29 March 2008

The Big Nasty (Part One)

Fear

WARNING!
This essay contains frank discussion 

of human sexuality.

It may surprise readers of this blog to know that I sometimes watch Gay adult films. Gasp! An avowed Christian, consuming pornography? Well, it wouldn't be the first time, would it?

I'm pretty sure Christians (as well as Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and members of other faiths) comprise a substantial portion of the adult film industry's customer base and always have. We're sexual beings, just like everybody else on this planet. Some of us even consider ourselves connoisseurs of erotic art! Yet, celebration of sexuality is supposed to be anathema to us. We're reputed to exercise strict control over our carnal instincts (hypocritical televangelists notwithstanding). What's the truth about Christianity and sex? You may well ask: Is it wrong for religious folk to watch adult films, view erotic art, or in any way affirm sexuality outside the institution of marriage? My answer comes in the form of a quote from the Savior:

MARK 7:15, 16, 21-23
There is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile . . . for it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: Fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride (and) folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.

Whether pornographic products have a positive or negative impact depends on the person using them, and how they're used, in my opinion. If partaking of adult entertainment leads a Christian to commit acts of sexual violence, promiscuity or adultery, the impact is clearly negative. In Mark 9: 43-48, the Savior instructed us on how to handle bad influences in our lives. He said: If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to Hell. So your behavioral response to pornographic material will determine whether it's safe for you to consume or not!

Obviously, the amount of time spent consuming a product as intoxicating as erotica should be moderated. Those who tend to become obsessed with images of nudity and lust would do well to consider abstinence. For most Christians, I suspect watching adult films amounts to no more than a harmless, occasional pastime. However, there are certain kinds of erotic film that Christians and all principled people should abstain from watching!

Films with underage performers, certainly! Films that depict adulterous relationships would fall into that category, too. Sado-masochist subject matter should be approached with caution; the more "edgy" the feature, the less likely it is to be appropriate for viewing! Often, just looking at the DVD sleeve will alert you when a particular X-rated movie goes too far. The adult entertainment industry has occasion to market some highly unsavory images, particularly where Gay sexuality is concerned. I was reminded of this just recently when I went online to buy an adult title for a friend of mine.

The DVD arrived in my mailbox, along with a catalog filled with other titles available from tlavideo.com, the retailer. I thumbed through the catalog, thinking I might find something else of interest there. I did see a handful of promising releases, but as I kept looking, I became more and more disturbed by what I saw.

Among the titles included were Men's Room 2, whose DVD jacket shows a naked man about to urinate into a toilet; Fear and Gaytanamo, "homoerotic" takeoffs on Abu Ghraib-style sexual humiliation; Fortune Nookie/Chew Manchu, an appallingly-titled double feature DVD featuring Asian-American performers; Brother Load and Brothers Should Do It, DVDs which attempt to lend an erotic appeal to incest; Black Balled 2, a film in which a savage horde of Black men rapes a lone White guy; and three volumes of an oral sex showcase called (I'm not kidding) Gag The F*g! The sleeves on this DVD series are emblazoned with a lurid teaser: Face-f*cked until they choke and even puke! As you might imagine, the jacket photos are quite disgusting.

Even more objectionable was the inclusion of several mainstream movies dealing with incarceration; I was stunned to read the recommendations tlavideo.com staff had written for these films. This blurb, which touts a 2002 feature called Lockdown, was typical:

This brutal prison movie with a largely African-American cast features plenty of shirtless hunks, butts, prison sex (of course), and a very fierce rape scene.

Special emphasis was always placed on the ferocity of a film's rape scene, with a clear implication that the more violent the scene was, the more you would want to see it! That was bad enough, but as I kept turning pages, matters went from bad to worse. I encountered such titles as Ethan Bareback, Bareback Boners, Bareback Lovers and Back To Bareback, all condom-free anal sex films. Other releases promised all manner of shocking sex thrills and sported titles like Depraved, Folsom Filth, Downright Filthy and Downright Wrong, all of which sound like excerpts from a Fundamentalist preacher's anti-Gay sermon! Evidently, this is the kind of product that tlavideo.com customers want, or at least, the kind tlavideo.com thinks they want.

"The Big Nasty" concludes with Part Two.

The Big Nasty (Part Two)

Fear

WARNING!
This essay contains frank discussion 

of human sexuality.

In today's Gay adult film market, I guess it's not enough just to turn on a camera and film two men making love to one another. In order for it to be authentically Gay, it's got to be violent, depraved, humiliating, racist or suicidal! Watch Gay men have sex in filthy, stinking public bathrooms! See Gay siblings get it on with one another! See Gay men perpetrate gang-rape just like they did back in ol' Sodom and Gomorrah! Enjoy seeing Gay men objectified both racially and sexually! Get a thrill watching Gay prisoners put to simulated torture! Watch the "f*gs" gag and puke! Then watch those damn, dirty "queers" infect one another with HIV disease!

Step right up, folks, and get your heterosexist notions confirmed! What's really being sold here? Is it just harmless, naughty fun, or is it a not-so-subtle form of sexual demonization? Why is it necessary that homoerotic films contain such vicious stereotypes? I get the distinct impression that people who create and market products like these harbor a profound hatred for Gay identity!

I don't get this impression just from reading titles and content descriptions, either. Like most Gay men of my generation, I've seen quite a few erotic films over the years. Much of what I've seen makes me believe that porn movies are a major source of Gay stereotyping! All too often, the sex scenes are set in dark alleyways, abandoned warehouses or so-called tearooms: Public toilets with lewd graffiti scrawled on the walls and "glory holes" for penises carved in bathroom stalls.

Orgy scenes are increasingly popular, with ever larger groups of men shown going at each other mindlessly like dogs in heat. One-on-one coupling with affectionate kissing and caressing gets rarer all the time! Excessive machismo has infected Gay adult filmmaking. The emphasis is shifting decidedly away from warm tenderness and toward cold brutality!

There's evidently a niche market now for prison-style "gang bang" films, and more of them are being made both domestically and abroad. Even more alarming is a stunt from Straight porn that's recently begun crossing over to Gay productions: Double penis penetration! It's dangerous enough when attempted on a woman's vagina; attempting it on a man's rectal cavity is just plain foolhardy!

With such a high risk of internal organ damage, I can't understand why any filmmaker or actor would want to take such a chance! The look of intense pain on the faces of men being doubly penetrated is unbearable; only a sicko could feel sexual arousal while witnessing such deliberate cruelty!

Even as Gay double-penetration scenes rise in popularity, fisting, a related practice from the world of extreme BDSM sex, is reportedly making an on-camera comeback. Fisting films first appeared a quarter-century ago, just prior to the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic. If these appalling trends aren't reversed, I predict tragic cases of fistula (loss of control over the bowels) will proliferate among male porn stars!

Now, I'm basically a "free trade" kind of guy. I believe that a company has the right to sell anything that can legally be sold. I also believe a customer has the right to buy anything that can legally be bought. However, as a Christian, I don't believe moral considerations disappear when the market is in play! It's immoral to exploit homophobic myths for profit! It's immoral to stage scenes of sexual violence for profit! It's immoral to pay actors to perform unprotected sex acts! What's more, when sick stereotypes and potentially criminal behaviors are packaged and sold to the people who are most harmed by them, it demonstrates callous disregard for the customer at best, and total contempt for the customer at worst!

As customers, Gay men are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. The way we relate to pornography differs from the way Straight men approach the genre. In the early days of Gay liberation, watching porn flicks was really the only way to see same-gender affection expressed on screen! Our equivalent of the big screen heterosexual romance Dr. Zhivago was probably The Other Side Of Aspen, a 1983 flesh epic marketed by Falcon Studios; certainly that film's star, the late Al Parker, was the Gay equivalent of leading man Omar Sharif.

Erotic scenes between men are still relatively rare in Hollywood features, so a significant number of us still look to porn for sexual validation. Consequently, we make little or no distinction between X-rated movies and other films tailored to the Gay market (proving my point, the catalog I discussed earlier is almost equally split between adult and mainstream DVDs).

Even so, we ought to be able to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy images in Gay adult films. There's nothing validating about "bareback" sex and double penetration! Maybe we're just being swept along with the general trend in today's film industry toward presenting ever more "edgy" fare?

Whatever the case, our "anything goes" attitude in regard to pornography is hurting us! We and others who rent and buy Gay porn (such as heterosexual women, believe it or not) are being de-sensitized to twisted depictions of our sexuality. Films like Men's Room 2, Black Balled 2 and Gag The F*g reinforce the perception that homoeroticism is wicked, dirty and abnormal! They provide counterculture cover for the forces of heterosexual supremacy. Demonization is demonization, y'all, regardless of whether it comes from a church pulpit or a DVD player!

Mind you, I'm not saying companies that produce stereotypical Gay porn are stealth agents of the Religious Right.  I don't know that, and such a thing would be awfully hard to prove. I am saying any company that would sell the kinds of DVDs I just described doesn't give a damn about Gay men!

You may well ask: Don't Gay men have a responsibility to give a damn about themselves? My answer is a resounding "yes"! I think we should take responsibility. I think we should start a serious conversation about sexual violence and sexual racism in Gay adult film! When filmmakers dare to undermine safer sex instruction, I think we should slap public health warning labels on their product! When actors from and directors of films like Bareback Boners make personal appearances at our Gay Pride events, I think we should boo them off the stage! When Gay porn studios send out messages that homosexual men are perverts who deserve pain and death, I think we should send a message back to them and spell it b-o-y-c-o-t-t! Let's see how eager they are to slime Gay identity once their profits start shrinking!

Some Gay Rights activists make a point of calling themselves "sex-positive". I challenge them to put their money where their mouths are! What's "sex-positive" about media that portrays Gay sex as predatory, violent, racist and/or depraved? How do such portrayals advance Gay liberation? To me, they smack of Puritanism, the judgmental mindset that requires linking sex with shame and punishment. Where there is sexual shame, there is no possibility of sexual liberation!

Whether we identify as "sex-positive" activists, connoisseurs of erotic entertainment, or employees of the Gay adult film industry, we need to raise our standards! We've got to start denouncing those who deal in degrading and demonizing images of sexually active Gay men. We've got to oppose those who seek to equate homosexuality with reckless activities that endanger health and life!

We must be far more discriminating in our DVD rentals and purchases. We must be far more critical of content. There's a difference between sexual positivity and sexual suicide! There's a kind of eroticism that validates, and a kind that demonizes. It's time to recognize which is which, and draw a clear dividing line! When you chase a Big "O", you shouldn't end up with a Big Nasty! If you do, sugar, then something's wrong!

22 March 2008

Stumbling Blocks To Gay Liberation: IGNORANCE

Stumbling Block

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines ignorance as a lack of knowledge, education, or awareness. I agree with the definition, but it sounds benign. Ignorance is anything but! As we all know, it’s the root of all kinds of injustice. It makes pastors, imams and rabbis deny Gay people marriage ceremonies. It makes Boy Scouts of America officials ban Gay people from Scout troops. It makes school administrators ban information about Gay people from the classroom. It makes military recruiters disqualify Gay people for armed service. It makes casting directors bypass Lesbian and Gay actors for certain film roles.

It makes angry mobs lynch Lesbians and Gay men in the streets of Jamaica. It makes televangelists, politicians and church leaders give the most inflammatory speeches imaginable. It’s the reason for the whole bogus “ex-Gay” industry! It has driven an untold number of us to attempt or succeed at committing suicide. Ignorance is our first stumbling block: Ignorance about who and what we are, about our history, about what religion teaches about us, and about what it takes to have a successful Gay Rights movement. It provides the mortar foundation for all the other stumbling blocks, so it must be dealt with first!

I believe the best way to do that is to discover what Gay identity really is underneath all the stereotyping and misconceptions. Are we sexual deviants? No. Are we moral degenerates? No. Are we spawn of Satan? Of course not! So what are we? There’s no definite answer, of course, but we already know enough to reach an informed conclusion. Recent scientific research, years of personal testimony from LGBT individuals, and ancient legends from around the world all concur: LGBT folk are a gender-neutral people!

One such legend actually comes from Christian Scripture; it's found in both the Bible and Gnostic Christian texts. It holds that LGBT folk (variously called eunuchs, virgins, free men and barren women) are links between Heaven and Earth, a priestly class that God created to carry out His divine will both here and in the afterlife! Quite a different perception than what the Organized Church has of us, isn’t it? (For more details, read my three-part essay "We Are Family", found under the Gay Identity label in my sidebar.)

Fortunately, it’s not necessary to believe legends in order to arrive at our true identities. All we really need do is listen to our Transsexual sisters and brothers, who’ve been trying to tell us for decades that male and female gender can exist in the same body! It’s the truth! Most available evidence suggests that Gay, Pansexual and Transsexual human beings are all Transgender to some degree or other.

We’ve been encouraged to define ourselves by our sexuality, but that’s just wrong! What defines us is a variation of human gender, a natural and normal variation just like skin or eye color. Some of us (among them journalist Gabriel Rotello, historian Martin Duberman and Hip Hop singer Ari Gold) have already perceived as much about Gay identity. I'm confident that science will ultimately validate this perception! Don’t pay attention to activists who warn that knowing and publicizing the truth will only give our enemies a new way to attack us. They'll attack us regardless of what’s revealed, but the truth will ultimately set us free from Ignorance!

"Stumbling Blocks to Gay Liberation" continues with DENIAL.

21 March 2008

Stumbling Blocks To Gay Liberation: DENIAL

Stumbling Block

Denial is defined by Merriam-Webster as a psychological defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality. I agree with this definition 100%! Contrary to what you may have heard, Gay men aren't "queens", but we do tend to be Queens of Denial (thanks, Pam Tillis)!!!

We’re not the only ones, either. Lesbians and Pansexual and Transsexual folk all make the same royal proclamations: I'm "queer" and proud! “Queer” is the only word that’s totally inclusive of our community. The word “d*ke” isn't a slur, it just means “strong woman”. We have to endow "f*ggot" with alternative meanings that empower us. The tortured rhetoric, which reeks of internalized shame, speaks for itself! So does the idiotic idea that we can interface effectively with oppressors by presenting ourselves as the very sexual stereotypes they find contemptible!

We’ve convinced ourselves that the power structure takes our Gay Rights movement seriously, even though we encourage a carnival atmosphere around our primary political statement: The annual Gay Pride parade! If that isn’t Denial, I don’t know what is!

Denial about the epithets we use among ourselves is even more pervasive. For instance, the words “f*ggot” and “d*ke” both appear to have been derived from insults directed at women. Etymologists have traced “f*ggot” to an older root word used to denigrate elderly women. It had the connotation of “hag” or “b*tch” (a slur that working-class Gay men share with women). Contrary to what’s widely believed, “f*ggot” is not a reference to the kindling once used to burn Gay people at the stake.

The word “d*ke” has been traced to a vulgar expression for a woman’s vagina (similar to “c*nt”). It may also be an abbreviation of the word “hermaphrodite”, meaning a person with indeterminate genitalia. (This information was taken from the Online Etymology Dictionary.) Either way, it’s a reference to something between a woman’s legs; kind of rude, don’t you think? Naming a person after her reproductive organs?  Narrowing her humanity down to an anatomical slur?  "D*ke" is certainly not proper language to use around children!

There’s something else we can deduce for certain: Both of these slurs were coined by men for the purpose of insulting womanhood! Most, if not all Lesbians call themselves feminists. How can a feminist allow misogynist language to issue from her mouth, much less define her identity???!!!

I’ve been accused of “political correctness” for calling attention to inconvenient truths like this. So “political correctness” is bad . . . compared to what? Political naïveté is far worse! How is it possible to win a political struggle (what we claim to be engaged in) with politics that aren’t correct? Denial rears its ugly head again!

LGBT folk not only deny the negative effects our own actions can have, but also the crippling effects we suffer from Ignorance and the other Stumbling Blocks I'll discuss here. Refusing to accept these realities leaves us vulnerable to the forces that collectively seek to marginalize and disenfranchise us. Sadly, our Denial is so strong that we actually participate in our own disenfranchisement!

Here are examples of self-disenfranchisement: Gay people who embrace one-dimensional media portrayals of themselves. Gay people who endorse radical political strategy that alienates instead of inspires. Gay people who actively oppose marriage equality. Gay people who are indifferent when Lesbians and Gay men are denied employment/membership in religious institutions. Gay people who are more hostile to open military service for LesBiGay citizens than the Joint Chiefs of Staff! These kinds of incomprehensible positions pop up regularly in Gay political discourse. Of all the stumbling blocks, Denial is the oppressor’s greatest ally in perpetuating our oppression!

What Straight ally extraordinaire Jerry Maneker has to say about Denial cuts right to the heart of the matter:

The defense mechanism of Denial plays right into the homophobes’ hands . . . you are confirming, not only to them but to many who might otherwise be your allies . . . that you are truly outsiders who wish to remain on the outside . . . recognize that there are many LGBT people who seek the very same rights as heterosexuals (sic) . . . your use of pejorative labels when you refer to yourselves, and the Mardi Gras celebrations you have when you’re still on the outside looking in hinders and prevents (everyone) from acquiring those rights . . . you must be willing to move beyond your comfort zones . . . recognize your uniqueness as part of God’s creation (and) insist (on) having the same place at the table as do your heterosexual counterparts!

"Stumbling Blocks to Gay Liberation" continues with MACHISMO.

20 March 2008

Stumbling Blocks To Gay Liberation: MACHISMO

Stumbling Block

Machismo is defined by Merriam-Webster as a strong sense of masculine pride and/or an exaggerated masculinity. This is a very conservative definition! Machismo, as I've seen and experienced it, is a rigid set of attitudes and behaviors imposed on men in patriarchal cultures. Machismo imposes on women, too, insisting on rigid interpretations of femininity and a subordinate role to men.

It's the reason little femme boys are terrorized! It's the reason little butch girls are ostracized. It's the reason a California governor sees nothing wrong with going before TV cameras and spouting "girly man" putdowns. It's also the reason "d*ke" and "f*ggot", two sexual slurs we naÏvely embrace, both have misogynist origins!

In a culture dominated by Machismo, there is no room for persons of blended gender! We undermine the gender fascism that Machismo preaches. We contradict the world view that demands dominant men and subservient women. We will always be perceived as a threat to the concept of "pure" masculinity; our sexual orientation alone guarantees that! As I've stated before, all it takes to qualify as a gender outlaw is to be a man-loving-man or a woman-loving-woman!

Jerry Maneker has a particularly incisive take on the prevalence of Machismo. He says:

It seems to me that one only takes his masculinity seriously enough to make it a core feature of his identity when (it's) called, or can be called, into question! Then the machismo becomes prominent, often resulting in verbal and even physical Gay-bashing. One's masculinity, in a sane world, wouldn't be any more important to his identity than would be any other feature of his multi-dimensionality . . . emphasis is placed on gender because so much discrimination is visited up on people who don't conform to gender "norms" . . . and that appropriateness is largely defined by people who have gender issues of their own.

In other words, even the architects of Machismo suffer from its tyranny! That’s all the more reason to oppose it!

One of the saddest things in the world to see is a Gay man adhering to the tenets of Machismo and suppressing every feminine trait. He often will be as vicious in his stance toward effeminate men as any Straight male bigot would be! He may even pursue (or fake) sexual relationships with women, just to fall more in line with traditional concepts of masculinity.

Just as sad is the sight of a butch Lesbian trying to act macho: Picking fist fights, disparaging women like a Straight man would, exaggerating her natural-born masculine traits. Taken to extremes, this behavior can sometimes lead to spousal abuse. What a sin!

God has blessed us with the ability to transcend gender. It’s self-defeating to lock ourselves into hard butch and femme roles; that’s just aping heterosexist society! Nothing could be more antithetical to true liberation!  Understand that I'm not saying it's wrong to strongly identify as male or female; I'm just saying such identification should come naturally, and not be the result of societal pressure.

"Stumbling Blocks to Gay Liberation" continues with STEREOTYPES.

19 March 2008

Stumbling Blocks To Gay Liberation: STEREOTYPES

Stumbling Block

Stereotypes are defined by Merriam-Webster as standardized mental pictures held in common by members of a group which represent an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or uncritical judgment. This is an accurate definition that, just like the definition of Ignorance, downplays the great harm Stereotypes do. Here, sketched broadly, are the main Stereotypes that heterosexual society has of LGBT folk:

The prissy F*ggot, a cartoon caricature born to do your hair, make over your wardrobe and decorate your apartment!

The depraved Leather/Fetish Queen, a certified sicko with a fully-equipped BDSM torture chamber in his basement!

The hulking Bulld*ke, a beastly figure who despises her own womanhood, objectifies other women sexually, sees men as a threat and is ten times more macho than John Wayne!

The hedonistic Lipstick Lesbian, a Victoria's Secret fantasy babe who loves nothing better than to have a man watch while she has sex with her girlfriend!

The outrageous Drag Queen/Tr*nny, whose only purpose in life is to model the latest in femme couture and trick innocent Straight men into believing she's a biological woman!

The AC/DC, screw-anything-that-moves Bi Guy, a promiscuous, sex-obsessed horny toad who by nature is unable to commit to monogamous relationships.

The “radical” Gay Pride Marcher, a gender-bending carnival clown with “I'm here, I'm queer” placard and pink feather boa in hand, gyrating to a Disco beat, bare breasts bouncing, and genitalia swinging free!

Each one of these characters is likely to be a sexual predator; an advocate of public sex, underage sex, polygamy and incest; and a danger to children, the family structure and every societal norm. There's always a grain of truth in Stereotypes, but these are so distorted, they border on the delusional! I believe these twisted images of LGBT folk are even more harmful than the Uncle Tom, Aunt Jemimah, Zip Coon and Stepin Fechit images that have historically plagued African-Americans!

Stereotypes will always be with us, but when they’re as offensive as the ones I just mentioned, we need to be wary of them. When such ugly myths proliferate, they undermine the goals of a Civil Rights movement! For reasons only psychoanalysts really understand, if you can reduce a person to a crude Stereotype, then it's easier for you to mistreat that person and disregard his or her basic humanity. This is a strange-but-true fact of human nature that communities of color have known for a long time; that’s why Latinos, Native, Asian and African-Americans sometimes seem overly sensitive about their media portrayals. We need to be at least half as sensitive as they are!

Our media is careless about how it depicts us! Pick up a Gay publication (fiction or nonfiction), and more likely than not you'll see a sexually provocative cover. Usually, it’s a naked or half-naked White man in a “come-get-me” pose. Otherwise, it’s likely to be a Transperson (or not) whose make-up and clothing are over-the-top. Then there are the many magazine covers featuring Hollywood celebrities (they don’t even have to be Gay icons!); these feed into another Stereotype of Gay people as star-struck fanatics. Recently, The Advocate sold a cover that was both sexually provocative and worshipful of celebrity; it showed comedienne Kathy Griffin emerging from a car, her dress pulled up past her crotch and her legs sprawled open. The Advocate is supposed to be our premier Gay Rights periodical! What does this kind of cover have to do with Gay Rights?

We’re not doing enough to limit negative imagery in mainstream media, either. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) may have been founded to serve that function, but frankly, they've done a lousy job! Just look at the recent crop of Gay TV shows: “Queer Eye For The Straight Guy”, an insult! “The L Word”', sexual objectification of Lesbians! “Queer As Folk”, sexual objectification of Gay men! And what about I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry, a recent feature film that GLAAD saw fit to give its dubious stamp of approval? That stupid movie trivializes our relationships, exploits Gay Stereotypes big time, and is riddled with sexual slurs! Of course, GLAAD raved about the overrated Brokeback Mountain, too, but overlooked the fact that Jake Gyllenhaal’s Jack Twist character is a classic Bi Guy Stereotype!

Both Gay and Straight media seem to prefer depicting us either in a soft-core porn context or playing us for a limp wrist joke. African-Americans did not and would not have tolerated those kinds of portrayals at the height of the Civil Rights struggle! They recognized marginalization when they saw it. It’s just pathetic, the way we consistently fail to challenge dehumanizing, one-dimensional images of ourselves! We pay a price for it every time a grade-schooler taunts one of his classmates with a that's-so-Gay putdown.

I once heard actor Harvey Fierstein say it didn’t matter how LGBT folk were depicted, as long as depictions of us were out there to be seen. With all due respect, I couldn’t disagree with him more! Our depictions need to be diverse and reasonably accurate. Many Gay people seem to think they’re stand-up comedians; they're always railing against so-called "political correctness"! Exaggeration and shock value aren't bad when you’re doing a comedy routine; they may even get you a bigger laugh, which is what a comedian wants. We’re not doing comedy routines, though! Last I heard, we were doing an equality struggle, in which case guffaws are definitely not what we want!

Nor do we want to shock people just for the Hell of doing it! We want, and need, to be respected. Not ridiculed. Not objectified. Not feared. Respected! Anger over media stereotyping is a surefire sign that a community wants respect; and a sign like that will do us ten times as much good as one emblazoned with that tired old cliché we're here, we're "queer", get used to it.  Liberation is about breaking free from your bonds . . . not re-adjusting them!

"Stumbling Blocks to Gay Liberation" continues with BIBLIOLATRY.

18 March 2008

Stumbling Blocks To Gay Liberation: BIBLIOLATRY

Stumbling Block

Bibliolatry is defined by Merriam-Webster as excessive reverence for the letter of the Bible. A related term is Legalism: Strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code. I define Bibliolatry differently.  I call it the practice of worshiping the Bible as a substitute for God!

As a Christian, I consider it sinful in the extreme! It’s the antithesis of genuine faith. God and only God is worthy of our devotion; there can be no substitutes whatsoever! Deifying religious icons is forbidden in the Bible itself! It’s right there in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20: 4-17). I’ve written numerous essays about the sin of Bibliolatry. Many others have written against this idolatrous practice, too, and yet it persists! Nobody knows this better than LGBT folk do; ever since Biblical times, Bibliolatry has been used to demonize us.

The sad truth is that most Christians are Christians in name only! They worship the Bible! They do so because of Fundamentalist miseducation. They're taught by their spiritual leaders to believe that every single word in the “Good Book” came from God. Untrue! The Bible contains correspondence, poetry, genealogy, fictional narratives and a great many things other than God’s word. Not all of them are good things, either!

After I finished re-reading the entire Bible last year, I felt I’d never encountered a book so filled with sexism, racism, adultery, lust and love of barbaric violence. If those are Godlike qualities, Heaven help us all! Yet, to most people, the Bible is God.

A little while back, I argued with a Lesbian Christian blogger about the way she saw herself in relation to the Bible. From reading her blog, I'd perceived that she practiced Bibliolatry. She defined herself and all other Gay people as sexual sinners . . . what a surprise (not)! I told her how mistaken she was. I tried to share the true teachings of Jesus Christ with her, but my attempts to focus her attention on the Gospels were met with extreme hostility. I mean, girlfriend got downright nasty; you'd have thought I was debating Maggie Gallagher!  She chose to cling to her false God (the Bible), and live in shame rather than feel the pride in Lesbian identity she deserves to feel. A tragedy, to say the least!

Conservative evangelicals try to counter charges of Bibliolatry with reminders that “Christians must follow the Law.” True enough, but which Law do we follow? It’s not the Holiness Code, that body of Old Testament law where the infamous restrictions on same-gender intimacy are found. Nor is it the pronouncements of the Apostle Paul, whom many evangelicals seem to regard as the doctrinal equal of the Messiah!

Christians follow Christian law. Jesus Christ laid down Christian law, and those laws are found in the Gospels; specifically, the 19th chapter of Matthew. It’s extremely important for LGBT Christians to familiarize themselves with that chapter, not only because it contains the specifics of Christian law, but also because it contains the name used to identify Gay men in Scripture: Eunuchs!

More precisely, eunuchs who were so born from their mother's womb. In the Bible, we are given this special designation! In ancient times, there were men, there were women, and there were eunuchs: A blend of male and female!  A separate gender identity! Men with born eunuch status were not castrated. They had no reproductive limitation of any kind! Then as now, they were simply men who, by nature, had no sexual desire for women and were known to be homosexually inclined.  Castration was an attempt by humankind to manufacture eunuchs, as the Savior confirms in Matthew 19.  Unfortunately, this barbaric practice grew so widespread, it eventually came to define eunuch status!

It's debatable, whether or not Hebrew law ever criminalized eunuch sexuality (how can one lie with a man as with a woman if by nature, one never sleeps with women? It doesn't make sense). However, Christian law does not criminalize it, and there's no need for debate on that subject. Furthermore, neither Old nor New Testament law criminalizes sex between women!

How can this be possible if the Church believes otherwise? Think about some other things the Church has believed over the years: That people of color are inferior to White people; that women can't lead congregations; that sex education and contraceptives are sinful; that pedophile priests should be allowed access to children!  Not such an impressive track record, is it?

Still, you may ask: What about the story of Sodom and Gomorrah? When was the last time you visited a city where every man was not only Gay, but also a rampaging Gay rapist? What about denunciation of male temple prostitutes in the Old Testament? When has it ever been true that all men who sell their bodies are homosexual, or vice-versa? What about the story of David and Jonathan? Well, yeah, dude . . . what about it??? This Fundamentalist fiction that Scripture condemns us is the biggest lie ever told! Even if it were true, the Bible isn't God, and that's what everybody needs to remember!

Bibliolatry is so deeply ingrained in our culture, it even influences non-religious Gay people! More often than not, in the course of defending themselves from the religious Right Wing, LGBT atheists and agnostics will concede that Christianity forbids homosexual relationships. Wrong!  This is an example of the blind leading the blind! Both Jesus Christ and His LesBiGay children get trampled on in the process! If you don’t know anything about the Christian faith, don’t assume that a Bible bigot is the expert. Never assume that! Bible bigots aren't experts on anything but Scriptural distortion!

Take the time to read the Bible(in a scholarly translation, not the horrendous King James Version), and understand what it really says about our kind. Learn the ancient definition of the word eunuch (a good place to start is Faris Malik’s Born Eunuchs web pages). Stop giving heterosexists the right to interpret religious texts, and please! Stop pretending that faith and people of faith have no role to play in the Gay Rights movement! They should have a very prominent role! Bibliolatry is a major tool of LGBT oppression; combating it is a necessary task for all of us, no matter what our belief systems may be!

"Stumbling Blocks to Gay Liberation" concludes with SHAME.

15 March 2008

Stumbling Blocks To Gay Liberation: SHAME

Stumbling Block

Shame is defined by Merriam-Webster as a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety. In regard to LGBT folk, I would say Shame is a cripplingly painful emotion. This is our greatest stumbling block! Why do we feel so ashamed? For the answer to that question, we have to go back thousands of years in world history.

First, religious leaders condemned us. Then governments codified those condemnations as punitive laws. Later, mental health professionals declared us sick. All the while, a hate-inspired mythology was growing around LesBiGay identity. It depicted us as vampire-like sexual predators who molest children, destroy families, undermine national security, recruit unwilling heterosexual adults into our depraved "lifestyle", and just generally pollute whatever culture we live in! Fold demonizing superstition into religious bigotry, government persecution and pathological definitions, mix well, simmer for several millennia, and voilà! You've got a recipe for Shame that endures through generations.

Over many centuries, the message that we are unnatural, abnormal, immoral and "queer" has been pounded into us, mainly by the upholders of Machismo and Bibliolatry. There are Gay activists who'd have you believe that this centuries-old process of indoctrination was overcome in just three or four generations, since the 1969 Stonewall riots. If you do believe that, there's a quite lovely suspension bridge in San Francisco I want to sell you!

Evidence of how deeply we've been infected by Shame can be gleaned from our self-destructive behavior: The preponderance of substance abuse among us; the increased tendency to engage in risky sex; the petty, vicious infighting inside our so-called advocacy organizations; the eagerness to not only define ourselves but encourage others to define us as "queers", "f*ggots", "tr*nnies", "d*kes", "'mo's", etcetera; the willingness to cede Scripture interpretation authority to religious bigots; and of course, the still-widespread existence of the LGBT "closet." The latest manifestation of closeted behavior (although it’s really nothing new) is the so-called down-low phenomenon: Men pursuing homosexual affairs while maintaining a macho, woman-chasing façade.

All of this behavior stems from a core belief that we’re inferior to Straight people and not deserving of equal treatment. It's nothing but a lie we've been trained to tell ourselves! LGBT shame sits on a platform of oft-repeated lies. Toppling it necessarily involves demolishing that platform and exposing those lies; there’s no other way to do it!  It can be done, and what’s surprising is how easily it can be done. What's evidently not so easy is mustering the courage, ambition and effort to undertake the task!

There they sit in our pathway: Ignorance, Denial, Machismo, Stereotypes, Bibliolatry and Shame. Stumbling blocks to Gay liberation!  If we don't kick those ugly son-of-a-b*tches to the curb, who else will?

Special thanks to the Reverend Jerry Maneker for inspiration.

05 March 2008

The Necessary Pain Of Growing Up (Part One)

Photo by Jill Greenberg
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.

Never!

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.

04 March 2008

The Necessary Pain Of Growing Up (Part Two)

Photo by Jill Greenberg
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.

03 March 2008

The Necessary Pain Of Growing Up (Part Three)

Photo by Jill Greenberg
Photo by JILL GREENBERG

It hurts to be Gay! Hell, yes, it does! It hurts to be a Lesbian. It hurts to be Pansexual. And it hurts most of all to be a Transperson! What do we do with all that pain? We try to run away from it. We spend a tremendous amount of time running away from the pain of living as an LGBT person in a Straight world!

We become addicted to shopping and cigarettes and alcohol and drugs and sex. Those are the normal things people in pain do, but we go farther than that. We fool ourselves into believing the sources of our pain are pleasurable! The nasty epithets. The crude stereotypes. The banning from institutions Straight folk take for granted. We adopt the epithets, embrace the stereotypes, and claim we never wanted access to segregated institutions. We wrap ourselves up in the ignorance society heaps on us in order to make ourselves numb.

That’s what’s really going on when we try to “reclaim” sexual slurs. I’ll never forget what a Lesbian once told me. She said: “I call myself a ‘d*ke’ so that word can never hurt me again.” Poor, deluded woman!  Does a poisonous snake stop being poisonous if you press it up to your bosom?  You’re still going to get a lethal bite! We’re self-injecting our psyches with poison every day!

I think most of us are intelligent enough to know as much, but we’re so intent on numbing our pain, we just don’t care! We hang a radical tag on the oppressive labels we adopt and go along on our not-so-merry way. We desperately want to feel tough and appear tough; to ourselves, and to others. We weigh ourselves down with psychological armor. We put on a brash façade, with lots of braggadocio and radical rhetoric. However, deep down, many of us feel utterly defeated by the government, the Church, the various cultures we grow up in, and the bigotry that plagues our existence. So we make a big show out of proclaiming a militant Gay Pride we don’t truly feel!

You wouldn’t know that from the way we posture, but you sure can tell it from the way we lack true political power! You can also tell it from the strength of our tempers and the acidity of our tongues when we turn on one another (and I include my own tongue in that criticism)! Seething right under the surface is a rage at LesBiGay and Trans identity that’s easily projected onto others like ourselves.

The argument Jerry and I advanced reminded some of Pam Spaulding's Blenders of the pain they’ve worked so hard to forget. In my opinion, the outraged responses we got hurled at us amount to avoidance. It makes sense to avoid pain, but it’s not always healthy to do so. We need to allow ourselves to feel our own pain! We need to stop running away from it and suppressing it and medicating it and denying what it is!

That's a dangerous thing to do, I know. Some people can't handle much pain. They can lose their minds from it! They can even be driven to commit suicide. For the sake of future generations, though, I think we must take that chance! We can't afford to ignore our pain. More than anything else, it lets us know that we’re sick. It motivates us to seek treatment! If we can't feel our pain, we can easily forget the sickness exists. Or we can decide being sick isn't so bad.

But the sickness we suffer from is ignorance: Ignorance imposed from without and internalized within. Ignorance is always a bad diagnosis! It's worse than breast cancer, heart disease, and AIDS combined! Its symptoms are cruelty and bigotry and injustice and shame. Just like any other deadly affliction, if untreated, it can cause death. It does cause death! If you doubt me, think about the current "barebacking" craze among some Gay and Pansexual men, and the resultant rise in HIV sero-conversions.

I believe that if we dare to feel the undiluted pain of living LGBT lives, and learn to channel that pain into the right kind of activism . . . the kind that gives absolutely no quarter to ignorance, no matter where it’s found . . . then against all odds, we can conquer our sickness! We can transform this sorry-ass world of ours into a safer and more welcoming place for those who come after us!

Why do I believe this? Look what happened in the past when our pain was properly channeled. The Stonewall rebellion. The founding of the Metropolitan Community Church. The revision of the American Psychiatric Association's definition of homosexuality. The founding of the Hetrick-Martin Institute for LGBT youth. The marketing of new drugs to treat AIDS. The overturning of the nation's sodomy laws. The winning of marriage equality in Massachusetts. All these victories resulted from people constructively treating pain brought on by ignorance. They didn't result from people embracing stereotypes, they didn't result from people playing the victim, and they didn't result from people posturing and parading and partying themselves into numbness!

That famous slogan from the 1980s, Silence = Death, is still true! That's why Jerry Maneker and I refuse to be silent!  Got some more "radiqueer" hostility to take out on us?  Bring it!  False accusations and ego-driven outrage won’t shut us up!

The Gay Rights movement is being sabotaged from within! If it self-destructs, and God forbid that it does, it won't be because nobody had the courage to sound an alarm before it was too late. We will sound that alarm! We will speak truths nobody wants to hear. We don't apologize for telling LGBT folk to grow up. We're not saying it just to push people's buttons! Evidence of LGBT immaturity is plentiful: How we adopt the language of the oppressor; how we adopt the politics of marginalization; how we seek liberation through reckless sexual behavior; how we party our fool asses off while our brothers and sisters are being lynched both here and abroad! Those are not examples of people acting like responsible adults! Those are examples of people fiddling while Rome burns!

I just got finished reading a 2005 pamphlet by Larry Kramer titled The Tragedy Of Today’s Gays (sic). In it, he wondered why today’s generation of LGBT folk lack the will to stand up for themselves and fight the forces aligned against them. If Kramer could read the comments thread from Pam's House Blend that I excerpted in this essay, I believe he would find his answer!

Find a link to Rev. Jerry Maneker's essay 
"On The Need To Grow Up" at:
http://christianglbtrights.blogspot.com/2008/04/importance-of-presentation-of-self.html