| One of the things I like about being in school is that I'm always learning unexpected new things. One of the classes I'm taking this quarter is Survey of German Literature I, a class at UD that focuses on the 19th century. In this class one would expect to learn about authors such as Goethe, Schiller, and Heine and about literary movements such as Sturm und Drang, die Weimarer Klassik, die Romantik and das junge Deutschland. Or perhaps it would be better to say that coming to this class I wasn't surprised to learn about such things; I'd never heard of die Weimarer Klassik (though I had of course heard of Weimar) or das junge Deutschland or Heine before.
We're reading Heine's "Deutschland: ein Wintermärchen", and, as often happens because of my limited but growing German vocabulary, I came across a word I didn't know, "Lorbeerblättern" in Caput IX. Using my handy dandy PocketPC German<->English dictionary (SlovoEd), I found that "Lorbeerblatt" is "bay leaf."
Given the context in the poem, I was confused as to why anyone would wear bay leaves. Dr. Schellhammer was surprised that I wouldn't have heard of Greek athletes having worn wreathes of laurel. Well I had heard of that, of course. The reason she was surprised is that she hadn't realized that in English, unlike in German, there are different words for "bay leaf" and for "laurel," and had I looked up "Lorbeer" instead of "Lorbeerblatt" I would have realized that too.
Not all English speakers are as ignorant as I as to the source of bay leaves. The Encyclopedia of Spices, though naturally it focuses on bay leaf as a spice, tells of the history of laurel. Can you name the Greek god associated with laurel? (Hint: think god of poets or god of the sun.)
Today I read a report on Queer Day that Ohio's two senators, both Republicans, oppose Ohio Issue 1. Not that they don't believe marriage shouldn't be restricted to opposite sex couples, but, amazingly, they think the proposed amendment to our state's constitution goes too far.
I'd been thinking for a while now about writing something about this issue. The other day a guy who's been in a couple of my classes, a nice guy who knows that I'm gay, told me that he thought marriage by definition could be only between a man and a woman. I told him that my church disagreed and asked whether he would vote for an amendment that would deny me rights. He didn't have an answer. Perhaps that means he's going to vote for Issue 1 anyway but couldn't say so to my face. Perhaps that means he's going to think about it.
Also this week I've received a few mass mailings from the Human Rights Campaign, encouraging me to talk to people about the difference between Kerry and Bush when it comes to LGBT rights. That's important too, and compared to Bush, Kerry is wonderful on gay rights, but even Kerry originally said he was for state level amendments such as the one passed earlier this year in Missouri. This is one issue on which Kerry really has flip flopped, later saying that he opposes Missouri's amendment because it not only banned gay marriage but also banned civil unions. I realize in the grand scheme of things that there are issues more important than gay rights, but it's depressing that a presidential candidate can be so ill-informed. Ohio Issue 1, like the amendment passed in Missouri, would ban civil unions, and if Kerry could be ignorant of that fact, millions of much less politically aware heterosexual Ohio voters could be too.
So today I've done it. I wrote an e-mail and sent it to my family, neighbor, professors, and friends. You can read it below.
Now it's your turn. If you live in Ohio or if you know people who live in Ohio, you need to talk about Ohio Issue 1. Even people who feel compelled to vote for Bush should be forced to think about whether they really want to vote for Issue 1. No one should be able to go to the polls on November 2nd without thinking about a gay person they know or at least a person they know who cares about gay people.
This New Yorker cartoon is funny
but the issue is serious.
From: David Lauri
Sent: Thursday, October 07, 2004 11:34 AM
Subject: Please take a few minutes to read my thoughts on Ohio Issue 1
I know that many people find discussions of politics distasteful, and that friends and families often avoid talking about political issues for the sake of keeping peace. While that is understandable, I'm violating that practice with this e-mail because I believe it is important that each of you consider Ohio Issue 1 not as some abstract question but as real policy that affects people you know. Each of you receiving this e-mail probably knows many people who will be affected, but you all know at least one such person, namely me.
In case you're not already aware, Issue 1 would amend our state constitution to restrict marriages in our state to "union[s] between one man and one woman." In addition it would ban any "legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage."
That first sentence may seem a no-brainer to you. However, have you considered the significance of the second sentence?
Many people, including Ohio's two Republican senators, think that the second part of the amendment would not only ban civil unions but would also ban things such as health benefits offered by state and local governments for same sex partners. Both Senator DeWine and Senator Voinovich said yesterday that they oppose Issue 1 because they think the proposed amendment should not contain this second clause.
Realize then that if you vote yes for Issue 1, you are not only voting to ban same sex marriage but that you are also voting to take away medical insurance coverage for same sex partners of students and employees of state institutions such as Wright State. Do you really think that such benefits harm you or your families? Is taking away such benefits so important that you want to put it in our constitution?
I also want to ask you to consider whether Ohio should ban civil unions. A great deal of the debate on the issue of gay marriage has centered around the word "marriage." Many people believe that marriage by definition is between a man and a woman and that the term "gay marriage" is an oxymoron. I don't agree, but I can understand the basis of that argument.
Yet just because you believe the word "marriage" should not be redefined does not necessarily mean that you must be against equal treatment of same sex couples. You may think that two men living together is a sin, but do you really think it necessary to deny them the right to visit each other in hospitals or nursing homes? You may disapprove of two women having spent their lives together, but do you really think it's necessary to prevent one of them from making decisions about funeral arrangements for the other?
Civil unions are the answer that Vermont chose in order to grant its gay and lesbian citizens some protections while retaining the traditional definition of marriage. California has similar provisions that fall under the term domestic partnership. Do you really think that civil unions or domestic partnerships harm you or your families?
Realize that if you vote yes for Issue 1, you're not just saying that you believe in a traditional definition of marriage, but you are also voting to deny any protections whatsoever to same sex couples.
Lastly, I have to ask you, what possible good do you think this amendment will do?
Do you think Issue 1 will make gay people realize the errors of our ways and convert to heterosexuality? Well whether you approve of my "lifestyle" or not, I'm sure you will believe me when I say that I will not be marrying a woman, no matter how the voters of Ohio constitutionally define marriage.
Do you think Issue 1 will strengthen the institution of marriage? Do you seriously think that straight people will stop getting divorced because of Issue 1? Even if you believe that heterosexual marriage is the pillar of our society, do you really think that Issue 1 will cause more straight people to take marriage seriously? How does preventing me from legally marrying a man keep Britney Spears from entering frivolously into marriage?
Do you need Issue 1 in order to live your life righteously? In other words, are you going to become homosexual if Issue 1 does not pass? Are you going to divorce your wife or your husband if Issue 1 does not pass? Does your relationship with God depend on denying me rights?
Think about these questions and the concerns I've raised. If you've taken the time to read this far, Issue 1 is no longer abstract for you. Even if you still intend to vote yes on Issue 1, you can no longer do so without thinking of me.
And if you intend to vote no on Issue 1, think about talking to your other friends and relatives about this issue. Make this issue personal for them too. Tell them that you have a gay son, a gay brother, a gay nephew, a gay neighbor, a gay student, a gay friend, and that therefore Issue 1 affects you personally too.
If you’ve visited my blog in the past few weeks, you’ve probably noticed some ads by Google but you probably never clicked on them. Since September 20th, I’ve had 878 page impressions but only 3 ad clicks, an impressive clickthrough rate of 0.3%. Google pays about $0.03 per click, but it sends out a check only after a site accumulates $100 worth of revenue. At about one click per week, it would take until sometime in the year 2068 before I’d get my first check, assuming I was even still alive then.
The ads were part of Google’s AdSense program, which serves up "text and image ads that are precisely targeted, on a page-by-page basis, to your site’s content—ads so well-matched, in fact, that your readers will actually find them useful." Unfortunately AdSense has a weird sense of humor. It thought that because I wrote about preachers such as Jimmy Swaggart or Benny Hinn my readers would be interested in ads about
conservative Christian movies or Catholic resources. The ads served up for my front page were even stranger "matches." I’ve never written about Katie Holmes or Jessica Simpson (before now), but AdSense thought people coming to my site would find ads about these women useful. At least my classes page got more pertinent ads about language arts and educational standards, but even on these ads no one clicked.
Some of the ads were for dubious products. As I commented shortly after starting to display Google ads, I thought the e-books offered by Google advertiser Coradella were a rip-off, considering the works offered for $30 were available for free through Project Gutenberg. That ad didn’t bother me though—I just thought the product was stupid—but I didn’t like having ads for Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ on my site, and I actually blocked those (AdSense enables its users to block specific advertisers).
At any rate, the grand experiment is over. It’s not worth cluttering up my site with ads if no one’s going to click on them.
I guess I’m not going to get rich quick after all.
Today was a pretty gay day for me. I was part of a queer panel for a psychology class at Wright State, and I attended a presentation at UD called "Gay and Straight, Our Common Ground" by renowned gay Catholic Brian McNaught. The panel was organized by the Rainbow Alliance (formerly Lambda Union -- I'd point you to a web site, but they don't have one, an issue I'll speak more about in just a minute). I don't go to many Rainbow Alliance meetings, in large part because I'm older than many of the members, but I'm on the mailing list and I wanted to do this panel. It was rather serendipitous that the panel and the McNaught presentation were on the same day since they stirred some of the same thoughts for me.
Part of the serendipity of today was that if a couple of things had been different I might not have gone to hear McNaught. I'm not Catholic and I've always sort of thought of McNaught's message as being more for Catholics. I knew some of his story, and left to my own devices, I would have thought it was good that he was speaking at UD, but it wasn't really for me. However, Juli Burnell, the woman who worked so hard to arrange McNaught's visit, not only for tonight's presentation but also for his workshops with UD faculty and administration, is a friend of mine from Cross Creek. Seeing her excitement about the event I wanted to go if only to support her. In addition, as it happens this quarter, I'm on campus at UD every Tuesday and Thursday evening for my GER361 class. How could I not go?
I'd seen a video of McNaught's years ago. Speaking of being older than most Rainbow Alliance members, I guess today is in some part also a day for me to feel old. His video was called "On Being Gay... A Conversation with Brian McNaught," which, when I looked it up on imdb.com, I was surprised to remember was from 1986, 18 years ago, and longer than I've been out. He also had a book with a similar title, On Being Gay: Thoughts on Family, Faith, and Love, which I also read years ago. The thing I remembered most about the book, however, (if McNaught ever googles himself and sees this, I'm in trouble) was thinking that he was cute. He's still not bad looking, but he no longer matches the picture I've always had in my mind of him.
McNaught is a very powerful speaker, more so than I remembered or could tell from a video, and what makes him so powerful is his ability to express things in ways to which so many people can relate. Part of what he spoke today of was the importance of "singing our song." He said that he thinks that after he dies, God is going to ask him whether he sang the song he was taught, and that each of us has a unique song to sing, songs that tell who we are and let people get to know us. As McNaught pointed out in his speech, his audience was made up of all sorts of different people, including openly gay people from the greater Dayton community, including PFLAG members whose meeting this month was to come to this presentation, including UD students and faculty who heard about the event and wanted to come and including students of Greek 101 who were required to come (I'm impressed that Juli pulled that off).
I think McNaught's words were aimed primarily at the non-gay students in the audience, perhaps especially frat boys who are stereotyped as being unfriendly to gay people, to try to get them to understand what it would be like growing up gay and being unable to sing one's song and to get these non-gay people to understand how their own words and actions are songs that send messages to the gay friends they most certainly and usually unknowingly have. However, McNaught's words were also aimed at gay people in the audience to remind us how important singing our songs is both for straight people who think they don't know anyone gay and for gay people who are following us out of the closet.
I felt good because I've been singing my song, even though at times it's tempting just to let others sing. I arrived at Wright State this morning half an hour before the PSY200 class the panel was for was supposed to begin, only to find no convenient parking and tempted after 15 minutes of stalking to just go home. I went ahead and drove to the other side of campus, parked in lot 4 and made it to the classroom with a few minutes to spare, only to be asked, "Oh, are you in this class?" "No, I agreed to be on the panel; don't you remember?" As it turned out, they needed more men, so I stayed, and I'm glad I did. Students in that class needed to hear that although I am gay, I'm also Christian and that there are churches including mine that not only oppose Issue 1 but also support same sex marriage. A female African American student in the class responded emotionally to a panelist's comments about the civil rights movement by pointing out that she can never shed her black skin if she decides one day she's tired of dealing with discrimination or worst case wants to avoid anti-black violence but that gay people can simply deny being gay. Perhaps another panelist might have said something equally appropriate had I not been there, but I was glad to be able to tell her that she was right, that black people face oppression every day and cannot get away from it but that black people also are usually born into black families that love and accept them and help them to deal with the ugliness they encounter while gay kids are usually born to straight parents to whom they cannot turn for support when they first are called fag or dyke (a point that McNaught also brought up tonight).
There was something about which I thought briefly as I left that classroom that hit me more as I sat in UD's Kennedy Union later listening to McNaught, and that is how lucky I am that I'm in a place where I can sing my song. (Of course I wasn't thinking in terms of that metaphor earlier in the day at Wright State, but I like how McNaught uses it.) Taking a GER361 class now is not the first time I've been a student at UD. Exactly 20 years ago this fall I was a freshman at UD, attending courtesy of a full scholarship and feeling extremely lonely in the midst of a big crowd. I'd spent the past four years trying my damnedest to appear straight in high school, trying to date girls, even attending prom, being told that these years were the best years of my life, and failing really to fool anyone but myself. Yet I didn't know anyone who was gay, or at least I didn't know anyone who was honest about being gay, and there I was at UD, facing the prospect of four more years of the same thing. The guys on my floor in Stuart Hall were grabbing each other and pretending to butt fuck each other and calling each other fag, and to borrow McNaught's terminlogy, I wasn't liking the songs I was hearing. I dropped out and spent several more years feeling sorry for myself before I finally got to the point where I just had to come out, which I did at age 25.
Look how much things have changed, despite so many things also not having changed. The Catholic Church still teaches that homosexual behavior is a sin (and accordingly endorses Issue 1), but the University of Dayton now has a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and has at least a few openly-lesbian and openly-gay staff members. Perhaps there are still guys in the dorms acting out their homophobic feelings by grabbing each other and pretending to butt fuck, showing through their nervous humor that they of course are not gay, but now prospective frat boys at least have to hear a gay man explain to them the effects of their behavior. I'm sure there are still freshmen at UD who think they will never be able to come out and be honest about who they are, but at least now they know there are gay and gay-friendly people on campus, including Student Allies, a gay/straight student alliance.
I suppose I should be jealous that Brian McNaught wasn't at UD to speak when I was a student there or that I should regret not having been smart enough to have come out then anyway, but I'm not and I don't. I've had a great time being in college this time around, at Wright State, not only saying things I wouldn't have said back then but also taking classes I wouldn't have taken back then. It's never too late to sing your song.
Now if I were a better person than I am, I'd end this posting on that idyllic note, but I'm not perfect and life does have some nitpicky frustrations, such as parking, as I noted above. Another frustration, also noted above, is that the Rainbow Alliance does not have a web site. It's great that Wright State, like UD, has a gay student group, but how do gay students find out about such groups? How do any students get information about anything these days? They google it. If I were 17 and picking colleges again, even if, or especially if, I were closeted, I'd want to know what gay groups were at the colleges. During the PSY200 panel today a student asked if the Rainbow Alliance had a web site, only to be told, "Um, no, we changed our name and therefore we don't have a web site." Stupid, stupid, stupid! Google "Wright State gay group" and you'll find the stale site for Lambda Union, the Rainbow Alliance's predecessor. There is a web site, it still exists, and they haven't bothered to even update the web site to say that there's a new name. To me not having done even that seems extremely bureaucratic.
However, as it turns out, I should cut the Rainbow Alliance some slack, not that they shouldn't update their stupid web site, but because it seems to be the nature of many nonprofit web sites to be rather stale and infrequently updated. The only event on UD's Student Allies' online calendar is a meeting from last January, no mention even of tonight's presentation by McNaught. The site for Sinclair's group is still under construction. And the site for my church, Cross Creek, still touts last month's Eyes Wide Open exhibit (by the way, another friend of mine, Bill Meers, has a simple but eloquent site documenting that event). So it's best to remember that these groups, including Rainbow Alliance, do good things such as today's panel, and nitpicky issues such as their web sites are relatively minor.
|Remember how Chris Harbinson got so upset because he thought outsports.com called him gay?
Apparently Chris Harbinson is not the only one to think that being called gay (which actually he wasn't) is a horrible slur. Lynne Cheney is quite upset that John Kerry called her daughter a lesbian in last night's presidential debate. Lynne thinks that Kerry's having said that Mary Cheney is a lesbian is a "cheap and tawdry political trick." I can see why she might think that. Kerry making up something like that to further his liberal agenda really would be horrible, wouldn't it?
Unlike Chris Harbinson, Mary Cheney not only is gay, but she's also said so herself. Apparently Mary doesn't think being gay is so horrible. She even worked as the gay liaison at Coors. Of course one might question Mary's judgment since apparently she also doesn't think Bush having a second term is so horrible either and she also doesn't think a Federal Marriage Amendment is so horrible either, at least not so horrible that she should speak out against it. (If you want to ask her why, send her a letter.)
So Mary doesn't think being gay is so bad, but perhaps Lynne has deeply held religious beliefs that homosexuality is wrong and that homosexual sex is wrong.
Lynne Cheney is an author, and one of her books, Sisters, features hot steamy lesbian sex. Did Lynne write the book under a pseudonym? Nope, she sure didn't, but she did write the book long before she knew her husband would be Vice President in an administration that sells a conservative Christian agenda. It's okay for Lynne to write about hot steamy lesbian sex, but it's not okay for John Kerry to tell the truth about Mary Cheney's sexual orientation?
It seems to me that it's Lynne Cheney who's agreed to play tawdry political tricks. I also know a name to call Lynne Cheney that's worse than "gay" or "lesbian." Lynne Cheney is a hypocrite.
|Andrew Sullivan points out a reason why Mary Cheney's parents are hypocrites that I hadn't remembered yesterday. Dick Cheney said that Kerry's reference to Mary's being a lesbian made him "a pretty angry father." Well, do you remember that Illinois Senate candidate Allan Keyes called Mary "a selfish hedonist" since she was a homosexual? As Sullivan points out, neither Dick nor Lynne Cheney denounced Keyes for what he said about their daughter. It's okay for Allan Keyes to call Mary a selfish hedonist but not for John Kerry to say Mary is being who she was born to be? Kerry's remarks make Dick an angry father but Keyes' remarks don't?
Well there's a dirtier name than "selfish hedonist" to call Dick Cheney. Just like his wife, Dick Cheney is a hypocrite.
It's fireplace season again!|
My blog now uses permanent URLs
If you're not geekish, you probably won't find this interesting, and if you're über-geekish, you'll probably think I'm slow, but otherwise there's a chance you'll find it interesting that I've set up permanent URLs for my blog pages. I'd come across an article some time ago on alistapart.com that explains why it's important to have permanent URLs, but I'd never gotten around to changing my site. This week I came across another article (both articles are a few years old, but hey, I already said I was slow) that suggested a slightly different way of implementing permanent URLs.
What kind of URLs did it use before?
In case you're wondering, my blog's non-permanent URLs used a querystring to tell my PHP script what month to display. These URLs would be something like /blog/index.php?month=200410. Bill Humphries, in the first article I read, points out that such URLs don't get indexed by some search engines (although Google has always indexed my blog despite that) and that such URLs make it apparent what kind of architecture the site is on (I already told you, but the ".php" suffix tells you I'm using PHP scripts).
What's a permanent URL?
The new permanent URLs for this blog don't use a query string but use the month as the last part of the URL. For example, this month's permanent URL is /blog/2004-10. Humphries explains what to put in the .htaccess file to transform "/blog/2004-10" to "/blog/index.php?month=200410". The lines I used are:
RewriteRule ^blog/(200[2-9])/([0-1][0-9])(/)?$ /blog/$1-$2 [NC,R]
RewriteRule ^blog/(200[2-9])-([0-1][0-9])(/)?$ /blog/index.php [NC]
If that makes any sense to you, you'll notice that you could actually get to this month's blog with the URL /blog/2004/10/ (with or without the trailing slash). If you use slashes to separate the year from the month, though, your browser will get redirected (that's what the [R] option to RewriteRule does) and display the URL with a hyphen. (Before I did that, the pictures didn't show because the server thought the page was one directory level deeper, probably something I could fix a better way, but using the hyphen avoided that.)
You may notice that my .htaccess statements don't actually turn the permanent URL into a URL with a querystring. That's because Till Quack in the second article suggests having the PHP script do the work of parsing the URL instead of doing all the work in .htaccess, and that appealed to me. The PHP script has to deal with validating dates anyway. I did set up my .htaccess so that it doesn't bother to redirect for years before 2002, which is when I started blogging, but then my PHP script makes sure that the requested date has blog entries, redirecting to my 404 error page if not.
Why does it matter?
What made me look at all this again is that until now my current blog page has always been just "index.php". Google does index my site, and I do get some visitors, but it takes a while after a month ends before Google notices that the content that used to be on the main "index.php" page can be accessed only through a "index.php?month=x" page. That meant that, for example, at the beginning of September people searching for items on Chris Harbinson (who, by the way, loudly proclaims [protesting too much?] that he is not gay) would be directed to "index.php" instead of "index.php?month=200408", the page for August on which he is mentioned. Now, as you'll notice if you look at the top of your screen, the current month's blog is referred to by its fancy new permanent URL, which doesn't change at the end of the month, making Google have to do less work and making sure that visitors to the blog get the page they searched for. Woo hoo!
About a year ago, I wrote about how stupid online polls were. One of my reasons was that some polls allowed multiple votes and thus only showed whether there were more right-wing fanatics or left-wing fanatics who cared about voting in the poll. The particular poll I was writing about was a Dayton Daily News one on gay marriage. Today the paper has another poll on a more important topic, whether October 21st is too soon to put up Christmas decorations (and yes, it is!), and it seems that DDN has finally done something right with its web site, namely to limit voting to once per day.|
I have a very close straight female friend who voted against Bush in 2000 who confessed to me last night that she plans to vote for Bush this time. The reason? She doesn't like John Kerry. She saw a documentary that said he lied to get his medals in Vietnam, and she's offended that he spoke against the Vietnam war. She thinks if Kerry wins we'll have socialized medicine. She doesn't trust John Kerry. She thinks that Bush is what this country needs to keep it safe against terrorism. To top it off, even Robin Williams, she says, is conservative.
I love my friend dearly but her using Robin Williams as justification for voting for Bush seems to explain Republicans in a nutshell. She'd been forwarded an e-mail that listed a bunch of sarcastic conservative statements that Robin Williams supposedly said. See, she said, even Robin Williams is conservative. Except it just ain't so. First of all snopes.com found the original e-mail with no mention of Williams. Second of all, Robin Williams does fundraisers for Democratic senate candidates and jokes that "Bush complaining about a lack of intelligence seems sort of redundant." My friend would rather take some conservative propaganda at face value instead of examining it critically. Are all Republicans like that?
The documentary my friend saw was probably the Sinclair Broadcasting program featuring information from Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal. Whether Sinclair's airing of this program was right has been covered by many other bloggers and columnists, but what gets me is that my friend criticized Fahrenheit 911 as being biased propaganda that she didn't need to see. She can make judgments about John Kerry based on one program, but it offends her sensibilities to even watch something that's critical of the president. I pointed out to her that Kerry is the man who risked his life in Vietnam while Bush pulled family strings to stay as far away from Vietnam as possible. That doesn't matter to her. She thinks Kerry lied to get his medals and then dishonored them by speaking against the war. She wouldn't put it this way, but for her a coward is better than someone brave enough to speak his mind.
She also said that most veterans are against Kerry. She's seen the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" ads. She hasn't bothered to do any research as to whether these claims are valid. She has a computer which she uses to forward chain e-mail (such as the Robin Williams one), but she can't be bothered to google "Swift Boat Veterans" and do any reading. I've sent her a link to a truthout.org report discrediting one of the Swift Boat vets. I've also sent her a link to MoveOn PAC's Republicans Voting for Kerry ads. Considering that my friend herself is a Republican who voted against Bush, I hope she'll take time to consider her decision this time instead of just voting against Kerry based on having heard only one side.
I had to laugh out loud when my friend cited Kerry's plans for socialized medicine as a reason to vote against him. First, I'm not sure "socialized medicine" is an accurate way to describe his plans for reforming health care. More importantly, I asked her if she thought Democrats were likely to take control of Congress. When she finally quieted down and listened to me, she admitted that Republicans would probably retain control of Congress. How then, I asked, was Kerry going to implement socialized medicine? Were Republicans in the House and Senate going to roll over and pass whatever he suggested? Hell, Bill and Hillary Clinton had a Democratic House and Senate and couldn't get health care reform passed. My friend is a nurse and so perhaps she knows more about our country's great health care system than I do, but even if Kerry's plans for health care are bad, couldn't she hold her nose and vote for Kerry anyway, counting on political gridlock to fend off major changes?
My friend knows I'm gay, of course, and she has many other gay friends. She doesn't think we're evil or sinners. She's conservative enough that calling gay relationships "marriage" makes her uneasy, but not so uneasy that she hasn't gone to gay weddings. Yet she had the audacity last night to tell me that gay marriage wasn't her issue. That made me angry, it hurt me, and I feel betrayed. I told her I was disappointed in her. She tried to say that friends can have different political views, which I guess is true if you disagree about taxes or health care, but to me it's not quite the same when it comes to amending our state and federal constitutions to make me a second class citizen. I pointed out to my friend that she's been divorced twice (a low blow, perhaps, but it's the truth that she, like so many heterosexuals, is hardly in a place to tell gay people anything about how sacred marriage is) and asked her how she'd feel if these amendments were about restricting marriage to people who'd never been divorced. That thought had never occured to her, because heterosexuals just take their rights for granted. It doesn't matter that she's failed at two marriages; she automatically assumes that she should have the right to marry again if she wants. That I would not have the right to any recognition of a relationship, not even civil unions, is less important to her than feeling safe against terrorists.
"Marygate" came up, and my friend, who doesn't think homosexuality is a choice, said she was offended by Kerry's having brought up Mary. Never mind that Mary was already out, never mind that Dick Cheney himself mentioned Mary specifically when asked a general question about gay marriage, my friend was offended by Kerry. Why would she be offended by Kerry but not by the fact that Bush and the Republicans have demonized homosexuals? I truly do not understand. My friend is not alone, however, because most heterosexuals, even those who say they have no problem with homosexuals, were offended. I've already accused Lynne and Dick of being hypocrites about the matter. They're also quite sly, too. Tap into the latent homophobia that most heterosexuals have and divert their attention from real issues. It works well, and I have a very personal example of it.
I was angry at my friend, but now I'm really just tired, and yes, a bit bitter. Tired, because I really don't feel like wasting the time it will take to try to get my friend to think, to read information she wouldn't go out to find on her own, to see other points of view, to make an informed decision about whether she can really trust Bush more than Kerry. Bitter, because if my friend hadn't let her intentions slip, she would have gone on to vote for a man who uses oppression of people who are her friends as a way to retain power. This is not an apt comparision (at least I hope it's not), but I feel like a Jew in Germany in 1932 whose Christian neighbors held their noses about Hitler's anti-Semitism because they liked the feeling of security and national pride he brought them. Ironicially in 2004 I think I'd rather live in Germany than the United States.
|Okay, some people are tired of Jon Stewart, but I still enjoy him. His take last night on President Bush's suddenly being in favor of states allowing same sex couples to have civil unions was classic. Stewart lamented, "Gee, if only the President had some influence on shaping the platform of his party," and noted that Bush is not a flip flopper but instead is "a versatile top."
If you want to see this for yourself, here's a clip.
Dayton Metro Library doesn’t have a big gay section, at least not in the sense of a section of shelving where one can go and physically browse through gay books, but through the miracle of technology it has something almost as good. Go to the online catalog, click advanced, enter “gay fiction” as the subject keywords, and you get a nice list of all the gay novels or short story collections Dayton Metro Library has in all its locations. Sort by publication date to see what’s new. Click on “Request first available copy” and they’ll send it to whichever branch you specify. Sometimes it takes a while since, although Dayton Metro Library does have a fairly wide range of gay titles, it usually has only one copy of each. That can make for a pleasant surprise, though, when a few weeks later you get a by-then unexpected e-mail to tell you a book you’d been wanting to read is ready for pick-up.
Why this little advertisement for the library? Because this week I’ve been feeling a bit down for various reasons, but I got one of those unexpected e-mails. I have plenty of stuff to read for school, including Hegel, Marx, Dilthey, Nietsche, Becher, Zwerenz, Bilke, Havemann, Bierrmann, Ulbricht (notice a German pattern here?), Joyce (one class is all Joyce), Dürrenmatt, Frayne, Rulfo, Borges, Cortazar, Garcia Marquez, Vidal (Virginia, not Gore), and Coloane (notice a Latin American pattern here? These are in translation though).
I was bad, though, and set all these other authors aside for a few hours Tuesday and Wednesday nights for Timothy James Beck’s newest (okay, published last year, but new to me) book, He's the One. You can read what I thought about it on my books page. It’s just the thing for a brief escape from the real world.
Understanding Republicans, part 2
I'm sure you've seen at least one yard this election season with signs both for Bush and for Kerry. It's understandable given how divided our country is that there would also be politically divided households.
Less conceivable is that even this year, when the Log Cabin Republicans refuse to endorse Bush and when famous gay Republican pundit Andrew Sullivan risks alienating his core audience by endorsing Kerry, there are still some gay people who not only are voting for Bush but aren't in the closet about it.
Still I wasn't terribly surprised to see a Bush sign in the yard of a single gay neighbor of mine, but I was surprised to see in that same yard a sign for Jane Mitakides. Okay, in case you've never heard of her, she's the Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress for Ohio's 3rd district. Sorry to say, she has no chance of winning, despite her being endorsed by former Texas governor Dolph Briscoe (I think that in Ohio, Briscoe, Mitakides and senatorial candidate Eric Fingerhut all have name recognition issues). I plan to vote for her, of course, because I think her opponent, Mike Turner, was a shit when as mayor of Dayton he opposed an ordinance that would have prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation. I fail, however, to understand how someone who supports the president's core Republican values would not also be pleased by Turner. President Bush himself this week in Dayton said that he knows we're all "proud of Congressman Mike Turner" and that he thought Turner was "doing a great job."
I don't know if my neighbor is a Democrat for Bush or a Republican for Mitakides or just an independent (I did e-mail him to ask why he was supporting both George and Jane but he never answered). I guess it means I should cut my straight Republican friend some slack. (Or then again, maybe not, considering the photographic proof this week that Bush's campaign isn't above lying to win votes.)