Daily Brooklyn 99 Thoughts: Queer Culture at Yet Another Opposite-Sex Wedding

*** Contains spoilers for s5e9, s5e22 ***

It’s so important that these gems show up on the episode centered around yet another heterosexual wedding aired on this show (is this the 3rd? 4th? Unclear.) Interesting that Charles and Genevieve are not married, even though they’ve been together for three seasons now and are co parents. Is this another subtle spit in the face of society’s hetero-normative ideas?

boyle ill take it

First gem: Captain Holt officiating.

“You’re married. You may kiss the bride.”

He does not say “husband and wife.” And I’m sure that’s important to Amy, and probably Jake as well. But mostly, I’m sure it comes from Captain himself who would never have agreed to hear “I pronounce you husband and husband.”

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Second gem: Actual bi-visibility

“You never know when you’re gonna find your dream person.”

“Anyone on the street could be them.”

“All right, it feels like you googled how to talk to your bisexual friends.”

“Yeah.”

123Go Serge! Doing research after someone comes out to you is nothing to be ashamed of, and you should all do it! Although I feel like watching this show might be enough.

Notice how Gina Rodriguez approaches in the car, and there’s some hinting on Terry’s part, and Rosa seems into it, but can we all stop to appreciate the fact that a complete stranger walked on screen and we didn’t all immediately assume she’s straight? And then once you think about it, is she a lesbian? Who knows? BI-FIVE EVERYBODY! WE GOT SOME REAL VISIBILITY! Yes, I wrote that in all caps so you would yell in your head, that’s how exciting this is.

Third gem: return of the Chosen Family theme

“And I love you both very much.”

“Permission to say it back?”

“Permission granted.”

“I love you too!”

“Love you, captain!”

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#captainholt #queerculture #bisexuality #bivisibility #terryjeffords #rosadiaz #wedding #lgbt

Daily Brooklyn 99 Thoughts: Captain Holt’s Leadership

Leadership is not just about establishing dominance, giving guidance, going first…to the Captain of the Nine-Nine, it’s about being willing to take a bullet for a cause you believe in. Captain Holt takes multiple bullets (some hypothetical, some metaphorical, and the rest just not technically bullets) during his career as Commanding Officer of New York’s Funniest.

But his leadership has many layers, it’s not all taking bullets. It’s about being a role model and a team player. It’s about setting the rules and earning the team’s respect by descending to their level when it’s appropriate. It’s the way he correctly estimates each member of the squad, the sergeant, and Gina, to maximize their potential and play to their strengths. He brings Terry to the gun range to get him re-certified because he believes the sergeant is ready to return to the field. I’ve dedicated an entire post to Holt and Gina. He mentors Amy and appreciates her so much. Holt-Peralta also deserves its own post, as does Holt-Diaz.

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Captain Holt finally requesting a cool code name

On principle he is hesitant to let the squad come to his aid, not because he is proud (#gaypride?) but because he doesn’t want to put them in danger. As he sees it, it’s his job to risk his safety for them, and not the other way around. Examples of this can be found in season 1 Christmas episode and the saga with Jimmy Figgis in Florida opening season 4.

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He stands up in defense of any member of his squad whether it is their safety, their career, or their feelings that might be hurt. For example, he scolds the detectives for avoiding Boyle after his injury (s1e12) defends Jake when he’s being threatened by the Commissioner (s1e2).

Now, let’s talk bullets.

Holt makes some major sacrifices, which sometimes work out fine because this is a comedy, but involved sincere risk of giving up on his dream and sabotaging his career altogether. The most obvious one is the deal with Seamus Murphy (season 5 episode 2) which could have cost the captain his career and possibly more. At the moment of decision, the captain took the deal even though it almost certainly meant giving up his chance to be police commissioner. That turned out okay, but he did know that at the time and he did it anyway, for Jake and Rosa.

Not to be taken lightly either is his speech in the running for commissioner (s5e14). The committee could have told him to go to hell and dropped him from the race. Again, that’s not how it turned out for him. But that is most certainly what would have happened if he had pulled that same move ten years earlier. Captain Crawford was not even one of his people, rather, she is a political opponent of his. But his mic-drop speech about being denied opportunity because of who he was is such a powerful statement, and so much more because of the position he is in.

He has risen through the ranks because he wanted to be in a place to make a difference, that’s what he tells Terry when they submit the complaint about the cop who stopped Terry for being black (s4e16). He recognizes that he has power, and he uses his power to do good. To make change. It’s really no wonder Cheddar is so well trained, I mean, look who his dad is.

#captainholt #queerculture #lgbt #pride #leadership #feminism

Daily Brooklyn 99 Thoughts: B99 vs. SVU on addressing institutionalized racism

Law & Order SVU season 17 episode 5: Synopsis: “An unarmed black man is shot during the pursuit of a suspect, raising racial tensions; Barba must indict the three officers involved — who claim they followed procedure.”
The squad are chasing a seriously dangerous perp, three policemen corner him and shoot – but it turns out afterwards that it was the wrong guy. The victim dies 😦 and the police department is in trouble. As it does, SVU goes into details of number of bullets fired, they hold an indictment and question all the officers involved and hold an internal investigation. It’s satisfying to watch justice being done, even though the episode ends before the full trial, so you don’t know what ends up happening to those specific cops (and I haven’t checked if that’s revealed in the following episodes.)

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Brookly Nine Nine season 4 episode 16: Sgt Terry Jeffords, one of the main characters on the show, is stopped in his neighborhood while out looking for his daughter’s blanky. The cop eventually lets him go when Terry says he’s also a policeman. Terry decides to try to handle it in a friendly way, and at first he meets the other cop in a coffee shop to talk. The cop is sorry he stopped him because Terry is also a cop, but he shows no remorse about the way he acted and says he’s “not going to apologize for doing his job.” Terry’s not satisfied, and decides to file an official complaint. At first the Captain advises against it, saying there could be backlash, but by the end of the episode the Captain changes his mind. Captain Holt is a gay black man, and says the reason he rose through the system was in order to be in a position to make change – so he supports Terry filing the complaint, repercussions be damned. Captain Holt says as a result, the other cop will probably think twice about making another bad stop.

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Both shows make a point of giving airtime to stories like this, and raising awareness is important, but it’s not enough. They both emphasize the feeling of injustice that accompanies the multitudes of cases all across the US and the world – people are just getting away with it.

I think Brooklyn 99’s message was stronger, even though no one died. In this story, the victim was a main character to which the audience has developed an attachment over four seasons. It was that much more shocking that anyone could possibly look at Terry and see just a black man, because we know so much about him. The guy built a princess castle on screen in season one. He’s a dad. He’s a great guy. But this cop didn’t know him – so it was really disturbing to see him escalating so quickly with “hands on your head – don’t move – keep your voice down -” etc while holding a gun. On the other hand, we’re pretty used to seeing lots of flying bullets on SVU, it’s the kind of thing they do a lot. The victim on SVU was an anonymous teenager who didn’t say anything during his minute on screen. It’s hard to empathize with the cops that were involved in the shooting, but they do make a big deal to show how upset they are and how worried that the city is “going to hang them” which seems an inappropriate exaggeration in light of an innocent man’s death at their hands.

Additionally, the Captain’s decision to back Terry’s complaint is meaningful, and (although fictional) shows something that can be done to effect change within the system. It shows people willing to risk their career to make the streets safer for black people. As satisfying as it is to watch ADA Barba question the cops on the stand, at no point is SVU discussing change – they are just representing reality, which is okay, that’s what they do. But it’s another reason why I think B99 wins this round.

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#socialjustice #sgtterryjeffords #captainholt #racism

Daily Brooklyn 99 Thoughts: S1E9: Jimmy Brogan’s “Good cops” are toxic masculinity 101

The journalist’s visit to the Nine-nine is a point-by-point unpacking of the components of toxic masculinity. This is the first of many episodes along the theme of “Don’t meet your heroes” which I’ll discuss in a separate post.

Brogan is disappointed that there are no “good cops” left, but fans of the show are loving it.

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So, according to Brogan, what are “good cops”?

  1. Violent. “I once saw Gaminsky choke a hippie to death with his own pony tail.” He glorifies illegal use of force. They endanger themselves and others unnecessarily and brag about the violence inflicted upon them.
  2. Grotesque.“Where’s the can? I gotta unload.” “Maybe you should learn to handle your brown.”
  3. Not interested in being smart. “We used to call guys that bragged about sitting around all day, ‘hair bags.’” This particular dig is referring to the use of computer science in police work.Consume alcohol frivolously. It’s not “manly” to be a nerd. (Oddly, though, it’s not girly either in the real world – huh. It just occurred to me that maybe being into computer science isn’t actually related to gender. Sarcastic? Me???)
  4. Reckless and careless. “Put your head through the door.”
  5. Don’t care about their job. “Being too hungover to chase a perp? That’s a classic old school move.”
  6. Don’t ‘feel’. “I kind of feel like you’re being unfair.” “Feel like? Listen to her, ‘Suzanne Somers’ over here. Talk like a man.” Emotions are for women, then?
  7. Homophobic. “You don’t have to stick up for that homo.” The ultimate threat to toxic masculinity is, of course, being attracted to men. Which makes this moment ever more epic

Jake punching Jimmy Brogan

#jakeperalta #masculinity #toxicmasculinity

Daily Brooklyn 99 Thoughts – Charles and Rosa’s friendship

***Contains a single spoiler on the question of whether Charles and Rosa end up together so if you care about that, skip. Also (if you live under a rock) spoiler for something about Rosa that is only revealed in season 5***

Charles knows Rosa so well. He helps Marcus plan the perfect birthday surprise, and he rules the maid-of-honor party competition. But it wasn’t always like this.

At the beginning of the show, Charles doesn’t understand Rosa at all. He fantasizes about her, and says he is “in love” with her, but is he really? I don’t think he is. I think he’s into her, he thinks she’s hot (who can blame him for that one?) but frankly I think he dislikes many elements of her personality as they reveal themselves.

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Rosa: “I hate small talk, let’s drink in silence.”

Charles: “Perfect.”

But does he really mean that?

When Rosa says something dark, he comments “I can not figure you out.” Really, Boyle? We’ve only been watching this show for two hours and we already get that Rosa says dark things with no emotional expression.

The best thing about Charles courting Rosa is how quickly he gives up. I’m not kidding. He asks her out maybe 3-4 times. Rosa says no, and even the few times she agrees she makes it clear it’s not a date. She never at any point leads him on or implies she might like him back. She never likes him back. Eventually, with some solid relationship advice from friends, Charles consciously decides to move on – he wouldn’t have been receptive to Vivian’s advances if he had chosen to continue to pine for Rosa. In fact, the moment when this happens appears visually in the episode at Captain Holt’s birthday party, when she asks “How are you single? There’s no special someone in your life?” and he hesitates, eyeing Rosa in the corner, and then turns back to Vivian and replies, “No.” Good work, Charles!

Charles helping Rosa text her boyfriend
Charles helping Rosa text her boyfriend, season 2

Also, as soon as Charles moves on, the awkwardness lingers only for a few episodes, and by the end of the first season, Charles and Rosa are actual friends.

This is another reason why the moment when Rosa comes out to Charles is so beautiful. This moment between Charles and Rosa is incredibly intimate, with zero sexual connotations or even joking innuendo, which is perfect. It just shows how much Charles gets her, how sensitive he is to her vulnerability in that moment, but also explains why Rosa trusts him enough to open up about this deeply personal issue, which is something Rosa never does.

God, I love Boyle. < smiley face with heart eyes >

Just to be clear, the reason it is so important that Charles does not continue to pursue Rosa despite her rejection of him is because the opposite is the basis of rape culture. Classic romances constantly repeat the trope of a male persisting and pursuing a female despite the fact that she said no, and encourage the idea that this behavior is somehow romantic, shows courage and strength and confidence and other sexy qualities, when in fact it should be seen for what it is – stalking and harassment. So kudos, nine-nine, for portraying a reasonable response to rejection. More please. 

#top10epicmoments #charlesboyle #rosadiaz #queerculture #feminism #lgbtq #representationmatters #consent #smashrapeculture #friendship

Daily Brooklyn 99 Thoughts: Queer Culture

Image shows Captain Holt looking condescending, saying "You're not the first superior officer to threaten me."

Queer culture is a prominent theme in the show. It appears first in the pilot with the unveiling of the Captain’s backstory. But the really satisfying moments are in real time.

S1E2: When Jake arrests the deputy commissioner’s son, deputy commissioner threatens to “make his life miserable.” Captain Holt steps in to defend his detective, so the deputy commissioner threatens him as well, stating,”You’ve just made yourself a powerful enemy, Holt.”

And the captain follows with the signature mic-drop of the opening of this show:

You’re gonna have to try a little harder if you want to scare me.

I’ve been an openly gay cop since 1987, so you’re not the first superior officer to threaten me.

You know how I’m still standing here? ‘Cause I do my job.

And I do it right.

Image shows Captain Holt looking condescending, saying "You're not the first superior officer to threaten me."

And then Jake, bless him, says what we were ALL thinking:

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#captainholt #jakeperalta #queerculture

See, there have been LGBT-identified characters appear on TV before, but Brooklyn Nine-Nine takes it up a level, giving representation beyond just about having a gay character. The captain’s statement holds his entire life as a gay man in an openly homophobic environment. It’s an acknowledgement that the characters are not just gay because diversity is in now, but that the captain being gay actually makes him a serious badass.

More on queer culture to come.

Gay Pride and Prejudice

For three days I’ve been trying to write something. I’ve been sitting in my apartment, not particularly busy on the weekend, trying to think of something to say about the most recent events in Israel. But the truth is, I’m speechless. I have no words. But just because I have no words doesn’t mean I can sit back and say nothing. So I’m going to try and put words to my feelings. Bear with me.

I’m going to address two main events that happened in the past few days in Israel: 1) On Thursday, six people were stabbed at the Pride March, and 2) early Friday morning two Palestinian homes were set on fire and as a result four family members were hospitalized and a baby died.  It’s horrifying enough just to read the headlines without thinking too deeply about it. But unfortunately both of those events comes in a context of a long and painful history, spattering more blood on the already stained pages.

The Jerusalem Pride Parade is one of my favorite things that happens in my city. Obviously I agree with what it stands for – the protest demanding equal rights under the law. I also just like being there. I feel safe there. I feel like I belong. Forget the fact that I identify as Bisexual – that’s the B in LGBT – it’s a place where everyone feels like they belong. Even if you are straight, female, single, socially awkward, none of those things matter at Pride. Pride is all about feeling good about who you are. For a few hours once a year, people who are bullied and discriminated against can finally feel normal and accepted. We can finally feel safe. On Thursday someone burst into that bubble and took away the safety of thousands. Not just the people he stabbed. Not just the people who were at the parade. He took away the safety of every religious, closeted LGBT person in the city. He gave a voice to all the hatred that is harbored towards LGBTs everywhere and especially within the Orthodox communities in Israel.

I was flipping through the comments on one of the articles discussing this event. I saw several comments insinuating that Israelis are a savage, blood-thirsty nation who just kill everyone we hate: Palestinians, gays, etc. I spent some time being patriotic and defending my people on the internet, only to wake up the following morning to the news about the Palestinian homes burned down.  I wasn’t shocked. It’s happened before. I just couldn’t help think about all those anti-Israeli commenters on the internet who had just been proven right. My insides squirmed at the notion that someone who identifies with the same nationality as I do would commit such a heinous act as burning a baby. This time the media was full of lots of posts talking about how the Jewish faith condemns any type of murder, and people who stab at the Pride parade or who kill anyone “aren’t really Jews.”

Except that they are Jews. And they are Israelis. And the world is looking at us now, in this moment, watching us cast off this act as the doings of a couple of crazy fanatics. Maybe it’s true – maybe it’s really only a handful of crazies committing these crimes. But as Brigitte Gabriel wisely said, “The peaceful majority are irrelevant.” It only took a handful of crazy fanatics to bring the twin towers to the ground.

But as a friend of mine said, there’s a reason these radicals attacked Palestinians, and not Russians, for example. There is a reason the stabber went to Gay Pride instead of going after red heads. The reason is that our culture tolerates hate.

Maybe instead of saying “they’re not really Jews” or “they got Judaism wrong,” it is time for us to take responsibility for the actions of our brethren and take a look at what messages in our culture could have led to this kind of violence. Maybe it’s time to just stop and say, we’re sorry. We screwed up. And now we are going to do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  For example, our politicians are now going to refrain from making racist and homophobic comments, even in jest. Our schools are going to stop tolerating racist teachings and ideas in the classroom. Our rabbis are going to stop giving legitimacy to discrimimation against gays. Our country is now going to catch up with the rest of the modern world and finally pass marriage equality. Those would be some nice places to start.

So, in the name of all Israelis and all Jews everywhere, I’m sorry. We’re sorry. To the Palestinians and the family of sweet baby Ali, we’re sorry. I know it’s not enough and will never be enough. But I’m saying it because I want you to know that there are people in this country and in this world who reject hate and condemn violence of any kind. We are sorry. We screwed up and we hurt you.

To my brothers and sisters at Jerusalem Pride, we are sorry. We screwed up. We let too much homophobia settle into our culture. Don’t let it discourage you even for a moment. Keep Pride alive.

That’s all for now. Wishing everybody that the month of August may bring upon us a time of love and peace and coexistence and harmony. Alla yisalmakum.

Liora Sophie.

Why We Need Pride In Jerusalem

Too many people have asked me that question, so here’s your answer.

I am so incredibly proud to be a resident of Jerusalem right now. For one shining moment, no matter who you are – gay, lesbian, bi, trans, queer, pan, in, out, religious, secular, in between…for one moment you can just live in a bubble of freedom and acceptance. If you are at the parade you are cool by definition. For one blissful afternoon you can live your life without fear of judgment, discrimination, and violence. You can walk through the streets of this holy city and be totally free.

But here’s the catch: One afternoon every year or two is not enough. We march because we have the guts to expect more than that.

Before I go on about how much fun the parade was, I’d like to clear up a few misconceptions about the event itself. Some people feel that the Pride Parade is not appropriate in Jerusalem, the holy city. I’d like to clarify why I believe that there is no place more appropriate than Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.

  1. A religious man marches wearing a Gay Pride flag with Star of David, a mix of Pride and the Israeli flag.

     Inappropriate dress. This is not true for the Jerusalem Pride Parade. Out of 3,000 people, there were only two men who were not wearing shirts. And a male to female transgender in a dress does not count as cross dressing.

  2. Public Display of Affection. Again, out of 3,000 people I saw one couple kissing and a few couples holding hands. Yeah, PDA is gross! But straight PDA is not any less gross than gay PDA.

  3. It’s a secular event. In case you aren’t familiar with the demographics of Jerusalem, a large percentage of the population here are religious Jews / Christians / Muslims / Other. The Pride Parade was packed with kippas and tzitzit, skirts and hair coverings – our symbols of a religious lifestyle. Some of them are out of the closet religious people, some are straight supporters. There were far too many religious people at the parade to say that it is not relevant in a largely religious city.

  4. It’s a sex parade. It’s not. In Jerusalem, it’s a protest. We march for social change. We march because we deserve to live a life without violence, discrimination at work or anywhere else. We deserve health and marriage equality. And we’re not going to get those things by sitting down and being quiet.

In case you still aren’t convinced, let me address a specific moment of the parade. As we marched down Ramban street – which borders on a mainly religious neighborhood but does not go through it – somebody threw a stink bomb. I have to admit I was impressed. It seems like it would take quite a lot of premeditation and preparation to do such a thing. It seems like an enormous amount of energy to waste on hating someone. I’m glad to report that the person who did it was arrested while the parade was still going on, and what a shame, in the end he just stank up his own street.

Seriously, though. It wasn’t as if we didn’t know that was coming. It’s not the first time that has happened. Don’t you think it takes a good deal of courage and purpose to walk down the roads when you know you could be hit by a bag of someone else’s crap? So it smelled a little bad. It stopped no one. The parade marched on. Honestly, what’s a little stink bomb to the LGBT community, who endures far worse on a daily basis?

With that in mind, let’s not forget that a lot of people who march in the parade are not L, G, B, T or Q, but they recognize that this is a protest for human rights. The needs of the LGBT community are relevant to straight people as well. Because bullying and violence, discrimination based on race or gender, hate crimes, equality in health care and marriage are issues that hit every one of us close to home, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.

So next year, pick a basic human right you feel you need, make a rainbow colored sign and come march with us. And if you feel you enjoy complete freedom and full human rights, come get your face painted and stand up for someone who doesn’t.