probably don’t get this very often, but I want something that will make me look more…masculine.”

He raises an eyebrow.

“For drag shows.” I add quickly. “I’m a performer.”

He nods, slowly stretching puffy cheeks into a grin.

“Oh honey, I know all about that. I was a drag queen!”

The hairdresser proceeds to tell me all about his Bette Midler lipsyncing heyday while he attacks my head with scissors, transforming my look along with my perception of my hometown. He tells me I should really meet Sharlene, the hottie who works across the street at McDonald’s.

“You didn’t hear it from me, but that place is a breeding ground for closetcases! Anyway, you HAVE to meet Sharlene. She’s femme and she’s single and she’d love a baby butch like you.” He must have felt me cringe because he pauses amidst a flurry of freshly cut hair. He looks at me again. “Oh.” His smile is teasing. “I know what you are.”

What?

“Are you a transboy?”

“Um.”

“What do you want me to call you?” He has been using my birthname the entire time, the name I used when I made the appointment. “Go on, you can tell me.”

“Malic.”

“Malic.” He rolls the name around on his lisping tongue. “Malic, Malic, Malic. Ooh, that’s a great name. It’s strong, playful. Love it. LOVE it. Ladies, take look at Mr. Malic here. Isn’t he handsome?”

A pair of old women with fresh perms shift warily in their plastic capes and curlers and pretend to smile. They are clearly uncomfortable. My ex-drag queen hairdresser is eating it up.

He whirls me around so I can see myself in the mirror. After consenting uncertainly to his incessant “Just a little more from the sides? A little more off the top?” I’ve been totally transformed. He doesn’t wait to see whether my silence is a product of awe or dissatisfaction.

“See how I cut it like that around your ears? It squares off your jaw. See? The girl is gone. The GIRL is GONE.”

His words have a singsong tone, a nonchalance that settles at my feet with downy tufts of hair that used to be mine.

The Girl is gone.

I clumsily thank my comrade from the midwestern underbelly and stumble to my car in a trance. I turn up the radio and roll the windows down, staring at myself in the rearview mirror. My scalp tingles in places where it has never felt the air before.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Joe Erbentraut: Genderqueer Chicago Makes Top 5 List in LGBT Stories of the Year

Edge Reporter, Joe Erbentraut, says that among the top 5 LGBT Chicago news stories of 2009, is new transgender organizing efforts. On that list? Genderqueer Chicago!.

Check it out.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Is Coming out a Privilege?

By Diva R. McMillan

"How to be brave, when being your self is a subversive act, and in some locations can cost you your life."

Is coming out a privilege? I had this interesting conversation with a dance friend of mine. She said that the ability to come out (as queer or GLBT), is a privilege. Now before she said that, My energy had been focused on how the ability to be able to pass as Heteronormal, in any of it's give possibilities, gives the passer the ability to keep the privilege of being thought of as straight. I mean in many people's cases the ability support ones self, the ability to form non nuclear families, or families of choice allow us to garner the support needed to come out. Is this resource collecting, or community building process a form of privilege?

For those of you who know me know that I have very strong feelings about people who stake a lot of their identity in wanting to or attempting to assimilate in straight culture, especailly when this assimilation leads to schisms in queer communities. This schism, at least for gay men produces questions of Down low-ness and St8 acting as preferable and better form of male gender expression. HOLD ON for those of you who think i am bashing st* acting gay men... well...maybe..:) NO. I think it's problematic when your identity is based not upon what you are, but what you are not,specifically when it's directed towards people who are similar to you. I know this may sound hippies Dipy but I find that my life is connected to other people on the spectrum. I am not interested in transitioning for instance, but i protect and encourage people who need to, rights to do so. If there was a revolution and all of the spectrum people had to leave the USA... I promise you despite their gender normality or performance of it (butler)...they would be on that boat to gay land. We are so connected...

Since I have been in London I have been passing a lot, now either people are scared to to ask if I like penis, or boys in London are girly... but now I have met a guy at work, who is cool and St8.He ask me to grab a beer with him... while drinking he ask me if I had a girlfriend in the USA I told him I was seeing someone, but we broke up. I had an opportunity to come out, but i did not and so I was filled up with guilt, I did not use male pronouns and said partner when refering to my ex, to make my self feel better, yet I did not say explicitly I am queer.

How to be proud when the flame is invisible? I spent so much of my life struggling to be proud of the flame, while gays in Uganda could be executed for just coming out yet, I am choosing to hide in a city this progressive. I am ashamed .... this leaves with this question

"How to be brave, when being your self is a living subversive act, and in some locations can cost you the very life your trying to live."

THANK you!

GqC has had the most incredible week!

Thank you to everyone who came out to Genderfunk Cabaret (and to Kat who took BEAUTIFUL pictures). The night was a smashing success, and we'll definitely put on similar events in the future.

Also, our first safe space meeting at Affinity was fantastic! We made lots of friends and had a great discussion about gender. Thanks to Affinity for hosting such a wonderful meeting.

Our next meeting with be January 30th at the Gerber/Hart Library (1127 W. Granville).

Monday, December 14, 2009

Here, Life is Beautiful

GENDERQUEER CHICAGO hosts its FIRST EVER
GENDERFUNK Cabaret
...
TOMORROW NIGHT
...
dancing clowns, hothothot genderfoolery, discounted beverages, no cover charge
...
stay with us after the show to boogie down with
DJ JAY MUTINY!!
...
be there or be.........
. .
. .
. .
.........

I Love You, Man: reflections on queerbrotherhood

by malic moxie


They asked if we were brothers.

Two girls on the bus survey the curves we bound into boyish shapes—3 AM, stumbling home from a costume party with sleepy eyes and sloppy grins, we look like children playing thieves.

“Brothers? Are we brothers?” you ask me with a smirk that cracks your face in half, divides mischievous eyes from hair shaved into something like sideburns. Somewhere between your brain and mine, our history unravels and we howl.


Brothers?

You kissed me the first week we met—3 AM on a mattress in your bedroom, an island in a sea of costumes and cat hair and radical queer zines. You kissed me in my curve-hugging tank top, smeared my mascara with your little boy hands (dirty nails and ink-stained fingertips), told me I was hot. And I stared at you in your baggy jeans and suspenders, clenched the tail of your mohawk in my femme dyke hand (painted nails clipped short for acoustic guitar), and wondered why I didn’t look like you.

We laugh about that night now. Don’t get me wrong—I still feel the cold curve of your lip ring pressed against my teeth once in a while, but it’s coupled with a punch to my shoulder now, a teasing glint in your eye. ‘Cause you don’t kiss on your kid brother.

Yeah, we’ve changed a little.

We spent autumn days outside while you smoked your endless cigarettes, dropping flecks of tobacco and new words that hit sore spots somewhere, words like “genderqueer.” Those words told us it was ok to experiment, so we did it together, playing dress-up in boy drag, in femme drag, shaving hair in some places and letting it grow in others. We renamed ourselves at the same time, switching up pronouns for genderplay, and somewhere between the theory and the genderfuckeries we pulled on strangers (our own word for “passing as boys”), we found ourselves in those games.

Last summer you gave me the clothes you outgrew and helped me stencil mine, preserving scorching days in wild tales and wheatpaste. You provided me with your secondhand books and the occasional boyish shove, called me “little dude” and “buddy.” And you hugged me in my binder and bodypaint, yanked on my tie with your littleboy hands, told me I was handsome.

“Yeah, we’re brothers,” you say and you kiss me just to shock them. We laugh all the way home.

Can you believe it's already December 14th?

That can only mean one thing...

GENDERFUNK IS TOMORROW

Join us at The Spot at 9PM for our free drag show/ dance party/ extravaganza! Everyone who is anyone will be there, and that means YOU. :)

As always, admission is free. Must be 21+ to attend. Too young? We'll have stuff for you coming up soon, too!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Happy Wednesday- Schedules, Schedules



We've been working out meeting spaces, but we'll be back next Wednesday, and this time, we'll be on the south side! In partnership with Affinity Community Services, we'll begin hosting half of our safe space meetings in Hyde Park. Affinity is located at 5650 South Woodlawn Avenue, Garden Level

We'll continue to meet north as well. Discussion participants are encouraged to attend meetings at both locations. Here's the GqC schedule:

Tuesday, December 15th
Genderfunk Cabaret!

-Join us for the gender-bending dance off of the year epic as we tear up the dance floor and the stage. Drag shows and DJ, oh yes. Wear what feels good. Bring everyone you know.
NO COVER. $1 off all drinks. Must be 21+
at 10:15pm
Location:
the Spot 4437 N Broadway

Wednesday, December 16th at 7:00PM
Safe Space Discussion Meeting
at Affinity Community Services

Wednesday, December 30th at 7:00PM
Safe Space Discussion Meeting
at the Gerber/Hart Library (1127 W. Granville)

Wednesday, January 6th at 7:00PM

Safe Space Discussion Meeting
at the Gerber/ Hart Library

Wednesday, January 13th at 7:00PM
Safe Space Discussion Meeting
at Affinity Community Services

Wednesday, January 20th at 7:00PM

Safe Space Discussion Meeting
at the Gerber/Hart Library

Wednesday, January 27th at 7:00PM
Safe Space Discussion Meeting
at Affinity Community Services

Safe space meetings are open to anyone wishing to discuss personal gender issues/ questions. Genderqueer Chicago is an inclusive community, and anyone wishing to take part is considered family. Meetings are not open to researchers or journalists. For press inquiries please contact us at: genderqueerchicago@gmail.com


Also, see the calendar for GqC and relevant events!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Genderfunk Cabararet: December 15!

Get Your Defense On!



Dark walks home in genderfunny clothing got you down? We have just the thing. We're hosting a free informal self-defense training! This Monday!

Monday, December 7th
at 7:00PM
at The Inconvenience Theatre Collective
Thirty, Thirty-Six N. Lincoln (That's Lakeview)

*Enter the space from the front. We'll have a small sign on the door. Enter, go down the long hall and up the stairs.

GqC friend, Zeus, will be showing us the 101 on how to stay safe and fabulous on those long walks home.

Can't make it this time? Live too far? No worries- we'll likely be hosting another training on the south side in January!

Genderqueer Madison Kicks Off!



Madison residents get ready. Genderqueer Madison has arrived. Come out to their first meeting:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009
8:00pm - 10:00pm
LGBT Outreach Center
600 Williamson Street
Madison, WI


From their invite:
"This will be an informal discussion about personal experiences of gender with an emphasis on gender non-conformity. If you've thought about your gender identity or gender expression lately, this is the place for you. Come on out!

The Outreach Center is located in the Gateway Mall at the intersection of Williamson and Blair, in the same building as A Woman's Touch, the Monkey Bar Gym and the AIDS Network. Enter on the ground level at the Williamson street doors and the center is immediately on your right.

If you arrive early and the doors are locked - sit tight. We have keys."

Want to start your own group? E-mail us at genderqueerchicago@gmail.com

Friday, December 4, 2009

BECAUSE LIFE IS NO CABARET...

Thats right, we know
Life can be a drag...

In an effort to lighten our lives, Genderqueer Chicago is hosting a DRAG CABARET, at the Spot nightclub 4437 N. Broadway
Tuesday December 15

the doors will open at ten pm.
There is NO COVER cuz we are all broke.
The bar has graciously offered 1$ off all mixed drinks.

We promise to give you a good show.
And as always there will be glitter and DANCING at this revolution.
Bring your friends, bring your mom.
Come (and you can take that as you will)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Do-It-Yourself Genderqueer Group



Not from Chicago? Want a genderqueer group where you live?

We'll help you start one!

Genderqueer groups are springing up all over the country! There are now genderqueer groups in Miami, Madison, and there's rumblings of it spreading from Oklahoma to New York City!

Shoot us an e-mail: genderqueerchicago@gmail.com. We'll tell you how we made GqC, and help you strategize on how to make something that works in your own community.

Website graphics and design by Andre Perez