Reflection

I revived this blog from the depths of a previous rhetorical blog that I had set up to pursue a similar avenue in a previous rhetoric class that I took during my first year at ODU. I deleted all of the content but couldn’t part with the name because I’m still so proud of it.

I used this opportunity to analyze various rhetorical artifacts that centered around the LGBTQ community and I tried to find a balance between my pieces by including those in favor, as well as those against. I was particularly happy with the WBC post because it served as an interesting comparison between the rhetorical artifact of the Equality House juxtaposed against its antithesis being the WBC across the street (or rather, the Equality House is the antithesis of the WBC).

The most impacting discovery that I made was in my post about the White House when it was illuminated in the colors of the Pride flag because it encouraged me to research the history of the flag; and I found that it was the direct inspiration of Harvey Milk, an iconic gay rights activist who was assassinated. Milk was ahead of his time and through his work directly as well as the work that came before him during the Stonewall riots,the Pride flag began to stand for equality, tolerance, and acceptance. I was brought to tears as I was met with this new understanding behind the flag as I saw it illuminated against the backdrop of the White House. I remember thinking, what would Harvey say if he could see how far we’ve come? Look how far we’ve come…

Given the results of the recent election, my blog ended up becoming more politicized that I had originally anticipated, probably moreso in parts that don’t necessarily need to be, but I was still incredibly charged at the time I wrote most of my submissions; but I stand by what I’ve said. As it stands, it looks like many of the fights that we’ve won could be called into question and we have to stand as a community to defend them, we will not falter.

In summation, I’m happy overall with the bulk of my work for this assignment. I know that I didn’t decode the rhetorical arguments in each piece specifically; but I chose instead to speak to each piece as a member of the audience to which each piece spoke, because I am a member of their audience. Throughout the display of these artifacts, I’ve felt emotions that range from pride, joy, and reflection, to anger and fear. I don’t know what the future holds for the gay community but I do know that I will continue to stand on the right side of history. That those opposed are in the minority, they are a dying breed. We’re here to stay. We’re not going anywhere.

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Stonewall: America’s First National LGBTQ Landmark (Thanks Obama)

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The Stonewall Inn is now a historical landmark thanks to President Obama’s declaration. The Inn was the site of the Stonewall Riots, which marked the start of the gay pride movement in 1969. Nearly one year following the Supreme Court Obergefell decision and roughly one month following the Pulse club massacre, President Obama named the Stonewall Inn a national landmark that would preserve a defining movement in the gay rights movement for the nation to cherish and acknowledge that on this day, history was made. He went on to talk of Stonewall by describing that,

“Raids like these were nothing new, but this time the patrons had had enough,” Obama said in a White House video announcing the new monument. “So they stood up and spoke out. The riots became protests. The protests became a movement. The movement ultimately became an integral part of America.”

The fight for equality has been well fought throughout the years and President Obama’s acknowledgement of our endeavors served to validate the struggle and perseverance of the community as well as our cause.

The memorial that you see in the image above was created at the Stonewall Inn in the wake of the Pulse Club massacre, which left 49 dead and 53 wounded. The Pulse Club is now set to be purchased by the city of Orlando and made into a memorial to remember those who died and to further mark the city’s solidarity with the gay community. In marking these sites as landmarks, local and national governments are acknowledging the struggle of the LGBTQ community and are standing with them and for them as we continue to fight for equality.

Even in the face of this election, sympathetic politicians are empowering the gay community and telling us that our fight is not over and to keep on fighting; and we will…because we’re not going anywhere.

Gender Fluidity

In her self-acted, self-written, and self-produced short titled “Break Free” Ruby Rose tackles gender norms and binaries in terms of what it means to be a boy and what it means to be a girl. Rose is an actress who has recently been catapulted into the mainstream limelight for her role as Stella Carlin in the Netflix Original series Orange is the New Black (OITNB). Rose and her character went viral after her debut on the show for her androgynous beauty, which many men and women found instantly attractive. This is readily apparent especially if you do a quick google image search for her:

Throughout her career, Rose has used her gender fluid identity to educate others and advocate for gender equality and acceptance. She explains in an interview with Inquistr,

“For the most party, I definitely don’t identify as any gender. I’m not a guy; I don’t really feel like a woman, but obviously I was born one. So, I’m somewhere in the middle, which—in my perfect imagination—is like having the best of both sexes.”

In her video above, Rose continues to challenge these gender norms by showing her complete transition between typically masculine and feminine aesthetics and stereotypical personas to show that gender is very much a construct that we use to identify ourselves; and it’s a definition that can only be created by the individual regardless of how it meshes against societal norms. Society’s only responsibility is to accept the individual for who they are and how they identify themselves.

Covergirl Magazine Makes Bold Statement on Gender Identity

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Recently, CoverGirl made an amazing statement by publishing one of their more recent issues with James Charles on the cover. Charles’ Instagram and story recently went viral after he retook his school picture because he didn’t like how the first one looked. At the retakes, Charles brought his own photography lamp and redid his makeup before posing for the photo. Since then, Charles has been in the spotlight garnering several hundred thousand followers on Instagram and eventually caught the attention of CoverGirl who decided to put Charles on the cover. The statement is clear: beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and gender is anything but stagnant. CoverGirl used their platform to push against the gender norms that define gender as only specific to men and women–the same norms, which state that only men can be rugged and only women beautiful.

Charles is anything but a political figure–he’s a regular 17 year-old kid who’s getting ready to apply to colleges next year; but he embraces himself, he knows who he is. What’s more beautiful than that?

In making the decision to put a boy on the cover of CoverGirl, CoverGirl acknowledges that times have changed and that they are on the right side of history. They make no attempt to explain themselves or justify their actions–they don’t need to. The photo is stark, in-your-face, and Charles is beautiful and completely embodies his role and his statement in make-up that he undoubtedly did himself (I assume). In what seems to be a theme of this blog…we are here, we are queer, get used to it. We’re not going anywhere.

Rainbow White House

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In the days following the Supreme Court decision that upheld gay marriage as a constitutional right, the White House was lit up in solidarity with the decision, the LGBTQ community and with the country as a whole to show the country that we are all equal.

…I need to digress for a second because this image inspired me to look up the history of the pride flag. Taken from Wikipedia (forgive me):

Gilbert Baker, an openly gay activist born in 1951, grew up in a small Kansas town, and went on to serve in the US army for about two years in 1970. After an honorable discharge, Gilbert taught himself to sew. In 1974, Baker met Harvey Milk, an influential gay leader, who three years later challenged Baker to come up with a symbol of pride for the gay community.[3] The original gay pride flag flew in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978. It has also been suggested that Baker may have been inspired by Judy Garland‘s singing “Over the Rainbow” and the Stonewall riots that happened a few days after Garland’s death (she was one of the first gay icons).[4][5] Another suggestion for how the rainbow flag originated is that at college campuses during the 1960s, some people demonstrated for world peace by carrying a Flag of the Races (also called the Flag of the Human Race) with five horizontal stripes (from top to bottom they were red, white, brown, yellow, and black).[6] Gilbert Baker is said to have gotten the idea for the rainbow flag from this flag[7] in borrowing it from the Hippie movement of that time[8] largely influenced by pioneering gay activist Allen Ginsberg….

Thirty volunteers hand-dyed and stitched the first two flags for the parade.[9]

After the November 27, 1978, assassination of openly gay San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk, demand for the rainbow flag greatly increased. To meet demand, the Paramount Flag Company began selling a version of the flag using stock rainbow fabric consisting of seven stripes of red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, blue, and violet.

June 26, 2015, thirty-four years after the conception of the flag, gay marriage was legalized. If only Harvey Milk could see us now, if only he could see how far we’ve come as a nation and as a global community.

It is this very progress that we’ve made. From Stonewall and the assassination of Harvey Milk to the designation of National Coming Out Day and LGBTQ Pride Month to the landmark Obergefell decision that makes me all the more emotional when I continue to hear anti-gay rhetoric, especially when that rhetoric comes from the cabinet of the next President of the United States.

But as I’ve continued to say, we’ve come too far to give up. We’ve made too much progress in the past thirty years to let one man with opposing ideas wipe out everything we’ve done, everything people have fought and died to achieve. These men and women are the minority, and we will not be moved.

 

“Gays for Trump”

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Earlier in his election, now President-elect Trump attempted to court younger voters by pandering to them through his “support” of more progressive values. Regardless of Trump’s campaign rhetoric against minority groups, including the LGBTQ community, he still attempted to garner the younger vote by speaking in favor of more progressive values even though his base opposes the measure.

It is widely believed that Trump is unaffected by the 2015 Obergefell decision that legalized marriage equality nationally, but that Trump has simply campaigned against gay rights in order to receive votes of the millennial generation, which overwhelmingly supports equal marriage. Depicted in the image above, Trump holds an LGBTQ flag (upside down) that displays “LGBTs for TRUMP” at one of his rallies in Colorado (a progressive state) which could suggest that he is in favor of the community. However, his vice president is vehemently opposed and has the voting record to prove it.

The only reason Trump displayed this LGBTQ flag at his rally in Colorado was to use the gay rights movement as a tool to sway more young voters; and it’s worked. 30% of the LGBTQ community voted for Trump in the general election regardless of the plethora of unknowns in his policies. In short, only time will tell; but for now, perhaps it’s fitting that Trump’s holding our flag upside down. We’re in distress.

Until we do find out more about President-elect Trump, here’s what I know for sure: his presidency hasn’t even ended yet, but I already miss President Obama.

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LGBTQ Threats Amid Looming Trump Presidency

Photo credit: Rochester, NY (Top Left), North Winston, Rochester, NY (Top Right), Albany, NY (Bottom)

Following this week’s election, several hate crimes have been reported across the country given the incendiary rhetoric President-elect Trump has used throughout his 18-month presidential campaign. One particular aspect of his campaign’s rhetoric has relatively confused in terms of gay rights. While President-elect Trump has held mixed messages on gay rights (sometimes supporting and sometimes opposing) it is clear that a Trump presidency is a threat to the LGBTQ community as well as the tremendous progress that has already been made under President Obama.

Regardless of the ambiguity behind President-elect Trump’s opinion on gay rights, many of his suspected cabinet members are staunch opposers. Most notably, Vice President-elect Mike Pence has been a firm advocate for gay conversion therapy, which is a highly controversial practice that attempts to covert gay men and lesbian women into heterosexuals.

While many question Trump’s affirmation on some of the more controversial and contestable aspects on which he ran his campaign, there are many members in his base who take on a less ambiguous position–they’re strictly opposed.

With Trump’s winning of the election, many of his followers now feel more empowered to express their more controversial opinions by carrying out what can be classified as hate crimes. Three rainbow flags, displayed in  solidarity with the LGBTQ community, have been burned in New York (two in Rochester and one in Albany) immediately following the election results.

While these burnings have been anonymous and have come without any direct message from their perpetrators, their message is clear. In the eyes of some of Trump’s supporters, the LGBTQ community is no longer welcome; but we aren’t going anywhere.