Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gay of the day We Wa

I was looking into my books and for the life of me I can't find my information about the life of one of my greatest inspirations. I was sure it was in the "Blossom of Bone" that I use for a ton of information about the spiritual reverence in culture for Gay men. It is a treasure and when my friend Jason Smart shared it as a present on birthday my life really changed! I was as a child; many of you will be surprised; planning on being a Minister when I grew up. I really wanted to go to Seminary and work for the good of man kind. I lost that dream and went from romantic to cynic. It was because I saw my gayness as a hinderance and a shameful stigma and I sank into a very cynical view of the world. There was just no one around who would have understood. I mean my parents took me to doctors to fix me so I was pretty sure that if they were good christians the christian church would have nothing to do with me. I was right as it turns out pretty much. Not understanding that there was so much more out in the world as far as religion and freedom from small minded people ruled by fear. I was so afraid, of my parents, the school bus, school, kids, people, myself, that I did very little exploration until I had a car and another gay friend. Until I went to NY I think I was about 12 emotionally and experience wise. I was naive.
So Imagine when I open up a book about Native American shaman and find gender bending 6 ft tall Native American Leader of the Zuni tribe in North America. (I have also Heard the We Wah is a spelling but also from the Sioux tribe. Sometimes information ; since there is so little of it available.) We Wa was a leader in the 1800's and was a revered Shaman and beloved leaders in Native American History. We Wa lived and dressed and took on healing duties and food preparations like a woman might but ruled the tribe as a man might. She/He was considered a very holy person for his/her leadership abilities and healing powers. We Wa when the white imperialists came west was at the height of her fame and power in her tribe. He/She, in the interest of good relations to the Imperialists, even went back East to Washington DC. She/He was presented to DC society as an Indian Princess. There were pictures in the paper of We Wah the Indian Princess at the Opera, Theater, Museums and many grand affairs and describing her as "polite if a bit homely."
She was 6 feet tall and not feminine looking at all; as I recall; and she was taken about town and presented as a princess! I think I love that so much because it just shows how oblivious people were and are to gender variance, gay and lesbian peoples and cultures. In a world of black and white the idea of lavender and gray areas is not even considered. Also I love this story because it is just another example of one of my tranny sisters making a difference and ruling the runway or plain in this case. She/he just was who she/he was and used that power and beauty to own her position in life and with that strength became an revered figure of great power and spirituality. She was a star for being the best he/she could be.
In many Native American cultures there were two spirited people who were revered for the fact that they had these two spirits. They we chosen as shaman for their ties to the mother earth and were the healers of their tribe. They were considered wise and mystical. This is actually very common in most native peoples. The gender variant is a special and celebrated mystical achievement to be celebrated as a gift. In many Native American tribes these shaman would be the ruler of the spiritual health of the tribe leading rituals for rain, crops, hunts, healing, honoring the spirits of the ancestors and were the story tellers or historians of the tribe. Their gender variance made them the keepers of history and ritual. It was considered a great privilege for a brave to enter into a relationship with these gender variants bringing honor to the family. There was no shame. That would arrive with the Imperialist christian bigots with small minds.
How far we have come; not only as gay people but as a people in general; from the celebration of the spiritual and the two spirited. Instead we endure horrible incidents like the bashing with bricks of Jake Maynard in Ontario Canada. A group of men waited outside a gay bar and attacked three men when they were leaving. Jake fought a friends attacker and was beaten with bricks by several men. Is this where we are as a society? Is the pursuit of more really so important that we are reduced to this type of behavior? There is no spiritual connection between violence to others and the attackers. It is instead the lack of a spiritual connection. Gays are attacked because we are a symbol of the missing connection. It is the queers of the world who represent the beauty of the world; and because people are so disillusioned they don't know how to react to this beauty and truth; so they strike out like scared children. This very need for healing this fear is what made me want to be a minister. So that I could have a platform to bring about healing. Had I had the knowledge of We Wah and the other queer shaman and spiritual leaders, and the place of gay people in this position throughout time, my life might have been very different. I do believe that it is time for queers and gender variants and lesbians and gays to wake up this shamanistic power that we inherently have. We must reclaim the association of homoeroticism, gender variance and the sacred experience of our roles. We must remove the shackles of our oppressive societies and move forward to self realization and the realization of our powers as a people. It is our past and it can be our future. The world could certainly use some of We Wah's healing energy and so could our community. That is why We Wah is my gay of the day. A symbol of healing and connection and beauty and strength. One of my very favorite gay heros.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Gay of the Labor Day Harvey Milk

Harvey Milk has risen to be the shining example of what the motivation of one man can do. One simple man who changed the face of gay history. Harvey didn't even come out of the closet until later in his life and still he was able to see what the closet was doing to himself and the gay and lesbian people around him. He recognized shame and how it was used to oppress his peoples and make them slaves to the people who chose to oppress them. The triumph of Harvey's life was that he was an average person who ended up doing extraordinary things and influenced generations of gay man and women and in ernest became the voice of the gay rights movement. There was nothing in his past that would suggest that he would become this symbol. There was no rich backer giving him the momentum to be the face of gay rights. It was a personal decision to help his brothers and sisters. It was determination and sheer will power that enabled him and his band of MARY men and women that defeated the christians who sought to take away our rights and livelihood. 
Today I hear people say to me "We just have to wait and be patient our day is coming." "We should try and make them like us instead of upsetting them." Well guess what those people feel justified to let gay and lesbian people be second and third class people. They WANT us to die and feel that we can't have the same as them. They want us to endure torture and beatings and death and say that that is what God wants. They feed us our own shame and the best we can do is roll over and say we will wait till they change their minds.
Where is our power? Where are the average men and women who take to the streets in the face of injustice. How many queer peoples have gotten off their asses to take to the street to do something about this situation? Where is the average citizen; whom this government is meant to protect; that are using their voices for a better day for ALL peoples? If they can oppress some then they can oppress many. It was the environs of Germany who allowed the "least of these" to be persecuted and killed and turned a blind eye that led to the deaths of millions of ethnic and social "outcasts" be killed on mass. It was the environs of this world who turned a blind eye to the AIDS epidemic and let thousands and thousands of people die. In fact Regan is considered a hero when really his lack of action created a genocide for the gay male population. The lies that are perpetuated are becoming truth. They are not the truth but because our voices are silenced by waiting that these atrocities have taken place. If we don't wake up right now today that they could happen and is happening again through government cuts to the poest of the poor and denying equal rights to all citizens of this country! We are no longer the great free nation but a terrorist group that forces others to bend to an unjust will and lets its own environs die and be treated as dogs.
Yet all that was needed was to step up and be counted. All that we need today is to start the march to freedom for the gay people of the world. You. Our movement needs you. Not the you that is afraid and lets fear stand in the way. Not the you that finds an excuse to go to a bar or lead marches to the Castro instead of the streets that feel it is alright to kill and maime and oppress us! We must leave the ghetto because that is where we are safe and change will only come when we confront the world with its unjust laws and bigotry. Now we need the you that is tired of being beaten. We need the you who wants to take back the streets from injustice and bigotry. We need the you who wants to wake up in a world where we do not have to fear persecution and violence. We need the you who is the average man or woman or transgender who wants to live their life.
It is not impossible to create change. It is the use of our voices that creates change. Sometimes we must raise our voices and use our anger to make a better day. We must take to the streets and to the straight society that still wishes to keep us down. We must continue to stand up and be counted and make our dreams a reality. We, you and i, are the only ones who can make it happen. There is no need to be apathetic and say that we are really just waiting for the change that will come. There is no reason for anyone to stay at home and make excuses as to why they are not out there fighting the fight, writing their representatives that are supposed to protect us as citizens of this country, using our voice to bring awareness that the bigotry wrapped up in Christian clothing is still bigotry.
We are average citizens and Harvey showed us that against all odds that we are the ones with the power. We are the ones with the voice to create change. Just because it seems hard or inconvenient or nearly impossible is not a reason to do nothing! That is just lazy and sad behavior of people who have let themselves become sheep and let fear rule their lives. This is the real danger to civil rights for all. There was no reason our rights should have been taken away. We gained our rights, we were on the path to freedom and equality, but we were taken. We fell asleep. We the average persons let this happen. I did and so did you. We have a stronger organization and more visibility than ever before and yet we let them keep us down. It is time again for the average person to demand what is ours. Harvey Milk did it so WE know it is possible.
Now is not the time to argue over action and fear retribution. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. We as a people, a gay army, citizens of the US and the World, and shaman, as leaders, as artists, as writers, as average joe's need to find our voice and use it and take back the rights that were stolen by bigots and fear mongers. It is the voice of the average citizen that is needed now. That voice that was not used yesterday must be used today so that change can happen. End the time of sloth and sleep and awake to the possibility of the new day and the promise of a BETTER world not for ourselves but for everyone. 
The average man and women in this country must stand up and be counted instead of lying dormant and unheard from. It is not a bad thing to use our voices but the very ideal that built this country. It is the backbone of our once great nation that ALL men are created as equals. Not some more than others. Not just the rich or the pious or the liars and cheats but ALL of us. The average man is the voice of this country and if things are not working it is not the government who needs to fix it but us.
We have become so lazy and unconcerned that we are in this position now. We were given the right to have our lives as we see fit and we have just given all that we have gained back to the oppressors! We have not taken up the cry that bigotry and injustice is not what is acceptable to us. We as the common people have this right and we should use it to our advantage. There is no reason to wait for equal rights. There is no reason not to be angry and we must use that anger to gain equality. There is no reason to sit back and wait for the day to come. We must follow the lead of Harvey Milk and seize the day. The average person must find the strength in themselves to get off the couch and move to the street and use our voices to stand up to injustice. It may seem that the wheels are turning but if they are able to take the rights of gays and lesbians away in the 5th largest economy in the world then it can be done throughout the world and done in the name of justice. Things can get worse by waiting and doing nothing not better. It is inaction that allows civil rights to be taken away and keeps us on the edge of being who we are for real. We must realize our place in society it will not be given. By sitting back and saying it will happen we just take more steps backwards to a time when there is no protection to be offered us.
It is time now for us to use our average voice to cast off shame and oppression. It is time to find the extra ordinary in all of us. It is time for us to have what is ours and stop apologizing for demanding it. Plain fact is is that we are people, we are human, and we deserve and have every right to be equal to everyone else on this planet. It is time to take Harvey Milk's fight on in ernest! We must use what we have learned from this average man and make ourselves extra ordinary. That is why Harvey Milk is my Gay of the day. He could do it and so can we!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Gay of the Day Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman is the father of free verse and is a renowned poet. He is most famous for the collection of poems "Leaves of Grass" that when published was considered a scandal due to it's overt sexuality. He was also a humanist, essayist, and journalist throughout his life. It is always up for contention as to the fact of Whitman being gay or bi-sexual but I think that has more to do with society than Whitman himself.
In fact the moment I sat down to choose Walt Whitman as my Gay of the Day I realized just how hard of a task I had set myself. Choose a gay every day and write about them. Just to remind people of our heritage and to help over come the burden of shame that is ever placed upon our community. So I go and do research to find out who is gay and who isn't. I mean aside from Gertrude Stein so far the people I have researched all have this "question" as to the exact nature of their sexuality. There are always people saying that it isn't true that so and so is gay. That is just the gays trying to make everyone gay. What is so wrong with being gay? Why is it that historians try and hide this fact and argue against it being an acceptable fact? Really the only reason I am looking for gay hero's through the ages is because of these very people who want to deny our heritage and criminalize our love. It is the very suppression of our culture and our worth as humans that makes it so important to claim these heros and icons as our own.
Walt Whitman was a great man with ideas that have pushed the boundaries of societies understanding and reason. That sounds like a very gay trait to me. We as a people are always on the for front of thought and expansion.  It usually is the people with the least to loose that allow them selves the opportunity to find the best in themselves and promote it through a medium and share the process of self liberation. Coming out is an arduous process still today. How many families say "Awesome just what we wanted a lesbian daughter!" or " A totally fem son?" Not very many. Even the fact that the most liberal of families feel the pinch of shame before coming around shows the shame placed on gay and lesbian people from the start. It is this very shame is what allows the powers that be to rob us of our past and our heros and our birth rights. 
This brings me to my own struggle to write every day. To commit to the task of putting fingers to keyboard and writing about some luminary gay icon like Walt Whitman.  I have missed two days already and it has barely been a week. This struggle to just commit to a few paragraphs every day, to have some discipline, to share our greatness with my community touches a real nerve for me. Why is it so important? Why do I care? I'm not getting paid and certainly no one is going to call me and say "Wheres my gay of the day?" So why is it so important.
Well my answer is ; commitment is very important right now. My activism is really about marriage and if it is an option for gay men and women or isn't. It's about seeing that we as a people are granted equality. We are not second class people and this is a clear human rights issue and yet even the "liberals" choose to treat us as a moral issue. I say fuck your morals then if you can't see me as human. Didn't we fight in the 70's to.... Oh wait there lies our problem as a community.
Instead of being radical thinkers and making our dream reality we chose financial pandering and ghettoization. We have porn companies and bit parts on major networks and even our own neighborhoods. If we stay where we are supposed to be and don't confront anyone then we can have a fairly safe life without too much hassle. We can buy cars and be best friends and in some states marry and adopt children. Yes this is all great news but there is one question that still bothers me. Why are we not granted equality? Why are we too risky politically to stand behind? Why can we not as a community demand that these rights be given to us because EVERYONE deserves human rights? Why as a community can we not commit to the task of getting these rights grated to every other peoples?
 We don't care if your religion agrees with us because WE don't agree with your bigotry but WE don't want to take away your rights. We don't care if you think we are immoral because you bigotry is far more immoral than WE will ever be! Your forcing shame upon us is not a moral issue for us it is your moral issue. So why have WE not done something for ourselves?
Advertising is not enough! Why are we not able to commit every day to celebrating our people and gaining our rights? Why with people like Walt Whitman and visionaries and leaders and shaman and poets and painters that are the most celebrated in the world are we not having our rights right now? Why are we so steeped in shame that we are afraid to upset people? We are the ones who should be upset. Our commitment is so weak that the minute we started to move forward we stopped the second they waved shiny objects in front of our faces.
It is not enough to be able to shop! Why have we not shown up every day and said "That is not enough!"? This kind of commitment is what I am asking from myself with this blog and hopefully my life. I want us as a people to cast off our shame and to make people realize that they can not treat us this way. We are Walt Whitman, Gertrude Stein, Harvey Milk, Abraham Lincoln, Lilly Tomlin, Socratese, and so many more people that have given more than enough to celebrate our worth and we are not going to settle anymore!
We should be taking daily action every day to better our standard of acceptance. We will bash back if need be because there is no reason for us to take these beating to begin with! We are not incapable of standing up and casting off this shame and we are going to do it every day until we are standing on the same rights and protections as everyone else. None of us are ever going to make the people who don't like us like us, but we can show them that how they treat us is wrong because we are a great people and they should thank us for who we are.
That is why when I sat down to write about my Gay of the Day Walt Whitman I struggled. I allowed myself to skip my commitment for yesterday. It may not seem such a big thing but when you take a day off there are always chances that the next day will be missed and then my rights are TAKEN away by the same people who granted them to me only six months before because there are more bigots in the state of California than there are rational people who see that everyone IS equal. It is because we as a people have stopped caring about ourselves and settled for half the solution instead of our full rights. We let shame and fear oppress us. We as a people  every day condone our own suffering because of our lack of commitment.
That is why it bothered me to miss even one day of my commitment. I need to remind myself every day before I go out into the world that I am part of a strong and great people and what others think is their business. I will not take their shame on. We will not take their shame on. We belong to the Walt Whitmans of the world. We are the generators of beauty and thought and we should congratulate ourselves every day on our achievements under such harsh treatment. Also we must remind ourselves daily that this fight is on and not to get distracted or discouraged. Instead to be our very own gay of the day and take the next step twords equality and our national rights and acceptance.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Gay of the Day- Socrates

Socrates is credited with founding western philosophy, democracy, and ethics. His ideas have gone into almost every form of government in western civilization as well as many Arabic nations. He was the most well known philosopher at the hight of the Grecian empire and a hero in his home of Athens. Plato was his student and also went on to greatness as a philosopher, and like Socrates is still a house hold name till this day. Greece was well known as a place of free male companionship. It was a part of society there that young students and older teachers would have relations. Same sex coupling was encouraged and celebrated. 
 Socrates spent his life searching for truth and ethics in his fellow man and asking if intelligence was not in fact the lack of knowing everything there fore not setting absolute limits. He felt the only reason that he was considered so smart is because he had never really felt himself very smart. His quest for knowledge and answers to questions was what set him apart from others and made him appear so intelligent. To overcome fear and take the adventure as it happened seeking not monetary gain but instead just being content to explore the mysteries of the world. He believed so strongly in not taking money for his teachings that he was always very poor and always in need of both food and money.
The father of Western civilization and governing systems was a gay man and yet his descendants have seen fit to go without rights for centuries upon centuries. The fear mongering in America has taken Socrates' very quest for ethics in this world and turned it in on it's self. In stead of using ethics to rule; lies and malicious harm are the codes of the day. This is most apparent in the fact that we as gay people must go without equal rights because it is "too risky politically" for anyone to stand up for us. Our very first black president can't even see the similarity between his equal rights and our own. President Clinton sold us out for a "lie and be safe in the military" strategy. We have been  sold out to our own shame and fear and have decided to continue to wait until our pleas are heard time and time again. When really we are the children of the creator of our way of governing. A GAY man set up our style of government and gays and lesbians are made out to be pariahs to that very system.
We as a people are from the very stock that has given all these men their power and they intern turn to us and say "You are not worthy and never have been". This is a blatant lie because
not only Socrates but the founding father of the Republican party Abraham Lincoln and countless other great leaders were gay men and women. Yet the Republicans and "Christians" stand behind the idea that we are sick and to be feared when they owe us their very way of life. 
Could it be possible that the fear stems from the inadequacy of the people that feel threatened by us that they behave as if we are evil. Isn't it just possible that they know that we have these gifts and they are afraid of us. They are afraid that we can find a better way to live and that would hurt them financially if we were able to spread our magic and and our truth that may show their truth to be falsehood and deceit. Socrates would later stand trial in Athens after their loss of control to the Spartan armies. He could have escaped the city of Athens but instead decided to stay and stand trial and die for his beliefs. He was martyred for his beliefs and for standing up for them after laying the basis for todays world. He was already martyred there is no reason for it to go on.
Socrates is my Gay Of The Day because his story is so similar to todays gay rights struggle except he believed in himself. I feel today that our gay society confuses the idea the we have TV channels, magazines, job opportunities and our own ghettos that we have achieved all we can. But that is not our legacy; we are the inventors and philosophers and stars and shaman of the world. We create great and lasting things and ideas. We have let the world lie about and to us so long that we forget that we as a culture have given so much to todays world. Perhaps if we had not been forced into the closets the world would not be in the state that it is. If our voices had remained free to speak up then maybe there would be more beauty and less strife in the world. Maybe we would have our rightful spot at the top along with the straights of the world without shame. After all there is no reason for the sons and daughters of the great Socrates, creator of modern western politics and ethics, to be anything other than first class citizens. We have every right to claim our position and sometimes; it seems to me; even more right! Maybe thats why the bigots are afraid. They know it too and when the dust settles and the people see just what these liars and fakes have done to the world and its environs there will be hell to pay. Well today is the day to start. We created this society and we will have our place in it. Word to the liars and bigots,..... The truth is out there and we all know it. Retribution will be ours and your fear can't keep you safe forever. Socrates may have been a martyr but not all of us will be. Instead we will own our history and our brilliance and continue to better the world. On Fag, dyke, tranny, queer at a time.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Gay 's of the day Bob Mould and Grant Hart

Minneapolis Minnesota seems like an unlikely place for pioneers in punk music; who just happen to be gay; to create a band that would land on the Rolling Stone 50 most influential bands of all time. But that is just what Husker Du front men Grant Hart and Bob Mould did. In 1979 on the crest of the American Hardcore explosion Hart and Mould joined forces with Greg Norton and formed the band Husker Du. They would release two LP's independantly before signing to Warner Brothers records. They were one of the very first American Hardcore bands to sign to a major label. The following epic concept LP "Zen Arcade" would land them critical success and set them apart from other bands at the time. "New Day Rising", "Candy Apple Grey" and " Warehouse: Songs and Stories" would continue to cement their success and "Flip Your Wig" would land them on the CMJ charts. Bands who sight them as an influence are the Pixies, Nirvana, Superchunk, My Bloody Valentine, and Green Day.
Bob Mould and Hart began to have problems working together and after the suicide of their manager they broke up for good. Bob Mould went on to form the band Sugar and released several LP's with that band as well as continuing a solo career. Bob is now a DJ in gay night clubs in the Washington DC area and his last release "District Line" combined his sharp guitar with more danceable production and his biggest success since the days of Husker Du.
They are my Gay's of the Day because they were pioneers in a scene that seemed anything but gay friendly. They created a hardcore punk band that would out last the likes of DOA and the Dead Kennedys. A standing tribute to the fact that Gays are everywhere and doing what they do just as hard and fast and far reaching as any other persons in their field. Being a punk from back in the 80's I used to wear out my "New Day Rising" record without even knowing that they were gay. I loved them back then and their music still stands the test of time and continues to be revered and create influence. Rock on my gay brothers and sisters; rock on.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gay of the Day Gertrude Stein

There has always been a love; by me; for Ms Getrude Stein. I was always shocked by the fact that she was one of the most celebrated philanthropists of her time. Entertaining  the very best in modern artist and free thinkers at her homemaking her a social, political, and literary giant. Her long time relationship with Alice B. Toklas is one of the great and most celebrated love stories of all time.  But why was I shocked. Well quite frankly she live in the early 1900's and was very manly looking and succeeded. I think she opened me up to my own prejudices and homophobia and I like that. I like having a person or story show me where I can improve on my own internalized homophobia. Thats why Gertrude Stein is my 3rd pick for Gay of the Day.

Gertrude Stein was born in 1874 February 3rd and lived to July 27th 1946. She was born in my home town of Pittsburgh Pa. At that time Pittsburgh was a mass of Steel Mills and the air was so thick you would have to wear a mask when going outside. So it's a good thing Gertrudes family moved soon after to Vienna. In fact The family would move often through out her life to Oakland Ca and back to the East Coast. She came from a well to do family and was especially close to her brother Leo Stein.
It was with Leo that she moved to 27 Rue de Fleurus in Paris France. In this home she and her brother began entertaining avant guard artists and writers such as Matisse, Picasso, Thorton Wilder, and Ernest Hemmingway. Their art collection included hundreds of paintings by the masters of that time (Cezanne, Picaso, Matisse, Delacroix, Toulouse-Lautrec) and were a source of income through out her life.
Gertrude became one of the most widely quoted people of her day. Such phrases as "a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose", "It is extraordinary that whole populations have no projects for the future, none at all. It certainly is extraordinary, but it is certainly true", and "If it can be done, Why do it?". She was the author of over 28 books and collections of poems during her life. Tender Buttons, Life with Alice B.Toklas, and Miss Fur and Miss Skeen were all books that dealt with her sexuality ; in fact Miss Fur and Miss Skeen is credited with being the first book to ever use the word GAY; and it used it over 100 times. 
During the Nazi invasion of France she and Alice were in England but they went back to France to run supplies to French Hospitals. The Ford they named Auntie, "after Gertrude's aunt Pauline, 'who always behaved admirably in emergencies and behaved fairly well most times if she was flattered.'" This was a great risk to both woman's lives not only because of the war but because they were Jewish. Gertrude was not very political but she had very distinct beliefs. She disliked patriarchal father figures and found Roosevelt and Franco just as distasteful. She was never an activist in an out ward sense but she lived her life as an out woman without compromise and was the center of cultrural revolution. She was uncompromising in her relations with the world and made it face her as she was and with the partner she has found and loved all her life. Two women in a male dominated world that simply beat the odds because they felt no shame for who they were. It is women like this who inspire us today to move forward and claim our lives without compromise. It is the spirit of Gertrude Stein that is in our history over and over again showing that we are at the center of cultural, political, and social change with our open hearts and minds ever searching for beauty and justice in the world.
I find great strength in the person of Gertrude Stein. If she could just walk through life uncompromising at a time when gay liberation was far from reality; kinda like today; and influence the world around her in such amazing ways then so can anyone. She never let shame keep her from anything that she wanted. Even when in college other girls; who had been her lovers; folded under the pressure to fit in and married men, she remained faithful to her heart and soul. Her belief in herself was enough to bring her through and eventually led to one of the great love stories of all time. Thanks Gertrude for showing us how it can be in ourselves just by remaining true to ourselves. You are truly a hero for Lesbian and Gay peoples everywhere.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Gay of the Day- Qu Yan

Qu Yan is considered one of the fathers of Toaism and  China's first major poet and author of both the epic Li Sao (Encountering Sorrow) and Tian Wan (Heavenly Question) that speak of his long standing and passionate relationship with the King of Huai. He was born 340 B.C.E.  in the Kingdom of Chu on the auspicious First Day of the Lunar Year.. His name is made up of two sacred names True Exemplar and Divine Balance. He is often depicted  in women's clothing. As a shaman he learned to divine the future, exorcise demons, heal the sick by retrieving their souls, make objects fly through the air, cause spirits to appear and bring rain. He would often be symbolized with orchids and lotus blossoms. 

But when two people are at one in their innermost hearts,
They shatter even the strength of iron and bronze.
And when two people understand each other in their
   inmost hearts,
Their words are sweet and strong, like the fragrance
    of orchids. -Qu Yan about his relationship with the King of Huai

He would later fall from grace with the king and being a spiritual leader would drown himself  in the Milou River over the betrayal of the King and because this; (the fifth day of the lunar new year); was when shamans traditionally  sacrificed themselves so that the Gods may be pleased and humanity prosper. He is as revered as Buddha, Muhammad, Moses and Jesus and is prominent in religious, cultural and the spiritual culture of China. That's why he is my Gay of the day.

In China at this time Taoism was the main belief. This is before the more routine bound Confucian ways took over as the thought and rule of the land; mystic religions and  spiritual  earth goddess worship ruled. There were even  many gods who were themselves of 2 or more genders and worship.   Homosexuality was a common and celebrated trait. These men and women were given titles of high priests and were believed to be close to the true earth mother and her goddesses. Homosexuals were said to have both Yin and Yang a very highly respected quality. Many believed that like heterosexual relations would happen due to the cycle of reincarnation and sometimes the soul that you were bound to was a man sometimes a woman.
There were many symbolic and enchanting phrases from this time referring to homosexual love.
Torn Sleeve "Dong Xian"- from the tale of Han emperor Ai and his lover Dong Xian. The Emperor so loved the boy that he would not wake him from sleep and would instead cut a portion of his sleeve to extricate himself from bed. Thus leaving his lover in blissful sleep.
Eating Peaches "Yu Tao"- Paying tribute to lovers Duke Ling of Wei and Mizi Xia. The Duke while stolling thru an orchard was offered a peach by Mizi Xai and the Duke fell instantly in love. It symbolizes the easy and simple quality of the male homosexual relationship.
There were also many beautiful flowers associated as symbols  of Homosexuality. The most common is the the Lotus blossom. The flower being feminine and the thick stem being the masculine it was used as a symbol of androgyny or gender variance. Orchids and other fall and spring flowers like the iris, lilly and magnolia were also used to represent homosexuals. But often the reference to flowers and perfumes, incense, jade and cinnebar represent same sex love and gender variance in poems like Ruan Ji's  poem celebrating Anling and Long Yang.....

Roving glances gave rise to beautiful seductions;
Speech and laughter expelled fragrance.
Hand in Hand they shared love's rapture, 
Sharing coverlets and bedclothes.

Couples with birds in flight,
Paired wings soaring.
Cinnabar and green pigments record a vow:
"I'll never forget you for all eternity." -Ruan Ji

This is from a culture who saw same sex love as it is, a natural expression of the Yin and Yang in the world. The beauty of same sex love was considered an honor and a divine blessing. Flowers known for their varied and glorious beauty were used to represent this love.