Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Obligatory Halloween Post

On my own, I don’t like this holiday; in fact the only time I can remember my mom every really upset at me was over a dispute we had with regards to my unwillingness participate in Halloween (It’s a long story…). It seemed decadent, absurd, and more than a little pagan to my young Christian mind, somehow in a way my favorite holiday, which consists of finding candy-filled eggs concealed by a giant bunny, didn’t.

Today, I enjoy it a good deal more, through the eyes of my children. The first year they were pumpkins, then a monkey and a lion, adorable. The year after that they were cows, and we were cowboys, a year ahead of the fad :-), and twice as adorable as the year before. I’d show you the pictures if I didn’t fear you’d seize up, over-dosed in some epileptic fit of cuteness.

Last year they began choosing for themselves, a bubble bee and a puppy. This year we have one scientist; B said he wanted to dress up as me (Yes, I’m choked up at that). Our other boy chose to be a pirate, but, sadly, R is not a pirate by profession. Anyway, I’m looking forward to tonight.

But enough about adorable us ;-), I want to post some advice for them impressionable teens out there; too late for this year, but for the next.

I never liked Halloween in my youth, save for one year. Three of my buddies and I got jobs (paying nothing really) at a haunted house. I loved it; it was weeks of some of the most fun I had as a teen.

We had all secured positions in the Mad Scientist Room. It was filled with Jacob’s ladders, plasma spheres, and so on; it reeked of ozone, sweat, and artificial fog. The guy we worked for “experimented” with two of my friends in the center of the room, and another friend and I directly worked the crowd, who were segregated from all the equipment by a railing.

I was some nondescript monster mask in a pitch-black robe, but frightening enough. Girls smelling of hairspray shoved their boyfriends into my path at my approach; their boyfriends sometimes acted like even younger girls for the same reason :-). It was great humor therapy for a just-coming-out-to-himself gay.

By the last night, I had it all figured out for optimum results. I kept in my favorite location most of the time, with my face in a dark corner of the room, my hood up; I was practically invisible. The customers would all have to file past me, the center of the room cordoned off. They’d come in their groups, typically in the following order: 1. Those posing bravely for a date up front, 2. the most vulnerable in the center (not coincidentally the folks who have the most fun), and 3. the kids who think they’re witty with their detached observations in back (my position when I was a customer :-)).

In our room, though, they’d all be focused on the gruesome/cheesy scene of plastic body parts, electric arcs, and bad acting playing out in the center of the room. No one would notice me as they passed unless they touched me.

About halfway into my last night, it was packed. A group of apparent collage students entered the room, and all set into making fun of the scene. I let the first couples brush by me and once I was in the center of their huddle I turned and roared. They all screamed and turned to meet my hideous, bloody “face”.

Most the guys were visibly terrified, and the all girls ducked behind them. I had surprised them perfectly; some even had their backs up to me, barely touching. One guy--I’ll not forget his face--threw both hands up, fingers spread, and let out the most high-pitched squeal I’d yet heard from a guy. It was one of the funniest things I’ve seen. But then, still with the terrified 1950’s-horror-film-actress look on his face, he clenched his fist and swung wildly, hitting me right below the hole meant for my eye.

He clocked me good, and I was stunned, but the humor of it won out.

Once sense returned to the guy (“Oh yes, I’m in a haunted house, that was a mask, I just hit a kid, and there are no such things as monsters…”), he started repeating apologies, intermixed with “Dude, are you okay?” I was fine, just trying to catch my breath from laughing through pain.

But that one bruised cheek was well worth the price of those weeks working in a haunted house. I’d recommend it. Heck, the look on just that one guy’s face was worth it, and getting punched in the face now seems like an added bonus :-).

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Looking Back On Sodom

One of my pet peeves in the religious debate has to be found in the contemporary understanding of the Sodom and Gomorrah tale. Good thing I’ve got this soapbox here. (I’ll be using some of the Bible, Homosexuality and Civilization by Louis Crompton, and some online material, to which I'll link.)

Briefly, Sodom and Gomorrah (oddly means “ruined heap”; seems Gomorrah’s founding fathers had self esteem issues) were two cities about which God had heard horrible rumors, in need of confirmation (Gen 18:20-21). God presumably is set to destroy the city of Sodom if what He heard is true, but Abraham then talks Him into sparring it if some righteous people live there.

In the next chapter, two angels enter Sodom, and are shown hospitality by Lot, one of the few righteous locals. Hearing of these strange supernatural beings in their city, the townsfolk come to Lot’s house with the primary intent of raping the angels; they're so bad, it’s how they say “hello” in Sodom. Instead, Lot offers them his virgin daughters, whom they reject. At that, the angels then blind the men who consequently disperse, as they became “weary trying to find the door”. Finally the cities are destroyed while Lot’s family escapes. Though his wife is turned into salt for looking back on the work. In the end a disgraceful, drunken, and incestuous genesis for the genealogy of the Moabites and the Ammonites is posed with Lot as their progenitor.

Take that! You filthy red-rock love’n Moabites ;-).

So, why does this colorful story relate to homosexuality so strongly in the minds of the modern public? The story tells about a group of menacing men (and women and children by Gen 19:4), from a horribly wicked town who want to rape God’s angels and all most see today is homosexuality? Even if homosexuality were a sin, it’s as though a person runs down another in their car, and all anybody cares about is whether or not they first used their turn signal.

To top it off, the Old Testament’s own text details the sins of Sodom:

Ezekiel 16:49-50: Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.

One may think, “Ah, Abomination!” but remember, at the time, eating crab, graven images, and sacrificing a not-quite-perfect animal to that same Hebrew God were “abominations”. It’s simply wrong to claim homosexuality was intended to be the issue in the Sodom story. But, if some rich guy robs and rapes a destitute angel while boasting and worshiping some half-donkey demigod with their mouths full of bread, then I’d be fine calling that “sodomy”.

So, how did this story morph into an anti-gay tract?


In the Apocrypha, Sodom’s sin is still primarily about pride and inhospitality (“inhospitality” is putting it lightly…). In the Pseudepigrapha (A likely source of Jude’s, as discussed below), Sodom’s sins become more about sexual misconduct, only loosely including homosexuality.

One of the first works in which Sodom becomes significantly about homosexuality is in Philo’s On Abraham (20 BC-40 AD). Here the sin is not much about pride and inhospitality anymore, but about indulgence in food, drink, and sex, which was proposed to be a result of their wealth. But still, these Sodom men became sex fiends, not what most call homosexuals; men, women, it didn’t matter (as most gays know, it matters :-)).

In the Antiquities of the Jews (94 AD), Josephus repeats the story of Sodom, seemingly with a bit of Philo's opinion (with whom Josephus was clearly familiar), but goes partially back to the pride/inhospitality angle:

"About this time the Sodomites grew proud, on account of their riches and great wealth; they became unjust towards men, and impious towards God, insomuch that they did not call to mind the advantages they received from him: they hated strangers, and abused themselves with Sodomitical practices. God was therefore much displeased at them, and determined to punish them for their pride, and to overthrow their city, and to lay waste their country, until there should neither plant nor fruit grow out of it."

Josephus then goes on to make clear the final straw was the attempted rape of the angels.

About this same time (not opening up that can of worms :-)), we have Matthew’s account of the word of Jesus:

Matthew 10:14-15: If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

Far from clear (Jesus is remarkably quiet on the subject), but this, of course, echoes the inhospitality angle of Ezekiel, to connect not being welcomed to this story.

The closest to a biblical homosexuality-Sodom connection is found late in the NT, in Jude (~65-120 AD), talking about “strange flesh” and fornication, but it comes after the evolutions made by Philo, and the apocryphal literature (which Jude cites). Besides, come on, it’s Jude, with all it’s baggage :-). It should also be noted that those sex crimes could reasonably mean anything from bestiality, to incest, to, as the actual story reports, attempted rape of angels. Still, I do think Jude does show a part of the sin of Sodom’s cultural evolution away from inhospitality towards sexuality.

Over the years, and beyond Jude, early Christianity picked up on the homosexuality angel, and the sins Ezekiel bemoans drop into the background, and if they were mentioned they were mentioned as symptoms of homosexuality in a community. It seems, Paul already saw the orientation as a curse for competing pagan religions (Rom 1:23-25), and those smoldering cities would be and become a great tool. Sodom became the example city, as it always was, but it became the example city with gays in it (And what city does not? The worth in this angle is clear, as I’ll go into later.).

In the 3rd century, Clement of Alexandria took a small step back and characterized Sodom’s sin as gluttony, in food and sex, gay and other, but St. John Chrysostom, in the 4th century, and St. Augustine, in The City of God (412 AD), made homosexuality Sodom’s unique sin. Now, the primary sin of Sodom wasn’t anything most reasonable folks call immoral today, like rape, or mistreatment of strangers. It wasn’t about crimes people do to each other or do at all, as much as it was about having a certain type of person in the city’s midst, people who “God gave up unto vile affections”, as Paul supposedly put it (Rom 1:26).

Playing on that paranoia found in making a Sodom-homosexuality connection with this perpetual minority has been valuable throughout history, and it continues to be so to this day in the form of some religious leaders and radio hosts. Within the week, I’ll go into how it was used in western civilization…

Disclaimer: I’m not one of those who thinks he can take the Bible, every literal bit, and make it into some 100% pro-gay manual. While it’s not as hostile as many would have you believe, there are certainly difficulties for the gay Christian, but I don’t think Sodom should be one of them.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


The New Jersey court has said that people in gay relationships constitutionally have the same rights as those in heterosexual relations… They must be equal, in every right… Everything but the name.

I’ve the perfect solution.

It’s called “Nessiage”. I personally thought it up to suite my notion of family, and I might be kind enough to even let straight couples try it…

If they dare! [maniacal laughter]

You must enter into Nessiage understanding and knowing fully the consequences, and you’d sign your name to each single one as a legal government contract along with your spouse in front of witnesses. And, yes, there would be consequences!

With Nessiage “till death do us part” is literal. You part, and it’s capital punishment!

Well okay, not that strict, but it really really sucks for the one wanting out. In addition to fines, you’d even agree to jail time for abandonment, if you can’t show one of a couple possible means of escape. For example, to get out of your obligation, either you or your partner would have to show, hmm… 1. the other guy abused you or your kids, 2. he already physically abandoned, 3. either of you were coerced or deceived into Nessiage, and/or (I’m sure I’m not thinking of something). The one who abused or abandoned better brace for a legal pounding.

You both want out because you just “fell out of love”? Too bad. You both then get a legal punishment. (I suppose we could give some consideration here for those who entered Nessiage not yet knowing they were actually straight ;-).)

You’d agree to sexual fidelity and agree to jail time if you didn’t live up to it, regardless of if your spouse complains or not. Maybe it should be house/work arrest to keep the bread won and home made? Same goes with making children who are not to be parented by the couple in Nessiage, even though, for gay types, that doesn’t include sexual infidelity that often. (Straight people make kids like that all the time, but even gays have been known to stray ;-)).

Children born in Ness-lock (waited near a page for that one), or adopted into it, also hold legal ground for lawsuit against the cheater, as in Nessiage those contractual obligations apply to any possible children that you may become the parent of, by biology, adoption, whatever.

Also, Nessiage is a one-time deal. You’d agree to give up your right to Nessy another even if you survive a split (unless you were the one abused, and so on).

No, it’s nothing to be entered into lightly, and perhaps people should best settle for marriage first, just to be sure ;-).

Finally, additional terms may be added. Just for me, in my contract, nessiage is a one time deal, no matter what, death, abandonment, whatever--I’d not recommend this for everyone. If I lose what I have, I’m done, for personal reasons that I don’t think I even fully understand.

To be clear, Nessiage gets you nothing more in taxes, rights, or insurance than what marriage currently gives. It doesn’t even have that neat name that gets folks so riled up. Nope, not a practical thing more for you (unless you count the peace of mind of your partner, your kids, and all their family).

I may be forgetting something, but I’m sure it could sound kind of harsh as is. Still, it's not like any of that added stuff would ever hurt me, personally. Why should I care?

So, you can have your precious "Marriage"; I want "Nessiage".

Nessiage is new, and made for gay couples, anyway. It's out of the goodness of our hearts that we'd let straight people even try it, though it really doesn't apply to them. Even though Nessiage would be irrevocably cheapened to let even one non-gay couple enter into it (No offence, right?).

I bet many straight couples, though, wouldn’t want it anyway; they’d want all the rights and none of that extra responsibility. Fine. Great, even. Don’t get it then. Get “marriage”, la-de-da :-p. Get marriage, and get all the legal benefits, with none of that harsh commitment stuff.

It's understandable; you want to keep your options open, no fault divorce, and so on. Just tell your fiancée, and your family, and her family that you’d rather have “marriage” than that gay “nessiage”, and you’d have nothing to worry about, and everybody’s happy; the sanctity of marriage is preserved.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Remember to Metaphor for Love

[Advisory: May contain sappy emotional content, and an overabundance of metaphors.]

Last night I went on a date with the most wonderful man; exactly my type, and I am fanatically particular about whom I date ;-).

I was heading home from work, thinking of him and all he does for our home, and realized how long it had been, at least a couple weeks since we’d been out on an adult night. With twins this age we’ve been forgetting to get out together, and can become perfectly content staying home in the evenings. But adult time has a purpose to it. It’s one of those things not urgently craved, but I can’t figure out why once we do it.

One call to the grandparents later and we were off to one of our favorite restaurants, one we’ve been going to for many years.

The place was empty through our evening (probably due to the fact that we’ve begun having dinner at 5:30 in our old age ;-)). The food was exceptional, and it was another perfect evening, wholly romantic. Not that there were grandiose words of love, or tears of joy, or jolts of sexual tension. Just R and me, now far from the excesses of young lovers, and yet worlds more intimate. Just us, talking and eating.

I remembered being at that very same table the first time we left our boys, then 2 month-old babies, for a night out. We talked about them the whole time, skipped dessert, and hurried home to pry them out of their grandparent’s arms. Our love for them was absolute, adamant, and manifest long before their first breath.

But our connection, of course, had a different path; it’s something we’ve built together, over many years. To us, it’s a precious work, our work. It’s hard to believe when thinking of him, but at one point, 15 years ago, we were strangers. A delicate fate brought us together, close enough to find that crude slab of attraction between us. Over a decade later, with a good amount of purposeful work, care, time, and sacrifice, we sculpted that into something else altogether.

I was looking at him last night, his face more familiar than any other, more than my own, and in it so much of our history: my teenage love, my twenty something spouse, our children’s father.

Long-lived love is funny; it can be miraculous and routine at once. It becomes like breathing. It sustains a person. It becomes part of who you are, how you do anything. And, like breathing, such love is often done intuitively, reflexively, comfortably. When you focus on it, you can find great peace, and, when it’s healthy, it’s rhythms go on without conscious effort. You automatically think of them in your choices because that’s how you now function. That’s who you’ve become, not a distinct individual anymore but a piece of something larger. The joy and pain experienced in someone else become your joy and your pain, and, in that way, you are found in two places at once.

But, also like breathing, it can be taken for granted, and, if threatened, go from a wonderfully comfortable part of living to the sole focus of a panicked mind. I feel many of my ideas about relationships have been taught in my family’s example, and I’m very grateful for that. But even after decades of matrimony, I’ve seen some couples go through a time in which it appeared they could lose what they had built. And the reason was, apparently, becoming too complacent in their relationship. I'm happy to say, those I’m thinking of struggled to bring it back, though it hurt them tremendously, and they once again have model marriages.

I worry such love can sometimes get too comfortable. Maybe some forget they’re obligated to their children to actively love, not only them, but their parent too. Maybe it can become so much second nature that you forget you don’t have a direct line into the other person’s mind, and maintenance of the connections you do have is necessary. Whatever it is, I never want to be in that position, and doubt we ever will, but I will always remember the time when that love wasn’t there, and be aware of the panic that would crush us at losing it, in suffocating, at it were.

Last night it was just very nice to give whole attention, and take in a deep, long, intended breath together. I’d recommend it for any occupied parents; it may even be part of your responsibility to get out and have a nice quiet evening, every now and then ;-).

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Darn Activist Judges!

N.J. Court Backs Rights for Gay Unions

But the court, in its 4-3 ruling, [said] that whether that status would be called marriage, or something else, “is a matter left to the democratic process.”

The court gave the legislature a six-month deadline to enact the necessary legislation to provide for same-sex unions.

“Despite the rich diversity of this state, the tolerance and goodness of its people, and the many recent advances made by gays and lesbians toward achieving social acceptance and equality under the law, the Court cannot find that the right to same-sex marriage is a fundamental right under our constitution,” the court wrote.

In the last few years, public opinion has become more accepting of gay marriage, at least in New Jersey. A Rutgers-Eagleton poll of New Jersey residents taken in June found that 50 percent said they supported allowing same-sex couples to marry legally, while 44 percent were opposed. (The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.) When the poll asked the same question in 2003, 43 percent of respondents supported legal recognition for gay marriage and 50 percent were opposed.”

Not all good, not all bad. All the state rights will be there, but there could still be problems; we’ll see what the legislature does.

In truth, I don’t much like judicial solutions. I’d much rather have legislative actions, such as the law passed by Ca (then vetoed by the Last Action Hero). I do think equal rights for citizens regardless of their sex is judicially and morally right, and I do think there are many reasons for marriage for gay couples to be implemented, but I’d much rather have my fellow citizens do it by vote or through their representative.

Still, congratulations, NJ gays.

Now, brace for the backlash, again.
Is this an October “surprise” or is the topic old hat now? Maybe we should congratulate the RNC too? :-)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My Hate Crime

I found myself in the U’s Union building today, a rare thing, but, in walking through one of the halls, a guilty pleasure of a memory came back to me.

I was attending college, my first year, and I was out to all my friends and family. R and I had been together for under a year.

One night, all our friends were hanging out at my house, and one of my buddies tells me of a laughable call he had received the night before. It was from a kid who went to my high school; let’s call this kid Steve. Steve, it seems, was very concerned for my friend, as he had just found out that I, Scot Everyman, was a homosexual, and was probably forming plans to rape or, at least, convert all those around me ;-). The people must be warned! The villagers alerted!

My friend explained to Steve why he was a prick, and hung up. Who knows how many calls this kid made, but I hoped it was a lot :-). At the time we found it hilarious, particularly because of the source, but the thought of it started to bother me more and more.

Soon after that, I’d be walking the campus and I’d hear kids say “fag”, as they passed. At first it was so muted that each time I doubted I heard it correctly or thought that it was said in conversation to someone else. They weren't people I knew, anyway. Eventually it became clear I heard correctly and it was said to me, as it would happen each time I passed a particular group. But when I’d ask, “What did you say?” I’d get a “Nothing” back and that sick grin.

What was happening became clear when I saw this same group of strangers with my gay-panicked Steve. It was clear who was the impetus, and I became incensed. Fortunately, I didn’t see any of them for a couple days afterwards, but then I found myself walking down this hall in the union and ahead of me was Steve, with a couple of those same friends, walking towards me.

I felt a sense of pleasure that I couldn’t have anticipated, and he saw it on my face. As we got nearer and nearer he smiled in return, misinterpreting the emotion, and it hit me: he didn’t know I knew what he’d been up to. He was walking up to me and was going to act like we were old friends from high school, and then joke with his buddies about it when he escaped earshot. Excellent, I thought.

We got a couple yards apart and from his mouth came a pleasant “Hi, Sco…”

And there I was, in the Union, my forearm pressed at his throat. I was holding him up against the wall, and so close as to know he was uncomfortable in all sorts of ways.

I think we were both surprised.

Now, I must pause here and say this is the second of only two physical attacks I've ever perpetrated in my life; the other being in elementary school. I’m not proud of it (but I can’t claim I don’t smile at the memory).

Anyway, the people around us stopped. I bet we were all thinking the same thing. What next?

Were his frat friends going to be a problem? Nope. They had put a good distance between us, and were just watching, surprised as well. Good, I thought, let them watch, get a good look at this fag holding up their friend.

I looked back at Steve. I was pushing too hard, and let up a bit. I didn’t want to do any serious harm, but what was he thinking? That I’d just let it slide? Wasn’t it obvious? I was in my prime, worked out every day, and he was a sliver of a kid, and felt so frail as he squirmed in front of me. How did he think he could treat anyone like that, and not find himself in this position? It was one of those times when my naivety regarding being gay would pay off.

All the time I’m thinking these things, I’m looking at him, and no longer smiling. I wonder if that pause seemed bad-ass steely? I bet it did, but it was really just confusion and lack of planning on my part.

He broke the silence. Out slipped an apology; no explanation on my part was necessary. Thank Goodness I’d not made a mistake, I thought, and then it was my turn.

Man, I wish I could remember exactly what I said. There were some insults and a couple bad words, I know. I also know he offered no counter arguments to my well-reasoned analysis of his worth :-). I’m sure it wasn’t as cool as what I’d put into the script of my life; it never is. Nonetheless, it did the trick. I let him go, we walked our separate ways, and that was the end of being called a fag on campus. It was in fact the last time I saw Steve.

I wonder if he just kept out of sight, or left the school for another reason. But, as is often the case, that’s not the end of the story. I did hear about Steve, one last time. He was in the news, convicted of raping a girl by drugging her drink.

That one event in the union, my crime of hate :-), was a significant lesson on my temper, and not since have I been physically forceful with anyone. Don’t get me wrong, it felt really good to exact some vengeance, but once it was done I felt like I’d betrayed something. Nevertheless, after learning what he went on to do with his life, I guess I don’t feel too bad for making him panic, just a bit.

Monday, October 23, 2006

On the Scales

I need some rehashing on this. I started my online life before the term “blog” existed, and maybe don’t understand the concept :-).

So, after 2 months:

Why Blog?
1. For the direct pleasure. I like to write, particularly as a counterbalance to the regimented type of most journal writing. It’s creative, a drug for most human minds, and putting it out there can stroke the ego (or beat it down :-)).

2. For the same reason my one sisters has had a trainer for 5 years although she could just go and work out on her own: the appointment. After a while of neglect, a public site assumes to be updated, becomes an obligation, not “free time” to be spent of all those many other things. And I want to have a written record of this time. It’s certainly more important than tighter abs :-). I want to be able to go back, and read through it; I want the twins to have a record from where their memory was sketchy and from my perspective, of their lives and today’s politics. The blog motivates.

3. To change minds, and [teary sanctimonious voice]help people[/teary sanctimonious voice]. Too much of #1 and #2 and I start feeling negligent, and I’ve shied away from it; there are wrongs to right, underbellies to defend, and damsels in need of de-distressing. This is about 90% of my history on the web, and there have been great times. But, on the negative end, I ended up with hostility from people I’d never care to meet, sadness for people in immense tragedy, and regret for having to be contrary to foes I came to respect. So:

Why not blog?
4. Threat of harm. I’ve not been upfront with this one, as it’s probably not the best thing to be up front about, but this is the best reasons to not blog. I’m fine with having my anti-gay enemies, pro-gay enemies, and astrologist enemies ;-). But I’ve been threatened enough times, online, in public, to know I don’t like what it does to me, let alone the slim chance it’s backed by action. It brings anxiety, and it gives me that willing-to-do-anything-to-protect viciousness. I’m doubly dehumanized, once by my foe and then by myself.
Each post gives me the feeling this issue is again approaching, closer and closer.

5. Time.

6. From my last site I learned it’s hard on the emotions to come to like people who’d feel they must hurt you, or your family, or a kid in your same shoes, when it seems they’re willing to do that for the pleasure they find in what you see as hope. Thanks to some of those old friends, though, I know they struggle similarly. It just ain’t easy socializing, even when that’s the reflex.

7. Politics. They can taint everything. I want #1 and #2, but I want that #3 reason too, and so do others. No matter how forthcoming I am, it’s a controversial topic, and people will doubt me because it’s useful for them to do so. In a way, L pointed this out, and it’s true. On the other end, I can’t deny the motive to keep people from thinking poorly of us exists.

So why should anyone trust that I’m not, say, an 18-year-old, left-handed, prostitute? I don’t know. Maybe, for the same reason I trust gays married to straight women when they write that their marriages are happy, and they aren’t a psychological mess, despite my political interests. Their stories seem hard to fake, and soul rotting if they were faked. At least we know where we stand and 100% know those who doubt it are the ones with the problem.

But it's disconcerting to write about what I want, about the more personal things, thinking about the politics and suspicion hanging over it all. It’s a good reason to keep a journal instead.

Now, if only these were pebbles of quantifiable weight to be placed on the scales…

President Romney

I don’t know how much of this is getting out around the US:

Report Says LDS Church Leaders Knew of Meeting With Romney

Romney pal takes blame for dust-up

“In the e-mails, Don Stirling, a paid consultant for Romney's political action committee, told Sheri Dew, the chief executive officer of LDS Church-owned Deseret Book Co., that church President Gordon B. Hinckley and a top lieutenant, James E. Faust, were aware of the effort and raised no objections - a claim strongly denied by the LDS Church.”
It would be bad if this were true but it’s he said they said for now. But it's something to keep an eye on, as it will be used to eat at his chances, and not by the left (primarily :-)).

Regardless, I’ve thought it could be best for some religions to just start paying taxes, and gain the legal ability to endorse whoever they think is best for their religious ethics. On top of matching ethics, a President Romney would undoubtedly be a great boon for the LDS church. It would give them credibility and normalize what the rest of the world sees as quite odd ;-). I doubt an endorsement will be forthcoming, but bet many LDS fingers are crossed, for good reason.

While admittedly I’d not want him to win (not because he's LDS, to be sure, but because of his politics), it will be interesting to see how Romney’s candidacy progresses. Being LDS and being gay are nearer to the same sin in some parts. It seems Gallup shows about 37% of the population would not vote for a Mormon (surprisingly, about what it is for atheists). I could only find that 59% would vote for a homosexual, no mention of how many would not.

I found this on evangelical pastor opinions alone, though:

"The results indicate a heavy bias against Mormons. While 63% of those surveyed said they would vote for a Jew and 64% said they would vote for a Catholic, when asked about a Mormon candidate, their feelings were opposite: 76% said they would not vote for a Mormon, nearly as many as the 86% who said they would not vote for a homosexual."

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Ruins of Sodor

We’re getting rid of the train table. Their favorite toys were those trains, and now they just don’t play with them anymore, and they sit in my office unused. We had all those trains memorized too, from Thomas to Culdee; I wish I kept as many names of acquaintances in my head :-). So take care, Sir Topham Hatt, my fine capitalist friend; I’ll miss you, or, more accurately, playing your part.

But now it’s all about Star Wars. They became obsessed at the first Jedi and space ship, at mere casual contact with the mythology, long before their limited viewing of severely edited segments of the films. I can’t blame them :-); so was I, but it just feels like they're growing too fast. At least I get to re-experience the fascination--I find myself in perilous light saber duels daily, often accosted as I enter the home--but, the films... My adult mind can’t keep off noticing the dialogue and Mark Hamill’s acting; at least he surpasses Hayden Christensen... :-)

I suppose I’ve a hard time letting go of anything they’ve cared about, even when they’ve stopped, and will certainly stash a bunch of trains in the memorabilia drawers, along with that insanity-inducing Barney trumpet, the favorite pacifiers, and so on. They may want them again some day.

On top of that, we just sold R’s car today. That was the car in which we brought our boys home. It’s taken us on many family trips, and endured twins well. I don't much get into cars and know it's silly, but it was near as tough as selling their first home, where they took their first steps.

I got a good laugh out of it, though. Just as the people were about to drive away, I was feeling kind of somber, explaining to A that we had sold them our car. He obviously remembered what R and I had talked about regarding selling the car, and out of the mouth of the babe, so the buyers could hear, came:

“But, Papa, why do they want to buy so much gas?”

I'd told them the mileage exactly, but, still, thank goodness the deal was sealed… :-)

Anyway that’s done, and, in short, I’m feeling kind of sappy, again.

Black Swan (may as well stick with it...)

And maybe it’s under the influence of sappy that I'm typing here.

I made the mistake of going into my archives :-) and looking at my old site today, reading my page explaining why I’d not be putting myself out there anymore. Now I feel like a fool for starting up any home online again, after those words.

Now, I’m not seeing this blog as exactly the same thing; my traffic here is orders of magnitude smaller, it’s less demanding, and I’ve avoided some of my old mistakes (and maybe made new ones :-)). But it was pretty clear from the beginning I've been having second thoughts, and why.

To be clear, though, I’m not saying I’m out-of-here, what a tired internet cliché that is. I do go through these phases, though. I’ll be thinking I’ll just let it be and not allow a worry, forget about any of these issues, as we have in the past. Stop hunting ;-). But then I start to feel guilty, or like I’ll find us in large political jeopardy one day and wonder why I didn’t do something.

I’ve got all these posts waiting anyway, about 15 of them, on topics ranging from the political tragedy surrounding the Knights Templar to the scandalous sex lives of voles. It just seems like some sort of natural order and timing is there for blog postings, and, for some reason, I just don't feel like proofing or posting them some days. On top of that I’ve got loads of pdfs from many journals on relevant research that I’d hope to go over.

Though I enjoy it, I find I feel indulgent when I just go on about what I would if not for the politics (yep, like the loss of a silly bunch of trains from my office), when the politics are there. There's all this stuff I feel I should post on about the politics, science, religion, and so on (it’s still indulgent to think it anything new or effective :-)). If you haven’t noticed, I’ve got this unreasonable and, sure, bigheaded habit of thinking I can save long lost people too. Seems the thing I've to work out in blogging is why blog? :-).

I'm thinking now, it’d be best to simply start a site again and put this all out at once in one place, and get it done with (yeah right… and "simply"?). I could leave a blog for the going over the everyday life, without the elephant. But then I fear I’d find myself back where I was grateful to have left.

That damnable impulse to fix it… It’s tough to let things go, or to even know if you should.

I just want to be a really useful engine. :-)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hate Crimes

Seems hate crimes are down, on a consistent decline; certainly, that’s good news (trib article). The actual statistics from the FBI are here. In short:

55.7 percent of the victims were targeted because of a bias against a race.
16.0 percent were victimized because of a bias against a religious belief.
14.0 percent were victimized because of a bias against an ethnicity/national origin.
13.8 percent were targeted because of a bias against a particular sexual orientation.
0.6 percent were targeted because of a bias against a disability.

Seems sexual orientation is disproportionately represented, but they are all going down in frequency.

Last year a hate crime law was passed by our legislature, to a large part with the help of the local gay community. I may get some flack for this, but I was not among them.

Frankly, I find most the arguments against hate crime laws to be obtuse, maybe purposefully so.

1. It’s punishing thought. You bet it is, specifically intent and motive. Once a crime has been committed we punish thought all the time. It’s very important in deciding an appropriate punishment and the likelihood of a repeat offence.

Say a woman hits and kills a man with her car. The thoughts of the woman on that incident can mean the difference between a couple years for manslaughter or the death penalty or life in prison for premeditated aggravated murder. For another example, consider libel in the US. One requirement of being punished for spreading lies regarding another is that you know they are lies. You’re punished or not for your thoughts, not the bare action, and rightly so, right?

2. Hate crime laws give special rights to minorities. This has got to be the worst of them. You don’t have characteristics in the areas of race, sex, sexual orientation (no, not sexual behavior), religion, and so on? The laws say if you attack someone for their characteristics in such areas, which we all have, then extra punishment is given. Black men have been charged for attacking caucasians and rightly so, and if a gay woman attacked a straight man for being straight, then the hate crime laws apply too.

Actually, according to those FBI numbers (specifically here), in 2005, 18 were victims of anti-heterosexual hate crimes, and 975 were victims are anti-white hate crimes. So they are, as they should be, being prosecuted.

3. All crimes are hate crimes. Well, not really. I can steal from you and beat you to a pulp in the process and not feel one lick of hate or anger towards you, just love of money and a wish to get away. Still, that’s not the point. This argument is simply disagreeing with an inaccurate name chosen for PC reasons. Maybe a better name would be “Bias Crime”?

But despite all that, I don’t actively support hate crime laws.

The best argument for them is that the crime is one that purposefully affects a whole group of people, not just the victim. And that’s true. When I hear of a gay man getting assaulted in my town for merely being gay, a characteristic I share, it limits the way we can live without expecting assault. For months, I don’t feel I can grab my husband’s hand in public and worry a great deal when we’re outed with our kids there. It puts us on edge and harms us too. It also harms the entire community, psychologically, politically, economically (in the area of tourism, for example), and makes us clannish.

But what of when a person simply gets mugged for money? Doesn’t that similarly affect a group, the group that appears to have any money? It’s a large group, sure, and the harm done to them individually is lessened by that fact, but, in sum, I’d say it does near the same harm. People have to change their lives when they hear of such a crime.

The biggest difference is in the possible intent to threaten others, which your everyday mugger is likely not to have. To threaten is a crime and rightly so if done to an individual. But is that enough?

Honestly, I’m on the fence here. I’ll not lobby for these laws and I won’t cheer if they pass, nor will I be upset.

What I want to know is if I’m missing something? Is there a reason to lobby for hate crime laws I’m not seeing, or a stronger reason to oppose them? Or maybe I’m perfect, as is… ;-)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Teenage Collateral Damage

Dear [name],
I am sorry. I fear you got the worst of it.

I worry I may have even told you I loved you. My displays of affection did go overboard, at times, and you hid me well in return. At such a young age, you must know now, gay or straight, it couldn’t have meant much in practicality. What did we know of love? But I don’t doubt it hurt you and you do deserve some revenge.

Each time we kissed, embraced, I was dishonest to you. I thought of someone else, I thought of how to get home, I thought of school, anything else, and I knew why. Each time I grabbed your hand in public I did so that I could hide between our palms, and it worked, but in a just world it wouldn’t have.

I want you to know, it had nothing to do with you; you are a beautiful, smart, and vibrant girl, a woman now. But you are a woman, and at my core I found our relationship, as difficult as it may be for you to understand, aberrant and wrong. It was the same with any girl; it was in me, and nothing in your control or about you personally.

I knew nothing about being gay, and was just hoping it would leave me, maybe that you’d help, and I used you for that end. Careless and foolish, yes, but I probably knew far less about the persistence of being gay than you did (I was sad, for what it’s worth, to find out that I wasn’t the only gay kid to do that to you).

I suppose now is as good of time as any to come clean, in total. My parents only technically gave me a 10 PM curfew; it was, in practice, midnight. I suppose I may be telling you this to defend my masculinity, as odd as that may sound, to explain why I’d “not stand up to [my] dad”. I should never have blamed him. I asked them for an earlier curfew, telling them I didn’t like to stay up late and it was better than telling you I wanted to leave. Don’t get me wrong--we had some wonderful times--but I wanted to leave before we’d end up where I’d no interest being.

Also, your prom, when your mom rented that room for us… I didn’t get the stomach flu. I faked that too. I near dare not write it, but I hope you can find that funny (Didn’t I even pretend to throw up in the bathroom?). I’m ashamed to say I’m smiling right now; my acting was particularly bad that night. Anyway, that was a boldfaced lie, but you have to admit, we were too young, gay or straight, and I’d have not done it either way (What was your mom thinking?!). Still, it was your prom, and I went home “sick”.

The night we broke up, you gave me that ultimatum: I either spend our “anniversary” with you, or it was over. But we were already over, [name]. I’d known for a while and it’d been building for months. Did you sense it? Is that why you put that foot down, on a mere, what, 14-month anniversary? A test for some horrible suspicion? The only thing I didn’t know was how it would finish. And there you were, innocently helpful to the end, constructing the perfect escape rout. I could get out and have no need to tell the truth, to say “I’m gay.” I admit the fates have often been far too kind to me.

I took that opportunity, eagerly. As soon as I sensed it, I egged you on. How cruel the look on my face must have seemed that night. If I let any hint of gratitude out and you misread it as something else, I hope you now understand why. I was cruel, but not for that reason, not with that intention.

I vividly remember how stunned you looked, straight from tears to that emotionless, out-of-body astonishment, and then back to tears. Were you thinking you were risking nothing on that ultimatum? I, instead, was waiting for it; I was glad for it. I went off with my buddies, had a great weekend, and felt the weight of one world leave my shoulders. And where did I leave you? Though I’m sure you’d agree it’s best for all how it turned out, I still hurt you knowingly and didn’t have the courage to tell you why.

If it makes you feel any better I didn’t enter our relationship exactly cognizant of being “gay”, and I never found love until I was 18, and have had a share of troubles. But no one ever did to me as I did to you. You were a gorgeous smart talented girl and I’m sure you’re a wonderful woman deserving of a man who can feel for you in the way I never could. I fervently hope you have that and more, and that I’m long forgotten, or at most a small anecdote.

I’m very sorry,

P.S. I should also apologize to your family. I fear I hurt your mom significantly too. I know what she had envisioned.

Dear [name],

I hope, in telling you I’m gay, much about our relationship is resolved.

All those many attempts to get me to another High School dance, and all those many excuses I gave to keep me from them, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry you wasted any time on me. You’re such a sweet girl, and I would have told you the truth, if I thought I could survive High School out of the closet. Instead I just let you ask and ask again.

You must have seen through it at some point, but I hope you never thought it was something wrong with you. Nothing was wrong with you. I would have proudly been your friend and gone out with you, if you’d have had gone with me knowing we would go nowhere, but I couldn’t risk that at the time. Besides, the mere atmosphere at a High School dance, of peers reveling in their sexual orientation, well, I was a secretly angry kid at the time and that would have been too much to take. “Lucky them, lucky bastards,” I’d be thinking the whole time, and I’d have been no fun for you.

Knowing you, you may get a kick out of the fact though that I, in the end, married the prom king of another school.

Anyway, I regret not coming out in High School for many reasons, and you are a significant reason to have been honest. You deserved the best in your teen years. Merely because I lost some of mine, I shouldn’t have let you waste a second.

I’m very sorry,

Gay men can leave a wake, and, in their agony of coming out, can be blind to the agony they’ve caused while “in” to so many luckless girls. I was no different. To all the others, those who I’ve not enough guilt to write another letter ;-), I am really sorry. I think about you and feel much regret. I meant you no harm, but I was careless, and, for the harm I did nonetheless, I hope you can forgive me and know what I did had nothing to do with your great worth or beauty.

Now, to where do I send such letters? Would they even care to know? Would hate mail come back?… I’m inclined to think it should.

I actually kind of hope I get mistaken for some other gay kid by some other girl treated so. I’m sure we all mean to say we’re sorry. I hope, if that happened to you as a young woman, you know that. You know he’s sorry for ever leading you on, for what small amount it may be worth, and it had nothing to do with you.

Monday, October 16, 2006

30% Increase

I found this blog by Gregory Herek, from listening to this Radio West episode about being gay and Republican (It has a Utah angle and is a good listen, too). From the blog, I see a 2005 update of the 2000 census figures on same sex households has come out (here in pdf):

This first analysis of 2005 American Community Survey data contains some new insights. The number of same-sex couples increased by 30 percent from counts made in Census 2000. Growth in the number of same-sex couples throughout the Midwest suggests that as acceptance of lesbian and gay couples reaches into America's Heartland, more couples are willing to identify themselves.
Of course the problem is that there is significant under reporting that’s improved with better social climate, and so one can’t conclude a 30% increase in 5 years occurred in actual gays deciding to cohabitate instead of remain in the “care-free” single life. Still, I’m sure it is increasing in reality too, and it’s good news either way.

I remember debating whether or not to self ID our home on the 2000 census. After a while I decided I had to be honest and could risk it. I’m glad more folks are feeling the same.

Blessed Non-events

Well, back from visiting family in southeastern Utah. It’s always a great trip. I was happy to learn R was from there when we first met, and we’ve spent many a fall and spring weekend camping in those uniquely magnificent surroundings.

This particular trip was seemingly full of material. But I’m left agreeably unimpressed, and so what am I to say?

We stayed with R’s parents, again… Are there issues with us, say, sleeping in the same bed? Nope, that’d be silly. There aren’t really any issues, save for R’s problem with the cooking (Note: R’s problem ;-)). I’m only left wondering on the sort of conversations our many family photos around the house bring up with the home teachers. Still, I’d bet, if it’s anything like our local culture, those men avoid the topic with effort.

We spent a couple hours with R’s best friend from High School… They were really great friends, the popular kids, and hadn’t seen each other for many years. And you’d think this could be awkward for a couple of reasons... But no. It was just another pleasant visit, just two dads, old friends, and not a bit of awkwardness there. Our kids had a great time playing together and off we went. [sigh] I was hoping for something scandalous ;-).

The only revelation I came across was that I still have a lingering nervousness in small towns. Typical me, I forgot my toothbrush, and had to find a store selling them at 8:50 PM (No, not an easy task in a small town). I left R to get the kids to bed, and while alone found myself a bit on edge. I’m not sure if it’s some gay fear from a so-called collective memory, from the way, historically, life for gays in such places has been described to me, but I felt as though I should be on the lookout, unlike in the ever-safe city :-). Still, here I am, unlynched ;-).

Nope, just a nice weekend, save for a bit of rain. We hiked and showed the boys many native ruins, barely more interesting to them at this point than the sand. We shot guns, and I felt great dishonor that R is a better shot (That’s my role, d*beep*n it!). And we all had a good time hunting for pottery shards and arrowheads (Note to FBI: We kept nothing; only looked. :-)).

Funny though, we were all scanning the ground for any human honed flint or painted ceramic, and the boys got into it. About 10 minuets passed and up came A to R’s mom, all excited.

“Look, Grandma, look what I found!”

A hand full of near perfect spheres… created by the gastrointestinal system of a deer.

Some things you just errantly assume they’d know :-).

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Little Bit of Knowledge

This bit of radio really got to me (link below). It first aired over a year ago, and our boys were still quite young and yet to enter any sort of school. I was bracing myself through the whole thing, becoming increasingly worried about what’s to come for our home. Yet, it left me quite hopeful.

It’s a piece I think all gay couples would appreciate and find informative, but I bet most everyone would enjoy it (if you get emotional easily, not safe for work, :-)). I just listened to it again and am still a bit choked up. Some day, maybe, I’ll go into our experiences. They’ve yet to not turn out similarly wonderful, but, for now, a family in a similar position to break that ice:

This American life, A Little Bit of Knowledge, Episode 293, Act 2 (18 minutes into it; sorry if you have to wait through it, but it’s worth it and Act 1 ain't bad either).


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Today is National Coming Out Day.

The following people are gay:
-Lance Bass
-Sir Ian McKellen
----Gandalf, but not Magneto
-That other British guy
-Richard Simmons (allegedly, judge for yourself)
-96.4% of all Smurfs (Yes, even Handy)
-Captain Sulu
-And many more…

Don’t even get me started on other bloggers; they’re soooo gay…

I’m glad I got that off my chest. But me? No, I’m not gay. I’ve simply been conducting an elaborate and extensive sociological experiment for near two decades. If only there was an appropriate Nobel Prize category…

Seriously, I’m not “in” anywhere, haven’t been for ages. I'll not force it, but I'll come out as soon as it comes up in any way; our kids out us nearly everywhere we go regardless. The only instance in which I'd not come out is where I felt it threatened us physically, and it's been a long time since I've felt that.

I suppose I could come out to strangers today. Something like:

“That’ll be $5.29, sir.”

“I’m gay. Here you go.”

Probably not too productive…

Simply and as a general rule, I’d say it’s a great, healthy move to come out, but it’s your move, and you should want it. Do it because you need to breath and don’t want to live in fear anymore. Do it to correct a wrong, or a bias about “your kind”. Do it to be honest. Do it because others need your help. Or do it because somebody loves you and deserves to know, or maybe deserves you, all of you. Take your pick of what’s applicable or pick none.

But I’d certainly not come out because it’s October 11th.

Nonetheless, happy Coming Out Day. :-)

Monday, October 09, 2006

You’ve Got My Vote

Last weekend, my boys were napping, R was off to the store, and I was in the middle of the final battle scene in X-Men 3; I’d been waiting all week to put it in the player. And, wouldn’t you know it, the doorbell rings.

I debated the pros and cons and headed for the door, already a bit upset that the “Children napping, please do not ring the bell” sign was ignored. Once there, I recognized the person immediately; it was my representative (we’ll say “Mr. Smith”). Of course, it’s that wonderful political season.

We’d met numerous times before; I’m not the sort to sit idly by, if that’s not yet apparent ;-). He clearly didn’t recognize me, though, and started in on the speech. Did he notice the wagon in the yard? Is that why I’m getting the schools talk? Am I too cynical?

I stopped him, “Let me step outside; my kids are sleeping.”

I wanted to cut to the chase (Get back to the movie ;-)), “We’ve met before, Mr. Smith. My name is Scot Everyman.”

His memory was sufficiently jogged. “You’re angry with me aren’t you, Scot?”

Finally! It had started to seem each of our meetings were the first for him. Some background: Mr. Smith had supported the so-called marriage amendments and I’d made my position clear on that, of course, but I received no response to my letters. So I tracked him down a couple times and we talked a bit each time. I’m grateful he’d talk with me, but always felt, with his body language, that I made him eager to be interrupted.

His campaign manager had asked for my help on his campaign this month, and I turned them down and told them why. I suppose the word spread.

“No. I’m not angry.” I answered and I honestly was not; I’ve a hard time keeping angry even when I should.

I motioned to our home, “But I’ve got a lot to defend in there.” I went over a couple of the legal problems we face, and my reasons for marriage equality for society at large. He listened politely.
Once I finished, he offered, “I just hope you understand it’s my religious belief.” That’s it. That's the explanation.

“Oh, let me apologize then; that excuses everything, has for thousands of years. It’s some get out of jail free card for any wrong. You just have to have faith and you can do any horrible thing to your neighbor.”… I thought, reflexively ;-).

But no, “I do understand.” I said.

I do. I just feel helpless about it.

“I just hope you understand also why I can’t give you my support.” I said.

“Certainly.” He tried to pin me down, though, as to what "support" meant, “You know my opponent is no more friendly to your causes than I am and I’m sure we see eye-to-eye on other issues.”


He’s right. I’m better off, even on gay rights issues, with this representative. My pragmatic side, if given enough time, will nearly always undermine its opponents. Typically, in a situation where I can reasonably predict the results of the election by the polls, I’ll cast a protest vote if I'm unhappy with either "choice". I do kind of love the Libertarians :-). That way my disapproval is registered somewhere. But when it’s close, I have to go with the lesser of the two… I don’t want to say "evils". How about "poor candidates"?

He reluctantly has my vote, and I told him so.

At that, he tried to reconcile and said something like, “We only disagree on this one issue.”

Oh, Mr. Smith, you lost my vote right there. You’re “one issue” is large, far reaching, numerous, and directly practical for a lot of Utah families.

But [sigh], you were right the first time, Mr. Smith. I want you to beat the other guy. You still have our vote, and I’m left with no hard feelings. I do think you’ve done a good job in other areas. But, hear this, nary a campaign sign of yours will pierce my lawn, and don’t dare expect me to canvas or campaign. :-)

Just then R drove up. We finished our conversation politely and I actually wished him luck.

Once I turned to go back inside I saw a light saber jutting out from around the corner. B was up, and listening.

“Who was that little boy, Papa?”

Little boy? Maybe my tone I was too strong? :-)

“That wasn’t a little boy, bub. He was our representative. He makes laws for us.”

Sunday, October 08, 2006

PSA For the Gay #1

It’s almost Fall Pride week, National Coming Out Day and so on…

I see the signs popping up around, some suspiciously tossed under trees and bent in half. “Judge not least ye be judged.” “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal.” And more. They’re all over

I know it’s important to have a sense of community for gay kids who feel they’ve lost theirs. I also, of course, think coming out is a good thing to do, for the vast majority. And, while I cringe at the use of the word “pride” (an insult by my upbringing), I do get it’s more of a way to show a lack of undeserved shame and that can be important to many just coming out.

Here’s my worry: I worry these events can take up more space and time and spectacle than we represent. It can lead to resentment anytime one person takes up more than their fair share, or acts disruptive. Never feel or show them shame--it’s absolutely undeserved for your orientation--but true pride of sexual orientation and display of such is just plain ridiculous and provocative.

Don’t get me wrong; I do go to and do enjoy the “pride” [cringe] parade and many other events. In general and for the most part I see them as productive, and fun. But there is this minority element in the SLC GLBTQ :-) community, and people’s notice tends to favor them (not to mention the media). Unfair as it is, we all get judged by their example. Their picture is in the paper the next day despite all the mundane religious, family, and political groups represented. While we all certainly deserve to be heard, and every person should demand justice, everyone should behave civilly and always cognizant of the humanity on the other end of our issues, despite how wronged we’ve been.

Simply, for example, what’s more productive: 1. a “drag race” through campus, one of the first events, or 2. an open panel discussion with a couple of well-spoken real-world transvestites? I’d imagine, if I were a transvestite I’d be there right along with the conservative kids in my offence at #1, witnessing non-transvestites seemingly trivializing my life with a silly race.

Anyway, Take it or leave it [cue that shooting star with the rainbow tail].

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Gayness, The Owner’s Manual

It’s a dangerous world for gay kids, heck, for many gay adults. It seems the smallest of choices made by them or those around them can be the insignificant genesis of some major trauma that will rip through many lives, years into the future.

I’ve had a number of opportunities to get in the way of this problem. The first time I failed miserably. Other times I’ve been absolutely ignored. But there are times when I was told I helped, enough times to keep me obsessed with trying, even if it had nothing to do with my input. To this end, this is what I'd humbly ;-) advise (But is it right?):

1. Are you attracted primarily to men (I’ll write this for gay men; it’s what I best know)?
If yes:

Stop, don’t do anything, or make any big decisions without thinking it through carefully. Slowly, move on to 2.

If no:
Easy. Your life is perfect ;-).

2. Do you (not your parents, or your church, or your friends) think homosexual attraction is immoral?
If yes:

Keep yourself from any sexual activity with a man, and find counsel. I’d be glad to give you my take on morality (a future post) or point you to some organizations, if you like, but you’ll need professional help.

If no:
Go to 3.

3. Do you think sexual activity with a man is immoral?
If yes:

Keep yourself from any sexual activity with a man, and seek counsel that matches your morals. Again, I’d be glad to give you my take on morality, if you like, but you do need help. On to 4.

Now some may object and say all gays should follow their nature regardless, but here’s where I worry: while gays can certainly have sex with shame, and many do, they can’t build a healthy relationship with shame. They’re more likely to get themselves or others hurt or worse by treating sex as an embarrassing secret addiction to sin, than a healthy part of their nature. Simply, they first need to resolve the morality.

They’ll also need their other morals, and don’t survive well once they feel they’ve compromised them. I’ve seen too many gay kids treat their morality as a package and a black and white deal, as that's what their faith teaches. Once they “sin” by following their innate attraction to a man--attraction being such an important part of most humans that it can seem well worth it--why not drugs? Why not promiscuity? Why not cheat? They already think they’re “damned” and many are pushed outside their family and culture anyway.

If no:
Go to 4.

4. It’s very important. Are you sure about the above?
If yes:

You’re certain your answers are not what you want to be true, and not what you’re parroting from your culture or fearing in punishment. Your answer is either what’s right (at least for you), or not wrong. With as much certainty as you could reasonably gather, you’re not going to start a relationship with a man or a woman and later decide you’ve made a moral mistake. Yes? Go to 5.

If no:
Go back to 2.

5. Do you want to try to change your orientation?
If yes:

You should research your odds dispassionately and find a therapist that specializes in the area. I’ve known too many hopeful “ex-gays” who’ve inadvertently used the ex-gay groups as a dating service. It’s not that some can’t end up happy in gay relationships with families and so on--I know they can--but they do end up gay, and I believe the average to be dangerously gay and degrade themselves for their "transgressions". If you’re sure about 4, and honestly don’t want to be tempted, it seems a lone therapist is best (still, I’ll admit I’m not an expert here and would welcome a counter opinion).

Why, again, would a gay man want gay men to try to change? I don't really; from what I've seen, I think it can be psychologically dangerous, but if they’ve not reconciled with being gay, they’ll do a miserable job of being actively gay. It can be equally or even more dangerous, and no one wants a larger tragedy. Instead, I’d rather have healthier gays in the gay community. So, try to change if you want, and, if you make it, great. If not, you can always accept your attraction to men, as plainly as women do, and be a healthier gay man for knowing why you're not trying to change. For now, go back to 1 and hope it’s not an infinite loop (anyone also program here? :-)).

If no:
Fine, but I’m not done preaching yet, on to 6.

6. Are you a minor?
If yes:

Keep from sexual activity. It may seem unreasonable and moralizing and cliché (True love waits and all), but you’ll likely fair best without sex, and it will be much more useful and important to you when you’re an adult. Date, make out, be “out and proud”, but, for your own health and happiness it’s best to keep as chaste as puritans in your youth (maybe even for the first year or so of coming out for adults ;-)). On to 7.

If no:
On to 7.

7. Would your family be hostile towards you for being actively gay?
If yes:

Make sure you’re right (I was not). Feel them out. If you are sure they’d harm you, you have my deep sympathies. It’s a case-by-case basis then, and I’m unsure what to advise. But if the harm is likely to be great, you may have to hold off telling them for a while.

Still, you can’t give up. Even if you’re a minor, you’ll be out and living your own life before you know it, and there is a good life ahead of you if you work at it. But don’t go it alone either. I’d find outside counsel (platonic and more than online) that matched your morals: a close friend, a gay youth group, a minister, whatever complements your answers to 1-6.

If no:
After you get over you’re stunned state of blissful gratitude ;-), on to 8.

8. Are you in love, and loved (not deep abiding Love love, yet, but strongly attracted to a particular person you know enough to respect, love)?
If yes
Take it slow. Make sure you’re compatible; don’t let passion and infatuation control you, as it does so many young adults, gay and straight. If you hope to build something lasting--a family, a home--you’ll need to put time and effort into building something lasting. If not, then we don’t see eye to eye on much here anyway and you probably stopped listening to me paragraphs ago :-). Go to 9.

If no:
Try not to feel rushed or discouraged at the odds; it’ll happen. Don’t go looking in the easy (wrong) places (bars, and so on). I know a number of great single gay men; they are out there. I think college is a good place to look (as any BYU gal would tell ya ;-)), or GLBT political and social groups, community centers, and so on. When you do look, look for someone who’s not made too many missteps along the way. It may be hard to become infatuated and then reject it when you get more information, but you don’t, say, want to date a guy who thinks homosexuality is immoral and would have sex with you, and you can’t morally date a guy with an oblivious wife and kids at home. You’ll need someone at least near your point, or lower, on the scale of gay trauma. Lather, rinse, repeat #8.

9. Do you want to have sex with someone (in particular :-)) ?
If yes:

Let months pass. Wait. Make sure this is the person you want. Once you feel 100% completely ready, wait another month :-]. In fact, one regret I have is that, while we did wait a long time, we didn’t wait until after our public vows. I’ve my excuses :-), but just keep in mind you may need to explain everything you do to your kids someday.

In the mean time, you should be able to comfortably ask you’re partner to be tested, along with you, for the whole set of STDs, if you’ve done the work needed in 8. I would do that, regardless. I know this seems contrary to my feelings with my physician, and maybe it is, but I recommend this for every couple, gay or straight. Also, it is different to be asked by a stranger after making the promises of marriage. R and I did that and we were both virgins. We did it for the idea of it. None of this “but we trust each other” stuff. That’s not the point; it's greatly symbolic. It’s an easy, loving gesture to your partner, and an expression of responsibility to the larger gay community for you to do it without pressure and make it commonplace. On to 10.

If no:
That’s fine too. I think gay sex can be something that scares many gay people at first. I know it worried me. You want to do something with him, but what, exactly? If you don’t want the stereotypical sort of gay sex, you’re not alone in the gay community. It's something we’ve never done, and, at this point we probably never will. We don’t look down on it, but neither of us wants it.

You’ll have to work out what you do want and I’m sure every couple is different, from near celibate to that which I couldn’t imagine. There are probably more gay couples in the world that are technically virgins than most would assume, and if that’s where you’re both most comfortable, fine. Nobody has ever hurt themselves or another by not having intercourse and just building a life with the partner to whom they’re attracted. But you should be at least near in agreement. On to 10.

10. You’re an adult gay man in a happy healthy relationship. You’re none of my business now ;-). Email me once you’re parents, and I’ll expect a good (good!) potluck dish at our monthly get-togethers as payment.

One additional concern: What little I know about drug and alcohol addiction comes from a handful of straight friends that have dealt with it. But I do know such addictions can be a big problem for gay kids and adults.

I’d certainly recommend against using them to sooth emotional trauma in the first place; it’ll help nothing in the long run. Getting psychiatric help for depression and getting on some better regulated pharmaceuticals seems like the best choice if the stress of being gay becomes overwhelming. Once hooked, I don’t know what’s best, other than the reflexive answer of a 12-step program.

I do believe though, if one is cautious with their sexual orientation, does not do what they feel is immoral, and so on, the stress that leads to drugs seeming like a good idea can be minimized. Not eliminated mind you; there are still the choices of others, choices for which you may have not control but feel a good deal of repercussion. I’d just hope the gay kid in that situation could keep his hope up. There is reason to hope.

Anyway, that’s my “manual” to avoiding gay tragedy. Clearly, it’d be a much larger tome, if we actually got a manual with our Gayness, but it’s a start ;-).

Anything need to be changed? Omissions, errors?

I’d love to see, for comparison, a gay LDS man married to a woman give their advice for gay youth, if any is interested. I know I greatly left that path off, as I don’t know much about those choices. But I’d expect it to be added on around my #5, and that there’d be pages of conditions and questions.

On the Package

Thank you for purchasing Gayness* TM. We appreciate your patronage. Please, before operating Gayness, read all warnings and familiarize yourself with the owner’s manual. No warrantees expressed or implied. If you feel Gayness was shipped to you mistakenly, please, attempt to return it to [address smudged off]. If you wish to exchange Gayness for another of our fine products, keep Gayness in its original condition and meet all the terms of our return policy. Write to the address above for a copy of the return policy, in paperback or hardcover. Shipping may take 2 to 80 years.

For customer service, please call 801-5#5-18*7. A very limited number of operators are standing by. Thank you for your patience.

Contents include:
1-Owner’s manual. (Tomorrow)
1-Madona CD.

*Gayness should not be operated while under the influence of alcohol, or certain cold medicines. Side effects may include alienation, anger, weakening of the wrist muscles, angelic assault, and hallucinations of improved fashion sense. Do not use Gayness if your wife is or may become be pregnant, or if you’ve been diagnosed with homophobitia or closetal occlusion. If you feel you are experiencing guilt or shame while operating Gayness, please discontinue use and consult your physician.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Eraser

I was going to hold off on this, but fear I’ll forget the mood, and the moral if I don’t get it out (particularly where I can be as longwinded as I want :-)).

Ever had a series of events that just made you feel like coincidence was aiming to drive home a point? That’s how I feel right now.

After these comments in Mr. Galt’s blog, the going over my feelings on Fred, a dead “friend” and, oddly enough, a dead coyote (Oh, I’ll make the connection… :-)), I get into my car to go to work and the midst of this chorus starts up on my CD player:

The more you try to erase me
The more that I appear
The more you try the eraser
The more that you appear

Futility. It seemed appropriate (the rest of the lyrics are less relatable, but it could be done and I’d dare not interpret :-)).

So, is that me again? Tracking through the snow, erasing paw print after paw print, addressing falsehood after insult, helping one gay kid only for another to take his place. Is it that the closer I get, the more prints there’ll be to follow, as the animal keeps just into the next shelter of trees? Does the metaphor hold in the fact that the further I chase the wolf from my door, the further I get from home, from those who need me? I hope not; I do fear it, though.

Maybe, if I just stopped the hunt, paused in the silence for a while, went home, and waited… Well, might he just lie down in our backyard someday, and I’ll find him there, tell my boy’s not to worry, everything will be okay, and, just like that, it’s over? Maybe.

There’s this problem, this monstrous and sad problem. You all know it. I’m not talking about people; it’s an intangible beast, built through so much history. I see it wreaking tragedy and lurking in borderlands of so many lives, from gay men to un-gay men to the people who love them, and I’ve been trying to help fix it for just under half my life, even when I knew I was in an unfixable instance of it.

Today, I do see it healing, and quickly. But how? Is it from the hunt? Instead, I’m wondering now if the end to this animal may be the ever-tightening snare of the reality in our own backyards, in mundane everyday existence.

Gee, I hope I didn’t stretch that connection until it broke :-). Forgive the symbolism, I just found it apt for my mood, and that's what I'm feeling.

Anyway, that said, let me at least respond to Change1996, and I’ll ruminate on the above some more; it’s just an off-the-cuff observation…

I’ll take some of those questions as rhetorical, Change, but no, I’ve not heard of some of what you describe in the gay community (Unless a “dark room” has to do with photography :-)).

As for your experience, you may not want empathy, but, again, what can you expect? That’s horrible, vile. I would hope you could press charges, but understand it’s not that easy.

You ask “So what do you suggest for your defence.”

I suggest nothing. It’s not my defense to give, and those who best could give it can’t either, because there is none for such actions.

In fact, I’d think what I do lessens the chance of a repeat of your experience, but the whole point is that it’s not my place to defend nor can I be responsible for the choices of others. No matter how much anyone may think it could help, it's the wrong solution. I think you know that’s a truth of ethics, but I understand that trauma can make the easy difficult. I know it took me many many years to quit assuming every LDS person, not already in my life, was a cruel homophobe who, to save their shame, would coldly disown their gay children and leave them with no support or love. I admit that’s a reflex I still fight. I’d hope you could also try to stop generalizing regarding gays as well, but it is understandable with your experience.

I have experienced some heartbreaks that can not convince me that this could even be an option even if god WOULD allow it.

That’s exactly why I support people in your shoes to never act out on their orientation.

It’s also why I can’t keep up my anger. If not for Fred, certainly not for you, Change ;-). It’s that bolt of malevolence striking from the tree line to harm those I love that gets me up in arms. That was you. When I see there’s a person there, with their own reasons… It makes most every underserved insult and wrong understandable. You sapped the ire right out of me; as I wrote, nature just swallows that whole.

"So,why don't you stay in your gay hole and be happy without trying to defend yourself for the wrong that you are doing. "

Again, probably a rhetorical question… But I, like you, know what’s wrong, and am compelled to speak up when I see it. Unfortunately, that pits us against each other. I mean, are you telling me you’d just let folk insult your family and kids, tell lies, and use those stereotypes to harm them legally? You’d not say anything, just stay in your “gay hole” and be happy (what a funny way of insulting :-))?

If I could ignore what I imagine your intentions to be, I would make the same claim regarding your life, to keep to yourself and stop defending the wrong you're doing, but I’m betting you think you’re in the right. For that alone, you deserve an audience.

But, as I began this post, you may have a point. I’ve been trying to fix it; it’s my habit. I keep the wolf from the door; that’s one large way in which I’ve come to define myself, and oddly it’s a chorus in the same voice. I’m out to keep experiences like yours from happening. I keep awake at my post, sometime literally, and keep my family safe. I’ve been at it a long time. Maybe too long; maybe I should stop tracking, defend only the home turf, and let it come to me. I don’t know.

I'm just showing you were something really innocently looking lead ME!!!!!!!!!

Well, it shouldn’t be innocent looking; all sex can be deadly dangerous, and, because of our position, sex with the average gay man can be even more so. Nevertheless, it lead me worlds away from your experience, and I can be nothing but grateful for being gay. I can’t even really regret the tough times; they too had their odd way of leading me to happiness.

A long while ago, I wrote a bunch of advice (in a humble manner, of course ;-)) I’d give to those just coming out and have been waiting for an appropriate time to post it. I’ll post it this week, and would appreciate your input.

“And no, I want to be rude on this one.”

Congratulations then ;-). Look, Chris is right. No one gets anywhere without civil dialogue; it’s something I forget too.

What do you call this in the gay world,self inflicted rape?

When a person sexually violates you through coercion or force? I call it rape. I call it rape too even if they drug a person to make them more agreeable to sex they’d not otherwise agree to. The punishment for, say, drinking is no more justly rape than it would be the punishment for wearing a miniskirt for straight women, and it’s unfortunate you’d expect such a reaction.

I’ve only felt threatened with rape, just once, and that was more than enough to leave an impression. I hope you can heal.

Now, the “gay world”? I’d find it funny that you’d think I’d fit in the world you’re likely considering if the topic wasn’t so serious, but, still, I’ve never heard that term before, in the gay or straight world.

Anyway… one more paw print. What’s to be done? Should we fight, Change1996? Should we let all our commonality go?

I’m sure we could both be vicious for some very good reasons, and get nowhere.