Monday, December 22, 2008

News from the Leather Archives & Museum

2008 The Year In Review
What a year this has been!

The Leather Archives & Museum would like to share with you some of the accomplishments we have made - through your support!

Leather History on the Web!

In 2008 the LA&M demonstrated its commitment to making leather and fetish history accessible around the world by creating digital content. In addition to using its own institutional website, we utilized online services such as YouTube!, LiveJournal, MySpace and Facebook to make electronic historical resources available. The LA&M continues to seek opportunities to make digital history available online.

The LA&M Road Show In 2008 the LA&M continued and expanded its Road Show. In addition to mounting exhibitions at over 15 events in 11 different cities, the Road Show introduced a new traveling exhibit titled "Four Perspectives on Leather History". This exhibit has been greeted with success as Patrons learn about Benjamin Franklin's kinky persuasions, see some amazing Bettie Page photos and dig into the details of a steel collar belonging to very influential New York media mogul.

Conservation Assessment Report Through a grant provided by the Heritage Preservation Society's Conservation Assessment Program (CAP), a conservator conducted a 2 day analysis of the LA&M's collections in late 2007. In 2008, the LA&M received the end result of the project, the report. This report prioritizes future conservation projects that will benefit our collections. The LA&M has begun using this report as a basis to seek grant opportunities to address the projects that were highlighted.

The Etienne Auditorium In 2008 the LA&M continued to make its 164 seat auditorium available to sex positive and GLBT organizations to hold film screenings, fundraisers, performance art pieces, meetings and other events. The LA&M is proud to make this space available as a resource for organizations in Chicago and the Midwest. 2008 events included the Midwest premiere of the film "Watch Out", a staged reading of "Torch Song Trilogy", the Pantheon of Leather Awards, and community discussions related to the Consent Counts project.

GAGallery In 2008 the LA&M relaunched its guest artist gallery as the GAGallery. Curator S.I.R. mounted two shows in this space during 2008. In April, "YES" featured young artists views on fetish and sexuality through mixed medium pieces. In October, "_ask" displays masks in fetish and erotic contexts.

Fireside Chats The LA&M continued its program of "taking oral histories to the next level" through its Fireside Chat. LA&M oral history guru Doug O'Keeffe organized "A Fireside Chat with Mr. Marcus" and "A Fireside Chat with Chuck Renslow". Both events were very well attended. Audio from these interviews can be found on the LA&M website.

Development Director In 2008 the LA&M increased its staff from 2 to 3 with the addition of a development director. This position was created to expand the base of LA&M funding through grants, sponsorship, endowments and diversify the portfolio of support behind the preservation of fetish history and culture.

Resource Center for Exciting Research The LA&M continues to provide resources to a variety of patrons through distance and onsite research. In 2008 the public broadcasting station in Chicago (WTTW) aired a documentary about Chicago's gay history, utilizing many of the artifacts and resources at the LA&M. 2008 also saw the publication of the book "Greetings From the Gayborhood : A Look Back at the Golden Age of Gay Neighborhoods" by Don Reuter which features many resources from the LA&M collections. These are just two of the many research needs filled by the unique collections of the LA&M.
We cannot say thank you enough to all of you for the support you have given the Leather Archives and Museum. Please know, that it is appreciated.

We have lots of ideas for 2009 and are looking forward to seeing what the year will bring.

Happy Holidays to Everyone!!!
Sincerely,The LA&M Staff

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Obama - Lip Service We Can Believe In

Dear Mr. President-Elect:

The honeymoon is over. It was bad enough that, instead of speaking out with a strong voice, you sat on the sidelines while gays and lesbians were stripped of their civil rights in California on your election day. It's bad enough that you've pretty much contented yourself to warm the bench since then while the controversy and the protests have continued. Now Proposition 8 is being challenged in the courts -- and you have yet to speak. You've described yourself as "a fierce advocate for the rights of gays and lesbians," but we have yet to see anything resembling ferocity.

Oh, you've moved your lips a few times about supporting "civil unions," while opposing gay marriage. Thanks -- for not much. Even those mouthings have been luke-warm. You're not even in office yet. I acknowledge that. But you are not a stupid man. You're not unaware of the influence and power you already wield as the first black president-elect. You're not unaware of the importance of symbolism and symbolic gestures.

Now you've chosen Rick Warren, minister of the Saddleback Cult in Sacramento, California, to deliver an invocation at your inaugeration. This cult leader donated the maximum amount of money allowable to the Proposition 8 campaign. He personally worked and instructed his cult members to work to pass this ignorant and bigoted legislation. He has equated gay people to pederasts and polygamists and compared gay marriage to incest.

Despite these blatherings, Mr. Obama, you have extended to this fool the singular public honor of speaking at a presidential inaugeration. At -your- inaugeration. You have handed him a platform from which to further his bigotry and self-aggrandizement. One wonders if the Barack Obama I campaigned for has suddenly fallen tone-deaf to the significance of his own achievement.

There are many pastors and religious figures in this country to whom you might have extended this honor. Instead, you have selected a man who has made himself a symbol of division, a man who has worked and labored to once again pit one American against another. The laughable bit is that you claim to have made this selection in a spirit of inclusion, welcoming "a diversity of opinions."

Now some might call that a little bit ironic -- but I call it some first-class shuck-and-jive.

This is not "Change we can believe in." This is pandering, pure and simple and blatant. Gays and Lesbians across America worked and campaigned for you, and as our reward you've insulted us with this selection of Rick Warren. As you offer one hand to the right-wing evangelical forces with this choice, you give the back of your other hand to me and to my community.

I no longer believe you, Mr. Obama. I no longer believe -in- you. After all your grand words fade, you are quite apparently just "Business As Usual." I won't even ask you to reconsider this selection as so many others more eloquent than I already have, because you won't. You can't. Doing so would cost you political capital and 'face.' I understand that, just as I understand now that the Gay and Lesbian community would be unwise to pin any hopes at all on you.

You are, after all, despite our hopes, just another politician.


Storm Christopher

Friday, December 12, 2008

Silly Mormons

I could spend a week lecturing on the inherent idiocy of evangelicals and right-wing Christians who cherry-pick the Bible in their never-ending efforts to persecute one minority group after another. After all, I was raised -- and survived and escaped from -- a family of "Free Will Baptists." My aunt "speaks in tongues." I taught Sunday School in my teens until the day I finally saw the Light. And the source of that light? A bright, glowing sign flashing, "What the Fuck?"

But Mormons? Why the hell were they jumping on the anti-gay bandwagon when Proposition 8 became an issue in California? The easy answer, of course, is that just like the nerdy kid on the playground who longs to be accepted and popular, they were suddenly being invited into the fold by Catholics and Evangelicals who had previously kept Mormons at arms-length. (A cynic might say "used.) It behooved me then, conscientious guy that I am, to take a look at some Mormon beliefs about marriage and family.

What I learned was amusing. And worth sharing. And worth preserving for the time, sure to come, when I'll want to wave this under someone's nose.

What is the sexual/marriage/gender teaching of the Mormons who are raising money to stop two gay men or two lesbian women from marrying? Here's a taste:

A core Mormon belief is that men resurrect their wives. The Mormon man becomes a god on some uninhabited planet. As the god of his own world he will resurrect those wives who were obedient to him. They then become the goddesses of his planet.

Heaven for Mormon women is nonstop pregnancy. They produce the "spirit babies" who populate the world when human babies are born. Also... those Mormon women not "sealed to their husbands" for all time and eternity in the temple marriage will be the servants of those goddess wives...

How did the Mormon view of marriage start? Mormon member and historian Todd Compton writes: "In the group of Smith's well-documented wives, eleven (33 percent) were 14 to 20 years old when they married him. Nine wives (27 percent) were twenty-one to thirty years old. Eight wives (24 percent) were in Smith's own peer group, ages thirty-one to forty. In the group aged forty-one to fifty, there is a substantial drop off: two wives, or 6 percent, and three (9 percent) in the group aged fifty-one to sixty.

The teenage representation is the largest, though the twenty-year and thirty-year groups are comparable, which contradicts the Mormon folk-wisdom that sees the beginnings of polygamy was an attempt to care for older, unattached women. These data suggest that sexual attraction was an important part of the motivation for Smith's polygamy. In fact, the command to multiply and replenish the earth was part of the polygamy theology, so non-sexual marriage was generally not in the polygamous program, as Smith taught it."

So there it is. These are the people who are telling US that we're abnormal -- science fictional, planet-hopping would-be gods and goddesses who embraced polygamy and preferred their women in states of permanent pregnancy. And even if some of them don't embrace polygamy anymore, this is the religous -tradition- from which they sprang. Look at their so-called "prophet," Joseph Smith. Hardly an exemplar of traditional marriage and nuclear families!