Month: October 2015

Happy Halloween!

Halloween Jack-o'-lantern

Wikimedia Commons

So this is my first Halloween in America, where I know it’s a Big Deal.

In the UK, it isn’t so much. Every year my sister and I got a pumpkin each to decorate (she always went for the biggest she could find, I went for the smallest: read into that what you will), and I usually put one in the window when I worked for the construction company, making ours the only building on a drab little industrial estate that had any sense of festive occasion (I also decked it out for Christmas, and it was spectacular). But pumpkins aside, Halloween mostly passed me by during childhood. Continue reading →

Posted by Kate Aaron in Living the Dream

On Loving (And Hating) My New Mac

Steve Jobs with MacBook Air

Wikimedia Commons

So last week AJ finally persuaded my to buy a Macbook. My HP Windows laptop was a couple of years old, slowing down and getting temperamental (although that was probably my fault for never cleaning out the fan…), and after it gave me two shocks in quick succession, I decided it was probably time to look for a change.

Except I don’t like change. Continue reading →

Posted by Kate Aaron in Living the Dream

The History of Homosexuality: Beyond the Pale

Gay Rights are Human Rights (5823033786)

Wikimedia Commons

The early queer rights movement was flawed for many reasons. Not only did it marginalise the most visible members of the community — who had historically born the biggest brunt of discrimination and persecution — they also opted for a soft approach to addressing civil injustices which rankles with hindsight. Most of the early arguments in favour of decriminalising homosexuality posited that queerfolk led sad, miserable lives, and deserved society’s pity, not its contempt. The advocated tolerance, not acceptance. Queerfolk should be allowed to move freely in society, but nobody envisioned them ever being fully part of it. The idea of queerfolk being fully integrated into society was beyond the pale, and too much for the early activists to hope for. Continue reading →

Posted by Kate Aaron in History, Queer Blogging

What A Day

So, AJ Rose and I are officially Mrs & Mrs. Because I entered the US on a fiancee visa, we had a deadline by which time we had to get married, which meant less planning a big event and more rushing to the courthouse. The US government doesn’t do romance. 😉

My family and a couple of friends flew over from the UK and have been here all week. It’s been a non-stop round of shopping trips (cheese in a can needs to be seen to be believed) and visits to the zoo, crazy golf, and goodness knows where else. We’ve also eaten our own weight in chips fries.

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AJ and I got the license the week before, and not even the fact I’m on it as “Mr Aaron, Groom” could piss me off. We were married by a judge who was very nice, even if he did race through the ceremony at the speed of light. Another (same-sex!) wedding party got a bit overexcited and barged in during our wedding but they soon hurried back out again. And when we came out of the courtroom, one of the employees started applauding us (although she didn’t have much luck getting the people waiting for *actual* court to join in).

And then we were married 😀

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Seriously, the response on Facebook, Twitter, here on my blog, everywhere, was overwhelming for both of us. There wasn’t time to thank everyone personally (and I lost track of all the notifications after about ten minutes) but we read all the comments and just… thank you.

writing with pride banner

Posted by Kate Aaron in Living the Dream

Goin’ to the Chapel

It’s finally here!! Three years after we first spoke, two years after we first met, a year after we started the fiancee visa application, today AJ Rose and I make honest women of each other.We’re going to the chapel courthouse and we’re going to get married! Woohoo!

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Photo curtesy of Temple Dragon

 

Posted by Kate Aaron in Living the Dream

The History of Homosexuality: Radicalisation vs Assimilation

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From my Facebook timeline yesterday

For hundreds of years when being queer was criminal in western society, the public face of queerfolk was the most visible members of the community, those who were unable to hide by passing as heterosexual and consequently, those most often brought before the law. Trans* individuals, cross-dressers, and those who eschewed the gender binary were obvious, easy targets. When the political climate became unbearably repressive, and the civil rights movement to emancipate other minorities took off, one of the first acts of the community was to change the image of queerness in the public consciousness. Continue reading →

Posted by Kate Aaron in History, Queer Blogging

The History of Homosexuality: The Pride Flag

Screenshot 2015-10-24 07.54.08The original Pride flag was flown at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on 25th June, 1978. It had been designed by Gilbert Baker, an artist and designer who made silk banners for gay rights and anti-war protest marches. The flag was inspired in part by Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow” (Garland had died a few days before the Stonewall uprising), and originally contained eight colours, each with a different meaning, the idea for which came from the Flag of Races used during the 1960s civil rights marches, which consisted of five horizontal stripes in red, black, brown, yellow, and white.

Thirty volunteers hand stitched and dyed the first two flags for the Freedom Day parade. Continue reading →

Posted by Kate Aaron in History, Queer Blogging

The History of Homosexuality: The Rainbow Spectrum

Through the 1960s as homophile organisations started to form in defence of queerfolk, the community which was only just forming began to fracture. Societies like the Mattachine wanted to present an assimilationist approach to queer emancipation, representing the white, middle class, straight-passing men who politicians and lawmakers would relate to and find most sympathetic. It wasn’t these men, however, that were being targeted by the police and rounded up by the dozen, but the butch women, effeminate queens, cross-dressers, and trans*folk who were the most visible and obvious targets for prosecution, and the easiest to turn into folk devils and scapegoats. It’s no surprise it was those members who first fought back and put queer emancipation on the political agenda. Continue reading →

Posted by Kate Aaron in History, Queer Blogging

The History of Homosexuality: Gay Pride

The hundred-year period leading up to 1970 was a hugely significant one for queerfolk. From a series of small, disparate socio-sexual communities with no real sense of wider identity or framework for understanding their orientation, to an established subculture with a naming convention, identity, and political presence. In response to a repressive legal atmosphere in the UK and USA, “homophile organisations” such as the Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis were formed with the aim of politically liberating queerfolk. While other rallys and marches had been organised in the past, it was the uprising following the botched raid of the Stonewall Inn in New York which really provided the catalyst for the modern Pride movement. Continue reading →

Posted by Kate Aaron in History, Queer Blogging

People in History: Harry Hay

Born to an upper middle class American family living in England in 1912, Hay was raised in Chile, the son of a wealthy mining engineer and his Catholic wife. While an infant, Hay contracted bronchial pneumonia which left him with permanent scarring on his lungs. Shortly afterwards, his father lost a leg in an industrial accident, which resulted in his resignation and relocation of the family back to California. In 1919 Hay’s father purchased a farm just outside LA. While Hay Snr. secured the family’s income by trading on the stock market, he refused to spoil his children, and Hay Jnr. grew up working on the farm like any other labourer.

Hay resented his father, calling him “tyrannical” for the regular beatings he meted out — beating Hay believed stemmed from an attempt to “cure” him of his effeminate behaviour. Continue reading →

Posted by Kate Aaron in Biography, Queer Blogging

Life, Interrupted

For the best of reasons 🙂 Today AJ and I got our marriage license. Within a week, we should be Mrs and Mrs!

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Also, I finally caved and got a Mac. Transferring everything from my old HP is taking ~fooooreeeeever~ but tomorrow I’ll be continuing the blog series on my shiny new preshus.

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Posted by Kate Aaron in Living the Dream

The History of Homosexuality: The Mattachine Society

The Mattachine Society was founded in LA in 1950 by Harry Hay and a number of his friends. Hay conceived of  an “international…fraternal order” to serve as “a service and welfare organization devoted to the protection and improvement of Society’s Androgynous Minority”. He had tried to form a similar political activist group in 1948 in support of a Progressive presidential candidate, but it never got off the ground. Over the following two years, Hay worked hard on the model of a queer emancipation group which could be politically engaged on a public stage.

Originally meeting under the banner Society of Fools, the name Mattachine Society — which references anti-monarchy Medieval French societies of masked men who used anonymity in order to be critical of the establishment — was adopted a year later.

Originally the Mattachine’s organisation was modelled after the American Communist Party: different levels of membership required increased commitment and involvement, and information was closely guarded from lower level members. The founders were anonymous, and the society existed as a collection of independent cells. Continue reading →

Posted by Kate Aaron in History, Queer Blogging

People in History: The Stonewall Rioters

Hundreds of people were involved in the riots which changed the queer emancipation movement from passive assimalism to angry activism. The actions of those hundreds were garnered by incitement from a brave few who first struck back.

Continue reading →

Posted by Kate Aaron in Biography, Queer Blogging

The History of Homosexuality: Stonewall

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Stonewall Inn, 1969. Wikimedia Commons

Queer bars have existed for centuries, and have been raided by the police for just as long. The Stonewall Inn was no different.

After the Second World War and well into the Cold War, American law enforcement, led by the FBI, deliberately targeted homosexuals for prosecution. In a three-year period from 1947-50, 17000 federal job applications were denied, 4380 people were discharged from the military, and 420 dismissed from government jobs because of suspicions about their sexuality. It was the period known as the Lavender Scare, and plenty of other institutions soon took part. The US Postal Service recorded addresses where “homosexual material” was delivered; local state ordinances were passed to close down gay bars and outlaw cross-dressing, and city police forces did regular “sweeps” to rid the streets of anyone perceived to be homosexual; colleges expelled professors whose teaching was too liberal; and anybody caught in a compromising situation was publicly humiliated in the press and usually jailed or sent to a mental institution.

Continue reading →

Posted by Kate Aaron in History, Queer Blogging

The History of Homosexuality: Being Gay

“Gay pride 390 – Marche des fiertés Toulouse 2011” by Guillaume Paumier. Wikimedia Commons

With the shift in understanding of human sexuality from acts to identities, the concept of behaving in a certain way outside the bedroom because of what happens inside began to take hold. Sexologists, busy looking for a “cause” of variant sexualities, began to study every aspect of their patients’ lives looking for common ground, although the debate about nature/nurture and whether or not conforming to stereotypical behaviour is a cause or effect of sexual orientation is still going on today. Initially, nobody had any idea what might make a person queer: the idea was still so new there was no received wisdom to fall back on. Early questionnaires used by sexologists and psychotherapists to try to understand their clients’ orientation show just how different the theories were. Some blamed overbearing mothers and/or absent fathers; others thought the reverse was true. The number of male and female friends a patient had, the amount of sport they played, and what they ate and where they worked were all considered important, but nobody was sure exactly how.

Continue reading →

Posted by Kate Aaron in History, Queer Blogging