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firefly124: charlie bradbury grooving in a glass elevator (Default)
So, to preface this, I should note that I made it a point to find some kind of rainbow-themed earrings that meet the dress code where I work. Stunningly difficult, as most seem to be dangly-type earrings. I even have a set of those, but I don't need a dress code to tell me how monumentally stupid it would be to give some of my residents dangly earrings to grab at. I found a pair that work, and they match with two of my scrub sets: one of which has some random "brush strokes" of various colors over white, the other of which has multicolor hearts on it. So I try to arrange my pile o'scrubs such that I wear one of those sets one week and the other the next.

The reason for this is partly because of the series of experiences that nudged me in the direction of public health nursing with a focus on LGBT elders. Long-term care is super heteronormative, even in places that pride themselves on being very progressive and welcoming, and whoever the 2-3 residents likely to identify as some flavor of LGBT are on my floor of 30, I want to send at least that subtle message that they're not alone and there is someone safe to talk to if they need to. (Actually, I find that most of the nurses at Communications Clusterfuckery Are Us are probably very safe to open up to, almost in inverse proportion to how I felt about the nursing staff at the Soul-Sucking Vortex of Doom. It's still a very heteronormative environment.)

For the most part, this goes unremarked, except for the odd, "How colorful!" comment. And then this conversation happened:

Resident: Oh, what lovely earrings. Are you a rainbow girl?
Me: Um, that's not how I would typically put it, but I suppose so.
Resident: Really? Oh, that's lovely! What assembly?
Me: We are definitely having two completely different conversations here.

This led, actually, to a very lovely conversation about her experiences with the Rainbow Girls, a group by the Masons for girls, similar so far as I can tell to Girl Scouts. When the conversation (which took all of about 10 minutes) ended, she smiled and said that even if I wasn't a real Rainbow Girl, it was very nice to be able to relive some of those memories with someone and that she felt much better about her evening having had that conversation.

What I find particularly neat about this is that, while this wasn't precisely what I had in mind, the result was still pretty much the one I was going for. "Here is someone you can talk to." Made my day as well.
firefly124: charlie bradbury grooving in a glass elevator (Default)
SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) just released their March newsletter, which includes a link to a PDF on how to make services welcoming to gender and sexual minority elders.

Some had asked the last time I posted on this subject just what sort of particular needs LGBT elders have. I don't think I gave great examples at the time. This publication does a much better job. The issue given the most focus is just making sure service providers who actually intend to provide quality services regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity make it clear that they are safe to approach for services. Because that is one of the key problems: elders who are worried they will be discriminated against (or worse) simply not seeking services in the first place. Actual discrimination and failures in care are, absolutely, huge issues, but not the ones addressed here.

And now off to work where, statistically speaking, there are probably at least 10 people somewhere on the gender and sexual minority spectrum, none of whom do we have any idea who they are.
firefly124: charlie bradbury grooving in a glass elevator (Default)
Gen Silent is an excellent video about older members of the LGBTQ community. Its name comes from concerns of the Stonewall Generation feeling they may need to return to the closet as they age and become more dependent on others and thus more vulnerable.

It includes interviews with a lesbian couple, two gay men who became caregivers for their partners, and a transwoman diagnosed with terminal cancer. All bring up issues of being concerned about obstacles to obtaining appropriate care, and what that care might need to be. As one advocate on the film points out, organizations may think they are very positively interacting with the LGBTQ people they serve, but what about those who are afraid to seek services because they simply don't know where they will be safe to do so, especially after having bad experiences.

The story about the home health aide who pulled out a Bible to pray with a gay client and told that person that "it wasn't too late" absolutely made smoke come out of my ears. Many issues, though, are more subtle, and probably don't even enter the thought processes of most providers. And elder abuse is a very real problem, so to be afraid that it will be exacerbated by homophobia and/or transphobia is entirely, unfortunately, realistic. Not to mention, in the context of either supportive housing or skilled nursing facility, concern about the other residents' attitudes and behavior. I see cliquish and hurtful behavior from my residents all the time, and while the staff do what we can to intervene and redirect, it's not something we can stop entirely.

I only know of one explicitly LGBTQ-oriented nursing facility in New England, and frankly I can't find anything other than opening announcements from nearly two years ago, so I don't even know if it's still there. SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) has opened the first LGBTQ-oriented senior center in NYC. There is a definite need for more options like this in tandem with educating providers generally.

I'm very glad to see that this film is out there and hope it will help to raise awareness. I wish I could make it required viewing at the facility where I work and, really, any service organization that serves the elderly. Lacking the power to do that, I encourage you to watch and share this film.
firefly124: charlie bradbury grooving in a glass elevator (Default)
One of the things that being more active in the LGBT community has led to is giving way more thought to gender and gender identity than I ever had before. Up to the last year or so, I'd only knowingly met one person who identified as transgender, and what I knew of that person and their situation was pretty much the extent of my knowledge on the subject. And even getting to know more transfolk and learning more generally hadn't caused much in the way of navel-gazing on the subject of gender identity and presentation.

Until, that is, one of my coworkers reacted in unfeigned shock at the mention of my wearing a dress. )

I'm rather glad that my coworker did make that comment and spur this reflection. Knowing more people today than I ever have whose gender identity and presentation isn't something they are able to just take for granted, I think there's some value to not taking my own for granted either and giving it some thought and prodding now and again.
firefly124: charlie bradbury grooving in a glass elevator (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] gyzym has a great post on bisexuality here. I may be tempted to print it out and staple it to the forehead of the next person who invokes to me one of the eight myths/misconceptions she discusses. As a bonus, there's a Doctor Who joke somewhere in the middle that actually captures things rather well.

I'd like to see more discussion around the distinctions between the terms bisexual, pansexual, and omnisexual. If for no other reason than so I can break the automatic word association that has me linking "omnisexual" with a range of attraction that includes non-humanoid aliens. (Thanks for that, Jack.) I'm not sure there's much agreement, even between people who self-identify with these terms, as to what those distinctions are though.
firefly124: charlie bradbury grooving in a glass elevator (Default)
So, last week was the True Colors Conference at UConn. I didn't manage to go with GaSM on Friday, due to a lovely stomach bug, so I dragged my butt up for Saturday, as I was determined not to just totally miss out. Friday definitely has more workshop offerings, but I still found at least one for each time slot to interest me. Someday, I'd like to go both days so I could mix it up a bit more between serious and fun workshops. This time around, I went to two on the professional track and one on the general track.

Discussing Sexual Taboos )

Separating Personal Values from Professional Ethics )

Queering It Up )

On a somewhat related note, I had a conversation with someone related to my job search earlier in the week in which she suggested I apply at the local Navy base. I hadn't realized they hired civilians and said so, only to be told they most certainly do. I thought about it for a moment and had a bit of mental whiplash in which the thoughts, "Well, I'm too out now to deal with DADT" "But, wait, DADT is gone" "Well, it's on its way out, but is it actually gone yet?" ran through my head. There are other reasons that I'm ambivalent about the idea of working for the Navy, in particular, but it occurs to me that I should actually know the answers to these questions. However, for all the queer news sources I follow, the actual status of DADT repeal seems to have fallen off the radar, and it's hard to tell whether it's because other stuff like DOMA has taken over, because TPTB are still wringing their hands over how to implement repeal of not only DADT but relevant areas of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and thus all is at a standstill (which was where things stood the last I knew), or because it really is all over and I just missed the memo.
firefly124: charlie bradbury grooving in a glass elevator (Default)
There's a discussion going on on Tumblr about whether the term "homophobia" is ableist. I have very mixed feelings about the question.

I tend to bristle every time people suggest terms like "crazy" should be stricken from common usage as ableist. To go by my clients, who by definition are severely mentally ill, there's actually a preference for using such terms to mean things that are not them. At a more abstract level, making casual references to mental illness taboo and unmentionable is actually, imo, far more problematic, because one of the big issues around mental illness is the way it has historically been something you "just don't talk about."

So the idea that one shouldn't use the term "homophobia" because phobias are actual mental illnesses and this renders the term ableist bothers me for both of those reasons.

On the other hand, what one generally means by homophobia is actually rather different than a diagnosable phobia. There's a definite qualitative difference between being agoraphobic and being homophobic. There isn't, or at least shouldn't be, any pejorative connotation to being agoraphobic. There most definitely is a pejorative connotation to being homophobic. So, are we potentially giving people with homophobic attitudes something of a free pass by linguistically linking their attitudes to the notion of mental illness? That's also problematic.

The proposal is to replace the term "homophobia" with "heterosexism." I suppose that could work, though I don't see that linguistic shift happening any time soon. And I'm also not sure the term carries the same weight, though if it does become more commonly used, I imagine it could come to do so.

What are your thoughts?
firefly124: charlie bradbury grooving in a glass elevator (Default)
This, however, I thought was rather obvious.



Clearly not. Queerty didn't seem to know what to make of it, but then again, I'm often unsure what to make of Queerty. Some of the absurd commenters at this blog ran with it into total biphobic territory. The comments at the original vid site on YouTube are a mix of people who get it, people who are offended because they took it seriously, and people who ran with the stereotypes.

It never ceases to amaze me the extent to which the "greedy" and/or "insatiable" claims come up.

Not all bisexuals are poly, and not all poly-folk are bisexual. Heterosexual people who commit to being monogamous do not cease to be attracted to other people of the opposite gender, they just enter into an agreement not to act on it. Homosexual people who commit to being monogamous do not cease to be attracted to other people of the same gender, they just enter into an agreement not to act on it. Bisexual people who commit to being monogamous do not cease to be attracted to other people of both/all genders, they just enter into an agreement not to act on it. People of all orientations both succeed and fail at monogamy, polyamory, celibacy, and whatever other sexual and romantic arrangements may exist. Why is this brain surgery?

Despite my failure to recognize the Pat Robertson thing earlier as satire, I actually really like the use of satire to show the absurdity of things, especially stereotypical and prejudicial assumptions. Just like Dementors in HP, the Fear Demon on Buffy, and any number of other heavy-handed metaphors, some things are best beaten with a good dose of laughter at just how Riddikulus they are.
firefly124: charlie bradbury grooving in a glass elevator (Default)
I'll lead with the slightly amusing irony, which was finally discovering my snowboots in the trunk of my car, where they had apparently been since last year. To the average American, this would simply be stupid and annoying. To one who's been up to her elbows in assorted British fandoms for the last several years, it's also hysterically funny.*

The other bit of irony is not at all amusing and mostly a function of the way my brain mashes things together sometimes. I've run across a truly insane amount of homophobic and transphobic idiocy for a single day. There's Pat Robertson's assertion that the recent Nor'Easter was God's way of slowing travel to limit people's ability to do gay things which is bizarre even for him, Phyllis Schlafly being horrified that LGBT people want basic human respect, The AFA freaking out about the military being collectively sodomized by the repeal of DADT, and some nutjob in NC not only calling LGBT people "sexual predators" but revealing that-much like the AFA-he didn't even understand what DADT was in the first place. That's not even all of it, but it's the links I could find and stuff I could remember. Now, unfortunately, none of these things is, on its own, all that unusual. Other than Robertson honing in on a simple and relatively usual winter event rather than waiting for a major catastrophe to blame on someone he doesn't like, individually, each is just the usual BS. But for some reason, it just seemed like a lot in one day.

Then I remembered that today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Basically, a commemoration of a paranoid politician preemptively killing off an entire generation of his subjects because he was afraid one of them would dethrone him. (Way to go about ensuring somebody's going to try to dethrone you!) And there's the irony, because that's exactly the same motivation. Fear. Absolutely out-of-control fear that doesn't care who gets hurt in the process so long as the fear is calmed, generally by removing the objects of one's fear, if not literally (though, make no mistake, that can be the outcome, either directly or indirectly) then at least by making the ones who are feared have to hide. Equally ironic if possibly overly optimistic on my part is the idea that by doing so, they just make it ever clearer why they need not to be in positions of influence.

*For anyone who didn't get the "boots in the trunk" thing, in the UK, they call the trunk of a car a boot. I didn't say it was intellectual humor, just struck my funnybone. Probably only mildly funny to anyone else who got it and not at all funny to those who didn't.

ETA: Thanks to [personal profile] bethbethbeth for letting me know that the Borowitz report, source of the Robertson quote, is satire like the Colbert Report or the Onion. *facepalm* Though it's a sign of how insane the things he says generally are that it was so damned believable.
firefly124: charlie bradbury grooving in a glass elevator (Default)
I've seen so much both positive and negative around the Spirit Day event planned for next Wednesday, some of which I find confusing. Here's my understanding of it.

Someone (still not clear who, really) decided that it would be a good idea to pick a day and a method of both showing remembrance for gender and sexual minority youth who have died by suicide at least partly related to anti-LGBTQIA bullying and showing support for at-risk youth. They picked a day, smack in the middle of Straight Ally Week and picked the notion of wearing purple, a color that represents "spirit" on the rainbow flag. This idea went viral, and at least from this corner of the internet, it looks like lots of people plan to participate.

This isn't all that different than the Day of Silence in the spring, in which people take a one-day vow of silence (or, if their job or other life situation makes that impossible, wear something saying they are a "vocal supporter") as a means of acknowleging that people who are gender and/or sexual minorities are often silenced in society.

One's visual, the other's auditory, but they're both ways of simply raising awareness and showing support. Neither claims to be the end-all of advancing the cause of equal rights. Spirit Day definitely isn't about promoting or glorifying suicide, and I can't even figure out where anyone got that idea.

Some have chosen to take the idea a step further. The Gender and Sexual Minorities League at my college has decided to a) make purple ribbons available for people who either hadn't heard about Spirit Day until the last minute or just don't have anything purple to wear and b) take donations (either in exchange for the ribbons or not) for The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention hotline and resource for LGBTQIA youth. I'm sure we're not remotely the only group who's decided to do something like that.

At least a couple of people have suggested these aspects should be separated, because Spirit Day is more about visibility, and while the group ultimately decided to go with adding the fundraising component, I can't say the argument to keep them separate is wrong. Visible support matters, and maybe it would be stronger if left to stand alone. Also, it would suck if we discouraged anyone from participating because they felt they "couldn't afford" a ribbon.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. If you want to participate in Spirit Day as a show of support for at-risk LGBTQIA youth and in memory of those who have died by suicide by wearing purple on October 20, I think that's a good thing. If you want to support a suicide-prevention or anti-bullying program, I think that's also a good thing. If you want to support a pro-equality organization, I think that's a good thing too. I don't think it's necessary to pick only one of these things or necessary to combine them. It's all good.
firefly124: charlie bradbury grooving in a glass elevator (Default)
I'm not sure how much sense it makes for Celebrate Bisexuality Day to fall in the middle of Asexuality Awareness Week, but there it is. Then again, there is the fact that these are two orientations that have to contend with people not believing they even exist, so perhaps the overlap isn’t quite so illogical as it seems. Also it was a flister who recently came out as asexual who kind of lit a fire under me to actually do this, so there’s that bit of resonance as well.

Between work and school, I won't be making it to any CBD events, but it seemed like today might be a sensible day to make this post I've been meaning to write for, well, a really long time.

I'm bisexual.

There are a number of reasons this doesn't usually come up, one of which is that it's taken me awhile to realize there's any point to acknowledging that when I'm in an opposite-sex marriage. Hell, it took me awhile to acknowledge that as a fact about myself in the first place (which, in retrospect, just makes me shake my head and wonder how I could be so thick-headed), and even then (which was about 12 years ago), my follow-up thought was pretty much, "Well, it's not like it changes anything, right?" To which the answer is it both does and doesn't. More on that in the tl:dr version under the cut.

One of the other big reasons that has repeatedly held me back, though, is the periodic bouts of major biphobia in fandom. (And in other areas of life as well, but insofar as LJ/IJ/DW, that's the realm where I've seen it most often and most loudly.) I'd planned to write this post months and months ago but at the time was planning to put it under a really tightly filtered flock because of some of the backlash I'd seen bisexual fic writers receiving. I've since decided that kind of defeats the purpose of making a post like this, which is mostly just to be counted, for whatever increased visibility that creates. You can't increase visibility whole lots in a tightly filtered post, y'know? :D

tl:dr )

You know, for a post I’ve been composing in my head for months, this is awfully scattered. Probably because I didn’t sit down and actually start writing until about an hour ago. Now it’s almost time for work, so I guess I’ll stop here, even though it doesn’t really feel done. Instead of editing this to bits and probably taking another couple of months to actually post it, I’m just going to send it out into the wilds of the internet and ask if there are any questions.

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