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March 16th, 2014
The Closet Is The New Tolerance
The story, as passed down to me, is that several generations back on mom’s side of the family, an Irish man fell in love with an English woman who also loved him very much. And against the wishes of both their families they married. And were promptly disowned by both their families. So they came to America, and that is why mom’s side of the family tree became Americans.
I could see it…the lovers wanting to come to the New World instead of settling down somewhere in England or Ireland away from their respective families. Even at a young age I understood that the English and Irish didn’t get along very well. It wasn’t until I scratched below the surface of the history the books like to call the Great Potato Famine that I began to grasp why it was such a hard history to put to rest, why the old hatreds kept boiling over. What I never got was why the Irish kept facing ignorant discrimination here in America too. Wasn’t this the Great Melting Pot? Wasn’t this the land of the Golden Door? Some years back, while perusing the stands at the big Labor Day Flea Market in the little Virginia town mom had retired to, I saw a No Irish sign for sale along with other signs from ugly days gone by. White Only. Colored Entrance. No Indians Served. They made my skin crawl, yet I hoped someone was preserving all that. I’d been out of the closet for about two decades by then, and had experienced over and over how bigots could be alternatively proud of their cheapshit prejudices, righteous even, and then suddenly turn on a dime and deny they had a prejudiced bone in their bodies.
We don’t discriminate against homosexuals…we are moral people who believe that open sexuality has no place in public… The double standard being of course that an opposite sex couple holding hands in public is but a simple little display of their mutual love and affection that should put a smile on everyone’s faces, whereas when a same-sex couple does exactly the same thing they’re flaunting their sexuality in everyone’s faces. We don’t care what you do in the bedroom…just keep it there…
I don’t think in my entire life I ever saw a No Gays sign, or a want ad that said Gays Need Not Apply. But you always knew what would happen to you, the moment you stepped out of the closet. Our struggle was about the closet. It was always about the closet. As long as we had to stay in the closet the only things people would know about us was were the lies. I grew up with those lies. I knew how they were killing us, how they would always keep killing us, until we could live our lives openly, without fear, and people could see us for the human beings we were, not the monsters they were constantly being told we were.
This came across my news stream this morning…
Foster and his friends and neighbors are not marching Sunday as part of a gay organization. They are marching as South Boston residents who have coalesced around building a park in a corner of the neighborhood known as the Lower End. Many of the people working on the float just happen to be gay. And they have been embraced by the Allied War Veterans Council, the parade’s longtime sponsor.
That would be the longtime sponsor that took their right to discriminate against their gay Irish neighbors all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won a pyrrhic victory. Every year now the breadth and depth of notable people, politicians and companies boycotting these No Homo parades grows. But Boston Globe reporter Andrew Ryan would like us to know that diversity is afoot this year in South Boston. Yes…a Tolerance Float built by gay south Bostonites has been accepted into the parade. No..embraced. And I can see exactly why they were embraced too…
“They know us as their neighbors first and as gay second,” said Foster, an Air Force veteran who served in Desert Storm and who has lived with his husband in South Boston for seven years. Of outside gay groups coming in and hoping to march, he said: “How in the world do you ever get compromise if the first statement out of your mouth is, ‘I’m different than you?’ ”
Compromise. Yes, quite. And the compromise between staying in the closet and being out is you pretend you aren’t being pushed in and they pretend they didn’t push you. Such a deal.
“The only way for this to work was to keep quiet. We had to wait it out and prove what we said when we first started, that we’re not here to make a big statement,” Foster said last Saturday, taking a break from float construction. “We all thought, if we just show up on parade day and we march and have a cool float, people will understand.”
There was a time I thought I was working toward this “understanding” myself. I kept it low key among certain friends…I figured by giving their sensibilities breathing room I was giving them time to work out for themselves how everything they thought they knew about homosexuals was wrong. I could be the living example that taught them to see past their assumptions and prejudices. But prejudice is by definition irrational, and in the end I discovered all that was happening was they thought they were teaching me to keep it quiet.
Never doubt, that this is what the Allied War Veterans Council thinks they’re teaching the gays. The compromise from their point of view is they’re willing to let people they know to be homosexual into the parade. As long as they…you know…keep it quiet…
Lead parade organizer Philip J. Wuschke Jr. acknowledged that the inclusion this year of two groups with gay marchers represented “a little bit of a step,” but he pushed back against the assertion that the parade is intolerant.
“Gay people march in this all the time. Every year. This isn’t the first time,” Wuschke said. “We don’t ban gay people. We ban groups that are trying to make a statement.”
This is the sort of convenient circumlocution people use to prevent themselves from looking in the bathroom mirror and seeing a bigot staring back at them. It’s also pathetic. Does this man truly know nothing of the history of Irish people in the United States that he can honestly believe the St. Patrick’s Day parades do not now and never did have a political overtone to them?
Celebrating a people and their history is making a statement. So is excluding a people. Being proud of who you are is making a statement. So is telling someone to hide what they are in exchange for acceptance.
And when gay people willingly closet themselves in exchange for acceptance they are also making a statement. They may think it’s a statement about building bridges, but in reality it’s a statement of self worth. That is what Allied War Veterans Council is happy to have finally taught them. The Irish have a long and hard history they can be proud to have endured and overcome. Gays…well…they just have sex. And Irish gays are best not spoken of in public.
by Bruce |
Posted In: Politics
Tags: Prejudice, The Struggle For America
February 25th, 2014
This came across my Twitter stream the other day…
No Nugent Is Good Nugent
GOP weeps over Nugent comments, but are these crocodile tears?
There’s been hand-wringing and eye-rolling among the Texas GOP this week over Ted Nugent calling President Obama a “subhuman mongrel.” The real question is, why now?
Because the rest of the country started taking notice, that’s why. But as usual the corporate news media only looks at it superficially, lambasting republicans for hitching Ted Nugent to their wagon while focusing almost exclusively on his “subhuman mongrel” crack at the president. Yes, yes, it’s telling in its in-your-face racism. They’re not even dog whistling at the base anymore. But that was hardly all there is to find in the catalog of Nugent’s wit and wisdom.
Christ almighty you’d think the Family Values party never bothered to listen to his music, hear the lyrics, or even just glance a second or two at the album cover for “Love Grenade”?
And then there’s this lovely little ditty…
Well, I don’t care if you’re just 13
You look too good to be true
I just know that you’re probably clean…
Jailbait you look fine, fine, fine…
It’s quite alright, I asked your mama
Wait a minute, officer
Don’t put those handcuffs on me
Put them on her, and I’ll share her with you
Now get back to me about how you’re all against the gay agenda because homosexuals prey on children.
What were they thinking you ask? Oh I know what they were thinking. They were thinking inside that comfortable cocoon that Fox News and Talk Radio and their right wing billionaire money teats built for them. That gentleman’s club at the edge of town where they can let the masks come off and say all the things they really mean without decency and humanity getting a word in edgewise. Sometimes they forget the cocoon they live in is not the world they live in, and then the rest of the country sees them hugging the likes of Ted Nugent like he’s their soul brother. But that’s only because he Is their soul brother.
Take advantage of a 13 year old girl for her body…take the food out of her mouth because you wanted another yacht…the difference between the Wall Street men and the duck dynasty boys is the cost of their toys…
by Bruce |
Posted In: Politics Thumping My Pulpit
Tags: Republican America, The Human Gutter
February 21st, 2014
I Hate You Cupid…
…but then I’m hardly the only one. This came across my Facebook stream a little while ago…
Count your blessings straight boy, and be nice to the one you can’t love back. Painful unrequited love is probably waiting patiently for you too, somewhere down your road…
by Bruce |
Posted In: Life
Tags: Lonelyache, The Dumpsville Chronicles, The Human Heart
February 17th, 2014
By Ella Wheeler Wilcox. So much win in that poem…
But she also wrote, Love lights more fires than hate extinguishes. How I hope that is true…
by Bruce |
Posted In: Life
February 14th, 2014
Repost: Valentine’s Day Broken Heart Countdown…No Rescue For The Rescuers…
There was the guy I met on the path in Rock Creek Park. I was bicycling to work in those days because I didn’t have a car, and the path through the park was a good shortcut that allowed me to stay off the main roads. It was also a peaceful ride through the woods early in the morning. No busy buzz of traffic, no early morning commuter noise. I saw a cat laying on the side of the path and as I got close noticed it wasn’t moving. At first I thought it was dead, but as I slowed down next to it the poor thing raised its head and looked at me. It was in distress.
Another guy about my age comes bicycling up and together, me gently carrying the cat and him walking both our bicycles, we get the cat to his house, which was nearby. By the time we get there the cat has perked up a bit, but still isn’t moving much. It was a longhair of some sort, there was no blood anywhere on it and its coat was in good condition. But there was no collar so no way to tell who its owner was. Nothing seemed broken but you couldn’t be sure. The guy and his dad agreed to take it to a nearby vet. I went off to work.
After work I stopped by their house to ask about the cat. But I had nefarious motives. The guy who helped rescue the cat was beautiful, and had set even my dull gaydar ringing. On the walk back to his house we began chatting about this and that. There was an air of sadness to him. He spoke in soft, quiet tones as though he was sitting in church. His mother he said, had passed away some years ago and he and his dad lived together. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life but for now he was working part time and in school part time and hoped to get his degree soon. Somehow we begun talking about books we’d read and I’d thrown in a couple trolling comments about Lambda Rising bookstore, which he was familiar with enough that he knew where it was and where it had moved from, and when he mentioned he often used the path for an early morning jog I mentioned Billy Sive, the main character in the novel The Front Runner, and he replied that he was a vegetarian too and it was a better diet not just for runners but everyone.
So there I was at his front door, and his dad answers and invites me in. The guy I’d met was there and the three of us sat in the living room and chatted for a bit, first to assure me that the vet had said the cat would be okay and they were going to take care of it until its owner could be found. Then the talk turned oddly to me…what did I do for a living, how long had I been living in Rockville, what were my interests, and so on. I didn’t mind the inquisition, which came almost exclusively from his dad. In fact I was wanting just then to make myself seem interesting enough to the guy who knew who Billy Sive was that he’d want to see more of me.
Oh yes…I work at a custom plastic shop over in Kensington, and in my spare time I paint landscapes and and draw cartoons. Plus I do photography work for a couple local newspapers and I’m working on a book of my art photography. I emphasized as I usually do when I’m trying to get someone’s attention, my creative side. As his dad chatted with me about my photography, I noted that I had his son’s absolute attention, and from the occasional sideways glances I could tell that his dad saw it too.
His dad asked about my political views and then, as casually as he could manage, asked how I felt about gay rights. And with all the nerve I could manage I replied that I was completely in favor of gay equality. At this point I almost expected to get shown the door, but his dad nodded his head and…smiled warmly. “That’s good,” he said, “that’s good.”
Dad…approves?! This was unknown territory for me, but I was more than willing to explore it. His son seemed very uncomfortable. Shortly after that his dad excused himself, saying he had work to do. When we were alone, his son set me straight.
Dad was a happy agnostic apparently, but when the mother died the son converted to Catholicism. And to be homosexual was a very grave sin (it later became a mere intrinsic disorder…). I could have argued it with him, but there’s a point where you just see it in someone’s eyes that it’s going nowhere. Perhaps he saw it in mine too. He didn’t try just then to get me to believe it too, just to make sure I knew he believed it.
So we shook hands and I left. Years later I experienced for myself the bottomless grief of my own parent’s deaths…dad first and then many years later, mom…and have never doubted since how despairing and vulnerable it leaves a person. And I have wondered ever since if that gay guy’s dad had been trying, not so much to set his gay son up with a nice boy, but trying somehow to awaken him out of grief. Life goes on…find someone to share it with… But there are those who prefer gay people pass the hours of our lives alone, and in despair. I have no idea if, absent one life hating priest somewhere anything might have come of it between us, but a even a brief walk in the garden might have done wonders for both of us just then. Which, of course, is exactly why he had to believe that love between men was a grave sin, and I had to believe he believed it
by Bruce |
Posted In: Life
Tags: Lonelyache, Valentine's Day Fun
Repost: Valentine’s Day Broken Heart Countdown…The Boy I Met In Church
The Google doodle today is lovely, and for me personally, very painful. Those of us who came of age right around the time of Stonewall had to find our way to love across a minefield of prejudice, ignorance and hate. And looking back on it you realize that so many of those roadblocks were put there to prevent you from proving other people’s prejudices wrong…to prevent you from rising above them. Because the one thing you never want the scapegoat to be able to do, is believe in themselves.
I have remarked often on how the gutter thinks homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. I’ve had it said to me outright at various times online. Orson Scott Card has written columns saying it with the same off-handed matter of factness one might talk about the weather. Here’s Randy Thomasson of Save California saying it. When I was a young man, people took it as an insult, as a mockery of their own happiness and joy, whenever gay people asserted their right to seek and find their other half too. And so many time I came close, only to have yet another chance snatched away because I couldn’t be allowed to live outside the gutter I’d been tossed into.
It’s better for gay youth and young adults nowadays. But this is not a good time for me. I’m 60 years old now, and I have so many stories…none of them happy…
Closest I ever came to having an actual boyfriend was the one I met in church. And that’s the way you would imagine it would happen in the best of all possible worlds isn’t it after all. You meet the boy or girl next door, say at church or some other social common ground. Your heart skips a beat and so does his (or hers) and the next thing you know the two of you are dating. The problem for us was twofold: we were gay and we were Baptists.
So, and perhaps unsurprisingly, right from the start of it emotional closeness was difficult for both of us. It’s a common complaint you hear at the tail end of romantic misfires among gay couples. He had trust issues. He was emotionally distant. Perhaps we simply were not right for each other after all. Or perhaps it was something he confided to me one night, as we lay together, in a very quiet, emotionless voice.
We began our tentative affair almost as soon as he got out of the military, having honorably served a tour of duty far, far away from the parent units. His mother and mine were church friends. Every Sunday we gathered at the same church until in my teens I decided church was not for me and mom, while she never stopped trying to nudge me back, never demanded I go whether I wanted to or not. That’s actually a very Baptist approach…there’s a reason Baptists don’t baptize infants and small children. You have to come to God wholeheartedly, just as you are.
For a while I actually worked for his father, but it didn’t last. As a boss he had a very bad temper, and could not keep his harsh brand of fundamentalist religiosity, so different from my own mom’s, out of the workplace. Religious tracts were scattered liberally all over his employee lunch room, and he and a favorite employee would discuss the finer points of the Bible all throughout the day, interspersed with bitter complaints about how his customers were always trying to cheat him. I wondered what home life was like with him. Then during the holidays he leveled a particularly angry outburst at his employees for choosing to spend time the weekend before Christmas with our families instead of in his shop. He’d not told us to come in to work that weekend, only in his usual passive aggressive way said that he would like it very much if we did. The next Monday morning he was shouting at everyone who walked in the door, “I WANT YOU TO KNOW THIS SHOP COMES FIRST!!!” and after storming out to get breakfast all of us (except for the favorite) walked…no, ran…out on him.
Sometime shortly after that incident, the boss’s son came back from his tour of duty and made a beeline to my little apartment in a friend’s basement, and next thing I knew we were in the sack together. Apparently he’d figured me out before I’d even figured myself out. My heart seemed like to burst with joy. I was so very lonely then, broke, no job prospects, no car, living in a friend’s basement, and here comes this guy I’d known since we were both kids, decent, well mannered, with a sharp mind you almost didn’t see behind a very big heart. Everything you would expect in the Baptist boy next door, but without the stereotypical hyper religiosity. He had two eyes that just seemed to smile at everything they saw, and a smile that melted my heart every time I saw it.
He had spent years away from the family nest, and now he was back. Bravely I thought, he came out to them. He said later that his father hadn’t exploded, mom and dad said they still loved him, and it would be okay. I had a chilly feeling then, that I knew just what ‘it’ was. Within a week his visits dropped sharply off. One day he told me offhandedly that he was probably more of a bisexual than gay, and I saw it coming. Two weeks later, after no visits at all, we happened to cross paths at a local grocery store and he told me he was getting married to a lady at the church his folks had introduced him to. I think I just nodded my head and wished him well.
Time passes…the universe expands… Seven years later I get a phone call from him…now he’s living far from the family nest, and recently divorced. Can we see each other again sometime? Well of course. And so we began another brief little hopeless fling. Sometimes you really see how the more things change, the more they stay the same. Emotional closeness, if not physical intimacy, was still excruciatingly hard for him. Are we boyfriends, I would ask. He would never answer, just change the subject. He lived far from my own home, and I was in love, so I began to make arrangements to move closer to him. At the time I was making a living as a contract software developer, and I studied the job market near where he was living. When I told him about that he seemed to panic. Once more out visits dropped sharply off. Then came a day he told me, via AOL Instant Messenger, that he was seeing somebody else.
Perhaps we were just not right for each other after all. The hard lesson to learn about love is you can find someone who is just right for you, who seems to complete you in all the places you never even knew were empty, until you met that one person, saw them smile into your eyes. And yet even so you may not be right for them. They may have a completely opposite feeling about you. Ask me how I know this. Perhaps we were not right for each other.
Or perhaps it was something he told me one night as we lay together, in a very quiet, emotionless voice. About the day he came out to his parents. About how the next morning before dawn his father had gone into the household office, fired up the computer, and created a brochure filled with verses condemning homosexuality and what God does to nations that tolerate that which is an abomination in His eyes. About how his father printed up dozens and dozens of copies of the brochure and as the sun rose, walked around their neighborhood and put one in every door of every house, for blocks around. Then he told his son what he had done.
What gay people know is this: strangers can beat you, can take your life away from you, but only family can chew your heart up, and spit it back out. And what I know is this: when you take the ability to wholeheartedly love and accept love from another away from someone, you stick the knife into that person’s heart and also into the heart of the one who might have been loved by them.
by Bruce |
Posted In: Life
Tags: Lonelyache, Valentine's Day Fun
Do You Believe In Love?
This year instead of my usual Valentine’s Day Poster Contest I’ll just repost a few entries from the pre game countdown I put up last year. Do you believe in love? When I was younger I did, most definitely. And I thought it was just a matter of letting fate cross my other half’s path with mine some day. And perhaps that would have happened too, but for the fact that I’m a gay man, and lots of people have this religious belief that homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. Mind…it isn’t that they have a belief in god or Jesus or whatever…the religion is that homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. There are Christians who believe this, there are Jews who believe it, Muslims, Agnostics, Atheists…it doesn’t matter what the avowed faith is. The faith they’ll spend the significant amount of energy, money, and personal moral capital on is Homosexuals Don’t Love, They Just Have Sex.
You want to light a fire in these folks, be a homosexual who believes in love. Be a homosexual who thinks you deserve the same chance at it they do. Then watch, as that place in your heart where a love life might have taken root and grown, is systematically, methodically torn apart…
I was in my twenties, not at all sure of what I was going to do with my life, but at least making ends meet working as a stock clerk at the warehouse of a small catalog retailer. They had two local stores and one, oddly, in Hilton Head, but like a lot of catalog retailers did most of their business around the holidays from the annual Christmas catalog they mailed out. I’d worked there by then for a couple years. Most of summer and autumn were spent bulking up the warehouse with goods for the Christmas rush. But the two local stores had to also be kept in supply. The Hilton Head store periodically got shipments from our warehouse. The two local stores were supplied by me and the company van.
One day, one of the clerks from the Montgomery Mall store came by to pick something up. My jaw probably made a mark in the concrete floor the moment I first laid eyes on him. About my height and age, thin but not scrawny, short reddish hair and geek glasses. His friendly smile as he asked me where the warehouse manager was seemed to lift me off the ground. I pointed in the boss’s direction and thought of that smile the rest of the day. No…the rest of that week.
Periodically he would return and I would walk over to greet him and our eyes would meet and we’d share a smile. My gaydar was never wonderful but it seemed written all over him. Problem was we were never left alone so I could strike up a casual chat with him. The warehouse was getting busy for the release of the new catalog and we had a bunch of new temporary hires running around. Whenever he came to the warehouse the warehouse supervisor always seemed to get to him first, and by the time he’d finished his business I was usually busy with something else.
Plus, it was the late 1970s. You just didn’t come out to people back then without a lot of careful preparation. By that time in my life I’d already been let go from a couple places after it became apparent that Bruce is gay. One supervisor had told me to my face that there was no place for homosexuals in his business. You had to be careful. If he was gay, and I was pretty sure he was simply by the way his eyes roved cheerfully over my body whenever he came around, he also knew he had to be careful. But after sharing several long lingering smiles with him I resolved to at least get a name and hopefully…somehow…a phone number.
One day as I was dropping off stock to the Montgomery Mall store, he came to the loading dock. He’d never done that before…it was usually one of the other clerks. His shift I’d assumed, was the late afternoon to closing one and I always made my deliveries in the morning before the stores opened. But that day, there he was, and he offered to help me unload. My heart leapt for joy. We began a casual chit-chat as we took the stock out of the van and into the store’s backroom. Then the store manager came out to the van…just as we were sharing another of those long lingering smiles. The look on her face could have frozen lava. She told him there was a customer he should take care of, glared at me, and left me to finish unloading.
The next day I was fired. Allegedly because some unspecified store manager complained my hair was too long. (yes, seriously) A couple days later I worked up the nerve to go to the Montgomery Mall store and of course there she was and I was told not to come back. I later learned he was let go as well. I never got his name. Never saw him again. But I can still see that last smile he tossed at me.
I’ve no idea if anything would have come of it, but a closer walk with him would have been nice. But someone else’s Closer Walk With Thee probably took precedence. And why buy your stairway to heaven when you can make it out of someone else’s dream.
Some years later I ran into the UPS driver who ran the route that serviced our warehouse…my job had me working closely with him getting our stuff out the door to our mail order customers, so when our paths crossed again we immediately recognized each other and started chatting. Hey…what’s up…how are things…? As casually as I could manage I asked him if by any chance he remembered the guy who had made my heart sigh, if only for one brief moment out of my life. There was a guy…I don’t know his name, but he worked at the Montgomery Mall store…came to the warehouse every now and then…remember him…? No, says he, he didn’t make runs to the Mall. But the warehouse manager who fired me he said, had ended up getting arrested and going to jail. The owners of the company had apparently caught him with his hands in the petty cash box.
No doubt he went to jail knowing that at least a thief’s chances for paradise were better than a sodomite’s.
by Bruce |
Posted In: Life
Tags: Lonelyache, Valentine's Day Fun
February 13th, 2014
A Coming Out Story – Episode 18
A Coming Out Story – Episode 18, now posted! Wherein our young hero learns the Truth about homosexuality. Sort-of…
by Bruce |
Posted In: Art Life
Tags: A Coming Out Story, A Life
February 12th, 2014
A Coming Out Story…[Citation Needed]?
Either tonight or tomorrow I’ll have episode 18 of A Coming Out Story posted. For those of you not following lately, I’m in the middle of a short, three-part story arc within the story that concerns the horrible sex ed class I had back in junior high school, back in 1968. This little story arc is meant to explain why I can’t seem to grasp the fact that I’m gay even while I’m crushing massively on “T.K.”
What I’m about to relate in episode 18 is what I was actually told about homosexuals and homosexuality at the end of this sex ed class. Going over it all I’d begun to worry that people reading it would think I was hysterically exaggerating. You were told What!?
But I needn’t have worried…
You read that right. Go follow the link…it’s to an article about one of Gordon Klingenschmitt’s latest rants. I’m tempted to add him as a reference to the series, a kind of homophobia’s greatest hits appendix, for when someone tells me I’m exaggerating the level of ignorance and prejudice gay people faced around the time of Stonewall. Actually, it’s still out there, alive and well.
by Bruce |
Posted In: Life
Tags: A Coming Out Story, Gratuitous Anti-Gay Hate, The Jackass Chronicles
February 11th, 2014
Ah…Valentine’s Day… Let The Reminiscences Begin!
(Reposted from last year…because when it comes to love, all that is old is new again…and again…and again…and again…)
Valentine’s Day Broken Heart Countdown!
This year, I propose having a pre-game celebration. Jim Burroway posted this today on Box Turtle Bulletin and it added some weight to my Valentine’s Day thoughts lately…
New York Times Magazine Publishes “What It Means To Be A Homosexual”: 1971. The Harper’s October 1970 cover screed by Joseph Epstein — the one where he called gay people “an affront to our rationality” and were “condemned to a state of permanent niggerdom among men” — generated an outpouring of anger in the gay community, which resulted in a protest inside the offices of Harper’s (see Oct 27). Gay activists demanded another article to give the gay community equal exposure, but the Harper’s refused the request. Its editors also refused to apologize. The outrageous insults in the piece become something of a second, lesser Stonewall in the way it brought out even more gays and lesbians who decided it was time to become more involved publicly.
Among them was Merle Miller, a former editor at Harper’s who was also a novelist and biographer…
You should go read the whole thing…Jim’s “Today In History” posts are worth reading every day. But this one helped remind me of the times I grew up and passed through adolescence in. That time when we are discovering first the first time, what desire and love are all about. It should be the most magical, wonderful passage in our lives, but for some of us, condemned to a state of permanent niggerdom it was made into a nightmare. More so for others than for me, thankfully, or I might not even be here now to type all this. But the atmosphere of hatred and contempt I grew up within did its job on me too. In 1971, the year before I graduated from high school, the year I experienced my first crush, Joseph Epstein wrote, “If I had the power to do so, I would wish homosexuality off the face of the earth.” He couldn’t of course, but there was always the next best thing. You could make sure whenever it was in your power to do so, that a gay person never had that chance to know what it was to love, and be loved wholeheartedly in return.
Without a doubt Epstein did just that whenever he got the chance. His howl against the homosexual in that Harper’s article almost certainly became a dagger in the the hopes and dreams of young gay men and women back then, reassuring parents, teachers, clergy that it was no sin to put a knife in the hearts of teenagers in love, that if they were condemned to live their one life in loneliness and heartache that was merely the Curse Of Homosexuality, not their own bar stool arrogance and cheapshit prejudices that did it to them. Bobby and Johnny are getting just a little too friendly aren’t they…let’s pack them off to the psychiatrist quickly now…or to some nice church camp somewhere far away, where they can pray their unspeakable sin away…
Ah…Valentine’s Day…when all the lonely hearts ponder writing new songs about the one that did them wrong. I have a different thing in mind. How about stories of that which might have been, but for the cheapshit prejudices of the world we were thrown into. I have a few stories of my own to tell. Pull up a chair. Sit a spell. Love is in the air. Let me pour you a drink. There is a box of Valentine’s Day candy over there on the table, pieces of the moon rattling hollowly inside…angry, angry candy…
by Bruce |
Posted In: Life
Tags: Lonelyache, The Dumpsville Chronicles, Valentine's Day Fun
January 25th, 2014
Stare Fleetingly Into This Pit…
If your German is nonexistent or as poor as mine you will need Google Translate to read this Der Spiegel article but I highly recommend it, and then following the link at the end to the more in depth article on this man’s life.
He signed with “Your Heini” or “Your Daddy”: In Israel, according to a newspaper report hundreds of letters from Heinrich Himmler have surfaced. The documents were apparently kept for a long time in a private household. The Federal Archives considers them to be genuine.
[Note: Google translation awkwardness in this post was corrected freely by me...my apologies to native German speakers if I got it wrong.]
Der Spiegel comes right out and says without Himmler there would have been no Holocaust, and their reasoning is that while yes the Nazi leadership were violent antisemites and ultimately on board with the final solution, it was Himmler who kept pushing mass murder as a policy forward at critical moments, simply by virtue of his utter remorselessness. He kept going where others hesitated, or simply never thought to go at the time. And that was simply, chillingly, because killing did not stir him emotionally one iota. He was neither attracted to it nor repulsed by it. It was simply a thing he regarded as necessary. That infamous quote of his, “It is because we can do such as this and still remain moral men, that we are great” captures him perfectly.
He was no raving vein throbbing ranter. Der Spiegel says of him:
Himmler is not a charismatic figure like the coarse and abusive Röhm, no pulpit thumper like Goering and no rousing demagogue like Goebbels. Steaming mobs, hypnotized masses – this is not the world of apparatchiks with pince-nez. He has other talents: He’s hard-nosed as Röhm, nerves stronger than morphine dependent Goering, and even more ruthless than the cunning Goebbels. This is where the evil hides behind the mask of the banal.
To the end he lived inside his own world, utterly disinterested in the human story beyond. To kill millions and then sit down to tea and cakes with your fellow Nazis as though nothing much happened, you need not to care that those people had lives, let alone thoughts and ideas of their own worth listening to. It is all just so much irrelevant static. A telling detail, according to Der Spiegel, is that after he’d concluded the war was lost he still believed he could work a deal with the allies to help keep the communists out of Europe. He bragged that after the war without him Europe would be in shambles and that he only needed one hour with Eisenhower to convince him of it too. But in the end he ducked down the same escape hatch Hitler did. I sometimes wonder if the prospect of killing himself moved him any more than the millions of others he killed, or whether in the end he simply did it because it was necessary.
I find it stunning there is not more written about this man who, in my opinion, even more than Hitler was the very heart itself of the Third Reich. That might be because the very banality of his person seems superficially to make him appear uninteresting. When you look inside the man, seeking to know what it was about him that was missing, that made everything he did possible, it stuns you to discover how little there is in there to begin with. And that leads to a very disturbing place, which may be the other reason he isn’t widely written about.
The myth that won’t die is the Nazis, and the War, and the Holocaust were possible because of an innate character flaw in the German people. It’s self serving bullshit. The reality more likely is that there are many Himmler’s walking among us right now, right this instant. Quiet, prim, orderly men of orderly habits, and what they’re missing only is the power to act on their belief of what is necessary for the greater good.
by Bruce |
Posted In: Life
Tags: The Abyss, The Human Gutter
January 22nd, 2014
Not Why I Am An Atheist…Reason #2. Collect The Entire Series!
I am not an Atheist because I read Ayn Rand back in the 70s. Matter of fact, I didn’t start acknowledging to myself that I had become atheist until a few years ago. For decades I considered myself an agnostic in the manner of Spinzoa, or Frank Lloyd Wright, who once said he believed in God but he spelled it Nature. I still love that quote. But it was actually many years after Ronald Reagan showed me what a world where people who believed that money equals morality actually looks like and I walked away from Rand, that I realized I had become Atheist. And I would really object if someone told me that I wasn’t an atheist if I didn’t embrace Rand’s philosophy.
Actually, I object to her opinions even being called philosophy. What she had was a jerking knee about anything that smacked of basic human unconditional sympathy. She was a sociopath, at one point idealizing a child murderer who grotesquely dismembered his victim’s body, wired her eyes open to make it appear that she was alive when found, and scattered pieces of her body around to taunt the police. I remember when I first read about this and how unsurprising it was by then. It is no coincidence that her ideas are embraced today by sociopaths, wealthy and otherwise alike. And…new generations of useful idiots, like I was once.
Anyway…From Fred Clark…
Ayn Rand claimed that her philosophy was the One True Faith for anyone who does not subscribe to religious faith. She said that what she called “Objectivism” — the “virtue of selfishness” and a vehement rejection of altruism — was the only Real, True Atheism. Anyone who claimed to be an atheist, but refused to follow her particular program, therefore, wasn’t the genuine article.
That’s malarkey, though.
And it would be dreadfully foolish for me, as a Christian, to accept this Randian assertion as the One True Definition of Atheism…
That would be like … like … oh, let’s say like recognizing the delusional dishonesty of everything Ken Ham has to say about science and history, but then turning around and declaring him to be correct and authoritative when it comes to biblical interpretation and hermeneutics.
Just so. Some words are really big. Christian and Atheist being two pretty big words. And there are lots of other really big words. And they’re not always descriptive in the way people think they are. Gay is a big word, especially when it’s another word for Homosexual.
I’ve had people tell me I am still an agnostic because I won’t say that I know for a fact there is no god, which is less objectionable but still…no. I really really doubt there is a supreme being that created the universe and everything in it, but that I am always willing to acknowledge that someday I might find myself walking along Newton’s beach and pick up one of those prettier than ordinary seashells and find God inside and go Oh…there you were…, does not make me an agnostic. I just…don’t believe. There’s a word for that. But it’s a big one. Like “Christian”.
by Bruce |
Posted In: Life Politics
Tags: The Human Status
January 21st, 2014
…still in it.
I fine powdery snow fell over Charm City this afternoon and my workplace closed at noon due to the inclement weather. Knowing it was coming I’d walked in and walked back. As long as the roads are bad my 60k dream-come-true diesel Mercedes that I’ve longed for since I was a teenager stays safely put. City life is good. I can walk to everything I might need, including the Institute, and I have this theory that a car makes a better parking space saver than a lawn chair.
I shoveled my backyard deck just now, and a path to the alley to put the trash out. The stuff is so light and fluffy I could have used a broom. I’d say we got about four to five inches in this neighborhood but it’s hard to say because the wind has been blowing the stuff around. The side of the car facing into the wind is almost completely clear, the other side is covered fairly deep.
by Bruce |
Posted In: Life
Tags: Casa del Garrett, Mercedes Love
January 20th, 2014
A Coming Out Story – Episode 17: What I Learned About Homosexuality (Part 1)
In which it is made clear that our young hero is growing up in the 1960s, not the year 2014…
Episode 17 of A Coming Out Story is Here…or go to the main page Here.
This is part one of a three part mini story arc about the horrible sex ed class I had back in junior high, and why it badly skewed everything I thought I knew about myself and about all that sex and love stuff. The rest of the story going forward will touch back on this repeatedly, as I begin wiggling my way out of the straightjacket of what I was taught in this one week of sex ed.
by Bruce |
Posted In: Art Life
Tags: A Coming Out Story, A Life, The Struggle For Our Lives
January 19th, 2014
If Only Valentine’s Day Was About This Too…
This wonderful Allstate ad came across my Facebook stream just now…
Be nice if in the midst of all the celebrations of how wonderful it is to be in love, there was also some recognition of how wonderful it would be if everyone else had a chance at it too. And maybe…who knows…a little re-dedication to making that world where all the butterflies come from love and not fear a reality.
by Bruce |
Posted In: Life
Tags: Lonelyache, The Dumpsville Chronicles
Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com