Monday, October 27, 2008

8 Against 8 : You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.

Hello! Welcome to the last day of 8 Against 8, which's what happens when 8 gay ladies stop being polite and start saving the rainforest. Over the last week we've gotten My So-Called Life back on the air, become eight less by curing cervical cancer, gotten the word out about fedoras, fed & clothed a million skinny naked ladies at the gym and raised nearly $12,470 to support the No on Proposition 8 efforts. (!!!!) In honor of our last day, I have a lot of feelings, which you'll read if you get past this paragraph and so forth.

It's been tough keeping up on everything -- like the bajillion emails from people doing super-awesome things related to the campaign -- so I apologize if anyone's asked for a shout-out and hasn't gotten it ... YET! I'll try to work you in later. Like "OMG, so I have these feelings about myself, watch this video about no on 8," etc. I feel like I'm due for a mental breakdown, which's primo advertising placement, let me tell you. All I need is for that woman to come back and start a fight and/or poetry slam with me in the comments, traffic will skyrocket.

Who's hot today? Besides Laura and Maggie, who are hot every day:

(L to R, row-by-row:
a;ex vega, carly, rachel,
natalie, haviland, riese,
vashti, stef, tinkerbell,
marlene , suzanna, eric
krista, rebecca, autumn,
laura, ms. jackson, jack,
renee, milly & georgia of lesbilicious uk, gemma,
asher, liz, crystal,
allie, lynn, razia
poncho, erin, couch,
sinclair sexsmith, meghan, maggie
caitlinmae, littlefoot, ewok
raye, rachel, a.k,
lieutenant teddy, judith, judith
Okay so let's get down to business:
1. This is your last chance to WIN! a copy of The L Word Season Five on DVD by sending me your photo for the No-on-8 quilt or donating [actually, it's totally not. I've got several more copies that could come your way over the next few weeks for other reasons, TBA]. You know, The L Word? Returning to DVD with THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON on October 21st in a collectible 4-disc set, including all 12 dramatic and deliciously provocative Fifth season episodes from Showtime's successful long-running series featuring all of the beauty, chaos and complexities of a group of women who inhabit Los Angeles's lesbian community plus behind-the-scenes special features? [That's what I'm supposed to say, right? I'm really good at PR.]

2. Or you can win other things.

3. This is your last chance to WIN! for doing something that will benefit the entire world. Future chances to win will be more self-serving.

8 Reasons - 8 Against 8 - Why No on 8?

8. Because ultimately it's about freedom -- Prop 8 asks the state if there's still a case to be made for hope and consequently, for America's founding principles.

America's an idea, a philosophy, an evolving social experiment that now has a chance to begin again. We have a chance on November 4th to choose a new, hopeful and dramatic path that would make our ancestors proud.

The thesis of our path: Love & Equality will Save Us All. We've gone dangerously retro lately, despite the fact that those who've earned a voice (a.k.a. the "liberal media elite") clamor for a return to our initial philosophy: celebrate diversity, do not prosecute deviants. Because if you haven't hurt anyone on purpose, I believe your life is inherently legal.

7. Because until I heard Obama's '04 Convention speech, I believed only one America remained possible: a business, a military superpower on its last lap, a theocracy. Because we're at a turning point. This election will determine if America's a theocracy or something else. "Something else" = land of the free, home of the brave. Home of the tolerant.

6. Because although I don't understand -- and I cannot relate -- to the Yes on 8 folks, and I think they're wrong, stupid and unevolved, I am willing to share this land with them on principle. I mean -- I don't believe in a G-d that denies happiness or judges anyone on anything besides these two simple questions: Are you an asshat? Do you kill or hurt? etc. That's all that matters. Beyond that it's technicalities, tricky scriptures that direct repression and suppression of desire. I believe in desire.
 I believe in pleasure and the inherent goodness of everything a person does with pure intent -- anything a person does out of desire to make the world a better place and to not hurt anyone else in the proccess. Because what better place to live in than a place of fulfilled desire, a place where hope, ambition, pleasure and honesty can thrive?

Because I'm willing to accept the existence of the Yes on 8 Parade in exchange for their acceptance of me. I'm offended by their intolerance, disgust, and condemnation, but I'll accept it. They can lock me out of their churches, but they cannot -- THEY WILL NOT -- ask the government to follow the example of their churches. That's not the G-d I worship or pray to and that's not the government that I auto-be governed by.


5. Because relationships are messy, the fallout's complicated. We lose so much (our money, our minds), the art of losing is inevitable to master, and life is complicated and sometimes divorce's clean, rational proceedings are an unexpected blessing in the wake of messy, complicated breakups. 'Cause if straight people get shotgun weddings, I want them too. 'Cause the temporary insanity that befalls two people already prone to rash, unwise decisions and leads them to marry suddenly and against better judgment -- those are often precisely the relationships that need the legal protection provided by breaking up legally.

'Cause when my friends said if I didn't at least call the police they would -- and I did -- and the police came and they read & listened & told me, "We're all gonna die. She didn't say she was going to kill you soon. She said you were going to DIE soon." Which was well & good 'til they asked, how do you know her, and I said, she was my girlfriend and they rolled their eyes so far to the back of their heads I thought they'd never come back my way. They'd never look at me the same again and they didn't. They said anyone could've written those emails. [ha!] and as this conversation went on I wanted to pummel both of these cops with the strength of a million men, the kind of legitimacy granted by the heterosexual union, but no, certainly I knew by now that it's easy to look at two girls together and think it's just playtime sleepover, without power dynamics and rings there could be no crime.

4. Because marriage is the first step towards being considered legitimate at all, because it'll get a ball rolling that one day could land in our court. Same-sex domestic abuse is chronically unreported. Victims feel they are not taken seriously. This is true. I just tried to type a sentence about how things may have gone differently if she'd been male but it made my stomach hurt so I stopped.

Because when the shit hits the fan so many GLBT people are left on the floor, staring at the ceiling fan, amazed at how easy it was to lose it all. Shit.


3. Because I want to be proud of America! Because it's embarrassing to be on this team right now.

Because I want America to be Team Honest, where people come clean and get rings and dresses for it.

2. Because we're so Behind

We're the only industrialized wealthy democratic nation to criminalize prostitution and aggressively prosecute sex workers (and don't confuse willing sex workers with sex trafficking and sex slavery -- that's a whole different ballgame. That's like comparing people who run factories to people who run sweatshops, it's just not relevant to discuss side to side, even if it's the same work being done).

'Cause we're talking logic here people. The same kind of logic that says if we don't pay for everyone to get educated, we'll pay for them to go to prison and/or rehab later. If we don't pay for everyone to get healthcare, we'll pay for the emergency room bills they never pay themselves. 'Cause it's logical to losen up the laws that are based on church-originated views of sexuality -- whether it be prostitution, abortion, sex ed or gay marriage -- and get logical. Sex work (like abortion) happens whether its legal or not, and regardless of how you feel about it or your church feels about it, it's a proven fact that sex workers are safer when their industry is regulated & subjected to health checks & they aren't afraid to go to the police when they're raped or hurt.

It's time we get free.

Everyone else is giving universal healthcare and everyone else is giving gay marriage and

wtf America
this was supposed to be YOUR GAME.
wtf, America,
live up to your fucking potential, you asshole.
be freedom.
create a country where everyone is allowed to do what they want, SEPARATE CHURCH AND STATE FOR CHRIST'S SAKE.
wtf, america, stop being a douchebag.
you've been talking shit for years about how you want the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free ... and you've become a church-state, which's so lame.

Because the past eight years have seen us lose our freedom of speech -- the very thing that set us apart from the oppressive regimes our parents' parents came here to escape.

1. Because if you want to immigrate to this country to be with the one you love and you are gay, you cannot.

Because that is discrimination, plain and simple.

"Imagine all the people, sharing all the world."
-John Lennon, "Imagine."

Because if you respected my opinion that much, you wouldn't make it illegal. Because it's about time we do something revolutionary. It's been centuries since we threw the tea off the boat and what have we done since then? What have we got to show for ourselves now? Are we ahead of the game anywhere?

Because you can hate me and hate what I want with the fury of a thousand suns but you live here, with me, in this ridiculous yet oddly beautiful country, and so you're gonna have to just let me have this one.

Right-wing Yes-on-8 America, take one for the team. Team Freedom. I'm not being sarcastic this time. Thank you Ms. Jackson, I am for real. Imagine the flags blazing, Little Edie style, imagine the fireworks and Born in the USA and a landscape suited for conflict and division and hatred but simultaneously a landscape that gives us the space and the permission to diffuse all that and live life in peace. Where there is tolerance, and absence of judgment, a love will inevitably follow and that love ... is worth the struggle. Worth the letting go.

We have a chance, you guys. We have a chance to turn this all around. I've not learned much in my life from the government of these united States but I've learned this: 1. money is the stupidest thing ever, 2. war is retarded, 3. hope is sexy and 4. sex is hopeful.

Let's yearn, kids. Let's roam free with all our division and religion and misguided pretentious self-serving ideals. Let's let everyone do what they want with their lives and not tell other people what they can or cannot do. 'Cause this is America, yeah? We're Pilgrims and "Indians," ready for dinner?

I mean can you imagine if on November 4th we give IDEALS a bailout package? What I'm saying is no matter what crashes or breaks or shatters to never ever be fixed again, I hope this is a country where we can afford to dream. I hope we become that dream, outrageously little and better late than never and shimmering where it's shattered, glossy as glue.

[Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon at their wedding June 16th, 2008.]
Del Martin died in August at the age of 87.
An activist, Del fought for gay rights all her life,
and was finally able to marry her partner after 55 years together.
See: above.


Atherton Bartelby said...

Without any doubt, the most beautiful, stirring, and motivating piece I have read this entire year.

Just. No other words. Flawless.


Anonymous said...

I totally got a thing in the mail that said "the 2008 Republican leadership team is ready to fight for you." Clearly they are fighting for us all by taking away our rights one by one, and denying as many rights as possible.

Gay marriage should not be an issue, its only an issue to distract us from the real issues. I honestly don't see how anyone can be against gay rights of any kind, it doesn't have anything to do with the people that are against it. People piss me off! Um, ending my rant, great blog!

dewey said...

I havent commented since you began this but how can i not comment on this.

The entire 8 days have been good but you definatly saved the best till last, this piece is amazing.

Good job

Anonymous said...

This is one of my favorite things you've written in a long time--intimate enough, but with notes of my own experience, too. We're all in this together, and it's so good to be reminded of that. I want to feel more joy than anger, more hope than intolerance, more connection than isolation. I want to not just be proud of my country because patriotism says I ought to be, but because we are something worth being proud of.

caitlinmae said...

What an anthem. This should be required reading for anyone even remotely "undecided." you have powerful logic on your side, which, coupled with passion, is a force to be reckoned with. I want to copy this and send it in am email to the entire state of California. And then i'd srnd one to arizona too. Except gmail has limits on recipients, and I think an entire state might be a touch over those limits.
Thank you for fighting the good fight, eloquently.

Anonymous said...

It just has to work, you know?

Lady Psyche n' The Frog said...

"It's been centuries since we threw the tea off the boat and what have we got to show for ourselves now? Are we ahead of the game anywhere?"

Outstanding blog entry!
Truly amazing!

Anonymous said...

Don't ever EVER fucking ever say to me ever again that you don't do anything and are living a pointless existence. Ever. again.


autumn m said...

have you ever read something that left you with an odd feeling. like deep thoughts. i had to read this like 4 times, and each time i got the same sutble "wow thats deep" feeling. what i liked the most was that couple that married after 55 years together. they finally got it. after working so hard there whole lives, they finally got it. then, one of them died. its sad. but yet, happy. knowing that she got it. that she died happy. deep.

i would say, that it would be the best birthday present ever if obama gets elected and 8 gets shot down, since its the day after election day.

Bren said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bren said...

I live in Florida where we are fighting Amendment 2. So if anyone who reads this has a moment to go to
this link and read my Letter to the Editor I’d appreciate it if you’d leave a nice comment as opposed to the bigoted, hate-filled comments I’m likely to get from the Republican assholes that dominate this place. I know this because similar editorials have not been well received and I have a fragile ego.

Also, there is a very real possibility that I will no longer be gainfully employed once my boss reads this, so say nice things to me. I’ll love you for it.


Vashti said...

This is brilliant.
That's all I can say.

Bokolis said...

Inspired...the points and arguments.

It's probably not comforting to have someone liken the progression toward equality to a perversion of rookie hazing. But, that's kind of how it's working out because that's just how everything works out...

As a society, we're probably those cops, not necessarily hatin' but shirking the increased workload of having to deal with the issue...kind of like jury duty.

How's that for marginalization?

Link for a good 4-year old red wine, both the article and the idea.

Anonymous said...

Obvs. I loved this post and adore this blog and support everything you are trying to do but,

"This is who we are playing with" (!!!???) I'm South African, I live here.
This is a country that legilised gay MARRIAGE a while ago!
If you realised that there are more than 5 million people in South Africa that are HIV positive, you might also realise just how dangerous legilising prostitution would be. I mean, obvs it happens anyway (down the street you can spot some right now) but I'm just sayin'.

Not everything has to do with religion.

stef said...

marie lyn bernard, i am proud to know you.

asher said...

i love this

"you've been talking shit for years about how you want the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free ... and you've become a church-state, which's so lame."

i love how hi-brow it goes to be followed up by 'which's so lame.' love.

also - i'd like a full blog post on your argument for sex workers rights. i went to amsterdam a few years ago and was pretty affected by seeing women in storefront windows trying to beckon customers in the red light district.

clearly you know more about this topic and are more passionate about it, so i'd like to educate myself with your argument.

so yeah, no rush. but that'd be nice at some point.

riese said...

i have lots to say obvs but i wanted to address the anonymous comment w/r/t prostitution in South Africa.

My understanding is that decriminalizing or legalizing prostitution helps to control the AIDS epidemic. Sex will be sold either way (and asher -- this is part of the larger point I'll make when I'm addressing your question), and I understand both sides of the moral argument re: prostitution. Of course there are various forms of sex work, and each form carries its own risks, rewards and emotional burden.

When prostitution is legalized or decriminalized, it is easier to control the spread of disease. Sex workers are subject to routine medical checks, sex workers do not fear being stigmatized to the same degree or thrown in jail if they want to go to the doctor to check out or if they want to go to the police if they are raped or beaten.

So I guess I am confused as to how outlawing prostitution in South Africa helps the situation? I'm reading lots of stuff about sex trafficking and a big sex industry in Cape Town, so it's happening anyway ... (I'm sorry if I sound like an ignorant twat ... feel free to call me out)

new call to end ban on prostitution in south africa.

Half of South African prostitutes are infected with AIDS (@the sun)

"The Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Trust wants the law changed to decriminalise the girls.

Spokesman Vivienne Lalu said: “We want to reduce the risk to sex workers, to give them a health regime and police protection from violence. They are at immense risk of HIV and need to have free health checks to protect them and their clients.

“Our concern is for the sex workers in a situation where clients will actually pay more for sex without condoms. We want legal rights for all prostitutes.”

That being said -- you're absolutely right, the way I worded that was ignorant and insensitive, and I'm going to either figure out a better way to word it, or cut that part. Probs just cut it, 'cause I'm lazy. No but seriously, I admit that my knowledge of the political situation in South Africa isn't enormous -- I did a lot of research on it a few years ago but times change quickly, and I certainly don't know enough about any of those other countries (besides that I'm pretty sure Afghanistan is in a rough spot) to refer to them so flippantly.

I suppose the point I was attempting to make is that the health benefits for legalizing sex work are enormous. Much like abortion -- it'll happen whether it's legal or not, and I'm in favor of a society that places the health & safety of its sex workers above personal feelings -- often with religious roots -- about its ethics, which are often tied into a concept that assumes women are powerless and usually ignores male sex workers altogether.

legalization will make it much less profitable at least here in the states, but it'd be safer.

I don't know if that makes sense. Um, more later.

Unknown said...

never in my history of my internet usage have i ever commented on a blog/website/article/etc.

however, this post was amazing. amazing. after this whole election/proposition business is over, want to get married?

Anonymous said...

this is why you are autowin. beautiful

Anonymous said...

hand down your best top ten ever.

Mercury said...

you rock.

Haviland said...

i love it so much, i can barely stand it.

Anonymous said...

This piece was (un)godly good. Stirring and overflowing with conviction slash earnesty. Like a motivational speech sans, you know, bullshit. Plus the double alliteration at the end was glorious. :]

dorothy said...

I know I've said this before, you are lovely, really very lovely. Thank you for your voice.

Oo Lynnie oO said...

i can't say it any better than anybody else in the comments. greatness.

Anonymous said...

I found your response very interesting, thank you.

I completely agree with you that prostitution is happening whether it is legal or not, and I understand that perhaps in the states, legalization will make it safer.

My concern was simply with the fact that one in two prostitutes here in S.A is HIV positive. While health checks and support of the police would be ideal, in a country governed by poverty, with DISMAL healthcare and not enough access to ARV’s, I think it may be too idealistic. What about the window period for HIV testing? Even if a prostitute is being tested every week for HIV, she/he will test negative for at least the first 4-6 weeks and possibly the first 12 weeks after being infected. The average prostitute services between 10-15 clients per day.

One has to understand that this is a country that has a (recently resigned) president who spent the last eight years denying that HIV causes AIDS (a fact that undeniably caused more deaths than the apartheid regime ever did, but let’s not go there!) and a potential new president, who believes that because he showered after having unprotected sex with a HIV positive woman, he could not contract HIV. No joke.

Perhaps having grown up in this country has made me cynical or maybe I’m just realistic.

That being said, I believe that in a developed country it is whole different story.

As I have already stated, I realize that it is happening anyway, so maybe everything I just said means nothing and legalization would be a step in the right direction. You changed me, Riese! LOL.

Perhaps this response is better suited for your blog on legalizing prostitution?

Anonymous said...

i just filled out my absentee ballot because i live in france. and i voted no on 8 and for obama! woohoo!

The Brooklyn Boy said...


I only wish I could articulate myself on issues and the world the way you do here, and have done throughout the year I've been auto-winning. Now please excuse me -- I've another relationship poem to write. *GAG* Ha.

Anonymous said...

i hope and hope and hope and feel sick about it all and then hope some more. Let's all hope--in between bouts of nausea--that our efforts (and dollars!) make the difference between freedom and oppression on Nov 4, in Cali and Fl!

Anonymous said...

this was just perfect. thank you!

riese said...

atherton! I blush! I've edited it I think 60 times since this, so hopefully it's even more flawless now.

lexi: Yes they are willing to fight for your right to be totally slighted by the government while it simultaneously controls what goes in and out of your vagina. I LOVE AMERICA!

dewey: thank you!! i blush!

allie: yay! thank you! I want to be proud of my country too. It looks like this last week is gonna be an ugly one.

caitlinmae: oh please do! I want to be popular in California so I can get invited to the weddings. Oh and thank you I blush!

burningsteady: I know and it does. It must.

lady psyche: Thank you! blushing!

a;ex: What if I just say it like 8-10 more times, but really quietly and only when its related to the conversation topic? I say it good. xoxo!

autumn m: yes, i like reading things that give me an odd feeling. somehow looking at that couple makes my eyes water, 'cause del was such a serious activist. It's stories like thiers that make me proud to be an american, and I hope there's more and more to come.

bren: I wrote something good but then it deleted it and I had to join so instead i wrote something brief. i hope you don't lose your job! omg. way to fight the good fight though kiddo.

vashti: thank you, then, is all I can say.

bokolis: The link didn't work! I've never had four year old red wine either but I trust your judgment and therefore would've liked to read it.

I think what got me about the cops was how flippant they were towards me once they heard that we'd been girlfriends ... the eye roll ... in a way I didn't think happened in NYC. It was worse than I said here, even, but I didn't want my story to be too long.

anonymous: hallo! I already replied to you so I would just like to say, tinkerbell says hi!

stef: Stefanie Schwartz, thank you! I'm proud to have worn a fedora.

asher: I think I will do that post -- when I talk abotu the sex bloggers calendar maybe. Mostly it's about how women are going to "sell their bodies" regardless of legality, but legalizing it enables society to protect, rather than abuse and neglect, its sex workers.

Also I have a lot of feelings about a lot of other kinds of work and society in general being degrading and demoralizing in ways that sex work often isn't, but are that way in subtle and unspoken way rather than a blatant and well-compensated way. Well, I'll tell you later. :-)

riese: nice shoulder!

erin: yay! I broke you in! That's hope right there , audacity of it and all.

sage: aw. thank you!

laura: hands down totes thank you.

mercury:you rock and roll my world.

haviland stillell: and you're so beautiful it hurts to look at you!

anonymous: I am convinced I know who you are, but I can't figure out who you are and consequently put my finger on it. In any event, you are glorious, thank you.

dorothy: thank you, thank you thank you.


Ok wow! Yeah, probs best suited for the prostition blog. And thanks for listening! ok just one more thing ...

It would make it safer in South Africa though too, like those articles said ... the situations you describe about the number of men serviced and the bad education w/r/t HIV would be improved if it was legal. Prostitutes would have access to HIV education and so forth ...

The thing is, with it being illegal in South Africa, it is still happening, and there are no HIV tests for anyone. Sure, there are windows, and no system is perfect. But with it being illegal, there is no system at all.

There is no evidence whatsoever to support that legalization increases the prevelence sex work -- in some places like Britan, it in fact makes it less common, because people like the automatic secrecy enabled by illegality. That's why it is generally only illegal for moral reasons, rather than practical reasons.

There's also no regulation whatsoever about condoms, and if prostitution was legalized but condoms were required, that would give room for the women themselves to have legal recourse and be entitled to report johns who didn't use them, instead of now when admitting to being a prostitute would get you tossed into jail.

Also your presidents sound like suck!

I love you and everything you are and keep on keepin' on . Also thank you for disagreeing with me, that energizes me and keeps me in the game for real.

anonymous: Merci! wheee! yay!! freedom fries for everyone!

brookyln boy: the relationship poem is the poem that keeps on giving.

emily kate: i think my new banner should read : "keeps on hoping between bouts of nausea."

anonymous: no you are, natarat!

.elida. said...

loved this post. you're amazing.

Anonymous said...

South African Anon here :-)

I love you Riese and I love your responses. Can't wait for that blog!

Our presidents do suck :-( it makes me sad. Can you send Palin here maybe? JK!!!! She'd shit herself.

Oh and just for arguments sake - if prostitution was legal HERE, would it not increase the number of young girl and boy sex workers -due to the fact that a child is orphaned by AIDS every few minutes in this country? Therefore, kids needs to support themselves and their younger siblings with no (and I do mean no) support from the state...
This might just be the easy way out.

I'd like to see my country spend a little more time on actual education and job creation but that is of course, another topic.

Comparing a third world country to Britain is not fair. There is NO comparision.

But I agree, if it is legal, there is more education, hopefully more condom use, police protection, etc. I think it is just my experience of how things are run here that makes me skeptical - nothing to do with me thinking it's moraly wrong. I don't think that.

Ok, I'll stop now :)

Anonymous said...

I have probs made S.A sound like a shithole, right?

It's totes not!!!
Come visit!

Bokolis said...

I was able to copy/paste it. I'll try again. Meanwhile, I'll have to learn to work the tags.

The gist was that liberals would resurrect the Democratic Party by emulating the neo-con organizational structure. Then the piece below came out today.;_ylt=AlDbdxl_f0JTGtC.D_xqTERh24cA

The group (and it's leader)mentioned in the Yahoo article was also mentioned in the Times piece, which makes the red wine simile work. For the vlogs, though, the white works better.

Bokolis said...

How to: start the drag from the line below, then highlight. It will copy the whole link, in both cases.

Anonymous said...

I was just rereading this from Tink's year in review and seeing how it serves as one more piece of evidence why people, myself included, keep coming back to read. Plus, No. 1 (about immigrating here) hits close to home. I am lucky because she has a job that sponsors the visa, but many are not in my situation. And what if she wants to choose another line of work? That's not an option for us to stay here. Am I lucky because if I move to her country I can have residence? Do I have to give up life here because of this fact? Maybe... This not to speak of the fact that I am on her work insurance (and thankful for an understanding employer), yet we pay a load of money because the federal government taxes us for it (the cost for insurance for both of us per month through her employer, $26, the cost of taxes per month, $220). How wrong is that? It makes me sad and angry.
Thanks for the vent and for keeping the word out there.