Diva Rules By Michelle Visage

IMG-5726

I bought this book during Drag Con, where I actually got to meet Michelle! She even signed the book for me, which honestly made it a little more exciting to read. Diva Rules is partly about her life, but also largely a self help book for the misfits and freaks who consider themselves fabulous enough to be a diva. Definitely read this if you are ready to start feeling your oats.

IMG-6667

It’s inspiring to hear the story of a girl from New Jersey with big hair and big dreams, who actually managed to make it big. I especially enjoyed the praise through the words of RuPaul, her best Judy. I always think it’s endearing to hear someone speak fondly of someone they love and admire, and Ru clearly adores Michelle. From both of their perspectives, they had a clear connection from the moment they locked eyes, hunty. From there the chemistry just sparked, igniting a lifelong friendship and legacy. 

58956490899--805016B0-057D-4912-A15A-152F6F1810B2

One of my childhood friends was adopted, and it’s made a lasting impact on me. I have plans to get involved in either fostering or adopting in my future, and I’m also partial to those who have some experience on the subject. Michelle was adopted, as was her brother David, by two parents whom she praises immensely. She absolutely adores her parents and appreciates the life they gave her; Michelle’s only disappointment was that she was unable to inherit her mom’s big tits. 

I’m incredibly, overly jealous of the time that Michelle got to spend in New York during the up and comings of VOGUE (!!!), and the legendary children and houses featured in 03acd17c0c4d1e0ab48aaf731026608aParis Is Burning (available on Netflix). I mean, she knew Angie Extravaganza (!!!!!!!!) and was winning trophies for voguing before Madonna even know what it was. I mean, that is ICONIC. If she had written about having a kiki with Venus Extravaganza… omg, the fan girl in me might have actually gone crazy. It was during this time that Michelle got her namesake, Visage. She was entering in categories in the balls with her house, and one of the categories was “face”. Her first nickname was “Cara” – roll the “R” – the Spanish word for “face.” But when bedazzled onto her jackets and hats, people were mistaking it for the name Cara. So instead she went with the French word for “face” – visage. Bam! *Said like Alexis Mateo*

gettyimages-959033044-1565004064

Michelle is inspiring because she works hard, empowers others, believes in herself, and never gives up. She is loving, kind, full of wisdom and also not afraid to clock you for the wrong hemline. Her end goal is always to make those who shine, shine their brightest, including herself. Follow her Diva rules to do just that.

IMG-6666

I really enjoyed this book, and it’s a quick read for anyone who aspires to live up to their full diva potential (available wherever books are sold, or at her booth at DragCons). I also recommend watching Michelle as a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race, of course. She is also a current contestant on the British version of Dancing With The Stars (Called Strictly Come Dancing) and was on the British Celebrity Big Brother as well. You may also recognize Michelle from her many many years on the radio, or for her role in the girl groups Seduction and S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M. The bitch works hard, okurr!

Tens across the board! Thanks for reading.

Support LGBTQ Causes

Looking to get more involved in the LGBTQ+ community? Here are many amazing organizations and causes that are always looking for more support:

 

GLSEN-Safe-InclusiveGLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network): The leading national education organization, promoting anti-bullying through campaigns and gay-straight alliances in schools across the nation. Volunteer or donate at glsen.org or 212-727-0135.

hrc-foundationHuman Rights Campaign Foundation: A civil rights advocacy group who focuses largely on LGBTQ rights, marriage equality, and legislation changes that include hate-crimes and anti-discrimination movements. Volunteer or donate at hrc.org or 202-628-4160.

Lambda LegalLambda Legal: A defense and education fund that supports civil rights and provides legal services for the LGBTQ community as well as individuals living with HIV and AIDS.
Attorney’s can join the Cooperating Attorney Network within the organization, and anyone can volunteer or donate at lamdalegal.org or 212-809-8585.

PFLAGPFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays): An organization that promotes the health and wellness of LGBTW people and their loved ones through support groups and scholarship programs. Sign up or donate at pflag.org or 202-467-8180.

SageSage: A social group that provides health services, housing, and employement opportunties for LGBTQ senior citizens. Get involved or donate at sageusa.org or 212-741-2247.

Stonewall Community FoundationStonewall Community Foundation: A fundraiser to support LGBTQ non-profits and organizations in NYC, which includes scholarship programs that support refugees and asylum seekers. Donate at stonewallfoundation.org or 212-457-1341.

stonewall initiativeStonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative: The official and only charitable giving organization of the Historic Stonewall Inn, promoting tolerance and acceptance in communities across America. Get more information or donate at stonewallinitiative.org or 646-242-8382.

Take Back The PromTake Back The Prom: A DoSomthing campaign where thousands of students share stories and sign petitions to demand change from schools who still have discrimination policies. Students can access the Anxiety Line by texting PROM to 38383, or donate at takebacktheprom.com.

The Trevor ProjectThe Trevor Project:  A confidential hotline that provides crisis and suicide-prevention services, as well as resources for parents and educators. Volunteer to be trained to become a lifeline counselor or volunteer, or donate at thetrevorproject.org or 310-271-8845.

 

Now go get involved! Thanks for reading!

5 LGBT Historical Figures You Should Know

Even though Pride Month has officially ended, it’s still important to remember the people who paved the way for us to celebrate. My company’s internal Pride magazine has continued to show focus on the trailblazers that paved the way for the rest of us. So, here are 5 historical LGBTQ figures that you should most definitely know about:

 

harveymilk460Harvey Milk
The first openly gay elected official in the U.S., Harvey Milk was a civil and human rights activist who served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. His work in advocacy for the LGBTQ community was only beginning when he was assassinated less than just one year in office.

Bayard RustinBayard Rustin
A close adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Bayard Rustin marched with on Washington as a black and gay man to fight for civil rights. He was one of the most effective influencers of the civil rights movement, and was nicknamed “Mr. March-on-Washington”.

Michael_DillonLaurence Michael Dillon
robertaBorn with the name Laura Maud, Laurence Michael Dillon was the first person to undergo FTM gender reassignment surgery.  He was a British physician, but when his story was revealed to the world, he fled to India and became a Monk. Roberta Cowell is also noteworthy, as she was the first to undergo a surgical MTF transition.

Simon NkoliSimon Nkoli
Experiencing extreme discrimination, Simon Nkoli was a South Africa native that was one of the first Black anti-apartheid activists to publicly identify as gay and HIV-positive. He was diagnosed while in prison for protesting, and eventually died of an AIDS related illness.

herculineHerculine Barbin
Assigned female at birth but later reclassified by law as male, Herculine Barbin was the first person to be labeled as intersex. Herculine eventually changed their name to Abel, and died by suicide at the age of 30 after much medical scrutiny.  (Note: There are no confirmed pictures of Herculine Barbin, so the above picture may not be accurate.)

 

gay   Thanks for reading!

For more information on these amazing people, please visit:  
milkfoundation.org/ ;  
kinginstitute.edu/rustin-bayard ;  
http://library.transgenderzone.com/ ;  
www.sahistory.org.za/tseko-simon-nkoli ;  
Herculine Barbin, By Michel Foucault

5 Reasons to Watch Pete Buttigieg

PeteEverything that I know about Pete Buttigieg so far has made me a fan of his. As we get to know more and more about the candidates participating in the upcoming elections, Pete is someone from whom I am definitely excited to hear. Here are just some reasons why:

 

chasten1. His Husband 
If Pete were to be elected, this would make him the first openly gay president! This would be a huge milestone for the community, and an amazing push forward for our country. Not to mention, Chasten would make an amazing First Gentleman … or whatever they plan on calling it. They are adorable, so are their dogs, and I am here for the representation.

 

unite2. His Platform
In a time when our nation is divided in such an extreme way, Pete is focusing on what we have in common, and running his platform with the focus on uniting the U.S.. There is so much more middle ground than anyone realizes, and Pete intends to use those common areas to attempt to unify the country. Many other candidates are running on the idea of “fighting the fight”, while Pete is looking to make peace again.

 

military3. His Military Experience 
Pete proudly brags that he has more military experience than his running mates, and many previously elected presidents as well. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserve in 2009, and was deployed in Afghanistan in 2014. He continued to serve as an intelligence officer until 2017. As a potential future Commander-in-Chief, military experience and leadership is obviously extremely important.

 

political4. His Political Experience
While a lot of people did appreciate that Trump did not come from the typical political background, there are others that argue that this experience is vital to the success of a leader in office. Pete has been involved in politics for the majority of his career, and he is currently the mayor of South Bend, Indiana (and has been since 2012). It doesn’t hurt to mention that he is a Harvard College graduate also.

 

personality5. His Personality and Charm
While he is a responsible, stand up politician, Pete is also not afraid to have a good time. He has shown his personality throughout the beginning of this campaign, including doing a fun sketch with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. He knows how to appeal to multiple audiences, and can be trusted to be authentic in various settings. As a millennial, I’m on board.

 

time

I read most of this information from the TIME article that highlighted his campaign, which I definitely recommend checking out. He has also made appearances on other late night TV shows and has had various other press coverage as well. I intend to keep my eye on Pete as he continues to move forward with his political efforts, regardless of where they make take him. You can learn more about Pete by visiting PeteForAmerica.com or following him @pete.buttigieg on Instagram and @PeteButtigieg on Twitter.

“It’s time for a new generation of American leadership.”

Thanks for reading!

 

Out & About (Feb 2019)

adp pride 3I am lucky and fortunate enough to work for a company that is very socially conscious and progressive in various areas. My company does a lot of charity work, including giving each employee 8 volunteer hours of PTO to use each year. They give parental leave to anyone who is becoming a parent – which includes fathers, adoption, LGBTQ couples, and more. They also have internal organizations to join to help you feel a sense of community, which includes a Pride organization that publishes a bi-monthly newsletter, titled “Out & About.”*

adp pride 2

There were three key pieces of news and information that was shared in the February 2019 issue of “Out & About” that I wanted to highlight, as they are extremely important milestones in LGBTQ history:

1. LGBTQ Representation in Record Numbers
This was something that I highlighted in my post-election post that celebrated the diversity we had just elected into office, and was also highlighted in the magazine as well. Representation in our government now includes record high numbers of open LGBTQ community members. This year, we swore into office our first openly bisexual Senate member and the first lesbian parent in Congress (making 10 total LGBTQ members overall). Having these perspectives in office can greatly help to provide a more well-rounded basis of legislation, and can better represent the people in which they are governing.

2. Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act
The Governor of New York signed this act on January 25th, which adds gender identity and gender expression to their list of protected classes. This ensures that Transgender and Non-Binary individuals are protected against discrimination in housing, employment, and bathroom access (many other states have already put this in place). New York also passed a law that bans conversion therapy, along with 14 other states who have banned the outdated practice as well. Conversation therapy has never shown evidence of affecting a persons sexual preference, but instead has only proved to have intense damages as a result. As a result of these two changes, New York has made great strides in supporting the LGBTQ community.

3. LGBTQ Inclusivity in School
New Jersey has passed a law that will recognize LGBTQ members of history in middle school and high school curricula. This will show the leaders and contributors of history as well as LGBTQ milestones and perspectives. Having this requirement in classrooms can greatly normalize the community during important and formative years. The law also requires that there is more inclusion for individuals with disabilities. This inclusion to the education in NJ should better represent the world overall and should help celebrate all world perspectives.

out and about

I feel very grateful that my workplace is recognizing some of the same values that are important to me, and celebrating milestones alongside the LGBTQ community. And I hope that more history continues to be made.

Thanks for reading.

*Out & About is an ADP resource intended for internal use only.

Coming Out: An Update

Wow. You all really showed up for my last post, huh? I mean, I post links to this blog all the time and I’ve never gotten the buzz that I did last week. A whopping ten people felt compelled to click and read what I had to say about JVN, but over one hundred of you wanted to get the details once it got super personal. I guess everyone wants in on the spilled T.

Let me just say that my parents are very understanding and open-minded people, and I never for one second thought that this was going to be an issue in my family. Truthfully, I was very much under the impression that they probably already knew. I had been playing with the idea of “coming out”, not even knowing if I felt the need to. This never felt like some deep dark secret to me, so I didn’t feel like I had to make some grand announcement.

Well, apparently that’s what I did last week.

When I wrote that post, I wasn’t thinking about who would read it – I know what my stats usually looked like, and there’s not often a lot of traffic. If anything, I thought it would just be helpful for me to write this out and maybe to collect my thoughts and figure out what I wanted exactly. Looking back, I’m regretful that I made that post public before talking to my parents. I think I was just trying to figure things out for myself, and I didn’t think it all the way through. Sitting someone down and telling them about my sexuality didn’t seem like the right thing for me personally to do, but maybe it’s also about who is on the other end of that conversation as well. I certainly didn’t mean for all these conversations to be had without me there.

That being said, I’ve had wonderful conversations with my parents and I feel really good about where things are right now. There was a lot of open dialogue that I knew would be there whenever I was ready to have it. And of course, there was a lot of love that will always be there to make me wildly uncomfortable when directly pointed my way.

So to anyone reaching out to my family members asking if they “are okay”, yeah they’re fucking great, thanks for asking.

To anyone who has reached out to me directly, thank you so much and please know that I really appreciated your words. It was very validating to hear from other bisexuals, and having that support means a lot.

I’ll try not to get on my soapbox about this, but it’s annoying that I had to “come out”. It’s annoying that the default is set to ‘straight’. It’s annoying that I have to tell everyone if it’s different. And it’s annoying that once I do, it’s a hot topic of conversation. I know I’m not a very private person, and I don’t really have secrets of my own. But being bisexual somehow by default gave me this secret that I never even wanted to keep in the first place. I will admit that while I usually love having all of the attention on me, I think I would do things just a little bit differently if I was given a second chance.

This whole experience was truly more than I signed up for. Without meaning to, I made myself feel exposed, uncomfortable, and embarrassed. But now, I also feel relieved, supported, and content. I’m out! And I’m totally done paying my gay dues for now.

bi3

Thanks for reading.

Bisexuality

Hi, I’m Gina and I am bisexual – this may or may not be the first time you are hearing this, but it is most definitely not the first time I have said this.

I’ve known that I was attracted to both men and women from a very young age, even if I didn’t have the terminology for it. I spent most of my youth under the presumption that people are either gay or straight, and there weren’t really any other options. I always liked boys and never had any trouble feeling comfortable around them, so in my head that meant I must be straight. Sure, when I was alone I spent time finding Tumblr videos of girls kissing, but I was kissing boys in real life, so come on I must be straight, right????

If you get super super technical, the first person I ever kissed was a girl. I don’t really consider this my “first kiss”, because we were just little girls playing stupid games and it wasn’t anything meaningful – I may not have even been 10 years old yet. In middle school I started kissing boys and having boyfriends, and I was always a little ahead of my friends in terms of “experience”.

In high school, I had a female friend who I got super close with, got drunk for the first time with, and had my first lesbian experience with. The experience itself was very PG, but this was the first time where I was kissing a girl who was kissing me back and it was intentional – even if heavily influenced by alcohol. After my straight guy friends learned about this, there was a lot of encouragement whenever we were drinking for me to make out with the other girls. I happily obliged of course, but I continued to date guys exclusively. By the end of high school, I had probably kissed just as many girls as I had guys, but I only had experience past that with the guys, and I had never been romantically involved with a girl.

This didn’t change much as I entered college and I continued to be involved with men romantically, but fantasizing about women in my alone time. I was still under the impression that I was straight, I just figured I was more sexually open than most people. I believed myself to be more open in general than most, so I didn’t put too much extra thought into my sexuality as a whole.

Enter the world of Tinder. Tinder became a thing sometime while I was still in college and it was common on my campus. As I set up my profile to start swiping, I was faced with filling out some preferences:

Are you interested in:
○ Men
○ Women
○ Both

Both? OMG. BOTH?! IS THAT AN OPTION?! CAN I DO THAT?!

Both. BOTH!

That’s when things clicked for me. That’s when I stopped thinking that I had to be on one side or the other, either gay or straight, and maybe I could actually sit somewhere on the fence.

I clicked both, and started swiping on both men and women.

For a while, this was just an internal thought. I hadn’t fully identified with the word “bisexual” yet, even if I had rolled it around in my head a few times. Even though I was matching with and talking to girls on Tinder, I wasn’t meeting up with any of them in real life and was instead still spending my time involved with men. I even started dating someone towards the end of college, and I would think to myself, “I’ll explore girls more if/when we break up.” In my head, I had put my sexuality on hold (even though I was still swiping and talking with girls here and there when my boyfriend was being a dick).

By the time we broke up, I was sure that this was something I wanted to explore. I had had plenty of experiences with men, and I wanted to bring my female experiences up to par. I started hooking up with a girl that I had a crush on who was sort of in my friend group and identified as a lesbian. When our friends first got wind that we were a thing, they asked me if I was a lesbian also. This was the first time I said the words out loud: “Nope, I’m bi.”

* Insert fireworks and celebration sound effects here *

Since then, I’ve dated both men and women openly and happily. I spent over a year in a relationship with a man, and now that I am single again I would like to focus more on being with women. I believe my sexuality will always be fluid and I will always pride myself in having an open mind and an open heart.

That’s as much of a “coming out” story as I have so far. My friends have kind of organically learned about it over the past several years as I told them about my involvement with different people. I’m open about it with new people I meet and become involved with. My coworkers all know I am openly bisexual and I even indicated this in my voluntary demographics.

However, I never had that serious sit down with my parents (if you’re reading this – sorry, Mom and Dad!) where I look them in the eye and tell this deep dark secret that I’ve been hiding for years and wait to see if I still have their approval. It’s not like that for me – it wasn’t something I was ever “hiding”, it was something I was still figuring out. I also don’t need anyone’s approval about it, not that I think anyone would really have an issue. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about telling them in some way that was maybe more casual, but it’s been hard for me to conceptualize the right words. There’s a lot of stigma that comes with the word “bisexual” (watch the Hulu show, The Bisexual), and I think this could be potentially difficult to navigate with my parents. That being said, I want to be open and honest with my family. I would also feel bad if they were to learn about it from someone that wasn’t me, making them feel sad that I wasn’t the one to tell them. Maybe I’m dealing with having some feelings of guilt or something, that’s for my therapist to figure out. The point is that I have gotten to a place now where I would like them to know.

So, instead of coming out in some formal way, I’ve been passive aggressively reposting outwardly bisexual things to my Instagram story and allowing my family to view them. Not kidding – my parents both have Instagrams and see everything that I post and I’ve just been making it semi/extremely obvious:

 

b1b2b3b4

 

 

 

 

 

 

Am I being too subtle?

So yeah, that’s my experience so far. To be honest, I feel pretty good about it overall. And I’m excited about what is to come in the future.

Thanks for reading!