Silence = Death

We have acquiesced ourselves into believing there is relative safety for the LGBTQ community, even with news showing quite the opposite. Is it because we feel it doesn’t directly impact us? Perhaps it may be the mentality that it only seems to happen in certain parts of the country and is being blown out of proportion? Or simply it may be that you haven’t seen anything in the media recently that would give you pause to wonder the state of affairs for our LGBTQ community. Whatever it may be, this Pride season is the time that we stand up and be visible. We need to, now more than ever before, let this country and its leaders know that we are tired of the constant violence, lack of respect, and silently removing of our rights.

ClaireLegato

Since in the five months since this year began, we have seen five transwomen of color killed. In May alone, there have been three. Cleveland has one of the three that have been killed. That’s 1/5ththe murders of trans people this year have happened here in our fair city. About 4 a.m. on April 15th, Claire Legato was shot in the head after an argument broke out between her mother and the suspect, John Booth. The argument ensued after Legato’s mother claimed that Booth stole her tax return check. The argument moved outside of the house and escalated. At which point Legato intervened and Booth shot her in the head. Legato was in the hospital for a month, but her injuries were to severe. Legato passed on May 14th. A warrant is out for Booth’s arrest for felonious assault. Legato was the third victim of murder against transwomen.

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The fourth victim taken this year happened May 18th, Muhlaysia Booker was found lying face down with a gunshot wound near a golf course in east Texas. Her murder came just one month after the viral video of a “mob violence” attack against her and authorities say there does not appear to be a link between the two incidents. Dallas Police arrested 29-year-old Edward Thomas in relation to the attack but was later released. There is no apparent reason for the murder and, currently, no suspects. Booker’s cellphone had captured the attack that happened shortly after her car was hit in a parking lot. The video was used to identify the man repeatedly punching Booker in the face as Edward Thomas. The video also showed a crowd of men kicking her while she was on the ground and shouting anti-gay remarks. Her friend, Jessica Anderson, said this was not the first time in which she have been beaten for simply who she was. Anderson said that Booker was tired of being beaten down and not allowed to live in peace as who she really was. Currently there are not charges against Thomas was charged with aggravated assault and his current whereabouts are unknown.

MichelleTamikaWashington

Michelle “Tamika” Washington was shot and killed in Philadelphia on May 19th. Washington was a 40-year-old transwoman of color and lived in the Franklinville neighborhood of North Philadelphia. Police responded to sounds of gunshots and found Washington with several gunshot wounds and was transported to Temple University Hospital and pronounced dead. Washington was known as a beloved sister and a “gay mother” to the neighborhood. Washington is no the fifth victim. Monday morning, May 20th, Troy Bailey was arrested in the 1100 block of West Venango Street of the Franklinville section of Philadelphia. He was arraigned on Tuesday for murder and other firearms related charges. Currently, the murder is not being investigated as a hate crime and the police feel it was not motivated by Washington’s gender identity.

 

These are the cases that are known about, unfortunately, the sad fact is that in many cases the gender of the victim is misidentified and leads to longer times in identifying the person or the nature of the crime. The current administration has made it easier for a culture of violence to grow unchecked. Many states still do not have protections in place for LGB people, let alone trans people. This administration has denied the ability for trans people to serve in our military. They are also granting rights of discrimination to large groups of people under the guise of religious freedoms. There has to be a point at which we draw our hard line in the sand and say we will not take any more of this sub human treatment. We must rally with our sisters for female rights, that too are being stripped away. The abhorrent nature of the small minded, radical, right wing zealots has to be changed. They count on us believing that our numbers are small and that because of that we will not stand up and fight back.

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Remember that this year, Pride in the CLE will be a march. This is the time to make yourself visible. LGBTQ or Advocate be there and be counted. Show that you will not take this kind of hatred towards anyone, LGBTQ, POC, women, immigrants, those that are incarcerated, or any minority that is being subjugated by those in positions of power. Letting them know that we stand in support of one another. I would like to end this short article with two quotes.

 

“We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”

Thomas Jefferson

While there is debate over the effectiveness of the electoral college, what is important to note is that the more people who turn out to vote and vote with knowledge can, in fact, change the course of the election. If you are not registered, what are you waiting for? You can do that online at Register to Vote (https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote) and then get out there and vote.

 

“People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Government should be afraid of their people.”

Alan Moore, V for Vendetta

While many attribute this quite, in some variation, to Thomas Jefferson, there is no proof of this as an actuality. It was written by Alan Moore for this movie. The movie speaks volumes to the current situation of our own political situation. We have a figure head in place who is convincing the people of a preset ideal that they hold. Then goes about enacting laws to enforce this ideal, telling us how bad other groups are and how his administration will be the protecting force and does so many good deeds for its people. It is a ruse, one that many dictators have used countless times to control the masses. In V for Vendetta, one man stood up against the system and made his impression known. It was the spark that lit the powder keg of a revolution to overthrow the regime. And proof that it is not illegal to not support your president or those in an administration. Exercise your rights, protest that which you do not approve of, and let your voice be heard. You could be the spark that is needed to start the next revolution.

 

Here, Borrow My Hanky

Hankycode

So, my last post was about my own struggle with body positivity and how I have started trying to deal with it. I think the next step is to talk about being sex positive. To do so, we will have to look at several topics and even revisit some history. It is important to think about because I feel the LGBTQ community often times goes down a dark avenue when it comes to sex. It is used as a means of bypassing connection for the physical feelings it provides. It’s time we take sex back and approach it from a health mentality. Before I go that far, I want to dive into some view on fetishes and how we used to identify one another. So, my dearies, set down, pour yourself a glass of your favorite beverage, and let’s talk.

First stop into fetishism is the Hanky Code or flagging. Now some of you might be thinking “what the heck is he on about,” well Mary, the hanky code was used as a means to identify homosexuals and the sexual proclivities at a quick glance. See a hot guy walking passed in a pair of tight wranglers and you happen to notice that he has a light blue handkerchief hanging out of his left back pocket you would be able to quickly ascertain that he preferred to receive oral sex from his partner. If you happened to be someone who preferred to give oral sex, you knew you already had an in. Neat huh?

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No one really knows where or how the hanky code started, some say that it originated in San Francisco shortly after the gold rush era. It was a time when women were in short supply so during square dances one man would wear a blue bandana as a signifier that he would be the male or lead during the dance. Then there would be a man wearing a red bandana that would be the female or follower in the dance. They would be worn around their arms, hanging from their belts, or in the back pockets. It is also believed that the modern version of the hanky code started in New York around 1970 or 1971, a journalist of The Village Voice joked that instead of wearing keys to signify someone was a “top” or a “bottom” that they should just use different colored hankies. Others say it started in San Francisco at adult stores. However, Alan Selby, owner of Leather ‘N’ Things in San Francisco, claims he wrote the first hanky code. Selby says, “their bandana supplier inadvertently doubled their order and the expanded code would help them sell the extra colors they had received.” So, he created the first hanky code, printed them onto cards, and gave out with each purchase.

From the first cards printed, color meanings have expanded to include just about every color or style of cloth imaginable, Where you wear the hanky is as important as the color, Typically, any hanky worn in the left back pocket indicated you were the “top” or the “aggressive”, whereas the right pocket meant you were the “bottom” or the “passive.” Think giver and receiver, if the terms still leave you a bit left out. The hanky code was very popular for the BDSM community but as it relates to fetishism, it was found in all aspects of our community. For example, a lavender hanky meant you were either a drag queen or into drag queens. There is not one definitive list and it has changed a lot since its first appearance. What we do know is with the advent of the internet, the hanky code has grown and expanded because people have become much easier about discussing their fetishes with others of like minds, online. It has also progressed to include accessories to show the same meanings, like harnesses or singlets.

According to Leatherpedia.org  the hanky code is a perfect example of the theory called Symbolic Interaction. It is defined as “Symbolic Interaction is defined by applying meaning and value to people, places or things. It is a counterpart of instincts where we are born knowing certain information. SI is learned through experiences.” It basically means we put meaning to specific things to give it a value for us. It is not limited to only the hanky code but can be seen in religious iconography or even brand specific merchandising.

I am sure you are wondering how in the fuck do I know so much about this topic, do I use it, or am I just a weird freak. Well that would need a little history lesson to explain some of it. When I came out and started going to the bar near my hometown, I was unbelievably naive. If you asked me about leather culture and gay men, my knowledge would have been limited to what I had seen in Police Academy when they always seemed to end up in the Blue Oyster Bar, so needless to say it was lacking. The bar I visited was called The Park and the last Saturday of every month used to be Trade Night or Leather Night. It was when the BDSM group would come out with their boys on leashed dressed in leather chaps, harnesses, and jockstraps. You would see hankies tucked into their waistbands or belts of a wide variety of colors and often more than just one. As arousing and provocative as it was, I had no clue to the meaning, other than it was fueling my lustful desires. Thankfully, after I started dating, I had someone I might be able to ask what the hell was I seeing. I was embarrassed when I asked, but I had to know. My boyfriend at the time did have a bit of knowledge about it, due to some of his particular fetishes, so he schooled me and then promptly took me to the gay bookstore the very next day. Forever more my world was changed. As for being a practitioner, the answer is no I do not participate in the hanky code. That being said, I should probably wear an orange hanky in my back-right pocket since it indicates “not now, just cruising.”

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Take a look at the code and see what trips your fancy. If you want to put it into practice, grab the hanky of your predilection and head on down to the Leather Stallion on a Saturday night. Just be ready for what may happen if you are advertising. At the end of it all, it is about fun but always be safe. Make sure you tell your partner you are just testing the waters and not ready to jump double fisted into the deep end. And always, play safe.
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