The Cartoon Gallery
A Coming Out Story
New and Improved!
The Story So Far archives
My Myspace Profile
Bruce Garrett's Profile
Box Turtle Bulletin
Mike Daisy's Blog
The Disney Blog
Dispatches From The Culture Wars
Epcot Explorer's Encyclopedia
Envisioning The American Dream
Joe. My. God
Made In Brazil
Progress City USA
Truth Wins Out Blog
The Rittenhouse Review
Steve Gilliard's News Blog
Steve Gilliard's Blogspot Site
Page One Q
Talking Points Memo
Truth Wins Out
The Raw Story
NIS News Bulletin (Dutch)
The Local (Sweden)
Pleasant Family Shopping
Discount Stores of the 60s
Photos of the Forgotten
Comics With Problems
HMK Mystery Streams
Mercedes-Benz Owners Club of America
MBCA - Greater Washington Section
January 20th, 2015
I Don’t Like Displays Of Heterosexuality Either. Especially When Homosexuals Are Doing It Too.
by Bruce |
The other day Billy Crystal, whose stereotypical gay character on Soap was supposed to represent some sort of big gay TV breakthrough, was seen bellyaching that now there’s Too Much gay visibility on TV…
“I did it in front of a live audience,” recalls Billy of Soap, “and there were times where I would say to [the actor who played his boyfriend], ‘Bob, “I love you,’ and the audience would laugh nervously, because, you know, it’s a long time ago, that I’d feel this anger. I wanted to stop the tape and go, ‘What is your problem?’ Because it made you sort of very self-conscious about what we were trying to do then. And now it’s just, I see it and I just hope people don’t abuse it and shove it in our face — well, that sounds terrible — to the point of it just feels like an everyday kind of thing.”
But of course making it feel like an everyday kind of thing is exactly what gay people in the audience back then, who had to listen to that laughter in their own lives if they were lucky, and outright hostility and violence when they weren’t, would have loved to see happen. And now that it is, some people who we may have thought were with us on that, are showing us once again that it’s one thing to talk the talk and another to actually mean it.
And he’s shocked, shocked, to find himself getting static for it now…
After facing quite a bit of backlash on social media, Crystal doubled down, claiming he doesn’t understand “why there would be anything offensive that I said. When it gets too far either visually…now, that world exists because it does for the hetero world, it exists, and I don’t want to see that either. But when I feel it’s a cause, when I feel it’s ‘You’re going to like my lifestyle,’ no matter what it is, I’m going to have a problem.”
No matter what it is… No matter what it is… No matter what it is… What it is would be gay Billy. That’s what it is. And we don’t have a lifestyle, we have lives.
How often have I heard this standard excuse whenever someone bellyaching about the visibility of gay sexuality gets called out for being prejudiced. Oh no…I am against heterosexual public displays too. Yeah, right, so why didn’t anyone hear you complaining about that before now? Why was it only when the TV starting singing a few gay stanzas of the same fucking song it’s been singing about heterosexuality for decades did you decide to start yapping about it?
Let me hazard a guess…because sexuality on the TV screen didn’t bother you until the gays started acting like they had something to be proud of in that department too.
No matter what it is.
Never mind. There is a bigger issue here and thankfully that Think Progress article touches on it. The essential homophobia of the big Hollywood studios needs open acknowledgement and discussion, and not just in retrospect, because that is why gay visibility is next to nil in a Hollywood product and even when it happens, even when they toss us a scrap off the table, is cheap, stereotyped, and nearly always sexually emasculated. This really needs emphasising: the studio heads would rather not offend the heartland bigots, not because they are afraid for their ratings and profits, but because they share the cheapshit prejudices of those heartland bigots.
Let’s talk about shoving sexuality in faces Crystal…Hollywood has been shoving a vision of a world without gays in the faces of gay people for generations without any shred of concern for the effect it has had on us, on our families or or the communities we live and work in. Oh yes, there have been the usual homosexual psychopaths and pathetic limp wristed faggots, but as Vito Russo famously said, “There have never been lesbians or gay men in Hollywood. Only homosexuals.” And even today Hollywood Still tip-toes around our very existence, giving us castrated gay-vague characters at best, cheapshit toss away stereotypes at worst, and they think they’re brave for doing even that much. This is long after other entertainment media have acknowledged and embraced us as a part of the audience.
You want to see three-dimensional, fully realized human gay characters, pick up a book, a comic book, go see a live performance of a play, or listen to some pop music. In Hollywood John Wayne is still rolling in his grave and retrograde attitudes like Crystal’s are just the part that gets said in public, and in private what Truman Capote once said is still true today: a faggot is the homosexual gentleman who just left the room.
Let me add a personal note, because February and Valentine’s Day are coming soon and this is absolutely the worst time of the year for me, Bruce Garrett, one lonely sixty-one year old gay man whose love life looks in retrospect as though it was doomed the moment I hit puberty. I’ll get around to my annual Valentine’s Day venting about that later, or if you feel like taking a stroll through an empty wasteland you can go read some of the posts I’ve written about trying to find a boyfriend in a world that wants people like me to not exist.
Some days you find yourself getting really angry at something and you know that most other people probably think you’re taking it too much to heart. Hey, come On, it’s just some guy who was on Hollywood Squares once… But entire generations of gay people had their love lives throttled because of homophobia and the enforced invisibility that came with it. The closet was a place you both put yourself into, and were put into. And in there your heart slowly withered and died, tastefully out of sight, so that others didn’t have to see the sewer they made of their own souls for doing that to their neighbors. What should have been one of life’s most perfect joys was taken from some of us and turned it into ashes. And even today, even now, for so many of us but especially those of us who were just coming of age when Stonewall happened, that’s all there is now. Ashes. And the knowledge that it didn’t have to be, that there was never anything wrong with us, only adds to the grief…and the anger.
Don’t like it when gay sexuality is shoved in your face Crystal? Hahahahahaha… Live for a few hours with the empty place inside of me where there should have been love and joy and peace and contentment Crystal, and then with the tens of thousands of others like me who had to grow up with your ignorant bar stool prejudices suffocating our hopes and dreams. So you played gay on TV did you? Ever wonder why your fellow actors who are gay are Still scared to death to touch those rolls? Ever wonder why gay kids are Still killing themselves? Ever wonder why the parents of gay kids are Still forcing them into ex-gay therapy? Try a mirror. Then look at your name, along with all the others in the industry you spent your life working in, written on the bottomless misery that taught audiences to cheer and applaud when a man kills another man and be shocked and offended when a man loves another man.
[Edited a tad for clarity…]
November 3rd, 2014
The Hated Other And The World They Did Not Want To Hate Back
by Bruce |
A couple more magazine back issues I ordered for my “Gay Studies” bookcase came in. One is a Life from 1964 with the Homosexuality In America article, including a section on the science of that period which begins, “Do the homosexuals, like the communists, intend to bury us?” I would have been ten years old when that issue hit the stands.
The Harper’s of September 1970 has the infamous Joseph Epstein essay that provoked a sit-in at the offices of Harper’s. Titled The Struggle for Sexual Identity, it ended with,
“If I had the power to do so, I would wish homosexuality off the face of the earth… nothing [his sons] could ever do would make me sadder than if any of them were to become homosexual. For then I should know them condemned to a permanent niggerdom among men, their lives, whatever adjustment they might make to their condition, to be lived out as part of the pain of the earth.”
I would have just turned 17.
I look at these magazines, and especially the ads, and it hits me that many of the people I know at work, and in my Facebook friends list, would not have even been born when these were published. But I remember that period of time quite clearly though, and yet when I did fall in love that first time, and came out to myself, I really believed that I could have that perfect joy in my own life too, regardless of what others thought about me. Looking over these magazines now, and the brutal ignorance and hostility toward me and my kind on full display, as casually and unaffectedly as if describing the weather, I can see how naive I must have been back then, to think that it would not touch my life too, and throttle my hopes and dreams like it did to so many others. For some of us it will always be a time before Stonewall.
I eventually did find my own way to a small community of fellow gay computer nerds and geeks. I’d hoped that would make the difference and just by socializing among friends like the straight boys and girls did I’d find my other half. But hatred cuts deep into the heart of the hated other, and hardens it nicely, and later in life than I should have I learned the same lesson Janis Ian did at seventeen. The shy, socially awkward plain looking kid is even less likely to be cared about in a community that is always under suspicion, always under attack. If the weakling falls behind and gets eaten, the important thing is it wasn’t you.
It’s better for gay kids now. Some of them. Thankfully. In time the force hate bears down on our lives will be a thing of the past. Mostly. But it didn’t have to be. The 1964 Life Magazine article on the science of homosexuality is titled “Why?” Probably my interest lately in collecting artifacts from that period is about my own search for an answer, to something that is unanswerable: Why is it so much easier to hate than it is to love?
So It Goes…
by Bruce |
Caught the end of Brokeback Mountain again last night. I’ve never been able to watch the entire movie, although I’ve read the Annie Proulx short story from beginning to end. But Heath Ledger…he really makes you feel it, and that just makes me so much more miserable inside…
October 16th, 2014
Don’t Hate Me Because I Disagree With Your Right To Exist.
by Bruce |
Yesterday after work I got into some old color slides I’d previously scanned in of a picnic I’d been to back in the late 80s with other members of a gay BBS system, and posted them to my Facebook stream. A bunch of folks in my friends list who were there, and their friends because I’d made the photos seeable to friends of friends, chimed in with details on faces I didn’t recognise and reminisces. Many reminisces. Some folks in the photos had passed away and we remember them. The rest of us had merely aged a tad and we remembered how it was back in the day when we were young. And for a wonderful few moments of life we could all be people. Just a bunch of folks remembering a lovely picnic we’d all once had together once upon a time. Thankfully those moments aren’t now as few and far between as they were that day back in 1989 when we had our picnic.
This morning I see this fragrant old crap from Bristol Palin in my Facebook stream…probably bellyaching about the fact that same sex couples in Alaska can get married now, just like the opposite sex couples do…and I have to remember that the human gutter still can’t see the people for the homosexuals, still regards all the decades it spent kicking us in the face as a mere disagreement, something we should all just take in neighborly stride.
Yes, we hurled every filthy lie about you we could manage during the Proposition 8 campaign, but you shouldn’t be so mean and hateful to us. Yes, for decades we’ve waged a multi million dollar scorched earth political campaign to deny you equal rights, smearing you as child molesters, destroyers of the family and civilization and spreaders of disease and social decay, but you shouldn’t be so mean and hateful to us. Yes we’ve incited violent religious passions against you here in the U.S. and now since that act is folding here, in Africa and Russia, where we tell anyone who will listen that homosexuals want to rape their children and destroy their families and their countries, and wherever we go we do our level best to see to it that gay people are brutalized, beaten and murdered, but you shouldn’t be so mean and hateful to us because after all we are only disagreeing with your lifestyle. We have a right to disagree with your lifestyle.
Fine. We have a right to our lives. Understand this you pathetic bigots, bullies and cowards, the days when we suffered in silence in the closet are over. Those photos I posted to share among some old friends weren’t just a bunch of homosexuals having a picnic; they were photos of a bunch of homosexuals who were using the emerging computer technologies to reach out to one another. And the day we started doing that was the day we no longer had to see ourselves through heterosexual eyes anymore.
I remember that transition time vividly. When I came out to myself back in December of 1971, everything I knew about homosexuals and homosexuality I’d learned from the heterosexual majority. Then came PCs and modems and in a heartbeat that all changed and we could talk to each other, could see ourselves for the human beings we actually were, not the monsters we were taught we were. And we stopped listening to the likes of you.
You think it’s hateful of us to stand up for our own human dignity do you? Well we’ll just have to agree to disagree about that. Now fuck off!
October 6th, 2014
“What Did You Expect?” Asked The Scorpion
by Bruce |
This came across my news stream the other day…
It relates the story of a gay man who took a new job and moved his spouse and their teenage son from a good home in Massachusetts to Nebraska, where there are precisely zero protections for gay people. He went into it thinking it was a dream come true job. The company recruiter had assured him that the company was “very affirming”. But the problems began almost the instant they settled into their new home and he into his new job. It was a disaster, financially and emotionally. Now you may wonder why any gay person would leave Massachusetts for Nebraska and expect to be treated like anything other than human garbage. Certainly the company lawyer did…
One day, after losing his job, Paul heard from the company’s lawyer, who asked him the same question that his boss had already raised. “‘What did you think was going to happen in this community?’” Paul recalls the lawyer saying. “‘We’re a Republican town, we’re a conservative town and we’re a Christian town.’”
Not exactly what the recruiter told him, but they probably approach their jobs a bit differently.
Let this man’s story be a warning. Regardless of what you are told, regardless of how friendly they may seem, if the place they want you to move to is homophobic and the company calls that place home, no matter how good the offer looks, take a walk.
One other thing: Read that company lawyer’s spiel again. We’re a Republican town, we’re a conservative town and we’re a Christian town. When someone complains about republicans, conservatives, and Christians being called bigots, laugh in their face and tell them you’re only reading what’s on the label they’re proudly wearing.
September 30th, 2014
Gaining A Body, While Losing A Heart
by Bruce |
This came across my Facebook stream this morning…
Unfortunately, 2013’s picture is no different from previous years: the vast majority of annual conferences are in a membership and attendance decline.
This is written from a religious conservative point of view, so it’s unsurprising they see the decline of the progressive churches in the denomination as validation of their stand against the homosexual menace. But look closer, at what the self assured fail to see right in front of their noses…
It’s hard not to look at the list of fastest declining annual conferences in light of the continuing debates over Scriptural authority and sexual morality within the United Methodist Church. Of the 16 fast-declining conferences listed above (excluding Rio Grande’s unusual circumstances), at least 12 have passed resolutions at recent annual conference sessions stating their support of the LGBTQ movement, and another (Alaska) belongs to a jurisdiction that has done the same. Meanwhile large and growing UM annual conferences have overwhelmingly rejected such resolutions.
And there it is…“passed resolutions”. Oh they did, did they? Yes, and that’s all those churches Could do for their LGBT members and their families and friends…pass resolutions. They can’t marry the same-sex couples within them. They can’t allow their gay members to fully participate in church life. So the people of conscience in them are leaving. But note that this isn’t conservatives leaving liberal congregations, that’s people leaving Methodism because they can’t in good conscience stay.
Yes, yes…some conservatives in those churches may also be moving to other congregations more in tune with their bar stool prejudices, but that can’t explain the numbers you see there. What’s happening is people in more liberal parts of the country are leaving the denomination itself. And it goes further…
The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.
That’s an article from October 2012, but more recent Pew polling finds the trend continuing. Look here…
…many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way. Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68%). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), while more than a third classify themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious” (37%), and one-in-five (21%) say they pray every day. In addition, most religiously unaffiliated Americans think that churches and other religious institutions benefit society by strengthening community bonds and aiding the poor.
With few exceptions, though, the unaffiliated say they are not looking for a religion that would be right for them. Overwhelmingly, they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics…
And over and over again what you see triggering this abandoning of organized religion is distress over the way churches are treating women and gay people. And in denominations structured in a rigid top down hierarchy, that distress is going to be most pronounced in the progressive congregations that can do nothing except utter polite words of protest. Unlike denominations such as Baptists (I was raised in a Baptist household), they can do nothing other than appeal to the conscience of the powers that be. But that tomb is sealed. Or…they can walk out the door. And maybe just keep going. But for people raised in those churches, that can be a horribly traumatic experience. Like the wounded survivors of a bitter divorce, they’re deeply reluctant to go back to the altar. More and more people, especially young people, seeing the cheapshit prejudices of their neighbors being cloaked in and even validated by their religions, find themselves not only on the other side of the church door, but questioning the whole christianity/religion thing.
So there is an overall decline in religiosity happening now in America and the west, even as the conservative churches gain membership. That isn’t growth, it’s hardening of the arteries. Of course the more conservative churches are holding onto, or even growing membership: they’re fine with the law the hierarchy is laying down on those matters. Some of the commenters in that article above seem to realize this and they’re fine with that. They want the progressives out. They may get their wish. But the ones that go, whether they remain Christians or not, will eventually find there is a richer, more deeply spiritual life to be lived out in the world, than inside a tomb.
September 24th, 2014
Let’s Be Real…
by Bruce |
Native American poet and author Sherman Alexie (Reservation Blues, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven) tweeted this earlier today…
@Sherman_Alexie: When someone says “Don’t overthink things” they mean “I’m worried that my entire life is a lie.”
Not sure what happened to him to make him make that observation, but I know what happened to me.
September 22nd, 2014
Insomnia TV Theater
by Bruce |
I popped awake around 3am this morning and eventually wandered downstairs and flipped on the TV. God I love MeTV. Some of the old shows I used to watch as a kid I never really got when I was that young. One of those was Route 66, which is just amazing to watch now that I’m older and been around the block a few times.
This morning’s episode was titled “Love Is A Skinny Kid”, which is from a line of dialogue that will probably haunt me to my grave. Buz and Tod find themselves in a small Texas town when a young woman wearing a very disturbing Japanese Kabuki mask gets off a bus. She burns a doll on a stake in front of someone’s house, and a crowd gathers and the local sheriff takes her into custody. Then the following exchange happens between Buz and Tod…
Buz: I can still smell it.
Buz: No, I mean the hate. That girl — she hates so hard it came right through the mask. You know what I mean?
Tod: No, I’m not sure I do.
Buz: I guess you gotta be around it the way I used to be. It’s like … malaria. One sniff of it, it comes right back. You can forget anything, except … hate.
Tod: What about the little item that makes the world go ’round?
Buz: Love? Love’s a … a skinny kid, that can catch cold and die, from just standing outside a locked door, begging to come in. But hate … now that’s a tiger in the hall. Hot or cold, it busts in, chomps out a piece. And it never grows back.
Wow… Just…wow… Some of those early TV shows had some amazing writers working for them. And actors. That episode, in addition to regulars Martin Milner and George Maharis, also had Burt Reynolds, Tuesday Weld, Veronica Cartwright and Cloris Leachman in it. All of them gave amazing performances. But the writing…I never really appreciated it…couldn’t have back when I was a kid. That line, Love’s a skinny kid that can catch cold and die from just standing outside a locked door, begging to come in…But hate… It will haunt me forever.
August 12th, 2014
Depression, Madness, And Those Of Us Who Slip Between The Fingers Of Concern
by Bruce |
It’s not often another story of celebrity death makes me feel like the floor went out from under me, but that’s what news of Robin William’s death by suicide did. I was heartbroken in that instant, as were a lot of people. The word “celebrity” demeans someone like him. He was an artist, an actor, a tremendous creative talent. He could be the gifted stage comic, the manic genie in Disney’s Aladdin, and then you look and he’s the evil Walter Finch in Insomnia, and then you look again and he’s John Keating in Dead Poets Society, and then you look again and he’s Peter Pan.
Williams it seems, was battling depression. I follow a bunch of very talented and creative people on Facebook and Twitter who are also battling depression. That’s, the clinical depression, which is a thing unlike those bouts of sadness and loneliness and loss we all face at one time or another in our lives. It’s a thing, a real medical clinical thing. People who experience it speak of it as a gray cloud that hangs over everything and never goes away. They say it sucks the energy and joy out of everything. I have had my moments of grief, I’ve had it so bad I’ve stood at the threshold of suicide myself many times. But it’s never been like that. And what comforts me as I walk into old age and I find myself standing at that threshold once again is I’ve seen the darkness come and go over and over and over again and I know from experience that sooner or later It Will Go Away, and I just have to keep walking through it. So I am told, it’s not like that when you have clinical depression. For those folks, that gray cloud never goes away, at least not without medication. I know I can always count on time making mine go away. But I also know how easy it is for people like me to lose our balance, and fall into a pit we may or may not get back out of in time.
The writer David Gerrold wrote this on Facebook the other day…
I don’t know the details of what Robin Williams was dealing with and I won’t speculate.
I do know that when you have a mind that works that fast and makes that kind of connections, flashing from moment to moment, assembling new pieces out of fragments of old experiences, it’s exhausting.
Sometimes my mind does that, all the circuits firing at once, and it shows up in stories — and leaves me emotionally drained, sometimes for days. It’s hard to live inside a brain that active. (And no, I’m not comparing myself to Williams, I’m only noticing my own experiences and extrapolating from there.)
He gets it. Whenever someone so creative and talented kills themselves, you will always hear a bunch of people saying, to the effect, that madness and genius go hand in hand. I can’t begin to tell you how much I hate hearing that. I’m not about to wrap myself in the robes of ‘genius’ by any means. I don’t even like the concept of a single measure of intelligence. I think there are a lot of different kinds of intelligence. And I always flinch at calling myself an artist. But I am. There are many kinds of artist too. Some of us paint and draw. Some of us do photography, or music, or act. We are writers and poets. Some of us pursue the engineering arts. And it isn’t madness we have, it’s brains that contain a whirlwind…flashes of insight, connections, moment to moment, all firing at once. Constantly. Someone on Facebook I follow posted a graphic with the message on it that, (recalling it from memory) to understand how having a creative mind feels, imagine you’re a browser and you have 2,868 tabs open all at once.
Williams had that. He had to given that amazing, wonderful ability he had to mentally jump from one random connection to the next on stage So Quickly. He had to have that whirlwind going on inside. You could see it. It just delighted you. And you could see it delighting him even as he was doing it. It’s not madness, it’s art. I don’t know that this necessarily makes you unstable, but I know from my own experience how vulnerable it can leave you if you don’t have something to anchor you, something…someone…to always bring you back home.
For the artist depression has to be an even bigger hazard, one that multiplies the risk you already have of losing your balance if you’ve already got those 2,868 tabs open. I’ve never had that overarching clinical depression, so I wouldn’t know. All I’ve ever been is sad. Just…very very sad. But I know what it’s like living with a furious mental cascade that just won’t stop unless you apply some chemical brakes and getting lost in it is oh so easy and losing your balance…maybe it was sadness, maybe it was some sudden crisis that came out of nowhere…and then the whirlwind in your mind throws you into a place you may or may not make it back out of.
This is why a lot of us end up not as suicides but as overdoses. The lucky ones have that anchor. Others, too afraid of the overdose or blessed like me with bodies too timid to handle a lot of drugs without getting violently sick long before the overdose can even get close, dive into their work as a substitute for the anchor, the home, the place of rest. I know how that is too. But when work becomes less a passion and more a crutch then it can have the same effect as drugs in that it allows you to deny and ignore the central problem in your life until that one moment when the crutch can’t bear the weight and it snaps and there you are and you’re on your way to the bottom of a pit and you can’t stop falling.
Bunch of highly talented and creative people I follow who’ve been open about their fight with clinical depression, are feeling very sad now for Williams, but also afraid for themselves. If he lost the fight, then what chance do I have? They need to be told the are loved, and cherished, and not alone in their fight. I’m afraid of a different thing. I don’t have a fight with depression. I have a fight with a hoary old stereotype about artists and madness that I am convinced is getting a lot of us killed too. You can call what our brains do to us madness I suppose, but it adds a little something to the world, and the thing is, we don’t have to get lost in it. We just don’t. The problem is people seem to think we’re supposed to. It’s part of the deal.
The shooting star. The one who lived so miserably and died so tragically, but oh look at all the wonderful things they left behind for the rest of us to enjoy! We don’t all suffer from depression, but we could all use a little sympathy too, and a little help. Because that inner whirlwind makes it hard to find that anchor, that intimate other, or others, who can see what the others can’t because they’re used to you behaving like you’re not quite all there, that that can see that you’re losing your balance, and seeing it, can take you by the hand to that place of peace and quiet you need to be in to get it back.
I know from experience that when I get lost in a whirlwind of grief or loneliness or sadness I can just wait it out. But I also know that it’s not a sure thing. I have come so very close to it. One of these days you might find yourself reading right here about the one time I couldn’t walk myself out of it. I told my brother once that if I died alone and especially if it was by my own hand, I wanted him to burn everything…all the artwork, all the photography. I was at a point in my life where it sickened me to think of people enjoying the artistic spoils of my miserable life. He flat out refused, and I’ve moved on to a place where I don’t care anymore.
[Edited a tad…]
August 4th, 2014
The Militant Homosexual I Became Was Nurtured By Hollywood’s Homosexual
by Bruce |
A friend on Facebook turned me onto this…
I have both editions of “The Celluloid Closet” published while he was still with us. If any one thing could have been said to have radicalized my attitudes toward gay equality it was this one, even more so than “And The Band Played On”. The book opens with a story about how a gay friend of his was telling another gay friend about a new movie that had a gay character in it, and the other friend immediately asks how the character dies. In a nutshell, that’s how it was.
I ordered the DVD of Vito and it came Friday and I had housework to do so it just sat for a while. Last night before bed I watched the first two thirds of it. It filled in a lot of blanks for me because I only knew of Vito Russo from his groundbreaking film history The Celluloid Closet. I didn’t know, but I should have guessed, how the activist predated the historian. The part showing him struggling to pull together all the hidden threads of our presence in the movies really brought back home to me that sense of isolation and cultural invisibility I hadn’t felt in decades.
Back in the 1970s, that homosexual characters were occasionally included in movies, either for laughs if they were flaming sissies or as the embodiment of unnatural evil, was something probably everyone knew. Russo was the first person to actually gather all the pieces together, all the little walk on toss off parts along with the major roles, all the sissies, all the evil psychos, all the tragically dammed, and look at all critically. And the book he produced hit gay people everywhere who read it like a ton of bricks, because you knew the scapegoating and stereotyping weren’t just how your heterosexual neighbors were taught to look at you, but also how you were taught to see yourself. Heterosexuals could dream of the happily ever after, could see that dream on the silver screen, could picture themselves there, having that life, or something like it. Hollywood flushed our dreams into the sewer from the moment we first walked into a movie house. We weren’t lovers, we were sissies, we were dangerous sexual psychopaths, we were the butt of dirty jokes, we were the personification of unnatural evil, we were pathetic, we were terrifying, we were not human. But you really didn’t see it all that clearly because the one thing we were most of all was something not to be discussed in public among decent normal people.
Then Vito Russo gathered it all together and put it in front of us. And it just took your breath away…to see it all there, laid out in front of you.
And it made you angry…
July 31st, 2014
There Was Never A Cure Because There Never Was A Sickness
by Bruce |
Two years ago in a post here I wrote…
There is nothing wrong with homosexuals. That is a simple statement of fact. Not opinion. Fact. Well researched, well established, scientific fact. And it has been well established fact for quite a very long time. If you were born in the 1960s or later, then this fact is older then you are.
The science that shows there is nothing psychologically wrong with gay people has a pedigree going back at least half a century now. But it wasn’t until 1973 that the American Psychological Association removed homosexuality from their catalogue of mental illnesses. In that same year, the very first ex-gay ministry, Love In Action, was founded in San Francisco. And soon after that, the first ex-gay suicide. Jack McIntyre wrote the following just before he killed himself…
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.
So to keep himself right with God he killed himself. Others simply retreated into a living death of the soul. They went deep into the closet, married against their nature, lived lives of quiet desperation. Or they embraced the lie and threw themselves into the sexual gutter. Human filth they believed they were, they consigned their sex lives to the public toilets and back alleys. There are many ways to put the knife into your own heart because you can’t bear its pain, but then tomorrow comes anyway and you have to do it all over again.
We were taught to hate ourselves. And the more we hated ourselves, the more painful our lives became which we were constantly told was proof that homosexuality was a sickness and to be homosexual was to be broken. But there was nothing wrong with us. There was never anything wrong with us. Science proved it decades ago. Perhaps science could have better served us all by discovering what it is that makes a person a bigot rather than what it is that makes someone homosexual. But now at least, the grotesque dance of hate is coming to an end…
Nine former ex-gay leaders, from organizations like Exodus International and ministries like Love in Action, have signed onto a letter in partnership with the National Center for Lesbian Rights calling for a ban on gay conversion therapy and saying that LGBT people should be celebrated and embraced for who they are.
“At one time, we were not only deeply involved in these ‘ex-gay’ programs, we were the founders, the leaders, and the promoters,” they said in the letter. “Together we represent more than half a century of experience, so few people are more knowledgeable about the ineffectiveness and harm of conversion therapy. We know first-hand the terrible emotional and spiritual damage it can cause, especially for LGBT youth.”
You can read their full letter at the link above. These are among those who inflicted the wounds and now ask forgiveness and I can appreciate that forgiveness for some may be impossible. This is why I can’t stand people that like to yap about how Christianity has made their lives so much Easier. Christianity is goddamn hard and I am no Christian. But I know this: it isn’t faith the size of a mustard seed that redeems, it’s love. That’s all you need. When the roll call of the dead and wounded is read, remember kindly, if it is in you to, the ones who could not at long last silence their heart’s voice, because the ones who can say “enough” despite their own guilt are civilization’s final hope. Keep them apart in your thoughts from the ones who kept on doggedly with it to the bitter end, because there was no heart to silence within them, just that empty void which is the end of the world.
July 28th, 2014
Should We Not Have Done That…?
by Bruce |
A soldier in the war against the homosexual menace has a road to Damascus moment…
As she sobbed over the breakup of her parents and family, an errant thought darted through my head: If we as a society didn’t condemn homosexuality, gay people wouldn’t feel pressured into marrying heterosexually, against their true attractions, and families wouldn’t be torn apart when the gay spouse could no longer continue the ruse. I had seen a number of gay Christians marry an opposite sex partner, only to leave when they couldn’t pretend any longer. It wasn’t fair to the spouse, the kids, or themselves. My doubts about the efficacy of change and the evangelical Christian stance against gay rights of any kind nagged at me.
July 24th, 2014
We Knew What You Are Even Before The Speech Began You Jackass…
by Bruce |
Marco Rubio wants to be the new look of an old song and dance…
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio acknowledged Wednesday that American history was “marred by discrimination against gays and lesbians.” But in a speech at Catholic University in Washington, Rubio drew the line sharply at marriage equality and accused supporters of same sex unions of “intolerance.”
“I promise you even before this speech is over I’ll be attacked as a hater or a bigot or someone who is anti-gay,” Rubio said. “This intolerance in the name of tolerance is hypocrisy. Support for the definition of marriage as one man and one woman is not anti-gay, it is pro-traditional marriage.”
And David Duke wasn’t anti-black he was pro white. Let’s talk for just a second about hypocrisy, starting with that laughable MSNBC headline. You can almost hear the headline writer wondering if anyone would buy into “defends gays by attacking gay marriage”, and then deciding they’d taken the bullshit far enough as it was.
If it’s bigotry to call bigotry bigotry, and discrimination to call discrimination discrimination, and hypocrisy to call hypocrisy hypocrisy then those words have no meaning at all. Of course, Rubio doesn’t see it as bigotry, because homosexual relationships really are deserving of scorn. It’s just hard to say so in the same breath as wringing your hands about American history being “marred by discrimination against gays and lesbians.” It just wouldn’t hit the right note to say we need to mar our history a little less please. I am saddened by discrimination against gays and lesbians, except when I’m not.
Never mind all that. I’d like to point out one small detail that I’ll bet a lot of heterosexuals who heard him or read this didn’t catch…certainly not the ersatz reporters covering him…but which I’m sure every gay person saw immediately, like a slap in the face…
The 43-year-old senator preached tolerance for gay couples and advocates of gay marriage and spoke about the United States coming a “long way” in its treatments of gays and lesbians. He said all Americans should acknowledge a history of institutional discrimination against gay people and that “many committed gay and lesbian couples feel humiliated by the laws’ failures to recognize their relationship as a marriage.”
If you’ve been in this struggle for any length of time it just jumps out at you. Here it is again…
“many committed gay and lesbian couples feel humiliated by the laws’ failures to recognize their relationship as a marriage.”
Humiliation. Humiliation. We feel humiliated. On Facebook the other day I said something to the effect (I’ll repost it here later) that there aren’t very many arguments in the homophobe toolkit, that all they ever do is rephrase the same old crap you’ve heard a zillion times before, as if the problem with a crap argument is one of presentation and not that it’s a crap argument. This is one of them: Gays only want marriage for social approval.
That’s what Rubio is saying there, oh so patronisingly, and what you need to see in it is how strong the reflex is to trivialize our relationships. This is how bigots think…homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex…and even when they’re trying hard not to say what they think, they get to talking long enough and it just starts coming out. Hello, I can’t see the people for the homosexuals. The gays are feeling humiliated because the law doesn’t treat their relationships as marriages. Their relationships. Their relationships. Their relationships. He probably had to practice for days to keep from saying their sexual liaisons.
Let me tell you about humiliation. Back in 2009, a mere five years ago in the struggle, Donald Carcieri, the homophobic governor of Rhode Island back then, and member of the National Organization For Marriage (surprise, surprise), vetoed a bill that would have simply provided burial rights to “domestic partners” on the grounds that it was part of an ongoing process of eroding the institution of marriage. The Providence Journal reported at the time that…
In his veto message, Republican Carcieri said: “This bill represents a disturbing trend over the past few years of the incremental erosion of the principles surrounding traditional marriage, which is not the preferred way to approach this issue.
“If the General Assembly believes it would like to address the issue of domestic partnerships, it should place the issue on the ballot and let the people of the state of Rhode Island decide.”
The legislation was prompted by one of the more heart-wrenching personal stories to emerge from the same-sex marriage debate.
At a hearing this year on one of the stalled bills to allow same-sex marriage, Mark S. Goldberg told a Senate committee about his months-long battle last fall to persuade state authorities to release to him the body of his partner of 17 years, Ron Hanby, so he could grant Hanby’s wish for cremation — only to have that request rejected because “we were not legally married or blood relatives.”
Goldberg said he tried to show the police and the state medical examiner’s office “our wills, living wills, power of attorney and marriage certificate” from Connecticut, but “no one was willing to see these documents.”
He said he was told the medical examiner’s office was required to conduct a two-week search for next of kin, but the medical examiner’s office waited a full week before placing the required ad in a newspaper. And then when no one responded, he said, they “waited another week” to notify another state agency of an unclaimed body.
After four weeks, he said, a Department of Human Services employee “took pity on me and my plight … reviewed our documentation and was able to get all parties concerned to release Ron’s body to me,” but then the cremation society refused to cremate Ron’s body.
“On the same day, I contacted the Massachusetts Cremation Society and they were more than willing to work with me and cremate Ron’s body,” and so, “on November 6, 2008, I was able to finally pick up Ron’s remains and put this tragedy to rest.”
There are people within whom what this man went through simply does not register. They can’t fathom why Goldberg was so determined, other than it must be some sort of homosexual narcissism. That he loved Ron Hanby seems preposterous. Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. And they’re the ones who think all this is about is a fight for social recognition.
Rubio probably thinks himself very enlightened because he is willing to grant some small portion of human status to the gays. Yes, our history is marred by discrimination toward them. Perhaps we should not have done that…quite so much. He might even have signed a bill to allow the gays to bury one another. But that he sees us as being humiliated by the lack of equal marriage rights says it all.
It is not humiliation we feel, and fighting for the honor and the dignity of our love, and to protect and secure our households, something any of you would do for your own, is not intolerance. You’d know what it was if you could see the people for the homosexuals.
Noting President Obama didn’t declare his support for gay marriage until 2012, Rubio said, “If support for traditional marriage is bigotry, then Barack Obama was a bigot until just before 2012 election.”
Actually what he did was prove he wasn’t a bigot. That takes more than words. It certainly takes more than words about how humiliated the gays feel.
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.”
Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com