Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Mapplethorpe, beware! There’s a new subversive in town

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And he’s a young photography student at Brigham Young University. His photographs depict–gasp!–people who identify themselves as homosexual. And accompanying each portrait is a kind of alter image: the face of a family member or friend who is supportive of the gay student.

Seems like a simple, lyrical concept that embraces gays and lesbians, and also shows their allies–loved ones, friends, and family–accept them, no matter their sexuality.

BYU is not alone in its university-sanctioned censorship (it’s just in the public eye because of its anti-gay support of Prop 8. As institutions dedicated to open dialogue and understanding, colleges and universities must be the last places of close-mindedness–opting instead to be leaders of tolerance.

Greg Lukianoff writes about the increasing intolerance of art, opinion, and literature in The Huffington Post:

Sounds crazy, but sadly it’s true. Students at the University of Oklahoma have been warned not to use their university e-mail accounts for “the forwarding of political humor/commentary” during this election season.

Meanwhile, anyone who has an actual opinion on the election should think twice about expressing it on a bumper sticker at the University of Illinois, or in their dorm window at University of Texas at Austin. In fact, students who hung an Obama sign in their window at UT Austin were threatened with expulsion.

Here’s the artwork of the BYU artist, sans censorship:

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Pretty darn subversive work, huh? My hunch is Mapplethorpe would just shrug his shoulders at the controversy and move on.

Filed under: art, gay rights, social justice, , , , ,

Black? Gay? Blacks vs Gays?

081113_hn_gaypowerexMany in the media have pointed toward two groups of voters who defeated gay marriage in California: members of the Mormon church and African Americans.

This first group, Mormons, I agree with–the church encouraged its members to contribute to the campaign, resulting in $22 million to end gay marriage (the most spent on any social issue in the United States).

The second group, however–African Americans–I’m not so sure I agree with.

The thrust behind this antagonism toward African Americans largely comes from exit polls that cite statistics such as this one about Prop 8 in California:

Whites and Asian-Americans, comprising 69 percent of California’s electorate, opposed Proposition 8 by a margin of 51 percent to 49 percent. Latinos favored it, 53-47. But blacks turned out in historically high numbers—10 percent of the electorate—and 70 percent of them voted for Proposition 8.

Drawing inferences from these numbers can be elusive. For example, African Americans are not a homogeneous group–they possess a variety of beliefs, morals, politics, and sexualities. Unlike Mormons, who possess a similar belief system, politics, and sexuality.

A surprising article in Slate this morning tries to break down why African Americans believe that homosexuality is a choice. Slate’s editors have chosen to analyze the loss of gay rights through the lens of African American prejudice. In his article, William Saletan cites the victory of Barack Obama and the confirmation of gay prejudice on election night. He then asks:

Why, then, are the people targeted by those laws supporting bans on same-sex marriage?The answer is: They think sexual orientation is different from race. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of a nation in which individuals would be judged not “by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

This kind of rhetoric–the choice of discourse itself–attempts to divide both the African American community, as well as African Americans and other ethnic groups. It’s a topic that encourages blame toward one ethnic group rather than finding those African Americans who support civil rights for all. It’s the same kind of institutionalized racism that pits minority groups against one another instead of encouraging them to unify, to collaborate, to strengthen their power through caucus rather than division.

Filed under: politics, , , , ,

Gay, Straight, Black, White: Marriage is a Civil Right

More footage of last night’s Manhattan protest of the Church of Latter Day Saints, from the steps of the Mormon temple to Columbus Circle. AP estimates now say that the crowd numbered 10,000 marchers. In this video the fervor in the air is palpable.

Filed under: politics, , , , ,

Stirring it up in the Big Apple

Last night, thousands in New York City showed up to protest the passage of Prop 8 in California, a law that prohibits gay marriage. There’s been lots of stirring commentary on the elimination of these civil rights, by, among others: Dan Savage on The Stephen Colbert Show (I didn’t know that Colbert was pro-gay but anti-gay marriage–which seems like an oxymoron) and Keith Olbermann in a moving commentary that crossed boundaries of sexuality.

Screaming from the Rooftop posted pictures and rough video, and notes those in attendance:

Among those marching were Larry Kramer, Whoopi Goldberg, Jake Shears, Dan Savage, Andy Towle, Jefferey Self along with sidekick Cole Escola.

Looking forward to the Boston rally on Saturday at City Hall. Mark your calendars for the protest that begins at 1:30 pm, gather your friends, sign up on Facebook, and show up! If hatemongers like the Mormon church (who contributed more than $20 million dollars to fight gay marriage) want to prohibit our civil rights, it’s up to each of us to voice our opposition and support for everyone to love.

Filed under: government, politics, , , , ,

Publications

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
July 2020
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Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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