Things That Matter

Brazil’s Supreme Court Votes To Make Homophobia And Transphobia Crimes Despite The Bolsonaro Administration Being Vehemently Anti-LGBTQ+

Brazil’s Supreme Court has voted in favor of the LGBTQ community making homophobia and transphobia a crime. Last week, a majority of judges in Brazil’s top court voted to criminalize this type of discrimination. The ruling is in many ways a rebuke to Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who ran a platform filled with homophobic rhetoric.

The Brazilian Supreme Court’s ruling comes at a time in Brazil when citizens fear that the new president will roll back LGBTQ+ progress.

Six of the 11 justice judges of the Supreme Court voted to make it a crime to discriminate people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Two different laws, one with language targeting homophobia, another for transphobia, will be added to the law that criminalizes racism until Congress can approve a bill.

President Bolsonaro has been a force against LGBTQ+ progress in Brazil and has openly spoken of his dislike for the community. Shortly after taking office, Bolsonaro removed LGBT+ responsibilities from the human rights ministry and declared that the country can’t become a place for the LGBTQ+ community.

“If you want to come here and have sex with a woman, go for your life,” Bolsonaro told journalists in April. “But we can’t let this place become known as a gay tourism paradise. Brazil can’t be a country of the gay world, of gay tourism. We have families.”

While some may say it’s late, Brazil has made significant social progress in the last 30 years.

For almost 20 years, there have been attempts to make homophobia a crime in Brazil. But legislation on the issue has constantly faced resistance among conservative and religious groups in Congress.

It took until 1989 for racism to be made labeled a crime in Brazil, with prison sentences of up to five years. The court’s ruling says that homophobia should be framed within the racism law until specific language and legislation is adopted.

Brazil legalized same-sex marriage in 2013 and gave LGBTQ+ couples the right to adopt shortly after. It’s also home to São Paulo’s Pride Parade, the world’s largest pride demonstration and Rio de Janeiro’s famous gay beach attracts tourists worldwide.

But despite this, Brazil is still considered a dangerous country for members of the LGBTQ+ community. Grupo Gay da Bahia (GGB), Brazil’s oldest LGBTQ rights organization, 320 LGBTQ+ people were killed in Brazil last year, while at least 141 have been killed so far this year.

Many are celebrating this landmark moment for LGBTQ+ progress in Brazil.

LGBTQ+ advocates have said this sort of negative rhetoric from President Bolsonaro has only added to the dangerous climate. So the ruling has become a landmark moment in terms of social and LGBTQ+ progress in the country. Many celebrated the moment on social media sharing their happiness of the news that protects countless in Brazil.

One user said, “Finally, homophobia is a crime in Brazil. Every day is a day to respect the next.” Another echoed the same sentiment by saying, “A very important step forward in the rights of the LGBT in Brazil. The Supreme Court approved yesterday the criminalization of Homophobia!!”

The majority decision is a major victory for the LGBTQ community and is a testament to changing cultures in countries around the world. While homophobia won’t end altogether by this ruling, it’s a step in the right direction.

The ruling “comes at a very good moment, when we have a head of state who is LGBT-phobic,” Bruna Benevides, president of the Niteroi Diversity group, told the AP. “The Supreme Court assumed the responsibility to protect us.”

READ: Here’s How Brazil’s New President Went After LGBTQ People And Minorities His First Week In Office

This Woman’s Poetry Got Twitter Fired Up

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This Woman’s Poetry Got Twitter Fired Up

@2shotsofmely / Twitter

We all know how annoying family can be, nitpicking and offering opinions about how we choose to live our lives. Sometimes, though, our relatives’ perspectives are more than frustrating—they can be hurtful, causing us to question and doubt our place in the world. For many of us, it may be really difficult to address these issues with our loved ones, and we might often need to process these complex situations on our own before we can make any progress within our relationships. For Twitter user Hot Girl Scholar (@2shotsofmely), art was part of this process. She addressed some deep family conflict through poetry, and y’all, Twitter was shook.

According to her pinned tweet, @2shotsofmely and her family emigrated to the US from the Dominican Republic when she was seven years old. In May of this year, she graduated cum laude from Clark University with a BA in English and a minor in Education, ecstatic to dedicate her degree to immigrant and first-generation students. By embracing her role as a “hood girl, educator, and undercover poet,” @2shotsofmely is “living [her] mama’s wildest dreams”—although the poems that have electrified Twitter focus on some hard-to-swallow cultural viewpoints, reiterated by su madre y su abuela.

In poetry, the author of the poem is not always the speaker of the poem, but because of the caption in @2shotsofmely’s post (“Heard it so much I wrote poems about it”), it is clear that these poems—displayed on the walls of Elevated Thought, a Lawrence-based art and social justice organization—are written from her perspective. 

In one poem, “Negra Yo, Pero El No!,” @2shotsofmely acknowledges the hypocrisy (and the shadowy nature of racism and colorism) that defines how her mother reacts to a hypothetical boyfriend: based on the title, we know that @2shotsofmely’s mother is black, yet she proclaims that if @2shotsofmely ever dated a moreno, he must have a thin nose—la nariz fina—green eyes like @2shotsofmely’s grandfather, and “good hair.” In other words, he must not have black features. Why? “Because hay que refinar la raza.”

In the other poem, “LGBTQue?,” @2shotsofmely explores the cultural stigma attached to LGBTQ identities, affirming that her grandmother would “prefer [we] open [our] legs for all the men in the barrio before we walk around with a sister in our arms.”

The original tweet has garnered over 2.3k likes and 900 retweets—people can’t stop gassing @2shotsofmely’s badass display of honesty, the simultaneous pride in and critique of her roots. Several people expressed solidarity, citing events from their own lives that mirrored @2shotsofmely’s poetry.

This Twitter user really related to @2shotsofmely’s experience on the receiving end of her mother’s words.

This Latina responded in Spanish, explaining that her own grandmother married a white man para “mejorar la raza,” but affirmed that it wasn’t her fault—this point of view, according to @ditasea88, is a remnant of colonization.

This Twitter user applauded “LGBTQue?” for its resonance and truth.

Her poems even moved some folks to tears.

Although each of these tweets suggests a common experience which is largely negative, the response to @2shotsofmely’s poetry was rich with compassion—not only for those other Twitter users who share that experience, but for the madres y abuelas whose lives were very different than ours, and who had to make different decisions as a result. History is complex and difficult to synthesize without a broad contextual understanding, and @2shotsofmely’s work draws attention to how cultural patterns from the past can leave a dark impact on the present. However, alongside the criticism and pain at the core of these poems, there is something else: a sense of defiance and hope.

Now, in the midst of the political chaos within our country, it is especially important to celebrate the victories of individuals and groups creating supportive platforms for folks—particularly people of color—to express themselves. It is always exciting to see expressions of Latinidad—from art to poetry to a bomb Insta selfie—spark conversation and communion, even if people are relating about moments that have left them hurt or bruised. In a way, this type of conversation creates a sense of camaraderie, amistad—a feeling of familia.  

And although a lot of Latina familias struggle with antiquated viewpoints (like those presented in @2shotsofmely’s poems), times are changing, and cultural expectations are becoming more inclusive to Latinx people with a range of diverse identities. Often, the more difficult aspects of our upbringing lead us to create meaningful work and connect with others who can relate to us—@2shotsofmely’s poetry is a great example of how intergenerational trauma can produce beauty, connection, and personal growth when you honor yourself and your dreams. @2shotsofmely, you go, girl!

Hillary Clinton’s Recent Comments About The Trans Community Highlight That She Was Never Woke As She Wanted To Be

Things That Matter

Hillary Clinton’s Recent Comments About The Trans Community Highlight That She Was Never Woke As She Wanted To Be

hillaryclinton / Twitter

In her decades-long political career, Hillary Clinton has proven to be slow on the pickup of her understanding of the LGBTQ+ community. Throughout her terms as First Lady, senator, secretary of state and presidential candidate, Clinton has jumped into the tepid waters of political conversation when the tides are low and the political risk factor had waned away.  While Clinton and her husband had at one time actively pursued the gay community in the 90s as an interest group during her husband’s political campaigns, she did little to stand beside the rainbow when it came to bigger civil rights issues such as same-sex marriage.

In a recent interview with the U.K. newspaper The Sunday Times, Clinton proved that her lackluster approach to supporting and understanding the LGBTQ+ community prevails. 

Speaking to the Sunday Times about, Clinton described topics related to the trans community as something she is only “just learning about.”

In her interview with The Sunday Times, a media outlet that has often been slammed for its transphobic coverage and mistreatment of trans employees, Clinton claimed that she has only just learned about the concepts of being trans. 

“Errr,” Hillary said, according to the news piece “I’m just learning about this. It’s a very big generational discussion because this is not something I grew up with or ever saw.” She added, “It’s going to take a lot more time and effort to understand what it means to be defining yourself differently.”

The reporter interviewing Clinton drew upon the former presidential candidate’s response to ask more questions that had pretty leading statements. At one point the interviewer suggested that  “a lot of British feminists of Hillary’s generation have a problem with the idea that a lesbian who doesn’t want to sleep with someone who has a penis is transphobic,” and that these “British feminists” are “uncomfortable with people who are physically male” being in the same spaces as trans women in single-gender spaces.

In response, Clinton said that she “absolutely” felt as if “there is a legitimate concern about women’s lived experience and the importance of recognizing that, and also the importance of recognizing the self-identification [of transgender people]… This is all relatively new. People are still trying to find the language for it. I think in the right mindset this can be understood, but it’s going to take some time.”

She went onto further state she felt as if people need “to be sensitive to how difficult this is. There are women who’d say [to a trans woman], ‘You know what, you’ve never had the kind of life experiences that I’ve had. So I respect who you are, but don’t tell me you’re the same as me.’ I hear that conversation all the time.”

Clinton’s comments closely mirror her responses from last month, in which she said that trans rights are “very big generational discussion.” 

In a recent interview with The View, Clinton described her decision to remain married to Bill Clinton despite his humiliating affair in the 90s as one of the gustiest moves she’d ever made. She later expounded on this saying that other gutsy decisions she’d seen others make included being in interfaith and interracial marriages and raising trans children. “Sometimes when your child has an issue—I had a friend who, a few years ago, called up and said, ‘I don’t know who to talk to about this, but my little girl wants to be a boy. What do I do?'” She recalled. “Several of us—we didn’t know what to do, we’d never had a friend who faced that before—and several of us kind of read everything, talked to people, and gave her advice. And it was really gutsy of her to say, ‘Okay, I’m going to respect the feelings of my child, as hard as it is for me to understand this.’ So, I think when the question was asked personally—everyone faces a moment of decision. And you have to reach deep down inside and decide what’s right for you to do. Hopefully, it’s reached with love and understanding, but it’s gutsy.”

Clinton’s response underlines a misunderstanding about the trans community and parenting. Truly it is a reminder that being accepting of your child and their identity is just the most basic aspect of parenting. 

Now Conservative media outlets have capitalized on Clinton’s comments to justify attacking the trans community. 

This is particularly concerning how easily conservative outlets have spun news stories in their favor and the fact that Clinton continues to espouse transphobic beliefs.

Now Conservative media outlets have capitalized on Clinton’s comments to justify attacking the trans community. 

This is particularly concerning how easily conservative outlets have spun news stories in their favor and the fact that Clinton continues to espouse transphobic beliefs.