Think You Know What ‘Queer’ Looks Like? Think Again.

Think You Know What ‘Queer’ Looks Like? Think Again.

In January 2014, Sarah Deragon posted a photo her wife had taken of her on Facebook with the words, “Queer Femme,” and The Identity Project was born. This photography project was launched because as a photographer, Sarah wanted to explore the labels that we use when we define our sexuality and gender. 

Sarah believes that The Identity Project resonates with people because the photo project pushes up against the preconceived notions of what it is to be LGBTQ in today’s society. Not only are the portraits striking, the participants in the project are playing with language, making up entirely new terms (transgenderqueer or inbetweener) and showing pride in their complex and ever changing identities.

Just fantastic. I love the idea of creating your own label, of really owning your identity. As the author of the Jezebel article stated,

I am firmly in the “labels are important and serve to bring people with similar marginalized experiences together” camp, although I know plenty of people within the queer community both in the West and in Japan who balk at labels. “Why do we even need labels,” they ask, “can’t we just get rid of all of the labels? We’ll be ever so much better off!” Well, I think that would be true if all identities and the expression of those identities were treated as equal. Then the unifying aspect of labels for marginalized identities wouldn’t be necessary. 

Check out Sarah’s website for more photos & information about her work. You can even donate money to expand her project to other cities across the country.

Sidenote: This reminds me so much of Project 562: Changing the Way We Native America. Another wonderful example of a photographer using her lens to help people see beyond labels and stereotypes.

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Leaving political capital on the table

Leaving political capital on the table

Imagine what American politics would be like if that chart were reversed. In reality, most Americans who make under $30,000 don’t vote and most Americans who make more than $30,000 do vote. But consider what public policy might look like if the slope moved in the other direction and lower-income voters dominated, while the rich generally didn’t bother to show up on Election Day.

Fascinating analysis.

On that note, don’t you want to register to vote?

How Being a Doctor Became the Most Miserable Profession

How Being a Doctor Became the Most Miserable Profession

Nine of 10 doctors discourage others from joining the profession, and 300 physicians commit suicide every year. When did it get this bad?

While depression amongst physicians is not new—a few years back, it was named the second-most suicidal occupation—the level of sheer unhappiness amongst physicians is on the rise.

Simply put, being a doctor has become a miserable and humiliating undertaking. Indeed, many doctors feel that America has declared war on physicians—and both physicians and patients are the losers.

Reading this was very eye-opening, because I, like many Americans, assumed doctors were living the high life. And certainly some doctors are, but primary care doctors, our doctors, the ones we go to for our yearly checkups, our flu shots, and to fix our general ailments, these doctors are not faring so well.

We all need to be on the same page in order to fix the healthcare crisis in this country.

Not Your “Fashion Dots”: The Continuous Appropriation of Bindis [July 2013]

Not Your “Fashion Dots”: The Continuous Appropriation of Bindis [July 2013]

When a non-South Asian person wears the bindi, it is generally seen as edgy and cute. Fans and music media alike praise these celebrities for their bold “fashion” choices. But when someone like me or my mom wears the bindi out in public, we are either stared down with dirty looks, told to go back to where we came from, or exotified as having magical qualities.

For my mom and me, it’s a mark of our otherness, a reminder that we don’t belong in this country and never will — unless, of course, we assimilate and leave our cultural symbols behind. Now that is what the dream of becoming a Canadian citizen is supposed to mean: having your culture sold as fashion statements and themes for dinner parties.

Cultural appropriation is a difficult subject to discuss. I already know some people will read this and their response will be, “they should get over it.” If that is your response, fine. I’m just here to remind you that getting over it is easier said than done, and whatever feelings you might have about this issue don’t invalidate someone else’s.

And in case you’re wondering why I’m bringing this up now (which is a valid question – the article is almost a year old), the answer is Coachella. Luckily, it seems that the Hipster Headdress is out of style, but that just means more bindis.

For more reading, check out Beyond Bindis: Why Cultural Appropriation Matters. (Her response to your get over it attitude is perfect, because she acknowledges that there are many bigger problems, but that doesn’t negate the fact that

a pop star like Selena Gomez wearing one is guaranteed to be better received than I would if I were  to step out of the house rocking a dot on my forehead. On her, it’s a bold new look; on me, it’s a symbol of my failure to assimilate. On her, it’s unquestionably cool; on me, it’s yet another marker of my Otherness, another thing that makes me different from other American girls. If the use of the bindi by mainstream pop stars made it easier for South Asian women to wear it, I’d be all for its proliferation — but it doesn’t.

Think about it.

PERCY JULIAN: Google Doodle salutes pioneering chemist

PERCY JULIAN: Google Doodle salutes pioneering chemist as a man utterly in his elements

Time and again and again and again, Percy Julian — the grandson of slaves and the father of Julian Laboratories Inc. — used his brilliance and perseverance and innovation in science to overcome obstacles raised before him only because of the color of his skin.

Julian’s work with alkaloids and steroids  would transform medical care, as he used such natural substances as soy protein and the calabar bean to help create and improve treatments for glaucoma and rheumatoid arthritis. His findings and products would also contribute to the development of medical birth control and ways to suppress the immune system — so crucial to organ transplants.

To understand the path of Percy Julian is to comprehend not only the Jim Crow South of his lifetime, but also the Academic/Industrial Prejudice Most Everywhere in his era.

I really respect Google Doodle for going out of its way to highlight important women and people of color in our history. Reading about Percy Julian gave me chills, because he truly overcame every possible disadvantage to become someone people still admire. Just an amazing man.

No Laptops, No Wi-Fi: How One Cafe Fired Up Sales

No Laptops, No Wi-Fi: How One Cafe Fired Up Sales

Customers chat, read the paper and order sandwiches and espresso drinks at the counter of August First Bakery & Cafe in Burlington, Vt., but there’s something different here. Where there used to be the familiar glow of laptop screens and the clicking of keyboards, now the devices are banned.

“To walk into a place and see people looking at their screens with a blank stare, it takes away just kind of the community aspect of it. Of you being in a place with other people,” owner Jodi Whalen says.

I like the idea of community places that actively discourage technology in order to actively encourage human interaction. We all need a gentle reminder sometimes to look up from our screens and focus on the world around us.

A Toast Story

A Toast Story

At first, Carrelli explained Trouble as a kind of sociological experiment in engineering spontaneous communication between strangers. She even conducted field research, she says, before opening the shop. “I did a study in New York and San Francisco, standing on the street holding a sandwich, saying hello to people. No one would talk to me. But if I stayed at that same street corner and I was holding a coconut? People would engage,” she said. “I wrote down exactly how many people talked to me.”

The smallness of her cafés is another device to stoke interaction, on the theory that it’s simply hard to avoid talking to people standing nine inches away from you. And cinnamon toast is a kind of all-purpose mollifier: something Carrelli offers her customers whenever Trouble is abrasive, or loud, or crowded, or refuses to give them what they want. “No one can be mad at toast,” she said.

Carrelli’s explanations made a delightfully weird, fleeting kind of sense as I heard them. But then she told me something that made Trouble snap into focus. More than a café, the shop is a carpentered-together, ingenious mechanism—a specialized tool—designed to keep Carrelli tethered to herself.

I first heard this wonderful story in an episode of This American Life. [Sidenote: If you’re a fan of good storytelling, you need to be listening to This American Life. Like right now.] It begins as a complaint about how toast – like cupcakes before it – has turned into overpriced artisanal nonsense. So the writer goes on a journey to find the beginning of the trend, and he stumbles upon this amazing tale of perseverance that I dare your heart not be warmed by. Let this make you happy today.