283. glocal

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DevinCook, and Jacobolus. Today I am taking a respite from the wonderful world of mental health, apostasy, and AD/HD to talk about the sujet du jour:

The shitshow that is American politics.

In general, I try to avoid discussing politics on this site, seeing as political news is pretty much unavoidable most places these days, and nobody wants to hear about it.

To my readers outside the United States, I probably follow your coverage of American politics more closely than I do American news, so I’m aware of what most of the world thinks of the United States and of Americans in general.

It’s humiliating to be reminded every day that an ignorant bunch of racist, homophobic, gun-toting xenophobes living in isolated pockets in the most conservative (and least populated) states throughout my country handed an incompetent nitwit the election thanks to the arcane, wibbly-wobbly math of the Electoral College¹, which apportions…

… oh fuck it. I don’t even understand.

Nobody understands.

CGP Grey does, thankfully.

So if you’ve been paying attention to the flurry of lies and spin coming out of the White House since the Orange One and his deplorable band of criminals took over, one of their favorite lines is to insist that “the American people” voted for Donald Trump, as if his winning the Electoral College vote grants him the mandate to ban Muslims from entering the country, building his fucking wall along the U.S/Mexico border, pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord… etc.

Except that we didn’t. Here’s how it breaks down.

How Did Americans Vote in the 2016 Presidential Election

That “Voting-Eligible Population” is particularly important because it excludes anyone under age 18, along with non-citizens, convicted felons (depending on state law where they reside), and mentally incapacitated persons².

Roughly 1 in 40 Americans are prevented from voting due to a felony record, and thanks to racial disparities in policing and sentencing, many of them are non-white. Something as simple and non-violent as copyright infringement or possession of marijuana without intent to distribute (i.e., for personal use) can land someone with a felony conviction.

Thus, permanently denying them the right to vote.

According to Michael McDonald’s website analyzing the results of the 2016 election votes, 3,249,802 Americans were ineligible for this reason.


If you’ve been paying attention recently, one of the Mangled Apricot Hellbeast’s primary obsessions since the election is the fact that he lost the popular vote.

By roughly 2.9 million votes.

It appears to literally be driving him crazy—which is terrifying when you consider that this is the man who holds the nuclear codes.

Since November, he has repeated the baseless claim that he would have won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

Besides the Russian hackers operation, there is no evidence of any voter fraud, let alone three million votes. That’s insane—and yet, that is precisely the narrative being peddled by the current U.S. administration.

So this “witless fucking cocksplat” of a president has ordered the formation of a commission to look into supposed voter fraud.

And this past Friday, that commission released 112 pages of unredacted emails of public comment in response to their request to the states for hand over voter information, including sensitive personal data such as birthdates, partial Social Security numbers, party affiliation and felon status³.

My favorite response was the Mississippi Secretary of State responding that “the commission can ‘go jump in the Gulf of Mexico’.”

But what is especially frightening about this recent initiative is the unprecedented move by this administration to cast doubt on the integrity of the results from the popular vote, seemingly in order to lend themselves the appearance of legitimacy that will allow them to carry out their reign of reckless incompetency unopposed.

However, the most striking feature of the results from the 2016 election is the fact that nearly 94 million Americans did not cast a vote for president. They may have voted for their local representatives, but 40.7% of the voting-eligible population essentially cast a vote of no confidence in how Americans elect their president.

It speaks to how disconnected many people feel from Washington, D.C., and how fed up many are with the divisive partisanship, lack of effective leadership, and utter lack of appealing candidates that were the hallmarks of the 2016 American election cycle.

The upset that resulted in the Republican victory speaks to the reality that the concerns of Americans in many (especially rural) parts of the country have gone unheeded for too long. Life is a struggle for significant parts of the population while a disproportional minority at the top enjoy undeserved tax breaks and kickbacks.

Clinton’s loss speaks to the influence of Russian meddling, yes, but also the reality that the Democratic party has lost touch with a majority of Americans in the middle and working classes, to the point that it cost them many states that traditionally go blue in elections—namely, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, and Florida.


The point of all this is that although the United States government is currently helmed by a sexual predator and racist Cheeto, the reality is that he does not speak for a vast majority of Americans—72.7% of us, to be precise.

He does not speak for us, or represent the type of American ideals set out in documents like the Constitution (which he clearly hasn’t read). He is the ugly face of an ignorant minority who are desperate to turn back the clock on progress towards realizing the dream of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness for all.

He is Not My President.


Endnotes:

¹ None but a handful of Americans understand the Electoral College, which was ultimately established in 1787 to preserve the institution of slavery in the United States by way of the Three-Fifths Compromise, wherein black slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of census taking in order to grant states with high slave populations more votes in the electoral college.

² McDonald, Michael P. “What is the voting-age population (VAP) and the voting-eligible population (VEP)?” United States Elections Project. July 7, 2017. Accessed July 17, 2017. http://www.electproject.org/home/voter-turnout/faq/denominator.

³ Neuman, Scott. “Vote Fraud Commission Releases Public Comments, Email Addresses And All.” NPR. July 14, 2017. Accessed July 17, 2017. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/07/14/537282309/vote-fraud-commission-releases-public-comments-email-addresses-and-all.

162. amygdaliform

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This post is a mirror of one I just published over at www.GayWithoutGod.com. I’m publishing it here too because it’s worth reading, and so that I can get back to my new Jon Meacham biography of Thomas Jefferson!


A recent article in the LA Times reports that the Associated Press is distancing itself from use of the term “homophobia” in its hallowed Style Book. (For those outside of journalism, this is the Bible for press editors and writers.)

The wire service’s online style book recently recommended against the use of “phobia” in “political and social contexts.” That means terms like “homophobia” and “Islamophobia” will become rarer in the many publications that operate under AP style.

Watch Your Language…

To be fair, there are potentially valid reasons driving this move. Over the past year and a half it seems usage of “homophobia” has increased dramatically. It’s become the new “racism” – the proverbial gauntlet to the face, with anything perceived as anti-gay quickly labeled “homophobic.” Chick-fil-A. Tracy Morgan. Fox News anchor Tricia Macke. Even socialite Paris Hilton was recently accused of hatin’ on the gays.

As AP Deputy Standards Editor Dave Minthorn told Politico:

. . . “homophobia” is often “off the mark” as a descriptor. . . . “It seems inaccurate. Instead, we would use something more neutral: anti-gay, or some such, if we had reason to believe that was the case.”

Crying Wolf?

The website nohomophobes.com tracks usage of anti-gay language on Twitter: words like “faggot,” “dyke,” “no homo” and “so gay.” (Apparently no homo is “a term used by straight guys who are insecure with their masculinity” to clear up confusion over something a guy says or does that may be perceived by others as gay, according to tagdef.com. You learn something new every day.)

tweets about homophobiaThe above image is just a snapshot of the home page. By the time I’d finished editing the picture (which took about a minute), mentions of “faggot” had risen to 22,935. The reality of chronic homophobia in American culture is still very real, and not something to ignore.

However, is everything labeled “homophobic” actually homophobic? Are all of the above tweets indicative of gay bashing just waiting to explode? Is Dave Minthorn correct that it’s inaccurate? Or is the meaning of the term cheapened by its quick-trigger usage?

Name Calling v. Calling a Spade

The definition of homophobia is “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals” (Merriam-Webster).

During this past election season here in Minnesota, I had to limit myself from using “homophobia” or “bigot” too often. Even when it was really tempting, and even when the shoe clearly fit, as it did on many occasions. It was almost too easy to resort to it, like a fallback. And it does tend to shut down conversations and put everyone on the defense.

At the same time, I worried about caving to pressure to be conciliatory, to be too courteous to those who were trying to take away my rights. The LA Times article later quoted John McIntyre of the Baltimore Sun: “Homophobia gets used because it is useful in describing an identifiable phenomenon.” There’s a difference between name calling and calling out people for hurtful behavior.

There’s a big difference between “You’re a homophobe” and “That’s homophobic.” Nouns name. Adjectives describe. My conservative Christian parents may not necessarily hate gays or be disgusted by us, but their behavior certainly doesn’t indicate that they love us. They may not tell me outright that they believe I’m going to hell, or that I’m an abomination and a pervert. But they have told me I need therapy, that I don’t deserve to be legally married just as my younger sister was four years ago, and that they won’t acknowledge any relationship I’m ever in, no matter how committed.

Whether or not their behavior is fueled by fear or disgust is another matter. But their behavior is clearly homophobic. Does that make them homophobes? Possibly, but the issue is more nuanced than that. And that may be what the AP is trying to get at.

It’s Not Time to Back Down

Whether or not the decision is a right one is a topic for for discussion. And there will be. This may be an olive branch to Evangelicals and conservatives after the recent marriage equality victories in the U.S. and across the world. If so, it’s a potentially wrong-headed approach. They may have been defeated, but they’re just regrouping, so now is not the time to back down when we can actually make progress towards equality.

Of course, if this is a call to be more responsible and purposeful about language and how we conduct conversations, it could be quite useful. We shouldn’t be stooping to label our opponents into boxes for the purpose of dismissing them. As Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War, “never underestimate your opponent.”

But one thing we can’t do is stop talking about homophobia and its effect on adults and children alike. We need to stop being polite when politicians say hateful things about the LGBT community. What we can do is adapt our methods and change how we talk about these issues. Instead of letting them control the conversation, we can be getting to know friends and neighbors and dissolving the lies and slander by simply being decent human beings.

Our opponents know they’re fighting a losing war, and that it’s only a matter of time before people stop listening to them. After all, if evolution teaches us anything it’s that those who fail to adapt ultimately fail to survive.

153. velleity

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“Immediately after the [9/11] attack, seeing the [American] flag all over the place was moving, endearing. So when the newspaper I subscribe to published a full-page, full-color flag to clip out and hang in the window, how come I couldn’t? It took me a while to figure out why I guiltily slid the flag into the recycling bin instead of taping it up. The meaning had changed; or let’s say it changed back. In the first day or two the flags were plastered everywhere, seeing them was heartening because they indicated that we’re all in this sorrow together. The flags were purely emotional. Once we went to war, once the president announced that we were going to retaliate against the “evildoers,” then the flag again represented what it usually represents, the government. I think  that’s when the flags started making me nervous.”
— Sarah Vowell, The Partly Cloudy Patriot, p.158

A few days ago I finished listening to Sarah Vowell’s Unfamiliar Fishes, an account of the American annexation of Hawaii in 1898. As a public radio listening, I’ve had the biggest crush on her voice since being introduced to This American Life and hearing her work on that show.

In case you’re not familiar with the story, the annexation of Hawaii came about through the deliberate intervention of the grandsons of American Christian missionaries. The Kingdom of Hawaii occurred five years previously in 1893, led mainly by anti-imperialist American citizens. Basically, it’s another chapter in the all-too-real horror story of imperialist manifest destiny and American exceptionalism; this notion that America has been called by God to “Christianize” other countries and bring their peoples under the authority of Christ—i.e., rich white men armed with the certainty that their theology is the right one, and that their cause is the only just one.

In other words, “Might makes right” (i.e., the Bush doctrine).

The same belief that led the United States to invade and occupy Iraq for 8 years, 8 months and 3 weeks, and Afghanistan since 7 October 2001, is the same one that led nineteenth century American columnist John L. O’Sullivan to remark of Oregon: “That claim is by the right of our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us.”

Stand there with a straight face and tell me that the current American foreign wars (i.e., occupations) aren’t experiments in American democracy.

A nineteenth century cartoon of a schoolhouse overseen by a glowering Uncle Sam scowling at childlike representations of rebellious Philippines, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Cuba has this written on the chalkboard:

The consent of the governed is a good thing in theory, but very rare in fact.

England has governed her colonies whether they consented or not. By not waiting for their consent she has greatly advanced the world’s civilization.

The U.S. must govern its new territories with or without their consent until they can govern themselves.

And when I hear Mitt Romney saying things like, “God did not create this country to be a nation of followers. America is not destined to be one of several equally balanced global powers,” I hear the boats being readied again, as they were in  1820 when the first Protestant Christian missionaries arrived in Hawaii, to dispatch his manifest destiny theology like a virus to foreign shores.

I am becoming increasingly ashamed to be an American. Not only are our students some of the least educated in the Western world, but we’re also the most strongly religious Western country. Every time a Republican opens their mouth to say that women can’t get pregnant from rape, or that homosexuals are the cause of hurricanes, I feel as though the country I was born and raised in is being pulled from my hands just a little bit more.

In 2006, Grace Church Roseville, the church I grew up in got a new pastor. He was young, with fresh, new ideas about how to engage the community and “grow the flock.” At first things were okay. Like any new relationship, we knew it would take time to get to know him and adjust to the change in leadership. But then things started to change in a not-so-exciting direction. Sermons were watered down to appeal to a wider demographic. (The senior pastor now apparently delivers talks from an iPad.) Thousands of dollars were spent refurbishing the sanctuary, with special attention paid to lights in order to “enhance the worship experience” (i.e., put on a flashier show). The point at which I checked out was when they wanted to buy a professional barista machine. I remember sitting in church one Sunday, and as though I’d just woken up, I thought: “This isn’t my home anymore.” The physical room was the same, but it had changed to the point where it was unrecognizable as the place I’d known.

So now conservative Christians are trying to force their anti-gay agenda on this country, attempting to overturn the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and derail efforts to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. They claim to not hate gays, and perhaps they truly don’t—which makes their work all the more hideous for throwing LGBT Americans under the bus in order to further their political agenda and pander to an ultra-conservative voter base. Because the truth is that there’s a lot of money to be had from evangelical Christians—money that isn’t going to feed the hungry, help the poor and sick, or relieve global suffering.

Apparently stopping those godless faggots from not hurting anyone is more important than being like their Christ.

Regardless 0f what happens in this election, this country is less of a home to me now thanks to conservative bastards like Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Tony Perkins and Maggie Gallagher. The fact that they’re still being taken seriously makes me wonder if there’s anything left to fight for here.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

130. pococurante

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The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them:
that’s the essence of inhumanity. After all, my dear, if you watch people carefully,
you’ll be surprised to find how like hate is to love.

— George Bernard Shaw, The Devil’s Disciple (1901), Act II



pococurante
, noun: Caring little; indifferent; nonchalant. Adjective: A careless or indifferent person.

Denzel Washington loves his Jesus. He goes to church every Sunday. Allegedly he reads his bible every single day. But you know who he apparently doesn’t love? Atheists.

“The overwhelming majority of sociopaths aren’t violent. They just have a desire to win. They just don’t have a conscience — they don’t have it. The majority of them are atheists as well. So that was the book that was sort of my Bible if you will… in preparation for this part.”

The part in question is his role in the recently released film Safehouse, where he plays an ex-CIA agent turned international criminal. Denzel was talking in an interview (from which the above quote was taken) about his preparation for his part in the film. Now, to be perfectly honest, I think that this is a non-story. Here’s another interview where he talks about the movie:


Washington talks more about waterboarding than he does about atheism. Atheism is mentioned in passing, more as his own personal takeaway from Martha Stout’s The Sociopath Next Door: The ruthless versus the rest of us.

Now, before we get carried away with media portrayals of sociopathy, it’s important to actually define what a sociopath is. Both sociopathy and psychopathy are classed under Antisocial Personality Disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual, fourth edition (DSM-IV), and are characterized as “a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood.” Both sociopathy and psychopathy are characterized by (among other things) a noticeable lack of remorse, regard for the safety or well-being of others, deception (“as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure”), impulsiveness, and “failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest.”

This is not just a lack of guilt—it’s a complete inability to relate to other human beings. What’s probably most frightening about sociopaths is that they often look “normal,” and that’s part of the mask. The character of Dexter in Jeff Lindsay’s novels exemplifies this sociopathic trait: They don’t understand how other people operate. They’re often very intelligent and are able to study and emulate human behavior in the way that an actor takes on a role, but they don’t internalize.

Okay—back to Denzel.

Shortly after these interviews, the reference to atheists blew up in atheist circles. “Did Actor Denzel Washington Really Call Atheists ‘Sociopaths?’” goes one recent headline from this morning, which signals to me that this is yet another example of people needing some excuse to get bent out of shape. You see this a lot in the gay community too, although (to be fair) atheists don’t have a reason to hear anti-atheist slurs, whereas homophobia really is woven into the societal fabric to an extent. And atheists aren’t routinely harassed, bullied, tortured and beaten to death (or worse) for being atheists. Or being suspected of atheism.

But to be fair to atheists (and myself), we’re tired of having to defend our morality against those who say that you can’t be good without god. I’m not going to waste a keystroke on the various ways that nasty little question is thrown around, but I can make the jump that by even mentioning atheism in the same sentence as sociopathy that Denzel Washington is saying that atheists are sociopaths. But he didn’t. He’s an actor who was quoting from a book. If anything, we should be going after Martha Stout for writing that about atheists! And that would be a waste of time and energy.

So yes, Denzel is a very religious man. He has never made that a secret.

But you know who we’re not talking about in terms of sociopathy? Religious conservatives.

Now, I don’t think that Michele Bachmann, Tony Perkins, Rick Santorum, Tracy Morgan and any politician or celebrity who has made anti-gay remarks are necessarily sociopaths. Nor do I think that opposing gay rights or gay marriage should raise suspicion of a person being antisocial (although for some it should make us wonder about what other issues they’re potentially hiding). They hide behind their “traditional beliefs” and their religious arguments, and on the surface it appears that they genuinely don’t understand why people are so outraged at what they’re saying and doing.

However, many of these people (Tracy Morgan excluded) are just too intelligent to be that simple. If they were your average, church-going rube fundamentalists I might be willing to cede that, but these are educated individuals who have managed to get elected to fairly high political offices (although that in itself is not necessarily proof of intelligence—a certain former President comes to mind). You can’t get to that level without some cunning, or at least knowing how to surround yourself with the right people.

And regarding homosexuality, I think that if you were to pin every anti-gay politician to the wall or (the ghost of Christopher Hitchens forbid) waterboard them long enough, I think they’d all admit that it’s a MacGuffin that keeps conservative voters coming to the polls and voting keeping them in power. Most of them probably don’t personally care much what two guys or girls do in their bedroom.

However, what I do see in the eyes and speeches of Bachmann, Perry, Santorum and Kevin Bryant is indifference, be it genuine or willful. And when your political agenda trumps achieving equality for GLBT Americans, there’s something dangerously wrong with your moral compass.

So who’s the most sociopathical sociopath of them all?

47. Contact

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“You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you’re not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable is each other.” – Contact (1997)

Sorry I’ve been away so much… not that anyone has noticed, I’m sure. Other things have taken priority over blogging, like my health, relationships, and life in general. Life has been especially crazy lately, work and teaching being two major factors.

Lately the realisation is growing on me that I’m entering my late 20s as a single man. Still not really sure what that means, but I know at the very least that it means that I’ve set Thanksgiving as a target date for no longer being a single guy.

So I just want to share a couple of thoughts and quotes before bed.

A couple of weeks ago I finally saw Up In The Air, and was rather taken aback at what a perceptive and sensitive commentary it is on modern relationships and the toll that American individualism has taken on Americans who value self-sufficiency and security above all else. Yet the yearning remains for belonging and acceptance. We’re funny creatures.

I was especially struck by this comment by one of the characters, Alex, mid-way through the film:

By the time you’re thirty four, all the physical requirements are pretty much out the window. I mean, you secretly pray he’ll be taller than you. Not an asshole would be nice. Just someone who enjoys my company. Comes from a good family. You don’t think about that when you’re younger. Wants kids… Likes kids. Wants kids. Healthy enough to play catch with his future son one day.

Please don’t let him earn more than I do. That doesn’t make sense now, but believe me, it will one day. Otherwise it’s just a recipe for disaster. Hopefully some hair on his head? But it’s not exactly a deal-breaker anymore. Nice smile… yep, a nice smile just might do it . . .

By the time someone is right for you, it won’t feel like settling… And the only person left to judge you will be the twenty-four year-old girl with a target on your back.

All that really got me thinking about the key qualities that I’m looking for in a future partner; because the older I get, the more I realise that the stuff that seemed vital, even six months ago, really isn’t all that big of a deal. The stuff that matters now is that which will matter over time, as we get older. For example, politics used to be a big deal to me. A staunch Libertarian, it was imperative that I be with someone like-minded. But now, I’d be willing to passionately fight about politics and values, but at the end of the day set it aside because loving each other matters so much more than stupid differences over who we support. I just want to feel a head on my shoulder at night as we fall asleep, because that’s what will matter over time. That’s what it is to be human.

So, remembering that looks fade and life’s a bitch: the stuff that really matter at the end of the day for me come down to about four things:

  1. Deep and lasting faith in God.
  2. Insatiable curiosity about everything.
  3. Unquenchable passion for life.
  4. Nice smile. And likes kids.

Sorry, this is heavy stuff for the weekend.

032. consternation (or, wtf in the garden of eden)

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Sorry it’s been so long in between posts (not that anybody really missed me, I’m sure). Work is changing and bringing more responsibility with it. I’m doing more writing, though at the moment more waiting to see if my submissions were accepted.

With the health care bill passing it feels like I’ve been playing catch-up on what’s been happening nationally. What disturbed me most was that Pilosi snuck and ramrodded her bill through Congress, giving Americans a mere seventy-two hours to respond, vote, or object to what was in the 1,999 page document. Now we wait to see what happens in the Senate and hope to God that true conservatives there stand up to the pressure from the left, and from Obama to give him a “positive outcome.”

One other thing that disheartened me last week was the repealing of same-sex marriage in Maine. It’s not so much that I’m a huge proponent of it (since I’m nowhere near being married and it isn’t an issue for me). It was the victory sound bytes from the opposition which bordered on vainglorious gloating from the conservative right that deeply bothered me (the following quotes are from an ABC news article):

  • “We’ve struggled, we’ve worked against tremendous odds, as we’ve all known. We prevailed because the people of Maine, the silent majority, the folks back home spoke with their vote tonight.” – Marc Mutty, campaign manager for Stand for Marriage Maine which opposed gay marriages.
  • “I believe that marriage is for a man and a woman… and I don’t believe that [gay marriage] should be taught in school, period.” – Mary Lou Narbus, a 51-year-old mother of three from Rockwood, Maine.
  • “I don’t feel anybody has the right to redefine marriage. I would have been heartbroken for our country if it did not pass… We had a prayer night last night for it to go the way it should.” – Ellen Sanford McDaniel, 35, of Fairfield, Maine.

In response, there are a few points I’d like to make.

  1. These are supposedly “my people” saying these things, conservatives and Christians, and I’m not sure what angers me more—that these blatant misconceptions about same-sex marriage are still being circulated and promoted, or that ignorance and fear got the upper hand once again. Yes, there are gay activists out there who want to promote homosexuality in schools, and yes, they are a vociferous minority and they do have an agenda they want to force down people’s throats and make them accept it. I never thought I’d ever say this, but as Sean Hannity once said, “If a conservative is homosexual, he quietly enjoys his life. If a liberal is homosexual, he loudly demands legislated respect.”The intent of the majority of homosexuals is not to erode the American family unit or destroy family values. It’s to make up for years of imposed silence and shame from the status quo. It’s straight couples who have managed to erode family values by jumping from marriage to marriage, or bed to bed, leaving broken partners and children in their wake, all without the help of the gays (or the gay bandidos). There are homosexuals who have lived together, faithfully, for decades, who practice fidelity and monogamy more authentically than many heterosexual couples.(On a side note, I don’t think homosexuality needs to be “taught” in schools any more than heterosexuality should be promoted. It’s not the job of the schools to socialise students—but that’s another discussion.)
  2. It upsets me that anyone would pray for things to go the way they want them to, and even more that they expect God to sanction their position. Whatever happened to “thy will be done”? And not that Christians shouldn’t get involved in politics, but awful things happen when religion is used as a sword. That’s why we left England in the first place.
  3. Their reaction belies a fundamental misunderstanding of human sexuality, an adherence to rigid cultural and societal norms, and aversion to anything that threatens their comfortable notions of what American life is supposed to be. It’s the common impression that all gay men are lisping, promiscuous, flamboyant queens. In fact, many “gay” couples don’t even practice “gay” sex, and some are even celibate. Terms like “gay sex” or “gay love” imply that it’s different from any other kind of love or sexual activity—even aberrant (not that any and all activity that goes on between homosexual males is healthy—things like fisting, BDSM and fetishism can be dangerous and harmful to the body).
  4. It also belies a fundamental misconception of sexuality in scripture. According to traditional arguments, the primary function of sex is procreation, and on those grounds many infertile couples shouldn’t be married either. And if you were to ask, I suspect that many Christians wouldn’t even be able to tell you why they believe homosexuality is wrong—only that “the Bible says so.” Mny blindly accept and parrot the views of their leaders without studying the issue for themselves, and yet these are the ones speaking with their votes.
  5. Instead of “working against” same-sex marriage, why don’t Christians try to find out what it is that homosexuals really want? Yes, this would involve actually getting to know a few, and perhaps that’s what this is about. It’s easy to work to block someone’s rights when they’re a statistic or a scary figure on television, and you are a happily married, secluded family that enjoys society’s approval and privilege; but that often changes when it becomes about people.It’s about simple things, like enjoying the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples, without dirty looks or the danger of—at the very least—being savagely beaten; being able to publicly marry without fundamentalists protesting or children holding signs declaring eternal damnation for gays; and legal rights, such as hospital visitation and tax credits. It’s about the symbolic declaration of commitment that separates “living together” from “marriage.”

It’s not about upturning the apple cart. We just want fair treatment.

023. phthongaphile

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Colin Meloy and Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists

Colin Meloy and Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists

If I were the sort of person who had idols and celebrity crushes, this might be the moment for it.

Behold, my heroes!

A few weeks ago came the culmination of months of excited waiting and jumping up and down like a silly fangirl…

Rock the Garden 2009.

Why so ecstatic, you ask?

The Decemberists, that’s why. Only my favourite band in all of creation. And they were headlining the concert!

I feel kind of bad. In this picture they were standing off to the side watching the band right before them, Calexico, perform and I first saw Jenny and distracted everyone around me by pointing her out, leaning over the side of the rail trying to see the band. Then frontman Colin Meloy appeared, followed by Chris Funk, and then honourary Decemberists Becky Stark (of Lavendar Diamond) and Shara Worden (of My Brightest Diamond).

Needless to say, I was completely beside myself. And part of me felt bad that this band was putting on a great show and all I could think about was the next band.

It’s not like I have a crush on Colin Meloy or anything. For one thing, he’s not my type at all. I do have a little thing for Jenny Conlee though, kind of a keyboardist crush. Her work on Crane Wife was exemplary (especially on “The Landlord’s Daughter” from the epic track No.2, “The Island”). They’re just really, really good!

Yea, even amazing!

They are currently touring with their new album, the 17-song folk rock opera The Hazards of Love. From what I can decipher of the plot, it’s about Margaret, a maiden who falls in love with the shape-shifting William (faun by day, human by night), the son of the [jealous and possessive] Queen of the Forest. What follows is a twisted tale of love, perversion, infanticide, kidnapping, haunting and drowning.

And the music is divine. However convoluted the plot may be, the music is some of the best and mature that Meloy has written so far. And I got to hear him live!

Shara Worden as the Queen was absolutely incredible in her silver glam rock pants, working every angle in her performance. She just exuded sex. If I were straight… well…

So that’s all I’ll say. Go out and buy the album. Hazards of Love. Prepare to be amazed.

So that was two weeks ago.

This past weekend was Twin Cities Pride—the third largest in the nation, according to festival organisers. In 2006, Minneapolis had the fourth-highest percentage of GLBT persons in the adult population, with 12.5%. (That figure may be higher now.) Not surprisingly, the area has an active arts and theatre scene, boasting the highest number of theatre companies per capita in the nation (including the Guthrie)!

This year, even though it’s my first “out” year, I decided not to be in attendance. For one thing, the sight of drag queens and the like does absolutely nothing to boost my pride. And while the sight of shirtless, chiselled, muscular boys wearing next to nothing was temptation enough to go (I do like me hot some shirtless men), I can now see that anytime on my way to work. [insert goofy grin]

But pride in what? I ask.

I won’t go on about that because it’s a moot point and I’ve ranted about this before. I don’t aspire to be a woman or surround myself with gay icons or role models (e.g., Judy Garland, Barbara Streisand, Joan Crawford, Bette Midler or Cher), pursue promiscuity and multiple sex partners, go out clubbing (I can’t dance worth anything and refuse to make a fool of myself in public that way) or play into any of the stereotypes that culture expects me to fit as a homosexual.

As a blogger wrote recently,

If we want Joe Public to understand that GLBT is not about sexual deviancy, then half naked, leather wearing, whip carrying people are not exactly sending the message that we want them to understand . . . Is the purpose of the parade to widen societies acceptance, to honour our peers who made the parades possible in the first place, or just a party? If it’s one of the first two, then I think it damages everything that we want society to understand and also devalues everything that the earliest parades and marches worked to achieve.

It’s just not something that I’m comfortable with. I’m not “Loud and Proud.” My sexuality is something I treat with reverence and respect. It’s not a political tool or an activist badge. For me, it’s very personal, and I refuse to see myself as different. We’re just people.

As my boyfriend and I have discussed on many, many occasions, straight people don’t have pride festivals. They don’t flaunt their straightness in front of everyone and expect the general public to just accept them. Of course, they are accepted by Joe public and enjoy all rights and privileges therein:

  • Parents don’t have to explain to their kids what a couple stealing a kiss or just full-on making out is, unless said PDA gets so gross (as in, misdemeanour) to the point of calling the cops.
  • Old ladies don’t scowl at a man and a woman holding hands (and more) in public. Unless they’re just bitter old hags who scowl at everything…
  • Christians don’t show up to protest with hate signs at their weddings.
  • Straight people aren’t beaten to death just for being straight.

Granted, at Rock the Garden there were some very public heterosexual displays of affection (including a couple haxing sex on the lawn, according to a friend of mine); and honestly, shirtless guy with his hands all over his girlfriend right next to me made me uncomfortable.

As did the drunk guy trying (and I mean trying) to dance with his girlfriend. And hitting blond girl in front of them in the head twice as he attempted to twirl GF. Things were not working well for them that night.