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June 1st, 2015

Inappropriate Behavior

This came across my news stream just now…

gay valedictorian

Evan Young, a graduating senior at Twin Peaks Charter Academy High School in Colorado, was recently blocked from giving his valedictorian speech and outed to his parents.

With a 4.5 GPA and a scholarship to Rutgers University, Young was selected as valedictorian of his graduating class. Although he had agreed to edit his speech according to Principal BJ Buchmann’s revisions, Young refused to exclude his admittance to being gay.

After Young refused to remove the statement from his speech, Principal Buchmann called the student’s father, Don Young. Don recalled the conversation to the Daily Camera:

“Mr. Buchmann called me and said, ‘I’ve got Evan’s speech here. There are two things in it that I don’t think are appropriate. One was he had mentioned another student’s name. And then there was his coming out that he was gay.’”

Evan was not allowed to give his speech and was not recognized as valedictorian at his May 16 graduation.

Look carefully: They didn’t just tell him he couldn’t give his speech…they denied him his honors as class valedictorian too. It was a rank the kid had achieved by virtue of his 4.5 GPA.  But he was proud.  And worse, he was a gay kid who had achieved.

There’s the problem. Gay kids have to hate themselves at least as much as they are hated, if not more. They must know they are unworthy. So they silenced Evan and took away his class rank. If they could have, they’d have erased from human memory the fact that he’d ever been his school’s valedictorian. They had to. The problem wasn’t that he would have told other gay kids that it was okay to be gay, but that he would have shown them by his example that they could rise themselves up and achieve too. That was the unforgivable sin.

by Bruce | Link | React! (3)

April 8th, 2015

First We Cut Off Your Ring Finger…Then We Cut Out Your Heart…

This came across my Facebook news stream just now…

Catholic School Speech Coach, Who Led Team to Four State Championships, Will Be Fired if He Marries Boyfriend

In December of 2014, Matt and his partner, Elliot Dougherty, made the decision to get engaged. He went to the administration to let them know, and they told him he would not be invited to teach next year. Furthermore, if he told students, he would be fired immediately.

Okay you say…it’s about same-marriage.  No.  No it isn’t…

After months of contemplation, Mr. Eledge discussed the idea of postponing the wedding so he could come back to Skutt Catholic. He was then informed that he must end his relationship with Elliot.

It wasn’t enough that they postpone their marriage.  It wasn’t even enough that they stay unwed.  They have to separate or he loses his job.  And they’re probably sorry they can’t burn both of them at the stake the way they used to.

Yesterday I posted a blog entry where I wrote that…

What I have to look back on, is a lifetime of fighting against the hatred that doesn’t just spit in our faces, but which actively and with passion does its level best to destroy any possibility of love and joy the moment two people of the same sex take notice of each other and their hearts skip a beat. I’ve written elsewhere of how it’s taken chances, so many chances away from me.  This is why I am still in the fight, even if the prize is lost forever to me.  I know the damage it’s done to me, I’ll be goddamned if I let it keep on damaging young hearts in love. If you think this is just a struggle over wedding cakes you are sadly mistaken. If you think it is a fight over same-sex weddings you are still not getting it. The same bitter venomous contempt for gay couples about to get married will with gusto act to prevent them from even setting eyes on each other given a chance. Ask me how I know. The hated Other simply cannot be allowed to love and be loved…

If anyone reading this thinks that’s overwrought take another look at the above. They’re pissed off that two gay guys found each other and fell in love and they’re using the only tool their institution has left to them in the  21st century in a civilized country to attempt to split them apart. When pope Ratzinger declared the bonds between same-sex couples to be “weak love” it wasn’t just wishful bigot colored glasses thinking it was bullshit and he knew it. If the love between gay couples was weak they wouldn’t have to work so hard to keep same-sex lovers apart. The dark ages troglodytes at Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha, Nebraska could have just shrugged their shoulders, simply told the men not to marry and don’t tell the students, and just waited for their weak love to evaporate since of course it would. But they know better. When you had to burn gay people at the stake once upon a time to kill their love for each other you know better. Their love isn’t weak, and yours is merely rhetorical.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on First We Cut Off Your Ring Finger…Then We Cut Out Your Heart…

April 5th, 2015

Driving In The Nails For Easter (Message In A Bottle…)

This came across my Facebook stream tonight…

catholic_vote_ad

This is actually pretty typical. If you are shocked by this I assure you I am not. The imagery here comes from a right wing Catholic group but don’t be paying much attention to that because the sentiment isn’t specific to any one religion or religion in particular and it’s not about how they see us so much as how they want us to be seen. This is the real thing. Most of your gay and lesbian neighbors, except the very lucky maybe, have felt this breathing down our necks all our adult lives.

When other kids start having their first crushes and start discovering love and desire, this is what the gay ones find themselves facing. This is what haunts what should have been one of this life’s most magical times. It cuts you deep. Some people never manage to love wholeheartedly their entire lives because of it.

And others search endlessly for one who can. I was looking at my Facebook stream just a moment ago and this graphic flashed on my screen and for an instant I saw certain someone’s face and relived the conversation I had with him just one week ago…

I need to stay in my comfort zone…

I know. And I’m so sorry…so very sorry. It is what it is. You stayed inside because you had to and I got the hell out because I had to but we are all damaged by it in one way or another. Easter they say is when Jesus of Nazareth died for their sins. So why did we have to die for their sins too?

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Driving In The Nails For Easter (Message In A Bottle…)

March 31st, 2015

Nothing To Worry About Here…Except…Well…Everything…

Everyone blissfully saying that existing LGBT anti-discrimination laws would withstand a challenge under these new religious freedom laws is either not paying attention or not wanting you to pay attention. There are a few constitutional law experts out there busy telling the gay community not to be so hysterical over what amounts to Just A Tiny Little Enhancement to current federal law. Probably these same experts were shocked, shocked at the Hobby Lobby decision. I’ll bet they all did a double take at the Citizens United decision too.

You need to pay attention to the long game the religious right plays, and especially to their rhetoric. They’re flat-out saying that these laws are especially necessary given recent same-sex marriage decisions, to prevent gay citizens from asserting equal rights. Nothing stealthy about what is going on with them on this. Nothing. You need to take them at their word for that these laws are being enacted to accomplish.

The Big Lie The Media Tells About Indiana’s New ‘Religious Freedom’ Law

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Nothing To Worry About Here…Except…Well…Everything…

March 29th, 2015

Thou Shalt Not Tell The Mirror Lies

This came across my Facebook stream this morning…one of many stories about the so-called Religious Freedom bill the governor of Indiana signed into law the other day…

Swarens: Gov. Mike Pence to push for clarification of ‘religious freedom’ law

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…

gladd_indiana

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 | Link | Comments Off on Thou Shalt Not Tell The Mirror Lies

December 4th, 2014

What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace Love And Understanding? Let Me Explain…

This came across my Twitter stream today…

@teamyasumura: “For Real: When first on TV in 1966, ‘Star Trek’ was not shown in many Southern states because it portrayed integration.”

I remember watching a broadcast of the Emmy awards when I was a kid. I Spy had only been on for one season but one of the production crew, not sure who now, won an award for the work he’d done on the show and on the podium after accepting his little statue said he wanted to thank the producer. “Sheldon Leonard”, he said, “has a lot of guts.”

I had no idea what he was talking about and I was 13 years old so I let it slide. It wasn’t until many years later, when I read about how some local TV station owners in some parts of the country would reliably get up in arms whenever a show wasn’t sufficiently respectful to race bigots, that I saw what he was talking about. Basically in 1965, by casting a black man, Bill Cosby, as one of the two series leads, he was thumbing his nose at a lot of TV station owners, who between them represented a lot of potential audience.

My generation thought we’d lived to see the day our country put all that behind us. We were wrong. Horribly, laughably, wrong. All that peace love and understanding stuff we believed in didn’t amount to crap. The bitter rage of the gutter only deepened, and bided its time.

I think some part of me did eventually see it, about a decade or so ago, when I first read about towns that buried their community swimming pools, rather than allow blacks to use them too. I remember being stunned. You buried…the whole goddamned pool?? We failed to understand the power…and the potent venom…of race hatred. We failed to appreciate how hate alone can sustain the hater for decades, for generations all carefully taught. And now it is all coming back. We achieved nothing. We were irrelevant.
 
 
 

whitesonlyswimmingpoolsign

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

July 21st, 2014

Damage

This came across my Facebook stream just now…

Op-ed: All Gay People Are Screwed Up and It’s OK

We all face a deficit for growing up LGBT in a straight world. Admitting it is the first step in making sure the next generation gets a better deal.

Like the writer, Neal Broverman, it surprises me that this is controversial.  It shouldn’t be.

It sometimes takes a harsh circumstance to remind us how different our lives are. In The Case Against 8, HBO’s powerful documentary on the defeat of California’s antigay ballot initiative, lead plaintiff Kristin Perry had an “a-ha moment” while testifying in front of a federal judge. Defense attorney Ted Olson asked Perry if she thought granting marriage equality to gays and lesbians would have an effect on other forms of LGBT discrimination. Perry said her whole life would have been different, and better, if the biggest choice she made in it — marriage — was given the same weight and respect as everyone else’s: “So, if Prop. 8 were undone and kids like me, growing up in Bakersfield right now, can never know what this felt like, then I assume their entire lives would be on a higher arc, they would live with a higher sense of themselves that would improve the quality of their entire life.”

Reflecting on that moment later, she said, “It was powerful to connect the dots spontaneously on the stand and realize you’ve been living under this blanket of hate everywhere you turn…

Every crush I’ve ever had, every gay guy I’ve ever tried to date, every perfect match I thought I’d found, they were all wounded. And I have to suppose they looked at me and saw the same, good as I had it compared to a lot of other gay guys. I didn’t get sent to a camp, I didn’t get thrown out of the house, I wasn’t told by my own parents that I wasn’t loved. But you don’t grow up in a world that tells you from every direction that you are despised without taking it to heart.

Mad #145, Sept ‘71, from “Greeting Cards For The
Sexual Revolution” – “To A Gay Liberationist”

Detective_1968_481

“The thought of turning…of turning involuntarily into one of them frightened me…and made me sick with anger.”

bakersfield_kountry_komics_faggot
Jake shows the kids how to deal with a limp wrist faggot in Larry Weltz’ “Gearjammer”, Bakersfield Kountry Komics, 1973

 

And the worst of it is you grow up accustomed to it all, and you forget the wounds are there, always defeating you and you don’t even know it anymore, because you’ve accepted that as your lot in life.  But it is rust on the soul.

It is a constant struggle to live the life you should have had all along.  But it is a noble one…

Later in the documentary when Perry is discussing the discrimination she experiences, she says, while tearing up, “The sad parts [of being an LGBT person], I feel like I’m OK with because I’d rather be who I am today than somebody who never felt challenged and never had to find out who they really were. And I know who I am.”

Oscar Wilde, who suffered his own terrible wounds, once said that we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.  I’d put it differently.  We are all damaged, but we have survived and we are not cowed.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Damage

May 5th, 2014

Reality Is That Which, When You Stop Believing In It, Does Not Go Away

The charade that persecuting homosexuals was rational and necessary because there is something pathologically wrong with homosexuals should have ended with Hooker’s Adjustment Of The Male Overt Homosexual in 1957.  But human prejudice does not succumb so easily to mere experimental evidence.  It wouldn’t be until decades after the Stonewall riots, after the Personal Computer and the modem made it possible for gay people to speak directly to each other and see ourselves just as we are, not through heterosexual eyes as some strange alien other, for this charade to finally begin to crumble.  Because until we could see the humanity within ourselves, and the legitimacy and righteousness of our feelings of love and desire, we would never have the courage to come out of the closets, and live our lives openly, so that our families and neighbors could see our humanity too. There was never anything rational about homophobia.  It was always about hatred of the Other, inflamed by bigots to rouse the mob and thereby glorify themselves.

The charade is falling apart because it had no basis in reality.  The facade of respectability is crumbling. Sometimes it’s just a brick here and there…parents coming to terms with gay children, friends looking at gay friends and seeing a person not a monster. Sometimes its a whole wall that falls over.  The sodomy laws in 2003.  Same sex marriage.  The proposition 8 trial was a massive earthquake beneath it. Seeing for the first time in an actual trial how little there actually was to support any of it opened a lot of eyes.

So will this…

Ex-Ex-Gay Pride

Far-right groups including the Family Research Council and the American Family Association pooled $600,000 to place ads promising the effectiveness of reparative therapy in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune. Anne and John Paulk smiled from full-page newspaper spreads.

In front of the crowds and cameras, Paulk was the image of certainty. But backstage, he was faltering. More than that, he knew he was lying.

“It’s funny, for those of us that worked in it, behind closed doors, we knew we hadn’t really changed,” he says. “Our situations had changed—we had gotten married, and some of us had children, so our roles had changed. I was a husband and father; that was my identity. And the homosexuality had been tamped down. But you can only push it down for so long, and it would eke its way out every so often.”

It.  It.  It would eke its way out every so often. The human identity is not a blackboard anyone can walk up to and scribble their will upon.  The “It” that was eking its way out of Paulk wasn’t homosexuality, it was Sexuality, an instinct older than the fish, let alone the mammals, let alone the primates, let alone us. What Paulk was trying to suppress was an urge hundreds of millions of years old, that in him and others simply directs its relentless attentions to his own sex, not the opposite one.  Beyond that one minor difference it was still the same force with the same hundreds of millions of years of the history of life on Earth behind it. Unless nature had made him asexual or gifted him with a very very low libido, he had no more chance becoming straight by playing straight than a left handed person does of becoming right handed by playing right handed.

“I would be in hotel rooms, and I would be on my face sobbing and crying on the bed,” he says. “I felt like a liar and a hypocrite. Having to go out and give hope to these people. I was in despair knowing that what I was telling them was not entirely honest. I couldn’t do it anymore.”

One of the first things that leaps out at you when you dig into the history of ex-gay therapy is how little data are ever retained about the clients. No long term follow-ups, no data to give meaning to any of the statistics they like to trot out.  Hundreds have changed…no wait…thousands…hundreds of thousands… But it’s all smoke and mirrors. They have no data to prove any of their claims. They have done no research. It isn’t merely that they have no evidence: what leaves your jaw dropping when you first see it is they haven’t actually sought any evidence. It isn’t an oversight, the object was never to actually change anyone. If pressed, some will admit that change is not likely, but self discipline against homosexual urges can be attained through proper training. But homosexual urges are no different in kind from heterosexual urges; they are just two different expressions of the same ancient and powerful sexual urge we all possess. So the question then becomes at what cost to the individual? And the answer is the damage done to the person is not a cost, it is a benefit.

What you have to understand about Paulks misery is that his changing was never the object his masters sought. His crying and sobbing on the bed was the object. Then, now and always, the point is that we have to hate ourselves at least as much, if not more, than the bigots hate us.

The charade is ending. It is ending because there was never any truth to it. The only thing that kept it going was its monopoly on discussion, enforced by the sodomy laws, and from the pulpit, and because we stayed in the closet: because it was dangerous not to, because in a world where we could be kept isolated from each other we could be made to believe the lies. Those days are over. Now the mindless brutality behind the charade steps out from behind the curtain. Yes, it’s ugly, but don’t look away. You need to see this. What the ex-gay ministries offered to so many innocent people was more poison to add to the poison that had brought them in the door in the first place.

We taught your parents to hate you.  We taught your preacher to thunder damnation at you. Everywhere you turn you see hate reflected back at you. We’ve prepared you nicely for your role in life little scapegoat.  Oh…you’re troubled by your same-sex attractions are you? Good. Now let us dangle some hope for change in front of you, tell you all about how we have helped so many others just like you, and we can help you too, if you are willing to work hard for it. And when you fail to change you can hate yourself even more. 

It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

[Edited a tad, and then some more, for clarity…]

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Reality Is That Which, When You Stop Believing In It, Does Not Go Away

April 5th, 2014

Can’t We All Just Get Along…You Miserable Child Molesting Perverts?

Via Dan Savage this morning, I get a link to this excellent article by Mark Joseph Stern over at Slate…

Just a Reminder: The Campaign for Prop 8 Was Unprecedentedly Cruel

The view that Eich was just expressing his opposition to marriage equality, a common stance at the time, strikes me as naive. Because Prop 8 is now dead, and because its passage was largely overshadowed by President Barack Obama’s election victory, it’s easy to forget the vicious tactics of the pro-Prop 8 campaign. Or, I should say, it’s easy to forget them if you’re not gay—because almost every gay person I know remembers the passage of Prop 8 as the most traumatic and degrading anti-gay event in recent American history.

(Emphasis mine)  On the one hand, you can look at this and say the bigots are merely counting on the short memory of the American voter. But it’s more likely that Eich and his comrades in arms didn’t figure that the wounds over that fight would still be so fresh in the minds of the gay community, because after all they’re homosexuals and homosexuals don’t have normal feelings like the rest of us. When you hear them babbling about political correctness that’s not them attempting to trivialize our feelings about what they did to us, it’s them telling everyone they can’t see the people for the homosexuals. When you run a multimillion dollar smear campaign and you don’t expect the objects of that campaign to remember what you did to them, it’s because you don’t think the people you smeared have any human feelings at all, or you simply can’t be bothered to care.

Stern’s Slate article helpfully refreshes the public’s memory of what kind of campaign the Proposition 8 folks ran by showing everyone the ads they used to get people to vote yes. Look at them and tell me it’s time for gay people to forgive big money donors like Eich and put it all behinds us…

The tactics used by pro-Prop 8 campaigners were not merely homophobic. They were laser-focused to exploit Californians’ deepest and most irrational fears about gay people, indoctrinating an entire state with cruelly anti-gay propaganda. Early on, Prop 8’s supporters decided to focus their campaign primarily on children, stoking parents’ fears about gay people brainwashing their kids with pro-gay messages or, implicitly, turning their children gay.

Oh but it was a tad more than that. The eternal trope of the bigots is that to be gay is to be a child molester. You’re gay because you were molested and now you’re out to turn other kids gay by molesting them. That’s what homosexuals are, that’s what homosexuals do. Homosexuals don’t reproduce, they recruit… That’s what was being dog whistled in Each And Every Proposition 8 Ad. And Brendan Eich bought a thousand dollar share in that ad campaign.

And when his one-grand contribution came back to haunt him, instead of even making a minimal effort to distance himself from that massive, slick, professional The Gays Are After Your Children smear campaign he just clammed up and said it was his personal business. Well, when you throw a multi-million dollar smear campaign at me and thousands like me, designed Specifically to arouse the most primitive fears adults could have about their children and make us a target for violent passions…well…that’s my personal business too.

In his one and only public statement about the affair, Eich bellyached

There is no point in talking with the people who are baiting, ranting, and hurling four-letter abuse. Personal hatred conveyed through curse words is neither rational nor charitable, and strong feelings on any side of an issue do not justify it.

This is such a hoot. The Gays Are Coming For Your Children message is Exactly what you trot out when you Don’t want a rational discussion, you just want to push people’s buttons.

Forgive and forget? At least say you’re sorry. Not that you’re sorry we got angry, not that you’re sorry we felt hurt, but that what you did was wrong. And if that’s too much to ask of you then, let’s face it, you’re still in the fight aren’t you…you’re still waiting for your next chance to arouse the old hatreds, the mindless passions, against me and other’s like me, and what you want isn’t for me to put it all behind me and let’s have a fresh start and all be fellow Americans again, but for me and others like me to let our guard back down so you can kick us in the face again.

What happened in California in the summer and fall of 2008 will go down in history in the annals of anti-minority hate mongering. Gay people have been brutalized, jailed, medicated, lobotomized, tortured, burned at the stake, beaten to death, murdered, for so terribly, terribly long, all the way back to when the first scribe wrote that god hates fags in what was to eventually become the bible. And the lies spread by the Proposition 8 campaign have been the tools by which hate has traditionally excused itself, and incited even more hate. They say that history is written by the victors, but the history written in blood never forgets. If you don’t want your name written in the roll call of hate, the time to make amends is always now, not tomorrow, not some day.

 

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

March 26th, 2014

Thumping The Bible Verses Thumping The Tire Iron…

This came across my Facebook stream just now…

Comparing Gays To Abortion, Pat Robertson Sad Christians Don’t Stone Gays Anymore

700 Club Host And Christian Evangelical Leader Compares Gays To Abortion, Laments Gays Aren’t Stoned To Death Anymore Because Homosexuality ‘Denies The Reproduction Of Human Species’

You had to sorta figure that the TV preacher who told his viewers gays have secret rings that cut people who shake their hands and infect them with the AIDS virus would be sad gay people aren’t being stoned to death anymore.

So are a lot of them. Sit down and total up everything you know about religious conservatives, let alone right wingers, and you discover that you know volumes about who and what they hate and nearly nothing about who and what they love. Charles de Gaulle once said that patriotism is when love of your own people comes first and nationalism is when hate for other people comes first. So if religion is where love of god comes first what is it when hate for other people comes first, because it isn’t religion.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Thumping The Bible Verses Thumping The Tire Iron…

March 25th, 2014

Fred

Death only closes a man’s reputation and determines it as good or bad. -Joseph Addison

I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.  -Mark Twain

I’ve lived through such terrible times and there are people who live through much worse. But you see them living anyway. When they’re more spirit than body, more sores than skin, when they’re burned and in agony, when flies lay eggs in the corners of the eyes of their children – they live. Death usually has to take life away. I don’t know if that’s just the animal. I don’t know if it’s not braver to die, but I recognize the habit; the addiction to being alive. So we live past hope. If I can find hope anywhere, that’s it, that’s the best I can do. It’s so much not enough. It’s so inadequate. But still bless me anyway. I want more life. -Tony Kushner, “Angels in America”

In his book African Genesis Robert Ardrey wrote one of the more eloquent analogies for the grandeur of time and the curtain death places between us and the past, so often overlooked when pondering the origins of life. He asks the reader to place themselves on a lonely narrow California beach where foggy mountains slope down into the sea…

…let us make two assumptions. The first, not difficult, is that the visible horizon is just ten miles away. And secondly, we must assume that our sea is death, and that it is rising. This is not too difficult an assumption either, thanks to the lonely beach with the muted cries of a few distant gulls, and no other living thing. It is a sea of  death that we face, stretching beyond the visible horizon to the other end of the once-living world. The death-sea rises, slowly and eternally as it has always been rising, covering all things that it touches. It laps now quietly at our narrow beach, the present.

Where the little waves fall back not twenty feet across the shining sand, we see revealed the rotting, moss grown, Spanish hulks of the Great Armanda…A gentle trough between two incoming swells reveals for an instant not a hundred feet from where we stand a cross…Hammurabi’s Babylon is lost beneath the water amidst shifting sands. We cannot see it, for the sea has risen too high. Eighty yards from our little beach, however, what seem to be three rocks break the incoming swells and make white water. They are, of course, the pyramids at Giza.

Nothing breaks the surface of time’s ocean beyond the pyramids…Had we the courage to wade out into this sea of no return, and to swim out a few strokes, we should find a sandbar just below the surface. These are the fields and pastures of those Middle Eastern peoples, nameless and forgotten, who domesticated wheat and barley and cattle and sheep… All that we call civilization stands between the sandbar and the shore…

…the beach we stand on is the precarious present. It will be swallowed before long as other beaches have been swallowed, and a new one will form just behind us…

I think of this image often when confronted by death. In Ardrey’s sea the ten mile horizon becomes a million years, and each one after that another million, and not many horizons do we travel before the short distance between the sandbar at the beginning of civilization and the shore seems almost laughably, terrifyingly small, let alone our lonely little beach.  The joke I heard once is that it isn’t that life is so short but that we’re dead for so long.

I strongly doubt there is an afterlife and the concept seems awkward anyway. If you’re still there then there is no after, only metamorphosis of some sort. And even then the question becomes, of what sort. Do we still have anything left of us that can be thought of as human?  In the end, what Tony Kushner said is true; what we want is not so much an afterlife as more life. But I don’t think there is even that.

But there is something. Our lives are as though little pebbles tossed into Ardrey’s sea of death. At the moment they hit the water and disappear we are gone. But there are ripples that fan out and away from our lives: The reputation we leave behind. The things we did to our neighbors in this life.  The good and the bad.

There is no point in doing unto Fred as he did unto the rest of us because he won’t be bothered by it, he’s gone. You could think of picketing his funeral as a poke at the little tightly wound church of hate he left behind, but the point is without Fred that little ball of bile would not be. Fred was the problem and now Fred’s gone and he won’t care what you have to say about him now. His last chance of earthly redemption is gone. He done passed the Last Chance station and now it’s too late to get off. He will always be Fred God Hates Fags Phelps. Perhaps that was how he wanted it in the end anyway, to be remembered for what he hated, not what he loved.  But at the end, could he even remember anything he had once loved?

There is nothing wrong with being angry at Fred. There is nothing wrong with that feeling of contempt for the man.  He earned it, worked hard for it, and probably right up to the very end was immensely proud of it. But stand quietly at his grave, respectfully because this is your destination too someday, and let the life that once was be a warning. Hate does not share power within a heart. It will systematically kill every other thing you have in there, everything fine and noble you ever were or ever could have been, and take from you all the smiles and all the laughs and all the love you might have shared, until there is nothing left inside of you but hate itself. To picket a grave is pointless, there is nothing there anymore, only the ripples of what once was spreading gently across the sea of death. For all his picketing of the dead, and all the obscene hatred he vented at the mourners, he was powerless to stop or alter the ripples of their lives, and all the smiles and all the laughs and all the love that were shared, gently spreading outward in time.  All Fred had within his power was to change the nature of his own reputation, his own life’s ripples and he did not. He hurt a lot of people, but he destroyed himself.

Stand quietly. Say a prayer if you have one in you. Will this world be better for your having walked in it? Then let him go. Don’t bury yourself along with him.

[Edited a tad for clarity…and some additional thumping…]

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Fred

January 14th, 2014

So It Begins…

This from Towleroad…

Nigeria Has Arrested 38 Gay Men from List of 168

Dorothy Aken’Ova is executive director of Nigeria’s International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights. She said Tuesday the new law, already being dubbed the “Jail the Gays” law, will endanger and even criminalize programs fighting HIV-AIDS in the gay community.

She said police in Bauchi state have a list of 168 purportedly gay men, of whom 38 have been arrested recently.

There was a list all ready and waiting.  How unsurprising.

So it begins, while the rest of the civilized world a) wrings its hands, b) issues a strongly worded protest, c) washes, rinses, and repeats.  Practice makes perfect.

broken_glass

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on So It Begins…


Well…Of Course…Bavaria…

All in all, I had it pretty good compared to a lot of other gay teenagers back in the day.  I need to remind myself of this from time to time.  It wasn’t the best, not by any means.  But I never doubted that mom loved me.  Even so, we had an unspoken don’t ask, don’t tell agreement almost right up to the day she died.  It was okay for me to read gay novels and bring gay newspapers into the house. It was okay for me to not date girls.  It was okay for me to draw sketches and take photos of beautiful guys.  It was okay for me to march in gay rights protests.  I just had not to say it.  Sad to think, but this was actually a pretty good deal for a gay kid back in the early 1970s.  But not every gay kid had that deal.  Not by a long shot.  And even now, for some gay kids of my generation, it will always be a time before Stonewall.

Der Spiegel asks the question…

Is Germany Really as Liberal as It Seems?

A gay couple that was seeking to open a restaurant near the Bavarian town of Freying received an anonymous letter early last year. “Stay away. We don’t need people like you here,” it read. Additional threats followed, including a faked obituary and an open, though anonymous, letter claiming that one of the two was HIV-positive and that there was a danger that diners could be infected. The restaurant was never opened.

That it’s still hard for a gay kids in Bavaria even now is unsurprising.  It’s…Bavaria.  And it was probably a lot harder to be a gay kid in Bavaria, or from a Bavarian family, back when I was a teenager.  Probably still pretty hard for those gay Bavarian kids, even now, all grown up though they may be.  Impossible even.

Secondary school teacher Gabriel Stängle is likewise concerned about public school students in Baden-Württemberg. The 41-year-old, lives in the Black Forest and launched an online petition in November of last year that had been signed some 90,000 times by last Friday evening. His campaign is entitled: “Future — Responsibility — Learning: No Curriculum 2015 under the Ideology of the Rainbow.” Stängle’s primary concern is what he describes as sexual “reeducation.”

Stängle is angry with the state government — a coalition of the center-left Social Democrats and the Green Party — which is currently developing an educational program for public schools which will include the “acceptance of sexual diversity.” Students are to learn the “differences between the genders, sexual identities and sexual orientations.” The goal is to enable students to “be able to defend equality and justice.”

Stängle sees this as being in “direct opposition to health education as it has been practiced thus far.” Completely missing, he writes, is an “ethical reflection on the negative potential by-products of LSBTTIQ (which stands for “lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals, transgender, intersexuals and queer people) lifestyles, such as the increased danger of suicide among homosexual youth, the increased susceptibility to alcohol and drugs, the conspicuously high rate of HIV infection among homosexual men, the substantially lower life-expectancy among homo- and bisexual men, the pronounced risk of psychological illness among men and women living as homosexuals.”

Most of the petitions’ signatories live in the rural, conservative regions of Germany’s southwest…

That would be Bavaria…

…and the majority wishes to remain anonymous. Some signed with handles such as “The Gay-Hater.”

And probably a lot of them have gay kids of their own.  Who they love very much.  Conditionally.

Stay in the closet…get married…don’t disgrace your family…or we won’t love you anymore…we’ll hate you for disgracing us…  Still hard for a gay kids in Bavaria even now.  Probably a lot harder back when I was a teenager.  Just saying.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Well…Of Course…Bavaria…

January 5th, 2014

Pitchforks And Torches Will Be Handed Out After Today’s Prayer Breakfast…

Via Towleroad…

“The people of Utah have rights, too, not just the homosexuals. The homosexuals are shoving their agenda down our throats…That’s a lie. That’s an absolute lie [that the federal government’s ruling overrules Utah’s laws]. We have a right to raise our kids without homosexuals being part of the Boy Scouts, the schools and teachers and doing everything. They can be all that, but don’t shove your agenda down my kid’s throat. We have a right to raise our kids how we want not how you want.”

utah_sheriff_children_throats

The homosexuals. The homosexuals. The homosexuals. The homosexuals are coming for our kids. The homosexuals are coming for our kids. The homosexuals are coming for our kids. Shoving themselves down their throats.

Does this “lawman” realize that he’s inciting the sort of passions that get gay people beaten and killed? Oh…probably…

jack_d_ripper

Ice cream, Mandrake, children’s ice cream…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Pitchforks And Torches Will Be Handed Out After Today’s Prayer Breakfast…

January 2nd, 2014

That Fine Line Between Love And Hate And How To Cross It

I was approaching the U.S. Supreme Court building across from the Capital, a year after their awful decision in Hardwick v. Bowers upholding the sodomy laws. For the first time I think ever, I was going to a demonstration not to be the detached photojournalist, but to actually count myself as a participant.  And to reenforce that I’d not brought any of my cameras (a decision I now regret, but so it goes).  I’d arrived via the subway, got off at Union Station and was walking across Constitution Avenue when I noticed there was a police presence already forming up.  As I walked past a group of them I heard one policeman, an older black gentleman, saying to his companions, “I don’t have no trouble with the older faggots…”

It struck me as a grim echo from another time and the bitter mockery of it made my head spin.  Yes, yes…nobody has any trouble with the ones that know their place.

This came across my news stream shortly after U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby struck down Utah’s anti-gay constitutional amendment denying same-sex couples the right to marry…

Utah weighs impact of ruling allowing gay marriage

While Utah’s attorney general strategizes an appeal of the ruling and Mormons take a softer approach in opposing gay marriage, others in the traditionally conservative state predict broader acceptance of the practice nationwide.

A quote in this leaped out at me…

For Hunt, 44, a bellhop at a swank downtown hotel a few blocks from the LDS church’s sacred Temple Square, the days have been spent discussing the ruling’s impact with family and fellow Mormons.

“Is it the end of the world? No,” he said, shivering in the 15-degree cold. “In the end, we have a message to the gay and lesbian people who live among us — we don’t hate you, it’s nothing like that. But we believe what we believe. And our conviction is strong.”

We don’t hate you…  No dear, of course you don’t.  As long as we stay in our place.  Bet you don’t have no trouble with the older faggots either.

How often I heard this crap back when King and Malcolm X were telling white folk they weren’t shining shoes anymore. We don’t hate them coloreds, they’re fine people…happy cotton pickers…dance with a lot of rhythm don’t they? We don’t hate women either.  How could you say I hate women…my god I married a woman…she’s a nice little homemaker…great in the kitchen…wouldn’t want her running a business though…that’s man’s work.

It’s disingenuous self serving sanctimony.  Sure you don’t hate Them.  You don’t hate Them as long as They know Their place and stay in it.  It’s when They won’t stay in Their place that the hate starts happening.  Torrents of it.

Ever wonder at the passions you see suddenly snap out of a bigot when they’re forced to…you know…behave like a bigot?  It is because now they have to see what monsters they really are deep down inside. You made me do this to you…I hate you for making me do this to you…for making me see what kind of person I really am…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on That Fine Line Between Love And Hate And How To Cross It

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