Tag Archives: queer youth

A Speech to Queer High School Activists

by Alok Vaid-Menon, ’13

Note on terminology: Throughout this text I will be using the word ‘queer.’ I do not mean to use ‘queer’ as a derogatory or negative term, rather I use it as an umbrella term for sexualities and gender-identities that are not heterosexual (when one is attracted to members of the ‘opposite’ ‘sex’) or cisgender (when the gender someone is assigned at birth aligns with their psychological feeling of their gender).

Flawed Paradigms

What comes to mind when you think of the ‘gay’ movement? Chances are you think of the Human Rights Campaign and their “gosh-darnit this is so aesthetically pleasing” ‘equality’ sticker – the very sticker you were so proud of yourself for sticking on the back of your mom’s minivan that you drive to school. Chances are you think of marriage equality: of the ‘State’ ‘denying’ gay people their very integrity and going against ‘true love.’ What comes to mind when you think of gay ‘activists’ who compose our movement? Chances are you think of people participating in protests and rallies screaming into megaphones demanding full and equal rights. You might think of a Pride Parade with gorgeous and fit gay people dressed up with all their reckless fabulosity.

But ask yourself: What would change in your life right now if the Supreme Court ruled that banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional and that every State in the United States now had to legalize same-sex marriage?

My guess is that after your cried tears of joy, felt a delicious burst of self-affirmation in your heart, texted all your friends, and kept the news on all night, you would recognize that very little in your day-to-day life would change. Continue reading

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Metal Detectors or Medical Doctors: The Privilege of Education Itself

by Alex Kindel, ’14

When we discuss privilege, a few general types seem to come up more often than others. We frequently acknowledge our white, male, straight privileges, and depending on the space, perhaps cisgender, class, physical ability. I’d like to propose a category of privilege that isn’t as frequently discussed at Stanford: educational background.

For example, did you know what “units” were when you arrived at Stanford? Were you able to receive AP exam credit? Are you used to using textbooks as a tool for learning? Do you speak a language other than the language(s) you speak at home? Did you have high school teachers who were experts in their fields? Do you play an instrument? Was it considered “normal” or “expected” for you to apply to highly selective universities? Do you feel free to pursue opportunities abroad? Do you have generally positive memories of your high school experience? This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I believe examples are the best way to get started on thinking about the way our educational backgrounds influence our identities as Stanford students and the opportunities we feel able to take advantage of. Continue reading

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Nicki Minaj: The Flyest Feminist

by April Gregory, ’13

“You Could Be the King But Watch the Queen Conquer:”
Nicki Minaj as a Model of Empowerment for Female and/or Queer Youth

“In between the beats, booty shaking, and hedonistic abandon, I have to wonder if there isn’t something inherently unfeminist in supporting a music that repeatedly reduces me to tits and ass and encourages pimping on the regular.” Such is the dilemma of hip hop feminist Joan Morgan, author of When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost.  Like Morgan, I consider myself to be a fairly ardent feminist.  I also consider myself to be a fairly ardent hip hop fan.  It’s no secret that these two identities, as Morgan points out, are frequently in conflict with one another.

So imagine my utter bewilderment when, in 2009, I heard a woman spitting lyrics as crude and grimy as those coming out of the mouths of male rappers.  Nicki Minaj had flown into my hip hop radar with her mixtape “Beam Me Up, Scotty.”  Its cover art, which features Nicki and her bountiful curves in a skintight, barely there Wonder Woman outfit, was in itself enough to make the feminist in me have a stroke.  Her rhymes provoked equal alarm.  How could I, as a feminist, respect or support a woman who spit quasi-pornographic lines like “Bitches can’t find their man ‘cause I ride it good” (“Itty Bitty Piggy,” 2009) and “Maybe it’s time to put this pussy on your sideburns” (“BedRock,” 2009) while prancing around in outrageously stripper-esque garb?

To be blunt, Nicki Minaj frightened me.  Her abrasive, slightly schizophrenic tone and unabashed use of misogynistic diction made me uncomfortable.  I could not accept her brazen female sexuality as anything more than a ploy to obtain male attention and furthermore, I felt a little violated by the ease with which she could talk about her body and her sexual exploits.  As an ally of the queer community, I was likewise bothered by Nicki’s claim to be bisexual, which I perceived to be an exploitation of queer identity for the purpose of appealing to heterosexual male fantasies of lesbian and bisexual women.  And, above all, I was horrified by the fact that young girls were idolizing Nicki, especially the fourteen- and fifteen-year-old girls from East Palo Alto that I mentored through a college access program.

Then, on August 27, 2010, my relationship with Nicki Minaj was changed forever. Continue reading

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