California has really progressed on LGBT rights this past session. Cheers to Gov. Brown and the California Legislature Dems in Sacramento!
Now if only the regular police patrol were not armed, and gun control applied to both the government and the public. Hopefully someone can take up that idea next session.
The issue of the “Real Name” policy, whereby users are told to use “real” names (not necessarily actual names, but “real-sounding” names), is problematic for social networking services (SNS). It’s especially problematic when SNS operators refer users to use brand pages – profiles which are maintained and moderated corporately by one or more users for organized purposes such as promoting a brand or a movement – as alternatives to using pseudonyms on their personal profiles. The reason is that such a solution is half-baked on the sites which most emphasize the use of “real names” for users’ profiles, particularly Facebook (and formerly Google+).
The suggestion by Facebook for preferably-pseudonymous users to use their pseudonyms on brand pages ignores the fact that pages on Facebook offer less interactivity than personal profiles. Facebook pages don’t allow pages – which are built to serve organizations rather than pseudonymous personalities – to form or join groups. In relation to this, Facebook also does not allow brand pages to automatically invite other users to events; compare this to Facebook groups, which allow for automatic invitations of all members to event pages.
Google+ Pages, in comparison, offer a bit more interaction, with the ability to create and join “communities” (equivalent to groups) as your brand page. In addition, G+ Pages can also add user profiles to circles (a more advanced version of Facebook’s “adding friends”) and invite followed profiles, circles of profiles and whole communities to events.
However, in the case of pseudonymous users being “nudged” to create pages for their pseudonyms, G+ and Facebook both suffer from a high learning curve and a lack of tailoring toward personal identity pseudonyms.
Facebook’s “Create a Page” has six main options: “Local Business or Place”, “Company, Organization or Institution”, “Brand or Product”, “Artist, Band or Public Figure”, “Entertainment”, and “Cause or Community”. The closest to a means of controlling a personal pseudonymic identity is “Artist, Band or Public Figure”, which is limited alongside other Facebook pages in its interaction abilities.
By comparison/contrast, G+ only has “Storefront (Restaurant, Retail Store, hotel, etc.)”, “Service Area (Plumber, pizza delivery, taxi service, etc.)”, and “Brand (Product, sports team, music band, cause, etc.)”, which is even more confusing from the outset by the grouping of so many options into just three categories.
The ideal page
The ideal brand page system which would work perfectly for personal pseudonyms at the intimacy perhaps most desired by drag performers in an SNS, IMO, is a combination of Facebook’s presentation and G+’s functionality and interactivity:
- Having at least 6 page-creation options including “Artist, Band or Public Figure”, or even a 7th “Character or Pseudonym” option.
- Having the ability to follow/be followed by users and create/join groups “as” the brand page.
- Have the option to switch to a preferred brand page identity upon login to one’s personal user identity.
- Have the ability to restrict access to one’s personal profile while simultaneously operating a brand-page identity.
In such a system, performance artists such as drag performers would have the full ability to interact with their fans as their pseudonyms or public personas, to organize their fans into discussion groups (both public, private and secret) under their personas, and to easily invite fans to events (or even games and apps), all without revealing or exposing any of their personal profiles to the public.
When the brand pages are not fully baked, not fully conceptualized as alternative identities for both individuals and corporated groups, the ability to control your presence is hobbled. Performers like Sister Roma offer an opportunity for Facebook, G+ and the SNS sites of our era to not only listen more to their users, but to make their brand pages more useful for more people. The “Real Name” policy (as well as the restriction against multiple profiles on sites like LinkedIn) only hurts privacy, doesn’t help the quality of conversations on Facebook, and is not remedied by half-baked brand page tools.
Today, 25 years ago, we celebrate the first civil recognition of same-sex couples. On 1 October 1989, Denmark made history with approving a law for gender-neutral “registered partnerships” (registreret partnerskab). Among the first couples to be partnered in civil unions were activists Axel and Eigil Axgil, who had spent most of their 40-year-coupled lives fighting for rights for LGBT people in their country. Another couple that registered their union, Ivan Larsen, an ordained minister of the state-supported Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark, and Ove Carlsen, a psychologist, were profiled in this recent BBC Witness clip:
What fascinates me about this is how things may have been different if civil unions, rather than marriage, would have remained the popular wisdom. What if the United States had been more accepting to civil unions at the federal level, and had not placed DOMA into place as a bulwark against any federal recognition? Even more so, even in the post-DOMA era of federal recognition for same-sex marriages, the present lack of federal recognition of state-level civil unions is perplexing.
Right now, there are three states which still have only domestic partnerships or civil unions: Wisconsin, Nevada and Colorado. Waiting for the judicial trajectory to move marriage equality to more states still doesn’t speak to the issue of unequal civil recognition of relationships, or the obvious overall federal favoritism to marriage as opposed to civil unions.
I’m of the opinion that marriage and civil unions should both be available as options to both same- and opposite-sex couples, at both federal and state levels.
John Becker from The Bilerico Project demands, with reason, that the rest of us don’t say to survivors of the RCC’s anti-gay abuses two statements which we’re apt to use: “what did they expect?” and “why do they belong to an organization that hates them?”
Well, how else do we who are not or were never raised Catholic respond to a profoundly-undemocratic, intelligence-insulting, hierarchical culture that encourages the firings of church employees over LGBT identity? How do we respond in regards to Mormon excommunications of LGBT people (and feminists)? Or less-episcopalian polities like some rinky-dinky SBC Baptist church?
We’re outside of the culture, and there is no means for us to respond to their behavior except through the civil sphere or the liberal-religious niche outlets like Religion Dispatches, fully knowing that we will not be listened to or considered. So what can we say when our options are limited in communicating to members of a religious sect that their rhetoric is uncivil and bigoted?
Some of us tune them out. We tune out the bald-faced lies and scaremongering apocalypticism. We don’t dissect any of it, or at least we stop trying to dissect it. We just treat it like a bad dream on the periphery of our eyesight.
After so long of angrily tuning it out, we then hear of the firings, the excommunications, the “loyalty oath”-like contracts, and we hear of those turned out of their small lower niche of the religious hierarchy for their LGBT identity or their feminist critique. We wonder “how was I ever in such a position when I’ve lived my life in reality for so long?”
We remember our own subjection to abuse and bigoted rhetoric. Then, freshly recalling the trauma, we ask “what did they expect?” and “why do they belong to an organization that hates them?”
We were traumatized. Our intelligence was insulted. But we tuned all of it out. We don’t maintain contact with most members. We ultimately “other” the organization, leading to our wondering about how anyone, including ourselves, could stay in such an organization.
We project our trauma, even with such trauma being distinct in some way from someone else’s experience. Maybe it is not appropriate. Maybe it is an unthinking reflex.
But because we tuned out the experience for our own mental stability, we may not have the proper words, let alone actions, to expressing our solidarity.
What are those words of solidarity? What are those actions of solidarity? What are those expressions which can transcend between my “non-denominational” experience and the experience of those raised in the “Catholic” religion?
And how can we even begin to move forward in that solidarity?
We’re being told that it probably isn’t beneficial to encourage survivors of anti-LGBT abuse to leave their religion altogether, or that it is rather smug to encourage survivors to choose another religion or congregation that is more welcoming. What is the necessary solidarity?
Until these questions are answered, until *real* progress is possible at such levels, our questions of “what did they expect?” and “why do they belong to an organization that hates them?” will be the default.
Important words for LGBT folks: “It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, instead of two sets of opposing ideals.”