Yesterday, Friday June the 26th 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in favor of extending marriage rights to gay people. Those saying that the court redefined what marriage is need to read the actual text of the decision. Kennedy wrote a paean to marriage, not a redefinition of it. And of course, the usual suspects declared that they would go on with the fight, blah, blah, blah and so on and so forth. That was unsurprising.
But then…afterward, something amazing, something that lifted my heart to a place where I will never again doubt the power of love, and the essential goodness of (most of) my fellow Americans happened. The rainbows came out…
Look…just look…at all the expressions of joy and affirmation. Go ahead and sniff that it’s just kowtowing to the militant homosexual agenda…and surely some of this, particularly among the corporate entities, is Hey There’s A Market There Let’s Make It Like Us And Spend Money! But look, just look for a moment, and the breath and depth of the expressions of joy at the decision. The sincerity of it, the massive scope of it, is something you need to grasp, if you can. Even if your prejudices can’t allow you to see the people for the homosexuals, at least try to understand that there are lots of people who aren’t homosexuals, who are absolutely thrilled that now their fellow Americans who are gay have equal rights in marriage. Look at this carefully, all of you declaring now that you will keep on fighting this, because it’s why you lost, why you will keep loosing this fight.
Everything you think you know about gay people is wrong, and especially, emphatically this: that homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. It’s why you keep miscalculating again and again and again our willingness to go on fighting no matter how much damage you could do to us. But more critically, it’s why you miscalculated, profoundly, what would happen when your lies lost their power over us, and we began to live our lives openly. You thought “normal” people would be disgusted when they saw the reality of our lives. You really thought that. You probably still think that.
They are disgusted. At you.
It’s one thing to keep on inciting prejudice and hate at the people who live on the other side of the tracks, in the ethnic and racial enclaves, at Those People that America, to its shame, still largely keeps segregated. It’s another when it’s your own children, your brother and sister, your neighbors, your co-workers, the people in your everyday lives.
Prejudice lies. It lies about other people. But first, it lies to you. You think you see reality, but you don’t. Others, not succumbing to prejudice, loving life, and willing to live in the world as it really is for better or worse, do. Anything that keeps you from seeing the world as it really is, makes you weak. The denouement came with the Proposition 8 trial. You’d built a multimillion dollar industry propagating one pseudo scientific lie after another about gay people you hoped would win the masses over, or at least enough voters. But be honest with yourselves for at least one thing: it was mostly to convince yourselves you weren’t really just a bunch of bigots after all. And when it came time to defend all of it at trial your prize experts ran away, all but two who nearly conceded our case for us on the witness stand. In the end the rest of the country saw your case against gay equality for the half-assed pile of pretentious crap that it is. The witness stand is a very lonely place to lie said Boies. Lonelier still is the bathroom mirror. Your prejudices lied to you. But you let them do it.
Surely you noticed how quickly everything came apart after that. Whatever doubts existed before Prop 8, they are gone now. Our humanity is understood. We are neighbors. We are family. We are fellow Americans. We have been embraced.
And you? Well…you are what you’ve always been. Still able to look at this torrent of love and support from the rest of America, convinced that most everyone agrees with you, and ultimate victory will be yours. So you dig yourselves deeper into the gutter. It doesn’t have to be. Listen to a gay man who gave a little beauty to this world and was wronged horribly and fatally by prejudice: “We are all in the gutter,” he said, “but some of us are looking at the stars.”
We are not all in the gutter, despite your best efforts to keep us there with you. And if you can’t bear to rise your gaze high enough to look at the stars, at least look at the rainbows. They are rainbows of joy and love…from Americans to Americans. Look at them. There’s the way out.
This came across my Facebook stream just now…I won’t go into detail about why it felt like a punch in the stomach. I came out to myself when I was still a teenager, and doing the research, seeing what the closet had done, was doing, to gay men of my generation and before, vowed never to let myself get locked inside of it. But I have seen what it did to so many good hearts, to one I have loved, to so many others who were not so stubborn as I…or lucky…
‘I’m a gay man but married a woman’
Nick, who is in his 50s, has been married to his wife for 30 years. He is also gay.
He thinks his wife had suspicions about his sexuality for years, but things came to a head when he had an affair with a man.
“She asked if I wanted to leave and I didn’t. She’s my best friend really above all else, so we’ve decided we would like to remain together as best friends,” he says.
Nick isn’t his real name – many of the couple’s friends and family don’t know he’s gay and he wants to remain anonymous to protect his wife.
….The couple chose to stay together not for the sake of children – they don’t have any – but because of their feelings for each other.
While the couple have stayed together, they no longer have a physical relationship and sleep separately.
Nick has promised his wife that he will never again have sex or a relationship with a man – he says he owes it to her.
But can he stick to that promise? He says: “I’m hoping so, it’s my intention to. It didn’t feel like a choice in the past, it felt like it was enforced on me. I’m now making that choice that I would like to, in a sense, remain celibate.”
Nick is a member of a support group called Gay Married Men, based in Manchester and founded 10 years ago. Men travel from around the country to attend meetings.
Group founder John says most of the men are older – they married women in the 1970s and 80s when society was more hostile to gay people.
Now society is more tolerant, they are more comfortable with coming out as gay. But why did they get married in the first place?
That last sentence is about as stupid a question as it gets, especially considering the sentence directly before it. Do you really not know why someone, taught since childhood that the worst thing a man could admit to was being a homosexual, that homosexuals are monsters, predators, might wish or do anything to make it not true. Can you not understand why, facing arrest and jail, the loss of family, friends, career, everything, might not want to do anything to make themselves heterosexual instead? Can you not understand how a cottage industry of ex-gay ministries offering bogus claims of a cure, telling gay men that if they just worked at it they could change, might convince many that marriage was the key to their salvation?
They’re still doing it…
They were lied to. There was nothing wrong with them. There was never anything wrong with them. But the lies did their work, kept the hated other from ever finding that happiness and joy and peaceful contentment in love that the scapegoat must never ever find. And that had its consequences…none of which, of course, fell onto the shoulders of the ones who told the lies. Many innocent women had to suffer too, so that gay men would hate themselves. But to that mindset, women don’t matter anyway. Scratch a homophobe, and deeper down inside you’ll find a misogynist.
John says the men are often quite desperate and struggling to cope with no support – many are suffering from quite severe depression.
“We’ve had bursts of tears when people have come because they’re so upset and also so relieved to find out there are other people that are just like themselves. Because that’s part of the problem, because we’re a myth, we don’t exist.
“We don’t exist in [the] gay world – we’re on the cusp of [the] gay world because we’re married men. We don’t exist in [the] straight world. So we seem invisible.”
The group members say they don’t judge anyone and Nick, who helps run the site, says his main message is that people don’t have to struggle alone.
Recently the trailer for the last movie Robin Williams made, Boulevard, was released. IMDB says of it that it’s about, “A married man’s (Robin Williams) long-suppressed sexual identity slowly emerges when picks up a male hooker (Roberto Aguire) and pays him for companionship rather than sex.”
The trailer is on YouTube, and it is so painful to watch, because Williams was such a great actor and great actors don’t just simply make you believe in the character, they make you feel what that character is feeling. It occurs to me that another great actor died shortly after playing the part of a gay man so completely inhibited and uncomfortable and miserable in his own skin it was very painful to watch.
For some of us it will always be a time before Stonewall. A few manage occasionally to struggle into that better world we’ve been working on since the riots, but it is painful, dangerous, heartbreaking. Nobody has the right to judge the ones who stay inside. They have to stay inside their comfort zones. Just consider yourself fortunate, lucky even, you didn’t get trapped in the closet, and keep working for that better world, where no gay kid ever again has to choose between their family, their career, their friendships, and all the hopes and dreams of love and happiness they ever had.
Some years ago, a young adult fresh out of high school struggling to find a workable career path, I fell in with some friends of a friend who had a shop building custom speakers and sound equipment cases for bands. In addition to building speaker and equipment cabinets, they also had an impressive sound system of their own design capable of filling a theater, which they would rent out along with their services as sound guys whenever a band needed something a bit more than the bar sized sound systems they had with them.
To make a long story short, one day while I was out with them doing a gig somewhere in Virginia, the manager of the band we were working with noticed my little lambda necklace. This was back in a time before the rainbow flag, when the lambda was the recognized symbol of the gay rights struggle. He points at it and says somewhat belligerently “Why are you wearing the gay symbol?” This was a period in my life where I was still being careful who to come out to, but at the same time I’d made a resolution to myself not to lie if cornered. Well, I was cornered just then, and hoping for the best I told him it was because I’m gay, “We don’t allow gays in our crew he says. Bernie, one of the co-owners of the speaker shop, begins laughing and saying that I’m just joking. Somehow this only made me dig my heels in more. “No, says I…I’m gay.”
Next day Bernie fired me, taking pains to insist it wasn’t because I’m gay…I just wasn’t working out. Somehow.
Time passes…the universe expands… Some years later I run back into the old friend who connected me with Bernie and George (the other co-owner). How are things? Fine, how about you? Blah…blah…blah… As we’re busy catching up with what’s been happening in our lives, Glenn asks me if I’d heard about what happened to Bernie. No, says I, what’s up with him? He’s in jail, says Glenn. Couldn’t keep his hands off of under aged girls, he says.
Glenn eventually stopped talking to me after friending me on Facebook and being shocked, shocked, to discover what a militant homosexual I am. Oh well. On judgement day let it be said I would rather stand before my creator as an unrepentant sodomite, than have to account for some of the heterosexual lives I’ve witnessed with my own two eyes.
The idea that there may be something new under other suns is nothing new under the sun.
That’s why I’m mostly just kind of meh about this Damon Linker piece and the other (semi-)recent posts James McGrath rounds up on the subject. Linker hits on several of the “challenges … to the world’s religious traditions” that first contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life would introduce, but he misses the biggest one — the one explored by both Kepler and Wells. Kepler acknowledges the kind of questions Linker raises — “have they souls to be saved?” But then he quickly skips ahead to the more potentially devastating question: “Are all things made for man?”
That would be the Copernican shift in our theology forced by such an encounter. The main problem would not be that we would need to refine or reform how we think about God, but that we would have to completely upend how we think about ourselves.
Fred Clark is one of the most decent people you will read here on the Internet tubes. I could wish voices like his were heard more often in the popular culture. I was reading the other day one of the heavy hitters in the religious right arguing against the idea of other intelligent life in the universe, because of course the entire purpose of Creation was mankind. Okay I’m being a tad sarcastic about that, but not by much. And it reminded me of that day in the fields by a newly cut country road. It’s the same mindset.
I’ve told this story before, about the time when I was earning a living as an architectural model maker, and the shop owner I was working for at the time took his employees out to the countryside in late autumn to gather yarrow. Yarrow was a plant we used to make trees out of for the landscaping around our model buildings. At the end of a season the stalks were hard and the seed pods all dried up, and you could dip the pods in wood glue and sprinkle flocking (a finely shredded colored foam rubber) over them which made them look like little trees. Even better, you could then split the seed pods into smaller and smaller halves to get trees suitable for just about any scale you were working at.
So that day we all went to a place the shop owner, Ron, said was a likely place to find our quarry. Yarrow he told us, was very particular about where it grew in the wild. It had to be free of any shade trees or other competing bushes. It had to be open to the sky to allow lots of sun and rain. The best places he said, were where new roads had just been built, and the ground on either side cleared during construction. He had been scouting all summer for likely spots, and that day he led us to one. A new road that had just opened up county.
Ron was very much the devout fundamentalist. I had a job there because mom and I went to the same church he did for a time (I’d already left the church by this time, and mom eventually went elsewhere but stayed friends with Ron’s wife). Ron saw in my landscape paintings a talent he could put to use and despite the heavy air of religiosity in his shop I found I liked the work very much. He liberally scattered religious tracts all over the employee lunchroom, and held prayer sessions with his favorite, while the rest of us opted out for the safety of the shop and our work. I’ve written elsewhere about what he did to his gay son the day he came out to his family. I bring this up because of what happened that day we went yarrow hunting that I still vividly remember.
Ron passed out trash bags and told us to stuff them with every yarrow we could find. The bags would end up being stored in the attic space of his shop, and the contents used as needed for model landscaping. The idea was to get enough to tide us over until next fall.
So I wandered around looking for yarrow, and eventually my eyes got attuned to the shape of the things amidst all the other tall grasses we were wading through. I’d filled up one trashbag and was opening another when it occurred to me that I had no idea about the life cycle of these plants our workflow depended on. Might be a good idea I reckoned, to leave some behind so we’d have some next year. So I started leaving behind every third yarrow I came across. There was plenty there, so I figured we’d still get enough for another year’s work.
Ron came over and pointed out I’d missed some. I explained what I was doing and why. I’ll never forget the look he gave me. Not one of exasperation (I’d already seen enough of those…Ron had…anger management issues…), but…patients. He saw a teachable moment in it.
He nodded his head. “I see where you’re coming from,” he said to me kindly, “but God gave us these things to use.”
And so I was instructed to get the ones I’d missed and pick every one I saw. It was disheartening because I knew he’d check now that he knew what I’d been doing. So I shifted gears and picked more slowly hoping he’d eventually decide he had enough and we could go and some plants might be left behind. I was more naive back then. People like that aren’t deflected away from their missions so easily. He got every single one near as I could tell. He’d have had us all working until the next morning if there were that many more there to be had.
The universe was created Just For Us. So of course there can’t be any other intelligent life out there. And global warming is a socialist plot. Anything that makes you question exploring every last natural resource, or for that matter your human neighbor, is socialism. Beware the ideology that regards humanity as anything less than the masters of the earth. Well…second only to God almighty of course. Maybe.
Not every person of faith sees it that way. Remember that. I’m not sure that we’ll ever detect signs of intelligent life beyond Earth in my lifetime. I am certain of this: if Franklin Graham is alive to see it, he will insist they’re evidence that demons are real. That mindset is not disillusioned so easily.
This came across my Facebook stream this morning. It clarified something I’d wondered about the relationship between American fundamentalism and its veneration of brutal survival of the fittest capitalism. How do you get from the sermon on the mount to Jesus would want us to take food stamps away from poor families?
Henry Parsons Crowell was a purveyor of oatmeal. He is best known by business historians as the president and founder of Quaker Oats, one of the pioneers of the branding revolution. He used a combination of packaging, trademark and massive promotional campaigns and transformed oatmeal from a commodity into a trademarked product.
Crowell took oatmeal that used to be sold out of large barrels in your general store, put it into a sealed package, slapped a picture of a Quaker on it and guaranteed it pure. Now it no longer mattered who you bought your oatmeal from, only what brand you chose.
A company’s reputation was once rooted in its owner, but the trademark created this virtual relationship with consumers that was pure fiction. The trust that is engendered by a Quaker has no relationship to the company itself. There are no Quakers involved in that. Crowell was a Presbyterian.
He was also a purveyor of religion. And he did to American Evangelicalism what he did to oatmeal: he packaged and trademarked his brand of Christianity into a form that engendered a wholly fictional trust in its purity. It was that old time religion.
I mean…if you were raised in that culture like I was, doesn’t just reading that phrase make you hear it now…that song you heard over and over…
Give me that old time religion, Give me that old time religion, Give me that old time religion, It’s good enough for me.
Admit it. You’re hearing it right now. You’ll have that ear worm in your head all day. But it wasn’t just a church song…it was an advertising jingle.
I grew up hearing the phrase “that old-time religion” so often it became something you just accepted as fact without knowing how it came to be that in your mind. It wasn’t until much later in life I began to understand that American Evangelical Protestantism was “old” only in the sense that a Ford Model ‘T’ is an old automobile. Yes, yes…the tin lizzy is about as old as they come alright. But the automobile itself isn’t exactly old transportation technology (let’s give a nod of grateful thanks to Mr. Horse), and American Evangelical Christianity isn’t exactly old if you’re measuring back to the time of Jesus. Actually it’s a pretty new thing.
Generously, I just assumed that phrase “old time religion” harkened back to that first generation Americans born after the revolutionary war. That was the time of the “Great Awakening” and it would have been, so I thought, from grandparents and great-grandparents telling their stories to their grandchildren that the phrase “that old time religion” came from. But no…it was pure advertising technique, from the man who convinced people they could trust a brand name more than the local merchant they actually knew, by putting a smiling Quaker’s face and the word “pure” on the package. His oatmeal had no more to do with Quakers than his “Fundamentals of Christianity” were “old time religion”. But he knew how to sell a product.
And it was when Evangelicalism became a product that it became about money. All those megachurches and TV ministries with their leadership living in lavish luxury can trace their roots back to the moment in history when Evangelicalism became a product rich men sold, and people bought. It’s old time religion like Quaker Oats is Quaker and Country Time Lemonade Flavored Drink Mix is country lemonade.
Horrible as today was however, at least I did get a catcall out of it. While I was out on a cigar walk some guy in a passing car shouted Get a haircut at me. I haven’t heard that one in years. Made my day…
After three years tobacco free I am officially back to my cigar hobby. Because some days alcohol just isn’t enough, drugs are illegal, and it takes forever to come back down off a bullet to the brain. Yes…slowly killing yourself can be a hobby, you just need to take an geek like interest in the details.
In 1967 CBS ran a short lived comedy series called “He and She”. It was smart, witty, the main characters, a young couple in New York bantered with each other and the other characters in this very dry humor I just loved. I was attracted to it instantly and watched it religiously. So of course it was cancelled after just one season. There was a scene in the first episode, I forget the lead in to it, but the Dick Hollister character (a cartoonist!), played to perfection by Richard Benjamen was arguing with his wife Paula, played by Paula Prentiss, and she says to him exasperated “What are you’re saying!?” and Dick says “Never mind what I’m saying, just listen to me!”
Don’t you just hate conversations like that? Especially when it’s your manager and he keeps asking you what went wrong and every time you start telling him he interrupts and says he didn’t want to know that. “What went wrong?” “Well…A, B, C, D…” “I don’t want to know that…do you realize if we had done the entire operation manually we’d have been finished long before this?” “Well if I knew at the beginning what I know now…” “I don’t want to talk about that…”
He came down to my office and we went though the process. At least one of the problems I kept running into manifested itself for him. Some tasks fight you in a big way, but it’s the ones that fight you in every minute teensy little way possible that completely demoralize you. Either way, if my orders are to save the Kobayashi Maru don’t ask me why I’ve got a bat’leth sticking out of me afterward. Did you know that Klingons fight back? Surprised the hell out of me, let me tell you…
My attitude is this: why let stress kill you when can smoke a good cigar while death puts a scythe in your heart. Life is short. Never pass up an opportunity to enjoy something good.
For most of last week I was confined to quarters after 10PM, here in Charm City, aka Mobtown, aka Baltimore. I didn’t have it as bad as many here did…I have a small, but nice little Baltimore rowhouse to bounce around in and anyway I’m usually in bed by 10PM. I am not a service working trying to make ends meet on a job I suddenly can’t work because it’s closed during my shift. My income does not depend on tips from late evening revelers. And as the people of Hampden, a largely white neighborhood just down the street from me proved last Saturday, even if I strayed for a little while from the curfew orders, the police probably wouldn’t start beating the crap out of me. Unless I had one of my cameras and my press badge on me anyway.
And while I am completely sympathetic with the protestors, the frustration and anger generally with police unaccountability, and was greatly relieved when our State’s Attorney leveled what seems to me to be thoroughly appropriate charges against the policemen and women involved in the death of Freddy Gray (there was a joke going around about how, acting on a request by the Roman Governor, the Baltimore City Police determined that Jesus fell into a box of nails and accidentally nailed himself to a cross…), I was mostly in favor of the curfew. Human consciousness isn’t all perfect rational thinking even when it keeps telling us it is. When a mob gets started…and we are every single one of us vulnerable to getting swept up in one…then it’s the lizard brain in charge and the first thing is you have to break up the mob.
But on twitter the other day Atrios was saying that curfews don’t solve anything and that is absolutely true too. A curfew doesn’t solve a problem anymore than a fire extinguisher does. A fire extinguisher puts out a fire. The fire was the problem you didn’t solve.
Yes that extension cord keeps getting hot…yes it’s a little frayed…but it still works…
For a good overview of the problem Baltimore (and the nation generally), didn’t, isn’t, won’t solve, read this…
There is a difference people keep missing, conveniently or ignorantly, between excusing violence and explaining it. Humanity didn’t fall from grace, we rose from the jungle and the hot African plains, seeking it. But we carry the jungle with us, and it lives within us…all of us…and any animal will fight back when it’s cornered. The problem isn’t the rioters, don’t be pointing your finger there, the problem is the attitude generally toward the neighborhoods that rioted, and the people who live in them. They are our neighbors, they are our fellow Americans, and look what we’ve done to them.
I was at the NOM March for Marriage rally on the Mall last Saturday, and I should post some of my thoughts here rather than my Facebook page, along with the photos I will eventually upload to the photo gallery here, because that sort of thing is what I created this website for. Which I will do later this week. But there is another rally tomorrow (Tuesday) at the Supreme Court I will also be documenting so that’ll have to wait a bit. For now I’ll just say this about NOM: You simply cannot overstate the level of religious extremism and outright kookery that was on display at that rally. As I wandered the crowd with my camera I kept wishing H. L. Mencken was still alive to file a report on it for the Sun. Strange as The Hills of Zion were, they’re stranger still when transplanted to a patch of Mall directly in front of the U.S. Capital.
In the meantime…this came across my Facebook stream just now and I’m rolling it up and putting it into another bottle to toss into the sea for a certain someone to find eventually…maybe…
I did that to myself too, once upon a time. The bars were made of the low expectations placed on a kid being raised by a divorced single working mother. Family gave me those bars. And teachers. And well meaning members of the churches mom took me to. But I put them in place myself. I’m 61 years old now, and just celebrated the 25th anniversary of the launching of the Hubble Space Telescope with my co-workers here at The Space Telescope Science Institute…we got a group photo taken of ourselves and I’m there at the front with my camera and some of the astronauts and Matt Mountain who handed me a special service award last year…and I’m still trying to pry some of those bars down and free myself.
No matter I didn’t let them put me in the closet like other gay kids back in the day. That’s just one of many prisons people let themselves get talked into. There are all kinds of ways a kid can get talked out of believing in themselves. But ultimately we are the wardens of our own internal jails.
We have to learn how to let ourselves go, so we can become the people we were always meant to be. It’s a struggle…but a noble one…because you can’t be the best you can be for others, until you can be all that you can be.
A friend who’s been in the fight against ex-gay therapy with me since the Love In Action protests posted this Onion article to his Facebook page the other day…
“We’ve found that a combination of group interventions, narrative therapy, and cognitive-behavioral approaches fully eliminates homosexual urges before the individual takes his or her own life,” said program director Christian Weber, adding that many of their biggest success stories are even in stable, heterosexual relationships when they’re found lifeless in their own home or dredged from a nearby body of water.
Full Onion Article Here. You know the kind of laugh you get sometimes when it’s funny but painful at the same time…?
Tom Cotton: Bombing Iran Would Take “Several Days,” Be Nothing Like Iraq War
“It would be something more along the lines of what President Clinton did in December 1998 during Operation Desert Fox. Several days air and naval bombing against Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction facilities for exactly the same kind of behavior. For interfering with weapons inspectors and for disobeying Security Council resolutions. All we’re asking is that the president simply be as tough as in the protection of America’s national security interest as Bill Clinton was.”
Yeah…yeah… But as I recall that wasn’t the end of it. And the next step was advertised as being another several days thing. If that. And…it wasn’t…
Tuesday afternoon. I am attending a conference on open source software in government being held at George Washington University. I am here because my project manager is investigating the possibility of moving the system I’ve been working on for the past several years to open source software. Work on the Hubble Space Telescope will go into maintenance mode shortly, and the thinking is that the Institute doesn’t want to spend a lot of money it won’t have on software upgrades, simply because a certain vendor has a business cycle that requires you to do that. At least with open source we would have the option of making any small fixes we absolutely needed to have before the end of the mission ourselves, without breaking our systems that depend on it. The alternative is to stick to the vendor’s upgrade cycle, and pray the new versions don’t break anything in our software, or introduce new bugs and security holes.
Between conference sessions, I wander around the Foggy Bottom area, and back and forth to my hotel, which I paid for out of my own pocket, rather then hassle with Washington traffic, which is a nightmare. The hotel has a nice little kitchenette, which allows me to eat reasonably well without further damaging my budget for the month. Around noon I begin the walk back to my hotel for lunch, stopping to examine a decrepit building right next to the conference hall, that I assume is one of the student dorms. It is, and I see by the bronze plaque by the door that this one is named Lafayette Hall. I read the inscription, which briefly describes the history of Marquis de Lafayette, who fought beside George Washington, taking a bullet in the process, for the freedom of a nation that was not his own, and who later attended the first commencement ceremonies of the university that bore his friend’s name, shaking the hand of each of those first graduates. While I am reading, a snarky voice in the back of my mind is saying Freedom Fries…Freedom Toast… An old friend of mine I’d had breakfast with that morning, told me a joke he’d heard about a man who, while visiting France recently, asked a random Frenchman, “Sir, can you speak German?” When the Frenchman replied that he couldn’t, the American said, “You’re welcome.” I told my friend the Frenchman could just as easily have asked the American, “Sir, do you have a king?”
My hotel is somewhat oldish. My room is on the sixth floor and the elevators are small and slow. I press the button and when one finally appears, I see that there are already two businessmen inside. It’s a tight fit for three. As we go up I feel the hair on the back of my neck rise. There are some who you would never know from the look of them, to be of the right wing thuggish persuasion, and there are others who hit you with it in waves, in the cut of the clothes, the bullying posture that is as second nature as breathing, and the coldness of the face, particularly when smiling at nothing in particular. I tune them both out, pulling out from a space within me I’d almost forgotten about, a “Yes I’m a longhair, yes I know you hate my guts, and no mister establishment person sir, I really don’t give a flying fuck” attitude, close my eyes, and listen to the elevator floor counter click off the floors to mine. I toy briefly about writing a book, “Everything I know about living under Bush II, I learned from Nixon”. The old elevator rises slowly. I hear one of my companions say, “I hope they don’t cancel our flight out Thursday.” The other chuckles and says, “The war will be over by then.”
No You Are Not Being Forced To Participate In It. No, Not That Thing, The Other Thing…
On my Facebook stream just now…
The complaining now is they’re objecting to being forced to participate in a gay wedding. Please respect our deeply held sincere religious belief that your wedding is a fraudulent parody of the genuine love and commitment between a man and a woman. Do not force us to accept your counterfeit relationship as real. We are not prejudiced against anybody. And so on…
Never mind for a moment the insult to same sex couples all wrapped in piety. What they’re being forced to participate in, against their will, isn’t same sex marriage, it’s The United States of America. You know…that place where on Main Street USA down at the corner store my money is just as good as yours.
Sure they could go somewhere else…somewhere the ruling government shares their sincerely held belief that homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex and that needs to be stamped out or civilization will fall and God will rain fire down upon us. But the problem is those places don’t have the nice perks you get from living in a civilized nation. Perks that come from having a diverse population whose individuals have the freedom to participate in the common marketplace regardless of their sex, race, creed or national origins. At least that’s the ideal anyway, and to the extent this country has lived up to that ideal it has prospered from the work and creative energy you get from allowing people from all walks of life, some of whom might think a little differently to…you know…think a little differently. So the cake bakers and their defenders would rather stay here and enjoy the benefits of other people’s hard work and creative talents without having to treat those people as neighbors, as fellow Americans.
Of course there are no homosexuals in the culinary arts. Of course they never contributed to the collective knowledge that is the artistic core of our business, let alone any of the other technology that supports it.
The concern trolls are out and about now, lecturing the gay community to not be so…well…militant in our struggle for equality. In the New York Times David Brooks reliably wags a finger and warns us we risk loosing our moral high ground by misusing our new found political clout. Well once upon a time in a different civil rights struggle the great political cartoonist Herblock had an answer to that…
But the fact is it isn’t our limited and disorganized political clout Indiana was feeling, but the disgust of heterosexuals who are getting really fed up seeing their friends and family being treated like dirt. Sure, blame the militant homosexual conspiracy, but it wasn’t just us who raised that massive stink when Pence signed that bill into law, and you can tell it wasn’t just us because this time the bigots had to back down, and they’ve never had a hard time sticking their thumbs in our eyes. But people are getting tired of it now. People with gay sons and daughters. People with gay neighbors and friends. People with functioning human hearts.
The key to Bryant’s “discrimination” strategy was to portray equal rights advocates as anti-Christian oppressors. She warned of “militant homosexuals who are highly financed, highly organized.” Their true objective, she claimed, was not the right to hold jobs and buy houses. Since they were unable to reproduce biologically, their only hope of survival was “to recruit your children and teach them the virtue of becoming a homosexual.”
What makes the David Brooks column so offensive is he’s doing basically what Bryant did back in 1977, slyly riffing on that notion of a powerful gay cabal but without actually saying it. And of course we’re all militants unless we’re willing to stay in the closet and accept our pariah status among decent normal people.
If I’m remembered for anything I’ve ever said on this blog or elsewhere I hope at least it’s this one thing: A militant homosexual is a homosexual who doesn’t think there is anything wrong with being a homosexual. A militant homosexual activist is a homosexual who acts like they don’t think there is anything wrong with being a homosexual.
That’s it. That’s really all there is to it. You don’t have to march in Pride Day parades. You don’t have to wave the rainbow flag. You don’t have to stand in a protest line. All it takes to be regarded as a militant homosexual is you behave exactly like anyone else would when people who don’t know you from Adam spit in your face, call you names, and treat the garden of your life as if it was their household trashcan. You react to that like anyone else would and Presto, you’ve become a militant homosexual, and never mind that your life and your interest in politics is pretty much the same as anyone else.
My chances for marriage are pretty much done with by now. I’m 61 and never even came close to having a boyfriend, let alone someone to settle down with and begin a life together. My life is almost done at this stage. I am single and alone. What I have to look back on, is a lifetime of fighting against the hatred that doesn’t just spit in our faces, but which actively and with passion does its level best to destroy any possibility of love and joy the moment two people of the same sex take notice of each other and their hearts skip a beat. I’ve written elsewhere of how it’s taken chances, so many chances away from me. This is why I am still in the fight, even if the prize is lost forever to me. I know the damage it’s done to me, I’ll be goddamned if I let it keep on damaging young hearts in love. If you think this is just a struggle over wedding cakes you are sadly mistaken. If you think it is a fight over same-sex weddings you are still not getting it. The same bitter venomous contempt for gay couples about to get married will with gusto act to prevent them from even setting eyes on each other given a chance. Ask me how I know. The hated Other simply cannot be allowed to love and be loved. Because love stays the course. Because love endures. Because love can move mountains. Because the last thing you want the scapegoat to be able to do, is move mountains.
Driving In The Nails For Easter (Message In A Bottle…)
This came across my Facebook stream tonight…
This is actually pretty typical. If you are shocked by this I assure you I am not. The imagery here comes from a right wing Catholic group but don’t be paying much attention to that because the sentiment isn’t specific to any one religion or religion in particular and it’s not about how they see us so much as how they want us to be seen. This is the real thing. Most of your gay and lesbian neighbors, except the very lucky maybe, have felt this breathing down our necks all our adult lives.
When other kids start having their first crushes and start discovering love and desire, this is what the gay ones find themselves facing. This is what haunts what should have been one of this life’s most magical times. It cuts you deep. Some people never manage to love wholeheartedly their entire lives because of it.
And others search endlessly for one who can. I was looking at my Facebook stream just a moment ago and this graphic flashed on my screen and for an instant I saw certain someone’s face and relived the conversation I had with him just one week ago…
I need to stay in my comfort zone…
I know. And I’m so sorry…so very sorry. It is what it is. You stayed inside because you had to and I got the hell out because I had to but we are all damaged by it in one way or another. Easter they say is when Jesus of Nazareth died for their sins. So why did we have to die for their sins too?
The misery of a child is interesting to a mother, the misery of a young man is interesting to a young woman,
the misery of an old man is interesting to nobody. -Eric Hoffer
Eric Hoffer for the win again. I’m not cranky, just sad. Just very, very sad. And more alone in this life then anyone near me saying that Bruce has turned into a cranky old man could likely ever withstand.
You have no idea. When all you have left is a faint hope inside that however damaged you’ve become you still have some love within you to give to the world, if not to some specific someone, the last thing you need to hear is the people around you think you’ve become unpleasant and unapproachable. But I reckon even that was unavoidable. There is only so much you can do to mitigate the damage, and eventually it starts to show, and then of course it becomes a self inflicting ever growing wound.
I know where this ends. What I don’t know is how much further I have to go to get there. Reckon I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
This blog is powered by WordPress and is hosted at MomoWeb. Some custom design was done by Winters Web Works. Some embedded content was created with the help of Adobe Photoshop for MacOS and/or The Gimp. I proof with Firefox on either Windows, Linux or MacOS depending on which machine I happen to be running at the time.