Haters Gonna Hate. But They Shouldn’t….

I got this link from my friend Sarah, who felt it was vital that everyone read it. She was, of course, right, and you should.

“I’m Christian, Unless You’re Gay” by Dan Pierce. About beliefs, about acceptance and about how it can be really, really hard to love The Other, no matter what your religion tells you. It’s a good read, if a little rambly in bits, and tries to explore why it is we hate so easily without taking a moment to think about how that hate – based on such petty things as race or tattoos or religion or sexuality – can really screw up the lives of a lot of people.

Avoid the comments, as they rapidly devolve into a shit-slinging contest between Christian apologists and militant atheists. Which is pretty much a textbook definition of irony right there…

tattoo design

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Can you homosexuality?

So I came out to one of my classes yesterday.

It really wasn’t something I expected to do, certainly not in the lesson plan, but when that ball starts rolling there’s really very little chance of stopping it.

Here’s how it worked out: we were practicing some basic can/can’t, could/couldn’t language. We talked about some famous people – Salvador Dali, Albert Einstein, for example – and what they could and couldn’t do as children. Then the students had to ask each other questions – “When could you…?” or “What could you do when you were…?”

All well and good, and then I had them ask me questions since we had some time left and I needed to fill it. I got “When could you teach English?” and “When could you cook?” And then… “When could you get married?”

This question, or some variant of it, comes up from time to time, and I first correct the grammar – “When could you get married?” – and then tell them that I’m not married. This is usually followed by “Eh? But… Ring! Ring!” They point to the ring I wear on my left hand, given to me by The Boyfriend a few years ago.

And this is where the dilemma starts. I don’t feel comfortable sharing that part of my life with my students. Approaching that boundary between the teacher/student relationship and the human being/human being relationship is awkward to me, and I would rather preserve the distance in order to do my job better. I know other teachers do it differently, and that’s cool, and I don’t want to be a featureless placeholder to them. I need to be human enough so that they’ll enjoy the class, but not so human as to distract them from what’s going on.

It makes sense in my head. Really. I swear.

At the same time, I can’t lie about it. To do that, to say, “Oh, yes, my wife. She’s lovely. Moving on…” would be an insult to The Boyfriend. I told him, and he was surprised and, I suppose, flattered, even though he would find it hard to do the same thing. With his colleagues, he has chosen to avoid the issue as much as possible, and if that means making a few… embellishments so that they’ll change the topic, then so be it. My overriding sense of honesty, however, won’t let me do that.

As for the students, they probably get lied to enough as it is, and I don’t want to be a part of that if I don’t have to. They’re growing up, and someone has to start treating them like adults, if only in a few small ways.

On top of that, there is what I believe to be the ethical responsibility of someone in my position – a gay man with some authority and standing amongst a group of young people who are still developing their moral view of the world. I know that I have a chance to expose them to a gay person, to let them know that we are real people, which may help them be more tolerant and accepting of gay people in their future. What’s more, statistics suggest that there are probably about 50 gay kids in this school, and perhaps knowing that there’s at least one teacher like them will help them get through this tough time in their lives. I don’t expect them to start hovering around my desk from now on, but I hope that, when word gets around – and it will – there’ll be a few gay kids who can at least say, “Well, he’s gay and open about it and doing okay. Maybe I can deal with it too.”

All this shoots through my head, creating a cognitive block so that all I can really do is answer the questions as they are fired at me rather than just open my mouth and explain the whole thing. Am I divorced? No. Is it fashion? No. Is she dead? No. Is it another man’s wife? Hell, no.

Finally, one of the boys asked if it was a woman or a man, and laughed at the ridiculousness of the idea. I told them that was the key question, and that was pretty much that. They asked if I was serious, the girls thought it was the coolest thing in the world, and I had to let them all kind of freak out for a minute before I ended the class. To my relief – but not surprise – no one really got upset as far as I could tell. And the Alphas in the class seemed cool with it, which is the important thing.

Any remnant of a lesson plan that I had was pretty much out the window, so we ended early.

I’m not afraid of anything, certainly – my colleagues all know, and no one has blinked at it. And I think I’ve built up enough of a rapport with my students between last year and this year that even if they have a predisposition against gay people, they may find themselves wondering if they can maintain it against someone they know and like.

It was just a very strange way to end my day, and I figured I’d share.

UPDATE (22 October): The other day, one of the Alphas came up to me as I was preparing the whiteboard for the lesson and said, “Can I ask you something?” And my answer to that is always, of course, Yes. So he stood next to me, and in kind of a stage whisper asked, “Are you… gay?”

Given the above, I figured he’d either forgotten about it or just not taken it seriously at the time. So I said, “Yes I am.”

“Really?”

“Yup.” And I continued writing vocabulary up on the board. He turned around and said to his friends, “Yes.” And that was the last I heard about it.

Until some of the girls asked what my favorite color was, and seemed shocked that it wasn’t rainbow. TV has a lot to answer for.

I wanted to take him aside after class and ask why he asked me, but I didn’t. Somehow I figured that it wasn’t the right question to ask – at least not then and there. So we’ll see how things work out.

At least contempt is some kind of attention

I feel bad for Gay Republicans, I really do. They may not need my pity, but there it is.

I read about Homocon, a recent convention for gay Republicans, where Ann Coulter was one of the main speakers. With her usual sandpaper-like delicacy and tact, Ms. Coulter ran off some rather bad gay jokes, culminating in the quip that same-sex marriage “is not a civil right – you’re not black,” and then implying that because gay oppression is not comparable to black oppression, we should all just stop whining.

Like any population of people, gays and lesbians are going to have internal political differences. While I believe that being One Of Us does oblige you to favor social justice [1], there’s nothing in the Gay Rules and Bylaws that says you can’t favor small government over large, market freedom, aggressive national security, tax cuts and other conservative standards.

The problem for a politically or economically conservative gay or lesbian person is that they have nowhere to go but into the arms of the people who actively and openly hate them.

The Democrats are out, obviously, seeing as how even though they’re nicer to queers, every other part of their agenda would be abhorrent to a Conservative. Third parties are fine and all, but let’s face it – voting for the Libertarians isn’t exactly hitching your wagon to a star.

All that’s left for the conservative homosexual who wants to be politically active is the GOP, and going to them is like Wendy Torrance thinking that maybe Jack is just smashing through the door with an axe to tell her he’s awfully sorry about trying to kill her.

Listen, Gay Republicans: your party hates you. [2] They would be perfectly happy if you just vanished from the political landscape. The only reason someone like Coulter comes to talk to you is because she gets off on abusing people who won’t or can’t hit back. You don’t have the voting numbers that the conservative Christians do – hell, even NASCAR fans would be a better political investment. You’re a trophy minority for the Republican Party – token fags that they can show off to their friends. You’re in a classic abusive relationship, and you keep going back because you have this deluded vision that Maybe This Time Will Be Different.

But it won’t. The GOP – and its twisted, mutie by-blow the Tea Party – are never going to sincerely welcome you in and fight for your rights. Not in our lifetimes, anyway. Every time you write a check for the RNC, you’re giving aid and comfort to those who want you to get back in the closet and shut the hell up.

But right now, you have nowhere else to go, not if you want to remain true to your politics. That’s why I pity you.

But my pity runs thin – you’re choosing to be true to your politics rather than yourselves.

Maybe it’s because you can’t bear the thought that, if you go, no one in the party you supported will actually miss you. And maybe knowing you’re alone is worse than throwing your lot in with those who despise you.

——————-

[1] If you’re a member of an oppressed minority and you’re opposed to the full and free civil rights of other oppressed minorities, then you’re a cyclopean hypocrite and need to go away.

[2] Individual Republicans may vary. I know plenty of (straight) Republicans who are very much in favor of gay civil rights and vote accordingly. But then, they don’t make party policy.

I know we’re not supposed to keep score or anything, but….

We got James Randi!

James Randi, famous magician and skeptic, has publicly come out of the closet at the age of 81. You can listen to him talk about it on the For Good Reason podcast. Listening to him, I can really understand where he’s coming from. Being gay has just been part of who he is, not the defining quality of who he is. And of all those parts of him – magician, skeptic – being a gay man wasn’t the most important part of who he was. “I never adopted any protective coloration.” Nice turn of phrase….

Of course, now we have someone else to point to when gay youth feel like there’s no one out there who understands what they’re going through. Every celebrity, scientist, politician who embraces his or her sexuality in such a public manner is helping remove the stigma of being gay or lesbian from the public eye, and as Randi says, “In another two decades, I’m confident that young people will find themselves in a vastly improved atmosphere of acceptance.” And as for the gay adults who are still in hiding, let this be a lesson that it’s never too late.

So good for you, Randi! Time to go put those magic tricks to good use – picking up cute guys at bars.

Maybe he’s in the Gay CIA….

You know, working behind enemy lines or something?

This story has been passed around a lot this morning, and it got me thinking. Mostly about self-respect, principles and compassion.

Long story short: California Senator Roy Ashburn has long been an opponent of gay rights, especially same-sex marriage. He has be vociferous in his opposition, which made his DUI arrest a couple of weeks ago all the more interesting. He was with another gentleman, and they were both coming home from a well-known Sacramento gay bar. Finally he has come out and admitted that he was gay.

My first thought was, “Serves you right, you lying Republican scum,” but that’s sort of my default response. I’d think the same thing if Orrin Hatch got a paper cut. But there is a certain amount of satisfaction to be taken when someone who has been so openly and vocally against homosexuality turns out to have been a Double-Secret Gay the whole time. The fact that he has a wife and kids just makes it all the worse – not only has he been lying to his constituents, but to the people who should be most important to him.

I marvel at it, too. How much self-loathing does it take to maintain a lie of this caliber for so long? I mean, it’s bad enough if you’re just trying to keep your gayness a secret – millions of men have had to do that throughout history, but they at least had the excuse that revealing themselves could have resulted in ostracism, injury or death. Ashburn doesn’t have that excuse, seeing as how he lives in California. But still, if you want to keep it a secret because you think it’s something that is dangerous to you, okay. Just try not to hurt anyone else in the process.

Well, Ashburn has failed at that. He has a wife and kids who have been lied to. He has supporters and staff who have been lied to. He has lovers who have been lied to. And the worst part is that his lie, in this day and age, is pretty much unnecessary. He doesn’t need to lie about who he is, and I’m pretty sure he knows it.

That being said, I feel bad for him.

In a radio interview, he said “I’m gay. Those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long.” You see, I was lucky. I was extraordinarily lucky that I had friends and family who were loving and accepting of who I was. I was never insulted or cursed by anyone I came out to, never rejected or ostracized. I never felt that I was at risk of losing someone I loved by coming out. In short, my circumstances were about as good as they can possibly get for someone who is coming out gay. Even so, actually saying the words to these wonderful people and telling them what, in many cases, they had already figured out for themselves, was amazingly difficult. It often required alcohol.

So if it was that hard for me, and I was basically in the best possible position to come out, how hard must it be for someone like Ashburn? Not just because he risks losing his career and his marriage and kids, or that he’s now facing nationwide public scorn and will have to pay a pretty hard penance to get back into the good graces of the people he loves and respects. By saying those words, he is confessing to years of lies and initiating the destruction of an identity that he has built over an entire lifetime. My coming out, as difficult as it was for me, was nothing compared to this.

And so I feel compassion for the poor bastard. If he does it right, he will be able to build a new life, one in which he can be honest to himself and those he loves. He may even be able to continue in politics, if he plays his cards right. I understand he says he’ll keep voting on an anti-gay platform because that’s what his constituents would want, but I think that’s just the cognitive dissonance talking. If he follows through on this, he’ll soon be forced to reconcile his vote with his sexuality, and will realize that “it’s what my constituents want” is just another lie to be done away with.

All of my compassion for him, of course, is predicated on his continuing to be honest with himself and behaving in a manner consistent with his newfound honesty. If he strays from that path, well, may his suffering be endless.