GHHD

The first GHHD1 of the season is just around the corner and I’m still grappling with the Pulse massacre. How do I even begin to describe my feelings? It affected me deeper than I thought it would. In many ways, I’m leery now even here in SF. I find myself more watchful of strangers and I’m more mindful of people around me. It makes me angry that I’ve been affected this way. It also made me realize the fight for equality is not over. As long as fanatics think they can go around hurting others in the name of [insert stupid religious extremism here], our fight is not over.

Because of my job I tend to disassociate from big public events, even in the gay world. It isn’t that I don’t care; in my line of work it’s mostly a protection mechanism. But this awful tragedy cut me to my core. I couldn’t ignore it, I couldn’t put it out of my mind and forget about it. I was in tears pretty much the whole week after. I didn’t know a single soul but these are my people. They grew up fighting the way I fought, just to survive and be. Our straight brethren can sympathize but they can never truly understand what we go thru. And that isn’t to bash them. It’s a testament to how we as humans are wired. We tune into ideals and actions that resonate in our own lives. Well this resonated in mine. And worst of all, not in a good way.

Worst of all, it brought back survival fears from my early years of growing up gay. East Texas wasn’t the friendliest place to be gay, let’s face it. I got bashed a few times and witnessed others get bashed as well. It’s funny because I used to tell myself that the hate crimes against me were “minor” because I came away with a few bruises. The sadness in that statement does not escape me now. This tragedy brought back the fear of not only being attacked but also just daring to live openly. I had put that fear away and now it’s come back. I don’t know for how long honestly, but I feel it again. Fears I thought long dead and forgotten. I’m sad, ashamed, and angry all at the same time.

GHHD #1 approaches this weekend and I volunteered to work. I normally make sure I’m off so I can attend the parade or fair. This year I thought I’d do one better and work. It’s not much but I feel like I’m contributing to keeping everyone safe. (I’ll be working remotely from the medical command booth)

I refuse to be afraid to live my life. I refuse to fear being out in public. And I sure as hell refuse to be intimidated into avoiding my own safe places. More of us may die. And I certainly hope it is never me, but I won’t go back in the closet. I won’t pretend to be something I’m not. I can’t think of a better cause to die for honestly. I’m probably being a little dramatic but I’m all worked up right now.

I hope that you celebrate Pride this week. Not because you have to, not because you feel obligated, but because you want to. You want to show that we are united in this. No matter how diverse, we are united in this fight. We will not be intimidated with fear. For my generation, we grew up living/breathing fear and we won’t go back. For the new generation, this might be their first taste of it. We all need to make sure it is their last.

No matter what you do, be safe and know you are loved. If your in big cities or small towns, know that you are not alone and your voice is one of many. I wish you all the safest and happiest Pride. Celebrate in whatever way brings you joy.

Hope springs eternal…

  1. Gay High Holy Day []

Cait

Unless you live under a person who lives under a rock, I’m pretty sure you already know where I’m going with the title. hehehe Everyone is up in arms (repeatedly) pretty much anytime Cait opens her mouth these days.

And if you have been under the rock, Caitlyn (Cait) Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, is transgendered and came out to the world not so long ago. Her ‘coming out’ was a big revelation and brought the fight for our transgendered brethren to the national stage. Then the problems began. Our shining new role-model had a different secret. She was a life long Republican and those views ran contrary to her new existence.

As her public appearances increased in her new role, her continuing support for those views showed a conflicting mess of greed, entitlement, and indifference. Our new model was saying and supporting many of those in politics who are against her existence. The backlash has been swift. For myself, I’m not really surprised. A lifetime of affluence has bred a selfish desire to maintain her own status.

Cait should be a lesson to the rest of us though. We have a chance to learn from her. We, as a society and a community, often conflate being famous w/being a good role model. Even after repeated and re-repeated scandals in the news almost daily, we still seem to hold onto this belief. Life and people people don’t exist in the absolutes of black & white. They exist in a spectrum of greys. Good people can do bad things and bad people can do good things. That distinction, as always, is important.

Cait as a famous figure, has brought a lot of welcome and needed attention to the fight for trans folks. Her willingness to come out was and is a big deal. It pushed the trans movement that much further into equality. We should celebrate and take advantage of it. Her continued appearances as a trans person lends authenticity to their existence and also reduces fear. It normalizes an otherwise normal existence made scary by ignorance.

Cait’s acceptance is separate from her conflicted and often shameful views. I can accept her as she is and still condemn her views. Further, Cait doesn’t have to conform anymore than gay men had to to gain equality. She is allowed to have her own beliefs, however hypocritical. She is no different from a gay republican. She is still entitled to acceptance. The distinction between the two is important because it defines the very right of equality. It is not ok to attack her status or existence simply because she is a hypocrite and blithely unaware of the struggles many less affluent trans folk face. Condemn her hypocrisy. Call her out on it any and every time but don’t resort to demeaning her existence. By doing so, you legitimize the idea that trans folk are not worthy of equality.

The lesson we can learn here is equality is not based on how well you behave, believe, or conform.

Scalia

I’m still digesting the news Antonin Scalia has died. I know in today’s environment of fast-moving news, this is old news for sure. That aside, my instinctual reaction was one of joy. I’ll be honest the realization I was joyful over someone’s death bothered me a bit. The initial idea was a man w/so much influence to harm me and mine was gone. This sort of visceral reaction reminded me of my step-mother’s death. Unlike my foster mom, I was ecstatic when my step-mom died. She was the only person on this planet I’v ever felt true malevolence toward and I threw a party when she died.

Why did I associate a man who has never personally done me any direct harm with a women who delighted in abusing me daily as a child? Yes, his influence did harm me in very indirect ways but it wasn’t a direct connection. Why would I associate him with my step-mother? I mean I didn’t care for Scalia but I never hated him.1 I don’t really have an answer yet but distinctions matter and I’m working my way thru the grey areas. (pun intended)

If you know me, you know I try not to see the world thru the lens of absolutes. It has become one of the defining characteristics of my id. It is easy to believe in simplistic right/wrong, good/bad actions. It requires no sense of self or morality to avoid delving beyond the idea of ‘you wronged me’ mentality. I am fond of saying the devil is in the details. While part of me is glad the man is no longer in a position to do me harm, I’m not celebrating his death. He had a right to life as much as I did. I can’t bring myself to celebrate his life but I’m working on disentangling my emotions over his death.

People like Scalia truly believe their ideologies. He wasn’t an ignorant follower. He was well-educated and even respected as judge for decades. While he deftly avoided any real-world interactions with the LGBT community, he believed what he was doing was right. Of course, it is much easier to marginalize people when you avoid getting to know them as human beings. History is littered with examples over and over. This by itself is often a marker for a failed ideology.

While I won’t mourn Scalia’s passing, I don’t hate him. I try not to take joy in his death. It should be beneath me to feel that way. I am grateful he will no longer be in a position to influence my very existence. I will remember the lesson he taught us. We cannot let our own ideological beliefs blind us to the suffering of others. We cannot become so rigid in our thinking we forget human beings do not require permission or conformity to exist.

  1. Contrary to what you read, the act of hating someone takes a lot of energy. It is a dedication of sorts. []

Q-word

I ditched one of my regular news reads today.

Based on what appears to be a completely internal narrative, the Gay Voices section of the HuffPo1 decided to change their name to Queer Voices. The explanation is that gay is too limiting and Queer is somehow more inclusive. Really? Are you effin’ kidding me? One of the most vile hateful words out there and it’s more inclusive? Hell naw! Even the normal definition is divisive.

I just can’t bring myself to support a news org that willingly uses a derogatory slur to describe us. Actually, I can but I won’t. I am the last person to be the word police but this isn’t about being politically correct at all. The rambling article they put out to announce the decision was full of self-serving justifications. If anything the tone was we refuse to every be considered normal or part of the whole so we are changing our name to prove it. The entire piece felt insulting and condescending wrapped in a smile of ‘we’re just trying to stay current.‘ Well, they can stay current w/o me and go straight to hell. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to hell.

I normally don’t put much stock in hearing people talking about how ‘offended’ they are at [action of choice]. Being offended usually just means you don’t like something. As with a lot of things these days, people conflate ideas/actions/behaviors that are considered offensive to society at large with general every day actions they don’t like. Regardless, I was offended and deeply. I grew up listening to that awful word being hurled around as an insult and slur. While I was fortunate enough to escape childhood with only a little physical gay-bashing, I did not escape the jeers, taunts, and never-ending cruel names. ‘Queer’ was front and center and I will never willingly refer to someone that way. It has not lost its bite or derogatory meaning.

The argument that we are somehow reclaiming the word is absolute bullshit. It is not slang, it is a slur!2 Even here in SF said term is not accepted. Oh there is a contingent that feels the need to refer to themselves that way for sure. And that is their right. You can call yourself whatever you wish but don’t presume to speak for the whole. It’s flat out disgusts me we could consider naming a section of an online publication with global recognition with such a shameful slur. And I’m not alone. The reaction was swift and almost unanimous. The decision is not being met well at all. At last count the article was up to 200 comments and almost all were against it. At one point comments appeared to disappear; however, the site is notorious for outages and glitches with the FB commenting tool.

I am not queer, I am a man who happens to be gay. My orientation adds to my uniqueness but it does not define me. The idea that being queer somehow exclusively makes me special or different is foolish. Call it the LGBTI voices, rainbow voices, etc but don’t call it queer and pretend it’s OK now.

So far there have been no updates, no apologies, no "we had the best intentions" acknowledgments, nothing. I’ve taken them out of my news reader and told FB to not ‘show me stories from HuffPo’ at all. There are plenty of welcoming places online that don’t decide, based on the ideas of a few, renaming themselves an offensive slur is "looking to the future." I won’t be going back to that site as long as they demean us.

end of line

  1. Huffington Post []
  2. I’m struck here by the irony we can’t say tranny anymore which is just simple slang but we can use a slur to refer to ourselves. SMDH []

Hero-less

Well, it looks like the City of Houston will be the only large city in the US to not provide protections for LGBT folks in a variety of areas, including housing and employment. It was a unexpected blow to be honest. I just knew my old stomping ground had moved into current times after electing a gay mayor, not once but twice. It doesn’t help that the initiative should never have been put to a vote anyway.1 Contrary to the established process and even though there was no doubt the appealing side didn’t garner the necessary signatures, the Texas Supreme Court, full of Repugs, sent it to a vote anyway.

My rant today isn’t so much about the failure of the initiative but some of the aftermath. I’ve seen several comments and posts on various social outlets lamenting the initiative included Transgendered protections. It wasn’t so much that people didn’t want transgendered folks included as much as the old argument it was too much too soon.2 And to be fair, there was a time when winning a few protections at a time was a worthwhile pursuit. We carved out rights for the LGB part of the community slowly and often one piece at a time because it was the only way to win then. But that time is over and we are way past it now. It is time for us to change our thinking. We are no longer groveling for whatever we can get. The tide of the law and public opinion has shifted to our side. We need to turn and bring the T in the umbrella forward and stand with them. We need to show the world that like us they too are just humans with lives and dreams of their own. They deserve it as much as we do. They’ve patiently (and not so patiently at times) waited as we gained piece after piece of equality. They sat behind us watching our progression hoping for their chance. And that chance is now. The sad tired argument about their fight being different from ours is pure BS. They get marginalized, discriminated against, assaulted, raped, and murdered just like us. They’ve stood with us since our movement started and it is time for us to stand with them.

Having lived in Houston and the surrounding area for a big percentage of my young adult life, the loss was disappointing on a very personal level. However, the fight continues as Houston now finds itself in a very public view. The mayor and others continue to work on bringing equality to Houston.

  1. In case you missed it, the initiative was enacted legally. It was appealed. The appealing side cheated and when they got caught cheating and turned down they decided to go to court. []
  2. I’m deliberately excluding the article from the homocon over at Breibart. That level of stupid doesn’t even merit an argument []

Contempt

Poor Kim, she is being played for the victim and being left out to dry. Once the crazies are done fund-raising off of her, they will leave her high and dry to pick up the pieces of her broken life. She will scuttle back into obscurity to be randomly evoked as a bad joke.

Of course, a simple civics lesson might have helped educate her on how her job role and the government actually works. She then might have avoided be played for the fool. Sadly, that isn’t the case. And her willful ignorance is not going to save her, no matter how the crazies spin it. They want her to lose so they can hold her up as their new martyr.

As an elected clerk, she took an oath to uphold the law. You have the right as a citizen to have a religious belief. You have the right not to be persecuted by the government (and your employer when different) for that belief. You can even request a reasonable accommodation for said belief. However, you do not have the right to refuse to do your job based on belief. An important distinction the people taking advantage of her are deliberately obfuscating. The moment the SCOTUS ruled on the Obergefell vs Hodges case, it became defacto law. If she now feels she can no longer follow her duty/oath of office because it violates her "god’s law," then she should resign. You are not guaranteed employment if you feel your personal religious belief conflicts with your employment requirements.

Not only did she refuse to do her job, she also refused to allow any of the deputy clerks to do their job. The judge gave her a way to save face and not be in contempt and she still refused.1 This negates any possible resolution through accommodating her belief. She has repeatedly and steadfastly projected her bigotry onto her subordinates. In the best possible twist of ironies, her employees could now sue her for religious discrimination. Wouldn’t that be lovely!? hehehe

Of course, the fundies might take her on as a spokesperson after she loses. Like previous made up martyrs, they’ll trot her around until the money-making dries up and then she’ll be abandoned. She’ll be the punchline of memes and jokes for awhile and after that forgotten completely. The annals of history will not remember her. And their failed (and marginalizing) attempts to align her with such great civil-rights activists such as MLK and Rosa Parks are frankly insulting.

  1. again, it appears based on advice from her representation with an agenda []

Equal

EqualWell, we finally made it! On June 26 2015, the United States Supreme Court confirmed that any two people can marry, regardless of gender. We can officially stop referring to it as gay marriage and just call it what it is, marriage. This marks a pivotal moment in history folks. This is the domino that will tumble the rest of the archaic laws preventing us from being treated fairly in the eyes of the law. The excuses, the pretense, and the scare tactics won’t be enough anymore. This decision may only apply to marriage rights but it’s ripples will be felt everywhere.

Oh, I’m not so foolish to think everything will just be hunky-dory. No, there is still a lot of hate out there. And we are still being targeted by extremists and bigots. Our fight is not over but the tide as well as the right has shifted now. And as time goes by the bigots, haters, and fundies will be relegated to the history books to be scorned by future generations. Now we must turn our attentions to trans rights and making sure they obtain protections and equality under the law as well. No person should ever have to feel like an outcast simply because they were born different. The fight is not over for them and so it is not over for us.

*

For myself, I never thought I’d see this day. It was only in the last 5 or so years I dared to hope for it. Growing up in rural East Texas, I just assumed I’d always be an outcast. I’d never be part of ‘normal’ people. Back then you just learned to accept it and try and carve out a life for yourself. You did the best you could and hoped for the best. Well now, those days are over.

In many ways, I don’t feel much different. My life overall won’t change much after this ruling. It is almost anti-climatic in many ways as we were lucky enough to get equality in California already. But, I can move forward without fear of leaving California now. Shawn and I have yet to tie the knot, but knowing we can do so and be accepted in all 50 states is a huge deal. I won’t worry about hospital visits. I won’t worry about my or his legal rights in case of an emergency. I frankly won’t worry that much at all. I can make legal decisions and preparations w/o extra steps to protect him. I can make plans for our future and not “mine and his.”

This is indeed a wonderful day!

Defend

And speaking of Instagram, I had a very odd (in a good way) interaction on there recently.

I follow several fellas because they work out and post progress selfies. Being back on my gym-kick, I like the inspiration. Besides the selfies, they’ll often post tips, suggestions, diet routines, etc, all of which I find beneficial. In the process of ‘liking’, I don’t often check to see if they are gay or straight.

It should come as no surprise I also follow others for a different type of inspiration. Most of the guys in the latter group are most definitely gay. lol Nothing x-rated mind you, but still gay.1

The problem arises when I forget to check which group said person is in before commenting. This has led to a few awkward conversations from time to time. In the most recent situation, I made a comment on a straight guys feed. He was hot and I said as much. Several folks after me started leaving comments trying to dog him because "gay guys were checking him out." For my part, I usually don’t engage as it is a futile endeavor. To my utter surprise, the guy himself came to my defense. He posted several comments chastising commenters for being so shallow and homophobic.

I was really impressed by his replied. He could have deleted my comments, blocked me, or just ignored it completely but he took the time to call it out. I decided to write about it here only because it left me with such a good feeling. We, as LGBT folks, still have a ways to go to overcome the discrimination we face on a daily basis. But interactions like this give me real hope that we are winning. We are changing hearts/minds of everyday.

  1. I actually don’t follow x-rated accounts on Instagram at all. Different purpose, different medium as it were []

Secret

We’ve heard tons of comments on white privilege in recent weeks, but what about religious privilege? We are quite accustomed to hearing from the fundies about how they are being persecuted. The reality is religion is given an exceptionally wide berth in this country.

In recent days, I’ve seen a plethora of news stories on church pastors talking about killing LGBT folks for just existing and having the audacity to want equal rights. And don’t get me started on those Duggar assholes. All of these folks are becoming desperate because they realize they are losing their so called culture war. Forgetting the normal rants on how we are single-handedly causing the destruction of everything because … "god" for a moment, they’ve upped their game now and completely gone off the deep end.

It is time for us as a citizenry to start reigning this nonsense in. You can believe whatever brand of crazy you want as long as you keep it to yourself. You can believe I am personally going to some imaginary place of eternal suffering after I die because I refuse to fall in line with your brand of crazy.1 But the moment you start calling for me to be less than other humans or calling for my death, you no longer get a say. The moment you start trying to legislate your beliefs on everyone you’ve crossed the line into bigotry. Your ignorant bile is not welcome in society anymore. ​

Even worse in my mind are the people who go around giving lip-service to their so-called faith but do nothing to stop the insanity. Where are all the other church pastors decrying this behavior? Where is the outcry from the millions of Americans who ‘claim’ to be christian? Why are they not condemning these fanatics? Could it be because their supposedly non-violent book of fairy tales is actually very violent. We are quick to talk about how Islam is a violent religion but we brush off our own brand of crazy. Well, your dirty little secret is out and we ain’t buying it anymore.

In my book you no longer get a pass. Your privilege ends with me. Stop sharing your smarmy photos and memes on social media about how wonderful your [insert deity of choice here] is and start calling out the crazies in your own ranks. If you are not calling them out then you are complicit in their actions. And if you are an LGBT person on top of it, you bear the shame of knowing your inaction directly contributes to the oppression of your brothers and sisters.

  1. I still can’t get over the ‘shell-fish is an abomination’ clause. I sends me into hysterics every time. Of course we realize how crazy that is but magically forget it when it comes to begin gay. []

Civic

Everyone is jockeying for the moral high ground after the Ferguson verdict. Social media is a shit-show of everyone pointing fingers at each other. I won’t even go into all the judge/juries that have appointed them selves verdict makers on Brown/Wilson’s implied guilt.

I feel like I have a unique perspective on the subject.1   There is my work side that deals with law-enforcement issues every day of my career. I can see valid points from the officer’s story. There were several things Brown could have done to avoid the confrontation. Then there is my gay side that grew up at the hands of very rough and not so friendly police on more than one occasion. I can see valid points from Brown’s family. The police could have handled the situation better and not necessarily let it escalate out of control. 

The reality is neither side is blameless. No one has the moral high ground here. And no one should walk away feeling like they lost/won. We all lost. People often can’t resolve the cognitive dissonance created by the ambiguity of fault or blame. And because of this, we can’t admit that neither side is blameless. Brown refused to comply, Wilson overreacted.2

No matter who’s side you are on it still means nothing unless we act. If we truly want to fix these problems, we must move beyond the never-ending and condescending tantrums via social media. And while petitions and marches in the streets are excellent displays of solidarity, they are not enough. These things depend on someone else to fix our problems.

We as a citizenry must be involved. We cannot abandon, thru indifference, our oversight of those we place in power and be surprised when it suddenly becomes corrupt. Civic duty is not just serving jury duty or voting, begrudgingly. It is our guaranteed right thru the freedoms granted us. But we must exercise those rights. It should not be something we only do when it is convenient. It should be a part of our daily lives.3  If more of us get involved, we won’t need to constantly focus on blame. We’ll be in forums to constantly give oversight, feedback, and accountability to both sides.

Basically, I’m saying be involved or shut up and accept your servitude. It is that simple. Like any living thing, democracy must be fed or it dies from neglect. Go to your local police community meetings. If they aren’t offered,  rally your neighbors and friends and demand they have them. Go to your governing body’s public meetings. Call, write, and/or email your local and state leaders. And don’t do it once and call it good. Involvement is ongoing. Embrace your civic duties. Then and only then can we see real change.

  1. No surprise there right? lol []
  2. Please spare me unnecessary rants on the variances of this over simplification []
  3. Do me a favor and read this paragraph again []