Gay Fresno - Opinion


"Expression, Not Suppression" 2018 Hosted at Fresno High

  • Category: Opinion
  • Published: Friday, 08 June 2018 17:34
  • Written by Nathaniel Phillipps

ENS18jFresno Unified School District (FUSD) hosted the annual summit for LGBTQ students and their supporters in the beautiful neighborhood named after the oldest high school in greater Fresno. It marked the first official collaboration between the 5th largest school district in California and the statewide advocacy organization dedicated to parity in the LGBTQ student experience--GSA Network. I volunteered for several hours.

Many readers don’t need statistics to understand queer students’ reality; their personal histories are enough. In college, I co-chaired the Southern Nevada chapter of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), to advance safer schools in the Las Vegas region. GLSEN’s innovative research, The National School Climate Survey, has consistently found public schools to often be unsafe or harmful environments for queer students, yet in recent years markable improvements are found coast to coast. As of 2015, “most LGBTQ students in California had been victimized at school,” but our state is also leading the way for affirming schools.[1] FUSD acted with good intention, perhaps overzealously, in securitizing an already secure, gated campus with community resource officers--or school police--the day of the conference. That decision was twofold, as told to me by Erica Hasenbeck, Manager of Restorative Practices: in response to the arrest of a male teacher for sexual harassment of a male student the day before, and the reality that Fresno is no stranger to homophobic protests.

The conference, previously hosted in Fresno at affirming churches for some years, included useful and timely workshops and discussions between a morning keynote address by local drag queen Leilani Price, meals, a resource fair of local allied organizations, and a talent show/dance party in the courtyard to close out the long day. Simultaneous tracks provided youth-and-adult-specific spaces and topics along with open sessions led by valley experts, like “Racism in Our Schools” (Fresno resident and Californians for Justice staff, Grisanti Valencia): For instance, youth discussed “Political Activism in the Digital Age” (The kNOw Youth Media) and “Fight for Your Rights” (GSA Network); adults discussed advising/supporting Gay-Straight Alliance and other similar school clubs (Peggy Nemeth, Riverdale High), and “Fighting for Youth Rights” (Deion Jackson, GSA Network alumni).

District officials were on-site the entirety of the conference as helpful and intentional collaborators. Hasenbeck secured the partnership for the district and chose Fresno High as host in recognition of the school’s efforts at inclusion and the appeal of the neighborhood, she shared. School support staff were a very supportive presence as well, picking up a Saturday shift to welcome attending and visiting students from throughout the valley. While a great first partnership, future renditions provide ample opportunity for improvement.

Increased student and community attendance and involvement of regional GSA (gay-straight alliance) club advisors are two primary opportunities. Advisors criticized that the conference was not better communicated throughout FUSD, particularly to the very clubs for whom it was intended; Fresno High’s advisor told her club colleagues, frustratingly, of not being directly contacted by the district to be involved pre-conference which suggests a disconnect between central administrators and staff in schools. The security for the conference also compels reflection. It could be an unfortunate message inferred to queer students that for their congregating the presence of armed police officers or escorts are required--though the day concluded incident-free on campus. Unfortunately, the charm of the neighborhood that Hasenbeck referenced was dimmed by an occurrence that morning, Nemeth disclosed in conversation. Her club members were made uncomfortable when snubbed by staff at Kuppa Joy Coffee House, a Christian-owned and themed venue adjacent to campus:

“I feel so bad that despite coming to an event designed for them they had a negative experience just across the street getting coffee. However it happened, they felt slighted for being who they are, and that shouldn’t be happening, anywhere.”

In future summits, more volunteers could be recruited to monitor safety and deter potential homophobes, instead of police vehicles out front. Many LGBTQ people, especially folks of color, might feel uncomfortable with armed cops present due in part to historical and contemporary tensions between law enforcement and marginalized communities.

Expression, Not Suppression 2018 convened out-and-proud youngsters on April 21st, 2018. It was primarily coordinated by Marcus Navarro, Lead Fresno GSA Organizer of the Genders and Sexualities Alliance Network. A round of applause for a tremendous success!



Looking Back at My Own ‘Ray of Light’

  • Category: Opinion
  • Published: Thursday, 15 March 2018 12:27
  • Written by Micah Escobedo

ray of lightTwenty years ago today, Madonna's seventh studio album, Ray of Light, debuted and was instantly praised as her best work to date. Spiritual, reflective, and nurturing, three words the world had never really associated with the Queen of Pop prior to the album, were the most common points made by media critics and fans alike. It broke the mold, brought electronic music into mainstream pop, and produced truly great works of music-video art.

But this post isn't really about the history and impact of the album as a whole. For that, I highly recommend the following posts:

No, this post is about how this gem influenced me. As I've written before, I love Madonna. You might even call me a student of Madonnaology. I love studying the context in which albums and videos were released, how her sound has evolved, etc. Since day one, she's been in charge of her image and sound and is intimately involved in every aspect of production. Every step of the way, she's rubbed traditionalists the wrong way and sparked discussions on sexuality, censorship, and what it means to be famous in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. In short, she's a badass.

Read more: Looking Back at My Own ‘Ray of Light’

Trans-E-Motion statement regarding Fresno Women's March

  • Category: Opinion
  • Published: Sunday, 21 January 2018 10:19
  • Written by Jason Scott

Trans-E-Motion supports the national Women's March, which encourages uplifting and supporting all feminine people's and the family and friends that love them. Unfortunately, the Fresno Women's March falls short of that ideal. We encourage those who participate in today's event to be safe and enjoy themselves, but consider who is not there. Consider that no trans women were asked to speak until they were pushed to do so a months ago, and even then they only reached out to one out the five women suggested.

This is not how an inclusive event should be handled, and we are extremely disappointed by the lack of outreach done on the committee's part. Trans-E-Motion will be following up with this and keep the community aware of what's going on.

Never be afraid to make that "good kind of trouble", as John Lewis says.

Robin McGehee was a speaker at the event.

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Community Letter about Responses to Casey Haggard

  • Category: Opinion
  • Published: Saturday, 10 February 2018 09:54
  • Written by Trans-e-Motion

TEMTo Our Beloved Community:

For those who have yet to hear the news: on February 5th, the Fresno Police Department announced that they had a suspect in custody for the murder of Casey Haggard. She was a newly out and becoming a part of the community,
slowly beginning to open up. She had waited all her life to finally be her real self, and that opportunity was stolen in the most vicious and cruel way.

For others who see representatives of Trans-E-Motion as splitting hairs for focusing on pronouns and the dignity of the deceased, we feel compelled to respond.

We are very disappointed that some of our supposed allies have missed the entire point of our movement and the work we do.

Being grateful for an arrest in a three year long case should not give way to complacency or failing to appreciate the progress that we still have to make. This doesn’t mean we should ignore how trans people are consistently
marginalized in everyday language and conversation.

It’s interesting that most of those who praise the Fresno Police Department or claim that this was not a hate crime have not attended a Trans-E-Motion event in the last two years, if at all. We would like the community to know that ever since Trans-E-Motion became aware of her death and misgendering by the police and media, we have done everything in our power to educate and enlighten the authorities involved in her case. There is a LGBTQ liaison to the police department, we have asked to help in cultural competency training, and we have given endless free workshops on transvocabulary, medical issues, and cultural impact. We are therefore appalled at these responses and how they imply that transgender people have no right to their own identities; that we should be grateful for every scrap of superficial acceptance that we get.

It’s great that the alleged murderer was caught but our work is not done. From the sounds of it, there’s much work to be done within our own community. We challenge you all to not downplay the pain of the transgender community, especially those who take on the mantle as “ally”. Give transgender people a right to their feelings and dignity (and please note that most of these conversations are NOT being had by transgender people and therefore have very little claim to reference).

To suggest that the larger LGB part of the community just needs time, or that the wishes of the family are somehow more valid than the truth of Casey’s authentic self is a thinly veiled attempt at policing the oppressed. Martin
Luther King Jr. said in his letter from Birmingham jail that they (the oppressors) will never be ready for progressive change, so there is no point in appeasing those who are offended by our requests for understanding and respect.
We understand the family has wishes of their own, yet we find that to be no excuse to not honor Casey as she would have wanted to be honored – because we in the trans community knew her no other way than as herself.

Zoyer Zyndel

Jess Fitzpatrick

Jordan Fitzpatrick

Happy New Year

  • Category: Opinion
  • Published: Friday, 05 January 2018 16:40
  • Written by Bryan T Clark

cheersDid we really just come through a whole year?  Is it really time to shout from the rooftops, Happy New Year?  If your 2017 was anything like mine, you’re shouting louder than an Unbalanced Religious Freak on a street corner!

This past year we’ve seen it all, at least I hope so.  We have experienced hurricanes that pounded Texas and the East coast, earthquakes in Mexico, California Wildfires, an attempt to institute a ban on Muslins from entering the United States, transgender rights rolled back to Pre-Obama times and an assault on health care for some of the poorest people in our Country. As if this wasn’t enough, we’ve witnessed white supremacy marches and rallies like we haven’t seen since the 50’s and 60’s.


Today we live in a country like no other country in the world. In 2018, we are a melting pot of different races, ethnicities, religions, and economic levels. We are a democratic society where everyone gets a say, even if it’s harmful, hurtful, or dangerous. History has shown that with every great stride this land of ours has taken for the poor, the disenfranchised, and the marginalized, it came with a fight. I am a firm believer that in order to take those ‘Two Steps Forward’, an occasional ‘One Step Back’ unfortunately sometimes has to happen.

Read more: Happy New Year