Reflections on ‘Midnight Cowboy’

"Midnight Cowboy" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia

“Midnight Cowboy” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia

After checking the mail one evening, I spotted a familiar iconic red envelope nestled among the bills and grocery circulars. I opened it to find the film Midnight Cowboy. I’d only ever heard of the title, so I asked my partner what it was about. He told me he’d requested it because it was critically acclaimed and also famous for being the only X-rated film to win an Academy Award.

I was intrigued. I anticipated extensive nudity and perhaps explicit sex scenes. But the story was very different from what I expected. After watching the movie, my partner and discussed its history. I wondered whether the drug use depicted was what earned it an X rating. But after a bit of online research, we learned that it was given its rating “due to the ‘homosexual frame of reference’ and its ‘possible influence upon youngsters.’”* Homosexual frame of reference? We laughed a bit at the antiquated phrasing. But the sobering fact is that in 1969, depictions of homosexuality were not warmly received. Yet director John Schlesinger was determined to showcase the lead characters’ humanity—in the words of Dustin Hoffman, “telling a story about two degenerate losers, but what he was saying was, ‘Don’t look at what they are, look at who they are.’ He was determined that we should feel what they had in their souls.”**

The story follows Joe Buck (John Voight), a young, attractive hustler who seeks riches and fame in New York. While most well-known for its sexual content, Midnight Cowboy is ultimately a story about trying to find affirmation and community in a new city, being loyal to a person in spite of a troubled relationship, and the harsh realizations that must be faced when dreams don’t pan out. Hoffman and Voight give masterful performances as two men in a codependent friendship, trying to scrape by in a cold and cruel city.

When viewed in the year 2015, this film also serves as a striking examination of white male privilege. When Joe has trouble coasting on his good looks and charm in New York City, he is utterly baffled. In his small hometown, he’d had no problem wooing women and making money; the thought that his talents and allure wouldn’t be instantly recognized and rewarded never crossed his mind.

Midnight Cowboy is essential viewing, both for its compelling story and its historical significance. The iconic line “I’m walkin’ here!” originated from this movie, when Hoffman is nearly run over by a taxicab while crossing the street—an unscripted moment that prompted Hoffman’s outburst. The movie soundtrack includes the Grammy-winning “Everybody’s Talkin’” by Harry Nilsson.

Both the film version of Midnight Cowboy and the novel on which it was based can be borrowed from the GLBT Library.

*https://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Midnight_Cowboy
**http://articles.latimes.com/2005/feb/27/entertainment/ca-cowboy27

Written by Jamie, Office Supervisor at GLBTSSS

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Spring Collection Development

LibraryAs our school year comes to a close, the GLBT Office is tasked with the always difficult, but very rewarding, duty of ordering new materials for the GLBT Library. After compiling an extensive list of titles (worth at least 4 times our budget), I managed to whittle it down according to our strategic goals. My main concern for acquisitions was diversity, that our collection had something for everyone. Some of our underrepresented collections include comics, animated films, and horror – all of which are included in our wishlist. More importantly, we will be ordering works that relate to issues of intersectionality, including crip theory, body types, fetishism, race theory, and others. I also hope to expand our resources for underrepresented sexes, sexualities, and genders, including bisexuality, intersex, and trans* issues.

In addition to ensuring that we have the “quintessential” titles and new releases, catering to as many patrons as possible in a variety of mediums and subjects is always a challenge. In the end, I believe we’ll be receiving some very exciting titles this summer!

If you’ll be around, stop by the GLBT Office periodically to check out a book or movie! We’ll continue our regular office hours of Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm, all summer long. Good luck with finals!

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Why Transgender Visibility Matters…

Transgender visibility is something that most people have no idea about or don’t really understand. On the most basic level Trans visibility is knowing what the term transgender means and how to interact with those folks in a respectable way. On the more advanced level, it is the understanding of transgender people as an oppressed population that faces violence and discrimination at an alarming rate, and even more so for transgender women of color. For example, 49% of transgender people reported physical abuse, and trans women of color have a 1 in 8 chance of being murdered. Not only do trans folks face violence and oppression from others, but they face increased risks of depression and suicide with 41% of trans people having attempted suicide.

This is the time for the transgender community to be visible not only because of the alarming statistics above, but because of the fight for equality and legal protections for the LGBT community. As individuals who are cisgender, one who affirms the gender assigned to them at birth, we have the opportunity to speak up for those who do not have the same privileges. We can stand in solidarity with the transgender community and be allies in the fight for equal rights.

Last month Tuesday, March 31st was Transgender Day of Visibility, a day to celebrate transgender people and to raise awareness of the issues that those in the transgender community face every day. I had the honor to celebrate this day by tabling at the Indiana Memorial Union Commons Desk. Dannie (my partner in this endeavor) and I spent the day handing out information about Transgender Day of Visibility and how students on the IUB campus can be Trans allies.

Although hundreds of students walked by our table throughout the day we only had about 120 people stop and talk and get a handout. That number may seem small, but it is a great start considering the lack of public discourse at IU about trans issues in the past. I hope that in the future transgender students and allies can continue the efforts of bringing more visibility to the transgender population on our campus. With visibility, allies and other students can be more respectful and supportive of our fellow trans students and insure that IU is a safe and affirming place for the trans community and other LGBT students.

Guest post by Deshea Meely
GLBT Student Support Services
Volunteer Coordinator
Social Work Intern
glbtvol@indiana.edu

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Biphobia and Bi Erasure

What do these two terms mean?

Male_and_female_sign.svgBiphobia is to bisexuals as homophobia is to homosexuals. Except people who identify as bisexual can also face homophobia. And homosexuals can be biphobic. Bisexual people face scrutiny from all ends of the spectrum of sexuality. Why? In many cases it’s because people believe that bisexuality doesn’t exist. Too often are bisexuals told that they’re being indecisive or that they’re going through a phase. This is considered bi erasure, a manifestation of biphobia. Homosexuals are just as likely to be guilty of bi erasure, and are sometimes more likely to be biphobic to reaffirm their own monosexual relationships. Bisexuals are often seen as promiscuous, tarnishing the gay and lesbian attempt to achieve heteronormative unions.

Even if this were the case, participation in polyamory should not be a reason to ex-communicate a group of people who have undergone similar oppression on the basis of their sexual orientation. More importantly, the myth that bisexual people are unable to love or commit in the same ways a homosexual or heterosexual can needs to be eliminated. Some bisexual people commit to long term monogamous relationships, some bisexual people enjoy short term sexual relations — the same happens for all sexual orientations and should not be a factor in determining the validity of one’s sexual identity. Bisexual people exist. It’s time to get over it.

March is Bisexual Health Awareness Month, and this year’s theme is Mental Health. Don’t forget to let the bisexual people in your life know that you care — that you acknowledge and validate their identity. The fact of the matter is bisexual people are more likely to suffer from depression, substance abuse, and thoughts of suicide than both homosexuals and heterosexuals. We need to let bisexual people know that they are a part of the greater LGBT community.

Bisexual PoliticsStop by the LGBT Library to check out some of our resources.

Free counseling is also available. Contact glbtcoun@indiana.edu to schedule an appointment.

For more information on bisexual health, check out: https://bihealthmonth.wordpress.com/

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HRC: Buyer’s Guide

hrcThe Human Rights Campaign has published a 2015 “Buyer’s Guide” for 781 companies, products, and services regarding their support of LGBT workplace inclusion. The booklet covers retailers, restaurants, insurance and healthcare, and much more. In 2012, after chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, Dan T. Cathy, publicly revealed the company’s support and funding for WinShape Foundation, which has donated millions of dollars to anti-gay causes, the public became more concerned with who was covertly being affected by our consumer culture. The HRC has conveniently compiled this resource which ranks businesses on a scale from 0 to 100, assessing workplace equality for LGBT Americans. The HRC ranks businesses either red (0-45), yellow (46-79), or green (80-100). It’s no surprise that Chick-fil-A has been ranked a big red zero.

Some other companies may surprise you. While companies like Wal-Mart (90) and Kroger (85) pass with green ratings, companies such as Burberry (15), Urban Outfitters (15), and Dolce & Gabanna (0) are rated shockingly low.

See if you can guess the scores of some of the following! (Answers at the end of the post)
Domino’s Pizza
Target
H&M
Versace
GNC
Chipotle
Google
Reader’s Digest
Martha Stewart Living
McDonalds
Bed Bath & Beyond
Amazon.com

The HRC determines these scores by researching whether the businesses have LGBT-supportive policies. According to their 2015 Buyer’s Guide, the policies include “anti-discrimination protections, domestic partner benefits, diversity training and transgender-inclusive benefits.” Though quantifying the ethical practices of a business is tricky, the HRC has provided a fairly decent launching point for consumers to further investigate their favorite sellers.

Access the HRC Buyer’s Guide here or come take a look at our copy in the GLBT Library!

—–

Answers:
Domino’s Pizza: 35
Target: 100
H&M: 70
Versace: 0
GNC: 15
Chipotle: 75
Google: 100
Reader’s Digest: 15
Martha Stewart Living: 0
McDonalds: 80
Bed Bath & Beyond: 30
Amazon.com: 90

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Exposed: A Film by Beth B

Rose Wood

Rose Wood

I was lucky enough to see Exposed: A Film by Beth B at the IU Cinema last week (2/5/15). Beth B herself was there, providing an introduction and Q&A session. Prior to the start of the screening, Beth B graciously provided a disclaimer: “This will shock some of you.” To which she added a strong belief that (hopefully) some of us would walk away excited and informed about this underground culture. It achieved all of the above.

Exposed follows 8 different burlesque performers through their personal lives and public performances, peppered with intimate interviews. The images were graphic, to say the least. In Serial Killer, performer Rose Wood, drenched in stage blood and wielding a chainsaw, staples his genitals. One performer drops an egg straight from her vagina, another two perform fellatio on stage, and one smothers her crotch in lipstick. As shocking as those sound, some were also quite humorous. Julie Atlas Muz, in The Hand, does a great rendition of being attacked by a re-animated, bodiless hand (qua The Addams Family‘s Thing). Dirty Martini performs an ode to the US justice system, with star-pasted breasts and a red, white, & blue striptease.

Bambi the Mermaid

Bambi the Mermaid

The interviews, however, highlight the radical impact this counter-culture is having on normative ideals of sex, gender, and representation. It is clear that these burlesque performers, savagely tearing off their clothes and bearing their bare bodies on stage, are making a statement. What are we so afraid of confronting? How do our bodies dictate our value? Why is the naked body, in all its shapes and sizes, so taboo? Beth B humanizes these figures and understands why it is they do what they do. Some satirize censorship, some reclaim their self-worth, and some just love to perform. Mat Fraser, frequently known as “The Seal Boy,” raises a critical point about burlesque’s place in a postmodern society: we’ve come full-circle, through a culture that degraded “freaks,” to a time of greater self-awareness. To add, Rose Wood, with an elegant strut, poignantly illustrates how a man is capable of all the same affectations of a woman — that what is holding us back from accepting this is our own deep-rooted conventions.

For more information on the film, visit: http://www.exposedmovie.com

Needless to say, we are in works of acquiring a copy for the GLBT Library!

To stay updated on exciting activities, sign up for the QNews listserv. Contact qnews@indiana.edu for more information.

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Bloomington PRIDE Film Festival 2015

PRIDE film
The Bloomington PRIDE Film Festival is an annual weekend of non-stop LGBTQ film screenings and events. It is an integral part of fostering diversity and community. It gives the LGBTQ community in Bloomington a chance to celebrate our culture, a chance to see ourselves represented in diverse roles in film and a chance to showcase the issues specific to our identities. This year’s selection covered a variety of issues, but it seems as if Saturday night stole the show with its feature film, ‘Boy Meets Girl.’ We are in the process of acquiring some of this year’s titles for our own library, but here’s a re-cap of Saturday night:

Barrio Boy (dir. Dennis Shinners)
A short film narrated by the thoughts of a barber smitten by his client, Barrio Boy is a quirky look at the oppressive effects of hyper-masculine culture. The barber runs through a list of desires–sexual, romantic, and offbeat–all in his head, but never builds up the courage to confess his feelings. It’s a light-hearted take on an often serious issue, transforming a repressed, closeted man into a simple guy with a secret crush. Nonetheless, it offered a humorous possibility of what really runs through the mind of a hairdresser at work.

Electric indigoElectric Indigo (dir. Jean-Julien Collette)
Electric Indigo was the darkest screening of the evening. Indigo, a young girl with her new partner, recounts the story of her grim past. While being raised by her two heterosexual fathers (who are married to one another in a platonic relationship), Indigo’s mother spirals into a ravaged state and is sent to a psychiatric hospital. Her fathers continue living a bachelor lifestyle, enlisting Indigo to help rid them of one-night stands in the morning. Indigo’s mother arrives years later to find that Indigo’s fathers have masked her identity in a series of lies. What follows is a tragic conflict that, ultimately, leaves Indigo completely alone. Though grim in subject, it offered a haunting glimpse into the struggles of an alternative family that surely introduced audiences to something new.

Mindtease (dir. Iris Moore)
In this animated short, a burlesque dancer slowly strips herself bare. The dancer’s audience is filled with stereotypical men who hoot and cheer as each article of clothing is removed. They soon find she is not what they expected to watch, but not to their discontent. Mindtease was a hilarious short that pokes fun at sex and gender conformity.

Code Academy (dir. Nisha Ganatra)
Code Academy takes place in a future where boys and girls are educated separately to avoid gender biases. In their curricula, the students have the opportunity to explore virtual worlds, essentially leaving their physical bodies. The boys and girls find a way to interact in a virtual space called “The Alley.” Some of the characters take advantage of this space to date each other, while the protagonist finds a way to assume a new body. Like the recent film Her, Cody Academy explores the relationship between gender and body, and how these concepts function in intimate encounters.

Boy meets girlBoy Meets Girl (dir. Eric Schaeffer)
In this romantic comedy, Ricky, a quick-witted transgender girl, finds herself falling for a girl for the first time. Their romance forces Ricky’s childhood best friend, Robby, to face his true feelings. The entire film transcends conventional notions of sex, gender, and sexual orientation, but also presents an intimate portrayal of a transgender female in modern society. Though she is faced with transphobia and misogyny, she also finds herself attracting several characters and being supported by a loving family. Most importantly, [SPOILER ALERT] the film unapologetically presents Ricky’s transitioning body in the nude, de-mystifying the taboo of bodies that do not conform to the binary norm. Though Ricky is an aspiring fashion designer who is celebrated for her talents, it is in this revealing where she faces her greatest vulnerability and fully embraces her identity. Boy Meets Girl is an important film for understanding and empowering transgender youth today.

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Representation at the Oscars

OscarsAs the 87th Academy Awards approach (set to air on February 22, exactly one month from today), we are struck with a recurring issue: the representation of minorities in the nominations pool. Some blogs have rejoiced for the presence of members of the GLBT community. The HRC blog especially celebrates the success of ‘The Imitation Game,’ a film dramatizing the life of Dr. Alan Turing. Moreover, Neil Patrick Harris has signed on to host the event. Despite this, the lack of racial minorities continues to be an issue.

There are implications to omitting the celebration of POC in mainstream media, and questions must be asked. How is it that the “objective” criteria for an Oscar nomination often excludes POC? Why is that when POC are nominated, they are often oppressed in their roles (Gabourney Sidibe in ‘Precious,’ Viola Davis in ‘The Help,’ Lupita Nyong’o in ’12 Years a Slave,’ to name a few)? Are minorities barred from the same opportunities as their white peers, despite their talents?

The representation of Asians and Latin Americans is also dismal (there has been ONE Asian nominated for Best Actress in the entire history of the Academy Awards). Surely cinematic excellence is genetically reserved for the White race. The Latino Post sums it up fairly well: “Audiences may have believed the Academy was finally moving a step forward and were being progressive. However, this year when the race was wide open and there was a chance for surprises, the Academy demonstrated its backward thinking.”

The advances in the LGBT (though the LBT need a little work) community in mainstream media absolutely calls for celebration, but the fight for fair representation is far from over. Just some food for thought.

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Free Screening: ‘Brother Outsider’

‘Brother Outsider’ documents the life of Bayard Rustin (1912-1987), civil rights and gay rights activist. Rustin played an integral role in strengthening Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership by organizing the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Like Dr. King, Rustin supported nonviolent resistance and was a pioneer for the civil rights movement. He is perhaps best known as the chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, where Dr. King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Today, Rustin represents the significance of intersectionality in identity construction. In his lifetime, Rustin faced oppression for both his race and his sexuality; he was arrested in 1953 for “homosexual acts.” Criticized within and beyond his own communities, Rustin is a symbol for modern social activism and the need to promote non-exclusionary equality. As Black History Month draws near, we are reminded of the systemic oppression that has, and continues, to restrict the rights of black communities worldwide. These communities include all sexes and genders, all sexual orientations, all body types. These issues are inseparable.

Come join us for a free screening of ‘Brother Outsider’ on Sunday, January 18 (8PM) at the IMU Whittenberger Auditorium. Bennett Singer, producer of the film, will be present and available for a Q&A following the film. Singer will also be the featured speaker for the MLK Day program sponsored by the city of Bloomington on Monday, January 19.

If you are unable to attend, please check out a copy of the film available in the GLBT Library! lightbox_BrotherOutsider4

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4 Holiday Titles to Get You in the Spirit

With Thanksgiving past, marking the official start of the holiday season, we have put on display some of our favorite holiday titles that will make visions of sugar-plums dance in your head!

1453802630.01._SX140_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_Christmas in Graymoor Mansion
by Mark A. Roeder
Written by Bloomington resident, Christmas in Graymoor Mansion tells the story of friends and family who gather in stately Graymoor Mansion to celebrate the holiday season, but a blizzard traps them in the massive Victorian home Christmas Eve and all of Christmas Day. To entertain themselves, the guests take turns sharing their Christmas memories and special holiday stories. Join Sean, his family, and friends in their Christmas celebration. There’s plenty of food, including wonderful desserts, Christmas cookies, and steaming hot cocoa to go with this set of Christmas tales. This is a collection of previously unpublished Christmas tales to be read year after year.

51j2QPiSLhL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_A Little Fruitcake: A Childhood in Holidays
by David Valdes Greenwood
Ah, the sweet memories of Christmas. Gifts under the tree. Cookies for Santa. And, of course, the annual fruitcake. For young David Valdes Greenwood, the indomitable “little fruitcake” at the center of these tales, nothing is sweeter than the promise of the holidays. A modern-day Tiny Tim, he holds fast to his ideal of what Christmas should be, despite the huge odds against him: Sub-zero Maine winters. A host of eccentric relatives. And his constant foil: a frugal, God-fearing Grammy who seems determined to bring an end to all his fun. A book that’s “fa-la-la-licious” (Louisville Courier Journal) and filled with funny, charming Yuletide memories (from building a Lego® manger to hunting for the perfect Christmas tree), A Little Fruitcake will inspire even the biggest Grinches around.

51yQgQ8RDUL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_The Christmas Truck
by J. B. Blankenship, illustrated by Cassandre Bolan
Authored by a former GLBT office intern, if you are in need of Christmas cheer or have some cheer to spare, here is a book to warm your heart, a gift for friends to share. So settle in and know, my friend, before you turn the page, that this is a story for everyone: for friends of every age.
When celebrating a special Christmas tradition things go awry. Papa, Dad, their amazing kid, and one fabulous grandmother work together and implement a plan to save Christmas for a child they have never met. It’s a story where joy is found in giving and selfless acts unite families.

MV5BNzc5MTM5Mjc0Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzI0MTcxMw@@._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_AL_Make the Yuletide Gay (2009)
Olaf “Gunn” Gunnunderson, an out-and-proud gay college student, crawls back into the closet to survive the holidays with his family. He keeps his cool as his quirky Midwestern-hearted parents try to set him up with his high school sweetheart, Abby. But when his boyfriend, Nathan, shows up at their doorstep unannounced, Gunn must put on a charade to keep the relationship a secret. With pressure mounting from all sides, will Gunn come out before the truth does?

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