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Poet Essex Hemphill Inspires New Documentary

Poet Essex Hemphill Inspires New Documentary

Author: David Mattar

March 15, 2013

“I believe that we have failed young, black, gay men.”– Amir Dixon empties himself into Friend of Essex and allows absolute vulnerability. Demanding attention toward the injustices that strike queer, black men, Dixon forces us to examine the universal employment of homophobia, and femmephobia. Dissecting race, hegemonic masculinity, and sexuality, he lurches questions at a patriarchal society that leads, and almost commands, so many queer, black people into a detrimental ritual of mask-wearing.

In the Advocate, Dixon states that he feels it is imperative to “empower the voiceless” and rebukes any mask, or noose, imploring:

I want that little kid that lives in Small Town, U.S.A., and doesn’t encounter anyone that looks like them, to know that I do this for them. I fight every day for them.

Dixon’s bravery is resilient—he plans to travel to Uganda in late April to screen the film, in spite of the threat of the “Kill the Gays” bill, urging that the importance of his work must empower all LGBTQ people: “[…]the struggles that our friends and family face in Uganda for LGBTQ equality is not just their struggle, but our struggle here in the States as well.”

Watch the trailer here.

GLAAD Media Awards Refuse Press Pass for The New York Post

Exploiting The New York Post’s past conduct, concerning the LGBTQ community, GLAAD takes the time to explain why the offer of a press pass, to the GLAAD Media Awards, is absolutely out of the question. Swinging a spotlight onto the Post’s anti-transgender coverage does not require as much effort as one would hope. The stink of their repugnant treatment of the LGBTQ community hovers unashamedly—humiliating, degrading stories and headlines such as, “Bravest gets off easy on she-male beat“, “Fire kills tranny in dairy den“, and “Fireman busted after violently ‘beating’ tranny pal.”

Instead of taking the chance to redeem itself with an apology, The New York Post decides to remain silent, refusing requests to discuss its history of homophobic and transphobic coverage with GLAAD and leaders from New York City’s transgender community. We are quite certain that the awards ceremony will not suffer from this loss.

Beautiful Justin Sayre, Hosts The Meeting—celebrating Queer Culture, and Gay Icon ‘Karen Carpenter’

New York stands still and nods at the entrance of Justin Sayre (or Liz Taylor, as they are warmly referred to by friends), host of The Meeting. Hailed as “fearless, commanding and hilarious”, the show proves itself as such, charming its audience, LGBTQ and otherwise, into a haze of laughter and political enlightenment. Each month the show celebrates and honours a gay icon. Following the Elaine Stritch tribute in February, Sayre chose this month to celebrate Karen Carpenter, the movie Showgirls, and Justin Vivian Bond. The response was, in their own words, unexpected.

Explaining, in their Huffington Post article, “Karen Carpenter in the Age of Irony”, why Karen is such an appropriate icon, Justin praises Karen’s ability to be “unironic”, and how this reaches beyond music, into something that dilutes the human condition of loneliness:

Karen Carpenter died 30 years ago last month, and yet there is a whole host of young people who adore her music and still fall in love with that voice. She speaks to them in a way that so much of the world around them doesn’t: She is totally unironic.

Online Compilation of Writings by the Radical Trans Women’s Prison Collective, Gender Anarky

In September 2012, two trans-women, Amazon and Catrina (incarcerated in the R. J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego) coordinated a hunger strike in an effort to be allowed to share cells. Prison officials swatted previous requests, “while allowing male gender-identity prisoners to cell-up with whoever they want.”

They both exist in solitary confinement, despite the indications that extended periods of isolation causes lasting psychological damage. Such treatment is considered cruel and unusual punishment. The two women, serving decades of time since the 70s, “are known to be radicals who struggle for transsexual medicine and human rights”, and are part of Gender Anarky. Their deconstruction of gender, race, and issues facing trans-women in prison, has materialized into an online collection of writings, describing the events that led up to and followed their strike against, what is quite clearly, trans discrimination.

A letter from Amazon, to a supporter, reads:

How do I self-define? In all honesty, I really don’t know. I am not so concerned about something like that than I am about getting the struggle on. I can figure out who I am later, if that is even possible for any fag or queer. I doubt it. It is better to be a mystery. To hell with all this Western analysing. A mystery to others and a mystery to ourselves. The perfect cosmic person, the perfect feral cosmic children. The savage has spoken.

You can download a copy of the inspiring collection of letters, prison memoirs and manifesto’s from Gender Anarky Zine here.


Photo: Essex Hemphill via NYPL


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David Mattar photo

About: David Mattar

David (Day) Mattar currently studies and lives in Liverpool, UK, where he studies English and Creative Writing. His poetry has appeared in Radical Faery Digest magazine and In The Red, where his essay, 'The Importance of Tea' was also published. He plans to move to NYC after graduation to apply for a MFA in Creative Writing.

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