For this next in a series of Pride month posts, I’ll touch on a subject that I have often found frustrating, not only in terms of queerness, but many other complex ideas — how to quickly get a large volume of information, and convey the significance of that information, to someone new in a short time. In the context of this post, what would I like to instantly convey to straight colleagues so they could better understand me as a person and as a scientist.
In some alternate universe I would just have to wait until April 5th, 2063, and mind-meld (hopefully avoiding all that messiness about katra transference). But for the time being, I present a series of articles and other links that I’ve often found myself sharing with colleagues, along with a wee explanation of why I think it’s significant. Because these have a personal importance to me, they are just one slice of the diverse voices out there expressing similar feelings, emotions, or sentiments, and telling related stories from other perspectives.
All told, there’s about half an hour of video, and a couple links to short written pieces. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but I (and other bloggers) know how few people actually click on links, particularly in posts that are mostly links (thank you, WordPress stats page!). So if you want to file this post away for some evening after dinner, or that 30-minute commute, or the quiet early morning before the munchkins wake up, please do.
A 7-minute compilation from 2012, and US-centric, but it captures the dominant history of LGBTQ+ rights in North America, particularly in the 2009-2011 period. Much of it based on news clips, if you’ve never really thought about how it feels to have your rights debated in the media, often by the majority, this is a good introduction. It’s also incredibly useful to see not only how far the US has come in the last 7 years, but also what those of us growing up with that cultural influence encountered regularly. Gotta give ’em hope.
A shorter, 2-minute film from Australia, produced in 2011 as part of a campaign by Get Up! for equal marriage (which was finally achieved late last year – hooray!). I think what draws me to it is the mundane every-day that it depicts. Yes, we’re just like everyone else. Shocking. But what’s perhaps more shocking is the need to remind others of that every so often. This one always brings a smile to my face.
Panti is an Irish drag queen, and this video is perhaps the SINGLE link that I absolutely implore you to watch if you haven’t already. “I am 45 years old, and I have never once, un-self-consciously, held hands with a lover in public”, she starts. “I don’t know how many of you can imagine what that might be like”. I certainly can.
It’s an 18-minute TEDxDublin talk from 2015, and it hits on so many points that straight folk don’t often think about. The micro-aggressions, the countless calculations we go through daily, the constant checking of the environments we find ourselves in (the plotting of escape routes in new spaces), being reduced from persons to merely sexual acts. She takes you on a journey through her talk that culminates in the sentiments that so many folk in the queer community feel (including yours truly).
A short dramaticised spoken-word piece that begins “It’s Glasgow, March, and we walk hand-in-hand in the park. Now, it’s 3:13 and I’m late and it’s time to make a choice. We’re both boys, you see”. In much the same vein as Panti’s talk, it covers the calculations, the thought processes around what should just be a simple act of affection. Yes, even today. And even in a country where there’s marriage equality. Now, think of the same scenario playing out in a country where being gay is illegal.
Brightening the mood is this absolutely adorable animated short video. Again, the feelings resonate all too well. The fear, the desire, the feeling when the bottom drops out of your stomach, and more. But also powerful because of the (SPOILER ALERT) so very wonderful ending. Everyone should find that joy.
This one I have printed out in my office above my desk. I wrote previously about how to queer one’s science, and this manifesto I think sums it up well. A manifesto is inherently political, and so, too, is queer science. And before someone jumps into the comments to say that science should be apolitical, devoid of emotion and strictly driven by facts (a common rebuttal), what a silly notion. Scientists are people with agendas, emotions, and experiences that all influence their science. This manifesto not only acknowledges it, but embraces it. Even before I was sent this link earlier this year, I had already been following many of the points it covers, which strengthens my opinion that there is something different in the way queer scientists approach their craft, conscious or otherwise.
On the New York Public Library site, a blog post by Avran Finkelstein who was one of the six people who designed the iconic poster in the 1980s. I’ve always advocating knowing where one comes from, in a historical context, and for LGBTQ+ folk, this one is pretty up there. I’m a big fan of Finkelstein’s take on the popularity of the poster: In essence and intention, the political poster is a public thing. It comes to life in the public sphere, and is academic outside of it. Individuals design it, or agencies or governments, but it belongs to those who respond to its call.”
An archived version of a website that featured these 24 tips for coming out, written ca. 2001, and also appearing in the rag XY at least twice during its initial run (oh, that bastion of white gay twinkness!) . I definitely read [online] these before I came out. #21 always hits me hard. Yes, we queers really did talk about this. And yes, I know kids booted out of their homes in the 2002-2008ish range. And yes, I’ve been someone’s escape route (thankfully not needed).
As I said, these are just a few of the links I find myself wishing I could quickly convey to friends & colleagues. I’m sure there are others that LGBTQ+ folk wish they could instantly transmit to someone straight, and equally I’m sure there are others that straight friends & colleagues found useful (add them in the comments!).