Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-10-30
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

GUEST VIEWPOINT In the tradition of Stonewall: LGBTQ violence prevention
2008-06-04

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


By Jeff Edwards

Pictured: Kate Webster, co-teacher of the LGBTQ safety workshop at Thousand Waves, outlines the Five Fingers of Self-Defense. Photo courtesy of Jeff Edwards

An experience I had as a regular CTA rider a number of years ago sticks with me to this day. Every day one summer I had been confronted on the train by government-sponsored ads telling me that 'Your partner's secrets could affect your future.' They actually weren't addressed to me ( white and male ) , but to African-American women who have sex with men: In the foreground was a photo of an African-American woman, and in the background was a smaller, lower resolution photo of two African-American men, whom we were to suppose were sexually involved with each other, one of whom we were to suppose was also sexually involved with the featured woman. At the bottom of the ad: 'AIDS cases among Chicago women have tripled in the last decade.'

Now, one might have said it was good that, 20 some years into the epidemic, a government agency was finally mounting a major AIDS outreach campaign to African-American women through CTA advertising. And one might have said it was good that the CTA had accepted such advertising, 10 years after refusing to run outreach ads designed by African-American community-based AIDS activists on the grounds that their ads were 'indecent.' Except that the government campaign ignored every established principle of successful HIV prevention. How was anyone's self-esteem and confidence being strengthened? How was increased communication between people being promoted? How was community being built? How was sexuality ( including that of sexual minorities ) affirmed? What were women supposed to do with this 'information'?

It seemed to me that the government's campaign was only stereotyping ( bisexuals and gays as 'secretive' and 'dishonest' ) and scapegoating ( bisexuals covertly 'spreading AIDS' ) . It seemed to me that it only invited and justified fear and hatred of men who have sex with men, especially those of African descent. As a gay man who had been active in the early AIDS movement aimed at giving people life-affirming and life-saving information, it made me angry that I had to endure these posters every day.

One day I walked onto a train car and noticed that someone had reached up to one of those posters and crossed out 'Your partner's secrets' and replaced it with 'FAGS,' so that the poster read, 'FAGS could affect your future.' I suddenly felt threatened: What did it mean for someone to do this? What did it mean that someone could have done this in full view of other passengers? What did it mean that no one had removed this, that no one seemed the least bit affected by it? Was it safe for me to do anything about it right then, or even to allow others to see I was upset?

These memories to me speak to some of the ways LGBTQ people experience violence in the U.S. There is the violence of the closet, which at the least is a kind of emotional violence, but that can disable and even kill when complicated by HIV and racism. ( Where is the AIDS outreach to black men who have sex with men, when this is exactly the group most at risk? ) There is the stereotyping which marks us out for others to fear or hate. There is the violence of being called names intended to intimidate and dehumanize. And of course all of this can and does cause physical violence against us, and just knowing that—that 'queerbashing' is always present as a possibility—is another form of violence itself.

At the same time, though, there is a decades-long history of effective LGBTQ anti-violence organizing. This is at the heart of why we celebrate Pride Day each year in June—we are commemorating the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969, when Stonewall Inn patrons resisted the then-common practice of the police beating up and arresting people just because they presented themselves as homosexuals or transgendered in public.

On June 14, Thousand Waves Martial Arts & Self-Defense Center ( TW ) is offering a three-hour self-defense workshop for LGBTQ people to celebrate Pride Month. When I enrolled in my first workshop at TW, I assumed that the focus would be entirely on physical fighting techniques. We did practice a number of basic physical techniques that can be learned easily by most people. But that was actually a small part of the curriculum, which was more about awareness, communication skills, and body positioning. And it wasn't just about 'stranger danger,' but about issues with intimates and acquaintances as well.

Perhaps, the most valuable thing I got out of my first TW workshop was that those of us who are aware of the reality and threats of violence in our society need to find allies, we need to share our knowledge and skills, and we need to work towards transforming the larger culture. My anger at seeing those homophobic, biphobic, and racist AIDS posters on the CTA was about a sense of powerlessness in the face of things that seemed too big for me as an individual to handle—the government, the CTA, the sorts of people who talk about 'fags,' fear of getting bashed. Joining with others to share information and skills, and to strategize for intervening in multiple ways in our society, has been incredibly empowering for me. And I am proud to be part of a tradition, going back at least 39 years to the Stonewall rebellion, of LGBTQ cultural transformation. Please join me, and my co-teacher Kate Webster, to get an introduction to all of this, or to get a 'refresher,' and to celebrate LGBTQ Pride.

This Pride month workshop will be held Sat., June 14, 1-4 p.m. at Thousand Waves Martial Arts and Self-Defense Center, 1220 W. Belmont. There is a $30 fee, with scholarship assistance available to enable everyone to participate. Class size is limited. Please call 773-472-7663 for more information and to reserve your space.

Jeff Edwards is a violence prevention instructor at Thousand Waves.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Submit an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.