Wednesday, February 28, 2007

We gays could learn a lot from Asian-Americans

From CNN:
Asian-American leaders are calling on a weekly newspaper to apologize and cut ties with a writer who penned a column titled "Why I Hate Blacks."

In the piece, which appeared in the February 23 edition of San Francisco-based AsianWeek, contributor Kenneth Eng lists reasons why he supports discrimination against blacks, writing, among other things, "I would argue that blacks are weak-willed. They are the only race that has been enslaved for 300 years."

An official at the nationally circulated paper apologized and called the column's publication a mistake.

Leaders at the Asian American Justice Center, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Coalition for Asian Pacific Americans and other groups are circulating a petition denouncing the piece as "irresponsible journalism, blatantly racist, replete with stereotypes, and deeply hurtful to African Americans."

The petition calls on AsianWeek to cut ties with Eng, issue an apology, print an editorial refuting the column, and fire or demote the editors who published it.
Notice how the response from Asian community leaders to an Asian person in an Asian publication insluting Blacks was swift, unified, and unrelenting.

Compare that with the reaction from gay community leaders to a gay man performing a character in gay night clubs that's pretty hard-core racist against Black people. The NGLTF released a statement about Shirley Q. Liquor a couple of years ago. GLAAD jumps in several years too late. Yup. And after that a mainstream queer publication questions whether our advocacy groups should have gotten involved at all. (Jasmyne Cannick answers the line-by-line).

It's frustrating to me that GLAAD could not have seen on its own that Chuck Knipp's act helps fuel stereotypes that Black gays and lesbians have to experience every day and that it doesn't reflect very well on the rest of the GLBT community. More importantly, they should have realized their unique position to help bring about an end to this act.

Imagine being in Kenneth Eng's position. Since he works for an Asian-American cultural magazine, I'm going to guess that he has a love for his community. When he was told by a united front of Asian-American advocacy groups that what he did was wrong, I'm sure that he was more affected than he would have been by any other community group.

I would think that a person like Knipp would be more likely to change his ways if the GLBT community took such a stand on his act. It's one thing to have a group of people for whom he has little respect say that he should change; it would be quite another for a coalition of LGBT organizations to tell him to stop the act. Since he identifies with the latter, I could only imagine the pain of being ostracized from one's own people in that way.

Imagine receiving letters from the HRC, GLAAD, the NGLTF, the NCLR, the NBJC, and GLAD all in the same week telling you personally that something you were doing was deeply offensive and hurtful. I know I'd have to have a lot of chutzpah and a pretty good reason in order to stay the course, and whether I did or not, I would still feel the pain of ostracism from the community that I love deeply.

And it's that power and that sense of duty that the Asian community demonstrated in reacting to Eng's column. What makes that so difficult that we can't understand it?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

It's baaa-aaack

Remember that bill I blogged about earlier on bilerico going through the Utah House to block GSA's from forming in schools, and reader Lynn pointed out in comments that it was gone? Well, it's back. From the Salt Lake Tribune (sometimes I just love how local papers cover issues):
Lawmakers gutted it and then restored it.
Passed it and then pulled it back.
No bill has been tweaked more than the one targeting gay support clubs in high schools but also affecting many other student groups.
The tinkering ended Monday with a final compromise among Republicans.
Over the objections of Democrats, the House sent the bill, sponsored by Springville Republican Rep. Aaron Tilton, to the desk of Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.
So like yeah, it's there. The governor said he opposed the version of the bill last year that was so complex that it prompted one state rep to say: "it was easier to start a corporation than it would be to create a high school club".

Of course, the right wing there (not all Republicans in Utah support it, but you can fill in the blank: "The bill is supported by the far _____.") said before that it wasn't targeted at GSA's, which is laughable, but the Tribune printed this lovely paragraph:
Buttars, on the other hand, hopes to give administrators the ability to block clubs such as the Gay Straight Alliance without fearing a massive legal bill. He expects the attorney general's office to handle any lawsuits that would stem from a school district blocking a club.
Because when you're passing legislation you know goes against federal law, the main point has to be that challenging it requires the Attorney General to be on your side.

This story has irked me on so many levels. Besides the total acknowledgement that it goes against the Federal Equal Access Act and it being an attempt to circumvent federal law by just making it harder to challenge homophobic school administrators, the whole point of the bill is to hurt our community's children. GSA's often do a wonderful job of helping build awareness of GLBT issues at an age where such awareness is, to quote Salt 'n' Pepa, very necessary. The only point in getting rid of them would be to further marginalize those kids at an age when being accepted by one's peers is a key component in developing a positive self image.

Then again, that's heterosexual supremacy. It's not about opposing homosexual acts or preserving the family or whatever else they say. It's about materially and psychologically hurting GLBT people both as a community and as individuals because of that identity. They say they are against GSA's to keep us from recruiting, but there's no excuse for not knowing that that's impossible in 2007. None.

Respected trans woman fired for being trans, being respected still OK

From 365gay:
Largo city commissioners voted Tuesday night to fire its longtime city administrator less than a week after she disclosed she is embarking on sex reassignment.

For 14 years Steven Stanton was an admired overseer of the Tama Bay community's local government. Last week after a local newspaper acting on a tip began asking questions Stanton sat down with the St. Petersburg Times and divulged her status.
Wow. That's what a reputation built on fourteen years of service is worth to those folks in Largo. Is it just me, or didn't keeping a job use to be about doing it well and taking pride in your work, not what's in your skirt or fabulously tailored Armani pants? I guess I'm just old-fashioned that way.

Note to Canada's government - Our Canadian brothers and sisters aren't ATMs


A ruling is expected in the largest gay and lesbian class action suit in the history of... man this is huge. The Canadian government gave widowed partners in same-sex couples the pensions of their partners when it opted for full and equal marriage - for all those whose partners died after January 1998. Now those surviving partners of people who died before that date are suing for the pensions and accrued interest going all the way back to 1985. The total is over $100 million Canadian, which is about $78 American (man that joke never gets old).

I'd say there's a good chance that Team Q will win. From the Globe and Mail:
In two lower court rulings, Ottawa lost its argument that survivor benefits should only be extended to gays widowed after 1997. The judges agreed with the roughly 400 gays and lesbians in the class-action suit that the cutoff date should coincide with the Charter coming into effect.

In the latest decision in November, a panel of justices at the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the view of the Ontario Superior Court that the government's 1998 cutoff wasn't "rational."
That's three courts so far....

Canada is, of course, way ahead on the gays-are-real-human-beings game than the US is. Can you imagine a suit like this happening here? I mean, we have an international reputation for being letigious, but we not so recently had to win the right to exist. So this amount of money, while it's huge, could have been paid out evenly throughout the last 22 years so that it wouldn't be so much all at once. Instead, the Canadian government treated its own citizens like ATMs all these years, took their tax money and pension contributions, and kept the real and material benefits of paying those taxes away from a segment of their population. They made their bed, and now they have to sleep in it.

Also, one thing I love about Canadian newspapers is that they refer to their supreme court as "the Supreme Court of Canada", as if there's a need to clarify.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Jimmy Kimmel, seriously

Kimmel from last Thursday (h/t to Autumn at the Blend):

What do we expect from the former co-host of The Man Show?

Seriously, this guy needs to wake up and get himself an education. Not only does he make fun of trans women gratuitously, he also implies that they should be killed because they're not really women. Wow. As After Elton's Mike Jensen said: "Perhaps Gwen Araujuo's mom should pay Kimmel a visit."

But not only did Kimmel mess up here, ABC did. I mean, he didn't just photoshop, print, and mount those pics, stuff them in a briefcase and secretly carry them on-stage only to whip them out on camera to Mickey's horror. No. A producer hired by ABC had the idea of getting those pics, a techie who works for ABC photoshopped them and printed them, a lackey on ABC's payroll mounted them, another stage-hand that works for ABC put them on his desk, that first producer worked with Kimmel to get his comments prepared while a writer, hired by ABC, read at least parts of Romijn's book and thought of the ax comment. And each of these people thought that it was fine to belittle and threaten transwomen. Makes ya think.

So while GLAAD is looking for Kimmel and his staff to apologize, all of us need to just remember that ABC hired them all because it liked their brand of humor. But I wouldn't hold my breath for corporate ABC to say anything about this.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Qomics for Queers - Belated Presidents' Day Edition

I begin every week with a sense of dread about the upcoming QfQ post, rooted in a fear that there might not be any queer comics the entire week. What if every one of the comics' artists are completely aware of what they're doing? What if my usual suspects stay away from anything remotely related to sexuality? What if I'm stuck doing a re-write of The Family Circus and photoshopping the word "cock" into an Archie and calling it a day?

What happens when your work is completely dependent on the silliness of others is you live in constant fear of other people wising up.

Fortunately, this week there are oh-so-many comics to look at. I wanted to save some of them for next week in a special place (my underwear drawer?) just in case there are slim pickin's. Alas, I cannot; they'll grow stale and become useless. This week we have everything from gay dead presidents to gay high school athletics hijinks.

Let's start with this Friday's La Cucaracha:

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that President Lincoln was gay. So when he showed up at The Barrio Bugle earlier this week looking to place a personal, my ears were all a-twitter. After appearing a little uneasy about doing what it takes to impress straight women on Thursday, though, we see his actual personal ad.

What's that? 100% gender neutral "running mate" instead of Single Professional Woman? "No fatties"? "Splitting logs"? Do I need to spell it out?

Now, the question on everyone's mind is undoubtedly "What has become of Lincoln's lover Joshua Speed?" Well, the answer is quite simple. It's 2007. The dude's long dead. That may make one question why Lincoln's still alive, but it's La Cucaracha, and it doesn't have to explain nothing to no one.

Here's Thursday's Gil Thorp:

I'm sorry to take everyone's attention away from the Tyler-got-attacked-and-Brynna-is-framing-RJ drama unfolding at Gil Thorp, but is RJ grabbing his teammate's cock in panel one? Is this part of some desperate and elaborate scheme to prove his innocence?

Also, Coach Thorp's advice in panel two seems to be walking the fine line between Yoda-like wisdom and Nifty-like dialogue.

Wednesday's Family Circus:

If Jeffy's going to be the comics' token gay kid, then does he have to be dumb as a brick? Where's GLAAD on this one? And just what is Jeff Keane trying to say here? I demand answers!

Friday's Beetle Bailey:

The comics censor foul language in a way unlike any other medium. TV bleeps out the middle part of a word, letting one know exactly what was said, print media use dashes or asterisks corresponding to the exact number of letters of the word in question and leaving enough of it there to let anyone over the age of 8 know what word it was, and movies have a ratings system so they can just say the word to anyone able to sneak in. The comics, though, use old-school wingdings to get the point across.

Of course, no one can actually know what's really being said. In this example, @-squiggly-star can mean anything.

So I'm going to read @-squiggly-star to mean "cocksucking".

So, yowza, Beetle! Not only is he insulting his superior officer, he's making fun of his lover for being gay. That hurts! I'd know!

Now, this might make it seem like a pretty unhealthy relationship, but Beetle and Sarge have always had a relationship that was like a violent version of The Lockhorns' love/hate-but-mostly-hate relationship. Wait, no, their rhetorical deathgrip on one another is just about as unhealthy as a relationship can get. Oh Beetle, just end it gracefully.

This Friday's Bizarro:

Yep, just giving a foot rub to get the job. Totally a foot rub.

Last, but not least, Monday's Slylock Fox:

Alex: Did you see that one Slylock Fox with that massive and muscular bull who was almost naked and pretending to take a bath?
Friend: Yeah....
Alex: Were you turned on by that?
Friend: No, that's stupid.
Alex: Uhhh, yeah! It's totally dumb. Just, uhh, making sure you thought so too.

Ex-gayism is one big yo' mama joke

If you spend enough time going through the literature of people who sell ex-gayism as a cure, you begin to hear a near-constant blame-the-parents message. Sure, if their cure doesn't work, they blame you, but when they talk about why someone is gay, it's always the parents fault. They say that the parent of the same sex was distant or absent, that the kid was sexually abused, that, for boys, the mother was smothering and overprotective, and that, famously, the father didn't show off his penis to his son often enough.

I know, I know, their evidence is completely and intentionally skewed, they don't know what they're talking about, they just don't like the gays. I know. But I can't help but actually take some of this as a direct insult to my parents, who were great. Honestly, I can't think of any major mistake that they made, they were supportive and loving, but also gave me enough space to grow up fine. They were good parents, and I don't like how they're the target of the religious right. I know that the reason they developed this narrative is to take away rights from me, but I can't help but wonder if all the digs at my parents aren't a bonus for these people.

One elaborate yo' mama joke against all queer people. Like, really pro-family.

(Crossposted to bilerico)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Those parents in Massachusetts got their suit tossed

That Massachusetts couple suing the school district because the book King and King was read in school, brainwashing their kids into the homosexual agenda, just had their suit dismissed.

They thought the school was out of order. The judge told them that they were out of order, that this whole heterosexist society was out of order, and that their son was fully capable of handling the truth.

The judge also went with #9.

(Crossposted to bilerico)

Who'd want to be oppressed?

Well, those people with full legal rights and privileges who'd like also a little bit of the sympathy that sometimes comes with being associated with that word.

There's a story up at the Bay Area Reporter about this family that's suing the Santa Rosa school district because they think that the school administrators oppressed her for being a heterosexual supremacist. She said "That's so gay" and got sent to the principal's office, a lesbian student "threatened" her, and her backpack was searched (the school said that it was an accident - someone else with the same name was the one who should have been in trouble). By any rational calculus, queer people are not politically powerful. We don't control a majority of the wealth (not even a proportionate amount of it), we don't have full equality under the law, we're small in numbers, and our allies, if they choose to, can completely ignore us with impunity. But somehow in this family's mind, we're so politically powerful that we're forcing our agenda on them and threatening them with violence without anyone caring. That's pretty warped and paranoid, but how did they get there?

I think it's telling that they're accusing another lesbian student of threatening to beat up their daughter at a rally:
But, after interviewing the rally speaker, an honor student with no history of causing trouble in school, [principal] Klick said he concluded that there was no real threat of physical danger to Rebekah Rice. Because the Rices were so concerned, however, he said he elected to "shadow" Rebekah, a process by which school administrators and security officers kept continual watch over the girl to protect her.

"Nicky [the lesbian student] said she didn't remember her exact words, or making a threat to any student on campus," Klick testified.
For social conservatives it's obvious that their daughter is the one who's right. The other girl's a lesbian, right? That means she's violent and a liar. Duh. The narrative's already been established, and they selectively see the facts that fall into it.

The Eagle Forum themselves, though, should know better. But, of course, for money and power, they've created and perpetuated such a narrative. Who would otherwise donate to the politically powerful class along an axis of identity so that they could further oppress the less powerful class?

(Crossposted to bilerico)

There's so much wrong with this story

A new development in the case of the Rev. Lonnie W. Latham. He was a pretty outspoken Baptist fundamentalist who didn't really like the gays. According to the AP:
Latham had spoken against same-sex marriage and in support of a Southern Baptist resolution that called upon gays and lesbians to reject their lifestyle.
Well, on January 3, 2006, he invited an undercover cop up to his hotel room for a blow job. He was charged with misdemeanor lewdness for which he could face a $2500 fine and one year in jail. (I'm guessing that he will probably have to register as a sex offender as well, but I'm not a lawyer, I just play one on the internet.)

His attorney has filed a motion to have the charge thrown out, because basically a blow job isn't illegal post-Lawrence, and this is just gay-baiting. I think he's 100% right. These lewdness laws are usually written so vaguely that police can use them to play Capture the Fag. The ACLU is also jumping in and saying that the good Reverend's First Amendment rights were violated. The judge is expected to rule on this in about two weeks.

But what's so wrong with this is, first, that he's being charged and faces a rather large punishment for something that, really, wasn't illegal. The act of giving a blowjob isn't illegal, so asking someone else to do it can't be either. He's just being picked on because he's gay. Furthermore, it's an even worse punishment if he has to go to jail, and if the other guys there find out what he's in for.... Straight up, it's terrible what's happening to him, it's unjust, and I'm glad that Lambda Legal was able to get the Lawrence precedent to help him and that the ACLU is stepping in.

The obvious other half of this is that Latham was pretty anti-gay. He seems pretty mean-spirited to me, to be supporting such a resolution and being against marriage equality. Considering the dismissiveness of Justice Scalia in describing Lawrence as being based on a "right to sodomy", and that Latham probably agreed with him before his arrest, to see him turn around and use that case and to argue, according to the AP, that he "has a constitutional right to solicit sex from an undercover policeman", just makes me cringe. There's part of me that wants someone who fought against those rights, such basic privacy rights, to have no access to them at all. Some poetic justice for him. Burn, burn, burn for being a bad person.

But then I remember that he, like me, has a drive for sex and physical intimacy that no amount of Pauline erotophobia can erase, and that drive is at least partly directed at men, and no amount of ex-gaying can erase that. Getting/giving a blowjob in a hotel room might not seem that intimate or all that good, but for such a troubled man as he had to have been, that was probably the best he could do and the least he had to do. It's good that such a man got exposed, but it would be pretty heinous crime to send him to prison for it.

(Crossposted to bilerico)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Illinois's moving on up

Or at least proposing legislation to do so. From 365gay:
Illinois state Rep. Greg Harris filed legislation Thursday that would permit same-sex couples in the state to marry.

Harris (D-Chicago), who is gay and represents a district with a large LGBT community admits he faces an uphill battle. Still he believes it is a matter of basic civil rights and that the people of Illinois are behind him.

"From my community, we believe we should have the full, equal rights as our heterosexual siblings to marry who we choose, and we should call it marriage. We should not call it civil union," Harris said.

The legislation would do three things. First, it would repeal the state law limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples. Second it would give same-sex couples the right to marry. And thirdly it would allow clergy opposed to gay marriage the right to refuse to conduct a same-sex wedding.
That third part's a nice touch, really. That silly argument that recognizing gay marriages will force churches to perform same-sex weddings is beyond moronic - many churches currently refuse to perform certain marriages, like LDS churches don't marry non-Mormons - but this legislation at least addresses it in a way to make that talking point work a little more easily. The facts are already on our side; it's all a discursive battle. Control the narrative, gain equality....

(Crossposted from bilerico)

72-year-old man attacked in Detroit, and some other stuff

From Detroit's WDIV:
The victim, Andrew Anthos, was riding a city bus back to his residence at Detroit's Windsor Tower apartments on Feb. 13 when another male passenger asked him if he was gay, Anthos's niece, Athena Fedenis said.

Anthos was followed by the man from the bus and beaten with a pipe in front of his apartment, Fedenis said.

"It just doesn't make any sense," Magealine Hloros, the victim's aunt said. "Why do people have to hurt each other?"

Anthos is barely able to speak above a whisper and is paralyzed from the neck down. He is currently at Detroit Receiving Hospital, his family said.
The police haven't arrested anyone yet, but they're searching the area and seeking people who have information.

Of course, the report didn't disclose the victim's sexuality. That would be highly unprofessional for a news service to post that sort of information without first getting the guy's consent, and at least waiting until a more appropriate time to ask for it.

But that doesn't stop me from wondering, and, more importantly, wondering why I'm wondering. Would his sexuality have some sort of effect on my ability to empathize with him? Is the distinction between actual and perceived sexual orientation, written into anti-discrimination and hate crimes legislation, one that actually gets translated into a differing ability to see someone as "like me", a perversion of the philosophy of making the political personal?

Hmmm... good questions! Maybe the answer lies in the drawing of such distinctions. I mean, isn't all sexual orientation perceived on some level? Like, how do I know I'm gay unless I'm basing that notion on the predominent content of sexual fantasies and differing emotions I feel with regard to the Same Sex and the Opposite Sex. I'm still perceiving those feelings, and when I tell someone else that I'm gay, they're perceiving (hearing) what I say, making that my perceived sexuality to them. For example, someone like Ted Haggard's (I CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF HIM, I KNOW) sexuality causes slippage in such a distinction: if my actual sexuality is gay because I tell people that I'm gay, then shouldn't his actual sexuality be straight because he tells people that he's straight?

I don't mean to be queering the planet, as queer theorists would put it, calling into question the idea of monolithic sexuality. I'm going in a different direction and wondering how we know what our sexualities are, how we know the sexuality of others, what it means to be GLBT, and by extension, how we subconsciously include and exclude people who don't wear their sexuality in the same way.

Without a doubt, what happened to this man was wrong. Michigan does not have hate crimes legislation that covers sexuality, but if it did, it would probably include a phrase about "actual and perceived sexual orientation". And it is definitely a GLBT issue if it went down like it was described in the press because of the assailant's invocation of the word "gay". But the revelation of parts and aspects of one's identity can humanize, and someone whose identity includes some modicum of GLBT would be easier for me to identify with. When someone's identity includes "perceived as gay", I wonder about how easy it would be to consider someone like that "like me" considering that everyone could potentially be "perceived as gay". Maybe that leads to the best conclusion - a comradery with all people because of such potential perception.

Or I could just be like a friend of mine and think that everyone's either gay or lying.

I'm not a lawyer - I just play one on the internet

Utah's state legislature just passed a bill to restrict GSA's in that state. More from
The bill would allow schools to ban clubs they believe would threaten the "moral well-being" of students or faculty.

It would require parents to sign a consent form before their children can join clubs and it would force clubs to provide school principals with information that would be presented to the club a week in advance so parents can review it.

The legislation also requires the state to cover the costs of lawsuits involving the restrictions of school clubs. That provision is seen as a move to use the power of the state to prevent lawsuits if Gay-Straight Alliances were banned at schools.
Gosh, they just don't stop trying, do they? Didn't Lawrence say that states couldn't use morality alone as a reason for justifying a law? Didn't the Federal Equal Access Act say that schools had to allow all clubs regardless of content the same access to school facilities? And doesn't restricting lawsuits to overturn the law imply that they already know that there's good reason to overturn it?

Silly me for thinking that the law should apply to some situations where it explicitly applies.

But maybe if we look at it this way:
Both [UT Senator] Buttars and [UT Representative] Tilton say the bill will survive a legal challenge because it imposes the same restrictions on all clubs equally.
Yeah, all clubs, from the Chess Club to the Astronomy Club, will have to be equally non-gay. Why didn't I think of it that way? (More importantly, why did Chess Club and Astronomy Club come to me first as examples of high school clubs?)

(Crossposted to bilerico)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

NJ schools have to fight systemic harassment (Oh, hell yes)

From the Daily Record:
Public schools can be held liable for repeated, prolonged student-on-student sexual harassment, the state Supreme Court ruled today in a case brought by a New Jersey boy who contended he was victimized by years of homophobic taunts and attacks until he finally withdrew from school.
A bill to a similar effect is being debated in Iowa.

It's about time for this to be happening. One has to wonder if school officials who know about that sort of harassment and do nothing to stop it aren't tacitly endorsing it. Like they're outsourcing gender policing to kids. Especially since in this case the bullying went on for years and was so bad that the kid had to go to a private school instead (an option that the vast majority of GLBT youth don't have).

I think that many queer people can identify with this kid and the need for GLBT-specific anti-bullying programs. While Iowa "Republicans wanted all references to specific groups removed from the bill so that it would simply ban bullying of any kind," not mentioning sexual minorities is basically saying that harassment of GLBT students is A-O-K. Bullies of queer students think that it's different enough from other sorts of bullying, and many school officials look the other way because they think that it's different from other sorts of bullying, that it's boy-will-be-boys or girls-will-be-girls gender policing.

I know, because, like many of you, I lived with it.

When I was fourteen, in ninth grade, I ran Cross Country for my high school. I wasn't all that great, but I liked it enough and I had some friends on the team. A couple weeks into the season an eighteen-year-old Senior decided that it would be fun to start making jokes, calling me names, and taunting me because of my perceived sexuality. (I say "perceived" because I wasn't out at that age. Even though that silly Guy Quiz said I'm a "Level 2", let's just say that I'm not fooling anyone.) It eventually escalated to include other eighteen-year-olds, more physical harassment (like holding me down and grabbing at my genitals), and harassment during school hours.

One thing that seriously bothered me about it was that it was done in full view of many other students (making it humiliating) and in front of several teachers and coaches. And the adults did nothing about it. I can only guess that they thought it was funny too, especially since one of the coaches called me a pussy in an unrelated situation.

When they graduated, it ended, but I was left with a feeling of embarrassment in front of my peers and a jumpiness at physical intimacy that followed me through part of my adult sex life. It also added to my distrust of culturally masculine institutions and authority figures.

Like I've said before, GLBT people are uniquely traumatized during adolescence in our culture, and I can only wonder what we'd be like as a people if we weren't. This ruling in New Jersey recognizes the school's responsibility, first, to react to such harassment, and, second, to fight against this discrimination as a systemic problem instead of individualized instances of bullying.

Oh, yeah, and no exceptions for religious schools. This is not what Jesus would do.

(Crossposted to bilerico)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Anger Gap

Jeffrey Feldman has a great post up over at the Huffington Post about answering the anti-Christian charge that conservatives often level at liberals, especially during the recent Edwards campaign hullabaloo. One thing that I found really interesting was in a table (above, from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, here). Notice how in one year and a half the number of people who thought that religious folk were discriminated against rose by 12%, and the number who didn't dropped by a similar number. There may have been people who interpreted this question differently and thought it was referring to people with strong non-Christian religious beliefs, but that doesn't account for the change.

What this is telling us is that many people who think that Christians are discriminated against aren't basing their opinions on reality. Really, could anyone argue that there's been a significant enough change during 2005, a year where both houses of Congress and the White House were controlled by the GOP, to account for such a change? (Well, they wouldn't have very good arguments if they did.) So, if the change wasn't based on a change in actual policy, the next most likely culprit is a rhetorical shift, which would imply that those who think that such discrimination exists do so because of the rhetoric of Bill Donohue and his sort.

Which is why the solution to this problem (of a potentially very progressive institution being hijacked by the Right) is going to have to be a rhetorical one as well. Like everything in American politics, the religious debate is going to be more about form than substance.

(Crossposted to bilerico)

What your tax dollars aren't doing

There's no such thing as a non-queer-related issue, and to disabuse anyone of that idea, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq’s Human Rights Report (links to pdf) has a section on queer people being hunted down in Iraq:
Attacks on homosexuals and intolerance of homosexual practices have long existed yet they have escalated in the past year. The current environment of impunity and lawlessness invites a heightened level of insecurity for homosexuals in Iraq. Armed Islamic groups and militias have been known to be particularly hostile towards homosexuals, frequently and openly engaging in violent campaigns against them. There have been a number of assassinations of homosexuals in Iraq.
The report goes on to give examples of queer people hunted down and killed in Iraq, like five men who were kidnapped by a militia this past December and two children who had been forced into prostitution (apparently they didn't prostitute to the correct gender).

The report doesn't have any specific numbers, but it does say this:
According to the Iraqi LGBT society, twenty-six of their members have been killed since 2003.
I'm going to guess that the Iraqi LGBT group mentioned isn't as easy to join as volunteering at the local GLCC would be here in the US. So the number that the LGBT group knows about is probably a very tiny fraction of those queer people who have been killed. Especially considering:
Allegedly, three Fatwas would have been issued by Islamic clerics authorising “good Muslims” to hunt and kill homosexuals.

Indeed, their ultimate goal is the elimination of every queer person in Iraq:
One of the self-appointed judges in Sadr City, believes that homosexuality is on the wane in Iraq. "Most [gays] have been killed and others have fled," he said. Indeed, the number who've sought asylum in the UK has risen noticeably over the last few months. (…) He insists the religious courts have a lot to be proud of, "We now represent a society that asked us to protect it not only from thieves and terrorists but also from these [bad] deeds."

The Iraqi's government response, from the AP via The Seattle P-I:
Iraq's government on Thursday strongly criticized a U.N. report on human rights that put its civilian death toll in 2006 at 34,452, saying it is "superficial" and discussed subjects that are taboo in Iraqi society such as homosexuality.
That's right. They don't disagree with the contention that LGBT folk are being rounded up - they just criticize the messenger. They have learned a thing or two from our government!

This is all related to the speech Outrage!'s Ali Hili gave today in London. From UK Gay News:
He told the conference that some ministers in the US and UK-backed Iraqi government were colluding with death squads responsible for the “sexual cleansing” of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) Iraqis.

“Iraqi LGBTs are at daily risk of execution by the Shia death squads of the Badr and Sadr militias,” Mr. Hili told delegates at the conference.

“Members of these militias have infiltrated the Iraqi police and are abusing their police authority to pursue a plan to eliminate all homosexuals in Iraq.

“This is happening with the collusion of key ministers in the Iraqi government,” he pointed out.
The US government created this "government" in Iraq, and it has a responsibility to protect those least able to defend themselves under it. Hili points out that the US and UK's current policies are to turn down LGBT folk applying for asylum based on their sexuality. One wonders how much our current Decider-in-Chief agrees with this policy. (Remember how Nixon cracked jokes and ranted about a Jewish conspiracy in private?)

(Crossposted to bilerico)

Cultural ex-gayism

Anyone who knows me knows that when I hear queer people describe themselves or their desired mate/fuck buddy as "straight-acting", it's like nails on a chalkboard. I cringe, because there's too much internalized homophobia and self-contempt packed into that one phrase. And it's hard not to take it as a personal insult towards me, because what's wrong with acting gay? I'm not saying that gay men and lesbians should act like walking stereotypes, but that we should all be free to be ourselves, and, in that way, we can create our own identities and collude to construct archetypes of queerness that are diverse, inclusive, and constantly falling apart.

In other words, we should be who we are and love ourselves for it.

So when I found out about this, I just wanted to throw up. It's a site for gay men who describe themselves as straight-acting. Not much of it is up right now, although they do have a cool site intro, which makes me wonder how much work people have put into this. But you can take their Guy Quiz, think hard about the inane details that normal people don't obsess over, and, like I did, get told:
Hardly anyone would be able to pick you as a homo boy. All your actions are carefully crafted in a way that they never appear to be considered too fem. Only a fellow level 2 -- buddy might suspect you with the proper gaydar and it's just the way you like it.
After that, stroll into the message boards and read tens of thousands of posts about how everyone's just "relaxed" and "just being me". Funny how for gay men the act of not caring about your gender performance is itself a gender performance that one has to carefully maintain (c'mon, we all know what "chill" means in a personal). I wonder if that's developed the same way in lesbian culture?

Anyway, I'd have to say that this site actually affected me more when I first found it than Fred Phelps' page. Not because it made me angry, and it didn't make me sad either, it just made me rethink a lot about gay male culture. I knew that we definitely have an issue with trying to be like straight people. I just didn't think that people would make a snazzy webpage out of that sort of internalized homophobia. All that effort, and do these people really think that homophobes are going to accept them because of it?

Oh, and their T-shirt model doesn't wear pants. WEIRD!

Episcopalians rebuked over the Issue that Dare not Speak Its Name

In a move that was called unprecedented, the Anglican hierarchy has rebuked American Episcopalians for being OK with the gay. The NY Times article is good, but the Washington Post article says it more concisely:
Anglican leaders concluded their five-day meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, yesterday by issuing a demand that the U.S. Episcopal Church unequivocally stop blessing same-sex unions and consecrating any more gay bishops.

In a statement issued in the final hour of the tense meeting, the Anglican Communion gave the U.S. church until Sept. 30 to comply. Otherwise, the leaders said, its relations with other Anglicans will remain "damaged at best."
While they can pretend that the conflict is about Church teaching and the Bible, it's really the same only do-you-choose-to-be-gay "debate":
Anglican traditionalists believe that gay relationships violate Scripture, and they have demanded that the U.S. church adhere to that teaching or face discipline.


Supporters of ordaining gays believe biblical teachings on justice and inclusion should take precedence.
The only way that gay relationships could violate the Scripture is if gays choose their sexuality, because a Biblical interpretation that doesn't apply to everyone isn't a proper interpretation. And the only way it's a social justice issue is if sexual orientation's immutable.

So what are the chances that they'll actually discuss that issue? Zero to none. It's very easy for each side to get distracted from the fact that that's the heart of the issue, and the other side wants to avoid it like the plague because they're on the wrong side.

So this whole thing is just getting decided by an appeal to an authority, specifically the international leaders of the church. I'm going to guess that's because they're experts.

(Crossposted onto bilerico.)

Monday, February 19, 2007

More and more Haggard stuff

From the CO Springs Gazette:
Concerning Ted and his family, we have done extensive fact-finding into his lifelong battle with a “dark side” which he said in his confession letter has been a struggle for years. We have verified the reality of that struggle through numerous individuals who reported to us firsthand knowledge of everything from sordid conversation to overt suggestions to improper activities to improper relationships. These findings established a pattern of behavior that culminated in the final relationship in which Ted was, as a matter of grace, caught. We learned most of those circumstances through confidential pastoral communications that, because of their pastoral character, cannot be disclosed.
Oh, yeah, that's right: This church investigation found "numerous individuals" who had "firsthand knowledge" of "improper activities" and "improper relationships".

Translation: Ted's been a busy boy!

Too bad they aren't giving out details. If anyone out there reading this is one of those numerous individuals, please, please let me in on the secret. I'll be your best friend!

Either way, though, if not finding others that he was involved with makes him completely heterosexual, then I guess that he's not. Not that there was anyone on the planet who believed he was in the first place.

Thanks to Kevin of Holy Moly for pointing me to this article.

(Crossposted onto bilerico.)

OK! It's Q-Bomb 2.1!

I'm starting this thing up again. For the third time. Pretty much everything's going to be the same as before except that I changed the "s" to a "z". I found out no one knew how to pronounce it the way I do, and I already hear my last name mispronounced enough in real life. There's no reason that my nom de clavier should be mispronounced over cyberspace.

Other than that, version 2.1 only has to offer the same things that version 2.0 did, with the same promise to learn a thing or two about web-design.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Qomics for Queers - The Office Closet Case

While it's easy for the rest of us (or maybe just me) to judge the comics as not quite queer enough, when you think about them as being stuck in a time-warp, you realise you have to look a little closer at the closet cases involved in order to pick them out. Television might have its L-Word's and Will and Grace's and lesbian sisters of Jamie on Mad About You, and the silver screen can have its fancy pants Jack and Ennis and Kissing Jessica Stein, but the comics are just fine without all the bells and whistles. No, they don't need your pity; all they want is your respect and your time as you kids look more deeply into them for their queer folk. Yeah, it might not be as easy as calling someone on your cell phone or whatever it is the kids are doing these days, but if you read between the lines, reinterpret the artwork, and just make things up, you can find the representation you're looking for.

First, check out this Friday's They'll Do It Every Time:

Don't let the fashion fool you; this is supposed to be now. This single panel is about a guy who calls the women in his office "sweetheart" and "m'love". And he's somehow singing at the same time. Now there's really only one sort of guy who can get smiles for that sort of behavior - the office "glad" (maybe Scaduto means that he's just happy?).

I just reread Richard Isay's Becoming Gay, and I must say that even though it was written in 1991, there is a cultural difference between the gays of his time and mine, so much so that I can't wrap my mind around a statement like this: "[I] was concerned about the effect coming out would have on my marriage" (37). The clothes tell me that Buttbrain here might be a part of that generation.

So TDIET, like an anachronistic Seinfeld, is supposed to poke fun at different types. This type, with whom those two guys in the Bronx are so familiar, is a great guy deep down inside. Buttbrain is that type of person who has just come out to himself, later in life, and has come out to some of his women friends far from home and has become a sort of desexualized confidant and office mascot because of it. But being partly in the closet, especially to one's close family, is only going to help build his self-esteem about this one part of his identity and create resentment towards compulsory heterosexuality, which ultimately will be transfered on the most visible representative of The Opposite Sex in his life - Helgar. I've seen this misdirected anger a lot among partly out queer people; in fact it seems that's the fuel of the Catholic hierarchy.

So what's Buttbrain to do? Well, he has to take that final step. No, it won't help his relationship with Helgar, but maybe he can become a better role model for his son who can't stop wearing the same blue-vest-striped-shirt outfit.

This Friday's Blondie:

Aversion therapy for heterosexuals.

And your Judith Butler rewrite of The Family Circus:

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Qomics for Queers: Beating around the Bush

Did you ever notice that Comic strips fall far behind every other medium out there when it comes to any representation of queer people? Sure, the political cartoons seem to realise we exist, but the joke-a-days and soaps printed in mainstream papers do everything to can to pretend like there are no queer people.

Which is why I started Qomics for Queers over at Q-Bomb, where I read between the lines, reinterpret artwork, and completely make junk up to get some representation.

Here's this Friday's Apartment 3-G:

For those of you who don't follow the travails of Tommie Thomson, LuAnn Powers, and Margo Magee at Apartment 3-G, then you've missed most of the Friday that Never Ends. LuAnn and Margo are both away from the apartment that evening working, and Tommie is left to her own devices. Of course, without the women she lives with, her life is meaningless until her neighbor Gina whisks her away to her play and the ensuing cast party. At that party, Tommie makes out with the director, only to be pawned of on our friend Gary, seen above.

Now you're all caught up on the greatest telenovela to ever grace the funny pages!

While people have been following the closeted lesbianism of Tommie Thomson for years, I don't think we've ever seen her definitively express herself one way or the other. Sure she's kissed a few men drunk, made a few sly looks at women, and generally tried to be the non-sexual one of the bunch.

Now, dressed as a character from a Lynne Cheney novel, Tommie is face-to-face with a man who's hitting on her, who by all accounts is sweet, but something's missing, a spark, a certain je ne sais vagina. When this party is all said and done (maybe four weeks from now?), Tommie's going to be thinking about why she subconsciously thwarts chances at heterosexual love every time they come her way. And then, and only then, can we celebrate Tommie and Gina's new romance.

This Wednesday's Hagar the Horrible:

Not particularly gay, except that have you noticed that most of the Hagar-at-the-restaurant-making-fun-of-food-and/or-pop-culture strips involve Lucky Eddie instead of Helga? One can only wonder why Lucky Eddie prefers to dine with his boss instead of his family or friends or why Hagar doesn't go out with Helga.

I know, I know, he travels a lot for work, but I don't think that in between raiding the English and pillaging the French that he would have time to stop at a restaurant without anyone else from his army. Nor would a blood-thirsty viking be welcome in those just pillaged countries' restaurants. No, this has to be near home. And that's the same waiter who serves Helga and him.

I can only imagine what life would be like as a closeted viking, constantly escaping home life as resentment towards heteronormativity builds, all the while finding my only relief in a member of my own army. Of course, in my imagination, we wouldn't sit around at restaurants and make jokes that fit easily into a two panel setup, one panel punchline format.

Alas, I'm not a student of viking history.

Here's this Tuesday's Family Circus:

Jeffy doesn't stop! He continues to attempt to defend himself from castration! Good work, Mom, because you know that snowball is destined for the back of your head.

Qomics for Queers moved

Over to my new pad at Bilerico.

Friday, February 9, 2007

I'm moving....

Hey everyone. I'm moving on over to Bil Browning's Bilerico. I don't plan on putting any content up here that isn't cross-posted over there, unless a Q-Bomb version 3.0 gets launched. I hope you join me at Bilerico!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Last Call

Until Saturday. I have the LSAT Saturday morning and I will be too busy to post tomorrow. I'll be back with the weekend features and posts about whatever catastrophically gay things happen tomorrow.

So here's Jeffrey Lewis' "Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror":

Question: What do you think about the usage of male-on-male sex as a symbol for violent hierarchy?

I'm like GLAAD: Late in responding

To GLAAD, that is. They finally released a statement condemning Chuck Knipp's character Shirley Q. Liquor:
"This performance perpetuates ugly racial stereotypes that are offensive, hurtful and simply unacceptable."
Well, good. They realise that we can't separate the fight against stereotypes of one group from another's. We're all in this together.

It's also just wrong. They say that they get that. But here's something that rubbed me the wrong way:
While our work at GLAAD is about promoting fair, accurate and inclusive media representations of the LGBT community[....]
No, of course it didn't. Because it absolutely didn't play into the stereotype that gays are elitist, out-of-touch, racist, and shallow. Such a stereotype exists, and here's one example:

Knipp is a visible representative of the queer community, and while I'm usually the last person to say that a LGBT person should avoid playing into a stereotype, one has to wonder if he's exploiting this stereotype of gay men for laughs as well. Would the same people who like his show right now find it funny if he were a straight man who played an "ignunt" Black man with 19 kids...? Are people laughing at stereotypes of Black people and gay men simultaneously?

Knipp is playing into that same stereotype that we see of gay men used on everything from SNL to The Family Guy to for humor: shallow, hyper-sexual, and alcohol-addicted. This is not to take away from the obvious fact that his minstrel show is racist. But just because Knipp is gay himself, doesn't mean that he can't exploit a heterosexist mindset for a few dollars.

Colombia's moving on up

Like the Jeffersons, to the metaphorical East Side of equal rights for same-sex couples.... No, no, no, silly analogy, good TV show.

Anyway, the Colombian Supreme Court ruled yesterday that same-sex couples should have the same property rights as heterosexual couples. This should not be confused with civil unions or marriage, but it's a step in the right direction. Here's a bit more:
The Constitutional Court ruled late Wednesday that if a gay couple of two years separates, the assets accumulated during the relationship will be divided between the two, and in the case of death, the survivor will receive all the assets.
The article goes on to describe the next steps that LGBT groups are taking there to advance the rights of same-sex couples, a step-by-step approach to eventually achieve full equality.

365gay has more:
Under the law same-sex couples who wanted to share their property had had to create a business, put the property in the company name, and list the domestic partners as joint shareholders in the company. But, even that did not always guarantee that in the case of death of one of the partners the shared possessions would go to the surviving one.
What a novel idea. It's interesting to me that the bond that people develop gets recognized as a contract here in the US, an agreement between two people that does not exist on its own. Rather that bond is a way for people to negotiate their actions as individuals. Gays in Colombia have taken this in another direction, moved well beyond setting their bond as a valid contract between two individuals and made it an entity of its own by incorporating it, with its own identity and rights.

While I'm sure that the primary reason for coming up with that idea was the same reason behind the fight for same-sex marriage in the US (protecting one's family), I can't help but wonder how something like this could play out with the highly-libertarian ethos of the US. If you look at people as individuals, and marriages as contracts, where does that leave love and desire? Up in the air, not legally recognized or recognizable, that's where. It would be an absolute denial of reality to say that such bonds don't exist or aren't important, but isn't that the logical end of the "Marriage is a contract for people to start making babies" argument?

This ruling is based on such an understanding of relationships. The ruling did not give the rights of heterosexuals to queer people. It gave some of the rights of opposite-sex couples to same-sex couples. Indeed, that is the ultimate goal of the US movement for same-sex marriage, but the reliance on the Fourteenth Amendment and it's equal protection of individual people under the law might preclude the possibility of such a goal. Gay and lesbian people are hurt by their relationships not being recognized even though we are recognized as existing, so maybe adopting an ontology that can accept relationships and bonds as entities separate of the individuals who form them can help to articulate the hurt caused by the dismissal of such rights.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

How are you wrong? Let me count the ways

Oh man, this is awesome, awesome, awesome. Here's an article about Tonia and David Parker's lawsuit in Massachusetts by those parents who didn't want their kid to have read King and King. OK, the lawsuit isn't awesome, but at least this time they're on the defense, not us. But here's a fun quotation from the plaintiffs' lawyer:
What they fear is that their children are being brainwashed.
Brainwashed, of course, into thinking that GLBT people are full and equal human beings.

Since everyone in this "debate" thinks that the other side is actually insane, I'm going to try to avoid labeling this family as insane. Let's just say that they're coming from a very different place from very different experiences than I am. So let's try think of all the assumptions that are necessary to go into a statement like that, ignoring the legal issues and thinking of it just as an intellectual argument.
  1. In a hierarchical relationship like student/teacher, it is possible to avoid indoctrinating kids.
  2. The kid cannot think for himself when he gets to be a bit older.
  3. It is impossible for parents to brainwash their kids. (Their word, not mine.)
  4. Avoiding discussing GLBT people at all is value-neutral.
  5. Their kid isn't queer.
  6. No one in their family is queer.
  7. No one in the classroom is being raised by same-sex parents.
  8. The kid will not know any queer people until he is eighteen.
  9. The parental right to teach their kid their morals always trumps any obligation for him to learn to be a good citizen.
  10. There is something inherently wrong with being gay.
  11. There is something inherently wrong with gay people.
  12. Same-sex parents don't have the same parental right to remove their kids from the classroom when anything related to heterosexuality is being discussed.
  13. Morality is relative. (This is funny considering how often GLBT folk get accused of being relativists, but this whole parental rights thing is really just saying that two individuals should have the right to tell their kids whatever and there's no need for it to be right or wrong and no one can interfere.)
  14. It is possible to make every statement value-neutral to all kids in a classroom.
  15. It is practical to have a revolving door for kids to leave and enter the classroom whenever there is material being presented that their parents don't agree with.
  16. Class material can and should be separated into neat categories of "straight" and "not-straight". (Like, think about when they have to learn about Alexander the Great or the song "America the Beautiful", which was written by a lesbian.)
  17. Straight people can lay claim to the first category and exclude the latter from everyone's experience.
  18. There isn't a legitimate interest in fostering diversity in schools.

OK then! I think I'm out, how many can you think of?

Anti-Catholic "oppression" and Edwards' netroots outreach

From 365gay:
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, demanded that Edwards fire Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan.

"John Edwards is a decent man who has had his campaign tarnished by two anti-Catholic, vulgar, trash-talking bigots," Donohue wrote in a statement. "He has no choice but to fire them immediately."
If Viacom had not pulled everything from The Colbert Report from YouTube, I'd have the little clip here from Bill Donohue about how most of the anti-Catholicism in this country is from the political left.

But this is an interesting quotation nonetheless. There's been a brouhaha among conservative bloggers about hiring editors of Shakespeare's Sister and Pandagon to the Edwards campaigns. They tried to make the whole thing about saying a few naughty words (check out Michelle Malkin's juvenile post about Marcotte's language), but I think they're really just jealous that they're stuck supporting a party based on elitism that will be hard-pressed to hire bloggers and that the left-wing blogosphere has been hundreds of times more effective at supporting political campaigns.

Anyway, here we have this accusation from Bill Donohue, who is the leader of the Catholic League (Catholic version of Focus on the Family), that, when taking Marcotte and McEwan's actual statements into account, amounts to saying that anyone who disagrees with the political pronouncements of the Catholic hierarchy is anti-Catholic. That's pretty much what he said on The Colbert Report as well.

That's pretty extreme.

He goes further in another statement today responding to The View, saying that show is anti-Catholic because co-hosts Joy Behar and Rosie O'Donnell said that celibacy is not part of the human condition, and that's why it's hard for the Church to get new priests and why some of them turn to molesting children. He calls them bigots in the end. (He goes for bonus points on this one for blaming straight Behar's comments on lesbian O'Donnell: "Ever since O’Donnell joined ‘The View’ in September, the show has gotten out of control.")

What's his point? He can't possibly believe the American people are actually going to buy that the most powerful and richest religious organization in the world is oppressed. I think what he's after is much more nuanced: watering down and confusing the idea of oppression. If everyone is oppressed, then we don't have to care. If everyone is a bigot towards everyone else, then we can throw up our hands and give up on sorting it out. Seriously, that's the best defense that they have.

Of course, if he wants to see an example of something that proves a materially oppressive hierarchy, here's a bit.

I'm on MySpace, among other things

No, really. I just got on it this morning. Now I have to figure it out! Computers, computers, computers...

Also, I'm touching up a lot of the design of this site.... Any comments are welcome. Does anyone know how to change the header to something I've designed myself on Blogger?

Last thing: the number one search entry that found this site in the past week was "lame jokes".

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Ask a politician a question? What what?

Here's a great idea from France. They just started a network TV show called "I Have a Question to Ask You" where people can ask questions to politicians. I mean, that's a whole lot better than scripted "townhall meetings". Anyway, someone asked UMP presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy his stand on gay adoption. Seriously, imagine Bush saying something like this:
I want to defend minorities because they have rights, but I don't want to oppress the majority[....] I don't accept it when people call me homophobic because I oppose gay adoption. [Translation mine]
This is what a more open democracy is like. Yes, Sarkozy isn't all that pro-the-gays, but he gets asked about it and he answers, instead of being asked about it and calling the interviewer "out of line". If we're going to have a dialogue with our politicians about GLBT rights, we have to be able to have a dialogue with them at all.

A drag queen in Pakistan...

And she's hosting the most popular show on late night television in that country. And get this:
However, even the country's religious leaders have appeared undisturbed, even amused, by the drag queen's manner.
And we don't even have a late night network talk show hosted by a non-white, non-heterosexual man.

Haggard Update

When I saw this last night about Ted Haggard wanting to become an psychologist online, I laughed and decided to save it for TWIP this weekend. But then I saw this on the Denver Post, and couldn't wait. According to one of his "overseers":
"He is completely heterosexual," Ralph said. "That is something he discovered. It was the acting-out situations where things took place. It wasn't a constant thing."
Uh, yeah, whatever. If anyone needs an explanation as to why a guy who hires a male prostitute for three years is not completely heterosexual, check out this post at Good As You.

There's just so much to this, I don't know what to say. Here we have a 50-year-old gay man, who by any account from anyone credible, is stuck in an unsatisfying relationship with his wife and, until recently, completely cut off from the outside world (why does this sound like a cult?), a (presumably) straight woman who's married to this guy, who has remained silent on this issue and will remain married to him, at least in the near future, and four kids who have to move around a whole lot now because no one will acknowledge the truth about this whole thing. There are other characters, like the team of fundamentalists who are trying to manage this "crisis" and push their politics at the same time so they can keep pushing the "gays can change" narrative, his congregation who lost their pastor but support him and hope he ex-gays himself for his own sake, the GLBT community and allies, who, while we make fun of this whole drama, would really like for him to come out and live his life honestly for both his sake and because of the personal political stakes, and the heterosexual population at large who's just shaking their heads wondering what's happened or just waiting for the next juicy piece of gossip but otherwise don't care about how this works itself out.

Isn't this a crazy drama?

When exposed, Mark Foley came out through his attorney while in rehab, Jim West denied it until he died, and James McGreevey embraced the GLBT community. Haggard, an anti-gay authority figure who was also outed through scandal, has "ex-gayed" and decided to stay in the closet and not speak about his sexuality publicly, only through spokesmen. While those of us not in positions of authority have developed a set of coming out rituals, these people, so far removed from out-n-proud GLBT people, through their own choice, cannot respectably come out.

As much as his "overseers" want to claim him for the anti-gay community, he is one of the most publicly visible queer people in the country. For better or worse, he is, in a small, nuanced way, representing us.

More Snickers stuff: Let's just try to silence the debate on this

Snickers has released a statement about their Super Bowl ad, not apologising, that you can read more here. Here's a bit:
“As with all of our Snickers advertising, our goal was to capture the attention of our core Snickers consumer, primarily 18-to-24-year-old adult males,” said a spokeswoman for Masterfoods, Alice Nathanson. “Feedback from our target consumers has been positive, and many media and Web site commentators on this year’s Super Bowl lineup ranked the commercial among this year’s best.”

“We know that humor is highly subjective and we understand that some consumers have found the commercial offensive,” Ms. Nathanson said, adding: “Clearly that was not our intent. We do not plan to continue the ad on television or on our Web site.”
I completely agree with humor being "highly subjective". All texts are highly subjective - theater, literature, television, music - in that people will interpret them differently based on the values and experiences they have while viewing. Even reality itself can become such a text. That's why witnesses to a crime are interviewed separately: to keep each interpretation of reality from mixing based on who among them has the strongest personality.

Of course, that's not what the Snickers company meant. What they meant was It's highly subjective, but some viewpoints are more subjective than others. Notice that the statement implies that the focus groups were not subjective, that Snickers' intent was objectively clear (i.e. anyone who doesn't agree that that was their intent is stupid), and that "some" consumers found offensive (marginalizing us in the democracy of public opinion). As John Aravosis said today, the statement "hardly reeks of 'I get it'".

So considering all that, has this commentary up about the advertisements. Quote:
The sophisticated message seemed to be that the overreaction of "straight" men to homosexual contact is completely irrational, and, in the case of the proposed threesome, maybe that contact is not entirely shunned.
This is a possible interpretation, especially of the ad that aired on TV. The others, I don't know, hitting someone who just did something one thinks is gay with metal objects doesn't seem to me like a "sophisticated message" that makes fun of the bashers. To a lot of GLBT people it had an air of "well, that's what you gotta do sometimes".

He goes on to criticise Aravosis' interpretation of the players' reactions with:
Aravosis seems to be saying that not only are people not allowed to be uncomfortable watching something, but certainly no one can show that discomfort.
Yes, yes, the ultimate goal of anyone who disagrees with a high-production value, significantly edited recording of hired athletes' responses to a commercial is to be a fascist and silence free speech in their autocratic rule of the world. Please. No one's saying that people aren't allowed to feel uncomfortable anywhere, just that a major company shouldn't use it to sell candy bars.

The column closes with:
And if I were Mars Inc., which produces Snickers, I wouldn't worry too much about the boycott that Aravosis is threatening: Containing a high fat content and more calories than you could burn running a 5k, Snickers bars don't get eaten by gay men anyway.
HA HA! All gay men are always dieting! And they would never actually run the five kilometers necessary to burn those calories because they're sissies! YUK YUK! And lesbians don't exist! HA HA!

Oh, I suppose his humor is "highly subjective" as well.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Last Call

Laurie Anderson's "Smoke Rings":

Here's one that the back-up singers don't answer:

What is more macho: iceberg or volcano?

Why is Michael Devlin not an alleged rapist?

I found this on CNN about Michael Devlin, that guy who kidnapped those two kids in Missouri:
A 41-year-old Missouri man accused of kidnapping two boys was charged Monday with multiple counts of forcible sodomy.

St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch has filed 71 charges against pizzeria manager Michael Devlin.

The first 18 counts -- one count of kidnapping and 17 of forcible sodomy -- relate to last month's abduction of a 13-year-old boy; the remainder are kidnapping and forcible sodomy charges related to the 2002 abduction of a now-15-year-old boy.
Not knowing what "forcible sodomy" is, I looked it up in the Missouri penal code:
A person commits the crime of forcible sodomy if such person has deviate sexual intercourse with another person by the use of forcible compulsion. Forcible compulsion includes the use of a substance administered without a victim's knowledge or consent which renders the victim physically or mentally impaired so as to be incapable of making an informed consent to sexual intercourse.
Forcible rape is:
A person commits the crime of forcible rape if such person has sexual intercourse with another person by the use of forcible compulsion. Forcible compulsion includes the use of a substance administered without a victim's knowledge or consent which renders the victim physically or mentally impaired so as to be incapable of making an informed consent to sexual intercourse.
That's right, forcible rape and forcible sodomy, in Missouri, are exactly the same thing, except forcible sodomy is for "deviate sexual intercourse". Both carry a penalty of five years to life.

What Michael Devlin is accused of doing is absolutely terrible. He, if he did what he's accused of, chose to ruin the lives of two young boys. This is not a gay issue; it's a criminal issue. But that's not what this post is about. This post is about the gay issue that's being inserted into this criminal issue by the state of Missouri.

While both crimes carry the same punishment and have the same surrounding legal issues (follow those links; the two laws are cut-and-paste versions of each other), "forcible sodomy" carries the extra word "deviate". I'm guessing the word deviate is there because of the assumption of anal sex, because according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook:
Oral or anal sexual intercourse with another person, forcibly and/or against that persons will; or not forcibly against that persons will where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her youth or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
"Rape" is defined by the same handbook as "carnal knowledge" done forcibly. Straight sex deserves euphemism; gay sex is labeled as deviate. Not just when it's forced, but in general.

It's hard to see any reason for this but to label a rapist off on the gay community and insult our sexuality at the same time. But why, in this day and age, is such a rhetorical device necessary? Why can't Devlin be an alleged rapist, not an alleged sodomist?

Perhaps I care too much...

From just now. SIGH!

Oh! That's how you sell candy bars! Gay-bashing!

Oh my, you have to see this. A friend sent me the link last night during the Superbowl, and let's say it's not pretty. (UPDATE: Snickers has since taken down the ad from their site, but here it is from YouTube. Expect that to be taken down soon.)

Snickers had a vaguely homophobic ad during the game, in which two men were working on under the hood of a car, one takes out a Snickers bar and holds it in his mouth, the other starts to eat on the other end (I guess that candy bar is that good), they eat from each end like in Lady and the Tramp, their mouths meet, they jump back (I watched it several times last night and wondered how the candy bar breaks apart that easily, but that's not the point), and they do something "manly": pulling out their chest hair. Alternate versions of the commercial showed the guys beating each other up with a wrench and the hood of the car (because beating up gays is funny) and the guys drinking anti-freeze and motor oil (because it's better to commit suicide already than to be gay).

The worst part was that you could watch football player reactions to the commercials, where they say "That ain't right" and visibly react with disgust. Apparently when they hired the football players, instead of giving them a candy bar and having them say how much they like - like a normal endorsement - they had the football players just comment on male homosexuality. The only ways this could have worked in a Snickers ad producers head was:

1. People want to see football players make fun of gay people, so they put that up to keep people on the site.

2. People identify with homophobic companies more, so they'll want to buy more from the ones that are obviously so.

3. They want the image of Snickers to be anti-gay, so homophobic people will be more likely to want to buy Snickers (wink, wink, real straight men eat Snickers).

4. They want to shock people, and people are more shocked when others are shocked as well.

Any way they intended it, this is not an accident. They tried to make it look like a candid reaction from the players, but when you have all those lights up and cameras going, it obviously wasn't candid, and, more importantly, they didn't have to put it up.

I don't see why they had to take a happy and exciting event like this and ruin it for some people.

AmericaBlog, Pam's House Blend, and TowleRoad have more. The HRC responds.

UPDATE: Since they just took down the ads from their site, they're going to probably be saying soon that it was an accident, but we're going to see right through that.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Qomics for Queers - Hillbillies can l'arn to love too

Here's this week's Qomics for Queers, where I turn my expectations of fair representation in the comics into innuendo. All I can do is read between the lines, reinterpret artwork, and completely make shit up about the past week's comics.

This week, we have some music to set the mood for the first comic:

And here are the top panels of last Sunday's Snuffy Smith:

Post-Brokeback, there have been a whole lot of fun made regarding men going off into the woods, being manly, going "fishing", etc. All it is, really, is silliness. There's an older idea of what it means to be masculine, and it includes a whole lot of things that Jerry Seinfeld wouldn't do.

That being said, I have to say that this is the first time that I've seen John Rose draw a man who could be interpreted as attractive. In fact, all we know about this guy is that he's big, comics-world attractive, and he enjoys singing. Snuffy and Lukey seem pretty attached to the privacy of their "fishing spot" when they don't have full picture of this guy, so attached to their privacy that Snuffy is already undressing before he gets there. Once they see him, the mood changes, and all Snuffy can think about is l'arning to share. Share what? Well, I'll let you fill in that blank. But whatever it is, the gulp!!, wavy lines, and eyebrows tell me that they're afraid of the consequences should their plan to share not work out.

This Friday's Hi and Lois:

These girls to whom Chip is talking, who don't have names, remind me of a teenage version of Peppermint Patty and Marcy. In fact, the Glasses Girl on the right in panel two has the same no-eyeballs-thick-glasses-straight-hair look that Marcy sported back in the day. But the similarities to the funny pages' most famous Sapphic story are a bit deeper.

First, we know that GG is sending romantic emails to Curly Hair Girl. That's right, one female character in Hi and Lois is sending romantic emails to another. Chip may think this is a modern-day Cyrano de Bergerec situation, but CHG betrays GG in saying "those" while he said "email", singular. There are a lot of other emails that CHG didn't send off to Chip, that she's printing out and keeping for herself in a shoebox under her bed. I really wish that she lived in a world where she didn't have to hide her true feelings, but she lives in Hi and Lois World, where no one is allowed to express their true feelings.

Second, GG seems to be following CHG at school. CHG's talking to a boy that she "likes", and GG is right there behind her. If only we could look beyond those thick lenses at her teenage despair as the object of her affection "hits on" a Flagston with an email that she wrote, but all we get is a wide-eyed sadness the size of a beached whale.

Thursday's and Saturday's Speedbump had a few references to queer people:

These don't need explanation, but is the peacock one an erection joke?

Oh, and about Kudzu's weeklong "same-self marriage" storyline (this is Thursday's):

HAW HAW! You let dem gays marry and what's next? Marrying dogs and box turtles? What about marrying ourselves? HAW HAW! And those Episcopalians! They bishopped a GAY? You only do that if you don't love God! YUK YUK! What about domestic violence? HAW HAW!

Saturday, February 3, 2007

This Week in Pink - January 26, 2007 to NOW

Here are some great posts by LGBT bloggers from this past week:
  • Pam Spaulding covers the current presidential candidates' positions on Don't Ask/Don't Tell. Interesting read, as 55% of Americans don't like it, and it's hurting America, why do we still have it?
  • Joe at Joe.My.God solves the mystey of Donnie Davies. Spoiler: It was a hoax.
  • Don Sherfick found out that Colts coach Tony Dungy is fundraising for a heterosexist group, the Indiana Family Institute. All I can say is: Go Superbowl!
  • Oh, you just have to see this post about the Connecticut marriage bill from the kids at Good As You.
  • Jasmyne Cannick blogs about her time working at GLAAD.

Queer Musical Interlude: Sleater-Kinney

Now for this week's musical interlude, from Portland, OR, Sleater-Kinney performing What's Mine Is Yours:

The Washington Post on Sleater-Kinney's live performance:
Sleater-Kinney's sound is raw yet accessible, passionate yet mindful of the audience. The band directed its energy outward, pulling audience emotions up and down. "Rollercoaster" demanded -- and got -- spinning green lights. "Modern Girl," sung with a tough sweetness by Carrie Brownstein, offered the unexpected counterpoint of percussionist Janet Weiss on harmonica. And "Steep Air" began with a contemplative guitar intro -- reminiscent of, of all things, Shawn Colvin's "Sunny Came Home" -- that was overtaken by the building thunder of Weiss's drums and the ominous lyrics that signaled the escape of the desperate.

Guitarist Carrie Brownstein on gender deconstruction:
And in terms of redefining gender, I think, I have to say my main problem with it, although I do think, OK I do think that gender is a construction and I do think that redefining what a woman is part of an important debate. But, I think that’s it’s sort of a post-revolutionary concept in a very pre-revolutionary time.

Meaning that, sexism still exists. Women as a category, as an identifiable marker, exists in our society, whether we want it to or not. So, to simply claim that woman doesn’t exist for yourself might be OK. But to try to dismantle it as an entity in order to bring another form of politics in there, will only work after sexism is gone.

It’s hard to let go of being a woman, or the idea being a woman, when we still live in a society that oppresses women and objectifies women. I just think that in that sense, it’s problematic. And in terms of older feminists who worked really hard for things like equal pay, or maternity leave[....]

For someone thirty years younger to begin to say "Woman is just a construct, we need to totally let that go…" Are we there yet? Can we afford to do that? Hopefully those discussions can coexist. Instead of one trying to topple the other. I think we can be working towards different goals, but it means a complete toppling of the category of “woman,” not just by feminists, but by everybody. Until that happens, I just don’t see it as being really possible.

Visit their website here.

More ugliness, this time: Paris Hilton

My first introduction to Paris Hilton was about a year ago, when a friend and I went to visit another friend in a town about half an hour away. I brought my laptop. While waiting for the afternoon train back, and without TV, all we had for entertainment was my friend's DVD collection. Although she had yet to watch it, she had the complete first season of The Simple Life.

We watched three episodes before going to the train station. If you haven't seen this show, let me just warn you to avoid it. It completely shook me. I had no realization that people like this existed. At all. She, and her friend Nichole Richie, were the most self-absorbed people that I had ever seen. They reached a level of selfishness that almost made me want to vomit. On the walk back to the train station, all three of us were silent. We were scarred from what we had just seen.

Since then I can't understand why she is respected by anyone, why she had her own show at all, why anyone cares what she does. Until she ups the ante:
In the video clip, which appears to be several years old, Paris repeatedly calls one person a "f*****t" as she is dancing with her sister.At one point in the clip, Paris pauses dancing to Notorious BIG's "Hypnotize," walks up to the camera and says she and her sister "are like two n******. [Asterisks Access Hollywood's]

All I can say about this scene specifically: Is anyone actually surprised? Considering how little she cares about others, is there anyone out there who thought that she would think about how her words can hurt others? Ugh, I digress.

While I honestly couldn't care about what she says, I did remember this little story from a year and a half ago, when she grand marshalled LA Pride. Yes, I remember wondering what in the world this woman did for our community, and, as Rosanna Mah asked: "Are there no gay people that could possibly grand marshal our own parade?" (I hope that there was an LA Pride official who has since apologized for this, and if there is I'll post the link).

So this is what we are left to understand: a city with one of the largest gay and lesbian populations in the country had a Pride parade grand marshalled by a woman who can't even avoid saying the word faggot and using hate speech against African-Americans. I'm not one to think that all someone has to do to be gay-friendly is not say "faggot", but it is definitely required. And Paris didn't even meet this low, low standard.

What's the point of all this? I don't have a simple answer, but we in the LGBT community need to take a long hard look at our own priorities. This embarrassment to LA Pride and the LGBT community was not unavoidable, it's not that no one saw it coming, so who's going to make sure that it doesn't happen again?