James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Quest for Sobriety

The coming of the New Year has long been a cause for celebration. This year once again the lighted ball will descend in Times Square, 2009 will go out as an old man and 2010 will come in as a baby. The other tradition connected with Auld Lang Syne has been a problematic for some. The fact is that alcohol consumption and gay culture have been intimately connected since before the days that Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud downed their first absinthe cocktails.

In today's selection, "The History of Gay People in Alcoholics Anonymous: From the Beginning," Audrey Borden traces the role queers have played in helping construct the twelve-step program, a system utilized by groups as diverse as narcotic abusers, sex addicts and compulsive gamblers to name a few. The book is written in the personal, down-home style typical of these meetings. Borden lets her subjects tell their own stories while providing background information highlighting the specific obstacles LGBT folks faced in both their struggle to stay clean and sober as well as their struggle for acceptance withing the Alcoholics Anonymous Community.

Here is an online chronology of gays in AA. And here are more resources for Gay and Lesbian Recovering Alcoholics. Have a Safe and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Re-Imagining Christian Imagery

Christmas is on the horizon again bringing with it a melange of seasonal joy and darker, more complex emotions. Today's book, "Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More," is a collection of non-traditional, Christian iconography by eleven different artists who identify as Christian, Agnostic and even one Buddhist. It was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in the LGBT Arts and Culture category in 2007. That year the art was compiled by Kittredge Cherry, for an exhibit she mounted in Taos, New Mexico as part of the Festival of Progressive Spiritual Art . These are images that challenge the traditional visual interpretation of the sacred. Examples of the new visions include: a black, female "Jesus of the People," a lesbian "Madonna, Lover and Son," and a passionate, "Judas Kiss."

Cherry defines herself as a lesbian, Christian author, minister and art historian. She holds a master of divinity degree from the Pacific School of Religion as well as undergraduate degrees in journalism and art history. Click here for a video of her speaking about this book as well as the censorship of art in general.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Queer Jews: History, Identity, Visibility

As Hanukah approaches today's books deal with the ever-evolving, much-debated issue of Jewish identity. Warren Hoffman's work, "the passing game: queering jewish american culture," delves into the history of the queer, Jewish pespective in American theater, fiction and culture in general. He examines the many forms passing (as non-Jewish and straight) and coming out (in both respects) have taken in the world of literature and the arts. Click here for Hoffman's online article: Closeted No More or Why Jewish American Culture is Really Gay.

Marla Brettschneider's book, 'The Family Flamboyant: Race Politics, Queer Families, Jewish lives,"starting with the personal experience of her own life, she widens the net to include adoption of children, non-traditional families, queerness, Jewishness, racial and ethnic politics and the socio-political interpretation of all of the above. At the University of New Hampshire, Brettschneider holds a joint appointment as professor of Political Philosophy and Women's Studies and is Co-ordinator of Queer Studies. Her theories are thoughtful and compelling.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Transformation of a Relationship

People undergoing gender reassignment are not always single. The impact one spouse's gender change on a formerly traditional heterosexual couple can, in many instances, blow a relationship apart. Helen Boyd didn't let that happen to her marriage. Instead she utilizes her book, "She's not the Man I Married: My Life with a Transgender Husband," to delve into her internal feelings and societal experiences surrounding her husband's transition from male to female.

Here is a video interview with Helen Boyd along with some other resources for spouses; a PFLAG pamphlet: Opening the Straight Spouse's Closet and another personal story: Can a Marriage Survive Transition?