Justin Bond is Coming to Philly

Justin Bond (courtesy of Facebook)

“It’s all about role-playing, isn’t it?” says William Way spokesperson Paul Blore. At least that’s the inspiration for the one-night-only Queer Fear Cabaret (Oct. 26). And headlining the Halloween-themed event is Mx. Justin Vivian Bond, a trans-identified chanteuse and performance artist from New York City. Bond is internationally known for playing Kiki in the performance art piece Kiki and Herb. Bond was nominated for a Tony Award for Kiki and Herb Alive On Broadway in 2007, a show that had previewed at Philadelphia’s Wilma Theater just a year earlier. You may also remember Bond’s memorable turn in John Cameron Mitchell’s flick Shortbus.

Opening this very special cabaret night will be the Bearded Ladies, a Philly group that experiments with cabaret to tackle the politics of popular culture, sex, gender and art. “The Bearded Ladies play with and challenge gender roles frequently,” says Blore. “and Mx. Justin Vivian Bond does, too. We all play roles in our everyday lives.”

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The Realities of Transgender Aging

Thanks to Sage (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), transgender men and women have a new guidebook on what to anticipate as they get older. Improving the Lives of Transgender Older Adults: Recommendations for Policy and Practice not only takes on the current state of transgender aging, but also anticipates the challenges that older adults will face in their lifetimes – including disparities in health and healthcare access, employment and housing.

“Transgender individuals face many challenges associated with aging, including declining health, diminished income and the loss of friends and family. Yet they also face additional challenges such as discrimination and hostility when accessing the services meant to support older adults,” says Michael Adams, Executive Director of SAGE. “Now, with this report, policymakers and aging service providers will gain a clear picture of the current state of transgender aging, and a roadmap of what they can do to improve policies and practices to ensure that transgender older adults age successfully.”

Sibling Rivalry

Illustration by Luci Gutierrez

I was one of the lucky ones who got to grow up at the Jersey Shore. My family lived a block from the bay in Wildwood. I was a 10-year-old tomboy, the second-youngest of five, whose favorite hobbies included fishing and crabbing. After school and on the weekends you would always find me down at the bulkhead with my pole and nets trying to reel in something brag-worthy.

But one day I met Mr. Davis, an elderly gentleman who had a house with a private dock where he invited me to fish and crab whenever I wanted. I started showing up in my usual tomboy attire: Converse high-tops, a Phillies jersey and denim shorts, topped with a raccoon hat. My parents never liked the get-up, but it was my favorite. And deep down I thought I was a boy and, ultimately, had no problem convincing Mr. Davis of that either.

The first time he saw me in the raccoon hat, he asked, “Where’s your sister Stacey?”

I wanted so much to be a boy back then that I lied and told Mr. Davis that I was Stacey’s twin brother Mickey.

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WATCH: Transgender in America

MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry tackled transgender life in a special segment of her eponymous show this past weekend with guests including Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality, author Kate Bornstein and Mel Wymore, the first openly transgender candidate for New York City Council.

“Simply because you are aware of one kind of inequality, it doesn’t mean that you empathize with others,” noted Harris-Perry, who led a discussion debunking myths and providing a platform that’s usually lacking in most major news broadcasts.

In case you missed it, the round table talked about real experiences among transgender people at home and at work, and what gender identity really means in America today.

Check it out:

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Choosing to Be Gay

Cynthia Nixon (perhaps best known as Miranda from Sex and the City) recently told a reporter for The New York Times that in her experience, being gay is a choice. And that to dismiss the possibility that someone would actually choose to be gay is to somehow pander to all the homophobes out there who think homosexuality isn’t worthy.

Photo by Think Stock

“Why can’t it be a choice? Why is that any less legitimate?” Nixon said in the interview. “It seems we’re just ceding this point to bigots who are demanding it, and I don’t think that they should define the terms of the debate. I also feel like people think I was walking around in a cloud and didn’t realize I was gay, which I find really offensive. I find it offensive to me, but I also find it offensive to all the men I’ve been out with.”

Does she have a point?

Even prior to the modern gay rights movement, researchers like Alfred Kinsey have suggested that there’s a sliding scale when it comes to attraction (and most people fall somewhere in the middle). But for someone like Nixon – who’s publicly dated both men and women – does it make more sense to identify as bisexual rather than gay or lesbian?

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Bullying Starts Early

Photo by Think Stock

“That’s so gay.” According to a new report from GLSEN, the word “gay” is being used by kids as early as elementary school – and not in a positive way. In the report, “Playgrounds and Prejudice,” the LGBT organization found that not only are gay taunts part of the bullying phenomenon, but that it begins at earlier ages than first imagined.

“Over the past few years, there has been an increase in research on bullying in schools, including elementary schools,” says Dr. Joseph Kosciw, one of the researchers. “However, our report is one of the few that examines bias-based bullying at the elementary school level and the first to examine incidents of homophobic remarks and the negative experiences of children who do not conform to societal standards in their gender expression.”

The report finds that 75 percent of students say they’ve been bullied. And almost 40 percent say it’s because they weren’t good at sports. And 26 percent are bullied because they do well academically.

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