You Knew What Trump Was, Because There Was A Little Of Him Inside Of You
Jim Burroway, of Box Turtle Bulletin, posted his reaction on Facebook to something that’s bugged me long before the current Trump dump…
That. All those criticisms of Trump from his former supporters that start out as a husband and a father… blah blah blah. In one sense I can see how horrified the one who has a daughter of their own might suddenly feel hearing Trump’s casual off-handed just talking among the boys leering predatory attitude toward women. On the other it’s pretty hard to understand how anyone could have been that oblivious. I’m a gay man. I have no children of my own, no daughter. I had no girlfriend. I will have no wife. I don’t need any of these, and neither did you, to see Donald Trump for what he was and be disgusted. But be honest; are you really shocked or is this something more like the feeling of a guilty conscience tapping you on the shoulder? Donald Trump’s character is a whole cloth of ego and contempt, greed and malice. If you didn’t notice, it’s because you were excusing it. Perhaps because you recognized some of it in yourself.
Maybe it was the racism. So uncouth where yours is genteel, and perhaps just ashamed of itself enough to make you think yourself the better man but not enough to make you actually try to see yourself in a black man’s face. Perhaps it was his xenophobia. So blatant where yours is more diplomatic. Your own grandparents were immigrants after all, but they were from a more civilized country. Perhaps it was his sexism. So vulgar compared to your mannerly chauvinism. Real men treat the weaker sex with respect. Whatever it was, you made excuses for Trump, because you made them for yourself. But that does not make you the better man. It is making you little by little, step by step, more like him.
Now suddenly it hits home. But you need to understand this: When he was talking about the black man, the brown man, the muslem, the gay man, the Other, he was talking about your wife. When he was inciting violence at his rallies, he was inciting it against your daughter. The predator does not play favorites. We are all loot. When you gave him your support despite everything you could plainly see about the man within, you gave him permission to grope your wife and daughter. If he finds them attractive.
Take a good hard look at what you will become if you don’t stop making excuses. Because the day is coming when you will be making those excuses for what a government run by Trumps will do to you, your family, and everything you ever held dear. And you will help them do it. And you will say afterwards that you didn’t know, still making excuses that nobody believes because how could you not. Never doubt it, there is where you are headed. Turn away. Now. While you can still be shocked by what he does.
by Bruce |
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September 30th, 2016
It’s Not The House Is Made Of Glass, It’s That It’s Your House
Random Facebook associations…
Two different friends posted Mennonite and Gay related news stories that showed up in my feed next to each other. No comment other than the serendipity of it, and perhaps a nod back to that saying from back in the day, that We Are Everywhere and to strike at your gay neighbor is also to strike at someone in your own house as well. That first stone you cast might end up hitting your own child.
Original posters blacked out for their privacy…not that I think any of them would mind…but well…
Link to first article, Here. Link to second article, Here.
by Bruce |
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September 26th, 2016
What Love Can Do
So every now and then I dig back into my photo archives from the high school days, looking for reference material for A Coming Out Story. It’s the little things, like how the doorways were and the tile on the walls next to the floors. How those old metal desks looked, and the desk/chairs for students. How the window frames looked. Stuff like that. And as I go through the photos looking for reference material, I also see stuff that I think would be fun to share on our high school Facebook page. So periodically that page gets a photo dump from me.
And then the real fun starts, when my classmates start chiming in about who’s in the shots, and various memories start happening. And what really strikes me almost every time is hearing about who was dating, or had a crush on who, because I was such an oblivious little nerd back then. And I read things and my jaw drops, but in a fun way.
Part of the story I’m telling in ACOS is how unaware I was of what was happening to my peers, hormone wise, because I was so unaware of what was going on with me. In episodes 17, 18 and 19 I tried to describe why that was, how the awful sex ed class I had in junior high filled my head with so much ignorant junk about gay people that I became convinced that I couldn’t possibly be that, even as I was crushing massively on a classmate.
Just a little while ago one of my classmates posted a comment on one of my photos about how she got butterflies whenever she saw one of the guys in that shot. That would happen to me too, whenever I caught sight of the object of my affections. But thanks to that sex ed class, and the relentless stream of abuse hurled at gay people in the popular culture, I could never really see that for what it was. I know that’s probably hard to believe, and that’s one of the reasons why I’m doing my story.
So I spent most of my teen years absolutely hating the whole idea of dating and everything to do with high school romance. And whenever the topic came up I did what I learned so well how to do in Vacation Bible School…I tuned it out and disappeared into my own private thoughts about something, anything, else. Now at least I get to finally see what was going on with my classmates back then, even if it’s 45 years after the fact. It’s kinda fun in a way, to almost feel like I’m walking those halls once again with them, but this time not quite so completely oblivious.
Eventually, almost at the last minute of my school days, I woke up to it. This December 15th would make it 45 years since that moment when I finally had to admit to myself what I was feeling. And luckily it didn’t destroy me like it did so many other gay guys of my generation. Because I was in love and it felt like the most wonderful thing in the world. It was stunning. It was magical. And I knew right then and there that everything my gym teachers had said about gays in that sex ed class was bullsh*t.
by Bruce |
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Pushing The Nuke Relationship Button
There’s a well known line in Brokeback Mountain, where Jack Twist tells Ennis Del Mar I wish I knew how to quit you! It’s kinda sad actually that this one line is all most folks know because that entire scene is a good read, if painful for some of us gay guys of a certain age. But poor Jack just needed to use a little imagination on the problem. Quitting someone is easy. You just find the right button and you push it and then he quits you. Problem solved.
This came across my Facebook news feed yesterday…
Heck…I did it in five: Did you really get jealous?
Yeah he did. Or something like it. It was a pattern with him by then. I’d come visit and he’d get all cranky if I was paying more attention to the other guests than to him. Once I told him I would leave him alone that visit because he’d said previously that he was too busy to chat anyway. So I left him alone that visit, but decided at the last minute to at least go say a quick goodbye. We would always say goodbye. He’d tell me to have a safe trip home. But that time when he saw me standing in the doorway he gave me a cold stare…twice. When I asked later what he was angry about he claimed he never saw me standing there. But someone else was reading those emails by then and that was the other problem that had developed. So who knows who he was actually talking to. It was becoming suffocating. But I am no Jack Twist.
That day it was a co-worker who was going to take the big American road trip when his tour of duty was over, so I spent a bunch of time showing him my road trip photos and giving him tips on places to visit. Next thing I know a certain someone is getting all irritated and angry faced and finally he ducks out without even saying goodbye like he always does and even his co-worker is mystified by his behavior.
And I had enough.
Lessee…which button…there are So Many to choose from…ah…that’s the one… So I spoke of things I wasn’t allowed to, but here on my blog which he always said he never reads, and he read it right away like I figured he would and he got even more cranky like I knew he would and we finally had the break up fight we should have had back in high school because it just wasn’t a good fit. I won’t be controlled like that and he still wants to have his cake and eat it too.
In a manner of speaking.
But no. Get yourself out of your own fixes. Nobody rides for free.
Nobody rides for free.
Nobody rides for free.
Sorry if this spoils A Coming Out Story for some of you folks still hanging in there waiting for updates. But I am still determined to carry it through to the end, because there’s something there that needs to be told about how us gay kids were treated back then, and how for some of us it will always be a time before Stonewall. And I promise to keep the sense of humor and perspective that I started it with. I began that cartoon story years before I found him again, and it was basically a story I was telling myself to help me make sense of what had happened back then and how it became a part of me and made me what I am now. Nothing about any of that really has changed other than I know how it ends now and I didn’t when I started it. So stay tuned, there is a new episode and mini story arc coming soon.
by Bruce |
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September 21st, 2016
Pawn to Drama Queen Seven
If Facebook is good for nothing else, it keeps your memories from being gaslighted pretty damn well…
Funny how so many of my gay male rites of passage revolve around a certain someone. I didn’t say at the time who it was that called me that, but it didn’t occur to me at the time to wonder why he would occasionally lapse into gay guy talk so easily around me.
by Bruce |
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September 16th, 2016
In This Wonderful Age of Social Media, Why I Blog
This graph I saw just now on Facebook says it all. Mostly.
Why I blog.
I don’t get interrupted in the middle of answering a question or explaining something.
I don’t get told to make it brief. I can make it as long or as short as I feel it needs to be.
I can think about what I want to say, write it out, and then tweak it until I’m satisfied with it.
I can put it out there and not have to worry about what people actually understand; because some will and some won’t but either way I got it out there and I’m happy with it. (This also applies to my artwork and photography)
People who think I’m over verbose or don’t like what I have to say don’t have to read my blog. Unlike how Facebook and Twitter decide what you will see in your newsfeed or tweet stream, you actually have to go visit my website to read my blog. It’s an active not a passive activity. So if my words are not to your liking then you can completely ignore my blog and be welcome. There are cats and Willy Wonka memes out there you probably haven’t seen yet.
It gives me a record of my life and thoughts I can look back on to better understand where I’ve been and where I am now.
Another reason I blog: It’s taken me decades to claw my way out of the shell I left Jr. High School in due to bullying, plus that closet those of us who were growing up gay in the late 60s and early 70s inevitably shut ourselves into. And while I’m still not the free and cheerful kid I once was I’m better at just being Me now than I’ve been since I was a teenager. But some days when it feels like I’m being shoved back into that cocoon again for various professional and personal reasons, I know I can always turn to my blog, and my artwork, and get it out one way or another. This is how some of us, who’ve never found our significant other, computer nerds mostly I reckon, cope with trying to be understood.
I’ve said here before, this is a life blog. That’s something blogs just were before they became a media for political expression. Nowadays there are probably as many blogs out there as reasons people blog. Facebook, Twitter and other social media have cut into what was for a while a vibrant blog culture based around blogrolls and readers, but for those of us who have a need to get it out there in our own voices blogging is still an ongoing thing. Just recently a writer I follow, Jim Wright, had a post he put up on Facebook taken off after some unknown jackasses complained about it. The post in question was a heartfelt and angry reflection on the anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, so you can see why it might not have been to everyone’s liking. But Wright is a thoroughly decent man, a retired US Navy Chief Warrant Officer and he knows how to make himself clear even to nitwits. Eventually Facebook put it back up and apologized, but you could always read it on his personal website,Stonekettle Station. This is why it’s a good thing blogs are still out here.
“In support of an inclusive work environment, as well as exemplary customer service, the Social Security Administration recently announced a diversity and inclusion training on the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community to our employees…The training includes a brief session on tips for increasing cultural awareness in a diverse and inclusive environment.”
For Hall, that premise was too sinful. The 42-year-old, who identifies as Christian, said he does not believe God would have wanted him to watch the video.
Signing a statement he had watched such a video, moreover, was equal to endorsing “an abomination,” he told WCIA.
“I’m not going to certify sin.”
He told WCIA during an interview that the video was propaganda…
Sully is, in theory, based on Sullenberger’s 2009 memoir Highest Duty (co-authored with Jeffrey Zaslow). “Until I read the script, I didn’t know the investigative board was trying to paint the picture that he had done the wrong thing. They were kind of railroading him,” says Eastwood in one promotional trailer. It’s not surprising Eastwood was ignorant of any railroading by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), since it’s a narrative absent from Highest Duty, or anything actually said or written by the NTSB.
Go read the whole thing to see the takedown of the movie’s central lie. This movie laughs in your face and lies to you. There’s just no other way to put it. Its central fact, that the National Traffic Safety Board tried to railroad pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles, is a lie. A damnable lie.
But a lie you could see coming in the first trailer released for it. This is Talks To An Empty Chair Eastwood telling the audience in the Fox News cocoon everything they want to hear about how evil the federal government is. In the process he’s turned people who lived these events into stick figures in an antigovernment morality play, meant not to tell the story of an American hero but to encourage Americans to fear and mistrust their own government. Eastwood spits in the faces good people who work diligently every day to make travel safer for all of us. Because in the libertarian mindset, a government that can require corporations to care about anything other than profit, such as customer safety, can only be evil.
It’s a damnable lie, easily seen for what it is with even a cursory fact checking of the sources. But Eastwood knows his audience. They don’t want facts, they want their bigotries validated. Even if it means that someday the aircraft they’re on crashes and burns because CEO compensation mattered more than their lives, and lawsuit settlements were seen to be less costly than fixing a potential life threatening problem.
by Bruce |
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September 12th, 2016
Magical Stabs From The Past…
Facebook likes to throw these little “See Your Memories” things onto your news page. They can be fun…like all those memories of past road trips…or they can be achingly bad…like the bleeding painful posts I left when Claudia got run over. This one came up a few days ago…
A certain someone who works there, whose nickname I will not speak (Hi!), had urged me to come down after I told him I wasn’t much interested in theme parks. We were having one of our hour+ long phone conversations. I was all about the road trip I told him. Just the year previously I’d written in a blog post “My favorite form of vacation is to just throw my maps and my cameras and my luggage in the car and just drive. I love taking long cross-country road trips.” “Come on man,” he said, “it’s your heritage. Baseball, Apple Pie and Mickey Mouse. What’s wrong with you?”
So it was that 7 years ago I checked in to Walt Disney World for the very first time. I wanted to see him again after all those years, but I was also very intensely curious about this second of the great Walt Disney theme parks Walt Disney created, or at least envisioned before cigarettes killed him: what eventually came to be was not the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow that he’d imagined.
Even so, it is huge…absolutely huge. I was feeling overwhelmed the moment I drove through those Mickey Mouse gates. But I’d done my research, and bought tickets with the park hopper option so I could wander around like I knew I was going to want to. Several years later while at a private Gay Days party at Typhoon Lagoon I discovered how much fun the water parks are. I’ve had the deluxe annual pass ever since. Then three years ago I rented someone’s DVC points and stayed at Boardwalk and before that vacation was even over I’d joined DVC.
And so it was, and so it is. I’m old enough to remember watching Wonderful World of Color when Walt Disney was still alive, and the moment I walked into Epcot it all came back to me, and I’ve been returning every year since. For a while back in March (Hi Thomas!) I figured my stays there were at an end. But A Certain Someone was right after all…it is my heritage. And more than that…it’s my reminder of that future I looked toward back when I was a kid. I’d forgotten how much of that was crafted by Walt Disney. I’d forgotten how much of a Disney kid I really was. He had one foot in Main Street USA and the other in Tomorrowland. People forget that about him. In a time when one of our two major parties turns itself into the party of white supremacy, threaten the foundations of the republic, and a Donald Trump can be in reach of sitting in the oval office with the nuclear button close by, I really need that reminder of the human status.
I have a job now helping to build that future. And Reckon I will probably keep making the trip to Walt’s World for as long as I can.
by Bruce |
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Basket Of Deplorables
If I were to do a political cartoon today about a basket of deplorables, I would draw a basket and instead of putting the usual Trump supporters and right wing kooks into it, I would put a bunch of TV and Big Media logos into it. There’s your basket of deplorables.
You have to appreciate growing up in the 60s as I did, living through the great civil rights moments as a kid, coming of age politically in the early 70s, how the current media indignation at Mrs. Clinton’s calling out Trump’s racist supporters is a big reason why we still have a problem in this country with racism. As Nixon expertly calculated, cultivating the racist vote via calculated dog whistles is an easy way to harvest votes from a certain voting population that carries little to no political risk. And that is because of ostentatious media indignation whenever democrats call out these republican dog whistles.
I’ve watched it through the decades. Carter called Reagan out on starting campaign in the place where three young civil rights workers were killed by the Klan, with a speech on “state’s rights”. The media got all up in arms about it, as though Carter had committed some unforgivably rude libel against his opponent. But anyone with half a brain could see what Reagan was doing there. The dog whistles could have stopped right then and there if the media had jumped on Reagan instead, but they loathed Carter, hated the democrats, and so Reagan got a pass to continue with it. Which he did, and which the republicans have been perfecting now for decades. It’s been the song and dance ever since: calling out republican winks and nods to the American gutter is out of bounds according to the dictators of what is and is not civil political discourse.
Now we have Trump, who isn’t even bothering to dog whistle to the bigots. And media Still plays indignant when it’s called out. Meanwhile black Americans are still being held down, their lives cheapened, by systematic racism, and the media pays no attention until riots happen. And then they blame “both sides” for not finding solutions, as if both sides were equally to blame.
But both sides are not equally to blame. And the big corporate news media, by pushing back whenever democrats call out GOP racist dog whistles, have bought themselves a share in that blame. When the terms of “civil discourse” redline any discussion of how politicians cultivate the racist vote, it allows racism to stay alive and well politically in the Land of The Free And The Home of The Brave.
Is that because the boardrooms of the big American corporations are largely racist themselves? I doubt it, but they like republican economic policies better than the democrat’s, and in the rarefied heights of Valhalla they see no reason to make such a big deal out of racism in America. Especially if that discussion costs them friendly republicans in congress. Black Lives Matter? Oh mon dieu…Our Profits Matter!!
So I have a question for all the CEOs and VPs and Whomever It May Concern at the heads of these big media conglomerates who’ve been dictating the terms of polite political discourse for the past several decades, ever since Reagan found political deliverance in the heart of the old Confederacy. See that man at the head of the Republican ticket? You put him there. You put a piss ignorant bellicose narcissistic lout within arm’s reach of the nuclear button. Don’t be blaming the Tea Party or the Republican Base…you deliberately gave the race hatred that festered down there space to grow and gain power within the party. You not only turned the light off, you made turning it back on a political offense. Now look at what you accomplished. Does it bother you? Does it frighten you? Tell me…tell us all…how far down into the gutter are you willing to drive this country, for your bottom line? For your tax cuts? For your deregulation? For your gig economy where workers have no rights a boss is bound to respect?
How far into the gutter? How far down is rich enough for you?
by Bruce |
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September 10th, 2016
Politics Is One Thing, Decency Another…
I’ve seen some Facebook posts lately that friends should not “defriend” friends over mere political disagreements. Well…okay… But mere political disagreements are not always as mere as they seem.
I once had someone in my friends list over there who I’d known for many years. We worked together back in the day and then went our separate ways, only to find each other once again on the social media pastures. I’d always thought of him as a nice guy, basically decent, thoughtful, intelligent, even though his taste in newspapers tilted toward the Murdoch zone. I felt it was something I could just let slide. It lasted all the way up to the riots in Baltimore over the Freddy Gray verdict, when I saw him venting that maybe closing the city food banks would teach them a lesson. And in the next instant he was off my friends list. No warning, no theatrical unfriending announcement given. I pushed the button and that was that.
I appreciate that we Americans need to talk to each other about the issues. I appreciate that if we can’t talk to each other nothing can get done. But there are limits to the scope of that discussion. If your idea of justice is taking food out of the mouths of poor people and their families well then I hope the ghosts come to visit you Mr. Scrooge and I hope you learn from the lessons they teach, but I want nothing more to do with you. Because “friend” is more than a line item on a social media list of names, it’s a connection…between mutual souls of a kind, birds of a feather, cut from the same cloth, comrades…and you just told me we are not that at all.
by Bruce |
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September 8th, 2016
I was 17, and me and mom were in her car fleeing westward to California and the half of my family tree I’d never seen, and never known. I won’t go into the details of the family tensions at that moment, just that they were huge and mom was making a heroic effort to keep them away from me. She felt it was time for me to get to know my father. And in truth, she still loved him very much. All I knew was I was born in California, and it had called to me my entire life. I ached to be there. Now, hopefully I would finally walk its ground and see the people who were the other half of my bloodline.
I’d had my driver’s license by then. I was driving, mom was resting in the front seat beside me, it was night and we were on the interstate driving through Ohio, into the darkness beyond the headlights, driving to whatever was ahead. I had the radio on. In those days the radio was all you had to keep you company on the highway. The radio stations faded in and then faded out as the miles passed. I had a classical music station tuned in. This began playing.
Somehow, it just captured my emotional state just then. It was as if the composer wrote it just for me, just for that moment, driving from one world I knew, into an unknown one. Fleeing the relentless iron grip of one, but into what?
As soon as I could I began searching for this music. All I heard from the radio was “…Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra…” Eventually I learned the name of the composer. He was a Russian…Dmitri Shostakovitch. And it was his first symphony, as performed by the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra. I later learned he composed it when he himself was a teenager. I have always imagined listening to it, that this was his statement on coming of age, and finding himself in a country where the artist’s only duty was to the State. Somehow, raised in a rigidly authoritarian faith that was nothing like the state imposed atheism of the Soviets, and yet everything like it, I could relate. The Man was a soul sucking bastard whichever side of the iron curtain you were on.
This is intense, amazing music. It aches. It burns. It is sarcastic, ironic, broken hearted and proud and defiant. Shostakovitch became my musical companion through the rest of my adolescence and young adulthood. He went on to compose 15 symphonies, all of them masterpieces of 20th century music. And his music never lost that bitter, ironic, defiant bite. His 8th symphony, composed during the siege of Leningrad is the most perfect expression of the soul crushing inhumanity of war I have ever listened to. (Get the version by Kyril Kondrashin and the Moscow Philharmonic.) Later, I discovered Vaughan-Williams and Rachmaninoff. They speak to my heart in a different, more settled and romantic way. But some days I dig into my collection of Shostakovitch because nobody expresses this feeling of bitter, laughing resolve better, and especially the piece he composed while a teenager, in Joseph Stalin’s Russia.
Note: only the Russian conductors seem to really understand Shostakovitch, and especially this piece.
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