Category Archives: Pride

Clothes Make a Man

Shakespeare wrote, “For the apparel oft proclaims the man.” The quote is from a longer speech by Polonius in Act I, Scene 3, of Hamlet. Polonius’s son, Laertes, is about to depart for Paris, and Polonius has some dear parting words for his son. It’s really just a lot of long-winded advice: listen more than you talk, don’t borrow or lend money, don’t be gaudily dressed, and be true to yourself. Shakespeare might have written the idea (apparel oft proclaims the man), but Mark Twain is credited with the much more familiar phrase. Twain wrote, “Clothes make a man.” Although, Twain added, “Naked people have little or no influence on society.” For modern audiences, it’s easy to forget about issues of class in Shakespeare’s famous play. Yet Hamlet is very much concerned with what’s appropriate for certain classes to do. Here, Polonius says that appearances count for a lot. It’s how you can tell someone’s rank and status, and that was important in Shakespeare’s time.

But is it in ours? Do clothes still “proclaim” or “make” us? We might not think so. We don’t have sumptuary laws (laws imposed by rulers to curb the expenditure of the people) anymore, and we aren’t as interested in social class like they were in Shakespeare’s time. If you think we aren’t, think again. We might not have the social ranks, but we certainly invest a lot in what people wear. Designer labels and celebrity stylists make sure we’re always in the know about what’s expensive and what’s not. Advertisements for designer brands always show beautiful people wearing their clothes in an attempt to make us think we will feel just as glamourous in the same clothes. Do you think Abercrombie & Fitch would have become as popular as they did a decade or so ago if it had not been for their suggestive advertisements and their focus on young, fit, and sexy models? Their brand went so far as to only hire people who looked like their models to work in their stores. They called them “brand representatives.” The problem was when their CEO came under fire for proclaiming that his brand is only suitable for “the good-looking, cool kids,” and that there are people who do not belong in his clothes – namely overweight people. A&F has has never regained their previous popularity after these remarks became public.

Perceptions of clothing are actually more far reaching than you might think. Doctors, firefighters, and police officers all wear specific uniforms, so we know exactly who they are in a crowd. Kids with diabetes use medical bracelets to alert people. And a lot of people can find at least one team jersey in their closet to show off their team spirit. So, there you have it. We can tell someone’s job, wealth, favorite team, and even sickness just by looking at him. It turns out clothes do make the man—and woman—even today. Clothes also have a psychological effect on us. It’s been well-established—in the scientific literature and real life—that what we wear affects how others perceive us. Women who wear more masculine clothes to an interview (such as a dress suit) are more likely to be hired. People dressed conservatively are perceived as self-controlled and reliable, while those wearing more daring clothing are viewed as more attractive and individualistic. We’ve recognized these distinctions since childhood—we learn what’s appropriate to wear to school, to interviews, to parties. Even those confined to uniform convey their own unique style in an attempt to change how they are perceived by others. There is a growing field in psychology known as “embodied cognition”—the idea that we think with not only our brains, but with our physical experiences. Including, it seems, the clothes we’re wearing.

Just the other day, I was discussing with my boss what he and I will wear for the opening reception of our new exhibit Friday night. Usually, we each wear a suit, but since it will be outside, we were trying to decide if we should be less formal. I still haven’t decided, but I will probably wear a shirt and tie, and have a suit jacket with me, just in case. I just need to go through my shirts and see what still fits well enough for me to wear a tie. Since I have lost some weight, some of my shirts are way too loose on me, but the determining factor will be how they fit in the neck. I have always had a thick neck, so finding a dress shirt I can wear a tie with can be a challenge at times.

Museum receptions aside, I often dress in clothes that make me feel good. I don’t have a body that looks great in everything, but I wear what makes me feel confident and good. My personal rules for fashion extend to undergarments, shoes, and accessories. Most of the time, no one will ever see what underwear I have on, but they make me feel sexy, whether I actually look sexy in them or not. It’s how they make me feel that is important. The lawyer I used to work for told me that she always wore nice shoes when she’d be in court because women on a jury often noticed another woman’s shoes. That is probably sexist today, but when she went to law school in the 1970s, she was one of only two women in the University of Alabama Law School. She was used to being judged differently from male lawyers. So, I follow her advice and I like to wear a nice pair of shoes that will match my outfit. I don’t mind paying a little extra for a pair of shoes that look good, but they also have to be comfortable.

Maybe it’s shallow of me to care so much about my outward appearance, but I was always taught to take PRIDE in the way I look. Obviously, if I was very strict with myself about this, I would not have a weight problem, but that is a whole other issue. What do you think your sense of fashion says about you? Do you feel better wearing certain clothes? Do you put comfort ahead of fashion?


Spread Kindness

I was in Starbucks waiting on a mobile order the other day, and I saw a sign on the wall that said:

Shortly after I first moved to Vermont, a very close friend died in a terrible car wreck. I was not able to handle it well. The death hit me extremely hard. If you go back in time on the blog to December 2015 and early 2016, you’d probably be able to tell some of the pain I was going through. I bring this up because I decided that along with antidepressants, I needed to see a therapist to try and work through my grief. While I found the therapy to do more harm than good due to the therapist I saw, the therapist did make an interesting point that I think is largely true. I have a lot of hidden pain. This hidden pain came in several different forms. I was closeted most of my life. I hid who I really was from most people in my life. I suffered from depression and anxiety for many years and did not seek help when I should have. I essentially hid the pain associated with my headaches because I feared people would not take my headaches seriously. (More women suffer from migraines than men, so men who have migraines often hide their pain because they feel it makes them weak.) I also often hid my feelings. I didn’t want people to know how sad I was all the time. So, I hid a lot of who I was from the world around me for fear of being judged for who I was. 

I was one of those people who was doing their best not to fall apart on a daily basis. I am also not the only one who hides their pain. I do try my best to be a kind person to those around me. I put on a happy face, even when I don’t always feel like doing so. I always have, and I probably always will. I want to make other people feel better. Wouldn’t we all like the world to be a better place? We live in a time when LGBTQ+ rights (particularly trans rights) are constantly being attacked and threatened. We have made many gains, but the fight is far from over. Voting rights are being attacked because Republicans want to make it harder for more liberal-minded people to vote. Many religious organizations are pushing for exemption from anti-discrimination laws to legally discriminate against those who don’t follow their narrow beliefs. We cannot stop the fight if we want to make the world a better place. 

Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” The change Gandhi referred to can be significant changes like civil rights, but it can also be small changes like opening the door for someone, giving a helping hand when you see someone with their hands full, paying someone a compliment, reaching an item off a high shelf for someone, giving up your seat to someone who needs it more, or something as simple as smiling. There are so many little things we can do for those around us to spread a little kindness. I urge you today to send an encouraging text, make a phone call to say, “I’m thinking of you,” smile at a stranger, or do any number of small acts of kindness. You never know when that small act of kindness can keep someone from falling apart. Let your kindness be contagious.

June is Gay Pride Month, and kindness should be a part of who we are. The LGBTQ+ community has faced many hardships. Instead of treating others the way we were treated, we should treat others the way we want to be treated. Pride has always been an event for the diverse LGBTQ+ community and their allies to joyously declare their presence. Let that presence include kindness and acceptance. Pride had its roots in a rebellion against the policing of our lives. Being LGBTQ+ once meant we had a mental illness, and the simple act of wearing the clothes of another gender was illegal. The Stonewall Riots in late June 1969 proved to be a turning point for the LGBTQ+ community, but there is still more to be done. We cannot rest on our laurels. Pride celebrations are a festive “unity in diversity” that is a hallmark of Pride that continually evolves and responds to contemporary challenges. Most of us have struggled with coming out and coming to terms with our sexuality. We often hide parts of ourselves. Pride Month is a time when we can all say, “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!”


Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis
By C. Thomen-Brown

I am not here to be your label;
To fit inside your box

I am not here to change my colors;
To a hue you understand

I am not here to accept the comfort;
You offer from behind your protective glass

I am not here to be pinned against your wall;
My body on display

I am not here to be wrapped up in your blankets of security;
Which reek with your fear of the different and unknown

I will shed your perfectly maintained preconceptions;
Breaking away from your claustrophobic cage

I will burst forth as a mosaic of colors;
Every unique piece creating the beautiful whole of my wingspan

I will stand shivering and bare;
For the world to see

And I know that I am free;
Moving from the water to the sky
To fly.
To grow.
To be.

Vermont Pride was virtual this year, as were most pride celebrations. That meant even the Pride Magazine that Vermont Pride publishes and hands out each year was also virtual. The above poem came from their Prize Zine 2020. I really liked the poem and wanted to share it with you, but I know nothing about the poet C. Thomen-Brown. When I tried to search for more of their poetry, the only person I came across was an independently licensed clinical social worker named Camille Thomen-Brown at the Vermont Center for Anxiety Care located in Burlington, Vermont. I am guessing that this is the same person who wrote the poem. It was just such a lovely poem about being yourself and embracing your diversity.


Why Are People So Driven by Hate?

The post title is a rhetorical question, because I don’t have an answer for it, nor do I understand people so filled with hate. In Texas near the border with Mexico, Roma High School has put teacher Taylor Lifka on leave after a Republican politician posted a screenshot of her virtual classroom, including a rainbow and a “Black Lives Matter” sign. The school said Ms. Lifka was put on leave for displaying so-called political and divisive speech in her virtual classroom.

Marian Knowlton, a Republican running for the Texas House in District 3, wrote on Facebook last Friday. ““This is from a public school in one of the counties in House District 31! Our education system has been radicalizing our children for years, and it continues to do so, from elementary through higher education. This is not an isolated occurrence, it is a national pattern. A concerted effort to teach children what to think, not how to think. Leftist indoctrination. Parents, I urge you to take a look at your child’s classroom, virtual or onsite.” Knowlton said that one of the posters has “a photo of radical protesters (one of whom looks like an ANTIFA member).” Knowlton continued, “In addition, this teacher asks which pronoun they prefer!”

In the screenshot she posted, a poster says, “Diverse, Inclusive, Accepting, Welcoming Safe Space for Everyone” in rainbow colors. One sign simply says, “Black Lives Matter,” which Knowlton said is a message supporting a “radical Marxist movement.” Another says in Spanish, “Friend, your struggle is my struggle.”

The screenshot also includes instructions from the teacher telling students to put their names and pronouns in the group chat.

By Tuesday, the district said that the teacher in question was put on leave. “After reviewing the complaints, the District is working closely with the teacher to find a resolution that will ensure all parties involved reach an outcome that best benefits the expectations of our parents and needs of our students,” the statement said. Even though the school forced the teacher to be on leave, the Roma Independent School District claims that “The teacher is not being reprimanded in any way for her work or decisions.”

The South Texas Equality Project (STEP) has started a Change.org petition to get Lifka taken off leave, which currently has 17,500 signatures. “Please sign this petition to let the school district know that inclusivity and acceptance are not taboo ideas that deserve censorship; that high school students can and should be allowed to discuss the realities of the world instead of being sheltered inside a sanitized bubble; and that by reprimanding the teacher for trying to create a safe space for her students, the school is not being neutral, but is actively taking a stance that is antithetical to justice,” the petition says.

“In our current times, we are still in that struggle for that need for equality,” a representative of STEP told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, adding that Lifka did not ask them to create the petition. Knowlton’s Facebook page was made private after this story got media attention.

Lifka was a member of Teach For America’s 2017 corps but is no longer with the organization. On her classroom’s homepage on the Roma High School website, Lifka wrote that she had fallen in love with Roma after her two years teaching there for TFA, prompting her to stay. “The beauty of Roma exists in the vibrant border culture and the tight-knit community that supports and honors one another through both the celebrations and the challenges of life,” she wrote.

Joseph Cloward, a former teacher at the district, said he worked with Lifka for a year and described her as committed and competent. Cloward says news of Lifka being put on paid leave prompted him to send a letter to Roma ISD Monday expressing concern. “I think what I was asking for is for the district to be really, really clear about whether or not it intends to be a safe and inclusive space for all students, particularly for Black students, for female students, for LGBT students,” he said. “I think all that’s come across right now is that teachers that are supportive of those students will be punished if they are outspoken in their support of those students, and I think that’s the wrong message for the district to be sending.” Cloward continued, “I don’t think that the messages in the pictures on social media are ones that have to be explicitly political in a partisan sense, they seem to be pretty typical ways to let students know that they are in a space where they will be welcomed and should feel safe regardless of their race or gender or sexual orientation.”

Knowlton said the content did represent a political position, noting that she had been accused of racism and homophobia for posting the screenshot. “If this is about inclusivity, why don’t we see anything about Judeao-Christian values on it, why don’t we see anything about the Bible on it, why don’t we see the other side?” she said Tuesday. “We only see one point of view on here, and I didn’t mention that at all, but that’s where the thread started to go.” Knowlton said she got the screenshot from a concerned educator and shared it to raise awareness on what’s happening in Texas classrooms. “I think that parents need to know what their children are looking at, what they’re hearing in the classroom,” she said. Knowlton said she didn’t realize what the consequences of her post would be, and it seems that she has no problems with Lifka’s removal.


AN UPDATE: Taylor Lifka has been reinstated to her job. 

statement from the district said Lifka was put on paid administrative leave on Sunday after the district received concerns from community members and parents.

“It is the practice of Roma ISD to diligently review all parent concerns. In this case, the timing in which information was received by the District (over the weekend) made it necessary for the District to place Ms. Lifka on leave until we could fully and responsibly review this matter,” the statement read. “This action was not intended to reflect any form of punishment or admonishment towards Ms. Lifka but was purely driven by a need to review the circumstances and come to a sound resolution for all persons involved. Out of concern for Ms. Lifka, Roma ISD wishes to state again that she has not been reprimanded in any way concerning this matter. The District appreciates the importance of advancing sensitivity regarding equality and inclusivity.”

The statement repeatedly and emphatically pledged Roma ISD’s commitment to anti-discrimination and inclusivity, saying Lifka was taken off leave Tuesday and informed she would be allowed the choice to keep the graphic background for her virtual classroom as proposed so long as it “does not come to overly disrupt or detract from the educational process or the learning environment.”

“Roma ISD regrets that this matter has become a point of controversy. It was never the intention of the District to indicate anything less than full support for the concepts of equality and student safety,” Roma ISD Superintendent Carlos Guzman wrote in the statement. “As educators and community members, Roma ISD has an obligation to carefully listen to parent concerns and respond to them, taking into consideration the rights of employees and students. As a school district, we must create a safe environment for our teachers and students that fosters and respects everyone’s beliefs in a manner that does not discriminate or disrupt the learning environment. I want to affirm that our District is filled with caring and committed educators that give 100 percent of themselves every day to the education and development of our students.”


Pride: Vermont Style

Pride in Vermont is unlike any other Pride. First of all, it’s small, though they had their largest contingents of marchers this year with just over 1400 people marching. The Pride Ball was sold out at 420 tickets. And The Guerilla Bar Takeover at Drink Bar Friday night was packed to the gills. Everything had a good showing and it was heartwarming to see so many people out in support of the LGBTQA community in Vermont.

So let’s start with Friday. We first had dinner at Splash at the Boathouse on Lake Champlain. All three of us, two coworkers and myself, had the burger which was delicious, as were their homemade potato chips. We left there and made it just in time for the start of the Hump! Film Festival. Some of the films were quite erotic, it is amateur porn after all. Some were a complete turn off, such as the guy fisting himself and all the lesbian porn. I kept looking at my watch during the lesbian porn hoping it would be over soon, which did not go missed by one of my coworkers. After Hump!, we went to the Guerilla Bar Takeover at Drink Bar. We had one drink there but it was so crowded we had to leave. We met a friend of ours at the more quiet Whiskey Bar. After that, we called it a night.

Saturday, I did not have anyone to go with me to Pride Ball, so I went alone. I had so much fun. The drag shows were phenomenal. The first one lasted about an hour and a half. The beautiful Miss Czechoslovakia was there. She always has a great performance. Butterball performed and was fabulous. She was my favorite performer of the night. I love old school campy drag queens over the often more vulgar and just pretty looking drag queens you often see today. Butterball was campy goodness, and the butterfly dress was beautiful. They had two burlesque performers. I’m not a fan of burlesque, but it’s popular in Vermont. Usually it’s women dancers who really should not be stripping naked. Mike Oxready performed in the first set to a song that rapped mirrored his T-shirt that said “Fuck Trump.” Mike was the only drag king to perform in the first set. There were a few other drag performances. Two that stood out were Farrah Nuff and Shani. After the first set, a DJ was brought out and I left shortly after that. It was getting late and I still had to drive home.

Sunday was the big day. It was the day of the parade. A huge crowd turned out for it. The streets were lined several people deep. There was no rhyme or reason to the order of the people who marched. Probably the largest contingent of people were from St. Michael’s College, a small Catholic college of less than 2000 students, who probably had more than a hundred students there including the hockey team. My favorite queens, Nikki Champagne and Emoji Nightmare we’re in the parade. (See the first picture.) They had hosted the Ball the night before. The LeMay Sisters were at the restaurant across from me but did not march this year. There were some strange participants such as the Star Wars group and the Hearthlight group who were dressed as medieval women. The Burly Bears were there along with many other groups. Ben and Jerry’s always has a group in the Parade as does Bernie Sanders, whose people seemed to be handing out chunks of carrots. It’s definitely a unique parade.

After the Parade, there was a Pride Festival but I couldn’t find parking anywhere nearby, so I decided to run some errands in Burlington and wait for the Burly Bears party to begin. When the time came, I went to the Burly Bears party at Red Square. The staff at Red Square, from security to the bartenders, were all shirtless. They were fun to admire. They also had some go-go boys dancing in little gold shorts that left little to the imagination. They had marched earlier with the House of Madam which you saw a picture of Monday. I mingled a little bit. I talked to Emoji for a while and saw the LeMay Sisters. I stayed for about two hours then headed home.

It was a fun but exhausting weekend.

Pic of the Day


Pride

Pride was a lot of fun. Three days of festivities, and I am exhausted. I didn’t have the energy last night to write up about Pride, but look for the full details Wednesday. I hope everyone had a great weekend.


Vermont Pride 2019

Celebrating and supporting Vermont’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community of all ages, as well as educating and serving as a bridge to create alliances with each other and with the greater community as a whole.

The Pride Parade kicks off at 12:30pm and is a beloved institution here in Vermont and throughout the world. It began as an anniversary celebration of the Stonewall Riots but has evolved over time to encompass the many LGBTQ heroes, struggles, and victories since. The parade begins at the south end of Church Street and ends at Battery Park where the festival is held.

The Pride Festival is one big party in Battery Park following the parade. It’s a place for the entire community – LGBTQ+ and ally – of all ages, races, and backgrounds to come together. Colorful, showstopping performers (Drag! Dance! Comedy! Poetry! Burlesque!) will be sure to entertain on stage while the park is filled with fabulous vendors with info and activities (and food!) for all.

Visit Pridevt.org for more info.

Since 1983, thousands have come together to celebrate the rich diversity that is the LGBTQ community of Vermont. Pride Center anticipates an even larger gathering this year. 

I’ll be there with my pride shirt on.


Bisexual Awareness Week 


Even though roughly half of the LGBT community identifies as bisexual, they’re seldom represented in the media. Nevertheless, more and more millennials are beginning to view themselves as bisexual and sexually fluid. A recent YouGov study discovered that a third of 18-24 year olds in the U.S. and Israel put themselves along a continuum of sexuality, rather than at either end. In the UK, roughly 50% don’t view themselves as 100% gay or straight.

Even though there are a huge number of bisexuals, and the number of bisexual-identifying people is growing, they often feel invisible. They often feel alone.

This feeling of isolation contributes to a slew of mental health issues that highly correlate with bisexuality. Bisexuals have high rates of depression, suicidality, self-harm, smoking and alcohol abuse, and intimate-partner violence. Recent data from a Human Rights Campaign study revealed that bisexual youth are less likely than lesbian and gay youth to feel there’s a supportive adult they can talk to.

These feelings of isolation also keep bisexuals closeted because they don’t feel as if they have a bi community. They don’t think people will accept us. It’s estimated that only 28% of bisexuals come out. Research from Dr. Eric Schrimshaw of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health revealed that most bisexual men know their sexuality. Their reasons for not disclosing it don’t arise from confusion, but rather they don’t come out because they fear rejection from their partners and ostracization from their families and communities.

Bisexuals face additional hardships that monosexuals (either gay or straight) don’t experience. The only way to change this is through visibility. This is why this week—Bisexual Awareness Week—is so important. This is why bi-visibility matters. This is why it’s crucial that bisexuals come out as often and to as many people as we can. Not only will your decision to come out create more visibility for others, you will also start to meet other bi folks, and can become an integral member of the bisexual community. So please, come out and share you story. Let’s make it easier for the next, growing generation of bisexuals to be out, comfortable, and proud of who they are.

By the way, Celebrate Bisexuality Day is observed tomorrow on September 23 by members of the bisexual community and their supporters. This day is a call for the bisexual community, their friends and supporters to recognize and celebrate bisexuality, bisexual history, bisexual community and culture, and all the bisexual people in their lives. First observed in 1999, Celebrate Bisexuality Day is the brainchild of three United States bisexual rights activists: Wendy Curry of Maine, Michael Page of Florida, and Gigi Raven Wilbur of Texas.

Adapted from an Out Magazine article.


Vermont Pride

Yesterday, I went to Vermont Pride in Burlington. There wasn’t much to it. The parade itself lasted about 20 minutes. There were a fair number of booths at the festival but not much to them either. “Northern Decadence,” which was $5 to get into, was merely a few breweries and cideries giving tastes of their wares and then Ben & Jerry’s was giving away ice cream. I had expected food to be part of it as well. I did get carded though to get in, but then these two much older ladies behind me got carded too, so I’m guessing they carded everyone to get in to Northern Decadence.

It was nice that a lot of the political candidates were in the parade, not something that anyone would dream of doing in Alabama. I had a good time overall, even if it seemed to be mostly lesbians and dogs at the parade and festival. There were a few cute guys, just a small percent of the people there. I think kids outnumbered the gay guys there.