186. serotinal

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Photo Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/37010090@N04/8559696948/">Sprengben [why not get a friend]</a> via <a href="http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a> How did it get to be September already? It seems just yesterday that it was snowing and twenty-below-zero. Now August is spent and gone and we’re running pell-mell into autumn. Soon the leaves will be changing color and falling off trees, and we’ll be digging our way out of snowdrifts and cursing the fact that Minnesotans forget how to park in the winter.

Incidentally, I learned the word “pell-mell” around age seven or eight from the Hardy Boys book The House on the Cliff: “The other boys followed, running pell-mell through the hallway and clattering down the stairway” (p. 15). These were some of my favorite books growing up, and they opened a door in my mind to literature and to writing.

One of the things that most sticks in my mind about those books was the fact that the boys seemed to always be getting naked—or at least mostly naked:

  • “Tony began to peel off his clothes.” (p. 91, House on the Cliff)
  • “Frank and Joe took off their slacks, T shirts, sweaters, and sneakers.” (p. 97, House on the Cliff)
  • “Let’s take off our socks, shirts, belts, and sweaters.” (p. , The Clue of the Screeching Owl)
  • “He stripped down to his shorts and Joe did the same.” (p. 161, Secret of the Caves)

Of course, there’s no reason to think that any of this was meant to be homoerotic. These books were first written in the 1920s. It was a different time. If anything, it’s a sad commentary on our own age that we now interpret instances of male intimacy as indicative of homosexuality. Boys and men used to get naked all the time, and enjoy being naked together, without it being erotic, or analyzed and pathologized. To be sure, there were certainly gay men forced to find each other in dark, secret places to avoid detection and punishment. We see some of this in books like E. M. Forster’s Maurice, Gore Vidal’s The City and the Pillar, and Christopher Isherwood’s I Am a Camera, which provided the basis for the musical Cabaret.

To my young homosexual mind, however, these instances in the Hardy Boys books were teeming with sexual tension, and they provided me with the material for my earliest fantasies of male-on-male intimacy. In fact, one of the first times I can remember being sexually aroused was in chapter five of The Secret of the Caves:

From "The Secret of the Caves," p. 41.[Joe] kicked off his shoes and flung himself on top of the bedspread.

Too exhausted to undress, Frank did the same. The boys slept soundly for several hours.

Frank awakened first and thought he was having a nightmare. A pillow was pressed hard over his face and a powerful hand pinned his shoulder to the mattress.

Trying to cry out, Frank kicked wildly and flung the intruder away from the bed. Someone hit the opposite wall with a thud and crashed to the floor. The noise aroused Joe who sprang up, wild-eyed, and looked around the room. [p. 39]

No worries, it’s just their friend, Biff Hooper (described as “tall and lanky,” blonde, and an “amateur boxer”), playfully holding Frank down on the bed as a joke. I didn’t yet have the emotional vocabulary for why this scene excited me so much, or why it looped on virtual continuous playback in my mind. I would later discover firsthand the palpable thrill of male sexual play and wrestling, and the masculine roughness and uninhibitedness that was already such a turnon to me when I first read the above passage.

Almost all of the boys in these books are athletically inclined. Both Frank and Joe play football and baseball (Frank is a pitcher—heh), but Joe is the smarter of the two, playing with transistor radios or tinkering with motorbikes, so I always had more of a crush on Joe. It’s funny now to think that my parents were unwittingly aiding my development as a young gay man by giving me these books to read. I’m not even ashamed to admit that, as a teenager, some of the focus of my *aheh* “alone time” was Joe Hardy. At least, the Joe Hardy of my imagination.

Autumn is a time of transition and reflection. The leaves change color as the youth and vigor of spring and summer fade and shift with the tilt of the Earth away from the sun. Farmers bring in crops sowed in early spring and tended to all through the summer.

I too have been doing reaping of my own, thinking about my growing up years as a closeted teenager and trying to make sense of the time lost, both as a Christian and as a gay man. As my circle of gay friends increases, I’m coming more into contact with couples who met in their early twenties and have been together for years, their relationships deepening and becoming more knowing and intimate. They’re buying houses, adopting children, going on trips, and in general making lives together.

Many of my friends met each other around the same time that I was graduating college and just beginning to come to terms with the fact that I would never be a heterosexual man as my family and friends assumed that I was.

These relationships aren’t perfect by any means, but with every day that passes I’m reminded of the fact that I’m not getting any younger and that time is slipping by. Like the leaves, my own hair has started to change color. I’ve recently started noticing grey hair at my temples.

I don’t want to waste any more of the years that are left to me. I spent too many years trying to be someone else, and am finally getting to know who I really am. Life is short enough as it is, and I would rather spend my life getting to know a beautiful and fascinating man, and investing time and love in each other.

151. vicinage

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To—Mark S. Rubin, St. Louis County Attorney:

When I heard about the story of Max Pelofske being charged with fifth degree assault and disorderly conduct for defending himself in the midst of a hate crime, my jaw almost hit the floor. Even more astounding was that a friend coming to his aid was also charged with a crime. What does this say about our legal system in Minnesota—that the victim of a crime motivated by bigotry and prejudice would be punished for merely standing up for his rights? This is not consistent with the values I have observed and come to associate with this state—fairness, decency and respect for the dignity of human life being just a few.

The law is supposed to protect citizens and punish those who step outside those boundaries. The only wrongdoers in this case are the young men who decided to let their hatred for Mr. Pelofske based solely on his sexual orientation drive them to attack him.

In the Book of Esther in the Jewish Tanakh, King Ahasuerus’ prime minister Haman is driven by his hatred of Mordechai, a Jew and cousin of Queen Esther, to kill not just him but all of the Jews in Persia. Haman convinces Ahasuerus to allow him to carry out this plot without either of them knowing that Esther is herself Jewish and therefore under the death sentence. Upon learning the truth about the plot, Ahasuerus has Haman hanged but cannot revoke his own decree. He does, however, allow the Jews to defend themselves against the decreed attacks, which they do, and the Jewish people are saved from being unjustly annihilated.

There are many in Minnesota—some in our legislature—who wish to do away with GLBT citizens in this state. They may not want to kill us, but they do want to take away our right to defend ourselves and to be protected against attacks on us based on our sexual orientation. They want to hand bullies of all ages the unassailable right to abuse and mistreat us with impunity. That is categorically wrong.

If the incredulous charges against Max Pelofske and Kelly Johnson are allowed to stand, the bullies and the terrorists (for they are indeed terrorists) in this state have won, and the eyes of the nation are watching, looking to see how we handle civil rights in this state. GLBT teenagers are watching to see if their state is going to side with them or with their attackers.  If the law won’t stand up for the rights of minorities and even goes so far as to take away the right to self-defense for (and the right of others to come  to the defense of) GLBT individuals, then who will?

Thank you for listening, as I hope you’ll listen to everyone who has responded asking the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office to drop the charges, to side with human rights, and not apply the law unfairly and unjustly.

Sincerely,

David Philip Norris


If you’d like to write your own letter to the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office to voice your support for equal treatment and protection of GLBT individuals under the law and ask for the county to drop the charges against these two people, you can do so at countyattorney@stlouiscountymn.gov. They are scheduled to appear in court August 23 and 30. (Please be respectful, to help ensure that the County Attorney takes this issue seriously.)

150. foible

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On the way up to my boyfriend’s place this weekend I was listening to the audiobook of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, which I’ve read and listened to several times so I mostly revisit just to hear Dawkins and his wife Lalla Ward read. They could recite the periodic table of elements and I’d still listen.

Earlier this morning I was going through email, RSS, Facebook and Twitter feeds (thank you, HootSuite) and came across an article on Upworthy about The Top 8 Ways To Be ‘Traditionally Married’ According To The Bible. It’s that infographic that’s been going around the Internet for months, and is actually a pretty concise description of what a traditional, “biblical” marriage looks like—according to the Bible.

But as I opened the page, the following bubble popped up…

What exactly do global warming and same-sex marriage have to do with each other? I don’t really need to explain my stance on same-sex marriage, but when it comes to global warming my opinion is fairly nuanced. Just as same-sex marriage is a complex issue that can’t be distilled down to “agree” or “disagree,” global warming isn’t as simple as everyone makes it out to be.

While I agree that the earth is warming, I don’t think that human activity is 100% responsible. There are many plausible explanations for the trends we’re observing, such as increased solar activity (a theory backed by CERN scientists concerned about charged subatomic particles from outer space) or geomagnetic reversal (which is a rather more frightening prospect than global warming).

To be clear, I think we should be doing more to keep our air clean and not pollute. It doesn’t make sense to use the water in your own backyard as a sewer, and we have future generations to think about. Plus, interplanetary travel isn’t yet possible and we have limited resources on the earth, so why spend money you don’t have?

But it bothered me that I was only given two choices to a question I didn’t entire agree with. If I went with the affirmative, I was agreeing with the idea that same-sex marriage should be legal and that humans are responsible for global warming trends. If I went with the negative, I was saying that there are other forces at work besides human activity and that same-sex marriage shouldn’t be legal. It’s one of those “gotcha!” tactics, such as when politicians sneak piggybacked legislation into bills. The addition of a repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to an otherwise unnoteworthy defense spending bill is one such example.

There are other examples of how this tactic is used to trap people into agreeing or disagreeing with certain positions, but it illustrates how emotional appeal instead of intellectual argument is employed. On the issue of same-sex marriage, conservatives voters are being caged into supporting the denial of equal treatment of the GLBT community. They hear things like, “If gay marriage is legalized, your children will be taught about homosexuality in school!” which is code for “Your children will be taught how to be homosexuals!”, as if in addition to the safe sex and AIDS prevention curriculum in health class they’ll also receive tips on how to properly fellate a penis and cruise for men in a gay bar. A Christian may not agree with the majority that homosexuality is wrong, but with the looming spectre of the “gay agenda” and the demonization of homosexuality they may not see that they have a choice.

The Daisy ad from Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 presidential campaign that effectively won him the election is an example of how conservatives are using scare tactics and emotional appeal (pathos) to cloud people’s judgment…

In fact, most of the conservative efforts to pass constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage appear to be taken from this iconic minute-long commercial. It appeals to a primal fear in human—that of some harm coming to children. With the threat of the Cold War and nuclear holocaust, the juxtaposition of the girl plucking daisies with the mushroom cloud was a frightening reality for voters in that election.

In one of his essays, David Sedaris illustrates the power of guilt by association:

As we pulled into the station, I recalled an afternoon 10 years earlier. I’d been riding the Chicago El with my sister, Amy, who was getting off two or three stops ahead of me. The doors opened. And, as she stepped out of the crowded car, she turned around to yell, “So long, David. Good luck beating that rape charge.” Everyone on board had turned to stare at me. Some seemed curious, some seemed frightened, but the overwhelming majority appeared to hate me with a ferocity I had never before encountered. “That’s my sister,” I said. “She likes to joke around.” I laughed and smiled, but it did no good. Every gesture made me appear more guilty. And I wound up getting off at the next stop rather than continue riding alongside people who thought of me as a rapist.

There was no evidence that he was a rapist, but all it took was the mere suggestion that he might be to convince a car full of strangers that he was the most vile human being on earth.

In the same way, conservative anti-gay groups have employed this subtle but effective approach in demonizing gay rights. With the allegation that homosexuality is eroding the moral fiber of our country and that it puts children and families at risk, it becomes very difficult to overcome such claims because of the passionate emotions those images evoke. And, as we know, emotions can make people irrational. We’ve seen this in nearly thirty different state campaigns to ban same-sex marriage, and it’s worked—overwhelmingly and inexorably.

So are you the kind of person who believes that global warming exists and gay people should have the freedom to get married?

146. pensée

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Earlier today I got the following e-blast from John Helmberger of Minnesota for Marriage:

General Mills Declares War on Marriage

The Green Giant, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Kix, and Trix have all declared war on Marriage.

General Mills has made billions of dollars in marketing these cereals to parents of young children, and they have just declared War on Marriage here in Minnesota.

In what could go down as one of the stupidest PR decisions of all time, General Mills has pro-actively inserted themselves into a divisive social issue that flies in the face of their very business model.

A survey last year by the Alliance Defense Fund found that 63% of Americans with children living at home believe that marriage is ONLY the union of one man and one woman. Those are the very customers that General Mills has just insulted!

Aren’t you just sick and tired of big corporations ignoring your wishes to pander to special interests? It’s actions like those taken by General Mills that sometimes help me understand the whole “Occupy” philosophy against corporations that have lost touch with the people who have made them wealthy.

Just because General Mills is doing exactly the opposite of the very thing conservative groups have been doing doing recently (i.e., big corporations pandering to special interests and investing money in order to oppose the constitutional amendment), it means General Mills has declared nuclear war on apple pie and puppy dogs?

And, because it’s right on the tip of my tongue, lest I be accused of just throwing the word “bigot” around too flippantly, here is the definition from the Merriam Webster dictionary:

A person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especiallly : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

It is not hateful or intolerant for those of us on the “anti-amendment” side to call out those who want to deny equal treatment of GLBT couples and individuals (in stark opposition to the provisions afforded to citizens in Section 1 of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution) on their prejudiced and discriminatory rhetoric and tactics.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Head over to Project 515 if there’s any doubt in your mind how GLBT citizens (not to mention non-traditional families) are being treated unequally under current Minnesota and Federal law.

To those on the other side…

We hear your concern and your fear, and we understand that this is an important issue to you. We’re trying to listen, and we want to respect you as much as we can. Most of all, we hope for as amicable an outcome as possible for both sides so that we can, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, come together, “with malice toward none, with charity for all … to bind up the nation’s wounds.”

Because, just as in 1865 after the end of the American Civil War, we do despise each other right now. There are gaping wounds, and we in the GLBT community have been deeply hurt by how we’ve been treated. But we have to move forward if we’re going to grow up as a nation. We got past slavery, we got past women’s rights, we got past racism and inter-racial marriage. We can get past this.

However, this is also an issue that is important to us as your fellow tax-paying, law-abiding citizens, and the fact that you’re terrified of change doesn’t give you the right to treat us like second class citizens because we happen to be attracted to members of the same sex.

We don’t want to destroy your marriages, your families or your homes. You heterosexuals seem to be doing a fine job of that on your own. We are a nation of immigrants whose diversity makes us stronger, and we want to strengthen marriage and family in our country by affirming it for everyone.

We don’t want to force you to accept us, because ultimately we can’t change your mind for you, but we hope that you will eventually come to see us as your neighbors and not as a threat.

We don’t want to recruit your children into the ranks of the homosexual army (or whatever it is that you’re worried will happen in public schools if same-sex marriage is legalized), but we do want GLBT teens and kids to feel accepted and safe in schools and their homes to be who they know in their hearts that they are.

We don’t want to force churches to perform same sex marriage ceremonies, because who wants to celebrate their love and commitment in a place filled with hatred and animosity towards them? (There are plenty of places that do want us and our money, and we’ll go there, thanks very much.)

As one who grew up gay in a conservative religious home and spent years denying and fighting against who I was, I don’t want another teen to live with the pain and anguish that comes with thinking that you’re an abomination to God, that you’ll have to choose between living free or losing your family, community and God; and that you’ll go to hell for the sin of loving someone of the same sex as you.

Most of all, we want you to stop being afraid, because you’re missing out on so many opportunities for rich relationships with co-workers, with friends, and with your children and family members.

144. natch

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On April 15, 1912, the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg while en route from Southampton in England to New York City. I don’t need to say much about the disaster. There are documentaries and movies enough on the subject. The most poignant aspect for me about this story is the breakdown of survivors and those who died. The majority of the victims were men, as men were expected to give up their seats on the lifeboats for the women and children. 1,387 men died in the water that night.

The greatest number of casualties were, not surprisingly, amongst the third class passengers, of which there were 706 altogether. 84% (387 of 462) of male and 54% (89 of 165) of female steerage passengers perished. 66% (52 of 79) of their children didn’t make it either. The second class didn’t fare much better. Of the 168 men, 154 (92%) were lost. The second class women were luckier: of 93, only 13 (14%) died. Amazingly, all of the children in second class survived.

In first class, the men bore the heaviest toll, with 66% (118 of 175) never making it to New York City. Still, that’s significantly less than the lower two classes. Of the 144 women aboard in first class, only 4 (3%) died; and of the 6 children, only 1 didn’t make it.

That’s a lot of numbers, but those numbers speak volumes in terms of the human loss of life, of the drama of that story and of the terror and hopelessness that these people went to their deaths with. These were 1,514 individuals with their own unique stories, loves and losses that died in the water that night. Doubtless some of them died believing that their merciful God would save them or at least accept their souls into heaven—probably the greatest and cruelest tragedy of all.

It also speaks to the subjective standards by which human lives were weighed. Your chances of survival on the Titanic that night were predetermined by how much you paid for your ticket, and therefore how valuable you were based on your class. Steerage passengers were corralled below decks like animals and had little access to the lifeboats.

This brings me to my topic for today, which is a familiar topic for many who follow this blog: the religious opposition to gay marriage.

Today the ironically named conservative group Minnesota for Marriage posted a new “marriage minute” which addresses the question: “I have heard people talk about same-sex marriage interfering with ‘Religious liberty’ principles. What does that mean?”

This is probably the most popular argument from religious conservatives—that if marriage is redefined as genderless it will result in the persecution of religious individuals and groups. Churches that refuse to perform same-sex marriages will lose their tax-exempt status (which I and many others don’t think they should have anyway). Christians who speak out against same-sex marriage or gay rights will be thrown in jail. Christian businesses that refuse to, for example, print wedding invitations for same-sex couples will be fined or lose the business altogether. Basically… GAYPOCALYPSE!!

This is one of the loudest talking points for conservatives. They have the nerve and audacity to cling to the Constitution in order to protect their right to discriminate—laws never intended to enshrine religious discrimination or prejudice. Quite the opposite. As a cartoon on the website Slap Upside the Head reads, “Not being able to treat gays as second-class citizens makes me a second-class citizen!” ThinkProgress had a great article about this a few months ago titled “Inside NOM’s Strategy: Use ‘Religious Liberty’ As A Catalyzing Red Herring.” In it, they quote from a memo that included the following passage:

We have learned how to make the coercive pressures on religious people and institutions an issue in the United States. We will use this knowledge to raise the profile of government attacks on the liberties of religious people and institutions in Europe, both for internal domestic consumption in Europe and to halt the movement towards gay marriage worldwide. Our goal is to problematize the oppression of Christians and other traditional faith communities in the European mind.

So yet again, conservatives are resorting to fearmongering and post hoc reasoning in order to scare the Faithful into the voting booth in November. At the risk of invoking Godwin’s law, this is precisely how Hitler was able to gain support in Germany: by manufacturing a threat (in this case, that the Jews were responsible for Germany’s financial woes) in order to rally the people to his side. And as we know now, it worked quite effectively. Here we have groups like NOM and Minnesota for Marriage doing exactly the same thing in response to the “crisis” of the looming threat of gay marriage.

Why shouldn’t a business that refuses a gay couple for no other reason than their bigoted religious beliefs be sued? True, a business has the right to serve whoever they want to serve; and in Maryland, special provisions were put in place guaranteeing that this sort of thing wouldn’t happen. And frankly, we gays should boycott businesses that are not GLBT-friendly. However, at the risk of evoking an overused trope, there was also a time when it was acceptable for businesses to refuse to serve black patrons. As time went on, those businesses were pressured into change not by the government but by public opinion that came to view such behavior as prejudiced.

I say this a lot, but there is no reason other than homophobia bolstered by religious dogma for the GLBT community to be treated differently than the rest of hetero land. Their “scientific” studies are being discredited left and right. The medical and psychological communities haven’t been able to find anything wrong with gays. At what point do we just say “Enough!” to these people? We hear their fear, but we’re doing nobody a service by accommodating this nonsense.

Religious liberty ends where it senselessly tramples on the civil rights and liberties of citizens, and stands in the way of the inalienable Rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

141. gambit

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I really shouldn’t give these people any more attention than they’re already getting, but I have an overwhelming urge to smack that smug little beatific smile off of Kalley Yanta’s face (the friendly face of fascism—every regime has one), and this question has been coming up a lot lately: “Is it true that Minnesota’s marriage law has no rational basis and only exists because of moral animosity toward gays and lesbians?”

The answer is yes.

Thus far, no sufficiently convincing argument has been brought forward by conservatives to prove that homosexuality is unnatural or harmful to society. The studies that they cite are decades old, and carried out by biased individuals who often have a religious agenda to support. Just recently, Robert Spitzer, one of the original proponents of clinical study into reparative therapy, recanted his 2001 paper that lent so much credibility afforded to the ex-gay movement. He has apologized for the harm his work has done to the GLBT community, though it will be interesting to see what move he makes next.

In the video, Yanta claims that Federal Judge Vaughn Walker’s verdict in the Proposition 8 trial was unprecedented, and that “no other federal judge has ever reached such a radical conclusion” (and unsurprisingly casts doubt on his verdict since he’s a gay man himself and obviously can’t reach a fair decision). Which is probably what they were saying about the 1967 Supreme Court ruling on Loving versus Virginia, which effectively overturned the nation’s anti-miscegenation laws and finally opened the door for inter-racial marriage, a concept which was as irrational to legislate against as same-sex marriage is today. To prohibit two human beings from being together based on something as arbitrary as the color of their skin or their sex when doing so doesn’t harm anyone isn’t rational.

Research is rather showing that homosexuality is likely congenital, like left-handedness. While probably not genetic—it’s dubious that scientists will ever find that elusive “gay gene”—those of us who are gay likely acquire our orientation the same way that heterosexuals inherit theirs. But that’s not where conservatives start. In order to continue their campaign of hatred and bigotry they have to begin with the premise that homosexuality is a choice, ignoring all evidence to the contrary. The Mormon Church issued a statement recently that it will continue to use the findings in Robert Spitzer’s 2001 study, though Spitzer himself has recanted it. Though there’s doubtless confirmation bias happening on each side, it falls to the anti-gay crowd to produce any credible, rational evidence that homosexuality is errant, detrimental or morally wrong.

Faith is by very definition irrational. Merriam-Webster defines faith as:

2 (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2): complete trust
3 : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs.

 

The Bible itself defines faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith does not demand proof and rather demands absolute acceptance on little to no evidence. The current traditional reading of the Bible claims that homosexuality is an abomination to God, even though there are hundreds of other practices that are also banned (e.g., tattoos, eating shellfish, blending cloth, haircuts, etc), and despite the fact that there is no scientific evidence that homosexuality is detrimental.

So we’re currently at an impasse between Christians who insist that homosexuality is an abomination based on what their Bible says and the scientific community that has found nothing wrong with it. Yanta claims that banning same-sex marriage “is not only rational, but is in the common good.” I’ll let “rational” slip by for now, but by “common good” she evidently means the “Christian good.” No one else benefits from these discriminatory laws except for religious conservatives who are seeking to protect the status quo and enshrine their irrational, dogmatic beliefs.

It ignores the fact that, according to the Bible itself, the definition of marriage has included…

According to the Christian Bible, monogamous, heterosexual marriage was rare in the patriarchal ancient Middle East, and it’s surprisingly silent about such modes as polygamy. You’d think that if God had intended for “One Man One Woman” that he would’ve been a little more more explicit about that, so we have to assume that since men like Abraham, Isaac, David and Solomon all had multiple wives, and that since it was acceptable for women to be forced to marry their rapists that there’s more than one way to be married.

Wait—but that was a different time! That was an acceptable cultural practice back then, but we have different standards now!

Bullshit. Either the Bible is true for all peoples in all times, or it’s just another book that we can either disregard like all the others or glean what wisdom we can from it and chuck the rest. One can’t keep moving the goalposts and expect to maintain credibility.

But as to the claim that there is no animosity towards gays and lesbians in the fight to define marriage as being between one man and one woman, it’s preposterous. Lurking beneath those polished, fresh-faced veneers are fearful, intolerant bigots who think that gay people are icky. They attempt to justify their prejudice by validating it a matter of faith (which requires no proof or evidence), which is a direct violation of the Separation of Church and State. While they decry government interference in their religious practice, they think nothing of forcing their beliefs on everyone else and enshrining them into law, then cry discrimination and persecution when the secular community objects. As a friend of mine wrote me in an email the other day, “I believe in moral absolutes so I want Christians to be in control.” There it is.

The GLBT community may not have an absolute right to same-sex marriage, but neither are there grounds to ban it either in context of a civil government.

140. besot

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I have an almost preternatural affinity for getting into situations that make my relationships fantastically and needlessly complicated, and in particular, falling for guy friends who turn out to be unavailable in one way or another. They’re either straight (and therefore not interested), gay and simply not interested in me, or gay and already partnered.

At Northwestern College, most of the guys I had a yen for were (presumably) heterosexual, and while there were apparently Talmudic discussions over whether I was or not, for all intensive purposes I was functionally heterosexual as far as anyone was concerned. I never made advances on any guys, flirted, or did anything besides do a lot of jerking off (admittedly to the mental pictures of some of my painfully gorgeous classmates). But who knows how many guys were jonesing for me from afar as well, stuck in the closet and unable to confess their feelings for me liked the horned up twentysomethings we were.

Most of the guys I’ve fallen for since entering the gay dating scene have fallen into the second category—gay and not interested for one reason or another. And there have been many, many disappointments. I was crushed when this incredibly hot, sweet guy named Chris turned me down, even though we were very attracted to each other. I don’t think he wasn’t out to his family and that might’ve been a mitigating factor. Or maybe he just wasn’t into me as a potential partner. Most infamously in this set is Seth, the only guy I’ve ever been in love with, who only saw me as a friend and whose rejection basically catapulted me into atheism, and has since led to the dissolving of a number of mutual friendships.

This past weekend I was helping a guy in the a capella group I’m in move out of his apartment in Uptown in Minneapolis to his new apartment in downtown Saint Paul. We weren’t 100% sure whether or not he was gay, and he wasn’t disclosing anything so we left it alone, but that didn’t stop me from developing a huge crush on this poor unsuspecting guy. There were a lot of things that I liked about him, many of which are things that I’m looking for in a potential boyfriend/husband.

Long, tortured, angst-ridden story short, I learned this weekend while moving him out of his apartment that not only is he gay but he was moving into his new apartment with his partner of two years. I’d seen the guy several times after practice, and he’d always been referred to as a “friend,” and I kind of suspected that they might be together, but wasn’t sure. Thus on Saturday when he introduced himself to me as “the partner” was my heart was broken for the umpteenth time.

There’s an aggravating, weird, awkward male social etiquette about asking a guy about his sexuality, the only analogy to which I can think of is asking a woman about her age or weight. You wait for a guy to drop a hint or proffer information, but as a rule you don’t ask. There are some guys who don’t fit into the rigid gender boxes our culture has constructed, but are 100%, vagina-loving heterosexuals. And there are burly lumberjack-esque guys who are totally gay and who you’d never guess were into guys. So it’s likely that there were manly über men at Northwestern who might’ve been in love with me who thought that I was just another one of those unattainable straight guys they’d never have a chance with.

It’s not so much the disappointment of finding out that he was single as it is the mounting frustration of feeling like I’m that hopelessly far behind everyone else, or missing something obvious that everyone else automatically gets. I feel like the kid who suddenly finds himself stuck by some fantastical clerical error in an advanced physics class when he was just starting to learn pre-algebra, with no clue what’s going on or how everyone just jumps on a problem regarding eigenmodes of a vibrating tetrahedron.

As Cecily quips in Oscar Wilde’s play, “I’ve now realized for the first time in my life the vital Importance of Being Earnest.”

The other day my friend Matt and I were discussing his coming out to his family as an atheist and how that went over. He and I come from very similar home circumstances, having been raised in the church and with people firmly committed to their religious beliefs. In Matt’s case, his family took the news well and it sounds like they’re so far respecting his non-belief and refraining from emotional blackmail or trying to re-convert him. Which is not how it went for me.

We’d talked about his coming out to his family, and to his dad in particular, who is a pastor. While I understand all too well how difficult it is to hand your parents’ religion back to them, at the same time, what kind of a relationship is it where you can’t share something so deeply personal without worrying about being attacked, threatened or disowned?

Part of what keeps many of us in the closet is that fear of being isolated from the herd, especially those of us that grew up in Christian fundamentalist communities. They have us believing that there is no community outside of the church. The only people who truly care about you are your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Harvey Milk said in 1978: “You must come out … Once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake.”

I’m very “out” as both a gay man and as an atheist. I try not to be obnoxious about it, and it’s mainly to people I have relationships with. But if we stay in our closets and don’t share who we really are with people, things will stay as they are.

And gay boys like me will keep falling for guys who are already taken.