04 March 2008

The Necessary Pain Of Growing Up (Part Two)

Photo by Jill Greenberg

More reaction to my defense of Jerry Maneker's essay "On The Need To Grow Up":

I don't think I've personally known any Gay person who would be tolerant of NAMBLA, good Lord. Nor can I recall any Gay person or organization defending Mark Foley in the slightest . . . I personally don't know a single person who would make such a claim (about Gay people defending restroom sex) . . . Stuffed Animal, what kind of data are you using to inform these statements?

The "data" I based my observations on were statements I've seen and heard in the Gay media, going back to the late 1970s. Has this fellow never heard of the United Nations controversy involving the International Lesbian and Gay Association's relationship with NAMBLA? Did he miss the online debates about whether or not Mark Foley's pursuit of teenage boys was criminal? Was he visiting another planet when a groundswell of Gay support for Senator Larry Craig's indiscretions appeared in Internet forums? Why was he trying to impose hard journalism standards here? Jerry Maneker and I didn't write reports; we wrote opinion pieces! We were under no obligation to provide links or footnotes. If people are uninformed, and prefer to accuse us of fabrication instead of doing research and educating themselves, that's a poor reflection on them, not on us!

In essence, you and Jerry are trying to argue that GLBTQ (sic) people who do not conform to your vision are immature, buying into oppression, settling for second-class citizenship, in short, a whole laundry list of negative, degrading assertions that simply have no basis in fact.

This statement has no basis in fact! We made no such argument.

In my book, and in a nation that actually practiced equality for its citizens, every "queer" person ought to have the right to live their lives as "queer". They earned that right by simply being human.

"Queer" and "equal" are not compatible concepts, and the notion of an earned "right" to live as queer is just bizarre! That this woman thinks otherwise reveals a twisted perception of reality on her part.

You and Jerry are arguing that GLBTQ (sic) people, in specific, leather folk, are to conform to your personal sexual taste.

WTF was this person smoking?  What a ridiculous accusation! I've never compared anybody’s “sexual tastes” with mine, and to my knowledge, Jerry Maneker has never done so, either. It was also insulting, this notion that any discussions of Gay people must needs always be about sex!

The core premise that Jerry and Stuffed Animal are arguing, that GLBTQ (sic) people need to edit our lives to appear more “normal” and less threatening to the homophobes, is completely delusional.

What’s delusional is this person’s interpretation of our "core premise". Our argument was, and still is, that LGBT folk should approach their struggle for equality in a more serious manner.  Nothing more and nothing less.

Who defines what is or is not "serious?" And is "serious" not simply a synonym in this instance for "assimilationist", armed with some kind of moral superiority that the word ought not have attatched to it?

In the context of an equality struggle, seriousness is defined by the forces you're struggling against. If they perceive you to be frivolous, then you're toast! There certainly was no moral superiority attached to my use of the word "serious", and there was nothing remotely "assimilationist" about my usage. What an absurd idea! If believing I deserve the same life options that Straight people enjoy amounts to assimilation, then find me guilty; but this Blender's desire that I conform to her marginalist mindset smacks of assimilation demands far more than anything Jerry or I said!

The Christian position is that everyone should be in a committed, monogamous relationship, and a “Liberal” Christian like Maneker will want Gays (sic) to be married, too, but in all other ways will want the authority of his religion over sexual mores to apply.

This was obviously written by someone with serious disdain for Christianity! That’s understandable, given how horribly self-described Christians have abused LGBT folk, but his take on Jerry Maneker couldn't be more wrongheaded. Jerry isn’t a Liberal Christian (he hates liberalism), and he’s definitely not in favor of regulating sexual mores!

The generalizations; the lumping together of all Gays and Lesbians (even the use of “many” is a back door to saying “all”); the complete ignorance of the full magnitude of shows like “Queer As Folk” that demonstrated both the inherent, natural sexuality of queer (sic) people (for the first time, I might add) and the complexity of our relationships; the lumping of “Queer Eye For The Straight Guy” in with “sexualized” shows (please, it was a completely de-sexualized makeover show which demonstrated one way that Straight and Gay men could find common ground), it was all just revolting!

Sensationalized sexuality; the illusion of relationship complexity; and fabricated common ground, all served up with a sexual slur in the TV show titles: That’s what I call revolting, sugar! As for "many" being a "back door" to "all, I guess that's the same thing as the truth being a "back door" to a lie.  WTF?

GLBTQ (sic) people do not need you to define our lives for us, especially when you get it so very, very wrong. And frankly, that sort of negative definition-making is one of the symptoms of bigotry.

This control freak accusation was thrown at Jerry and me over and over again. Did these folks actually read what we wrote or did they just skim over it? We’ve never, ever tried to define anyone’s life, and we certainly don’t make the definitions.

Whether I want to suck someone off in the woods, carry a sign in a parade, wear ruby red undies so guys will notice me in the locker room, or ruby red slippers so I can do my fan dance at the bar, or wear a suit and tie at the big conference table at the HRC (meeting) is my business. And if I want to because I truly, deeply, sincerely want to, or because I have merely internalized and ingrained nefarious expectations and stereotypes, well, who cares?

Jerry Maneker and I care. If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t have written our essays.

You only have to “tolerate” things you have a knee-jerk reaction against. In my case, I’m sad to report that I’m “tolerating” your mucking about on one of my favorite blogs.

Here’s proof that house cats aren’t the only creatures who nibble on Meow Mix!  Pull in those claws, Catwoman!  This person is certainly under no obligation to "tolerate" my writing. She doesn’t even have to think seriously about what I wrote, and obviously . . . she didn’t!

I think the "many" statements are quite inaccurate, and incredibly harmful. It's like something that Paul Cameron (who would like to see Gay people dead) wishes were true. I'm hoping Cameron (or Peter LaBarbera) doesn't find this blog thread and quote from Stuffed Animal.

Shooting the messenger . . . a time-honored tradition! Unfortunately, my statements were only too accurate. Harmful? Taken out of context, they might well be; but if Paul Cameron or Peter LaBarbera quote them, that will do far less damage than we do when we use exaggerated sexuality to define ourselves, deliberately offend religious sensibilities, and encourage others to address us with sexual slurs. That kind of behavior feeds into their vicious stereotypes. In comparison, my criticisms have all the impact of cotton balls falling on a feather bed!

I think that Stuffed Animal brings up some good points, and I also think this is a very good and necessary discussion for the community to have. There is a problem with how some of us view ourselves. Are we picking our own identities or settling for what society has laid out for us?

Thank you, Jesus! Somebody who understood what I said and didn't find it threatening!

To say that I’m disappointed by many of the responses would be a gross understatement! It’s always heartbreaking to see how heavily some of us are invested in “queer” identity, in defining ourselves as deviant, abnormal, strange, unnatural and/or perverted. We’re so heavily invested that it terrifies us for anyone to suggest that we actually aren’t any of those things; that there’s more to being Lesbian, Gay or Pansexual than just sex; that bettering our lot in society depends as much on what we do as on what our enemies do; or that an effective equality struggle can’t be waged on radical outsider rhetoric and shock value tactics! The fear factor was definitely in effect at Pam's House Blend! It certainly wasn’t my intention to scare anybody; I just wanted to make people think.

At first, I attempted to respond to my critics. Then I realized it was nothing but a dart game with me and Jerry Maneker in the bullseye! The comments section beneath my Blend Diary post came to resemble the transcript of an overheated TV talk show episode. The contributors deliberately distorted the points Jerry and I were trying to make, so I refused to engage with them further.

When I see the hysterical nature of most of their comments, I can only come to one conclusion: The oppressor has done one Hell of a heavy number on our minds! Dude's got us beat down, mixed up, messed up, turned sideways and seeing cross-eyed! He's sure enough got us by the short hairs, but we’re too numb to feel the pain. We don’t want to feel the pain, dammit, and we’ll half decapitate anybody who makes us feel it!

However, if you’re hurting but can’t feel pain, it means you’re either suppressing it, you’re heavily medicated, or you’re close to death. I think all three circumstances apply to modern LGBT folk!

"The Necessary Pain Of Growing Up" concludes with Part Three.

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