Touch One Another – a talk by Reina Gossett & Grace Dunham

Touch One Another – a talk by Reina Gossett & Grace Dunham:

Some excerpts from a talk about the history and afterlife of LA’s anti-queer and anti-trans laws from the pre-Stonewall era:

Last month, we went to Los Angeles for a project we’ve been calling “The Undesirables.” We went to LA wanting to learn how, in the shadow of a state that wanted them dead or gone, people seen as undesirable still lived their lives, all the while being told that there was no life to be lived.

Grace:

In post-war Los Angeles, they called the people they wanted gone from the city “undesirables.”

Post-war LAPD Sheriff, William Parker—the queer/trans community called him Wild Bill Parker—kept a record of more than “10,000 sex perverts.” The LAPD’s head criminal psychiatrist, Paul de River, published a guide to “policing perversion” called The Sexual Criminal. Wild Bill and de River trained vice-squads of handsome young hollywood wannabes in “gay mannerisms,” sending them out into the night to meet entrapment quotas. 

Wild Bill filled the Lincoln Heights Jail with so-called cross-dressers and masqueraders, coercively gendering them in wings for men and women, known as “The Fruit Tank” and “The Big Daddy Tank.”

Grace:

The Sunday of our trip to LA for the undesirables project, we went to Jewel’s Catch One, the oldest black-owned gay club in LA. It’s a big place, with two ballrooms and gold molding. It’s about to close, after over 40 years. We went for the birthday party of someone named Avery, who named the club. Most people at the party had seen Catch One through its beginning and, now, its end.

Avery told us how gay people used to not be allowed to touch. At bars, clubs, wherever, you’d be arrested for touching. So people danced with two feet of space between them and scattered even farther when the cops came.

Reina:

The Sunday we went to Jewel’s Catch One, I put on a dress. And I was hit with an incredible wave of embarrassment. I was overwhelmed by embarrassment. I wasn’t surprised—this feeling is why I hadn’t worn a dress in years. The history of laws and punishment and shame washed over me and through me.

Grace:

Here we were, in LA, 40 years of anti-cross dressing laws, 40 years after no-touch laws, 40 years after wild bill parker, the vice squads, and the fruit tank, just trying to figure out how to be outside, together, without so much fear and embarrassment. These laws, even in their afterlife, don’t just affect how we see ourselves, but also put up those forcefields between us and the friends we want to love the best and hardest.

I could feel how much distance there was between Reina and me. I could feel how, in her embarrassment, she had gone into herself, into the isolation of being alone in those emotions.

Reina:

When you’re told people hate you, you feel like the problem is within you instead of outside you. So you isolate yourself, in order to protect yourself. And Isolation happens in our relationships. You disconnect, like how I disconnected from Grace. It’s so terrifying to take the risk of being seen, of being touched. That’s also why it’s so important.

Grace:

In our culture, we’re made to feel like our emotions are our fault and ours alone to bear the weight of. What if, instead, we see our most painful emotions as sites of recognition, as evidence of how oppression is all around us and moving through us. I think that embarrassment is a moment of painful understanding. We feel—sometimes unbearably—the force of histories telling us how to be. I think there is work in learning to see that pain not as evidence of who we are, but of what we’re fighting against.

madho-lal-hussein:Scenes from this year’s Mumbai Pride Parade…

madho-lal-hussein:

Scenes from this year’s Mumbai Pride Parade which took place on January 31st and saw a bustling crowd of over 6000 LGBTQ supporters walk the streets of South Mumbai  

We’re approaching the middle of LGBT Pride Month, and this week we’ll explore some of the historical roots which ground us – as individuals and as communities – where we are today. As Ngoc Loan Tran (@rustandyearningswrites:

The events of June 28th, 1969 wrote queer and trans folks into history permanently. While the Stonewall Riots that began on that night were not the first time the LGBT community retaliated against anti-queer and trans violence (see: the Compton Cafeteria riot of August 1966), the Riots are often regarded as the spark that began the ‘gay liberation movement.’ The Riots were an intentional disruption of the routine police raids that took place at the popular Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village.

The Riots served as a catalyst for queer and trans* folks, particularly those living in New York City, to come together and work towards building a community invested in actively resisting targeted violence. A year after Stonewall, cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City held their first ‘Gay Pride’ marches to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Riots that started it all.

As queer Asians, we carry multiple legacies of struggle, resistance, and survival. Let’s celebrate each other and the transformative power our communities have built over the past several decades.

-Ethan

East Coast Gays Versus West Coast Gays

East Coast Gays Versus West Coast Gays:

alostfish:

Very interesting comparison, which I find to be pretty accurate. Specially this section: 

The Professionals:
In keeping the tone of that Southern California coolness, people in Los Angeles are far less concerned about what you do and more concerned about what you look like. People in L.A., never seem to work much at all and it is one of the only towns I have ever been to where people like porn stars and strippers are put on a pedestal. You may call that slutty – I call it entrepreneurial. However, there is something about New York that drives people to work harder for a better life. I guess it has something to do with the fact that Ellis Island is right around the corner and people there are still fighting for that American Dream or some shit. Nowhere else on the planet is a fourteen hour workday not only accepted, but the norm. The winner: New York.

Follower Friday: hellojamesgoodbye

Follower Fridays is a series of profiles highlighting members of Gaysian Third Space to showcase the diversity of gaysians in the Community. This week’s featured member is @hellojamesgoodbye.

Who are you?

I’m James and I just turned 25. I’m an avid gamer, a nerd at heart, and a news junkie – but if I’m on your trivia team I would be useless. Technically only half of me belongs here since I’m half Chinese and half white ;P


Where are you from?

The Boston area. I’ve been here most of my life, but I’ve also lived in Orlando, Seattle, and London for short periods of time.  

What do you do?

My undergrad was in communications and I worked in tech PR for awhile, but now I’m an analyst at a video advertising company. I was always good at math and numbers make more logical sense in the chaotic nature of business. I’m trying to find something that balances technical with creative.

What are you passionate about?

Seeing and experiencing new things – mostly to try new food and drink. I love trying the latest food fad or finding a cozy coffee place. If I go to the same restaurant more than once then that means something.

What is your dream job (real or fantasy)?

A job that allows me to travel a bit. I caught the travel bug in college and I’ve been restless ever since. Eventually I think I’d like to start my own consulting business, but that’s quite a ways out.

If you could change the world with one idea, what would it be?

Just be nice. At the end of the day we’re all human and we are all capable of experiencing the same range of emotions.