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DW: It’s hard to ignore this massive corporate effort that has really expanded over the last few years, and their fake caring about the fight for equal rights. If they really did care we would see more protections of their lgbt employees, less swag with rainbows and logos on it.
MALANEY: I know they are just capitalizing on it being cool to engage in corporate activism.
DW: imagine being 15, and seeing gay pride oreos at the super market
MALANEY: you would buy those today
DW: aha I would, I absolutely would. I'm part of the problem.
MALANEY: And I get caught up in it too because I mean I want to think it is great, but really it is just, it is gross. And is not talked about enough that this is corporate appropriation because we want companies to do the right thing so we don’t want to lecture them for ‘showing their support’ but at the same time like--
DW: that’s not support because you change your logo to a rainbow and hand out rainbow lanyards. Like where do those companies donate their money? How do they treat their lgbt employees? What do they do in their communities? Does their company structure help facilitate income inequality or homelessness which have a large effect on the lgbt community? Do they invest in private prisons? gun manufacturers? I don’t know, yet I also want to be excited and feel like people are changing and homophobic company attitudes are shifting
MALANEY: Well, it is extremely exploitive. And it’s a trap to criticize it but the other side of it is to be taken advantage of if you don’t and let them get away with profiting from one side while celebrating the other.
DW: Yeah it is. But because it’s supposed to be like a positive time---
MALANEY: It’s kind of manufactured positivity. I don’t know how I feel about it actually. Because I always kind of associate this time with a lot of suffering, physical and mental, but also excitement. I am so happy for the openness this generation has in at least many urban areas, but also and I hate to admit this, but I am slightly jealous of it.
DW: Yeah it is kind of weird to be like why couldn’t I have had this because it feels wrong to be jealous of it but like you are a little bit. We can’t help it, but I think that is a good sign of how things have changed.
MALANEY: and I am sure there are companies out there who are good on both the issues and also want to show open support in this community. Probably there are some. But the vast majority that’s not really the case.
DW: But sometimes I think like our skepticism and cynical attitudes are generation related. We grew up in a very homophobic era. The 80s and 90s were very publicly homophobic and hateful and it was very like lesbianism isn't real and women just did it for attention or they couldn't get a man or lesbians exist only for the purposes of male desire and objectification, and that's a very small uh piece of it.
MALANEY: it’s upsetting because these companies are just playing on your excitement to see big companies and brands and names that you recognize like, pretending that they are for you, and that they support you so it’s okay to keep giving them your business, and it does make you think things are changing and that it is better, and even if it is, that's not what they mean by it. It is a marketing strategy that works. [. . . ]
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MALANEY: And the other thing is, uhm, the I don’t know what to call it, but I have seen it called as coming out culture. It’s very different from how it used to be which is obviously amazing and awesome. But people come out as a lot of things not just lgbt+ you know? But I am always kind of alarmed when I see a tv show or a movie and there’s a coming out scene and it is just framed as like, something that you have to do for other people.
DW: Like to be honest, if people really truly accepted you they would never have an expectation that you would come out. Right? If people universally accepted people as they are, then they would not presume things like heteronormativity.
MALANEY: Coming out wasn’t really a thing that was part of our generation. I didn’t tell my parents I was gay until like the early 2000s. --- Don’t eye roll at me, DW.
DW: I wasn’t… but…
MALANEY: Okay yeah. I didn’t tell them, actually, fine. They actually asked me. While we were driving to visit my brother for something. And my mom was like “Malaney you can tell us if Liz is your girlfriend. Just tell us.”
DW: I would have died if my parents did that.
MALANEY: Like it wasn’t confrontational, but it was at the same time. It was like a motherly--- mothering a 30-year-old woman to reveal very private information that I was not planning on sharing at that moment.
DW: while trapped in a car. You should not ask your children if they are gay at any age. Even if you mean it to show support. It can be very anxiety inducing. And I also think that is part of the danger of coming out culture, for a lack of a better term.
MALANEY: Let me tell you, putting your child on the spot like that at any age, it creates a lot of panic. Like if you have a kid and you worry about them not feeling safe to tell you, you should show them that you support lgbt issues and causes in a non-confrontational type of way, and they will decide if they want to reach out to you. And like when it happened to me, I mean I was older and I had been wanting to talk to them about it for a long time. I think like they obviously knew because I shared a one-bedroom apartment with a woman. So. I mean. I just I was just like, I guess we are doing this today.
MALANEY: They were like, how is Liz!? And that was it, very uh relieving--ly uneventful.
DW: And especially if coming out is something you are stressing about doing, like you can just live your life openly and never utter a word to anyone about your sexual identity like most straight people. You don’t have to live up to that expectation, if that is not something you want to do. It doesn’t mean you aren’t proud of who you are, or that you achieved less than someone who did come out, you just don’t owe people that. You don’t owe people an explanation of who you are, and you have no obligation to inform them or tell them. Their presumptions are their flaws.
MALANEY: DW gets very ranty about this subject. Most people usually feel really good when they come out like a burden is lifted, but I agree that the feeling that is a burden you have to do is not really, I mean it’s not good.
DW: and it scares people unnecessarily.
MALANEY: I was very afraid to tell my parents and that’s why I didn’t until I was almost 30 and they asked me first. So I mean I see where you are coming from. Some people see it as a right of passage and maybe that is also generational too, you know how we feel about it as in terms of privacy and how younger people feel about it as this thing to claim. I don’t know.
DW: Yeah I mean I’m not saying you shouldn’t do what you want. I am just saying you shouldn’t feel pressured into doing it just because you think you are supposed to do it.
MALANEY: My knowledge on this issue, is very specific to the lesbian community, but one thing is, is that a lot of women won’t date other women who haven’t come out yet and I actually kind of despise that reasoning. Also, the cis-lesbian community I mean, I have found it to be very unwelcoming to queer women as a whole. It's very frustrating, considering that the cis-l ang g communities are the minority of the movement.
DW: I think like at least, if you are questioning and not out yet you should maybe tell your partner out of fairness, but I agree that cis-gays and lesbians can be very controlling of their community and exclusive. And the marriage equality fight was really a cis-gay men's issue and they had to drag the feminist lesbian community on board with.
MALANEY: UHM wait, on that first thing, is that like quite literally the opposite of what you just said about the right not to come out?
DW: Uhh it’s a little different. I don’t think you should not date someone because they aren’t out to their family or at work or something like I totally agree that is a stupid disqualifier even if it does cause some issues, but it’s a very real thing very specifically in our community, but also another thing is that, a lot of lesbians don’t want to date women who are questioning because they don’t want to end up in a situation where many months into a relationship it is not going to work out for a fundamental reason, and maybe this is a caveat to what I said, even though I don’t think it is, but if you are questioning I think you should tell the person you are seeing, I mean again, not an obligation.
MALANEY: Sounds like a very specific burn from a personal experience, also I think people kind of manipulate that reasoning to avoid dating in the queer community as a whole, so.
DW: Okay. Well I certainly wasn't doing that.
MALANEY: I know, I know!
DW: There are a lot of community on community problems, and some things are generational, and some things are about identity and some things are about policing and controlling. There is a big push from one side to show "normativity"-- I don't agree with that term-- and then another push from the other side that wants to disrupt the status quo. And those things are at odds with each other.
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MALANEY: Okay, tell your very over the top super dramatic coming out story the way you told it to me.
DW: Uh Malaney, I forgot to tell you that you look very pretty today. I guess I did hype it up when I told you many years ago, as it is less about coming out and more about
MALANEY: stealing, theft, grand larceny, lying, manipulating your parents
DW: Okay, one, I am not Sandra Bullock in Oceans 8...yet. And also, I feel like my parents should have just known because I came out of the womb in a flannel shirt, holding a cat and the keys to a Subaru so they honestly should have figured it out for themselves like yours did.
MALANEY: not all of us are so lucky.
DW: Okay okay, here is what happened, again Mal did overhype this a bit. I decided that I wanted to live with some girls I was friends with from college who were also lesbians and they were in what I thought was a very cool band… at the time… also they were like the very first openly gay women I had ever met so I was like really into them, and they thought I was so cool because I made them a poster for like some college band show. And I was like oh my god I found my people.
MALANEY: What was the band’s name?
DW: Uhm. Well. It was called … Cunt Crawler.
MALANEY: Of course it was. And what does Cunt Crawler poster look like?
DW: Like a Georgia O’Keefe painting with spider legs.
MALANEY: Very literal interpretation.
DW: Very literal.
DW: So my parents said no, I couldn’t live with them. I still don’t understand why they didn’t want me to live with like group of five women in a two bedroom basement apartment. So I just did it anyway. And then uh, my parents thought I was studying for the GMAT and getting ready for medical school which I most certainly was not. And they would send me money for it and I would use that money uhh not for that purpose.
MALANEY: But you told them that you were, actually didn't you very specfically call them and tell them that?
DW: Yeah, okay, yeah, I am the only person who lied to their parents when they were 20. And honestly, it wasn’t theft, I redirected those funds to something else.
MALANEY: You got caught, as you so very much deserved.
DW: I did get caught. And my parents were very angry with me. And then I came home for like Christmas and I had cut all my hair off and dyed it blonde and had eyebrow ring. Which I looked great with by the way.
MALANEY: The Cunt Crawlers really got to you.
DW: And my parents really knew how to punish me, because they basically made me sit through them giving me a lecture series about responsibility and honesty and integrity and all that crap.
MALANEY: Yeah, all that useless shit.
DW: And I started to get really defensive about it.
DW: And eventually I was like I want to live with them because they are gay and I’m gay and I want to talk about that stuff with people who get it and live openly. Well something like that. And then they made me tell them again. And asked me repeatedly if I was telling the truth because for some reason they didn’t believe the things that I said
MALANEY: I wonder why.
DW: And then I had to go through more like lectures and talks and oh my god it was the winter break of misery. I think they were like trying to see if I was telling the truth or not still. I don’t know. And mostly it was like, it was like the late 1980s so my parents were like also you can’t tell anyone. Like if this is true, it is so much safer to just live not open in your dorm room and then live by yourself in a safe part of town. I mean, I don’t know, it wasn’t the most like supportive talk it was a lot like you have to keep this information to yourself, you can’t go anywhere with people you don’t know or to a place you don’t know and also you can’t have an eyebrow ring, or call attention to yourself because it’s just not safe, and that like really terrified me obviously.
MALANEY: it is weird that your super liberal parents were like just shut up and pretend to be straigt and mine who are not liberal at all were just like yeah ok.
DW: And then like to get out of being in trouble for lying to obtain money from my parents, I was like oh and by the way I was using that money because I am applying to law school and taking the LSAT.
DW: Yes at that time it was a total and absolute lie that I was trying to guilt my parents into making me feel bad about doing something I should have probably felt pretty bad about and I thought I would not like get in as much trouble and was proving how responsible I was.
MALANEY: So that lecture on honesty really resonated with you.
DW: Well, if it becomes a truth, is it really a lie? and let me tell you, three years of law school was beyond a just punishment for this little funds re-appropriation thing I did for like three and half months. Like give me a break.
MALANEY: the answer to that question, is yes. Also, you know, when she told me this story the first time, I mean it was so dramatic. You were like "my dad told me the amount of money they sent me under false pretenses qualified as grand larceny!"
DW: He absolutely did tell me that. I don't really know if he was right about that, but it all worked out in the end.
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DW: I think that one thing I really dislike is the belief that marriage equality is the pinnacle of equality, legally it is a very low bar and threshold to cross. I’m definitely not saying extraordinarily hard work wasn’t done, or it wasn’t right to do it, but the second you feel yourself thinking like the fight is won, or we did it, then I think you kind of missed the point. It is just a step. And I do think we have to treat it as, just a step.
MALANEY: I disagree with that monumental achievement being considered a low bar.
DW: But it is actually, it’s a starting point, not an ending point, right? I mean speaking in legal strategy here, marriage equality is a starting point to argue for a protected class status federally, you know for federal civil rights, and employment discrimination. Like you had to get that step to get the next part, and to me I think that is what is important really.
MALANEY: Yeah, yeah, but it felt like such a good accomplishment, and it seems like you are downplaying that.
DW: I’m not definitely not doing that. Courts started filling up with cases about the denials of rights that are presumed as benefits of marriage, that really did illuminate the need I think to put focus here, things like health care, tax burden reductions, parental rights, adoption rights, emergency access to one another, uhh rights regarding estates and the passing of property after death, cosigning loans and mortgages, marriages being recognized in one state and being denied marriage benefits when moving to a different state, like these things were hindering gay couples in their every day lives. But I mean, it was a simple gain that could resolve a lot of problems, but it is just one step in getting to that protected class status at the federal level, and additionally, sexual orientation is not protected under the Civil Rights Act, it is not protected against discrimination in the private sector, and while some states do have protections uh if your state doesn’t, there is no where for you turn.
MALANEY: I would unfold that to just say probably private sector discrimination limitations and public access laws, like that Masterpiece Cakeshop case, was uh
DW: The Department of Justice brief that was submitted on behalf of Masterpiece Cakeshop is really scary. If you want to be selective about what members of the public you provide a service you should work on a referral service and not open a public business.
MALANEY: I think I was frustrated with the reaction from a lot of like center leaning people who tweeted or wrote about that case saying like what’s the big deal, they did get a cake from another place the next day.
DW: first consumer goods then necessary services, like transporting someone in an ambulance. Real case, where an ambulance driver refused to transport a transgender woman to the hospital because of his religion, and she died. So the door that was not opened by this case, but is being slightly wedged open all over the country is this issue, of what services can I deny people to oppress them, because I want to do it in the name of my religion and at what extent can I get away with it? And the federal government is now going to defend people like the ambulance driver instead of people like the woman who died.
MALANEY: expanding discrimination laws to protect healthcare services is also I think an essential issue that really affects the community and it startles me because I would assume that doctors are prohibited by their oath from discrimination. But in many states doctors can discriminate on treating lgbt people, and they do. Or in one story there was a married gay couple brought their daughter into a pediatrician and he refused to treat the daughter because her mothers were gay. There are homes on foster care hotlines all around the country that will refuse placement of lgbt children, in the name of their religion. I just feel like if your convictions are this strong about denying healthcare or equal treatment to people because of your faith then you shouldn't put yourself in those positions, like you shouldn't be a doctor if you cannot bring yourself to treat a child of a gay couple. You shouldn't work in healthcare which is something everyone needs regardless of who they are
DW: using religion as a vehicle to discriminate is not what the free excercise clause is for and it is not the case that you have an absolute right to freely excercise your religion, for example, we do not allow child or human sacrifices even if that is part of your religion, less extreme example, uh, illegal drug use. There are lots of regulations and rules that free exercise and free speech have to comply with, discrimination is one of those things and courts have to put their foot down about this, the christian right is abusing this and they know it.
and the part of the facts of this specific case that really bother me, is the baker in Masterpiece Cake Shop said that he was fine if the couple wanted to buy cupcakes instead, he just didn't specifically want to do the cake because he was repulsed by his work being at a gay wedding, but totally fine to profit off of that gay wedding in another way. So that line isn't real.
MALANEY: Yeah these fake lines that are drawn about what you will and won't provide even if it is your job to someone who is lgbt, it is just purely disgusting. And the courts, I mean I have a hard time believing courts would even entertain these types of drawn lines if they were brought about someone refusing to make a wedding cake for someone because they were a different faith, or different race, or it was a dual faith wedding and it was against that person's religious beliefs to support that.
DW: that's because, all of those things are legally protected classes and we are not.
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