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Friday, October 12, 2012

Transverse: Coming Out Day and the Castro's Trans-Free Flag Pole

Posted By on Fri, Oct 12, 2012 at 10:30 AM

click to enlarge TIM WAGNER
  • Tim Wagner

Yesterday was National Coming Out day, an interesting time for those of us T's tacked onto that LG(B) monolith. On one hand, being "out" as a trans man is, for me, a crucial aspect of my life (and career). On the other, I'm well aware that plenty of trans people are unable to safely be "out" or are not interested in public disclosure. The lack of discussion outside trans communities around the way trans folks trouble the notion of "pride" struck me this year in ways it hasn't before. As the guys at Original Plumbing noted on their Tumblr: "Happy National Coming Out Day. Only you can decide when it's time, if ever, to 'come out.' "

See also:

Transverse: National Geographic Attempts Trans Issues on Taboo , Fails

Transverse: Meet B. Dolan, Hip-Hop's Burliest, Straight-Shooting LGBT Ally

When being out is equated with constantly educating others, it can be an exhausting pursuit, even for those of us inclined to do it anyway. Plenty of my trans friends posted tepid Facebook updates along the lines of: "Happy National Coming Out Day. Not doing it this year, have to do it all the time." Fair enough. In fact, we'd probably be better served if the day highlighted our allies' "coming out" for us instead -- something still sorely needed for so many of us.

click to enlarge final_flag_by_itself.jpg

Speaking of, disappointing news on the ally front: The Merchants of Upper Market and Castro (MUMC) were petitioned by local trans woman Veronika Fimbres, to fly the transgender pride flag at half-mast on November 20, the Transgender Day of Remembrance. You know, the day we remember our dead?

The request was denied by Terry Asten Bennett, president of the board in charge of the flag's stewardship. She referred to their policy, along with technical issues that make flying the flag at half-mast a "public safety hazard" due to rigging that could potentially fly off and onto the MUNI line. Fimbres asked that the flag be flown at half-mast, not that the flag be flown at all, and her request was denied on those grounds, Bennett told me.So what if Fimbres resubmitted a request to just fly the transgender pride flag, period? Bennett conceded that this request would also likely be denied.

"Our policy is to fly the rainbow flag at full mast," she said, though she acknowledged that there have been "exceptions" (including, according to their own policy, the annual flying of the International Leather flag).

She says she plans to reach out to Fimbres to suggest "alternative ways" of supporting TDOR, including asking merchants to put the flag up in their windows instead, a measure she pledged to "publicly support." Mostly, she assured me that the denial was "not meant with any disrespect." "We're completely supportive and understanding of the Transgender Day of Remembrance," she said several times, and I believed her. I also believe that they're supportive of the leather community, and the difference between honoring the deceased and honoring the Folsom Street Fair is the difference between a flag that's a powerful statement of ally-ship, rising above the citizens of the city, reminding them of what's been lost -- and then, there's the alternative.

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Thomas Page McBee


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