Friday, May 13, 2011

A Queen Can Forgive Her Vanquished Foe

I know I'm about a week too late, but this scene just crossed my mind in relation to the recent events surrounding Osama bin Laden. I'll keep my soap box firmly tucked under my arm for this one, but I hope we might at least think about this in relation to the Osama events.

In one of the best scenes of 20th century American Lit, Tony Kushner thinks quite nicely about forgiveness. In this scene, set at the height of the AIDS crisis in New York City, Roy Cohn has just died of complications relating to AIDS, and the fabulous Belize, his nurse and former drag queen, has come to steal Roy's supply of AZT (still in its experimental phases and hard to come by) from his hospital room. Belize, Louise, and the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg, together, thank Roy by saying the Kaddish over his body. When Louis protests (and for very good reason), Belize responds:

"He was a terrible person. He died a hard death. So maybe. A queen can forgive her vanquished foe. It isn't easy, it doesn't count if it's easy, it's the hardest thing. Forgiveness. Which is maybe where love and justice finally meet. Peace, at last. Isn't that what the Kaddish asks for?"

Just something to think about, though I understand that it's a little hard to think about out-of-context. Incidentally, it's a really beautiful play, if you haven't read it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Being a Straight White Guy is Hard, You Guys

It's finally over, dear readers. I've survived (and even enjoyed) my last round of final papers. Now the only tasks that stand between me and undergraduation are:

1. Reread 1000+ pages of Jimmy Baldwin and even more Virginia Woolf/Julian Barnes, which, after the terror the month of April has brought, sounds downright relaxing.
2. Trick people (well, person, really) into thinking that this farce deeply intellectual endeavor has taught me something about writing (kidding, it totally has).
3. A 40-hour work week
4. Negotiate the complexities of having your (divorced) parents and their respective families attend the same events, which usually involves wrangling herds of grown ups who would rather not speak to each other. I like to think of it as a Rodeo of Feelings.
5. Keep my equal-parts kindly and terrifying southern grandmother from saying something well-intentioned, yet horribly offensive at Lavender Graduation.

And speaking of graduation, look for more Buffy-related graduation jokes as the event approaches. What are the odds of our commencement speaker turning into a giant snake, which the entire student body then has to fight? While, in such a confrontation, I'd like to imagine myself in key-guy capacity, I think we can all agree I'd be more of a Wesley. Sorry for the oblique nerd-culture joke, but I think you'll find that there is little in all the world that will deter me from a good, if totally culturally irrelevant, Buffy reference.

Most importantly of all, I am finally breaking the eerie silence that has crept its way into this unproductive slice of teh interwebz. It feels great to be blogging again, but so much has happened in the past three weeks that I'm not totally sure where to reenter. I could talk for hours about UMD's recent Homopolooza (if you look closely, you'll find my name on the roster, just saying),  about my recent brushes with the adult world (apartment hunting, general financial terror), or the infinity of news stories spinning out from the murder of public enemy number one-ish.

However, dear readers, let's take a look at something a little close to home. Take a minute to read this doozy of an article from the Diamondback, along with this (much more informed) reply article. Now, I want desperately to avoid the formulation where everyone who shares my view is informed and everyone who doesn't is either un or misinformed, because framing a discussion under these assumptions is obnoxious, usually not the case, and also the fastest way to get people to tune you out. Michael Kossin, you are making it difficult. He writes off trans violence and its various anxieties as " paranoia experienced on the part of some transgender individuals" and simply a product of the "general presence of violence at this university and in College Park."

His comments, both on his own article and Nick Sakurai's follow-up are even worse (You might think I'd have learned by now that reading the comments for online Diamondback articles is only going to make me angry. All I can say is that I'm a slow learner). In one comment, he proposes that, as an atheist, he is a member of a group who is even more hated than transgendered people, and he wants to know, with what I imagine to be genuine concern in his cyber-voice, when the university is going to do something about that. Apart from being a totally absurd comparison (one that I might point out, only underscores Nick's follow-up point about the lack of education surrounding trans issues), I'm going to go ahead and throw this out there: Poor middle class straight white guy! Life must be really difficult for you! Figuring out what to do with all that cultural legitimacy and unexamined privilege must be really hard for you! (As a short aside, I do think my response is in some ways problematic, though a sentiment that we should all, myself included, keep in the backs of our minds.)

I won't take my growing fury any farther, for fear of inadvertently recapitulating the terms of the trans ignorance on which this article is founded, but I will tell you to read Nick's follow-up. Education, foks. Learning is what we're all about 'round these parts.

Survive finals, folks. You're almost there. As a parting gift, I will offer you this infuriating Diamondback article, in which Michael Kossin blanket-attacks the entire discipline of philosophy (and perhaps the humanities more broadly), and, as a palate cleanser, this lovely video in which Garfunkel and Oates lambaste pregnant women everywhere.