Thursday, April 21, 2016

Gay Ole Oprey Tour

I've been pretty apathetic about the recent spate of anti-trans* laws sweeping the South. I mean to say that I've been upset, but beyond reading an article here or there I haven't done anything about it. I haven't donated money to any particular group, but I also haven't done any research on which groups I should donate to. (Given its history of spurning the trans* community, HRC, the largest queer rights lobbying group, will never see a red cent from me.) If there have been solidarity protests in NYC, I haven't heard of any, much less gone to any.

I mean, it's bad. But I live in New York. While the number of hate crimes against LGBT and trans* people has been steadily climbing over the past five years, it's safe here.

Except it's not. The other day, while walking home from school -- in Chelsea, of all neighborhoods -- I passed by some of my students who were walking with a young person from another school. He somehow found out that I was their teacher, but he was most surprised to learn my gender. "THAT is a FEMALE?!" he shouted after me several times. When I ignored him, he ran up behind me and then tried to walk next to me to get a good look at my face.

I knew I didn't face any real physical threat -- what would he have done knowing that I had potential allies in my students? -- but I was so thankful they were there. How many gender non-conforming people have had those (or something similar) be the last words they heard before getting savagely beaten or worse?

I've talked to various people about how to follow up. I mean, this kid needs to be taught that his behavior was unacceptable at best. But most of the other educators I've spoken with have said that, unfortunately, it's not my job to be his teacher.

If we lived in a culture that was more accepting of trans* and gender-non-conforming people, incidents like this, I'd like to think, would become a rarity, if not extinct. How do we change the culture? Through art. And that's why queer music matters.

Proudly queer bands Karen and the Sorrows and the Paisley Fields are touring the South over the next few weeks. Of the tour, Karen notes “As the struggle against violent new laws like North Carolina’s HB2 continues, we are looking forward to being in community with so many amazing Southern queer country musicians and activists. Country music tells powerful stories about family, love, heartbreak, strength, and healing. Those stories should include our families, our love, and, especially in this moment, our heartbreak and our strength.”

Show solidarity and build community by seeing these two fantastic bands in a college town near you:

April 23rd - Harrisonburg, VA at The Artful Dodger with The Sugar Jackets and Tim Fitzgerald, 7:00 pm
April 24th - Durham, NC at Monkey Bottom with The Blue Tailed Skinks, 3:00 pm
April 25th - Asheville, NC at The Crow & Quill with Lilli Jean and Mawk Chunk, a benefit for QORDS, 8:00 pm
April 26th - Atlanta, GA at Hodgepodge Coffeehouse with Emily Backus, 7:00 pm
April 27th - Nashville, TN at The High Watt with Indiana Queen, 8:00 pm
April 28th - Lexington, KY, house show with Sam Gleaves (email for details)
April 29th - Johnson City, TN at Willow Tree Coffeehouse with Amythyst Kiah & Her Chest of Glass, 8:00 pm
April 30th - Charlottesville, VA at Firefly with Debra Guy, a benefit for Cville Pride, 9:00 pm

Karen and the Sorrows -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

The Paisley Fields --  Official, Facebook

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