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July 21st, 2014
by Bruce |
This came across my Facebook stream just now…
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”
“The thought of turning…of turning involuntarily into one of them frightened me…and made me sick with anger.”
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.
May 28th, 2014
What Fear Steals From So Many
by Bruce |
This came across my Twitter stream the other day…
@taramurtha: “It’s incredibly odd how rarely we discuss that women in the U.S. generally can’t feel safe walking alone at night.”
It was accompanied by a link to this…
ISLA VISTA, Calif. — A deadly attack by a gunman obsessed by grievances toward women near the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara, has touched off an anguished conversation here and on social media about the ways women are perceived sexually and the violence against them.
Years ago, when I was still making a living as a freelance architectural model maker, I worked often for a firm located in a business park located between Rockville and Gaithersburg, two big and growing suburban cities in the massive Montgomery County Maryland sprawl. I had no car at the time but the Metro subway had a stop I could get off at and walk to the firm’s offices easily, if I cut across the King Farm.
Anyone who grew up in the Rockville area in those days will remember the King Farm. Developers ate it some years ago and now it’s all ugly rowhouses, condos, parking decks and a faux town center. Back then it was this wonderful anomaly of wide open green space tucked between a growing busy sprawl. It was so huge that at night, it created its own dark sky. I used to love working late at the firm’s offices and then walking in the dead of night down a little access road that cut across the King Farm to the Metro on the other side of Route 355. There were little worker’s shacks off to one side of the road…four of them I think…and the main farm house and barns not too far from them. You could feel the history of the place. And the sky above was bright with all the stars you never saw at night in the city.
One day while working on a model, I was talking with the architect, a young Turkish woman who designed one of the most beautiful art deco buildings in Silver Spring. This one…
She asked me how I managed to get around without a car and I told her how I did it, and then went off on a tangent about how beautiful the sky was at night over the King Farm, and how lovely it was to walk down that little road at night at the end of the day…just you and the stars and the quiet, peaceful night…
…and she looked at me sadly and said, “I could never do that.”
April 30th, 2014
Le Dance Pathetique…
by Bruce |
We gay folk are in that Some Of My Best Friends Are stage these civil rights struggles seem to always go through. Le Dance Pathetique… is a series I’ve been doing here for years, because sometimes you just gotta laugh. It’s about the rhetorical dance you see the bigots doing more and more frequently when challenged. The basic dance goes like this:
The gays are filthy dirty disgusting sexually perverted disease spreading child molesting family and America destroying menaces to civilization and everything we hold dear, and we must fight their gay agenda with all our might or else civilization will collapse and god will smite us all down…but I have a lot of terrific gay friends so I’m not a bigot.
Every dancer has their own style, but the basic dance never changes. There are so many gay friends of bigots out there you’d think Kinsey got it all wrong and we’re something like half the world’s population. Either that or there is one magnificent bastard out there who has been fucking with the heads of a whole lot of bar stool jackasses…probably for free drinks.
April 7th, 2014
Excuse Me Officer…What’s The Statute Of Limitations On All The Robberies I Haven’t Yet Commited?
by Bruce |
Oh shoot me now…
What is the statute of limitations for donating to support Prop 8 before that individual can no longer be fired from his job?
As though nobody in a position of leadership has ever lost their job because some skeleton came laughing out the closet door. Lord have mercy. Ask Pete Rose what the statute of limitations is on sports gambling.
But it’s worse than Pete Rose. This, you need to understand, is a little like Dexter asking what the statute of limitations is for all the murders he hasn’t committed yet, and besides who we kill on our own time is our business. Read the damn post Eich made when the controversy blew up in his face and tell me this man isn’t still willing to put his money where his bar stool prejudices are. He not only states flat out that he won’t discuss the matter, but very deftly let’s someone else speak about diversity for him, and that only by way of saying “Mozilla’s diversity is a success condition.” Yes, yes…success condition. Every time you think you’ve heard the worst mangling of the English language the IT profession can manage they find a way to mangle it a little more. Success condition. Success condition. What he’s saying there is it’s about the money. Like that store I read about some years ago…can’t recall just now if it was an ice cream store or a little boutique cookie shop…in a liberal neighborhood that had a little welcoming rainbow sticker in its window, and the owners were busy giving money to anti-gay politicians. Let’s put it another way…
Mozilla’s diversity is a success condition that will allow me to donate even more money to fight the homosexual agenda!
What he did say for himself was, “Ignoring the abusive comments, I’m left with charges that I hate and I’m a bigot, based solely on the donation. Now “hate” and “bigot” are well-defined words. I say these charges are false and unjust.” Well that’s the first time I’ve ever heard someone who stuck a knife in our hearts say that they don’t hate us. I’m sure Jim Burroway’s never heard that before either. Blessed are they who love the sinners, and only hate the sin.
It’s as though Eich’s transparently evasive response to the revelation that he’d dropped a thousand bucks on the Proposition 8 fight had nothing to do with the rising tide of anger that followed. It’s as though the reason he was stonewalling about his beliefs was some sort of impenetrable mystery of the ages and not staringly obvious. And now that it’s over very few it seems are taking note of the fact that his ducking out the exit came almost right after The Guardian posted its revelations that Eich has a long history of giving money to the gutter. Ask a survivor of the holocaust what the statute of limitations is for giving money to Pat Buchanan. You have to figure Eich saw the skeletons were about to conga line out of his own closet and he figured playing the role of right wing martyr to the Militant Homosexual Thought Police was the better part of valor.
Burroway says on the other hand, we should do unto others as we would like them to do unto us…
We say that LGBT people shouldn’t be fired for something that has nothing to do with their job performance. I think that principle is good enough to apply to everyone, including Eich.
That is not the principle. The principle is we are not child molesting disease spreading nation destroying abomination in the eyes of god monsters, we are human beings, stop persecuting us simply for existing. Look at this…
Last summer, McMahon, 62, was fired as music director at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Arlington after news of his marriage reached the pastor, the Rev. Lee Roos.
McMahon said his meeting with Roos was less than half an hour. Church employees had verified that McMahon had married his partner in February, and he could either resign or be fired, McMahon said Roos told him. He opted to be fired and was told the dismissal from the part-time position was effective immediately, he recalled recently.
“He called HR and asked them to walk him through what he had to do. Then we walked over to the church where my stuff was. We walked to the parking lot, he gave me a hug and that was it,” McMahon said of the exchange with Roos.
A hug…oh how sweet! And the reason for his dismissal…why of course it was…
“This public act is unmistakable and verifiable and serves to cause scandal in the church and confusion among the laity,” said Michael Donohue, the spokesman. “The church can’t let a diocesan employee, especially one who has a significant and public role in the liturgy of the Mass, and other ceremonies, to stand in open defiance of church teachings.”
Yes, yes…freedom of religion and all that. Being gay not only had nothing to do with his job performance, it had nothing to do with his being fired. It was about defiance of church teachings. You know…that freedom of religion stuff…
“I am proud to sign the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act today, which will protect the individual religious freedom of Mississippians of all faiths from government interference,” said Gov. Bryant.
And especially from having to employ let alone serve a homosexual. We can work to pass anti-discrimination laws from now until the heat death of the universe and they will simply slither in some other direction, turn it around, and figure out a different way of accomplishing the same thing. Now it’s we’re discriminating against them for not letting them discriminate against us. Who knows what it will be tomorrow. And we’ll be dancing that waltz forever if we’re not willing to drill down to the root of it. We are not monsters, we are human beings, stop persecuting us.
What’s the statute of limitations on contributing to Proposition 8? How’s this for one: you stop kicking gay people in the face and we’ll stop fighting back. There is no truce here, no live and let live possible absent our oppressor’s willingness to let us live side by side with them in equality and peace. Hell, they don’t even see it as persecution, they keep yapping about how much they Love us right after they’ve twisted the knife in our hearts one more time. They’ll show us the door and give us a hug on the way out. But it’s all an excuse, a way for them to look in the mirror and not see a bigot staring back at them.
They need to see that bigot, or they will never stop finding new ways of putting in the knife…and perhaps giving us the occasional hug to let us know they’re sorry it hurts. Please don’t hold this against me…and if you do that makes you the bigot not me…
No stream as Frank Lloyd Wright once said, rises higher than its source. The problem with Burroway’s principle good enough to apply to everyone is someone’s beliefs about gay people, religious or otherwise, are not equally as valid as the reality of our lives. The problem with Burroway’s principle good enough to apply to everyone is you can’t elevate a lie to the level of a fact. The problem with Burroway’s principle good enough to apply to everyone is you can take the prejudice out of the gutter, but you can’t take the gutter out of the prejudice. What has to happen is we stop being monsters and we start being neighbors. We can’t be both. It’s ridiculous on its face to suggest we can make a workable social contract on the basis of our being both neighbors and monsters. Brendan Eich in his public statements never said anything about why he donated, what his beliefs regarding same-sex marriage are, or even whether he’d not throw more money into campaigns against our rights in the future. How hard is that to fucking understand?
April 5th, 2014
Can’t We All Just Get Along…You Miserable Child Molesting Perverts?
by Bruce |
Via Dan Savage this morning, I get a link to this excellent article by Mark Joseph Stern over at Slate…
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.
March 25th, 2014
by Bruce |
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...]
January 20th, 2014
A Coming Out Story – Episode 17: What I Learned About Homosexuality (Part 1)
by Bruce |
In which it is made clear that our young hero is growing up in the 1960s, not the year 2014…
Episode 17 of A Coming Out Story is Here…or go to the main page Here.
This is part one of a three part mini story arc about the horrible sex ed class I had back in junior high, and why it badly skewed everything I thought I knew about myself and about all that sex and love stuff. The rest of the story going forward will touch back on this repeatedly, as I begin wiggling my way out of the straightjacket of what I was taught in this one week of sex ed.
January 14th, 2014
by Bruce |
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…
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.
January 2nd, 2014
To Whom It May Concern…
by Bruce |
December 10th, 2013
The Persistence Of The Closet…(continued)
by Bruce |
Slate today runs an article riffing on the New York Times article I linked to yesterday. They headline theirs The American Closet Is Bigger Than We Thought. I assume the ‘we’ in that headline is “heterosexuals’, with maybe a side of ‘those of us also in the closet’, because you don’t live in this country as a gay person without seeing or at least glimpsing that vast nation of the closeted first hand. No kidding there’s more of them than you thought…
But if that Times article helps the heterosexual majority to see, really see, the damage that was done, and is still being done, then good. Seems a lot of folks are noticing that bit in the Times article, about wives in less tolerant states checking Google for advice on whether their husbands are gay. But there was also this…
Craigslist lets us look at this from a different angle. I analyzed ads for males looking for “casual encounters.” The percentage of these ads that are seeking casual encounters with men tends to be larger in less tolerant states. Among the states with the highest percentages are Kentucky, Louisiana and Alabama.
Back in the 1980s, what I think of as the BBS days, I did volunteer work for a gay community BBS whose creator intended it not to be a hookup site but a serious information and educational resource for gay people. He realized back then, as I did when I connected to those first primitive amateur computer networks, what they could do for us as a people. The BBS advertised in the local gay newspaper, and I think in one of the alternative City Papers, and the ads included a phone number for help getting connected. He told us he would get desperate phone calls on that number in the middle of the night, from men who’d been caught in police vice stings…trolling the parks or some public lavatory…needing emergency legal advice. He said without exception, without exception, those men were all married, and none of then identified as gay. At least, they wouldn’t over the course of that phone call. That was the 1980s.
It’s still going on…
One could leave these findings angry at all these men for not coming out, but Stephen-Davidowitz’s concluding anecdote—about a retired professor who has been married to a woman for 40 years and “regrets virtually every one of his major life decisions”—articulates my overwhelming emotion: sadness.
That’s fine, but anger is still a good reaction to have and I hope the heterosexual majority cultivates it…not at the closeted, but at the Righteous and the Upstanding who keep teaching young gay people to hate themselves, so that they can have scapegoats, someone to gloat over, so they don’t have to look at their own failures of moral character. Be angry at them. Ask yourselves what kind of person turns anyone’s basic human need for intimate companionship against them, makes them deeply ashamed, even fearful, of their own human heart…
Sometimes even I get tired of looking at aggregate data, so I asked a psychiatrist in Mississippi who specializes in helping closeted gay men if any of his patients might want to talk to me. One man contacted me. He told me he was a retired professor, in his 60s, married to the same woman for more than 40 years.
About 10 years ago, overwhelmed with stress, he saw the therapist and finally acknowledged his sexuality. He has always known he was attracted to men, he says, but thought that that was normal and something that men hid. Shortly after beginning therapy, he had his first, and only, gay sexual encounter, with a student of his in his late 20s, an experience he describes as “wonderful.”
He and his wife do not have sex. He says that he would feel guilty ever ending his marriage or openly dating a man. He regrets virtually every one of his major life decisions.
He regrets virtually every one of his major life decisions… What kind of person does this to another, takes pride in doing it, and can look in a mirror and see a righteous person? Look at that. Really look at it. It’s okay to get angry after looking down into that Pit. But don’t look into it for too long, because Nietzsche was right about an abyss gazing back into you. Just remember what you saw the next time you hear one of them yapping about their sincerely held religious beliefs.
December 8th, 2013
The Persistence Of The Closet
by Bruce |
Via John Becker at Bilerico, I see this New York Times article on that age old preoccupation of the heterosexual majority, How Many American Men Are Gay?
What percent of American men are gay? This question is notoriously difficult to answer. Historical estimates range from about 2 percent to 10 percent. But somewhere in the exabytes of data that human beings create every day are answers to even the most challenging questions…
While none of these data sources are ideal, they combine to tell a consistent story.
This is probably where the answers come from, finally. Because it was true before Stonewall, it was true in the post Stonewall gay lib phase, and it’s still true now, that many gay people will simply not tell even anonymous surveys the truth about themselves, let alone tell themselves the truth…
Additional evidence that suggests that many gay men in intolerant states are deeply in the closet comes from a surprising source: the Google searches of married women. It turns out that wives suspect their husbands of being gay rather frequently. In the United States, of all Google searches that begin “Is my husband…,” the most common word to follow is “gay.” “Gay” is 10 percent more common in such searches than the second-place word, “cheating.” It is 8 times more common than “an alcoholic” and 10 times more common than “depressed.”
Searches questioning a husband’s sexuality are far more common in the least tolerant states…in fact, in 21 of the 25 states where this question is most frequently asked, support for gay marriage is lower than the national average.
This is unbearably sad. I’ve said before that for a lot of gay people in my generation it will always be a time before Stonewall. But it’s Still happening. And unsurprisingly, it’s happening where the ideal of married life is being systematically denied to gay people.
How I escaped this trap is part of the story I’m telling in A Coming Out Story. But I came out into a world where the soulmate, the beautiful lifelong love story, was almost impossible to find. I still haven’t found it and now I’m 60, and looking at the end of a lifetime of being alone, not having that intimate other. And that was not, as the stereotype would have you believe, because gay culture was and is obsessed with casual no-strings attachment free sex, but because so many gay men who would have been searching for the same things I was, were instead desperately searching for a way not to be gay.
We were taught…By The Righteous…to believe that homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. And for many gay men as it also is for many heterosexual men, that’s just dandy. But for others it meant, and still means, “a huge amount of secret suffering”. We believed because we were taught…By The Good People, the Decent Upstanding Citizens we looked up to…that homosexuality was a tragic psychological perversion, a denial of normal healthy functioning heterosexuality. We were taught, not by gay culture but by heterosexual culture…that to be a homosexual was to be trapped in a hopeless cycle of empty sex searching for fulfillment we would never find. We were weak contemptible faggots, or we were dangerous sexual psychopaths. What we never were was people in love. The first crush, the first date, the prom, the Big Question. None of it was ours to have. Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex.
For some people that life of casual sex and serial loves is just fine. They live, they love, they go their separate ways, they remember fondly and are remembered fondly. But other hearts have other needs. And for those, to be told that the One Love, the soulmate, the intimate other, is not possible, is a heartache that never heals. It is always there, just below the surface. You would do anything to make it not so. Because without that intimate other, life is so very very desperately lonely.
…in 21 of the 25 states where this question is most frequently asked, support for gay marriage is lower than the national average.
So many hearts that could have found their beloved other, instead locked themselves in the closet and watched their love lives wither away to graveyard dust all the same. But at least nobody knew their terrible secret…that their desires were foul, that they were unfit for love. So many hearts turned finally to stone, so the righteous could make their stepping stones to heaven out of our dreams of love.
November 8th, 2013
by Bruce |
This came across my Facebook stream just now…
At 16 I thought being attracted to guys was just a phase. By 18 I’d pretty much figured out that thinking it was a phase was the phase.
October 14th, 2013
Once Upon A Time In Washington…
by Bruce |
On this date in 1979 the first gay rights march on Washington took place, with about 100,000 demonstrators. I was one of them.
Here’s an ad placed in the Washington Blade after the march for the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club and in it the photographer caught me when I was walking along with the Maryland contingent. This is a scan from the copy of the Blade I saved, so the quality isn’t the best, but it’s all I have. The Stein Club made posters with this shot and I’ve regretted ever since that I didn’t snatch one up.
I’m there in the lower right hand corner with, oddly, my Argus C3 around my neck. It was a (very) poor man’s Leica and I was probably experimenting with it. The Canon F1 was probably in my backpack. I’d worked all summer long at a fast food joint in 1971 to be able to buy the F1, but apart from a couple lenses for it and a really nice German enlarging lens I wouldn’t be in any position to buy nice photographic equipment for decades to come.
I think I had color loaded in the F1 and Tri-X Pan in the Argus. At some point I need to post a gallery of my shots here in the “Life and Times” section of that demonstration and other gay rights events I attended and photographed. I wasn’t working for anyone at the time, just documenting my life and times and the struggle I found myself a part of whether I wanted to be or not.
When I came out to myself in December of 1971 I wanted what most of us want when we’re young…the significant other, the soulmate, the happily ever after. What I got was not that. Yes, it’s so much better now than it was back then, but we had a lot of work getting from there to here and we still have a long way to go before every gay kid can dream the dream of love and joy and contentment without fear or shame or guilt. The young guy you see in this ad would never have thought in his wildest dreams he would live to see the day he could get legally married anywhere, let alone in his home state of Maryland, to the man he loved. But that day came. If only I’d had a better world to grow into adulthood in, I might have found him.
October 9th, 2013
My Privileged Life
by Bruce |
Today…I was told to “check my privilege”. Okay…I’m checking it now…
I was raised by a divorced single working mother. My dad died trying to rob a bank. I grew up in a series of small apartments, wearing mostly second hand clothes and going to public school, where in the 1960s, because I was the product of a “broken home” I was treated like a problem child even though I was pretty well behaved. That didn’t change until high school. I was the first male in dad’s side of the family to finish grade school and get a diploma. I did three semesters of community college and then had to go to work to support mom and me. For most of my life I had no idea how I was going to earn a living and resigned myself to a low income life lived in rooms rented in other people’s houses. Before I started earning a good living as a software developer I had no car, and no prospects. Seen from within, the life I am living now seems an absolute miracle to me.
And yet, in some quarters, it seems I am a “privileged” Boomer, which strikes me as a real joke coming from younger people who got their college degree and found good work at a living wage at an age when I was still doing Manpower temp jobs and living with mom. But there it is…I need to “check my privilege” and shut up about my own experiences in life, and what I’ve seen happen politically in my country during my lifetime with my own two eyes, whilst Millennials discuss amongst themselves how privileged we Boomers are and how we fucked everything up for them. Because god forbid anyone should hear from someone who was actually there what he saw for himself while on the road to where we are now.
Whatever. I get that that Time Magazine article got your goat. You don’t seem to get that it was supposed to. But if playing Wall Street’s game of Blame The Other Guy We’re Screwing Too works for you fine. Enjoy the cheap thrills of the blame game while I watch people who wish to bury the past, keep on grimly repeating it.
I’m not afraid of terrorist bombs, I grew up during the cold war figuring the world would probably nuke itself to death anyway. My privileged life taught me how to duck and cover and never count on tomorrow being there. I’m not afraid of sudden poverty. My privileged life taught me how to live on a poverty line income. I’ve watched republicans tank the economy over and over and jackasses keep voting them into office anyway. Figure it will all just keep happening. C’est la vie! And…pay attention now…I don’t particularly care if people who don’t know me from Adam hate me for being something I can’t help being. I was fine with that even before I knew that I am gay. I learned how not to give a flying fuck about that even before my grade school teachers told me I was a problem child because my mother was divorced. I learned how not to care long before all that, while being hated, or at best patronized, by members of my own family for being my father’s son. And I will not wear your goddamned labels.
October 7th, 2013
Repost: Fifteen Years Ago…
by Bruce |
I posted this five years ago. Seems appropriate now, since the kook pews are howling again, the haters who would have looked the other way had they come upon the murder taking place, and insist everyone else should too, to revisit it.
Nothing has changed…there is nothing mysterious or hidden about what happened that night…the ghosts still talk among themselves…if you are willing to take the same walk I did one night in Laramie, you can still hear them…
The wind never seems to stop here on the plains. It is October in Wyoming, and the wind carries with it a chill now. The first tentative breath of winter dances restlessly over rolling hills of sage. The days have grown short, the nights cold. And long. Very long. And quiet, save only for the sound of the wind.
Take a walk tonight across the rolling hills of Wyoming sage. Leave the town lights twinkling in the distance behind you. Walk toward the mountains in the darkness ahead. There is only you here tonight. You, and the wind, and the stars in the sky, so far away. So very far away. Around you are only rolling hills of grass and sage, fading into the night. There are remnants of what looks like a small wooden fence here, that was torn down some time ago.
Listen to the wind. Listen carefully. There are ghosts here on the plains. Hear them talk tonight among themselves…
No one knows why Matthew was determined to go to the Fireside that night, or why he left with Aaron and Russell. It was karaoke night, which would not ordinarily have interested him. There was some speculation that he was buying drugs from Aaron and Russell, but his friends find that implausible. A close friend thinks that depression may have weakened his judgment, and wonders if he had taken a heavy dose of Klonopin before he went to the bar. "When he was depressed," she says, "he would just grab a handful." Romaine Patterson remembers how in the coffee shop where she worked Matthew "would just talk to anyone-people no one else would talk to, like this weird old man…. He had no discrimination in his person."
Shortly after midnight on October 7, 1998, 20-year-old Shepard met McKinney and Henderson in a bar. McKinney and Henderson offered Shepard a ride in their car. Subsequently, Shepard was robbed, pistol whipped, tortured, tied to a fence in a remote, rural area, and left to die. McKinney and Henderson also found out his address and intended to rob his home. Still tied to the fence, Shepard was discovered eighteen hours later by a cyclist, who at first thought that Shepard was a scarecrow. At the time of discovery, Shepard was still alive, but in a coma.
Aaron Kreifels first met Matthew Shepard in a dream last Thursday night, the night after he discovered his fellow University of Wyoming student badly beaten, barely alive and tied up to a fence outside of Laramie.
Although Shepard was in Fort Collins by then, kept alive by an array of life-support machines in Poudre Valley Hospital’s intensive-care unit, Kreifels said the gay student, who was beaten beyond recognition, allegedly by two young Laramie roofers, perhaps because he was gay, came to visit his rescuer in a dream that night. Kreifels doesn’t remember much of the dream, but he said Wednesday that he awoke the next morning comforted by the vague sensation of having met the person he found in such bad shape two days before.
Although early reports indicated that two mountain bikers had discovered Shepard on the crude fence on an old, double-rutted road, Kreifels was alone that evening, struggling on his mountain bike through deep sand and for some reason ignoring a desire to turn back and find another, easier way back to town. Before he knew it, he had fallen. He was on the ground, his front wheel broken beyond repair. He was unhurt, but what he saw as he got up struck him cold.
"I got up and noticed something out of the corner of my eye,” he said from his room in a freshman dorm at the University of Wyoming on Wednesday. "At first I thought it was a scarecrow, so I didn’t think much of it. Then I went around and noticed it was a real person. I checked to see if he was conscious or not, and when I found out he wasn’t, I ran and got help as fast as I could.”
As the former high school crosscountry runner traversed the quarter- to half-mile of scrub prairie between him and the nearest house in the nearby Sherman Hills subdivision, his thoughts froze before quickly accelerating.
"It was distressing. I was panicked for a couple minutes, because I wanted to make sure I could do all I could do to help save him,” he said.
-The Denver Post
Officer Reggie Fluty: When I got there, the first – at first the only thing I could see was partially somebody’s feet and I got out of my vehicle and raced over – I seen what appeared to be a young man, thirteen, fourteen years old, because he was so tiny, laying on his back and he was tied to the bottome of the end of a pole.
I did the best I could. The gentleman that was laying on the ground, Matthew Shepard, he was covered in dry blood all over his head. There was dry blood underneath him and he was barely breathing…he was doing the best he could.
I was going to breath for him and I couldn’t get his mouth open – his mouth wouldn’t open for me.
He was covered in, like I said, partially dry blood and blood all over his head – the only place that he did not have any blood on him, on his face, was what appeared to be where he had been crying down his face.
-The Laramie Project
Shepard suffered a fracture from the back of his head to the front of his right ear. He had severe brain stem damage, which affected his body’s ability to regulate heart rate, body temperature and other vital signs. There were also about a dozen small lacerations around his head, face and neck. His injuries were deemed too severe for doctors to operate.
At the Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, Matthew lay in bed down the hall from Aaron McKinney. Matthew was comatose; his brain stem which controls heartbeat, breathing, temperature, and other involuntary functions – was severely damaged. He also was suffering from hypothermia and had a red welt on his back, a red mark on his left arm, bruised knees, cuts on his head, neck, and face, and bruising in his groin.
Dr. Cantway: I was working the emergency room the night Matthew Shepard was brought in. I don’t think, that any of us, ah, can remember seeing a patient in that condition for a long time – those of us who’ve worked in big city hospitals have seen this. Ah, but it’s not something you expect here.
Ah, you expect it, you expect this kind of injuries to come from a car going down a hill at eighty miles an hour. You expect to see gross injuries from something like that – this horrendous, terrible thing. Ah, but you don’t expect to see that from someone doing this to another person.
The ambulance report said it was a beating so we knew.
-The Laramie Project
Exactly a week after his tragic discovery, Kreifels, 18, an architectural engineering major from Grand Island, Neb., said he tries not to think about the condition in which he found the classmate he had never seen before. Authorities say Shepard’s assailants repeatedly beat him with the butt of a .357 Magnum, fracturing his skull. Kreifels doesn’t talk about it.
"I don’t really want to go into details about that,” he said.
-The Denver Post
Aaron Kreifels: I keep seeing that picture in my head when I found him…and it’s not pleasant whatsoever. I don’t want it to be there. I wanna like get it out. That’s the biggest part for me is seeing that picture in my head. And it’s kind of unbelievable to me, you know, that – I happened to be the person who found him – because the big question with me, like with my religion, is like, Why did God want ME to find him?
-The Laramie Project
[Edited a tad...]
Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com