Thursday, February 16, 2012

On the Subject of Media and Stereotypes

I figured out this morning how incredibly incensed I become by stereotype in media. In this case, it was a Bounce fabric softener commercial and the stereotype they were propagating was gay men.

In this commercial, the OVERTLY gay man in question is heavy-set, has the stereotypical gay "lisp", and is carrying a little white purse/designer dog, and is (of course) worrying about his black shirt becoming unsightly with white dog hair, because fashion is to gay men what water is to fish-- necessary.Or so the media would like you to believe. Of course, Bounce saves the Fashion Day by keeping fur from ruining this man's otherwise pristine black shirt and now he can go about his day being overtly gay.

Anyone who knows me personally knows that I stand up for LGBTQ rights. I stand for equality and fairness for everyone and that includes the way that everyone from all walks of life should be represented in the media. Yes, I acknowledge the fact that gay men out there look and act and speak like this man does. That doesn't mean that every gay man out there appreciates being represented by this particular stereotype.

In movies, in television, and music we are saturated with the stereotype of what "gay" is meant to be. If a man isn't gay and man-hungry, conscious of fashion, limp-wristed and shouting "Haaaaaaaaay!" all over the place, then they won't be put into movies or television as the "gay best friend". We are all left to assume that gay equals men clad in tiny underwear, covered in glitter, and robed in a gay pride flag because that's what the media shows us. The fact is that that is just one genre of gay person. It's not an embarrassing genre, but it's only one. I think that this stereotype is largely what puts a block in the way of Gay Acceptance. Because the media only thinks of this particular type of gay person as fit for entertainment, we are left missing out on the huge sub-culture that makes up the entire fascinating LGBTQ community and homophobes are able to use this exact stereotype to "explain" why being gay is a bad thing.

I had a talk with my fiance about why the media does this and he suggested that perhaps if gay men were shown in the media as being "normal", then straight men would have no idea who was gay or straight. He posits that that line in the sand, that stereotype, allows some people to sleep better at night; knowing that they will always be able to tell when someone is gay and when someone is not. The fact is that I have gay friends who you would never guess are gay. This isn't some badge of honor, this isn't some redeeming quality they have, that they can "hide it"-- the fact that they are gay is a small, sexual-preference part of who they are. It doesn't make them who they are.

A friend of mine recently spoke about how far the world has come along for "those of us that are different". That one piece of their statement broke my heart. That LGBTQ people still have to consider themselves "Different". The difference between gay people and straight people isn't anything more than a sexual preference and culture-- something in their bones, their body, their DNA that tells them that they desire one type of love over another. That shouldn't make you "different". That should make you the same as every other human being on the planet with the human right to pursue those things in life that make you feel safe, feel loved, and HAPPY.

I understand the humor they were trying to put forth with this commercial, and in other media. I appreciate the attempt at showing and asking for acceptance of gay people by saturating the market with this kind of stereotype. The problem for me is the focus the media puts on things, and the bias we are left believing at their hands. They focus on a show like Jersey Shore and people who don't know better assume that people from Jersey must be orange, ill-educated, and foul-mouthed. The same follows for every stereotype of every kind of person from every race, culture, sexual preference, and religion-- and the worst part? The American masses buy into it. They believe in it, and they buy merchandise and Facebook about it and they Tumblr it and they tweet about it and I am left with #embarrasment. Embarrassment that as a species, we can't just exist and allow others to do the same without buying into these stereotypes.

Every time a celebrity "comes out" by thanking their partner in an acceptance speech I feel a pang of embarrassment for that person. Not because they have come out, but because it must immediately become the talk of the internet, magazines, and television and then they must either defend a choice that is so miniscule in who a person is in the long run or be thought of as brave for "coming out" and then explain themselves. A person should not be measured by the person they love. They should be measured by the love that they share with the world. A love choice should not subjugate a person to a media firing squad. A love choice should neither help nor hinder endorsements, success, or safety. The media makes these things happen, though.

There is more to every person in this world than the skin they exist in, the person they choose to love, the religious beliefs they follow, or the niche they fit into culturally. Every person deserves love and respect and the right to exist in this world and be whoever the hell they want to be while doing it.

I implore you, the reader, to believe in equality. To DEMAND it. I also ask that you remember not to propagate hurtful stereotypes by sensationalizing small things that do not make up what an entire culture, race, gender, or religion really is. I am not saying it's not okay to laugh about life, to accept that certain stereotypes can be used as comedic as long as they aren't hurtful. We all need to laugh. But do not accept those things as truth and keep those stereotypes where they belong then move on and realize that it's a speck in the large scope of things.

I live on AVENUE Q

I know that this news is a bit late in its arrival, (being that we are into our third week of rehearsals) but some of my readers do not follow me on Facebook. I was cast as the Bad Idea Bear (girl) in Bower City Theatre Company's production of Avenue Q! For those of you not in the know about this musical, here's some information provided by the Bower City Theatre  website;

Avenue Q

Directed by Jim Tropp

Winner of the TONY® “TRIPLE CROWN” for BEST MUSICAL, BEST SCORE and BEST BOOK, AVENUE Q is part flesh, part felt and packed with heart. Don't miss out on this chance to save big on this long-running Broadway hit!

AVENUE Q is a laugh-out-loud musical that tells the timeless story of a recent college grad named PRINCETON who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q. There, he meets KATE (the girl next door), ROD (the Republican), TREKKIE (the internet sexpert), LUCY THE SLUT (need we say more?), and other colorful types who help PRINCETON finally discover his purpose in life!
Avenue Q, directed by Jim Tropp will be presented March 23 – 31, 2012. Performances will be held at The Janesville Performing Arts Center, 408 South Main Street, Janesville, Wisconsin 53545. Tickets are available at the JPAC box office or by phone 608.758-0297 or online for further information please email:

Who is AVENUE Q appropriate for?
Adults love AVENUE Q, but they seem a little, er, fuzzy on whether it's appropriate for kids. We'll try to clear that up. AVENUE Q is great for teenagers because it's about real life. It may not be appropriate for young children because AVENUE Q addresses issues like sex, drinking, and surfing the web for porn. It's hard to say what exact age is right to see AVENUE Q - parents should use their discretion based on the maturity level of their children. But we promise you this - if you DO bring your teenagers to AVENUE Q, they'll think you're really cool.

Produced by Bower City Theatre Company at Janesville Performing Arts Center, 408 South Main Street, Janesville

Performances: March 23-31, 2012

Performance Times: March 23, 24, 30 & 31, 2012 at 7:30pm

Ticket Prices: $15 Opening Night $17 Students and $22 Adults

Call 608-758-0297 for reservations or more information.

BRIAN – Dan Houser
CHRISTMAS EVE - Nicki Dougherty
GARY COLEMAN – Deshawn Christian
KATE MONSTER – Stacy DeGolier
LUCY – Amber Dalton
MRS. T – Candace Griffin
NICKY - Caleb Wohlust
PRINCETON – Tyler Block
ROD – Bradley Cartwright
GIRL BEAR – Naomi Houser
BOY BEAR – Jon Marko
PUPPETEER - Ruel Mundth
PUPPETEER - Jason Chesnut

The character I am playing, whom I lovingly call "Bender", is so sweet that she could induce diabetic coma. Though the bears give suggestions to Princeton that could be construed as terrible ideas, when coming from soft, snuggly bears, hilarity ensues. I really look forward to being a part of this, my first "fourth-wall" production since high school *mumble mumble* years ago. For those of my readers close enough to attend, I would love to see you there.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Sound of Her Feet

The sounds. The sounds of soft claps against the pavement. My feet moving forward, ever forward.

I know that about this time of year, people are starting to bring themselves to task, making resolutions-- promises for the future. They are recounting the year past and planning for the year ahead. This is where we differ. I don't plan, I just do. I have goals, but they are spoken only to me so I am the only one who can hold me accountable when I fail or succeed. So many things have come into the forefront. Fears, jitters, happiness, sadness; I am a mass of swirly, gut-wrenching emotion. Right, left, right, left, right, left.

Money is and will probably always be an issue, so I have just put the sound of it on MUTE. I can't devote energy to something that is a constant like that because it is just dragging me under this spinning and sucking eddy. It becomes a white noise in the forward momentum and I breathe and remember that it is no more serious now than it has been.

While others are planning their year down to the letter-- a pound here or there, a plan for this or that-- I have decided that 2012 should bring new and interesting and TALE back into my life.

After too many years to name, I decided that, on a whim, I was going to try out for a musical. My brother told me that he had been asked to audition for Avenue Q and that I should come up with an audition piece for it as well... IN FOUR DAYS. They wanted you to prepare 24 bars of a song (with sheet music) and be prepared to sing it at the audition. I printed mine off the morning of the audition. Yes, the morning of. I walked into that audition with a belly full of snakes and my sheet music in my hand, a genuine smile plastered on my face. Mostly, I was just thrilled for the opportunity. I let them know that I was new to the production and that I had only heard about it recently and had printed the music off that morning, so my singing piece wasn't really polished. They let me look at the words to the song while singing the song "Macavity" from the Broadway musical Cats. I faltered a bit at the start, but gained confidence with it as we went along. The director asked why I was not in musical theater, and I told him that during the summer I kind of am. I felt pretty confident walking out the stage doors that I was going to get a second audition-- and I DID!

I was asked to return for a Call Back auditioning the LEAD ROLE as Kate Monster with the song "There's a Fine, Fine Line". I feel like it might be a touch high for my range but I am going to do ME, because it's all I've got. I suppose it's gotten me into great roles before and if nothing else, I just want to be a part of the show. That doesn't make me any less nervous about it, but there you go. Left, right, left, right, left, right.

Sometimes paths take forks, and this post will too. Sometimes it's not the steps, but the footprints. My daughters make me so proud. Every time they say things like "money doesn't matter", "I want to change the world, mommy" and then my youngest (the smallest in her entire kindergarten class) gets into an argument with another girl in line while waiting to go into the school and begin her day. I was sure that this was going to end in furious, frustrated tears and was pleasantly surprised when instead I hear my daughter's voice ring out in undeniable logic-- "You can think what you think about it and I can think what I think about it." I feel like I am doing my job well.

Forward momentum... my feet are calloused with the journey, but I will walk on.

Welcome back, my dears. Be prepared to be bombarded with the amalgam that is my mind. I have a lot to say.

Welcome Back... not Kotter.

Oh, roller coaster of life... you are a strange and mystical creature.

So I am sure some of you are wondering where the hell I have been, why I dropped off the face of the Bloggersphere for a while, what's been new in my life. or maybe you haven't, and that's okay too.

The truth of the matter is that I felt harassed. I felt harassed by politics, harassed by some random "Anonymous" asshole, harassed by life in general and really I shouldn't have let it get to me the way I did. I abandoned something that I created because I worried I wasn't going to measure up and keep people interested. I feared that "Anonymous" may decide to come back and try to air my dirty laundry again. I felt nervous about posting anything at all personal anymore because someone was going to try and use it against me.

Well, fuck that.

I am not hiding anymore. I am here. I am me. Don't like it? Screw you too.

In the blog posts that follow, I am going to go back to the same old eclectic, random, oddness I have always been about. I am going to be uncensored, political, funny, daring, scared... all the things this blog used to be as an outlet for me. At this point I don't care what the comments have in store for me, but I won't be allowing comments without moderation.

Let the good times roll.

And, because my day needed a good laugh, fellow blogger Martha May over at Making Shit Happen sent me a HILARIOUS photo bomb that I appear in where she is attempting to take a nice picture with Neil Gaiman, and I am being ridiculous in the background. I have to say, this made my otherwise very lame day. (Pictured above)