Tag: Donald

Warrior Nun, Donald Trump, and the Misguided Definition of Able-Bodied Strength

Warrior Nun, Donald Trump, and the Misguided Definition of Able-Bodied

In the opening moments of Warrior Nun, Netflix’s adaptation of Ben Dunn’s comic book, Ava, the show’s kickass protagonist, muses, “My whole life, I’ve dreamed about being dead. I leave my body and I see myself from above, a normal girl. Just normal. I stare at her perfect normality until I wake up and realize I am still the freak I’ve been my whole life.”

Warrior Nun is a fantasy series and Ava wakes up in a morgue, so it’s fair to wonder what she means when she says “freak.” A vampire? A zombie? A ghost? A lich? A ringwraith? A Babadook? But no. What she means is she was a disabled human being, a quadriplegic wheelchair user. When she wakes up from the dead, she wonders if she’s in hell, but decides she doesn’t care, because at least she can use her legs. To emphasize the fact that she’s no longer “a freak,” she goes running along the beach and out dancing in a club and the editor works double-time to focus again and again, solely, on her legs.

A mysterious man, the leader of the Warrior Nuns, shows up looking for her at the orphanage where she lived, but the nuns have no idea where she could be or who she could even be with. Look, here’s her empty hospital wheelchair. And she was quadrapalegic; obviously she had no friends. When the Warrior Nun leader finally does find Ava, he explains to her that she’s not quadrapelegic (or dead) anymore because she’s got a divine artifact nested in her spine. She’s a Chosen One of the Order of the Cruciform Sword, and now that she’s no longer disabled, she can fight the demons the ancient order has been battling for centuries.

I dream about riding my bike every night. Sometimes I’m riding it here in New York City, dodging potholes and pedestrians and finally arriving at the East River, the smell of the ocean — seaweed and brine and sulfur and sunshine — on the edge of the breeze. Sometimes I’m back home in the north Georgia mountains, the crunch of red clay and fallen leaves under my tires. Sometimes I’m in Salt Lake City again, skirting drifts and the glorious sting of the world’s best snow on my face. Sometimes I’m a little kid, on my green Huffy with the spokey dokes or my Strawberry Shortcake banana seat bike with the white basket. I learned to ride on that Strawberry Shortcake bike. My dad got teary when he took off the training wheels, and I thought, “Now I’m free!” (I was four.)

These are the names of all the bikes I’ve ever owned: Strawberry. Pinky. Charlotte. She-Hulk. Smurfette. Ramoth. Bilbo. Minerva. Summitt (two Ts, not one; as in Pat, not a snow-covered mountain). Brisingr. Smoky Mountain Rain.

I used to ride my bike every day. It’s been eight months since I’ve been able to pedal even just a few blocks to the park. I got COVID in March, in the first terrible wave in New York City, and now I’m disabled. I’ve traded my bike for a variety of mobility aids, which I need to function on the rare times I’m able to leave my house. Sometimes a wheelchair, sometimes a walker, almost always a cane with a fold-out seat. I saved and saved and saved to be able to afford Smoky Mountain Rain. The nicest bike I’ve ever owned. A Specialized Sirrus Elite Carbon. These days I use it as a drying rack for my compression socks, which I need to wear all day every day to keep from passing out when I stand up.

In the months between my acute COVID infection subsiding and my diagnosis of Dysautonomia and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, I was basically unable to get out of bed. So I turned to the only other thing that has been as important and spirit-sustaining to me as biking throughout my life — fantasy stories.

The Lord of the Rings. Harry Potter. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. The Rage of Dragons. Star Wars. Star Trek. Buffy. Battlestar Galactica. Discworld. The Eye of the World. Ender’s World. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Kindred. The Kingkiller Chronicles. The Left Hand Of Darkness. The Graceling Trilogy. The Broken Earth Trilogy. The Parable of the Sower. The Sword of Shannara. The Sword in the Stone. Xena. Binti. Korra. She-Ra. The Dispossessed. Children of Blood and Bone.

Who knows how many times I’ve lost myself in those books and TV shows and movies. I’ve been doing it my whole life. My heroes make me feel like a hero. Their swords are my swords. Their spaceships are my spaceships. Their triumphs are my triumphs. I couldn’t revisit my favorite fantasy novels in those months. The brain fog and fatigue from my Dysautonomia were too intense. So I decided to try Warrior Nun, because so many queer people on social media were gushing about it.

Two of the main tropes writers use with disabled characters are Better Dead Than Disabled and Magical Cure. The outcome of each trope is the end of a person’s disability, either by ending their life or by applying science, a holy miracle, willpower, or literal magic to cure them — but both tropes are rooted in the same failure of imagination. Most writers are simply unable to imagine a world where people with disabilities live fulfilling, happy lives. The Magical Cure trope is especially prevalent in fantasy narratives, largely because fantasy writers can bend their worlds to do whatever they want them to do, and because fantasy arcs usually involve overcoming adversity — often with physical prowess — and receiving a reward for it.

This is all compounded, of course, by the ways that we, as a culture, talk about sickness. We fight off colds and viruses, we battle cancer. When Donald Trump inevitably contracted COVID in early October after parading around for months without a mask and in the company of countless other people who refused to wear masks, Americans were told he’d be just fine. Former Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “He’s a fighter.” His doctor praised his “strength and stamina.” When he left Walter Reed Medical Center, #TrumpStrong trended on Twitter and Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler tweeted a video manipulation of Trump tackling Vince McMahon, whose face had been replaced with the Center for Disease Control’s now infamous COVID illustration. Meanwhile, evangelical religious leaders invoked the language of spiritual warfare: “We know that Trump is under attack physically, spiritually, and politically — and we need to lift him up in prayer for protection and healing.”

So then, those who are mentally and physically strong overcome illness; and those who are weak stay sick. Those who are righteous are healed by God; and those who are wicked remain unwell. And most of all: We have control over what our bodies will and will not do. If we don’t prevail in our “battles” against illness, we must not have wanted it enough.

I am only eight months into having a disability, and oh, I have had some dark days. The pain, the nausea, the air hunger, the weakness, the cognitive dysfunction, the lead-in-my-limbs fatigue. The inability to just hop on my bike and pedal away my stress and anxiety, with nothing but freedom and wind in my hair. The adrenaline, the endorphins, the dopamine, the sunset over the river: all of it, just gone. The inability to make plans with my friends because I don’t know from day-to-day — or even hour-to-hour — what my body and brain will be able to tolerate. Sometimes I lose my words in mid-sentence. Sometimes I also lose the ability to sit up. Before, it would take me four hours to write a 1,500-word essay about TV. This one has taken me four days.

The hardest part, though, is the desperate, grasping feeling that I’m losing myself. I have always been the strong one. The tall one. The big one. The tough one. The overachieving one. The one who is still standing and still going when everyone else has lost the energy or willpower to “soldier on.” I have never, not even once, had a hard time imagining myself as the protagonist of whatever fantasy story I was lost in.

Warrior Nun came to me when I was more physically and mentally weak than I ever have been in my entire life, and it said, “Your inability to do the things ‘normal’ people do makes you a freak; heroes aren’t confined to their beds.” The message of the President of the United States and his followers came right after, and it said, “Strong people don’t stay sick in the face of COVID.” And the religion of my childhood followed with the declaration that God heals those who do right in his eyes.

There’s a scene in one of the final episodes of Steven Universe where the entire gang is facing down big bad Blue Diamond, and one-by-one, they’re all defeated by her. Her weapon is her ability to suck hope and happiness out of the people and gems fighting her. Even Garnet finally falls, on her wedding day! And that’s when Lapis Lazuli arrives. Lapis who’s been trapped in a toxic fusion at the bottom of the ocean. Lapis who’s been captured, interrogated, and imprisoned over and over by Homeworld. Lapis who’s been betrayed. Lapis who’s hurt the people she cares about most because she herself is hurting.

Blue Diamond casts her despair out over the entire group and they cower — except for Lapis. Shocked, Blue Diamond says, “What??” And Lapis flicks away her tears and says, “I’ve felt worse!”

Lapis doesn’t overcome her physical and mental pain; she fights with it, and because of it, and it’s the reason Steven & Co. defeat Blue Diamond in the end.

I keep writing that I lose myself in fantasy stories, the same way my mind clears and my body completely relaxes when I’m on my bike — but maybe that’s not really it.

Joan Didion said we tell ourselves stories in order to live. N.K. Jemisin, three-time Hugo Award winner and the greatest living fantasy writer, took it a step further: “What a lot of people don’t get about fantasy is that one of its purposes is to mirror the self. Technically, all fiction does this! But fantasy in particular highlights the myths that undergird our culture and personal histories, as well as those that outline the agency we’re permitted. Basically, fantasy teaches us who can be a hero and how heroism actually works.”

My life is hard in different ways than it was before I got sick — but it was hard, in many ways, before too. I’ve lost things I love, and I’m struggling to redefine myself with my new limitations — but I’ve had new and wonderful experiences I never would have done if I hadn’t gotten sick. I’ve felt so much better — but I’ve also felt worse.

Warrior Nun gets fighting all wrong. Fighting isn’t a divine gift that manifests itself as easy and wholly able-bodied bliss. Fighting isn’t only the ability to stand up, to run, to do gymnastics and punch and kick.

Strong is fighting. It’s hard, and it’s painful, and it’s every day. It’s what we have to do. Buffy Summers said that. She also said she was a freak, which I guess makes me a freak too, but not because I need a wheelchair.

Donald Glover opens up about questioning his sexuality / Queerty

Donald Glover opens up about questioning his sexuality / Queerty


“Labels” help a lot of people politically. They also assists with feeling like you are a part of a “community“, and they assist in helping some people understand you more. So, they are helpful for multiple reasons. But selling identity as the be-all to everything just needs to stop. Hell, we can’t even come to a consensus around what “sexuality” even is. Sexual arousal, enjoyment, desire, passion, comfort, preference, behavior, history are all different things. And people choose whichever of those elements to define what sexuality means to them. Then there’s the different types of fluidity or paraphiliacs/fetishes or confusions/questioning some people experience. Then there’s the elements of gender, romantic affections, emotional connections and fulfilling commitment. Then there’s a bunch of other things that often play into what people do or how they present themselves: family, ethics, religion, ego, insecurities, sociology, resentments, internal phobias, money, trauma, mental health struggles, attention whoring, addictions, an individual’s sex drive.

This is the impasse we keep returning to. There’s just too much different shit going on, too many different types of people, and too many different struggles, motives, identities and interpretations. So, shaming people, pressuring people, or mostly just pushing identity politics is not the most helpful instinct. If you’re placing identity before people feeling safe, secure and sane and before people feeling free to live the lives that they really want to live then you’re not being helpful. In fact, you are a part of the problem. However, none of this means that you can’t call out the many folks who say and do vulture-like, manipulative or problematic things.

Queer men buck voting Democrat as nearly half vow to vote Donald Trump

Queer men buck voting Democrat as nearly half vow to

Donald Trump holds an LGBT+ Pride flag given to him by supporter. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

As much as a widening gulf has yawned between LGBT+ voters and US president Donald Trump over the years, apparently launching an array of anti-queer policies and, overall, not caring about queer people is enough to get them to vote for you.

A survey of around 1,200 queer male Americans found that around 45 per cent – around 540 – plan to vote for Trump.

Oh, no.

As much as Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has netted an, albeit, slim majority of the queer male vote, securing 51 per cent, it signalled to pollsters how the president’s brand of bullish showmanship has roiled the political landscape.

Queer men have always voted reliably Democratic. Until now.

Indeed, the LGBT+ voting bloc has long been reliably Democratic. The poll conducted by queer dating app Hornet found that, overall among its users, around 66 per cent prefer Biden while 34 per cent support Trump.

But for queer Americans, pollsters said, the statistics were far tighter together. Just less than half of queer men said they do not support Trump, and a slither of just 11 per cent said they generally disagree with his stances.

Only 10 per cent emphatically said they do not support him “at all” and would not vote for him regardless.

Nine per cent were more conflicted, the poll found, in that they agreed with some but not all of his views. Only 27 per cent of respondents mostly or fully supported Trump.

Mapping out support for Trump, the poll found that across Hornet’s global 10,000 users, queer men on almost every continent other than Africa supported Biden more than Trump, across a spawning margin of 54 to 25 per cent.

In terms of countries, only two surveyed supported Trump over Biden, being Taiwan (51 per cent supporting him) and Russia, where nearly six in 10 supported Trump.

Donald Trump is billed as a pro-LGBT+ president, but queer people beg to disagree. 

Trump and his campaign team have increasingly looked towards LGBT+ people as a way to buttress support amid the president’s cratering polls.

Among some of the Republican’s core voting blocs, such as white evangelicals, many do at least generally support LGBT+ rights, according to a 2019 survey.

But the president’s track record has seen him harshly erode many pre-existing LGBT+ rights. Trans rights, in particular, have been taken to with a buzz saw by the Trump administration, across countless federal departments and programs – defence, housing, health and education.

Moreover, during many of this year’s victories in the arena of LGBT+ rights as well as years’ worth of Pride months, Trump has remained silent or vastly indifferent.

And when the president has been pressed about certain LGBT+ issues, such as the federal blood ban on queer men as well as his own campaign for the global decriminalisation of homosexuality, he has been utterly clueless.

Democrats demand end to Donald Trump’s abhorrent trans military ban once and for all in wake of historic Supreme Court ruling

Democrats demand end to Donald Trump's abhorrent trans military ban

Army Sergeant Shane Ortega laces up boots before posing for a portrait at home at Wheeler Army Airfield on March 26, 2015 in Wahiawa, Hawaii. (Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

Democratic lawmakers have pressed for an end to Donald Trump ‘s ban on transgender people serving in the military, in wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on LGBT+ civil rights protections.

In its ruling last month, the Supreme Court made clear that anti-discrimination protections enshrined in the 1964 Civil Rights Act also protect people from discrimination in employment based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

LGBT+ activists are hopeful that the ruling means that days are numbered for the ban on trans people serving in the armed forces, which was imposed in the wake of an infamous Trump tweet-storm in 2017.

Trump administration warned of ‘certain defeat’ over trans military ban

In a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Attorney General William Barr published Wednesday, Democrats in the House of Representatives urged the Trump administration to “immediately” eliminate the ban and cease resisting court action on the issue in the face of “almost certain defeat.”

The letter states: “This policy denies transgender people the ability to enlist in the military and puts transgender troops at risk of being discharged for living openly and authentically.

“The Bostock decision unambiguously clarified that Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sex includes protections for LGBTQ workers.

“Justice Gorsuch wrote ‘[t]he statute’s message for our cases is equally simple and momentous: An individual’s homosexuality or transgender status is not relevant to employment decisions. That’s because it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.’”

Noting the four ongoing lawsuits challenging the ban working their way through the court system, the letter adds: “The US Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock will provide significant weight to those already substantial claims: the principle announced— that gender-identity discrimination is discrimination ‘because of sex’—applies equally to claims under the Constitution.

“Prolonging the litigation in the face of almost certain defeat, and thereby prolonging the existing policy, will continue to inflict serious harm on transgender people seeking to serve our country and on those already serving while living in the shadows, enduring the dignitary harm of being told they’re a burden.

“This policy is an attack on transgender service members who are risking their lives to serve our country and it should be reversed immediately.”

Democratic lawmakers joined activists to rally against the transgender military service ban.
Democratic lawmakers joined activists to rally against the transgender military service ban. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The White House declined to comment on the letter, according to forces outlet Stars and Stripes.

The letter, spearheaded by Washington Democrat Suzan DelBene, is signed by 113 Democratic members of Congress, including every single out LGB House lawmaker – David Cicilline, Angie Craig, Sharice Davids, Sean Patrick Maloney, Chris Pappas, Mark Pocan and Mark Takano. There are no out transgender people elected to the House of Representatives.

Joe Biden has already vowed to immediately scrap trans ban

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has already pledged to scrap the ban if elected in November.

Former Vice President Joe Biden
Joe Biden has vowed to strike down the trans military ban (Michael Brochstein / Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

His policy plan makes clear: “Every American who is qualified to serve in our military should be able to do so—regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and without having to hide who they are.

“Biden will direct the US Department of Defense to allow transgender service members to serve openly, receive needed medical treatment, and be free from discrimination.”