They say that the way you spend New Year's Eve reflects how you will spend your entire year. I think this is probably just another bullshit thing people tell you to make you even more anxious about NYE, but sometimes it's true. I spent last NYE bartending at a drag & dance party, opening Tecates, pouring dark & stormy's, sucking trace amounts of caffeine out of bottomless Diet Cokes while nextlevel queens shared their beauty tips. (For example, I learned that to get perfect gothblack lips, you should use eyeliner as lipstick because no matter how smudgeproof lipstick claims to be, it will always come off whereas eyeliner will not.)
I guess it did turn out to be a prophetic night because I spent all year bartending at a queer bar, and it ended up being a pretty queer year.
Some things may or may not have happened regarding gay marriage, but that's already controlling the narrative in a way that erases the essential amorphousness of queer ways of being in the world, so I'm going to leave that to CNN. Instead, I tried to remember moments that challenged and developed conversations about gender and sexuality and identity, transcended borders, complicated collective understanding in a way that might approach the reality of trying to coexist as complex multitude-containing humans in complex bodies.
Tumblr continues to be the queerest place on the internet. Twitter is pretty queer in that it is a glorious polyphonic mess, but the Tumblr queer community is like an earnest, emotional, righteous, aesthetically pleasing oasis in a world that just doesn't get it.
Especially genderqueer Tumblr. Especially this genderqueer Tumblr.
Facebook did good at the beginning of the year by allowing users to choose from a multitude of gender options and pronouns. Then they lost whatever trust they won from the queer community by rolling out "real name" policing - an initiative that disproportionately affected transpeople and drag queens. The "real name" policy was repealed, but not before a weird anxious period where we thought we might actually have to start using ello.
Meanwhile, queer communities grew within the Facebook universe. The Facebook group "Queer Exchange" experienced a schism after an argument about seltzer, but is still going strong, amidst several splinter factions. Other groups like "Business Bitch Selfies" and
"Genderqueer Discussion" popped up as private(ish) places to share selfies, anxieties, affirmations.
OKCupid is reportedly going to follow Facebook's example by unveiling multiple gender/orientation options, to reflect the lived experience of many of its users, but so far the option is not open to the full user base.
Kristen Stewart upped the stakes on the Kristen Stewart litmus test by getting this haircut and appearing in a Jenny Lewis video.
Angel Haze (rapper/badass) & Ireland Baldwin (Alec Baldwin's daughter) became the bad bitch power couple we've all been waiting for.
Ellen Page came out, a million queer kittens got their wings.
Willow Smith destroyed time, gender, and the internet by simply existing
Shiloh Pitt-Jolie, Brangelina's 8 year old, declared she wants to be called "John" from now on
Hey Queen! is over after five years :( Last time I went to Hey Queen, Aye Nako played a cover of "Dreams" and a girl turned to me and said, "I spent last weekend making out with my ex under a streetlight and then crying about it afterwards and this cover is still the gayest thing that's happened to me all year." Thanks for the memories.
Wretched + Riot Chica stepped up to the queer party throne, alternating Saturdays at Don Pedro's, because dancing is important.
MIX> queer experimental film festival / epic party / temporary autonomous zone happened again, turned a Gowanus warehouse into a psychedelic beehive. 27 years strong.
Pride gets more and more normalized and swallowed up by capitalism every year, but Pride weekend is always a good weekend for off-the-parade-route queer partying. This year, Cristy Road and Brooklyn Transcore hosted a Queer Punk Pride show at Silent Barn featuring Penguin, Girlcrush, The Homewreckers, Public Hex, and Little Waist.
Bushwig drag fest, in its third year, took over Secret Project Robot for a next level drag marathon weekend, simultaneously dismantling and performing gender in all its ostentatious permutations.
Sometimes you want to go out and be in a room full of queer people but also sort of want to sit in the dark and not talk to anyone. The Queer Art Film series at IFC, which invites queer artists to present movies that inspired them, lets you do both things at once.
If you want to do a similar thing but with the lights on, the Bureau for General Services - Queer Division, a queer book & zine store on the Lower East Side, regularly hosts amazing readings, panels, films, and performances. (I shook Eileen Myles's hand there once so you know it's real *swoon*)
MUSIC! (& MUSIC TUMBLRS!)
Arca, wunderkid producer best known for his work on Yeezus and the FKA Twigs LP, releases Xen, a glimmering illegible album inspired by a spirit being Arca describes as "not really a boy and...not really a girl...her mere existence is kind of repulsive and attractive at once." To commemorate the release he does a Fader cover story, addresses own queerness, talks about Arthur Russell.
Everyone talks about Arthur Russell a whole lot, as they should, forever.
Sam Smith discusses being gay while simultaneously denouncing Grindr culture and claiming to be "perfectly normal." Writers react with side-eye, call him an assimilationist.
Mister Lies releases an impeccably produced "it gets bitter"-wave emotional electronica album, declares himself the anti-Sam Smith on Twitter, tells Brightest Young Things "he tries to normalize his sexuality as a pre-requisite to equality, which is not only wrong, but really unhealthy...when you do that, you're inviting even more prejudice. I feel like those who have the benefit and the privilege to come out of the closet should reassign themselves to helping the world have no closets, you know what I'm saying?"
After a Pitchfork review misrepresents the gorgeous Ontario Gothic, Foxes in Fiction writes a Tumblr post explaining that Orchid Tapes is a label that prioritizes queer, marginalized voices, and he doesn't expect a straight white dude Pitchfork writer to get that. "I'm not making or releasing music with the label I founded to satisfy expectations or play into ideas of hype, I am doing it for people who are mentally ill, who are queer, who are who are young and living in an awful small town and need a connection with music, for disenfranchised and marginalized people who have been in similar situations to me where music was able to help me though it and ultimately inspire me to start something like Foxes in Fiction or Orchid Tapes. If one person at an institution-as-website doesn't get that, that's fine."
Mykki Blanco releases transcendent catastrophic noise-punk mixtape Gay Dog Food, gives zero fucks, has a minute with Cakes and a mome with Kathleen Hanna. After Mykki's concert in Moscow gets canceled, possibly due to homophobic pressure, Mykki posts a love letter to russia, writing "When I think of Russia I think of the secret gay house parties I have been too kissing boys drunk on vodka and caviar...I think of going to the underground Russian gay clubs packed with muscle bound men in skin tight shirts and emo twinks softly gyrating to ear splitting trance.. seeing 6'3 Glam Queens perform in thigh high boots and polyester wrap dresses like a Pre-Aids New York I never experienced . . . really maybe I love Russia so much because I can relate to it's "outsider status", because the west is afraid of it, because of all of the preconceived notions and rumors because I relate to the feelings of alienation from the USA, the mistreatment, the provocative attitudes, the hypocrisy's of America, how I feel my art, my music my identity are still not really understood here in the USA but scattered with my pockets of fans across the world."
Jana Hunter writes a tumblr post titled "On Pride," supporting trans people, discussing own genderqueerness. "Gender isn't clear cut for me, and now I accept that. I did at one time identify as a boy. I sometimes, but rarely, identify as a woman. Mostly I don't think about it. I don't feel tied to gender. "Genderfluid" is the closest I can get to identification. I like the word trans, in its all-inclusive definition. "
Against Me! releases Transgender Dysphoria Blues, probably the first mainstream punk album to talk explicitly about trans issues. Laura Jane Grace's vocals and lyrics and stage presence are powerful and devastating.
Queerpunx are stronger than ever. Beyond the return of the Brooklyn Transcore stage at Punk Island, this year was full of sick shows by Downtown Boys, Aye Nako, Homewreckers, Clinical Trials, Tiny Tusks, Bad Behavior, etc!
Homoground's queer music podcasts / mixtapes / artist profiles!
So Jealous turned ten. (So now I can claim that the times this year I spent hiding in my bed, looping "I Wake Up Exhausted," while sulking through heartbreaky people's Facebook photos were actually all in tribute. Happy anniversary!)
Every 32 hours a trans person is reported murdered somewhere in the world. Transwomen of color face a higher risk of hate violence than any other group of people. Destroy transphobia, support trans people, condemn injustice. If you hear someone you know spouting transmisogynistic bullshit, be a good ally and reset their brains with wrathful laser vision.
All hate crimes are horrible but a September assault on a gay couple in Philly hit right in the collective trauma when it came out that one of the attackers was the daughter of a Philly police chief.
After a period of financial uncertainty, Youth on Fire, a Cambridge harm-reduction oriented shelter for queer homeless youth, is not only staying in Harvard Square but partnering with the forthcoming Harvard Square Homeless Shelter Youth Initiative, the area's first overnight youth shelter. LGBTQ teens currently make up about 40% of the country's homeless youth population.
Thanks in part to activism by the Sylvia Rivera Project and the Audre Lorde Foundation, New York will now allow Medicaid to cover hormones and surgeries for trans people.
Uganda criminalizes homosexuality, then repeals the bill on a technicality, then vows to try again with a bigger badder anti-gay bill.
Russia is still not down with gays and their nefarious propaganda (such as gathering in public or stating their existence).
India recognizes a third gender!
Laverne Cox wins Orange is the New Black, gets nominated for an Emmy, appears on the cover of Time Magazine, has a mome with bell hooks.
Janet Mock publishes "Redefining Realness," calls out CNN host for misgendering trans women, has a mome with bell hooks.
CeCe McDonald gets released from prison, stays advocating for prison abolition, has momes with Melissa Harris-Perry and Andrea Abi-Karam.
Leslie Feinberg, trans activist and author of Stone Butch Blues, dies after a battle with Lyme disease, asks to be remembered as a revolutionary communist.
Trans artist couple Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst honored in Whitney Biennial. Whitney site posts the quote, "Our bodies are a microcosm of the greater external world as it shifts to a more polymorphous spectrum of sexuality. We are all collectively morphing and transforming together"
Jared Leto wins an Academy Award for playing a trans woman in Dallas Buyers Club; queer community dismayed because Hollywood didn't bother to find an actual transwoman to play the role of a transwoman, and Leto didn't bother to mention trans people in his acceptance speech. SMH.
Transparent also casts a cis man in the role of a transwoman, but at least takes care to hire a transwoman writer for the show.
Toad is nonbinary!
Personal essays and photo essays about genderqueerness slowly begin appearing in mainstream news outlets. Many are awkward and fumbly, but it's encouraging to see these ideas breached beyond the Tumblrverse.
Alok, of Darkmatter, writes a powerful piece about gender nonconformity for MTV Hive, writing, "This is not a story about being born in the wrong body. This is the story of being born in the wrong world. This is the story of being told who we are without our consent. This is a story of a gender that refuses to be defined by a body."
FEED YOUR HEAD
Alok's poetry and essays, most revolving around themes of queer south asian politics.
Darkmatter's spoken word pieces.
Anna Bongiovanni's comics! (Especially the Saturday Morning Cartoon series on Autostraddle.)
After about a year of me quoting this as if it was already a thing, Chris Lee finally wrote up the definitive manifesto "Why Queers Love Astrology," positing astrology as a desirous futurity, a pet interest of marginalized demographics, a sentimental fetish of a culture sympathetic to trash, "the recognition that our worlds, imagined or otherwise, are fucked in totalizing and crushing ways, and that our existing systems of organizing identity have failed or hurt us relentlessly and recursively, with astrology thus seeming preferable to the psychosocial categories of gender, race, illness or the myriad others deployed and weaponized to delineate the muddled and intersectional processes of subjectivity."
Learn your rising sign! Read Chani Nicholas! Hug a Cancer! Turn up with your local #firesignmafia!
MANIFESTATIONS OF QUEERNESS
Queer as fighting for access to parts of yourself that you had walled off because you had been told that they were not okay.
Queer as fighting to love people and things that you had been told were not for you to love.
Queer as a big "hell no" to the idea that you achieve "realness" by becoming a legible imitation of a prescriptive archetype rather than by closing the gap between the person you are circumstantially and the person you feel yourself to be.
Queer as the idea that maybe only you know what is right for yourself and that maybe that is true for other people as well and maybe that's scary and complicated to negotiate but maybe we're just going to have to figure it out as we go along.
Queer because no matter how much queer community you find, you still feel alone and irreparably weird and impossibly hopeless most of the time, and somehow trying to make it through anyway.
Queer as a commitment to the inefficient, anarchist, existential, and process-oriented.
Queer as scoffing at any attempt at definition but then writing manifestos anyway because manifestos are fun.
This year I had lots of inspiring critical conversations & exhausting 101 level conversations, sneakily queered things on the low, crushed on people of various gender expressions, cut the sleeves off of T-shirts and took lots of androgynous boyband-inspired selfies. I went to Callen Lorde for the first time, recognized people in the queer corner of the zine tent at the Art Book Fair, wondered often whether I was making a huge mistake by living in Brooklyn instead of the Bay, felt a lot of feelings (some of which I even admitted to).
I edited together a video about cyborg feminism for RECAPS, put together an issue of The Media honoring garbage (the queerest of things), coproduced and read in a drag production of the Outsiders, and queered a two-tribe team game so successfully that I inspired a random straight cis person to yell "FUCK THE BINARY" out of a speeding golf cart.
Thxu 2k14 // Happy 2k15
Live your truth, hack the mainframe, destroy bigotry, take care of yourself and each other, do cool stuff.