Chelsea Manning: The US’s Warning to the Queer Community

Chelsea  Manning’s trial rages on and I didn’t think I could find something more disgusting than the fact that she was on trial in the first place. When I wrote Collateral Murder and Bradley Manning  a few months ago I thought I had seen it all and could firmly claim that the US cared more about the vague term “national security” than it ever would for its people.

The trial has gotten worse however. It is a small blessing that the government is not seeking the death penalty as Manning’s punishment, but the sentence now pending is 90 years in prison for six Espionage Act Convictions. Manning put out a confession recently saying:

I am sorry my actions hurt people. I’m sorry I hurt the United States.

Even if this confession is in the hopes of receiving a lesser sentence who did Chelsea Manning hurt? The pride of the US military? Boo hoo. How did Chelsea Manning hurt the US? By informing its citizens of war crimes? By her apology, she implies that she is guilty of treason. She has hurt the US. He has hurt people. This confession is sickening and I wonder what was done to her to make a person of her moral caliber turn around and take everything back. Yes, she could have gone through a more “legal” means of informing the American people of these war crimes, but she knew what was morally correct. I am terrified to think of what was done to her for him to come out with such a confession of guilt.

But even the confession itself is not the worst piece of the trial. Instead of focusing on evidence related to WikiLeaks, Dr. Michael Worsley has testified that Manning is diagnosed with Gender Identity Dysphoria. The military definition is someone who feels he or she is born into the wrong body (I do not know if this is the same as transgender although a lot of sources tend to conflate the two). Supposedly due to the gender roles associated with masculine army men, Manning felt isolated and had no resources to seek guidance. Her gender identity is spoken about not only as a disease. And even worse, it is used as evidence against Manning!

It is as if her gender identity is the cause of her supposed treason. Why else would such unrelated material about Manning’s personal life be brought into a trial concerning actions  of “aiding the enemy”?

This tactic of broadcasting her queer identity terrifies me. There is a message here to the queer community of America, spoken through Manning’s trial. We are being told with a subtle threat to keep our heads down. We are being reminded that we are the minority and should be on our toes. By linking Manning’s queer identity to her actions, standing up against the government, we are being told that any of us could also be traitors to the state. Queer = traitor.

If America wants to claim we are only a few steps away from being Chelsea Manning, then I have to say one thing:

We are Chelsea Manning.

 

 

 

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Russia’s Neo-Nazi Homophobia

I don’t keep up with politics and current events as often as I should. Though I’ve been aware that Russia has serious human rights issues going on with homophobia, I had no idea that it was as bad as it is. I thought I package it neatly in my mind under the vague umbrella term of human rights issues and that because I didn’t see it happening that it couldn’t be so terrible. I am incredibly naive at times and still need to check myself and my privilege far more often than I currently do.

A friend of mine posted this link on facebook from The Gaily Grind complete with videos of a Russian Neo-Nazi group torturing a teenage gay man.

Here is the video. I have not watched it yet because just reading the article made me sit down and cry and I know I do not have the stomach to watch this violence. But I also know that it is important to do so in order that we are all shocked awake from our day dreams of a progressive world where bigotry and hatred are small nuisances, existing on the frames of our conscious minds.

We have a long way to go in human rights and I feel that no matter what I say, nothing will sum up this atrocity. Especially because it is not the only case of torturing LGBTQ people and it is being treated as commonplace in Russia! The Neo-Nazis who recorded this video are not being punished or taken in by the police. Public opinion supports their monstrous behavior.

The Gaily Grind’s article posted above reports that:

A recent poll by Pew Research Center found that three out of every four Russians say society should not accept homosexuality. The percentage of those who think homosexuality should be accepted dropped 4% since 2007, from 20% to 16%.

In March, Levada Public Opinion Center reported that 85 percent of Russian adults said they were strongly against a law that would allow same-sex marriage. They also found that supporters of same-sex marriage in Russia fell from 14% to just 5% over the past three years. On the other side of the spectrum, some expressed strong opposition to homosexuality: 16 percent of those polled suggested that homosexuals should be isolated from society, 22 percent said that the treatment of homosexuality must be made compulsory, and 5 percent said that homosexuals should be ‘exterminated.’

I read this and I cried. What can be said about this? What can possibly describe the horror and hate we turn a blind eye to because we don’t want to see the great evil people are capable of? I don’t have the words! Maybe I’ll have the words someday, but right now all I can think of is how it is easy to pretend that because such hatred does not exist as blatantly in America that it does not exist. But hatred is hatred and there is no way to quantify it.

I was on the phone with my brother when I found this article. I paused in our conversation and told him that I was reading an article on how a gay teenager was tortured to death in Russia and if I was quiet for a few moments that was the reason. My brother told me that if I needed to go, then I should go. It hurt that he didn’t offer up an opinion. It hurt that he felt that if I just had a few moments to collect myself then I would be alright and that our conversation wasn’t truly muddled with death or stained with reality far beyond our mindless conversation of Pokemon games.

There are no words I know to describe this hurt I felt because hurt is too simple. I don’t have the words, but I need to share this article, this video and my story with finding out this information with anyone who will listen because someone will have the words. Someone will be able to describe why torturing someone for his or her sexual orientation is wrong and how it stems off from something as simple as gay slurs and other minor forms of hate speech. Hate is hate is hate the same way love is love is love. Even if I don’t have the words someone else will.

Wilde Interview: The Editor and Founder of Wilde Magazine on her Publication

I recently posted a blog highlighting the queer art and literary journal Wilde Magazine. Now I am lucky enough to have been able to interview the founder and editor of the Magazine, Nicole Wilkinson.

Here’s the complete transcript of our interview:

  1. Queer literary magazines have been around for a while already, what prompted Wilde to start now?

It began primarily as a personal endeavor. I was the editor of my high school literary magazine, as well as the vice-president of the GSA. As my senior year was coming to a close, I foresaw an emptiness that was bound to come once my involvement in these two groups had ended. So, I began to plan out Wilde Magazine, a magazine that would combine my need for involvement in the queer community, as well as my love of working on literary magazines. However, once I actually began to get to work on it and correspond with contributors and supporters of the magazine, I realized that Wilde was to be much bigger than a mere personal project.

2. How is Wilde different from other art and literary magazines which also focus on the queer experience?

3. Your website says that Wilde Magazine fosters discussion on the queer experience. Could you elaborate on that some more?

My answer for both of these questions is basically the same. The initial concept of Wilde was that it would feature a podcast, as well as have a forum where artists and writers could come and discuss their work, lives, and opinions. We wanted people to be able to workshop prior to submitting to the magazine so they could publish what they felt was made polished and perfect. Furthermore, earlier on we used to send back comments and critique to every person who submitted, whether we accepted or rejected them.

However, it took some time to find a stable group of staff members who had the time to stick with the magazine, so early on it was not possible to get the time or resources to keep the forum active (and clear out all of the spam we got there) and run the podcast. It also proved very difficult to give critique and comments to everyone who submitted, especially as the magazine got more popular.

However, all of these plans, the forum, the podcast, the critique, are simply on hiatus, and we ultimately plan to bring them back into the picture at some point in 2014.

4. What is Wilde’s take on allies writing about the queer experience and how it fits into the overall goal of the magazine?

I don’t want to say that we discourage straight people from submitting, because we don’t. However, Wilde is meant to be an extension of a queer space, and so in terms of having allies contribute or be on the staff of the magazine, we try to be very careful. In a queer space, allies should not try and overpower the opinion of queer people. It’s similar to when men enter feminist spaces – it’s important to insure that their voice will not overpower the group we’re trying to give a voice to. Rather, it is our hope that our straight allies who support the magazine would use it as inspiration to create more queer awareness in primarily heterosexual spaces and magazines.

We have published submissions from allies, and we have allies on our staff, but we try to make sure their voices and input are supported and backed by our queer contributors, supporters, and staff, as their voices are the most relevant in our mission. Therefore, we will always prioritize queer submissions over those from our straight allies.

5. Could you describe what you’re looking for in submissions? What best fits Wilde’s focus? Do you have any tips or advice for writers hoping to get published in Wilde?

Some people wonder if we are seeking submissions only related to queer issues, but as any queer person knows, being queer is only a part of our identity, and we have lives, and therefore art, that are just as varied as any other. We accept pieces explicitly related to the queer experience, we accept pieces where being queer is just an added spice to the piece, and we accept pieces that have nothing to do with queer issues.

It’s hard to say what we’re looking for exactly, because we are always blown away by the things we didn’t even know to look for. The totally unique characters, revolutionary story lines, art and writing we’d never seen before.

For those wanting to get published in Wilde, I would advise them to read previous issues of the magazine, to get a feel for our content.

Also, I would really advise them, as I would with any other publication, please read all of the guidelines, and please don’t disregard them. So many people submit incorrectly, so if you can show an editor and staff that you read and understood their directions, you’re already ahead half of the pack. If you can write a good cover letter as well, you’re ahead ¾ of everyone else.

6. What is the atmosphere like working for a magazine? Could you describe your staff and what a typical day is like?

That’s hard to say, as the staff and I don’t meet in person. I know a lot of them personally, and a good deal of us are from Colorado. We primarily work on the magazine individually and then correspond over Facebook, Skype, and e-mail. And the process we go through for submissions can span days, maybe weeks.

When a submission comes in, the advisory readers often look over it first. They leave comments for the editors and I to go off of. Then the editors and I look over it. Then, once we’ve sorted all of our submissions, I lay the magazine out, first on paper, then on InDesign. I send a rough copy to everyone on the staff and they point out errors and help polish it up.

I really admire the staff for all the work they put into the magazine, and their passion for art and writing. I get to work with a really dedicated group of people. I hope that one day I can meet them in person, like a big Wilde Staff reunion. That would be great.

7. In the upcoming years, where do you see Wilde Magazine heading? What are the future goals of the magazine?

We have big plans for the magazine.

We hope that in the near future, we can bring back the forum and start up the podcast next year.

We also hope to bring back critique and comments for those who specifically ask for it.

We want to eventually stop using HP Magcloud so we can print in bulk and offer the magazine for a much lower price, and make it available for sale at book stores, coffee shops, and any businesses willing to sell our publication.

However, after trying to manage these things early on when the magazine began, I’ve realized that it’s necessary to take small steps to reach these goals and expand. So, it may take time, but we’ll do our best to get there, so Wilde can be an affordable multimedia publication that serves, not only to exhibit the work of the queer community, but to create a discussion within it.

Thank you so much Nicole Wilkinson for sharing your work with this magazine! I know I am not the only one who values your input and the work you have done to make Wilde Magazine a growing success. Once again, thank you very much for your time.

If you have any more questions about Wilde Magazine, their submission guidelines or anything to do with this publication visit their website here. And just another reminder, issue #3 is available and can be purchased either in digital form or a print copy here.