05 March 2008

The Necessary Pain Of Growing Up (Part One)

Photo by Jill Greenberg

About a week ago, I posted a Diary entry both at Pam's House Blend and here at Christ, The Gay Martyr called "In Defense Of Growing Up", Parts One and Two. I did so in support of an entry previously posted on the Reverend Jerry Maneker's blog called “On The Need To Grow Up“. In that essay, Jerry complained about a lack of focus in the struggle for LGBT equality, and about self-defeating behavior that many of us engage in: Applauding one-dimensional images of ourselves, using derogatory self-identifiers, and needlessly provoking the religious Right Wing, among other things. An avalanche of ad hominem attacks on him ensued. I tried to clarify his arguments for the benefit of Blenders who appear to have misunderstood them:

So because Jerry Maneker is heterosexual, he has no right to counsel LGBT folk? I find that position very ironic. Haven't we been conforming to Straight concepts all along? Think about it. They call us f*ggots, so we call ourselves f*ggots. They call us d*kes, so we call ourselves d*kes. They call us queers, so we adopt that name, too. They say we shouldn't marry, so many of us oppose marriage equality. They say we shouldn't serve in the military, so a lot of us oppose military service for Lesbians and Gay men. They say we don't belong in the churches, so many of us are OK with religious institutions denying us employment, fellowship, services, etcetera.

They say we're obsessed with sex, so we portray and/or allow ourselves to be portrayed that way on book and magazine covers, and on TV shows like "Queer As Folk" and "The L-Word"(not to mention how many Gay men idolize porn stars)! They say we molest children, so many of us are tolerant of organizations like NAMBLA and predators like Senator Mark Foley. They say we use public restrooms as trysting places, so many of us claim restroom sex as a civil liberty, and scream bloody murder when Senator Larry Craig, a sworn enemy of Gay Rights, is caught trolling toilets!

All Straight people need to do is create an ugly myth about who we are and what we do, and a significant number of us fall right in line with their prejudices. So what's different this time? Is the reaction to Jerry negative because he genuinely cares about our movement and wants it to succeed? Do we only follow the directives of Straight people who hate us?

Here are excerpts from the feedback my post generated. I've taken the liberty of editing them a bit for style (and obscenity):

I’m a 48-year-old grandmother, and I’m “queer” and proud. Get used to it.


I also like the word “queer”. I use it frequently. And I also refer to myself as a “homo”. Why? Because for me, using it means owning it, and owning all that it implies, good and bad. Words have meaning. Own the word, and you own the meaning in your world.

Except that Gay people don’t own the words “queer” and “homo” in any world! Those words are still owned by the people who invented them: The heterosexists! Why is it desirable that we own such evil words? That’s the question nobody wants to ask!

Having one word is . . . quite useful because all of us are marginalized by society for that same thing (failing to conform to sex/gender norms), expressed in different ways. I’m here, I’m “queer”, get used to it.

So a sexual slur is the only word that can unite people whose approach to sex and gender is non-binary? Excuse me, darling, but I don’t think so! That "here/queer" cliché is so ironic; bigots have always thought of us as "queers", so what's to get used to?

The Old D*ke does not want to see the “queer” community disappear . . . the Old D*ke treasures the panoply, diversity and color of the “queer” community.

I don’t believe in the concept of “Old D*kes”! Nor do I accept the premise of a “queer community”. None of the communities I belong to is “queer”!

For me, as for so many other LGBT people, “queer” is a badge of pride and honor that I wear openly. It is the identity I most wholeheartedly endorse, because it’s the most inclusive of diversity in our community, and it’s a radical, defiant uprising of pride and strength in the face of bigotry. It expresses everything I need to say about my passionate affiliation with and devotion to the LGBT liberation movement. You can take away my “queer” identity when you pry it from my cold, dead heart!

Goodness gracious, such melodrama! I can practically see this woman on stage, chewing up the scenery with her overwrought acting. That’s where her monologue belongs, too, because it’s wholly fictional!

So, as a woman, I shouldn’t reclaim words like “c*nt”, either? I think one of the prerogatives of adulthood is being able to choose your own identities and labels. Signed, a happily “queer d*ke", who frequently dates "trannies" and loves her "f*ggot" friends.

Note the smarmy posturing . . . the totally unwarranted smugness . . . the defiant ignorance of this person!  Pitiful. Just pitiful!

Perhaps you are the one who needs to grow up, or at the very least, learn how to frame an argument without resorting to patronizing generalizations.

Unfortunately, those “patronizing generalizations” about the behavior of some Gay people were unpleasant realities that I took no pleasure in pointing out. Anybody who needs proof that many of us tolerate NAMBLA, advocate bathroom sex and take other questionable positions should browse the Gay blogosphere. Start right here at Christ, The Gay Martyr! I’ve blogged about this stuff in the past, with such posts as "The Pleasure Seekers", "Potty Training" and "Gay Pride: A Place We've Never Been".

I’ve a very low opinion of (those who view) other people as “freaks”, (people such as) hedonists of any sexual orientation, atheists, agnostics and “Christ-haters” or “queers”.

And I have a very low opinion of people who twist my words! “Queers” are freaks by definition, and hedonists can be freaky in a sexual context, but I don’t view non-believers as freaks, and I never said I did.

I have run into “allies” who sound as you do before, people whose support is contingent on being allowed to assert negative, degrading assumptions about GLBTQ (sic) people, as you have done, under the veneer of “helping”. And when challenged, additional barrages of insulting and degrading assumptions always follow. Because, at the heart of it, for such folk, it isn’t about genuinely supporting GLBTQ (sic) people, but about finding a socially acceptable way of saying ugly things about GLBTQ (sic) people in public.

Contrary to what this man says, I’m not shallow that way, and neither is Jerry Maneker. Negative? Degrading? The behavior Jerry and I criticized certainly is that. Assumptions? I only wish they were! Rest assured that our support for the equality struggle remains firm, despite the angry reaction to our shared thesis.

"The Necessary Pain of Growing Up" continues with Part Two.


  1. BurdenNoMore12 March, 2008

    Hello Gay Martyr. I want to share something. Homosexuals "belong" in church - it is their only place of hope. Power of God flowed in the lives of the unwanted in the early church. Christ said, "do not go by way of the gentiles but unto the lost sheep." The lost sheep, those who have no knowledge of themselves. Early church healed the sick, cast out demons and change the lives of the despised, hopless and the downtrodden. Gay man no longer worried 'bout his gender, he threw those burdens away. Gay man wants what God wants Him to be. Miracle, same as a person once was blind now can see. Now Gay man is ordinary man but now Man of God. Also a reason, early church was persecuted for harboring the homosexual, the murderers, the sick, the unwanted. Believe it, Power of God flowed changed lives, we now have hope!

  2. I agree with you, to this extent: Gay people do belong in church, they are God's children; but we belong in the real Christian church, the church of universal love and salvation, not the false church of Bibliolatry. Many Gay people are indeed lost sheep who have no knowledge of themselves. My prayer is that Christ, The Gay Martyr can serve as an educational tool for them. I agree that the church should protect the outcasts of society, but we are more than outcasts. We are singularly blessed by God with the gift of androgyny. We have no need to change ourselves, only the way we think about ourselves. We are not "homosexuals"! That is a flawed human perception. We are eunuchs and virgins, God's special servants, a symbol of His Holy Covenant.