Love (sometimes) wins.
By
Stephanie Marie Anderson

7 Dec 2016 - 1:19 PM  UPDATED 16 Aug 2017 - 6:32 PM

1. If you've seen a 2 pop up in the LGBT+ acronym sometimes, it stands for "twospirit", a Native American umbrella term for all tribes' LGBT+ people

Steven tells us that "twospirit" encompasses the entire community, rather than using the labels from western culture. He says that "those terms were forced upon" and that the term is not appropriate for non-Native Americans to use.

He says: "I’ve seen a lot of people who are not natives say ‘oh, I’m twospirit!’... Excuse me? No, you’re not. But I say 'we’ve had our lands taken from you people, we’ve had our culture taken, our language taken, and that was all stolen from us. Now you wanna steal our terms we pick for our own people?’

"I said ‘you really need to go back and look into your own history, your own culture and find out your own word for that, and don’t use ours because it’s ours'."

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2. Despite the progress the LGBT+ community has made in recent years, the data suggests that around 80% of gay American men are still in the closet to some extent

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, a data analyst who studies online search engine data in relation to male sexuality, says that despite surveys showing "only about 1% of men are homosexual", that "it’s clear from the data that it’s more in the range of about 5%", noting that this discrepancy "suggests a lot of men in the least tolerant parts of the country are in the closet".

Offering Mississippi as an example, he says that while only 1% of the male population identifies as gay, "about 4% of [porn] searches are for gay male porn," adding: "We can also look at what men search right after gay porn, and one of the most common searches, especially in intolerant states, is ‘gay test’."

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3. Backlash to the Supreme Court decision is most apparent in the ‘religious liberty’ laws

Ellen and Ian travel to Des Moines, Iowa, where they chat to people at a Ted Cruz rally ahead of the 2016 election. A woman says she finds Cruz appealing because “we’re losing our religious freedom”, adding: “it’s no longer freedom of religion, it’s freedom from religion, and that’s not what our forefathers were saying.”

4. San Francisco has always been the mecca of LGBT+ rights activism in the United States

Ellen tells us that San Francisco "was once a refuse for World War 2 soldiers who were dishonourably discharged for their sexuality, and that in 1977, Harvey Milk was the first gay man to become an elected official, passing city-wide gay rights protections while in office. When he was murdered in 1978, tens of thousands marched the streets, mourning in solidarity and vowing to continue his fight.

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5. Violence directed at the queer community is still a nation-wide problem, and transgender women of colour face the most brutality, with the average life expectancy being just 35

Miss Major Griffin Gracie, a trans activist for the last 40 years who was a part of the Stonewall riots, says that while it's "really nice" to hear about trans issues in the media, people still aren't "taking it to heart".

“Yes, we’ve got more visibility now," she says, adding that while that's good, "it doesn't make it safer".

"I worry every time I go out that someone is going to run up behind me and hit me in the head and I’m not gonna make it home," she says. "To have to live your life like that everyday, 24 hours a day, every time you step outside your house, is hard."

San Francisco is the most trans-friendly city in the country in terms of health care, and is home to the St James Infirmary, the only clinic in the US to be run by and for trans sex workers. They offer free health care and social services to the community, including the Bad Date List project, which collects the names of "perpetrators of violence" against sex workers.

Star Amerasu, the co-ordinator of Bad Date List, calls San Fran the "trans mecca of America", noting that she moved there specifically to transition because she was able to have hormone therapy and surgery that was paid for by the city. Still, the city has a long way to go, as Star tells Ellen and Ian that trans people still have trouble finding work, which can lead to them ending up in sex work, which is criminalised.  

6. Voguing came out of the 1980s ballroom Harlem scene in NYC

 

Back in New York City, Ellen describes voguing began as a “highly stylised dance battle" that "grew into a worldwide cultural phenomenon and brought with it mainstream exposure to the gay and trans community". Each voguer is judged by their catwalk, duckwalk, performance and floor performance as well as their spins and dips, and the voguer with the highest overall score wins.

Pre-gaming a voguing battle, Cakes Da Killa says that voguing isn't just about dance, but community, also.

“Voguing is really important to the LGBT people of colour because I guess if you get banned from playing at the Olympics you make your own Olympics?" he says, explaining: "A lot of kids... get disowned and that’s where they go. You have houses that become families, it’s bigger than just voguing—they use that to get away from all that extra dumb shit 'coz sometimes it’s really hard, you know?”

7. Los Angeles has the largest homeless youth population, and 40% are LGBTQ

The Los Angeles LGBT Center is the largest provider of services to the queer community, and is leading the charge to help LGBT youth to get off the streets, but it's an uphill battle because "the need so dramatically outstrips the resources" they're able to provide.

Kara Steffen explains that if there are 6,000 homeless youths on the streets of LA, "there are about 200 beds in LA county that are specifically funded for youth, in general".

The reason LA has become the homeless youth capital of the US is partially because the weather is better for surviving in the elements, and partially because of the draw of Hollywood, with many young people arriving in LA hoping to be discovered. 

Kara says: “Oftentimes what will happen is that these kids will get off the bus with everything they own - typically in a backpack, and within that first week they’re likely to be beaten, robbed of all of their possessions, they are likely to have done drugs for the very time, and they are likely to have performed their first act of survival sex, which is typically not for money, even, it’s for food or a place to stay".

If you missed Gaycation last night, you can catch up right now, on SBS On Demand.