Thursday, October 05, 2006


Let's Lump All the Perverts Together

I apologize for being so absent lately - and thank you to my loyal readers who keep checking back to see if I've posted anything new. There's a lot changing in my life right now, including the job that's afforded me the ability to blog on work-time, rather than on me-time. I'm still trying to figure out whether I'll be able to maintain this to the extent I'd like, but on my drive home last night, I was reminded why I started the blog in the first place. Sometimes, I just need a forum to rant about sexual politics here in the U.S.

Indeed, I've been trying to figure out what, if anything, I wanted to write about this whole situation with Rep. Mark Foley. Last night, as I sat in traffic caused by the season's first rain, listening to NPR and screaming at my radio, I realized I'd gotten to the point where I was ready to write.

The thing is, for me, and probably for you, the Foley scandal is about a sexual predator. Would it have made a difference if he had been coming onto 16-year-old girls? Not to me it wouldn't have. But there is an undercurrent to all of this that shouldn't be ignored: for many Americans, the issue is that Foley's a homosexual. Because, you see, pervert goes hand-in-hand with homosexuality for so many people. If Foley is gay, then it's a given that he is molesting boys.

How do we handle this then? The man deserves to go down, whatever excuses he may make for his behavior. But it's a difficult line Democrats and the left and the queers walk right now. How big a scandal should this be? How far reaching? Should Hastert have treated Foley differently because the object of his inappropriate affections was male? That's what one bystander interviewed on NPR said yesterday - the problem was that Foley was homosexual, and Hastert didn't do anything about it. Whose agenda do we help by making Foley the poster child of Republican corruption?

It's so easy for me to forget that most Americans don't really have contact with gays and lesbians in a normal, day-to-day kind of way. Or, maybe they just don't know that they have contact with us because the ones they know are closeted. So what is their image of homosexuality? It's slivers of queer life - bacchanalian pride festivals, outed perverts, maybe some Brokeback Mountain.

Imagine if we judged straight people based largely on the two men who walked into schools in the last week and selected girls to sexually assault and kill. Imagine if we judged straight people based largely on men who frequent strip clubs, suburban swinging couples, wives who cheat? These are slivers of straight life, but they do not constitute the whole anymore than Foley represents the whole of queer America.

But that's not what many people understand or believe. And today I am at a loss as to how to convince people otherwise. I want the sexual predators (gay and straight) routed out. I want the Republicans out of office. But I'm scared I may get what I want on a foundation laid by incorrect assumptions about who gays and lesbians really are.

Monday, September 25, 2006


I try to keep a political slant, even to the most personal of my posts here. But A---- and I are at a bit of a loss, despite all our best Google efforts, and I've decided to appeal to my readers for help.

Our child's going to have two mommies, and neither one of us wants to be called mommy. But what do we want to be called? And where to begin trying to decide? If anyone has resources for parental names, or specific suggestions/ideas, send them my way. If you click the "Comment" button below, you can send me your thoughts. And if you don't want me to actually post your comment, just say so, and I won't. So easy...!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

God Hates Fags?

Sometimes you have to watch what you wish for. That's what crossed my mind as I read "Love sinners, not sin" in today's Aberdeen American News (South Dakota). Kathy Thorpe tells the story of a friend of hers, a gay man, whose mother couldn't tell him she loved him after he came out. He committed suicide, heartbroken by his mother's reject. Ms. Thorpe calls for Christians to make the distinction between the sinner and the sin.

This is the least of what I hope for from Christians - I don't believe hate is a fundamental part of Christianity, but I'm astounded by the lack of compassion among so many Americans who profess to be Christian. Just check out God Hates Fags if you doubt it (and you're up for it).

But reading Ms. Thorpe's article, I'm not satisfied with her stance. I disagree with the assumption that homosexuality is a sin (am I allowed to have a say if I'm not Christian?) and, frankly, I want her and everyone else to agree with me. Childish, perhaps, but not nearly as bad as holding a "God Hates Fags" sign at the funeral of someone who died at the hands of a gay basher. Given the choice, I suppose I'll take Ms. Thorpe's tolerance over Reverend Phelps' vitriol, but I hate that this is the choice I'm presented with.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Making Out on Flight 45

According to The New Yorker, a gay couple who had the nerve to rest their heads on each other's shoulders and give each other the occasional kiss while on a transatlantic flight, were told to stop their lascivious behavior by the American Airlines crew. And then were told by the pilot to stop harrassing the crew when they and other passengers had the audacity to question whether the request was because the passengers being loving toward each other were homosexual.

The problem with writing about these things, is that I see the world through a lens that doesn't view being queer as being wrong. I read this article, and I think, "This is why A---- and I aren't openly affectionate in many public places." I read it and think that it's an illustration of how gays and lesbians are second class citizens ('you can ride the bus, but you have to sit in the back' doesn't sound all that different from, 'you can fly with your significant other, but you can't touch' to me). I am unsure of how to frame it in such a way that perhaps begins to color the lens through which others might begin to see the world in the same way I do - at least as far as being okay with homosexuality is concerned.

How about this: If you're straight, and especially if you don't think homosexuality is okay, humor me and try this little exercise. The next time you're out with your significant other (this exercise does require you to have one), each time you reach to hold hands, remind yourself you cannot. Ditto for when you decide to give each other a little peck. Definitely avoid making out. Try not to make doe eyes at each other, or say "I love you" out loud. Imagine that the world sees your relationship as toxic, and that you have to hide it from everyone. Let me know how this feels.

I have been asked not to be out at a wedding where I was the maid of honor, and A---- was my invited guest. I was unable to hold A---- at the funeral of her brother, even as she sat next to me in the church pew and sobbed, because the stigma felt too great to both of us to take on at such a vulnerable moment. In these big ways, and in so many small ways, our relationship is often kept under the radar, even given how openly we are able to live our lives. And each time, it hurts me, saddens me, and reminds me that I am not always welcome in my own homeland.

The Straight Marriage Debate

Brad's declaration that he won't marry Angie has been turning over and over in my brain the past week or two, as if it were something of actual import. Esquire has the full article on their site, if you want to read it - along with the accompanying obligatory, fawning star-fuck piece that tries to convince us that Brad is better than all the rest.

Even as I pondered why it matters to me or anyone else whether Brangelina walk down the aisle, I've been reading AfterEllen's coverage of this non-event, and it's been stirring up my thoughts on the matter even more. Sarah Warn thinks that since Brad married Jen previously, his newfound conviction is thanks to Angelina's influence (scroll to the bottom of the page). I'm aware that lesbians love Angelina because she's an out bisexual and a big star, and that's a rare combination. But I'd like to point out that she's been married twice before, and a few years ago declared to Barbara Walters that she wasn't ever going to marry again, because marriage isn't for her. That, to me, is pretty different than saying you won't marry again until everyone can marry.

Today, AfterEllen posted an extended piece by Kim Ficera on why Brad Pitt's statement bothers her. She's tired of straight celebrities using the gay bandwagon to generate PR for themselves, and I can certainly relate. If I never hear another celebrity sex-pot declare her desire to be a lesbian, or "bravely" open up about her past attempts at lesbianism, or "accidentially" get caught smooching another woman, that would be just fine with me. Shocking as this may be to a lotta folks, being a lesbian is not about titillating men, at least not for me or any of the lesbians I know. It's also not something we chose because it was the cool option. When I was 15 and desperate to fit in and realizing that I probably really was gay, believe me, I didn't think to myself, "Cool!" As supportive as most of my friends were when I told them, they didn't say to me, "Oh, I wish I were a lesbian, too." So, as much as I suppose the good publicity is appreciated, I wouldn't mind if we moved past the "lesbian chic" phase and into the "lesbian reality" phase.

Despite all this, though, I disagree with Ms. Ficera's general premise that Brad's only motivation for making this statement is to get publicity. Here's a man who gets asked every single day when he's going to marry the woman he's with. A man who opens his mouth to order from KFC and it gets reported around the world. He could have continued with his "No comment" responses to the marriage question. He could have said, "We both tried that with other people, and it's not for us." He could have said, "For god's sakes, get over it already and leave us the hell alone."

But he didn't this time.

Instead, he said he wouldn't be getting married to the woman with whom he has three children until everyone who wants to can get married. And it got ink in papers around the world. Will this change anything in the great marriage debate? Not at all. Brad Pitt's an actor, not a politician, and probably not someone whose opinions change anybody's minds about anything. But if this is the choice he and Angelina have made, given their public position, what good would it do for him to remain silent?

Ultimately, I won't fall over thanking Brad for taking the stance he has, but I will give him kudos for once again playing the publicity machine so it sings his tune. If someone wants to pay $4 million for pictures of a baby, and the parents of said baby take that money and donate it to a cause they believe in, then more power to them. The same goes for using the press to get the message out if you have the ability to do so.

I sit quietly at my desk and write this blog, hoping it will inspire someone somewhere to think a bit about the marriage question. My reach isn't as far, but is there really any difference between me and Brad?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Why Marriage Matters

I stumbled across this handy PDF of "Seven Scientific Reasons Why Marriage Matters" geared toward the Jewish faith (if you're interested, they have PDFs for other faiths and languages available here).

The first part of the document details the role marriage has played in Jewish life, historically. The second part includes a list of the reasons why marriage is important. Here are some choice excerpts:

  • Both men and women who marry live longer, healthier and happier lives.
  • Just living together is not the same as marriage. Married couples who cohabit first are thirty to fifty percent more likely to divorce. People who just live together do not get the same boost to health, welfare and happiness, on average, as spouses.

Most of the other points in the list relate to parenting and how marriage impacts children, and I'm going to leave aside, for now, the argument that gay and lesbian couples can and do have children, who aren't second class citizens, even if their parents may be.

What I want to focus on is the realization that hit me as I read these two bullet points, and I can't honestly believe I never noticed this before when reading about the benefits of marriage on a person's happiness and longevity. It may be softer than a baseball bat or a fist; it may hide behind upstanding moral language that can allow these fine Christians to feel okay about themselves; it may not land anyone in jail. But it's obvious.

It's just another form of gay bashing.

Why can't gays get married? Well, because they don't deserve to be happy, and the shorter they live, the better it is for the rest of the world. Why beat up a gay person? Well, because they don't deserve to live, let alone be happy.

It's also worth reading through the final part of the document, which helps you to answer those pesky questions from the homosexuals at the water cooler (which is apparently where the battle for marriage is taking place), such as "How will my same-sex marriage hurt your marriage?"

Brad Pitt Is Really Cute

As I've said again and again, throughout this blog, I can't understand why anyone without a personally vested interest (aka, someone who is queer) cares about gay marriage one way or the other. And it looks like voters in Minnesota are in agreement with me. Given two candidates whose primary difference is where they stand on the gay marriage issue, rural Minnesotans from prime "family values" territory voted last week for the pro-homosexual ticket.

It must be shocking, I realize, to Karl Rove and his ilk, that they've bashed this dead gay horse into the ground. Have Americans (at least a few of them in Minnesota) actually woken up and started worrying about the growing divide between the rich and the poor, the quagmire of a war we call Iraq, the lying, cheating and stealing that's happening at all levels of our government (and by both parties, although lately there do seem to be an awful lot of Republicans in hot water), the fact that the gay marriage issue is only being paraded out by the Right in order to distract voters from the real issues today? Or was it that Brad Pitt spoke, and Minnesota listened?

We may never know, but I for one will stay tuned to see what happens in November.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What Goes Around...

I'm back to pondering the circular logic of the Christian Right's argument against gay marriage and gay parenting. 'We've banned gay marriage in some states,' the logic goes. 'So now we need to ban gays from adopting, because children should only be allowed to be raised by married couples.' This USA Today article (from February) sums it up nicely.

I think the most interesting piece of information in that article is this: "Mississippi bans adoption by gay couples, but gay singles can adopt." I'm left to wonder if single gay adoptive parents in Mississippi have to sign an affidavit swearing off dating and sex for the life of the child. What purpose does a law like this serve? What strange lines get drawn in the sand...

I'm also curious whether the Christian Right agenda (and believe me, they have far more of an agenda than the gays ever did) includes removing children from all non-traditional homes at some point in the future - after they've managed to ensure that the queers can't become parents. Single moms? Nope. Single dads? God, no. Blended families? Uh-uh, unless they're the result of widowhood; divorced people are not qualified to raise children. Grandparents? Maybe, if they were appropriately wedded when they raised their own children, and haven't subsequently gotten divorced. Logically, if this is the case, we'll need to ban divorce, too. And marriage between anybody who doesn't want children. Couples will need to be tested for fertility before getting marriage licenses - and if it turns out they can't conceive, they'll need to agree to adopt at least one child. Far fetched? Maybe...

I agree that divorce is bad for children, and A---- and I have a "no outs" clause once children are introduced into our relationship for that reason. What I don't agree with is the government, at the behest of the church, dictating who should and shouldn't be allowed to marry or parent based on a set of morals that aren't universally accepted. Most non-sociopaths, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, agnostic, atheist or otherwise, agree that someone who beats their child(ren) shouldn't be allowed to parent. Easy enough. But if you have to apply the Bible in order to explain why gays shouldn't parent...well, that's a fine choice for your church to make, but I don't subscribe to the theory that the Bible has any real clout in dictating the rules of my life, so I'm not sure how it applies.

Back, full circle: Gays shouldn't be allowed to parent, goes that circular logic, so why should they be allowed to marry. And they're not allowed to marry, spin spin spin, so they can't be allowed to parent. Very neat.


As an aside, for those of you following my personal journey toward parenthood, A---- and I have been assigned a social worker, and she's supposed to call us by Wednesday to set up our first home study appointment. We're free all next week right now, and hoping we can just cram the four appointments in, bam bam bam bam, Monday-Thursday evenings. That's how it works when you're eager, right?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Torn Asunder

Maybe you've noticed I feel torn about gay marriage. I want it for myself, I think I believe it should happen. But ultimately I struggle with whether it's the most important issue out there. Reading this article from The Progressive, I feel the same old questions rising up for me. It examines the impact previous statewide bans, and upcoming ballot measures to ban gay marriage in other states, will have or have had on gay couples and families.

My initial reaction is to wonder why anyone (other than gay couples) cares so much about this that they want to enact legislation on the matter. I get angry at the difficult position such changes in the law put families in. I start to wonder what family values really mean.

But a parallel track plays in my mind even as the anger bubbles up about the injustices against gays. What about the single parents? What about the rest of the uninsured? If we fight to carve out our piece of the pie (something I've written about before), it means we stop looking at the bigger picture. Just this week, the Census Bureau released information from a recent poll showing that 47 million people in the U.S. are uninsured - an increase both in the number and the percentage of uninsured Americans. It's not just gays and lesbians who are struggling with this, and I get antsy when the arguments for gay marriage turn toward partner benefits.

More compelling for me - and I think this plays to the larger national audience as well - are questions of rights. Hospital visitation gets to people. Even if you think homosexuality is something that should be kept behind closed doors, or is perhaps a sin, it's hard to argue that two people who have made a life together for decades shouldn't have the right to visit each other in the hospital if one falls ill.

I'll admit that when it comes to the legal challenges of having children together, I feel moved as well, for obvious reasons. But when it comes to convincing society at large, you must tread carefully on the gay parenthood issue. Arguing that we should allow for gay marriage - or even domestic partner rights - on the grounds that not allowing for it jeopardizes families with gay parents opens up the whole question of whether gays and lesbians should be having children...

As a total aside, I feel no conflict about the question of whether gay parenting is okay. The deeper we get into this process of being approved to adopt, the more I wonder why everyone doesn't have to go through this in order to become parents. It isn't a person's sexuality that dictates whether they're going to be able to raise a healthy child, and plenty of folks without the necessary skills manage to fall into parenting with nary a thought.

On the larger question of gay marriage and/or partnerships, I urge each of you to think about the ways that focusing on so narrow a goal leaves so many other Americans - gay and straight - in the dust.