Saturday, December 03, 2016

Thanks For A Wonderful Miss Trans Universo 2015 Reign, Aleika!

One of the things I like to point out is that your family expands, not contracts after you transition, and in many cases those family members you gain are your trans siblings around the world.

One of those people I've had the pleasure of getting to know is my Brazilian sis Aleikasandria Barros. Since her reign as Miss Trans Universo 2015 is coming to an end and she'll have to return to Italy to crown her successor, I wanted to take a moment to give her a TransGriot shoutout.

Thanks Aleika for representing yourself, your nation and our community while wearing the Miss Trans Universo crown.

The Miss Trans Universo pageant is taking place on December 10, and it's on that night in Perugia, Italy she will crown her successor.

I've had the pleasure of getting to know Aleika for the last few years, and I've had some interesting conversations with her about a variety of subjects along the way.

In addition to being involved in the pageant world, she's passionate about causes near and dear to all of our hearts around the world in the eradication of transphobia, educating about our lives, the expansion of our human rights and building sisterhood in our ranks.

I have much admiration and pride for my sisters who compete in the pageant world.  They are not only my sisters, they also have an important role to play in the advancement of our community's human rights in our various nations and around the world.

I've seen that firsthand since I have been in the position a few times of being a trans pageant judge. My pageant sisters at times are also advocates.  They are not only serving as community ambassadors facilitating conversations between the cis and trans communities, there are qualities and things that you learn while competing in pageants that also translate to life outside the pageant world.

I'm eagerly looking forward to the day, like I am with all my international sisters, that I finally get to meet Aleika in person.

Congrats on your amazing year as Miss Trans Universo Aleika!  May the blessings continue to flow for you in 2017 and beyond.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Shut Up Fool Awards- First Friday Of December Edition

Image result for December 2016
It's the first Friday of the last month of the year, and that means we're less than 30 days from starting 2017.   While Christmas Day is circled on many people's calendars, so is December 19, the day the electors meet in state capitols across the country and execute the final act of the 2016 election cycle.

Just a reminder of where I stand on Dear Cheeto Leader,  he's still #notmypresident

Anyway,  let's get to this week's Shut Up Fool Awards

Honorable mention number one is Tomi Lahren, who shows that she's still clueless about a lot of subjects in this Daily Show interview.

Honorable mention number two is Scarlett Johansson, who called for people to keep pushing for diversity in Hollywood while getting paid for whitewashing a Japanese cyborg cop in the big screen adaptation of the anime classic Ghost In The Shell.

Can you say hypocrisy people?  

Honorable mention number three is Dear Cheeto Leader, AKA Donald Trump, just pick a jacked up comment this week./

Honorable mention number four is Aym Icon, the CEO of Transcendence Icon Company for this problematic comment about Jackson family patriarch Joe Jackson

Not even close to being humorous.

Honorable mention number five is North Carolina's one term governor Pat McCrory, who in the wake of losing on November 8 is acting like Gollom from the Lord of the Rings in terms of giving up the governor's chair.

Hey Pat, your transphobic azz lost.  The majority of NC citizens fired your behind.  Get over it and vacate the governor's chair.

This week's shut up fool  loser is Kellyanne Conway.

Kellyanne Conway speaks to CNN (screen grab)She's still bitter that her boy is not only reviled by 63 million Americans and counting, she's still deliberately forgetting that he's not only supported by white supremacists, they used racism to get Trump elected and he appointed one as his White House advisor

So she can attempt to spin that all she wants, those of us who watched that campaign and are grounded in reality know better.

Yeah yeah, you won.   But you did so by stoking racism, and you'll go down in history for that.   I'm not forgetting or forgiving that you and your campaign team stoked hatred of non white Americans in order to get your candidate elected, and there's no coming back or normalizing that with me, non white Americans and Clinton supporters.

It's also why we're not going to get over November 8 ,2016 and why a majority of Americans aren't looking forward to January 20.

Kellyanne Conway, shut up  fool!.

25 Things I Miss About Louisville

TransGriot's early years were focused on my Texan in Exile life in Louisville, and while living there and feeling homesick in 2007,  I wrote a post about the 25 things I missed about Houston.  

From time to time I've written about how much I miss Louisville, and certain events and dates will trigger another flood of memories of life in as the right wing haters call it, 'Sodom on the Ohio'.

Note to those haters, don't diss the town that provides much of your state's tax revenue when people come to visit it and Lexington for starters and not your backwoods idiocy.  

I'm now approaching the same six year period it has been since I drove the moving van onto I-65 south four days after my birthday in May 2010 and headed back to the Lone Star State.

But in the nearly nine years I lived there, Da Ville grew on me to the point where I not only made friends there in addition to the ones I had who lived there prior to my September 2001 move, but I grew to appreciate some of Kentucky's charms.

Bardstown Road Aglow happening tomorrow is also triggering I miss Da Ville memories for me as well, so I decided to write a post similar to the 2007 one focusing on Louisville.

Here are the 25 things I miss about Louisville besides my chosen family up there.

1.  Dawne Gee

Dawne Gee is a native Louisvillian who is one of the 5 and 7 PM newscast anchors at WAVE-3 TV in Da Ville.  WAVE 3 is the NBC affiliate there and it became one of my local news stations I frequently watched thanks to large part to meeting her.

Image result for Dawne Gee WAVE 3 news
I met her when I was working at Macy's and she was looking for Christmas gifts for her son Alex. We kept bumping into each other either at the store or at local charity events like the AIDS Walk or others around town and became friends as a result.

You have to also admire someone like Dawne who has two degrees (in communications and biology), applied three times at WAVE-3 before she finally got that job there in 1994 and quickly ascended to anchoring their local newscasts , beat cancer and just survived an on air stroke.

Speedy healing and recovery, Dawne.

And yeah, I also love her because she's a Taurus and our birthdays are just four days apart.

1A.  Angie Fenton

I'd actually ran into Angie before I finally met her.  I was attending a local TBLGQ Derby Party at The Olmstead in 2003 that she was covering it for the Courier-Journal while stylishly dressed in a pink skirted suit with matching pumps and a pink hat.

We didn't meet that day, but would eventually.

She's also a local media icon in print and television, doing segments on WHAS-TV's Great Day Live in addition to being editor in chief at Extol magazine and a motivational speaker.  

So how did I meet this amazing woman?  It was in 2005 when she wrote a Courier-Journal article about the local trans community that featured me and Dawn Wilson in it.   Both of us moved to Da Ville from other places, so we had that in common along with our mutual love of writing.

2. Impellizzeri's Pizza

One of the Louisville specific food outlets that I got introduced to before I moved there.  Love their pizza and especially their breadsticks and the garlic butter you can dip them in.

3.  'Niece and Nephew'

AKA Dr. Kaila Story-Jackson and Jaison Gardiner, the broadcast team at  WFPL-FM's. Strange Fruit radio show.   In her day job Kaila is the Audre Lorde Chair in Race, Class Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Louisville and teaches women and gender and Pan-African studies there.

I've spent more than a few times while I lived there as a panelist in her class or at other events coordinated by her on the U of L campus when I lived there talking about trans issues from a POC perspective.

Jaison I met as part of the Fairness Campaign crew, and he's involved in Black Lives Matter and other progressive causes.

Jaison is also the one who started calling me Auntie Monica, so I used to call him Nephew in response.   When he and Kaila started doing Strange Fruit, she became Niece

Image result for Jason gardiner and Kaila Story louisville

4.   Indi's

Image result for Indi's fast food louisville
Every city has a local food chain that is unique to it, and in Louisville, that is Indi' s.  

There are only three Indi's locations in Da Ville, so that meant I had to drive to get to them since the closest location to my east side Crescent Hill neighborhood was in the West End on Broadway just west of downtown.   But the food was worth the trip

It is quintessentially Louisville and quickly became one of my fave places.  I loved their monster potato wedges and chicken, and would happily devour their wings.. Their spicy recipe one will definitely make someone from New Orleans happy and they have a wide variety of side dishes  

The prices you pay for that food isn't bad either, but they only accept cash for it.

5.  Louisville Fencing Center

Image result for Maestro Les StawickiWhen Dawn began to get involved in competitive fencing, that's when much of the fencing world entered my life, including Maestro Les Stawicki, the legendary fencing coach who not only was the Polish national and Olympic coach from 1972-1990, but trains the US Paralympic Games fencers.

I also got to meet many of the wonderful people connected to LFC and other fencing salles in the Louisville and Kentucky region along with many of the Veteran fencers, referees and others in the USFA Great Lakes Region .  It's also how I met Olympian Lee Kiefer and her family.  Ken and Angela Hagen, Linda Dunn, Tom Monarch, 'The Baby Vets'  AKA the Vet 40 fencers, The Senior Mamas' AKA the Vet 50 fencers and Lou Felty just to name a few.

It also taught me a lesson in first impressions.  I didn't think I had an impact on anyone since I was there simply to support my friend, but others disagreed.   There was also a junior tournament that was held in Louisville while I was there in which I served as the MC of it.  Some of the parents and kids who were in attendance or participated in it still ask about me years later.

When I went to visit LFC, I also got a big hug from Maestro Stawicki ,Tom and everyone who remembered me

6.  Edenside Christian Church

I definitely missed 'slllliiiiiiiiding into Edenside' after I left, because it was my open and affirming church home during my time in Da Ville,   It was part of the Disciple of Christ denomination, and it was one of the places in which I first started to meet people after I moved there.

I loved its social justice mission, the AIDS services, participating as a worship leader, being part of Bardstown Road Aglow, the jazz concerts and it being a century old.  One of the first events I participated in mere days after I moved there was an AIDS Walk

Sadly it closed after 106 years of service to the Highland community, and I couldn't make it up there for the final service in that building..

7.  Rev. Sally McClain 

Rev Sally was one of the first people I met after I arrived in Louisville, and you have to love a minter who not only has a gregarious personality, it's combined with a formidable intellect and a wicked sense of humor.

Her male theological counterparts on The Moral Side Of the News show that she was a panelist on found out quickly about that formidable intellect.

I loved the stuffed Cartman doll on her church office bookshelf, and .I also love the fact that Rev. Sally's sermons were to the point.   She could say in 10 to 15 minutes what would take the average Baptist preacher hours to do.

She's now retired, but is still a panelist on The Moral Side of the News giving the boys fits.

8.  Fairness Campaign

Image result for fairness campaign louisville
That building on Frankfort Avenue that is the home of Louisville and Kentucky's premier TBLGQ organization was the epicenter of my Louisville activism.   I did phone banks in it. taught Lobbying 101 to rookie activists, did candidate screenings there  and attended many meetings in its walls when I served on the Fairness Campaign board and it's C-FAIR PAC board as its secretary

I also was a finalist to become the head of the Fairness Campaign, which unfortunately I didn't get.

The time I spent with Fairness folks was instrumental in me becoming and being a better advocate when I returned home, and still have much love for the Fairness peeps I met there.

9.  The Cards vs Cats hatefest
Image result for Cats vs cardinals Louisville House divided
One of the question I was asked that I deflected with the comment "I like both" until I pointed the moving van south was which one of Kentucky's universities was I a fan of in either the Louisville Cardinals or the Kentucky Wildcats.

The Cards-Cats hatefest is the University of Texas-Texas A&M rivalry on steroids.   The schools are only 60 miles apart on I-64 in Louisville and Lexington, play in different conferences  (SEC and ACC), but they reflect the culture of their cities and their rabid fan bases.

I used to get a chuckle out of watching peeps on both sides try to repeatedly recruit me to Cats or Cards Nation as they threw shady insults at each other.   I had friends in both Cats and Cards Nation, and it was entertaining to me watching their reactions when UK and U of L played each other.

You can bet that no matter what sport they play, the game, especially if it's their annual post-Christmas basketball showdown, will be sold out at either The Yum Center or Rupp Arena and the trash talking will go on until next year's game and at family picnics and other events..
10,  The drives to nearby cities

One of the benefits of living in Louisville was the because of it's geographic location and sitting at the junction of I-65 and I-64 , the ability to do a road trip to nearby cities.  

Louisville was only an hour from Lexington, 1.5 hours from Indianapolis and Cincinnati, 2 hours from Nashville, 3 hours from Columbus and St Louis, 5 hours from Memphis and Chicago, 6 hours from Atlanta, 7 hours to Charlotte, Cleveland ,and Milwaukee. and 10 hours to Washington DC, Baltimore and Philadelphia

There were more than a few road trips I took with Dawn, Polar and other folks, some of which I talked about on the blog

11.  KingFish

Image result for Kingfish Louisville

Another one of my fave places to eat in Louisville that was unique to the city.  It's a seafood restaurant, and I used to love the location on River Road that had views of the Ohio River from its dining room and the barges gliding by as you dined

Image result for Kentucky Derby festival12.  Derby Week

In the runup to the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby, there is a multiweek festival chock full of events that is kicked off by the massive Thunder over Louisville fireworks show and a military airshow during the day over the river.

In addition to the parades and balls, you had celebrities flying into town for the Oaks and Derby and all the parties hosted by various people and organizations.

One of the major ones happened mere blocks from where I used to live in which Priscilla Barnstable Brown (one of the 1970's Doublemint gum twins who were both from Da Ville) hosted a Derby party that drew Hollywood celebrities and local celeb watchers

Even our local TBLGQ community had our own party that used to happen before and during the Derby, but got shifted to the later evening.

13.  Crescent Hill

It's the neighborhood I lived in from late 2003 until I moved back home, and I lived on Grinstead Drive across the street from the odious Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  

Besides the negative of waking up and flipping the finger at the transphobic seminary that was outside and across the street from my bedroom window, I was around the corner from the Crescent Hill Reservoir, the library, all those amazing restaurants, coffeehouses and shops on Frankfort Avenue.  I also had some cool neighbors like the Burchfield's.  The best part was I was in walking distance of a Walgreen's that sold Blue Bell.  

Image result for Slugger Field14.  Louisville Slugger Field

Louisville's Triple A baseball stadium that was on the river in the shadow of downtown and I-65 and the home of the Louisville Bats, the Cincinnati Reds farm club.  

It's named for the Lousiville Slugger bat, which is manufactured a few blocks west of the ballpark, and has an amazing museum and tour of the facility in which upon its conclusion you get a min Slugger bat

But don't take that bat in your carryon luggage.  It WILL get snatched by TSA security at the airport.
Went to a few Bats games while i was there and did get to see Joey Votto and Aroldis Chapman play there before they headed up I-71 to play for the Reds.

Slugger Field will be the host of this year's ACC Baseball tournament that got relocated because of HB 2.    Mayor Fischer and the city of Louisville thank you for that Pat McCrory

Image result for Rep John Yarmuth15.  Rep. John Yarmuth

My congressman for the remaining time I lived in Da Ville who snatched the seat from Rep. Anne Throwup, Northup (R-KY).

Until 2006, Northup managed to keep her seat in heavily Democratic Louisville by hoodwinking and bamboozling fools at two Black megachurches (St Stephen and Canaan) and several sellout ministers into thinking she was a human rights warrior when that 'F' on her NAACP Congressional Report card said otherwise.   Those hoodwinked Black voters were the difference in many of her wins in the 10 year she managed to hold it..

Yarmuth founded and owned the alternative weekly the Louisville Eccentric Observer, AKA known as the LEO, and was a relentless critic of Northrup before he ousted her from that congressional seat.  

He donates his congressional salary to local liberal progressive organizations, and I had more than a few conversations and interactions with him before I came home

16.  The Highlands

The first Louisville neighborhood I lived in and loved because it was diverse and like Crescent Hill had a mie mix of shops.  I also loved the fact (but my waistline didn't) I had a Dairy Queen, KFC, Arby's, a 24 hour Mickey D's, Speedway and Buffalo Wild Wings in walking distance of the old house.

17.  Bardstown Road Aglow 
Image result for bardstown road aglow 2016

The neighborhood festival along the Bardstown Road corridor that kicks off the Christmas season that happens the first Saturday of December rain. snow or shine.   Businesses, organizations and churches opened their doors to the folks walking up and down the road as carolers and vendors handled their business.

What Edenside would do is open our door and offer hot cider, Christmas cookies and other snacks.
DJ Moni spinning Christmas tunes with soul came later.

18.  Kizito's Cookies

I got introduced to this delightful treat before I moved there in September 2001, and lived next door for two years to their creator in Ugandan born Elizabeth Kizito.  

The Cookie Lady as she's known in Da Ville, came to the US in 1975 to attend school, and moved to Louisville in 1978.

In addition to this award winning businesswoman selling African crafts out of her Bardstown Road store that is also the bakery for their wide assortment of baked goods, she sold them at Slugger Field,  the St James Art Festival, the Derby Festival and other events around town while wearing a basket full of her delicious treats on her head.

She started the cookie business in 1987, and now 30 years later the are now sold in stores all over Louisville and online.

That reminds me, need to order some more snickerdoodles and chocolate chip ones.

19.  University of Louisville and the LGBT Center 

While I'm still waiting for that opportunity to be tapped as a keynote speaker for U of L's Pride Week, I did get a few opportunities to be either part of panels or attend events on their campus in the time I lived there..

Got to know Brian Buford, who is the head of the LGBT Center, law professor Sam Marcosson, who I had some interesting discussion with during my time there and actually did a panel with in the wake of the 2008 election.  Y'all already know I have much love and respect for Dr Story, and miss the late Dr Blaine Hudson, who I loved as a historian and got me up to speed on my Louisville history I also got to witness while I was there U of L take the steps it did to become one of the most LGBTQ freindly campuses in the South and get much deserved recognition for it.

20.   The Louisville trans community

Some of you longtime TransGriot readers have seen my posts about my award winning roommate trans leader, and homegirl Dawn Wilson, who was responsible along with Polar for getting me to move there instead of the ATL and is now a human rights commissioner in the city.  

She and Polar also took time out of their lives to come to Houston and help me move there, and a contingent of Louisville community trans folks was there when I arrived to help me move into the old Grinstead house in the Cave hill Cemetery curve and welcome me to the area.

Cave Hill BTW, is where Colonel Sanders, the KFC founder was laid to rest.

But she was just one of the wonderful trans people I got to know once I moved there like Amirage Saling, Alana Montgomery,  LynAnne Evans, Erica, Shemiyia O'Bannon-Sweeney, Holly Knight, Cindy Lee and others who crossed my path during my time there.

Joshua Holiday also moved there for a while from New York . There were Sienna meetings I went to from time to time, and a memorable outing to a Halloween Rocky Horror screening weeks after I moved there.

Unfortunately one of the people I met there is no longer with us and is one of the people we memorialized during the 2008 TDOR in Nakhia Williams.  The waste of DNA who killed her is now rotting in jail BTW. .

21.   Halloween On Hillcrest Avenue

There was a cluster of homes on Hillcrest Ave between Frankfort Ave and Brownsboro Road that in the runup to Halloween would go all out in decorating for it.   Some of the decorations were political, which thrilled me even more besides my fave house on the street in Dante's Disco Inferno

It got so popular that LMPD ended up blocking off Hillcrest on the Frankfort Ave and Brownsboro road ends of hillcrest Avenue to accommodate all the people from around the are who wanted to see as I called it Nightmare on Hillcrest Avenue..

22.   The Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

It's interesting to note that the LPTS and SBTS are less than a mile apart distance wise, but light years apart on their acceptance of trans people.   The 'Good Seminary' as we called it, has been since 2002 the host of the Louisville TDOR events.

I was honored to be the keynote speaker for their inaugural TDOR in 2002 and again in 2003, the first one we held inside the Caldwell Chapel, part of the planning committee for a few of them, and on some Trans 101 panels on the LPTS campus..

23.   Horse country

Sometime when we would visit Dawn's relatives in Lexington or were there for various events, , we'd detour for a few miles through the horse farms in the area.

It was fun not only looking at those farms but seeing the colts and fillies running through the grass or grazing

24.   Keeneland

Image result for keenelandSince Dawn grew up in Lexington, we would make a trip to Keeneland at the beginning of their fall racing season

The best part of going in the fall was checking out the fall foliage on the trees in the backside curve and people watching.

And I used to love Keeneland's announcer.  On one of our trip a horse named Scripture stumbled out of the gate as the race started, and he said "Scripture kneels to pray at the start'"

Turned out that stumble was more serious than it looked when the horse ambulance rolled over there when the race was completed, and they had to euthanize him lated because he broke both his front legs.

In addition to getting to hang out with my chose family and getting to leave the city for a few hours, occasionally I won enough for dinner at Columbia Steak House after our day at the races.

25.  The Comfy Cow

Image result for the comfy cow

It opened not long after I left Louisville, but the concept for it was percolating in its founders minds while I lived here starting in 2007.  I got introduced to their ice cream during my 2014 visit.

The Comfy Cow was another mandatory Louisville foodie stop I had to make when I visited the city, and I destroyed some of their salted caramel ice cream.

Yep, they sell it online.   I may have to get some as a Christmas present or if somebody is feeling the holiday spirit,  they can ship me some.