Today is National Coming Out Day. If Ray were still alive, it would also be the day we’d be celebrating the twenty-seventh anniversary of our commitment ceremony (he promised to stay with me for the rest of his life, and he did). My (very-much alive) husband Michael and I don’t have any anniversaries that are close to this date, but this is the twenty-first National Coming Out Day we’ve lived together.
I’ve written many times about how important it is that queer people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, nonbinary, trans, aromantic, genderfluid, two-spirit, questioning, intersex, and so no) be out if they safely can be. Studies show that being closeted has several deleterious effects on one’s mental and physical health. When you’re in the closet, you aren’t being yourself. You are pretending to be someone who others wouldn’t guess was part of the LGBT. When you’re in the closet you’re in a constant state of anxiety—the very real fear that if some people knew your secret, they would reject you, shun you, or maybe even physically assault you.
That takes a toll.
Studies have also shown that the more LGBT people that a straight person knows, the less likely they are to harbor bigoted beliefs toward the community. And queer young people who have out role models in their community are far less likely to attempt suicide.
So there are many, many good reasons to get out.
There are reasons to be wary of being out. For instance, 40% of homeless teens are homeless precisely because they have been kicked out or driven from their homes when their families found out they were queer. And there are bigots in every community who pose financial, social, and physical threats to queer people. So I understand why staying in the closet sometimes feels like the safer option.
But I have to say from personal experience, that not living with that constant burden of fear is such a relief. Now, the relief don’t always come right away, because sometimes the people closest to you — even those that you are absolutely certain will be okay with learning this about you — don’t react positively. When I came out, several friends and relatives I thought would at least be tolerant absolutely flipped out. Two that I was certain had just been waiting for me to admit it categorically denied that they had ever suspect at all — and one of them insisted that the mere fact that I thought they knew already was somehow proof that I had been brainwashed into thinking I was gay.
On the other hand, there were family members and friends who I had thought wouldn’t take it well who turned into my fiercest defenders against the other.
The sad fact is that you aren’t going to know who will stand by you until you come out.
But the flip side of that is, the ones who reject you? The ones who through the worst fit when you come out? They never loved you. No matter how much they insist that they did, the truth is that they didn’t love you, they loved the straight person they imagined you to be. And their rejection demonstrates that their love had always been conditional.
Coming out was scary. But once the initial difficulties blew over, I made an amazing discovery: since I was no longer expending all that energy pretending to be something I wasn’t and scared to death people would find out I was pretending, I had a whole lot more time and energy to spend on the things I love. And the more time I spent doing the things I love, the more new people who were ready to accept me for who I was came into my life.
If it is safe for you to come out, you should. You’ll find that standing proud in the opne, being true to yourself, is so much better than hiding in the dark!
But I’m tired of explaining why so many bigoted stereotypes, bad representations, tokenism, and the rest are both bad writing and immoral behavior. I’ve written about them before and I’ll surely write about them again, but I’d rather talk about a show that treated its gay character right.
So let’s talk about Julie and the Phantoms.
If you’re not familiar, Julie and the Phantoms was recently released on Netflix, and it’s about a high school girl whose mother has recently died. An aspiring musician in a music program at school, Julie has been unable to bring herself to perform. After getting dropped from the program, she decides to clean out her mother’s music studio as a step in trying to move one. Among her mother’s things, she finds a demo CD for a band she has never heard of. When she puts it in the player, three ghosts are summoned from limbo.
The ghosts are three members of what was a four-member boy band. The three boys died in 1995 after eating bad street food on the night before they were supposed to debut at the Orpheum Theatre.
At first it seems that only Julie can see and hear the boys, but they soon discover that if she is singing with them, everyone can see them and hear their music. With a cover story that the boys are holograms, Julie embarks on a journey to find her voice.
Yes, it’s cheesy, yes it’s a teen musical show. But it is well done and in these troubling times, a story with a big heart is exactly what some of us need.
Warning: There are some spoilers below…
One of the three boys in the band, Alex, is gay. We learn this very early on when one of his bandmates mentions how Alex’s parents weren’t exactly supportive when he came out. That one line is the only point in the show where anything approaching the usual cliched approaches to handling a queer character happens.
Early on the boys meet another ghost, a skateboarding cutie named Willie. It is clear in just a few lines of dialogue the Alex and Willie are attracted with each other and awkwardly flirting. Alex’s two straight bandmates take it in stride. “He is totally into you!” “And he’s cute!” They treat their bandmate’s queerness very matter-of-factly. The dialogue would not have sounded out of place in a more typical show if the object of Alex’s flirtation had been an opposite sex character.
Which is how it should be.
The subplot that Willie is involved in (he is under the thumb of a villainous ghost who is trying to enslave the three band members) doesn’t cross into any of the gay cliches, either. Their roles in the story are based on their personalities, not their sexual orientation. Their orientation is just another fact about them, not the defining characteristic of everything they do and say.
None of the bad things that happen to either of them have anything to do with their orientation. Not even the villain says anything even vaguely homophobic about either one. Neither is killed (I realize they are ghosts, but it is made clear that bad things can happen to ghosts in this fictional world) at the end. Neither of them realizes it would be better to be with an opposite sex person.
If you don’t happen to be queer, none of those statements may sound extraordinary—but trust me, having all of those things be true about a queer character in most works of fiction that aren’t explicitly aimed at a queer audience is an extremely rare event.
Furthermore, neither the show runners nor the network said anything in advance about how “and we have gay characters!” and then expecting to get congratulated on their open-mindedness. That is extremely rare, as well. In fact, that other show I mentioned in the opening paragraphs, not only did the network and people running the show keep crowing about their gay character–they even put such crowing into the mouth of one of the straight characters in the opening episode.
Now, all of this isn’t exactly an accident. The director of Julie and the Phantoms is Kenny Ortega (who is also one of the producers). Ortega is probably most well-known at this point as being the director the first High School Musical TV movie and several of the sequels. You might also recognize his name as the director of 1993’s Hocus Pocus. He in much less famous as being one of a couple of actors who—in 1972 when this was a very risky thing to do in any career, even theatre—came out in the pages of The Advocate, one of the nation’s oldest gay and lesbian publications.
During the press interviews after the release of Julie and the Phantoms, when asked about the characters of Alex and Willie, Ortega has said, “Alex is the character I wish was there for me when I was growing up, and who never appeared.”
Which makes sense. Speaking for myself, as a scared closeted kid growing up I was not interested in seeing stories about gay bashing or coming out and being rejected or the other usual queer story lines. I wanted—needed—to see queer characters living ordinary lives, facing the same challenges and triumphs as all the other characters in those stories.
Which is what Julie and the Phantoms gives us. And I’m so glad it does.
Oppressed Oppressors: Supporters of Prez Super-spreader feeling the pain of his reckless, moronic decisions
It wasn’t long after the news that the pussy-grabber-in-chief had tested positive for COVID-19 that I saw the messages praying for his swift recovery, et cetera. All of which that passed through my social media streams I carefully avoiding replying to, lest I say something wrong. I did retweet a person wishing that the almighty show trump exactly the same compassion and grace that Trump has ever expended to others. I made a similar comment myself as a follow-up. But at no point did I say I was glad he was sick or express any hope for a bad outcome.
And honestly, I haven’t seen much of that at all. I’ve seen a lot of people talking about why they are having trouble mustering any sympathy. And I’ve been one of the people explaining why I have virtually no sympathy in this case. I’ve even seen people explain how much they don’t want him to die precisely because they want him to live long enough to face criminal prosecution for at least some of his crimes.
But this has not stopped his supporters from wailing and screaming at all of us “evil libs” for not showing the compassion and respect they think he observes.
Here’s why I’m barely restraining myself for tracking them down to laugh in their faces: just last week they were cheering and metaphorically dancing in the streets over the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. That’s only one of the reasons, though. Just to list a few more:
- President Super-spreader put thousands of children in cages at the border, and has let diseases run rampant through the camps,
- his minions are asking the Supreme Court to overturn Obamacare even while he himself is getting treated in a government hospital, every penny of his care paid for by the U.S. taxpayer,
- the Russian president put out and has paid several bounties to terrorists for killing U.S. soldiers, and Prez Super-spreader has refused to even broach the topic, let alone express any sympathy to the families of assassinated soldiers,
- when, at a white supremacist rally, one of the Prez’s supporters drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors and killed a young woman, the Prez was too busy trying to say that there were many fine people among those white supremacists to ever express sympathy to the family of the slain woman,
- also while arguing with reporters about those same rallies, he kept using the word “us” while referring to the white supremacists,
- over 214,000 Americans have died in this pandemic, most of those deaths could have been prevented if the Prez hadn’t decided that the disease was only killing people in Blue States so it didn’t matter,
- over 214,000 Americans have died, and just two weeks ago the Prez was saying that the disease hurts virtually nobody.
- he knew he was positive for the virus before the Presidential Debate, but he didn’t warn anyone who was at the debate, he attended a fundraiser and a rally afterward during which he refused to wear a mask, and even when his symptoms became bad enough to scare him, it never occurred to him to call his opponent in that debate and inform him (you know, the thing that any decent human being would do),
- et cetera
- et cetera
- et cetera
I could keep going and going.
The simple fact is that the man responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths and counting (and that’s only Americans who have died of the pandemic, he’s responsible for a lot more) does not deserve one fucking iota of pity for getting a disease which he allowed to run rampant across the country. A disease he pretended didn’t matter. A disease he claimed could be cured if people drank bleach. A disease he insisted would magically disappear any second now.
And I’m not the only one who feels that way: The ‘Fuck Your Feelings’ Crowd Wants a Pity Party for Trump.
The other thing that’s driving me to distraction on this is the reaction of the professional pundit class. As soon as they learned about Prez Super-spreader’s diagnosis, suddenly all of the non-Fox news outlets had dire warnings about a constitutional crisis if the Prez is incapacitated—because there are a bunch of gaps in the process laid out in the 25th amendment for dealing with the incapacity of a president. One of the biggies being that there is no process for what could happen if the Veep gets seriously ill, too.
And I’ve listened to one podcast where some experts are dismayed that all the non-trump-cultists aren’t reacting to their dire warnings of a constitutional crisis.
You know why? Because we’ve been in the middle of a constitutional crisis for nearly four years now. We, the ordinary people on progressive side of the political spectrum have been screaming at the news media, our congressional representatives, and anyone else we thought might help—some for only the last few months, some of us for years.
Day one he refused to obey the Emoluments Clause of the constitution as well as the The Federal Anti-Nepotism Statute. He repeatedly suggested that he should be able to serve an extra long term because people were supposedly mean to him the first couple of years in office. He then switched to suggested that the coming election results can’t be trusted. He has repeatedly claimed that he would not be bound to accept a loss at the ballot box if he decided the process wasn’t fair. He has repeatedly (and in official communications) threatened to illegally send troops into cities and states where he believed officials and citizens oppose his policies. He has illegally sent troops into at least one such city. He was repeatedly refused to say that there would be a peaceful transition if he loses the election.
All of those were constitutional crises that should have been engendering dire headlines long, long ago.
The only people who care about his blatant violation of the very foundations of our form of government at all have been worrying about this for years while the pundits have been acting as if it’s all some kind of game or horse race.
Catch up, guys. The rest of us have been dreading and bracing for the chaos.
The rain has returned to Seattle, which also means that my hay fever has kicked into high gear. Since I have moderate-to-severe allergic reaction to every single pollen, spore, and mold there is, hay fever season last most of the year. But there are certain times when I can count of sudden worsening of symptoms, and one of those is when the rain come back in the fall after the relatively dry period that usually lasts from about July 12th until the end of August/early September.
This year the coming of the rain meant the end of hazardous air quality from the smoke plumes from wild fires everywhere, which means that as my lungs were clearing and my cough was subsiding, the sinuses became painfully clogged and sneezing fits became the norm.
Just before that smoke came in and turned September into a new kind of hell, I had picked up some spot-color flowers to plant in some of the pots out on the veranda, because all the dianthus, violas, and pansies that had been growing in some of the pots had died off. Most of my planters are full of lavender, but most of them are going to seed, so there was suddenly not much color out there. But I didn’t get the plants in before the air quality turned really bad, so I set them up where I could water them and waiting for the rain to come clear us out.
I mentioned this elsewhere and was asked (for not the first time) why I grow a bunch of flowing plants on my deck when I’m allergic to all those pollens.
The amount of pollen produced by the number of flowers I can personally grow is negligible compared to the pollens put out by the thousands of trees and millions of flowering plants growing throughout and around the city. Since I’m going to have the hay fever regardless, I might as well have some pretty flowers to look at when I feel like it.
And I like seeing bumblebees going from flower to flower. I even get hummingbirds feeding on the flowers!
There is a challenge with the smaller spot colors in that we also get a lot of squirrel activity on the veranda. This was true even before I added a squirrel feeder to the mix. They like to bury things in the flower pots and later try to dig them back up.
The bird population coming to the feeder has finally gotten back to what it was two summers ago before a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk starting hanging around our deck and eating the little birds. The hawk only lingered in our neighborhood for a month, but it ate a lot of bird during that time! The small bird population has taken a while to bounce back. We have so many juncos, sparrows, chickadees, and finches coming to the feeder that I have to refill it every day.
That may change, because Tuesday afternoon I looked out in time to see another juvenile Cooper’s Hawk was perching on one of the drain pipes from the roof. Before I could take a picture one of the local crows divebombed it and it flew off. It was distinctly smaller than the one from two years ago, so it is probably a male.
I don’t know if it’s going to start hunting in the neighborhood and we’re going to have another mass die off of the little birds. The crow might have sent it packing. On the other hand, it may be a bit stubborn.
I guess I’ll have to wait and see.
I was working on something else, and not certain I wanted to say anything more about the grifter-in-chief’s taxes, but then I saw this excellent post elseweb:
1. The way he’s been able to continue functioning is a classic rich fuck tactic, in which if your business fails to the tune of, say, 15 million dollars, you can carry that loss forward across several years to avoid paying taxes. One massive loss can clear out your personal tax burden for several years, even as you bring in more money with new businesses and investments.
2. Trump is literally a national security risk. If he underwent the same background check other people need to pass to get clearance, he would have fucking flunked it. The NYT piece says there’s a mysterious foreign debt lender on Trump’s records, whom he owes half a billion dollars, and we don’t currently know who the fuck that is. But that debt is personally guaranteed to come due in the next few years, and he doesn’t have the money to even dent it. So, what does a man with no morals do when he owes a shitton of money and has no way to pay? Apparently he runs for president.
3. According to Dan Alexander at Forbes, the actual amount that Trump owes is spread across a lot of his properties and comes to around $1.1 billion overall. Same dude is trying to tally up how much income Trump’s properties bring in. So far, it doesn’t add up to that much.
4. Trump’s businesses are almost exclusively real estate, hospitality, and attractions. All of them were hit hard by COVID. This readily explains why he was so adamant about reopening the country as quickly as possible; his loan repayments depend on that income.
5. Also explains why he spends so much time away from the WH and at his own properties. When we talk about how much the taxpayer spends on Trump’s outings and golf trips, if that money is paid to the Trump Organization, it’s essentially an attempt to funnel money out of the US Govt and into his pockets to, again, prepare to pay off his massive debts.
6. He’s essentially using the IRS as a loan provider. That massive 72.9 million dollar tax return from the IRS that he’s being audited over, it’s essentially him taking out a ‘loan’ to try to pay down other prior debts.
7. Oh yeah and he stealthily wrote off a bunch of money in “consulting fees” that were paid to fucking Ivanka. Imagine using your own daughter to dodge taxes, jesus.
Basically, Trump has done the billionaire version of taking out a credit card to pay off other credit card debt, and the time is running out for him to make payments. His entire presidency is a money-making scheme of someone who is coming up on major deadlines on his loans and doesn’t have the money to pay.
There’s a lot of reading to do, but I personally suggest this thread from the Forbes guy, which outlines how much Trump is in debt for each of his properties, and then how much operating profit is allegedly coming in.
— originally posted by callmearcturus
If you want to read the referenced thread from Forbes contributor Dan Alexander, click here.
The reason I hadn’t planned to say anything more about this topic is similar to the reasons why I’m not watching the debate.
- None of Trump’s supporters are going to be swayed by this revelation. I’ve already seen some of them crowing about how this proves how awesome Trump is, because only suckers pay taxes, or taxes are evil, et cetera.
- Trump’s 40% is locked in. Members of his base would support him even if Don Jr kicked down the door to their home and held them at gunpoint while Trump strangled their child to death right in front of him. They are a lost cause.
- No matter what happens in the debate, Trump, the GOP, and the right-leaning media are going to lie about what happened and will declare Biden the loser.
- No matter what happens in the debate, most of the so-called liberal media will act as if it was a meaningful exchange of ideas, and will cite any gaff or mispeaking that Biden does as being the equivalent of the blatant lying that Trump will do.
- There is nothing I could learn at the debate that will change my mind about who I’m voting for.
- The only people who care about facts have already decided not to vote for Trump. So, what’s the point?
I realize that there are people who do care about the facts who might not understand what we’ve learned from seeing the grifter’s tax returns, so there is some value in sharing this.
While the debate is on and being analyzed, I’m going to watch the season finale of Julie and the Phantoms and then settle in with my the new Dresden Files book.
So, the one the biggie: Tax bombshell reveals Trump’s image is a sham. This really isn’t a bombshell. It’s something most of us have believed for at least the last four years. A man who is worth multiple-billions of dollars doesn’t need a constant flow of endorsement deals (many of those weird businesses that come and then fail, such as Trump Steaks, aren’t actually owned by him; rather, the company pays him to use his name and get him to endorse it for a time), nor does he need to charge hundreds of millions of dollars to the taxpayer to keep a few of his golf courses and hotels afloat.
And most importantly, an actual billionaire running for political wouldn’t fight tooth and nail for more than four years to conceal his tax returns from the public.
There are some details worth noting, the the least of which is that our tax code needs a major overhaul some people who have hundreds of millions of dollars of cash-flow every year are paying less in federal taxes than a minimum wage worker does. So, start here for some of that info: The Ordinary Taxpayer’s Guide To The Extraordinary Story Of Trump’s Tax Returns.
Fox & Friends Sorry For Spreading Fake COVID Story. It’s a little late for that…
Omaha Man Who Killed BLM Protester Commits Suicide. Suddenly facing consequences for being a murderous bastard, and he takes the coward’s way out.
Kentucky GOP State Rep. Robert Goforth Arrested On Charges Of Domestic Violence – Former Republican candidate for Governor was arrested for extremely disturbing domestic violence charges. Surprise, surprise, surprise!