2018, celebrity, LGBTQ, Politics, social media

AM I A BAD GAY PERSON FOR NOT CARING ABOUT JOY REID’S BLOG POSTS?

I’m young, and I love my computer, so I didn’t come across Joy Reid, an MSNBC host, from her show, A.M. Joy, or guest-hosting on other programs. I discovered her through Twitter, when I noticed that several writers and journalists whose opinions I respect retweeted her. I scrolled through the profile, enjoyed what she had to say, and hit the follow button.

She remained largely out of my mind except for the occasional tweet in my timeline. Her opinions were always valid, sharp when needed, and seemed to be well-researched and reported.

Then, the first story popped up – a Twitter user posted screenshots of blogs using homophobic rhetoric written between 2007 and 2009 on the Reid Report, a now-defunct blog of Joy Reid. I felt disappointed, like “Ugh, someone I liked did something bad.” But I didn’t unfollow her, because I still trusted her political opinion, and expected the story to blow over. There are plenty of journalists who I personally might be annoyed by, but whose reporting proves valuable, so I didn’t give it a second thought.

Until the next story popped up. More screenshots, more homophobia. More crassness.

When I say that this story does not matter, I do not mean, “It does not matter if someone is homophobic.” It does matter; and it matters very much to me. But in the context of everything else going on, I find that I care very little about what Joy Reid said about gay people a decade ago. She does not make policy; she is not in charge of any government programs or bodies. She is not promoting active anti-LGBTQ laws. If she were a lawmaker, or campaigning on a platform of equality, then yeah, it would be good information to know. But she is not. She is a journalist, she had an opinion, she said that opinion. A decade later, that opinion is seen as ugly and inappropriate.

I do not agree with the words she used; I do not agree with her trying to out people, or the way she spoke about Ann Coulter, or Lindsay Graham or Charlie Crist or any of it. I think it was offensive, petty, hurtful and mean-spirited. I think it was a shitty thing to do, even in the social climate in which it was written.

For the record, I also don’t believe Reid’s claim that she was hacked. I think she said those things, and she’s embarrassed now, and because the internet trolls would have a field day if she admitted that. I am not defending her; she was and is an adult who wrote those things, regardless of whatever excuses she’s using now. I think it’s stupid that she’s lying, but I also think this entire thing is stupid.

I also recognize that I, as a white, cisgender, able-bodied queer person, largely have the ability to say, “This story does not matter.” I’m sure it matters to other members of my community, and I do not diminish that, their feelings, or their reactions.

But to lampoon Reid for thoughts she had a decade ago would require us to go back and lampoon every single thing like that. In the early 2000s, most people in the mainstream media were not doing a good job talking about queer issues. Because, frankly, Will & Grace was homophobic – it was femme-shaming and white-centric. Modern Family portrays Mitch and Cam more like platonic roommates than a couple. Golden Girls had a gay cook that mysteriously disappeared after the pilot episode. I will never forget you, Coco (his name was Coco!).

The reason I care about this (and why I’ve spent 700 words saying I don’t care) is that there are queer stories that desperately need to be told. And while I think it’s nice that support has rallied around Reid – no one should be an island – I resent that this still is the story that’s rolling around in everyone’s head. In a world that already prioritizes everything above queerness, there seems to be precious little bandwidth dedicated to covering queer stories. It’s like arguing about the curtains when the house is on fire.

For instance, it’s been a year since news broke that, in Chechnya, gay and bisexual men were being targeted, persecuted and abused. There were stories of concentration camps, luring and violence via social media apps, and many victims are still missing. There has been no significant response from the Russian government, and the leader in Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, denied the allegations by simply stating that there are no gay people in Chechnya. Other than outlets that specifically traffic in queer stories, such as NewNowNext and the Advocate, and papers such as The Guardian, there has not been significant media coverage.

Stateside, there are still seven states with “No Promo Homo” laws on the books – “local or state education laws” that expressly prohibit the “promotion of homosexuality” and, in some cases, “even require that teachers actively portray LGB people in a negative or inaccurate way,” according to GLSEN.

The Human Rights Campaign reported that, in 2018, eight transgender people have already been murdered. Transgender people, particularly transgender women of color, are disproportionately affected by fatal violence. Insider recently reported on the health gaps that the LGBTQ community faces in receiving medical help.

These might seem like separate issues, and you could argue (rightfully) that reporting on Joy Reid’s past blog posts does not mean that we cannot also report on other things affecting the LGBTQ community. And you’d be right, except that that’s not always the case. Too often, we focus on click-driven news, too often we focus on things on little consequence.

What do Joy Reid’s past writings have to do with the very real risks that the queer community is facing today? In reality, very, very little. So why does this continue to be a story? Report on it, lay it all out there, and then move on.


Header source: Vimeo

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Life, Rambles

YIPS-EE KI-YAY, M*THAF*CKA

Alternately titled “YIP, YIP, HOORAY!”

I have the yips. And if we’re being honest, I’ve had them for a while.

Side bar: “Yips” sounds like an STD (a STD?), but something particularly embarrassing. Something Tiger Woods would’ve gotten from one of his 15 prostitutes. I really don’t know why I’m starting this post by talking about El Tigre.

I’ve had the yips ever since I wrote the post about suicide and depression. It got so many views (roughly twelve times more than I’m used to) and the resulting feeling was a deer in headlights. But that doesn’t feel quite right. More like when you disturb a rock and the beetle that’s been making its home underneath freezes, suddenly aware of the vastness above it. I’m the beetle in this metaphor.

And since I’ve been made aware of the vast curve above me, I’ve realized that people might actually be reading what I write—a concept that had not been fully concretized in my head—and having opinions about my writing, and that’s led to the yips.

I do much better when no one’s watching—actually I do much better when people are actively rooting against me. In my freshman year of high school, my track coach knocked me back one running group. We would run in heats, so Group A would start their sprinting lap, then ten seconds later, Group B would start, and so on and so on.

He called out my name—well actually, he thought my name was “Murphy” so he called out “Murphy”—“Go to Group Six.” Group Six was the slowest runners—I had previously been Group Five, which was the mingled remains of runners who were not quite slow but not quite fast (Groups One to Three were largely interchangeable in speed, Group Four was always vying for the chance to jump ahead, and Five was largely content to swim in its own pond). Six was the asthmatics and the fatties.

Instead of being shamed into embarrassment, the demotion kick-started dogged stubbornness, and I roiled internally.

Group Five would go into their lap. Ten seconds. Group Six, me poised at the very edge of the line, would go. I sprinted, pumping limbs, and caught up with Group Five. The next round, I would pass the slowest member of Group Five. Then the next slowest. After every lap, I would stand, gasping, and make direct, combative eye contact with my coach. He didn’t notice, but I knew that I had made my point.

Group Five.

This anecdote tells us a few things. One, I might not know when to quit. Two, I’m very aggressive. Three, I succeed with flying colors when no one has any possible expectations of me. The minute people expect something, I deflate like a bouncy castle at the close of a middle schooler’s birthday party.

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Source: Imgur

And it sucks, because I don’t want to have the yips. I want to use my blog for what it’s meant for—complaining about boys, writing veiled personal essays to catch certain people’s attentions, and cutting up pop culture for general consumption.

So I’m officially casting off all expectations. Most people have very low ones of me already, but shed those too. Because mama’s back, and there’s some good shit we need to discuss.

I don’t know if I should talk about them here….or….?

See, I started writing this on Tuesday and now it’s Thursday and I was going to write more but I was apparently distracted—probably by, like, a butterfly or I went to get something to eat. Regardless, I did not finish this post, but I want to. I think I’m going to go back to my roots and start forcing myself to write biweekly posts, yips be damned.

Side bar: I’m writing this having just woken up from a nap. I was reading Kim Barker’s book The Taliban Shuffle (which became the movie Whiskey Tango Foxtrot with Tina Fey) and that is one book you don’t want to be reading when you fall asleep because all my dreams were about the Taliban and me wanting to go to the mall.

I’M BACK.

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Source: PopSugar

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Life, Rambles

MEMORY CANNIBAL, also known as THE TONYA HARDING STORY

As a writer, you’re constantly handling the balance of how much of your personal life to divulge to your audience. As a comedy person, you’re constantly balancing how much of the painful details to twist into a funny anecdote. So when you’re a comedy writer, you’re basically playing the game of “Which horrific moment of my life can be a funny essay without me completely selling my soul to the Devil, Faustus-style?”

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Source: thatslutinthearmchair.tumblr.com via Giphy. Caveat: I’ve been watching a lot of Happy Endings recently and all of the gifs will come from there. You’re welcome.

I’m not a comedy writer, or a comedy person, or a writer. I’m not even legally a human. But as a professional Ina Garten drag impersonator and someone who operates a blog, I find that more and more, I’m running into that issue. When nothing was happening in my personal life, it was easy to write about it. But as I grow and evolve, and the issues in my life grow and evolve, I am beginning to notice a line in the sand that is harder and harder to cross.

And it’s only until things actually started happening in my life that I realized that the “life” that I was writing about was literally nothing. But now my life is actually starting to roll, and not just in the same sense as the Gloucester Cheese Roll Competition. Because that’s funny.

There is an intense impulse to publish for writers. My journalism professor talks about that impulse all the time, or at least I’m assuming he does, because I spend most of my time in that class reading RuPaul’s Drag Race recaps. But when something happens to me, like that time I fell down the stairs or the time I sat on a plate of quesadillas or any time I make a fool of myself in front of a boy, my first instinct is to share it, Tweet it, or blog it. And that instinct is more than just the desire to share something that happens. It’s the desire to take back control of the situation.

Blogging incapsulates your life, packaging it into palatable, hilarious little morsels. The tale of me getting hurt by the first boy I cared about becomes a funny essay. A bad date becomes fodder for griping. The various aches and pains of existing as a real-life scarecrow—my brand—translates into rubbery antics. Writing takes the sting out of embarrassment and hurt and pain, and turns it into comedy. And on one hand, it’s extremely cathartic. It provides me the distance to process and dissect something, to take myself out of the equation.

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Source: jparx.tumblr.com via Giphy

Recently things have been happening to me. Some are amazing. Some are terrible. And my first instinct has always been to blog about them. But for the wrong reasons. I want to take myself out of these moments, but I’m also afraid to. I’m afraid to talk about the crazy, shitty things that are monumental in my life because then I relinquish control of them. They cease being intimate to me. They become content, public domain. They are no longer mine. And that’s been hard to come to terms with. That some things could easily be sting-less and funny and palatable, but that would mean losing my place in them. It would be accepting them as past and renaming them as something meant to be consumed.

My wanting to blog them is my wanting to stop them from hurting. Things have been rough lately, and that kneejerk reaction to make the bad thing stop is very much in play. But sometimes things have to hurt. I can’t—I shouldn’t—blog my way out of this. I’m trying not to make it into a joke or a punchline or a laugh. I’m trying to give it gravity. It’s really fucking hard, and lousy and frustrating. Because my instinct, as a writer and a former dork and a wannabe cool kid, is to cannibalize, produce and de-sting all the awkard’s and ew’s and damn’s of my life.

I’m a memory cannibal, and that’s not always a bad thing. A lot of amazing things come out of shitty situations, but I’m in this weird position of realizing that if I mean to take this writing thing seriously, there are lines in the sand that I have to respect. One of my favorite writers, Ryan O’Connell, wrote about the same kind of experience. And as he got older, he realized that he couldn’t just write about every drug trip, bad sexual experience, and “Ouch-funny” moment that happened. That knowing the difference is the divide between “writing” and “being a writer.”

So in true self-absorbed writer fashion, I’m writing about writing about something. Maybe one day in the future, when I have enough money to hire a defense lawyer, I’ll tell some of the stories that I’m keeping in the vault. They’ll be good then, and I’ll have distance. And in my tell-all book, Telling It All—The Tonya Harding Story (Just Kidding, It’s Me, Danny), I’ll reference this blog post, and people will go to their antique Macs and pull up the article while sitting in their hover-houses with their pleasure-robots (I hope).

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