Please visit the Fall 2012 class website project at Queer Arts Los Angeles Website.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Week 1: Introduction

Hello everyone, 

My name is Eren Ng. I am a fourth year Political Science major hoping to go to law school. I want to get involved specifically with immigration law or LGBTQ rights because of my identity as a QTPOC. In my free time I like to work out, watch anime, go to museums, attend concerts or music festivals, and lay around all day. I hope that through this class I can learn more about art in general as well as art through a queer perspective, something that I think is really underrepresented in all forms of artistic expression. 

In this week's reading of Gay LA: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipsticks Lesbians what really stood out to me was the historical context of gender in Indigenous societies pre-colonialism. It was interesting to learn that there were such different views on gender and the general acceptance of people that were gender nonconforming. In fact, the societies allowed people to choose the gender that they felt best represented them and it was a thing to be celebrated. Homosexual lifestyles, cross-dressing, and gender fluidity were seen as different, but not something to be ashamed of until the influence of colonialism. I also noticed how cross-dressing or gay males were charged with crimes at a higher rate than cross-dressing or lesbian women. It made me think of the notion of hyper-masculinity and the effects it has on gender roles that are still present today. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Week 1: Introduction

Hey all!
My name is Midori. I’m a junior transfer majoring in PoliSci and minoring in LGBTQ Studies. I’m from the Valley, so I’m pretty local. LA’s the place for sure, and I think these are really exciting times to live here! I love urban design, folk music, and my old, fat pet mouse (she is a cutie). I haven’t really been involved in the queer community at all before coming to UCLA and this will be my first non-PoliSci class at UCLA, so I’m really excited, because I honestly know much less than I wish I did about queer history and local art.
From the reading in Gay LA, I was really struck by how different the experiences of gay men and women were. I was surprised to read that while men faced severe social and legal punishments for homosexuality, women could “get away” with it since female sexual relationships were not taken seriously or not believed (such as the actresses who simply enjoyed “girl talk” with each other on their weekend getaways) or because for a woman to “masquerade” was simply considered modern. My absolute favorite line in the first section was the one about “Box-Car Bertha, [the] famous hobo” when she described how lesbians and “strong-minded women” from elsewhere in the States would often “pass” as men and come to California with their female partners to live a new life together when LA was still a Wild West frontier town where you could be or become anyone. I think I just never considered LA a particularly lesbian city, so I really appreciate the idea that in the late 19th century, many would have considered it just that.
The book sort of touched upon how the first-wave feminist movement and lesbian identities were sometimes related, which I think is a really important point, either because suffragettes were often accused of being lesbians or because really, both feminists and lesbians (and feminist lesbians) sought to “unsex” society in some way. That people at the time viewed women voting as practical lesbianism I think really illustrates how taboos against female queerness are just constructs rooted in patriarchy. I also thought it was really interesting that the authors seemed to have trouble specifically identify any of the figures it mentioned up to a certain point as queer, partially because their ideas of gender and sexual identities were not the same or were not as clearly defined as they are today, which goes back to their point at the very beginning of the book that where we draw the lines around these identities are entirely socially constructed and, to a point, arbitrary.

Week 1 - Introduction

Hey all!

I am Eli, a 4th year Political Science and Gender Studies major. I was born in Pasadena but raised in Azusa. I come from a single family home and I'm the first generation of my family to be born in the United States (as well as the first person to go to college.) I have a strong inclination for music. I'm particularly infatuated by spanish flamenco guitar pieces and it's probably because I studied classical guitar for approximately 7 years, though I wouldn't say I'm very good at it. I love Jazz, Blues, and anything loosely based on those genres (which is a lot of genres considering how influential those two are.) I'm into noise bands and gothic industrial music too, but I digress. 
Currently I am a cultural affairs intern for an arts agency located in West Los Angeles, where I've been at for a bit over a year now. It is because of this position that I've been able to learn about LGBTQ arts and culture in Los Angeles from my wonderfully knowledgeable bosses. I have also been involved in Queer clubs on campus for nearly my entire stay at UCLA. Though I've made quite the effort to revolve my life around queerness, I've now come to realize that it's come at the cost of surrounding myself with homonormativity.

As for this week's reading, I've really come to enjoy the first part of Gay L.A. because it started us off by telling us how there are a variety of genders in differing communities. As someone who was affected by colonization and who is nonbinary, I like how visibility is shed on those identities. Also, moving a bit past the reading, I also went ahead and downloaded Stuart Timmons LGBTQ History Tour Mobile application. It is through this app that I was able to experience LGBTQ history in the form of a walking tour in the City of West Hollywood, a place rich in Queer History. Though I wasn't able to actually go and walk in the City due to a fever, I was able to listen to the information given to me by the narrator. Since I frequent West Hollywood often, I was able to contextualize certain parts of the City to its History. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Blog post #1 - Oscar

     Hi everyone, my name is Oscar Arroyo! I am a fourth year psychology major and public health minor. I come from this very small town north of here named Porterville in California's Central Valley (It's an hour south of Fresno and an hour north of Bakersfield). My interests include festival-going, electronic music, binge-watching shows on Netflix, random adventures throughout the city, and dancing. I've always wanted to take an LGBTQ Studies course ever since I got to UCLA, but they always conflicted with some other course. However, I was really motivated to set time aside when I was scheduling classes for this quarter, and that was due to the disabilities studies course I took last quarter. I learned so much in the class, shattered some biases I thought I didn't have, and really grew to appreciate the Disability identity and cultural studies as a whole, so I decided to make it more personal and applicable to me. I guess I lucked out when I was choosing classes because this class focuses on two of my three central identities: Queer and Latino. I'm really looking forward to this class and getting to know more about all of you as well! :)
     As I was reading about 1920s Hollywood, I decided to Google these people and check out there Wikipedia pages and other pages, and something that I thought was interesting was how some of these people who were confirmed as being queer in Gay: LA were not queer in their respective pages. That is not to say that not any of these famous people were confirmed or even treaded around the topic of queerness on these pages. In the book, Robert Lewis, Alla Nazimova's friend is quoted as saying "Hollywood...the dirtiest place in America, was the most eager to keep everything clean." For me, it's interesting to think that by concealing the truth so stringently and for so long greatly continues to influence the perception of these people to this date. What I find more interesting however is, what kind of effect could this have had on their mental health and more importantly their self-identity? These stars constantly had to balance both personas and were always teetering on a self-imposed fine line for fear of public scrutiny and career implosion.

Week 1 Blog

Hi everyone,

My name is Ihomira (the h is silent) --  I study sociology and Chicanx studies and minor in public policy. I was born and raised in the Southeast LA region. I'm excited to apply my appreciation for art beyond social settings and to learn more about the queer art scene in Los Angeles. I look forward to expanding my understanding of queer fluidity and the various forms in which art facilitates queer expression.

Like many others before me, I also found the first chapter of Gay L.A. extremely enticing because it is very similar to my own upbringing. I appreciate the fact that the Faderman and Timmons included Native American sexual and gender fluidity because it is something that many individuals tend to neglect when discussing queer censorship in a historical and colonial context. A section I found particularly interesting was how the Yurok deemed wergen the most spiritual of the tribe and how the Yuki permitted them to marry other males. This kind of freedom in sexuality and gender expression seems to be a common trait with Native Americans all throughout the Americas -- Northern, Central, and Southern. For instance, many Mayan indigenous groups in Central America also view queer womxn -- or just womxn who are sexualy fluid -- as the ones most spiritual and closely connected to a god. Yemaya, the goddess of the all living things, is one of the most important Orishas for  garifunas all throughout Central America. Olokun, the mother of the deep dark sea who is associated with Yemaya, is widely considered to have attributes of both genders. This queering of gender and sexuality is typical and the 'the norm' for the garifunas so I found that the Native Americans discussed in the chapter to fall within this context of fluidity.

Week 1: Introduction

Hello everyone,

My name is Jessica Valles, I am a fourth year in UCLA. I have majored in Chicano Studies for about 3 years. Before that I was an English major, but discovered quite soon that it was not my cup of tea. I am from Echo Park, but am currently living near UCLA. My favorite hobbies/past times are drawing, watching Netflix, or going to Disney. The reason I am taking this class is to continue broadening my knowledge on the LGBTQ community. My favorite classes at UCLA have been Chicano art classes, this one is perfect because I look forward to working on an artist's webpage as well as learning about history of LGBTQ.

A topic that caught my eye in part one of Gay L.A is the movie game. It saddened me that people had to give their true identities in order to maintain their jobs. For famous people, the truth was hidden because the public wanted to see them as heterosexuals. In contrast, those who weren't famous were treated worse. The fact that people's names were printed in the newspaper under a list titled "Guilty Ones" shows how desperate and insensitive the hetero public was to gay people.  Although an interesting thing about these two instances is that one hides and one exposes people.

Blog Post #1

Hey y'all!

My name is Reggie (Reginald) Lin, and I grew up around San José in the Bay Area. I am a Design | Media Arts major with minors in Entrepreneurship and LGBTQ Studies. I have always been interested in technology, especially how humans approach and interact with media in today’s society. I am also very much invested in addressing the intersectionalities that are inherent within our systems. Recently, I have been examining the racialization of bodies throughout our histories as intertwined with our experiential knowledge, pulling from my own lived experiences and documentations of others.

In this week's reading, an excerpt of Gay LA: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipsticks Lesbians, I was particularly interested in the art that was mentioned and the interactions surrounding such art. One instance that stood out was Bob Mizer's homoerotic photography with his creation of the Athletic Model Guild that glorified the images of the "California boy," who was, as quoted, "always tanned, frequently blond, and sporting little more than a mischievous grin." Mizer's work created an underground gay market for such images and inspired and created an outlet for other gay artists. What I found particularly interesting within this portion was that Mizer's work was both a protest and a conformation to the norm. Mizer's work pushed the limits to what was allowed for photography at the time and was thus similarly pushed back on with legal action. However, Mizer's fetish for the aesthetics of white and muscled men lean heavily towards ingrained beliefs of the hegemony that erase the highly multicultural and multi-ethnic histories of California itself, reverberating a sense of colonialist pasts that have been sterilized. This is not to say that such fetishes are not necessarily valid, but that even within a protest space, it is seemingly evident that ingrained biases were not addressed.

Blog Post #1

            My name is Aida, and I am a fourth year Gender Studies major and LGBTQ Studies minor. I am Middle Eastern, North African, and Middle Eastern Roma. I was born in the Middle East and moved to the US when I was eight with my mom and younger brother, and we’ve been in Los Angeles since. My pronouns are they/them/their. I am Muslim and queer, two identities often thought of as incompatible or paradoxical, and therefore rendered silenced and forgotten. Existing at this intersection, I hope to take my art and activist work to highlight other voices and stories inhabiting these identities. I am an activist, poet, filmmaker, designer, and visual artist. I fight for and stand in solidarity with different marginalized communities and voices and I will continue to do activist and artistic work.
            This class interested me immediately with the title. As a hopeful artist myself, I’ve worked and collaborated with other artists in Los Angeles. I will be applying for an MFA in the coming year, and I am most excited to have an academic space to discuss, unpack, and learn about queer art, art history, and artists in our city. I hope that it enriches me personally, artistically, and academically. I look forward to the readings and to learning from everyone else.
            The reading was really interesting and profound in the history of Los Angeles that it provided. I appreciated that the history of gay LA started with the Native and Indigenous populations that lived and inhabited California before any settlers or colonizers, and that the authors took us through the gender and sexual identities of the Native people, which were suppressed and vilified by the European colonizers. I thought that this was a responsible and dimensional writing of history, and one that too often gets forgotten in historical narratology. The novel makes mention in the beginning of chapter 3 those that lived and faced power structures in the intersection of queer identity and race. It is noted that “survivors of the era who witnessed both racism and homophobia by the police are hard put to say which was worse” (Timmons and Faderman, 72). I appreciated this intersectional telling of the history of gay LA, and I wish there was more of such an approach.
            Also in chapter 3, I found the discussion of the impact of such events as the Great Depression and World War II on queer identities and spaces really important and interesting. This section made me wonder about the impact of war and other such global encounters on the lives and identities of queer people. Beyond heterocolonialism, I ask this question: how do such massive political, economic, and global transformations affect the marginalized, specifically queer identities? The authors do an interesting job of highlighting the sexual activities of those that served in the war, feeling safe being away from home and partaking in sexualities that LA gave them an opportunity to. They also talk about the agency that many people then took to open up their own spaces – bars, clubs, etc. – in an effort to live their lives. Though constantly repressed and heavily policed, these spaces would constantly come back in different forms, or stay open despite the violence from police and society.
Tracing this to my own research and interests, I saw a link between this discussion and what the wars and struggles in the Middle East have done to both bring queer people closer together as well as to shun and repress them, leaving them to make their own spaces and coalitions. Being queer is seen as a “white thing”, and this has been amplified in the face of American and European violence in the area. But queer Middle Eastern people are fighting back such notions and working to create spaces for themselves, often prompted and pushed by the political struggles in their lands to do so.

Blog Post #1 - Riy

Hi y'all,

My name is Riyadah Mutakabbir, but I go by Riy. I am a fourth year Dance major with a focus on Civic Engagement and an LGBTQ Studies minor. I was born in Oakland, California but was raised in Stockton, California. I am an RA and on a competitive Hip Hop team. As a Black, genderqueer, dancer who has established a dance community in Los Angeles, I wanted to learn about the different art communities that have established themselves in Los Angeles.

What I found most interesting in the Gay L.A. reading was that gender-bending and same-sex relations were evident in Native American societies before colonization. Although I had already knew this information, I recently read Janet Mock's Redefining Realness and read about Hawaii culture having their own version of transness and same-sex relationships. This reading made me wonder how many other cultures have some form of this as well.

It also was interesting how much lesbianism was ignored because men did not think that pleasure could exist without their input. Another reason could have been that women were much more likely to be hanging out together and be more touchy with their friends than men were. Women were probably exhibiting what looked like very romantic, normal friendships, when they were actually showcasing their lesbianism. This made me think that a lot of new terms that my generation thinks they have invented, were previously ideals but did not have labels. This generation thinks they created romantic friends and gender-bending, but there is proof of these ideas in history.

Blog post #1 - Eva de Haan

Hi Everyone,

My name is Eva de Haan, and I am at UCLA for the winter quarter on an exchange. I go to University College Maastricht, a small liberal arts college in the South of the Netherlands. I major in sociology there, and I am in my junior year. Having grown up in Amsterdam, I have been emerged in the LGBTQ community ever since I can remember. Moving to Maastricht for college was a big change for me, as Maastricht is a more conservative place and much less culturally diverse. I am taking this class to get to know Los Angeles in a different way. I am only here for a quarter so I want to explore as many sides of this city as I can. I would also be interesting to see if any comparisons can be drawn between LA and Amsterdam, cities that seems so vastly different on the surface. 

What stood out to me from the readings from the book Gay L.A. was de difference in the treatment of women and men when it came to homosexuality and transgender issues. It is described that men often suffered harsher, more severe, consequences. In the early times, women dressing as men was less of an issue than men dressing up as women. Gender-bending males in the early 20th century were often convicted much more severely than women, who were regarded as amusing. Lesbianism was also less of a crime than male homosexuality. It is mentioned that one reason for this could be that women were less likely to find themselves in public places like bathrooms or parks. Another reason mentioned is that law makers simply did not take lesbianism seriously, as sexual pleasure for women without a man present seemed unlikely. This idea still exists today, with many men not knowing how lesbian sex can be pleasurable. The lack of knowledge about the female body makes it that many people sex only means penetration, when in fact penetration is for women often less exciting than other aspects of sexual activity.

Week 1 Blog: Gay L.A

Hi everyone!

My name is Michael Vielma and I am a senior here at UCLA studying communications. I was born and raised in Orange County near Laguna Beach and moved to LA around two years ago as a transfer student. I currently intern at Paramount Pictures in international marketing, and hope to pursue a future career in the same field! As a gay male, I joined this class to learn more about the LGBTQ community and gain a deeper understanding as to its presence in art throughout the city I call home.

I found this week’s reading in ‘Gay LA: A history of sexual outlaws, power politics, and lipstick lesbians’ by Lillian Faderman to be extremely interesting. In the beginning, the author speaks about the Gabrielino Indians and their residency in what later became the city of Los Angeles.  The institutionalized gender and sexual practices of these Native Americans were appalling to the missionaries who took over the land. The natives engaged in same-sex relations and the missionaries aimed to rid the land of this ‘abnormal’ behavior that “shocked” them.

Even though the history within the first part of the reading seems so far away, it’s eerie to think that there are still people in this world with the same attitude and views towards the LGBTQ community. While we may look back on these missionaries in disgust at the way they treated the natives, there are people among us in the year 2017 with the same attitude.

Hey guys,
My name is Valerie Merringer and I’m from San Francisco, CA. I moved to LA for my freshman year and have fallen in love with the city and the wide range of activities and communities it has to offer. I’m a Gender Studies major and have been so lucky to learn about history of feminist and queer movements in a city that has seen so much of this history go through it. You can usually find me at the beach or Downtown-where I love to look at the architecture and imagine a bigger, faster moving Los Angeles. What I found most interesting in the first portion of Gay LA: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipsticks Lesbians was the connection between location or spaces and identity. Los Angeles during the 1930’s and mid 1940’s had the illusion of being a liberal dream and a safe haven for artists and those who wanted to explore a queer identity. After Pearl Harbor and the influx of military personal in the South Bay Harbor where men were shipped out, there was a rebirth of gay bars that didn’t just serve the Hollywood and Vine area. These bars, which worked as a place of camaraderie and safety for men coming back from war were a huge success. As the war in Europe and the Pacific wined down, the development of permanent housing communities- intended for bachelors coming back from war helped build LA up. I was so surprised to see that “when military men and women completed their tours of duty, more came back to Los Angeles than to any other city” (Faderman and Timmons, 73.) The notion that we must never underestimate the power of visibility and community is something that this excellent book is coming back to. The visual arts allow for another form of expression of the political and social happenings of a specific location that allow us as views and participants to honor our past histories.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Week #1 Post

Hello everyone,

            My name is Michelle Mayfield and I am a fourth year communications studies major. I am originally from Santa Cruz, CA and I relocated to LA for school. I am taking this class to expand my knowledge in areas outside of my major. As well as in particular learn more about the LGBTQ community and the history surrounding it via art in LA and the texts in the course. 
            I found the part one from Gay LA: A history of sexual outlaws, power politics, and lipstick lesbians by Lillian Faderman to be quite interesting especially since I had no previous knowledge about the queer history of Los Angeles. I was fascinated to read about the Native Americans who previously I had heard mentions of their gender fluidity and sexual freedom but had not read in more detail about it. I loved hearing how in their communities being queer was held in high spiritual regard and even celebrated which is a far cry from many places in the world despite the progress being made in some more progressive cities. I would be interested to know how practices varied across Native American tribes or if it was somewhat uniform throughout tribes across the nation?
            Furthermore I found it appalling that while gender masquerading was made a crime it was permitted for the theatre and entertainment purposes. As if it was only acceptable if made in to some sort of spectacle making ‘masquerading’ into a humorous and degrading practice which would bleed into culture still affecting the opinions of many people today. It seems to be a practice in our culture that when something deviates from the societal norm it is ostracized and made into a humorous display as to help those who are uncomfortable with that in which they are ignorant of cope. To this day there are current examples such as men wearing makeup, which in 2016 finally was celebrated to some extent and previously had been made fun of and looked down upon.

Katie Lin Introduction Week 2

My name is Katie (Katherine) Lin. I am a fourth year psychology major and LGBTQ studies minor. I am from Simi Valley, a southern California native. I currently intern for It Gets Better, and have interned for various non-profits in the past. I hope to pursue a career within the non-profit industry post-college, despite not knowing what specifically I wish to do. I am particularly excited to take this course, in hopes of expanding my understanding of art and expression, and tapping into a creative side to myself as well. I hope that in learning the historical context of queer art in LA, I will be better equipped to understand our present state and the art that is presently developing from it. With the current political atmosphere, I hope to uncover similar and evolving themes in the art of LA from various eras of our nation, particularly to the art that is formed from the present political atmosphere.

In reference to Part 1 of Gay L.A., what stood out among the events and history discussed was the rather complex relationship between Hollywood, the police, and the rest of Los Angeles. Despite the high class or esteemed status of those who worked in Hollywood, the industry remained under scrutiny by the Los Angeles police department. It is particularly interesting to be aware of the evolution of Los Angeles, especially alongside the evolution of Hollywood and its constituents. While LA remained a haven for anonymity, it grew to also be a target of discrimination, and not even its central stars were exempt. The creation of many political organizations grew out of the disorder and anonymity of Los Angeles and Hollywood, leaving these newly formed political groups incredibly broken and disunited. What remains unclear is to what extent did the pressures and scrutiny on Hollywood during the 30s and 40s contribute to the liberalism, yet at the same time, lacking equal representation within our current Hollywood?