Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

Through rose-colored glasses

Out There

You can find color-blindness corrective glasses available for sale on the Internet, but Out There isn't a big fan of them.
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Out There is a reluctant poster boy for red/green color-blindness . It's a fairly common color-vision defect that's genetically inherited on the Y chromosome, thus much more common among males than among females (8% of men vs. .5% of women). The common parlance, i.e., "blindness" is somewhat misleading, because of course we do see colors, we just can't distinguish between certain spokes of the color wheel. That's not "blind," it's just handicapped in a very particular way.

We joke that color-blindness is the last remaining disability without its own dedicated support group. When OT was a young freelancer, we did a lot of writing for art journals, and our aunt protested, "But how can you write about art? You're color-blind!" We tried explaining that writing about conceptual art required no coloring skills, inside or outside the lines, but she wasn't buying it. That part of the family was always a bunch of philistines anyway.

These days we're often approached by companies that produce color-blindness corrective glasses and want publicity for them, and recently we took the bait and sampled a pair. We're not going to identify the company that produced the glasses we tried on, because our comments are not limited to them. In a nutshell, the lenses did vivify colors for us, but they did not "cure" our condition. Although we got to keep them, we'll probably never wear them again.

To cite a commenter from an Amazon product review: "I am color-blind (diachromatic), and with the glasses I saw many colors that I can't remember ever having seen, some interesting or even beautiful, and others just weird. Things like pink roses, the colors of cars and other painted objects, and foliage, all stood out more clearly from surrounding objects. All colors shifted in appearance toward shorter wavelength. Reds became orange, yellows looked green, greens looked blue. All of this works because objects previously confused, due to their appearing to have the same brightness, come to have different brightness with the glasses on. Since the early days of vision research, brightness has been known to be an important cue to color discrimination."

Pepi, who was a great proponent of our trying out these glasses, had to admit that our opinion was what mattered, as we traded the shades on and off during a bright afternoon in Berkeley. Wilder found a website that simulates, for normal-sighted folks, the experience of red/green deficiency. Points to him for working towards empathy.

So we say to our fellow color-blind brethren: caveat emptor. You may be tempted by promises of corrective vision, but no glasses can "cure" color-blindness, they can only take the color wheel out for a psychedelic spin. Instead, embrace your difference! We're here, we're color-discrimination queer, get used to us!


Hellenic Jane

The second visual that's gracing this week's column was sent to us from a friend currently visiting the ancient capital of Athens, Greece. He thought we'd get a kick of this theatre poster he found wheat-pasted to a wall there, which appears to be advertising for a staging of "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" But with Melina Mercouri and Irene Pappas both dead, who is slated to play the Joan Crawford and Bette Davis parts? It's certainly Greek to us.


Lesbian reunion

Last Thursday night saw a nostalgic gathering of the tribe at one of the few remaining lesbian-centric spots in town, El Rio on Mission Street. The occasion was the release of a handsome new volume of LGBT history – with an emphasis on the L. "Game Changers: Lesbians You Should Know About," brainchild of game-changing local publisher Robin Lowey , presents colorful profiles of two dozen inspiring women, complete with clever pullout lesbian baseball cards for each. Longtime local heroes showcased in the book and in attendance included: National Center for Lesbian Rights head honcho Kate Kendell , beloved playwright-activist Jewelle Gomez, Curve magazine publisher Franco Stevens, legendary lesbian club promoter Mariah Hanson and DJ Page Hodel , groundbreaking SF Superior Court Judge Donna Hitchens, comedian Monica Palacios, longtime community activists Jody Cole, Eleanor Palacios and Crystal Jang, filmmakers Cheryl Dunye and Jenni Olson , authors Carla Trujillo, Leslie Larson and Kathy Belge , historian Bonnie Morris and women's music fixture and owner of Berkeley's legendary lesbian Brick Hut Cafe, Joan Antonuccio . Get your hands on the book and the baseball cards at


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