Bishop Gene Robinson Reaches Out to Closeted PHC Students

Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, of the Diocese of New Hampshire, recently visited the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., where he spoke with former congressman Pat Murphy about Robinson’s new book, God Believes in Love.

Robinson spoke with Queer Patrick Henry College after the presentation, and offered some encouragement to closeted students at the college. He’s used to such appeals for encouragement, and said he receives several emails a week from “some kid in podunk Idaho who thinks they’re the only gay person besides me in the world.”

“What I usually say to them is there’s just a big, wide, wonderful world out here, and it can be wonderful for gay and lesbian and bisexual and transgender people,” he said. “And you may have to stay where you are, you may have to be quiet about who you are for awhile, but find a few people that you can be open with, that you can be yourself with, because it will feel like an oasis in an awfully dry desert. And then when it’s possible, get out into this big wide world and meet some of us who are having the time of our lives and are not held back by being openly gay.”

Robinson said LGBTQ people who grew up in conservative environments as he did, and as many PHC students did, can do a great deal of damage to themselves.

“The hardest person to come out to is yourself, right?” he said.  “We learned all the things that everybody else was learning, and we became alienated from ourselves, not to mention our parents and our families, and so on. I think it’s a really tough row to hoe, but find some oases to feed yourself along the way, and then join this community that’s waiting to embrace you.”

As a queer Christian, it’s hard to overstate the impact that Bishop Robinson has had on the lives of people like me. To see someone who is both openly gay and openly Christian take on a bold leadership role in the church is nothing short of inspiring. At Patrick Henry College, there’s quite a bit of talk about “leading the nation and shaping the culture,” and Bishop Robinson is doing exactly that, with his ongoing role in transforming the cultural conversation on queer people of faith.

Robinson is retiring on Jan. 5 and leaving New Hampshire to move to D.C., where he hopes to assist St. Thomas’ Parish in Dupont Circle in founding a new Center for Non-Violent Communication, with the goal of changing “the nature of the debate” in the highly political city. Color me excited.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Observed annually on November 20, Transgender Day of Remembrance honors the memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.

From GLAAD: “The Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost,” said Transgender Day of Remembrance founder Gwendolyn Ann Smith. “With so many seeking to erase transgender people — sometimes in the most brutal ways possible — it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice.”

This is a powerful (grievously so) listing of many of the people that have died because of anti-transgender violence: Memorializing 2012.

And from GLAAD a timeline of transgender visibility:

LGBT History Month: Day 19 Christine Jorgensen

Day nineteen of LGBT History Month features Christine Jorgensen, the first nationally known transgendered person.

From her bio at the LGBT History Month website:

“Nature made a mistake, which I have had corrected.”

Christine Jorgensen was the first nationally known transgender American. She used her fame to speak out on behalf of transgender people.

Born George Jorgensen Jr. and raised in the Bronx, she described herself as a “frail, tow-headed, introverted little boy who ran from fistfights and rough-and-tumble games.” In 1945, after graduating high school, Jorgensen was drafted into the Army.

Jorgensen researched gender reassignment surgery. While visiting Copenhagen, she met Dr. Christian Hamburger, an endocrinologist and specialist in rehabilitative hormonal therapy. With Hamburger’s help, Jorgensen became one of the first to combine hormone therapy with gender reassignment surgery. She chose the name Christine to honor Dr. Hamburger.

In 1952, based on an intercepted letter to her parents describing her transformation, the New York Daily News ran the headline “Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Beauty.” The media incorrectly called Jorgensen the first person to undergo the surgery, which had been performed since the late 1920’s in Europe. She returned to New York City and used her fame to advocate for transsexual and transgender people.

Jorgensen continued her transition by having a vaginoplasty. In 1959, she became engaged to Howard Knox. They tried to wed, but the marriage license was rejected because Jorgensen was legally a male. The media reported the story, Knox lost his job, and the relationship ended.

In the 1970’s and 1980’s, Jorgensen spoke at universities across the nation about her life. She became a singer and actress performing in Las Vegas, New York City and Hollywood. Jorgensen appeared in the documentary “Paradise Not For Sale” (1984) and was the focus of “The Christine Jorgensen Story” (1970). Jorgensen authored “Christine Jorgensen: A Personal Biography” (1967).

Fabulous Friday: Gold Medal Edition

Happy Friday! I’m back and ready to start posting more regularly again. Thanks to Alan Scott for his willingness to step in and write so much in the past couple of weeks.

It’s been a good Friday so far. The U.S. Women’s National Team took the gold in yesterday’s soccer match with Japan. I guess they weren’t satisfied with taking the hearts of baby queermos everywhere.

You might have a heart of gold, but Megan Rapinoe would still eat it.

Out WNT midfielder Megan Rapinoe and girlfriend Sarah Walsh bite down on Rapinoe’s gold medal.

If you shipped same-sex Disney pairings as a child (guilty as charged), this Rodolfo Loaiza gallery pairing characters like Belle and Jasmine will make you happy. Check it out on Buzzfeed.

We’re big comics fans here at QueerPHC. I’m obviously partial to Batwoman (if you like comics and haven’t read Batwoman: Elegy, stop everything you are doing and read it now), but I also faithfully read each new issue of Batgirl every month. At ComicBookBin, J. Skyler makes the case for Batgirl being a prominent gay and feminist icon in comics. A few excerpts here:

I am a transgender woman, meaning that I am a genetic male (xy) whose gender identity or self-perceived sense of self is female. Since I have not chosen to undergo sex reassignment surgery (transsexual is a medical term indicating whether an individual is in the pre-operative or post-operative stage of SRS, whereas transgender is used to describe gender identity regardless of one’s surgical status) and since I am exclusively attracted to men, it’s natural to look at me and assume I am simply a gay male…. As a child, I was aware of the fact that I saw myself as a girl at age 4. I knew I was different from other children, even though I didn’t understand why at the time. I modeled myself after women I loved, my mother first and foremost. Being a fanatical lover of animation, fantasy and superheroes, fictional characters were some of my earliest role models and continue to be to this day. I remember being 5 or 6 years old flipping through the channels and coming across the opening credits of the 1960s Batman television series…. Just as I was about to turn the channel, Batgirl swung across the screen on the line of her grappling hook, kicking a villain in the chest….From that day forward, Batgirl was a model of femininity, intelligence and righteous fury that continues to drive me.

This Autostraddle article (and accompanying documentary short) on how gender identity and presentation affect one’s personal style is my new favorite thing in the history of things. The documentary is called “gender, bespoke.”

I’m a big believer in the sort of mantra of like, all gender is drag, so I definitely think of getting dressed as a drag performance.

- gender, bespoke

As someone who is genderqueer but who is nearly always read as female, this documentary really resonated with me. My clothing can be a source of great stress or great comfort to me. It’s a constant balancing act between representing who and what I feel like that day, and sometimes having to meet social expectations for what I should wear in a given situation. As a working professional, I try to make compromises between my personal identity and professional appearance. Gender, for me, is a fluid thing. Sometimes I feel masculine. Sometimes I feel feminine. Sometimes I feel androgynous or gender-neutral. Sometimes I feel like a girl who feels like a boy who feels like a girl who feels like a boy. There are days where I dress to my comfort zone (generally casual and androgynous or slightly masculine-of-center) and days where I go for a more tailored or femme look, with a blazer, high heels and a pencil skirt.

Tumblr of the Week:

Because I’m still obsessing over the Women’s National Team’s gold medal win, I’m going to feature my longtime crush, Abby Wambach. The way Wambach motivates and inspires her teammates is always touching to watch.

Plus, there is this .gif, which makes me fall off my chair laughing.

Song of the Week:

I know I’m about two weeks late on this one, but Todrick Hall’s “CinderFella” is fun and worth a watch.

What the Hell is Pansexuality, Anyway?

So, pansexuality. It’s a bit of a scary word, right? Some of you may be thinking, “What kind of hippie bullshit is this?”

Take a deep breath, my lovelies, and listen to the hilarious and articulate Laci Green on this subject.

For those of you unable to watch the video, I’ll summarize her main points, and add some personal commentary and a few points of my own.

Pansexuality does not mean a sexual attraction to frying pans. But you all knew that…right?

Pansexuality does mean the potential attraction to people of all gender identities and expressions. I have been attracted to people who are cis, trans*, genderqueer, agender– the list could go on. How they define themselves in their minds is certainly a part of them, and therefore may be part of what I find attractive in them. However, I’m never going to find myself madly attracted to someone only to lose all feelings of attraction when I discover their sex, gender identity, biological sex at birth, etc. It’s just not a deciding factor for me.

Pansexual does not mean being attracted to everyoneBut Kate, you say. You just said… Actually, my dears, what I said was that I can feel attraction to people of all gender identities and expressions, not that I feel attraction to everyone. Does every heterosexual man feel attracted to all women? Of course not. I think many of these misconceptions often stem from discomfort about one’s own sexuality, since a moment of reflection on the nature of attraction would resolve many of these misconceptions.

Pansexuality vs. Bisexuality: “We define labels. Labels do not define us.” – Laci Green. Some people like to define pansexuality as being attracted to all gender identities and bisexuality as being attracted to two gender identities. Bisexuality is sometimes associated with being attracted to the two traditional sides of the gender binary: for example, being attracted solely to cisgender men and cisgender women. Other supporters of the term say that bisexuality essentially means pansexuality; that the term has expanded to become more inclusive over the years. I have come out to people as bisexual because explaining “traditional” bisexuality can be a great stepping stone to later explaining the somewhat more fluid connotations of pansexuality. However, I don’t really consider bisexuality to be a completely accurate label for myself, so after a season of trying it on, I decided to move on to pansexuality. But maybe you feel like pansexuality implies a broader range of potential attraction than you feel. That’s OK. Maybe bisexuality will work for you. Or maybe you’ll come up with a different label entirely! Or maybe you’ll switch back and forth between a few labels over the course of your life. Maybe you’ll never settle down with any labels! All of this is completely fine. You do you, my friend.

Pansexuality does not mean polysexuality, polyamory or polygamy. “Poly” means “many,” and “pan” means “all.” Polysexuality is the attraction to multiple gender identities and expressions. Polyamory is the desire to have more than one intimate or sexual relationship at once. Polygamy is the marriage to more than one person. Of these three, pansexuality is closest to polysexuality, although there is still the distinction between “all” and “many.” Pansexuality and monogamy do not have to be mutually exclusive. Pansexuality does not imply a need for orgies or multiple romantic and sexual relationships at the same time. (Again, many heterosexual people are quite capable or desirous of orgies or polyamorous behavior.)

Pansexuality does not imply bestiality, pedophilia, object sexuality, or sextraterrestriality. Google tells me I have invented the last word, which I will now define as “the attraction to extraterrestrials.” Example: Captain Jack Harkness. The Whoniverse version, not the Queer PHC contributor. All jokes aside, the fact that “pan” means “all” does not mean that I am attracted to literally everyone and everything. So far, despite my deeply depraved state, I have managed to refrain from boning squirrels and that slutty Eiffel Tower (I can’t even make a joke about pedophilia, because, just no.) A pansexual person is not more inclined to engage in these behaviors than a heterosexual person.

What are your thoughts about pansexuality? Did I miss any misconceptions? Let me know in a comment.