Periodical Political Post *117

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Periodical Political Post *116

milkboys News & Articles 14 Comments

Queer News

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It’s back to school time for kids in the U.S. and you know what that means… (CW: the video is fairly graphic and might not be suitable for trauma survivors)

How selfies destroy our self-esteem

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Social media has changed our aspirations. It’s changed the way we see ourselves, creating a new layer of perfectionist pressure in every aspect of our lives, but equally enabling us to share resources, opinions, help and information more quickly than ever before. We love it, we hate it, we can’t get off it, we have mixed feelings.

Those mixed feelings and extreme highs and lows are something model and activist Naomi Shimada and fashion journalist Sarah Raphael explore in their new book Mixed Feelings: Exploring Modern Life and the Internet, One Discussion at a Time.

With their book they explore what the internet and social media is doing to our minds, bodies and hearts, while celebrating difference at the same time. The book is a bulwark against the onslaught of images of perfectionism and aspiration we are bombarded with on a daily basis; a guide to show that however you’re feeling, you’re not alone. Read an extract below.

I first started seeing a therapist during a six-month period of insomnia and depression a few years ago when all the little things I didn’t like about myself – which get called ‘imperfections’ – were going round my head on a loop as I walked to work or lay awake in bed. I would stare at other people’s selfies, listing all the ways I didn’t measure up.

The obsessive thoughts I was having when scrolling through Instagram started to interrupt me in real life and I became so self-conscious that, when I spoke to people, I’d feel very aware of how my face looked as I was talking. Had they noticed the hair on the side of my face? Did speaking make my lips look thin?

When I shared these thoughts with my therapist, embarrassed about how they sounded out loud, her expression was somewhere between a raised eyebrow and a frown. ‘I understand that’s how you feel about yourself,’ she said, ‘but the person you are describing is not the person sat in front of me.’ I later realised it was the person I saw in the reverse camera on my phone.

Read on…

Merriam-Webster dictionary adds gender-neutral ‘they’ pronoun

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Merriam-Webster gave the use of “they” as a nonbinary, gender neutral pronoun this certain whiff of linguistic authority by adding the definition to the dictionary in their most recent batch of additions.

The announcement was made on Twitter and certain people predictably lost their shit. But as Merriam-Webster acknowledged, the definition reflects an increasingly common usage of the “singular they.”

A recent study has shown that usage of the singular “they” has a welcome side-effect: It boosts positive attitudes towards women and queer people.

The dictionary’s senior editor Emily Brewster told the Guardian, “Merriam-Webster does not try to be at the vanguard of change in the language. Over the past few decades, there has been so much evidence that this is a fully established use of ‘they’ in the English language. This is not new.”

In a blog post, the authors of the dictionary addressed critics who argue that using “they” to describe one person is grammatically incorrect, which includes many right-wingers who seem to only care about grammar when it comes to the pronouns queer people choose to identify themselves with:

We will note that they has been in consistent use as a singular pronoun since the late 1300s; that the development of singular they mirrors the development of the singular you from the plural you, yet we don’t complain that singular you is ungrammatical; and that regardless of what detractors say, nearly everyone uses the singular they in casual conversation and often in formal writing.

It’s not quite as newfangled as it seems: we have evidence in our files of the nonbinary they dating back to 1950, and it’s likely that there are earlier uses of the nonbinary pronoun they out there.

 

Arizona Supreme Court tells businesses it’s OK to discriminate against gay people

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Whatever happened to Christians leaving the judging to god? The Supreme Court of Arizona just ruled in favour of two Christian business owners who sued the city of Phoenix so they wouldn’t have to abide by its requirement to provide services for a same-sex wedding.

In 2016, the “devout Christian” owners of Brush & Nib — an Arizona-based business that makes hand-written calligraphic invitations and signs — sued the city of Phoenix because the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance allegedly violated the company’s freedom of speech (ie. their right to refuse service to people they think are dirty sinners).

Brush & Nib’s co-owners Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski sued to overturn the city’s civil rights law before any complaints could be filed against them. They also wanted to post a sign saying that they refuse to serve same-sex couples.

In its decision, the court wrote, “Our holding today is limited to Plaintiffs’ creation of one product: custom wedding invitations.” As such, the ruling doesn’t apply to all businesses in Arizona, but it’s not hard to see how it could.

After all, anti-gay Christians owners of wedding-related businesses — bakeries, florists, videographers, wedding dress makers — have piped up all over the oh-so-free United States stating that their religious beliefs compel them not to serve The Gays.

So really, what’s the difference between these businesses and Brush and Nib? Little to nothing. And if these business fight for their right to discriminate against same-sex couples, Arizona’s Supreme Court seems prepared to give them permission.

Famous skeletons holding hands were male

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A pair of hand-holding skeletons–the so-called Lovers of Modena –in a burial site in Italy have been found to be male, according to researchers at the University of Bologna. The two bodies were discovered in 2009 and are believed to have been buried between the 4th and 6th century.

The sex of the skeletons could not be determined using genetic analysis at first but researchers developed a new technique using a protein found in tooth enamel and determined that both skeletons likely belonged to men, according to an article published in Scientific Reports.

This isn’t the first ancient grave site archaeologists have found with two people buried hand-in-hand; others have been found in Greece, Turkey, Romania, and Russia. But those were all male and female couples. And while researchers were confident enough about the couple’s relationship to name them the “Lovers of Modena” in 2009, discovering that they were both men has researchers confused.

“There are currently no other examples of this type,” Federico Lugli, the lead author of the study, told Rai News. “Many tombs have been found in the past with couples holding hands, but in all cases there was a man and a woman. What might have been the bond between the two individuals in the burial in Modena remains a mystery.”

Lugli said that it wasn’t common for men to be buried like this in this time period, but that their burial suggests a relationship of some sort. “In late antiquity it is unlikely that homosexual love could be recognised so clearly by the people who prepared the burial,” he said, suggesting that they may have been cousins or soldiers.

Yeah, about that…

A guide to transgender visibility

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It’s been 10 years since activist Rachel Crandall established Trans Day of Visibility (TDoV) as the first holiday of its kind: a celebration of transgender and nonbinary people, meant to raise awareness of the discrimination we face in order to create a world where we can enjoy the fullness of our lives.

Many trans people face a grim decision regarding visibility in an era where modest gains for trans rights coexist with rising far-right reactionary backlash. This can be particularly difficult for newly-out trans people or those just beginning to fully embrace the complexity of their identities, as they attempt to navigate the murky, uncertain waters of being visibly trans. Here are a few pieces of advice that I hope can bring clarity.

How do I handle cis people asking me to explain my gender to them?

One of the least fun things about being visibly trans is when cis people take it as an invitation to interrogate you. Not all of these interactions are hostile, but enough are, and even if it’s just an overly inquisitive friend, cis folks don’t understand how invasive those questions can feel. Whether it happens face-to-face or online, it can be difficult to know how to navigate those situations, especially if you (like me) feel an obligation to try and educate people who just happen to be a little clueless.

You don’t owe your story to cis people, though. It’s good to increase awareness, but unless they’re planning to pay your invoice, you don’t need to feel any obligation to do labor for them. Judge each interaction on its own, and if you feel comfortable and safe enough in that moment to share how you relate to yourself, go for it — bringing more empathy into the world is always a noble goal. If not, well…we’ll get to that in a minute.

Read on…

The History of Living Forever

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Jake Wolff’s debut novel The History of Living Forever is a science fiction story, a gay romance, and a Hardy Boys mystery all rolled into one. But the ultimate moral dilemma of its teenaged protagonist almost lifts the book above any specific genre.

At the centre of the story is Conrad, a high school student whose life is upended by the sudden death of his chemistry teacher and lover, Sammy, “the kind of guy who uses semicolons in text messages.”

Conrad was having an illicit affair with Sammy and his passing leaves the sensitive student reeling. After Sammy’s death, Conrad discovers his notebooks, which are filled with disjointed pieces of information about his search for an elixir of life. It is left to Conrad to pull these pieces together and complete Sammy’s work.

What could have been just a page-turning mystery is given poignancy by the stakes Conrad and his friend RJ have in discovering the elixir: each is out to save a family member from dying. The personal stories of Conrad and RJ encourage the reader to consider the ethical side of medicine we struggle with today. Who deserves to live? How much should we sacrifice of our own lives to advance medicine for the benefit of others? How long do we want to live?

Wolff consistently grounds the book in the science of the boys’ quest. He even presents us with case histories of real people, starting with Ge Hong, fourth-century scholar and first practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine. Especially in its second half, the novel is immersed in the experimental details of the potion. For those whose interest in science is limited to the broad strokes of political discourse, these descriptions may seem to bog the story down somewhat, but they’re essential to give credibility to Wolff’s fantastical plot.

Emphasizing science allows Wolff to wrestle with some weighty questions about how we live our lives: Do we follow the hard data of science? Our hearts? We ignore either at our peril, Wolff seems to tell us. Conrad reveals that his mother died when he was ten years old in a house fire caused by a burning cigarette. The fire inspector told the family that she “did everything wrong: she went up when you’re supposed to go down, she traveled toward the heat and not away from it.” The message is that she might have been spared if she had only obeyed the laws of science. And in a witty Author’s Note, Wolff reminds us not to play with science: “Every recipe in this book, if ingested, will kill you. Every single one.” He ends with the cliché, “Do not try this at home.”

In one of Sammy’s journals, we discover that he believes science might well serve the needs of our emotional well-being:

There is some way to treat everything at once…what the Greeks called panakeia, the all healing. My goal is not to live forever but to live happily—to figure out what happiness means.

Luckily most of the time the book manages to address the lofty issues it deals with without losing its ability to entertain.

Review via Lambda Literary

Periodical Political Post *115

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