“Politics like sex is only a by-product of what the essential person is. If you are mean and selfish and cruel it will come out in your sex life and it will come out in your politics when what really matters is that you are the sort of person who won’t behave like that.”
-Mary Renault, as quoted in Mary Renault: A Biography by David Sweetman
I keep coming back to this quote because it really gets to the heart of it, and to which I would only add Religion. If you are mean and selfish and cruel it will absolutely come out in your religious beliefs and practices too, though I concede some might say religion is just another kind of politics.
Someone I follow on Facebook posted a link to an article about this. Rather than copy the link here, since it goes into the theology of it, I’ll just cut to the chase…
Daley was deeply upset over his performance…so I’m told he was in tears afterward. And it does my heart good to see the static on Twitter Christian Voice is getting about this. But you need to see how prejudice works in a person, how that moment of weakness in the hated other amounts to the perfect time to stick the knife in. And of course, it didn’t stop there…
…because why on earth would they want to stop at all? If prejudice is good at doing anything it’s taking away your brakes. That crack about Black seducing Daley is par for the course and just never you mind that the two of them saw it differently. The mindset is homosexuals don’t reproduce, they recruit. The thought that maybe love and desire work their way on gay folk the same as they do heterosexuals is never entertained. The notion that Daley saw something he liked that first time he beheld Black precisely because he was a gay man can’t be considered….
“I was in Los Angeles for the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, and a friend organized a dinner, and got there at least 45 minutes late. I’m not going to lie: I had no clue who Dustin Lance Black was, or what he did. I just remember thinking, Oh wow, who’s that? He was wearing a white T-shirt with a thin red hoodie, and a leather jacket over it, and I thought he looked like a swimmer, because he has quite broad shoulders. As the dinner progressed, I kept on looking at him, and he kept catching me, which was awkward at times, because I would always look away.” -Tom Daley, “DLB + TD Forever“, OUT Magazine, May 2016.
…because everything about the hated other must be seen as unnatural and perverse. Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex.
A brief perusal of the Christian Voice Twitter feed (I’ll not link to it) turns up the usual stuff. They’re very much pro Brexit, they don’t much like Muslims, or Europe, and of course…
But this is enchanting…
The Good News not being good enough for everyone’s ears apparently.
If it saddens or appalls you to see avowed Christians behaving like this, if you’re saying to yourself right now, Oh that’s how these religionists are, that’s because you’re paying too much attention to the religion and not enough to the person.
Politics like sex is only a by-product of what the essential person is. If you are mean and selfish and cruel it will come out in your sex life and it will come out in your politics when what really matters is that you are the sort of person who won’t behave like that.
I have met many wonderful, decent, kind hearted Christian people. And likewise I have met a lot of knuckle dragging bigots who’ve called themselves Christian. They have come to me thoughtful and curious, as well as gleefully ignorant and suspicious. And I’ve said this before and I reckon there’ll be disagreement, but I’ll say it again: religion doesn’t matter. I say it to my fellow atheists, who see religion as a corrupting influence on humanity, I’ll say it to the believers out there, who see it as a path to hope and redemption. Religion does not matter. That is what my 62 going on 63 years of life on this good earth has taught me.
What matters is the heart. That is all that matters.
by Bruce |
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May 13th, 2015
For Some Reason You’re Acting Like It Hurt…
“One of my favorites was Rob Ingersoll. Ingersoll came in often and we’d talk. Like me, he had an artistic eye. I’d try to create really special arrangements for him. I knew he was gay, but it didn’t matter — I enjoyed his company and his creativity…”
Yes, yes…It didn’t matter, until it did. Which is to say it always mattered, just not until that moment in a way that she was willing to be honest with him about.
And now she’s surprised that one of her favorite customers reacted with a lawsuit. That’s more telling then that she refused her services. Favorite Ingersoll may have been, but clearly not as human as herself, Otherwise She Wouldn’t Have Been Surprised. It’s how Anyone would react to having their joy of getting married, of finding in this poor lonely angry world that special someone, that wholeness of heart and body and soul, having it suddenly treated like it was a dishonorable thing. Being told your feelings toward the one you love more than anything, the one that completes you, the one you would walk through fire for, are immoral, disgusting, offensive to God. But in a nice way. Ever so politely. I took his hands and said, “I’m sorry…” It cuts you deep. Especially since, if she’s to be believed, he had understood himself to be a favorite customer of hers.
But homosexuals don’t have feelings like the rest of us and so she’s surprised. She “felt terrible” when she should have felt deeply ashamed of herself. A flower shop isn’t a church and arranging flowers isn’t a religion. If Ingersoll was just a stranger who walked in off the street wanting flowers for his wedding her behavior would have been bad enough. But see how she does not seem to grasp that boasting about how friendly she’d become with him, Despite The Fact That He Was Gay, makes the heartlessness of it worse, not better. She had been given an opportunity to see a Person not A Homosexual and she couldn’t.
This is the part so many people miss about the anger of that reaction to getting slapped in the face by prejudice. Bad enough when it comes at you from strangers. He, if she is to be believed, opened up to her in a way gay people are Still highly uncomfortable with. He trusted her. Never mind she discriminated against a customer and a fellow American. This man trusted her enough to be open about himself. He trusted her enough to share his joy with her. She betrayed a friend.
by Bruce |
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April 5th, 2015
We Know A Scam When We See One…
Something else from my Facebook news stream tonight that gave me a laugh…
Gov. Mike Pence, scorched by a fast-spreading political firestorm, told The Star on Saturday that he will support the introduction of legislation to “clarify” that Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not promote discrimination against gays and lesbians.
Pull the other one. I’ve seen apologists spinning criticism of the Indiana law as some kind of militant gay hysterics, that the law has nothing whatever to do with discrimination against gay citizens, it’s just about preventing government from forcing The Devout to violate their Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs. We all believe that people should be free to practice their faith don’t we? But in Georgia a similar law was amended to make it clear that it wasn’t a license to discriminate and rather than pass it with that amendment they withdrew it. And in Oklahoma when a legislator proposed that businesses wanting protection under that law had to post signs alerting customers they would not serve anyone if it violated their religious beliefs, that law was also withdrawn.
Laws like these aren’t actually originating in the various state legislatures. The new thing is to first cook up a law in a right wing legislative think tank like ALEC and then pass it around to friendly state representatives. If you want to know the purpose of these ersatz religious freedom laws, ask the folks pushing them on the states…
Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer): “Dear Indiana legislators: any legislation “clarifying” RFRA will be abject surrender to the homosexual agenda. Don’t do it.”
I’m sure part of the song and dance now is Don’t Say The G-Word during hearings on the law. But there’s plenty of talk about what the purpose is elsewhere and if you doubt the actual legislative purpose take another look at what happened in Georgia when they added the clarity that Pence claims now to be seeking. Or take a look at this image from GLADD…
There will be no clarification forthcoming, Pence knows it, this is just wash, wash, washing his hands before the angry multitudes. What? What? I asked the legislature for Clarification…they did not provide any…so don’t blame me!
Some of you may recall a lot of this started when a same sex couple wanted a wedding cake and the bakery refused, citing their Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs. There have been several more cases like that, but in the one case I’m thinking of, I think it was the Colorado bakery, what hasn’t gotten as much press was a local radio station had various people go to that same bakery and ask them to bake cakes for divorces, out of wedlock births, heterosexual couples shacking up but not getting married, and so on…and they were perfectly willing to bake those cakes. Just not the one for the gay couple. I don’t think that even qualifies as Sunday Morning Christianity.
The ninth commandment is you don’t tell lies about your neighbors. There needs to be one for telling lies about yourself. Because, really, that’s where soul rot begins. All this yap, yap, yapping now about how everyone is completely misinterpreting Indiana’s law would be hilarious on The Daily Show but it’s pathetic to watch people really saying these things with a straight face. Anyone saying this law has nothing to do with nullifying the effect if not the reality of same-sex marriage needs to go look in a mirror and ask that poor lost soul staring back at them which is worse: repeating a lie because you don’t want people to know the truth, or repeating it because you don’t want to know the truth.
by Bruce |
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January 20th, 2015
I Don’t Like Displays Of Heterosexuality Either. Especially When Homosexuals Are Doing It Too.
“I did it in front of a live audience,” recalls Billy of Soap, “and there were times where I would say to [the actor who played his boyfriend], ‘Bob, “I love you,’ and the audience would laugh nervously, because, you know, it’s a long time ago, that I’d feel this anger. I wanted to stop the tape and go, ‘What is your problem?’ Because it made you sort of very self-conscious about what we were trying to do then. And now it’s just, I see it and I just hope people don’t abuse it and shove it in our face — well, that sounds terrible — to the point of it just feels like an everyday kind of thing.”
But of course making it feel like an everyday kind of thing is exactly what gay people in the audience back then, who had to listen to that laughter in their own lives if they were lucky, and outright hostility and violence when they weren’t, would have loved to see happen. And now that it is, some people who we may have thought were with us on that, are showing us once again that it’s one thing to talk the talk and another to actually mean it.
After facing quite a bit of backlash on social media, Crystal doubled down, claiming he doesn’t understand “why there would be anything offensive that I said. When it gets too far either visually…now, that world exists because it does for the hetero world, it exists, and I don’t want to see that either. But when I feel it’s a cause, when I feel it’s ‘You’re going to like my lifestyle,’ no matter what it is, I’m going to have a problem.”
No matter what it is…No matter what it is…No matter what it is… What it is would be gay Billy. That’s what it is. And we don’t have a lifestyle, we have lives.
How often have I heard this standard excuse whenever someone bellyaching about the visibility of gay sexuality gets called out for being prejudiced. Oh no…I am against heterosexual public displays too. Yeah, right, so why didn’t anyone hear you complaining about that before now? Why was it only when the TV starting singing a few gay stanzas of the same fucking song it’s been singing about heterosexuality for decades did you decide to start yapping about it?
Let me hazard a guess…because sexuality on the TV screen didn’t bother you until the gays started acting like they had something to be proud of in that department too.
No matter what it is.
Never mind. There is a bigger issue here and thankfully that Think Progress article touches on it. The essential homophobia of the big Hollywood studios needs open acknowledgement and discussion, and not just in retrospect, because that is why gay visibility is next to nil in a Hollywood product and even when it happens, even when they toss us a scrap off the table, is cheap, stereotyped, and nearly always sexually emasculated. This really needs emphasising: the studio heads would rather not offend the heartland bigots, not because they are afraid for their ratings and profits, but because they share the cheapshit prejudices of those heartland bigots.
Let’s talk about shoving sexuality in faces Crystal…Hollywood has been shoving a vision of a world without gays in the faces of gay people for generations without any shred of concern for the effect it has had on us, on our families or or the communities we live and work in. Oh yes, there have been the usual homosexual psychopaths and pathetic limp wristed faggots, but as Vito Russo famously said, “There have never been lesbians or gay men in Hollywood. Only homosexuals.” And even today Hollywood Still tip-toes around our very existence, giving us castrated gay-vague characters at best, cheapshit toss away stereotypes at worst, and they think they’re brave for doing even that much. This is long after other entertainment media have acknowledged and embraced us as a part of the audience.
You want to see three-dimensional, fully realized human gay characters, pick up a book, a comic book, go see a live performance of a play, or listen to some pop music. In Hollywood John Wayne is still rolling in his grave and retrograde attitudes like Crystal’s are just the part that gets said in public, and in private what Truman Capote once said is still true today: a faggot is the homosexual gentleman who just left the room.
Let me add a personal note, because February and Valentine’s Day are coming soon and this is absolutely the worst time of the year for me, Bruce Garrett, one lonely sixty-one year old gay man whose love life looks in retrospect as though it was doomed the moment I hit puberty. I’ll get around to my annual Valentine’s Day venting about that later, or if you feel like taking a stroll through an empty wasteland you can go read some of the posts I’ve written about trying to find a boyfriend in a world that wants people like me to not exist.
Some days you find yourself getting really angry at something and you know that most other people probably think you’re taking it too much to heart. Hey, come On, it’s just some guy who was on Hollywood Squares once… But entire generations of gay people had their love lives throttled because of homophobia and the enforced invisibility that came with it. The closet was a place you both put yourself into, and were put into. And in there your heart slowly withered and died, tastefully out of sight, so that others didn’t have to see the sewer they made of their own souls for doing that to their neighbors. What should have been one of life’s most perfect joys was taken from some of us and turned it into ashes. And even today, even now, for so many of us but especially those of us who were just coming of age when Stonewall happened, that’s all there is now. Ashes. And the knowledge that it didn’t have to be, that there was never anything wrong with us, only adds to the grief…and the anger.
Don’t like it when gay sexuality is shoved in your face Crystal? Hahahahahaha… Live for a few hours with the empty place inside of me where there should have been love and joy and peace and contentment Crystal, and then with the tens of thousands of others like me who had to grow up with your ignorant bar stool prejudices suffocating our hopes and dreams. So you played gay on TV did you? Ever wonder why your fellow actors who are gay are Still scared to death to touch those rolls? Ever wonder why gay kids are Still killing themselves? Ever wonder why the parents of gay kids are Still forcing them into ex-gay therapy? Try a mirror. Then look at your name, along with all the others in the industry you spent your life working in, written on the bottomless misery that taught audiences to cheer and applaud when a man kills another man and be shocked and offended when a man loves another man.
[Edited a tad for clarity…]
by Bruce |
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November 17th, 2014
The Complementary Nature Of Prejudice And Ignorance
You wonder some days if some people even bother listening to themselves…
“In these days, as you embark on a reflection on the beauty of complementarity between man and woman in marriage, I urge you to lift up yet another truth about marriage: that permanent commitment to solidarity, fidelity and fruitful love responds to the deepest longings of the human heart…” –Pope Francis The Oblivious.
Here it is again in another form: Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. That’s what Francis is saying there if he’s holding that up as a reason why same-sex couples ought not to be allowed equal access to marriage. He’s saying that homosexual relationships can’t, by their very nature, aspire to permanent commitment, solidarity, fidelity, and fruitful love. He’s saying that the deepest longings of the homosexual’s heart are actually quite shallow. They can’t aspire to marriage because they don’t have what it takes. Because homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex.
If that’s not what he meant, then why say it in front of an audience that includes some of the worst bigots in the United States. He’s telling them he shares their belief in the essential emptiness of the homosexual’s soul. Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex… And if that’s the case, then this man will simply continue his flock’s long jihad on the deepest longings of the human heart after all, reassuring himself as they always do, that the knife isn’t actually cutting hearts capable of bleeding. And as they always do, he’ll continue to blame the pushback on modernism…
“Do not fall into the trap of being swayed by political notion. Family is an anthropological fact – a socially and culturally related fact.” -Same Guy.
Oh it’s facts now is it? Here’s one: same-sex couples share the same longings as opposite-sex couples, because they are as human as anyone else. Gay people have the same human heart, and it is moved by love in the same way. That is a fact. You’d see it if you could see the people for the homosexuals: and yet, it moves.
by Bruce |
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It relates the story of a gay man who took a new job and moved his spouse and their teenage son from a good home in Massachusetts to Nebraska, where there are precisely zero protections for gay people. He went into it thinking it was a dream come true job. The company recruiter had assured him that the company was “very affirming”. But the problems began almost the instant they settled into their new home and he into his new job. It was a disaster, financially and emotionally. Now you may wonder why any gay person would leave Massachusetts for Nebraska and expect to be treated like anything other than human garbage. Certainly the company lawyer did…
One day, after losing his job, Paul heard from the company’s lawyer, who asked him the same question that his boss had already raised. “‘What did you think was going to happen in this community?'” Paul recalls the lawyer saying. “‘We’re a Republican town, we’re a conservative town and we’re a Christian town.'”
Not exactly what the recruiter told him, but they probably approach their jobs a bit differently.
Let this man’s story be a warning. Regardless of what you are told, regardless of how friendly they may seem, if the place they want you to move to is homophobic and the company calls that place home, no matter how good the offer looks, take a walk.
One other thing: Read that company lawyer’s spiel again. We’re a Republican town, we’re a conservative town and we’re a Christian town. When someone complains about republicans, conservatives, and Christians being called bigots, laugh in their face and tell them you’re only reading what’s on the label they’re proudly wearing.
by Bruce |
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August 4th, 2014
The Militant Homosexual I Became Was Nurtured By Hollywood’s Homosexual
A friend on Facebook turned me onto this…
I have both editions of “The Celluloid Closet” published while he was still with us. If any one thing could have been said to have radicalized my attitudes toward gay equality it was this one, even more so than “And The Band Played On”. The book opens with a story about how a gay friend of his was telling another gay friend about a new movie that had a gay character in it, and the other friend immediately asks how the character dies. In a nutshell, that’s how it was.
I ordered the DVD of Vito and it came Friday and I had housework to do so it just sat for a while. Last night before bed I watched the first two thirds of it. It filled in a lot of blanks for me because I only knew of Vito Russo from his groundbreaking film history The Celluloid Closet. I didn’t know, but I should have guessed, how the activist predated the historian. The part showing him struggling to pull together all the hidden threads of our presence in the movies really brought back home to me that sense of isolation and cultural invisibility I hadn’t felt in decades.
Back in the 1970s, that homosexual characters were occasionally included in movies, either for laughs if they were flaming sissies or as the embodiment of unnatural evil, was something probably everyone knew. Russo was the first person to actually gather all the pieces together, all the little walk on toss off parts along with the major roles, all the sissies, all the evil psychos, all the tragically dammed, and look at all critically. And the book he produced hit gay people everywhere who read it like a ton of bricks, because you knew the scapegoating and stereotyping weren’t just how your heterosexual neighbors were taught to look at you, but also how you were taught to see yourself. Heterosexuals could dream of the happily ever after, could see that dream on the silver screen, could picture themselves there, having that life, or something like it. Hollywood flushed our dreams into the sewer from the moment we first walked into a movie house. We weren’t lovers, we were sissies, we were dangerous sexual psychopaths, we were the butt of dirty jokes, we were the personification of unnatural evil, we were pathetic, we were terrifying, we were not human. But you really didn’t see it all that clearly because the one thing we were most of all was something not to be discussed in public among decent normal people.
Then Vito Russo gathered it all together and put it in front of us. And it just took your breath away…to see it all there, laid out in front of you.
And it made you angry…
by Bruce |
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Collin Dewberry, who was leaving with his partner, said the waitress told them they do not serve a certain type of person at that restaurant. The word she used was derogatory and targets homosexuals.
“We’ve never had that kind of hate displayed to us before,” Dewberry said.
They explained that the waitress then recited the following phrase: “Here at Big Earl’s we like for men to act like men and for ladies to act like ladies, so we want you to never return.”
That phrase is posted on a piece of paper on the front door of the restaurant.
The owner told us that sign had been here since the restaurant opened three years ago. He also said they have the right to refuse service to that couple in the future because they didn’t follow that policy.
That waitress who used a derogatory term is Earl’s daughter.
“She’s a young lady, didn’t know what else to say, and they just kept on and she finally said we just don’t like fags,” he explained.
The owner said plenty of gay couples eat at his restaurant without hassle and he has no problem with that as long as they follow his policy.
Le Curtian…Applaus a vous…
by Bruce |
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April 24th, 2014
Meanwhile, while Andrew Sullivan and a gaggle of other apologetic conservative gays were busy telling Brenden Eich how sorry they are he lost his job…
She went to the Idaho Veterans Cemetery and asked officials to reserve a spot for interment, along with her partner’s ashes. The cemetery allows spouses of veterans to be buried or interred with them.
They said no.
“I’m not surprised.” Taylor said. “I’ve been discriminated against for 70 years, and they might as well discriminate against me in death as well as life.”
A spokesperson with the Division of Veterans Services told KBOI 2News that they “have to abide by the Idaho state constitution,” which only recognizes marriage between a man and a woman.
“I don’t see where the ashes of a couple old lesbians is going to hurt anyone,” Taylor said.
But of course the point isn’t that it hurts them, but that it hurts her, that it reminds her of the fact, as Orson Scott Card put it, “However emotionally bonded a pair of homosexual lovers may feel themselves to be, what they are doing is not marriage. Nor does society benefit in any way from treating it as if it were…”
Tolerance is we just quietly and without complaint let people keep sticking knives into our hearts because they’re entitled to their belief that our hearts don’t experience pain any better than they experience love.
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!?
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 |
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A lawmaker who helped author Kansas’ constitutional amendment banning gay marriage questioned a state official Tuesday about why his agency included sexual orientation in an anti-discrimination clause for safe houses for victims of human trafficking.
Now why on earth, you may be wondering, would anyone object to telling people who are providing services to kids who have been rescued from human trafficking rings to not discriminate against the gay ones? You may be wondering that is, if you hadn’t been paying attention to the bottomless abyss that is the anti-gay industrial complex…
After rattling off a series of nondiscrimination categories for admission to the secure facilities that included gender and race, Rep. Jan Pauls, D-Hutchinson, asked Smith why sexual orientation was also included.
“I wasn’t sure what your origin was on listing sexual preference,” Pauls said. “Gender covers a lot of the sexual discrimination, potentially. I just wasn’t sure why the sexual preference was added.”
Smith said it was a safeguard to ensure homosexual victims get helped.
And there’s the problem right there. There are no homosexual victims, there are only victims of homosexuals…
“The issue is, if you have a homosexual child who was prostituted out there, you don’t want a facility denying treatment to that child,” Smith said. “Not that we believe anybody would deny services based on that.”
But then, what do we mean…really…by “denying services?” We give them a place to stay. That doesn’t mean they have to feel comfortable here does it? Behold:
Pauls also said she didn’t believe any human trafficking victims would be denied access to a safe house on that basis, but she said including it in legal nondiscrimination regulations could pose problems for religious institutions providing help, whether they be Christian, Muslim and other faiths that oppose homosexual activity.
“They might refuse if part of the followup treatment is to make the person comfortable in the alternative lifestyle they may have been forced into,” Pauls said.
You would expect that child services professionals would be making very sure every kid rescued from this sort of thing, not just the gay ones, knows in their heart that they aren’t to blame for what they were made to do. Every kid was forced into it. There is no “may have” about it. But there’s something else going on in this woman’s line of questioning. Something those of you reading this who haven’t been fighting this fight for so long may be missing here. Homosexuals you see, don’t reproduce, they recruit. There are no gay kids, only heterosexual kids that were abused by homosexuals and “turned”. So really every gay kid was forced into that “alternative lifestyle”. See how that works?
We are not denying these kids services, we are denying they are gay. And these children need rescuing too…from the homosexual agenda. So the religious institutions providing services to exploited children need to be able to tell those kids that Change Is Possible. For God sakes don’t make them comfortable with being turned into homosexuals. Tell them they are not homosexual, that their homosexuality is only the damage their masters inflicted upon them. And never mind this might only make them even more suicidal than they already were.
Those men who did this to you…they made you think you’re homosexual…but God can heal you… And when the healing doesn’t come, when the sexual attraction to their own sex does not go away, because homosexuality is a real thing and some kids after all really are gay, what is that kid supposed to think, except that the men who sold them, and the men who exploited them, damaged them beyond repair. Raped once by the peddlers of children, raped again by the peddlers of righteousness. And then what do those kids do? They do what bullied gay kids do year after year after year after heartbreaking year.
And thus the safe house becomes the final nail in a little coffin that didn’t have to be, but for the ignorance, but for the unmitigated unforgivable arrogance of some theoretically devout people, who just knew they knew better than that kid’s maker what that kid was meant to be, whose arms that kid was made to be embraced by, and loved.
It’s not a bug, it’s a feature. We can’t let them just be homosexual. We can’t just tell them they’re loved just as they are. Dear Lord don’t tell us we have to let them be comfortable in sin. Better dead than that…
Notes On The Gay Lifestyle…(continued): That Little Rainbow Sticker That Says “Fire Me”
The pink triangle was sewn on the prison clothes of gay Germans during the thousand year Reich. It was meant to be a stigma, a sign that here was a prisoner who was the lowest of the low. Lambda was the first symbol we embraced for ourselves, as a statement of identity and pride. It was chosen in 1970 by the Gay Activists Alliance of New York, and in 1974 was declared the official international symbol for gay and lesbian rights by the International Gay Rights Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland. It signifies unity under oppression.
I came out to myself on December 15th, 1971 (yes, I remember the exact moment), and as per my nerd genes, instantly began reading everything I could on the subject…which wasn’t much that made any sense since it was nearly all written by heterosexuals. A classmate I was massively crushing on had put an arm around me as we walked together out of school, sending me into a happy rush of delight, tinged with the feel of physical closeness to him. It sent me right into the stratosphere. I spent the rest of that day rushing over and over on the memory of his smile, and the feeling of his embrace. Nothing in my life had ever been so wonderful. That was when I finally had to admit it. Yeah Bruce…you’re gay… And in that moment I knew that everything I had been taught up to then about homosexuals and homosexuality was wrong. So when I read that it was a sickness, I simply discarded it as ignorant. In the Civil Rights/Johnson-Nixon/Vietnam years it wasn’t difficult for a teenager to know that the grownups could be astoundingly stupid.
But that was only a few years after Stonewall, and that first gay pride march in New York City, and even in such an urban place as the Washington D.C. suburbs, a gay teenager was still very isolated from his kind. It was a couple years later before I saw my first issue of The Advocate, which had been carefully added to the packing of a shipment of cameras the store I was working for received from a distributor in San Francisco. I stuffed it into my backpack, squirreled it home and devoured it (I still have it carefully saved away as a bit of personal history). There was a world out there where others like me lived. But finding it closer to home was difficult.
When I discovered, finally the Lambda Rising Bookstore downtown, a world of information and literature opened up before me. And…knickknacks! I bought a little Lambda necklace and wore it constantly. I painted lambdas on my backpacks, so expertly I had people question where I’d managed to buy one with a lambda on it. And I had a little Lambda bumper sticker for my car. Partly it was the joy of being able to identify in a way that the hostile world around me wouldn’t recognize…most of the time. But mostly it was this: a lot of us back then who didn’t live in New York, LA or San Francisco were lost and alone in a world that hated us. I wore the lambda mostly as a little wave of the hand, to anyone who might see it, so to say, Hi…you’re not alone…
Time passes…the universe expands…and one day a newer, better symbol for our struggle emerged. There is a quote…I can’t find it now but I recall it as something like a flag that truly represents its people isn’t decided on by a committee but torn out of them from their lives and their experience. In 1978 Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow flag for that year’s Gay Freedom Celebration in San Francisco. By the time I was a successful contract software developer, it had pretty much completely superseded the Lambda. So where my first car had worn a little Lambda sticker on the back, my first new car since emerging from poverty, the Geo Prism, wore a little rainbow. In the 1990s I was still saying ‘Hi…‘, though it was becoming less and less of a need.
In those days one of my contracts was at a company located in the deep Baltimore suburbs…almost in the sticks. I was doing well as a software developer, not only because I had a mind for it, but also it fit very well to be in a trade where I could go to work in blue jeans and sneakers, and wear my hair long and not get any static from management. The computer geeks of the PC revolution, so unlike the suit and tie IBM mainframe guys, were a notoriously non-conformist bunch. It was even okay to be gay…some of the big names in our field were, and the rest knew perfectly well how to evaluate a statement as true or false. The demonizing crap homophobes spread about us just did not find very good soil amongst the computer nerds. That’s not to say it didn’t occasionally take root here and there all the same.
I had been at the job site about a week, when one day I saw the manager stop abruptly as he passed my car in the company parking lot. I saw him stare at the little rainbow bumper sticker on the back like someone had parked a turd in one of the parking spaces. I went inside and shrugged it off. I wasn’t one of their employees, I was a contractor and we contractors didn’t matter. We did our work and when it was done we went on to the next job somewhere else. That was my life, and in those days I was fine with that. It allowed me to keep office politics and personality conflicts at arm’s length. And as he was managing the company IT division, I assumed he knew from experience that us computer geeks came in a lot of odd varieties. I didn’t think I would get any static about it.
But in less than an hour I was called into his office, along with my contract agency’s lead (there were several of us working that contract there), and told that I was being fired. For…ah…low productivity. I looked him right in the eyes as he said it and I’m sure my expression telegraphed exactly what I was thinking of him then. But I got up, expressed a perfunctory regret that I was not satisfactory and hoped he wouldn’t see that as a reflection on my agency, and my agency rep and I left his office.
As I gathered my things to leave the building, my rep wore a bewildered, somewhat disturbed look. “I don’t get this…” he says, “You’ve only been here a couple weeks and you’ve been doing fine. Nobody expects a new guy to be one-hundred percent in just a couple weeks…but you’ve been doing great…” Then he looks me right in the eyes…I could see his conscience was getting to him…and says, “It really makes you wonder…” All I could say was, “Yeah…I know…”
Getting a little first hand look at discrimination in the workplace are we…?
It was the height of the dot-com boom and I left there confidant I would have work elsewhere, if not the next day then within a week. My agency got me another contract almost immediately and I put it aside. There are some forms of rejection that really get to me and I can’t help it, but those are about my artwork. I have never felt the sting of it when it concerned business, and never, thankfully, when it was over my sexual orientation. I came out to myself one December evening in 1971, and in that wonderful rush of first love I saw the truth, and ever since hate has just rolled off me like water off a duck’s back. I think of my first love, and discard hate as simply ignorant. That was the last job I ever lost when an employer found out I am gay, but it was hardly the only one. And gay people are still very much at risk. But I can think of at least one straight guy out there somewhere, who when he hears that gay Americans don’t need protection from job discrimination, would know from first hand experience exactly why we do. In retrospect that teaching moment was worth getting fired for.
by Bruce |
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