Marlon Bailey Discussion Questions

1.) What is it about the Ballroom Culture Bailey finds to be particularly transformative and subversive as a tactic for HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness?

2.) What does the author believe to be problematic with typical and widely used methods of informing the public (specifically certain “communities” deemed as “high risk”) about the HIV/AIDS epidemic?

3.) What stigmas are created within our culture about HIV/AIDS regarding ethnicity, geography, and socioeconomics? Why are certain communities within the population deemed as “high risk” groups?  How do these stigmas serve to perpetuate “high risk” groups?



Transgender studies is a discourse I have very little knowledge or depth in, and I took this class with the purpose of changing that fact. However, the understanding I had on this topic was even more limited than I had previously thought and thus my decision to enroll was somewhat myopic. When I look at a list of terms to define and relate to the readings and course discussions we have had, I find myself in awe of the axiomatic vastness of this topic. In the end, I chose a word that best relates to me personally in several different ways and I hope I can do it justice in terms of what we have discussed, what the authors have discussed; how this term makes me feel as person, as a human being, and as a man.

Masculinity is an incredibly ambiguous, subjective and evocative term used ubiquitously in almost every culture. Specifically this is a term discussed in Fajardo’s piece, “Transportation: Translating Filipino and Filipino Masculinities Through Global Migration and Seafaring.” As with a large number of our readings, Fajardo discusses the meaning of this term, along with “femininity”, in terms of western definitions. Or perhaps, more appropriately, she discusses the pervasive affects a western dominated definition has influenced global perception on what masculinity implies or means. Because of capitalism, colonialism, and of course imperialism, many Filipino men were misrepresented as feminine, which unfortunately is not a positive connotation. Specifically in Fajardo’s piece, the seamen she discusses are meant to represent, at least in western terms, the paradigmatic “masculine” men. This brings us perfectly into the discussion of “heteronormative gender essentialism,” and the belief that masculinity has a set of characteristics that make it, unequivocally, what it is which is usually dominated by western ideals. One of the strongest messages I got from Fajardo’s piece is the idea of fluidity between perceptions of masculinity. That masculinity is actually redefined by groups of “masculine” men, be they heteronormative men, or tomboys.

Masculinity is also studied in some depth by Clare Sears in her piece titled “All That Glitters: Trans-ing California’s Gold Rush Migrations.”  Because of the massive movement to California when gold was discovered on the western coast, there was a massive imbalance between the male and female population. As California is now the most populous state in the union, I think this pivotal time in its history and likely did a lot to legitimize gender definitions and masculinity perceptions. During a time period where the road to success was paved with a lot of typically “blue-collar” work; laborious, sweaty, dirty, this sort of helped to paint the picture of what being a “man” was. I specifically enjoyed the stories in Sears’ article regarding the dances. How men would sort of showcase, or make some kind of statement, regarding their public gender for that night. I liked this because it plays perfectly into the Americanized perception of masculinity. It would have been much more revolutionary if the men had just danced with men, instead of some of them pretending to be women. It also dabbles in the discussion regarding race and how these men would just rather have a room full of men than invite ethnic women to the dances as the Eurocentric public opinion then was to value white “American” women over the indigenous, ethnic population.

On a personal note, speaking as someone who is constantly at odds with how I view myself, how I want the world to view me, and how the world actually views me, masculinity is a constant struggle for me. I am not suggesting it has become this insidious presence in my life that is all consuming and mentally detrimental (as far as confidence and body image is concerned). But speaking as an individual who identifies as a homosexual, one would think that issues of perceived masculinity would be moot. But I think the gay culture, at times, reinforces this masculinity essentialism and that is unfortunate because it is ultimately pernicious and works against the long term goals of most social activists: to deconstruct these heteronormative values and gender definitions and lift the socially constructed filters on how we view the world and how we view other human beings.

National Center for Transgender Equality


This week following the reading I chose to do my report on two different organizations, one more closely tied to the reading, and another more closely tied to not only myself, but the bay area LGBTQ community as well. When doing research for a relevant cultural aspect related to the text I found numerous organizations and outreach programs that aid the community in a local, direct and much more personal way. This being HIV or other STI testing, counseling and asylum services, among many others. Given my personal interests, and of course my major, I wanted to touch a little more on the litigious aspect of the social injustices the trans community faces.

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) is a “social justice organization dedicated to advancing the equality of transgender people through advocacy, collaboration and empowerment.” It was established in 2003 by a group of trans-identifying activists who recognized the severe underrepresentation of this community in the federal, state, and county levels of government. They are essentially a trans focused lobbyist group hoping to educate, influence, and inform congressional members during the lawmaking process.

Another great function of the NCTE is to essentially rally the Transgender movement and help the various organizations and communities to better push their agendas and goals within the government. This includes keeping such parties up to date on social justice laws and regulations, changes in government and leadership which directly affect these communities, and keeping everyone on the same page for rallies, protests and other trans related events. Ultimately their mission is to “end discrimination and violence against transgender people through education and advocacy on national issues of importance to transgender people.”

What I like about this group is they are head quartered in Washington and their primary objective is to take action and spread awareness on a federal level to invoke change by specifically working with and building relationships with members of congress. It is a great group to get involved in if politics or social activism in Washington DC is something you are passionate about. They offer several different career opportunities, including internships.


The second organization I wanted to shed some light on is one I have a personal connection with (as many in the LGBTQ community in the bay area do) is Magnet. Magnet is a non-profit organization in San Francisco, conveniently located in the heart of the Castro, and supported by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. It’s core mission is to “promote the physical, mental, and social well-being of the LGBTQ community.” The most core function this organization offers are health related services. Not only do they provide rapid, and free, HIV testing, they also test for a myriad of STIs, including Hepatitis C—I specifically mention this STI because it requires blood to be drawn and sent to a lab to be tested which takes about a week to do. These tests are all offered free of charge. In addition to STI testing, the center also offers free medication for any curable infections on the spot.

The center is much more than an STI testing center. It plays a huge role in the LGBTQ population in San Francisco. Each time you go in to be tested they partner you with a counselor who walks you through the process and prepares you for your test results. If you test positive for HIV, they have the resources to aid you in living a healthy, productive, and full life with the disease. Aside from this, they have a book club which meets regularly, self defense classes, art exhibits, town hall forums and, in general, help cultivate a community where members, or allies, of this community can come together to support each other, and spread awareness both on issues on sex and social justice programs.

David Miller: Class Introduction

Hello folks,

If the two classes we have had thus far are indicative at all of how this semester will play out, I am certainly looking forward to it that much more! I’ve barely been able to say much because I enjoy listening to everyone’s comments and input. I’ll see everyone in class Monday, have a good weekend!

– Dave