04 June 2014

Trouble The Waters

My Last Gay Rights Manifesto

Trolling Google Image for blog photos, as I often do, I stumbled across a stunning piece of art. You can see it yourself over the opening paragraph of this essay. It's a sculpture by the legendary male physique artist George Quaintance, completed in 1936. You're looking at two Art Deco masks fused together to make one: One mask is female, and the other male. I adore Art Deco design, and at first, all I did was admire this beautiful piece of craftsmanship. As I kept looking at it, though, a strange thrill began to course through me.

Suddenly, I realized that this wasn't just a good-looking sculpture. This was a representation of Transgender humanity: Masculinity and femininity occupying the same space, blended so as to form a separate gender all its own. Knowing something about George Quaintance's approach to art, I think that's exactly what he intended it to symbolize. If I'm right, then he did so magnificently; he totally captured the essence of inborn androgyny.

Are you an LGBT person? Then take a good look at that Quaintance sculpture. It's a visualization of your inner self. What do you think? Are you amazed? Are you repelled? Can you handle confronting the truth about what you are? Or can you only see yourself through the eyes of your oppressors?

There's an idea: Let's look at ourselves through their eyes for a moment. Most of the time when LesBiGay people are discriminated against, it isn't because of their sexual orientation. Most Straight people never see us have sex, and most of us aren't in the habit of discussing our sexual exploits with them! We are bullied, threatened, ostracized and assaulted because of our gender expression. Our voices are too high, or too low. Our hair is too long, or too short, or the wrong color. We don't wear clothing that's masculine or feminine enough. We don't have interests that are considered appropriate for "real men" or "real women". We don't carry ourselves in the way "real men" and "real women" are expected to. We don't make sense to anyone whose understanding of gender is binary. We are people who transcend gender (which is why all of us have a right to identify as Transgender), and that makes people who don't transcend it very uncomfortable in our presence.

Fighting anti-Gay bias in this world necessarily involves challenging narrow concepts of gender. Binary gender is like a book that you've only read two-thirds of the way and then put down: The story isn't complete until you've read the final chapters! On those unread pages, there's a world that's populated by more than just male and female life forms. Transgender life forms also exist! We always have, we always will, and it's time for us to insist that the world acknowledge our existence.

Scientists like Simon LeVay have recently uncovered biological markers for Transgender status, but I didn't need their findings to discover who I am. I came to know my true gender from studying the Bible and Gnostic texts. Christian scripture, widely thought to condemn Gay people, gave me the key that unlocked the truth about same-gender sexuality. The Gospel of Philip describes how Jesus Christ gifts a chosen few with "male and female power" before birth, causing them to be born with the blended gender of God. As I've written before, parallel doctrine exists in the annals of many, if not most of the world's oldest religions.

Carrying both male and female gender in the same body was at one time widely viewed as a blessed state. We should endeavor to reclaim that blessed status, and begin to feel the pride in our uniqueness that we merely pretend to feel now. When Gay Pride becomes more than just a popular concept, I bet we'll feel less of an urge to strip down, booze up, get strung out and/or clown around in the streets under the guise of celebration. We'll no longer need to camouflage our self-hatred that way!

This thing I describe as blended gender is called "Fullness" in Scripture.  It exists within all LGBT folk. So, you may ask, why doesn't it make us all Gay, or all Pansexual, or all Transsexual? Why is there variation? I think variation occurs because different people respond to its presence in different ways. Or, it may be a question of degree, with some of us possessing more of the blend, and others possessing less. Whatever the case, Fullness is inborn; all this bullsh*t speculating about "environmental factors" and "outside influences" should've ended long ago! You can't "learn" how to become Gay or Transsexual; core identity can't be taught to or imposed on a person! The negative experiences of intersex individuals, forced as children into gender roles that violated their self-concept, tell us as much.

By the way, when I talk about blended gender, I am not referring to intersex genitalia! I'm not talking about genitalia at all. I'm speaking of something that exists on a spiritual level. As gender-transcending human beings, the form our genitalia takes is of very little significance. It matters in our sexual relations, and it matters if we want to produce offspring, but that's about it. The bodies our Transgender souls are born into don't define us like the bodies of binary gender folk define them; one way or another, an LGBT person will always challenge conventional notions about masculinity and femininity. We can't help but do it; it's our nature!

Fullness trumps (s)expectations; it has its own unalterable norms. Cultural pressure can't change them. Punitive laws can't change them. Religious belief can't change them. Psychotherapy can't change them. Surgery and hormone treatments can only create the illusion of changing them. Fullness is a gift from God that can't be returned, no matter how much we may want to!

But why should we want to? The thing to never forget is that Transgender status is completely normal. It's God's balance of nature. The sexual union of men with women is meant to approximate the Fullness that we received as a birthright; that's why the Savior excluded our kind from heterosexual marriage (Matthew 19). To me, it's perfectly logical: If people can be born with blended racial background, why can't they be born with blended gender, too? I see LGBT humanity as just another aspect of the tremendous natural diversity that God loves. Millennia have passed since life began on Earth, but every so often, we still hear about a previously unknown species of plant or animal; the Lord's imagination and creative ability knows no bounds! It makes a skilled artisan like George Quaintance look like a caveman carving stones; and we who possess God's "male and female power" number among His finest creations. Let me say this one last time:

There is no such thing as a d*ke, a f*ggot or a tr*anny!  Nothing that God creates is queer!

I call for an end to the lies heterosexual folk tell about us! Enough of these insane accusations of "recruitment"! No more vilification! No more pretending that we prey on Straight people like Dracula preys on virgins! No more pretending that Bible scripture justifies excluding us from church sacraments! No more claims that we contaminate any environment we become part of!   No more equating us with pedophiles and polygamists and bestialists! No more falsehoods about our relationships "threatening" the traditional family! No more equating our love to rape and ancient temple prostitution!  No more papal pronouncements that our existence throws nature out of balance! No more demagoguery to the effect that God is punishing humankind because of our presence!

I also call for an end to the many delusions LGBT folk entertain. No more facetious claims of having "chosen" our sexual orientation! No more accepting stereotypes as truth! No more calling sex in public restrooms an expression of "Gay culture"! No more pretending that unprotected sexual activity won't result in serious consequences! No more thinking of ourselves as men trapped inside women's bodies, or vice-versa! No more pretending that surgery can remove a person's Transgender status! No more insisting that Transsexual status is an illness while finding no fault with the sick society that rejects its validity!

No more pretending that we're exactly the same as heterosexual folk except for who we sleep with! No more arguments that we don't "need" certain rights that heterosexual folk enjoy! No more lying to LGBT kids about bullying getting "better" when all that happens most of the time is a change in the type of bullying and who's doing it! No more believing that Scripture condemns our unique gender expression (it doesn't)! No more accepting religious bigots as doctrinal authorities! And please! No more pretending that heterosexist and transphobic slurs can be "reclaimed" and made empowering!

The word "queer" must go! It connotes defectiveness and perversion. It stigmatizes God's blessing of Fullness! It belongs to an ignorant past that we must break free of. If you're in the habit of dropping this dehumanizing label into casual conversation, wash out your mouth and mind; gargle twice and spit! Starting today, I'm on a crusade to replace "queer" with the term "gender-neutral". If an umbrella term is needed, as many of us seem to believe, then this is a far more accurate one. It defines more precisely who we are and what we have in common as Lesbians, Gay men, Pansexual and Transsexual persons. Most important, it's refreshingly free of denigrating connotations!

We need to stop wearing the oppressor's hand-me-down hate speech! Dignity looks so much better on us. We must force ourselves and others to speak of blended gender with respect, and get used to hearing it spoken of in that way!

Respecting yourself is about more than just the language you use. It also has to do with the way you treat yourself, and how you let others treat you. There's a multitude of Gay activists around; just turn over a rock, and one is sure to crawl out from under it! Yet I find that relatively few of them want to change conditions for LesBiGay people in any substantive way.

Too many of us have made our peace with the demeaning jokes, the ugly slurs, the outrageous stereotypes. We've resigned ourselves to the persecution, the stigmatization, the lack of security in our persons. Most of us haven't got the stomach for taking the fight against bigotry to the oppressor's door, so in a pinch, phony political posturing suffices! At the end of the day, we're content to stay walled off in a little corner of the world set aside for misfits, a place devoid of dignity that doesn't even provide us with safe harbor.

We crave distractions from the injustices we suffer. We escape into pageants, parties and cliques, campy humor, mindless celebrity worship and reckless sexual excess. Numbing our pain with drink, drugs and booty, we can barely feel that boot on the back of our necks . . . why, our necks could snap and we wouldn't even notice! We'd never admit it, but we've adapted ourselves to a discriminatory status quo. Within our myriad social classes and cultural traditions, we've learned how to accommodate heterosexism, and God forbid we should trouble the waters too much!

Lord knows how much I want to trouble those waters!

I want to trouble them so bad sometimes, I can hardly stand it! I want a Category Five hurricane, global warming crisis, multi-funnel tornado and tsunami all rolled into one! I want to see all the complacency and compromise and corruption swept away. I want to see the cleansing rain come down, and then I want to see the sunshine after the rain. I'm so ready!

I want this social upheaval so passionately because of the way I grew up: An effeminate boy all but crippled by shame, repeatedly beaten down by ignorance, terrified of the world outside his door. It was an intolerable way to grow up, and I can't stand to think about anyone else suffering that way. How can we settle for business as usual when we know a new LGBT generation is falling victim to hate crimes every day (those they commit against themselves as well as those perpetrated by others)?

Oh, we're making a big militant noise right now, but it's still business as usual: Begging politicians for favors; nibbling around the edges of mass protest; letting the religious Right Wing wipe its filthy feet on our backs; talking up revolution whenever we get the chance, but never walking the talk. It's nothing but a lot of pussyfooting around, and I'm sick to death of it!

When we finally get serious about Gay Rights, we'll be waging the fight against discrimination in six key arenas: In religious institutions; in educational institutions; in the courts; in the streets; in the media; and in our own hearts! (Take note that I didn't mention the political arena. That was deliberate! Let's chill out with the Washington lobbying until we have some real power to wield there.)

We'll be turning up the temperature in our churches, mosques and synagogues until they become boiling pools of unrest. We'll be condemning "faith-based" opposition to Gay Rights, and correcting religious doctrine that calls Transgender expression sinful. We'll be banishing "Queer Studies" from the classroom, mandating comprehensive sex education and anti-bullying measures, and promoting genuine scholarship on Transgender identity. We'll be ripping the blindfold off old Lady Justice so that her eyes can perceive the abusive excesses of unchecked religious freedom!

We'll be making mass protest a reality, filling the public square to demand tax relief as compensation for institutional heterosexism and transphobia. We'll be demanding accurate, consistent and respectful media representation (especially in ads and entertainment media), and blowing the damn roof off if we don't see it! We'll finally have realized that a distorted portrayal can be as bad or worse than invisibility; and when it comes to rooting out the entrenched shame that comes between us and our dignity, we'll be as relentless as the Red Chinese rooting out counter-revolutionary influences. That's what serious Gay activism will look like!

I believe what the old Negro spiritual says: God's gonna trouble the waters! And just like the runaway slaves who originally sang that song, we LGBT folk must wade in troubled waters before we can set foot on the dry land of liberation.

Originally published  in 2010 during the Christmas holidays, this essay is dedicated to the memory of Haitian-American poet, editor and performance artist Assotto Saint, who showed me the path when I was not yet ready to walk it.   This June 2014 re-posting is also dedicated to the late writer, dancer, singer and inspirational speaker Dr. Maya Angelou ("Miss Calypso") and the late Storme DeLarverie, veteran of the 1969 Stonewall rebellion.  Both of them were angels sent to Earth that God has recently reclaimed for His kingdom.

21 May 2014

Life During Wartime (Part One)

This Ain't No Party . . .

Christ, The Gay Martyr will cease being an active blog soon. Before that happens, I'd like to put some final thoughts on record.

On Super Bowl Sunday 2010, the CBS network telecast the big game. The commercials that ran between plays are worth taking note of: CBS reversed a long-standing ban on issue-advocacy commercials and aired an explicit anti-abortion message from Focus On The Family. Most Gay people should know Focus On The Family as a vicious anti-Gay propaganda organization which portrays us as child predators and funds "ex-Gay" movements. CBS had worked extensively with the group to refine the ad and finesse its ideological message, At the same time, the network rejected an ad from a Gay couples matchmaking website. In its place ran a highly offensive commercial featuring two effeminate men engaged in "b*tch slaps".

I take three lessons from these facts. 1) That CBS has no respect for its Gay viewers. 2) That CBS respects and wants to court Right Wing viewers. 3) That if I respect myself, I must never watch the CBS network again.

I grew up with the network of "The Evening News with Walter Cronkite," "The Ed Sullivan Show", "Perry Mason" and "I Love Lucy". It is now as much a part of my past as those shows are!  This is an action I must take for the sake of maintaining my dignity as a Gay man.

Some would accuse me of overreacting, of being "politically correct." Well, if my politics aren't correct, what's the point of me engaging in the political process? LGBT Americans need to draw a line in the sand, and incidents of brazen disrespect are where we should draw it. I'm not OK with disrespect! Are you? If so, why? Nobody should be OK with disrespect, especially the kind that fuels ignorance, misogyny and heterosexism! We've got to start taking disrespect seriously! When it's intense enough, disrespect can escalate into disturbing problems like vilification, disenfranchisement, violence and genocide. Don't look now, but that's already happened! It's been happening for a long time.

If you're Gay, you can be legally deprived of housing and employment in most parts of the United States. The international picture is even more grave. You can be executed in Iran. You can be murdered in México. You can be flogged in Nigeria. You can be fined in Burundi, banned in Cuba, detained in China, imprisoned in Malawi, denounced in Poland and censored in Lithuania. You can be chased by mobs in Kenya, stoned by mobs in Jamaica, beaten up by police in Russia, and tortured to death by Muslim extremists in Iraq. You're sure to be legislated against in Uganda, rounded up in Egypt, deported from the United Arab Emirates, and sent to a labor camp in North Korea. Your human rights are protested in Spain, Zimbabwe, and India, and your existence is criminalized in more foreign countries than I can count; not to mention escalating rates of anti-Gay violence in the United States. And believe me, horrific things can happen to you anywhere if you're Transsexual! Very few countries in the world are safe for you to live in. Check out this State Department report.

Among the many issues important to LGBT folk, there are none that need be prioritized over others. They're all pressing concerns, and they demand acting on simultaneously. Each Gay, Pansexual or Transsexual person prioritizes issues according to his or her own personal needs. That's the way it should be; I've always said so.

However, I do believe there is one overarching issue that unites us all, regardless of ideology, gender, class, color, or national origin: Safety! The right to be secure in your LGBT person. The right to live, work, study and play without being beaten up, raped or killed! Freedom from endless threats and taunts. Freedom from hearing yourself denounced as a menace to society. Freedom from pressure to marry, produce children, identify as male or female, dress in a certain way, or join an "ex-Gay" program. Freedom from the indignity of seeing your citizenship downgraded to second-class! In other words, we need a world in which our basic humanity is respected. In most of the world, even large parts of the United States, such respect does not exist! Everything we do as activists, no matter which issues we prioritize, must somehow be connected to the goal of expanding our safe space.

Knowing how hazardous it usually is to live as a perceptibly LGBT person outside the western world, it infuriates me to see how frivolously and recklessly American Gay people behave! For too many of us, equality goals pale in comparison to the next circuit party, the next steamy porn video, the next over-the-top Pride parade, or the next personal appearance by Lady Gaga. We totally take for granted the relative freedom we enjoy, and seem clueless about how quickly it could be taken away. It happened before, in Weimar Germany during the 1930s. It could easily happen again! All that's necessary is a combination of grave economic times and angry, demoralized masses. Hello! Under such circumstances, citizens are quick to embrace reactionary agendas. We'd better be watching our backs! What do you bet that when our power-hungry Bible bigot enemies see us acting out, they don't also see the word "scapegoat" written across our Pride banners in huge letters?

Some of us believe that humor is the best weapon to use against Right Wingers. The security value of clowning has been greatly exaggerated; Michael Musto can go on cable TV and dress up in Sarah Palin drag as many times as he likes, but she'll never be intimidated by him! Mind you, humor can be a weapon against bigotry, but it's not the best one. The best way to fight any form of ignorance is with education. Behavior that reinforces perceptions of Gay people as celebrity-worshipping, trash-talking, party-hopping, outrageously attired (or barely attired), sex-and-drug-crazed exhibitionists doesn't educate anybody; it leaves ignorance intact!

I've been labeled a "drama queen", and I'm often told to "lighten up" with my criticism of so-called Gay culture. Lighten up, my Black Gay Christian ass! Taking our condition too lightly is precisely the problem! A world where Matthew Shepard, Brandon Teena and Lateisha Green weren't allowed to live and where untold numbers of Gay and Transsexual children are driven to consider suicide isn't a world where LGBT folk can afford to act stereotypically "light in the loafers"! David Byrne and Talking Heads said it best on their 1979 cult hit "Life During Wartime": This ain't no party/this ain't no Disco/This ain't no foolin' around!*

At the end of 2009, I listened to TV and radio pundits sum up the year in issues. The only ones who said anything about Gay issues were Gay pundits! We are not taken seriously by the mainstream media. Why should we be, given how the media portrays us? Remember that Gay matchmaking ad I spoke about, the one that CBS rejected? I got a chance to see it online. It played same-gender love for belly laughs, like an outtake from "Saturday Night Live". This kind of burlesque imagery was barely an improvement over the "b*tchy queens" ad that did air. When the Right-leaning Straight media makes LGBT folk out to be freaks and clowns, Left-leaning Gay media should be trying to undo the damage. Instead, it damages us more, eagerly adding its own slanderous, demeaning characterizations to the mix!

It aggressively promotes a lexicon of disrespect. Pundits, journalists and talk show hosts work overtime at "reclaiming" heterosexist insults for casual use: "Queer", "gender queer", "queen", "homo", "f*g", "d*ke", "tr*nny". Suddenly, you can find this ugly terminology everywhere! Now progressive educators who want to validate LGBT students see nothing wrong with mounting "Queer Day" celebrations on campus. One of these misguided events took place last year in Chico, California. Lord deliver me! How much more difficult does going to school need to be for Gay kids?

And how likely is it that a prominent LesBiGay professional like Anderson Cooper, Robin Roberts or Steve Osunsami would want to come and speak to a "Queer Day" assembly? Why does Gay media want to make it harder for role models to leave the closet? Do they really think popularizing slurs won't have negative consequences? There's a heavy price to be paid for identifying your own minority group with sneering put-downs. That price is credibility!

Let me illustrate the importance of credibility in another way. Mexican-American actor Gilbert Roland, one of the stars of Hollywood's Golden Age, was a Pansexual man. In the late 1940s, he briefly took over the role of the Cisco Kid, and in such films as The Gay Cavalier (1946) and King Of The Bandits (1948), he dared to give the character a subtly bisexual edge. A scene where Cisco and another man suggestively smoke cigarettes together is amazing! So is another where Cisco kisses his faithful companion, Pancho, full on the lips. The scene is not comedic; the two of them are about to be executed. Gilbert Roland was definitely not your father's Cisco Kid! But his interpretation of the character was more than just sexually groundbreaking. Roland's Cisco was suave, worldly-wise, artistically inclined and smartly dressed in high Mexican charro style. Duncan Renaldo had already played the role, and he would later put a definitive stamp on it; but audiences still respond strongly to Gilbert Roland's rich portrayal. He brought a pride and dignity to Cisco that was impossible to ignore!

Near the end of his life, Roland spoke of his desire to dignify the screen image of Latinos. "I refuse roles that picture Mexicans as ridiculous, quaint, or foolish", he stated firmly. "I (always) wanted to be sure the Mexican was not portrayed as (a) clown." Why would this be a concern to him? It's because early American cinema was rife with various Frito Bandido stereotypes which insulted both Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. At this time, Latinos suffered social discrimination similar to that Black people faced. Like Sidney Poitier and other socially-conscious stars who followed in his wake, Gilbert Roland understood how uplifting positive media representations are for a downtrodden community. Had he ever portrayed an explicitly Gay or Pansexual character, I’m sure he would’ve made that role as classy as he made the Cisco Kid. I’m also sure he would find the cartoonish, one-dimensional images of LGBT folk that populate today’s entertainment media repulsive!

Positive media images do more than just lift the spirits of a despised minority group. They help increase that minority group's credibility with the power structure. We tend to forget what being in the minority means: that we aren’t plentiful in number! This is especially true of the LGBT population. While we may actually be more plentiful than other groups, it isn't apparent because so many of us are still closeted. Also, don't forget about the Fundie hate machine that cranks out anti-Gay propaganda every Sunday morning! There's still a high number of Straight people who don't know much about us other than the negative stuff they hear in church.

All too often, media images provide heterosexual folk with their only known exposure to openly LGBT persons. The majority’s impression of who and what we are is largely formed by what they see of us on screen. If they see dignified faces, they get the impression that we are a dignified group. On the other hand, if the faces they see are foolish, they get the opposite impression. That’s the difference between what Gilbert Roland did in the 1940s and what Sacha Baron Cohen (Brüno) does today! When are we finally going to move beyond our version of the Frito Bandido stereotype?

Life During Wartime (Part Two)

This Ain't No Disco . . .

The word "Transgender", as I explained in my essay titled "The Angel Gabriel" has acquired an importance to me that I never could have predicted. I now recognize its meaning, its true meaning, as the key to LGBT identity! Transgender refers to people who transcend biological gender. It has nothing to do with the idea of being "born in the wrong body", although people who feel that way do fall under its definition. So do I, a Gay man who has never strongly identified as male.

Ironically, had I been thinking about it back then, I could have gleaned the truth about gender from my high school Spanish books. In Spanish, nouns have gender. Those nouns with the prefix of "la" and that end in "a" are feminine. Those with the prefix of "el" and that end in "o" are masculine. However, there are exceptions to that rule! Some words have blended gender: la mano (the hand), el día (the day), el alma (the soul). Therefore, there are three genders in the Spanish language: Masculine, feminine and neutral. These three genders also exist in nature; LGBT existence is proof of that! It's time for people of binary gender (heterosexual men and women) to stop denying reality. We need to stop denying it, too!

Science has no definitive answer to the question of why some people are homosexual, pansexual and transsexual. However, Scripture does provide an answer. Care to join me for some Bible study? I promise you'll be surprised. What I have to say might even rock your world!

Correctly translated, the Book of Genesis tells us that God created humankind in His own image/In the image of God He created him/Male and female He created him. This passage establishes that God is a Transgender entity! The lower case “him" refers to Adam, whose male and female elements were split into separate bodies so that procreation could start. Men and women are two parts of a whole that long to be united; that's the reason for heterosexual attraction! So this teaching doesn't explain homosexual attraction . . . or does it? Jesus Christ revisits the creation story in the Gospel According to Matthew:

MATTHEW 19: 4-6
(Jesus Christ said) "Have you not read that the One who made them at the beginning made them male and female and said: 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?' So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.

Incorrect translation ("them" substituted for "him") has resulted in a failure of most readers, even Bible scholars, to fully grasp what this Scripture means! Mandated heterosexual marriage isn't the objective here! Men marrying women is the means to reach the objective. The goal is to "become one flesh" as they were "at the beginning". In other words, men and women must become like Adam was in the beginning. Through marriage, they approximate the blended gender that Adam possessed before Eve was created. At that time, he was modeled precisely in God’s transgender image; so the ultimate goal of marriage is to make men and women more like God!

That same chapter in the Gospel of Matthew identifies a special group of people for whom teachings on heterosexual marriage are irrelevant. Jesus Christ calls these people "eunuchs who have been so from birth” (Matthew 19:12). He also mentions eunuchs created by man-made means (castration), but born eunuchs are the ones important to this particular discussion. The word “eunuch” means “castrated man” today, but that was not so in the ancient world! Individuals believed to be of a third gender, a unisex gender, were accorded eunuch status. They also had a reputation for same-gender sexuality (one last time, let me direct readers to Faris Malik's excellent Born Eunuchs web pages for more info).

Significantly, the Savior implies that eunuchs have a connection to Heaven. Now, let’s tie all these loose strands together.!

Science and religion agree that humanity evolved from a single life form. Christianity calls that life form Adam. In order for binary gender to exist today, wouldn’t that life form had to have combined male and female gender within itself? Scripture says that it did. Here is the point where evolution and creationism converge! Adam is the common denominator; and what do born eunuchs have in common with Adam? The blend of male and female in one body. So what modern day group of people fits the description of born eunuchs? Isn't it obvious?

Here, then, is Scripture's solution to the mystery of LGBT humanity: Lesbians, Gay men, Pansexual and Transsexual persons are genetic echoes of Adam in his original, undivided state. We are to humanity what the Model T was to automobiles: The original template! Didn't I say you were in for a surprise? Has your world been rocked yet? If not, then try some of this:

Transgender status, which Scripture calls Fullness, lies at the very heart of Christian faith! God's Transgender creations are the blood that courses through that pulsing heart! Contrary to common wisdom, we are not heterosexual folk who stray from their natural inclinations. We are not freaks “born in the wrong body”. We aren’t perversions of nature by any stretch of the imagination! We are a snapshot of nature as it once was! We are direct descendants of the first life form, whose gender was blended just like ours. (A Gnostic Christian text known as The Egyptian Gospel makes just such a claim. See my essay titled "We Are Family" under the Blended Gender tab.)

Same-gender attraction is nothing but an expression of Fullness! People tend to focus obsessively on homosexuality, but Fullness has never only been about that! Blended gender influences behavior that isn't sexual. Rigid gender roles don’t work well for LGBT folk; we chafe under binary gender conventions, and why wouldn't we? We are as different from ordinary men and women as ordinary men and women are different from each other.

I have come to believe that Transgender or gender-neutral people are linked to God's Covenant with humankind. We’re the human counterpart of those brilliant lights in the sky which signify God's promise not to destroy the Earth. So long as that rainbow of light and the human rainbow both appear, the Covenant will be kept. And you thought our adoption of the rainbow flag was just a coincidence, didn’t you? Of course, it may well be coincidence; this theory of mine is based on an admittedly hazy understanding of Gnostic scripture. When I enter the afterlife, I'll learn whether or not I'm right!

Upon my death, I hope God will also reveal to me the names of all the prominent people in my lifetime who were Gay. If He does, I have no doubt that another theory I hold will be conclusively proven: That civilization could not exist without us! When I see the vast numbers of politicians, scientists, theologians, journalists, philosophers, business tycoons, visual and performing artists, national leaders, war heroes, doctors, lawyers, teachers, social workers, public servants and pioneers of all kinds who were and are secretly homosexual, and I take stock of their many contributions to society, I know they will dwarf those of every other minority group! There won’t be a single social class, discipline or movement that we haven’t penetrated and distinguished ourselves in!

"Queer" is so inaccurate a description of who and what we are, the word would be insulting even if it weren't derogatory! Our presence, our influence, and even our sexuality is normal and essential to the flow of life. Just imagine how much more productive we could be if there was no pressure to hide and deny our true natures. What a curious thing, to be at once so widely disseminated and so widely despised! Curious and tragic, but surely no more tragic than what civilization did to a Man from Galilee ages ago. To me, indeed, to anyone who understands that Man's Gospel, there’s no difference whatsoever between the kind of hatred directed at Him and the kind directed at us.

We haven't always been hated, though! Some cultures like the Hebrews did despise and persecute born eunuchs, but much of the ancient world revered us. Because of our gender neutrality, we were actually regarded as superior to other men and women. We were granted important roles in society, like judge, spiritual healer or chamberlain (the original connotation of the word "eunuch"). Don't get me wrong: I'm not suggesting that we adopt a Master Race theory! All I’m saying is, it makes no sense for us to stagger around with crushing inferiority complexes on our backs.

We who identify as Gay, Lesbian, Pansexual and Transsexual are a blessed people! We must reclaim blessed status from the ancient world. Those of us who, for whatever reason, insist that we choose our sexuality must let go of that fantasy! The truth can set us free, so we must begin believing the truth: That there's nothing unnatural about masculine women, effeminate men, transgender bodies or same-gender love. We are not perverts! We are not predators! We are not pedophiles! We are not mistakes. We are an integral part of both nature and religion, and the world needs to know it. We must conquer shame and take our rightful place in the mainstream of society.

Conquering shame requires cutting off the source of shame. For most LesBiGay folk, that source is the Christian Bible. It's safe to say that the Bible is the most hated of documents among Lesbians and Gay men. Nobody hated it more than me; but just a little bit of research exposed the perverse nature of Fundamentalist religion and brought me back to Christianity.

Is it necessary, then, for all LGBT folk to claim Christian faith?  No, but it is crucial that we all learn how to expose the "faith-based" lies that feed our oppression! Anybody who presumes to lead our equality movement must recognize the importance of doing this. They're not worthy of leadership if they don't!

Life During Wartime (Part Three)

This Ain't No Foolin' Around!

What I'm about to say I've said many times before. People haven't paid much attention in the past. Pardon me, then, while I hit the repeat button!

We must develop a sense of outrage at our own persecution. Without it, the equality movement cannot succeed! In particular, we must stop tolerating "faith-based" organizations that siphon our tax money while banning and condemning us! If we cooperate with our enemies when they subject us to injustices, they will do so eagerly. We must own up to our part in this state of affairs, and change our behavior accordingly!

One way to effectively fight back against organized religion would be a Truth Commission. This commission would stage hearings similar to those held in post-apartheid South Africa. We would give public testimony about how demonizing church doctrine has pushed us past the brink of suicide, torn our family bonds apart, vilified us at our own funerals, excluded us from fellowship, and done everything possible to sever our relationships with God. The Truth Commission would travel around the country soliciting testimony from LGBT Americans. In addition, religious leaders of conscience would be invited to offer apologies on behalf of their faith traditions. Naturally, the hearings would be webcast. Putting our collective victimization on record in this way could be enormously compelling! We could deal a crippling blow to the "Ex-Gay" movement, and seriously compromise the undeservedly squeaky clean image of evangelism.

Also, why don't we have a Gay Tea Party movement? Why aren't we targeting Federal and State laws that discriminate against us with the threat of taxpayer revolt? Jeanne Phillips, the advice columnist known as Dear Abby, suggested years ago that hefty tax breaks for LesBiGay citizens was a fair trade-off for discriminatory public policy. It's time to explore her idea in earnest!

Fighting bigotry is both an external and an internal process. We must check our own behavior for evidence of internalized homophobia. For example, a lot of Gay-interest blogs and websites publish photos of professional sportsmen hugging or patting one another's butts after scoring a goal. These photos are accompanied by snarky captions to the effect of that's so Gay, or snide jokes that question the players' sexual orientation.

This is reprehensible! What makes this kind of ridicule any different from the scornful f*g-baiting that heterosexual males engage in? I scolded the staff of gay.americablog.com for doing this, and much to my surprise, they removed an offending post. It's the first (and probably the last!) time any Gay activist website listened to me.

Whether I'm listened to or not, facts are facts: Adopting the oppressor's methods of talking and thinking about ourselves empowers nobody but the oppressor! "Reclaiming" the hateful habits of our enemies is a monumentally foolish act, akin to hugging a venomous snake to your breast. The most vicious bite is the one you invite! I've posted this quote from the late Lesbian author Audre Lorde in countless comments sections, but it seems to resonate more strongly every time I use it: "The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house." Drop those tools, dammit. Drop them now!

The most alarming effect internalized homophobia has on us comes in the form of lethal sexuality. Millions of young Gay and Pansexual men, especially those of color, risk their health with shame-based sex practices like "fisting", "sounding", "bare-backing", double penetration, auto-erotic asphyxiation and promiscuity. Alcohol and drugs tend to flow freely during these activities, distorting sound judgment. It's fatalistic hedonism, a mindset that Madonna chillingly captures in her song "Revolver": My love's a revolver/My sex is a killer/Do you wanna die happy?/Do you wanna die happy?*

Massive death by orgasm is as effective a way as any to halt the progress of Gay Rights; but would we really die happy, knowing we had rendered the Stonewall riots meaningless? Please think about future generations of LGBT kids. Don't they deserve a better example? We must decline society's invitation to become sexual automatons! An automaton is a mindless life form that doesn't care what it does. Once you stop caring, you stop being human! People who've given up their humanity are neither pleasant nor safe to be around! They make easy targets for scapegoating, too.

As I wrote this essay, Madonna's music was on my stereo. Her hit song "Four Minutes" makes me think of the quickie Gay activism that's become predominant in this era of YouTube and reality TV. Activists today hustle for their four minutes of fame (whittled down from the proverbial fifteen minutes that Andy Warhol spoke of), and it's always about the four minutes, not about advancing equality goals in any substantial way!

I call them the Pig Farmers of Gay Pride! They've learned how to make thousands of Gay people come running at the sound of their hog calls. Squeal! Let's have a kiss-in! Squeal! Let's have a Million F*g March! Squeal! Let's hit workplaces with a Day Without Gay! Squeal! Let's march on Washington for the umpteenth time! Squeal! Let's tape "It Gets Better" videos for Gay bullying victims to watch in-between f*g-bashings! Squeal! Let's protest marriage inequality by having Lesbians marry Gay men! Squeal! Let's protest Proposition 8 with a lewd comedy sketch! Squeeeeal! Let's stage a Gay Rights demonstration in the nude! Lipstick on a pig never looked more ludicruous!

These miserable excuses for effective Civil Rights initiative amount to self-promotion for the Pig Farmers, brazen opportunism at the expense of reforms they only pretend to care about. It is cynical and dishonest and appalling! We must learn how to recognize phony political activism. We must think before we act: Think about who we want to reach, what the best way is to reach them, and how reaching them in a given way will advance equality goals. It's never been true that doing any damn thing is better than doing nothing! Spontaneity is no substitute for careful planning. Instead of buying into every new Pop-Up protest strategy, our time is better spent researching how to discredit Fundamentalist religion and use the Tea Party model to become a constituency that elected officials don't dare ignore!

There's growing realization that we are not being well-served by our advocacy organizations. Not only does that have to do with opportunism, it's a (mal)function of those groups' Democrat Party affiliation. Gay Rights leaders long ago hitched our movement’s wagon to Liberal politics, ensuring that our fortunes would rise and fall with that of the Democrats. That is, whenever they feel it’s safe to acknowledge us as a constituency! Often, they don’t! It's a miracle that Gay Americans have even the modicum of political recognition we currently enjoy. I'm sure feminist, immigration, poverty, health reform, anti-war and environmental activists feel the same way sometimes. When it comes to progressive issues, the Democrats are weaker than watered-down Gatorade!

Is there anything more impotent than the Progressive movement in this country? It jawbones endlessly about pushing government in a Socialist direction, and then campaigns for Democrat candidates whose policies list toward the Right: Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Barack Obama! How much sense does it make that disaffected Republicans would launch a Tea Party movement? They do this after giving George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, the most reactionary President and Vice-President in American history, two consecutive terms! Bush genuflected to the call of his Right Wing constituents, and he's got the Supreme Court nomination record to prove it; but the Limbaugh lobby still isn’t satisfied. So Conservatives get what they want but agitate for an even more extreme agenda, while Liberals rarely get what they want but settle for whatever crumbs the Democratic Party brushes on them! This is smart politics? Compared to what?

Settling for crumbs guarantees that we’ll get nothing but crumbs! We must reject incremental remedies for injustice. We must stop trying to hedge our bets and figure out the surest path to equality. All bets are off when dealing with the high degree of antipathy we face! We must begin acting like full-fledged citizens, instead of like sniveling outcasts, grateful for the tiniest consideration from politicians! Nobody ever gets mad at Aunt Thank-You-Ma'am; she's always so obsequious and agreeable. The other side of the coin is that nobody respects her, either! They know she'll settle for any old piece of garbage that's thrown in her direction.

Aunt Thank-You-Ma'am

It is not our responsibility to keep certain candidates or a certain party in power! Rather, it's the responsibility of political leaders to justify us keeping them in power. If they don't, we must withdraw our support from them and seek others more worthy of it. In doing so, we must become blind to party affiliation.

Accordingly, we must stop approaching elections as if they were crap games! We can't continue to support Democrats who are lukewarm or cold on our issues just because we think they have the best chance of winning. Instead, we must be doggedly issue-driven, like our opponents on the Right Wing. Gay Rights platforms must be for us what anti-abortion platforms are to Fundamentalist voters: A make 'em-or-break 'em litmus test for candidates! Progressives frown on single issue voting; as political strategy, they think it’s unsophisticated. If it’s such a lousy idea, then why has it worked so well for the other side?

Unwavering commitment to local and national candidates who consistently champion Gay Rights, for as long as necessary, will ultimately make them viable for office. We'll start out losing more races than we win, but if we hang in there, our winning tallies will increase over time. You don’t have to take my word for it, though: remember a dude named Ronald Reagan? For years, nobody thought he could win Federal office. Oddsmakers counted him out time after time, but he held fast to his Conservative principles, and the tenacity of his supporters finally paid off . . . and how!

More and more Republicans like Ted Olson, Andrew Sullivan, Meghan McCain and (believe it or not) the Cheney family are bucking the Fundamentalist wing of their party and declaring that equality isn't a partisan issue. Libertarians and Independents tend to favor our causes, too. We have a broader range of options now, if we're smart enough to pursue them. We'd better be!

The Democrat Party is like Archie Andrews, burning up the ballroom floor with Betty Cooper but all the while, the redheaded bastard is cheating lustful glances at Veronica Lodge! Bettykins, girlfriend! You'd better learn how to vary your dance card, or you'll always end up going home alone!