Sunday, September 27, 2009

Stepping Out on Lexington's Shoulders

My given name has never fit me. No variation of it has ever made much sense. I have often searched for a nickname but rarely ever got one (and never a good one). I even tried to shorten my given name by a letter in the second grade and was told by my teacher that to do so would be “illegal". Jerk. Not clicking with my given name is reasonable to me considering that it came from a list of baby names floating around in my parents' house during the 1980s. And so, because my parents found some appreciation in this name (number seven on the list), that is what I was christened. Now, over two decades later I am reflecting on this decision made without my consultation and feel just fine about wanting to choose my name.

So I picked “Eli”. It's Hebrew and I am (eventually) converting, after all. It is also a popular feminine name in Norway from where some of my ancestors conveniently hail. The question now, and the relevance to this blog, is how this change will go over here in the fine city of Lexington.

I have lived here for just over a year now and have managed to spend a lot of time and energy in the pursuit of social change. That given name has been attached to an impassioned public speech and a full-color photo in a newspaper. The prospect of requesting to be called by my chosen name is also terrifying to me. The wonderful queer community in Lexington has shown me that such an act has successfully been done before and that I won't be going this alone. This post is the first leap of confidence that will lead to the first time I will introduce myself as Eli, nice to meet you.

Eli stands for all of the times I sped through introductions and the roll calls to which I hardly responded. It stands for all the cat calls and the “hey man, got a light(s)?" It remembers all the times over the years when my friends told me that I didn't look like my name. It hopes for a sense of solidarity in queer identity within myself and for that first confident handshake yet to come.

Mostly, it means to say “Hello, Lexington. I am the same crusader for equal rights that I was yesterday. I am here and genderqueer. I was afraid to be me but within your city limits I have found the confidence to speak up. You can call me Eli, nice to meet you."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

good reads, good tunes, good questions

So this is an addendum to our intro video. We wanted to share w/ everyone what we're reading and/or listening to a lot right now, and to also pose a discussion question.

Just in case you missed the question;

What experience have you had in the last week that has made you think about gender?

Post your story in the comments section. Feel free to upload a video response if you'd like.

and if you want to share w/ us what you're reading/listening to at the moment, that would be cool too!


De las Ondas

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

introduction video

So Mervin, Jackson and I thought it would be fun to make a video introducing ourselves and talking about what we hope this blog turns into. So here ya go!


De las Ondas

Monday, September 21, 2009

Coming out day is BACK!

Coming Out Day is on October 11th but sadly that day is on a Sunday so this year the University of Kentucky Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) decided to have it on Oct 9th (which also falls in perfectly for Sex Week @ UK!)

Basically the idea behind Coming Out Day is a celebration for people who are gay, lesbian, all in between and all who are neither to come and be together in a supportive fun atmosphere as well as all those who support them.

This year we will be in the Student Center Patio celebrating with Music, Face Painting, A Bake Sale, Gay Trivia, an Ally Pledge, more fun activities you can shake a stick at!

And we have a giant closet for you guys to come out of!

Date: Friday, October 9, 2009
Time: 10:00am - 4:00pm
Location: UK Student Center Patio
City/Town: Lexington, KY


De Las Ondas

Weekend Recap

So just last week here in Lex we had an awesome show at Al's Bar featuring Athens Boys Choir, 8" Betsy, and Lexington KY's very own Spooky Qs.

In addition to just being a kick ass show, the night also served as a benefit for the OUTsource, which is the university of Kentucky's GLBTIQ resource center.

Local musician Jack Cofer can be credited w/ pulling all of this together. He's been working very hard recently to bring more diverse acts to Lexington. When asked why this was important for him to do he said: "There are none [queer touring bands coming to Lexington] and there should be. There is a population here that appreciates it, and it raises queer awareness and it's not something we see often enough. I'm feeling very rewarded w/ the turnout from Tuesday, and by how many people really seemed to appreciate the show, including the performers. I can see that there is a demand for this sort of thing where there wasn't one at all, because people didn't think they could demand something like that in a town like this, and I"m more than happy to oblige."

So because you asked, Cofer is finishing up the planning of another queer music showcase on October 3rd 2009. The Queer Control Records showcase will also take place at Al's bar and will feature three bands from the San Francisco based label, local DJ's and fire dancers. 100% of the door is going to be donated to AVOL (AIDS Volunteers of Lexington).

You should also check out the next issue of local newspaper North of Center for an article written by Cofer about merging queer activism and the arts in Lexington.

And now, I'll leave you w/ some sweet pics from the show and the afterparty, Thanks to Shey Ruud and Ethan Hammonds.


De Las Ondas

Monday, September 7, 2009

New Venue in Town = I Peed on the Ground

Did the title grab your attention? Good. Let me propose something to you and please take the time to really think about this. As a cisgendered person, would you feel uncomfortable with gender neutral bathrooms in your favorite bar, or grocery store, or any other place you may frequent? And to those of you who identify differently, how would you feel if you came into your favorite bar and saw that the bathrooms were uniquely marked for the two types of humans who go out on a Friday night? I believe the response to the latter will be pretty uniform. Let me give you the story of my experience with the public restrooms in this town.

First of all, I am a pre-op, pre-hormone, androgynous, binding, FTM, gender-queer, and I go out A LOT. I used to work at the Good Foods co-op and before the expansion, they had gender neutral bathrooms. Sure, when I would walk out of the bathroom sometimes, a child would tug their mom's clothing and say "mommy, is that a boy or a girl?" but it's a Hell of alot better than a child screaming "Mommy, that boy was in the girl's room!" Or vice-versa.

I'm happy to say that I am no longer employed at this co-op, one reason being that with thier current expansion, they are providing larger bathrooms, which means they feel they need to throw a cut-out drawing of a "man" on one and a "woman" on the other. Some may be surprised at this step back in progress for this particular store, however it is coming from a place where the store manager said (to a cashier who shaved her head) "this is Kentucky, not San Francisco", then made her wear a hat.

I understand that with single stall bathrooms it is much easier to provide gender neutrality in a public space, which only pisses me off more when I see single stall bathrooms STILL LABELLED. To those spaces with large bathrooms providing multiple stalls I propose a third option. A safe option for people like me. I cringe at "Family" bathrooms, but God what a life-saver they are sometimes. Also, I have noticed some department stores provide a third option stictly for wheelchaired persons. In the event that I walk out of one of these and a handicapped person is waiting for me to come out, I will apologize profusely, however, I would rather someone assume I am an insensitive prick then stare me down on the way into the restroom because they feel I need to know just how disgusted they are.

To new owners who are just developing around Lexington (we are seeing a boom here) PLEASE include us in the drawing plans!!!! Buster's just re-opened bigger and better and on opening night I couldn't decide on a restroom (the old buster's was single stall and it didn't matter which one you used) and I had a male friend scope out the men's room and apparently even the toilet stalls have no doors. I ended up pissing in a corner of the parking lot all night.

Now back to my original question: To those of you who are cisgendered, would it really rock the boat too much to see a third space being provided for others? I mean, hey, if you're hateful toward non-gender conforming people, don't you want us to stop coming into your bathrooms?

This could go on forever and I want to see your comments!! Also lets take a moment to thank Third Street Stuff for being the ONLY public space who provide gender neutral restrooms. Thanks.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What word(s) would you choose to describe your gender identity and/or your sexuality?

I'm participating in a collaborative art show called a million little pictures, where people from all over the world were given a disposable camera and asked to document some aspect of their life in 24 frames. I decided it would be fun to document how the people around me all vary in terms of their gender identity and sexuality.

It HAS been a lot of fun, and it's been a great opportunity to have discussions about identities. A lot of people that I know chose labels that I didn't expect, and I had several great conversations about why we assume things about one another, and about how sexuality and gender are both very complicated, and each very different from the other.

I've decided to make this an ongoing project, so if you're interested in participating send me an email to, with "identification project in the subject line. In the meantime you can check out the photos here.