Queer Wedding: Legalize Love

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When I was young, I thought I would never end up marrying someone I loved. It wasn’t easy growing up gay in a society that is often harsh to those who are different. I was afraid, ashamed, and angry for a very long time. Eventually I developed a more positive outlook about who I was. But I was still terrified especially when it came to the religious and political demagogues that taught people like me to hate ourselves.

But then I met and fell in love with my girlfriend. She was the type of person that neither had anything to prove nor anything to hide. Her fearlessness humbled me. I was not going to keep her a secret and I was not going to apologize for what I felt for her.  I could no longer be content with being anyone less than myself. I came out and life went on just as it always had, people were generally very accepting. But I still didn’t think I would get married. It wasn’t legal in California and I felt pessimistic about my prospects.

Things changed during Queer Wedding. My girlfriend and I held hands, walked down the aisle, exchanged vows, and had our first dance in a beautiful symbolic ceremony. We were surrounded by people who were marriage equality supporters. Suddenly I didn’t feel like I was different. I was just a person in love. And when volunteers walked across the stage and announced the year same-sex marriage was legalized in the state they represented, I felt incredibly hopeful that global marriage equality would soon become a reality. And I thought who knows? The idea of getting married someday isn’t so farfetched after all.

Did you attend Queer Wedding? What did you think?

The Power of Relationships: 4th Annual Womyn of Color Conference

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“I’m going to graduate! I am going to graduate!” we all shouted back through an affirmation exercise to our Keynote speaker, Jewel Diamond Taylor, who gave an outstanding presentation on balancing life relationships. It was a discussion filled with inspiration that met the energy for the entire event of the 4th Annual WOMYN OF COLOR CONFERENCE. This jam packed powerhouse conference took place Saturday, November 17, 2012 in the University-Student Union from 9am-5pm. I know, you’re thinking 9 to 5… a Saturday… who does that?! But with the workshop sessions being a brief 55 minutes each, along side a morning registration Café, an amazing vegetarian option lunch, chocolate and ice cream bar, music, vendors selling amazing vintage items, a raffle, a photo booth, and breath taking spoken word closing, the time flies! The event was filled with an amazing energy of empowerment as students, staff, and facility members came together to celebrate and discuss relationships, which of course was this year’s theme.

With workshops ranging from Love Yourself Challenge, Men: Comrades in Struggle, (Yes, conference was open to everyone!) to When Relationships Go Bad-Divorcing Violence there was so much encouraging dialogue that had everyone in attendance left with some new form of empowerment! (That is a generalization, but after reading the evolutions from the attendees, it holds much truth)

Film Focus: Cloud Atlas

“Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others, past and present.”

In 1849, an American lawyer’s personal ordeals lead him to reevaluate the morality of the slave trade. In 1936, a young impoverished composer struggles to complete his masterpiece. In 1973, a journalist fights to uncover a shocking conspiracy while being hunted by a hitman. In 2012, a spendthrift book editor runs from the brothers of his imprisoned client. In 2144, an imprisoned clone recounts the story of her rebellion. In 2321, an apocalyptic event has returned human survivors to tribal life. Underlying each story is the unifying power of love and friendship, even between those for whom such a connection is difficult if not impossible. Love is shown to be a powerful catalyst for change and it has the ability to take us to unexpected places as well as old familiar ones.

The film starts out fairly slow and switches back and forth between story lines often. Questions that arise along the way are not fully answered until much later. There is comedy, action, romance, and tragedy. The innovative aspect of the film is the way the same actors occupy incredibly different roles. In most ways this is well done, but during one part of the movie the use of prosthetics to make non-Asian actors look Asian is clumsily done and has opened the film to accusations of racism (http://theweek.com/article/index/235445/isnbspcloud-atlasnbspracist).

Overall, Cloud Atlas is an ambitious movie with a moving message (yes the ending made me cry) but its fair share of technical flaws.

3/5 stars

So what do you think about casting actors in ethnic roles that are not their own?

Book Review: The Madonnas of Echo Park

How much of our identity is defined by us as individuals and how much is defined by our relationships, our neighborhoods, and our culture?

This is one of the central questions at the heart of Brando Skyhorse’s novel, and CSULA’s One Campus One Book selection for the year, The Madonnas of Echo Park. The novel stars an array of characters all inextricably tied to one another and the iconic neighborhood of Echo Park. Skyhorse uses beautifully poetic imagery to weave together a dizzying narrative of mothers and daughters, murderers and housekeepers, the hopelessly lost and miraculously found.

The most prominent character, Aurora Esperanza, returns to Echo Park as an adult after a series of tumultuous childhood events lead to her departure. From her, the novel spirals out into a series of vignettes, each focusing on a character that struggles to find how they fit within the delineated boundaries of country, ethnicity, family, and community. Not all of them find their fit and there is hurt and loss. For the ones that do there is redemption, love, and acceptance.

Skyhorse paints a surreal picture of the lives that intermingle in Echo Park but his description of death, human weakness, and pain are raw and unapologetic. There are revealing glimpses of gang life, the life of immigrants, and the dynamics of relationships.

Fundamentally what I got from this novel is this: we are equally shaped by the good and the bad in our lives, the people we chose and the people that chose us, and we are more than the sum of our ethnicity, culture, nationality, the people we meet, and the places we pass through and more than anything we are all connected through our struggles and triumphs.

4/5 Stars

Real Talk: We’ve reached the Mountain Top, Now What?

August 28, 1963, 49 years ago, Martin Luther King stood on the steps of Lincoln Memorial in front of a quarter million people and expressed his dream of equality for the American nation. He dreamt that his fellow man could walk the streets safely without encountering a beating or the fear of being lynched. He dreamt that one-day his fellow peers could dine at the restaurant of their choice and be seated and served through the front door. His dream of integration, at least on a basic level, has been obtained- we even have a Black man in the White House! His dream, in the eyes of many, has been fulfilled.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Standing at the mountaintop, however the question arises-where do we go from here? Where does the Black community turn to continue the pursuit of the dream? What dreams do you have for the Black community?

URBAN PURSUITS: Mama Jones

Kicking off the fall season of Urban Pursuits with mouthwatering comfort food and a change of scenery from the everyday life of CSULA students, and since we’re commuters it’s even better! If you and your friends ever find yourself wanting a chill fall bonfire, with some amazing food you should head over to the city of San Pedro where Mama Jones has her staff whipping up some food for the soul. I recently stopped by this past week with a group of friends, and we were in for a treat! From homemade peach cobbler to oven baked mac and cheese this place has it covered! Combined with amazing hospitality and Mama Jones being there herself we had a ball! Our meals ranged from $8 to $13 dollars  and we were extremely happy, as were our pockets! I know a lot of students are away from their family and hankering for food that isn’t dispensed from a vending machine! This cozy place in the heart of the beach city is just what students need to break away from the midterm madness!  So grab some friends, head down the 710 or the 110 south, catch a breeze at the breathtaking White Point beach, and indulge in food for the soul. (At $13 dollars you won’t be disappointed!) 

Mama Jones is located at 806 South Gaffey Street, San Pedro, CA, 90731. Parking is in the rear.

White Point beach is located at West Paseo Del Mar & Kay Fiorentino Drive, San Pedro, CA 90732. Parking is free at the street level from dawn to dusk