Sunday, May 5, 2019

Gay Bars for Grownups?

This is a slightly different topic than what I usually post on. It's not on a lost place for women per se, but a place that is seemingly no longer defined as limited to men and women or adults in general but for "anyone."

I'm referring to gay bars. Specifically kids in LGBT bars.

And I don't mean teenagers who sneak in with a fake ID. Yes, we all know about them. Some of us even have fond memories of doing so.

That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about kids who are not even teenagers yet, 12 years of age and under. All under the rubric of being "drag kids" or "trans kids."

What kind of crap is this?

For the sake of argument, let's assume that there is such a thing as transgender kids, kids who are firmly convinced they are not the gender they were seemingly assigned, and that they absolutely know this now and for all time (actually, the research doesn't unambiguously confirm this at all, but let's assume this is true).

What is a "woke" parent to do? I suppose you could allow your trans daughter to dress in ways that are age-appropriate for other 10- or 12-year-old girls. And it shouldn't necessarily label you a fundamentalist nut job if you don't care for your preteen girls dressing in short shorts, tube tops, or t-shirts with suggestive sayings. How about a little pink, a few sparkly shirts, a cute dress for special occasions? That seems reasonable. Responsible parents intervene in how their kids are dressed everyday, believe it or not.

Well, no. That's not what it's about.

There are some parents--largely narcissistic attention seekers in my experience--who go well beyond this. They "allow" (encourage, subtly coerce?) their trans daughters into the whole drag queen scene, dressing in a way that is far from age appropriate. And that even means even parading them in gay bars and having them perform there.

Frankly, if you were to push your "cis'' daughter into such a scene, having her "perform" at a "gentleman's club," you could look forward to a CPS visit or a serious custody fight, especially if you're a single mother, who tend to be judged very harshly in our culture.

And you're double-screwed as a parent if you aren't college educated, middle-class, and/or white, and able to articulate why such behavior is really okay and kewl in the latest "gender queer" lingo.

But if you can link pimping your kid as a "performer" to a gay bar, it's all good. Right? Anybody who even raises the respectful questions about how appropriate this is will be smeared as right-wing despite their actual politics, an awful TERF, transphobic, or homophobic. No questions allowed!

I once had the temerity to question whether this was appropriate on Facebook, and within no time, there were texts to my employer demanding I be fired. So much for community discussion.

Who acts like this?

I know from long, painful personal experience who acts like this. Abusers act like this. Abusers who more than anything want to deflect attention away from what they are doing to their kids or the kids they have access to, so they attack anybody who they perceive as a threat to their actions. If I had any doubts before the attempt to get me fired (it didn't work), I was convinced afterwards.

After this incident, I was more convinced than ever that the parents behind "drag kids" are in most cases the same "show biz" parents that have always existed, the ones who are vicariously living through their children for attention, validation, "approval"--and frankly, money.

Parents like this typically have narcissistic personalities where they fail to recognize what their own children want or need, despite often loud declarations to the contrary.

And I have seen NO explanations from any of these parents of "drag kids" where they explain how they keep these kids safe, or that it's even a concern.

Oh sure, if pushed, they'll make a big show of concern. But the reason the topic is not brought up is that they really don't care.

Nor do certain LGBT "activists" who have been carefully groomed to not ask questions, give unconditional approval no matter what, and generally act as the narcissistic parents' "flying monkeys" and attack anyone who doesn't cheer along on demand.

Let's ask some questions.

1) If trans women are women, and trans girls are girls, then why is it acceptable to treat these girls in a way that would never be acceptable for so-called cis girls? Why the double standard? Why do these parents of "trans kids" get applause, while any parent (especially a mother) doing this to a non-trans kid is subject to CPS intervention, loss of custody, or even jail? Especially if you're poor or a person of color and can't afford the fancy lawyers.

2) Why is there an absolute denial and inability among too many in the LGBT "community" to treat the sexual abuse of children as a serious issue? Why do so many act as hypocrites, pointing fingers at Catholic priests or Republican congressmen, but going into outraged denials if anybody points out that sexual abuse can happens in ANY home, neighborhood, organization, etc., and that the LGBT community is not magically exempt?

3) If you are so concerned about smears by conservatives regarding gay pedophiles or child sexual abusers, why do you resist even the most commonsense, minimal guidelines to keep kids safe?

4) Who started this line that "all" members of the LGBT community must approve of kids performing in gay bars, or they are not members in good standing? I have asked around, and I think this is a myth being shoved down our throats by a minority of disturbed individuals with an agenda (or people groomed by the same). I even did a survey once in a gay bar, and NOT ONE PERSON I spoke to believed that young kids belonged in gay bars. Period. Believe it or not, many of us are parents ourselves. We have nieces and nephews. We are teachers or work with youth. And we think there is some serious bullshit going on here.

5) If it's so safe for "drag kids" to perform, then how is it you ignore the substantial evidence that even adult performers are subject to sexual harassment, abuse, and rape? Do you have any real guidelines, suggestions, or proposals for keeping kids safe when even adults are not necessarily safe?

6) At least in the US, you can't work with children without an official child abuse clearance--even if you work in university administration and rarely come into contact with college freshmen, much less anyone younger. When these "drag kids" perform at bars, do you require bouncers, bartenders, waitstaff, etc. to obtain clearances? What about patrons? Why or why not? When abusers even manage to slip into youth organizations despite all the precautions, how is it you think you'll have different results in a setting that was designed for adult entertainment, with no institutionalized precautions whatsoever for the well being of children?

7) What kinds of supervision do you require for these performers, other than the narcissistic parents who don't show much tangible evidence of really caring about the well being of their kids? Do you want to assign them guardians? Why or why not?

8) Since you deny that the sexual abuse of children could possibly occur in the LGBT community, what happens if these kids come forward with abuse allegations? Do you label them as liars, troublemakers, so the show can go on with no interruptions?

9) Do you really know that the child wants to perform at all? Or are they being pushed? Abusive parents can be very subtle about these things. Yes, the kid may publicly say they like performing, but that is not really meaningful if the parent is subtly (or not so subtly) withholding love and approval unless the child behaves as they wish. Watch one of these parents fly into a narcissistic rage if the child says they just wants to play soccer or run around outside like any other kid. These parents aren't going to get all kinds of strokes for that, are they?

10) How is it you ignore that many of us in the LGBT community have experienced sexual abuse, either personally and/or as a protective parent/teacher/reporter trying to keep children safe? Why is it we are being silenced? Those of us who have been through "the system" know full well--contrary to what you may think--that it is very hard to protect kids and get any justice for them. Too often, CPS, the police, the family courts, actually back up the abusers, especially if they have money, and the accusers are only women or kids. Too many of us have found this out the hard way.

There are many of us who are aghast at what's happening to LGBT politics, but given the death/rape/financial threats, we have not gone public.

But we are not going away. And we will not shut up.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Lost Womyn's Spaces of Northampton, Massachusetts

This is a wonderfully researched posting by Kaymarion Raymond at From Wicked to Wedded


An unprecedented number of Lesbian enterprises existed in Northampton in 1976-77, both old ones and new, that evolved out of the 1975-76 Separatist struggles. What particularly made this creative flowering different was that Lesbians were, for the first and only time, able to control, rent, and/or buy multiple spaces within downtown Northampton.
This was made possible in large part by the economic decay of the downtown. Its largest business, McCallums Department Store, had closed and many others followed as the city’s population sprawled and shopping malls were built further and further down King St.
When I moved to Green St. in 1970,  everything I needed was within walking distance. Over the next decade, much of that disappeared except for a changing cast of banks, bars, and restaurants. One by one, all but two of the neighborhood markets folded as well as the A&P on Bridge St. and the supermarket on Conz St. The working population that lived downtown in rooming houses or over just about every business aged and declined, too. Two downtown schools – Hawley Junior High and St. Michaels – closed. The working people’s businesses I relied on began to close their doors: Fine’s Clothing, Woolworth’s Five and Dime, Tepper’s General Store, Foster and Farrar Hardware, Whalen’s Office Supply. For a brief time, before real estate speculation and gentrification took hold and turned Hamp into Noho (competing nicknames), space affordable to women became available.
Below is a map of current downtown that I’ve amended with the location of the major 1970s Lesbian enterprises, which peaked in 1976-77. Following it is a brief description of the activity that took place at each address. All of this will be detailed in future posts if I haven’t already.bst 70s map_edited-2
#1. 200 Main St. Lesbian GardensThird floor space that was originally rented along with half the second floor by the Valley Women’s Center/Union. 1974-77. Currently Harlow Luggage building.
#2. 66 Green St. Green St.Top two floors, rooming house that started to be lesbian in 1972 and continued to be all or mostly lesbian at least until 1991. Building bought and demolished by Smith College. Currently grass.
#3. 1 Bridge St. Gala Café.  Lesbian backroom 1975-1979. Torn down, part of Spoleto’s currently in that space.
#4. 25 Main St. Nutcracker Suite. One large room on a back corridor as I recall, I believe on the fourth floor, 1976-77. This address also was used by the Grand Jury Information Project, Ceres Inc., and later, I believe, by Chrysalis Theatre. It was in what is now known as the Fitzwilly’s (Masonic) building.
#5. 19 Hawley St. The Egg and Marigolths. 1976-77 (estimated). Originally rented in 1973 by Mother Jones Press which in 1976 became Megaera Press and joined with Old Lady Bluejeansdistributing and the Women’s Film Coop to form the Women’s Image Takeover WIT. Additional space in the building was rented to accommodate several craftswomyn and Greasy Gorgon Garage auto repair. These formed a collective of businesses with the self-chosen odd name. Sweet Coming bookstore moved there in 1977.
#6.  78 Masonic St. Common Womon Club. 1976-82. Private dining club for feminist vegetarians owned by the non-profit Ceres Inc. Later bought by Bill Streeter for his book bindery. Currently it is the Mosaic Café.
#7.  68 Masonic St. Nutcracker Suite: Women’s Self Defense and Karate Dojo. Moved from Main St. 1977-78. Womonfyre Books. 1978-82. Owned by Ceres Inc. Later bought by Bart’s Ice Cream as their bakery. Currently it is lesbian owned Bela Vegetarian Restaurant.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Lilly's Music and Social House

Lilly's Music and Social House

Location: 2321 Arsenal Street, St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Opened: July 2015

Closed: May 2016

From out in stl:

Excerpt from interview with Kristin Goodman: 

Can you tell me about the idea behind Lilly’s Music & Social House?
When we were getting ready to open Lilly’s, Novak’s had already been closed for two years. People — women in particular — were sort of at a loss, especially women who are in their late 30s and 40s and 50s. A lot of women in that age group are not out at work, or they’re not out to their families yet, so LGBT bars and spaces are really important for that age group.
When we were thinking about opening a place, I wanted it to feature a lot of light music and make it a place where that lesbian who lives out in Ballwin or Crestwood would feel totally comfortable.
Kristen Goodman singing at Lilly’s. (Photo by Sandy Gutierrez)
When we were brainstorming with the staff about our mission, we landed on “safe space for women, welcoming space for all.” That really was the driver for all of the decisions we made, from menu items to price points on cocktails to the atmosphere.
We probably were in the wrong-sized space for what we were trying to do. We’d have an awesome band on Friday night and be slammed, and people would come in and hunker down and maybe order dinner or a cocktail and then sit there and watch the band the whole night. With only about 40 seats in the place, we weren’t getting the volume that we needed to sustain us on a slow Tuesday or Wednesday night.
It was an amazing learning experience, and I was sad when it closed, but I don’t regret it. It connected people to other friends that they didn’t know before, and now they’re all still hanging out and doing their own parties and social gatherings.

Bum Bum Bar

Photo of Bum Bum BarBum Bum Bar

Location: 63-14 Roosevelt Ave., Queens, New York, USA

Opened: Early 1990s

Closed: Late 2018

From the Jackson Heights Post:

Bum Bum Bar, Roosevelt Avenue Lesbian Bar, Closes After More Than 2 Decades
March 1, 2019 By Meghan Sackman

Bum Bum Bar, the gay-owned and operated bar located in Woodside for more than two decades, has closed its doors.

The bar, which opened at 63-14 Roosevelt Ave. in the early 1990s, saw three generations of LGBT owners, and appears to have closed late last year.

Its closure was announced in a release today by NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, a group that works to highlight and preserve sites connected to the city’s LGBT community.

The non-profit says Bum Bum Bar (pronounced “boom boom”), was among the four remaining lesbian bars in New York City, and attracted a “mixed, but mostly working-class, Latina lesbian crowd.”

“It’s a really sad commentary on the state of nightlife for LGBTQ women,” said Ken Lustbader, Co-Director of NYC LGBT Historic Sites Projects. “This was one of the only places that provided the opportunity for LGBTQ women to meet each other in a safe environment.”

The group even pointed to the bar’s history in providing support for the inaugural Queens Pride Parade in 1993.

It is unclear why the bar closed, and the owner was unable to be reached for comment by press time.

Danny Hart, the site’s most recent owner, was interviewed by Go Magazineabout the bar and its origins after she took ownership of it in 2016.

“The word ‘Bum Bum’ is actually Brazilian,” she said. “It means ‘the booty of the women.’ In Brazil they have a contest called the Bum Bum Contest, and it takes into account the whole physique of the woman.”

The magazine said the two gay men that opened the bar named it after the contest as an “homage to their beautiful women customers.”

The nightlife establishment, which had a 175-person capacity and a large dance floor, held a huge annual Pride event and also participated in the annual Jackson Heights Pride Parade.

The bar’s unexpected closure was met with surprise and concern.

“I was shocked to hear they were closed,” said Gwen Shockey, a Brooklyn artist who studies queer nightlife and incorporates it into her “Addresses” project–a digital map of lesbian/queer historical sites that have existed in the city. Her work is unaffiliated with the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.

Shockey speculated that the reason for Bum Bum bar’s closing, besides the changing neighborhood and rising rents, could be the difficulties queer women face as business owners, as her research has demonstrated.

“People have frequently mentioned that it’s harder for women to open and maintain spaces because of pay discrepancies,” Shockey said. “Women aren’t making as much money as men on the dollar and it makes it harder to succeed or have as consistent of a nightlife following as gay men.”

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project said its work in documenting this bar’s trajectory and that of other sites helps “document an invisible history to show the public that LGBTQ history is American history.”

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Harvard University Women's Organizations

Harvard University Women's Organizations

For background, see this article: Harvard Cracks Down on All-Male Clubs. But It’s Women’s Groups That Have Vanished, by Sarah Brown. 

Women at Harvard protested the administration's effort to discourage
membership on gender-exclusive student groups.

Here are the first few paragraphs from Brown's article: 

Just over a year ago, Harvard University's leaders made an announcement that they hoped would be the final word, for the time being, in a lengthy debate over the future of campus social life.

Starting with the freshman class in 2017, any student who joined a single-gender social group — like one of the university's exclusive final clubs, or a fraternity or sorority — would face restrictions. Members wouldn't be able to hold leadership positions on campus, serve as captains of athletic teams, or receive Harvard's endorsement for postgraduate scholarships like the Rhodes and the Marshall. The groups could avoid the sanctions only if they went coed.

Technically, the policy had been unveiled in May 2016. But after 18 months of contentious conversations, Harvard's governing board finally voted to approve the restrictions. The board's action would, in theory, institute the policy beyond the tenure of Drew Gilpin Faust, the president at the time, who stepped down this summer.

To some observers, the demise of exclusionary social groups on college campuses makes a lot of sense. As student populations diversify, administrators are growing more aware of the need to foster inclusive environments, not ones segregated by gender and class. At Harvard, the men's final clubs in particular seem like vestiges of a university from an earlier era, when the student body was whiter and wealthier than it is today.

So on the surface, it would be easy to dismiss the lawsuits filed against Harvard by Greek organizations last month as a last-gasp effort. Privileged people are digging in their heels in the face of threats to their privilege, the argument goes. The suits are accompanied by a national campaign and petition, with an extensive website that purports to tell "the Truth" about single-gender social organizations. Some sorority chapters at other colleges have encouraged members and alumni to sign on.

But the sorority members who have become the loudest voice in favor of the lawsuits argue that their fight isn't about protecting privilege at all. It's about protecting women.

Harvard officials have said their crackdown on social groups was designed to do just that. In their view, all-male final clubs encourage misogynistic behaviors and create problematic environments for women. The solution? To discourage the behavior at the source.

Since the university couldn't singlehandedly eliminate private, unrecognized, off-campus organizations, administrators put in place the strongest disincentives to joining that they could come up with — and that would, they hoped, pass legal muster.

The women, on the other hand, say that the administration's approach to halting gender discrimination has endangered gender-exclusive spaces that weren't part of the problem. In fact, those women say, such groups remain necessary on a campus where issues like sexual misconduct persist.

Since the policy took effect, it's the sororities and women's final clubs that have disappeared, while most of the men-only groups continue to operate. This fall, all four of Harvard's sororities shut down. One recently reopened, but with a small fraction of its former membership. The six female-only final clubs have all started the process of going coed. (EMPHASIS ADDED)

This is a phenomenon often seen with regard to women's space. When push comes to shove, liberal feminist efforts to allow women into centers of male power will be countered by a male backlash of the same. The end result: nodules of men's spatial power remains, while any remnant of female space, no matter how apparently innocuous (like a sorority) will be destroyed. 

Here are additional points brought out in the article that are worthy of note: 

* "The current social scene at the College revolves around deeply entrenched systems of power," reads the February 2017 report of a committee convened to figure out how to carry out the policy. "Men's final clubs in particular can leverage the historical dominance of gender, class, and race to preserve that power."

No kidding. And notice that efforts to help support the women within this unequal playing field were cancelled:

One committee suggested that Harvard have a five-year "bridge" period for women's groups, during which they could continue to "operate with gender-focused missions" and make the transition to an arrangement in which they were recognized by the university and yet "entirely unconnected from the typical Greek system." But last March, administrators canceled the "bridge" program.

Of course. Not surprised. 
Then we have the "you girls have to suck it up because that's the only way to achieve our feminist goals" argument. Never mind that the boys aren't sacrificing much of anything, while the women are asked to give up everything. 

* A November 2017 statement signed by 23 female students said Harvard's premise "has been that women must not be allowed to join groups without men — for their own good — because it is the only way to 'get at' men's final clubs." Women's protests of the policy, they wrote, "have been met with the response that women groups are unfortunate collateral damage for a more noble cause — this cause of protecting them. This is egregious."

And then the result. We kill off women's groups, a few men's institutions go coed, and the rest of the men's organizations thrive. Because they are men, and they don't have to obey any rules made by freaking liberals or feminists. Right?

* In the spring, interest in sorority recruitment dropped by 60 percent, according to the Crimson. By August, the newspaper reported, there were no longer any women-only social organizations. One, Alpha Phi, has since reopened; the sorority is part of one of the lawsuits against Harvard. The chapter's membership peaked at 160 women in 2017, according to the suit. Now there are eleven women who "have rejoined or expressed interest in rejoining." Four men-only groups have gone coed over the last couple of years. But nine others, mostly final clubs, continue to operate.

At least some sort of get it, though they kind of tip toe around the central issues. 

Why was the impact on women's groups so much greater? Women's groups weren't as well established in Cambridge, said Emma Quinn-Judge, a Boston lawyer who is lead counsel for one of the lawsuits against Harvard. Men's final clubs have been around for centuries and have large alumni networks and resources that can help them survive in challenging circumstances.

But still the central problem remains. Integrating a few women within male power centers without a strategy for dealing with, diffusing, or eliminating male power generally results in a backlash/mess. The result: the boys still have their exclusive power clubs where they can be groomed for entry into the elite halls of governmental/corporate power. Whereas women can't even have a little A Capella singing group. 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Church of the New Ideal

Image result for Liscard concert hall
Church of the New Ideal

Location: Wallasey, Cheshire, England

Opened: March 1914

Closed: Before end of World War I (1918)

I found this news item while reading a newspaper from April 1914: 

There's more at this blog: Making a Track

In early 1914, adverts began to appear in women’s suffrage and local papers for the start of a Women’s Church in Wallasey, Cheshire.  Entitled the Church of the New Ideal, it was formally launched at its first service on 29 March 1914.  Held at the Liscard Concert hall,  this offered both mixed-gender and women-only services, but was organised and officered by women alone.  A proto-ecumenical adventure, women from seven different Christian denominations (including Anglican and Quaker) were represented in its management and it sought to include those who felt no place in any church: those women who, finding the Church

like a cage… (had) come away in sheer disgust at the attitude of the clergy towards the things which to women are dearer than life.

(Miss M.Hoy, letter to the Wallasey & Wirral Chronicle, 14 March 1914).
The Church of the New Ideal flourished initially but did not survive through to the end of the first world war, for by this time ministry opportunities for women were slowly beginning to open up.  Yet the Wallasey Women’s Church thus not only created unprecedented space for women but also attempted to offer a more feminine aspect of God, adding to the impetus building up within mainstream religious circles.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Hershee Bar

Hershee Bar
Hershee Bar
The closing of Hershee Bar

Location: 1083 W 37th Street, Norfolk, Virginia, USA 

Opened: 1983

Closed: 2018

From the Virginian-Pilot:

"We're losing our home": The last lesbian bar in Hampton Roads closes its doors
By Saleen Martin and Amy Poulter
Staff writers
Nov 1, 2018 Updated 5 hrs ago

Outside of the Hershee Bar's main entrance, two lit candles sat on a bench Wednesday night. Sandwiched between them was a sign.

"Thank you Hershee Bar for 'being there' for me when no one else was," it read.

Inside, flashing lights lit up the dance floor. A 1990s R&B mix blared through the speakers as people dressed as Run DMC, Minnie Mouse and pharaohs flashed their driver's licenses to get in.

It was their last night to grab drinks and feast on shrimp and french fries at the bar on Sewells Point Road before the building is torn down and the property is sold to the city. At 1:45 a.m., supporters said on social media, police arrived and watched the doors from the parking lot.

Bernie Gerlach was there with her two friends, Christi Hogge and Rene Hayes.

She met them at Hershee in 1998, she said.

For the past 20 years, the trio has gone there to remember lost loved ones, attend wedding receptions and unwind, they said. The bar was a safe haven for lesbians when it first opened, said Gerlach, who's from Newport News.

"We're losing our home," she said.

In February, the City Council voted unanimously to spend $1.5 million on the property in the Five Points neighborhood. Hershee was told to leave after Oct. 31.

Charles Cooper, who owns the property, asked the city to buy the lot in 2017 after his family removes the buildings, The Pilot reported. Cooper's son has said the bar was not targeted and other nearby businesses would also be affected by the sale.

Most recently, a spokesperson for Gov. Ralph Northam said they had received four calls by Wednesday afternoon about the bar, but an application to designate the location as historic had not been filed.

Bar owner Annette Stone hugged customers as she walked in Wednesday night. Over 200 people showed up, she said.

"It's overwhelming," she said. "But I expected that because that's how great these people are. That's how much this bar means to them."

Stone and a group of her supporters both posted on Facebook in the early hours Thursday that several Norfolk police officers showed up about 1:45 a.m., minutes before the bar shut down for good.

Michael Carney also came to celebrate one last time.

He has been visiting the bar since it opened in 1983, and he was one of the few men allowed into the bar back then, he said.

"There were maybe four or five of us who could get past the door person," Carney said. "Men would come in and harass the girls."

When his partner died, he went to Hershee to find solace. He went through a three-day depression when he found out the fate of the bar, he said.

"Today was also a very emotional day," said Carney. "The reality of it. I've dealt with it, but a lot of people haven't."

Lakela Fuller, who has been going to Hershee since she was 18, showed up, too. The bar's staff has seen her at her best and her worst, she said, grinning and pointing toward Burt McManus, a bartender at Hershee for 34 years.

McManus and other staff at Hershee have taken care of her and helped her accept who she is, she said.

If the bar ever opens in another location, she said, she'll be there.

"Whatever place they tell me they're going, I will go," she said. "It's like a family."

Pilot writer Amy Poulter contributed to this story.