Editor’s Note: Yesterday Gay City News reported that the LGBT Center of New York City would bar lesbian author Sarah Schulman from reading and discussing her new book, the subject of this review. Hundreds of people from around the world have already signed a petition urging the LGBT Center of New York City to end their policy of censorship and allow Ms. Schulman, a veteran activist, decorated scholar and author of 18 books, to appear there.
Schulman believes in queers to solve the world’s problems.
Israel/Palestine and the Queer International is a queer memoir from Sarah Schulman in which she uses her journey as a lesbian American Jew overcoming ignorance to illuminate the most “encouraging progressive development in grassroots global politics of our day”: the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel. What excites her about the campaign—which aims to end the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantle the “Apartheid Wall”; to recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and to respect, protect, and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194—is the playing, and need to play:
It has been many years since I have become aware of a political movement with so much potential for progressive change. Not since ACT UP in the 1980s—also a movement of severely oppressed people facing hugely distorting mythologies with no right. And just as ACT UP was able ultimately, to change the world, I see that kind of radical potential in the Palestinian queer movement today.
Israel/Palestine and the Queer International, by Sarah Schulman (Duke University Press, 2012)
The story of the book begins in 2009 when Schulman was invited to give a keynote address at the Israeli Lesbian and Gay Studies Conference at Tel Aviv University. Given the politics of the region, a colleague suggests Schulman consider declining the invitation in order to demonstrate solidarity with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). Schulman reaches out to people she knows to be well versed on the boycott, including Judith Butler, and researches its underpinnings. After conversations with friends and family, Schulman respectfully and publically declines the university’s offer. Instead, she decides on a solidarity visit to Israel and Palestine, meeting in boycott-approved venues with activists committed to justice.
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30 years into the epidemic, exasperated by silence and ignorance, we don’t need AIDSphobia articulated anymore. Sadly, 3500 words later, that is all Rich Juzwiak’s article Please Don’t Infect Me, I’m Sorry, has to offer (how someone can fail to write about PrEP or PEP when investigating their fear of HIV is beyond me). While taking us on a grindr fueled journey of fear and loathing in lost chances, all we learn is sites like Gawker still feel free to trade in fear mongering, lack luster research, and discriminatory points of view. For all of his fear of HIV, he fails to mention evolving prevention technology such as PEP or PrEP, and seems to almost refuse to people living with HIV as anything beyond a positive sign.
Its articles like this that can almost break an online citizen, leave you blurry eyed and wondering what you have to show for yourself hours later beyond a few dozen flaming comments, and online enemies. It’s enough to consider a moratorium on the Internet, or at least on caring. But it doesn’t last, because the straw that almost breaks the camel’s back is nothing compared to the numerous threads, that when viewed together, weave together something akin to an online community.
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Inspired by Sarah Schulman’s book, The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination, this winter, 12th Street Managing Editor, Ted Kerr travelled around lower Manhattan to capture ideas of a gentrified New York.
Less interested in capturing rehearsed signs of gentrification—graffiti, Starbucks, and garbage—Kerr worked to communicate broader sensations of gentrification as evoked by Schulman: isolation and limits, and questions of loss and opportunity.
Captured on experimental, instant film, the photographs are romantic and optimistic, highlighting the possibilities of impermanence.
This photo essay is an extension of the two-part Sarah Schulman interview Mr. Kerr published in February and March of this year on 12th Street Online. Read part one and part two on their website.
Click any image above to enter the photo essay.
PHOTO: St. Vincent
From Sarah Schulman: “Saint Vincent’s brings back a lot of memories. As a kid I was there a couple of times: I had mumps meningitis and was hospitalized, also a hernia operation. One summer we went swimming in the Leroy Street pool and when I came home I showed my father how I jumped off the side into the water, and ended up diving off the bed onto the floor and ended up with a concussion. It was July 1st, the day that that new residents came into the hospital, so there was chaos. We waited for hours, which at that time was unusual. Later of course, many friends died there of AIDS. Particularly David Feinberg. I used to cross Paul Rudnick in our visits to David. When I learned that Bloomberg and Christine Quinn were handing over Saint Vincent’s to real estate developers and leaving the entire lower westside of Manhattan without a hospital, I was still surprised. There is a kind of blatant indifference and greed that I find hard to fathom. Christine was a cute dyke when she was young.”
PHOTO: The Center
From Sarah Schulman: “It is now over a year since Glennda Testone, the executive director of the LGBT Center banned groups working on Palestinian rights from meeting at the Center. As a result, the Queer Arab group had to move to the Audre Lorde Project. 1500 people signed a petition begging her to keep the Center open to the entire community, and this list included many Jews such as Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of the LGBT synagogue, Judith Butler, Joan Nestle etc. But I don’t even know if Glennda has any idea who these people are. My imagination fails me when I try to think of how these kinds of people actually live with themselves. I know they sleep well, and that’s something I will never understand.”
From Sarah Schulman: “Whitman’s. Ugh, This hideous restaurant runs a ventilating motor on my roof right over my apartment. It runs from 7 am until 11 pm and there is no one who will help me stop them. Are there any bright young queer engineering students who can make my building their thesis project and help me with this fucking vent? Ever since the East Village became Bourbon Street, a drinking destination for Bridge and Tunnel and guys from the Financial District, these horrible vents have popped up on rooftops everywhere making it hard for the human beings who live here to sleep. Any volunteers?”
PHOTO: The Village
From Ted Kerr: “This is a billboard just off 7th Avenue. It is an ad for Manhunt, a website that helps men connect. While I like the idea of guys getting together, and the ways technology can help that, and I like that two men kissing each other is readily available for people to see, I feel this ad highlights how bodies can be exploited for profit, and still not valued. It also speaks to how the gay experience and street life in the village has become privatized due to HIV and gentrification. To think that twenty to thirty years ago, in the very shadow of this ad, men would be cruising each other. That doesn’t happen as much any more, and as a result, a very different sense of city has emerged. More fearful, less free – and much less sexy!”
From Ted Kerr: “During the early days of OCCUPY, the sidewalk in front of Liberty park was full of activists from around the world holding up protest signs, engaging in civil debates, and trying to draw awareness to their causes. Months later, after the raid, and the coldest months of winter behind us, only this man selling documentaries was around. In part, this is a testament to the resolve of individuals to make a difference, and a suggestion that Occupy organizing is happening in many ways in different places. This image also reminds me of a time, where for a brief moment, there was a place in the city that gave me hope, and access to a radically progressive community.”
Liza Minnelli is humiliating. She humiliates. She endures.
In his new book on the subject, Wayne Koestenbaum uses dear Liza in an ongoing meditation to explore humiliation. We see Minnelli as abusing wife, victim of fame, and witness to Michael Jackson. But of course Minnelli’s humiliation began at birth,
Imagine … being Judy’s daughter, and imagine our humiliation , as we watch Liza and imagine ourselves to be the third generation of foot bound stars. As we watch her sing New York New York again and again (even as we cheer, even as we shiver with uncanny pleasure), Liza passes on to us the bodily message of what it means to be a star. It might mean grandeur and money and luxury and ease, but it might also mean showing your buttocks to the Santa Barbara County sheriff and then going on TV to tell the world about the experience [referring to the Michael Jackson child molestation case].
Koestenbaum includes us, the queer reader, bringing up the shudder of kinship, the flinch of recognition. He illustrates not only can humiliation be passed down through blood lines, it can inherited through intergenerational chosen families, transmitted through art. Any friend of Dorthy is a sibling in humiliation.
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