Need Advice? Ask Queer Abby

INTO knows you need help, and not from the likes of heteronormative newspaper columnists. Graphic novelist and podcast host Nicole J. Georges has been offering solutions to problems for several years at outlets like Bitch and on her own weekly show Sagittarian Matters, where special guests often join to share their own expertise. (Recent ones include Hannah Gadsby, Beth Ditto, and Carrie Brownstein.) Now, she’s bringing her self-proclaimed “honest, earnest, confident, sometimes funny advice” to INTO with Queer Abby.
 
“I am a queer, feminist, body-positive alternative to Dan Savage,” Georges says. “I’m fair but I’m firm. I care about my advice seekers, and will give them the objective, loving truth like a good Judy should.”
 
 
Georges’ first book, Calling Dr. Laura, is about her obsession with the conservative talk show host who continues to give problematic advice to callers. Georges refers to her approach as “no-nonsense,” and to herself as “manner-obsessive.”
 
“You’re not legally bound to take it, but I will give you my honest read on a situation,” Georges says.
 
Queer Abby will answer INTO reader questions about topics such as: romance, pets, art, manners, vegan food, chickens, “and oh my god, roommates. Please send me questions about your rotten roommates.”
 
I bring 20 years of dating, roommates, pets, an art career and thousands of dollars worth of therapy to the table,” Georges says. “I learned everything like a caveman so you don’t have to.”
 
If you have a question for Queer Abby, send it in an email to [email protected].  Feel free to spice it up with a fun anonymous name that describes you and your question, like “Suffering From Sapphic Sadness in Sydney” or “Bummed About Another Bottom.” All identities will be protected, much to the chagrin of those closest to Georges, who says “I keep the anonymity of my advice seekers so tight, I’ve gotten in fights with my life partner over my unwillingness to disclose names from the advice vaults!”
 

FIFA Fines Homophobic Football Fans From Mexico

As previously reported on INTO,  Mexico’s World Cup victory over Germany on Sunday came with a splash of homophobia. Mexico fans chanted “puto,” a slur used to describe male sex workers and often invoked to emasculate men, at Germany’s goalkeeper during a goal kick.

FIFA has a three-step policy that they institute for these specific cases, but none of those steps were followed during the game. The association responded after the game with a statement saying that they would investigate and open up “disciplinary proceedings” toward Mexico in order to decide the consequences.

They’ve now announced that Mexico will be fined a measly $10,000 — pocket change for the team worth $170 million.

As Cyd Zeigler pointed out on Outsports, this is not the first time FIFA has fined Mexico for this kind of infraction. “It hasn’t stopped them,” he writes. “Fans screamed the anti-gay chant at the World Cup four years ago and all that’s happened is more fines.”

It’s clear that FIFA wants to appear to care about LGBT issues more than they actually care about enforcing policies that would benefit LGBT fans. This doesn’t come as a huge shock considering how bad the World Cup is for the working people who live in the host city. FIFA has made it clear that their biggest concern is their bottom line.

Former Mafia Property In Italy To Be Used For LGBTQ Shelter

The coast of Italy is about to get a little gayer as a villa in Castel Volturno, a township 22 miles north of Naples, gets turned into an LGBTQ shelter. According to The Local, the villa was previously owned by a Naples mafia boss, until police seized it in the 1990s. Since then the three-story building has remained unused.

Rain Arcigay Caserta, an Italian gay rights group, has recently won permission to renovate the property and turn it into a refuge space for both Italian citizens and migrants who have faced discrimination for their sexuality or gender identity.

This will be the second center of its kind in Italy and the first one in Italy’s south where a lot of migrants live. The gay rights organization points out that LGBT migrants face more stigma than Italian nationals, so being in the region was important.

Activists also note that Italy is notoriously bad with its LGBTQ legislation as compared to the rest of Western Europe. Same-sex marriage is still illegal and there are no national laws that include anti-LGBTQ hate speech or discrimination in the denial of goods and services.

As reported in The Local, the Italian government has a large array of former mafia assets, including about 12,000 properties. This is likely the first time one of those assets has been given to an LGBTQ group.

Images via Il Centro LGBT del mediterraneo

A Legitimate-Sounding Pediatric Association Says Trans People Are Mentally Ill. It’s a Hate Group

A seemingly legitimate pediatric group in the U.S. criticized the World Health Organization’s decision to declassify trans identity as a mental illness.

WHO announced on Monday it would no longer categorize “gender incongruence” under its list of mental disorders in the International Classification of Diseases 11th Revision. Instead, it would be listed under “sexual health conditions.” In a statement, the U.N. group—which operates in 147 countries—claimed conflating the experiences of trans people with mental illness “can cause enormous stigma.”

While LGBTQ advocacy groups around the world have championed the decision as a “historic achievement” in the international recognition of transgender lives, the American College of Pediatricians isn’t ready to join the party.

President Dr. Michelle Cretella reaffirmed the organization’s belief that sex is “binary” in comments shared with the Christian Broadcast Network.

“It’s an objective biological trait, and that’s what we need to get back to,” Cretella told the far-right television channel, which airs programs like evangelist Pat Robertson’s The 700 Club. “Thoughts and how we perceive ourselves are not hardwired by biology and can be correct and incorrect.”

CBN presents that statement alongside findings from the American Academy of Pediatrics alleging that students who “claimed to be transgender also reported worse mental and physical health than other kids.”

There are two major problems with the conservative channel’s presentation of the facts.

First, research from the National Center for Trans Equality shows that the problem isn’t the intrinsic mental state of trans people but the overwhelming stigma to which this vulnerable population is often subjected. Young people whose parents support their gender transition are 20 percent less likely to experience suicidal ideation than transgender youth who are rejected by their loved ones and communities.

Meanwhile, these two groups may have similar sounding names, but the American College of Pediatricians and American Academy of Pediatrics are very different. The latter is a respected medical organization representing 60,000 pediatricians across the United States.

The other, however, is a hate group and has been classified as such by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The American College of Pediatricians—often referred to by the shorthand “ACPeds”—is a fringe organization which broke off from the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2002 over its support for same-sex parents. In a statement opposing adoption by gay couples, the Gainesville, FL group claimed “societal forces [should] support the two-parent, father-mother family unit and provide for children role models of ethical character and responsible behavior.”

Among its many anti-LGBTQ positions, ACPeds has backed conversion therapy and opposed same-sex marriage, calling the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision to legalize marriage equality “a tragic day for America’s children.”

Even despite the SPLC estimating that less than 200 members are affiliated with ACPeds—many of whom are not pediatricians—the group has used its veneer of legitimacy to attempt to discredit affirming treatment for trans youth. It has referred to offering transition-related care to transgender young people as “child abuse.”

“The American College of Pediatricians urges healthcare professionals, educators and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex,” the organization wrote in a position paper titled “Best For Children,” which was most recently updated in September 2017. “Facts—not ideology—determine reality.”

ACPeds went onto suggest that being transgender is, in fact, a mental illness.

“When an otherwise healthy biological boy believes he is a girl, or an otherwise healthy biological girl believes she is a boy, an objective psychological problem exists that lies in the mind not the body, and it should be treated as such,” the group claimed.

But six years after the American Psychiatric Association reclassified “gender identity disorder” as “gender dysphoria,” this week’s decision from the WHO—which will not be adopted until January 2022—reflects a growing medical and popular consensus that transgender people do not have a psychological affliction.

Four in five Americans (79 percent) do not believe that trans individuals are mentally ill, according to surveys from YouGov. Both the American Medical Association and American Psychological Association agree.

Conservatives, though, have continued to back a group that’s decades behind nearly every other leading U.S. medical association on the subject of trans identities. Right-wing news organizations like Breitbart, The Blaze, The Daily Caller, Townhall, and now the Christian Broadcast Network have cited ACPeds without fact-checking to see whether the group has any credibility.

Robertson, the most well-known figure on CBN, once predicted marriage equality would bring about “the wrath of God” and compared members of the LGBTQ community to “murderers,” “rapists,” and “thieves.” He believes trans people are “frauds.”

10 NYC Pride Events You Can’t Miss This Weekend

Almost half a century after the first Pride, this weekend we celebrate in the city where it all began. New York Pride kicks off with a series of must-attend events. From Pride Island to the March, the official events are a rite of passage for any queer New Yorker.

But some of the most amazing experiences are taking place all over the city, outside of the official lineup. From art exhibits and drag shows to music festivals and rooftop parties, the city is full of Pride. Build your own Pride itinerary with these must-attend events.

Reclaiming My Pride

One World Observatory

June 21-24, 9am-9pm

Sponsored by Metrosource, this exhibit showcases the 10 finalists of Reclaiming My Pride, an art contest showcasing “the spirit of community, creativity, and charity in America’s LGBTQ populace.” A portion of the proceeds go to the Ali Forney Center. 

What She Said: Gender Identity

W Union Square

June 21, 6-8:30pm

This free panel is open to the public. Featuring activists, business owners, models, and actresses, it will cover their personal experiences with gender identity, fluidity, and sexuality. 

Caché Presents Pride

ACME

June 21, 10pm

Hosted by Jeff Perla and Natti Vogel, this evening of food, drinks, music, and dancing at one of our favorite NoHo eateries features a set by DJ Kasey Lynn. 

LadyLand

Brooklyn Mirage

June 22, 5pm-4am

Hosted by Ladyfag, this outdoor queer music festival is a safe space for Pride, welcoming all. It features 11 hours of intimate performances by Tommy Genesis, Kim Petras, Aquaria, Eve, and more. 

Bushwig Pride

Wythe Hotel

June 22, 8pm-12am

The popular Brooklyn drag festival celebrates Pride. Featuring Horrorchata, Willam, Dida Ritz, Neon Calypso, Salami Sisters, and more, this event will be full of queer ‘90s nostalgia. Plus, there’s an open bar. 

Drag Queen Bedtime Stories

Hudson Hotel

June 22-23, 9-9:30pm

Brought to you by Drag Queen Story Hour, this special event brings the children’s classics to an adult setting. Marti Cummings and Markus Kelle will read some of our favorite bedtime stories and serve some tunes and standup over some Pride-themed cocktails. A portion of proceeds will benefit the Ali Forney Center. 

Glitterati Pride: No Place Like Home

House of Yes

June 22, 10pm-4am

Sparkles, glitter, and glitz are required for entry, with sustainable biodegradable glitter available from BioGlitz. The event features performances by Amber Valentine, Mike Swells, Johnny Five, and more. 

Daydream

Dream Downtown

June 24, 2-10pm

Hosted by Brandon Voss and Michael Cohen, Candis Cayne headlines this rooftop Pride party. The free event also features sets by DJs Ryan Kenny and Valissa Yoe, as well as living art by Darrel Thorne. 

The Dreamers

Dream Midtown

June 24, 3-10pm

Hosted by Nylon and Frankie Sharp, this free event will feature performances by Logan’s Run, Juan Garcia, Antitwink, and more. Shangela and cast members of Pose on FX will also be in attendance.

Bad Behavior: NYC Pride Afterparty

House of Yes

June 24, 8pm-3am

Wrap up Pride with music by JD Samson at this popular Brooklyn venue. Partnering with OkCupid, dark room activities are provided by NYC Inferno. 

Is The Queer Community Keeping Dr. Luke’s Career Alive?

In October 2014, Kesha filed a lawsuit against Dr. Luke for sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence and emotional abuse. An injunction was later filed to release her from Kemosabe Records, the Dr. Luke-managed imprint under Sony Music. Support for Kesha swept the internet via the #FreeKesha campaign. Taylor Swift donated $250,000 to her legal funds. Artists Kelly Clarkson and Pink have publically spoken against Dr. Luke, while Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, and Lorde have been vocal about their solidarity with Kesha.

In February 2016,  after 18 months in court, Kesha lost her case due to “lack of evidence.” The image of a sobbing Kesha, completely devastated by the verdict, is difficult to forget. In 2017, we collectively promised to support her new music, and furiously campaigned for “Praying,” her anthem of forgiveness and healing, to be recognized by mainstream radio. At the 2018 Grammys, in the wake of the #MeToo movement — where women’s personal narratives about sexual abuse and gendered violence were at the forefront of public attention — Kesha performed her prayer alongside notable female acts. It was a strident symbol of sisterhood and solidarity.

But have we, the queer community, been successful in our own solidarity with Kesha and the #MeToo movement?

It’d be silly to downplay the queer community’s long-standing relationship with pop music. From Judy to Gaga, Ariana to Mariah, Beyonce, Madonna, Carly — oh my! A star is born for each generation of queers to adore and idolize. But this relationship becomes fraught when we consider the influence of figures like Dr. Luke — the behind-the-curtain producers whose faces we couldn’t pick out from a lineup but whose names serve a generous dollop of buzz.

Having produced/written gay-loving bangers such as “Since U Been Gone” (Kelly Clarkson), “Teenage Dream” (Katy Perry), “Where Have You Been” (Rihanna), “Get On Your Knees” (Nicki Minaj), and “Circus” (Britney Spears) — his production discography is super upsetting to scroll through — the difficulty lies in finding pop faves who haven’t worked with Dr. Luke.

How should we be negotiating Dr. Luke’s importance to our current listening habits?

I understand that music often acts as a vehicle of liberation; escapism from the terror of the times. But music, as art, is fundamentally political. Who we choose to listen to reveals and reproduces the values we want pedestaled. While we can romantically speak about divorcing the art from the artist, we need to wise up to the reality that music is also business: Spotify streams and radio spins translate into revenue which pays rent, churns more music, and snowballs into power. It’d be impractical to start culling Dr. Luke’s entire catalog prior to 2014 (I’m not sure I could say goodbye to Electra Heart or The Best Damn Thing) because we’d also be sanctioning a good chunk of our innocent idols. To willingly work with Dr. Luke in 2018, however, is to both normalize his behavior and be complacent about the pain he’s associated with. It’s a smear against the #BelieveWomen narrative feminists have been fighting for.

Scroll to the bottom of Dr. Luke’s production discography timeline and you’ll see two (maybe three? probably two) names that have been celebrated by the queer community. Azealia Banks’ next single, “Treasure Island,” is produced by Dr. Luke. After supporting Trump, pissing off Drag Race viewers, bad-mouthing Beyonce (the list really does go on), it’s almost as if there isn’t anything Azealia could do to stop the queers from loving her beats. Admittedly, she is surely talented.

The second name, Kim Petras, is known as Dr. Luke’s protege. Kim shot to musical fame with candy-coated queer club bangers “Faded,” “I Don’t Want It At All,” “Hillside Boys” and a fire feature on Charli XCX’s Pop 2. But she first gained international attention in 2007 when, at 14, she advocated permission for early gender reassignment surgery through a German documentary and talk show. In November 2008, aged 16, Kim publicly announced that she had completed her much-anticipated surgery. Her first single, “Fade Away,” was released in 2008 and her latest, “Can’t Do Better,” came this past June.

While Kim doesn’t want to be singularly known as a “transgender artist” — “the ultimate goal for me is if a transgender person can be known for anything but being transgender” — many in the queer community look to her as hope for the future of trans representation in mainstream art. Yet… all her music is produced by Dr. Luke: support for Kim is support for Kesha’s abuser.

This controversy hasn’t escaped backlash. Troye Sivan was forced to issue a statement defending his decision for Kim to open his Bloom World Tour after an online uproar from concerned fans. Kim, too, posted an apology to anyone that she upset — but has yet to forgo her working relationship with the producer.

It seems curious that in 2018, the age of Trump and #MeToo, we’d be so lenient to these politics. But are we? Take, for example, Shania Twain. Shania made her dive back into popular culture in 2017 with the release of her fifth studio album, Now, a solid 15 years after, Up! She made a cameo on Broad City and the tenth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. For Shania, life was about to get good… until she exposed herself as a Trump apologist.

Shania was quickly canceled and stripped of “gay icon” status.

But it’s interesting that Shania’s hypothetical vote for Trump (she’s Canadian) would have more political weight than the profoundly disturbing men our pop stars have chosen to work with. “Shania is canceled” does feel particularly performative — getting off on the opportunity to flex our pop-political pecs — when we’re simultaneously singing along to “Heart to Break,” or actively forgetting that Lady Gaga has worked with both R Kelly and Terry Richardson. It’s interesting that we, as a queer community, get to pick and choose our politics of the day.

Perhaps this is a symptom of how we’ve come to fetishize our favorite pop icons: reducing them to an importance that stretches only to aesthetic and performance. It’s a fetishization that dehumanizes: makes them easy targets for Twitter stan wars and the cascade of online bullying that follows. That strips any core ideology, allowing them to be picked up and dropped at the whim of our desire and disposal. It’s the fetishization that makes us care so deeply for Kesha’s struggle and then — unsurprisingly — savour the taste of a Dr. Luke-infused beat.

Or maybe it’s part of a much larger issue — beyond the scope of queerness — of how we’ve come to consume music. The hype over Kanye’s latest musical venture came so shortly after his “slavery was a choice” commentary (ft. MAGA hat + Trump) — it was almost comical despite being so disturbing. It speaks to our convenience in forgetting, a deficiency in our attention, and a willingness to wash our hands of any guilt from the last two years: “I didn’t vote for him!” “I’m one of the good guys.”

But our queerness shouldn’t come at the expense of other people’s pain, struggle, or solidarity. We need to become better at interrogating not just our own politics, but the politics of our consumption. Because if Judy’s Dorothy taught us anything, it’s the importance of always looking behind the curtain — it’s just unfortunate that it might not always be full of rainbows.

Images via Getty

UC Berkeley Is Offering A Frank Ocean Class So I Guess I’m Going Back To School

One of the best parts about getting to college is not having to take all of the boring classes you were forced to take in high school. I was personally excited to take the sociology, human sexuality, and creative writing classes that my overcrowded public school didn’t offer.

Well now at UC Berkeley, students will be able to take a class on Frank Ocean. The class, which is titled “Brains like Berkeley,” was proposed by second-year graduate students Preya Gill and Deborah Chang.

In an email to The FADER, Gill and Chang explained that the class would be about Frank Ocean’s history and influences, as well as his identity and gender politics.

“We want to encourage a deep literary exploration of his artistry both in lyrics and through his visuals and live performances,” they said. “We hope to provide a safe environment where students can discuss his poetry and music with sensitivity, creative respect, and open-mindedness.”

Given that the tweet has over 30k likes, it’s likely that the class will fill up quickly. Gill and Chang also said that they would consider live streaming options or releasing their material for public use.

Transmasculinidad: Uruguay

Growing up in Uruguay as a flamboyant, feminine, gender-bending kid meant being the target of state-sanctioned persecution during the brutal dictatorship in the 1970s and the decades that followed.

But now, in 2018, that small South American country is considered one of the most progressive in the world for transgender rights.

When we started the project Transmasculinidad two years ago, we wanted to show how legislation, or lack thereof, translated into everyday life. We wanted to show what it means when politicians vote to broaden social support or restrict access to benefits. We wanted to translate legalese into a human face.

So this month, in honor of Pride, we want to celebrate Uruguay where being transgender is respected.

The Ministry of Health recognizes that the transgender population has historically been treated horrendously and urges improvement. They write that trans people face discrimination, violence, and social exclusion, noting that 80 percent of transgender people in Latin America die before the age of 35. To correct this horrific trend, Uruguay has been implementing policies like a monthly subsidy specifically for transgender people, the only requirement is that you identify as trans and register with the Department of Social Development, MIDES, in order to receive monthly cash assistance. It’s not a huge amount, but it helps.

Transgender people also have access to a national public health system that covers hormone therapy, doctor visits, and gender-affirming surgery because the Ministry of Health affirms that these are important health issues for the trans community.

In 2016, the government published the first-ever census of the transgender community, in which they found that 853 Uruguayans identify as trans. The census also found that 75 percent of the trans population didn’t finish high school and that a quarter are cut off from family relations.

Now, the Uruguayan government is looking at a proposal to make the country even more progressive. It would create scholarships and programs to foster a better educational experience and set aside a percentage of government jobs specifically for trans people. It would also create a pension for trans women who were tortured by the previous administrations in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s.

Legislation can’t undo the past, and it can’t change the minds of bigots, but it can go a long way to repair the hurt and support an incredibly vulnerable community in need.

#LeyTransYa

Check www.transmasculinidad.com and @transmasculinidad on Instagram and Facebook.

‘The Sinner’ Season 2 Hints at Sapphic Storyline

USA’s The Sinner was a solid, weird, freaky show where Bill Pullman liked having the shit get kicked out of him during sex, and Jessica Biel stabbed the life out a stranger at the beach for reasons unknown to everyone, including herself.

The eight-part series premiered in 2017 and quickly gained popularity as a crime drama that starts with a bang and then spends the remainder of the season in slow-cooking tension, with enough twists to keep its audience invested enough to want to know what the hell is going on. The trailer for the upcoming second season has been released, and it looks like it’s going to get the same treatment.

While Biel is credited in the cast for Season 2, no confirmation has been made yet as to her direct involvement with the new storyline. However, we do know that we will find  a brand-new case investigated by Pullman’s character, Detective Harry Ambrose, who is called back to his hometown in Upstate New York by a former colleague’s daughter, a detective in training, to assist in a double homicide. The case is complicated right off the bat, as the perpetrator is an 11-year-old boy who has killed both his parents for reasons unknown.

Among Season 2’s new key players are Carrie Coon (Gone Girl), Hannah Gross, and Natalie Paul (The Deuce), who will play Heather, the detective who calls upon Ambrose for assistance in the double murder.

Coon, who appears to play a rather significant role this time around, portrays Vera, “a formidable, mysterious woman who struggles between upholding the ideals of the community she leads and fulfilling her own desires.”

Hannah Gross, who was recently seen in Mindhunter as too-good-for-any-man Debbie, plays Marin, “Heather’s high school best friend who disappeared from town two years ago in a cloud of mystery.”

Judging by one particular blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot in the trailer, the mystery might be that she’s gay.

Not many details have been revealed about the individual characters that can highlight their backstories or relationships with one another. With good reason, as the show’s character particulars seem to be interlocked within the story itself and any information may give away key story elements.

However, Heather and Marin do kiss in the trailer. We are overdue for a gay woman of color in uniform, so you might want to tune in.

Season 2 of The Sinner premiers August 1st on USA.

Avocado Toast, Anyone? Antoni From ‘Queer Eye’ Is Getting His Own Restaurant

Guacamole enthusiast and resident Queer Eye cryer Antoni Porowski is getting his own restaurant.

The handsome culinary expert of the Netflix series announced his new “fast-casual restaurant” while on a panel with his costars at the 92nd Street Y.

“I’m all about cheese and pork belly and decadence,” Porowski said about his restaurant, “and as a result of the increased vanity of being on camera all the time and working out and eating healthy, I’m developing a fast-casual food concept restaurant that I’m gonna be opening here in New York.”

It’s been a big few months for Porowski. He was in a Hanes underwear ad, he was featured in GQ and he even landed a cookbook deal. He spoke briefly about the cookbook at the talk, saying that it would be a 100-recipe book and he has currently submitted 50 so far. “And not one of them has avocados in it,” Porowski joked.

We can only hope that the rest of the Fab Five get their own businesses. Tan can get a menswear boutique, Bobby can get a designer furniture store, Jonathan can get his own salon and Karamo can get… I don’t know, a therapist license?