I just got my new license plates. Well they’re the new “Ohio Pride” design, but they’re the same plates I’ve had for 20 years.
Yep, not only am I gay but my car’s gay too.
As you can see, I’ve gotten several GAY CAR license plates over the years, usually getting new ones when a new design became available. I skipped the “Beautiful Ohio” design, which I thought looked stupid. I have two rear plates and one front of the red, white and blue “Birthplace of Aviation” design; someone stole the front one off my car while I was up in Cleveland.
My current gay car, a 2009 Volkswagen Eos, isn’t inherently gay but is just gay because I drive it. My original gay car, on the other hand, was a 1991 Mazda Miata, which was pretty gay.
I got my first set of GAY CAR plates in 1993. I thought it’d be funny to have GAY CAR plates on a gay Miata, but I was also a young idealistic gay activist who wanted to be really out. No HRC equal sign bumper sticker that only other gay people would recognize for me. No, I wanted something that everyone would understand.
At the time I first got the GAY CAR plates, friends and family thought I was making a mistake. My boss at the time thought I was asking to have my car vandalized or worse. I wasn’t sure what would happen. As it turned out I was lucky. Nothing ever happened to my car (which always spent the night in a garage), and the only thing that happened to me was getting called names.
In the 90s I did get called “faggot” quite a few times while out and about in my gay Miata. Being the angry young activist, if someone yelled “Faggot!” at me, I’d yell “Bigot!” right back at them. One time some rednecks in a pickup truck yelled “Fag!” at me while we were stopped side-by-side at a light on Wilmington Pike, and I flipped them off and gunned it. I’ve always liked to drive fast, but that time I had a reason to. They chased me down the street, but I made it home and into my garage before they could catch up. Don’t know what I’d have done if they’d come up to the house.
Speaking of driving fast, my GAR CAR plates got me out of a speeding ticket once. I was driving down I-75 in a rush to get somewhere and sped right past a state trooper who of course flipped on his lights and pulled me over. He came up to me, looked at my license and registration, and said, “I like your plates. Slow down, okay?” and he let me go.
These days the reactions are almost always positive. At least once a day I’m stopped at a light and looking in my rearview mirror I find the driver behind me whipping out a cellphone and taking a picture of my car. People honk and give me a thumbs up. Last month a middle-aged woman pulled up beside me on Dorothy Lane and said that she liked my plates.
Something strange did happen this year when I ordered my new plates. Back in 1993 I expected that the BMV would deny my request for GAY CAR plates, but it wasn’t a problem. This year I got a call from a 614 number, and it was a woman from the BMV who wanted to know what GAY CAR meant. Well, I said, I’m gay, and so’s my car. Is there a problem? I asked. Oh, no, she said, we were just curious. After that call I wondered if there would be a problem, but my new GAY CAR plates did come, so there’ll be photo ops at traffic lights around Dayton for another couple years at least.
Friday, July 26th, 2013
I’m even more dubious about “apologies” from ex-gay ministers
“Apologies” from staffers of Exodus as it “shuts down” seem to be all the rage now.
Last month, the president of Exodus, Alan Chambers, announced the closing of that ex-gay ministry and issued an apology of sorts. However, Chambers was very clear that he was not “apologiz[ing] for [his] deeply held biblical beliefs about the boundaries [he] see[s] in scripture surrounding sex” or “for [his] beliefs about marriage.” My response to Chambers’ apology was profane.
Randy Thomas of Exodus, another ex-gay issuing a vague apology to teh gayz
This month Exodus’s executive vice president, Randy Thomas, released “An Open Apology to the Gay Community.” Thomas’s apology is interesting both for what it says and what it does not say.
Thomas explicitly apologizes “for idealizing and reinforcing the institutional groupthink of Exodus,” “for remaining publicly silent about the hurt caused by some of Exodus’ leaders and actions,” and “for [his] inexperienced participation in public policy.”
Unlike Chambers, Thomas does not make any specific exclusions in his apology. He doesn’t say that he cannot apologize for his Biblical beliefs or for his views on marriage.
I was someone who commented on Thomas’s apology post. Unlike with my own blog post in response to Alan Chambers (in which I told Chambers to just shut the fuck up!), I was not profane in my comment on Thomas’s blog. I simply said that I didn’t put much value in Chambers’ apology given his specific disclaimers on his views of marriage and what the Bible says about sex and given that Chambers seemed not to be closing Exodus so much as rebranding it by opening the new Reduce Fear ministry.
Do apologizing ex-gays now acknowledge a right to civil marriage for queers who don’t want to be ex-gay?
I also asked Thomas what his current views on homosexuality were. Does he, for example, acknowledge the right of those who do not think homosexuality is sinful to have full rights to civil marriage equality?
I would give you a link to my comment on Thomas’s blog except that I cannot. Thomas has deleted my comment.
He’s also deleted other people’s comments. Thomas deleted a comment made by David Philip Norris, who emailed me after I commented on Thomas’s blog to thank me for what I said there. Another comment Thomas deleted was one that called his apology a P/R move; Thomas had even replied to this comment to say that no, it wasn’t a P/R move, but Thomas has deleted his own reply now too.
That Thomas is deleting challenging comments on his blog was a bit surprising to me, although it wasn’t to Norris, who told me that Thomas has been known to delete any comments that are negative or aren’t wildly supportive.
Deleting such comments does go against the dialogue that Thomas says he welcomes. In his announcement of his new comment policy, Thomas says, “I love comments and hearing from you. Especially if it is honest, on topic (or somehow related to the topic blogged about), and doesn’t attack other people.” Right above his comment form, Thomas says, “Please note: I love comments! I prefer civil discussion but don’t mind a bit of ‘rowdy’ dialog as long as it is honest.”
Randy Thomas “loves comments” (except the ones he deletes)
Thomas has every right to do what he wants on his own blog. I don’t even allow comments on my site.
However, his saying one thing (“I love comments!”) while doing another (deleting comments that aren’t profane attacks) makes me even more dubious about the validity of this supposed apology.
Sorry, Randy, but I would have thought more of you if you had left critical questions up on your blog. If you’d never even allowed for comments, I wouldn’t have had such a negative view of you as I do now that I know you delete critical comments.
The really fun thing is that you can delete comments on your own blog but you can’t control the Internet. I might not even have blogged about your stupid fake apology at all, but since you’ve deleted my comment on your blog, I’ve written this post here on my own blog. Norris also wrote something on his blog.
tl;dr — Shut the fuck up, Randy Thomas!
And frankly I think that unless you shut the fuck up yourself and go work in a homeless shelter for as long as you’ve worked to warp the minds of queers afraid of what your God thinks, your apology really is, as Norris says, a joke.
Thursday, June 20th, 2013
Just shut the fuck up, Alan Chambers!
You may have heard that Exodus International, which for 37 years has been “proclaiming freedom from homosexuality,” has finally apologized to the queers and announced that they are closing their “ministry.”
Except Exodus isn’t really closing their ministry—they’re just rebranding. Their closing announcement says that they “unanimously voted to close Exodus International and begin a separate ministry,” to be named Reduce Fear.
Alan Chambers has said way more than enough and should just shut the fuck up.
Alan Chambers, the ex-gay heterosexually-married with kids but still struggling with same sex attractions President of Exodus, wants to “come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.”
And to that, I say: Don’t. Just don’t.
You’ve done more than enough damage, Alan, and you’re not going to fix it by continuing to be an attention-seeking charlatan earning money going around now in the guise of trying to “host thoughtful and safe conversations about gender and sexuality.”
There are already plenty of people hosting such conversations, Alan, and you don’t really have any credibility, so just what makes you think you’d be a good facilitator for these conversations?
It’s great that you're shutting down one of the world’s most harmful ex-gay ministries,
“We’re not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people.” — Tony Moore, Exodus board member
and it’s good that you’re kind of apologizing for the harm you’ve done, although at the same time Exodus wants to be absolutely clear that it’s “not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people.”
Alan, perhaps instead of continuing to talk, you could just shut the fuck up for a while.
Stop blathering the evangelical Christian talk of God and “His Kingdom” and the “whole truth of the Gospel” and “coming to Christ” and “surrendering [your] sexuality to Him.”
Just stop talking.
If you want to be in ministry, great. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and then go serve silently in a homeless shelter or a food pantry. You've been talking for so long that it’s way past time for you to let your actions, not your words, show your beliefs.
If you’d do a few years of silent atonement in this manner, then, and only then, would I and others in the LGBT community give a damn about what you might then have to say.
Mike and Lori Turner and their family, from when the Turner marriage was still sanctified
Congressman Mike Turner, on behalf of all teh gayz, I want to apologize for destroying your marriage.
I know you tried valiently to save your marriage, voting in 2006 and in 2008 to amend the U.S. Constitution to protect heterosexual marriage from the queer onslaught.
You can be proud of getting an absolute zero on the Human Rights Campaign Congressional Scorecard, having voted against every issue from the “Gay Agenda™” that comes up in Congress. Alas, your votes against the queers have failed to protect your marriage.
I wonder if your perfect score from the Family Research Council will continue, now that your own marriage is “dissolved.” (Let no man put asunder what God has joined together, but I guess you can “dissolve” it, right?)
So yeah, sorry again about having finally succeeded in wrecking your marriage. I’ll be eagerly awaiting news of your next marriage.
Thursday, April 25th, 2013
I used to care what Amy Grant thinks of me
When I was a teenager I loved Amy Grant’s music.
Amy Grant (1977)
My Father’s Eyes (1979)
Never Alone (1980)
Age to Age (1982)
Straight Ahead (1984)
The Collection (1986)
Lead Me On (1988)
Heart in Motion (1991)
Home for Christmas (1992)
A Christmas to Remember (1999)
I bought each of her albums as they came out, and I listened to them over and over. It was a rough time in my life, I was lonely, and Amy Grant’s music brought me some comfort as I struggled with something that at times seemed life threatening — yep, figuring how to deal with the fact that I was a big ole queer was a big deal to me then.
I don’t remember for sure where I first heard Amy Grant’s music, but it must have been at my church, Good Shepherd United Methodist* in Mad River Township here in Dayton.
To the left you can see copies of Amy Grant’s various albums that I bought when I was a fan. I was pretty religious about getting every new Amy Grant CD, continuing even after I stopped going to church but eventually tapering off. I skipped 1994’s House of Love and 1997’s Behind the Eyes but I did buy A Christmas to Remember in 1999.
If you were ever an avid Amy Grant fan, you might notice that 1999 was when Amy Grant got divorced, a shocking event that caused many of her devout Christian fans to drop her. However, my no longer buying Amy Grant albums wasn’t because of her divorce—I wasn’t shocked by that and thought it made her more human—it was just that Amy Grant’s music didn’t speak to me as much as it once did.
I’ve still played the two Amy Grant Christmas CDs I own each December, but other than that, I haven’t really thought about her much.
Until yesterday, when I saw a clergy friend (interestingly now that I’m out I have quite a few friends who are clergy) post a link on Facebook to Amy Grant’s first ever interview with the gay press. Of course I and a bunch of other gay Amy Grant fans flocked to read the article—we were all dying to know “how she reconciles Christianity and homosexuality.”
Amy Grant’s friend Michael W. Smith was another Christian singer whose music I liked, in part because he was cute.
You see, how Amy Grant reconciles Christianity and homosexuality is something I’ve wanted to know for a long time.
Indeed I wanted to know so much that back in the 80s, after I stopped going to church but while I was still an Amy Grant fan, I wrote her a letter. This was back in pre-WWW days, before many people had email, when you actually had to put your message on paper, stick it in an envelope, put a stamp on it, and put it in a mailbox. A disadvantage of those days before email and scanners is that I don’t have a copy of what I wrote, although I remember the gist of it. I know I didn’t use the phrase “How do you reconcile Christianity and homosexuality,” but I did tell Amy Grant that I was gay and I did ask her what she thought of people being gay and Christian.
I did get a response to my letter but not from Amy Grant and also not from someone on Amy Grant’s staff. No, the response came from a very compassionate woman, a stranger who found my letter in a seatback pocket on an airplane, where Amy Grant or one of her assistants had left my letter, probably by accident. This woman didn’t know me or Amy Grant, but after reading my letter, she felt compelled to write to me because she said she could feel my pain. She wanted me to know what had happened to my letter and, more importantly, to know that she would pray for me in the hopes that God would heal me and help me to leave the homosexual lifestyle.
God must not have heard that stranger’s prayers for me because God never healed me of my homosexuality, and instead of leaving the homosexual lifestyle, I embraced it, coming out and realizing that if there is a God, God loves me for who I am, including being gay. I was cured of something though, cured for the most part of internalized homophobia, cured of caring whether others, including Amy Grant, approved of me despite my being gay.
I don’t know what I expected when I read Amy Grant’s interview with PrideSource. I guess I was hoping, knowing that Amy Grant had no ground on which to stand about the sanctity of marriage, that the reason she finally wanted to talk about teh gayz was because she wanted to come out, as so many others have recently, in favor of marriage equality.
Amy Grant declined to take a position on marriage equality, either pro or con, instead saying “I never talk about anything like that.”
She didn’t say anything overtly offensive in her first gay interview, sticking mainly to “a message of honesty and welcoming,”
saying that “you can either default to judgment or you can default to compassion” and acknowledging that she knows “that the religious community has not been very welcoming.”
Nevertheless something in Amy Grant’s careful interview—in which she tried not to offend anyone and stressed that “everybody is welcome” on “the journey of faith” towards having “a relationship with God”—did strike me as language I’d heard before.
I had friends in high school who eventually said, “I’m living a gay lifestyle.” — Amy Grant, PrideSource, issue 2116, 4/23/2013
And what was it that I’d heard before? A conservative Christian’s favorite term when it comes to teh gayz: lifestyle.
Amy Grant tells us that she “had friends in high school who eventually said, ‘I’m living a gay lifestyle,’” to which I say, no, you didn’t.
I wouldn’t say that Amy Grant was intentionally lying, and I do believe that she had gay high school friends come out to her, but I don’t believe they said, “Amy, I need to tell you something. I’m living a gay lifestyle.”
Unless we’re still desperately trying to leave it, “lifestyle” is not a word we queers use. No, we just think we have lives just like everyone else does.
But conservative Christians sure do love the word “lifestyle.” Are you struggling with same sex attractions? Google “leaving the gay lifestyle” and you’ll find tons of compassionate people willing to help you.
Amy Grant was probably just paraphrasing when she talked of friends telling her they were living a gay lifestyle. Despite her use of the term again at another point in the interview, talking about the ACLU’s first openly gay executive director, Anthony Romero, whom Amy Grant “felt so changed by” but who has a “very different lifestyle” from hers, given the lengths to which she went to stress being compassionate and loving and welcoming and to avoid being judgmental, I shouldn’t read too much into Amy Grant’s choice of words.
Why shouldn’t I? Because what Amy Grant thinks doesn’t really matter. I didn’t care two days ago, before I knew she was talking to the gayz. So why should it matter two days later? Maybe Amy Grant, living in what some would call an adulterous relationship, has no problem with gay people also finding love but is afraid to say so in so many words. Or perhaps instead “lifestyle” really is hidden code for what Amy Grant thinks of me.
Either way I’m living a gay lifestyle and I’m happy with it.
*About Good Shepherd United Methodist Church: My mother, my sister and I went to this church while we lived in Forest Ridge. It was a small church, originally part of the EUB, something older members of the congregation still remembered although the 1968 merger with the Methodists was before my time.
I never felt unsafe there, well aside from the time I was inducted into the youth fellowship group via a staged kidnapping when I answered the doorbell at home to find people on my front porch in masks who pulled me outside, put a bag over my head, and pushed me into a van that took us away. Kind of a scary thing to do to a child of divorced parents. Ended up at church where the rest of the older kids already in the youth group were there to greet me.
Except for that poorly thought out incident, Good Shepherd was a fairly safe haven for a young nerdy closeted fag. Nothing overtly anti-gay came from the pulpit there, and I had some friends, of sorts, including a girl who told me in the pews once that I had a nice singing voice (and who once also called me “faggot!” along with other kids as I got on our school bus carrying my books clasped to my chest as only girls were supposed to).
I was popular enough my senior year to become president of Good Shepherd’s youth group, or perhaps instead of my being especially popular, it was that I was willing to take the job, although I didn’t keep it long, coming to the conclusion later that year that I couldn’t be gay and be Christian and thus deciding to stop doing church. Where’d I get such an idea? The United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline, which declared back then and still declares thirty fucking years later that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”
Good Shepherd is now closed, as of December 30, 2011, according to the latest Miami Valley District directory of churches. At some point in the last decade, Good Shepherd operated as Good Shepherd Community Church, affilliated both with the United Methodists as well as the Presbyterians (the Presbytery of the Miami Valley still has a webpage, albeit a rather sparse one, for Good Shepherd).
Friday, April 19th, 2013
Are you going to Equality Ohio’s Lobby Day on Wednesday, May 8, 2013?
If you’re lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, you might already know that in Ohio, as in many other states, it’s legal to fire or to refuse to hire people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and it’s also legal based on those same reasons to deny housing to people.
Equality Ohio’s been organizing lobby days for several years now, and while Equality Ohio does good work all year long fighting for equality for LGBT Ohioans, Lobby Day is one of the most powerful things Equality Ohio does. It’s empowering to gather with others willing to work for equality, and the legislators in the Statehouse in Columbus have become familiar with Equality Ohio’s Lobby Day and know to expect us each year.
Going to Columbus on May 8 may require your taking a day of vacation, and you’ll have to get up early to drive to Columbus. But being part of Lobby Day really isn’t that very much more difficult than changing your Facebook profile photo. The hard work of pulling together materials and setting up appointments has been done by Equality Ohio. You just have to be willing to get yourself to Columbus (and to register online so Equality Ohio knows you’re coming and prepares a packet for you) and then to tell your story to your state senator and your state representative. Don’t be afraid—you won’t have to meet with anyone all by yourself but instead will go in small groups.
Yes, some people aren’t in a position to explain to their bosses why they want to take May 8 off. Remember, it’s still legal for Ohio employers to fire queers, so some queers can’t risk saying they want a day off for Lobby Day. So if you can’t go to Lobby Day, for whatever reason, don’t feel bad—instead tell some people about Lobby Day and encourage them to go.
If you’re not LGBT, your support as an ally who opposes discrimination would be especially powerful. If you believe that LGBT people should be considered for employment based on our abilities and experience, and not based on our sexual orientation or gender identity, then come to Columbus and say so. If you believe people shouldn’t be denied housing or public accommodations just because we’re queer, come tell your state representative and your state senator that such discrimination should be illegal. Your LGBT family and friends need your help!
Are you going to Equality Ohio’s Lobby Day on Wednesday, May 8, 2013? I am!
Sunday, April 7th, 2013
What’s Facebook good for? (part 2)
My last post about Facebook was about how Facebook’s good for interacting with strangers and gave three examples of that.
When is a friend not really a friend?
If you’ve used Facebook, you know that just because someone’s your “friend” on Facebook doesn’t mean that person is someone you could call to come pick you up in the middle of the night if your car broke down.
German makes a useful distinction between “ein Bekannter” and “ein Freund.” In English we’d usually use the same word, “friend,” to refer to both, but the former is really an acquaintance while the latter is a closer friend, the kind who’d help you out in a jam.
Facebook’s perverted the meaning of “friend” in English even further. Meet someone once at a party? You can be Facebook “friends” now. You can even be “friends” with people you’ve never ever met in person, for example, a Facebook friend’s Facebook friend who, perhaps, likes your comments on your mutual friend’s posts.
However, I also mentioned in that post that Facebook’s good for pissing friends off, which is what this blog entry is about.
One way you can tell you’ve really pissed someone off is when that person unfriends you.
I’ve got three examples I want to write about, but since I’ve got a bit to say about each, I’m going to do each of these examples in separate posts. The first example is the most recent:
He didn’t comment on my Facebook post linking to that blog entry, but George did do his own Facebook post to say that he didn’t think he was silly for changing his profile pic. That wasn’t enough to make him defriend me though.
No, to piss George off to the point of defriending me took a series of further Facebook posts (which you didn’t see if you read only my blog and which you can no longer see even if you’re a friend of mine on Facebook—more on that in a later post):
a FB post with a screenshot of red marriage equality fanatics bullying friend of teh gayz Kathy Griffin for not yet having changed her FB profile pic to red (to see that screenshot, go to my previous post about Facebook. (By the way, Kathy Griffin—or whoever does her FB profile—finally caved and changed her FB pic to red.)
a link to a YouTube clip of from a 1995 Seinfeld episode in which Kramer won’t wear an AIDS ribbon. (Kramer walks in an AIDS Walk to show his support for raising awareness about AIDS; he just doesn’t want to wear a ribbon, pissing off the ribbon bullies.)
a link to a piece by Orlando Soria entitled “Changing Your Profile Pic is not Activism,” a post that’s less harsh and more humorous than Moylan’s but to the point nonetheless. (Sample fun question on this issue by Soria:
“Is it wrong to do something because you’re worried about being a bad person for not doing something just because everyone else is doing it?”)
and finally the straw that I guess broke George’s back:
a status update that asked: Okay, so if you switch from your red equality symbol back to your regular profile pic before the Supreme Court rules, have you given up on marriage equality or have you simply decided you’ve shown enough solidarity?
Another FB friend commented on that update that I was “being a provocateur, lol,” and he was right, but I had been noticing, now that the Supreme Court hearings on marriage equality were done, that people were starting to change their FB profile pics back from red marriage equality signs to their regular profile photos. We don’t yet have rulings on these cases from the Supreme Court—that won’t happen until June probably—so why are people done showing solidarity?
Now this question provoked a lot of comments from my Facebook friends, some of whom weren’t as amused as the one who accused me of being a provocateur. One commented, “Wow. Harsh.” Another said, “You do seem a bit surly today…what’s the deal?” (and also said she plans to keep her red equality profile pic until the ruling). A third remarked, “Just saying, you seem to be a little obsessively negative about the whole red thing.”
But none of these commenting friends defriended me. Just George.
I noticed that George had defriended me because I went to check his profile to see if he’d switched back to his regular profile pic (he hadn’t), only to find that we were no longer friends.
Actually we were never really friends, merely Bekannte (see above note about German), acquaintances who saw each other at church from time to time and who once or twice went to lunch in groups after church.
I didn’t want to leave it at that, though. Perhaps I felt a little bad to have upset him. Perhaps I figured I’d run into him at church. At any rate, I sent George a message on Facebook saying I was sorry I hurt his feelings, that my posts weren’t directed at him but that I understood his taking offense at them, that I know I can be a bit negative, and that I wanted to apologize.
George read my message (as I noted last time, something fun about messages on FB, as opposed to email, is that you can see when or whether a message has been read), but he didn’t reply.
So this example is one that doesn’t end well. George doesn’t think highly of me, and, while I guess I don’t blame him, I don’t really care—well, I did care enough to write about it but not enough to make any efforts to change George’s mind.
I’ve been thinking about Facebook a bit this week because my blog entry earlier this week as well as a few posts on FB about red marriage equality profile pics pissed off a “friend” and spurred some disagreement. Facebook’s good for pissing people off, but that will be another blog post.
The point of this post is that Facebook is good for interacting with strangers.
While we’re on the topic of the red equality symbol, here’s an example of how Facebook is bad:
People bullied noted friend of teh gayz Kathy Griffin because she had not yet changed her profile pic to the all-important red equality symbol.
Another FB friend (not the pissed off one) pointed out that a lot of people changed their FB profile pics this week, raising awareness of support for marriage equality because the red equality symbol made the news everywhere. For example, Jimmy Kimmel talked about it, saying “I think changing your profile picture to support something you believe in is the least you can do. Literally, it is literally the least you can do. You almost did nothing, but instead you did just slightly more than nothing.” Nonetheless that so many people “did just slightly more than nothing” got a lot of people to talk about marriage equality and showed that a lot of people support it.
Misty Lynch, who formerly taught Sunday school at The Jordan, a small church in Germantown, did not do “the least she could do.” No, she didn’t change her profile pic to the ubiquitous red equality symbol. She flat out stated her opinion so people didn’t have to wonder what a red equality symbol meant, saying on Facebook, “I’m a Christian and I support gay marriage. I don’t care if you’re gay, straight, purple, black or yellow.”
When I read about that, I looked Misty up on Facebook and sent her a message thanking her for what she’d done:
It turns out I wasn’t the only one with the idea to contact Misty. A friend of mine also took the time to contact her and to invite her to our church. I should have done that but didn’t think to (that might be the subject of another post some day).
So yes, Facebook is a great place to stand up for what you believe in (with just a profile pic or with an explicit statement) and to reach out to others who need support.
Facebook is also a great way to reach people whose attention you might not be able to get through email or via Twitter. One way Facebook is now earning money is by letting people pay $1 in order to send a message to a stranger that will land in that stranger’s Facebook inbox instead of the “other” bucket that messages from strangers usually go to.
Quick aside: Do not waste your money on the new SimCity
I hadn’t ever taken Facebook up on what I considered a marketing gimmick until earlier this month when I became one of the pissed off people who pre-ordered the new SimCity, only to find on its release that Electronic Arts had no clue whatsoever how to support a game that requires an always-on Internet connection (I should have known better, but I’ve liked SimCity since I first played it on my Amiga years ago).
Something else fun about sending messages on Facebook instead of via email is that you can see whether the recipient of your message has seen it and when. So I knew when Kip saw my message, even before he graciously replied.
My sending Kip a message on Facebook didn’t really accomplish much, I know. He already knew the game his team produced was a colossal fuck up. I felt a tiny bit better venting, but I still didn’t have a game I could play reliably (even after Maxis added “a few more servers”), and I didn’t contribute positively to Kip’s life. I wasn’t profane with Kip and I’m not incredibly ashamed for anything I said to him, but yeah, this isn’t something to be proud of either.
So be a better person than I am, and if you harness the power of Facebook to interact with strangers, don’t send petty pointless messages.
Still, like many tools, Facebook can be used for good or for evil, and interacting with strangers is indeed something Facebook’s good for.
Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
If you’re wearing red today, thanks…
but I hope that’s not all you’re doing.
As it happens, I am not wearing red today. It’s not that I don’t ever wear red. It’s not, of course, that I don’t support marriage equality (and I’m not some crazy homocon against marriage equality).
It’s just that I find the idea of changing my Facebook profile pic “in solidarity” or of playing “high school Spirit Day” by wearing red a bit silly.
I’ve been out a long time. Very out. My car has also been out a long time, and not with an HRC sticker that most straight people don’t even recognize. “GAY CAR” is pretty explicit, a lot more explicit than red (although, as it happens, red’s the color both of my first gay car, a 1991 Mazda Miata, and of my current gay car, a 2009 VW EOS).
So if you’re wearing red today for a reason, make it count. Go up to strangers today and ask them if they know why you’re wearing red. Then explain it.
While you’re at it, explain that it’s still legal in most of the United States for employers to refuse to hire LGBT people because of our sexuality or to fire us when they find out. (Not in Dayton, though, due to the courage of then-Mayor Rhine McLin as well as Commissioners Nan Whaley and Matt Joseph and no thanks to Commissioners Dean Lovelace and Joey Williams.)
Yes, we each have to come out when it’s safe and when we’re comfortable, whether we’re coming out for ourselves or for our family or friends. But think about how far you can come out. Is wearing red all you can do?
Sunday, March 3rd, 2013
Am I ready for some Guts + Glory?
When I got this envelope in the mail yesterday, my first thought upon looking at it was, “Do I know a Dan Kirk?”
As you can see, the envelope has real stamps on it, and it looks like it’s hand-addressed. I thought it contained a card.
But when I opened the envelope, instead of a card I found this:
asking me if I’m ready for some GUTS + GLORY.
That’s when I realized that not only do I not know Dan Kirk, but Dan Kirk also doesn’t know me, at least not if he thinks I’m ready to buy a RAM truck.
Dan, it turns out, is the general manager of Golling’s Arena Chrysler, where he’s worked since 2005. Dan’s “a sports fanatic and supports the Cincinnati Reds and the Ohio State Buckeyes” and he “enjoys boating, golfing, and bowling.”
Now I know there are plenty of butch gay guys out there — Fuckin’ A, dudes! — but the 2013 RAM 1500 doesn’t really say who I am or how I got here.
I’ll be keeping my VW EOS. I just don’t think the GAYCAR plates would work on a one-ton truck.
Friday, February 22nd, 2013
100 Saints You Should Know or Dark Night of the Soul
Before heading to the Dayton Theatre Guild this evening to see a friend perform in Kate Fodor’s play 100 Saints You Should Know, I didn’t have any idea what the play was about.
You can’t really guess from the play’s title. I don’t think it’s giving too much away, however, to tell that the title of a book that features prominently in the plot, Dark Night of the Soul, might actually be a more apt title for this play. 100 Saints features five characters—a single mother and her teenage daughter, a priest and his widowed mother, and a teenage grocery delivery boy—and during the play each of these people has a dark night, both the actual dark night that comprises the bulk of the play’s timeline as well as a longer lasting figurative and lonely night of searching for something missing from their souls.
That may sound rather depressing, and I won’t kid you, this play is rather depressing, but it’s not all depressing. A couple who sat in front of me left after the first act, and in many ways the first act was the best act, so perhaps this couple got their money’s worth. The first act has some really funny lines—after the play my friend told me that as she was on stage she heard my laugh so she knew I was there, and another friend of hers commented that one minor thing that could be improved was the pacing—my friend and the other actors needed to pause a bit after some lines to give the audience time to react before they proceeded.
One of my favorite parts of the play is a scene in which the priest, in the middle of the night, talks directly to us in the audience to explain exactly why
it is that he’s back home in his mother’s house, and, as he talks, on white curtains behind him are projected a series of black and white photographs. To the right here you can see an example of one of the photographs, all of which were taken in the 1940s and 50s by George Platt Lynes and all of which feature handsome naked men in various artful poses. Yes, I liked this scene because I, like the priest, appreciated Lynes’ work and his subjects, and yes, you can probably figure out that the priest’s liking these photos caused a bit of crisis of faith for him.
Earlier in the first act is another good scene, featuring the priest quoting to his mother from the book he is reading. He’s reading the aforementioned Dark Night of the Soul, poetry by Saint John of the Cross, and the priest’s poor mother makes the mistake of asking him to recite some of it.
Upon my flowering breast which I kept wholly for him alone, there he lay sleeping, and I caressing him there in a breeze from the fanning cedars. / When the breeze blew from the turret, as I parted his hair, it wounded my neck with its gentle hand, suspending all my senses.
recites the priest, touchingly, I thought, but shockingly, thinks his mother, who doesn’t want to hear any more. Bless her heart, she may not know that “sole” isn’t the correct spelling of the thing that God looks into, but she seems to recognize Dark Night of the Soul as gay men’s spirituality, even if she wouldn’t call it that.
Later, in another scene between the priest and his mother, one of many pairings in the play of the five characters, she admits to him that she, like him, is lonely, and that she wouldn’t wish loneliness like that on her son. She’s a good Catholic mother whose first instinct is to feed her son and who doesn’t really want to face head on who her son is (although she does recognize it even if she won’t admit it), but all the characters in 100 Saints are lonely in their own ways.
The teenage delivery boy, who we first meet carrying in a large order of groceries the mother has ordered for her son the priest, has had a similarly revealing interaction with his own father, even though that father is not a role in the cast. It turns out that the grocer has warned his son rather explicitly about the priest, and I’d guess that the grocer is as begrudgingly prescient about his own son as the priest’s mother is about hers.
Perhaps the most heart wrenching aspect of 100 Saints is this delivery boy. He faces his own dark night of the soul, at a much earlier age than does the priest, but unfortunately for him he seeks answers in all the wrong places. One such place is the priest himself, who’s just not equipped to give the boy the help he needs, and another such place is the single mother’s bad girl daughter, who, not having gotten helpful answers in her own life from her mother, also isn’t equipped to help the delivery boy.
Just as the delivery boy doesn’t find the answers he seeks, so too do we as 100 Saints’ audience not find good answers. 100 Saints ended rather abruptly, after a prayer, and I left feeling a bit unsatisfied. That’s not the fault of the actors, nor even of the playwright necessarily. Whose fault is it? God’s, perhaps? Life just doesn’t always happen in nice neat little packages.
So should you see this play? If you’re reading this after March 10th, you’re too late, but if you’re in time, and if you, like me and like so many people, find yourself going through your own dark night of the soul, then yes, do go. You may not find answers, but you’ll find plenty to think about.
Monday, January 14th, 2013
Why is being gay a matter of privacy?
Mel Gibson with the formerly very private Jodie Foster and her sons,
on TV at the Golden Globes
Even if you didn’t watch the Golden Globes last night (and I didn’t, so go ahead and revoke my gay card), you’re probably aware that Jodie Foster won a lifetime achievement award and gave a very interestingacceptance speech that everyone today has been discussing.
This evening I read a post by Andrew Sullivan about Foster’s speech, and a sentence from her speech which he highlighted got me to thinking. The sentence is:
Now, apparently, I’m told that every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance, and a prime-time reality show.
Sullivan has something to say about that, but what I want to point out is that Foster didn’t really mean “every celebrity.” No, what she meant is “every gay or lesbian celebrity.”
No, of course you can’t. And you know why? Because straight people don’t have to make any big announcements — that they’re married and who they’re married to isn’t considered any big secret or breach of privacy. Yes, straight people send out wedding announcements, but those aren’t press conferences, and straight people don’t view a simple query of “Are you married?” as an invasion of their privacy.
For most people who have lives that feel “real and honest and normal”—to quote a part of Foster’s speech—simply acknowledging that one has a spouse is not, despite what Foster might want us to believe, a violation of privacy.
Indeed, to set up queers in 2013 as something special, needing special privacy protections, really does us a disservice. The only way we’re going “to be understood deeply, and to not be so very lonely”—again, quoting Foster—is to stop hiding who we are, behind some banner of privacy that no straight person would ever hide behind, and to just be honest about ourselves.
Thankfully Foster has joined those of us—everyone who’s straight and more and more who are queer—who do just that. I think she’ll survive the loss of privacy.
Thursday, June 7th, 2012
Gary Leitzell on LGBT equality
The Dayton City Paper, in a piece entitled “A Step Towards Equality,” features some comments by
Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell on the city’s recent passage of a domestic partnership registry, and having read the
mayor’s comments, I find myself compelled to comment.
Before I say anything about what the mayor had to say, first let me say that I do appreciate his support and that of the
other city commissioners on passing the domestic partnership registry. Given that polls continue to show rising public support for marriage equality, given that our president has finally
evolved to the point that he is able to say publicly that he supports marriage equality, given that even in Dayton the first candidate to
announce for the 2013 mayoral election says he supports marriage equality, it really would have been something for anyone
on Dayton’s city commission to oppose the creation of a completely voluntary registry which no public or private body
is obligated to recognize. Yes, it’s great that queers (and unmarried heterosexuals too) can now get a piece of paper
from the City of Dayton recognizing their relationship, but hospitals in Dayton, for example, still are not bound by law to
recognize visitation rights because of these papers. A 5-0 vote in favor of a domestic partnership registry is a step (a baby
step) towards equality, but in 2012 it is not ground breaking.
Now let’s take a look at what Mayor Leitzell has to say in the DCP:
Mayor Leitzell says, firstly, “I have always supported equal rights.” Oh, really, Mr. Mayor? Then why did you,
when you were running for mayor in 2008, tell me that you “have a problem with changing the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage”? I wasn’t
even asking you about marriage but rather about Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinances and you, a man who we now should
believe has always supported equal rights, felt compelled to say that marriage wasn’t something whose definition
you’d want to change to provide equality to queers.
And if Mayor Leitzell has “always supported equal rights” for queers, we might expect to find his name on the
website of the Mayors for the Freedom
to Marry. Take a moment and go to that website. You’ll see the names of the mayors of Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Cleveland Heights,
Columbus, East Cleveland, Lakewood, Lima, Stow, and Youngstown, Ohio, but you will not see the mayor of Dayton, Ohio listed.
This is not an oversight, either, because I know that friends of mine have contacted Mayor Leitzell to ask him to add his
name to this site of mayors who truly do support full equality for LGBT people.
However with Gary Leitzell it gets better. In the DCP article the mayor says secondly, “If the majority of
people in North Carolina want to place extreme limitations on their citizens then it is their right to do so.” In other
words, Gary Leitzell does not in fact believe in equal rights for queers. He believes that the rights of queers should be
subject to the will of the majority. If the majority of voters in a jurisdiction decide that queers should not have the right
to marry, then Gary Leitzell is fine with that.
Gee, thanks, Mr. Mayor. Frankly, the support that you claim to have always shown for my equality isn’t worth much.
Saturday, May 5th, 2012
Is it an insult to claim Sean Harris is a liar?
Sean Harris, pastor of the Berean Baptist Church of Fayettesville NC, is being oppressed by queers and liberals, including, I guess, me.
Harris was caught on video ranting about effeminate sons and urging any father of such a boy to “give him a good punch.” The Jesus whom Sean Harris follows would seem to be a manly man who advocates violence.
See a screenshot of the full retraction (in case Harris retracts his lying retraction)
I’d heard about Harris’s egregious advocacy of gay bashing from his pulpit, but it was only today that I found out that Harris, in addition to thinking queer kids just need a punch or two to get straightened out, is a liar.
Lawrence O’Donnell calls Sean Harris out on this in a fun segment you can watch on YouTube. Harris has the audacity in his official retraction to say, “I have never suggested children or those in the LGBT lifestyle should be beaten, punched, abused (physically or pscyhologically) in any form or fashion.” As O’Donnell points out, that’s not only a lie, but it’s a stupid one, easily disproven.
I googled Berean Baptist Church because I wanted to contact Harris about his lie. They’ve taken down their Contact Us page, but the Internet Archive still has a cache of it.
I called and left Harris a message saying that he should be ashamed both for having advocated violence against queer kids and for lying about having done so. I gave my real name and phone number, did not use any profanity and kept my message brief. I probably shouldn’t have bothered because it will just add to Harris’s growing sense of being oppressed.
I also sent an email to everyone listed on BBC’s now-defunct contact page. I got an automated reply from Harris with a link to an important clarification, in which Harris claims, “My words, from Sunday morning’s sermon, about effeminate behavior in children are being completely taken out of context by those in the LGBT community. (Nearly every article is misquoting me.)”
Sorry, dude, but you’re on video saying that fathers should punch their effeminate sons, and you posted on your own blog that you never suggested children should be punched. Try to put that in context if you want, but those are not “misquotes.”
I also got a personal reply from Bill Sturm, a colleague of Harris’s, asking me “to pray for him instead of mass emailing insult.” Apparently Pastor Bill thinks that if I call out his colleague as a liar, that I’m insulting him.
Here’s the email exchange in case you want to see whether I insulted Sean Harris:
Date: 05/05/2012 9:26 AM Subject: Don't punch your kids, gay or straight From: David Lauri <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Your pastor is a liar. He said that he never advocated violence against LGBT kids. God knows otherwise, and so do we because what your pastor said was caught on video. He can apologize if he wants, but to deny that he advocated fathers punching their effeminate sons is a lie. Doesn't the Bible teach us not to bear false witness?
Date: 05/05/2012 9:51 AM Subject: Re: Don't punch your kids, gay or straight From: Bill Sturm <email@example.com> To: David Lauri <firstname.lastname@example.org>
We are not in favor of child abuse and Pastor Sean is imperfect. I ask you to pray for him instead of mass emailing insult.
Thank you, sincerely, for your feedback. Please enjoy your Saturday.
Date: 05/05/2012 9:54 AM Subject: Re: Don't punch your kids, gay or straight From: David Lauri <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Could you please point out what I said that you think was an insult?
Your pastor said, and it's on video, that fathers should punch their effeminate sons, and then your pastor said that he never advocated violence against LGBT kids. That's a lie. Sure, your pastor, as are we all, is imperfect, but to lie about what he did makes his apology suspect.
Date: 05/05/2012 10:13 AM Subject: Re: Don't punch your kids, gay or straight From: Bill Sturm <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: David Lauri <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Thank you for your reply. Whether you agree that our pastor is lying throughout his apology is a judgment of yours. I pray God softens your heart toward us and our pastor.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.
Date: 05/05/2012 10:21 AM Subject: Re: Don't punch your kids, gay or straight From: David Lauri <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Did I say that he was "lying throughout his apology"? I said that he lied about never having advocated violence against LGBT kids.
Sean Harris said in his apology, "I have never suggested children or those in the LGBT lifestyle should be beaten, punched, abused (physically or pscyhologically) in any form or fashion." He's recorded on video as having said, "Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up! Give him a good punch." He can apologize for having advocated that fathers punch their effeminate sons, but to deny that he said fathers should do so is a lie and therefore diminishes his apology.
I pray that you see that your pastor has indeed advocated violence against children and that you will take action to firmly and unequivocally disavow such actions.
Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
A.J. Wagner, Twitter and gay rights in Dayton
Perhaps you read recently that former Montgomery County auditor/former Montgomery County Common Pleas judge A.J. Wagner is running for mayor of Dayton. Wagner has’t made a formal announcement and perhaps hasn’t even actually decided yet whether he’s running, but he did go so far as to have someone set up a website for his campaign. I read about it on Esrati.com.
One thing interesting about Wagner’s new mayoral campaign website stems from the recent furor over the City of Dayton’s having gone out of state to find a developer for a website for the city. The story about the city’s choosing a Colorado web developer was also on Esrati.com. The main point of Esrati’s post about Wagner’s website was Wagner’s status as a career politician and some history on how he resigned his judgeship, but Esrati did mention at the bottom of the post that Wagner, like the City of Dayton recently, went out of state to find a web developer.
Now City of Dayton officials are defending their decision to choose a Colorado firm, so perhaps Wagner too looked locally for a web developer but decided that to get what he needed he had to go with a DC firm—namely, Code and Politics, “a Washington, DC based firm specializing in online strategy and creative for candidates, organizations and causes that we believe in.”
Having your web developer’s branding/link on your site isn’t uncommon and might get you a discount—but—having a link to an out-of-state web developer might not be the best choice for a Dayton politician
What did Wagner get by going out-of-state?
He didn’t get a developer who thought about hiding Wagner’s new website—ajwagnerformayor.com (which has since been pulled down, though Google’s cache will work for a while yet)—from prying eyes until the site was finished and until Wagner was ready for it to be seen. Perhaps the strategy was that by hiring someone outside of Dayton, no one in Dayton would know about the site. Oops.
ajwagnerformayor.com, as it looked Saturday morning, with a couple tips added (click to embiggen)
And Wagner didn’t get a developer who thought about registering the Twitter handle to which the new website prominently linked. Atop ajwagnerformayor.com was a prominent list of “Four Things To Do RIGHT NOW,” the fourth of which was to “FOLLOW Us On Twitter.” Unfortunately for Wagner and for his developer, when I visited his new site early Saturday morning after reading Esrati’s post, I clicked on the links and tried to follow him on Twitter to no avail—the Twitter handle @wagnerformayor did not exist! Major oops that leaves one open to mischief.
What kind of mischief, you might be asking? Well the kind of mischief that befell Dean Lovelace last year when he or his web developer (Dayton-based or out-of-state, I don’t know) let his domain name registration lapse. Someone—okay, it was me—registered Dean’s domain name and put up a website opposing his re-election to city commission (for all the good it did). When I saw that @wagnerformayor was up for grabs, perhaps I should have been kind and notified someone, but I was evil and registered it myself, although to be fair, I did use the name FakeAJ Wagner so people would know it really didn’t belong to the real A.J. Wagner. (As any political web developer should know, fake Twitter accounts arenot uncommon.)
Why’d I do it? Not because I had any grudge against A.J. Wagner (as opposed to the grudge I had and still do have against Dean Lovelace). I can’t claim that I thought A.J. Wagner was anti-gay or that I had some noble cause in mind when I snagged that Twitter account. I was bored, and I thought it’d be funny to do it. And it was kind of funny.
But you know, things in my life have a way of turning out pretty gay, and this was no exception.
Esrati posted a list of questions for Wagner, and I, as FakeAJ Wagner, started answering some of them. One question was what Wagner thought of Mayor Leitzell (another person about whom I’ve posted here on my blog), and FakeAJ said, “About Mayor Leitzell’s stance on traditional marriage—gays marrying has never harmed my marriage to Joan.” That was just an off-hand quip (and a little dig at Leitzell), but I do think it’s true—Wagner and his wife have been married for a long time, and queers getting married hasn’t hurt their marriage.
Late to the game and curious about what FakeAJ Wagner said before @wagnerformayor was taken over by the real A.J. Wagner? Click on the image above or PDF screenshot of FakeAJ’s tweets
So people started reading FakeAJ’s tweets, and comments started heating up on Esrati.com about FakeAJ, and someone who it seemed might be Wagner’s DC developer posted an angry comment, and so I officially came out as FakeAJ (although jeez, it shouldn’t have been that hard to figure out). Finally, Wagner’s real DC developer made an appearance, denying that he had posted the earlier pseudonymous comment, acknowledging he’d made a mistake and saying he was just working hard to elect real progressives. Which raised the question—is A.J. Wagner a real progressive?
For me, admittedly a rather single issue person, a real progressive is someone who believes in equality for LGBT people. Dayton has some real progressives, including on its city commission, people who were willing to take what shouldn’t be a risky position these days, standing up for extending non-discrimination protections in the city based on sexual orientation and gender identity. (It shouldn’t be a risky position, but Dayton also has some real bigots—more on that in a moment.)
Wagner’s new mayoral campaign site, although it had been revealed to the public before it was done, was rather light on its issues page. No mention of LGBT issues. Contrast that to President Obama’s 2012 campaign site, which has a whole Pride section aimed at the LGBT community. Sure, the non-discrimination ordinance is a thing of the past, but I’d bet there are some who’d like to see it repealed; would Wagner oppose that? And yes, although Candidate Leitzell volunteered his position on traditional marriage, marriage is not a local issue, although plenty of mayors are indeed willing to come out for marriage equality; where would Wagner, who touts his Catholic faith, stand on that?
And a very current local LGBT issue is the domestic partner registry that Dayton’s city commission is considering. Would A.J. Wagner as mayor be for or against that? If ever he actually announced his candidacy I would want to know the answer.
So no, I didn’t snag @wagnerformayor thinking to punish A.J. Wagner or even thinking to make him come out on gay rights, but the more I thought about it, having that Twitter account might be a way to get him to say something about where he stands on my issues. And wouldn’t you know it, it worked.
Late last night A.J. Wagner emailed me to say he is “fully supportive” of the “the City Commission Gay Registry Ordinance” (if a little misinformed—it’s not a gay registry but a domestic partner registry that would be open to unmarried heterosexual couples too) and that moreover he is “also supportive of gay marriage.” Wow!
Wagner also told me that he had also written about the registry for his column in this week’s Dayton City Paper, which came out today. His column (which is not yet available in HTML format but which will appear on this page when it is and which is available on page 22 of the Flash version) talks about Dayton’s proposed “marriage registry” (again, a bit misinformed—it’s not a marriage registry) and explains Ohio’s constitutional amendment against marriage equality, the chances that it will be overturned by the courts and why, and the upcoming campaign to put repeal of that bigotted amendment up to a vote next year.
Wagner didn’t come out in so many words in his column and say he’s for the registry and for marriage equality, but the tone of the article is supportive, and I don’t think he’d have said what he said in his email to me if he didn’t mean it. When his mayoral campaign website (which, by the way, will no longer be done by that DC-based firm) does come out, I hope he states his position clearly on it.
But that’s good enough for me for now to turn over control of @wagnerformayor to Wagner. I’m going to post this blog entry and then put a final link on the Twitter account, and then I’ll change the password and give it to Wagner. I hope he has a good local developer who can help him with it.
And it’d be great if he showed up at tomorrow’s city commission hearing and spoke in favor of the domestic partnership registry. The bigotted pastors from the Dayton Baptist Pastors & Ministers Union plan on showing up to advocate that queers’ civil rights should be put to a public vote (see their semi-literate letter to the Dayton City Commission).
Years from now (and not too many years from now) our kids and grandkids are going to wonder what the big deal was about treating LGBT people fairly. It’s a battle we’re going to win. Straight people have two choices—drag their heels and fight on the wrong side of history, or become allies so that we no longer have to waste time on this issue and can move on to other things (like feeding the hungry, building stronger communities, etc., all the issues that queers too do care about and would fight harder for if we didn’t have to fight on this issue).
Sunday, November 20th, 2011
Gay Pot Holders (They’re Hot Stuff — These Nifty Pot Holders)
This morning a friend of mine from church gave me something fun, a vintage leaflet entitled “Gay Pot Holders: So Easy to Make with Lily Rug Yarn.” It’s leaflet No. 241-S, published by Lily Mills Company of Shelby, North Carolina, “manufacturers of the famous Lily sewing threads,” and looks to be from the 1940s. It’s amazing how much of our gay history we continue to uncover—I never knew folks made gay potholders!
I figured I’d post the leaflet here for posterity and in case any of you are still looking for ideas for Christmas gifts. To quote from the leaflet, “These nifty little pot holders [can] solve your gift problems. … Make them in your spare time, and have them ready when a birthday pops up — or for showers, housewarming gifts, Christmas gifts, etc.”
You can download the entire leaflet (in PDF format), or you can click on the thumbnails below to embiggen:
Sunday, August 21st, 2011
The history of deanlovelace.com and the difficulty of running deanlovelace.com ads
If you’ve been a regular reader of my blog, you know that I created a website, deanlovelace.com, about Dayton City Commissioner Dean Lovelace. You may know this because I blogged on February 28, 2011, about doing so; you may know this because whenever you’ve come since then to the main page of davidlauri.com you’ve seen a teaser, linking to my February 28 blog entry, about the “special present I’ve put together for Dean Lovelace.” That “special present” is a website outlining three reasons to vote against Dean Lovelace for Dayton City Commission on November 8, 2011.
Even if you had never heard of me, you may know about deanlovelace.com because whenever you google Dean Lovelace the number three result is the website entitled “Say No! to Dean Lovelace on November 8, 2011,” namely deanlovelace.com.
At the bottom of that website is an “About this site:” box that states “This site was developed and paid for by David Lauri and is not affiliated with any candidate” and that links back to davidlauri.com. When I created deanlovelace.com I did not try to hide who I was. I’m not ashamed of having created deanlovelace.com.
Why I created deanlovelace.com
Why did I create deanlovelace.com? Because the opportunity to do so presented itself. David Esrati remarked on February 27, in a post he made about why people should sign petitions so that Esrati could run for city commission, that he couldn’t find a campaign website for Dean Lovelace. I did some googling of my own and discovered that Esrati was right—Dean Lovelace was a Dayton City Commissioner running for re-election but did not have a campaign website up. Dean Lovelace used to have a campaign website at deanlovelace.com—if you go to my current deanlovelace.com website you will find a link to the Internet Archive cache from 2004 of the old deanlovelace.com—but did not feel it important enough to keep up and running.
I was not surprised that Dean Lovelace did not feel it important enough to keep his website current with commentary on his views, but I was a bit astounded that he would have let his domain name lapse.
I was not surprised that Dean Lovelace did not feel it important to keep his website current with commentary on his views about issues facing the City of Dayton, but I was a bit astounded that he would have let his domain name lapse.
And so I decided, on a whim, to register deanlovelace.com myself. Having done so, I announced in a tongue-in-cheek comment on Esrati.com that I had found a site that “tells you everything you need to know about Dean Lovelace.” (I still believe that deanlovelace.com tells you what you need to know about Dean Lovelace.) I posted a few more links to deanlovelace.com on Esrati.com, on my own website, on Facebook and on Twitter, but after posting a few final links on March 8 after Dean Lovelace lucked out and did not have to face a primary in the Dayton City Commission race (my March 8 post on Facebook is visible only to my friends and friends of my friends but you can see a screenshot of it; my tweet on March 8 is still visible to the public), I really didn’t give deanlovelace.com much more thought.
I did not contact Dean Lovelace to let him know about deanlovelace.com, but I would not have been surprised had he contacted me.
I did not contact Mr. Lovelace to let him know about deanlovelace.com, but I would not have been surprised had he contacted me.
In September 2009, I created a website, www.notojoey.com, opposing the re-election of Dayton City Commission Joey Williams because of his abstention on a vote to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Commissioner Williams found out about the website, took steps to get my cellphone number, called me, asked to meet with me, and asked me what I would want to take the site down. I told him I would not take the site down but that if he would state clearly on his campaign website that he opposes discrimination based on sexual orientation I would amend the site to remove my objection to his re-election. He did so, I did so, and you can still view the results on www.notojoey.com, a site that is now nowhere near the top of the Google search results for “Joey D. Williams” (although it still appears in them).
Dean Lovelace, unlike Commissioner Williams, made no attempts to contact me. I assume he’s aware of deanlovelace.com because on April 22 he registered a new domain name for his new campaign website, given that his old domain name was no longer available. I decline to share his new domain name here, but if you like you may go google for it yourself to see if you can find it. I’ll give you a tip though—you have to go way down the page past the results for deanlovelace.com to find the official Dean Lovelace re-election website. I myself was unaware of Dean Lovelace’s new campaign website until doing a bit of research for this blog post.
Placing ads about deanlovelace.com
However, although it is true that I did not give deanlovelace.com a lot of thought since creating it (the page has remained unchanged except for fixing a link that no longer worked), it was in the back of my mind that it might be fun to run some ads this fall to promote deanlovelace.com. To that end I sent two emails earlier this month inquiring about placing ads for deanlovelace.com. In those emails I explained that deanlovelace.com was not owned by Dean Lovelace but rather was a site that I had created to oppose his re-election and that I would like to run some display ads for the site. The recipients of my two emails? The Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival and the Dayton City Paper.
The response of the Downtown Dayton Priority Board to my request to place an ad in the Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival
The Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival, in case you haven’t heard of it, is rather amazing for a city the size of Dayton. The festival, currently in its 6th year, will take place September 23–25 at the Neon Movies downtown and is a great opportunity for queers and our allies to see independent LGBT films and to meet some of the people making these films. Jonathan McNeal, the manager of the Neon, is the curator of the film festival, and he’s done good work not only in finding films worth watching but also in finding support for the festival and promoting it. I figured placing an ad of interest to Dayton’s LGBT community in the film festival’s program would be a good idea.
However, Jonathan, despite being the curator of the film festival, does not have carte blanche in accepting ads for it. He quoted me a price of $175 for a 1/2 page ad but explained that “though [he] curate[s] the festival, [he] still [has] to answer to the Downtown Priority Board as they are the banner sponsor for the event.” That’s understandable.
The Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival is not primarily about politics, although in the United States in 2011 anything queer is in part about politics.
The Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival is not primarily about politics, although in the United States in 2011 anything queer is in part about politics, and Jonathan’s primary responsibility is keeping the festival viable. Jonathan checked with the Downtown Dayton Priority Board and was told that its chairperson, Stephen Seiboldt,
The ad rejected by the Downtown Dayton Priority Board
declined to accept my ad, saying that the Priority Board did not want any political ads in the film festival’s program.
I wonder if Stephen Seiboldt checked with the Dayton City Commission and in particular with Dean Lovelace. The Downtown Dayton Priority Board, as is the entire Priority Board system, is a program of the government of the City of Dayton. Read about the Priority Boards on the official City of Dayton webpage. Whether it is legal for the City of Dayton to quash advertisements opposing the re-election of Dayton City Commissioners I do not know, and although I have enough personal resources to be able to afford an ad in the Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival, I do not have enough resources or enough energy for a prolonged battle with the City of Dayton.
Getting a response from Jonathan about running a deanlovelace.com ad in the Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival program, although I did not get the response I wanted, was quick and easy. Here’s the cost; here’s who I have to check with; sorry, I can’t take your ad. The whole process took a day.
The response of Paul Noah, Publisher of the Dayton City Paper, to my request to place an ad in his paper
Getting a response from the Dayton City Paper was not so easy. Two days after I sent an email to them asking whether they would accept a display ad in October and possibly also in September for deanlovelace.com (pointing out, as I’ve said above, that this was a site I created to oppose Dean Lovelace’s re-election), I got a brief email from the publisher of the Dayton City Paper, Paul Noah, saying, “I am considering your request. Patience please. Plan to hear again from me before the end of this week. Genuinely, Paul Noah.”
Okay, I can understand that Paul Noah, like Jonathan McNeal with the film festival, does not have carte blanche as to what ads he may accept for the paper he publishes. Paul Noah is not the owner of the Dayton City Paper, and even if he does not have to run ads by the paper’s owner, he does have to be concerned about the viability of his newspaper. Would it piss other potential advertisers off if the Dayton City Paper accepted an ad for deanlovelace.com?
Apparently that was not an easy question to answer because despite Paul Noah’s having said he would get back to me by the end of the week, he did not in fact do so. A week after having gotten his brief email urging patience, I sent him a follow-up email to ask if a decision had been made yet. The following day Paul Noah sent me a reply, not a reply with a decision but a reply explaining that he could still not decide and moreover chastising me for my actions in creating the deanlovelace.com website.
As to whether the Dayton City Paper could accept an ad from me about deanlovelace.com, Paul Noah says, “[A]s your ad would be for the purpose of promoting the idea to voters to vote against Mr. Lovelace, I would need to see a sample of the ad copy you intend to run. More specifically, I would need to forward your ad copy to our legal dept. to review your ad in addition to having them view your website for libelous commentary.”
I am not a lawyer, but I do not think that my deanlovelace.com website libels Dean Lovelace.
If Dean Lovelace thinks that anything I have said about him is libelous, I invite him to bring a lawsuit against me.
I make three contentions about Dean Lovelace—that he let his registration for deanlovelace.com lapse, that he supports discrimination against LGBT people and that it’s time for a change—and I support those contentions. The first two contentions are fact-based: Dean Lovelace did let the registration for his domain name lapse, and Dean Lovelace did vote twice to keep discrimination against LGBT people in the City of Dayton legal. The third contention is one of opinion but also based on the fact that Dean Lovelace has been in office since 1993. If Dean Lovelace thinks that anything I have said on deanlovelace.com about him is libelous, I invite him to bring a lawsuit against me.
Had Paul Noah left it at that, that he needed to be cautious about accepting an ad in his paper for legal reasons, I might have been disappointed but would have had to accept his caution. However, Paul Noah had more to say to me.
Paul Noah thinks I was wrong to register the domain name deanlovelace.com. In his email to me he went on to say:
For the record, I have no opinion of Mr. Lovelace or of his record as I know little about him. However, I am disappointed that you decided to use Mr. Lovelace’s domain name for the purpose of campaigning against him. I believe if you would have left his domain name alone and, instead, created and promoted a website domain name such as “VoteAgainstDeanLovelace.com” you would have accomplished the same results without appearing to obviously and blatantly having taken advantage of Mr. Lovelace’s failure to remember to renew his domain name. In all fairness, it’s most likely that Mr. Lovelace had confided in another individual to register his domain name on his behalf and, therefore, it was likely the failure of his confident to renew the domain name. In my eyes, the fact that you had exploited Mr. Lovelace’s domain name expiration by purchasing the rights to it and utilizing it as a resource to campaign against him significantly reduces the credibility of your mission. It is for this reason that the Dayton City Paper may end up declining your request anyway.
I’m a bit surprised by Paul Noah’s righteous indignation at my having created the website deanlove.com. I replied to him to tell him that I could have understood such indignation if I had created a spoof website purporting to be by Dean Lovelace himself but not given that the website clearly states that I own the site and that it is not affiliated with any candidate.
I also told Paul Noah that I was a bit surprised that he claimed to have no opinion of Dean Lovelace’s record.
Why is it difficult for Paul Noah to form an opinion about Dean Lovelace?
If he had visited deanlovelace.com, he would have found links to newspaper articles and to Dayton City Commission pages documenting what Dean Lovelace said and what he did. In 1999 Dean Lovelace said that all discrimination is wrong but then voted to keep discrimination based on sexual orientation legal. In 2007 Dean Lovelace said that passing an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation was the right thing to do but then voted again to keep such discrimination legal. Why is it difficult for Paul Noah to form an opinion about that?
I agree with Paul Noah that Dean Lovelace probably was not personally involved in the registration of or the lapse in registration of the deanlovelace.com domain name. I doubt very much that Dean Lovelace has the technical expertise to register a domain name or build a website. However, I pointed out to Paul Noah that Dean Lovelace does have expertise in campaigning for office, and part of campaigning for office these days is having a campaign website. Dean Lovelace should have known that his campaign website from 2004 was, at the least, out of date because Dean Lovelace never directed that anything be added to it. That deanlovelace.com was no longer a functioning website in February 2011 when Dean Lovelace was running an active campaign for re-election is a reflection on Dean Lovelace’s management skills and worthy of consideration.
Paul Noah ended his chastising email to me by saying, “I am interested in your thoughts about my commentary above as I would hope that you consider doing the right thing and play fairly here.” He did not say what he himself would consider “the right thing” and what “play[ing] fairly” would be. Perhaps he thinks I should apologize for my actions. Perhaps he thinks I should give Dean Lovelace back his domain name.
My response to Paul Noah
Well here’s my response. I decline to apologize to Dean Lovelace. I stand by what I have posted on deanlovelace.com.
I stand by what I said: Vote against Dean Lovelace on November 8, 2011.
Unlike in my interactions with Commissioner Williams, who merely abstained from a vote to ban discrimination in Dayton based on sexual orientation, there is nothing Dean Lovelace can do to make me retract or change what I have said.
Dean Lovelace voted twice to keep discrimination based on sexual orientation in the City of Dayton legal and that by itself is reason enough for people who value the equal treatment of all Daytonians to vote against Dean Lovelace on November 8.
David Esrati wrote about my attempt to place a deanlovelace.com ad in the Dayton City Paper, in which Esrati says, “[Paul Noah] should not only accept the ad (with the addition of who paid for it) in his paper, but that he should keep his opinion on his opinion pages — and not insert it into political ads.”
The Dayton Informer ran an interesting video interview with Dean Lovelace about this issue, asking him what he thought of me and what he thought of gay rights. Dean Lovelace called me a jerk, which I can understand, and he said that “gay rights are not civil rights” although he later admits that gay rights may be “human rights.”
An Esrati.com reader had questions about Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance, and so, in a comment on Esrati.com, I give some more background about the laws in Ohio banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and on Lovelace’s actions to keep such discrimination legal in the city of Dayton. I also respond to Dean Lovelace’s correct contention that the LGBT civil rights struggle is different from the African American civil rights struggle; in the Dayton Informer piece when Dean Lovelace said that gay rights are not civil rights, I think what he was ineptly trying to say was that the struggles faced by queers and by African Americans are different. He’s right about that, and I point out some of the differences in my comment on Esrati.com.
Jeremy Kelly wrote an article in Dayton Daily News reporting on my taking over of deanlovelace.com.
Saturday, July 9th, 2011
Something from 1993 I once had in my office
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, or actually 18 years ago in this same fair city, I used to be a fairly recently out young queer professional, and I had a bulletin board on my office wall on which I posted things that made me smile and things that made others cringe, two categories that often overlapped. Looking through some stuff today I came across one such item that once hung on my office bulletin board and that, given recent events in the news, seems apropos to share with you today, namely a cartoon from 1993 by Mike Peters, the Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist at the Dayton Daily News*.
In case you don’t remember what was going on in 1993, and for the reference of future web surfers who may be sceptical that this ever happened in our country, here’s the scoop: we had a popular Democratic president, in his first term of office, who’d made some promises—expedient during his campaign but troublesome during his administration—to teh gayz,
A clipping from the Dayton Daily News that once hung on the bulletin board in my office
causing all sorts of consternation amongst conservatives who, whether they really believed it or not, claimed that allowing openly queer soldiers would lead to the demise of our once proud nation. Yes, I’m talking about 1993 and not 2010.
Mike Peters, bless his heart, was very astute in his criticism in this cartoon showing some of the popular canards about what gays in the military would cause and also showing that OMG we have already have gays in the military, even in high places.
Who’d’ve thought it would take our nation 20 years to begin to accept that queers can be good soldiers, even after numerous examples from other countries with fine militaries including queer soldiers?
Maybe 20 years from now Americans will finally look back at 2010 and at 1993 and realize how stupid we’d been.
Yes, boys and girls, this was back when people actually still read the Dayton Daily News. Yours truly even had a subscription and read the paper in black and white on actual newsprint delivered to his home, which is why the cartoon featured on this page was not saved from an image on a website but was scanned from a physical clipping (and then Photoshopped to remove its yellowed appearance).
Reading about the struggles in your church, both your congregation and your denomination, makes me glad I found the United Church of Christ, a denomination that’s settled this issue (although individual UCC congregations are allowed to differ), that supports the calling of openly gay clergy and that supports full equality for LGBT people, including marriage equality. As I said, I never was Lutheran, but I was raised Methodist, and as I’m sure you know, like Lutherans and other denominations, the United Methodists have long debated and continue to debate this issue. The ongoing debate in what was my church as to whether I was an abomination “incompatible with Christian teaching” or whether I was who God created me to be made me tired, tired enough to leave Christianity altogether for a time and then, after a brief return to Methodism, too tired to want to work for change in that denomination when I could find acceptance elsewhere.
You may well be wondering why I’m e-mailing you given my gladness that I’m not part of your struggles. You may well think what your church does on this issue is none of my business, and to a certain extent, if you think that, you’d be right. It isn’t my business. Whether Epiphany Church stays in the ELCA or leaves the ELCA will have no direct impact on my life; I’m not going to change my beliefs or change my church affiliation based on what you all say or do (and I recognize the irony inherent in my assuming, after such an arrogant statement, that you might change your beliefs based on what I say, but oh well).
However, having read that your church has 3,000 members, I thought to myself, wow, that means your church has a fair number of LGBT kids and teenagers and even adults, closeted or out. Take a conservative estimate, say two or three percent, and that'd be about 60 to 90 (or take a liberal estimate of ten percent, and that'd be 300!). These are the kids and the teenagers and the adults who are hearing your senior pastor say that homosexuality is “to’ebah,” that who they are is an abomination, that unless they manage to change who they are or at least suppress it, God will never accept them. These are the kids and teenagers and adults who are witnessing your church declare that you must take a stand against accepting homosexuality even if it means giving up your denominational ties, a stand that your congregation did not feel compelled to take on the issues of divorced clergy or remarried clergy or female clergy. A queer kid attending your church is getting the message that it’s better at Epiphany Lutheran Church to be divorced than it is to be queer. Perhaps as importantly, the non-queer kids at your church are getting the message that queer kids are “less than” and perhaps deserving of being bullied.
My telling you this, my pointing out to you that the message you send out makes you partly to blame for anti-gay bullying and for suicides committed by LGBT people, is probably not a message you want to hear, least of all from a faggot like me.
However, perhaps you’d better appreciate that same message from a heterosexual conservative Christian pastor, and to make you aware that there is such a person with that message is partly why I decided to write to you all. I’d urge you to become familiar with the Rev. Dr. Leslie David Braxton, Senior Pastor of New Beginnings Christian Fellowship. Apparently, according to an article on TheStranger.com, Braxton used to be an anti-gay preacher but now thinks the church’s rhetoric on homosexuality is partly to blame for anti-gay bullying and gay suicides and who thinks that “[t]he church definitely needs to have a conversation about sexuality.” I’d never heard of Braxton before today, but it’s rather serendipitous, isn’t it, that I read an article about him the same day I read an article about your church’s struggles.
I also want to point out some resources that you might find useful in your continued discussions about your LGBT brothers and sisters. One is a film, available on Netflix, called Fish Out of Water. My church in conjunction with the Dayton chapter of PFLAG sponsored a viewing of that film last month, and for us, of course, it was rather like preaching to the choir, given that folks at Cross Creek and many folks in PFLAG think it’s quite possible to be openly gay and Christian (and not just in a chaste Catholic celibate for the rest of your life kind of way). We lamented at the viewing that people who didn’t agree with the film’s message would probably never see it. I’d urge you, at least the pastors and leaders of your church, to watch it; it’d be even better if you had a viewing of the film for your entire congregation (even if you disagree with the film’s premises, surely your faith is strong enough then to be able to withstand challenges to what you believe).
Another resource that you can have access to is folks both at Cross Creek and in Dayton PFLAG. Although I am a member of Cross Creek’s Coordinating Council (I’m the chair of Cross Creek’s Justice and Witness Ministry), I am sending this message to you as an individual, not as a representative of Cross Creek, and I have no official capacity with Dayton PFLAG, but if you’d be interested in dialoguing about this issue with people who may hold a different perspective than you do, I’m fairly confident that I could bring folks from Cross Creek and PFLAG to the table.
One last point I want to make is that at first I was disheartened to see that 10 out of 15 of your church council’s members voted in favor of your congregation’s disaffiliation from the ELCA. However, after thinking about it more, I realize that’s the wrong way to look at it. Fully 1/3 of your church council voted against that decision. I don’t know who among you to whom I have addressed this e-mail feels one way or the other, but there’s a good chance that at least some of you to whom I’ve sent this e-mail are part of that 1/3 minority. I don’t know whether those of you in that minority fully accept your denomination’s decision about queer clergy or whether you disagree with it but also disagree with breaking your denominational ties, but I figured it might be good for you to know that there are gay-affirming progressive Christians in Dayton, Ohio, who are your neighbors.
My sending this message is also a reminder to myself that you all are my neighbors too. If I profess to be Christian, I have to try to love you, as distasteful as I may find what you say and what you do.
I wish you and your church luck as you continue to work on this decision, and I won’t bother you again if you choose just to ignore my e-mail.
Wednesday, October 6th, 2010
Ultra PC oppressed queer studies majors process “It Gets Better” to death
Since I pointed out the It Gets Better project (visit It Gets Better on YouTube and Facebook) a couple weeks ago, there have been tons of videos made and uploaded to the project, from all kinds of people telling their stories about growing up gay (or growing up straight but perceived as gay) and telling gay kids facing bullying today that life does get better.
You’d think that most people would approve of the message being put out to bullied queer kids contemplating suicide by the It Gets Better project—a message that there is hope, that life gets better if only they can hang in there, that there are resources available now to them (a great resource mentioned by many It Gets Better videographers is the Trevor Project).
Well, a lot of people do approve of the message, but some people do not. One person in particular, a cis (if you’re born female and identify as female, you’re “cisgender” or “cis”, as opposed to transgender or trans) lesbian who goes by the moniker “femmephane” when blogging, posted a lengthy criticism of It Gets Better. Apparently stories from me and other “classist, privileged, gay folk” are of no value to kids facing anti-gay bullying, at least according to femmephane. Dan’s and his husband Terry’s story of having met in a bar makes femmephane want to “vomit” (gay bars are bad because they’re “codified queer-space, restricted to 21+, w/ alcohol”). And gay men who can afford to go to Paris should shut up and let others talk.
Femmephane’s not alone in her disapproval of Dan Savage and/or It Gets Better. One woman “cannot separate her feelings about Dan Savage” and his “history of virulent fat hatred, misogyny, disablism, and classism” “from the [It Gets Better] campaign itself.” Another woman thinks It Gets Better is just something “dismissive” that people “talk[ing] over” suicidal teens’ heads say to make themselves (the grownups, not the teens) feel better without actually helping any “live LGBTQI [gotta use that PC acronym when you’re talking about queers] children.”
Watch this diverse group of kids from Youth Pride Chorus testify that “It Gets Better”These critics seem not to care that there are people from many backgrounds who like the message of the It Gets Better project, including a diverse group of queer kids from New York City’s Youth Pride Chorus. Don’t like what overly-privileged European American cis gay men have to say? Don’t like grown ups talking over the heads of LGBTQI youth? Well, look a little further. One criticism you cannot fairly make about the It Gets Better project is that its videos do not come from a widely diverse group of people.
A criticism of It Gets Better that is valid, however, is that It Gets Better is not enough. There’s more we can do now about anti-gay and other kinds of bullying.
Dan Savage addresses that in a followup SLOG post, pointing out that “there’s nothing about this project that prevents people from doing more.” And there’s another project recently launched to do just that, the “Make It Better Project, ” a project that “gives youth the tools they need to make their schools better now.” These folks are collecting stories on YouTube too, but they’re also encouraging kids to start Gay-Straight Alliances in their schools now, encouraging people to support the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act and organizing a Week of Action (going on right now) from October 5–11.
So compare and contrast, folks. On the one side you’ve got Dan Savage and the It Gets Better folk trying to reach out to suicidal teens and tell them life’s worth living and the Make It Better Folk and GLSEN and the ACLU working to make life better now for queer and other kids. On the other side you’ve got people using a bunch of rhetoric from their queer studies classes and complaining that overly-privileged European American cis gay men (and Jesus Christ, if lesbian African American transwomen get to self identify and choose their own labels, then God damn it, I get to call myself just a white queer if I want to) should just shut up.
Well, number one, good luck trying to shut us up, and number two, give some money to It Gets Better Now after you’ve ranted. I just did.
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010
A message for queer kids: It gets better.
If you’ve been a regular reader of my blog, you may recall a post I wrote a couple years ago—“Go [away], Skyhawks!”—in which I shared a few memories of my high school years, explaining how they weren’t the best years of my life and that I thus didn’t care to participate in my 25th high school reunion. (Interestingly, despite my telling Skyhawks to go away, searches for “Fairborn High School” and even “Fairborn High School class of 1984” are among those bringing people most frequently to my website.) It probably won’t surprise you (although it would have in fact surprised my teenaged self) that I’m not alone in feeling that way. Lots of queers do not look back fondly on high school.
In fact, quite a few queer teens right now aren’t having great high school experiences. Despite all the gains queers have made, despite the fact that queer teens are portrayed on such great shows such as Glee, there are still queer teens who are being bullied in school, who feel alone. Some feel so alone that they think the only way out is to kill themselves, which is what 15-year-old Billy Lucas of Greensburg, Indiana, did earlier this month, hanging himself rather than continuing to put up with being bullied for being different.
Was Billy Lucas queer? It’s impossible to know for certain, but he did get called “gay,” according to schoolmates of his (see this Fox 59 news report), and probably using ruder words like “faggot”
Cocksucker!Does it offend you to see the word “cocksucker” here? Well it should offend you more that kids in schools across the country are shouting “cocksucker” at their queer schoolmates.
and “homo” and “cocksucker” and many other words that newspapers won’t print.
How do I know what words Billy Lucas got called? Because I got called those words myself growing up (long before I ever sucked a cock or admitted to anyone that I wanted to). Bigots and bullies haven’t gotten more creative over the years.
And, again, though I didn’t realize it then, I wasn’t the only one. The Fox 59 news story about Billy Lucas’s suicide and bullying quotes a former student from his high school who also got called names and who got beaten up and whose “awful memories of high school came rushing back when he heard about Billy’s suicide.” This former student is only 21 and refused to be identified, but there are plenty of us who’ve since come out and will testify openly to our shitty treatment.
Someone else who’s willing to testify to the shitty treatment queer kids have faced and continue to face is Dan Savage, editorial director of The Stranger, Seattle’s independent weekly newspaper, and more famous as the foul-mouthed author of the long-running sex advice column “Savage Love.” Savage posted on The Stranger’s blog about Billy Lucas’s suicide, and now he’s sharing some of his own horror stories, how his being “really different” made school bad, how he got “picked on a lot, even by teachers too,” how he got beat up (read this New York Times story for details).
But Savage wants to do more than just talk about how bad school has been and how bad school is for so many queer kids. He wants to reach out to queer kids who are currently being bullied and who may currently be contemplating suicide with a message: It gets better.
Savage realized that we queers who’ve survived may not be able to stop the current crop of
Here’s a message from me to Candi Cushman of Focus on the Family: Fuck you!
asshole bullies from making life miserable for their queer classmates (or to keep asshole organizations such as Focus on the Family from supporting anti-gay bullies), but we do have the power to let the younger queers following up behind us know that they’re not alone, that life does get better if only they can hang on long enough.
And one way to get that message out there is through a tool we didn’t have as kids, namely YouTube. Savage has created a YouTube Channel called “It Gets Better,” and
Watch Dan Savage and his husband Terry
he’s managed to convince his publicity-shy (and cute) husband Terry to appear in the channel’s first video, in which Dan and Terry talk not only about their difficult experiences growing up queer but also and more importantly about how great their lives have been since high school. Since that first video, many more have been added, and more are coming.
Will I do a video? Probably not. I’ve done my part by highlighting this campaign, by being openly gay, and by talking about gay issues on this blog, including some of my experiences in school. That Skyhawks post I mentioned at the start of this post wasn’t all negative—I point out in it that “my life since high school has been much, much better,” and it’s true, my life has been good. It would have been better if I’d gotten this message as a teenager.
Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
I got a letter from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee asking for money. My first thought was to throw their pitch away, but I thought better of it and wrote a letter to their chair, using the handy postage-paid envelope to mail it in.
Here’s what I said:
Rep. Chris Van Hollen
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
PO Box 96039
Washington, DC 20077-7243
Dear Rep. Van Hollen:
I’m sorry, but I’m just not motivated enough to give the DCCC any money.
I gave money to President Obama’s campaign in 2008, and I have been a faithful Democratic voter, but lately I’m just not seeing the point.
You see, I’m gay, and as much as the DCCC might be right that we queers have no other realistic choices when it comes to politicians who might stand up for our issues, frankly I’ve been feeling as though we queers really have no choices at all.
Even with a Democratic President, a Democratic majority (even 60 votes until earlier this year!) in the Senate and a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, you all have not managed to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act or even to extend equal immigration rights to same sex couples.*
How about you manage to get any of these tasks done—and I mean signed, sealed and delivered, not just promising to do them—and then get back to me about my giving any money?
David C. Lauri Jr.
*Yes, you did finally get the federal hate crimes law amended last year. Sorry, but that’s not good enough.
The Democrats want me to spend money, but the Democrats don’t want to spend any of their political capital. President Obama will throw us queers a bone or two when it doesn’t matter, but when the Republicans are filibustering DADT, does he say anything? Nope. And speaking of that filibuster, why can’t the Democrats make the Republicans actually hold an actual stand-on-your-feet-talking-until-you-drop filibuster?
Yes, there are other political parties—parties that actually support full equality for queers—but giving them money or votes would be as good as throwing my money or vote away.
So instead I’ll continue voting for the Democrats, because I don’t want a Republican appointing Supreme Court justices, but I won’t give the Democrats any more money. (And I’m not the only faggot to stopgivingthe Democrats money.)
Update 9/22: It seems that the DCCC got my message more quickly than I’d anticpated—according to my site logs, someone from 18.104.22.168, an IP address assigned to the Democratic National Headquarters in Washington, DC, visited my blog yesterday evening. Not that it’ll make any difference in how the Democrats approach keeping their promises on gay issues or in dealing more effectively with filibusters in the Senate, I’m sure.
Wednesday, August 18th, 2010
Loving one’s neighbors (and caring for the children)
Sorry, Cardinal Sandoval, but I’m afraid you’re a hypocrite.
Do you really think the Christ whom you profess to follow would think that calling people “faggots” is how to love your neighbors? Somehow I don’t think calling me a maricón is what Jesus meant by “Ama a tu prójimo como a ti mismo.”
But, Cardinal Sandoval, the answer to your question, is “yes.” As I pointed out earlier this month to Pastor Mark Creech, there are thousands of children who’ve been neglected or abused by their birth parents and who are in need of homes. So what’s the best way to care for all these children? By excluding people who want to give them homes? Really?
Go clean up the sins of breeders, first, Cardinal, and then, when you’ve stopped the mass production of unwanted children, you can turn back to us maricones.
And by the way, Cardinal Sandoval, I’m Señor Maricón to you, thank you very much.
I guess Pastor Creech wouldn’t approve of the Christian film Pamela’s Prayer, a film given a “Christian Rating” of “5 (highest)” by the Young Ladies Christian Fellowship for its “skillful weaving of Biblical principles, righteous living, and love of family that produces a story that touches the heart and soul.” Why wouldn’t Pastor Creech approve of Pamela’s Prayer?
Bristol Palin, taught by her mother and father how to be a good mother to her son Tripp?
Because this allegedly Christian film teaches that “a widowed Christian father” could “lovingly raise his daughter following Biblical principles—preparing her for marriage and a Godly life.” How on earth could a man without a woman teach a girl anything?
I have to wonder if Pastor Creech approves of the job Sarah and Todd Palin have done teaching their daughters how to be mothers. Does Pastor Creech approve of the way Governor Palin runs about the country giving speeches instead of staying home to take care of her infant son Trig? Does Pastor Creech think that Bristol Palin’s rushing out to give interviews and pose for magazine covers about her unmarried state and her on-again/off-again relationship with her baby daddy, instead of staying home to take care of her son Tripp, is what a “good mother” should do?
Does Pastor Creech think homosexuals are responsible for all these unwanted and abused kids in his state?
Surely Pastor Creech can’t fault Briston Palin for how she acts as a mother, for she learned from her married mother and father, didn’t she?
And I wonder what Pastor Creech has to say about a 2007 article by the Jordan Institute for Families, “North Carolina Foster Care by the Numbers,” which reports that the number of children in foster care in Pastor Creech’s state continues to increase every year? Just who the fuck does Pastor Creech think has been doing all the fucking that produces these unwanted and abused kids? Just who the fuck does Pastor Creech think has been teaching the parents of all these unwanted and abused kids how to be mothers and fathers?
Don’t be an idiot, Pastor Creech. Gay men and lesbians are not responsible for the crisis in this country of poor parenting. Heterosexuals are. And if you want to play a game, Pastor Creech, why don’t you start collecting stories of gay parents who’ve abused their kids? I’d bet that for every one story you find about bad homosexual parents I could find ten about bad heterosexual parents. Don’t believe me? Take a look at Dan Savage’s collection of “Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father” posts.
Thursday, August 5th, 2010
What Mayor Leitzell should read in Judge Walker’s decision
Given that everyone and her sister is reporting and analyzing (an analysis I particularly like is “Analyzing the Prop 8 Win: A Few Large Points” by Brian Devine) and slicing and dissecting and giving her two cents’ worth on yesterday’s decision by U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker overturning Calfifornia’s Proposition 8, there’s really not much need for me to join the crowd.
However, given my own run-in with Dayton’s current mayor on this issue, I can’t restrain myself from pointing to a part of Judge Walker’s decision with which Mayor Leitzell should acquaint himself.
You may recall that shortly after Mr. Leitzell announced his candidacy for mayor of Dayton I e-mailed him to ask his position on Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance, and, unbidden, he felt compelled to comment on same-sex marriage, saying:
I do have a problem with changing the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage to line the pockets of lawyers though. It would mean that we could legally change the meaning of any word to suit our purpose. That could lead us on a very dangerous course.
Here’s the thing, Mr. Leitzell: tradition isn’t reason enough to deny people their rights. As Judge Walker points out on page 124 of his decision:
Tradition alone, however, cannot form a rational basis for a law. Williams v Illinois, 399 US 235, 239 (1970). The “ancient lineage” of a classification does not make it rational. Heller, 509 US at 327. Rather, the state must have an interest apart from the fact of the tradition itself.
The people defending Proposition 8 were given every opportunity to explain why the state should deny queers the right to marry—in other words to explain, as Mr. Leitzell phrased it, the “very dangerous course” on which allowing queers to marry would put our society—and they failed to do so.
Indeed, as Judge Walker points out, they couldn’t even prove that “the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage” in our society hadn’t changed (also on page 124):
[T]he evidence shows that the tradition of gender restrictions arose when spouses were legally required to adhere to specific gender roles. See FF 26-27. California has eliminated all legally-mandated gender roles except the requirement that a marriage consist of one man and one woman. FF 32.
Of course a mayor’s views on same sex marriage are unimportant, given that marriage isn’t a city issue, which is why I never asked Mr. Leitzell for his thoughts on marriage. Nonetheless, given just what his views are, Mr. Leitzell should just be glad that he doesn’t hold an office (such as that of the President of the United States) in which his views on marriage would matter and he would have to be able to cogently defend them. (President Obama, who has expressed opposition both to Proposition 8 and to same sex marriage, is not so lucky.)
As a musical the play would have been stronger with a cast more capable of singing—the ensemble numbers were the weakest part of the show. However, as Grossberg points out,
Talented opera singer Eric McKeever
Eric McKeever was a “notable exception;” he’s quite a good singer, as well he should be given that he works as an opera singer (read about his rather unconventional return to that career on his blog “Back in the Game”).
However, the play was still entertaining. It’s a riff on light-hearted 1930s comedies—think Philadelphia Story—combining a skewed theatrical view of “high society” with a love triangle starting out with person A engaged to person B and taking a convoluted path to realize that person A is really destined to be with person C. Only in this case person A isn’t a girl torn between two men but rather a boy.
English rose Daniel Christian
The boy in this case is Guy Rose, played by Daniel Christian, and some suspension of disbelief is required in order to enjoy the play. Just as Clark Kent manages to keep everyone from realizing that he’s Superman by simply donning a pair of glasses, so too does Guy Rose manage to confuse his two suitors, Boston millionaire Clarence Cutler, played by Scott Risner, and world famous reporter Casey O’Brien (McKeever), who, believe it or not, after missing the scoop of Edward VIII abdicating the throne of England for Wallis Simpson, decides to cover the high society same sex wedding of Rose and Cutler. Yes, that’s right—this alternate reality 1936 England won’t stand for its king marrying a divorcée but fawns all over queer aristocrats marrying one another. Suspend your disbelief and enjoy the play anyway.
The funny Scott Risner
Risner, who works outside the theatre world as a stand up comic and who went to Wright State University here in Dayton, brings some much needed comic relief to the play as the jilted lover scheming to keep Rose and O’Brien apart. His asides to the audience bring quite a bit of laughter.
No disrespect intended to Daniel Christian (considered mousey by O’Brien and Cutler if his hair was mussed and he wore the aforementioned glasses but found to be a stunningly beautiful “English rose” if he simply combed his hair and wore contacts), but frankly I found Adam Mesker
Go see Boy Meets Boy to see quite a lot more of Adam Mesker (in the end)
more attractive. Perhaps I was swayed by his revealing turn in the second act’s Folies de Paris scene, but I think any red-blooded 1930s gay guy who’d seen Mesker’s naked butt would have prefered he be the boy gotten in the end.
So, if you’re reading this before the play’s final showing on July 24, go see it and take Boy Meets Boy for what it is—some light-hearted fun for the gay guys. Overlook the weak singing (and enjoy McKeever’s talented singing), suspend disbelief (that you can bring cocktails into Studio One may help with that), and enjoy some gay comedy (and a view of a fine ass towards the end).
Thursday, June 3rd, 2010
Mayor Leitzell’s Pride Month proclamation (Click above image to embiggen)
If you’ve been a regular reader of my blog, you probably know that I was not a fan of Gary Leitzell during his campaign to become mayor of Dayton. This stemmed in part from his interjecting a concern “with changing the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage” into his response to my asking him where he stood on the addition of sexual orientation as a protected class to Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance. It also stemmed in part from what I perceived to be his hypocrisy on the issue of traditional marriage given the non-traditional state of his own marriage. And it also stemmed in part from Leitzell’s seeming inability or unwillingness to say clearly and simply that he would oppose any attempts to remove sexual orientation from Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance.
Now we finally have some clear evidence of Mayor Leitzell’s views on sexual orientation’s being a protected class included in Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance; that evidence comes from the mayor’s having issued a proclamation declaring June 2010 to be Pride Month in the City of Dayton.
God, talk about difficult. The man couldn’t just say back in December 2008 that he supported Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance’s inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes and would oppose any attempts to remove those classes? He had to raise the issue of marriage knowing full well that marriage isn’t a local issue and knowing moreover that his own marriage wouldn’t satisfy those clamoring for allegedly traditional marriage?
I’m glad this is finally settled. Thank you, Mayor Leitzell, for continuing your predecessor’s tradition of proclaiming June as Pride Month and for clearly stating that you are “committed toward ensuring that all of [Dayton’s] citzenry is protected from the harm of discrimination,” including discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.
Monday, May 24th, 2010
The futility of Facebook groups, and something concrete you can do instead
If you’re on Facebook®, something you’ve surely seen is the ubiquitous “join this group to show support for X.” These groups come in many flavors. A pretty common variety is the “I bet I can find 1,000,000 people who support X.” I have yet to figure out what precisely the consequences are of the success or failure of such bets. If someone who’s set up such a group fails to find 1,000,000 people who support X, does that person then have to give up his or her own support of X?
For example, there’s the group “We can find 1,000,000 people who DO believe in Evolution before June,” which, as of today, with only just over a week left to meet its goal, has found only 494,631 supporters—if, as is likely, they fail, do these people have to become Creationists? If somehow this group does manage to attract another 505,369 supporters by June 1, what do they think will happen? Creationists around the world will suddenly say, “Oh, wow! You’ve managed to convince me. I do believe in the scientific validity of evolution now.”
If you’re thinking that I don’t find such groups particularly useful, you’re smarter than I think most people who create or join such groups are.
However, some groups on Facebook do have some value, not by amassing some magical number of supporters but rather by dispersing useful information. A recent example is the group “Gay Rights are Human Rights even in Malawi,” a group whose founding was triggered by the imprisonment of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, a gay couple living in Malawi who were recently sentenced to 14 years’s hard labor. Their crime? Hosting an engagement party for themselves and publicly declaring their love for one another.
I include the link for “Gay Rights are Human Rights even in Malawi” not because I think you should join the group. If all you’re willing to do in support of Monjeza and Chimbalanga is join some stupid Facebook group, you might as well not waste your time.
The United States should not stand by and allow Malawi to imprison LGBT people just for being queer
No, instead, I urge you to do something I learned about from having visited this group’s page—write a couple letters. Someone in the group posted Monjeza and Chimbalanga’s address in prison and suggested that people send them letters of support, letters letting them know that they’re not forgotten, that they have supporters around the world. You don’t have to visit the Facebook group to get their address—I’ll give it to you right here:
Mailing a letter from the United States to Malawi costs $1.76 (four $0.44 stamps).
As you can see, I sent Monjeza and Chimbalanga a card. I don’t know if they’ll even get it, but I do know that someone in Malawi will see that these brave men have supporters in the United States.
You can also see that I wrote a second letter, to President Obama, and frankly, if you can make time only to write one letter, I’d urge you not to write to Monjeza and Chimbalanga but instead to write to the President. What I said to President Obama was that the United States should not stand by and allow Malawi to imprison LGBT people just for being queer, that the President should condemn this action and that the President should withhold any foreign aid to Malawi until not only Monjeza and Chimbalanga are freed but also Malawi decriminalizes homosexuality.
I realize that President Obama has been leery of taking on gay issues for fear of losing support among more moderate and conservative Democrats, but surely even the most hard core Christian can agree that imprisoning homosexuals is unacceptable. I have to hope that sending the President a letter will be at least a little more effective than joining a stupid Facebook group.
Saturday, November 28th, 2009
A propensity to be crazy
Beavercreek City Council member Brian Jarvis
Today I lunched with Beavercreek City Council member Brian Jarvis, and it was truly one of the most bizarre conversations I’ve ever had. I came away from it with a bit of a headache, so I warn you, before you get too far into this post (jump down to the end if you like), that trying to understand Brian Jarvis might be as ill advised as trying to understand Gary Leitzell.
Why did Mr. Jarvis and I have lunch? Because of a comment he made on esrati.com, a comment in which he said, “ ‘Gay’ is like having a propensity to an addicit[sic]’s to be hooked on crack, alcohol, etc. … it’s simply an unfortunate defect in the genes.”
As many queer folk (but not as many non-queer folk) might imagine, Mr. Jarvis’s comment caused quite a bit of consternation. David Esrati’s post, about the need for Dayton to face race, has 143 comments (as of my writing this) on it, more of which are about Mr. Jarvis’s comments on homosexuality than on David’s original topic.
My gut reaction to Mr. Jarvis’s comment was also to be offended — my first thought was, “Oh, really? Well, fuck you!” — but I recalled an earlier comment of Mr. Jarvis’s on that post (more pertinent to the post’s topic), in which Mr. Jarvis responded to something David wrote by suggesting it would be “good for a lunchtime discussion to see exactly where you’re coming from — tough to get into specifics in a sentence or two.”
And thus I told Mr. Jarvis that his comments had offended me and asked (challenged?) him to discuss them with me over lunch. To his credit, Mr. Jarvis agreed, hence our meeting today.
My assumptions led me to create a fun “Addicts” page.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from our meeting, but I did make some assumptions, and, just as I told Mr. Jarvis on esrati.com that an assumption of his was wrong, my assumption as to where Mr. Jarvis was coming from was wrong, too. The bell Mr. Jarvis’s comments about behavior and addictions rang for me was the conservative religious “Love the sinner, hate the sin” one, and in preparation for our meeting, I pulled together some of my favorite Bible quotes that illustrate the complexities of using the Bible to argue what is right or good. (Queers aren’t the only folk who’ve been thumped by the Bible; people have used the Bible in America to thump slaves and people of color.)
Yet at our meeting, Mr. Jarvis was quick to make clear (actually this was about the only thing he did manage to make clear) to me that he was not coming from a religious context. Just as I had come to our lunch with printouts to give to him, so too did he come with printouts for me, and his were not quotes from the Bible. Mr. Jarvis told me that he had specifically steered away from using the term “sin” because of its religious connotation; he did not want to try to make a religious argument.
No, instead what Mr. Jarvis brought to our meeting was a printout of this Wikipedia article on “Biology and sexual orientation,” an article he’d spent quite some time reading because he wanted to understand what scientists had to say about homosexuality. Mr. Jarvis also told me that he in particular wanted to read evidence from peer-reviewed articles by scientists who’d tried to keep their own biases out of their work.
As it happens, I was not unfamiliar with the content of the article Mr. Jarvis brought, having found articles about the possible causes of homosexuality quite interesting. I’d already read about twin studies and birth order and the size of the hypothalmus and hormones in mothers’ wombs.
Scientists have clearly indicated that homosexuality is a defect, or have they?
So you might think Mr. Jarvis’s turning to science would be a good thing, wouldn’t you? Well here’s where things stopped being clear and started being crazy. Despite our having read about the same studies, despite our both being fairly familiar with what scientists have had to say recently about possible causes of homosexuality,
Mr. Jarvis and I have come away from our reading with two quite different conclusions. My understanding was that the scientists involved in these studies were not making judgments as to whether homosexuality was good or bad but rather were just trying to understand its causes. Mr. Jarvis, on the other hand, thinks these scientists have been writing that homosexuality is a defect, something along the lines of spina bifida or a propensity to an addiction to drugs.
Thus Mr. Jarvis seems genuinely perplexed that anyone, especially anyone who’d read the scientific literature, would be offended at his comments.
Given that Mr. Jarvis gets that certain words have certain connotations (hence his avoidance of the word “sin”), I’m genuinely perplexed that he doesn’t get that comparing being gay to being hooked on crack or alcohol has certain connotations. And after being shown my fun new “Addicts” page, Mr. Jarvis said he didn’t care if I publicized his having made such a comparison.
I tried to get Mr. Jarvis to explain how he’d come to the conclusion that scientists were arguing that homosexuality was a defect, like a disease, as opposed to just something that is, such as eye color or handedness. He kept pointing to passages that talked about the masculinization of the fetal brain. Okay, so perhaps my brain wasn’t masculinized in the same way as that of a heterosexual baby’s, but how is that a defect? The level of masculinization of my brain doesn’t lead to ambulatory problems, physical pain or paralysis, as in spina bifida. I asked if he considered left handedness to be a defect, and he answered no, although ironically, if we’re using Wikipedia as our source for scientific evidence, the Wikipedia article on handedness talks about prenatal testosterone levels. Is there some major life activity that’s impaired by homosexuality? No, but that doesn’t matter; what matters is that scientists say it’s a defect.
Does the Americans with Disability Act ban discrimination against homosexuals?
An interesting strategy gay rights groups seem to have ignored came up from our debate as to whether homosexuality is a defect, like spina bifida, or something that just is, like handedness. I asked Mr. Jarvis if he thought people should be allowed to decline to rent to people who have spina bifida, and he said, no, that would be illegal under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Well guess what? If scientists can provide clear evidence of homosexuality’s biological basis, Mr. Jarvis thinks that discrimination against homosexuals is therefore already illegal under the ADA.
Note that Mr. Jarvis did not say whether he thought that discriminating against people with disabilities should or should not be allowed, just that it is illegal. He told me that it was not his job to determine whether things should or should not be allowed. What if an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation came to a vote before the Beavercreek City Council, I asked. How would he determine whether to vote for it or against it? Well, he answered, the State of Ohio has no law against such discrimination and therefore he would vote against a local ordinance. Wow, I guess it’s good that Mr. Jarvis is not a state legislator and even better that he’s not a federal one, for how would he decide on state or federal laws?
Robbing banks is wrong only because society says it’s wrong
Not by judging the effects of actions, apparently. I asked Mr. Jarvis how anyone was harmed by gay sex, as opposed to the clear harm that comes from robbing banks, another thing, apparently, like gay sex or doing coke, that one is born with a propensity towards. Mr. Jarvis could not say how people are harmed by gay sex, but it does not matter, he said. Really? Isn’t robbing banks wrong because of the harm caused by doing so? No, Mr. Jarvis said, the only reason robbing banks is wrong is because a majority of people in society has decided it is wrong.
So what, then, about the trends for ever increasing numbers of Americans not to have problems with homosexuality or even same sex marriage? In 20 or 30 years, when the majority of society no longer says homosexuality is wrong, will it no longer be wrong? That’s right!
In trying to draw some conclusions from my conversation with Mr. Jarvis, I get these:
Discrimination against homosexuals is okay because homosexual behavior is a choice, except that discrimination against homosexuals is wrong because homosexuality is a birth defect.
Gay sex and robbing banks are wrong because society says they’re wrong, but society might change its mind some day, in which case gay sex and bank robbery might no longer be wrong.
Queer folk have a propensity to be homosexual, and politicians have a propensity to be crazy.
Update: Mr. Jarvis sent me an e-mail with some clarifications; I post it below in its entirety.
Saw your write-up. Only a couple of areas I would correct.
1. In the paragraph about the wikipedia article, I actually indicated that I
had read many related scientific papers on the topic over the past decade
and that the wikipedia article simply reinforced what I had read over the
2. The top-right paragraph where you indicate that "...scientists have been
writing that homosexuality was a defect" is not quite what I said. What I
indicated was that the scientific papers indicated that extremes (genetic,
hormonal, etc.) during fetal development may result in defects which result
in homosexuality. (There were a couple of additional comments you have later
that I said scientists called it a defect, which also aren't correct.)
3. Regarding the comments on crack and alcohol, I think we agreed that as
long as you quoted me correctly, indicating something like"... the
propensity to be hooked on....." that I was okay with it.
4. Concerning the ADA paragraph. I didn't say that it would already be
covered under the ADA, I said that if it were ever covered under the ADA,
that it would then be protected.
5. In the bulleted list at the bottom of the page,
- the first bullet is not correct -- in discussing nature vs nurture, we
did not discuss nurture so, the discussion of "choice" never really came up.
(My recollection is that we focused on pre-natal.)
Just making sure that the details are correct. Of course, your call as to
whether you quote me correctly.
Ask people you know to name a famous historical figure from Dayton, and if they don’t name the Wright Brothers, they might name Paul Laurence Dunbar or John Patterson or perhaps even Erma Bombeck. But I bet they won’t name Natalie Clifford Barney. If you’re not gay yourself (and even if you are), odds are that you’ve never heard of her either. Yet when Natalie Barney died in 1972, her obituary was in the New York Times, and if you speak French and ever find yourself in Paris and ask about her, you’ll have a better chance than in Dayton of finding someone who’s heard of her1.
Why? Because Barney, an heiress of Dayton’s Barney Car Company, lived for decades in Paris as an out lesbian, feminist, writer, and salon hostess, bringing together authors and artists such as Romaine Brooks (her long-time lover), F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, T.S. Eliot, Rainer Maria Rilke, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Marcel Proust, and many more.
Long-time Dayton LGBT Center board member, librarian and Dayton historian Leon Bey spoke both outside during the dedication as well as at the reception inside the library afterwards. Over the years Leon has done a lot of research on Barney’s life. An interesting anecdote he shared was of going to Paris with his partner David and visiting Barney’s faithful servant Berthe Cleyrergue, who prepared for Leon and David many of the items she’d so often made to serve at Barney’s famous salons.
During the reception, in addition to hearing more from Leon about Barney’s life, we were treated to a Readers Theatre highlighting a small selection of writings by and about Barney. The readings also gave a taste of another historical perspective about Dayton, the annual Salon de DLGC (Dayton Lesbian and Gay Center, as the Greater Dayton LGBT Center was then known), held in the 80s and early 90s in the style of Barney’s Paris salon with performances by gay and lesbian Daytonians. You yourself can read the selections presented during the Readers Theatre by viewing the event’s program (in PDF format), which also includes an annotated bibliography of the sources used for the text of the historical marker about Barney.
To see some more photos from the dedication ceremony, visit the gallery page about the event.
(Click either image above to embiggen.)
1Si vous parlez français, this page has a lot of information about (and photos of) Natalie Barney.
Saturday, September 26th, 2009
Candace Chellew-Hodge provided the message part of Holy C.O.W., and Jason & deMarco provided the music part.
This morning I attended a workshop at my church by the Rev. CandaceChellew-Hodge (the first part of whose last name rhymes with “shoe,” not “chew”), author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians. Frankly I’d been a bit reluctant to go. I’m quite secure in my faith and don’t need what I thought Chellew-Hodge would have to offer, but because I chair my church’s Justice & Witness ministry, whose Equality Cross Creek team arranged the big Holy C.O.W. (Celebrate Our Welcome) Weekend of which this workshop was a part, I felt obligated to go. However, having gone, I can say that I did enjoy hearing Chellew-Hodge speak (if she ever wanted to give up preaching, she could take up a career in stand up comedy) and learned a thing or two.
What I’d thought Chellew-Hodge would have to offer (and my thinking this probably shows that I did not read her book) was a bunch of refutations to the various Bible verses so often trotted out by people who believe homosexuality is a sin, but that’s not what Chellew-Hodge’s talk was mainly about. She did offer one fun refutation, however. If someone cites Romans chapter 1 to show that God disapproves of homosexuality, you can ask whether that person has read Romans chapter 2, which talks about no one’s having any excuse to pass judgement on anyone else.
Yet proof text fighting, countering one Bible verse with another, was not the point of Chellew-Hodge’s talk. Instead, her main idea is that people who use the Bible or other arguments to condemn homosexuality are trying to offer a gift and just because one is offered a gift does not mean that one has to accept it. In other words, for those of us who are secure in our faith, for those of us who have come to an understanding that we too are made in God’s image, for those of us who find value in trying to live as Jesus taught and are comfortable doing so without having to try to change our sexual identities, (and, I imagine, also for those who are comfortable not being Christian) there shouldn’t be anything anyone can say that will bother us. I pretty much knew that already because the example she gave was already true for me — if someone tells me I’m going to hell, it doesn’t bother me. I know, for a lot of reasons, that I’m not going to hell. What I also know, but more often need to put into practice, is that I can’t change the minds of most people who do think I’m going to hell and thus usually shouldn’t bother to try to do so.
Chellew-Hodge also pointed out that if we are bothered by something that someone else says about our faith, that we are bothered is not about the person who said something but rather is about ourselves and is something we need to work on for ourselves. She told us about having been motivated to go to seminary in order to learn how to refute the various things fundamentalist Christians say about homosexuality, to be able to change their minds and convince them they were wrong, but she finished her studies, having gotten weapons that might come in handy for proof text battles, with the conclusion that she didn’t need to engage in battles to defend her faith, in part because such battles usually cannot be won but also because there are better things she can be doing with her time, better ways she can serve God.
Thus, often, Chellew-Hodge said, when she gets hate mail explaining she’s going to hell for her “lifestyle,” she just uses the DELETE button. Sometimes she uses gentle humor—tell her she’s going to hell, and she’ll tell you she’ll save you a seat.
Chellew Hodge also realizes that, just as our being bothered by something someone else says is more about us than it is about them, so too is what someone else says more about them than it is about us. So sometimes when she’s challenged by someone about homosexuality, she really disarms her opponent by using Dale Carnegie’s magic phrase and saying, “I don’t blame you one iota for feeling as you do. If I were you I would undoubtedly feel just as you do.” People who feel compelled to speak out against homosexuality often are looking to do spiritual battle and are surprised when instead their words are simply acknowledged as having been heard.
That’s not to say that Chellew-Hodge never engages in debates with those who disagree with her theology. She warns against doing so in anger and with the intention of coming away right because that leads to frustration and unhappiness. A debate is less about changing one’s opponent’s mind than about quietly influencing bystanders, some of whom might also think as one’s opponent does and others of whom might be, for example, closeted young queers. Gentle and respectful disagreement can open minds.
An example Chellew-Hodge gave is one I too recently found myself using, though perhaps not as gently and respectfully as she. In 2006 Chellew-Hodge spoke on panels in South Carolina against the proposed state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Once an African American man spoke up to urge that gay men and lesbians wait until public opinion had changed in our favor before pressing for our rights. Chellew-Hodge told him that after the 1967 Supreme Court decision striking down bans on interracial marriage, polls still showed over 70% of Americans disapproving of such marriages; she pointed out that civil rights shouldn’t be subject to the will of the majority. As Chellew-Hodge pointed out to us at Cross Creek this morning, one can still refute nonsense but should do so gently and respectfully.
Another thing Chellew-Hodge said that stuck with me was that people shouldn’t have to say, “I’m a Christian.” If you have to say it, you might not be acting in the most Christ-like manner. I think that this goes along with the rest of her message, that by striving to live one’s beliefs one can change more minds than by talking about one’s beliefs. It goes along with the best way to get people to be in favor of equal rights for all people including queers—the more queers non-gay people see going out our lives gently, respectfully, trying to work for justice, the less a big deal equal rights for queers will be. It’s probably also the only way to convince people that one can be gay and Christian.
Thursday, September 10th, 2009
Update – September 27, 2009: Due to Commissioner Williams’ clarification of his position on the issue of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the website I created on September 10th, 2009, is no longer about opposing the re-election of a particular candidate:
Friday, June 5th, 2009
Proud to dine with queers, proud to vote against queers?
I went to the Pride Dinner a couple days ago and was surprised to see Dayton City Commissioner Dean Lovelace in attendance. Why surprised, you might ask? Aren’t these types of events typically attended by various politicians? After all, Lovelace’s fellow commissioner Nan Whaley also attended, as did Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley.
Well the reason I was surprised to see Lovelace is that unlike Foley, who was there to tell us about Montgomery County’s new policy banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in county hiring, or Whaley, who was there to remind us of her support in 2007 for an ordinance prohibiting such discrimination in the City of Dayton, Lovelace actually supports discrimination against queers.
In case you don’t remember, in 2007, Dean Lovelace voted to keep discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity legal in the City of Dayton. Perhaps by attending the Pride Dinner he’s hoping that queers have forgotten that, and maybe also that African American pastors from the the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, who also opposed the ordinance in 2007, will be unaware of his attending a gay pride event.
If a white politician in 1967 had voted to keep racial discrimination legal, would he have been welcome at a NAACP dinner?
Perhaps if such a politician publicly recanted his vote and opposed any new attempts to make discrimination legal again, he’d be welcome.
I don’t know if black ministers are still thinking about trying to put Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance up for a public vote, but if they do, Lovelace will have a chance to redeem himself. Until such a time I say that his 2007 vote trumps his 2009 Pride Dinner attendance.
And I won’t have forgotten his 2007 vote if he runs for re-election in 2011.
Yes, I get the fact that 52% of voters in California amended their constitution to proclaim that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California,” perhaps the only section of any constitution you actually have read.
But have you also read the part of California’s constitution that says that revisions or “substantial alteration[s]” of that constitution require the prior approval of two-thirds of each house of the state legislature before voters may vote for them? You may argue that Proposition 8 was only an amendment and not a revision, but you can’t say that people who disagree with you are pulling something out of their asses.
For, you see, marriage is a substantial right. You seem to think that my referencingTurner v. Safley, U.S. Supreme Court 1987, and Loving v. Virginia, U.S. Supreme Court 1967, was an attempt to say that these two cases justified same sex marriage, but that wasn’t why I pointed out those two decisions. I pointed them out to rebut your silly argument that marriage is not a right. Marriage is a “fundamental freedom,” one of the “basic civl rights of man” (both from Loving v. Virginia). The right to marry is even more important than the right to vote—in many states convicted felons lose the right to vote, but no convict in the United States loses the right to marry.
You keep harping on the fact that in states other than California the voters haven’t had a chance to vote on whether queers may retain their constutional right to marry. Well guess what? Voters in these states had the opportunity to ratify their state constitutions, including the processes for amending those constitutions. It may well be in California that a 2% majority can vote to take away a fundamental right such as marriage, but voters in other states decided, when they ratified their constitutions, that they wanted stronger protections of the rights their constitutions guarantee.
And it’s been 10 long years since Baker v. Vermont and 6 years since Goodridge v. Department of Public Health. So your claim that what happened in Vermont and Massachusetts “were not decisions made by the people of those states” doesn’t have much substance, does it? If you were right, the people of these states have had quite enough time to vote out the legislators who have supposedly stymied their right to vote on same sex marriage.
I will concede that I’m not going to make you change your mind. Luckily I don’t have to. You and your ilk may win some battles. California’s supreme court may well let Proposition 8 stand. But it won by 2%. And we queers and our allies can keep coming back until the tides turn, which, MAConservative, they are.
Every reasonably well-educated person’s heard of Thornton Wilder, right? You know, the guy who wrote “Our Town.” The play that every high school drama department has to put on at least once every four years. That guy.
So I’m reading this article by Hilton Als in The New Yorker and color me surprised when Als, after opening his article with a anecdote from Tennessee Williams about two interactions with Wilder, casually drops the phrase, “Wilder, who was by some accounts, gay.”
Tennessee Williams, queer? Sure, anyone who’s got any gaydar at all knew he was queer. Thornton Wilder, on the other hand, flew too low on my radar to trigger anything.
What does it matter whether Wilder was queer, you may ask. Well, sure, on one level, it doesn’t matter. Yet on a critical level, as in The New Yorker article, one might examine whether Wilder’s sexual orientation affected his writing, and Als contends that it did, arguing that “Wilder’s view of heterosexual men” is why it’s the women in “Our Town” who have all the “emotional energy.”
And then there’s the fact that for years gay and lesbian kids were able to grow up without any role models. Sure, teachers don’t point out the sexual orientation of every heterosexual historical figure, but then they don’t have to—everyone is presumed straight. So yeah, I think it’d be nice if teachers who talk about Thornton Wilder pointed out that good old “Thornie” (as Gertrude Stein, a friend of his, called him—read more about that here) was bent.
Of course if they did that, the Christianists would have to add “Our Town” to the list of things they think we need protecting from.
Monday, March 16th, 2009
What a shame…
that homosexual men and women such as Wesley Hill and Bekah Mason continue, so many years after Stonewall, decades since it's been possible to grow up thinking you're "the only one" around, to buy into the bullshit that the only way to be Christian and gay is to consider a large part of who one is to be temptation towards sin placed in one's mind by Satan, something one must resist lest one imperil one's eternal soul.
There's no point in my trying to refute all the arguments that people such as Wesley and Bekah make. Obviously they have access to the Internet and obviously if they'd wanted to, they could have read all sorts of material refuting the worldview to which they're bound. Both of them, should they ever happen across this post, will probably pray to their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that I come to my senses, see the Light and mend my wicked ways.
Here's hoping that Wesley and Bekah don't waste too much more of their lives trying to suppress who they really are and that sooner rather than later they realize that their gayness is in fact a manifestation of the Divine within all of us.
Wednesday, March 4th, 2009
Last week I read on esrati.com about yet another Dayton mayoral candidate, namely James R. Greene, III, so, as I did with Gary Leitzell, I e-mailed Mr. Greene to ask about his position on Dayton's non-discrimination ordinance and the 2007 addition to it of sexual orientation.
And as with Mr. Leitzell I got an interesting response from Mr. Greene, not one saying, as Mr. Leitzell did, that traditional marriage should be protected—I hadn't asked Mr. Greene (or Mr. Leitzell) about marriage, which is not a local issue—but saying that he thought our laws already provided for protection against discrimination on any basis and that Dayton's law just mirrored that. Lest I be accused of misquoting Mr. Greene, as I was with Mr. Leitzell, here is precisely what he said:
First, as a practicing civil rights attorney for over 20+ years I am firmly convinced that our laws, as presently written, provide that no person should be discriminated against on any basis. Second, Dayton's ordinance merely reflects current law. Third, I do not believe that the discussions on Dayton's non-discrimination ordinance were properly framed. The focus of the ordinance should've been on treating people as you or I would want to be treated.
I was surprised by that. If our state's and nation's laws already prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, then what was all the fuss about getting sexual orientation added to non-discrimination laws? I wrote back to Mr. Greene and said I didn't think he was right and asked specifically if he therefore thought sexual orientation should be removed from Dayton's non-discrimination ordinance.
Mr. Greene replied back, saying that "[he] would not withdraw the ordinance," but that he disagreed with my interpretation of the law:
I respectfully disagree with your interpretation of the law. Under a Title VII (federal discrimination statute) comprehensive analysis, the United States Supreme Court in Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc. 523 U.S. 75 (1998) held that same-sex sexual harassment may fall within Title VII's prohibition of discrimination. The legal argument was framed this way: "…[a]s some courts have observed, male-on-male sexual harassment in the workplace was assuredly not the principle [sic] evil Congress was concerned with when it enacted Title VII." But statutory prohibitions often go beyond the principal evil to cover reasonably comparable evils, and it is ultimately the provisions of our laws rather than the principal concerns of our legislators by which we are governed. "Title VII prohibits 'discrimination … because of … sex' in the terms or conditions of employment." Thus, a reasonable legal argument can be sustained that a person who is deprived of means of support, employment and such when done on the basis of that person's sex, is impermissible because the US Supreme Court has said that harassment (including, hiring, firing etc., and I quote "must extend to sexual harassment of any kind that meets the statutory requirements." The Supreme Court is basically putting forth the argument that if one can establish that sexual orientation is the basis of discrimination, and that sexual oritentation [sic] has nothing to do with job performance etc., it is impermissible to use sexual orientation as a criteria to discriminate against that person.
I thanked Mr. Greene for his reply and said that I wanted to check with some gay rights organizations to see whether they could find any cases related to the case he cited. The folks at the Midwest Regional Office of Lambda Legal were very helpful. Cheryl Angelaccio actually laughed when I told her about Mr. Greene's position and asked for help in finding cases related to it. She didn't have any cases in which people had tried to use Oncale v. Sundowner for redress for instances of sexual orientation discrimination, but she did point me to a very informative PDF on Lambda Legal's website, "There Ought to be a Law," which summarizes multiple cases involving harassment based on sexual orientation, all of which specifically say that, contrary to Mr. Greene's opinion, Title VII does not apply to harassment on the basis of sexual orientation.
I shared this information with Mr. Greene and asked him if, given that courts have held that Title VII doesn't apply to harassment on the basis of sexual orientation, he still thought that Title VII would be applicable to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and if he could cite any cases in which someone who'd been fired for being gay had been able to obtain redress under Oncase v. Sundowner. His answer to that was:
The direct answer to your question is no. I am only aware of the case I cited being used for same sex discrimination in the employment setting (which is what my law practice is centered around).
Meanwhile in addition to asking Lambda Legal for help I'd also contacted Equality Ohio, thinking that perhaps they could give me some examples here in Ohio. They refered me to Scott Knox, a Cincinnati attorney, who has dealt with a lot of gay / lesbian / transgender / HIV issues, and Scott said what I'd noted above, that Oncale was about harassment not discrimination and that "[t]his case has absolutely no applicability to people who
are fired / not hired / otherwise discriminated against in employment because
So perhaps Mr. Greene is right and our nation's greatest LGBT legal minds are wrong, but I don't really think so. And, as I pointed out to him, even if he were right, it's important that sexual orientation be included explicitly in non-discrimination laws because our laws reflect what our society thinks is right and wrong and because having it included explicitly might discourage people from engaging in it. He points out that it won't prevent it completely, which is correct, just as having race-based discrimination being illegal hasn't prevented that, but I think it might stop some people.
Now I post all this not as an attack on Mr. Greene for being (in my and others' opinions) wrong about this, but because if he thinks this, perhaps other people do. Lord knows that enough people who aren't lawyers and who have never heard of Oncale think that firing someone just for being gay is already illegal. And even if Mr. Greene is wrong about the law I have to give him credit for thinking that gay people (and everyone) should be "treat[ed] as ... [he] would want to be treated," for not wanting to roll back Dayton's protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and for being willing to engage in dialogue about what he thinks.
At the end of all these e-mails between us, Mr. Greene asked me if I had any concerns other than the anti-discrimination ordinance and if so what they were. I answered him that I do have other concerns, giving him urban sprawl and race relations as two, in addition to wanting a decent grocery store downtown. However, I also told him that plenty of people share my other concerns and ask politicians about them, which is why I don't ask about a long list of issues but focus on gay rights. I have spent time personally working on race relations and spend time through my church's Justice and Witness ministry working on that as well as on the environment, but I don't see tons of straight people asking politicians whether they think it should be legal to fire queers. Well, actually, let me strike that; I do see a fair number of straight people who think that it should be legal to fire queers advocating for that. So, yeah, I'm going to continue to keep my eyes open, and when I see people running for office, I'm going to ask questions about my issue. You gotta love democracy, and the Internet, which makes dialogue with politicians much easier.
Monday, December 29th, 2008
Okay, one last post about this and then I’ll try to stop being so obsessive about it. Apparently Mrs. Leitzell’s last name isn’t Leitzell but rather a different hyphenated name. How do I know this? Not from being too cyberstalkerish, I think, but rather from reading this post on Gary Leitzell’s This Old Crack House blog, in which he posts a photo of his house complete with its parcel ID number as well as a link to the County Auditor’s page, where one can find all sorts of information about properties in Montgomery County, which I took as practically begging people to look up info on his property — I could post a direct link to the property and even a photo of it (not the photo from Mr. Leitzell’s site but one from the county website because I’m pretty sure county photos are public domain [United States government creations are]), but I’ll be (somewhat) nice and leave this as a homework exercise for you.
At any rate, the property in question is not titled to Mr. Leitzell but to a woman with a hyphenated last name. Could this woman be his wife? Could Mr. Leitzell, advocate of the traditional legal definition of marriage, have such an untraditional marriage that not only is he a stay-at-home father but also his wife did not take his surname?
Now let me be clear — I don’t think there’s anything wrong with women keeping their own names when they marry — my own sister’s last name is different from my brother-in-law’s, and I certainly would keep my own last name if I ever get married. I also don’t see anything wrong with stay-at-home fathers or home schooling kids — my own nephew is a student of the very same Internet public charter school (again, not overly cyberstalkerish but gleaned from a post on one of his own blogs) that Mr. Leitzell chose for his daughter.
However, what drives me crazy is someone telling me on the one hand that changing the legal definition of marriage to extend equal rights to same sex couples will set our nation on "a very dangerous course" and on the other hand himself adopting a non-traditional lifestyle. Mr. Leitzell, let me introduce you to Mr. Ratta, who I’m sure can tell you a thing or two about the dangerous course of letting your wife not take your last name upon marriage.
One really last thing: Same sex marriage is not a mayoral issue, unless you’re Gavin Newsom. I didn’t ask Gary Leitzell about same sex marriage. I asked him his position on the addition to Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance of sexual orientation as a protected class, and he volunteered his position on the definition of marriage. I also asked him if he’d be opposed to any attempt to take sexual orientation out of Dayton’s ordinance if he were mayor. I got no answer to that. Would Gary Leitzell pander to the same Christianists to whom our former Mayor Turner, who I will admit did some good things for the city, pandered?
Update 8/24/2009: I was right — Gary Leitzell’s “traditional marriage” is so untraditional that Mrs. Leitzell’s double-barrelled surname doesn’t even include “Leitzell” as one of its barrells.
The issue to me, I'm not opposed to that [rights granted to gays by domestic partnership laws] as much as I'm opposed to redefinition of a 5,000 year definition of marriage. I'm opposed to having a brother and sister being together and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage.
Sound somewhat familiar? It should, and it did to me because Warren's concern about the redefinition of marriage is shared by Gary Leitzell, about whom I wrote yesterday. Leitzell, you'll recall, is worried about the "dangerous course" our country will be headed down if we "chang[e] the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage." Ding! Now I know what Leitzell was worried about. He's worried, as is Warren, that if we let the queers marry then next we'll let brothers marry sisters and men marry children.
Just like has happened in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, and Massachusetts and probably will happen soon in Connecticut and would have happened in California were it not for Proposition 8.
Oh, wait... it hasn't happened yet, has it? Is there a push in these jurisdictions to legalize marriage between siblings? Maybe I'm just unaware.
And wait, men marrying children? Didn't that actually used to be legal? Wasn't it as recently as 2006 that a Nebraska man drove his 14-year-old knocked up girlfriend to Kansas in order to marry her because at that time Kansas had no minimum marriage age? So do tell me about traditional marriage, Mr. Warren and Mr. Leitzell. Seems that traditional marriage legally sanctioned what most people today would call illegal pedophilia. Let's return to traditional marriage?!
And one guy having multiple wives? Perhaps this isn't a danger Leitzell's worried about but Warren, a Christian pastor, specifically cited it as a danger that altering the "5,000 year definition of marriage" might lead to. Um, hello, pastor? Does that 5,000 years cover any of the polygamous marriages in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible?! Brilliant. Simply brilliant.
And that's probably Obama's master plan. Letting people like Warren and Leitzell talk about the dangers to American society presented by the gays getting married helps most Americans to realize how ludicrous that is.
Saturday, December 27th, 2008
A copy of a photograph of Gary Leitzell with his lovely wife and daughter was originally posted here, but he asked me to remove it.*
Traditionally no husband would be a stay at home father. So much for changing the traditional definition of marriage, huh?
I read in today's Dayton Daily News of Gary Leitzell's mayoral candidacy, so I e-mailed him to ask where he stood on last year's addition of sexual orientation as a protected class in Dayton's non-discrimination ordinances. He very quickly replied, saying that he has "no problems with equal rights for gays" but adding, unasked, that he does "have a problem with changing the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage."*
Funny, how equal rights for gays so obviously, even to a straight man, relates to marriage.
Funny, also, how people don't understand what marriage traditionally meant. Traditionally marriage meant a man was master of his wife or wives. He'd acquired her (or them) from her (or their) father(s) and legally couldn't even rape her (them) for how could a man rape what was basically his own property. Women had no rights in marriage traditionally.
You don't hear too many people advocating a return to truly traditional marriage, do you?
No, most people have grown comfortable with the idea that marriage is a relationship between two equal partners. And if the definition of marriage has changed to that, and don't tell me it hasn't, then what's so wrong with those two equal partners both being men or both being women?
*Update: Gary Leitzell e-mailed me to ask me to remove the photograph of him with his lovely wife and daughter, so I've done so, though you can still see it (at least for now) on his mayoral campaign blog or on his personal blog.
He was also dismayed that I had asked him "a question anonymously" and then posted his answer, taking it out of context.
Well first, I did not ask him a question anonymously. I used my real name and used my davidlauri.com e-mail address, not some made up AOL or Yahoo screen name totally unconnected to any real person. And second, he's a candidate for mayor; that he should be surprised that people discuss his positions on issues is itself surprising. And no, he did not specify that his answer was "off the record," though if he had done so, that'd be pretty interesting, wouldn't it? A candidate for mayor who didn't care to take public stands on issues?
So let's look at the rest of his reply:
I do have a problem with changing the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage to line the pockets of lawyers though. It would mean that we could legally change the meaning of any word to suit our purpose. That could lead us on a very dangerous course.
I suppose that could mean he doesn't mind changing the legal definition of marriage if it wouldn't line the pockets of lawyers to do so.
Or it could mean that he thinks that despite our having changed the legal definition of marriage in the past to preclude polygamy or to make divorce possible or to change a wife's rights that to change it by extending it to same sex couples would mean that we'd start changing the definition of other words too — perhaps we'll end up dangerously redefining legally "blue" to mean "red" or "expenses" to mean "income."
Why he'd think that, I've no idea. Seems to me that marriage has had a relatively straightforward (no pun intended) legal evolution and extending it to same sex couples doesn't mean we're going to be redefining everything.
And I think it seems that way to the justices on the Supreme Courts of several states (Hawaii: Baehr v. Lewin, 1993; Vermont: Baker v. Vermont, 1999; Massachusetts: Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, 2003; California: In re Marriage Cases, 2008; Connecticut: Kerrigan and Mock v. Connecticut Department of Public Health, 2008 [update 04/03/2009: and Iowa: Varnum v. Brien, 2009]) and a foreign country too (Canada: Reference re Same-Sex Marriage, 2004) as well as to the legislatures of some foreign countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada). But what do they know?
Wednesday, December 24th, 2008
If only gay marriage were illegal…
Dan Savage notes, after seeing an MSNBC report about the high number of abused and neglected children at a Utah polygamist ranch, that "none of this polygamy crap would be happening if it were illegal for gay people to get married in Utah." Damn Utah for legalizing gay marriage! Don't they care about the children? Oh, wait…
Monday, December 8th, 2008
Go [away], Skyhawks!
Yesterday a November letter addressed to me at the house I grew up in in Forest Ridge caught up to me via my mother (who also has lived elsewhere for many years). The letter was from the reunion committee of the Class of 1984 of Fairborn High School telling of all the great things they’ve planned for our 25th reunion next year and asking for updated contact info.
Wondering about the atrocious colors on this blog post? Read about them below.
When I was searching on Google for a copy of the Skyhawk logo, what should catch my eye in the search results but this young hottie:
I don't know his story (the Dayton Daily News story was expired), but go Skyhawk!
Well I regret to inform them that I won’t be providing them with updated contact info, nor will I be attending their festivities. Not that they care, I’m sure.
For some people (reunion committee members, perhaps?), their high school years were the proverbial best years of their lives. For me, thank God, that is not the case. My life since high school has been much, much better. The foremost reason for that is that I woke up to the fact that I wasn’t the only homosexual in the world, that I didn’t have to try to be someone I wasn’t and that by my being openly gay my homosexuality would no longer be something people could use to make my life uncomfortable. (In fact, being out of the closet means I get to make other people uncomfortable!)
It’s not that I was completely miserable in high school. I got good grades (straight As except for one single B*), liked learning and enjoyed most of my classes. I had some friends (mostly girls), a few of whom I’ve even seen in the last few years.
But there were days I really wasn’t happy and there were classes I really hated. Gym class, of course, I absolutely dreaded. Take a faggy boy and force him to show day after day that he has absolutely no athletic aptitude whatsoever. Oh what fun! Top it off with teachers who were either indifferent to name-calling and bullying or worse yet were oblivious to it. (Years later one of my high school gym/health teachers, a woman, attended my church for a while; when I told her how miserable I’d been in gym class, she was completely surprised!)
A fun example of a day in my life back then that I remember even now is being in the locker room after gym class and John Coppock yelling "Hey faggot!" at me and then mooning me. As it turns out John was both smart and stupid. He was absolutely right that I’m a faggot. But did he think that showing his tight pale buttocks to a fag was a good idea? (Thanks, John, for supplying me some masturbatory material! Trashy trailer park redneck boys can indeed be hot.) [Dean Christopher, on the other hand, who flashed his gross anus at me during one assembly need not worry; he was ugly and can consider himself safe from all gay men and probably from all women.]
So, no, I don’t really care to trek out to Fairborn (a place where when they say they’re going downtown, they mean Central and Main, not downtown Dayton) to spend time with a bunch of breeders, most of whom I’m sure are perfectly nice people but most of whom probably also voted for Issue 1 (and now probably couldn’t even tell you what Issue 1 was). If some miracle occurs and my former classmates decide they’d like to make up for their past ignorance perhaps by apologizing to their LGBT classmates, perhaps by making a collective Class of 1984 donation to a Fairborn High School Gay/Straight Alliance, then sure, let me know. Otherwise, I’m way, way, way, past done trying to get their approval.
*A note about grades: At our class baccalaureate ceremony the Rev. Melvin Younger (who lived with his family across the street in Forest Ridge and whose daughter Brenda was in my class and was Homecoming Queen) caused mild consternation among parents by saying that we kids would discover as we grew older that our high school grades didn’t matter. He was right.
**School colors: The current Fairborn High School is the child of two predecessor schools, Fairborn Baker High School and Fairborn Park Hills High School. Baker, when Park Hills was started, inherited the original Fairborn High School’s mascot, the Flyers, and school colors of blue and gold, while Park Hills chose the Vikings and colors of brown and gold. In 1983 Baker kids would have been oh so pleased for the merged high school, which is located in Park Hills’ building, to have kept the blue and gold and the Flyers, but to appease the Park Hills kids both mascots were ditched for the stupid Skyhawks and the two schools’ colors were merged so that the new school had colors of blue, brown and gold. Except they didn’t get Baker’s blue right, instead using a pale blue. Now it seems the brown and gold are gone from the current Skyhawk logo with Baker’s blue returned.
Wednesday, November 5th, 2008
I'm kinda pissed at black people right now.
Change, but not for everyone?
It's not because Obama won — I'm glad he won. I voted for him, I donated money to his campaign, I think the country and the world will be better off with him as President, and I even think gay people will be better off with him instead of McCain appointing justices to the Supreme Court.
California families are safe now that the queers can't marry any more
And I'm kinda pissed at Obama too. His campaign encouraged record turnout among all kinds of people but especially among African Americans. And although Obama thought Proposition 8 was a bad idea, speaking out widely against the issue wasn't something he felt important. And perhaps he was right to shy away from it, although with the polls in the last days of the campaign showing how overwhelmingly he was going to win in California and nationwide, I think he could have risked appearing in a No on 8 ad the weekend before the election.
This is just the latest in a long string of episodes involving African Americans joining up with other people to push for discrimination against LGBT people. Just last year "black ministers [in Dayton were] outspoken in their oppposition to" updating our city's non-discrimination ordinances to include protections for LGBT people. Of course last year's episode also included a courageous African American politican, Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin, who stood up for the ordinance and got it passed despite the potential harm to her career.
A big part of why I'm pissed off is that I've worked to end discrimination against black people, and yet tons of black people feel compelled to discriminate against me. My involvement's not been only token stuff, like marching in Martin Luther King Jr. Day marches, which, yes, I have done every cold January for years (thank God we queers picked June for our marches!). I've volunteered with the Dayton Dialogue on Race Relations since 2001, helping to faciliate groups in churches, schools, businesses and homes to get white people to understand the trememdous privilege we have because of the color of our skin and the structure of our country and to help black people to work with their white friends, co-workers and neighbors to find ways to change the status quo here in Dayton. I've spoken out to people at my predominantly white, suburban church about the need for us to work not only for justice for gay people but also for justice for people of color, and I've worked with others at my church to forge relationships between our church and a more racially-diverse urban church.
Of course my work on race relations hasn't been altruistic. I probably would never have gotten involved in it if I weren't gay, if I hadn't heard a black man at an ugly city commission hearing in 1999 ask me and other white gay activists where we'd been all these years when black people were struggling. While I don't introduce myself to DDRR groups as a gay man and while the point of these discussions is to dialogue about race not sexual orientation, I don't hide who I am, and my being gay usually comes up at some point (such as on the second night of a dialogue group last month where some of the participants noticed my gay car as we were talking in the parking lot afterwards). I work for racial reconciliation not just because I think it's the right thing to do but because I think the more black people who see a gay man working on their issues, the more black people who might take a more positive view towards my issues.
Hence my anger and disappointment.
This family's safe, so long as daddy isn't down low
Of course I realize that the black civil rights movement has a much longer history than does the gay one. African Americans and their allies have been fighting for their rights much longer than have LGBT people and our allies. So considering the hundreds of years it's taken to end slavery, to end dejure and reduce defacto discrimination, to gain African Americans a political voice, the gay rights movement's come a long way quickly. And white privilege and racial steering and inequality in housing and employment and the criminal justice system aren't going away simply because a black man's been elected President.
Yet despite the differences between the discrimination faced by African Americans and that faced by queers (most blacks can't hide — most queers can; most blacks grow up with supportive black parents — most queers grow up with unsupportive straight parents), our struggles do overlap. In every black church in America there are black gay men and lesbians. Voting to discriminate against queers doesn't affect just white guppies but also affects African American families. And a culture which fosters diversity and equal treatment for everyone, including LGBT people, is more likely to foster diversity and equal treatment for African Americans. And the real danger to African American families isn't white openly gay men and lesbians getting married — it's pretending that no African Americans are queer.
Our feature advertiser this week is Club Cleveland—A private mens' club that offers many amenities including a custom-built facility, state-of-the-art gym, indoor lap pool, solarium, seasonal sundeck, whirlpool, steam room, dry sauna, media lounge, and private rooms.
Now I had occasion once to recommend one of Club Cleveland's sister facilities, namely Club Columbus, but it wasn't because of the club's many amenities but because it was a better place for men to have anonymous sex than a park shelter is.
Is he selling you fitness or sex?
I mean, come on, sure you can work out at The Clubs, but they're not competing with otherfitnessclubs. "A private mens' club" may be what the Chronicle calls Club Cleveland, but in plain English Club Cleveland is a bathhouse.
Look at Club Cleveland's pricing page. "Gym Membership Pricing" is in smaller print underneath what they're really promoting, which are private "dressing" rooms. After all, as the Club's FAQ says, "You cannot walk into a locker and lie down whereas you can with a dressing room." If being able to lie down is what gyms are all about, NeoLimits better get with the program.
A Frequently Asked Question I found particularly interesting was, "Will The Club be busy on the day I plan to visit?" Having been a member of a gym, I know that is in fact a question prospective gym members do ask. However, that's usually because people want to know if they'll have to wait around to use the equipment. Somehow, I don't think that's what potential visitors to Club Cleveland are concerned about.
Now don't get me wrong—I don't think bathhouses are a bad thing. Earlier this week someone I know was in gay.com's Dayton 1 chat room complaining about how promiscuous gay men give us all a bad image and set back our quest for equal rights. I bet he disapproves of bathhouses. But he's not realistic, not in thinking that if all gay men were in monogamous relationships that the Christianists would be embracing same sex marriage nor in thinking that men are by nature monogamous creatures. So if men are going to have casual sex, why not have places that are out of the way of people who don't want to see men having casual sex and that at least take a stab at promoting safer sex practices (how many gyms have links to Safe Sex Guides on their front page?).
And I know Tony Glassman and the Chronicle as well as The Clubs are running businesses. Complete and utter honesty isn't necessarily a best business practice, even if that is a tad ironic for a newspaper if not a gymbathhouse.
Friday, July 6th, 2007
Having just read Allen Drury's book, Advise and Consent, featuring a senator who kills himself after being blackmailed over his homosexual past, I checked out Otto Preminger's 1962 film version, and, for the most part, I like the movie better than the book. Although the film clocks in at 2 hours 20 minutes, it's faster paced than the book,
The fresh-faced Senator Anderson,
played by Don Murray
and the film gives a glimpse into pre-Stonewall gay life that the book does not.
In the book Senator Brigham Anderson's WWII lover is given no name and makes only two brief appearances, once calling the Senator to apologize for having sold the blackmailers material and a second time atoning for his sins by jumping off a bridge unnoticed. We get no details about what Anderson's lover has given his blackmailers, and though we hear a lot about the photograph that first set off Anderson's enemies gaydar, we get only a vague description that it's "innocent-appearing" but bears a suspect inscription.
The movie, while it cuts out all of the subplot of how Senator Anderson's keepsake photo got into the wrong hands (and cuts out entirely the Supreme Court Justice who in the book found the pic), lets us see the photo for ourselves, and, showing two soldiers wearing leis but fully dressed in uniform, posed together but not even touching, it does seem rather innocent, were it not for the "Forever, Brig" written across the bottom. (The photo in the book, being one Brig had kept, surely would have had "Forever, Ray" instead.)
Another change the movie makes from the book is that we actually get to see some of the material the Senator's lover has sold off, specifically a letter the Senator has written his ex-lover asking him to stop contacting him. Brig's not really gay, you see, and the butt-fucking wouldn't have happened were it not "for the war and the exhaustion and the loneliness." I guess there weren't any women at all in Hawaii who wanted to sleep with lonely soldiers. Brig has "a good, normal life" now and "want[s] to forget there was ever anything else," though he knows "it won't be easy." Our Mormon Senator from Utah was bound and determined to be an ex-gay, and it seems he did a pretty good job of it.
The most interesting difference between the book and the movie is that in the movie Anderson decides to confront in person the only man who could have the goods on him. Hopping on a flight (the ease with which people jumped on and off planes back then is amazing) to NYC, Brig tracks Ray down, going first to what he discovers is a campy kind of cat-filled male brothel where he actually pays the proprieter, he thinks for information but for use of Ray and the room thinks the proprieter ("You can come back here with Ray — I mean you've paid").
Poor Brig, obviously not thinking clearly, heads on to Club 602, the outside of which is rather bleak but inside which is filled to the brim with all kinds of queers (this 1962 NYC gay bar is even racially integrated).
Oh yes, we know your type
The setup of the club isn't conducive to closeted married politicians wanting to sneak in for a hookup. No, instead patrons must first get past a trio of judgmental fairies and then find themselves under a spot light atop a flight of stairs in full view of everyone already in the club. Although the friendly bartender welcomes him,
During the Club 602 scene crooning on the jukebox is none other than Ol' Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra, singing not any song ever actually released but snippets commissioned just for this film: (MP3) Let me hear a voice, a secret voice,
a voice that will say, come to me, and be what I need you to be.
Long alone, I have sung the loser's song alone...
Brig loses his nerve, turns tail and runs.
But not before his ex-lover Ray (looking doable but aging quicky for a hustler) notices him. Seeing the look on Ray's face, you might think Ray still loves Brig and hopes to be reunited with him. Ray goes after Brig, which doesn't please Ray's current boyfriend (trick, whatever) — Ray, you're with me — but Ray wants to explain to Brig, and that explanation (I needed money and you wouldn't give me any) doesn't go over well. Brig escapes in a cab, pushing Ray to the curb and leaving him like the gutter tramp he is.
There was one part of the book I admired which didn't really make it into the movie version. In the book the Senator's colleagues are aware that he's being blackmailed and also pretty much aware of exactly how before he's driven to suicide, and they offer him some support. Brig kills himself during the day, while some of his colleagues are also working, and one feels particularly guilty afterwards for having let Brig talk him out of coming down to talk, feeling, perhaps rightly so, that he could have done something. In the movie, the Senator's colleagues don't know what's up until, after his suicide, they go to talk to his wife, who, in the film, has been given copies of the goods on her husband.
And another aspect of the film I really didn't care for was the casting of Henry Fonda as Secretary of State nominee Robert Leffingwell or the addition (not in the book at all) of his wide-eyed Opie-esque son. Casting Fonda made Leffingwell much more sympathetic than Drury meant him to be, as did having Fonda explain things to OpieJohnny. The film also changes slightly the fate of Leffingwell's confirmation, although I'll grant in a fun way that makes the Vice President look good and that ends the film neatly and quickly.
All in all, a film worth watching, much easier to digest than the book.
Thursday, June 21st, 2007
Due to traveling and apathy, I've had no Pride this month until last night when I attended a rather gay event, namely the Human Race Theatre's
production of Take Me Out, a tale about a baseball superstar who comes out. Since last night's performance was a special(ly discounted) Greater Dayton LGBT Center Pride performance, everybody's who's anybody in Dayton's gay community was there, so it was fun to see some people I hadn't seen in a while.
The set was done well, diamond-shaped with a dugout on one side, a lockerroom on the other and a combination home plate/pitchers mound in the center. Cannily crafted stadium lights and lockers of decreasing size gave an interesting sense of perspective to make the stadium seem larger, and good sound effects of crowd noise and stadium echo (even during Executive Director Kevin Moore's obligatory thank the sponsors/pitch the new season speech) made the theatre seem even more like a ballpark. As at Dayton Dragons games, that the stadium (err, theatre) was packed, added to the excitement and fun.
After Kevin's speech, the play got off to a traditional baseball start with the singing of the national anthem but without a soloist to help us on, leaving the audience to stumble through the words on our own without much help from the baseball players/actors on stage. We kept up the baseball motif as the play progressed, too, standing up in the second act for a seventh inning stretch to sing, what else, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."
When it comes to the actual play, I really didn't find the plot as gripping as it might have been. The newly out superstar, Darren Lemming (played by Lindsay Smiling), never really gained my sympathy, not even after the play's denouement. The play's narrator of sorts, Kippy (played by David Marantz), was likeable, and Marantz covered up somewhat for at least one awkward moment when he seemed to be waiting for Smiling to say a line.
I was a bit disappointed in another part of the play, a heavily-billed feature that was probably responsible for drawing much of the play's gay audience — the full-frontal male nudity galore. It was tasteful and integral to the plot (OMG, a faggot's in the lockerroom looking at my jewels!), and (another kudo to the set designer Dick Block) the batting deck artfully converted to a working showerroom, but most of the actors were not prime physical specimens (not being a baseball fan, I don't know — are major league baseball players actually fairly flabby?) and thus nothing really titillating to look at. There was one exception, one of the Hispanic players on the team (and unfortunately I don't know if he was Martinez [Greg Hall] or Rodiguez [Ramon Gaitan]) was in fact well hung and tight, with a small sexy tattoo right above his pert buttocks. Hello!
The highlight of the evening was a surprise to me because he's someone I know online (I won't reveal his gay.com screenname, but his profile there features a photo of him with a very sexy beard and moustache). Offline he is Brian McKnight and his portrayal of nerdy gay accountant Mason "Mars" Marzac was terrific. McKnight got all the sterotypically gay gestures and mannerisms down pat to great humorous effect, and he did what Smiling could not do, make me like his character. If you ever have the chance to see McKnight perform, do!
Wednesday, June 20th, 2007
Not very bright today, are we?
Assemblywoman Clark worries:
How are we going to
repopulate the United States?
I read an article in today's New York Times about the same-sex marriage bill that just passed in New York's State Assembly (and will die in its Senate). In debate about the bill one assemblywoman said something that, even if the year were 1989* and not 2007, is really just incredibly stupid. Assemblywoman Barbara Clark, who voted against same sex marriage, was concerned that "same sex couples can't reproduce and repopulate the United States." Now I'd never heard of the assemblywoman before reading this article, and so I have no idea whether she's mentally challenged, but saying something like that really makes it seems as if she is, doesn't it?
Does Ms. Clark think that if same sex marriage passes, all the heterosexuals are gonna turn gay? Perhaps she voted against the bill to save herself from temptation.
Is the assemblywoman privy to news from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that the rest of the world is not? Is it a well-kept secret that no baby Bay Staters have been born since the queers have been able to marry there?
Is it possible that Barbara, in 2007, hasn't actually met any gay people? Could she really not know that these days the gays are all about having kids?
I mean, come on, if you're gonna be against same sex marriage, don't say it's because you're afraid there'll be no Children of [Gay] Men. Instead fall back on something that can't be refuted, like the Bible tells you that homosexuality is an abomination and you want to make America a theocracy.
* In 1989 Denmark because the first nation in the world to allow same sex registered partnerships, conveying most of the rights of marriage to same sex couples. Denmark's birth rate has been declining somewhat but remains above 10 births/1,000 population, not too far below the U.S. rate of 14.
Tuesday, March 6th, 2007
Something that comes along with having a website is that you can look at your logs to see what's bringing people to your site. I got a particularly interesting hit today from Google, namely the query "is rhine mclin gay."
If Mayor McLin is gay
she hasn't told me
For those of you who don't know, Rhine McLin is the City of Dayton's illustrious mayor. I've mentioned her a few times, but I have no personal knowledge of whether she's gay or not. She is fairly gay-friendly, attending various local Pride events and issuing proclamations, but she certainly hasn't put herself out on the line to try to extend the city's non-discrimination ordinances to cover sexual orientation, unlike a previous city commissioner, Mary Wiseman, who is proudly openly lesbian.
The other hit I got today is from someone studying Shakespeare and wanting to know "which is the merchant and which the jew," something I had to consider for ENG410 once. Alas for the poor Googler, although my site can point him or her in the right direction, I do not reveal the answer.
Mr. Pyle and a gay Mr. Tumnus?
Don’t ask me how I found (it borders on, or even completely reaches, my being obsessive) this fun video, but find it I did, and color me surprised. Our Mr. Pyle does have some friends in the gay community, one of whom is none other than Mr. Tumnus, the faun from the Chronicles of Narnia. However, somehow I
can’t remember James McAvoy saying, “But please, could we do another round of Dance Dance Revolution?”
Take the time to watch the video for yourself (Mr. Pyle’s hottie son Nathan also appears). It’s fun, but I’m afraid it’s also a bit gay.
Thursday, October 19th, 2006 #2
Yes, it's rare for me to post twice to my blog on the same day, but I just got an e-mail that I want to comment on.
My friend is upset that the police do not "put hot undercover babes with their tits hanging out in parks [to] bust the straight guys," and he considers this arrest to be "entrapment and selective enforcement" and "cultural repression and isolation" to be "the crux of the problem."
Now entrapment is certainly a tool that the police and others use to try to weed out behavior they consider undesirable. However, the DDN article says that the men "were arrested Tuesday evening after undercover Dayton officers said they observed them engaging in sex acts in a park shelter." The men were not arrested because they approached an undercover police officer and asked for sex (there in fact used to be a law in Ohio against asking another man for sex, if the other man might find such a request offensive, but that was struck down as unconstitutional in 2002) — no, instead the men were arrested because they were fucking in a park shelter, clearly not entrapment.
I don't think it was selective enforcement either. The article also quotes Police Lt. Patrick Welsh as saying these "undercover operations" are common "in the park and other areas where public sex and prostitution are common." Prostitution stings against heterosexual men aren't exactly rare, are they? And last time I checked there haven't been tons of straight men and women heading to park shelters to have sex. Are the police aware of something I'm not and giving public breeders a pass?
I suppose you could argue that having sex in a park at night, when children aren't around, doesn't hurt anyone, and you could argue that police resources would be put to better use by focusing on other crimes. But I'd argue that working for the right to have sex in park shelters is not the best use of our resources either. Is having sex in park shelters more important than having the right to marry or to have health insurance or Social Security benefits?
A good place to have anonymous sex
No, of course, it's not, especially because there are plenty of alternatives when it comes to have consensual, recreational, man-on-man sex. In addition to gay.com there are tons of other websites devoted to helping gay men find sex partners. Find what you want online and invite him over for sex in the privacy of your own home (which, since Bowers v. Hardwick was struck down in 2003, is much safer from the police than a park shelter).
Married (to a woman) and still in the closet? Well if you don't want your wife catching you online at gay.com, then you don't have to resort to the park to find sex. You can drive up to Club Columbus or Flexx Baths, find yourself a man and have police-free sex in a private club.
My friend may in fact be right that "cultural repression and isolation" are the "crux of the problem," but that's not the fault of the police. Heterosexually-married, closeted gay men may think that sex in a park is their only option, but I cannot fault the majority of people who think sex in parks is inappropriate and should be stopped.
Note to Mr. Pyle: yes, sex in park shelters might be considered an example of destructive behavior, but I still think heterosexual johns cruising for hookers have gay guys outnumbered.
Wednesday, September 27th, 2006
Yesterday evening I attended a Community Conversation put on by the Centerville Washington Diversity Council at Centerville High School on "Gay & Lesbian Issues at the Intersection of Faith & Public Policy." I would not have chosen to go to this on my own — I'm way past the point where I need to hear the same tired arguments brought out by conservatives that homosexuality is wrong and homosexuals need compassion and cures — but my friend and pastor, Mike Castle, was on the panel and asked for people to come be in the audience to support him. Another friend and Cross Creeker called me at work a few hours before the event to see if I'd be going; he was worried about going alone. As you can see from the picture, he needn't have worried. Between Cross Creek and PFLAG there were lots of supportive people there.
Normandy United Methodist Church
Ephiphany Lutheran Church
Cross Creek Community Church
Dayton Christian High School
I suppose it's good that Centerville and Washington Twp. have a diversity council and that they're willing to discuss gay issues. Still the diversity of the panel selected for the program was a bit ironic — four white men, all Christian, all Protestant. That last bit was unplanned; Dr. Brad Kallenberg, professor of theology at the University of Dayton was originally supposed to be a panelist (no, wait, Kallenberg may actually also be a Protestant), but his spot was filled by Mr. Paul Pyle, who teaches Bible and Yearbook at Dayton Christian High School. Rounding out the panel, in addition to Mike, were the Rev. John Bradosky of Epiphany Lutheran Church and the Rev. Tom Harry of Normandy United Methodist Church. I hadn't met any of these other panelists before. It was only upon hearing about the event that I learned that Harry is the father of a friend of mine at Cross Creek, and it was only after googling Bradosky that I learned he is Centerville's official chaplain (thank God I don't pay Centerville taxes or I'd be pissed).
The format of the evening was that the moderator, WDTN's Marsha Bonhart, posed six questions (presumably written by the Diversity Council), each of which was answered by two panelists (one from each side). Then after a break there was a very brief time during which she read selected written questions from the audience for various panelists to answer. I liked how Bonhart started her duties as moderator; she said she had to be impartial but implied (especially later) that she personally supported the pro-gay side. Rather than echo the questions and responses, I'll highlight some points that caught my attention.
Homosexuality is an abomination but incest is not!
(You still shouldn't fuck kids!)
Bradosky talked about the holiness code found in Leviticus and pointed out that although lots of sexual behaviors are banned, such as adultery and incest, it is only homosexuality to which the term "to'ebah" or abomination is applied. Since Bradosky took such care to point that out, I suppose he feels that homosexuality is worse than incest. I guess it's refreshing that unlike most conservatives he sees a difference between incest and homosexuality.
Bradosky also went multiple times to the creation story in Genesis (surely he realizes there are two creation stories in Genesis) and said that since the story's all about God creating Man and Woman for each other, homosexuality must be wrong. Sex, he said, is about the reunion of two parts. Penises and vaginas fit together. Poor guy doesn't seem to realize that penises and rectums fit together too, as do penises and mouths.
Bradosky certainly knows the party line on homosexuality. Other old faithful points he trotted out include:
love the sinner and reject the sin
marriage has always been defined as heterosexual (hmm, well marriage hasn't always been defined as one man, one woman, though, has it?)
that the majority decides issues is the American way (too bad the majority in the South couldn't vote to continue slavery or Jim Crow laws?)
Scripture doesn't promise that life will be fair (hmm, I guess there's no need to work for justice here on Earth; just believe in Jesus and you'll get your rewards in heaven)
Pyle did pretty good for his team too. He kept insisting on two things, that we have to live our lives by Biblical authority and that homosexual behavior leads to destructive behavior. Pyle does acknowledge that the Bible is silent on some "disputable matters" on which people may disagree, but lest we think that Jesus was silent about homosexuality, we need to remember that Jesus went back to Genesis to answer a question about divorce and Genesis is, as Pyle's teammate Bradosky already pointed out, all about Man and Woman fitting together, so actually Jesus said homosexuality is wrong without having to resort to so many words. In the words of the Church Lady, how convenient! that we have Pyle to interpret the Bible for us.
Responding to a later followup question about what he would do if a child of his came out as gay to him, Pyle told us about his daughter who suffers from mental illness and how he struggles to help her find counseling that will help her avoid destructive behaviors. It's obvious that Pyle didn't get the memo that the American Psychiatric Association doesn't consider homosexuality to be a mental illness and that he doesn't know a whole lot of gay people. After the forum, I went up to Pyle to invite him to come to Cross Creek where he can get to know some gay people whose lives aren't all about destructive behavior. (I suppose I should hope Pyle never finds the pics I took at Folsom, though he can find plenty of pics of heterosexuals engaged in destructive behavior too if he cares to look.)
Harry did an okay job explaining what he saw the purposes of marriage to be (procreation, faithfulness, sacrament which points to God's loving nature, and support/companionship) and explaining that procreation was more than fertilization but also nurturing and caring for children. I'm sure he came across as wildly secular humanistic though to the conservative members of the audience because when asked in a followup question what the authority for his beliefs was, he said he'd sort of come up with his views on his own (an honest answer which probably mirrors my own thoughts but not appealing to people who like Biblical Authority).
Mike personalized the issue, talking about his partner Dan and their children Gideon and Jamie, about how Dan wouldn't receive Social Security spousal benefits if Mike died and about the difficulty in providing legal protections for their non-heterosexual family. Oh well, in the words of Pastor Bradosky, "Scripture doesn't promise that life will be fair."
I'd like to say that I met my new congressman today, but that might be a bit optimistic. I did attend the grand opening of the campaign headquarters for Richard Chema, one of two Democrats running in the special primary to find a replacement candidate to oppose Mike Turner in the race for Ohio's third congressional district. I went because I wanted a chance to talk to Chema and also because his new office is in my old neighborhood.
I figured Chema would be okay on gay issues, but it's always nice to hear it directly and to see how comfortable a candidate is talking about it. I asked him where he stood on gay rights, and he said that he didn't believe "government belonged in the bedroom," an answer that's not entirely satisfying, so I followed up by asking whether he'd vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would add sexual orientation as a protected class, and he said he would, going on to talk a bit more about keeping government out of "the bedroom."
There are two problems with his immediately thinking of the bedroom when asked about gay rights. The first is that when the Supreme Court struck down anti-sodomy laws in 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas, they effectively got the government out of our bedrooms, so while I'm glad Chema agrees with that, it's not really a current issue. What's more important is that being gay's not just about sex, no matter how much the radical right would like everyone to think that, and no matter how often even progressive candidates like Chema think that subconsciously. Being gay, at least openly gay, is also about finding housing and jobs and public accomodations, and being in gay relationships is about providing for and protecting one another. Keeping the government out of our bedrooms isn't enough, which I think even Chema knows, although he's not at all articulate about it.
Friday, May 19th, 2006
Observing the ballroom packed with the attendees, I noted that racial and ethnic
minorities were in the minority, possibly reflecting the multiple layers of
discrimination in the GLBT ethnic minority population, who are bombarded by so
many possible points of entry into the democratic process in order to improve
the enjoyment of civil rights and basic human rights.
What's this cumbersome sentence from? A 3385-word, 21-paragraph report written by a member of Diversity Dayton (and a faculty member of an institution of higher learning here in Dayton) who participated in Equality Ohio's first LGBTA Lobby Day last Wednesday in Columbus. And it makes me tired, on more than one level.
The superficial level is that this sentence offends the inner English major in me. "Racial and ethnic minorities were in the minority?" That's hardly surprising. Except for women, who though a protected class technically aren't a minority of the population, yes, minority groups do tend to be in the minority (although that is changing). Yes, I get that the author of this sentence meant something like, "Racial and ethnic minorities were underrepresented," but couldn't she have said that? What she meant by the rest of that long sentence, I don't even care to try to figure out.
Another level on which the sentence tires me is that it's yet another indication of how things don't change, also on multiple levels. The "LGBT community," at least in Ohio, is a predominantly white affair. There's lots of talk about why that is and little success in changing that. Certainly it's not something easily changed given the intense homophobia among African Americans (though, to be fair, there have been exceptions) especially in black churches.
Something else that's not changing in Ohio anytime soon is the political outlook for queers. Equality Ohio made a big deal about the introduction of a bill (HB 28/SB 331) that would ban discrimination in Ohio based on sexual orientation and encouraged people, including people at home, to campaign for it on Lobby Day. Well no Republicans (count them, zero) have signed
up to co-sponsor this legislation, and it has a snowball's chance in hell of
passing this session. Californians got their state legislature to pass a law
(later vetoed by the Terminator) giving gay Californians the right to marry.
In Ohio we're struggling to get our legislature to agree that maybe queers in
school do deserve some protections against bullies.
Now I don't want to sound completely like a curmudgeon. It's (usually) better to do something than to do nothing. For a first attempt, Equality Ohio had some measure of success. Over 500 people lobbied their state representatives
and senators for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Ohioans,
and these people were fairly well received. Speaker of the House Jon Husted
(in whose district I currently live and who I had the chance to meet earlier
this year on another lobby day) attended Equality Ohio's reception the evening
before. I heard from a friend about his visit with a Republican who represents
the rural district in which he lives, and apparently he (and two of her aides
who are Miami of Ohio alums) gave her quite an education on the environment gay
students still face in schools. Other friends told me that they feel the
anti-bullying bill (HB 276) stands a better chance of having the list of
often-bullied groups put back into it.
So I guess when it comes to working for gay rights in Ohio, I'm ambivalent. I'm too tired to be an active participant of a group like Diversity Dayton (I've already done my share of sitting through long meetings), but I'm also glad that there's a new set of young, newly-out queers in their 20s excited about making a difference. I'm just not optimistic about what they'll accomplish.
Monday, April 17th, 2006
No, the law doesn't give homosexuals special rights
Today while listening to WMUB I heard the depressing but not suprising news that Citizens for Community Values had succeeded in preventing implementation of an update to Cincinnati's human rights ordinance. What was even more depressing was listening to John Hingsbergen's explanation of what that update entailed. He said the law had been changed to extend protection "to homosexuals and transgendered people." Wouldn't that have been special? Homosexuals get protected against discrimination, but any of you heterosexuals can still be fired for being straight. No wonder there's talk about special rights.
Except it just isn't so. And amazingly CCV's website gets it right where WMUB and the Cincinnati Enquirer and even gay newsmagazine the Advocate all get it wrong. As the CCV notes in its headline, the law was changed to include "sexual orientation and transgender status." That means that not only would it be illegal to fire a faggot just for being gay but it would also be illegal to fire a breeder just for being straight. It's not about giving queers special protection. Sure, there's hardly an epidemic of straight people getting fired for being heterosexual, but they would get equal protection under the law, whether or not they need it.
To Mr. Hingsbergen's credit, after I e-mailed him to complain about the bias in his report, he promptly responded and acknowledged that his phrasing was biased, promised to include my comments in a Friday Feedback segment on WMUB and even asked if I'd be interested in sharing my views or even possible writing and recording a commentary on the issue.
Unfortunately the cross that I carried last Friday — apathy — is all too apropos. I really don't have enough energy or drive to write or do a commentary on this, beyond what I've just written here.
Friday, March 31st, 2006
I took over responsibility for the Dayton Gay Men's Chorus website this month. Our director, Gregg Sewell, set it up, and it looks pretty, but it got stale to the point that our March concert wasn't advertised on it until a week beforehand.
Now, I'm definitely not criticizing Gregg for not keeping on top of the site because when it comes to stale websites, I live in a glass house and because Gregg's responsible for a lot, from picking music to preparing for rehearsals and retreats to finding musicians to getting demo recordings made. But still an up-to-date website can be an asset to an organization, so we're going to do better.
The offensive material
Trying to uphold that spirit, I updated the site after our fabulous March Savory Songs and Decadent Desserts concert to thank everyone who came to that and to promote our Pride concerts in June (the 10th and 17th). I even posted a fun picture taken in the choir room at Shiloh before the concert.
Well, the picture, or perhaps the caption, or perhaps both, was deemed inappropriate by DGMC's officers and board, and yesterday I was asked to take the pic down pronto, which I did. At first I thought it was an overreaction, but I asked my best friend to look at the site and tell me what he thought, and he did think it was a bit much. I do see that it may not have presented the image that DGMC's board would want for the group, and I agree completely that my role as webmaster is to maintain a site that shows what the board wants shown.
So what image should DGMC project? Part of it is that gay men aren't just about sex, which is an important message. Back in 2004, DGMC was disinvited from participating in the All Ohio Boychoir Festival because of what they felt people associate with the word "gay." So I can see that saying on our front page that our director was "getting a little horny with the boys before our Savory Songs concert" might not help our cause.
But do we have to pretend to all be characters from Gay as Blazes, a bunch of noble gay men interested in nothing but culture and good works? Pretending is what it would be. Gay men aren't just about sex, but sex and kidding about sex is part of who we are (a part of who all men are even), as anyone who would attend one of our rehearsals would quickly discover. At times we're like a bunch of junior high boys, laughing about anything that has the slightest sexual connotation.
Nothing to offend here,
and no one to recognize either!
Besides, a staid image, such as the one to the right, which is from our last Christmas concert and appeared on the site until this month, isn't going to convince people like Reformation Ohio's Rod Parsley that we're fine upstanding moral citizens who deserve respect and equal rights. The only thing that might please them is if we posted on our front page that we were becoming the Dayton Ex-Gay Men's Chorus.
One more thing about that pic from December: see anyone you know? No, of course, you don't because you're not supposed to. A concern the DGMC board has is that of displaying photographs or names of people in the chorus who don't want to be identified. There are no photos on the site of anyone in the chorus. Members quoted on the who we are page are identified by first names only.
If DGMC were allowed to have but one message, it should be that we're proud of who we are. I realize that not everyone who's gay feels comfortable coming out or is in a place to do so, and that's fine. But if you're singing in this chorus and marching with us for Pride, you have to have reached a certain comfort level in strangers knowing that you're gay. If you're a gay married Republican Southern Baptist preacher, then perhaps joining DGMC isn't the right decision for you.
DGMC's board is going to work on establishing some guidelines for what goes on the site, and it's going to be an interesting discussion. All opinions and viewpoints have to be considered. And I do see that even if we decide that there's room on the site for some fun pictures from rehearsals or parties, such pictures may not be what we want to showcase on the front page (though I do hope we don't try to lock them up tightly in a members-only section — do we really not want non-members to know we have fun?).
Regardless of how DGMC's site develops, I am glad that there's a site over which I have exclusive editorial control. davidlauri.com may get stale from time to time, but if I ever feel like saying something, I've got a place to say it!
Tuesday, February 14th, 2006
Tuesday, February 14th, 2006
Today was a unusual Valentine's Day for me. It was Predatory Lending Lobbying Day in Columbus. Though I do work on a contract basis for the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center (MVFHC), which through its Predatory Lending Solutions Project helps victims of predatory lending, my job is web design and database development, not fair housing. My boss (and friend) wanted me to come along anyway, and it was certainly an interesting educational experience for me.
All the MVFHC staff plus some of the MVFHC board plus some MVFHC clients went to Columbus along with people from across the state to lobby state representatives to support Senate Bill 185 which would extend the Consumer Sales Protection Act to the mortgage industry and establish a fiduciary responsibility for mortgage brokers to act in the best interests of their clients (the day was organized in part by COHHIO). I got to meet one of
Rep. Dixie Allen
Rep. Dixie Allen's staffers (Rep. Allen, who was out of the office, covers the district in which I used to live),
Rep. John White
Rep. John White (who covers part of Dayton's south suburbs) and Speaker Jon Husted, in whose district I live now.
Allen was already on board to support the bill, but it looks like White and Husted will both support the bill too. Husted was interesting though because he explained that although he supports the bill, that it'll be difficult to get Republican representatives from suburban and especially rural districts to support it since they don't see predatory lending as a problem affecting their constituents.
What was even more interesting for me, though, were brief conversations I got to have with White and Husted about House Bill 515, a bill that would ban gay people from being foster or adoptive parents in Ohio and would also ban heterosexuals whose households included gay members from fostering or adopting. One of the co-sponsors of the bill is
I guess Seaver hadn't taken enough English classes yet at Wright State to be able to write his autobiography himself
I hadn't planned on mentioning HB515 to White, but we actually met with White in Seaver's office, which White pointed out as we were leaving (the office features pictures of Seaver's "as told to" autobiography Kid in the House, which tells how he ran for office at age 17), and I couldn't resist saying that, yes, I knew who Seaver was, a co-sponsor of HB515, which White should oppose, and White actually said that he did oppose that bill, that it was a hate bill. Interesting coming from him since he touts his religious background and many religious people from his background would say this bill wasn't hateful but necessary.
Husted I had intended to say something to about the bill since I live in his district and had brought a letter to him about the bill. I stayed behind as people left his office so I could tell him that I hoped he would oppose the bill, and he actually had quite a bit to say about it, including that he wouldn't let the bill even get to committee to be considered and that he thought such bills were divisive and turned focus away from the real issues facing Ohio. Apparently Husted is himself adopted and knows that many kids in Ohio still need homes.
So that was a little encouraging, that there are Republicans willing to oppose such hateful nonsense. Of course I doubt that the proponents of HB515 see the legislature as their only avenue. They'd love to put a gay adoption ban on the ballot to get conservatives to come out to the polls in November and vote Republican. But we'll know by May if they plan to do that since they'll have to get their ballot measure language approved.
Tuesday, November 9th, 2004
Issue 1 votes in Montgomery County
Presidential election 2004 in Montgomery County
See that island of dark blue slightly to the right of the center of first map to the left (you might need to zoom in to see it)? Those are the precincts in Montgomery County that voted against Issue 1 by a margin of at least 2:1. I live in one of them, Dayton precinct 1-B, which voted 307-90 against Issue 1, or a margin of about 3:1. (The gray areas also voted against Issue 1, just much more narrowly.) The vast majority of my immediate neighbors think that I should have equal rights, or at least that Issue 1 went too far in denying me equal rights. That shouldn't be too surprising since many of my neighbors are gay. So if you have to live in Dayton and want to live in the best part of town, check out the Oregon District.
The second map shows how precincts in Montgomery County voted in the presidential election. (Both these maps come from an article by Dayton Daily News reporters Jim DeBrosse, Lawrence Budd and Ken McCall.) You'll notice that in this map I live in a somewhat larger island of blue, roughly corresponding to the city of Dayton. (My precinct isn't dark blue, however, as some of my neighbors, even some gay ones, supported Bush.) Interestingly, there's a gray section from the first map that is pink in the second map (perhaps Oakwood and parts of Kettering?). Maybe these are the Republicans who actually listened when Governor Taft and Senators Voinovich and DeWine told them Issue 1 was a bad thing.
What does this mean for me? I'm still leaving. I wouldn't mind living on an island, but I'd prefer adifferentone.
Wednesday, November 3rd, 2004
I knew it was coming and I knew what people in Colorado and Cincinnati felt like when their neighbors voted to make them second-class citizens, but I didn't expect to feel so depressed once it officially happened in Ohio. I suppose I should take some solace in the fact that Ohio's amendment passed with a lower percentage than amendments in other states (only 62% of Ohioans think that not only should I be barred from marriage but also from even civil unions -- whoopee!). I suppose I should take some solace in knowing that 2 million Ohioans did in fact vote against Issue 1. I do take some solace in knowing that most of my friends and family voted against Issue 1.
It's not solace enough however. I didn't choose to be gay and I didn't choose to be an Ohioan. Although some might argue that in fact I can do something about the former, everyone must acknowledge that I can do something about the latter. There are states and in fact countries in which gay and lesbian people can have equal rights. I don't have to beg and plead with people in Ohio to treat me equally. I can leave and go someplace where I will be equal.
This is similar to a decision I made several years ago to leave the United Methodist Church. It wasn't that there aren't good people in the Methodist church, but it was that I was tired of being in a place where people were always arguing and voting about whether I deserved to be treated equally as a child of God. I was incredibly lucky to meet people forming a new church in which all would be truly welcome and equal, and we were lucky to find a denomination which has already had the arguments about whether gay people are made in God's image and deserve fair treatment. That church is Cross Creek Community Church, and it's something about Dayton that I'll miss.
I have a scholarship to study in Germany for six months next year, so I was going to get away from the divisiveness in the United States anyway. I'm not sure what I'm going to do after that. Probably grad school, probably somewhere in the United States, but it won't be in Ohio. The incredible freedom of being out is that I face less (overt, at least) discrimination, for example, in employment, because I wouldn't take a job someplace that didn't accept gay people. I'm going to apply that freedom to where I live too.
Monday, November 1st, 2004
Two reasons for feeling rather hopeless about tomorrow's election:
This morning a nice guy in one of my classes thanked me for being honest with him about why he should consider voting against Ohio Issue 1, said he had to vote his conscience nevertheless, and hoped we could still be friends. I replied that I appreciated his integrity in being honest with me, that we could still be friendly (there's no point in hating), and that I didn't think I could truly be friends with someone who would vote to make me a second-class citizen.
This evening I spent a little time in gay.com's Dayton 1 chat room where I learned that at least two ditzy faggots there did not even know what Issue 1 is. One said he spends too much time chatting with his online friends to read newspapers. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that straight people haven't done any research on gay issues, but I naively hoped that gay people at least would be less apathetic.
Here's hoping the concentration camps have good dance music.
Wednesday, October 27th, 2004
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.
Saturday, October 23rd, 2004
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.
Friday, October 15th, 2004
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.
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.
Tuesday, October 12th, 2004
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.
Thursday, October 7th, 2004
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.
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004
Andrew Sullivan points out a report that the Social Security Administration wants to remove language protecting gay and lesbian employees from its next labor contract. Without that language, the SSA could say to any gay employee, "We don't like gay people. You're fired," and there'd be nothing to be done about it.
Many Americans think that firing someone just because he or she is gay or lesbian is illegal, but that's true in only ten states. If you're thinking about voting for Bush, think about your gay relatives and friends. Do you really want a president who thinks it's okay to fire us for being gay?
Monday, September 20th, 2004
As civilrights.org and Queer Day, among others, report, Jimmy Swaggart is worried that gay men are going to hit on him. So worried that "if one ever looks at me like that, I'm gonna kill him and tell God he died."
There are so many things wrong with Jimmy's saying that, but let me just name a few:
Jesus teaches us to love our neighbors. Whether Jimmy likes it or not (or whether gay men like it or not), gay men are his neighbors too. Jesus wants Jimmy to love us, not kill us.
Jimmy doesn't seem to remember what his mother taught him about accepting compliments and saying no, thank you. Suppose a gay man did come up to Jimmy and said, "Jimmy, I find you incredibly sexy. Will you fuck me I love you. Will you marry me?" Assuming Jimmy doesn't want to accept this kind offer (Jimmy's fellow televangelist Paul Crouch is alleged to have said yes to a similar offer eight years ago), all Jimmy has to say is "Thanks, but no thanks."
I know that even Paul Crouch allegedly gets offers of gay sex, but somehow I think it'll be a cold day in hell before some gay man hits on Jimmy Swaggart. It's dangerous to speak for other people, but I'll go out on a limb and say for all gay men that Jimmy Swaggart is not our type.
By the way, doing a search for pictures of Jimmy, I came across his interesting CD Then Jesus Came. If I believed in the same God Jimmy does, I might not mention this, but I have to confess that the first thing I wondered when I saw his CD's title is what Jimmy was doing to Jesus before He came.
Wednesday, September 8th
If I'd waited a day before posting yesterday, I'd have had the news I was looking for: the Log Cabin Republicans have decided that they cannot endorse the President. Not endorsing Bush however is not an endorsement of Kerry. I wonder who Patrick Guerriero will be voting for.
Tuesday, September 7th
Proving that there are indeed gay people everywhere is the group Log Cabin Republicans, gay men and lesbians whose admiration for the likes of Ronald Reagan persuades them to set aside their distaste for things such as the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment because they believe that core Republican values are more important than any single issue. However, I read that even they are uncomfortable about endorsing President Bush (not that they're about to endorse Kerry instead). As far as I can tell as of today, they haven't made their decision.
Do Log Cabin Republicans think that Bush worries about not getting their endorsement? Perhaps it's more likely that he worries about actually getting it. In an article released today Bob Knight, from the Culture and Family Institute, writes that "LCR is just part of the radical, leftist crusade to transform America into Sextopia" and that "It's time for the Republican Party to realize its mistake in giving Log Cabin any official recognition." It seems to me that if those dirty left wing cocksuckers fine young gay Republicans do actually endorse Bush, the president will have to decline their endorsement to save face with a more important wing of his party.
I can appreciate that Log Cabin Republicans "work within the[ir] party for change." I just wonder if they appreciate that their voting for Bush will likely result in laws and Supreme Court justices who meet the approval of Bob Knight and Concerned Women for America.
Thursday, August 26th, 2004
Chris Harbinson is not gay
but apparently he thinks that being gay is bad. He's filed a lawsuit against outsports.com, which ran an untitled, uncaptioned photo of him on their site. Apparently someone saw it and called Chris a fag, and he's not man enough to just shrug it off. You know straight guys -- they're so sensitive. Of course some people say that the guys who are the most sensitive about homosexuality are closeted homosexuals themselves. I'm sure that's not the case with Chris, though, as he's made it quite clear that he is not gay.
Saturday, August 21st, 2004
My first event today was a family luncheon at Applebee's. My uncle Will's birthday was the 16th and my uncle Bill's is the 26th, so today was a celebration of both. My sister's in-laws came too, so the event was in part a celebration of Jackie's retirement. (Yes, Larry is wearing a Bush pin. No further comment.)
My second event was Saturday evening worship at Cross Creek. I usually go on Sunday mornings, but since I was going to visit my friend Keith's church on Sunday I decided to go to Cross Creek tonight. The Saturday service, at 5:30pm, had fewer people (at least this weekend), but was a fun opportunity to talk to people I hadn't seen in a while.
My third event was the Dayton Gay Men's Chorus performance as the opening act for the Rubi Girls at Celebrity. Our sound check was at 8pm, but we didn't go on until 10:30, which left lots of time for getting loosened up. As often happens when there is alcohol there was some nudity, which I probably shouldn't mention lest it attract more Google Image searchers. Despite some troubles during practice with the piano, our performance went pretty well, and, as always, the Rubi Girls were fabulous!
Thursday, August 12th, 2004
As you know from yesterday, I've been looking some at my web server logs and discovered (or really just confirmed) that people like to search for nudity on the Internet. Today I saw that someone got to my site by doing a Google search for "shirtless," and I couldn't keep myself from then going off and doing the same search, finding this wonderful blog whose owner posts tons of links to beautiful boys and men, often shirtless.
Sunday, August 8th, 2004
Kyle's B&B is one gay comic strip that I pointed out last year. Today I came across another fun gay comic strip, Adam & Andy. Definitely worth a visit.
I slept late but only til 10:30 since checkout was at 11. Luckily the hotel was able to check my bag, so I didn't have to carry it during the parade. I got some fries with mayo and found a place along the wall by the U-Bahn, just coming off the Deutzer Brücke (bridge), over which the parade would pass just after starting on the other side of the Rhine. Next to me was a 60-year-old grandmother from Turin who thinks gay pride in Köln is better than Karnevale. She was very talkative and made friends with everyone around us. The place was packed and kept getting more so. On the street were a few city police trying to keep people on the curbs and on the side of the U-Bahn tracks were a few U-Bahn police trying to keep people from sitting or standing on the fence. The police were good natured and realized their job was almost futile. On the street most big floats had people walking alongside to keep people back, a good thing especially with some of the monster tractors pulling some of the floats.
The parade lasted two full hours, and that was just to cross the Rhine, not to finish the very long route through the city. Many of the floats and people are similar to what you'd see in America, but not all. However, I thought the annual parade in Columbus was pretty big or even the last March on Washington I went to, but Cologne Pride is bigger, much bigger. Unfortunately I had to go since I have school in Lüneburg tomorrow. I pushed through crowds to get my backpack at the hotel and then pushed through crowds to walk to the Bahnhof (even so not a bad walk at all).
I got in on the wrong end of the car and had to struggle past people to get to my seat, which was the very last (first?) row. A woman was in the window seat already and lied to me when I asked, saying my seat was the aisle one. No biggie but still. Aber wirklich nicht. I noticed that my Hannover-Lüneburg said "fenster" but my Köln-Hannover said "mitte." Oops.
I got another brat at my now standard spot in Hannover Hbf. The train to Lüneburg was ganz voll.
An hour between Lüneburg and Hannover. Would it be worth coming to Hannover for a day?
A gray wet day in Germany, nothing unusual except that there are rainbow flags around the city and lots of tour groups consisting of only men. Lots of other tourists too, but still a lot of fags, many from America, too.
I spent an hour and a half at the Dom. Guided tours were booked up a week in advance, but for 1 € I got a nice trifold guide explaining the various chapels and windows. I like King Ludwig's windows best. They're little more than 100 years old though. Climbing the tower shows how out of shape I am. It reminded me that when I was in Paris at the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame it was gray and rainy too. Paris is a prettier city though, even in the rain.
I got a little lost but with the map and some luck, I got to Breite Straße, one of several pedestrian-only shopping streets but the one that headed towards Beligisches Viertel, a square which was supposed to, according to Fodor's, have a good but cheap restaurant called Green Card. I found the square, a bit run down, but not the restaurant, so I headed back from whence I came and had lunch at one of the many sidewalk cafés. Apple iced tea (yuck!) and a tuna sandwich (okay).
I wandered around the shops, making my way to the shop which sells the only echt Kölnishes Wasser (authentic eau de Cologne). We'd read about it in one of my German classes. It started raining but I finally got to Checkpoint, the city's gay and lesbian info office, which conveniently happened to be just across from my hotel. Stopped in my room for a brief nap.
Then I headed to Museum Ludwig, which normally has a great Picasso collection but has lent it to a museum in Munich in exchange for a collection of works by the Blue Rider group, painters who worked together in Munich in the first decade or so of the 1900s until disbursed by the First World War. I think I probably enjoyed their work more than I would have Picasso's so it worked out.
The way to the museum was already full of stands and people eating, shopping and celebrating but after a couple hours at the museum the streets were even more packed. I ate a few things, watched people and went back to the hotel for another brief nap. When I returned to Heumarkt, site of the main square, it was even more packed. I followed others pushing their way through, got a drink (by the way, Germany is like New Orleans with open containers everywhere including on the U-Bahn) and then found a spot by a fenced off stairwell from which I could see Jimmy Sommerville, who most definitely is still alive and very popular among gay Germans. No pictures though as this time I left the camera in the room.
Fridays are a different schedule. First all the tracks meet together at 8:30 (ugh, especially since class isn't until 10:15 the other days) for weekly exams, proctored today by one professor who happens to teach the one class of the day, conversation, after the exam period. The grammar test wasn't too bad, at least I feel pretty confident about it. For the lit test I had to bullshit some, a skill I'm pretty good at in English but need to practice in German.
The conversation class is three and a half hours minus a twenty-minute break, but it's only once a week. It's all the tracks together, so the vocabulary is easy. The toughest part for me is understanding the non-American speakers. German in an American accent is easier for me to get than German in a Spanish accent. In this class I finally met the Russian student about whom the others had been gossiping, saying she loves to hear herself talk. It's true.
We were to have a followup orientation meeting but four students traveling to Poland whined enough to get it rescheduled. Their train was the same time as mine though since I met them at the station. The trip to Hannover was uneventful although the train was 10 minutes late. I still had time to get an authentic bratwurst which I washed down with a Coke.
The train to Köln was packed. That didn't matter since I had a reserved seat, but, as on the train to Hannover, someone was in my seat. I got a window seat though. One thing I hadn't seen before was the special contraption they have to wheel up to the door of the train to enable a person using a wheelchair to get on. Quite a big deal. I wonder how he'll get off, if he goes to a small station.
A woman came through the car to do a survey for Deutsche Bahn. After interviewing the man seated next to me, she turned to me. I tried to decline, auf Deutsch, but she said we could do the survey in English, so I acquiesced. However, when we got to my reason for traveling, she didn't understand "gay pride" and had no more questions after I explained Schwulenfest auf Deutsch.
Germans like to use their cellphones on the trains, and they don't mind being loud. "Bist du da?" yelled the businessman as his connection was broken near Hamm (Westfalen).
On the train I had time to read more closely the gay magazine "Männer Aktuell" I'd picked up in Berlin last week. One thing I noticed was an interview with 20-year-old German singer Alexander Klaws. Just like interviews in American gay mags like the Advocate or Out. "I like all my fans, but sorry, guys, I'm 'super-hetero.'" However there was an interview with gay singer Jimmy Sommerville, who is not only still alive but only 43. Who knew?
In Köln I made the mistake of taking the U-bahn from the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) to Heumarkt, where my hotel is along with the main festivities this weekend. Not only did it require tranfering lines but I also got on going the wrong direction, requiring getting off and backtracking a bit. After I did get to the hotel and checked in, I walked over to the square where there were lots of people and stands (kind of like a big queer Oktoberfest), and as I walked along the streets through all the crowds I was almost to the Dom (cathedral), which is right by the Hauptbahnhof. It seemed farther on the map.
This morning's main event was a tour of the Jewish Museum, which of course does tell about the Holocaust but is really about more than that, documenting a thousand years of Jewish history in Germany. Jews faced discrimination since the time of the Roman empire, in which they were often forced to be the tax collectors, responsible themselves for paying any taxes others failed to pay. Later Jewish Germans had to pay separate additional taxes for the right to continue living in the towns in which they'd always lived. After unification the German emperor forced Jewish newlyweds to buy unpopular ugly China from his porcelain company. Finally in the Weimar Republic Jewish Germans received full equal rights, only to face the horrors of the Nazis and the Holocaust lass than twenty years later. Two parts of the museum, the Garden of Exile and the Holocaust Tower, were designed by its architect Daniel Libeskind offer visitors a glimpse of what was felt by those who escaped the Holocaust and by those who perished in it.
The weather in Berlin has been generally cooler than in Ohio this time of year but shares the feature of a lot of rain at unexpected times. Today being a rainy day, instead of proceeding directly to the Synagogue as planned, the group first went to an Asian/Indian restaurant, hoping the rain would subside. Meals in Germany take a long time, in part I suppose because Germans don't like to rush during meals and in part because the wait staff has no incentive to provide efficient service since tips are built into the cost of the meals. Since it was after 3 when we got close to being done with lunch and I didn't care to go to the afternoon's optional trip to the Soviet War Memorial, I ventured out on my own, wanting to go to the Schwulesmuseum (the gay museum). (Others in the group also went out on their own, to limited success; some tried to get into the Pergamon, which has fantastic exhibitions of Greek and Roman antiquities, only to be turned away because of the lines.)
Although it too gets a mention in Frommer's guide to Germany, the Schwulesmuseum doesn't even get close to the scale of the Jewish Museum. Instead of its own building by a famous architect, the Schwulesmuseum has a few sets of unconnected rooms downstairs and upstairs off a back courtyard on Merhingdamm in a poorer part of Berlin known as Kreuzberg. Downtstairs the museum did have an extensive exhibit on the French gay philosopher Michel Foucault, and upstairs some interesting works by gay artists were displayed, but the museum does not yet have the history of homosexuality mentioned by Frommer's. The friendly woman at the museum did explain to me that they plan an expansion by next June to include that history.
Having some time to spare, I went to Berlin's gay district, Nollendorfplatz, where I found a big gay bookstore, Bruno's, at which I bought some gay German magazines and some gay German books. I also found a nice bar/café with free WiFi, so I sat and enjoyed a große Coke while I uploaded my Pride Dinner pictures (it's hard to keep a blog updated with such limited Internet access).
As I mentioned earlier, football is huge in Europe, especially tonight because the Germans were to play the Czechs. Some of us had agreed to meet at the Sony Centre at Potsdamer Platz where people could watch the game for free on a huge TV screen. I got there at the agreed time, 6:30, and found a huge line stretched along the building. No sign of the others, so I got in line alone. Some of the others finally found me, we waited in line a bit and then decided to do what many Germans were doing, which was to leave the line, move to the front and try to push our way in. That wasn't very successful, and we were afraid it was going to start raining, so we left Potsdamer Platz and went back to the sidewalk bar on Friedrichstrasse where we'd been Monday, arriving just in time to get first row seats and missing by seconds a downpour. The service wasn't terrific, and I ended up with a Berliner Pilsner that confirms I don't really like beer instead of the sweet stuff I'd had before, but by blurting out that I also wanted a schnitzel I also got dinner half an hour before the others in the group who stupidly insisted on getting menus. We had a good time though, meeting some German businessmen hosting a couple colleagues from their English office. Everyone was happy when the Germans scored a goal, and then I couldn't keep from laughing every time afterwards the Germans had near misses, bouncing the ball off the side or top of the net. The Czechs ended up beating the Germans 2-1, ending German hopes for the title.
Saturday, June 19th, 2004
Today was the Pride Dinner in Dayton. I forget how many there have been, at least 10 years, probably more. This year's was special for two reasons, the first being that it was the first at which the Dayton Gay Mens Chorus, of which I am a member, performed, and the second reason being that it was the first held in the Winter Garden of the Schuster Center, a much more spectacular venue than the Convention Center. I didn't get to see all the drag queens since the Chorus held a final rehearsal during the parts of the show before us, but Dr. Bob was gracious enough to take pictures with my camera, so now you have visual proof that I am in fact part of the chorus.
Saturday, June 5th, 2004
Today was the third annual Dayton Pride march and rally, complete with sunny weather, shirtless guys, drag queens, the Dayton Gay Men's Chorus and Mayor McLin. I took lots of pictures, which you can see in the galleries.
Saturday, May 22nd, 2004
If you've browsed the books I've gotten lately, you might have noticed The Man Jesus Loved: Homoerotic Narratives from the New Testament. I haven't gotten too far in it since I only read it in bed. I usually read for pleasure just before going to sleep, but not for the reason you may be thinking (the book's not about gay erotic stories, although I do have a book or two of those).
Theodore Jennings' argument is that Jesus' beloved disciple, mentioned thusly only in the Gospel of John, was not only a man but Jesus' gay lover. I've never really considered this before, nor, I'd bet, have most people. Certainly people have considered that Jesus might not have been celibate, but perhaps the best known candidate as a mate for Jesus would be Mary Magdalene, especially given the popularity (notoriety?) of works such as The Last Temptation of Christ and The Da Vinci Code.
I wouldn't be upset if the people who think Mary Magdalene was Jesus' lover or wife are right, but they have some explaining to do about the disciple whom Jesus loved. Jesus did have more disciples than the 12 apostles, and some of those disciples were women, but Mary Magdalene was not the disciple whom Jesus loved. During the crucifixion (see John 19:25-27), Mary Magdalene stood at the cross with, among others, the disciple whom Jesus loved. Jesus then presented his mother Mary and that disciple to each other as son and mother, and Jesus' beloved took Mary into his home. So if Mary Magdalene were Jesus' lover and especially if she were the mother of his children (the Merovingian dynasty?!), why is Jesus sending Mary his mother to live with some man instead of with her daughter-in-law and grandchildren?
Of course there are many theories about Jesus' life, the predominant one being that he was celibate, sinless and divine (How can I consider myself Christian if I consider that just a theory? That'd be a whole other blog entry, if not a book). From what I've read so far Jennings does a pretty convincing job of dealing with these other theories, although he acknowledges that gay people may be predisposed to accepting that Jesus was gay (just as homophobes might be predisposed to reject such an argument).
In the chapter I'm reading now (5, "The Hidden Tradition"), Jennings reveals something that is not only surprising to me but that was also surprising to him, namely that this idea that Jesus and the disciple he loved were gay lovers is not new. For example, at the inquest of the death of Christopher Marlowe, one of the men accused of murdering him tried to justify it by complaining that Marlowe had said that "St. John [who many people, but not Jennings, think was the disciple Jesus loved] was bedfellow to Christ." That's just one example Jennings found. Accuse him of being a revisionist homosexual activist if you want, but he's not the only one.
Sunday, February 1st, 2004
If you've ever chatted on gay.com, you know that one of the fascinating things to do, especially when conversation in the room is dead, is to look at the various member profiles. I've made it a little habit to save pictures that I like or find interesting, partly because people may change their pictures later and partly because sometimes people post adult pictures which you can't see later after gay.com marks them as adult.
This weekend I've been lying in bed, not feeling particularly well, and to distract myself I made this nifty collage of pics I've saved over the years from profiles of people who've visited gay.com's Dayton 1 room. Pretty nifty, isn't it?
Wednesday, November 19th, 2003
Since the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court finally issued its ruling yesterday (that gay and lesbian citizens of Massachusetts have a right to marry whom they choose), I've been rather surprised by two things. The first is the excitement in the gay community over online polls about the public's opinion on the issue. The second is the news media's short memory.
Starting shortly after the ruling was issued yesterday and continuing on throughout today, people have been coming into the Dayton 1 chat room on gay.com to urge us to vote in polls about gay marriage on web sites of papers around the country. People popped into Dayton 1 to tell us about local polls by papers in Pittsburgh and Seattle and elsewhere and national polls by CNN and USA Today. Today the Dayton Daily News had a poll and I got at least three e-mails from people urging me to go vote in it.
It's just a shame that so many people are putting so much effort into such a waste of time. These polls don't mean anything, and even if they did, they shouldn't.
First, the software used by DDN doesn't prevent multiple votes. I voted "yes" three times and in that short period there were twenty-five "no" votes cast. Somehow I don't think there happened to be twenty-five people voting no at the same time I was voting yes. More than one person, sure, but more than one person voting multiple times. When the DDN closes the poll, the only thing the poll will tell us is whether it's left wing or right wing fanatics that care more about voting in the poll.
Second, even if the poll were an accurate and scientific representation of public opinion, it doesn't matter. The rights of minorities shouldn't be subject to the whim of the majority. That's why we have federal and state constitutions, to protect inalienable rights that shouldn't be subject to revocation by the majority.
That brings me to the other things that bothered me. I read in more than one media account of the Massachusetts ruling that it was unprecedented and unique. Well, it's not. The supreme courts of both Hawaii and Alaska ruled that denying their states' gay and lesbian citizens the right to marry was unconstitutional -- Hawaii's court did so ten years ago, in 1993. The fine people of both Hawaii and Alaska then amended their state constitutions, both in 1998, to be sure that a minority was not protected from the will of the majority.
So what's the best use of the time and energy of queer people and our allies? To run around and urge each other to vote in a thousand little online polls? No.
Instead we need to give each other a little civics lesson, we need to give that civics lesson to our friends and family, and all of us and all of our friends and our relatives have to write our state and federal representatives and senators and
give them the civics lesson. And that lesson is that Americans have constitutions for a reason, to protect the rights of Americans. If we start amending our constitutions to deny rights to certain Americans, what's to stop us the next time from stripping another group of its rights.
We might also want to remind our elected officials that allowing gay people the right to marry does not harm anyone's religious freedoms. Right now any church, mosque or synagogue can refuse to marry a heterosexual couple on whatever grounds it chooses, whether it's that the groom is of the wrong religious faith or that the bride is divorced. That won't change when it comes to gay weddings. If your church thinks gay people are going to hell, fine -- don't do gay weddings. There are plenty of churches that will welcome gay couples.
I had a busy day today. First I went to the seventh annual National Coming Out Day Prayer Breakfast, organized by Eternal Joy MCC. The speaker this year was the Rev. Dr. John McNeill, a priest who got in trouble with the Roman Catholic hierarchy for ministering to gay people without also teaching that gay sex is wrong.
Next I went to Yellow Springs to wander through the Street Fair. I didn't buy anything except for some food -- two shishkabobs, a spring roll, a fruit smoothie and a creme soda. The weather was great, and there were lots of interesting people to see.
As you can see from the pictures, some of the interesting people were making music.
Then I went to the annual Cross Creek Community Church fall festival. I took lots of pictures there, too many to organize right now. They will be posted on the church's web site in a few days, and I'm going to add some to my galleries here too.