Archive | June 2018

Weekend Update 6/30/2018: Hypocrisy, faux civility, and why we mustn’t stop fighting

“Mitch McConnell, 2016" 'One of my proudest moments was when I told Obama You will not fills this Supreme Court vacancy.'”

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We now know that Supreme Court Justice Kennedy’s decision to leave the court was not his own. The White House has been pushing for it: Trump’s little known ties to Justice Kennedy & the scheme to nudge him out and Inside the White House’s Quiet Campaign to Create a Supreme Court Opening and What we’re reading: The White House’s subtle push for Kennedy’s retirement. What is particularly scary is the number of sources that say the phrase, “time is of the essence” when they were communicating with Kennedy. What would the alleged president and his advisors (including the billionaire Koch brothers) bring pressure to bear to push Kennedy out and get a more conservative justice confirmed less than 16 weeks before the midterm elections? What could the possible reasons be?

Well, there are at least two reasons. The simplest one is that if the Dems manage to take back the Senate, they could prevent Cadet Bonespur from appointing anyone new to the court. So at least some of the GOP operatives see this as their only chance to ensure future court rulings continue to take rights away from workers, women, queers, and everyone else that isn’t a Republican billionaire.

But that isn’t the only issue! Now that we know that Justice Kennedy’s son arranged for Trump to get a billion dollar loan, and that Trump has made references to Kennedy’s son within earshot of live microphones just about every time the Justice and the alleged president have been together in public, it seems extremely likely that among those dozens of sealed indictments that Robert Mueller has obtained over the last year or so is probably against Kennedy’s son. This could result, if any of the related indictments or Cadet Bonespur’s attempts to pardon (pre-emptively or not) key people winds up being appealed to the Supreme Court. While recusal is solely up to each Justice, it would be very unlikely that Kennedy would not recuse himself if his son was involved in a case before the Court.

Though it angers me enough that the Republicans stole a seat from Obama last year, and I’m not looking forward to what the court will do with another arch conservative on the bench, I do take heart that despite all the brave talk about a red wave, the people in the know (like those billionaire mentioned above) are acting as if there is a good chance that the Senate won’t have a Republican majority after November. So there is that, I guess.

In other hopeful news, the resistance is alive and well: Thousands across U.S. join ‘Keep Families Together’ march to protest family separation. And people have some great signs: 21 Signs From Americans Fed Up With Trump At Families Belong Together Marches.

The marches themselves may not directly accomplish something, but the turn-out indicates people are willing to take action (which includes voting in November).

“Hypocrisy is when Republicans spent eight years disrespecting, delegitimizing and obstructing Pres. Obama, but now say 'Come together to support our president (t)rump because his success is our success.'”

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Meanwhile, there have been continued mock outrage over things like a restaurant deciding it didn’t want to serve members of this administration that our aiding and abetting the kidnapping of children at the border, taking health care from tens of thousands, encouraging white supremacists to commit violence, and so forth. I don’t always agree with columnist Michelangelo Signorile, but this week I do: Fuck Civility. And an extra stron f– you to the editorial writers who seem to think that getting in the face of people who have either ordered the commission of these crimes (mass separation of families is defined under international law–the very agreements our country help promulgate after World War II–as genocide and is a crime against humanity) is somehow just as bad or worse than actually committing those heinous acts.


ETA: I hadn’t seen this interview with Hilary at the Guardian: Hillary Clinton: ‘What is more uncivil than taking children away?’

“Give me a break! What is more uncivil and cruel than taking children away? It should be met with resolve and strength. And if some of that comes across as a little uncivil, well, children’s lives are at stake.”

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Friday Five (TOOOOKE-lahoma edition)

The New York Posts sums up the situation correctly, again.

The New York Posts sums up the situation correctly, again.

It’s the final week of Pride Month. And it’s Friday!

Last weekend did not quite go according to plan. My husband came down with a cold on Friday, and decided he shouldn’t be hanging out at the convention hotel infecting other people. So I attended Locus Awards Weekend alone. He had hoped to be well enough Sunday morning to join me for the parade, but then woke up feeling much worse. Despite him telling me to go join the festivities, I decided to head home and try to take care of him. I enjoyed the events of the con and came home with a pile of new books, and I saw a lot of people dressed up in their Pride gear.

Here I present this week’s Friday Five: the top five (IMHO) stories of the week of interest to queer people, top five general interest stories, and top five videos, and a couple of notable obituaries.

Queer stories of the Week:

Court Upholds Damages in Same-Sex Wedding Cake Case .

Jared Polis could become America’s first openly gay elected governor.

Sharon Brackett Becomes First Transgender Woman Elected To Public Office In Maryland.

99 Photos of Pride Beyond Borders In Seattle.

Education watchdog rebukes school that redacted history textbooks to remove gay Holocaust victims.

Other stories of the Week:

Dragons and wealth inequality.

Asteroid Arrival! Japanese Probe Reaches ‘Spinning-Top’ Space Rock Ryugu.

Maryland shooting: At least five dead as gunman opens fire at Capital Gazette newspaper building in Annapolis.

Breaking down the impact of Kennedy’s retirement.

Study Suggests White People are More Likely to Assault Black, Latino People Than the Other Way Around. As one friend who shared this online noted, “in other words, water is still wet”

In Memoriam:

Christopher Stasheff, author of Warlock In Spite of Himself, and Her Majesty’s Wizard, dead at 74.

Harlan Ellison, Provocative Sci-Fi Writer of ‘Star Trek,’ ‘A Boy and His Dog,’ Dies at 84.

Things I wrote:

Sunday Funnies, part 30.

Videos!

Rep. Maxine Waters Responds To President Donald Trump Attacks:

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Chris Hayes Explains Why It’s Important to Yell at Public Officials:

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CNN anchor fact-checks Trump supporter on family separations:

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Alexandria Ocasio Cortez Surprised Everyone, Even Herself:

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Troye Sivan – Bloom:

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Sunday Funnies, part 30

Another in my series of posts recommending web comics that I think more people should read. This time around, since it is Pride Month, it’s all queer!

Private I, by Emily Willis and Ann Uland is a comic set in 1942 Pittsburgh in which queer gumshoe Howard Graves is trying to sort out a collection of bewildering clues and infuriating eccentric suspects. It’s an interesting take on a lot of noir tropes. It handles the queer elements well—being outed or caught by the wrong people can spell the end of not just one’s career, but possibly life. Which isn’t to say the story is grim (at least not more than any other noir story), but it manages to walk that fine line of being sympathetic to the characters without unrealistically portraying the surrounding society as being more accepting that it would have been. Anyway, it’s a cool story, and the artwork is really good. If you like period stories, or detective stories, or noir milieus, you’ll like this comic. If you like the comic and want to support the creators, check out their Ko-fi.

The Comics of Shan Murphy As far as I can tell, Shannon Murphy doesn’t post a regular comic on the web. But among the categories of illustration on her site are comics. Her work would get shared across my tumblr dashboard just frequently enough for me to think I recognized the comic, but often it was difficult to track back to where the original came from. Until recently, when someone included a link to her page. Her art styles (multiple) are really expressive. And she just writes really good stuff.

The Young Protectors: Legendary by Alex Woolfson. Technically, this is just a new story arc for the Young Protectors comic that I first reviewed and recommended a while back. However, Alex is changing up the artists he’s working with in this arc, and the focus is decidedly different. The first series involved some major supervillains and a fight to save the world. This new arc begins by exploring the changed relationship between our protagonist, Kyle (aka Red Hot) and one of his teammates, Spooky Jones. The story is NSFW, although unless you are a patron of Alex’s Patreon, you see a lot less of the explicit artwork. It isn’t porn, per se, and it isn’t a romance. And the story takes a turn into something very different than either of those. It’s still in progress, so I’m anxiously checking it out each week to find out what happens next. Which is probably the best review I could give it, right? If you check out the page, you’ll see that Alex has written several other comics, some of which are available to purchase in hard copy. And, as I mentioned, he’s got a Patreon account.


A queer subset (because it’s Pride Month) of the comics I’ve previously recommended: Some of these have stopped publishing new episodes. Some have been on hiatus for a while. I’ve culled from the list those that seem to have gone away entirely.

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 3.18.45 PMCheck, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu is the story of Eric “Bitty” Bittle, a former junior figure skating champion from a southern state who is attending fictitious Samwell College in Massachusetts, where he plays on the men’s hockey team. Bitty is the smallest guy on the team, and in the early comics is dealing with a phobia of being body-checked in the games. He’s an enthusiastic baker, and a die hard Beyoncé fan.

“Manic Pixie Nightmare Girls” by Jessica Udischas is a hilarious web comic that tells of the adventures of Jesska Nightmare, a trans woman trying to make her way in our transphobic world. The comics are funny, insightful, and adorably drawn. The sheer cuteness of the drawing style is a rather sharp contrast to the sometimes weighty topics the comic covers, and I think makes it a little easier to keep from getting bummed out to contemplate that the strips aren’t exaggerations. If you like the strip, consider supporting the artist through her patreon.

https://lifeofbria.com copyright  Sabrina SymingtonLife of Bria by Sabrina Symington is a transgender themed comic that ranges from commentary to slice of life jokes and everything in between. Even when commenting on very serious stuff it remains funny—sharp, but funny. It’s one of the comics that I would see being reblogged on tumblr and lot and I’d think, “I ought to track down the artist so I can read more of these.” And I finally did. And they’re great! If you like Symington’s work, you can sponsor her on Patreon and she has a graphic novel for sale.

Stereophonic by C.J.P.

Stereophonic by C.J.P.

“Stereophonic” by C.J.P. is a “queer historical drama that follows the lives of two young men living in 1960s London.” It’s a very sweet and slow-build story, with good art and an interesting supporting cast. But I want to warn you that the story comes to a hiatus just as a couple of the subplots are getting very interesting. The artist had a serious health issue which was complicated by family problems, but has since started posting updates to his blog and Patreon page, assuring us that the story will resume soon. If you like the 300+ pages published thus far and would like to support the artist, C.J. has a Patreon page, plus t-shirts and other merchandise available at his store.

The_Young_Protectors_HALF_BANNER_OUTSIDE_234x601The Young Protectors: Engaging the Enemy by Alex Wolfson begins when a young, closeted teen-age superhero who has just snuck into a gay bar for the first time is seen exiting said bar by a not-so-young, very experienced, very powerful, super-villain. Trouble, of course, ensues.

3Tripping Over You by Suzana Harcum and Owen White is a strip about a pair of friends in school who just happen to fall in love… which eventually necessitates one of them coming out of the closet. Tripping Over You has several books, comics, and prints available for purchase.

dm100x80“Deer Me,” by Sheryl Schopfer tells the tales from the lives of three friends (and former roommates) who couldn’t be more dissimilar while being surprisingly compatible. If you enjoy Deer Me, you can support the artist by going to her Patreon Page!

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 5.36.43 PMMuddler’s Beat by Tony Breed is the fun, expanded cast sequel to Finn and Charlie Are Hitched.

12191040If you want to read a nice, long graphic-novel style story which recently published its conclusion, check-out the not quite accurately named, The Less Than Epic Adventures of T.J. and Amal by E.K. Weaver. I say inaccurate because I found their story quite epic (not to mention engaging, moving, surprising, fulfilling… I could go on). Some sections of the tale are Not Safe For Work, as they say, though she marks them clearly. The complete graphic novels are available for sale in both ebook and paper versions, by the way.

Weekend Update 7/23/2018: Stop Mincing Words, Don’t Derail, and Shed a Tear

Upper picture is a child taken from parents by U.S. ICE agents, lower is child taken from parents by the original Nazis during WWII. Can we spot the similarities?

American attorney and author Mike Godwin coined his eponymous law on Usenet in 1990. Godwin’s law (or Godwin’s rule of Hitler analogies) is an internet adage asserting that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1”; that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Adolf Hitler or his deeds. Promulgated by the American attorney and author Mike Godwin in 1990…. [There] is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that, when a Hitler comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever made the comparison loses whatever debate is in progress.
—Wikipedia’s article on Godwin’s Law

Becaue of that latter tradition of the law being used as a trigger for moderators to shut down discussion threads, there are many well-meaning people who believe (falsely) that Godwin’s Law is a statement of a logical fallacy. In other words, they believe that someone how the act of invoking Hitler is an actual invalidation of the argument being made. In a time when:

…one often finds oneself being concern trolled by someone trying to derail one’s comments with invocations of Godwin’s Law. Which makes said de-railers either complicit with all these evil being perpetrated by the so-called alt-right or really stupid (sorry, there is no other word for it).

So this a reminder that Godwin himself, last year after the events of that Charlottesville neo-Nazi protest that resulted in injures and death, suspended his law:

We’re talking full-on fascism here, folks. Stop arguing semantics and let’s look for solutions. Also, if you have ever said, when contemplating the history of how the Nazis took over Germany in the 1930s, that you would never stand idly by had you been there. We are there now. What are you going to do?


A few other things that either didn’t make it into the Friday Five or come up after:

The Killer That Haunted My Adolescence: John Wayne Gacy was all over the news in my freshman year of high school. But worse was yet to come.

What Is the Gayest Marvel Movie?

How To Be A Writer In This Fucked-Ass Age Of Rot And Resistance.

Tolerance is not a moral precept.

Pride Month Special: “One True Pervert In the Courtroom” – The Trial of Dale Jennings. Great piece by Boozy Barrister, a straight guy who occasionally explain legal things for those of us who aren’t lawyers.

9,000 barrels of bourbon fall in Kentucky distillery building collapse. Oh, the humanity!

Friday Five (Pride bash extravaganza edition)

Where are you on the Gay Spectrum? (click to embiggen)

It’s the forth weekend of Pride Month, and this weekend there are three Pride parades or marches happening in Seattle (and lots of other cities also now have several parades).

My husband and I are, for the third year in a row, attending Locus Awards Weekend. And it just so happens that the con hotel is conveniently close to the part of the parade route and the Seattle Center where the big festival happens. So we’re going to have a fun few days of books and sci fi and fantasy and funny shirts and rainbows and lots of other fun.

Here I present this week’s Friday Five: the top five (IMHO) stories of the week of interest to queer people, five stories that made me go “What the f–k?”, top five general interest stories, and top five videos (plus a recap of my blog posts).

Queer stories of the Week:

Queer Love in Color – Photographs and Text by Jamal Jordan.

What Happens After the Person You Married Tells You They’re Transgender: I’m seeing Pride in a whole new way this year.

7 of the Best Queer Reads for Summer 2018.

The Advocate Publishes a Lot of Photos from all Many of the Pride Events That Have Happened So Far This Month.

Court rejects bid to ban transgender kids from school bathrooms.

Nafessa Williams on playing Black Lightning’s unapologetic, badass lesbian superhero.

This Week in WTF:

Feminists are blaming trans women for ‘forcibly transing’ crocodiles.

Atlantic cover story is a loud dog whistle for anti-transgender parents.

TEXAS GOP APPROVES 24 ANTI-LGBTQ PLATFORM PLANKS, INCLUDING SUPPORT FOR ‘EX-GAY’ THERAPY.

The WTF of this is that we actually need to do this! Here’s How You Can Help Fight Family Separation at the Borde.

ABC Greenlights Roseanne Spinoff Without Roseanne Barr.

Other stories of the Week:

Mexican Nuns Work to Save Endangered Salamander.

Opinion: The State of the Star Wars fandom in 2018.

Led by a Chaplain from Washington State, 600 Members of Jeff Sessions’s Church Charged Him with Cruelty and Abuse.

Gabriel Jesus: Call your mama.

Oregon dog that survived 2 gunshot wounds finds new home.

Things I wrote:

Confessions of a bad son, part 2.

Blasphemy is as blasphemy does — an adventure beyond the dictionary with the anti-gays.

Anger is better than fear — confessions of a militant fairy.

Pride means visibility and hope— confessions of a hopeful fairy.

Pride means love and survival—confessions of a joyful fairy.

Videos!

Rachel Maddow Broke Down in Tears at News of Where Babies are Being Sent at the U.S. Border:

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Stephen Colbert Trashes ‘Gay Nazi’ Candidate and Uber-Homophobe Scott Lively:

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St. Vincent – Fast Slow Disco (Music Video):

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Big Dipper – Lookin [Official]:

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Shirtless Violinist ft. Tom Goss – Perfect – Ed Sheeran – Cover:

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Pride means love and survival—confessions of a joyful fairy

“Queer as hell and felling swell”

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I’ve been to a lot of Pride parades and festivals since attending my first in 1990. One year I participated in the San Francisco Pride Parade one weekend, flew back home to Seattle where I marched in our parade the following week, and then in August I found myself in Vancouver, British Columbia where I hadn’t realized it was going to be their Pride Parade. San Francisco’s was like so gigantically larger and brasher than any other I had ever seen, while Vancouver’s was small but very enthusiastic.

“Pride equals power”The reason for the parade, ultimately, is to declare our existence–our survival in a society that is less than welcoming. We’re here. We’re your daughters, your neighbors, your sons, your co-workers, your friends, your siblings, or your parents. We’re not mysterious creatures lurking in seedy clubs–we’re the guy sitting across from you on the bus reading a book, or the two gals sitting in that next pew at church, or the pair of guys in the grocery store discussing how many hot dogs to buy for the cookout, or the grey-haired guy trying to read a label on a bottle of cold tablets in the pharmacy, or that kid on the skateboard going past your bus stop, or that guy sipping a coffee at Starbucks, or that gal a couple table over at the same coffee shop laughing at something on her computer.

We’re real, we’re everywhere, and we have hopes and dreams and worries just like you. We’re not asking for special rights, we’re asking for the same rights you take for granted. We’re asking to live our lives as openly as you live yours.

I enjoy watching the parade to acknowledge that survival. I cheer while watching the parade to express my admiration, support, and love for all of these survivors.

I cheer for people who are being brave and marching in their first parade; we see you and welcome you to the tribe.

I cheer and applaud so that those whose families rejected them and told them never to come back will know they have another family, and we’re clapping for them right now.

I cheer so that group of teen-agers (half of them straight and there to support their bi, gay, lesbian, and trans friends) will get the recognition they deserve.

“Why do some people feel more comfortable seeing two men holding hands than holding guns?”I cheer so the couple in their matching sequined costumes will know someone appreciates the work they spent (perhaps being up all night gluing those sequins on).

I cheer the older couples walking together holding hands; we see your love and we celebrate how long you and your love had endured.

I cheer the younger couples walking hand in hand; I wish I had felt free to do that at their age, but I hope they have a bright future.

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I applaud and cheer so that the trans* gals and trans* men know they are seen for who they are and we think they’re beautiful, wonderful, and I am proud to call them brothers and sisters.

I cry when I see those who are carrying a photo or wearing the name of a deceased loved one; we see your loved one and share your grief.

I cheer for PFLAG so that straight parents who have spent countless hours explaining to friends and relatives that their queer kids have nothing to be ashamed of, and yes they are very happy, and no those things you’ve heard or read about their health and lifespan are all myths will know their efforts are appreciated by the whole community.

I clap and cheer and laugh and cry as the parade goes on and on showing how big and wonderful and diverse and amazing our community is.

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The very first Liberation Day Parade in New York City, was a protest march on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots (the first Pride was a riot). People were afraid of what would happen at the first march. Only a couple dozen people showed up at the starting point, with their protest signs. But they marched. And all along the announced route of the march, the sidewalks were lined with people. Street queens, and trans people, and gay men and lesbians and queers of many other stripes.

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And then completely unplanned thing happened. As the small group of marchers went be, queer people and supporters started stepping off the curb and joining. By the time the marchers reached the Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park, the crowd numbered in the thousands.

It has been a tradition of Pride Parades ever since, that spectators step off the curb and join the march.

So when I march, there comes a point where I do that. I have cheered and applauded and made sure that others were seen. I have witnessed their love and courage and unique style. Until it is my turn to join the march. To be visible. To declare by my presence in that throng that I am queer. I’m here. And I will never go back into the closet.
Me with my rainbow parasol

Pride means visibility and hope— confessions of a hopeful fairy

“Promote Queer Visibility”

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I’ve written many times about the first time I watched a Pride Parade. Because of the lurid press coverage I had seen before that, and even some of the critical things I heard from certain queer acquaintances, I was expecting something very different that what I actually saw. So what did I see? Mostly a lot of very ordinary looking people. There was a group of people in shorts and t-shirts who were marching with their dogs on leashes. There was the group of people driving a particular small foreign car. The drivers were wearing matching t-shirts, and I suspect shorts, though it was hard to tell. There were many, many groups where most of the people were wearing matching t-shirts and shorts and walking behind a banner that declared they were with one non-profit organization or another. A lot of them.

There were a lot of pink triangles. There were also rainbows, some lambdas, and some labryses. A lot of people had pink or purple hair. Most of the groups had at least some members who had their children marching along beside them.

There were people dressed very scantily. There were banners and floats that had some sort of sexual innuendo as part of the theme. There wasn’t any actual nudity, but there were a few costumes that were very close to it. But the thing is, not quite a year before my first Pride Parade, I had attend my first Seattle Torchlight Family Seafair Parade with a bunch of co-workers. And at that parade—an official city parade with the word “family” in its title—I had seen a whole lot more near nudity, many more sexual innuendos as themes for floats, and a whole lot of drunken participants in the parade.

I should mention that there didn’t seem to be many queers in the pride parade who were under the influence. Certainly nowhere near as many as I saw at the Seafair Parade.

The difference was, that all of the sexual content and near nudity in the Seafair Parade was clearly aimed at the heterosexual male gaze. Just as I see a lot more sex in the typical set of Super Bowl commercials that I have ever seen at a Pride Parade. And that’s the thing: straight people are so used to straight male sexual desire used to sell everything from cupcakes to beer to automobiles, that they don’t even notice it any more.

Heck, in Seattle we have another annual parade called the Fremont Solstice Parade, and it is famous for have scores of nude bicyclists in it every year. Under Washington state law, if you have body paint on, it counts as not being nude. And it was a community parade put on by mostly straight people who was doing it for years before the queers in Seattle started doing it in our Pride Parade.

“Homosexuality is not a choice, but homophobia is. Got pride?”

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So if you’re one of those people who objects to Pride Parades because you think they’re too wild or sexy or whatever, I am just going to laugh at your cluelessness. I’ve written a few times about the people from within the community who hate it, and I have yet to meet one whose arguments didn’t boil down to being equivalent of the bigots. So if you’re one of those people you don’t get my laughter, you get my pity and a hope that someday you will stop being a self-loathing hater.

If you’re one of those people who think Pride isn’t needed because bigotry is somehow far behind us, please take this does of reality:

Finally, if you’re one of those people who asks, “If you’re born this way, what’s to be proud of?” First, look up at that list. Remember that that is barely scratching the surface of the hate, bullying, and oppression that every queer person has survived. So, what do we have to be proud of? Some people want us dead, but we’ve survived. Some people wish we were invisible, and we have stepped out into the light and shared our beautiful glittery freaky selves. We have been told we aren’t worthy of love, but we have found loving friends and chosen families and yes, even someone to call husband or wife. People have tried to bury us in hate, and we have shown the world our love. They have knocked us down again and again, and we have gotten back up, fiercer than ever. They have tried to force us into the shadows, and we have shown the world our light.

I’ve quoted before the old Jewish joke that the meaning of all Jewish holidays is, “They tried to kill us. We’re still alive. Let’s eat.” In the spirit of that sentiment:

They wish we were dead or invisible. We refuse to hide.

Let’s dance.

Anger is better than fear — confessions of a militant fairy

“I am NOT afraid!!! Queer Nation”

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I was astonished, after I had been out of the closet for a bit, to look back on my previous life and realize how much of time and energy had been spent living in fear. Fear of being found out. Fear of being rejected by family and friends. Fear of being physically assaulted. Fear of living a life without love. Fear of dying alone. Fear of what would happen if the preachers were correct and a lake of eternal fire awaited me.

“You only gave us rights because we gave you riots. Queer Power”

“You only gave us rights because we gave you riots. Queer Power” (Click to embiggen)

All of those fears were based on real experiences. My dad’s most angry beatings were all accompanied with him calling me worthless, a faggot, and a cocksucker. And for several years I didn’t know what those last two words meant. The kids at school who bullied me (which often involved physical attacks) always called me a sissy or pussy while doing it. The teachers who verbally bullied me called me a sissy or faggot while doing so. In high school, a classmate I knew well was jumped by a group of jocks who were convinced he was gay (he wasn’t—years later he’s married to a great woman and they have two wonderful kids and we still chat online) and was in the process of being beaten up until a group of us found them and broke it up. Another classmate who I didn’t know very well was beaten so badly he was kept in the hospital for a few days. Again, it was because a group of guys at school thought he was gay (he was—last I heard, he and his partner of several years were living in Boston). A couple of other classmates who were outed in embarrassing ways were kicked out of their homes by their parents, and wound up living with relatives far away. One of my uncles (the same one who insisted that I was such a sissy because my parents let me own an action figure) said he would kill any of his sons if they turned gay.

So it wasn’t just anxiety. It wasn’t all in my head. The danger was real.

“Being gay is not a sin. Neither is being lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. The Bible never claims that it is. Christians should stop saying it—because it's killing people.” Johnpavlovitz.com

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And because I’d been raised Southern Baptist, and I was the kind of nerdy kid who read the Bible all the way through on my own at least twice, I spent many, many hours begging god to take these feelings away from me. I spent a lot of time studying the guys that never got called out like I did, trying to figure out how to act more like them.

And while for many queer kids the world is a more tolerant place than it was for me in the 60s and 70s, thousands of teens in the U.S. are still thrown out on the streets every year by parents whose religion teaches it is better to drive the kid out than to “encourage their lifestyle.” Hundreds of children and teens still commit suicide every year because of bullying by people who suspect they are queer.

All the bullying, anxiety about being rejected, and so forth affects us. Studies show that most adult queers bear at least some of the neurological markers of PTSD—just like domestic abuse survivors. Coming out and finding communities that accept us doesn’t make that go away. We are always on the lookout for the next potential threat.

This is another variant rainbow flag that's been around longer than the More Colors Flag.

This is another variant rainbow flag that’s been around longer than the More Colors Flag.

There were always moments when I would get angry because of the way I was treated. But particularly when I was a young kid, anger was never useful. I was physically unable to stand up to the bullies (for instance, the middle school bully who was enough bigger than me that he held me upside down for many minutes while his buddies kicked and spit on me).

Over the course of several years anger began replacing fear. There are many moments I can point to, but one that sticks out came in my early 20s. I was sitting in a church pew in a church where the musical ensemble I was directed had performed several songs for to support a revival meeting. The visiting preacher had delivered an unusual message for a revival: he had talked about unity and finding common ground among fellow Christians who didn’t always agree with us on every detail. It was conciliatory, rather than a fiery call to fight evil, which was a much more typical revival tone.

“Gay pride was not born out of a need to celebrate being gay, but our right to exist without persecution. So instead of wondering why there isn't a straight pride movement, be thankful you don't need one.”

“Gay pride was not born out of a need to celebrate being gay, but our right to exist without persecution. So instead of wondering why there isn’t a straight pride movement, be thankful you don’t need one.”

And then one of the pastors from the local church gave the closing prayer. That how I found myself with head bowed and eyes closed and suddenly shaking in fear as the pastor thank god for sending the scourge of AIDS to wipe out the evil homosexuals from the face of the earth. Oh, he went on and on about it. And because as far as I knew I was the only homo (very closeted) in that room, I half expected people to pull me aside for an intervention afterward. Or maybe that I would be jumped and beaten to within an inch of my life somewhere.

I realized some time later that the pastor wasn’t targeting he was arguing with the visiting pastor, using the passive-aggressive platform of a public prayer. But over the following days and weeks, as I realized that no one was targetting me, I began to get angry. And the more I thought about how that pastor had used a prayer to spew such hate, the more angry I became at the entire system.

That may have been the final nail in the coffin of my membership in the Baptist denomination—if not all of Christianity together.

“The only choice I made was to be myself.”

“The only choice I made was to be myself.”

There are many people who will tell you not to become an angry, militant advocate for anything. They will urge you to try to find middle ground, to compromise, to make peace with those you disagree with you. The problem is that there isn’t an acceptable middle ground between the propositions: “I want to live” and “you deserve death.” And the people who thank god for AIDS, who tell parents to kick their queer children out on the street, who argue that transitioning treatments are not medically necessary, and who argue we shouldn’t have marriage rights (which legally include the right to make medical decisions for one another and so forth)—they are all implying, if not outright saying, that queers deserve death.

Seriously, the only middle ground is that some queers deserve death. How is that a morally acceptable position for anyone?

“Love is a terrible thing to hate.”

“Love is a terrible thing to hate.”

So, yes, I am frequently an angry, militant queer. But all of the people on the other side are arguing in favor of murdering at least some queer people (or, I suppose you could argue that they are simply willing to allow some or most of us to die). That means that what I feel is righteous indignation. And if you don’t feel it at least a little bit on behalf of those kids bullied to death, the murdered trans people, and so on, well, I’m sorry to say, that means you’re on the side of the hateful murderers. I’m sure you have some rationalizations for why your position isn’t that, but you’re wrong. If you don’t believe our outrage is justified, then you’re not one of the good guys.

If that realization makes you unhappy, well, you have the power to fix it. Come over to the Light Side. Join the fight for justice, love, and life.

Blasphemy is as blasphemy does — an adventure beyond the dictionary with the anti-gays

“Jesus had two dads & he turned out just fine.”

(click to embiggen)

A few years ago one of the large anti-gay political action groups sponsored a protest march that was supposed to be in favor of “traditional” marriage. All of the signs and banners carried by participants in the rally were extremely anti-queer, and not one single sign was actually in favor of any kind of marriage. Now, because we monitor these things, I was one of literally thousands of queer and queer-allied people online who hijacked the hashtag of the anti-gay folks to post pro-gay memes and comments. There were so many of us queers and allies posting pro-queer rights comments, that we overwhelmed the bigots’ message, at least on social media.

I received a lot of interesting replies. One person was particularly upset with me for sharing a meme similar to the one at the top of the post that talked about Jesus and his two dads. “Can’t you disagree without the blasphemy of saying god had a sexual relationship with Joseph?”

I responded by pointing out that the meme doesn’t mention sex, it simply affirms the Biblical texts which referred to Jesus as both the son of Joseph and the son of God. Then I said that the only blasphemy I saw were people trying to force some of their religious views into law, penalizing people who weren’t part of their flock. There were a couple of back and forths, but I had already promised myself that any bigots who chimed in would get two replies of me trying to clarify or whatever, and then after that my only reply to any further comments would be “Bless your heart.” So the discussion petered out.

blasphemy noun, Profane talk about something supposed to be sacred; impious irreverence.

I’m sorry, but I really was merely taking the Bible literally: the text calls Jesus the son of Joseph in some places, and the son of god in others. In fact, it refers to him as the son of Joseph more often than it calls him the son of god. The oldest surviving copies of the gospels never call him the son of god. And then there’s the whole genealogy in one of the gospels, showing how Jesus is descended from King David–through his father, Joseph!

So if it is profane to talk about Jesus having two dads, the profanity starts in the Bible.

If we’re going to get upset about any sex involving god, what about the nonconsensual impregnation of Mary? I mean, looking at the text, it’s pretty clear that god roofied Mary, then sent “the Holy Spirit to overshadow” her and conceive the child. I say nonconsensual because while an angel appears to Mary before it happens to tell her it is going to happen, at no point does the angel ask if she agrees to this thing. And really, Mary was almost certainly a teen-ager, confronted by a powerful otherworldly being who tells her that an even more powerful being is about the knock her up. With such a power differential, is the concept of consent even possible?

I’ve seen the arguments made, sometimes by people who claim to take the Bible literally, that this is just a standard divine intervention trope: Eqyptian and Greek mythology, for instance, are full of stories of gods having sons from mortal women. As if “everyone else is doing it” is a moral precept?

Among the many problems with people of various conservative types of Christianity imposing their beliefs on others through the force of law, is that even their own holy book isn’t very clear on these points. The person they have named their religion after, Jesus Christ, never once said anything about gay people, one way or the other. And believe me, there were gay people there in Galilee and Judea. If being gay was such a big sin, you would think he would mention it.

There are only six verses in modern English translations of the Bible that appear to refer to homosexuality directly. However, the four in the New Testament have only been that way since a re-translation in the 1920s. In the oldest versions of the text we have in the original languages (Arameic and Greek), the words were gendered references to temple prostitutes in two passages, the third is a reference to two separate sins (cheating on one’s spouse after making a monogamous committment, and having sex with someone before you have married). The fourth, meanwhile, no one knows. The Apostle Paul made up a greek word that occurs nowhere else in any ancient greek document my combining two existing words meaning bed and lewdness.

Honesty, given how opposed to marriage of any kind Paul was (he thought it was a waste of time and energy that would be better spent evangelizing), this might have been a word he coined to refer to those men who “so burned with lust” that they couldn’t concentrate on god’s work unless they married and had an outlet for the aforementioned lust. If so, then Paul was calling heterosexual marriage an abomination, not gay sex.

As to the old testament passages: modern Christians have no problem ignoring the other parts of Leviticus they don’t like (the prohibitions on bacon and shrimp, for instance), so it is difficult to take them seriously on this. Further, I’ve read more than one argument written by Jewish Rabbis that those texts should never be discussed out of context of the rest of the books (including a lot of commentaries and documents that were not absorbed into the Christian Bible), and are probably referencing some specific issues at the time of writing with men visiting temples of other gods and partaking of temple prostitutes. So it is more likely those verses are admonitions against idolotry and sex with someone other than one’s spouse after making a monogamous committment.

Please note I am paraphrasing. Wrestling with the Torah is a lifetime commitment of its own, and the fact that the church I was raised in has co-opted a not-terribly-well-done translation of the Torah doesn’t make me an expert.

Holy books, no matter whose holy books we are talking about, were written by humans. You can believe that they are divinely inspired if you wish, but the words were written by imperfect humans, using imperfect language, which is being read centuries later by other imperfect humans with imperfect understandings of languages that have changed during those centuries. Just to narrow it back down to the bible, that book itself contains many stories of people who were absolutely convinced that they knew what god wanted them to do, who turned out to be wrong. It also contains stories (go read an annotated version of the Saga of Sampson for one of the most entertaining) of people who were believed to be immoral or otherwise unsuitable for god’s work by all the godly people around them, who were actually the ones doing god’s work.

As my Bible professor in my university days was fond of saying, “The text keeps telling us that we can’t find all of the answers in the text. We have to think and develop compassion and a sense of justice on our own. And that’s a lot of work.”

If your argument that people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, trans, nonbinary et cetera don’t deserve equal rights is to quote your holy book without applying compassion, testing the situation against the notion of justice, and just thinking about whether you are even holding yourself to a similar standard, then you aren’t doing the work. You are failing your fellow humans. You are failing at your own religion.

And you are failing to regard the life and well-being of some of your neighbors with reverence. And that is true blasphemy.

Confessions of a bad son, part 2

“Just because you deny the abuse doesn't mean that I will forget it.”

“Just because you deny the abuse doesn’t mean that I will forget it.”


It’s impossible at this time of year to avoid all the spam, emotionally manipulative articles, targeting advertising, saccharine memes, and heartfelt testimonials about fathers. This is fine (maybe even great) for people who have admirable dads and are happy to be reminded about how marvelous a good father can be. It is not so good for people whose fathers have died (especially recently), making all this hype a reminder of their grief for the father they loved. It’s not a delight for those of us who had terrible fathers.

I was lucky enough to have two incredible, wonderful, and loving grandfathers as well as an incorrigible (but still loving) great-grandfather who were all three very involved in my life throughout my formative years. I’ve written about my two grandpas on this blog: Rinse, don’t wash and What do you mean, real father?. I’ve mentioned my great-grandpa many times, but haven’t written about him. I need to do something about that.

“If you need violence to enforce your ideas, your ideas are worthless.”

“If you need violence to enforce your ideas, your ideas are worthless.”

But not today. This blog post is for all the people who, like me, had a terrible father. Please note my use of the past tense. One of the few bright spots to this holiday is that since he has died, I don’t have relatives (sometimes those who almost never contact me otherwise) trying to guilt me into calling him, or sigh disapprovingly when I tell them I haven’t talked to him in a long while. Two Father’s Days ago I did get a lot of cringeworthy messages from well-meaning relatives trying to offer me comfort in the grief that they assumed I must be experiencing. I was spared that last year, and so far I have been spared it this year.

It’s one thing when people who don’t know me very well express condolences when they learn he is dead. I can accept those sorts of things fine—especially after one friend made me practice saying “We weren’t that close; we’d hardly spoken in forty years.” But it is another thing altogether when it comes from the people who knew he was a physically and emotionally abusive man, who terrorized his wives and children, who regularly spouted racist and misogynist beliefs often phrased with the foulest slurs, who sneered at religious or liberal expressions of compassion for the downtrodden, and who never apologized to any of those he hurt.

I mentioned in an earlier post the mind-boggling series of messages I got from some relatives that all followed the same pattern right after his death:

  • Recitation of two or more anecdotes of what a sweet, loving young man he was when he first started dating my mom,
  • Reference to how excited he had been to learn he was going to be a father when mom became pregnant,
  • Skip to urging me to try to remember the good times “before the troubles began” because of reasons.

Not a single one of the extended family members who sent me messages and cards like that included any memories or examples of him being that wonderful person that occurred after I was born. And that’s the thing, I don’t remember a time in my childhood when I wasn’t deeply afraid of being alone with him. The first time he beat me severely enough that I had to be taken to an emergency room I was only four years old. I and all my younger siblings experienced at least one beating that required emergency medical care. So I have trouble believing the claims that before he became a father he was a paragon of kindness and love.

Even if they are right, most of the people on that side of the family have previously expressed a narrative of how he became the angry, manipulative, bitter man I knew. Most of them say it stemmed from a single betrayal that happened to him which involved the pastor of the church he had grown up attending. This betrayal happened when my mom was about seven months pregnant with me. The fact that she was pregnant and that this betrayal cost my father a job that he had been looking forward to as a way to properly provide for his wife and soon-to-be-born child is one of the central details in the story as they always retold it.

They claim this one single event transformed him from an angel to a monster, they know it happened before I was born, and yet, they expect me to have memories of the alleged angel.

I get it. Denial isn’t a rational process. If they consciously admit that they knew he was violently abusive for my entire childhood, they have to also admit that they stood by in silence as I, my sister, my mom, and later his second wife and my three half-siblings, were subjected to his abuse. And that is a very scary thing to face.

If they only way they can look themselves in the mirror each day is to be in denial, I guess that’s their business. But trying to erase my past in order to assuage their conscience isn’t something I am willing to enable.

I only have some inklings of what made my father tick. Maybe he was a sweet kid. But all the evidence and research out there about abusers is that they don’t just one day go from being a kind empathetic puppy to an angry beast. It’s something that happens over a long time. My maternal grandmother was an emotionally abusive and manipulative person, which I assume was a major contributing factor to Dad’s abusive personality. I also know that as an adult, Dad could be charming and friendly toward people whose approval he sought. So I suspect the sweet, kind young man my various older relatives remember was simply him being on his best behavior toward people who he had no other power over.

I try not to dwell too much on all this. As I said shortly after his death, I thought I was mostly over it. Until the moment I was told he had died, and I felt not just an incredible sense of relief and peace, but also a bit of gratitude.

I am truly happy for all the people out there who have good, loving fathers and wish them joy in celebrating their love for those fathers today. And Just as I wish comfort for those others who have lost their wonderful fathers and find today a reminder of their loss.

But don’t ask me to pretend my father was a good man. Don’t ask me to pretend to be grieving. Don’t expect me to smile and agree with any sentiments of admiration for him you may feel compelled to express. The only thing I have ever mourned with regard to my father, is that I didn’t have the good father that they want to imagine he was.

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