This is an email from The Digest, a newsletter by Prism & Pen.
by James Finn
This week in Prism & Pen, we feature some little-known pre-Stonewall gay history involving a fight with American Nazis, we look at Tucker Carlson’s anti-feminist Pete Buttigieg rant, we mourn some queer ghosts, and we amplify transgender voices decrying toxic tropes. Check out some real queer humans and their real queer lives.
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Editor’s Picks —
Ever hear of ECHO, the East Coast Homophile Organizations? Most LGBTQ people understand Stonewall didn’t crystalize from empty air, but few of us know real stories about pre-Stonewall activism. LGBTQ historian Tyler Albertario sure does! This story is from 1964:
American Nazi Party members began calling ECHO’s suite, threatening to disrupt the conference, and two members of the Mattachine Society of Washington reported having recognized two known local Nazis at a gay bar who were holding ECHO conference literature. These incidents in mind, the organizers of ECHO had notified DC police who, for the protection of (and also very likely a desire to surveil) the conference, sent several plainclothes officers to monitor the proceedings.
Hey, Tucker Carlson, Dads Are Equal Parents, Gay or Straight
Feminism underlies LGBTQ activism and equity. Who better than gender and sexual rebels to subvert sexist norms? When conservative pundits ripped into Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for taking paternity leave, they demonstrated not just homophobia, but raw disdain for women. For example, my Republican friend Tim has to fight that disdain to be an equal dad to his kids:
So how I did end up on a phone call that went like this? “Damn that Tim! What do you mean he’s home with his sick kids? What does he have a wife for? You tell him to get his ass into the office!”
Let me back up. Before Tim was my business partner, he and I were the two senior managers of a large industrial operation…
Emma is a late-transitioning transgender woman angry about the “she killed my husband” trope common on social media. This is her response:
My need to express my female soul is not killing the husband and the father. I just get to be a complete, loving person and loving parent. I am taking off my male “clothes”. For some still inexplicable reason, my female soul needs to be seen and felt.
“Husband” is such an important part of our binary society but why can’t a husband also be a partner and a spouse and not just a gender marker for acceptance by others?
We queer folk often experience delayed adolescence, since our dating and romantic lives often don’t begin until we’re adults. But what if we come out decades into adulthood? Jericho says he’s haunted by ghosts of what can never be:
I will never have the opportunity to lie in bed next to a beautiful young man — to caress that youthful, masculine body — to enjoy the sexual energy possessed in those early years.
Nor will I ever have that opportunity to knowingly have another young man look longingly at me — at my youthful male body — and these thoughts, these unfulfilled desires, are my ghost.
Successful New Orleans trial lawyer Larry Best needed decades to admit he was gay. When he finally came out, a search for love and partnership consumed him. His touching (and rather sweet) success takes center stage in the first of three memoir chapters this week. In the next two, we find Larry becoming a reluctant but visible activist. But why does he get drenched by a thunderstorm every time he meets President Obama?
Creative Nonfiction and Essays —
As a follow on to my earlier challenge that transgender women are not and have never been a threat to children, despite constant rhetoric to the contrary, I continued my investigation as to who actually are hurting kids. Not once in all of the laboriously researched studies done around the world were transgender women identified, ever, as the abuser of children. Who are the real abusers?
An object lesson in the fallacy of ‘neutral’:
“Shut your mouth, you little queer,” hissed the handsome football star, my Iowa high school’s golden boy. “Sit down and stop giggling like a little girl!”
I collapsed into my seat like a gut punch had driven all the air from my lungs, the rehearsal room gone so quiet I could hear a girl’s hair swishing two rows up. I glanced around to see every other kid in choir either staring at me or looking pointedly away.
Then I looked up at the handsome young teacher I’d crushed on for three years …
I started to sigh recently and it became increasingly noticeable over the last three years. I wasn’t aware at first and I wasn’t the first one to notice it. My family was first, followed by my co-workers.
It became that obvious.
… and I know why. I have been fighting an endless battle between my need to transition and my desire to stay the way I am.
I’m no spring chicken at 59. As a middle-aged transgender woman, I haven’t felt desirable for a very long time. I’m happy to be living with my wife of decades, hoping for a closer relationship even though my relatively late transition has challenged us. But loyalty cannot overcome all romantic feelings.
I play tennis in a queer league every Sunday. All types of gay men also play in this league. Older, younger, Latin , white, bears, and other stuff I don’t have vocabulary for. We also get drop-ins. I haven’t swooned for any of them so far, save one …
After 18 years living alone in my one-bedroom apartment, I’m preparing to move into a communal house on Beacon Hill in the center of Boston, where I lived in the mid-90s. I’ve been hungering for community and connection, and I wasn’t looking forward to another Covid winter and the intense isolation that goes with it. So, I’m opting for a year living in community with 17 other folks before I decide what to do and where to go next.
In the midst of preparing for the move, my brother called to tell me our mother had just tested positive for Covid.
The dysphoria hoodie needs no explanation for anyone with dysphoria, particularly those with chest dysphoria, though let me explain for those lucky enough to enjoy their biologically driven original physical layout. Nothing hides unwanted body curves like a good old bulky, oversized hoodie. With a little back hunch and shoulder slouch, you can minimize those pesky chest overgrowths and if you are lucky …
When a suicide hotline gets axed, you know something is wrong.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) has quietly deleted their Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation web page that offered help to LGBTQ youth suffering from physical/sexual abuse, homelessness, and mental health problems. The page, which included a suicide hotline, disappeared on September 1 in response to political/ideological controversy.
Let me tell you something from my life, something that happened just a few days ago. It’s about me and my relationship. It’s about my wife, who I love as much as our children. I don’t want anything bad to come upon her. She is an absolutely lovely person and I would never want to be with anyone else. Yet sometimes our views couldn’t be more different …
In a recent Dispatch, I highlighted some of the differences in the nature of transphobia here in the UK and over in the US. I have ex in-laws and a huge number of friends in the US so the comparison was pretty easy to make. One major difference is that the UK is a massively secular country. Pick any God, doesn’t matter, we’re equally apathetic about them all. As a result, transphobia here in Blighty tends away from the frothy-mouthed expulsions from the pulpit that leads some anti-trans sentiment in the US…
In ditching the dating apps, I’m not making a principled moral stance and I’m not reeling from an awful experience. I’m just over it.
Increasingly I resent how much I’m forced to rely on them as a member of the LGBTQ community. During pandemic lockdown, it’s been pretty much the only option for anyone. Beyond it, straight folks will continue to rely on the apps but it’s more about convenience. Their options aren’t squeezed to quite the same extent as the LGBTQ population.
Fiction Finds —
He had the face of a perfect angelic child — serene, calm, and innocent. He had the face of a hardened criminal — harsh, strong, and deadly. He had the face of everything in between. His square jaw was masculine beauty at its best but he held it in a constant state of tension, even as he smiled, as if he would break into hysterical tears should he relax. Even appearing as comfortable and happy as he did, he looked like his short years had forced him to go against his own morals in so many ways. Not that I knew enough about him to know what his morals were.
I was only seven years old when we set off and it was such an adventure. I had stars in my eyes, space was all I ever wanted. I was in my element. Then, I became a teenager. I felt stifled, trapped, and I rebelled. Of course, my teenage angst and rebellion were not like they would have been back on Earth. Even a large ship is quite small when it is your whole world and there was nowhere to run or hide. Not to mention that my clearance only gave me access to 53% of her.
Jamie lifted his cast up off the bed and pointed at it.
He’d told me about his family not accepting him being gay. He had a rough time growing up in a house where they made him feel like trash. He got engaged to a girl from high school, got married, and they moved into their own apartment for a year. Then she threw him and all his stuff out in the street. He went to live with his Dad. This was about the time Jamie and I hooked up the first time.
Pause for Poetry —
If I were not myself, who would I be?
Disguised behind my eyes, I watch and wait.
This face, this mask I wear is all you see;
I play a woman, boring, normal, straight.
If I were someone else, would you recoil?
Creative Writing Workshop —
Wade, a distinguished professor of creative writing and an accomplished storyteller, brings us a useful workshop this week in effective dialogue. Don’t miss it!
That’s it for our stories this week? Dig in and enjoy a few? Hey, writers, it’s time for a new two-week prompt/theme. Leave a comment and let us know what you’d like for tomorrow’s announcement? Heck, each of you can give me several ideas if you want. I promise to come up with something cool based on your collective suggestions.
See everybody next week!
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