civil rights

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Election 2016.

Published November 5, 2016 by April Fox

It’s almost over.

This election season has been hell. I was a Bernie Sanders supporter, and when he lost the primary, I was hit hard. I’m not a political expert by any means; I don’t know a lot about public policy or the ins and outs of political wrangling. I don’t know enough, I guess, to look past the human being that each candidate represents and understand the political machinery inside their heads.

I know that there was a guy who wanted to help people, and that wasn’t what the majority wanted. That’s putting things in the most simplistic terms possible, but that’s the bottom line. He wanted to help, and people said no.

And then it got ugly, uglier than any campaign I’ve seen in my, what, 24 years? of voting.

Every time Donald Trump opened his mouth, I thought, “No. This is where people say, ‘enough’.” That “enough” never happened, and we are looking at the reality of him becoming president. Frankly, after seeing the lack of response to the horrific way the Sioux tribe is being treated over DAPL, I don’t feel good about anyone in the running. The teenage son of a woman with whom I’m acquainted was beaten and jailed, just for being there. He had gone there with his family to help feed those trying to defend their water supply. A cousin of a writer I know suffered the same, having his possessions stolen on top of everything else. These are real people being hurt, not characters on a TV show, but we watch as if they are, less angry about their fate than we are about Glenn’s poor scrambled brains leaking onto the set of The Walking Dead.

I’m a cranky, apathetic, cynical little shit, but this lack of caring on such a massive scale is crushing me. Lack of concern for Native Americans, for LGBT folks, for people of color, for children, for women, the elderly, disabled, mentally ill, veterans… Lack of concern, it seems, for anyone who isn’t involved in the exclusive financial circlejerk that is our federal government.

So I went and I voted, not for anything in particular, but against the worst of it. I voted against Trump, and against the disgusting governor of my state, Pat McCrory, who has worked incredibly hard to destroy the lives of as many of his constituents as he possibly can. I voted, and I felt just as bad walking out as I did going in.

Election season is like Christmas when you’re a kid. You get all riled up in the weeks before, deal with the inevitable elation or disappointment when the gifts are all unwrapped, and then a week later, the new clothes are in the washer with all your old stuff, the new toys are on their sides with dead batteries, and you’re back in school having the same old conversations about the same old shit and learning the same pointless garbage they’ve been feeding you since you were toilet trained.

It’s not going to get better unless we keep being angry past election day. We have to keep fighting everything that’s wrong, every day. It’s hard. It’s exhausting. It’s not fun, and there’s something cool on Netflix, and we have money for Taco Bell, so tonight let’s not think about it, right? And tomorrow it’s something else, and the next day, another thing, and then it’s election day again and we’re irate again, for just a minute, and then it’s done.

And then it’s done.

And trans people keep getting beaten up in bathrooms. And gay people keep getting their houses painted with ugly graffiti. And the mentally ill keep floundering, with nowhere to go for help, and children keep going hungry, and veterans keep dying on the streets for lack of care, and women die of cancer while they try to raise the funds for mammograms. Black men keep getting murdered for the crime of being Black. Native Americans choose between bullets or giving in to slow poisoning, and the politicians keep getting richer with every shot that’s fired. But every four years, we give a shit, so it’s okay.

I’m going to take a nap.

On Transgender Bathrooms, Dennis Hastert, and How to Protect the Children

Published April 29, 2016 by April Fox

I posted this on my Facebook page this morning, but I thought I’d share it here as well.


Dennis Hastert sexually abused multiple children while he worked as a boys’ wrestling coach. He watched them shower. He gained their trust and then fondled them. He didn’t dress up like the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood, as proponents of bills like HB2 like to imagine. His disguise was much more clever and far more terrifying: He was a monster dressed as an authority figure, a buddy, a role model. He was like the thousands of coaches, teachers, clergy members, family members, family friends, camp counselors and others to whom we entrust our children every single day.

 
If there are nearly 750,000 predatory sex offenders free to enter our public restrooms in any form of attire, that’s what we need to address.

 
We need to address the fact that there are statutes of limitations on sex crimes, despite widespread knowledge that it can take victims many years before they are able to talk about what happened. They suffer in silence and then are told “Sorry, it was too long ago. Deal with it.”

 
We need to address the leniency in sentencing and the ease with which those in positions of power can often buy their way out of trouble.
We need to address the stigma of sexual abuse.

 
We need to address the idea of better education, so children feel more confident saying no, and speaking out.

 
We need to address the ignorance that teaches our children to fear anyone who looks different, but to follow without question anyone in a position of authority.

 
We need to address the reality that gender identity is a complex thing, not defined solely by the contents of your trousers.

 
We need to address the safety of transgender people, androgynous-appearing people, gay and lesbian people, as others in the community seek to harm them simply for needing to use the bathroom.

 
We need to address the safety of our children, who are at exponentially greater risk for suicide and self-harm if their sexuality and identity are not understood and supported by family and community members.

 
We do not, I promise you, need to address the question of whether or not your genitals match those of the person in the next stall over. If that is your concern, over all the others I just listed, then you are undoubtedly part of the problem.

Condem(nation)

Published April 12, 2016 by April Fox

Take a look at your hair,

your skin

the color of your eyes

the space between your teeth

and your words, the cadence

with which they erupt

from your imperfect mouth, the syntax

tripping, flowing, smooth like

broken glass

Take a look at the things

that keep you up at night, the

sites you visit

in the bathroom

home alone, but with the door locked

anyway

the nightmares you’re afraid to tell

the hands you wish would reach for yours

across the universe of shame

the vacant way you stare and raise your hands

in praise

Take a look at your twisted limbs, your fractured smile, your thickened middle

evidence

of greed and gluttony

Take a look at the god you cry to

when your self becomes too much,

staring down the barrel

one finger on the trigger

the other in the air

Take a look at the wreckage

that your life has left behind, at the emptiness around you

at the vacuum that you are

shrunken, flaccid, impotent and weak

Take a look and see

how beautifully easy

it would be

to become the

hated thing. 

Artists, Please Don’t Give Up on North Carolina

Published April 9, 2016 by April Fox

Earlier this week, Bruce Springsteen announced that he was canceling an upcoming North Carolina concert because of his opposition to HB2. The law, also known as North Carolina’s “Bathroom bill,” removes state protections against discrimination, and demands that people use single-sex restrooms in public facilities such as schools and government offices in accordance with the sex listed on their birth certificates, not the gender with which they identify.

Springsteen’s voice is one of the most powerful in the music world, and the statement he made by boycotting North Carolina is a strong one. He’s letting fans and the state of North Carolina know in no uncertain terms that he does not support discrimination, and that’s a message that might have a positive effect on fans who were in agreement with the law.

Springsteen isn’t the only person to have cancelled appearances in North Carolina because of HB2, and it’s a trend that’s likely to continue for a while. And while I appreciate these celebrities joining our fight for equality, I’m seeing things from a different perspective, too.

Yesterday, the manager of Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe published a letter about how the boycott can hurt small businesses. Author Sherman Alexie was the first to cancel his appearance at Malaprop’s, not only costing the store business but also taking away an important cultural experience from the people who wanted to hear him speak. Again, I understand and appreciate the gesture; I don’t really want to be in this state either. But Malaprop’s has a decades-long history of supporting LGBT causes, and by boycotting the state, Alexie is [no doubt inadvertently] hurting the good guys.

North Carolina is a state in crisis, and we have been for a while. Our teachers are pitifully underpaid, we have too many children living in poverty, and our state lawmakers voted against the Medicaid expansion so that many families are still uninsured. Right now, I’m saving money to get an important test to determine whether or not a mass in my uterus is cancer, because I fall into that lower-middle class gap. And now there’s HB2, which was called the worst anti-LGBT piece of legislation in history when it was passed. I get it: We suck, many of our state legislators are a bunch of heartless power-mongers, and the only way to hit them where it hurts is to go straight for the wallet.

Problem is, the rest of us have wallets too, and they’re already painfully thin. My husband works in the music industry as a performer, studio owner, and sound engineer. The venues where he runs sound aren’t owned by mega-corporations, they’re owned by regular human beings, people who live in our communities with their families and are just trying to make a living, like the rest of us. My husband runs sound for bands from all over the country, and he loves his work. I work as a teacher and make a little money writing, but his music jobs are what keep our family afloat.

When you cancel a show in Asheville, or anywhere in North Carolina, you’re making a fantastic statement, but you’re also hurting local families who are just as much opposed to that bill as you are. If my husband misses one gig due to a boycott or any other reason, there goes our weekly grocery money. A night of work is a car payment, school clothes for the kids, car insurance, part of the rent… it’s a huge chunk of our life. It’s a huge chunk out of the life of anyone who depends on others’ performances to make a living, from the bartenders to the sound engineers to the business owners trying to figure out how they’re going to make payroll this week.

To those considering boycotting North Carolina in opposition to HB2, I say thank you. Thank you for standing behind our transgender friends and family. Thank you for having the balls to speak out against an absolutely deplorable piece of legislaion that hurts not only the LGBT community, but everyone. But please, consider keeping that date. Come read your stories to us; play some music and let us dance for you. Speak up while you’re here. Use your time in North Carolina to let local fans know that you stand with them, that you agree that Pat McCrory is a spineless, bigoted jerk and needs to be stopped. Use your time on our stages to speak out against HB2, while showing that you support the people our governor is trying to destroy.

 

Musician and sound engineer Anthony Dorion works in his Asheville, NC studio

On Beliefs, and Why They’re Irrelevant

Published December 10, 2015 by April Fox

Belief: n:

  1. a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing

  2. something believed; especially :  a tenet or body of tenets held by a group

  3. conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence  –Merriam Webster.

There seems to be some confusion lately about the importance of beliefs. We have people running around spouting all kinds of cruel, nasty, ugly, misinformed shit that makes no sense at all, and another group of people (often overlapping) running around spouting all kinds of shit about how it’s okay to spout the crazy shit because we have to respect everyone’s beliefs. It’s okay to want to marginalize and demonize and actually physically harm people because your beliefs say it’s okay, right?

Except the reality is, we don’t really have to respect anyone’s beliefs, unless by “respect” you mean “ignore,” because BELIEFS DON’T MATTER.

Beliefs are opinions. They’re feelings. They don’t make a darn bit of difference because they live inside your head and nobody else is in there but you. Now, beliefs can influence behavior, and that’s something you have to worry about.

For example, let’s say you believe you’re a rottweiler. You believe this because you like to try and chew on your feet, and you chased a cat once, and you have black hair and cute little brown eyebrows. Or just because someone told you when you were a kid that if you didn’t believe you were a rottweiler, you were going to burn up in a fiery pit for ever and ever and ever. It doesn’t matter why you believe it, you just do, and that’s cool. You can post pictures of your Kibbles n’ Bits dinner all over social media, people might think it’s kind of strange, but you’re not hurting anyone. If someone asks why you believe you’re a rottweiler, you can tell them, and share that belief with anyone you like. You can choose to wear a spiked collar because they look cool as shit on a rottweiler (and also on some people, although I haven’t worn mine in years). You can even bark when someone knocks on the door, if you want. You might scare away the pizza guy, but then again, he might just drop the box and run, and free pizza is awesome, even when you’re a dog.

Here’s where it gets tricky.

You believe that you’re a rottweiler, and you start trying to force restaurants to stop serving things like soysage souffle (soysage is a thing, I’m not even kidding) and serve Kibbles n’ Bits instead because Kibbles n’ Bits is the only good thing to eat. You want to close down the cathouses and terrariums and turn everything into a dog park because you’re a rottweiler and rottweilers are better than other animals. You start humping people’s legs and pissing on their tires and all of a sudden your beliefs are making you act batballs motherfucking crazy and it’s not about respecting your beliefs at all, it’s about get your red rocket off my leg, you fucking asshole.

And so now imagine that scenario applied to people. That’s what’s happening all over America right now: people are letting their beliefs, to which they are one hundred percent entitled, turn them into raging leg-humping tire-pissing jackholes, and we’re all sitting around going “no no, it’s just my leg, it’ll wash off, because we have to respect everyone’s beliefs.

Respecting other people’s beliefs has not a single goddamn thing to do with letting people be mean to each other, letting them be racist or xenophobic or homophobic or any other fucking euphemism you want to use to sugarcoat the reality which is that some people are fucking mean-spirited jerks and you don’t get to use your beliefs to get away with that shit.

Mutual respect is always good. Being considerate of others is wonderful. We live in a huge, diverse community, and that’s a beautiful thing. It’s lovely to be supportive and understanding of things that are important to the people around us, including their systems of belief. But it is just as important to make sure people know that it is not okay to use your beliefs as launchpads for your prejudice and hate.

Now go fetch my slippers and quit humping my leg, you fucking nut.

 

 

I Don’t Care About Kim Davis’s Sordid Past

Published September 3, 2015 by April Fox

Kim DavisThe big news this afternoon is that Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk of court who was refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, has been arrested. Leading up to her arrest, the Internet was a constant flood of information and memes calling her out for her sordid past. Davis has reportedly been married several times, bore children by one man while married to another, had them adopted by a third man (did I get that right?) and then divorced the one guy and remarried one of the first guys. It’s pretty confusing, and it certainly makes it easy to poke fun at a woman who claims to be standing firm in defense of “Biblical marriage.” But does it matter? Not in the least.

Is Kim Davis a hypocrite? No doubt. But a large majority of Christians are in one way or another, and–news flash–it’s not a big deal.

It doesn’t make sense to cry foul because Davis is using her religion to condemn others, and then condemn her by the same standard. I get that she’s the last person in the world who should be talking about the sanctity of marriage, and she’s kind of an evil cunt, and she has really bad hair and looks like she could use a long nap and some strong coffee, and maybe a Xanax or 12. This is not a happy woman, and she is determined to take it out on someone. And bless her heart, she’s gotten herself in pretty deep now, hasn’t she? But we’re all kind of missing the point here:

Separation of church and state.

That means us too. If we’re going to be grown-ups about this and make a compelling argument for what is right, we have to judge Davis by the same standards we expect her to use. The problem is not that Kim Davis seems to be really bad at making wise relationship decisions. It isn’t that she went through a series of divorces and then found religion; it’s fairly common, I think, for people to find religion later in life and go a bit overboard with it. (Don’t believe me? Come visit Asheville and see how many middle-aged women you meet in flowy skirts with constant prayer hands and stream-of-consciousness rambling about the Universe and the Spirit and Manifesting all manner of shit like rent money and a man who can rock a beard and a purse at the same time. We embrace new ideas with a passion, and that’s totally normal.) The problem is that she’s using religion to break a secular law and to deny service to people who are entitled to it under that secular law.

Her religion DOES NOT MATTER.

It needs to be taken out of the equation. I don’t care if she’s Miley Cyrus or the Virgin Mary during her off hours. What matters is what she’s doing on the clock. She’s becoming a martyr for the cause, and while we can all agree that she’s a pretty nasty human being for doing what she’s doing, the attention she’s getting for it is bolstering the confidence of other bigots, giving them the [lily-white Good Christian] balls to spout off the same shit she’s spewing.

Our stance should not be, “She’s not even a good Christian herself!” but “It doesn’t matter her religion, she isn’t doing her job.” Get her out of there, give the job to someone who is capable of fulfilling the responsibilities thereof, and let her see that really, truly, her religious beliefs don’t matter to anyone but her. This isn’t a matter of “She can’t do this because she broke Biblical law too,” it’s a matter of “She can’t do this because she’s breaking a federal law and ignoring the requirements of her job.” That’s all.

Gay Marriage Ruined My Life: A Right Wing Fairy Tale

Published June 26, 2015 by April Fox

I don’t know where to begin with this.

One year, six months, and five days ago, I got straight married. This morning, that marriage is over, the sanctity of it ripped apart by the selfish ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

The Court has ruled that states no longer have the right to deny same-sex couples the right to marry.

I now have to find someone to gay marry. My husband does, as well. All across America, straight marriages are falling apart in the same way, as men and women wake up side by side and find out that they can no longer be represented by those great historical figures, Adam and Eve. They now must be Adam and Steve, or Eve and… I don’t know, what female name rhymes with Adam? I’m sure some good right wing fundamentalist will figure that out soon enough. It’s not important now.

The children born of these same-sex unions will grow up to be gay as well, and they’ll make little gay babies who will make little gay babies when they grow up, and that will no doubt lead to countless abortions and an increase in welfare and food stamp fraud.

Ministers will be forced to perform gay marriages in their now-gay churches, because everyone knows that when the gays get married, they’re all about forcing a disagreeable old bigot to perform the ceremony, rather than enlisting the services of a more supportive officiant.

Standardized test scores will plummet. I don’t know why, but as long as we’re blaming gay marriage for the downfall of society, I think that fits, don’t you?

The reality, of course, is that none of that happened. None of that will happen.

The reality is that I woke up to the news, ran down the stairs, told my child, danced around the house a little, ran up the stairs again, woke my husband to tell him, and instead of declaring his intentions for divorce, he smiled, hugged me, and went back to sleep. He’s still here, lying in bed behind me, awake now. I just checked-he confirms that we are still straight married, and are going to stay straight married. Our sanctity is intact, thank you very much.

There are still states where it is illegal for gay couples to adopt. This ruling could potentially open the door to positive changes there, providing more loving homes for children whose parents are unable to care for them. (By the way, if you see this as a bad thing and still label yourself pro-life, you’re a rotten little hypocrite, you know.)

Marriage equality can only change things for the better. There is truly no possible detriment to society as a result.

Really. There isn’t.

You can give me your biblical grounds, and I can shoot right back with my own verses that show your hypocrisy, and I can throw some logic on top of it, and you won’t listen anyway, if that’s your argument. Your religion fits you; it is not one size fits all. You have the absolute right not to gay marry, if it’s against your religion. Really, try it. Go find a gay person. Ask if they want to get gay married to you. If they say yes, then you say “Ha ha, just kidding, social experiment!” and watch what happens. (Nothing happens.) They’ll probably just think you’re kind of an asshole, and kind of crazy, but that’s really just confirming what we already knew. You won’t be dragged kicking and screaming to some tacky Vegas chapel where you’ll be forced to get gay married by a guy in Liberace drag, against a backdrop of glitter, show tunes, and a life-sized RuPaul cutout. Promise.

I’ve heard the argument that gay marriage is bad for children.

Let me tell you what’s bad for children. BAD MARRIAGES. When kids witness unhealthy relationships between adults, no matter their sex, that’s bad. When kids witness healthy relationships between adults, no matter their sex, that’s good.

I’ve heard the argument that gay marriage means exposing kids to gay sex. “Shoving it in their faces,” the fundies like to say.

I don’t know about you guys, but my kids aren’t anywhere around when I’m having sex. I would bet that’s the same in most families, whether the parents are gay or straight. So I guess the question now is, what are you perverts doing in front of your kids that makes you think that kids in families with gay parents are sitting around watching them have sex all the time?

Someone should look into that.

The sun is shining, this morning. I can hear birds singing. I can hear a bee buzzing outside my window, and the occasional cow saying hello. It’s the same as any other day, except that now, my friends who happen to be gay are finally recognized as human beings by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Nothing else has changed.

If you think that this ruling is going to damage your own straight marriage, you need to look into the real issues there. Good luck to you.

aclu love wins

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