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By Any Other Pronoun ft. Nene Leakes

Pronouns,

How would it make you feel?

Let’s get a few things straight: we’re not worried about someone’s sensitivity. We’re worried about human decency. And a part of being a decent human being is understanding that pronouns are important to people – especially trans and nonbinary people.

More often than not, young children are raised under the impression that there is a gender binary. There are two genders: male and female. Males are supposed to like sports, and cars, and superheroes. They’re supposed to run for president and be doctors. Females are supposed to shoot for the stars, too. In fact, their role models are usually princesses from fairy tales who either inherited or married into money.

What could possibly go wrong?

Everything, that’s what.

There are two real issues with this. The first of these is that we’re still associating character traits with gender and sex. That school of thought isn’t just antiquated … it’s stupid. The second issue here is that just weeks out from the year 2018, we’re still looking at gender in the binary, or as having only two parts (male and female). The idea of there being a third, non-binary gender is nothing new. This year, California became the first state to recognize a third, non-binary gender. But centuries ago, many Native American tribes (or as I like to call them, the OGs of the continent) recognized as many as four separate genders (though this also could prove problematic, as they still dealt with masculine-feminine stereotypes).

Look, the fact of the matter is that (especially so in our community) there is a large chunk of people who identify as non-binary (meaning neither female nor male) or identify as male or female and just so happen to possess qualities that seem more masculine or feminine than what is considered to be the “norm.” Even I, a cis-gender, gay male who has chin-length hair, a feminine personality, and who sometimes wears makeup, am often referred to by strangers using the she/her/hers pronouns. And the truth of the matter is that it can be a little embarrassing, just like it can be for trans people and nonbinary people. And why? Because in spite of the fact that I am the most colorful fruit in the produce department at the Montrose Kroger, I am a cisgender male and identify as such.

Now let’s think about how that must feel for trans/non-binary folks. These are people who have struggled most of (if not all of) their lives with the gender they were assigned at birth. No matter how long they’ve been out as trans, or if they even are, a superfluity of emotions can stir inside a person when they’re called by the wrong pronoun.

I posed this question on my Facebook, where some of my friends chimed in.  

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The responses came in quickly.

Cis and mildly passive-aggressive:

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Non-binary:

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Trans:

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Cis and honestly trying to correlate: 

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Cis and understanding:

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So what does that mean you should do? 

 

giphy By Any Other Pronoun ft. Nene Leakes

ASSSSSSKKKKKKK!

It’s perfectly okay to ask. In fact, most people (whether they be trans, cis, or nonbinary) would prefer that you ask. I mean, you wouldn’t want someone walking around calling you a chef if you weren’t a chef. Would you? You wouldn’t want someone walking around calling you an octopus if you weren’t an octopus. Would you? Why would a trans man want you walking around calling him a woman?

He wouldn’t.

So, ask what your newfound friend’s pronouns are! It’s okay. And it will save you some embarrassment. Maybe you’ll feel more comfortable asking this person to the side or away from a large group of people. That’s okay, too. Ask and don’t be uncomfortable about it, and don’t put people on display.

OH, BUT HOLD UP! Here’s something you should never ask: 


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NEVER ask a person about their genitalia that you are not having a consensual, sexual relationship with. Why?

BECAUSE IT’S NOT ANY OF YO DAMN BITNESS.

So, here to explain to me some of the responses you might get when you ask these questions is our good friend Nene Leakes.

Woman – She, Her, Hers

fjbacatxchtmtrajszf6-300x169 By Any Other Pronoun ft. Nene LeakesA woman is any person who identifies as a woman. This can mean that maybe they were born in a male or female body, but now in their life identify as a woman. Use the she/her/hers pronouns here.

Man – He, Him, His

nene-leakes-58a6df187aa07c3c1b40a4ae-g-1-300x169 By Any Other Pronoun ft. Nene Leakes

Same goes for men. This is any person who was assigned a certain sex at birth, but now identifies as a man. Use the he/him/his pronouns in this case.

Non-binary – They, Them, Their

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Some people are assigned a female or male gender at birth (or maybe they aren’t) and grow up to realize that they’re not … well … either. Some people (despite the body they were born in) don’t feel like a boy or a girl. They just want to be a person. And that’s equally okay. For them, we use the they/them/their pronouns.

See? It’s that easy! Just ask. It’s just like asking any other question. Like what their sexual orientation is:

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Or what they do for a living: 

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But remember that it is a sensitive topic, so be respectful. Kind of like asking what size someone wears:

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Or what their beliefs are:

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And like all other things, everyone has the right not to answer your questions if they aren’t comfortable doing so.


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So what have we learned?

It’s okay to ask about pronouns! Just be respectful, and let the person know that you’re only asking because you care about their feelings. And remember: treat others the way you want to be treated. Oh, and that Nene Leakes is still a #kween.

We’re a community, and we have to love each other.

 

Never Forget: A September 11th Appeal

9/11 United States America Never Forget terrorist attack

September 11th, 2001 – the day of the terrorist attack that changed the United States of America forever.

Where were you on 9/11? That’s the question everyone asks. Every person alive that day remembers where they were 8:26 AM Eastern Time when American Airlines Flight 11 struck the north-facing side of the World Trade Center’s North Tower.

We will never forget.

At this time on September 11th, I was in California. My then-husband was in tech school in Port Hueneme just outside of LA, and my mother had called me to tell me to turn on the television. When I did so, my heart sank; I flipped it on just in time to discover a plane had hit the North Tower, and then watched as United Flight 175 hit the South Tower. Everything changed at that point. Instantly, the situation went from a tragic accident to the realization that the United States of America was under attack.

I jumped in the car and drove immediately to the naval base, where it took 2 ½ hours to get through security and onto the base that day. They searched every car that came through with mirrors and bomb-sniffing dogs. I learned that every military base was on high alert once I’d arrived, while also hearing a lot of terrifying talk about sending out troops before they’d even finished tech school. Already, we were at war. The air on base was thick and adherent with anger, fear, and excitement.

But my point in writing this isn’t about where we were when the planes hit those towers. My point in writing this is not one that explicitly relates to the number of lives that were lost (although this cannot and should not ever be forgotten or undermined), nor which politics landed us in that position in the first place, nor all of the conspiracy theories. It’s about who we were as a country on that fateful day.

My point in writing this is that September 11, 2001 is the last time I remember our country being united. Today, that makes me twice as sad.

I’d like to impress upon you, readers, a disclaimer here: I am well cognizant of the fact that a part of that unity from that day forward, came from a large, unnecessary, and xenophobic place toward the many Americans who identify as Islamic and Middle Eastern, as well as those from other areas of South Asia, such as India. Even just seventeen years ago, this was a time in which many caucasian Americans were not being held accountable for their white privilege. And although we are slowly but surely getting better about making sure that white privilege is being more carefully monitored and examined, we still have a very long way to go before it meets a necessary extinction. In no way do I condone that behavior, nor will I ever insinuate that it was right or just. But that isn’t the unity I’m placing my specifics on. The unity of which I speak is that in which neighbors checked on one another, picked up each other’s children from school, made phone calls to their friends and loved ones, held strangers as they cried in the deafeningly silent streets of Manhattan. The unity of which I speak is the compassion we showed one another — not the response from bigots and a presidential administration that targeted innocent people in countries overseas while using xenophobia to try to further unite the country. That part will always remain to be wrong.

The very thing that makes me proud to be an American is the legendary American spirit, the audacity that we have always had as a people to stand together or alone against the greatest odds. Nothing showed that American spirit more than on September 11th or in the weeks that followed. The unity, support, and compassion that we displayed toward our fellow American citizens in need that day was nothing short of inspiring.

Somehow, in the throes of the current political climate — one that daily rips further apart the left from the right, the upper from the lower class, the young and the old, the cis and the trans, the gay and the straight — we as Americans have forgotten that part. We, the People of the United States of America, have forgotten that we all play on the same team. And in that loss of cognizance, we have forgotten our neighbors, forgotten how to listen, and forgotten our common goals.

Yet we remember the tragedy. We remember the lives that were lost (as we should always). We remember the brave first responders and volunteers who died or are still dying slowly from complications that came following their insurmountably brave heroism. We remember our politicians that spoke and acted eloquently and strongly during that time, as well as the ones who could have done better in this aspect.

But we, the People, have forgotten ourselves.

Now is the time to remember. It’s time to remember who we are as Americans; to put aside our egos and our pride and remember that, as with any team, success is hollow if not all those working toward it can attain it. It is time for we as Americans to get back to our common goals — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness equally and for all.

When you remember September 11th, mourn our losses, love those who have sacrificed, and celebrate our nation’s resilience to being torn apart by a few bad people. Though it is important to bear in mind that the religion a terrorist claims to align with and the color of a terrorist’s skin does not make every person of that skin pigment or faith a terrorist. In fact, the vast majority are nothing like those terrorists. But I implore of you now, on the anniversary of one of our nation’s most tragic days, to not forget our compassion, to not forget who we are.

Opinion: Michelle Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

The seemingly harmless 32-year-old comic tore the Trump administration and the media to shreds with her White House Correspondents’ Dinner stand-up gig … and it was beautiful.

The White House Correspondents’ Association (you know, those people who sit in the press room of the White House shouting questions that typically go unanswered or answered falsely by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders) is treated annually with a nice dinner at the White House. The dinner is typically attended by the bulk of the administration, the president and vice president, members of the association intertwined with celebrities and other Washington big-wigs. However, in both 2017 and now 2018, Donald J. Trump has made the choice to not attend the festivities for one reason or another. In his place in 2018, Trump sent Huckabee Sanders.

The evening always boasts at least one entertainer, who in the past have included Jay Leno, Bob Hope, Wanda Sykes, Aretha Franklin, and many others. Last year, Daily Show senior correspondent, Hasan Minhaj, entertained the room, making one-liners about Trump, his staff, the turn-over rate (which even in late April of 2017 was alarmingly high), Russia, and, of course, the press. Minhaj committed himself to performing at the expense of the administration, and was widely regarded for doing so tastefully. This year, (also) Daily Show contributor/writer, Michelle Wolf, was tasked with the honor of performing … and she took no prisoners.

It was mesmerizing.

Throughout the bulk of her performance, Michelle Wolf took jabs at Donald Trump (“Trump is racist, though. He loves white nationalists, which is a weird term for a Nazi. Calling a Nazi a ‘white nationalist’ is like calling a pedophile a ‘kid friend,’ or Harvey Weinstein a ‘ladies man,’ which isn’t really fair — he also likes plants.”), Mike Pence (“Mike Pence is what happens when Anderson Cooper isn’t gay.”), Sarah Huckabee Sanders (“I loved you as Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale. Mike Pence, if you haven’t seen it, you would love it.”), the press corps (about CNN:“You guys love breaking news, and you did it, you broke it! Good work!”) and so many others. When she took the stage, it was probably a general assumption that this tiny, 32-year-old, not-that-famous comedienne from Pennsylvania was going to perform some quick burns, but that she would do so apologetically and with respect to the administration.

What’s the old saying about assuming?

Michelle took the stage and held her own. She had no problem roasting individuals who were seated before her, and even those just a few chairs from her (read: Sanders). She delivered jokes with impeccable comedic timing and proved to the entire world that she’s just as pissed about the state of our nation’s government as many of us are. And by the time the dust had settled, Michelle Wolf became a name that everyone in America would soon know.

However, much like the 2016 election, reactions to the event were … well … divided. While many liberals and anti-Trump advocates rallied around Wolf and lamented their praises, the right, the administration, as well as a great deal of the media, felt differently. Just this morning, even the White House Correspondents’ Association president, Margaret Talev, even released a statement via Twitter responding to Saturday’s monologue. In the statement, Talev outlines that the spirit of the WHCD was “not to divide people”, and went so far as to state that Wolf’s set was not in the spirit of that mission.

Screen-Shot-2018-04-30-at-4.00.13-PM Opinion: Michelle Wolf in Sheep's ClothingEven the president felt the need to take to Twitter to comment on the performance he had not even the courage to attend, stating that Wolf “bombed.” Conversely, many big-names from the left have stepped up and sworn their allegiance to Wolf, supporting her and defending her in social media battles.

Screen-Shot-2018-04-30-at-3.50.41-PM Opinion: Michelle Wolf in Sheep's ClothingScreen-Shot-2018-04-30-at-3.51.52-PM Opinion: Michelle Wolf in Sheep's ClothingScreen-Shot-2018-04-30-at-3.53.28-PM Opinion: Michelle Wolf in Sheep's ClothingScreen-Shot-2018-04-30-at-3.54.06-PM Opinion: Michelle Wolf in Sheep's ClothingScreen-Shot-2018-04-30-at-3.54.46-PM Opinion: Michelle Wolf in Sheep's ClothingYes, Michelle Wolf put on a performance that is going to be long-remembered, as well as one that will be go down in history as controversial. But why was it so controversial? It didn’t seem controversial when a scathing performance was given by the aforementioned Minhaj the year before. And while he too was met with criticism for some of his remarks by the right, the amount of blowback didn’t include a personal letter from the WHCA.

And why is it that America is so angry? (Let’s be honest, it’s mostly because she’s a liberal woman, and liberal women apparently shouldn’t have opinions … least of all express them). Wolf did her job. Not just as a comic (and it was really freaking funny), but as an American. She used the opportunity to point out through satire and rhetoric the issues that a great deal of Americans have with the administration, as well as the press (and even added to the end of her set that Flint, Michigan still doesn’t have clean water.). And while you may not often hear the words ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ being shouted throughout the halls of the White House as they were last night (then again, how can I really know that?), Wolf’s commentary was tasteful and rewarding.

Trump is racist, though. He loves white nationalists, which is a weird term for a Nazi. Calling a Nazi a ‘white nationalist’ is like calling a pedophile a ‘kid friend,’ or Harvey Weinstein a ‘ladies man,’ which isn’t really fair — he also likes plants.

—Michelle Wolf

Everyone is concerned for Sarah Huckabee Sanders and President Trump for what Wolf had to say about them; but what about what those two say to all of us on a daily basis? It’s no secret that Donald Trump is a compulsive liar. He usually gets caught in his lies, denies them, is presented with evidence, denies that, and then comes around and says, “Oh, sure. Yeah. I think that did happen. But it’s okay, because it was just me.” Huckabee Sanders does nothing to help that situation, as she conveniently holds a title that requires her to relay a great deal of those lies to the press. And the problem with the both of them? As they’re spewing bullshit to America, they’re doing so with faces that read clearly: I believe what I’m saying is true. To add insult to injury, Trump doesn’t just tell lies, he’s also a self-proclaimed sexual assailant (refer to the Billy Bush recording travesty), and talks about people—often his constituents, mind you—as if they’re not people, but pawns in his real-life game of Monopoly.

Have we so quickly forgotten how he accused Megyn Kelly of having “blood coming out of her wherever” when she chastised him for his behavior during a debate? Are we ignoring how he mocked a disabled news reporter on live TV at a rally held in South Carolina? Are we forgetting how his temper tantrums have brought us to the brink of nuclear war more times than a few? What about his proposed ban on transgender military members? What about the time he claimed that sexual assault in the military is just what happens when men and women work together? Oh, and there was that time he joked about dating his own daughter (that one still makes me cringe).

Wolf did what Wolf was there to do and she did a damn fine job doing so. The backlash she’s receiving is basically to say that we are now supposed to hold the comics in this country to a higher standard than we are the leader of the free world. And that sort of assertion is, quite frankly, ridiculous. She tackled issues that people don’t want to talk about, including the press pandering to the president for ratings and money.

Wolf wasn’t what the crowd was expecting that night at the WHCD … and thankfully so. Whether you like what she had to say about the president, his administration, or the press, Wolf showed up and did her job the way that a comedian is supposed to (and much unlike the president’s record has proven, she did so without insulting the image or body of a single woman). When is the Trump administration going to show up to do their jobs the way they’re supposed to?

You can watch Michelle’s full remarks here.

Editor’s Note: Help Our Friends at Spectrum South

Screen-Shot-2018-08-24-at-8.51.17-PM Editor's Note: Help Our Friends at Spectrum South

I really should stop addressing everyone as “readers” considering the fact that we now offer so much video content. Followers? Viewers? (You do technically watch and read by viewing. Right?). Ah, well. I digress. The reason we’re planting this note to all of you is to let you know that some very special friends of ours need your help. If you’ve been paying attention lately, you may know that we at About Magazine have an earnest infatuation with another LGBTQ magazine here in Houston. While we love all our friends at all the queer publications that cohabitate here in Houston — OutSmart and The Montrose Star are two large staples of this community without which many LGBTQ Houstonians might suffer a great loss of information — we have a very special place in our hearts for a magazine that shares the same vision About does and that never ceases to impress us.

That magazine — as you may have guessed from my other blushing, giddy notes about them — is Spectrum South. 

40053754_762468307478014_4539267329309016064_o Editor's Note: Help Our Friends at Spectrum SouthIf you actually do read these notes I drop from time-to-time, you’re probably asking, “Yo, Anthony. Why do you like Spectrum South so much? Are you trying to Single White Female them? Why are you so obsessed?”

Truthfully, these are all actually very valid questions; and I worry about it myself a little bit, as the idea of starting to dress like Kelsey Gledhill — chief creative officer of Spectrum — does cross my mind quite often. But the truth of the matter is that Spectrum South (led and co-founded by Gledhill and editor-in-chief, Megan Smith) is just really freaking awesome. Like … I sometimes cannot believe the fact that I never tire of boasting about these two young women and their publication, as well as their entire talented staff. It may sound silly (and even bordering stalker-esque), but Spectrum South has a huge impact on all of the decisions that I make for the future and betterment of About. 

That isn’t to say that we’re here to copy their every move, learn how they think, gain their trust, infiltrate their business, and initiate a coup. (Was that too specific? Shit just got weird). It’s just that they are literally the utmost forward-thinking, diverse, and inclusive queer publication in this city, which is a road I takes steps down every single day in order to improve About. But what’s impressive isn’t the fact that they want to be inclusive or that they want to give something from their publication to every part of the LGBTQIA spectrum in all its many beautiful colors. It’s that they’re actually doing it. Strange as that may sound, this sort of triumph isn’t easy.

Jbfzmzm Editor's Note: Help Our Friends at Spectrum South
Kelsey Gledhill, Anthony Ramirez, and Megan Smith.

In my time at About Magazine, it has proven difficult over-and-over again to truly bring representation to everyone in this community. Whether they be Black, lesbian, Latino, asexual, bisexual, gay, queer, nonbinary, trans, woman, Asian, or any other marginalized person, finding the right way to execute the desire to do so can be sometimes fruitless and exhausting. It’s like I said before, this is a road that I take About down every single day (not without the help of our own lovely staff). Only, sometimes that road is unlit, and it winds, and it takes sharp turns, and it goes up-and-down hills you aren’t expecting because you’re traveling it in the dark. So imagine that blindness and loss of direction coupled with the fact that, oh, hey, your power steering fluid has just run out.

To give a little background on Kelsey and Megan — at least as best as I understand it — both these queer women worked in Houston’s LGBTQ journalism scene before Spectrum but found themselves longing for something that really spoke to the corners of the community into which people avoiding shining their flashlights. So they took it upon themselves to create a publication for the community that might better serve our LGBTQIA siblings that are often more marginalized than even the co-founders themselves — queer, white women — or myself — a gay Latino. And with a team of some of Houston’s most incredible writers and photographers that includes (but is not limited to) Crimson Jordan, Barrett White, Yvonne Marquez, and many more, Spectrum has been able to really slip into those creases and cracks to present pieces about some of the Queer South’s most prominent LGBTQ people and businesses, while also discussing topics queer people need a space to read about — from sex to politics to gender affirmation to consent and much, much more.

That’s why when Spectrum South shared with us that they’d be starting a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for what has turned into their second year in business, we were more than delighted not just to write this letter, but to also invite them to be guests on Wineding Down with Anthony next week and to help get all of our fans, viewers, followers, and readers (oh, look! I got it right!) to pitch into their campaign so that they can continue to bring to you some of the finest content available to queer folks in the South.

And after just three short, impressive days (with still 34 left to go), friends of Spectrum have already contributed $2,749 dollars — more than half of their $5000 goal. Just think what a great excess we could help them obtain if About followers (which summate on social media to over twelve thousand people) could donate as little as a dollar a piece. Sure, not everyone can do it. And that’s understandable. But if you can, I implore of you to donate so that Spectrum can continue to bring Houston (and far beyond) the amazing content they’ve been generating for a little over a year now. With that said, if you can’t, keep reading their pieces, watching their videos, and sharing their content with your loved ones.

It is important to have a publication like Spectrum South in our LGBTQ community — one that hands megaphones to those that have long gone unheard — for the sake of continued progress in a world that maybe lately has seemed more apt to regress. Spectrum, Kelsey, and Megan inspire us at About to care more, do more, and want more for and about our people, all the while reminding us that while it may be difficult to see at first glance, there is goodness in this daunting world.

Screen-Shot-2018-08-24-at-8.45.43-PM Editor's Note: Help Our Friends at Spectrum South
Anthony Ramirez
Editor-in-Chief

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