Monday, February 11, 2019

Queer Questions

When someone asked me if I could clear up a few questions about the queer world for them, I was expecting something that I could answer in a few sentences. Instead, I got this:

Q: Why does the LGBTQ+ acronym include gender identities as well as sexual orientations? I know they aren't the same, and not all identities are included, so why are some of them?

I thought it would be easiest to type out an answer somewhere other than on FB Messenger, which brought me here. And since I'm typing it out here, I may as well hit the "publish" button when I'm done. So hey, new blog post!

Note: I tend to say queer instead of LGBTQ+. I personally prefer this because queer is more inclusive than LGBTQ+ since, as noted in the questions above, not all the identities are present in LGBTQ+. The downside to using queer is that not everyone is comfortable with it. I acknowledge that my preference here is an imperfect solution, and my choice is colored by the fact that I call myself queer.

1) Why does the LGBTQ+ acronym include gender identities as well as sexual orientations?

A look at queer history shows gays and trans people often working together. (I'm ignoring other identities for the moment because even though they've always been present, they often aren't mentioned). Trans people were present at the Stonewall riot, and it's often (incorrectly) said that it was a trans woman who threw the first brick. Watch the film "Paris is Burning," which is about Harlem drag culture in the 80's, and you see gay men and trans people working together to make a place they can exist in relative peace. If I had made a point to educate myself further on queer history, I have no doubt that I would easily list off other examples showing a close allyship between gays and trans people.

Additionally, many consider sexual orientation and gender identities to be closely linked, and the two are often regularly confused with each other. An example of the two becoming ridiculously confused is the theory of sexual inversion, in which it was believed that a gay man was simply a woman in their soul, and that it was that inner woman who wanted to be with a man. According to this theory, bisexuals would be part man and part woman. This was what sexologists used to believe and teach.

Whether people conflate trans identities and sexual orientation due to our natural close allyship described above, or if the allyship occurred because of people's confusing sexual orientations with gender identities, I don't know. Either way, it's there, and it's why gender identities and sexual orientations are in the same acronym.

2) Why aren't all the identities included?

Set aside everything I just said about a close allyship between the different queer identites. It's definitely there in many cases, as we see in the expanding acronym, but not everyone likes to play nice.

I wish we were one big happy queer family, but the fact is that we're all human and humans can really suck. Within our sometimes dysfunctional queer family, the "you're not queer enough" argument is regularly thrown at bisexuals, asexuals, and intersex people (some even outright deny the existence of these identities). TERFs deny the existence of trans people, and unfortunately plenty of TERFs are queer. Even trans people will sometimes deny the existence of non-binary genders. Many argue that pansexual is just a fancy word for bisexual, which is its own can of worms. Aromantic is a word that probably only those who make a point of learning about different orientations will be familiar with.

Basically, not all the identities are included in part because not all of them are welcomed by everyone.

But not all the identities will be included even when we want to be all inclusive. There are so many that people often aren't sure how to include all of them, which is where the plus sign in LGBTQ+ comes into play. It's an attempt to be all inclusive, although some letters are inevitably favored over others.

Special note:

Not all asexual or intersex individuals consider themselves to be queer, but many do. 

Brief definitions for words that might not be known or which are often argued about:

Aromantic: little to no romantic attraction
Asexual: little to no sexual attraction 
Bisexual: attraction to two or more genders (there is overlap here with pansexual)
Non-binary: genders that don't fall into the binary man/woman way of thinking
Pansexual: attraction to all genders
TERF: trans exclusionary radical feminist, a.k.a. someone who uses their idea of feminism to argue that a "real woman" needs to be born with a vagina

photo from a Pride parade, a rainbow made of balloons

Thursday, April 12, 2018

How I Learn... also, More on Coffee

I learn best through hands on experience, which is probably why coffee has largely baffled me until recently. Sure, I know I like it. Usually. I often love it, even. But what what kinds are best? What's the difference between light and dark roast? Why are there so many freaking kinds of coffee? What the heck is even going on?

I'm finally getting a handle on it.

Like I said, I learn best through hands on experience, so my learning process is taking the form of roasting my own coffee beans. I was introduced to the idea of roasting my own coffee by a friend who tried roasting his own coffee for the first time recently, and was intrigued. Then I tasted the results, and I knew that I absolutely had to get my hands on the same green coffee beans he had roasted.

Fast forward to now, and I've finally figured out a few basic things such as what's going on with light versus dark roast. In particular, how you get one or the other (turns out it's all about how long the beans are roasted, not what kind of beans you get), and which one has more caffeine. I think I've figured out how to roast the particular beans I have to perfection, and I look forward to experimenting with other kinds of green coffee beans in the future. After all, I'm pretty sure that different beans roast differently, so I'm sure there's plenty more for me to learn.

freshly roasted coffee beans next to ground coffee

Monday, April 9, 2018

Brewing Green Coffee: take one

early and later during brewing
Just the other day I learned that green coffee is a thing. Intrigued, I decided that I must try brewing this for myself, particularly I already happened to have green coffee beans on hand.

The recipe I used:

1 part green coffee beans
3 parts water

Bring to a rolling boil, then simmer for 12 minutes.

Sad to say, my first effort at green coffee was somewhat less than a stunning success.

I think my mistake lay in using too little water for the pot I used. I had half a cup of beans to one and a half cups of water, which came out to being about an inch of water in the smallest pot I had available. In the end I had a little less than half a cup of green coffee to show for my efforts, and it was too bitter for my taste. Green coffee is apparently going to be bitter in any event, but I suspect this was more bitter than it would have been if I hadn't lost over two thirds to evaporation.

what little green coffee I got out of it
Rather than being disappointed I just see this as a learning experience. Ok, so I'm a little disappointed that I didn't at least find it drinkable (even with honey added), but I'm not really surprised either. This seems like the kind of thing that takes experimentation and practice, and now I know that a better water to pot size ratio is essential. Which wasn't entirely a surprise, although I misjudged how much evaporation would happen.

As to why green coffee is a thing? I'm personally experimenting with it just to try coffee in another form. A brief perusal of information regarding green coffee will reveal people talking about all kinds of health benefits, not to mention that green coffee contains more caffeine than roasted coffee. Just like a light roast contains more caffeine than a dark roast, because roasting reduces the caffeine. I haven't been interested enough to take in all the health benefits of it, but that info is out there for anyone who's interested.

saving the beans after

Have you tried green coffee? Did you like it? Or have you made your own, and if so how did you do it? I'm full of curiosity. :)