Monday, August 2, 2010

To Whom Do We Turn...?

Hello All,

Sorry it's been so long since my last post. Work, research and life came up. I have been pretty devoted to my Twitter page though. That's where this blog really starts.

I follow Jessie Daniels, a professor at CUNY Hunter College, and we began discussing The Kids Are All Right and I stumble on The Lesbian Mafia and their review of the film. In our conversations many issues were brought up and many of us were disturbed that GLAAD did not denounce this film but after pressure they did release a post with a poll asking LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) individuals to comment on the film, which of course I did. Upon further conversation there was a piece posted by ColorLines discussing the way race is played in this film. Not good. I wanted to see this film, it looked good and was received well by mainstream critics generally. I do not think I should give my money to this film.

I began to think about the next layer of this. The director of the film is an out lesbian. What?! How is it that a lesbian could make a film that is so problematic and has been rejected by many lesbians? Selling out? Going mainstream? Does she have a responsibility as a lesbian to make films that are not stereotypical? I have spent hours discussing this very issue with a friend of mine. On Monday August 2nd I stumbled upon a blog I check out every so often, Blabbeando. The post that piqued my interest was called "When Latino pop stars turn their backs on our rights" and it is interesting because I have been thinking what standard do we need to hold celebrities/famous people to?

Lady Gaga speaks out for LGBT rights and was asked to speak out for people of color in Arizona and she did. Should we expect celebrities like Lady Gaga to speak out for people of color just because she speaks out for LGBT rights? What about Latino celebrities? Should we hold them to a different standard regarding issues of race? What about Lisa Cholodenko the director of the Kids Are All Right? Should we expect different things from her as a lesbian? Should we be accustomed to being let down by the artists that are mainstream?

There are many questions here. I cannot say my answers will satisfy the masses. I cannot say I have the answers. If I were to become famous I know I would speak out on issues of race, class, gender, sex, sexuality, and social justice generally, as I try to now with my blog, my tweets, the articles I post on Facebook, the blogs and news pages I read and try to share. I have friends, including those who identify as LGBT or as people of color, invested in social justice and working towards an egalitarian society but they do it differently then I, much less 'loud'.

At this point I am okay with them not being as loud as me but once celebrity comes into play don't we have a responsibility to speak out or act? No one is perfect but there are artists that use their celebrity for good, one of my favorites being Shakira. She spoke out against SB 1070, helped Haiti after the earthquake and plans to continue, started a foundation at 18 (FundaciĆ³n Pies Descalzos/Barefoot Foundation) devoted to helping educate children, and other things. Shakira uses her voice to help others beyond her musical talent. Shouldn't all artists/famous faces do this? There are some issues we are invested in more than others but I think we need to speak out especially as LGBT individuals, people of color, women and people who have multiple identities i.e. LGBT people of color, women of color, etc.

On another level what responsibility is ours? With the election of Barack Obama many got involved in politics to get him elected and now expect him to do so much. He is a human. One person. It is impossible for him in 8 years (if reelected) to make all the changes many of us want. Yes, Shakira speaks out but it is also my responsibility to speak out against SB 1070 (and I did and e-mailed the governor with my objections). We cannot put the onus on celebrities because they are famous and do nothing ourselves. We must act. We have power. Use your power! If I pressure someone to stand up for a cause, whether famous or not I better be doing my part. Like I stated previously I read blogs and articles and share them. Maybe someone who would not have found the article will find it and get involved. I am an optimist. I believe that the power of people (and especially people who use the internet) can be felt. We must continue to do what we can. And the power of the many will be able to create the change.

We must unite. LG people must work with transgendered people. LGBT people must work with people of color. Middle class people must work with the poor. If the majority of LGBT people, people of color, women, and those disadvantaged by socio-economic status worked together, if we dealt with our internalized oppression, and prejudiced views of others, and we fought for equality together and worked together we could make the changes we want to see. Coalition building across barriers is key. The many we can form can do more than waiting for the one to do it all (whether that one is a politician, an artist or a celebrity). In closing I will quote Ghandi, "Be the change you want to see in the world." Live the change daily!

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