Reina Gossett is a visionary and her work deserves prestige and compensation.As a writer and an organizer, I get a warm flush a few times a month when I get a shout out on social media from my many peers and colleagues in queer feminist POC networks. The last one that gave me real pause was the incomparable make-up artist Umber Ghauri of Brown Beauty Standards who let the world know that I did one of my usual backstage hook-ups for a great campaign celebrating trans women’s beauty for the End Violence Against Women campaign. Reina Gossett is a historical researcher, writer, filmmaker and activist who has been receiving the antithesis of the aforementioned warm treatment that comes from community solidarity and compassionate collaboration. She’s been done real dirty in the furore which has surrounded the Netflix documentary film “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson”. If you are unfamiliar with what I am talking about, Gossett accused David France, the director, of capitalizing on her years of research and ideas for the film. I spoke with David France, just to get a measure of the man. I was not interested in the pernickety back and forth of accusations, allegations, defensiveness and labored partial truth seeking. The expansion of digital media has enlarged the court of public opinion exponentially to an extent that would boggle the minds of television watchers. In this era where many are concerned about the not-that-new phenomenon of 'fake news', the thoroughness of journalistic endeavor hasn't been diluted across the board. It seems that David France believes that because he had "trans and gender non-conforming people from the very top of our production to the bottom of our production” that it could exempt him from criticism of his cisgender white gaze and perhaps even invalidate Reina’s claims that her labor was exploited.
No matter how “beloved” Apu may be, it’s time for him to go.While I appreciate The Simpsons’ place as iconic in the canons of American pop culture, I have never been a fan. My long list of complaints about The Simpsons includes its sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, extreme violence, child abuse and more. But one of my biggest reasons is and always will be Kwik-E-Mart clerk Apu. Over the years when I mention the racist stereotyping inherent in the character, most people have dismissed my concerns, telling me I’m being overly sensitive and asking why can’t I take a joke. Yet, every so often I’d watch a person’s eyes widen with the realization that they had never stopped to think about how an actual South Asian person would perceive Apu’s doofery, which has created widespread distortion of the Desi community that transcended its screen time into real life. Comedian Hari Kondabolu’s calling out of this racist caricature first in his stand-up routines and now in-depth in his TruTV documentary The Problem With Apu is what made me an instant fan of Kondabolu’s work. And also vindication for what I’ve been saying for decades. It wasn’t just that I was so grateful to see a South Asian comedian representing, but it was also hearing many of my own thoughts about the damage Apu has done to the Desi community echoed through Kondabolu’s own experiences as well as his interviewees. The Problem With Apu gives Kondabolu the opportunity to deepen his analysis as well as bring in some rather shocking back story of the character’s creation to light. Like, did you know that the ubiquitous line “Thank you, come again” was only said 8 times in the show? And did you know that Apu was never meant to be Indian at all? He was listed in the original script as “Clerk” and it was only during the first table reading that Hank Azaria decided to cobble together one of the most offensive Indian accents to have ever graced a TV screen. Since Azaria made his joke to a room of white dudes, of course everyone laughed and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon was born from a gaggle of assholes to haunt South Asian Americans for the rest of our lives.
However much the directors of "Check It" claim to love the participants, a crime has still been committed in this trauma-porn production.In late Spring 2016, I posed for a photo shoot with my friend and activist Charlie Craggs. The publicity was for a self-defense class for trans women and our photographer was the incredibly talented late Khadija Saye who died in the Grenfell Tower fire last month. The healing nature of this moment came at the right time as I had escaped an abusive relationship and had the space in therapy to cry about the sexual, verbal and physical assaults that give me flashback shivers on a hot day and make me cry myself awake from nightmares. The intensity of the violence I faced throughout my teenage years erupted in panic attacks and insomnia and self-destructive behaviors. Manifestations of rage arrived later when I became aware of the political nature of my oppression. I met other queer people of color at university, Black Pride events, a Black gay arts organization and a hilariously tense nightclub called Bootylicious. Shell-shocked and internally wounded we nodded in unison, danced, loved and hurt each other repeatedly not knowing how to make ourselves feel better after so much had been done to make us feel worthless.
https://youtu.be/HreZy7ivBmg Sampson, the comedian, likes to go by one name "like Madonna!" He tells the story in the opening of A Tough Act To Follow, his documentary about what it's like being a queer black male in stand-up comedy. Through point-of-view and
Audrie & Daisy is a must-see documentary by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk about two recent sexual assault victims -- Audrie Pott and Daisy Coleman -- and the profound injustices visited upon these two young women, as well as survivors everywhere. This film