Taking A Look Through The Q Files

Back in 2017, we interviewed Shane and Kai of the fabulous Queer Ghost Hunters to follow-up on how their first year on YouTube went. When we first got wind of this wonderful team, we interviewed Shane, Kai, and Scott on their origins and how they all came together to go after the mysteries of the supernatural.

Now Shane is back! This time with fellow Queer Ghost Hunter, Lori, to talk about their podcast, The Q Files. Unfortunately, ghost hunting is not a cheap endeavor to do regularly. So due to their love for podcasts and the paranormal, Shane and Lori decided to start one.

The Q Files does something a bit different than other podcasts in its vein. The Q Files not only uses conversations and interviews, but also audio from the field on Shane and Lori’s ghost hunting expeditions. This can get tricky as often ghost hunting is used as a way to “show” that ghosts are real.

According to Shane, The Q Files is, “…is a clear play on The X Files, and those who know our prior work rightly assume the Q stands for queer. And it does. But we use it in the classic sense – odd, peculiar, strange”. Unlike prior engagements, the Q Files does not focus solely on ghosts! This is a podcast for all things outlandish, mysterious, and well, what you may call queer.

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SOMA: The WAU, the Monsters, and You.

I recently finished SOMA and have a lot to say about the sound design and even more to say about the evolution of the monsters throughout the story and the WAU’s involvement in it. This piece will be loaded with SOMA spoilers so if you have no finished the game or at least watched a playthrough, I urge you to do that before even going past the spoiler line. There are story spoilers abound, you’ve been warned.

—–SOMA STORY SPOILERS BELOW—–

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Short and Long-Term Effects of Family Rejection on LGBTQ Youth

A family’s most basic functions include support, both emotional and financial. Our family are the first relationships we develop and are usually the ones that we hold onto the longest, from birth to death. These bonds are not only meant to integrate us into society but prepare us for our own families when the time or choice comes (Hammond & Cheney, 2009). What happens when these family units do not fulfill their most basic functions and cast out their family members for things that are often not a choice, such as gender or sexual orientation?

Family rejection can happen for a number of reasons from personal differences, religious problems, alcohol/drug use, arguments, and so forth. However, many times families can settle their differences and still continue to act as a unit, even if they do not necessarily get along. However there are occasions where this rejection is lifelong from the moment it happens. This can lead to short and long-term health effects, both mentally and physically, regardless of age. The impact is most significant if this rejection happens during youth and is over things that cannot be changed, such as gender or sexuality (Lowrey, 2010).

These effects can range from homelessness, increased depression, increased suicidal thoughts and tendencies, to higher accounts of HIV/AIDS and drug use/alcoholism (Ryan, Russell, Huebner, Diaz, & Sanchez, 2010). This rejection can also lead to being in and out of the criminal justice system due to the criminalization of homelessness as well as survival tactics such as the survival sex trade (Valentino, 2011). These problems are also affected by experiencing racism, transmisogyny (misogyny directed specifically at trans women), as well as sexism, heterosexism, and other institutional oppressions. For example, a Black trans women will face more problems on the streets than a White cisgender (meaning non-transgender) gay male (Grant, Mottet, Tanis, Harrison, & Herman, 2011). These impacts are both short and long-term, impacting a person’s life from the moment the rejection happens and beyond.

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Where Academia Fails: Trans Inclusion/Education

“Transgender people are usually men.” This is how my Crisis Intervention text book started it’s only paragraph on trans* people. Despite the constant use of LGBT or just gay as a general term, they denote one definition and one paragraph to trans* people and perpetuate constant myths and stereotypes. In reality, the number of binary trans* people (thus, the stereotypical MtF and FtM) are equal.  Non-binary trans* people are almost never mentioned and are often referred to as pre-op transgender (or transsexual) people because many texts uphold the idea that all trans* people medically transition.

The paragraph continues to go on referring to trans women with male pronouns and even has scare quotes. “He may then choose to identify himself as a ‘she’ in society and even on legal documents”, is a prime example of this. This plays into the idea that trans* people and their identities are fake, constructed, and for the purpose of deceiving others. The scare quotes denote the fact that this is the incorrect gender of this person. The tone of the sentence is also problematic as it holds an air of holding trans* people as freaks, mentally ill, and so on. Did I mention that this was the textbook for my crisis intervention class?

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Trans Media Guide

Please note this is an ever changing article. This means I will continue to update it as more problems/information arises. Please leave a comment with feedback or use my contact the author page!

 

The news media has a huge problem when it comes to reporting on trans* people. This problem spans across a wide variety of arenas, it is not localized to one specific issue that can be addressed simply. The news media needs an overhaul, a make-over if you will, on how it reports trans* people. While I understand there are articles and guides out there that cover how to do this, I’ve noticed very few explain exactly why in some form of depth. I want this to be a basic guideline, a stepping stone of dos and don’ts, organized by the trans* community and their voices. A guide from and by trans* people about trans* people. There are no better teachers than ourselves.

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Words Matter: The Effects of Bullying on Queer Youth

There are very few people who have not heard the age old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. However, as the problem of bullying comes into the mainstream a very different picture is being painted. Words do hurt, in fact, they can cause severe harm to people. Words are some of our most important weapons against others. Bullying is a severe problem in today’s society, especially against queer youth. Queer in this paper is used as an umbrella term to mean non-heterosexual and non-cisgender youth (Mogul, Ritchie & Whitlock, 2011). Cisgender is used to define people whose gender and assigned at birth sex/gender match. This is the opposite of transgender which means that one’s gender identity and assigned gender/sex do not match. They is also used as a gender-neutral pronoun due to transgender identities that exist outside of the male/female binary (Stevenson, n.d.).

Projects such as the It Gets Better Campaign by Dan Savage attempt to address these issues and give hope, yet ignore addressing the problem at its core. Projects like the It Gets Better campaign focus on telling youth to hold on instead of trying to eliminate a climate of intolerance and hate that many youth face in their lives. For queer youth to feel accepted, we need to work on the root of the problem instead of just focusing on getting them through the more traumatic experiences of grade school. This includes getting parents, teachers, and other school staff involved and educated on the adversity their students face for being queer or being perceived as queer. For many, the bullying starts in elementary school and continues all throughout their lives (Cahill & Cianciotto, 2012). This means that programs that focus on education and prevention need to be started at younger ages and needs to be continued throughout the educational career, for both students and staff.

While queer youth experience more than just verbal harassment in numbers much higher than their non-queer peers, this paper will focus on verbal harassment and the lasting effects it has (Cahill & Cianciotto, 2012). Verbal harassment is much more frequent than any other form of harassment since words are much easier to use and have fewer repercussions than the use of physical or sexual assault. Words are not harmless and can leave lasting problems when continually used as weapons against queer youth. Bullying, especially verbal harassment, is a serious issue inside of schools for queer youth that can leave lasting negative impressions and is a problem that needs to be addressed at the core and actively worked against and prevented.

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The Homeless Epidemic Among Queer Youth

In the beginning of June, New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomburg, announced budget cuts that would remove 60 percent of funding towards homeless youth. As a result, 160 of the 259 shelter beds would be removed. Those hardest hit by this proposed tax cut would be New York City’s queer youth, which compromises 40 percent of the city’s homeless youth (Shapiro, 2012). Shelters and services tolerant and educated on queer youth, their problems, and their needs are already few and far between. These tax cuts would not only hurt the homeless youth population as a whole, but farther alienate these minority youth.

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Plight of Queer Youth

While the media, the president, and a good portion of America focus on marriage equality, there is a serious problem being overshadowed. Homelessness has always been a major problem in the United States. Lack of funding, education, and resources means many people go without beds, food, and shelter. The criminalization of homelessness makes these people vulnerable to incarceration for trying to find places to sleep or even attempting to get money to eat. However, one group of homeless are even more vulnerable than others. Twenty percent of all homeless youth are a queer individual. Compared to their cisgender and heterosexual peers,  homeless queer youth face higher rates of sexual and physical assault as well as higher suicide rates (“National coalition for,” 2009).  They face discrimination in shelters and agencies, as well as violence at the hands of both staff and others. These youth often lack support at home, school, and within society in addition to the of lack the ability to cope with the problems faced to them. queer youth require safe spaces with staff who understand their needs, problems, and who are supporting.

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The Power of Conformity

“What is dangerous is not the belonging to a group, or groups, but not understanding the social laws that govern groups and govern us” (Lessing 724). Western society prides itself on individualism. Our choices and thoughts are our own, free from outside influence. Or are they really? Social norms govern our daily lives more than we would like to believe. As Lessing said in her quote, the problem isn’t the want or need to belong, but the ignorance surrounding what comes along with this need to belong. Conformity is a powerful thing that rules lives on a conscious and subconscious level. Parents and teachers educate us on how to follow society’s rules, how to think about certain subjects. Religion dictates how we should act around others and what principles to abide by. Media teaches us what to look like, what products to buy, and what is considered normal and abnormal. We all conform to these societal standards in one form or another. Denying the fact we conform does us more harm than good, since we become blind to the ways we do not maintain our individualism inside of groups and how we can avoid saying black is white because everyone else is saying so. This type of ignorance to the powers of social influence can have disastrous effects, from something as small as lowering a person’s self-esteem to aiding in the Holocaust.

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