Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Doing unto others.

In the aftermath of our stunning defeat at the hands of religious bigots, Tom Ackerman has come up with an interesting proposal: Don’t recognize their marriages either. Ackerman says:

Yesterday I called a woman’s spouse her boyfriend.

She says, correcting me, “He’s my husband,”
“Oh,” I say, “I no longer recognize marriage.”

The impact is obvious. I tried it on a man who has been in a relationship for years,

“How’s your longtime companion, Jill?”
“She’s my wife!”
“Yeah, well, my beliefs don’t recognize marriage.”

Fun. And instant, eyebrow-raising recognition. Suddenly the majority gets to feel what the minority feels. In a moment they feel what it’s like to have their relationship downgraded, and to have a much taken-for-granted right called into question because of another’s beliefs.

I read the piece to John, and we liked it. We talked enthusiastically about putting it into practice.

We also talked about boycotting hetero weddings. “I’m not going to any more weddings in states without equal rights,” I said. John agreed.

One thing about that, though: No matter how sarcastic we are, no matter how strident we are in making our point, the bottom line is that they’re still the first-class citizens and we’re still the second-class citizens. They still have rights and we still don’t. It might be a way of making a point, and I haven’t ruled anything out, but I have my doubts about the enlightenment of bigots. I don’t think We’re people, too, you know is the kind of point we ought to have to make. It seems degrading to have to point that out.

So. I visited my parents last night. If you’re just tuning in, my parents are right-wing Christian Evangelicals, lifelong Republicans who have been drawn more and more deeply over the years into the most extreme wing of that party. Whenever I go to their house, Fox News is on the television — even though they consider Fox News “too liberal.” There are a lot of things my parents and I just can’t talk about. Apparently, my marriage is going to be one of them. I didn’t even get to the wedding; I started with what we’re going to do about our names.

“So what are you going to do?” asked my dad. “One of you puts on a suit and the other one puts on a dress and then you prance down the aisle together?”

I resisted the impulse to tell my father to kiss my ass. I resisted the impulse to insult him, or his marriage, back.

“I’m sorry you’re disappointed about having a gay son,” I said. “But making insulting remarks isn’t going to change that.”

I stayed longer than I intended, but when I left he was still pissed off. So was I, frankly. So what do I do? Denigrate my parents’ marriage? Boycott their 50th anniversary next year?

Meanwhile, John’s nephew is getting married this month. He’s a fine young man, and his fiancée is a lovely young woman.

He was crushed when a medical problem prevented him from shipping out to Iraq with his unit. “We’re supposed to be in this together. I’m supposed to be with them, and I’m not,” he told me. It wasn’t that he wanted to go to Iraq; it wasn’t support for the war or even patriotism that made him feel so disconsolate. It was a sense of brotherhood and mutual responsibility. I don’t have to approve of this war, or any war, to respect that.

His fiancée voted for Obama and is an outspoken critic of racism. That might not sound so brave in the 21st century, but bear in mind that this is the most Republican county in South Carolina. Racism is still socially acceptable here; it’s almost expected here.

John let me make the call. Are we serious about boycotting straight weddings? Are we going or not?

Yeah, we’re going. Of course we’re going.

I resent Christianity, and Christians, for the unrelenting campaign of bigotry, hate, discrimination and lies. I don’t fucking appreciate it all. I’d like to let them know how it feels.

But I don’t think most of them are ever going to get it. Invincible ignorance isn’t just a Christian doctrine, it’s a Christian goal, and one of the rare ideals they’re pretty successful in achieving. Most Christians are never going to see their way clear to doing unto others as they would done by — not when it comes to queers. Not in my lifetime. Fine.

Don’t get me wrong: I plan to keep of criticizing Abrahamic religion and all its ignorance, bigotry, stupidity and hate. I haven’t resolved to shut up.

But when it really comes down to it, we just don’t have it in us to do unto the Christians as they do unto us.


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My friend Buttercup sent me this. Looking into it, I learned that it’s a true story. The reunion shown here took place in 1972.

Here’s a much more recent interview with Christian’s friends, John Rendall and Ace Bourke:

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Hello there.

Is it really possible I’ve had nothing to say for a week?

Well, I’ve got a whole bunch of new responsibilities at work, and I’ve had bronchitis or something, and I had oral surgery. So when I’ve had time to blog, I haven’t felt like it.

But I’m still around, and now that the Democrats have crushed the Republicans (at least for now), I’m gearing up to lash out at the Democrats for a change. If you read this blog, it probably seems like I’m angry at everybody all the time, but not really. I just have a boundless capacity for contempt for politicians and religious leaders. And they’ve earned it; you know they have.

More soon.

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My first protest signs.

Although I’ve been to protests and marches before, this is the first time I’ve tried to make signs. I used two foam boards for each sign. I painted them in acrylic paint and let them dry overnight, then used foam mounting tape to attach the two sides to each other and to a 1×2 handle.

First sign
The first side I did was “No more Mr. Nice Gay.” I was working slowly, using short strokes, and as you can see, the results were terrible. The foam boards I used had grids to use as guides, and the grids made ripples in the surface. Plus I was using really cheap brushes. Trying to do anything close to precision work with those tools was a big mistake. Don’t measure and fuss; just paint.

With the graphic side, I was more relaxed, and while it looks like a child drew it, it still looks better than the first side.

Second sign
The lettering on the slogan side took me maybe a minute, and while it’s not very pretty, it still looks better than the tortured lettering I fussed over for the first sign.

The graphic side is based on a MySpace graphic I found. I think it came out the best.

None of the four sides look too great, but this isn’t an art show; it’s a protest. They’ll have to do. Next time maybe I’ll do better.

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I was at my parents’ house the other day, and I mentioned (again) that I’d like to move up north — New York or New Jersey, if not Canada.

“What’s wrong with South Carolina?” asked my dad.

“This is no place for gay folks to live,” I said. “You know that.”

“Well,” he said, “it’s better than Iran.”

Yup. He’s got me there. South Carolina is definitely better than Iran.

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A mass email from my niece and the response from her brother’s fiance. These young women live in a rural area of one of the most Republican counties in South Carolina, so their point of view is pretty encouraging.

Tori’s email:

Hey everybody,

I just wanted to say that for months now, some of you have sent me nasty emails and text messages about this campaign. I have been told everything from if I vote a certain way I’m not a true American to I don’t love God! I have not reacted nor have I felt the need to retaliate through pointless arguments! But now is my time…..

! ! WE WON!!! So everyone can kiss my liberal, Democratic butt!!!!!
GO Obama!!!!!!

Angela’s response:


I think it speaks volumes that we have elected Obama as president. Even more so that he was elected without all the state poll results being reported. That goes to show people the race was not close and that this country is ready for change!!!! Screw everyone else. They can continue being racists, discriminatory, and committing bigotry. I’m proud to say that I am not included in that group of people who believe the early 1900’s government and familial framework still exists when clearly, the times have changed!!!!! Plus, I stand firmly by my decision that Sarah Palin is NOT, keyword- NOT, an accurate portrayal of women in the USA. Boy, would I love to cross her Alaskan ass in an alley at night.


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One bright spot.

I had a really bad day yesterday, during which I was trying to come to terms with the obvious fact that John and I will never really be welcome in our own country, our own state, our own county, or our own families. I’d have felt a hundred times worse if John McCain had won, but Barack Obama wasn’t enough to cheer me, especially since Obama himself has come out repeatedly against full equality for queers, supporting the noxious idea that the state has an obligation to defend religious dogma. I don’t feel like an American at all anymore, or a member of my family. I was deeply saddened by the 2006 elections, but I still didn’t get it then; I still thought we had a place in this society. Now I see that I was kidding myself all along.

Since we probably won’t ever have the money to emigrate, we’ll just have to get used to being strangers in a strange land, tolerated but not accepted by our reluctant families and patronizing friends. I don’t like it, but it’s good to see clearly, and I see clearly now.

But I have a glimmer of hope that someday — someday when I’m dead, or too old to care anymore, but someday — things will be different. I think things are changing. Slowly. Too slowly for me to hope that I’ll ever live to see gay people as full members of American society, but still … changing. And while I deal with the loss of my illusions about the people who surround us, I take some comfort in knowing that someday things will be different. I’m happy for the gay people who will come after us, who will not have to live, as we have always lived and must now prepare to continue to live, as outsiders looking in at America. I’m happy for the gay people who will be able to feel that they really are citizens of this country, that they really are members of the families they were born into.

Last night, one of my students remarked that she was tired, and I replied, “Me too. I was up till after 4:30 this morning.”

“Why did you stay up so late?” she asked. “They said Obama won at 11:00.”

“I wanted to see how the referenda on gay rights would turn out.”

“Oh.” She hesitated a moment, then visibly screwed up her courage.

“Mr. Barrett, I don’t know how you feel about this, and you might disagree with me, but I think gay people should have the right to get married.”

And I laughed.

Thanks, Courtney. I think so, too.

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