No comment

23 10 2009

From the Archdiocese in Guam, in response to a bill to recognize same-sex partnerships:

The culture of homosexuality is a culture of absorption because it does not value self-sacrifice. It is a glaring example of what John Paul II has called the culture of death. Islamic fundamentalists clearly understand the damage that homosexual behavior inflicts on a culture. That is why they repress such behavior with death. Their culture is anything but one of self-absorption. It may be brutal at times, but any culture that is able to produce wave after wave of suicide bombers (women as well as men) is a culture that at least knows how to value self-sacrifice.

(h/t: The Daily Dish)





They’ll give me cooties!

21 10 2009

The Roman Catholic Church has offered those Anglicans (Episcopalians to us ‘Merkins) too freaked out at the prospect of women and hom’sexuals donning the collar and/or otherwise presuming full communion with their fellow congregants a safe passage into the land of the Christian patriarchy.

Yet another reason why free women should strongly support full equality for all queers—after all, even straight chicks are queer when they act as if they matter.





(Almost) No comment

24 05 2009

Why Gay Marriage is BadBadBad, from one of the (multi-married) geniuses at The Weekly Standard:

Consider four of the most profound effects of marriage within the kinship system.

The first is the most important: It is that marriage is concerned above all with female sexuality. The very existence of kinship depends on the protection of females from rape, degradation, and concubinage. This is why marriage between men and women has been necessary in virtually every society ever known. Marriage, whatever its particular manifestation in a particular culture or epoch, is essentially about who may and who may not have sexual access to a woman when she becomes an adult, and is also about how her adulthood–and sexual accessibility–is defined. Again, until quite recently, the woman herself had little or nothing to say about this, while her parents and the community to which they answered had total control. The guardians of a female child or young woman had a duty to protect her virginity until the time came when marriage was permitted or, more frequently, insisted upon. This may seem a grim thing for the young woman–if you think of how the teenaged Natalie Wood was not permitted to go too far with Warren Beatty in Splendor in the Grass. But the duty of virginity can seem like a privilege, even a luxury, if you contrast it with the fate of child-prostitutes in brothels around the world. No wonder that weddings tend to be regarded as religious ceremonies in almost every culture: They celebrate the completion of a difficult task for the community as a whole.

This most profound aspect of marriage–protecting and controlling the sexuality of the child-bearing sex–is its only true reason for being, and it has no equivalent in same-sex marriage. Virginity until marriage, arranged marriages, the special status of the sexuality of one partner but not the other (and her protection from the other sex)–these motivating forces for marriage do not apply to same-sex lovers.

Uh huh.

Two (more) words: Fucked. Up.

(Tip to Chris Bodenner’s Sullivan Bait, sub-posting for Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Dish.)





No one is alone. . .

13 05 2009

. . . Oh yes, we are. Or is that ‘Oh yes, one is’?

Anyway.

Many of us to choose to live alone, and we cultivate our solitude even as we cultivate friends. Some of us would like to marry or attach ourselves to a intimate companion, but we’re not necessarily distraught over the lack of such a companion.

We’re alone, and we’re all right.

And yet, even if we’re—oh hell, lemme switch to the (duh) singular—even if I’m okay with my solitary existence, I’m okay because it is not only solitary. Among the main reasons I left Bummerville was the difficulty in finding friends—true friends, people with whom I’d share ideas and embarassments and beers and tears, not just folks with whom sharing went no further than ‘What’s new?’ There were a few people, here and there, but I lacked that gathering of intimates, the jumble of personalities who, collectively, form a kind of thick weave of comfort around oneself.

I can’t say I’ve fully cultivated those rich layers of friendships in New York City, but I have discovered some people who I hope to spend the rest of my life getting to know, and some of whom I already consider good friends. This is a tough old broad of a place, and as much affection as I might have for tough old broads, I also need trusted allies in dealing with her. Hence, the friends.

That works for regular life. What, however, of the ruptures of illness or trauma or disability of whatever sort? On her NYTimes blog, The Well, Tara Parker-Pope highlighted a report from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation on the difficulties same-sex couples may encounter in trying to care for their partners in hospitals. She notes that

While heterosexual couples typically don’t have to provide marriage licenses to hospitals in order to prove they are husband and wife, same sex couples often must document their relationship to hospital officials before being allowed to take part in a partner’s care.

In some cases partners and their children were barred from the bedside, and their beloved died alone. Even when they had documentation of their relationship, including legal papers in which they were designated as health proxies or given durable power of attorney, the partner often had to fight to be able to care for his or her companion.

I’m not going to go into the idiocy and brutality of exclusionary policies—commentors on the blog do that quite nicely—but instead will simply note that same-sex couples and single people are in many ways in the same unseaworthy boat: We’re screwed when we need help and institutions won’t recognize those whom we would like to help us.

Even when I was straighter than I currently am, I believed that single (straight) women should unhesitatingly support gay rights. Control over one’s body? Check. Control over one’s sexuality? Check. To live outside of normal sex roles? Check. To choose to have kids or not, and in what circumstances? Check. To live one’s life in a way that makes sense to her? Check.

Attacks on LGBT folk for their (our) allegedy degenerative effects on the rest of the healthy, wholesome, heterosexual social body can, without much imagination, morph into attacks on single folks themselves. Marriage is sacred, marriage is the foundation of society, heterosexual commitment is required for stable communities, sex outside of the bonds of matrimony is empty and selfish and dangerous, blah blah. There is One Right Way To Be, and to Not-Be that way is to be, well, ‘that way’.

Fine, so I’m ‘that way’ in more than one way. But this is how and who I am, and I’d like some security in my lonely and alienated unpredictable and gratifyingly cobbled-together life. And as much as I support same-sex marriage, I want to make sure that those of us who choose not marry don’t get left behind in that leaky boat.

Queer folk have (along with feminists) questioned the boundaries of matrimony and family and rightfully demanded reconsiderations of those boundaries to include a panoply of orientations and identities. This is good. But if the efforts to broaden the definition of marriage serve only to reinforce its privileges, well, that’s not so good.

So what do we single folk do? Do we follow the route taken by domestic partners and file paperwork designating friends as health care proxies? Do we give a list of approved visitors to any hospitals we use, so administrators don’t have to worry about violating HIPAA [privacy] regs?

If I’m in an accident or get sick, I want my friends to know. (Well, honestly, part of me wants to tough it out alone, the same part which is berating me for saying I want my friends to know. But hospitals suck and they suck even more when you’re in one alone. So Shut up, me.) I want them asking about my care and in my room and, if necessary, kicking someone’s ass on my behalf.

I want them to do what my family, a thousand miles away, couldn’t do. I want my people, here, to be with me.

Maybe this starts in conversations with friends. We talk to one another, find out what kind of support we have and don’t have, want and don’t want. Tell each other what we want from each other, what we’re willing and able to provide to one another.

I’m still assembling my life, and while it’s possible that at some point I could meet someone who could be a lifelong companion, I’m not waiting for him or her.

This is it. I am alone in this city—except for my friends. That’s a damned significant exception, and I’d like these folks to be able to act as my Significant Others.





Some of my best friends are. . .

21 12 2008

Rick Warren loves gay people.  Most people know I have many gay friends. I’ve eaten dinner in gay homes. No church has probably done more for people with AIDS than Saddleback Church. Kay and I have given millions of dollars out of Purpose Driven Life helping people who got AIDS through gay relationships. So they can’t accuse me of homophobia.

(A gay home? What the hell is that? Is everything all, you know, queer inside?)

And Rod Dreher of CrunchyCon lets it be known, just before he starts screeching about Nazi/Stalinist/intolerant/militant gay activists, that a former roommate of his is gay, that by golly he has friends who are gay.

No, Pastor Warren and Mr. Dreher are absolutely tolerant of the gays. No, it’s those nasty militant gays who are the intolerant ones, the ones who throw around terms like ‘bigot’ and ‘homophobe’ and yell at those who seek to keep the sodomites in their rightful place.

And the whole marriage thing? Let’s let the good pastor explain his opposition to gay marriage: I’m opposed to redefinition of a 5,000 year definition of marriage. I’m opposed to having a brother and sister being together and calling that marriage. I’m opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that marriage. I’m opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage.

Now that’s tolerance! Comparing same-sex marriage to incest, pedophilia, and polygamy! But hey, he at least said he wasn’t so much opposed to California’s domestic partnership laws which grant hospital visitation rights or allow anyone to name anyone else an insurance beneficiary. Although I don’t know that he’s said anything about advancing a domestic partnership agenda in other states. . . .

The problem, Mr. Warren believes, is that gays don’t seek, um, equality (can’t quite say that word, can ya, Pastor?), but ‘approval’: Much of this debate is not really about civil rights, but a desire for approval. The fact that 70% of blacks supported Prop 8 shows they don’t believe it is a civil rights issue. Gays in California already have their rights. What they desire is approval and validation from those who disagree with them, and they are willing to force it by law if necessary. Any disapproval is quickly labeled “hate speech. Imagine if we held that standard in every other disagreement Americans have? There would be no free speech. That’s why, on the traditional marriage side, many saw Prop 8 as a free speech issue: Don’t force me to validate a lifestyle I disagree with. It is not the same as marriage.” And many saw the Teacher’s Union contribution of $3 million against Prop 8, as a effort to insure that children would be taught to approve what most parents disapprove of.

Ooookaaaaay. ‘Force by law’? Damned, um, straight. Disapprove of me all you like, just as you can disapprove of divorce; just leave me my laws on equal marriage and divorce.

And if you can’t handle having someone label your speech hateful, tough shit. You want to be able to rip on your preferred opponents without anyone calling you out on that ripping—who doesn’t? But someone calling your speech hateful hardly impedes your rights to such speech. Yeah, I know, too many people think ‘hate speech’ should be outlawed (a terrible, terrible idea), but has it been? Have you been arrested crossing the state lines into Massachusetts or Connecticut, Mr. Warren?

Somehow I’ve managed to put up with terms like femi-nazi and traitor, and I’m nobody. I’d rather not be compared to the Gestapo, but I hardly think my rights have been lessened by the moron who’d called me that.You, you big, powerful man, you, you shouldn’t have a problem dealing with a few sissies, should you? (I mean, without hiding behind those African-American voters who supported Prop 8. Because majorities are never wrong about rights for minorities, especially if some of those majority members are minorities in other contexts—right?) If not, well, don’t worry: hurt feelings do not equal fewer rights.

So can the talk about the scary, child-indoctrinating queers. Oh, wait, did I as a citizen just shred your rights as a citizen to blather about incestuous, pedophiliac, polygamous gays?

And how intolerant is it of me to call you intolerant? Am I threatening your rights by stating that if tolerance is to mean anything beyond ‘I won’t kill you,’ then those who profess to tolerate Others deserve to be smacked verbally for unloading such nonsense as ‘I care about gay people’ or ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ while in the next breath explaining why queers shouldn’t marry or adopt kids, or why the demand for equal treatment under the law is somehow out of line or, gasp, militant.

Militant gay activists. Jeez, that sounds familiar. Militant unionists. Militant black activists. Militant feminists. The gall of us, refusing to accept our inferior status!

I don’t have a gun. I don’t want to shoot you or blow you up. I’m just not willing to go to the back of the line because of the discomfort I cause to your delicate moral sensibilities.

[All quotes courtesy of a transcript of a recent interview, as well as updates, posted on BeliefNet; emphases in the original.]

A coda: I’m not crazy about the term bisexual. It’s not that it’s inaccurate, any more than homosexual or heterosexual is, but that it sticks too close—hell, it is—the technical definition of a form of sexual orientation. Hets get ‘straight’, and homos get ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ (along with a bunch of other happy and not-so-happy designations), but bis? We get. . . bi. Blech.

I prefer ‘ambi-sexual’, as in ‘both, around’ (thanks Webster’s!). Ya still got the ‘bi’, but it’s rounded out, more lyrical. Plus, fretful person that I am, I like the proximity to other ambis, as in ‘ambiguous’ or ‘ambivalent’.

Bi? No, ‘ambi’. Works for me.





Where was I?

20 11 2008

Fascinatin’ discussion on a number of conservative sites (Douthat at the Atlantic, Rod Dreher at CrunchyCon, Christianity Today mag) on whether Obama (ahem: President-Elect Obama!) is a Christian. Or whether he’s a good Christian. Or Orthodox. Or orthodox.

All this based on a 2004 interview with Cathleen Falsani of the Chicago Trib and parts of Dreams of My Father. The key for these commentators is not just what he said, but what he didn’t say. He’s insufficiently Nicene! He’s Arian! He denies the divinity of Christ! He doesn’t know how many angels dance on the head of a pin! (Okay. I made that last one up.)

Goodness. These gents are behaving like jazz fans or vegetarians: if you don’t line up exactly—OUT with you.

For the record: I like jazz and am vegetarian-ish, i.e., I don’t know who the drummer was in that session on Blue Note in 1954, and I occasionally eat fish.

Not very orthodox, I know.

_____

I like to read thoughtful religious and conservative posts, and not (just) in a know-thy-enemy kinda way. I think it’s important to remind myself that ‘the other side’ also contains a fair number of thoughtful people, that I can find good criticism of my own positions, I can learn something about which I know little, and, yeah, that sometimes ‘the other side’ isn’t so far away.

That said, Rod Dreher at CrunchyCon has lost his mind when it comes to Prop 8 and homosexuality. One commentator in response to his hysteria (viz. his header: Gay mob assaults peaceful Christians) put it best: ‘The Russians are coming!’

Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t understand why some folks are upset by Prop 8, and saying mean things to religious proponents.

Doomed. DOOMED!

_____

An article in the New York Times a week or so ago, about the various and too-often violent clashes in India, contained a great line:

One observer (gotta go back and get his name) accused the various sides of engaging in ‘offense mongering’.

Offense mongering. Excellent!

_____

I’ve given up on NaNoWriMo.

I’ll still work on the story—which would never have made it to novel status, anyway—but I’m no longer chasing those 50,000 words.

As I discussed with C., cramming for words doesn’t really work for me, and I’m worried that stuffing in all those unnecessary adverbs and adjectives is wreckin’ ma teknik.

Still, I’m glad to have written what I have, and glad to have participated in this. I wouldn’t have known, otherwise, how this race for words could be so disruptive.

C., however, is bangin’ away, and says that this kind of pressure is just what she needs to kick her in the head. In a good way.

_____

Abortion.

Oh, criminy, I can’t even start. Can’t. do. it.

Let’s just say that women are apparently not to be considered.

_____

I’m an adjunct professor, so should probably blog about the execrable position of adjuncts in academia at some point.

But I have to get up early tomorrow to go teach.

_____

My dad is home, and expected to recover fully.

The docs said he is very, very lucky.





Johnny, are you queer?

13 11 2008

I used to be straight; now, not so much.

It’s an odd thing, in the midst of one’s life, to shift from one position to another, from one side to the middle.

Is that what bisexuality is? The middle? I guess, if sexuality is to be stretched across a linear spectrum (‘On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you measure. . .’).

I don’t know that sexuality is to be stretched across the linear spectrum.

Despite having once written a (very bad) conference paper on the biology of sexuality, I claim no expertise on the origins or development of sexuality. Yeah, evolutionarily speaking, het sex makes sense, but so what: while we are also evolutionary creatures, we are not only evolutionary creatures. Besides, what about the urge to reproduce requires orgasms?

Where was I? Oh, yeah. So I’m bi, but I don’t know that I’m bi in the same way someone else is bi. (Then again, when I was straight, I don’t know that I was straight in the same way others were straight.) It’s not that I suddenly want to sleep with every woman or have threesomes or feel the need to alternate man-woman-man-woman in my affections.

Nope, it’s much simpler than that. Although I do have all kinds of attractions to all kinds of people, in almost all of these instances, the attraction isn’t sexual. (This is good, as it would be awkward if I wanted to sleep with my friends. Some people could manage that; I couldn’t.) But, sometimes, I am intensely attracted to someone, and want to get to know him (and now, her) in a variety of unbiblical ways.

And that’s it. Before, if I happened to find myself physically attracted to someone, that person was a guy. I didn’t question this. Then, about a year and a-half ago, I was jolted by the recognition that, hm, I could be physically attracted to a woman.

Whoa! Jolted is the right term: Where the hell did this come from?

I have long had friends who are lesbians, have joked about who I’d jump the fence for, said that while I wasn’t turned off by the thought of sleeping with a woman, I wasn’t particularly turned on by it, either. Yeah, I said, I could sleep with a woman and probably enjoy it, but I don’t think she’d get much out of it.

Have I been in denial all this time? Nah. I think that before I wasn’t attracted to both women and men, and now I am.

Why the switch? I came to this realization around the time I finished my first novel, when I was still a bit dazed at the fact that I had written a novel. So, at one point, when talking about both the novel and this bi-recognition to M.P, I mentioned my bewilderment. Maybe these things are connected, she said. Maybe in opening yourself to the writing, in letting yourself be creative, you let out other parts of yourself. M. is much more willing to call upon spiritual notions than I am, but what she said made a kind of sense to me. I have no other explanation.

As a practical matter, however, little has changed. I was alone then and I’m alone now. Being bi, I tell people, just gives me twice as many ways to screw things up.

Beyond such bitter-tinged glibness, however, there is something real. On a political level, I’m no longer just a gay-positive straight chick, acting on principle and on behalf of friends. In fact, a big part of the reason I’m blogging about this now is in response to Prop 8. I don’t live in California and I have no desire to marry anyone, but that my fellow citizens could take away a constitutionally-recognized right to marry doesn’t just offend my principles, it slices at the possibilities of my own life. Denouncing Prop 8 without coming clean—coming out—feels like lying. Liberation can’t be built on lies.

But this is not mainly a political issue for me, largely because I’ve always supported the ‘gay agenda’. No, this is deeply personal, and deeply disruptive of my sense of self. As mentioned in previous posts, it’s not as if I previously had a strong sense of who I am, but I’ve been able in many ways to treat this as a philosophical puzzle. Having my sexuality thrown into question—thrown open—forces me out of my abstractions and into the actual world. Before, I could think idly about what a possible future relationship looked like, how we’d deal with each other, etc., and continue in this nice, smooth, speculative groove. I was operating in default mode, unquestioned and unreal.

No more. I’ve been tossed out of myself, and now have to decide whether to crawl back into that (appropriately adjusted and resealed) groove, or take this chance to find something new.

Take a chance, I know, take the chance! But I’m so used to crawling. . . .





Sandra at the beach

6 11 2008

My expectations are few:

Guantanamo: close. Torture: stop.

That’s it. More? Yeah, more would be nice, more would be more than nice, but if an Obama administration cannot accomplish these two very basic acts—no matter what else it does—it will have failed.

As for other happenings on Nov 4:

Prop 8 passed. Hey, gays and lesbians, bisexuals and the transgendered: You/we don’t count! (Oh, feel free to keep being, y’know, gay and all that, but please keep it to yourselves. Do that, and you get domestic partnership laws! That’s good enough, doncha think?)

And all you/us straight folk out there who think anti-gay laws and referenda have nothing to do with you: check out the Arkansas ballot measure which prohibits any unmarried couple from fostering or adopting children. The measure—which passed, natch—was explicitly aimed at prohibiting gays and lesbians from taking care of children. To get around an Arkansas Supreme Court decision which prohibited Arkansas’s Child Welfare Agency Review Board from, mm, discriminating against gays and lesbians, ballot proponents widened the prohibition to include all unmarried couples (ie, ‘individuals cohabiting with a sexual partner outside of marriage’).

I tried to find out if Arkansas allows single people to foster or adopt children (although the statute states that ‘It is the public policy of the state to favor marriage. . . over unmarried cohabitation with regard to adoption and foster care’), but was unable to do so.

Why should unmarried straight folks care? Well, in addition to reasons of principle (equality, dignity, and all those other silly et ceteras), it’s clear that those transfixed by same sex attraction have no problem flattening singles on their way to buttress the married.

As the commenter on Rod Dreher’s Crunchy Con website put it:

S
November 5, 2008 8:36 PM

I’m not gay and I don’t have any particular dog in the race over gay marriage. I’m not particularly for it, but given the tax subsidies and other benefits given to “married” people, I can see why a seriously-committed gay couple would want to participate.

What is really starting to gripe me is the whole focus on “marriage” is the foundation of our civil society, yada yada yada.

Well, I’m a heterosexual single. I’d like to feel like I have some contributing role to play in the betterment of society even though I’m not married.

There’s a pretty huge demographic of unmarried, never-married heterosexual adults. We matter, too.

It’d be nice to think so, wouldn’t it?

I let loose of fair number of words disclaiming any kum-by-ya sentiments, and am not bothered by the combative aspect of politics.

But, underneath it all, I hold to the basic belief that there is no us-and-them, there is only us. To strip away the dignity of the despised among us to strip away our dignity.

Grumblegrumblegrumble.

Okay, how I square this with understanding of difference and pluralism and the Other, well, that’s going to have to wait for another post. For now, let’s just say that this ‘us’ is a mixed bag. . . .





Sandra at the beach

5 10 2008

There were some interesting comments about ‘tolerance’ in the Fray at XX Factor (Slate.com), in response to posts by Abby Collard (Oct 3) and EJ Graff (Oct 4). Neither Collard nor Graff thought tolerance was sufficient; Collard wrote that

Tolerance is widely accepted as an admirable virtue, but it still feels cheap to me. Essentially what Palin is saying is that she puts up with homosexual couples. There’s no approval there, no acceptance, just respectful disregard. The difference between “tolerance” and “acceptance” is like the difference between looking the other way and actively supporting something. Her tolerant speech doesn’t mean she supports, or even approves of, homosexuality. It means she just doesn’t act out against it.

Well, yeah. And maybe that’s all that can be expected from someone who thinks there’s something wrong with homosexuality. A number of Fraysters echoed Collard & Graff’s unhappiness with the tolerance, but Wren W noted that, given all of our differences, tolerance may be the best we can get. Although I disagree with a number of the opinions Wren expresses in her (his?) comment, I think she’s right that those who despair of tolerance do so because they seek something more: approval and acceptance (which is what Collard wrote, above).

So. Those of us who are pro-queer or are queer want those who are not to accept and approve of LGBT folk. This is not unreasonable. But it may be unreasonable to expect those opposed to accept and approve. Yes, we should act to expand acceptance, but that we have to act ought to signal that not everyone does approve of homo-, bi-, and transsexuality. Hell, until very recently it was quite acceptable to denounce gays and lesbians as contemptible perverts. What does Sarah Palin really believe, in her hockey-lovin’ heart? I don’t care—but I sure as hell do care about her behavior, that she not ‘act out against’ gays and lesbians. I prefer politicians who are pro-gay rights, but I’ll take a ‘tolerant’ politician over a hateful one any day.

Now, this is all complicated somewhat by the fact that Palin is an elected official, and a candidate for even higher office. She is in a position of ‘power over’, so a discussion of what she as a politician tolerates is a different matter than what a fellow citizen, who is my equal, tolerates. Still, there are two similarities:

One, I have low expectations of accord amongst a mixed crowd. I see us as working our way ‘up’ to tolerance, rather than falling ‘down’ to it. In other words, I begin from a position of conflict rather than comity.

Two, while I may accept that tolerance is the most I can expect from strangers, I wouldn’t be friends with someone who merely tolerated me. That is, in moving through the world, it is enough for others to tolerate me, to not act against me, but with friends, more is expected.

That, after all, is why they’re friends: Because I can expect more.

Yes, there’s more to be said. But this was worth a quick hit.