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December 8th, 2023

Ich Bin – I Am

When I posted a link to the final (ish) episode of A Coming Out Story to my Facebook page, with its simple title I Am, I figured I’d get some snark. And I did. But that’s okay, I’m giving some sideways snark back to a certain someone (Hi!) with that title.

I had no idea what to title that episode, and now that I’m doing them completely out of order it didn’t make any sense to give it a number either. The title came to me almost at the moment I finished it and I had to rename all my digital files to match it. But it was worth it because that’s the right title for that retelling of that particular moment in my life. There is power in embracing your personal truths, in deciding once and for all to be your authentic self, despite the pressure to conform or hide. It is exactly the right title for that episode.

The snark comes from a t-shirt I bought in Epcot Germany with just the phrase Ich Bin on the front of it. That was all. Not I Am German or I Am A Disneyphile, or I Am Whatever, but simply I Am. I liked it for the simple declaration of self truth, whatever that self truth might be.

During an interview, Stephan Fry said…

Oscar Wilde said that if you know what you want to be, then you inevitably become it – that is your punishment, but if you never know, then you can be anything. There is a truth to that. We are not nouns, we are verbs. I am not a thing – an actor, a writer – I am a person who does things – I write, I act – and I never know what I am going to do next. I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.

That’s a good way of looking at it, and it was sort-of what I was thinking when I bought that t-shirt with the words Ich Bin on it. I Am a gay man. I Am a software engineer. I Am a cartoonist. I Am a photographer. I Am Bruce Garrett. I Am.

So, happily, I wore it to my dinner at Biergarten reservation. And when that certain someone saw me arrive I pointed to the shirt, delighted to let him know that I’d learned a few German words and could even put them together into some sort of a sentence (if you’ve ever attempted German grammar you can appreciate how proud I was just then). “Ich Bin”, I said, pointing to the shirt, “I Am”.

And he gives me this look of pure disdain and says “The hilarious thing is you trying to teach me German.”

I wish I had a picture of the look on my face at that moment. But that was when I finally had to admit that we were probably never really very compatible.

What I am is what I am
Are you what you are or what?
What I am is what I am
Are you what you are or what?

Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!

Last (ish) Episode

I’ve uploaded the last(ish) episode of A Coming Out Story to its pages here. It wasn’t the last episode that I’d planned but it was always intended to be a critical turning point in the story and it works as an ending. 

I choose the subtitle of this cartoon story, The first person you come out to is yourself, to make it plain that this isn’t a story about coming out to family and friends. It’s about when you finally face up to it. That moment can be excruciatingly painful, and was mostly that for lots of us of my generation. But I got lucky in one critical way: I came out to myself by way of realizing I was in love. Probably that saved my life.

I began this story almost two decades ago. I didn’t expect it to take so long when I began the work, but I have no professional art training and everything I do at the drawing board is a struggle. Also, about a third of the way into it I was able to reconnect with “TK” after about thirty years of wondering what had happened to him, and that very seriously upended my feelings about the story I was telling. I began it as a way of trying to understand what had happened to me back in high school, and how that led to the adult I eventually became. Then after the heart attack a few years ago I began to seriously worry I might not ever finish it the way I wanted it finished. Then I turned 70 and felt my energy levels beginning to plummet. So I skipped ahead (again) to what I’d always intended to be a climatic point in the story, and now that I’ve uploaded what can be seen as the last episode, I can feel a bit more comfortable that, whatever happens to me age and health-wise, at least there is an end to my story. My readers won’t be left hanging. Somewhat. I know there is still the question of What Happened Next? I’ll get to that in the epilogue, but what I write below probably tells how it went.

I said at the very beginning that the story I was telling was one-third what happened to me, one-third artistic license, and one-third cartoon fantasy. This last (ish) episode is mostly what really happened, but with artistic license on the exact location. I didn’t say it to my mirror reflection in the dresser in my bedroom, but in the mirror in the bathroom.

What happened was, bearing in mind I had just come out to myself but the object of my affections hadn’t yet moved away so I wasn’t just then in the throws of grief. I tuned into a radio program on the subject of homosexuality. I wish I’d taken notes about what it was and who was being interviewed. But some alleged expert in the field was dispensing all the usual bullshit I’d already dismissed because I was in love and it was all so wonderful. But being the geek child I was I kept digging for information.

So I tuned into this program, and somewhere during the interview the expert was asked some question, I don’t remember what. But in reply he said (I still remember this part clearly) that “the worst thing a man could admit to is being a homosexual.”

And at that moment I could feel the closet trying to grab onto me and drag me in. I’d done enough research by then to see pretty clearly what the closet did to people and I swore I wouldn’t let that happen to me. But at the same time, in 1972, I also knew I couldn’t just be out with it without losing most of my friends, possibly getting kicked out of the house, and possibly getting my head bashed in.

But one thing I could do was acknowledge my own personal truth and deal with it as honorably and as best as I could given the world I lived in. So what you see in the episode is what I really did and said…apart from the location. I knew if I could do that then I could, somehow, navigate the rest.

And I was in love. It put things into perspective.

I know others had a very Very rough time of it. I was lucky that it hit me just that way, just at that point in my life. Yeah…in retrospect things could have been lots better, but they could also have been lots worse. I could have crushed on an abusive manipulative lout and ended up actually killing myself instead of just seriously considering it when “TK” and family suddenly left the country. He was actually a very decent person, and in a better world I could have taken him home to mom, and said “This is my boyfriend” and she’d have approved and made a place at the table for him. But neither one of us lived in that world and I reckon he had his own family issues to contend with. I suppose all that is grist for the epilogue when I get to it. The story of that one time I called his house because we’d agreed to go to Great Falls with our cameras is one that I can’t decide where to put just now.

Putting this episode up allows me to feel comfortable that the story of my coming out to myself is “complete” and I don’t have to worry about how much time I have left to finish it. There’s a bunch more I can add to it to the degree I have time to do that. But I can rest a bit easier now. My story has it’s ending. I actually scripted this episode almost two decades ago and it’s exactly as I wrote it back then. I’ll add an epilogue and then fill in some more of the story as time and energy permit.

There is lots more I had scripted, and I don’t intend to just scrap all that because I still think a lot of it is good material and worth having in the story. Especially where Left Brain confronts the gym teacher who taught that horrible sex-ed class, which is where I was leading things after episode 37 before I got really badly sick and decided I needed to put this “last” one up. So even though I’ve posted a “last” episode, don’t go away thinking there is no more. There’s lots more and I intend to keep on filling in the space between that first episode and this one. Also, there is an important epilogue I need to add after the “final” one.

So thank all of you who have stuck with me on this over the years. I deeply appreciate your repeat views. You helped give me the energy to keep on with it.

And…stay tuned…


Posted In: Art Life
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by Bruce | Link | React! (1)
December 5th, 2023

No Rest For The Facebook Weary

At some point after I’ve finished with the next and final-ish episode of A Coming Out Story, I will need to set up a page and sub galleries for my stand alone artwork and sketches. Because all of that I’ve posted on my Facebook page is going away.

Disengaging from online commercial social media may have another benefit besides not having to endure the censor algorithms. Less time with my face in a smartphone app, more time at the drafting table.

The sketches above are for a cartoon I have been trying to get out of me for, no kidding, four years now. A lot of that is my struggling with how sexy to make it and still not go over the line into cheap thrills. I’ve drawn and re-drawn the frames in it many multiple times because I want it to be authentically what I meant without any ridiculous self-censorship. But when all is said and done it’s still my own personal take on a particular song, nobody else’s, and there’s a reason why the character of my libido in A Coming Out Story is wearing a fig leaf. “I’m your libido not Robert Crumb’s libido…

If I’d grown up in a more sexually relaxed culture I probably wouldn’t be fighting with myself about this. Also…being raised in a Yankee Baptist household isn’t helping.

Posted In: Art Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!

Your Daughter Knows How This Feels

…you should too!

Posted In: Life Politics
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by Bruce | Link | React!

I Have Removed My Content

Got this charming notice from Facebook a few moments ago…

Like everyone else I know on Facebook who this has happened to recently, I have no idea what the hell they’re talking about. The notice helpfully declines to tell you what “content” it was that triggered the mindless algorithm and Facebook has also helpfully mucked up my activity log so I can’t check that. So I go scrolling back in my posts to see if I can remember anything I might have up up that got deleted. I still have no idea. Everything I remember posting is still there.

But I often put up random trivial happy little things now and then, including shares, that I might not now recall. It was easy with the smartphone app in a way that posting to my blog isn’t. So whenever I saw something online while I’m using my smartphone I’d “share” it o Facebook, just to give some online friends a smile.

That behavior stops now.

Facebook makes its money by selling your Facebook data to other businesses. In theory they let you opt out of that, and I’ve done as much of that as I can for now in their settings pages. But also I’ve deleted the apps from my iPhone and hopefully that prevents tracking. IOS has a setting you can use to block tracking from specific apps. Hopefully deleting the apps altogether takes care of it. They like they can use your smartphone to track you.

Old men like me are probably not a valuable source of data mining anyway. But to the degree I can, I’m going to try and be nothing to “Meta” anymore. Not going to delete my profile there just yet because I have too many dear old friends on the platform. That’s how they trap you of course. But all that happy little trivial stuff I used to put there for smiles and simple random pleasures isn’t happening anymore. That’s probably for the best since political data miners use that stuff to push disinformation at you and an election is coming.

Nearly all the younger friends I had there at one time or another have fled the platform for other online fields. Maybe they just got bored with all the older folks being on there. Or maybe something else about it creeped them out. Maybe I should have been paying more attention to that,


Posted In: Life

by Bruce | Link | React!
November 24th, 2023

Thanksgiving Family…A Repost

Reposted from Thanksgiving 2017…with a wee bit of editing…

(Note…this did not happen this Thanksgiving because I could not attend the yearly gathering…I caught a flu that I’m still getting over. But in all the digging into the homophobia of the 60s/70s for the upcoming episode of A Coming Out Story, I began to feel that suffocating old stereotype dragging me back to a time when most of us didn’t dare live our lives openly, even if we were fine with being gay. Then this post appeared in my Facebook memories (I will often post in both places) and I had to marvel once again at how the anti-gay industrial complex just Does Not Get Us. And I can just hear them saying Oh, but you’re a Good homosexual. No I’m not. Don’t you dare be putting me into that pigeonhole. I am not a Good homosexual. I am a proud homosexual.)


“Gay Community” is an awkward term, but the language doesn’t seem to give us any other ones. We are people of a shared sexual orientation, and to a certain extent, a shared history of oppression. But there really isn’t all that much uniting us. Things you would expect such as marriage equality and protections from discrimination in employment, housing, and the marketplace, often generate a surprising amount of static among us. And running beneath it all like a hidden underground stream is how being hated, and being taught to hate ourselves, damages our capacity for sexual intimacy, trust, and love. And even that is not exactly a shared experience among us.

There is, and I am seeing more clearly with the passing of years, a distinct generational difference. Younglings living in a more accepting and affirming culture, having more and better, healthier, opportunities to date and discover love and desire in the ways heterosexual kids have for generations, are starting to look more and more like their heterosexual peers when talking about relationship issues. For a gay guy of my generation it is wonderful to witness. But then, inevitably, like snapping back out of a pleasant daydream, I must return to my own life, my own generation because that is where I am fixed in time and place, and where I reckon I will always belong. Among them is where I must find companionship, because only they understand me.

They know what the world was like when John Lennon was alive, and Hendrix was playing at the Fillmore, and Jefferson was Airplane. They know what America was like before Reagan. When music came on vinyl disks and telephones had wires and shopping centers had newsstands and bookstores and we were putting footsteps on the moon. They know me. Or so I would like to believe anyway.

But community is an awkward way of describing us and “family” is even more awkward. Yesterday I had Thanksgiving dinner with as much “family” here on the east coast as I have now and while the host was a good friend with a good heart whose company I thoroughly enjoy, most of the guests were gay guys of my generation, none of whom I really knew very well. A couple of them frequently drove the conversation into territory I found uncomfortable at best and distasteful mostly, and the rest just went gamely along and I kept my mouth shut.

A conversation was started about the first gay bar we’d ever been to, a thing I couldn’t specifically recall but I gave it my best shot: a piano bar called Friends, and later Windows. I can’t actually recall the first time I set foot in a gay bar…or any other sort of bar for that matter. When I was a toddler my maternal grandmother would walk me to the grocery store periodically, and every time we passed by a bar she would point at the door and say “the devil lives there” (yes grandma…and I’ll have what he’s having…) So never mind working up the nerve to enter a gay bar, my first step ever into a bar probably took a lot of nerve, but I don’t now recall it. I remember Friends though, because it was the only gay bar at the time I felt comfortable in. And there was a reason for that. But the topic quickly took off and others of the group took it and ran with it into the backrooms and toilets.

I tried to steer the conversation to When Did You First Come Out To Yourself. That generally went in the same direction. Eventually I made myself a drink and sat some distance from the others and just listened.

Understand…I don’t particularly care what sorts of sexual shenanigans people get themselves into. It’s not that important. In her biography (and I know I’ve quoted this often here on the blog so just bear with me…), the author Mary Renault is quoted as saying that politics like sex, is just a reflection of the person within, and if you’re mean and selfish and cruel it will come out in your sex life and it will come out in your politics when what matters is you’re not the sort of person who behaves like that. People who talk at me that there is more to life than sex are missing it profoundly. Life…the life you live…and sex…the sex you have…is a reflection of the person within and it’s the person within that matters. It matters to me that you aren’t mean and selfish and cruel. The rest is detail.

But sometimes the detail can be bothersome all the same. And especially when you are in the company of others who either consistently don’t get yours or regard them as hangups you just need to get over. And that’s one of those generational things I was speaking to earlier. My generation of gay men, post Stonewall, came of age when the gay rights movement was taking to the streets, angrily, loudly, renouncing the suit and tie assimilationist tactics of the Mattachine Society. It went from Michael in The Boys In The Band lamenting If we could just not hate ourselves so much, practically overnight to No fuckers we aren’t just like you, and we don’t want any part of your straight sexist sex-negative society! Nuance is for reactionaries.

When I was a teenager, I fell in love, as teenagers will. It was wonderful. I wanted that feeling to last forever. I thought I’d found the person who could make that happen. But it didn’t. So I kept looking. And looking. And looking. And now I’m 64 and single and never had so much as a boyfriend let alone a spouse to have and to hold. And here I am on Thanksgiving day with a group of other mostly lonely old gay men listening to some of them talking about the time when a certain bathroom at the University of Maryland was a hookup spot, and random sex with strangers at this or that gay bar back in the day. There’s a reason I couldn’t contribute to any of those tales, but I’m broken in a different way, so don’t take any of this to mean I think I’m better than they are because I don’t.

Oscar Wilde once said that we are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars. No, we are not all in the gutter. But some of us who are looking at the stars cannot help but notice all that darkness surrounding them. And that it is from that darkness we behold the stars. Some of us.


Posted In: Gently Tapping My Pulpit Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!

If You Have To Ask You Can’t Afford Me

From my Facebook Memories today…

Young, very Very nice on the eyes guy follows me on Instagram. Messages me. Hi How are you doing? So I took a look at his profile. He just joined a day or so ago, posted three selfies, has five followers, and is following about six-hundred or so other guys. Lots of older gay guys like myself. Let me guess…

Hon, you’re stunningly beautiful. Extra especially that one shot with your shirt half off and those big frame nerd eyeglasses. Oh goodness… But I don’t think I’m the customer you’re looking for. Let me explain…

1) I’m what the kids these days call a “Demisexual”. Google it. Took me even longer to figure this part of myself out than that I like guys. Especially cute angel faced ones like you. If all there is for me is visual appeal, there ain’t nothing more going to happen except that maybe I keep stealing a glance or two.

2) I’m a heart patient. I’m on beta blockers. Think of beta blockers as the antimatter of Viagra. Yes, I am not entirely happy with this effect. No, I will not go into why. So even if I was amenable to capitalist relationships, it would be a waste of my money and your time. Which brings me to…

3) As well off financially as I am these days, I really don’t think I have the kind of income that would buy the time of someone as stunningly beautiful as yourself. Even if I was inclined toward capitalist relationships, which I am not (see 1), I could not afford the likes of you I’m pretty sure.

Best wishes in your business endeavors. I am not one to disparage your line of work. But I am thoroughly unsuited for any place in your little black book. I appreciate the interest. And the photos! Thank you! But you need to look elsewhere.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
November 23rd, 2023

The Homosexual Trope Behind Ex-Gay Therapy

Wow…they weren’t kidding when they called Peter and Barbara’s book Growing Up Straight a veritable encyclopedia of homophobia. And yes, from what I’ve read of it so far it draws very heavily on the work of Irving Bieber (he of the Mothers Did It school). Every wee passage in the book where they take notice of others in the field who were beginning to realize that homosexuals were not necessarily mentally disturbed and that those mental issues homosexuals face could largely be laid at the feet of the profound social and legal stigmas they face, which the authors freely acknowledge, is dismissed with a wave of the hand to the effect that Bieber disagrees. A better title for the book might have been What Irving Bieber Told Us.

They practically catalog every aspect of the social stigma that homosexuals endured in that period, and then go on to assert that nearly all homosexuals wish they weren’t and would do practically anything to get free of it, as though one had nothing to do with the other. It is the central premise of the book: that homosexuality is a dangerous practice, that homosexuals are inwardly miserable, that adult homosexuals are desperate for a cure, and this is why it is essential that parents nip it in the bud.

There are case histories that I haven’t done much but glance over now, but in their dry yet voyeuristic tone they remind me of all the case histories I read back in the day. These are not people, they are homosexual tropes that only exist to serve the narrative. But that was all we had to see ourselves by in 1968. I still remember vividly when that curtain was lifted for me, and it wasn’t the Internet that did it. It was FidoNet.

To look at how FidoNet worked from the perspective of today is to be stunned at how primitive and rickety it all was. And yet in the early to mid 1980s it allowed me to witness something I never had before, after a kindly sysop gave me private access to a gay echoboard called “gaylink”: gay men talking about their lives to one another, unfiltered, unedited, simply chit chatting away in their own voices. And in that moment, all the case studies fell away.

They had to on first contact with the reality of our lives, because they were never meant to illuminate, to raise awareness of the people we are and the lives we lead. They were self serving stereotypes propped up to prove a point. You never saw any case studies that didn’t prove the point. There, in my first exposure to the authentic voices of other gay men, I saw many.

I’ve blogged before about the young teenager from the Netherlands who said he thought he might be gay and asked the group how they knew it about themselves, and how from all over the world the kid got coming out to yourself stories, the breadth and depth of which you never saw in the case studies. It was stunning. If the wonks of the ex-gay industrial complex seem perpetually bewildered and frustrated that few people take them seriously anymore this is why. They never really looked at us, only the scarecrows they made of us, and ever since the early 1980s we could see ourselves no matter where we lived, if we had a computer and a modem.

A couple links to critical reviews of Bieber below…

The Bieber study: A review revisited (Warren Throckmorton)

A Half-Century of Conflict Over Attempts to ‘Cure’ Gay People (Time Magazine February 12, 2015)


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
November 22nd, 2023

One More For The Gay Studies Bookshelf

This came in the mail today…


Growing Up Straight: What Every Thoughtful Parent Should Know about Homosexuality, by Peter and Barbara Wyden (January 1969). My copy of The Columbia Reader calls it a veritable encyclopedia of homophobia. (“The book draws heavily on the theories of Irving Bieber and other psychiatrists of the mothers-did-it school…”) I did not know about this book, and was just scanning the Reader for anything around the time of Midge Dector’s “The Boys on the Beach” (which I’ve already quoted once in A Coming Out Story) when I found the reference.

I think I have everything I need for the Mirror Episode, but it’s not too late to add some more.

Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
November 21st, 2023

Hafer’s Homosexuality: Legitimate Alternate Deathstyle – A Personal Review (continued…)

Chapter One – (The Bell & Weinberg Study)

Hafer casts his comic book as “A basic primer on the homosexual movement for those who do not know the Facts.” His problems with Facts begin almost immediately at the start of Chapter One. 

I’m going to have to split up my review of Chapter One into multiple parts, and possibly all the other chapters too, but this one especially because the very first thing Hafer does is lie about the book that became the seed of my own Gay Studies bookshelves. I’ll explain when we get to it.

But first…you may recall in our last episode…Larry, the very model of an impartial middle between two extremes (Chester and Sodomite) invites his foils and the reader to listen while he tells them what a homosexual Is. “Do you know what a homosexual couple is?” He asks.

Chester, with a thought balloon over his head of gay domestic bliss, avers it’s when one does the cooking and the other does the cleaning.

NO.” Says Larry. “It’s two men who prefer to have sexual relations with each other rather than a woman!”

Chester is appalled. “That’s sick!!” he shouts. You have to suspend belief for a moment and actually think that someone like Chester, who was just bellyaching about fags and homos couple of pages ago, does not know that homosexuals have sex. And not only sick, he says, but impossible. “Not if you’re imaginative!” replies Sodomite. Larry agrees  they’re both right…to a degree. “By any ‘normal’ biological standards it is impossible.”

There is so much to unpack here. What are the “biological standards” he refers to? Hafer doesn’t say at this point, but I’ll hazard a guess that it involves reproduction. But sexual relations to the point of orgasm between same sex couples is not only possible, it’s simple. You don’t have to be imaginative, just…well…homosexual. What’s missing from Larry/Dick’s definition is desire. Homosexual males sexually desire males. That is why they prefer to have sex with them. Simple, yes? But if you’re trying to convince everyone that homosexuality is a sickness, and an acquired one at that, that’s much easier when you erase desire from the equation. As we will see, Hafer later tells the reader that homosexuals don’t really like having sex with other homosexuals, but are trapped in a behavior they can’t escape. There is no desire, only behavior.

Let’s take a look at that unspoken definition of “homosexual couple” (Do you know what a homosexual couple is?). In Hafer’s view that’s any two men who hook up for sex. What is strikingly missing from Hafer’s definition is any recognition that love and romance might be involved.

Vito Russo, author of The Celluloid Closet, puts it this way:

It is an old stereotype, that homosexuality has to do only with sex while heterosexuality is multifaceted and embraces love and romance.

So right at the starting line we see where Hafer intends to go with this. Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. He makes that explicit almost immediately. But even the sex they have isn’t what they want. It’s a sexual behavior not a sexual desire.

Sodomite says it’s no different from the love between a man and a woman. Hafer can’t help but have Sodomite add under his breath “A woman? Ugh!! Icky poo!!” Because that’s how homosexuals think and talk.

Now we start getting down to brass tacks. Mr. Impartial Middle Ground Between Two Extremes Larry tells him “There’s one of our first major disagreements,” and asks if you would call it love if a man had sexual relations with six or eight different women in his life. To which Chester angrily replies that would be lust pure and simple, adding that a man who is unfaithful to his wife…or promiscuous…is not a decent man in his book. Larry adds that such a man would not be very decent in God’s book either. This is the first hint of the religious basis for everything about the comic book, but Hafer wants to add that to the mix slowly, probably knowing that if readers see the book is nothing more than an extended Jack Chick tract they’ll discard its message. 

I’m unable to determine Hafer’s exact religious denomination. He was a Maryland resident (sorry) and the bulk of his output is of a religious nature. There are religions that forbid divorce and remarriage, my mom was a Baptist (Yankee, not Southern…I have to make that distinction these days) who believed to her dying day she could not remarry after divorcing dad. But that may have been an excuse not to. She loved dad to her dying day and just didn’t want anyone else. When I was finally able to meet him in my teens, I could tell they still loved each other very much. All this is to say that I can see where he’s coming from on a religious basis. But not on a human one.

Many good and decent people practice a kind of serial monogamy. Other’s simply want no strings, just a good time in the sack. That does not preclude things like trustworthiness, honesty, kindness…decency. In fact it only goes to show that monogamy is not a moral value, it’s a temperament. Probably one confined largely to those of us, like myself, with very mild libidoes. The moral values are things like trustworthiness, honesty, kindness. Without those things we don’t have civilization. But for the religious fanatic, the only value is obedience. 

So in Hafer’s book, since his religion apparently forbids having multiple sex partners, that automatically determines a man as indecent if he has many, and never mind how well he treats them. But to be homosexual is even worse, and Hafer has to make sure we all know it.

“How can it be called ‘love’ when the average homosexual has 300 to 500 sex partners in their lifetime?” Middle Ground Larry asks. And here Hafer gives us the first of his citations:

A.P. Bell and M.S. Weinberg, Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women, NY : Simon and Schuster 1978.

Ah yes…this book. I know it well. Notice Hafer does not include pages numbers in that cite. Probably because he understands his target audience isn’t going to bother fact checking him, and the militant homosexuals like me who will aren’t anything to care much about.

That quote about homosexual men having upwards of 500 sex partners was a go-to point among the kook pews back in my USENET days. They would wave it in our faces whenever we tried to assert our feelings of love and devotion against their insistence that homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. I heard it over and over and eventually, being the geek child I am, I had to go find a copy of this book so I could see what the monkey tree was howling about. I found it, and serendipitously also a copy of the Kinsey Report, “Sexual Behavior In The Human Male” in a second hand bookstore in Havre de Grace. And I snapped them both up and took them home.

It was immediately clear why the Kinsey Report was so easy for them to lie about….it’s page after page after page of dry statistical analysis and tables and charts. He was speaking to other academics. Few were going to wade through all of that, and fewer still with the statistical understanding to look at it critically. So it’s easy to pluck something out of it (they call it “proof texting” when they do it to the Bible) and wave it in people’s faces, confident you won’t be fact checked.

Homosexualities is something like that. A lot of dry analysis, but at least there is something of a narrative to it. I found the quote the kook pews were waving in our faces pretty quickly…it’s on page 85 (Findings: Men (table 7))…

Almost one-half of the white homosexual males(WHMs) and one-third of the black homosexual males (BHMs) said they had at least five hundred sexual partners during the course of their homosexual careers. Another third of the WHMs and a quarter of the BHMs reported having had between one hundred and five hundred partners.

Sounds pretty promiscuous. I used to joke that there was a gay guy out there who got my share of the sex we were all having and I was going to throttle him when I got my hands on him. Actually I find having that much sex a bit creepy, but then my libido doesn’t go there. I need the romance along with the sex. But as I read that, I saw a footnote next to it. You almost never hear them read the footnote when they quote these numbers, but it’s right there on the page:

We are aware, of course, that these figures may reflect exaggeration on the part of some respondents.

Well who the heck exaggerates about having that much fucking? To understand that, you need to read the whole fucking thing.

Tell me you’ve never read Homosexualities without telling me you’ve never read it. Like they do with the Bible, these people simply mine a source for good quotes to throw back at everyone, and Homosexualities gave them a motherlode. But it’s also stunningly clear they don’t bother to even read the Introduction, or if they do their eyes just glaze over. And the irony is that Bell and Weinberg did their study to show the diversity of experience among homosexuals, that there is no one single gay lifestyle, but many. It’s in the friggin title of the book! 

What they try to make the reader understand about their study is right there in the Introduction:

The present investigation was undertaken with several purposes in mind. First, we attempted to identify various sexual dimensions of homosexual experience and then to indicate the whereabouts of our homosexual respondents on each of these dimensions. Of course, as with heterosexuality, homosexuality encompasses far more than the direction of one’s sexual preferences… (page 21)

And so of course the howling monkey tree uses it to prove the opposite. Because that’s what they do.

Most heterosexuals, unfamiliar with homosexual adults, tend to believe that homosexuals – regardless of their sex, race, age or socio-economic status – are alike in how they manage their homosexuality. These folk notions, or stereotypes, are reviewed in the present volume and examined for the extent to which our data support them… (page 21)

But there’s a problem with the data, and Bell and Weinberg freely acknowledge it up front. They couldn’t get a representative sample. Even in 1978, almost a decade after Stonewall, that would have been nearly impossible. 

The problem for science, then and to a degree even now, is how do you do verifiable, repeatable, science on a subset of the human family that is largely terrified of being discovered, and especially in the 1970s. It was still a time when you could be arrested, lose your job, lose your professional licenses, your family, your children. Why would anyone want to out themselves in that sort of environment for the sake of science. For all you know science is your enemy, since it’s been telling everyone that you are sick and dangerous…telling you that, regardless of what you know about your own life. Making you believe it.

It should be pointed out that not every member of a homophile organization welcomed the study or volunteered to be interviewed. In fact, some very active members of the gay community claimed that time time and energy they had invested in other research projects had done little to enhance the quality of life in the community. Some, indeed, had felt that previous researchers they had assisted were prejudiced against them. (page 32)

Mind you, they are talking here about gay people who were willing to join these organizations. In 1979, how do you reach the ones living quiet lives of desperation in the closet. Perhaps they have found their significant other and settled down with them. Perhaps they cruise the bars if they happen to live in the urban zones where there are gay bars. Perhaps they have a network of friends whose company they enjoy, and with whom they occasionally have sex with. And they emphatically don’t want the rest of their families and neighbors finding out that they are homosexual. It’s a matter of survival. So they’ve blended in. Perhaps they’ve even married. How do you even find them, to ask them if they want to help the science better understand them? Why would they want to?

What is a representative sample? How to you even know that you have one? Bell and Weinberg understood this, and right in the introduction to the book, tried to tell their readers their sample was not, could not possibly be, a representative sample.

It should be pointed out that reaching any consensus about the exact number of homosexual men or women exhibiting this or that characteristic is not an aim of the present study. The nonrepresentative nature of other investigators samples as well as of our own precludes any generalization about the incidence of a particular phenomenon even to persons living in the local where the interviews were conducted, much less to homosexual in general. Nowhere has a random sample of American homosexual men and women ever been obtained, and given the variety of circumstances which discourage homosexuals from participating in research studies, it is unlikely that any investigator ever will be in a position to say that this or that is true of a given percentage of all homosexuals. We cannot stress too much that ours is not a representative sample. (page 22 – emphasis mine)

Now look again at what Middle Ground Larry said, “How can it be called ‘love’ when the average homosexual has 300 to 500 sex partners in their lifetime?” The average homosexual. The average homosexual. Really? And for this…fact…Hafer cites Homosexualities. But it doesn’t say that. The authors take pains to say their study cannot say anything like that. Hafer’s very first cite in his comic book he says is for those who do not know the facts, is a lie.

We cannot stress too much that ours is not a representative sample. You look at how they went about recruiting their participants and this becomes staringly obvious. They set up their field office in San Francisco, because, obviously, that was where they knew they were most likely to get respondents. They recruited with advertisements in the local San Francisco newspapers, recruited among the members of gay organizations, in gay bars and gay baths (pages 30-31). Let me repeat that: they recruited in the bars and baths

It was the 1970s. The summer of love had segued into the summers of disco. Short-shorts and tight low rise blue jeans were the fashion among heterosexual and homosexual twenty-somethings (lord how I miss those days). A real man had lots of babes. Urban gay men in their thirties were emerging from their closets and getting caught up with all the sex they’d been missing out on. Do you get now what Bell and Weinberg thought some of their respondents might have been bragging?

Well guess who doesn’t think so. Middle Ground Between Extremes Larry, who says that if a heterosexual had an obsession with sex like that they’d be considered a pervert. Tell you what Larry/Dick, lets go interview the heterosexual men down in Baltimore’s “Block”, or any major city’s red light district, we get some figures we won’t distinguish from bragging, and I tell you that they represent the average of heterosexual sexual contacts, and oh by the way if you’re one of them you’re probably a pervert too. Then let’s go watch some movies from the period aimed at heterosexual men. How many babes do you think James Bond has fucked? But he’s not a pervert, he’s a hero.

Ah yes…I know…I know…you condemn that behavior among heterosexuals too. But you’re a bigot Dick…you can’t see the people for the homosexuals. You cracked open the pages of a study meant to illuminate the diversity among homosexuals, and you saw only want you wanted to see. Because…as Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. once said (and I’m paraphrasing it a tad here) a bigot’s mind is like an eye: the more light you shine on it the tighter it closes.

Years ago, back in my USENET days, I got an eyeful seeing firsthand how bigots routinely lie about the sources they quote, the better to lie about their homosexual neighbor. What ninth commandment? It wasn’t even a matter of differing opinions about the source material: these were just straight up lies. I admit to being stunned by how blatant it was. They knew they were lying, they had to. But they also knew their readers didn’t care. Hafer says his book is for those who do not know the Facts. No. It’s for those for whom the facts are unimportant. Hafer’s comic book is for those who want something…anything…they can throw back at the people they hate. They don’t care whether any of it is true. They care that it feels good to throw it at that hated Other.

One of my favorite authors, Jacob Bronowski, wrote in his book Science and Human Values, the following as a social axiom:

We OUGHT to act in such a way that what IS true can be verified to be so.

You will never find anyone on the religious right who believes that, let alone behaves that way. But that is the way of science. It depends on those things without which we do not have civilization. Trustworthiness. Honesty. The courage to ask questions, and let nature speak for itself. The integrity to change your mind about something when new facts emerge. If a bigot’s mind is like an eye that closes, the mind of the civilized person is one that is always curious, always looking at what it sees, always asking what do I know and how do I know it.

And so began my collection of books, newspapers, magazines and articles about homosexuals and homosexuality. And it keeps growing a little every year. And staring into that open sewer Hafer’s kind calls a conscience still manages to shock. But calling out the lies is good honest work and I’m going to go on with it.

Let’s continue with Chapter One later. I’ll probably put up other posts in the meantime but I am not letting go of this. I’ve been looking over your appendixes Hafer, and I’ve got the receipts.

Posted In: Politics Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | React!
November 20th, 2023

Hafer’s Homosexuality: Legitimate Alternate Deathstyle – A Personal Review (continued…)


Hafer begins the comic book with a brief introduction to get his main characters on the stage, and establish the plot of what is to come. He begins with a page that warns us thusly:

This book has been written as a basic primer of the homosexual movement for those who do not know the FACTS.

Hafer warns us his facts are not pretty facts. We shall see in the chapters to follow how remote Hafer’s relationship with Facts is, pretty or not. But as a kindness to the reader he tells us he’s chosen to present them in an easy-to-read illustrated style. That’s one way of describing it.

We shall see that throughout the book Hafer keeps having trouble deciding whether to illustrate his facts as locker room jokes or as seriously awful truths. This repeated switch in perspective, from ha ha isn’t that funny, to darkly serious, and back again is jarring. But also…well…illustrative. The reader quickly begins to feel  as if Hafer doesn’t really believe half of what he’s saying, and Hafer’s problem with facts begins right away, almost at the very beginning of Chapter One. But first we have to get through the Introduction.

He ends his warning by praying that many young people will be diverted from “experimentation” by the facts presented in this book. But any gay kid living in the sort of fundamentalist household likely to hand this book to them is already living in terror of being outed. All reading Hafer is likely to do for them is push them closer to suicide.

So now we’re done with the WARNING. The Introduction opens with the character Chester sitting on his porch steps fuming about a newspaper article about the opening of a school for gay kids in New York City. 

I have a first printing of Hafer’s book and its print date is January 1986. So he’s complaining about the first Harvey Milk School which opened in the East Village of Lower Manhattan in 1985. Given the time it probably took for Hafer to get his comic book drawn, edited and sent to the printer (it was published by the Paradigm Company of Boise Idaho) he probably started work on it right after the school was founded. Maybe that was the match that lit his fuse.

Here’s what Wikipedia says about it:

The school was originally run by the Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI), an organization that provides social support to at-risk LGBT youth. After becoming a fully accredited public school in 2002/3, the high school is now administered by the New York City Department of Education, separate from HMI. The school and the non-profit still share space in the same building, with the HMI providing a majority of the school’s arts and culture programming.

The school was founded in 1985 as a small, two-room program with just over a dozen students by HMI in collaboration with the New York City Department of Education’s Career Education Center. The Department of Education administers the school and is responsible for admissions. Harvey Milk was created as an alternative education program for youth who find it difficult or impossible to attend their home schools due to threats, violence, or harassment.

The school was opened to give gay kids a safe place where they could get an education. Hafer takes no notice of this Fact. In fact, throughout the book, Hafer takes no notice at all, gives no hint that he even knows or cares one whit about violence toward gay and lesbian adults, let alone to schoolkids. That’s not hard to understand, given the book is intended to be a warning that the very existence of homosexual people constitutes a danger to everyone. It’s right there on the cover:

What consenting adults do in the privacy of their homes CAN hurt you!

So presumably those gay schoolkids at the Harvey Milk School are endangering everyone just by going to class where they’re safe and not letting themselves get beaten up every day. Given that, Chester is justifiably angry.

Chester is one of the two foils for Larry, who is presented throughout as the voice of reason. Chester, initially, plays the part of the uninformed cranky crank, which allows Larry to recast what would otherwise be Chester’s knee jerk prejudices as reasonable truths. Chester is furious. “They opened a School for those people” he fumes. And Larry walks over to ask him what he’s grumbling about. Chester growls that “New York has a high school for Fags!”

Larry, taking on the mantle of the calm, measured, voice of reason, replies noncommittally. “The homosexual community has really made huge strides in the media and public opinion in the past few years”, he says. Chester isn’t having it. “I don’t want a bunch of homos living around me!!” Pay attention here…Chester is calling them fags and homos. Larry talks of “the homosexual community”. Hafer is pulling a fast one.

Now the other foil enters, stage left. A deliveryman cames along with a package for Chester, just as Chester is telling Larry he “liked ‘em better when they were in the closet.” The deliveryman tells them he couldn’t help but overhear them talking, and asks how many gays do you know? “I can’t imagine one would want to live near you.” When he reveals himself to be a homosexual, as if the way he’s drawn doesn’t telegraph it, Chester freaks out. “Larry! He’s one of them! Did he touch me?!!”

You have to have read the entire book and then come back to this introduction to see how shifty Hafer is being there. Chester is playing the part of the knee jerk ignorant bigot, which allows Larry to be the calm, measured voice of reason. “Easy Chet,” He says. “He might just have a point. How much Do you know about homosexuality?” And then “I think you’re both off the mark. Are you willing to learn what homosexuality is Really all about?”

And with that, Hafer has sprung his trap. Now the reader sees Larry as an impartial giver of the facts, as opposed to the ignorant knee jerk reactions of a guy like Chester. But by the end of the book, the distance between Larry and Chester is nonexistent, and they are both ganging up on the homosexual foil…because his role in the story is to be the two dimensional militant homosexual stereotype who really hates being a homosexual deep down inside. Because that’s what homosexuals are for in these tracts.

Another of Hafer’s devious little ploys is dressing the homosexual foil in a uniform. He appears on stage as a deliveryman, so naturally he’s in his work clothes…right? Hahahaha… Hafer clothes the foil in a uniform…because he’s a militant homosexual! Get it? Get it? 

The only name Hafer gives his homosexual foil is Sodomite. That comes in Chapter One.

So now we have our main cast of characters: Chester, Larry, and Sodomite. And we know that Larry is the giver of impartial facts, unlike the Archie Bunker character named Chester, and the militant homosexual named Sodomite. So when Larry says “Let’s start with what is a homosexual”, the readers is ready to uncritically accept whatever Larry tells them about homosexuality, because Larry is the sensible middle ground between two extremes.

And now we are about to discover that a homosexual is…starting in Chapter One. 

Stay tuned…


Posted In: Life Politics Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | React!

Hafer’s Homosexuality: Legitimate Alternate Deathstyle – A Personal Review

Back in December of 2019 I promised in a blog post to review the Hafer comic book. Back then I wrote:

Soon after this arrived in the mail, I began flipping through its pages. I’d already seen many of them posted here and there in the Internet tubes, but I was unprepared for the unabridged wholeness of its contempt and hate. If Orson Scott Card was a cartoonist this would probably have been the comic book he’d have produced on homosexuals and homosexuality. It’s deeper in the dark night of the soul than even R. Crumb or S. Clay Wilson ever went. All the feelings of growing up gay while hearing this crap thrown at me over and over and over again came rushing out as I began reading it.

Which is probably why I never got around to doing my chapter by chapter review, a’la Fred Clark’s takedown of the Left Behind books. It was just too damn depressing, too many old wounds being reopened. 

But in working on the “final” episode of A Coming Out Story I had occasion to revisit this comic book for quotes to illustrate the climate of hate I grew up in. And once again the unabridged wholeness of its contempt and hate managed, even now, to shock me. But this time I dug a little deeper.

Hafer helpfully provides an appendix to back up his “facts”. It only took me a couple glances at it to see how much he was bullshitting his readers. I’d seen this kind of thing back in the USENET days and it’s why I have my “gay studies” bookshelves. 

And I thought…I really need to do the review I’d intended…if only to get it out there.

As I said in a previous post, these things, like the Chick tracts, are basically Tijuana bibles for prigs, allowing them to ogle their neighbor’s sex lives, indulge their own sexual fantasies, and feel righteous about it. We are the sexual scapegoat they need, so they don’t have to reckon with the empty wasteland they’ve made of their own sex lives. But that doesn’t mean turning a critical eye on it is pointless. 

They posture as defenders of godly truths and moral values, and these things, truth and morality, are emphatically not theirs. Like the swords of myth and legend that refuse the hand of the unworthy, time and again when confronted with reason and morality, the hate pews flee back into their chapels of fantasies, lies, and superstition. It is worth exposing them, the better to see that the moral high ground is ours.

Let’s begin in the next post.

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by Bruce | Link | React!
November 19th, 2023

Now For A Little Food For The Soul…

I’m digging back into The Sun And The Star to get the foul taste of Dick Hafer’s comic book out of my mind. I’d put the book down at a crisis point in the story because I wasn’t up to crisis points just then, but I’m back on it now because it’s the story I need after researching all the old homophobic articles and op-ed pieces for this “last” episode of A Coming Out Story.

The one on the left is Will Solace, the demigod son of Apollo, and the one on the right is Nico Di Angelo, the demigod son of Hades. You’d think they were horribly mismatched but in Rick Riordan and Mak Oshiro’s The Sun And The Star they’re a couple on a quest to rescue a friend from the deepest, darkest region of the Underworld. This piece of fan art is probably picturing a scene from the end of the novel The Blood Of Olympus, after defending Camp Half Blood from the attack of giants led by Octavian. It’s a good one…how I picture the two of them. Seems like nearly all the fan art I see of these two picture them like this.

Will has inherited his father’s healing powers, he’s the sweetness and sunshine of the two, and little goth Nico..well…there’s a gruesome scene in that novel where he angrily and literally ghosts a villain and banishes him to Hades while the others look on horrified…

“You took an oath to the legion.” Nico’s breath steamed in the cold. “You broke its rules. You inflicted pain. You killed your own centurion.”

“I-I didn’t! I–“

“You should have died for your crimes,” Nico continued. “That was the punishment. Instead you got exile. You should have stayed away. Your father Orcus may not approve of broken oaths. But my father Hades really doesn’t approve of those who escape punishment.”


The word didn’t make sense to Nico. The Underworld had no mercy. It only had justice.

That sword he wears (they all fight with swords in the novels) is forged from Stygian Iron and he dipped it in the river Styx; it has the power to suck away its victim’s essence. You don’t want to make the little dickens angry. He’s sullen enough all the time anyway. But at the end of that novel he and Will are beginning to click. In the later novels their relationship develops and Will starts coaxing Nico out of his dark shell. Nico has had a very hard life before joining up with the others.

Here’s what draws me to The Sun And The Star: It’s an adventure novel, but its center is a love story about a same-sex couple bravely facing the nightmares of the Underworld together. Because it’s about a teenage couple, and aimed at a largely younger audience, and because it’s a Disney print book (part of the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series), they have to keep sex out of it…which is good because it makes them focus on the romance, and it’s those sorts of stories I’ve been missing and aching for ever since I came out to myself in my own teen years. At every crisis point in the story their love is tested, and it gets really scary at times (I put the book down some weeks ago when the two of them were captured by the demon of nightmares who begins forcing Nico to relive some really Really Bad memories…), and their love becomes stronger.

This is the story I want told to me again and again…the story of how love wins. And so terribly often…it doesn’t. And it’s like we’re use to that ending. I’m thinking now of Call Me By Your Name which so many people thought was a Wonderful same sex romance…that ends with Elio staring into a fireplace crying his eyes out.

Books about same-sex love and romance have been my refuge ever since I was a teenager. Movies and television, not so much. But even books were never a sure thing. I loved Mercedes Lackey’s Last Herald-Mage series, which had a terrific love story, interrupted by death, then rebirth, then death again, because that’s how our stories always had to end I suppose.

Certainly that’s what Dick Hafer and all the bigots like him want us to believe. Thankfully I’ve lived to see a time when enough writers and filmmakers don’t believe that anymore, that I can finally get more of the stories I’ve always wanted.

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by Bruce | Link | React!
November 18th, 2023

The Bigot’s Kiss

Working on A Coming Out Story and looking for quotes for the “last” episode eventually drags me back into Dick Hafer’s noxious swamp. Sigh. I ordered his Homosexuality: Legitimate Alternate Deathstyle some years ago for the gay studies bookshelves after seeing some of its jaw dropping panels online. If Growing Up Straight: What Every Thoughtful Parent Should Know about Homosexuality is a veritable encyclopedia of homophobia, the Hafer comic is it’s Classics Illustrated version.

And it’s a real doozy. But instructive. Think of it as an extended Jack Chick tract, even including the repenting sinner at the end, plus several pages of instructions as to what to say and what to do to get right with god. All that’s missing is the checklist.

Here’s the thing, and I’m really only noticing it more now due to Fred Clark’s recent posts about the mindset that joins into satanic panics, Q-Anon conspiracies, and suchlike. He writes: “It is always possible to recruit new members to join our cause by telling horrific lies about some group of Other People. But doing so makes those Other People themselves – the ones we’re telling nasty lies about – immune to recruitment.” And he points out the obvious: that’s because those Other People know the truth of their own lives first hand.

The first time you read Hafer’s comic book all you see is that guttural howl of unabridged bigotry and hate. All through the book he refers to gay people as sodomites. You see laughably cheapshit stereotypes of yourself and everyone you know that would be hilarious if you’d never read news headlines about gay bashings and murders all your adult life. But Hafer is at his most energetic when he’s describing our sex lives. The bulk of the comic book is this.

Vito Russo put it best when he said that “It is an old stereotype, that homosexuality has to do only with sex while heterosexuality is multifaceted and embraces love and romance.” Years ago I blogged about the time I had to walk a gauntlet of hard core heterosexual pornography just to get a current copy of my local gay community newspapers, because back in those days the only place you could find anything gay whether it was pornographic or not was in “adult” bookstores. I got an eyeful. But to read Hafer’s comic book you’d think our sex lives were nothing But hard core pornography.

Hafer begins his descent into gay sex hell by starting with…I am not kidding…kissing.

“Not only are their habits disgusting, but they are incredibly harmful and damaging”

“Such as?”



-Homosexuality: Legitimate Alternate Deathstyle, page 50

This is followed up with descriptions of commonplace sex that most heterosexuals enjoy but which is somehow made disgusting when same sex couples do it. Following that, every extreme sex practice is laid at our feet as though that was all there is to us. He’s very meticulous about it. But the tell is he can’t resist presenting it like it’s one great big comic book joke. The scenes of gay sex acts are presented as much for laughs as for shock value. He can’t resist doing that even when it comes to the routine accusations of homosexual pedophilia. On page 126 he quotes Paul Cameron’s (now regrettably named ) Institute for the Scientific Investigation of Sexuality (ISIS) that 80 percent of student teacher molestations are by homosexuals, next to his drawing of a deranged older man dragging a small boy by the arm and telling him that it’s time for his sex ed class, while the boy says “During recess?!!”. Ha ha ha.

It’s telling that Hafer doesn’t even bother with religious sermonizing in his comic book until near the very end when, like in a Jack Chick tract, the militant homosexual finally repents, followed by several pages of boilerplate step by step instructions on how to be saved. But the lies in the sixty plus pages preceding the sermon are so glaring, the dehumanized scarecrows representing those Other People so shockingly empty of any shred of humanity, what it’s likely to provoke in the gay reader is more shock, anger, and outrage than repentance. It does not hold up a mirror to them that they might be saved, it spits in their faces.

That is its purpose.

If I wasn’t actively collecting hate literature my first reflex would have been to throw it in the trash less than halfway through it. But Hafer’s comic book, like the Chick tracts, isn’t meant for gay people. That scene at the end, like every scene at the end of every Chick tract, is theater. It’s not meant to save anyone because long before they could get to it, the redemptee has become angered at all the insults thrown in their face and has already thrown the tract away.

No. The audience for these books and tracts is the true believer. These are Tijuana bibles for prigs, allowing them to ogle their neighbor’s sex lives, and indulge their own sexual fantasies, while feeling righteous about it, so they don’t have to reckon with the empty wasteland they’ve made of their own lives.

I think the one quote from Hafer that I have in the final ACOS episode is enough. I was sorely tempted to add another panel with that part about kissing though.

Posted In: Life Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | React!
November 12th, 2023

Wrapping It Up…But Not Totally…

I’ve got all the pencils done now on the episode of A Coming Out Story I’ve been calling “The Mirror Episode” for a while, since I couldn’t give it an episode number just yet. But it looks now like it will be episode 38 and that’s the end of the story.

Kind of. 

Not to put too fine a point on it, I’m way too damn slow at this because I have no taught skills. I’m just hunting and pecking my lines and every panel is a struggle to get it where I want it. Four years after the heart attack and feeling weirdness in my chest more often lately, I’m not sure how much longer I have to work on this story. So I want to get it into a state of completeness such that when the warranty on my ticker finally runs out the story is out there in a state that I can feel satisfied doesn’t leave my readers hanging, and I can feel like I got it out there, even if I didn’t get it all out there.

So what I’m going to do now is a little different than just tacking on an ending and leaving it at that. I can see that if I put the mirror episode up right after episode 37 then you could say the story I meant to tell (The first person you come out to, is yourself.) was the story I finished. But this is serendipity. #37 just makes it work that way. I had two more, possibly three planned after 37 and that was only after cutting out a bunch more. But I can tack the mirror episode after 37 and now it appears to be “done.”

Except it will still need an epilogue. So that’ll have to come next. But then what I can do is begin a kind of in-filling process, putting back all the stuff I cut out piecemeal just to get it finished (call it The Director’s Cut). Some of it is just little slice-of-1970s teenage high school life that I scripted in there and I cut out after the heart attack. That stuff will be easy to put back in piece by piece. Other cuts will take a bit more work to put back in.

I had a big story arc after the mirror episode about how, after I’d come out to myself, the object of my affections, TK, and I kept circling around each other, flirting but carefully, because in 1972 that line between ambiguous and blatant was very Very dangerous ground.  Then I discover he’d taken summer school and it didn’t dawn on me until afterward, when I suddenly discovered his family moved away, that he did that so he could graduate early.

And then suddenly he was gone. I had an entire story arc about what that sudden lurch from twitterpated bliss into heartbrokenness did to teenage me.

That’s the darkest part of the story. Maybe it’s for the best I don’t do the artwork about me sitting on a bridge over the railroad tracks near the apartment where mom and I lived, waiting for a train to come along so I could jump off in front of it. Or maybe I will someday, or at least write about it, because it wasn’t just that he was suddenly gone. That wasn’t the worst of it.

Understand I went from hating the idea of dating to suddenly falling in love being surprised, delighted and awe stricken over how wonderful it was after all. And then suddenly it was over. Bang, Gone. Without that love struck bliss all the filthy lies about people like me suddenly came crashing back into my consciousness and all I could think was maybe I am just damaged goods after all, maybe this is all I have to look forward to, and I began to hate myself.

People should think about what they’re doing to gay teens when they bombard them with lies about themselves. Most of us get that first big heartbreak shortly after that first big crush, except maybe the very lucky ones. To tell a vulnerable heartbroken kid they deserved it because they’re trash is about as depraved as it gets.

But I don’t know if I have the time to tell all that in a cartoon graphic form.

This is a webcomic and I dove into it ready to exploit all the flexibility that give me. I started by not giving every episode a standard number of frames, but allowing each to have as many as it needed. Eventually, as I began to see it was going to take me much, Much longer than I’d thought to do this thing, I began splitting some of the episodes I had scripted apart and moving things around. That first “Intermission” (TK and the Taco Stand) was supposed to be part of that post out to myself story arc. I moved it forward after I started getting impatient with my slow rate of progress and I just wanted to do something fun. Then later I took what was originally going to be the mirror episode, and split it apart into a bunch of random “intermissions” wherein I’m reading that ‘Truth Of Homosexuality” book by Dr. Pompous J. Fraudquack.

(That was a shout out to Howard Cruse that I wanted Howard to see because I had an intuition that I might not have as much time for that as I’d hoped, so I split up the episode so I could but that part out there and show it to Howard. Alas, I was right…he passed away shortly after I sent him the link, and replied with the cheers and encouragements he always gave me.)

So…yes…this is a web comic. When I “complete” the story with the mirror episode it’ll be finished…but that doesn’t mean I can’t finish it more. I can still infill all the stuff I’d planned, to the degree my health holds out. Eventually I might even gather up the book intermissions and put them at the beginning of the mirror episode as I’d originally intended.

What I wanted is for this to be my testimony about what it was like to be a gay teenager in the beginning 1970s, and how that first love hits you when everything you were told about being gay was wrong, and all the other kids are having their coming of age according to the script and you’re not and you can’t tell anyone what’s happening to you because…well…read those intermissions. They’re actually quotes lifted from actual articles and books about homosexuality sold back then. And besides you are a clueless teenager because that’s where all the lies about people like you left you, so really what would you have to say anyway.

And there was not a teenage boy alive back then that wanted to see the looks of contempt and disgust in their classmate’s faces, let alone their parent’s.

This is my testimony as to what it was like being a gay teenager in the early 1970s. I tried to do it in a mostly humorous cartoon kinda way because that’s how I can look back on all of it now. Somewhat. But this is my testimony. I want it to not be left hanging. I can fill in some detail later.

There’s lots. I’ve had most of it scripted for decades.


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