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December 10th, 2013
The Persistence Of The Closet…(continued)
by Bruce |
Slate today runs an article riffing on the New York Times article I linked to yesterday. They headline theirs The American Closet Is Bigger Than We Thought. I assume the ‘we’ in that headline is “heterosexuals’, with maybe a side of ‘those of us also in the closet’, because you don’t live in this country as a gay person without seeing or at least glimpsing that vast nation of the closeted first hand. No kidding there’s more of them than you thought…
But if that Times article helps the heterosexual majority to see, really see, the damage that was done, and is still being done, then good. Seems a lot of folks are noticing that bit in the Times article, about wives in less tolerant states checking Google for advice on whether their husbands are gay. But there was also this…
Craigslist lets us look at this from a different angle. I analyzed ads for males looking for “casual encounters.” The percentage of these ads that are seeking casual encounters with men tends to be larger in less tolerant states. Among the states with the highest percentages are Kentucky, Louisiana and Alabama.
Back in the 1980s, what I think of as the BBS days, I did volunteer work for a gay community BBS whose creator intended it not to be a hookup site but a serious information and educational resource for gay people. He realized back then, as I did when I connected to those first primitive amateur computer networks, what they could do for us as a people. The BBS advertised in the local gay newspaper, and I think in one of the alternative City Papers, and the ads included a phone number for help getting connected. He told us he would get desperate phone calls on that number in the middle of the night, from men who’d been caught in police vice stings…trolling the parks or some public lavatory…needing emergency legal advice. He said without exception, without exception, those men were all married, and none of then identified as gay. At least, they wouldn’t over the course of that phone call. That was the 1980s.
It’s still going on…
One could leave these findings angry at all these men for not coming out, but Stephen-Davidowitz’s concluding anecdote—about a retired professor who has been married to a woman for 40 years and “regrets virtually every one of his major life decisions”—articulates my overwhelming emotion: sadness.
That’s fine, but anger is still a good reaction to have and I hope the heterosexual majority cultivates it…not at the closeted, but at the Righteous and the Upstanding who keep teaching young gay people to hate themselves, so that they can have scapegoats, someone to gloat over, so they don’t have to look at their own failures of moral character. Be angry at them. Ask yourselves what kind of person turns anyone’s basic human need for intimate companionship against them, makes them deeply ashamed, even fearful, of their own human heart…
Sometimes even I get tired of looking at aggregate data, so I asked a psychiatrist in Mississippi who specializes in helping closeted gay men if any of his patients might want to talk to me. One man contacted me. He told me he was a retired professor, in his 60s, married to the same woman for more than 40 years.
About 10 years ago, overwhelmed with stress, he saw the therapist and finally acknowledged his sexuality. He has always known he was attracted to men, he says, but thought that that was normal and something that men hid. Shortly after beginning therapy, he had his first, and only, gay sexual encounter, with a student of his in his late 20s, an experience he describes as “wonderful.”
He and his wife do not have sex. He says that he would feel guilty ever ending his marriage or openly dating a man. He regrets virtually every one of his major life decisions.
He regrets virtually every one of his major life decisions… What kind of person does this to another, takes pride in doing it, and can look in a mirror and see a righteous person? Look at that. Really look at it. It’s okay to get angry after looking down into that Pit. But don’t look into it for too long, because Nietzsche was right about an abyss gazing back into you. Just remember what you saw the next time you hear one of them yapping about their sincerely held religious beliefs.
November 26th, 2013
If I Could Just Find The Part That Keeps Hurting…
by Bruce |
Self portrait in 1982. Thirty-One years later and I still can’t find the piece that keeps making my life hurt so much. There’s something in there that isn’t supposed to be. Or maybe someone. Or maybe someone that isn’t in there, that’s supposed to be. I’ve stopped wondering why my art photography is the way it is. I’ll probably take the question of why it had to be like that to my grave. Hopefully not too much longer from now. I just want this joke to stop laughing at me.
November 8th, 2013
by Bruce |
This came across my Facebook stream just now…
At 16 I thought being attracted to guys was just a phase. By 18 I’d pretty much figured out that thinking it was a phase was the phase.
November 5th, 2013
Unamused, In The Happiest Place On Earth…
by Bruce |
Aww… Tartar Sauce (aka Grumpy Cat) takes a Disney vacation…
October 19th, 2013
by Bruce |
This came across my Facebook stream just now. Some days you read crap on Facebook that just makes you want to write off the human race. Then there are things like this…
by Bruce |
Still in it…
I change the oil in my cars twice as often as the factory recommends…a practice I’ve kept on doing with my Mercedes. My first car, a 1973 Ford Pinto, got its oil changed every 2k and I am convinced that is how I managed to get over 136k miles out of one of those. When I finally had to give it to the junk yard it was because everything but the engine was falling apart. When you popped off the valve cover it still looked factory new in there…a thing I was intensely proud of.
So I took Spirit in for an oil change this morning and while I waited one of the service clerks and I chatted about our mutual love of Mercedes-Benz cars and she told me something I hadn’t known. The steel for every part of the body…the frame, the doors, hood, trunk, all of it…are all cut from the same single sheet of steel. Where other car makers cut a bunch of doors, or hoods or things that are all destined for different individual cars out of a sheet…bang, bang, bang, one after the other after the other…Daimler cuts the parts for each individual car from the same individual sheet of steel, to insure that all the body parts have exactly identical metal chemistry, exactly identical properties of rigidity and strength. And this little detail she said, contributes to the overall rigidity of the car.
This is why you pay the extra money for a Mercedes-Benz. It isn’t about the options or the luxury touches. Compared to other makes my ‘E’ class isn’t even all that sumptuous. You get more dazzle out of a Lexus or a Cadillac. But not that solid Mercedes-Benz feel. That is why I bought the car. I like having solid things in my life. Solidly built things, that are made to last and that you know the hands that built them can feel proud about. That solid feel was the thing I noticed right away when I first sat down in my uncle’s brand new 220D back in 1971, and even more so when he took mom and I for a drive in it. I’d never felt a car as solid before then. Back then you were use to American cars, even the upscale ones, being a little loose and rattle prone. And even nowadays, my Mercedes is noticeably more solid than other cars. Of course the basic design and engineering matters more, but this business about cutting all the body parts from one single sheet of steel is typical of the attention to engineering detail they put into these cars. And that is why they cost more. A little Economy Of Scale is sacrificed in favor of a little more structural rigidity. It isn’t about spending money, just to be spending money.
Matthew Yglesias tweeted a question a few days back asking what if anything justified spending the extra bucks on one of the “fancy cars”. I didn’t bother tweeting back as I figured that question probably got him a torrent of replies. But it depends on the car and what you’re after. If fancy is what you’re after then go for the options. If it’s a status symbol you want then go for the brand you think does that. Alas, that’s all some people see in a Mercedes-Benz, but that’s disrespectful. I wanted the car they use to say of when I was a teenager, that the first hundred thousand miles you put on it were just for breaking it in. Because there are so many roads, and so little time in a life to drive them all.
[Edited a tad...]
October 16th, 2013
A Walker’s World
by Bruce |
Days are getting shorter now. A month ago an early walk into work still meant daylight, morning people walking their dogs and birds chattering. Now it’s night skies and lights on over quiet city streets. City night shift just getting home, day shift taking to the streets.
October 15th, 2013
And In Other News, Tensions Increasing On The Border Between Germany And Czechoslovakia…
by Bruce |
This came across my news stream this morning, from The Local…
“A Bavarian town has shut its border with the Czech Republic following a spate of break-ins. The Bavarians suspect the Czechs are responsible for the crimes and they came up with the plan to resurrect the old barrier in a pub.”
Man…when Bavarians get to thinking up things to do to their neighbors in a pub it’s never good.
October 14th, 2013
Once Upon A Time In Washington…
by Bruce |
On this date in 1979 the first gay rights march on Washington took place, with about 100,000 demonstrators. I was one of them.
Here’s an ad placed in the Washington Blade after the march for the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club and in it the photographer caught me when I was walking along with the Maryland contingent. This is a scan from the copy of the Blade I saved, so the quality isn’t the best, but it’s all I have. The Stein Club made posters with this shot and I’ve regretted ever since that I didn’t snatch one up.
I’m there in the lower right hand corner with, oddly, my Argus C3 around my neck. It was a (very) poor man’s Leica and I was probably experimenting with it. The Canon F1 was probably in my backpack. I’d worked all summer long at a fast food joint in 1971 to be able to buy the F1, but apart from a couple lenses for it and a really nice German enlarging lens I wouldn’t be in any position to buy nice photographic equipment for decades to come.
I think I had color loaded in the F1 and Tri-X Pan in the Argus. At some point I need to post a gallery of my shots here in the “Life and Times” section of that demonstration and other gay rights events I attended and photographed. I wasn’t working for anyone at the time, just documenting my life and times and the struggle I found myself a part of whether I wanted to be or not.
When I came out to myself in December of 1971 I wanted what most of us want when we’re young…the significant other, the soulmate, the happily ever after. What I got was not that. Yes, it’s so much better now than it was back then, but we had a lot of work getting from there to here and we still have a long way to go before every gay kid can dream the dream of love and joy and contentment without fear or shame or guilt. The young guy you see in this ad would never have thought in his wildest dreams he would live to see the day he could get legally married anywhere, let alone in his home state of Maryland, to the man he loved. But that day came. If only I’d had a better world to grow into adulthood in, I might have found him.
October 10th, 2013
From Our Department Of Unreasonable Expectations…
by Bruce |
October 9th, 2013
My Privileged Life
by Bruce |
Today…I was told to “check my privilege”. Okay…I’m checking it now…
I was raised by a divorced single working mother. My dad died trying to rob a bank. I grew up in a series of small apartments, wearing mostly second hand clothes and going to public school, where in the 1960s, because I was the product of a “broken home” I was treated like a problem child even though I was pretty well behaved. That didn’t change until high school. I was the first male in dad’s side of the family to finish grade school and get a diploma. I did three semesters of community college and then had to go to work to support mom and me. For most of my life I had no idea how I was going to earn a living and resigned myself to a low income life lived in rooms rented in other people’s houses. Before I started earning a good living as a software developer I had no car, and no prospects. Seen from within, the life I am living now seems an absolute miracle to me.
And yet, in some quarters, it seems I am a “privileged” Boomer, which strikes me as a real joke coming from younger people who got their college degree and found good work at a living wage at an age when I was still doing Manpower temp jobs and living with mom. But there it is…I need to “check my privilege” and shut up about my own experiences in life, and what I’ve seen happen politically in my country during my lifetime with my own two eyes, whilst Millennials discuss amongst themselves how privileged we Boomers are and how we fucked everything up for them. Because god forbid anyone should hear from someone who was actually there what he saw for himself while on the road to where we are now.
Whatever. I get that that Time Magazine article got your goat. You don’t seem to get that it was supposed to. But if playing Wall Street’s game of Blame The Other Guy We’re Screwing Too works for you fine. Enjoy the cheap thrills of the blame game while I watch people who wish to bury the past, keep on grimly repeating it.
I’m not afraid of terrorist bombs, I grew up during the cold war figuring the world would probably nuke itself to death anyway. My privileged life taught me how to duck and cover and never count on tomorrow being there. I’m not afraid of sudden poverty. My privileged life taught me how to live on a poverty line income. I’ve watched republicans tank the economy over and over and jackasses keep voting them into office anyway. Figure it will all just keep happening. C’est la vie! And…pay attention now…I don’t particularly care if people who don’t know me from Adam hate me for being something I can’t help being. I was fine with that even before I knew that I am gay. I learned how not to give a flying fuck about that even before my grade school teachers told me I was a problem child because my mother was divorced. I learned how not to care long before all that, while being hated, or at best patronized, by members of my own family for being my father’s son. And I will not wear your goddamned labels.
October 8th, 2013
Break One-Five…These People Don’t Seem To Be Noticing Us
by Bruce |
I grew up in the Washington D.C. suburbs. I was a very small kid when the Capital Beltway was being built. I remember when I-270, the spur that goes through Montgomery County where I grew up, was called I-70s and it was two lanes in each direction with a big grassy median. It’s 12 lanes now and even that is not enough. I watched the traffic nightmare that is the normal every day environment people live in down there reach epic proportions, even with the really nice subway system they built starting in the mid 1970s. It really is an amazingly good system, but it was overcapacity from the moment the first car doors opened.
Nothing has ever helped even slightly, even at some miniscule level, to stem the rising tide of automobiles competing every minute of every day for whatever asphalt space they can find that isn’t already occupied by another car (and sometimes even if it is), because there was never any political will to stop the land developers from building more things, which inevitably attracts more automobiles to the area, but people were always able to tie up regional highway infrastructure development in the courts. The joke is someone gets a flat tire in Tyson’s Corner and it backs up traffic in College Park…
And I am seeing these links in my Facebook stream now about a bunch of truckers who are going to “slow down beltway traffic” until some congressmen are arrested and I honestly can’t stop laughing. Oh you are, are you? Slow it down, did you say? I read one guy saying they weren’t going to allow anyone to drive over 55mph unless they had an anti-Obama bumper sticker. Well that’s a pretty all order men. I’d say you’ve got your work cut out for you.
Look…Seriously…you folks want to get noticed during rush hour in Washington D.C.? Have your people park their trucks and take the Metro into the city, and they all stand on the left side of the escalators and don’t move.
October 7th, 2013
Repost: Fifteen Years Ago…
by Bruce |
I posted this five years ago. Seems appropriate now, since the kook pews are howling again, the haters who would have looked the other way had they come upon the murder taking place, and insist everyone else should too, to revisit it.
Nothing has changed…there is nothing mysterious or hidden about what happened that night…the ghosts still talk among themselves…if you are willing to take the same walk I did one night in Laramie, you can still hear them…
The wind never seems to stop here on the plains. It is October in Wyoming, and the wind carries with it a chill now. The first tentative breath of winter dances restlessly over rolling hills of sage. The days have grown short, the nights cold. And long. Very long. And quiet, save only for the sound of the wind.
Take a walk tonight across the rolling hills of Wyoming sage. Leave the town lights twinkling in the distance behind you. Walk toward the mountains in the darkness ahead. There is only you here tonight. You, and the wind, and the stars in the sky, so far away. So very far away. Around you are only rolling hills of grass and sage, fading into the night. There are remnants of what looks like a small wooden fence here, that was torn down some time ago.
Listen to the wind. Listen carefully. There are ghosts here on the plains. Hear them talk tonight among themselves…
No one knows why Matthew was determined to go to the Fireside that night, or why he left with Aaron and Russell. It was karaoke night, which would not ordinarily have interested him. There was some speculation that he was buying drugs from Aaron and Russell, but his friends find that implausible. A close friend thinks that depression may have weakened his judgment, and wonders if he had taken a heavy dose of Klonopin before he went to the bar. "When he was depressed," she says, "he would just grab a handful." Romaine Patterson remembers how in the coffee shop where she worked Matthew "would just talk to anyone-people no one else would talk to, like this weird old man…. He had no discrimination in his person."
Shortly after midnight on October 7, 1998, 20-year-old Shepard met McKinney and Henderson in a bar. McKinney and Henderson offered Shepard a ride in their car. Subsequently, Shepard was robbed, pistol whipped, tortured, tied to a fence in a remote, rural area, and left to die. McKinney and Henderson also found out his address and intended to rob his home. Still tied to the fence, Shepard was discovered eighteen hours later by a cyclist, who at first thought that Shepard was a scarecrow. At the time of discovery, Shepard was still alive, but in a coma.
Aaron Kreifels first met Matthew Shepard in a dream last Thursday night, the night after he discovered his fellow University of Wyoming student badly beaten, barely alive and tied up to a fence outside of Laramie.
Although Shepard was in Fort Collins by then, kept alive by an array of life-support machines in Poudre Valley Hospital’s intensive-care unit, Kreifels said the gay student, who was beaten beyond recognition, allegedly by two young Laramie roofers, perhaps because he was gay, came to visit his rescuer in a dream that night. Kreifels doesn’t remember much of the dream, but he said Wednesday that he awoke the next morning comforted by the vague sensation of having met the person he found in such bad shape two days before.
Although early reports indicated that two mountain bikers had discovered Shepard on the crude fence on an old, double-rutted road, Kreifels was alone that evening, struggling on his mountain bike through deep sand and for some reason ignoring a desire to turn back and find another, easier way back to town. Before he knew it, he had fallen. He was on the ground, his front wheel broken beyond repair. He was unhurt, but what he saw as he got up struck him cold.
"I got up and noticed something out of the corner of my eye,” he said from his room in a freshman dorm at the University of Wyoming on Wednesday. "At first I thought it was a scarecrow, so I didn’t think much of it. Then I went around and noticed it was a real person. I checked to see if he was conscious or not, and when I found out he wasn’t, I ran and got help as fast as I could.”
As the former high school crosscountry runner traversed the quarter- to half-mile of scrub prairie between him and the nearest house in the nearby Sherman Hills subdivision, his thoughts froze before quickly accelerating.
"It was distressing. I was panicked for a couple minutes, because I wanted to make sure I could do all I could do to help save him,” he said.
-The Denver Post
Officer Reggie Fluty: When I got there, the first – at first the only thing I could see was partially somebody’s feet and I got out of my vehicle and raced over – I seen what appeared to be a young man, thirteen, fourteen years old, because he was so tiny, laying on his back and he was tied to the bottome of the end of a pole.
I did the best I could. The gentleman that was laying on the ground, Matthew Shepard, he was covered in dry blood all over his head. There was dry blood underneath him and he was barely breathing…he was doing the best he could.
I was going to breath for him and I couldn’t get his mouth open – his mouth wouldn’t open for me.
He was covered in, like I said, partially dry blood and blood all over his head – the only place that he did not have any blood on him, on his face, was what appeared to be where he had been crying down his face.
-The Laramie Project
Shepard suffered a fracture from the back of his head to the front of his right ear. He had severe brain stem damage, which affected his body’s ability to regulate heart rate, body temperature and other vital signs. There were also about a dozen small lacerations around his head, face and neck. His injuries were deemed too severe for doctors to operate.
At the Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, Matthew lay in bed down the hall from Aaron McKinney. Matthew was comatose; his brain stem which controls heartbeat, breathing, temperature, and other involuntary functions – was severely damaged. He also was suffering from hypothermia and had a red welt on his back, a red mark on his left arm, bruised knees, cuts on his head, neck, and face, and bruising in his groin.
Dr. Cantway: I was working the emergency room the night Matthew Shepard was brought in. I don’t think, that any of us, ah, can remember seeing a patient in that condition for a long time – those of us who’ve worked in big city hospitals have seen this. Ah, but it’s not something you expect here.
Ah, you expect it, you expect this kind of injuries to come from a car going down a hill at eighty miles an hour. You expect to see gross injuries from something like that – this horrendous, terrible thing. Ah, but you don’t expect to see that from someone doing this to another person.
The ambulance report said it was a beating so we knew.
-The Laramie Project
Exactly a week after his tragic discovery, Kreifels, 18, an architectural engineering major from Grand Island, Neb., said he tries not to think about the condition in which he found the classmate he had never seen before. Authorities say Shepard’s assailants repeatedly beat him with the butt of a .357 Magnum, fracturing his skull. Kreifels doesn’t talk about it.
"I don’t really want to go into details about that,” he said.
-The Denver Post
Aaron Kreifels: I keep seeing that picture in my head when I found him…and it’s not pleasant whatsoever. I don’t want it to be there. I wanna like get it out. That’s the biggest part for me is seeing that picture in my head. And it’s kind of unbelievable to me, you know, that – I happened to be the person who found him – because the big question with me, like with my religion, is like, Why did God want ME to find him?
-The Laramie Project
[Edited a tad...]
October 4th, 2013
by Bruce |
@JohnnyGWeir: “I’m sorry to you all for wearing daisy dukes in October.”
Pics or it didn’t happen.
October 2nd, 2013
Pistol Whipping A Dead Gay Kid Because They Can
by Bruce |
Debunking Stephen Jimenez isn’t hard…he was involved in the ABC 20/20 whitewash of Matthew Shepard’s murder and makes the same claims here that 20/20 did years ago. But it is necessary, not only to defend a kid who can no longer speak for himself, but because it is a trope of the anti-gay industrial complex that hate crimes against gay people are nothing the nation need concern itself with. Nothing to see here folks…the homosexuals bring it on themselves…and even like it. There is no pattern of violence. Homosexuals are not being targeted. Nothing to see. Nothing to see…
Journalist Stephen Jimenez’s The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths about the Murder of Matthew Shepard makes the bombshell claim that illicit drug use, not homophobia, was the central factor in the gay University of Wyoming student’s brutal 1998 murder. Shepard truthers in the right-wing media have pounced on the book to assail hate crime legislation and the larger push for LGBT rights. But Jimenez’s argument is tainted by its reliance on wild extrapolation, the use of highly questionable and often inconsistent sources, paranoia that critics of his work are engaged in a “cover-up” of politically sensitive truths, and the cavalier dismissal of any evidence that runs contrary to his central thesis.
Go read the whole thing…you are going to be hearing more about it soon. His book comes out on the anniversary of the murder because that is the perfect time to spit in the faces of people who are still appalled at what happened that night, and determined to put an end to the hatred that fueled it. Jimenez and his soul brother Andrew Sullivan need everyone to stop making such a big deal out of one little gay kid because, perhaps for different reasons, perhaps not, they think it ridiculous.There’s a nugget in this article that I hadn’t understood before, which might explain Sullivan’s need to whitewash Shepard’s murder…
For an author trying to make the case that homophobia played no role in Shepard’s murder, his killer’s use of crude, anti-gay language would seem to pose a significant problem. Not so, Jimenez assures us. McKinney – who described himself as a “drunk homofobick [sic]” in a letter written from prison – was merely trying to imitate the thug image of the gangsta rappers he admired, according to Jimenez. This explanation is just as implausible as Jimenez’s bizarre speculation that President Bill Clinton spoke out on Shepard’s murder and championed hate crime legislation in order to divert public attention from the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
(Emphasis mine). So it’s about Sullivan’s Clinton hatred again. Or back when the 20/20 episode was production it was, and now he’s just sticking to it because it’s out there, and anyway, isn’t all this outrage about what happened to a little twink a bit overwrought? Sullivan has always been an outspoken critic of hate crime laws, and the narrative that hate played any role that night in Laramie had to be debunked. Because…liberals.
There is nothing mysterious or hidden about the murder of Matthew Shepard. The trial transcripts themselves show clearly, convincingly and overwhelmingly that Shepard not only did not know his killers, but that they beat the 112 pound Shepard mercilessly to the brink of death precisely because he was gay. Some have said, a tad more plausibly, it was merely a robbery gone bad. But they targeted him because he was gay, and I have been to Laramie, I have driven the route that McKinney and Henderson took as they drove Shepard out of town to the isolated place where they tied him to a deer fence and beat him…I drove it at night around the same time…and I promise you that if you do the same you will, if you are even slightly open to the evidence, come to the only possible conclusion: that they had more than robbery on their minds on their way to the killing place.
Who can say why some people prefer their comfortable conceits to reality. Stephen Jimenez may simply be a publicity seeking asswipe. Or he and Andrew Sullivan may really believe that the facts in front of one’s nose are merely a veneer behind which the hidden conspiracies and plots that really move human events lurk. Perhaps they find the idea that the beating death of a pretty gay boy might genuinely shock anyone ridiculous, the thinking being Shepard was a little twink who went looking for rough trade and got what was coming to him. He’d already allowed himself to be raped once didn’t he? Whatever the motivation, ask yourself who is deeper in the human gutter, the knuckle-dragging killers who hated or the respectable upright whitewashers of hate.
Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com