It’s Not The House Is Made Of Glass, It’s That It’s Your House
Random Facebook associations…
Two different friends posted Mennonite and Gay related news stories that showed up in my feed next to each other. No comment other than the serendipity of it, and perhaps a nod back to that saying from back in the day, that We Are Everywhere and to strike at your gay neighbor is also to strike at someone in your own house as well. That first stone you cast might end up hitting your own child.
Original posters blacked out for their privacy…not that I think any of them would mind…but well…
Link to first article, Here. Link to second article, Here.
This came across my Facebook stream the other day…
But the IPR’s most fascinating piece was published a few months earlier, in August 1993. The article, written by IPR Foundation senior fellow Col. Ronald D. Ray, purported to be an argument against allowing gays to serve in the military. “The homosexuals are not as a group able-bodied,” Ray urges. “They are known to carry extremely high rates of disease brought on because of the nature of their sexual practices and the promiscuity which is a hallmark of their lifestyle.”
That’s fairly conventional anti-gay obloquy, especially for the time. But from there, the polemic quickly descends into a stunningly graphic description of gay sex acts…
Link to the article Here. Coincidentally, or not perhaps, I saw this a day after I was reading another online rant about how us gays are obsessed with sex. I say “perhaps not” because these things tend to percolate up from the sewer all at once and you just know someone read an article about how gays are preoccupied with sex somewhere and the next thing you know it’s making the rounds and all the usual suspects are repeating it as if it was some new groundbreaking discovery. But it’s an old lie, one part meant to dehumanize us, reduce us to a sexual urge, and one part projection. If we’re the ones so obsessed with sex, what are you then, so obsessed with talking about our sex.
There’s a scene in Patricia Nell Warren’s groundbreaking novel The Front Runner where Harlan Brown, the coach and lover of out gay Olympian Billy Sive, is having a chat with some old friends who work as sports reporters. They confront him on the rumors about his having a sexual relationship with Sive, and while Brown tries to stand up for the honor and the dignity of their love, the reporters, old friends, try to make Brown understand that in the mass media, honor and dignity won’t even buy you a cup of coffee. Which only makes Brown angrier…
“Did it ever occur to them that maybe Billy and I don’t merely go to bed together? That we love each other?” I was really getting mad now. “That neither of us wants anybody else? Do they know so little about human nature?”
“You’re the one’s a dummy about human nature,” said Aldo. “They want to think the worse…”
Finally one of the reporters, Bruce, suggests that they do an interview with the two of them which would hopefully allow the readers to see them as human beings apart from the ugly stereotypes of homosexuals common in those days.
Brown agrees, thinking it a great idea. Aldo pointedly asks if they can dispel the other rumors too…
“What other rumors?” I said.
“You really want to know?” Aldo asked. He was furiously tearing up a piece of bread.
He started to tell me. When he’d finished I’d had one more sociological revelation. Society had tried to teach me that the gay mind was an open sewer. Now I knew, beyond any doubt, that it was the straight mind that was the sewer…
The next scene is Brown back home telling Billy what Aldo had said to him…all the carefully specific and brutally ugly sexual perversions cataloged against gay people back in the early 70s when Warren was writing her novel. All I have to add to it is either Warren or her editor chose to keep a bunch of it away from the page, otherwise her readers might have become so completely disgusted they simply stopped right then, or she herself chose to stop digging into it when it got ugly enough. I’ve had a bunch more of it waved in my face since I read that book, and I’m here to tell you there is no bottom to the grotesque sexual fantasies of bigots. But it’s unfair to lay all that at the feet of heterosexuals. Now I knew, beyond any doubt, that it was the straight mind that was the sewer… No. It’s the mind of the bigot that is the open sewer. And the fact is, sexual corruption is something they throw at all the hated Others, be they gays or Jews or Blacks or (Hi Donald!) Mexicans.
They say gays are obsessed with sex but if you look carefully what you find is that it’s the bigots who are obsessed with it, to the point that it’s all they can see when they look at us. Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex… We have to be inhuman, so persecuting us can be righteous.
Don’t take that “Must Read” in the Slate article headline there too seriously if that sort of graphic talk about sexual kinks bothers you. It bothers me but I’m use to it, ironically enough because A) the bigots keep waving it in my face and B) I got an eyeful of heterosexual kink back in the day every time I went to buy my gay newspapers, because back then the only places I could find them were in those seedy little “adult” bookstores you find tucked away in decaying strip malls or certain city neighborhoods. I’ve written about this before: for a period of time in my life I had to walk a gauntlet of heterosexual pornography just to get my damn newspapers. I mention it here so you know why A) I became inured to graphic discussions about sex at an early age and B) why I’m laughing in your face if you just tried to tell me gays are perverse in ways heterosexuals just aren’t.
Seriously, go browse the wares in any of the charming stores down in Baltimore’s The Block and ask yourself how you’d like it if your deepest most intimate feelings for the love of your life, all the wonderful moments you were in their arms and they in yours, were judged always by what the people on the covers of those magazines are doing. Would it make you angry? Ask me how it makes me feel.
The fact is that some gay people are horrible human beings. We can name a few: Roy Cohn, Joseph McCarthy’s right hand man during the red scare, Ernst Röhm, leader of Hitler’s SA, Jorg Haider, Austrian fascist leader who spent his last hours in a gay bar with a hot young blond. And that ugliness of character is bound to come out in the bedroom…
“Politics like sex is only a by-product of what the essential person is. If you are mean and selfish and cruel it will come out in your sex life and it will come out in your politics when what really matters is that you are the sort of person who won’t behave like that.”
-Mary Renault, as quoted in Mary Renault: A Biography by David Sweetman
But it’s a mistake to lump all gay people into some faceless mass of humanity for exactly the same reason it’s a mistake to lump people together for the color of their skin, or their religion, or the color of their hair, or whether they’re right or left handed. And it’s a mistake bigots want you to make, because it’s one they make themselves. So they can see themselves as righteous people. So they don’t have to name the sewer they’ve made a home in.
A blogger I gained some measure of unexpected respect for, when he turned around from being a supporter of forcing teenagers into ex-gay therapy to being in opposition when confronted by the evidence of what it was actually doing to those kids, wrote a brief-ish blog post critical of this new paper (he called it a study that isn’t a study and you may notice I’m not calling it a study either because it isn’t) asserting that there is no scientific evidence that gay folk are born not made, but seemingly agreeing, or at least he quotes someone who agrees with, the conclusion that “social stigma” is an insufficient cause for the higher than average mental health issues gay people in general experience.
I would like anyone who thinks you can bundle the stresses imposed on gay people, and in particular on gay kids, into a tidy little package labeled “social stigma” to take a step back and appreciate just how hard it is to grow up gay, even these days, let alone try to live a whole and happy life as a gay adult. It isn’t just “social”, it’s “family”. The stories I’ve heard from other gay people about growing up in a unsupportive family environment, let alone a hostile one, would make a brick cry, if not a fundamentalist. Here’s one from my own past I’ve posted about before…
Perhaps we were just not right for each other after all. The hard lesson to learn about love is you can find someone who is just right for you, who seems to complete you in all the places you never even knew were empty, until you met that one person, saw them smile into your eyes. And yet even so you may not be right for them. They may have a completely opposite feeling about you. Ask me how I know this. Perhaps we were not right for each other.
Or perhaps it was something he told me one night as we lay together, in a very quiet, emotionless voice. About the day he came out to his parents. About how the next morning before dawn his father had gone into the household office, fired up the computer, and created a brochure filled with verses condemning homosexuality and what God does to nations that tolerate that which is an abomination in His eyes. About how his father printed up dozens and dozens of copies of the brochure and as the sun rose, walked around their neighborhood and put one in every door of every house, for blocks around. Then he told his son what he had done.
I ended that one with these words…please pay attention: What gay people know is this: strangers can beat you, can take your life away from you, but only family can chew your heart up, and spit it back out.
You can’t write “social stigma” on that knife to the heart and say you understand anything about how deeply it cuts.
by Bruce |
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July 20th, 2016
The Gutter Speaks
Gavin Newsom, former mayor of San Francisco, talks about what he saw at the 2016 Republican National Convention in a video. I’d embed it here but Facebook makes that tactically difficult. But visit the link if you can, it’s worth listening to his passionate disgust at what he saw. And there’s no mistaking it, the republicans, just slightly more than a year after the Supreme Court acknowledged our right to equality in the marriage laws of this land, have written the most homophobic platform in their history. It is a snarling, in your face growl of contempt toward sexual minorities. But then, taken in context with the rest of it…the racism, xenophobia, hatred of women, hatred toward the poor and handicapped, it is of a piece. This is a convention of the human gutter.
Newsome talks mostly about the conversion therapy plank, and you can argue that if any one of the anti-LGBT planks says it all it’s that one. I have a running thread of posts here on this blog about how reparative-conversion-exgay therapy was born in the blood of innocents. That’s not histrionics, it’s a plain statement of fact. The first exgay ministry was Love In Action, founded originally in San Francisco and later relocated to Memphis Tennessee. It’s first three clients included a young man named Jack McIntyre, who killed himself because the stress exgay therapy could only exacerbate within him became too much. That’s not conjecture, he left a suicide note that said in part:
To continually go before God and ask forgiveness and make promises you know you can’t keep is more than I can take. I feel it is making a mockery of God and all He stands for in my life.
What people need to understand is that lethal self loathing is the intention. Not necessarily that it kills, but that it is complete and overwhelming and crippling. It must be a ball and chain on our lives, on our souls. We have to hate ourselves. Because then we are good homosexuals. We hide, we apologise for existing, we don’t expect basic human dignity, let alone assert that our hearts are not there for them to scribble their graffiti on and our lives, our hopes and dreams are not their stepping stones to heaven. We have to bleed, so they can feel righteous.
To call forcing kids into it child abuse is imprecise. It is the rape of the soul. Adults and children alike. And in Cleveland now, these are its advocates. Unsurprisingly, they are also racists, xenophobes and misogynists, grifters, thieves and swindlers, sociopaths and paranoid cowards. Simply put, the human gutter. For generations, we have been dying for their sins because even the blood of Jesus Christ was not enough to get them clean.
by Bruce |
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July 18th, 2016
Born In The Blood Of Innocents…(continued)
From The Guardian today…
“The only thing they managed to exorcise was my faith.”
The thing you need to understand about conversion/ex-gay therapy is that what’s important isn’t that anyone actually becomes heterosexual. It’s that everyone, gay folk, their families, their neighbors, gets the message that homosexuals are damaged goods at best, abominations in the eyes of god at worst. The scapegoat must always hang their head in shame.
This is telling…
A US navy veteran and now an LGBT activist, he spent four to six months in the group but their tactics began to alarm him. “One of the group leaders prayed and said: ‘I really feel like you have been molested but you’re just suppressing it.’ And I have never been molested in my life. So I would tell them, ‘I’ve never been molested, incorrect.’ And then it turned into a narrative where in order for me to even participate I would have to admit that I had been molested.”
The anti-gay ideology is of a piece. Every thread in it fits neatly together with all the others, like the intricate crackpot conspiracy theories about chemtrails or UFOs. This notion that a person’s homosexuality was caused by childhood molestation walks in lockstep with the notion that since homosexuals don’t reproduce they must recruit or they would die out, and this is why homosexuals are child molesters.
It’s a house of cards. Take away one card and the entire structure begins to fall apart. So this gay man had to have been molested, and as long as he insists he wasn’t, that can only mean he’s still fighting against the truth. Maybe he has a demon inside of him. Maybe he’s just not submitting to the will of god enough. But the possibility that he is a homosexual who wasn’t molested cannot be endured. Because if that could be true, then what else about homosexuality might be true, that we don’t want to know…
by Bruce |
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July 3rd, 2016
Gunshots That Echo Forever
Wandering the all new Disney Springs today. Almost the entire area that was once Downtown Disney and Pleasure Island has been massively redone. The old maps in my head are half wrong now. But staying at a nearby hotel makes it possible to get it out of my system without having to deal with the new parking garages and street changes. Tuesday I go to my DVC room at Boardwalk for a few days. I reckon I’ll hit the water parks in the morning and the theme parks in the evenings. Maybe. Boardwalk is nice enough I can just hang out there all day too. This makes for a nice respite from travelling the great plains last week, and my cameras being mostly disappointed this trip. But I got a few good ones. Tell you more later.
Disney Springs is crowded this holiday weekend. That’s to be expected. Normally I hate crowds. But every now and then they bring me nice things. Like beautiful young visiting latinos who still wear briefs, out of style though they seem to be in this country, and silken athletic shorts over them that, long and baggy though they may be, make that fact clearly evident, and let you see the seams move as they walk along in front of you…
I made reservations for the dining room at Wolfgang Puck’s tonight since it’s holiday crowded here and I wasn’t sure I could sit at the bar downstairs. Turns out that was no problem, but there was a bar upstairs too so I sat there. It’s not that I have to drink Every Night. But sitting at the bar makes it easier for the single traveler to talk with his fellow diners. And if the bar is empty, as it was this night for some reason, there’s always the bartender.
I was wearing my rainbow Mickey pin and the bartender noticed. He began telling me about his friends who were at Pulse the night of the shooting. Three guys, two of which were on the fence about going that night, and the third who really wanted to go, so the others went along with him, and they died and he lived, and now he can’t forgive himself…
by Bruce |
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Is it hard to picture a troubled gay guy lashing out at his own kind? When you hate the gay, it’s much easier to attack it in other people than to face down your own demons. Craig Ferguson has been repeating a joke for years that goes something like this: What would we do without gays? Who would design all the clothes? Who would arrange all the flowers? Who would pass all the anti-gay legislation? He always gets a big laugh…
I never hated myself. I came out to myself in a rush of first love and it honestly felt like the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to me. Like all the silly love songs and poems, the stars seemed to shine a little brighter, the birds in the trees sang a little more sweetly, and I walked with a lighter more carefree step than I ever had before. It was wonderful. But the wound ran deeper than I thought.
It was the iron ball and chain of low expectations regarding my place in the world, which I would always excuse as my simply a not having a very competitive nature. I never tried very hard to make a place for myself in the realms of my first loves, cartooning, painting and photography. I kept my artwork to myself, and those few times I did venture out to try and market myself, or find work as an illustrator or photographer, I barely knocked on the door, accepting the first rejections I got as final. In retrospect something very deep down inside of me seemed to know I’d never be accepted in the lands of my dreams. I had no clue what I would do for a living, accepted that I would always have a low income life, going from one menial job to another, renting rooms maybe in other people’s homes if I was lucky, but never a place of my own, never a good job that I loved. That was for other people. I never bothered somehow, to examine why I felt that way very closely. I had an assortment of ready excuses. No college degree. Not very good at self marketing. Maybe I just wasn’t as talented as I thought…
I stumbled into my career as a software developer purely by chance; the PC and dot-com booms created such a booming job market that anyone who could code even a little was fairly dragged into it. I had a knack for logical thinking that enabled me to figure out how to turn requirements into software, even if it never dared look within as to why I felt so unlikely to succeed at a career. Right from the beginning I got praise for the quality of my work, rose in skill and wage level from one job to another, and ending up working at Space Telescope making six figures. It was a dream come true it seemed. Deep down I was completely scared I didn’t deserve any of it. I think it was only when the director of the Institute handed me a special achievement award at a ceremony a couple years ago that I finally began to really believe I belonged there, among those other highly skilled professionals. I was 60. Somehow it’s still harder to acknowledge to myself that I’m one of them than it was to admit to myself that I’m gay. It still feels pretentious. I have a little Baltimore rowhouse now, in a city neighborhood that is on the rise, and a nice car, and a dream come true job. And my first dreams are all buried in the past. I pursue them now in my basement art room in my spare time.
And then of course, there’s how low self esteem impacts your love life. Some folks just write love off altogether and dive into the one night stand no strings no complications scene. Others of us just stand quietly in a corner with a flower in hand and hopeful expression on our faces and the unkept look of people who forget sometimes to take care of themselves because they know somehow it doesn’t matter all that much. Please love us. Please don’t break our hearts. But the heart was already broken even before you came out to yourself, in that first moment when you flinched away from knowing. Gay Pride only goes so far healing the wound. You have to work at it, you have to dig down deep to really get to all the subtle little places where it still exists, still hurts still holds you down.
If you’ve never heard the term internalized homophobia, and it seems slightly odd to you, welcome to our world. It’s second nature to every gay guy, to the extent that few of us ever completely erase it. Vestiges linger, and catch us off guard when they rear up in awkward moments, decades later…
I never hated myself. Never. But deep down I have always felt like I was standing on the outside of life looking in. You really see it in my art sometimes. Internalized homophobia isn’t always a kind of murderous self hate as it apparently was for the author of this piece. I’ve seen that in other gay people. I think we all have. It’s a real thing. Sometimes though, it’s just the ball and chain on your soul that you just got used to, until you stopped even noticing it was there, and how much of the precious joy of life it was taking from you.
by Bruce |
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We Sought Shelter From The Storm, And Gathered Within, We Discovered Ourselves…
What I found in Paradise—what I found at Sidetrack, Little Jim’s, the Loading Dock, Berlin, Christopher Street—was the truth. It was a truth my parents, my church, the media, and the medical establishment all conspired to hide from me. I had been told that being gay meant being alone, that being homosexual meant being miserable, that being queer meant being loveless, friendless, and joyless.
Then I walked into a gay bar where I saw men with their friends and men with their lovers. I saw men dancing and I saw men laughing. I found a community that I had been told didn’t exist. I found love, I lost love, and I found love again.
My discovery of this truth wasn’t in the bar scene. Being raised in a Baptist household I had an ingrained reluctance to walk into a bar that lasted well into middle age. But my first Pride Day festival in Washington D.C. (I grew up in the D.C. suburbs), in 1977 on the street where Deacon Maccubbin’s Lambda Rising bookstore was first located, was a joy and a revelation. Later I found it in the first primitive computer bulletin board systems and FidoNet, the world wide computer network created by amature computer geeks before the Internet was opened to commercial use.
Before that first Pride Day, and the books and newspapers I found at Lambda Rising, everything I knew about gay people and what it was to be gay I had learned from the pop culture I’d grown up in, the vantage point of the heterosexual majority. It was like listening in to people talking past me, about me. A conversation that was about me but very little of it spoke to me. It’s hard to not think of yourself as some sort of damaged goods or tragic mistake of nature, even if logically you know that isn’t true, when that’s all you’re hearing about you from every direction. What I saw at that Pride Day, and later on the first BBSs was that we no longer had to see ourselves through heterosexual eyes anymore. We could see each other. We could see ourselves. Finally.
And that’s why those spaces were so important, and still are. We needed to be able to do that, to see ourselves as we are, as people, before others could see us as we are too, past the myths, lies and stereotypes. So we could be people. So we could be Neighbors.
by Bruce |
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June 13th, 2016
We Have Always Lived Under Threat Of Terrorism
Your gay and lesbian neighbors, your transgendered and bisexual neighbors, have lived under the threat of terrorism for a long time. All our lives actually.
This article from USA Today came across my Facebook stream just now…
The article lists just the attacks directed at people inside these bars. But almost no week goes by that I don’t read about an attack against people who have just left a gay bar, or were walking about in a gay neighborhood. It happens all the time.
Near my house there’s a street full of lovely bars and shops called The Avenue. It’s 36th Street in the Baltimore neighborhood of Hampden. The food is great, absolutely great, and several of the bars along that street make excellent margaritas, and as it’s walking distance for me I can go enjoy myself for a night and not worry about having to drive after a few drinks. I was walking back home from a night out on The Avenue last summer, when I passed a small group of young men near the corner of 36th street and Falls. They had a couple female companions with them and seemed to be college age or thereabouts. It was a Saturday night and The Avenue was packed.
Maybe it was my ponytail, maybe it was something else…Scientific American published a story in its February 23, 2009 issue, about a 2008 study that showed that “Without being aware of it, most people can accurately identify gay men by face alone”…but whatever it was, as I walked past one of the men smirked at me, clasped his hands together with his index fingers pointed as if he was pointing a gun at me and made a recoil gesture as if firing it.
I stopped, stunned, and he kept on smirking and walked away with the rest of his group, disappearing into the crowds on The Avenue. Had I called the police on him he would have of course, denied everything, likely even accusing me of doing that to him, and with his friends backing him up as witnesses I would have been the one going to jail that night. So I kept on walking home, feeling a chill in the air.
I’ve not been gay bashed yet. But it could happen. I know it could happen at any time while I’m out and about. I’ve lived with that thought in the background of my every step beyond the threshold of my house ever since I was a teenager. But then, I was a scrawny girlish boy who got beaten up a lot in grade school, so I had it then too. For some reason, some bigger guys seemed to feel perfectly justified in just taking a punch whenever they felt like it. After I came out to myself I began to understand why. I’m gay. That makes me a target.
Franklin Graham says his “Billy Graham Rapid Response Team” sent chaplains to Orlando “to assess where and how to best offer emotional and spiritual care.” Oh joy. But I have a better idea. Franklin Graham and his companions in spirit in the anti-gay kultar kampf can get a Much Better assessment of the emotional and spiritual care gay people need if they spend a few weeks living as gay people (don’t worry…no sex necessary!). Experience firsthand the effects of the venomous religious hostility you’ve been carefully stoking for decades Franklin. Walk a mile in our shoes. If you can make it a mile without getting gay bashed, or hanging yourself because you can’t take the hate anymore.
by Bruce |
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June 4th, 2016
“I never wanted to be gay. I was scared of what God would think and what all of these people I loved would think about me,” the 35-year-old singer wrote in a letter to his fans that was first published by Religion News Service on Tuesday. “But if this honesty with myself about who I am, and who I was made by God to be, doesn’t constitute as the peace that passes all understanding, then I don’t know what does. It is like this weight I have been carrying my whole life has been lifted from me, and I have never felt such freedom.”
-Trey Pearson Christian musician comes out, in moving letter to fans
I have seen so much of this in my life, heard so many stories like this and not only from the Evangelicals. And it is heartbreaking, not only for the pain caused to the gay person, their spouses, their children, and their families, but also for the abuse toward him that you just know is coming. And it makes me more angry than I can describe to know many of those who will now begin hurling that abuse at him, and at anyone willing to stand with him, were active participants in building and nurturing the environment of hate that led him and so many others like him to see marriage as a cure, or at least a refuge. But I suppose they do it so they don’t have to see the the bottomless pit of guilt and shame waiting for them at the end of Pretense Road.
Here’s the full letter from Trey Pearson to his fans and friends:
To my fans and friends:
Most of us reach at least one pivotal moment in our lives that better defines who we are.
These last several months have been the hardest – but have also ended up being the most freeing months – of my life.
To make an extremely long story short, I have come to be able to admit to myself, and to my family, that I am gay.
I grew up in a very conservative Christian home where I was taught that my sexual orientation was a matter of choice, and had put all my faith into that. I had never before admitted to myself that I was gay, let alone to anyone else. I never wanted to be gay. I was scared of what God would think and what all of these people I loved would think about me; so it never was an option for me. I have been suppressing these attractions and feelings since adolescence. I’ve tried my whole life to be straight. I married a girl, and I even have two beautiful little kids. My daughter, Liv, is six and my son, Beckham, is two.
I had always romanticized the idea of falling in love with a woman; and having a family had always been my dream. In many ways, that dream has come true. But I have also come to realize a lot of time has passed in my life pushing away, blocking out and not dealing with real feelings going on inside of me. I have tried not to be gay for more than 20 years of my life. I found so much comfort as a teen in 1 Samuel 18-20 and the intimacy of Jonathan and David. I thought and hoped that such male intimacy could fulfill that void I felt in my desire for male companionship. I always thought if I could find these intimate friendships, then that would be enough.
Then I thought everything would come naturally on my wedding night. I honestly had never even made out with a girl before I got married. Of course, it felt anything but natural for me. Trying not to be gay, has only led to a desire for intimacy in friendships which pushed friends away, and it has resulted in a marriage where I couldn’t love or satisfy my wife in a way that she needed. Still, I tried to convince myself that this was what God wanted and that this would work. I thought all of those other feelings would stay away if I could just do this right.
When Lauren and I got married, I committed to loving her to the best of my ability, and I had the full intention of spending the rest of my life with her. Despite our best efforts, however, I have come to accept that there is nothing that is going to change who I am.
I have intensely mixed feelings about the changes that have resulted in my life. While I regret the way I was taught to handle this growing up, how much it has hurt me and the unintentional pain I have brought Lauren, I wouldn’t have the friendship I now have with her, and we wouldn’t have our two amazing, beautiful children. But if I keep trying to push this down it will end up hurting her even more.
I am never going to be able to change how I am, and no matter how healthy our relationship becomes, it’s never going to change what I know deep down: that I am gay. Lauren has been the most supportive, understanding, loving and gracious person I could ever ask for, as I have come to face this. And now I am trying to figure out how to co-parent while being her friend, and how to raise our children.
I have progressed so much in my faith over these last several years. I think I needed to be able to affirm other gay people before I could ever accept it for myself. Likewise, I couldn’t expect others to accept me how I am until I could come to terms with it first.
I know I have a long way to go. But if this honesty with myself about who I am, and who I was made by God to be, doesn’t constitute as the peace that passes all understanding, then I don’t know what does. It is like this weight I have been carrying my whole life has been lifted from me, and I have never felt such freedom. In sharing this publicly I’m taking another step into health and wholeness by accepting myself, and every part of me. It’s not only an idea for me that I’m gay; It’s my life. This is me being authentic and real with myself and other people. This is a part of who I am.
I hope people will hear my heart, and that I will still be loved. I’m still the same guy, with the same heart, who wants to love God and love people with everything I have. This is a part of me I have come to be able to accept, and now it is a part of me that you know as well. I trust God to help love do the rest.
The German government has announced it will overturn the convictions of tens of thousands of gay men jailed before homosexuality was decriminalized.
“The historic convictions are wrong. They are deeply hurtful to human dignity,” said Justice Minister Heiko Maas. “We cannot completely completely undo these outrages of the rule of law, but we want to rehabilitate the victims.”
More than 50,000 gay men were convicted between 1946 and 1969, when homosexuality was decriminalized in both East and West Germany. Those men “should no longer have to live with the stain of a criminal record,” says Maas.
Some years ago, shortly after it was dedicated, I went to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to sit in on a series of lectures spread out over three days concerning the history of the persecution of homosexuals during the Third Reich. By then I’d already learned some of that history via a few books I’d found at Deacon Maccubbin’s Lambda Rising bookstore, and various articles in the gay press, and already the size and scope of how our history had been suppressed was stunning me. The lectures at the USHMM added to my understanding of the events surrounding the pink triangles, and more importantly, gave me their context in the greater turmoil that gripped Germany then.
The presenter was a young German scholar who had been studying the persecution of gays during that period. He had shown us several video interviews he’d made of camp survivors who’d worn the pink triangle, and said that as they aged it was important to get as much on the record as soon as possible. But he said, many of the men were still too ashamed or too closeted and were very reluctant to talk. After the war they had not been freed, but made to serve out the prison terms imposed on them by the Fascists, who had themselves rewritten many of the Wiemar Republic laws to make them harsher. Those criminal records had followed them for the rest of their lives he said, making it difficult for them to find work and places to live. And Germany kept their sodomy laws on the books…East Germany until 1957, and West Germany until 1969. So had any of these men been arrested again during that time they would have been facing repeat offender penalties.
So during one of the question and answer periods I asked him if there was any effort being made back in Germany to erase their records so they wouldn’t have it hanging over them anymore.
He almost laughed and said it didn’t matter since they were so old now. The implication being the only reason for doing so would be to make it easier for them to have sex. Well that raised my hackles a tad and raising my voice I said it was a matter of simple human dignity to take the criminal record off them and especially so if you didn’t think the Nazis had any right doing that to them in the first place. He dismissed me in the way Germans do to Ausländer who obviously don’t understand How Things Are Done, saying that there was no such effort being made at that time and there are more importing issues to concern ourselves with.
So anyway…they’re finally getting around to it. At some point it might be nice for the United States to get around to apologizing too, for not doing the decent thing back then and just letting those survivors of the Holocaust go free, even if they did happen to be homosexual.
by Bruce |
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January 25th, 2016
Two Sides That Are Not As Far Apart As You Think
This came across my Facebook steam this morning, and managed to re-ignite an anger I try very hard to keep contained…
It was the following passage, right at the beginning of the linked article. I read stories like these and they make me really angry about what has been done to gay people…not only in the name of religion to be sure, but a certain sort of fundamentalist religion bears a lot of the blame…
On my first full-day at the Gay Christian Network annual conference, meeting in Houston, Texas, January 2016, I met a gay man, my age mate, who told me that for the past twenty years he has lived his gay Christian life committed to celibacy, but no more. Relatively recently, a pastor of a Southern Baptist church from his home state told him he could fully embrace his sexual orientation as a gift from God and enter into a same-sex marriage if he so desired. The man was, to use the expression, bursting with joy as he told me this…
…and I just want to go grab both sides A and B and yell in their faces while trying to shake some life back into them: get that goddamned cult leader off your back, whoever they are, however sincere they seem to be…Especially if they are sincere…You Do Not Need Third Party Permission To Be a Human Being!
And no, this isn’t about my being an atheist getting all holier than thou about religion. I have always had this reflex toward religiosity, or any politics for that matter, that is controlling. And that’s what this is all about; not denial of sex but denial of the heart within. There is no meaningful distance between I Give You Permission To Have That Intimate Heart-To-Heart Body And Soul Companionship and Permission Denied But Feel Free To Ache For It Until You Die Or Else God Won’t Love You And Neither Will We. None. Zero.
Listen to me, it isn’t Jesus you need to know better…it’s yourself. Love and desire are wonderful beautiful things. Finding it in another is one of this life’s perfect joys. The philosopher Lao Tzu said that being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. Shame can only corrupt it, turn it against itself, lock you inside an insidious barbed wire fence. And the loveless soul soon becomes the empty shell for others to live vicariously in. If your faith isn’t a light within you, then it is a shroud someone’s wrapped you in. Unwrap yourself Lazarus, and go live life.
And love God if that’s where you are, or love an amazing and sublime godless cosmos if that’s where you find yourself, and especially find someone to share it all with and love each other wholeheartedly, and don’t ask Anyone’s permission!
by Bruce |
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January 12th, 2016
A Young Gay Guy In The Year 1977
While researching the events of 1977 and Anita Bryant’s campaign, I came across this via a Google image search that turned up this Jack Davis cartoon in the July 1978 issue of Mad magazine…
It might seem surprising now how low class Mad Magazine’s attitude toward gays was…
Mad #145, Sept ‘71, from “Greeting Cards For The Sexual Revolution” – “To A Gay Liberationist”
…but this blog post puts it into context: it wasn’t just the times, but also the 50s mindset of the staff. The liberal free spirit I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony mindset of the 60s-70s didn’t usually extend to Teh Gay. Check out the limp wrist in that Jack Davis cartoon. This is the world I came out into.
That summer of 1977 I had to listen to the BBC on my shortwave radio to hear the news from Florida because none of the TV and domestic radio news bothered to say anything about something that was obviously not of interest to decent normal people. Close to midnight sitting by the shortwave I learned that three out of four voters in Dade county had voted to kill an ordinance that simply said gay people ought not to lose their jobs or their housing simply because a boss or a landlord found out they’re gay. The next day as I walked through the city I found myself counting down three people for four I passed…trying to grasp the scope of how much people like me were still loathed.
Then later that December 1977…I watched the Christmas TV special that’s been on my mind the past couple days…
by Bruce |
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January 11th, 2016
The Social Media Winds Blow…Coldly On Some Of Us…
The Outcasts are grieving today. Not all of us however, for the same reason. But because the tears at least are genuine, I will hold my peace. For now.
It’s true. I have to admit it, finally. Embrace my inner militant homosexual for the militant that he is. Go take a look in the mirror and admit that the completely unremarkable, vaguely distracted longhaired geek staring back at me is actually pretty hard core. Yes…yes I am. I reckon. I’ve said this before: A militant homosexual is a homosexual who thinks there isn’t anything wrong with being a homosexual, and a militant homosexual activist is a homosexual acting like there isn’t anything wrong with being a homosexual. It’s not about how many marches you’ve walked in, or protests you’ve attended, or how many petitions you’ve beaten the streets for signatures. It’s the mindset. That is the alpha and the omega of it. Because if you speak up for yourself or act up for yourself like you really mean it, whether it’s on the picket line or the checkout line, whether its facing down the Phelps clan or the boss or that kindly neighbor next door who wonders why teh gays want to destroy marriage for the rest of us, they will call you a militant homosexual. And so you are.
I’ve wandered amidst the quilt panels, remembering faces, hearing voices lost forever now to my ears. I’ve listened to the stories of survivors of ex-gay therapy, read their writings on the wall, surprised the bricks underneath weren’t crying too. And I’ve seen what the closet has done to so many good hearts. That’s the worst. So many good hearts. So many hopes and dreams of love and joy and contentment, never to be. There was nothing wrong with us. There was never anything more than simple, common everyday human prejudice and bigotry laid against us, grinding our hopes and dreams into other people’s stepping stones to heaven, or at least into a tiny shred of self respect they had no hope of earning for themselves. We had to be monsters so other people could be respectable. We had to bleed so other people could be righteous. We had to hate ourselves, so other people could admire the troglodyte they were.
When I was a teenager I fell madly in love with a classmate. I thought he hung the moon and the stars. It was the most wonderful thing I’d ever experienced. It blasted my denials about myself to dust. I’ve never felt a shred of shame since. Decades later, both of us old men now, I listened to him talk about how a life lived in the closet made it difficult some days to tell who he was looking at when he looked in a mirror.
Well I know who I’m looking at when I look in mine. And I have no patience. None.
That’s all I have to say. For now.
by Bruce |
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November 5th, 2015
There’s A Message There For You Too Mrs. Boynes
On Facebook yesterday, Janet Boynes Ministries posted a link to an article applauding the outcome in Houston with this statement:
Houston voters just sent a very strong message to the homosexual lobby, don’t mess with Texas!
But the message from Houston, and Texas generally these days, is Please don’t mess with Texas. Because Texas can’t cope. Texas is afraid. It’s afraid of brown skinned people. It’s afraid of well educated people. It’s afraid of people of different religions, different Christians, godless heathens. It’s afraid of Teh Gay. It’s afraid of transgendered people. Please don’t mess with us because we’re a mess…
George Takei hit the right note yesterday:
Fear indeed can be a powerful weapon, but it ultimately never can defeat love. Those who deploy it always wind up on the wrong side of history, which will remember you as heroes and them as mere bullies. -George Takei
This from a man who would know from first hand experience what the ignorant fears and paranoias of the many can do to minorities. There’s another message here Mrs. Boynes, but you will need to step back from the immediate moment to see it clearly.
When I came out to myself as a gay teenager back in 1971 all but 2 states had sodomy laws. Now I could legally marry the man I love, and in a state (Maryland) whose voters approved same-sex marriage at the ballot box. “The arc of the moral universe is long,” said King, “but it bends towards justice.” And I am old enough to have witnessed the progress of that arc from Hardwick v Bowers to last night, when the only way bigots could get a non-discrimination law protecting a hated minority repealed was to make their case in the toilet. When I was 17, a law protecting sexual minorities would have been laughed out of the conference room, if not tarred and feathered. Now you have to make scarecrows out of bathroom icons. Even in those lopsided victories hate can manage in the reddest of red states, that’s gotta be depressing.
And I have witnessed over and over again in my own lifetime the truth of what Takei is saying. Where is Anita Bryant now? Where are any of the hatemongers of the 60s, 70s and 80s? At the same time Prop 1 was defeated Salt Lake City elected a Lesbian as mayor. Salt Lake City mind you, not San Francisco.
There’s your message Mrs. Boynes. You should read it sometime. We are not fighting for special rights. We are not fighting for social approval. We are not fighting for the right to take a pee. If you could see the people for the homosexuals, for the transgendered, for the Other that Texas fears and loaths, you’d understand why we will pick ourselves back up, dust ourselves off, and get back to work on it. Hearts of gold. Spines of steel.
by Bruce |
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