December 2008: New Section: Staff Picks
Teens Speak Out on Proposition 8
I just saw the YouTube video Vote No on Prop 8, an empowering compilation of young adults confidently protesting Proposition 8. Formally titled “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry Act,” Proposition 8 follows the previous Proposition 22, which banned same-sex marriage but was struck down by the California Supreme Court. Watching this was more inspiring than any article I’ve read about the fight against Proposition 8 thus far because it was made by people my age. It encouraged me to seek out creative ways I can get involved with spreading awareness about Proposition 8. Putting a video on YouTube is such a simple act, but it has already reached so many people. I encourage everyone to watch this video (above) and send us something you’ve done to spread awareness about Proposition 8 or anything you feel passionate about! Email us using our contact form.
While exploring MySpace, I came across a VH1 interview with Laverne Cox, the first transgender woman to appear on the show I Want to Work for Diddy. Laverne appeared in Transgender Basics, an educational film about gender and transgender people. She is also a rotating host for Out at the Center, a TV show produced by the LGBT Community Center of New York City. Her interview is inspiring. She firmly believes that all of humanity should strive to love each other, despite some negative experiences she’s had (one of which she talks about). She has a lot of confidence and excitement about her debut on I Want to Work for Diddy as well as the appearance of Isis as the first transgender woman on America’s Next Top Model. Check out this interview as well as some of her other works, and see how dynamic she is!
This month I wanted to share two great movies that portray children of transgender parents. Check them out!
With only one week until her gender reassignment surgery, Bree is a work in progress as she makes the transformation from a man into a woman. Yet despite having all of her papers in order and her surgery date set, Bree encounters one last obstacle: she discovers that she has a 17-year-old son who is incarcerated at a New York penitentiary for hustling on the streets. She is his only remaining living relative, and so it has become her responsibility to get him out of jail, and upon paying his bail, she finds that she cannot leave him.
What follows is an explorative adventure for both Bree and her newly discovered son as they travel from New York to Los Angeles in a beat-up station wagon. The movie’s photography showcases all of the beauty that embodies traveling across North America while still making the enfolding drama the main focus. The film is set to a sweet bluegrass soundtrack that brings to mind an idyllic sense of America, as the two share experiences that are far from the ordinary: from meeting a peyote-eating hippy and an Indian cowboy to a disastrous visit with Bree’s family. This heartwarming film culminates in laughter and tears as the two discover a relationship that neither had known before. Though not the most reliable if one is looking for a reality-based documentary of a transsexual person’s journey, it captures the essence of the change and goes deeper in revealing Bree’s innermost needs and desires.
The Adventures of Sebastian Cole (1998)
Though it might be a bit tricky to find, The Adventures of Sebastian Cole is a great movie to watch, and you will probably do what I did: recommend it to all of your friends. The film is a delightfully dark coming-of-age story set in 1983 in rural New York State. When 17-year-old Sebastian Cole discovers that his stepfather Hank, to whom he is very close, has decided to undergo a process that would turn him into a woman, he has a lot to handle at once. With his family totally unfit to take care of Sebastian for the remainder of his high school education, it is up to Hank-turned-Henrietta to finish raising him. With all of the chaos around him and a killer ’80’s soundtrack, Sebastian searches for what was once familiar in the small town of his childhood. He is caught between two worlds: between the comforts of childhood and the complexities of becoming an adult. Intending to become a writer, Sebastian uses the adventures as tools for his own self-discovery. Whether he is motoring around on a sweet 550 Honda or running desperately to catch a bus, Sebastian embodies the difficulties of growing up in a way that makes him look so cool, yet so familiar.
An Interview with Tom and Travis Knoll
My “Staff Pick” for November is a great podcast episode from John Selig. John is a gay activist and writer from Dallas, Texas. In this show he interviews Travis Knoll, age 17, and his gay father, Tom Knoll, who are also from Dallas. Travis is a smart student and an amazing piano player. He goes to Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. This is a school in Dallas where all the students are musicians, artists, dancers, and actors. The end of the episode even features some music played by Travis.
My favorite part of this interview, about forty minutes in, is when Travis talks about what it has been like to have a gay father. Travis was adopted by Tom when he was six years old. He had been removed from his birth family and lived with two foster families before Tom gave him a permanent and loving home. Travis talks about how he felt when his father came out to him and came out to their church. Tom and Travis live in a very supportive community, but Travis’s grandparents still have not been told that Tom, their son, is gay. However, Travis tells a very funny story about his grandparents that makes him think that his grandpa knows and understands.
This is a great podcast episode because you can easily hear how much Travis and Tom love each other and about all of the fun they have together. But you also hear some about the challenges Travis and Tom have had living together as a family. Click here to listen to the show online, or if you have iTunes, you can download “Episode 47” of John Selig Outspoken for free. Enjoy!