Gay Fresno - Opinion

Opinion

The Death of Summer

  • Category: Opinion
  • Published: Saturday, 27 October 2018 13:00
  • Written by Bryan T Clark

death of summer

No, no one died, but as my friend Jeff, over at thetravelinbum.com put it, October is the death of Summer! While mourning the loss of hot weather, poolside cocktails, and warm summer nights, we are trying not to think about the pending holidays on the horizon.

With the patio furniture put up, it’s now time to break out the creepy Halloween costumes, sticky spiderwebs, and Trick or Treat candy. Let’s not drop that casket down into the ground just yet. I might be able to use it in the cemetery display in the front yard!

I know so many people who say that Halloween is their favorite time of year. They love dressing up and the whole scary aspect of the holiday. Scaring the hell out of people is precisely why this holiday hasn’t worked for me. Ever since I was a kid my mantra has always been “I don’t do scary!” I do not like to be scared.

In a haunted house, I will knock you out if you jump out in front of me, yelling Boo! I once paid fifteen dollars to go into a ‘haunted house’. I ran from the moment I walked into that house, all the way through every room, until I exited out the back door. In less than a minute, from start to finish, I was out and I saw nothing! I do feel a little bad for the people in front of me who got trampled by this six-two, two hundred-pound screaming black man that they never even saw coming!

I guess for me, the part about dressing up, spending time with friends, being silly, and overall just having a good time, is still appealing. I love a good party! Some of the best and most elaborate costumes I’ve ever seen was on a Halloween visit to San Francisco, on Castro Street. If you love to people watch, there is no better show to see.

Read more: The Death of Summer

We Got This – An Opinion on the Department of Human Health Service

  • Category: Opinion
  • Published: Friday, 26 October 2018 10:37
  • Written by Evie Ovalle

5bd2b56429972Like many trans people and allies, I was horrified to hear that the Department of Human Health Service is proposing new guidelines for determining gender in the United States. While the DHHS refuses to acknowledge its intention to ban transgender people from federal protection under Title IX, its proposal to establish a concrete definition of sex will nevertheless retrograde the trans community to those days of seeking black market synthetic hormones and sex work in exchange for money to cover trans-related medical procedures.

 

As quoted in the NY Times article:

“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.” (Green, Erica L., et al.)

 

Over the past few years years, transgender people and undocumented immigrants have become the center bargaining chip between leftist and conservative politicians in this country. We are a hotly debated topic, sitting awkwardly at the crossroads of a cultural, political and economic war, a large-scale national debate between Americans of varying backgrounds and ideologies, from evangelicals to radical feminists. Depending on who you talk to, trans rights can either mean a better, more forward-thinking world where gender is no longer a rigid determining factor of one's own destiny or a godless, dystopian nightmare with little blonde pig-tailed girls in perpetual danger of rape. Having talked to several of my trans friends, I can confidently assure any inquiring party that most of us just want to lead normal lives – work and make enough money to meet our basic needs and have some funds left over for Netflix and the occasional Amazon splurge. None of us really have the desire to be the topic of headlines on 24-hour cable news networks or have our lives subjected to heated disputes between millions of Americans nationwide. Fortunately, it seems that the average American is beginning to understand that.

 

Even as African American and black and brown Latina trans women continue to be murdered at astounding rates, the trans community is gaining some leverage with the support of such individual American and international organizations like the American Psychiatric Association, American College of Physicians, American Medical Association, World Professional Association for Transgender Health, United Nations and more – and the list keeps growing, despite ongoing pressure from the White House. Yet, here we are, about to have it all taken away from us. Even something as trivial as the right to use public restrooms safely – without fear of arrest or harassment or physical harm – will become a far-reaching unattainability if this new proposal is passed.

 

It may seem hopeless but we are not a people that easily give up hope – not without a fight. The pendulum swings our way and it's now done so for years. The DHHS is not creating a “concrete definition of sex,” but rather an arbitrary one that can easily be discredited by doctors, psychologists, biologists and geneticists – argued into obliteration and permanently put to rest by the people qualified to do so. Amid the high murder and low-unemployment rates, there is a society that is slowly acknowledging and validating our lives. We now have a firmer grasp of genetics, we understand the nature of biology, we know other animals can also change their sex. We have evidence of transgender people living successful, productive lives when protected from discrimination and violence, of children wanting to change their gender from a very early age and of the tragic consequences of people who aren't allowed to change their gender. We see more representation of us in the media. Katie Couric is on our side and the Times declares our movement is at a “tipping point.” In other words, we can fight this!

 

The right's biggest weapon against the left is its successful use of “gaslighting” – manipulating us to the point where we question ourselves, our very own sanity. The right wants us to feel that we're at the brink of Nazi Germany, they want us feel hopeless and weak – this makes it easier for them to pull the rug from right underneath us. I think this is the main reason why hate groups tend to gather en masse in such progressive cities as Portland, OR and Berkeley, CA. The right knows they'll attract a large group of counter-protesters in these cities, they know it might get ugly and they want as much news coverage of it as possible. They want to discredit the left, to tell the world, "Look at how much these liberals hate free speech!" They want an even playing field, where an illegitimate ideology can gain some level of respectability and duke it out with the “angry leftist liberals.” The ploy so often works and Antifa and Black Lives Matter are labeled as “angry,” “hateful,” and “racist” by politically moderate friends and family, while reactionary hate groups, such as the alt-right and Proud Boys continue to distract us all from an administration inconspicuously aligning itself with white nationalist and fascist ideals. We won't let them win.

 

Unfortunately, resisting the attacks of the right will take a little more than wearing vagina hats and standing outside the Supreme Court yelling, “Resist.” It's going to take a little elbow grease too. It may take active canvassing, it may take holding the media accountable for fair and accurate coverage of trans people. Most importantly, it will take your vote. Voting candidates into office with strong ties to the LGBT community can help secure a win for Queer people. Be sure to look up every candidate's policy on transgender-related issues – even those you may believe align themselves with the democratic party and LGBT issues. Together, we can beat this and forge a world where Queers are allowed to exist freely and safely.

 

Read more: We Got This – An Opinion on the Department of Human Health Service

A Day In The Life Of A Writer

  • Category: Opinion
  • Published: Thursday, 27 September 2018 12:12
  • Written by Bryan T. Clark

writerReaders often ask me about my daily routine as an author. Do I write every day? How many hours per day do I write? And, did I write when I was younger? The last question is easy and straight forward. Yes, I wrote in high school and college. However, the answer to the first two questions has changed over the years. Now, the answer to those depends on where I am in a manuscript, whether it’s plotting out the outline, writing the actual storyline, doing the final edits, or gearing up for a release.

A good example of a typical day for me is that I am in the office by eight. With my second cup of Java in hand, I check emails and respond to any and all inquiries. Then, I move on to social media and marketing. Since my assistant does all of the advertisements on Facebook, I spend a little time there just trying to keep up on the buzz feed from around the industry.

Next, I turn my attention to Twitter, Instagram, Amazon, Ibooks, Smashword and a whole host of other sites were my books are sold to see what’s happening there. All of these sites require a daily check-in to ensure there aren’t any problems with my information. Since I have paid advertising on some of these platforms, I also have to check the sales and data trends. All of this activity usually takes a couple of hours.

By late morning, with the ‘up-keep’ of being a writer completed, I finally get to work on actually writing. Right now, I am working on the edits for my next novel, Escaping Camp Roosevelt. First round edits amount to almost a complete make over of the original draft. This is where holes in the plot are discovered and my characters begin to shine. I call this stage in a manuscript, the “frosting on the cake”. The cake has been baked, but it is just a cake. Now, it is time to make it pretty. As I “frost the cake”, I am layering depth in my characters and further developing the subplots to keep the reader engaged and the story line moving forward.

Read more: A Day In The Life Of A Writer

Coffee-Toss Through the Fog

  • Category: Opinion
  • Published: Monday, 08 October 2018 09:25
  • Written by Evie Ovalle

golden gate 1000It had been a particularly warm summer in 1966 and the city of San Francisco was finally enjoying the cool Pacific winds that the month of August brought in. The Bay Area metropolis bustled alive with sailors, hustlers, immigrant families and tourists, all scurrying atop the seven peninsula hills like ants over great concrete mounds. Already reputed as an “anything goes” kind of place, San Francisco had been able to maintain a number of “libidinous” establishments open for years – including “homosexual gatherings” like The Black Cat Café and Finocchio’s Nightclub in North Beach. These bars stayed open through an extensive negotiation with local law-enforcement and assistance from the local *Homophile organizations located in the city. Cross-dressing, however, was still illegal in 1966 and SFPD could use the presence of transgender people in a place of business as a pretext to make a raid and close down a bar. As a result, many trans-people (or hair fairies, as they were often referred to) were not welcome. The only place trans-people could really congregate safely was in a little chain restaurant, on the corner of Taylor and Turk, called Compton’s Cafeteria. It is here that a civic revolt took place – one that would pre-date Stonewall as the first recorded transgender riot in United States history.

*Homophile: A term used in the 1950’s and 1960’s to describe LGBT-rights organizations. With the emergence of the Gay Liberation, the word began to disappear from the LGBT vernacular.

On this one August night, SFPD was called in under the premise that a group of hair fairies had become increasingly raucous at Compton's. The SFPD, assuming a routine deviant arrest, promptly showed up and proceeded to manhandle the clientele – as it happens, this was also a routine thing for them to do.

There are several accounts as to what occurred next or what prompted the riot itself, but the most popular version is that a trans woman, exhausted with the abuse implemented by the San Francisco police, threw her hot coffee in the face of the officer who was roughening her up. In a matter of mere seconds, dishes, furniture, wigs and high-heeled shoes went flying about the cafe. Shouts and screams were heard from the outside, and the restaurant’s plate-glass windows were violently smashed. The riot spilled out onto the dark, wet streets of the Tenderloin District. Police called for reinforcements as a sidewalk newsstand was toppled over and burned to the ground. The first night of the riots had begun.

The following night, the plate-glass windows at Compton’s Cafeteria were replaced, just as an even larger crowd of street hustlers, drag queens, transgender women and gay men picketed outside the restaurant. When news broke out that transgender people were not to be allowed inside Compton’s again, the newly replaced plate-glass windows were once again smashed. That shattered glass became a bold symbolic call to action for American transgender people, demanding equitable treatment and respect for their identities and lives.

Although the riot marked a major turning point for transgender rights in the U.S., the struggle continues somewhat-incipiently – not just for transgender rights, but for any movement that promotes freedom from oppression based on gender-identity and expression, economic status and class.

This violent, angry event resulted in peaceful demonstrations and better negotiations with the city. It is these negotiations that eventually created more access to city healthcare for trans-people, trans-support services and an annual transgender-march down Market Street – and it all began with a cup of coffee.

This year, as we move forward in fighting for LGBT equal rights, let us remember those places, events and people who fought the first rounds before us and won – or sometimes lost. Let us honor those who stood up for their rights, even when it wasn’t the coolest or hippest thing to do. Let’s never forget that it is because of these people, who celebrated themselves amid persecution and injustice, that we are able to celebrate ourselves a little more today.

I encourage you to consider actively searching for your LGBT activist ancestors, take their strengths and courage and continue to fight for your share of the American Dream.

What LGBT activists or events inspire you?

Family

  • Category: Opinion
  • Published: Tuesday, 28 August 2018 10:37
  • Written by Bryan T. Clark

brian treeAre we really past the half way point in 2018? Where the heck did that first part of the year go?

Last month I turned thirty; okay fifty…-three-ish! For the first time in many years, I spent my birthday with my family. My husband Brian barbequed and mom made my favorite cake, a homemade German Chocolate cake. She still makes her cakes from scratch. It was a relaxing day with the six of us hanging out in the pool and just talking.

The day was not all that different, (except for the pool) than when I was a kid. Coming from a large family, our weekends often turned into a party. The men took to the backyard to tend to the grill and drink beer while the women chatted and laughed in the kitchen as they prepared side dishes and desserts.

When I got bored with the stories the guys were telling over and over again, I would wander into the kitchen and spent a little time with the ladies. Their conversation was always better; no drama, just sharing the best gossip reserved for Sunday BBQ’s.

As a family, we all came together weekly to enjoy each other’s company. It was a tradition that I’m not so sure continues in people’s lives today. We are a nation of drifters and transients, moving our families where ever the jobs take us.

old carToday, my birth family is transcontinental; we are spread out from California to North Carolina, and everywhere in between. It is rare when we are all in the same room these days. Even with modern technology such as Facebook, Face Time, and any number of other apps that connect us, I often wonder are we truly, really connected anymore?

It seems that ‘family’ today is more by design then by birth. Children have aunts and uncles that are not blood related but love them every bit as hard. We gather just the same, in the parks, and back yards, friends welcoming friends.

diegos secretIn my novel Diego’s Secret, a romantic and heartfelt story, I explore the meaning of a modern family—blended by circumstances, not by choice—and how those complicated bonds add an unexpected richness to our lives. I have included a short excerpt from Diego’s Secret that relates to this issue. After reading the short excerpt, I would love to hear back from you in the comments section where you can tell me what your family looks like today.

EXCERPT
Just past midnight, Diego was still awake. He lay across his bed staring at his phone, scrolling through pictures of his cousins in Mexico sent by his aunt. Though he had left Mexico at age seventeen, there wasn’t a day that Diego didn’t think of his small village of Mezcala in the state of Guerrero. Sure, life was better here, but that place held his family, his friends, and childhood memories of playing in the Atoyac River.
He smiled as he remembered fishing from the bridge of that river with his abuelo, just the two of them. It killed him that he hadn’t been able to see him one more time before he died. Knowing that the entire family had attended the funeral except for him and his brothers, he felt that he had never gotten closure. Maybe that was why he often thought of his abuelo as still alive. Diego would sometimes wonder what he was up to until the realization returned that he was gone.

The memory of his mother’s menudo, cooking on the stove all day, suddenly penetrated his nose, sending a calmness down his spine. Diego listened for sounds from the front room. The muffled noise of guns firing on television told him that Francisco was still up, watching one of his favorite cop shows. Mayra was most likely draped across his lap in a light sleep. Trying to shrug off his loneliness, Diego rolled over in hopes of going to sleep.