August 05, 2009

Introduction

Hello friends,

I'm writing this first post to introduce myself as - dare I say it? - a new quenchista. I also have a nascent personal blog but am very excited to be joining quench, blog re:all things near and dear to me. I am a current Harvard senior, although perhaps taking time off in the fall (!) before finishing up my concentration in the Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality (mostly the latter two).

This summer, I'm working at a fabulous, tiny organization that focuses on the rights and life chances of transgender, transsexual, and genderqueer people. I'm working on a range of projects, including support for the youth committee and creating youth-related resources, creating and kicking off a sustainable development plan, and serving on a committee dedicated to rewriting the organization's "Trans 101" workshop curriculum. My other past work experience is also in non-profit settings, and I hope to pursue a career doing community organizing and youth development work with trans and queer young people.

I think a lot about gender, including trans and sometimes intersex issues, and my other interests include (female, queer, and trans) sexuality, feminist praxis, and making room in academic work for activist and activist approaches. But I'm fun too! I'm a huge Red Sox fan, an aspiring foodie, and my most recent obsession is with my burgeoning collection of Nike kicks (picture to follow).

Anyway, I'm glad to be here, and I promise a real first post soon! Happy summer.

e

August 02, 2009

Homophobia in Tel Aviv ... And at Home

I'm an ardent marriage equality activist, devoting numerous hours each week in California to try to repeal Proposition 8. In my mind, marriage equality is one more step on the long road toward social equality and the end of homophobia. But sometimes, you realize you're already on mile 118 when there are still some people stuck at the starting line.


This weekend, an unidentified attacker in a ski-mask entered the Tel Aviv Gay and Lesbian Association in Israel and opened fire on the people inside. The Center provides services for gay and lesbian youth in Israel. As a result of the attack, two people are dead (a 26-year-old man and a 17-year-old woman). At least 11 others are injured. (BBC News has coverage: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8180655.stm)

Certainly this is a horrifying and cowardly act of pure homophobia. But it shows how deep these emotions run and how truly scared many people are in this world to be accepting. Luckily, Israel is rallying against the attacker. Prime Minister Netanyahu, opposition leader Tzipi Livni, and the chief rabbis of Israel have all condemned the attack. While they may not always be strong on gay rights, at least they know when someone has gone too far.

As of the time I'm writing this, BBC is reporting about the incident on the front page of its news site. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/). Certainly the BBC has always been better at covering international news than American news outlets, which often focus on fluff stories and entertainment. But CNN, right now, is a huge disappointment.

The coverage is not, at this point, on the front page. In fact, the only way I've found it is by clicking "World" on the bottom under "More News". For awhile, this wasn't even under "Top World Stories" on the right, and you had to click "More World Stories" to get it. It slowly seems to be moving its way up the ranks. Mind you, this blatant act of homophobia is still not on the front page though, while "EW picks: Make a date with John & Kate" and "CNN Wire: Michael Jackson's mom goes to..." are.

Ok, ok... I know that CNN is often quick to report on entertainment before major news stories. But probably the most embarrassing part of their coverage is their "facts." Take for example the headline: "2 dead, 11 hurt in shooting at gay club in Israel." As I said earlier, it wasn't a gay club; it was a youth center providing services, counseling, and assistance to LGBT youth. Yes, CNN newsfolks, gay people are in fact capable of congregating in places that aren't clubs.

For the record, it's under "World" on MSNBC.com, and they correctly report that it was a "gay center." (Though their headline currently says the city is Tel Avi, not Tel Aviv; likely to be found and fixed by the time you're reading this.) New York Times also reports it as a "Gay Center" in their World section. So why, then, is CNN the only one who still thinks this was a "gay club"?

In the end, the event is rattling Israel. It reminds me that we have a long way to go in fighting for equality when sometimes we still need to make the case that we have a right to exist at all.