April 28, 2006

A letter from the same-sex fairy tale law suit

Tongue strictly in cheek.



(Author: David S. Bernstein, of the Phoenix.)

FYI

There is a zombie march in Davis Square on Saturday night.

Quench zine: feminism, gender, sexuality, and WTF.

"The Secret"

Elegance, expensive alcohol, and gender-bending.

(This commercial was a finalist for the 2005 Epica Award, a prestigious European award for advertising.)

http://www.epica-awards.org/assets/epica/2005/finalists/film/flv/04005.swf

April 25, 2006

She's Bipartisan, But It's Just a Phase

Girl: Are you a conservative or a liberal?
Guy: I know all teenagers are supposed to be liberal, but I'm pretty conservative.
Girl: Oh my god, I know exactly what you mean. I was conservative until last week when I saw V for Vendetta. How hot is Natalie Portman?

--Bronx High School of Science

Overheard In New York

teledildonics, part the second

Loyal readers may recall that a few months ago, I posted about a particularly fancy vibrator. While I was reading up for that post, I saw a link on the jejoue website that encouraged me to give them my email address in exchange for a chance to win one of these new-fangled contraptions. I thought, well, what the hell: if they sell my email address at least the spam has a good chance of being interesting, right?

I then proceded to totally forget about the whole thing. Until yesterday, when I received a curious email:

From: vicky.pearson@jejoue.com
Date: Apr 24, 2006 5:21 AM
Subject: Congratulations!

It’s your lucky day – we’ve just drawn the ‘Win a Je Joue’ online competition and it seems that one of our brand new Je Joue sensual massagers has your name on it!

Please email us back as soon as you can with the address where you would like your new ‘toy’ delivered.

Best regards

The Je Joue Team

... wait, who just won a $400 sex toy? I just won a $400 sex toy. BOOYAH!!! I kinda can't believe this just happened. It's so random. Randomly amazing.

April 23, 2006

rally went well

Hey everyone!

In case you're interested, the rally at Harvard went well.

Over at Cambridge Common, Ryan liveblogged the rally.

I also figured I would post a few pics for those who are interested:


Note the amazing turnout:





A couple of fabulous folks:




And a ton of supporting organizations:




And so much fabulousness:






[teensy edit by bat dor to keep pics from breaking layout.]

April 20, 2006

Quench 5 and 6 ONLINE

Quench 5 is now online!

Quench 6 is now online too!

Ga'avah.

After early May final exams, I'm off to Israel for a few weeks - there's family to see, shopping to do, falafel to eat, and skin cancer a tan to obtain. "Hmm," I pondered aloud, "I seem to know a ridiculous number of raging Jewish American queers. Could they possibly have an Israeli counterpart?" After some googling, a handy online atlas or three, and a revival of dormant Hebrew skillz, I'm pleased to present

Boi, Habibi, Nishtage'ah:* A Quenchista's Quick-n-Dirty Guide To Tel Aviv For Women Who Love Women.

[1] The Location. Good news, folks - Tel Aviv is the largest and most liberal city in Israel. Basically, it's the Israeli San Francisco. Be happy.

[2] The Language. I've made a list of some pertinent slang that won't be found in any guidebook, but that one would still appreciate knowing were one to encounter any of it. I'm no linguist, and I'm a pretty bad voice coach to boot, so go ask your friendly neighborhood Hebrew speaker for help with pronunciation.

- dochef batachat = lit. "one who pushes into the ass", fig. "gay" with possible implication of being a "top" (offensive term)
- noshech kariyot = lit. "pillow biter", fig. "gay" (offensive term)
- homo = "homosexual" (noun) (connotation similar to English "homo")
- mitromem = lit. "faggot", fig. "gay" (connotation similar to English "queer", but male-specific)
- lezbit = "lesbian" (connotation similar to English "lezzie")
- koos = "pussy"
- "גאווה" pronounced "ga'avah" - lit. "pride"

[3] The Law. Homosexuality was decriminalized in Israel in 1988. Workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was banned in 1992. In 1993, the army adopted a policy of allowing openly homosexual soldiers to serve in any capacity. Though there is no civil marriage in Israel, even for heterosexual couples, both the Supreme Court and the military have recognised same-sex domestic partners as eligible for spousal benefits. In other words, Israel is in many ways far ahead of the United States. Oy.

[4] The Life. Hokay, so. There's a lot of clubs and bars in Tel Aviv, and they all keep changing. The main thoroughfare for nightclubs is purportedly Rechov Allenby -- Allenby Street -- a claim I will investigate thoroughly. Bars are usually open until 3 or 4am, while clubs will keep their doors open until 6 or 7am, charging anything from NIS50 to NIS80 cover charge and NIS15-30 for drinks. Most clubs in the city don't start jumpng until the wee hours, 2 or 3am. The legal drinking age in Israel is 18.

For the ladies, best bet is Minerva, on 98 Allenby, open every night past 9pm. They've been around for eight years, have a different DJ every night with a live rock cabaret show on Sundays, and have a "bordello-style" bar (no idea what that means, but it sounds ... interesting.) I'm definitely checking this place out. There's also a place called Scores, on the corner of Allenby and Yehuda Halevi, where they apparently "pride themselves on being a spot where women can feel comfortable with a cue stick."

The Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade, which attracts upwards of 100,000 people and is the largest in Israel, takes place at the end of June. (Oy again - I'm only there till the end of May.)

The Tel Aviv Cinematheque screens gay films every month as part of its Pink Cinema Club. Hebrew speakers can pick up Z'man Varod (The Pink Times) for listings, information, and current events.

Chinky Beach is known as Tel Aviv's alternative beach. Friday nights see hippie-types come by the dozens to juggle firesticks and drum in Shabbat.

Find yourself with nothing to do, and you might want to head down to 28 Nahmani St. Aguda, lit. "The Association", is the largest and best-known GLBT organization in the state of Israel. Their Tel Aviv center is located in the center of the budding gay district of Tel Aviv. Check them out at their English website. They operate a helpline called YESH (lit. "There Is", fig. "We can!" or "Yes!"), and they have English speakers answering the phones.

--

Well, that's all I've got right now. Now I REALLY can't wait to get the hell outta dodge. There is the small matter of not being out to my grandparents or anybody else in my extended family, but I'll come out of that closet when I come to it.

Happy Thursday, everyone!

*Loosely, "C'mon, Lady, Let's Rock Out!" This half-Arabic, half-Hebrew expression comes from the Missy Elliott song "Party to Damascus."

Italy elects Europe's first transgender MP

Not only did Italy topple its super-right-wing government in this month's elections ... they also elected the first openly trans/genderqueer person to parliament in European history!

Considering that she's representing the "Communist Refoundation Party," though, Vladimir Luxuria (who identifies as neither male nor female, but prefers the pronoun "she") is surprisingly conservative:

She promises to work in parliament to establish full legal recognition of gay marriage, but stressed that she is not pushing for adoption rights for gays, such as exist in Spain, because "Italian society isn't ready to accept it".

But, hey, anything's better than this guy, huh?

QUENCH IS HERE!

Issues 5 and 6 available now in the BGLTSA Resource Center in Holworthy Basement. Look for them online tomorrow. And don't forget to start writing for Issue 7, which we hope to publish before the end of the school year. w00t.

April 19, 2006

Cambridge Common is fabulous again

Check it out.

April 18, 2006

Graduation Speech of an Unnamed Quenchista

Someone was a valedictorian of her class. This is her speech. Can you guess who had all the Feelings?

I like fireflies. When I was little, I would run across the lawn, chasing the little flickering insects. At night, pinpricks would appear in the grass, the air and the forest. When I caught a firefly, I would cup my hands, holding the tiny light in my palm.

Fireflies don't bite, they have no pincers, they don't attack, they don't carry disease, they are not poisonous and they don't even fly very fast. They have very short lives – adult beetles live only a few days. Yet, firefly’s light has fascinated and mystified people throughout history. The Chinese thought these twinkling little creatures came from burning grass. Aztecs used the term “firefly” metaphorically to represent a spark of knowledge in a world of ignorance or darkness. American Indians collected lightning bugs and smeared them as decorations on their faces and chest. Firefly males, females, and larvae emit a “heatless, greenish-yellow to reddish-orange light” and in some species even the eggs glow. Although their lives are short, they shine bright and clear.

When I was a little girl, my dad used to sing a song to me. “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” I would imagine a tiny lightning bug, gleaming in the dark night, illuminating the earth and sky. Each of you has this light – a precious, valuable gift to share with the world.

In the past four years, I have seen brilliance and beauty in so many of you. From the talented actors to the crazy skateboarders, you have pursued your passions with joy and wonder. On the stage, on the soccer fields and tennis courts, in the classroom and the dorms, there have been moments of light and hope on even the coldest and most miserable winter day. And there were a LOT of cold, miserable winter days!

I have seen girls dancing, laughing in the sunlight, and people racing through the woods on their bikes, throwing autumn leaves in the air. I have seen hockey skaters gliding across the rink, and singers crooning ballads in jazz band. You are dancers, musicians, activists, athletes, scholars and comedians. You have demonstrated excellence, beauty and compassion during your time at [school name].

The peace hero Nelson Mandela once said: “Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us…As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

This reminds me of a story I read once. “A mother firefly was taking her children for a walk near dusk, and they came to a dark woods. "All right, kids," she ordered, "line up, and whatever happens, don't shine your light. There are owls in the forest and they might fly down and eat you!" The small fireflies did as they were told, with the youngest firefly at the end of the line. As they were moving carefully along, suddenly the mother saw a light far back. "Stop!" she whispered. "Who lit the light back there?"

"I did," admitted the youngster. "You heard what I told you," scolded the mother. "Why did you disobey?" "Well," said the little one, "when you gotta glow, you gotta glow."

As you go into the future, do not be afraid to glow. Pursue your dreams, your passions and your desires bravely. Often, people will not recognize your abilities or understand your goals, but do not let that deter you from your path.

We go into a troubled world. War, hatred, apathy, genocide and terror encircle the globe. In the Middle East, children our age cannot go to school out of fear. They become soldiers and suicide bombers and victims. In Africa, starvation, brutal ethnic conflict and AIDS have devastated many nations. Even within the United States, racism, hatred and poverty persist. As the leaders of tomorrow, we hold the torch of life and hope.

Pick a faraway star and fly towards it with all your heart. Become a comet streaking across the void of the universe. Cast laughter into the air, and listen to it come sparkling back. If you strive, struggle and dream, if you try with all your might, you will make your wish a reality. Congratulations, Class of [year]. Fly into the vast world, scatter like fireflies and let your light shine brightly.

Go on, guess.

April 17, 2006

Trans Liberation!

Hi everyone!
Those in Boston - I want to let you know about an upcoming rally related to trans liberation. Info is below (also, if non-boston readers/writers ever want events publicized, please let us know!)

Rally for Trans Liberation at Harvard and Beyond

Wednesday, April 19
1pm to 2:30 pm
outside the Harvard Science Center
(intersection of Kirkland Ave and Oxford St. in Cambridge, MA)

This rally is about creating meaningful change in the lives of Harvard staff, students, faculty and alumni, and in the broader community. We will be discussing other steps we think Harvard should take to make its campus safe for transgender, genderqueer and other gender-non-conforming people.

Learn what we hope to accomplish next and how you can help! Come, be educated, and show your support for ongoing efforts to improve the lives of trans and gender non-conforming people!

Harvard students, staff, faculty, and alumni will be speaking at the rally. Featured speakers include Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality and Harvard GSAS alumna; a transgender administrative staff member; Dean Spade, founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and visiting professor at Harvard Law School; and a Harvard Faculty member whose son is transgender.

For more information: http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/queer/ttf


Email any quench writer for more info about the after-party.

Faith in America.

She's a friend of mine. She supports equal marriage rights for non-straight couples. She's also straight, and a very devout Roman Catholic. I'd been hoping to get a dialogue started between the GLBT and the religious communities here at BU, and so I invited her to the first Spectrum meeting next fall. She refused, apologetically. Why? Because if anyone from her church were to find out that she was in any way affiliated with a GLBT group - even if that "affiliation" were attendance at one meeting - she would lose her job there.

Now, I'm hesitant to discuss the matter with clergy because I lack the religious background to engage faith-based arguments on their own terms. That's where the organization Faith In America, whose mission is "the emancipation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from bigotry disguised as religious truth," comes in. Check out their poster ad campaign. FIA was founded by Brent Childers, a southern Baptist and self-described former homophobe who, it seems, has seen the light.

April 15, 2006

new issues coming soon!

As bat dor so astutely noted, Quench Ish 5 and 6 are on their way! Copies should hit the RC (and everywhere else) on Wednesday, hopefully in time for the TTF rally (1pm by the Sci Center - ok enough shameless plugging). Full-color scans of the issues will be posted online around the same time. w00t.

And... we're accepting contributions for issue 7. See the sidebar for instructions on how to submit to quench. (oo, that sounds hot.)

clearly it's my bedtime,
spork

April 14, 2006

Teensy weensy facelift.

</regularly scheduled quenching>

Several minor changes:
1. The silly ugly sidebar arrows are gone. RIP, silly ugly sidebar arrows.
2. We are now accepting submissions for issues seven and beyond; the sidebar now reflects that.
3. The links are better-organized. Yes, I'm that anal.
4. I added a link to BU Spectrum, the undergraduate LGBT group at Boston University.*

*...of which I am now president-elect :)

<regularly scheduled quenching>

April 13, 2006

Antibiotics - the next threat to America's moral fiber

So let's say (for the sake of argument) we agree that pharmacists are people, too, and they shouldn't be forced to act in ways they believe to be immoral by, say, dispensing emergency contraception. They'd be, like, conscientious objectors or something, right?

So let's say there's a pharmacist who objects to filling a prescription for antibiotics. Still a moral issue, right? They can refrain from doing this if they feel it's immoral, can't they?

But surely, you might be saying to your screen right now, but surely, M.E., no pharmacist could object to antibiotics!

And there, sweet Reader, is where you would be wrong.

The Stranger of Seattle reports on an assortment of pharmacists who refused to fill prescriptions for things other than RU-486, also on moral grounds. The refusals are now the subject of a complaint filed with the Washington State Department of Health by Cedar River Clinics, a women's health center with several branches in Washington state.

The complaint includes one incident at the Swedish Medical Center outpatient pharmacy in Seattle. According to the complaint, someone at the Swedish pharmacy said she was "morally unable" to fill a Cedar River patient's prescription for abortion-related antibiotics. Cedar River's complaint quotes its Renton clinic manager's May 17, 2005, e-mail account: "Today, one of our clients asked us to call in her prescription... to Swedish outpatient pharmacy. [We] called the prescription in... and spoke with an efficient staff person who took down the prescription. A few minutes later, this pharmacy person called us back and told us she had found out who we were and she morally was unable to fill the prescription."
I'm figuring that the prescription itself didn't say "abortion-related antibiotics." I've never had a prescription with my diagnosis written alongside the name of the drug. (Although some things, like Diflucan, are pretty easy to read into.) The pharmacist decided that the antibiotics were "abortion-related" after discovering that the prescriber was a clinic which - among other services - offered abortions. In fact, antibiotics are also used to treat things like urinary tract infections, which increase the risk of miscarriage, low birthweight, stillbirth, infant respiratory infections, and mental retardation.

Perhaps even more incredible was the complaint against the pharmacist who refused to provide a woman with vitamins on the grounds that a Cedar River patient must no longer be pregnant and thus wouldn't need them.
... a pharmacist at a Safeway reportedly refused to fill a Cedar River patient's prescription for pregnancy-related vitamins. The pharmacist reportedly asked the customer why she had gone to Cedar River Clinics and then told the patient she "didn't need them if she wasn't pregnant."
::blink::

I'm sorry, is folic acid a moral issue, too, these days?

Bitch, Ph.D. points out that these cases - pharmacists refusing to provide things like antibiotics under so-called "conscience clauses" - used to be the stuff of allegedly paranoid hypotheticals. Yep, not so hypothetical anymore.

In addition to the general repugnance of allowing pharmacists' moral beliefs to interfere with reproductive (and, I guess, anti-reproductive) health care - a subject most feminist-minded folks have already discussed - I guess I'm just reeling at the stupidity of assuming which of a multitude of conditions a given drug is being prescribed to treat, and denying patients access to drugs that have legitimate uses other than reproductive health.

So, your vote, dear Reader! What is the next "morally problematic" prescription? The Pill is an obvious choice, but don't stop there! Aromasin (a breast-cancer drug) can cause complications if taken by pregnant women; Celebrex, while primarily used for arthritis pain, is also used to treat severe menstrual cramps, which as we all know to be the Curse of Eve, and how dare women try to escape that? Best not dispense it to any female, just in case she's not actually using it for arthritis.

And, of course, we all know the moral problems with prescribing Aldactone (a diuretic used to treat complications of congestive heart failure), Delatestryl (for male hypogonadism, which can increase risks of male osteoporosis, among other things), and Climara (used to treat side effects of menopause, including - again - osteoporosis) - they're all used in hormone therapy for trans people, too. And we can't be having that, now can we?

April 12, 2006

Satanic Sihaqore Salawāt

Well.

For those of you unaware, I went up to Montréal to see Doc Brassard and have me a twat installed (known formally as a GRS or "Genital Reassignment Surgery"). I'm doing well, but I had to share something that caused some Muslim friends of mine endless amusement.

See, after they removed the stent, we had to start dilating - using large phallic objects to ensure the resultant product heals in the proper shape and such. It is irrelevant that I am a big dyke (musāhaqa), it's about making the organ just like a Real Girl(tm)'s houha.

So anyway, we hadda dilate five times a day, starting with ablutions of hands and body to ensure purity at an ungodly hour of the morning.

Here's where the amusement bit kicks in. I used (and use) a program called MacQibla, which determines the correct prayer (salā, plural salawāt) times for Muslims based on your location in the world. It then pops up a warning, e.g. TIME FOR FAJR!.

To add amusement to injury, I also woke up my Montréal roomie for morning ablution & dilation by singing the adhān or "Call to Prayer" - with some alterations. First, I sang it in English; second, I changed the wording. See, the muezzin, when it is the first (five AM!) prayer, exhorts believers to rise by saying, "COME TO PRAYER! PRAYER IS BETTER THAN SLEEP! COME TO PRAYER!". Naturally, I had to change that, so I sang, "COME TO DILATE! DILATION IS BETTER THAN SLEEP! COME TO DILATE!"

Anyway, my roomie found it amusing enough once I explained to her what I was on about... but when I told my Muslim friends about it back here in Boston, they fell down laughing.

I still used MacQibla, though I skip the Maghrib and go straight to Isha prayer because now I only need to dilate four times a day and because I need to leave two hours between each dilation at minimum and Maghrib comes hot on the heels of Asr.

Anyway, that's my story of my "satanic lesbian dilations".

April 11, 2006

BREAKING NEWS



Harvard University has just added gender identity to its non-discrimination code!

There will be a rally promoting a Safe Harvard for Everyone next Wednesday, April 19th from 1pm to 2:30pm outside the Science Center. Stay tuned for more info.

April 09, 2006

Oh, Harvey

Why is it that liberals sound intelligent when they appear on conservative talk shows while conservatives on liberal shows do the opposite?

Sorry...rhetorical question.

Harvey Mansfield appeared on the Colbert Report last week. When I watched the video, I almost felt bad for him.

Almost.

I know Harvey Mansfield has been a topic of much controversy on this site, but I couldn't resist.

Anyway. Check it out. (Right now, the link to the video appears in the second row.)

Dual-Boot Your Gender

There's a mighty cleverness over on Becky's Web. Check it out.

Most boys who have been provided with the standard BoyOS, assume they can’t use software and peripherals designed for girl platforms. However, with a little effort it is possible to dual-boot in both BoyOS and GirlOS mode, and this guide is designed to help you achieve this.
W00T!

April 07, 2006

Interesting Crimson Series

Today, the crimson published several different opinions about making Harvard financial aid better. One is about making Harvard free. This is a great analysis of the ways making Harvard free could have effects beyond just at Harvard. I think it's a really important argument because, even with financial aid, when Harvard is associated with such a high price tag, many people are discouraged from even applying.

Another op-ed warns that this free education would be a Band-Aid solution, since many who get into Harvard are already rich. She also talks about the fact that uses of ceratin parts of the endowment are already restricted, which I find to be a less convincing argument. I think Harvard can find the money. She rightly says that most of this extra money would go to white, rich students. What do you all think? Do you thinkt hat the uncomplicated financial policy of a free Harvard would be worth it, even it is rich, white families that end up paying less?

Another Op-Ed points out how little HFAI has costed Harvard. He writes about middle-income families and their access to Harvard. It would be great to see more numbers that explain this argument, but I guess this is exactly what the calculating-financial-aid-on-an-individual-basis system prevents us from doing - seeing the bigger picture.

There is also an article praising HFAI.

So, quench, think, comment, what are your thoughts?

April 05, 2006

"Coalition to Clarify the DC Human Rights Act" managed to get "gender identity and expression" added to the list of non-discrimination requirements in Washington DC.

More info here and here.

April 04, 2006

I was just informed...

On Wednesday of this week, at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 in the morning, the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06.

Quote of the Day

From the Physorg.com article "Utah Dinosaur Bones Reveal Missing Link in Evolution of Diet":

The plant-eating, elephant-sized Therizinosaurus – a name that means sickle lizard – was “the ultimate in bizarre,” resembling “a cross between an ostrich, a gorilla and Edward Scissorhands,” Zanno says.
It had feathers and ginormous sharp claws like scythes for gutting prey (a cousin is Velociraptor of Jurassic Park fame) but walked on its knuckles, was the size of an elephant and was evolving into a vegetarian.

This picture is of an early therizinosaur, Falcarius; imagine it turning into King Kong over time.

Therizinosaurs appear to have evolved in North America (back in the day - it was a different shape then) and from them all the therapsid or bird-hipped dinosaurs (everything from the long-necked brontosaurs to the allosaurs that ate them). This explains the title of the article - we found a carnivore turning into the first vegetarian dinos.

Linky.

April 02, 2006

Online Shopping.

So. I've had like, three conversations today about where to find good sexuality and sex-related stuff online. So, I thought I'd list my top three recommendations, and y'all could add yours, and help each other make informed buying choices.

Blowfish: Blowfish is the momma of all badass online sex/sexuality stores. They home-test all their products, offer detailed information, are fairly cheap, and sell everything, for every gender/sex/sexuality-related interest you might have. Their website is also really awesome, and has detailed photos of everything you might buy, and they respond really fast to questions and changes to orders.

Good Vibes: Good Vibes is pretty cool. They have a good selection of stuff, and a neat key with icons that indicate stuff like "safe for anal insertion" or "waterproof." You can also call their Brookline store directly for advice or to see what's in stock there (they're super-nice) at 617 264 4400.
They are a "worker-owned, women-owned cooperative providing access to accurate sex information and sex toys, books and videos...to promote healthy attitudes about sex."


Babeland: They're pretty similar to Good Vibes. They have a little less selection and are a bit more expensive, but sometimes they have stuff that the others don't, so shop around. Babeland opened in 1993, in order to create a "sleaze-free, sex-positive environment with accurate information."

There are other stores like Grand Opening and Mikos, but their websites are not so great. Stay away from sketchy stores like this that don't really cater to queers, women, or people who actually want to use the stuff they buy...

OK, share your opinion/recommendations! Post away.

April 01, 2006

Enigma Machine

For the next two days, you can bid on an honest-to-god Nazi Enigma 3 Walzen Chiffriermaschine Chiper Weltkrieg 1941 - an Enigma Machine, a real one from wartime! Just go here for the English version of the page.

I've set up a photo montage of all the pictures from the eBay page here for your viewing enjoyment.

Kudos to b01NG-b01NG for this phatness.

Also, this is geek-related materials, not Nazi shit. So shut it about Nazis on the Quench website.

A Real-Life Muppet

emilyzilch [noun]: A real life muppet

How will you be defined in the dictionary?
QuizGalaxy.com