Little Big Things

Pete Buttigieg has officially announced:

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg officially launched his presidential campaign on Sunday, formally vaulting the Midwestern Democrat who was largely unknown over a month ago into the large — and growing — field of Democrats vying to take on President Donald Trump in 2020.

Buttigieg cast his candidacy as a direct rebuttal to Trump’s campaign — including his slogan “Make America Great Again” — and highlighted his belief that the country needs both a generational change and an entirely different political figure to lead the country past Trump. Buttigieg’s argument is that he, a gay, veteran mayor from the Midwest, is just that kind of different politician.

“My name is Pete Buttigieg. They call me Mayor Pete,” Buttigieg said to cheers. “I am a proud son of South Bend, Indiana. And I am running for President of the United States.”

He said: “I recognize the audacity of doing this as a Midwestern millennial mayor. More than a little bold—at age 37—to seek the highest office in the land. … But we live in a moment that compels us each to act.”

It almost seems like no big deal that a gay man has a real chance at one day becoming a major party’s Presidential or VP nominee, but it kind of is a big deal. It was only 25 years ago that my then roommate and best friend, who was closeted, spent so much time and energy making sure the mirage of his heterosexuality remained in place. I mean, I feel like I just blinked it happened so fast, but it really didn’t- it took a long time and a lot of hard work and there are still are swaths of the country who are just as bigoted as they were decades ago. It’s just such a big deal.








Guest Post: Transgender Day of Visibility

(This is a guest post by valued commenter Sister Golden Bear.)


As I mentioned in the comments, today is Transgender Day of Visibility, held every March 31, intended to honor and celebrate transgender and gender non-conforming people (GNC) — both those visible and those invisible.

It started a decade ago but only took off a few years ago, and is intended as a complement to the annual Nov. 20 Transgender Day of Remembrance, which honors the memories of that year’s victims of anti-trans violence — usually always all trans women, the vast majority of them trans women of color, in particular Black trans women. For years, TDOR was the only national/international event for trans people, and while it is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this, it’s also, needless to say, more than a bit depressing. Hence TDOV, which focuses on the living.

It’s all too rare that trans/GNC people have chance to celebrate who we are, and it’s also a chance to express our defiance of attempts to eradicate us from public life (the Talibaptists have a literal five-point plan to do so, and under the Trump administration, and red state governments,  they’ve made significant progress on several fronts).

But perhaps the most important aspect is being visible. These days roughly 37 percent of Americans know someone who’s trans/GNC. Think you don’t know someone trans, well you actually probably do. There’s still an unfortunately-huge number of us who never leave the closet, and for those who do, there’s can often be a desire to fly under the radar, to blend in. For those in red states, this can be a matter of literal survival. But it’s also because — unlike coming out as LGB, which tells who people who you are — coming out as trans, invariably puts the focus on who you were. At least for a binary trans woman like me, i.e. I’m someone who prefers to be seen as a woman who’s trans. Read more








Open Thread: Warren / Buttigieg 2020!


(I read this anecdote to my Norwegian-American Spousal Unit, linguistics major, who replied, “And nobody ever bothers to learn Maltese… “)

Seriously, though… I was kinda meh about ‘Mayor Pete’ at first, but his campaign is growing on me. Presumably Buttigeig (mayor, Navy vet, served in Afghanistan) and Warren would complement each other’s skill sets. And as much as we all despise the electability argument, there’s something to be said for the every-four-years voter appeal of “Your Favorite Teacher + That Nice Neighborhood Eagle Scout” as a ticket, yes?

The Navy veteran with a hard-to-pronounce name, from a city small enough to fit every resident in a college football stadium, seems to be winning the argument at the moment. Weeks after declaring his interest in challenging President Trump, he has become, if not exactly well-known, a subject of interest for many Democratic voters, buoyed by a breakout performance at a CNN town hall on March 10…

Even in a Democratic field full of nontraditional candidates, Buttigieg stands out in many ways. A military veteran who deployed to Afghanistan, he is openly gay, and his husband, Chasten, maintains a lively Twitter presence. He would be the youngest president in history. No mayor has ever ascended directly to the presidency, let alone from a city of about 102,000…

Some Democrats say privately Buttigieg may not be prepared to be president, given his youth and that he’s never served in national or even statewide office. (Buttigieg is a decade younger than O’Rourke and was not born when former vice president Joe Biden was first elected to the Senate.) Trump’s tenure, they say, has soured Democrats on the notion of inexperienced candidates jumping into the presidency.

Buttigieg responds that, having been South Bend mayor since 2012, he has longer government experience than Trump and more executive credentials than Pence, who was Indiana’s governor for four years…


Read more








World AIDS Day

Theme for this 30th (!!!) anniversary, per WHO: Know Your Status

I owe one of you Jackals (OzarkHillbilly, probably) a hat tip for this Guardian linkInstagram’s Aids memorial: ‘History does not record itself’ “ :

The Aids memorial on Instagram is unlike anything else on social media – there is nothing trifling about it. The first face I look at is of a New Zealand airline host called Barry Hayden – an ordinary man, extraordinary to the people who loved him, the sort of handsome that looks made to last. There is a lightness about the picture, as if there were no end in sight. The man raises a glass of wine to propose a toast. But it is we who must toast him instead. As the Aids memorial’s profile page explains, this is a place for “stories of love, loss and remembrance”. Scrolling through the feed is like looking at an unending family photograph album in which people are related by one thing: Aids, the disease that has led to the deaths of 35 million people worldwide. There are men, women, a handful of children. Not strength in numbers, only mortal weakness. So many gone – seen here in their carefree prime. The faces are mainly young, often beautiful. The collective impact is devastating…

… The Aids memorial was started in April 2016 by Stuart, a Scot who prefers to keep himself – and his surname – out of the story. Each contributor emails or messages Stuart with the story of a friend or family member affected by HIV. He then posts their text and pictures on to the Instagram feed. If you don’t have a photo of your loved one, he’ll help you find one. If no image exists, an illustration by artist Justin Teodoro will be used instead. This was never a vanity project and Stuart is no fan of social media’s narcissistic routines. Nor does he swank about educating a younger gay generation, even though his site succeeds in doing exactly that. “It’s still taboo to talk about Aids, I thought maybe I could help change that,” he says. “History does not record itself, Instagram reaches a far-ranging demographic.”

The feed has taken off, especially in the US, and has more than 4,500 posts and 67,000 followers. It has attracted high-profile supporters such as Tatum O’Neal, Shirley Manson and Alan Cumming, who appear wearing their Aids memorial T-shirts and posting messages of solidarity. Peter Spears, producer of the film Call Me By Your Name [a gay coming-of-age story], saluted the Aids memorial in his speech at the GLAAD awards in May. One of the posts, he said, about “the mystery of first love” explained the way they made their film. The Aids memorial is, in contrast to the famous Aids quilt – at 54 tons the largest community artwork in the world – a weightless gallery, dominated by photographs. Celebs and non-celebs are remembered and some entries (written either by Stuart or by people who knew them) are about people you may not be aware had the disease, such as 70s tennis superstar Arthur Ashe or actors Anthony Perkins and Alexis Arquette.

Stuart laments the stigma around Aids, even within the gay community: “On dating apps, there are those who seek to date only men who are ‘clean’. There are people fearful of being tested, afraid of what their family – or society – might think were they to test positive. They end up dying because they left it too late. HIV diagnosed can be treated, it’s no longer a life sentence.” Occasionally, Stuart adds, people intending to post have changed their minds at the last minute, fearful of judgment…

You might assume the contemplation of all these deaths would turn mawkish but, as Stuart rightly claims, the feed is not depressing: “Ironically, it’s the opposite.” The feed’s brave hashtag, “what is remembered lives”, is endlessly appropriate. Yet, when I ask about posting these stories day-in, day-out, he admits: “It’s difficult. Sometimes, I feel too emotionally drained to continue. However, I sleep on it. I don’t stop. There’s more to each post than death. I’m reminded to live life to the full, appreciate the people closest to me, be more compassionate, less judgmental, not to sweat the small stuff. I relapse constantly but these daily reminders call me to action.”…








Friday Morning Open Thread: Finding A Home

From the Washington Post, “Matthew Shepard Will be interred at Washington National Cathedral”:

When Matthew Shepard died on a cold night 20 years ago, after being beaten with a pistol butt and tied to a wooden fence, his parents cremated the 21-year-old and kept his ashes, for fear of drawing attention to a resting place of a person who was a victim of one of the nation’s worst anti-gay hate crimes.

But now with an anniversary of their son’s murder approaching on Friday, the Shepards have decided to inter his remains inside the crypt at Washington National Cathedral, where gay equality activists say they can be a prominent symbol and even a pilgrimage destination for the movement…

On Oct. 26 this year, his ashes will be placed in a niche in the National Cathedral’s columbarium, a private, off-limits area on the lower level of the massive Gothic cathedral, which is the seat of the Episcopal Church and a popular spot for high-profile national spiritual events. Shepard, who had been active in the Episcopal Church, will be one of about 200 people whose remains have been interred at the cathedral in the past century…

The Oct. 26 service will be open to the public and will be presided over by Washington’s Episcopal bishop, Mariann Edgar Budde, and Bishop Gene Robinson, whose 2003 ordination as the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church set off a dramatic split in the denomination that is still unfolding.

Robinson is friends with Judy and Dennis Shepard…

Dennis and Judy Shepard said that their son loved the Episcopal Church. As a child, he was an acolyte while his mother taught Sunday school; when he moved to Laramie for college, he joined an Episcopal church community there, Dennis said.

“He loved the ceremony, the pomp and circumstance that went with it,” he said. “I think he’d be thrilled to know that he’s home, in a place that he would like, a sanctuary. … I think he’s laughing about the whole thing. ‘All this time, I finally ended up in the perfect spot. No wonder you wouldn’t do anything with my ashes.’ It’s like it’s meant to be.”…