Tag Archives: queer

The “Thing”

Hey! My name is Mackenzie, and i’m a queer chicanx non-binary transfem artist, and i’m currently a concept artist, but also dabbling in comics as of the moment. My art is usually found under my art alias Tsi-bi on artstation, deviantart and on social media such as tumblr, and finally Tsi_birds on twitter.

For me, when i was looking at an idea for queer horror, my good friend Mallorie who’s a movie buff reminded me of when we watched John Carpenters “The Thing”, and noted that its a good analogical example of how cisgendered people see trans people–how trans people are seen as this  “other”, but also as something predatory, as if someone or rather, some”THING” that is trying to pass and fool, hide, to conceal what it truly is–like a predatory camouflage seeking to wait and hunt those foolish enough to not see through.

This idea delves deep into the fears of how cis people perceive trans people. It reminded me of when my mother who was raised catholic called me a freak, a monster, for being both gay and transgender. I recall her stating that i would never pass, that trans people cant pass, and that i’m an abomination.

When i thought about what queer horror was to me, and the daily nightmares of being trans, the actual fear of being queer and the fear of not being able to transition due to financial constraints and lack of health coverage and autonomy. Not only that, but the fear of violence that many trans woman face, especially trans women of color. It feels almost like horror brought to life. How not passing well enough can result in trans people being attacked, sexually assaulted, harassed, or even killed.

Though, i remember always finding solace in the queer punk scene. Then it brought something to my attention, the already preexisting societal negative perception of punks, but especially queer punks. If there’s something i’ve always loved about the queer punk scene, is how they don’t care what others think about them–unapologetically queer and punk.

Now going back to John Carpenters “The Thing”, and rewatching it again, i really ID’d with “The Thing”, the creature. Trying its best to “pass” in order to survive, but it would always end up being found out that it wasn’t human, and the people in the film would try to kill it,while at the end of the film, it truly shows itself, and in a way, it feels right, like it makes sense, it was done hiding, like saying, “Hey, this is what i am, i’m trans, gay, and punk, and i don’t give a fuck!” There something about the aspect of radical queer trans punks that frightens and pisses off a lot of cis people, yet also advocating self-love, and not giving a fuck about outside perceptions and not caring about trying to pass as super feminine and honestly, that’s awesome.

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Dark Corners: Finding Ourselves in Horror

GaymerX East panel/talk on queer horror presented by Lucian Clark of GenderTerror. Best listened to with headphones as some parts are quiet!

Presented at GaymerX East 2016.

The two articles referenced in the talk:

Monsters Of Our Own: Monster Symbolism in the Trans Community

SOMA: A Trans-Simon Experience

Patrons gets access to the transcript of the original writing of the panel! Go check out our Patreon.

Queer Ghosts and Those Who Find Them: An Interview with Queer Ghost Hunters

When you think ghost hunting, the first names that come to mind are usually Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters. Zak Bagans, Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson. The majority of popular ghost hunting shows are male dominated, and rather pervasively straight. Men yelling at ghosts and never quite learning much about the ghosts and their lives.

In comes Queer Ghost Hunters and the Stonewall Columbus Queer Ghost Hunter; a group of people all across the LGBTQ spectrum with one goal in mind, to find queer ghosts and tell their stories. This group of ghost hunters in the focus of the Queer Ghost Hunters web series, set to broadcast on YouTube in mid-October. Stu Maddux is hard at work placing the finishing touches on the series, so I had the opportunity to talk to three members of the Queer Ghost Hunters team: Scott, Shane, and Kai. These people are only a small sample of the members on the Queer Ghost Hunters team.

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Smiles and Lies

This piece was originally written in 2010, before I transitioned. The piece remains in its original format.

Hiding
Hiding
Suppressing
Suppressing

No matter what
It won’t stop
It won’t go away

No matter how hard I try
He stays and he stays
Digging and clawing

He begs and he begs
He whispers into my ears
and fills my dreams

Without him I am nothing
But he is not all of me
Acceptance is mutual

My dark passenger
Such a love-hate
He is all that is
And is all that I am

Yet he is not what they see
Nor will he ever be
Forever hidden
Behind a lie and a smile

Bullshit bullshit they cry
but they do not know
know one ever knows

people wonder why they never know
because it is always hidden behind
a smile and a lie

a monster can dream
and a monster can fear
but a monster will always lie

Always hidden behind a smile and a lie
always in the shadows
of your mind
of my mind

he whispers and speaks
and I gladly listen
for a monster’s plan is always
quite pleasant

for his dreams and his schemes
for his nightmares and his lusts
I am held captive

for I am the monster
who smiles and lies
who hides behind the clever disguise

the one you never suspected
was capable of anything
quite like the monsters

dreams and schemes
smiles and lies
we all hide behind

smiles and lies
smiles and lies

without them we are nothing
no where to hide no where to run
but we will always exist

they never see us
because our dreams and schemes
are all hidden behind
smiles and lies

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Monsters Of Our Own: Monster Symbolism in the Trans Community

“Scary monsters, super creeps
Keep me running, running scared
Scary monsters, super creeps
Keep me running, running scared” –David Bowie, Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)

 

Grotesque. Violent. Terrifying. Misunderstood. Sympathetic. These are some words people use to describe monsters, depending on who you are asking and what the monster is. People’s perception of monsters and their existence is ever changing. Monsters often take the shape of the times, evolving to show the current fears and terrors of the world they come to life in. Frankenstein’s monster is much different than the slashers of modern age. The werewolf from an American Werewolf in London may share similarities with the teenagers of Ginger Snaps, but their raison d’être is quite different.

Stephen T. Asma, in his book On Monsters, describes monsters as “extraordinary beings”.  Monsters encompass everything from phobias, to societal woes. They are both unimaginable and plausible. They encompass both the inhuman and human. Monsters are both literal and symbolic. The idea of a monster goes from one pole to the other, captivating and horrifying us. Society holds a very love-hate relationship with monsters and their attractive natures.

This duality of monsters, their appeal on a physical, psychological, cultural, and emotional level speaks to people. Monsters are seen across ages, across time, across the globe. However, the meaning of monsters for people are as varied as the monsters themselves. Even the same monster can mean different things to different people, all based on cultural and personal factors. For some people, monsters hold a deep connection to their very identity and how they see themselves and the world.

Continue reading Monsters Of Our Own: Monster Symbolism in the Trans Community

Body Political

(Originally published on Gender Splendor in Fall 2013)

My body is a political weapon. I’m not talking about just the fact my body is a transgender one either. I am a walking political billboard, by my own choice. I use my body, especially how I dress my body, as a statement every time I go out into public. I am a visibly queer and transgender person. While I dress rather gender non-conforming (since I am a non-binary person who prefers feminine clothing, heels, and extreme colors), there is something much more eye catching than that.

I wear a hoodie, covered in buttons and patches ranging from simple trans pride flags to loud exclamations of gender terrorist, the gender binary is a form of hierarchy and oppression, and your silence will not save you. From the moment I walk out the door of my grandmother’s house, I am setting out on the table who and what I am. I am THAT queer person who introduces themselves as queer almost before they give you their name.

This simple article of clothing has become an important part of me. I love being visible. I find empowerment in it. I love knowing that the moment I walk into a place, I automatically get the label of queer (or some form of it). Every day is some form of social experiment depending on where I go and it seems to be a bigger success than my topless NYC Pride statement (where everyone just thought I was a hairy lesbian. More planning needed for next year). If people are not staring at me, I am probably at a friend’s house. Everywhere I go, people stare and look.

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The Impact of School Environments on LGBTQ Youth

Abstract

The impact of negative school environments were examined on LGBTQ youth, focusing on the mental and academic areas. LGBTQ students who experienced higher rates of victimization experienced more frequent school and mental health problems. Students in supportive environments experienced less frequent school issues, especially if the school staff showed support and understanding. Studies show and support that negative school environments have long-lasting repercussions for LGBTQ students that influence later life choices such as higher education as well as reported self-esteem and depression.

The Impact of School Environments on LGBTQ Youth

In the United States, the majority of youth spend most of their time in the education system. In this environment students learn not only about math, social studies, and various other topics, but about how to interact with peer groups, form life-long social relationships, and learn about themselves, their identities, and their place in the world. While school is meant to be a mostly learning environment, the social aspects of the school experience cannot be ignored. Due to this social aspect of school, LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning) youth face special hardships due to their sexuality and gender that are not faced by their heterosexual and cisgender peers (Cahill & Cianciotto, 2012). These hardships are not caused by peers alone but also from faculty and staff as well which creates an even more negative environment for LGBTQ youth.

This victimization takes many forms from vocal, to verbal, to sexual. Students face anti-queer sentiments from simply hearing their sexuality used as an insult (“That’s so gay”) to having laws and lawsuits placed against their needs such as using the correct restrooms in the case of transgender students (Biegel, 2010; Kosciw, Greytak, Palmer, & Boesen, 2014). The harsher the responses and the source of the victimization have a direct connection with the response of the LGBTQ youth. The lack of support from faculty and staff in regards to peer issues leads to greater harm than students who face victimization but have the support of the school staff (Adelman & Woods, 2006).

These negative environments also lead to a decline in school attendance, lower GPA, mental health issues, and lack of goals for future education. The impact of the negative environment is harsh, taking its toll on not only on school based activities, but mental health as well. LGBTQ youth in unsupportive and negative school environments face lower self-esteem and higher rates of depression and even more suicidal ideations/thoughts that those whose environments are supportive of them (Adelman & Woods, 2006). This impact does not stop after the student leaves school but can leave lasting mental health issues that can lead to problems with substance abuse as well as problems with maintaining relationships later on in life (Grant, Mottet, Tanis, Harrison, & Herman, 2011).

The key is not only to tackle the negative environment but to make sure that the students also have a support structure as well. This includes clubs like Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs), on the books anti-bullying policies, as well as training for faculty and staff in dealing with the specific needs of LGBTQ students (Cahill & Cianciotto, 2012). These support structures are crucial in taking the epidemic of problems faced by LGBTQ youth within the school system. Without these support structures, students have no way of creating an environment that is safe for them to grow, learn, and create lasting peer groups as well as positive self-esteem (Adelman & Woods, 2006; Biegel, 2010). Negative school environments lead to problems in school with attendance and GPA as well as mental health issues that last once the student leaves school. This paper will look over these negative school environments and these various impacts on LGBTQ students throughout their school careers.

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Gaming in Color: An Interview with Director and Producer Philip Jones

“Prepare to have your assumptions and comforts challenged a bit, and remember that queer people are a part of your human experience,” Philip told me when I asked them what they wanted their non-queer viewers of Gaming in Color to take from the film. Of course the film, which focuses on the experiences of queer gamers in video games, from developers to simple fans, is meant to be about educating others. Philip wanted there to be an easy to consume resource for those who may not be able to influence every gamer they meet to understand the issues queer gamers face.

“Your gaming tendencies will probably feel a bit poked at and criticized, maybe even deconstructed in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. But that’s often how queer people feel just getting past the hurdle of even turning on a game, assumptions are made and questions are asked and you’re never allowed to just exist in a culture that is hostile or at best neutral but aloof to you.” As Philip states here, gaming is not always perfect when it comes to dealing with queer characters, let alone dealing with queer people within gaming experiences. However, not everything is negative when it comes to the intersections of identity and gaming.

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Implied and Rarely Said: Queer Sexualities and Genders in Media

Kung Jin is the name of Mortal Kombat’s first gay character. After numerous games, adaptions, and so forth, Mortal Kombat has its first gay character. However, you have to be pretty observant to catch the reference. During a flashback he is talking about the gods accepting him.

“I can’t… They won’t accept…” He says, only to have Raiden respond with They care about only what is in your heart; not whom your heart desires.” And that’s it. That sole line. It’s subtle. It’s nice. But it is far from perfect.

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Queering Religion

Religion and queer identities- often these two things are seen as conflicting forces. If you are one, you cannot be the opposite. Religion and being queer cannot exist hand-in-hand and when they do, it is often not only in conflict with the person, but within their community at large as well. Religion and queer are seen as conflict and negative, rarely as something ever positive. Even when the topic of queering religion comes up, it often comes up in the form of gay and lesbian members of the Judeo-Christian churches. Narratives focus on them and their sexuality, within the context of how they manage to reconcile their sexuality with their religion. These forces are still seen at odds as opposed to complimentary modes of support that create a whole rather than conflicting parts.

Rarely is the queering of religion spoken about as the involvement of transgender and gender non-conforming religious and spiritual people. Maybe occasionally, but not in the same vein as queer sexualities in regards to religions. Then again, this tends to be the case with anything that does not follow the Big Gay focus of marriage and assimilation.

Thus, religion as a positive force is rarely ever explored when it comes to queer identities, let alone gender. Even rarer is the exploration of how religion can help one better express their gender and their identities and relationship with their gender and their religion or spirituality. Religion is often such a negative influence that we often forget the positive that religion can do for people and communities, the help religion can provide as well as the guidance it can bring.

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