Michelangelo Signorile has made a career outing people. He seems to relish the aftermath of his work. I’m not a fan.
We live in a society where the liberal media will append sexuality to a celebrity’s name for the rest of their lives. The conservative media does it too, but with them one can see the sneer of judgment in the work. It happens when you read about Ellen, T. R., and now Jodie. It doesn’t happen when you read about Joy, S. Epatha or Meryl. Nowhere in media do you find, “Meryl Streep, heterosexual actress, talks about her new movie…” but every mention of Ellen includes her sexuality, and now her current and former partners.
Anne Heche is in her own special category. She merits a whole paragraph of sexuality baggage.
So when the community calls for one of its own to come out, as Anderson Cooper has, can you blame him for not? I can’t. To do so would changes everything about his work. Every media report about him will have ‘openly gay journalist’ attached to his name like your dentist has DDS attached to his or hers. But unlike the info after your dentist’s name, the modifier ‘gay’ has nothing to do with Cooper’s journalism. Unless his work focused solely on LGBT issues and he made himself and his life part of his reportage, his sexuality has no business being appended to his name unless it’s appended to every journalist’s name. Can you imagine Walter Cronkite, octogenarian heterosexual, putting up with being introduced that way? Hell no!
The argument is like the plot of one of my favorite movies, The Contender. A woman up for confirmation as Vice President is being asked about her sexual past. If you wouldn’t ask a man about his, it isn’t right to ask a woman about hers. It isn’t right and it isn’t relevant. Not in the movie, not for us.
The flip side to this is that our community needs LGBT celebrities to be visible in ways that show us in a positive light. For the narrow- and non-existent-minded, we are all perverts out to molest their children. That needs to be countered with visible evidence that we are just people, like everyone else. My partner and I have a mortgage, pets, disagreements and weeds. That sounds like every other heterosexual household in my neighborhood and the neighborhoods where I grew up.
This is the dilemma of GLAAD. The media watchdog does an amazing job and here’s their self-description:
“In step with today's always-changing media landscape, GLAAD continues to provide journalists and media professionals with timely, inclusive and authoritative resources, expanding the representation of our community one story at a time through an effective, forceful mix of advocacy, education and visibility.”
A negative side effect of this work is the media always listing our sexualities after our names but just ours and not always favorably.
That’s visibility but not equality.
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GLAAD offers free, downloadable information to help you in your community. To join GLAAD or to obtain the downloads, please visit their website www.glaad.org .
- Current Mood: contemplative
Way back in January 1988, DesigningWomen aired an episode entitled There’s Some Black People Coming To Dinner. In it, Mary Jo’s daughter, Claudia, is asked out to the prom by a black student, Kyle Jarvis. Mary Jo stumbles through her approval for the date but Kyle’s father forbids it.
Upon hearing this, Mary Jo arranges a meeting with Matthew Jarvis to discuss the date. Over coffee, Matthew explains that “I try to teach my children to love all people but I don’t teach them that all people are going to love them.”
After much back and forth, Matthew agrees to let Kyle take Claudia to the Junior High Prom. Then he asks Mary Jo out on a date. Mary Jo declines because she’s seeing someone. Matthew admits to seeing someone also but this is just a friendly, casual sort of date. That’s when Mary Jo’s mouth gets her into trouble.
Matthew: I’m just glad I was finally able to discern your criteria. A Junior High dance with a black boy and white girl. That’s fine. Kids stuff. Just when adults are involved and the stakes are higher, that’s when it’s not all right, is it? Is that pretty much it?
Mary Jo, getting angry: Do you use this routine about being black every time you get turned down?
Matthew: As a matter of fact, I do. I find it saves me from a lot of embarrassment.
Mary Jo: I think that you’re the most infuriating man that I have ever met. I want you to know, I was going to vote for Jesse Jackson.
Matthew: That’s politics, Mrs. Shively. We’re talking about people. And incidentally, I’d take a guy in a sheet any day over you; I know where he stands. You’re the one who’s camouflaged. You’re exactly the person I worry about my children running into.
Coulter, O’Reilly and all the other homophobic publicity whores are the guys in sheets. They’re visible and we all know what to expect from them. Yes, they’re infuriating, but they serve to draw other homophobes to them. That helps us identify those not immediately visible to us, those not wearing sheets. Like advertisers. What companies are putting their advertising dollars behind the shows that feature these people.
And this thought extends to religious sects and individual churches. I think more people are now drawn to particular churches for who is hated openly by the church than for any other unifying reason.
I don’t believe for one minute that these preachers who make loud nuisances of themselves at every gay event are really there to save souls. They either want the media attention on their presence or they want the appearance of being true to the Bible. It brings up a quote I heard in a movie or tv program that I can’t recall. Odd, given its profound effect on me for years to come, even to this day. One character posed this question to another character: Are you doing all this for God’s glory, or for your own? I can’t look at any religious leader without asking that question.
All too often the answer is ‘your own’. A Latin phrase looks at the same issue without all the religiosity. It turns up a lot in books, tv and movies. Cui bono? Who benefits. In murder mysteries, the question is which suspect benefits from the victim’s death. In street, radio or television evangelism, it’s who is benefitting from all your preaching? All who hear you or you (and your wallet)? The rise and spectacular crash of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker is a clear example of whose glory they were after. Then there’s the very visible and very outspokenly homophobic Ted Haggard.
Ted is the guy who founded a Christian church in his house that grew to a 14,000-person congregation. The same Ted Haggard who was the head of the 30-million member National Association of Evangelicals. Thirty million people united in Christ by homophobia. But this is also the same Ted Haggard who had a gay relationship with a former male prostitute for three years. Oh, yeah. Ted got drugs from this guy, too.
“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”
This was written by William Shakespeare way back in the early 1600’s. You know what it means. Whether preaching on the street during Pride or leading 30 million people in hatred or gay-blocking political commentaries, it means that they are guilty of what they protest against. So what do they benefit from all this ranting and rallying against homosexuals? Money? No. It’s camouflage. It’s religious slight-of-hand. It’s the Wizard of Oz as the man behind the curtain. If they’re leading the word against homosexuals, they can’t be one.
But there’s a term for this: self-loathing homophobia. And that’s what all these people are. And I mean all. Sometimes their lives have a long-term absence of opposite sex companions (Coulter) or they have a really bad track record with the opposite sex (O’Reilly). In a lot of cases, they have cloaked their secret selves in the appearance of heterosexual legitimacy but have same-sex liaisons (Haggard.)
One thing is absolutely clear to me: These people aren’t enemies of our people. They’re just a subset of us. An annoying, loud, hatemongering subset, but us all the same. While they remain out of self-control and way out of balance, they’re socio-politico-spiritual dynamite but the real long-term damage is only to themselves.
Until they get help, they can serve to illuminate those who are also in need of healing. Meanwhile, we must counter them as publicly as we can. We can’t let silence or absence to mean assent or consent. This means calls and emails to advertisers, product boycotts and counter-protesting. These hatemongerers stone us at every turn and it is up to us to leave no turn unstoned where they are concerned.
And when you encounter someone loudly denouncing homosexuality, ask yourself, “Cui bono?”
- Current Mood: indescribable
I’m also not disappointed that it rained throughout the whole parade on Sunday. I saw a bunch of people who spent a lot of time on make-up and costumes marching or floating right along, rain be damned. And I stood there in the rain for the whole parade. If they could take it, so could I. Besides, I’m as bald as a billiard ball so I didn’t have a ‘do to worry about and I gave my umbrella to the woman standing next to me.
I’m disappointed in this year’s Pride because I spent chunks of the last year marshaling all the ammunition I could find to stand toe-to-toe with all the religious protesters and talk them down! And I didn’t see the dozens that irk me annually..,yes, please note the ‘u’ in that word! I saw a mere handful of protesters and they were dessicated, ineffective wannabes compared to last year’s crop of hatemongers.
I wondered why there was a dearth of homophobic protesters. This was Pride weekend in Atlanta, same as – not the same as always. Our Pride celebration is held traditionally the last full weekend in June, to coincide with the High Holy Day of June 28th. Due to the drought, Pride was moved away from the Park. No venues capable of hosting Pride were available the last weekend in June, so we had to change the date to the following weekend. Fourth of July weekend.
I had a thought that maybe our souls weren’t worth saving in July. It’s as good a thought as any. But I think bullhorning bullshit in 90+ weather, surrounded by hostile homos can’t hold a candle to a pulled pork samich, tater salad and a cold beer. Our souls were forsaken for barbecue!
Last year, I cheerfully, and sometimes not so cheerfully, told every homophobic protester that they were nothing more than ignorant, self-loathing homophobes. I believed it but it was I who was ignorant for thinking they’d understand me. The vilifications flew high above their heads.
The previous year I simply, calmly and quietly told all who attempted to approach me that they were going to hell for the sin of hate. It surprised a few. One young guy tried to hand me a pamphlet I had accepted and read earlier that day from someone else. When I rejected his offer, I said politely that I had read it. He looked at me, incredulous. “You did?!”
“Yes, I always read things thoroughly before I denounce them as moronic hatemongering.” His eyebrow puckered with confusion.
I should write on the chalkboard 500 times: I must speak in monosyllables to homophobic religious protesters. And I really must. I want them to understand everything I say.
This year, for some reason, I was itching to have a battle of words with Billy Ball and his Sons of Thunder... excuse me, Sons of Thundr. No ‘e.’ Ball, of Faith Baptist Church in Primrose, GA, is a perennial nuisance on the corners of 10th & Piedmont. BTW, I asked Santa for a bullhorn last Christmas and I didn’t get one. To whom do I complain about that?
Last year, in falsely jovial voices, Ball and the Sons of Thundr used bullhorns to banter with each other, corner to corner. “Your fa-ther wasn’t a homo-SEX-ual and your mo-ther wasn’t a homo-SEX-ual, or YOU wouldn’t be here!” Well, lordy be, heterosexual math on street corners. Apparently they think gay sperm cannot fertilize an egg! Maybe he never heard of the Church of Scientology. It’s possible. Worse, Ball thinks Sons of Thundr is a good Christian name for his group.
Alternately, it irks and amuses me that so many people profess their Christianity loudly and don’t behave a thing like Jesus. It’s like saying you’re a devout Orthodox Jew while you’re chasing down a pork chop with a shrimp cocktail!
The Sons of Thunder to which Ball’s group refers are the apostles James and John, who, when they were not greeted with the same courtesies generally afforded travelers in a Samaritan village, called out to Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” No, Jesus did not. Even Orthodox Jews know Jesus preached peace and tolerance, they just don’t believe in him as their savior. I don’t believe in Billy Ball as my savior.
So Ball, in choosing that reference to name his street ministry, is embracing violence toward people who don’t believe in Ball’s work and that is counter to what Jesus preached. Nothing like Jesus, but calls himself a Christian. Real Christians ought to sue to keep him from misusing the faith!
My one verbal intercourse at this year’s Pride was with a young guy who told me I needed to be reborn to save my soul. That’s so tired. Unfortunately, it was no less tired than my response, “I got it right the first time!” Then he tried to tell me that I needed to read the bible and I didn’t give him a chance to finish. I told him I had a bible and I read it often. Bullies back down when confronted and Junior Thumper did, too. For all my reading and note-taking, that was my sole anti-protester outlet.
For every Gays Are An Abomination sign, I wanted to remind them that shaving was an abomination, too. So was eating shellfish! Let’s not even talk about eating meat from animals with cloven hooves! And children who disobey their parents? They’re to be put to death. Really. It’s all there in Leviticus.
I read scholarly and some not-so-scholarly articles on Leviticus. It was a set of laws and admonishments for Jews in Exile in Babylon. Wha-what? It’s true. Culturally, Babylonians had very different behaviors and tolerances than Jews did. The Jews weren’t judging them. Leviticus was a list of do’s and don’ts to keep Jews true to their faith while in a non-Jewish land of temptations.
There is one admonishment against same-sex sex and over a dozen about heterosexual incest. That’s a telling thing about ancient Babylonians. Since I’m not a Jew, and not in exile, Levitical statutes, laws and admonishments don’t apply to me. And those who try to condemn us are using one Levitical admonishment to do it and ignoring all the others. Someone has the coolest icon on their LiveJournal blog. It’s an animated .gif that goes through all the things I listed here and ends with “Use one, use them all. K?” I was soooo ready to use them all.
I’ll be able to use them next year. I have the fantasy that I and three others, toting bullhorns, will be talking back to Billy Ball and his gang on the corners of Piedmont and 10th, with arguments from the Bible.
Anyone want to join me?
(BTW, if you go to www.sonsofthundr.com and scroll through main page, look at the pictures of Billy Ball, tell me it doesn't look like he's sporting a gay goattee in half those pics!)
- Current Mood: cheerful
State bird: Scissortail flycatcher
State tree: Eastern Redbud
State mammal: American Bison
State beverage: Milk
State game bird: Wild Turkey
State asshole: State Rep. Sally Kern
State fish: Sandbass
State floral emblem: Mistletoe
State flower: Oklahoma Rose
State wildflower: Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchellum)
State grass: Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans)
State fossil: Saurophaganax maximus (An Allosaurid Dinosaur)
State rock: Rose rock
State insect: Honeybee
State soil: Port Silt Loam
State reptile: Collared Lizard
State amphibian: Bullfrog
State meal: fried okra, squash, cornbread, barbecue pork, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries, chicken fried
steak, pecan pie, and black-eyed peas.
State folk dance: Square Dance
State percussive instrument: drum
State waltz: Oklahoma Wind
State butterfly: Black Swallowtail
State song: "Oklahoma!"
Chinese actress Ling Bai was arrested last week at LAX for shoplifting celebrity magazines and a package of AAA batteries. All I have to say is this...
"Another Chinese import fucking over America!"
People like this take the LGBT community back several steps on hard-fought social progress. Rep. Allen and Rev. Ted Haggard* are so far back in the closet their licenses are issued in Narnia. Not only did they choose to live their lives as complete lies, they then chose professional paths that put religious and legal issues that denigrate the LGBT community to the forefront of their jobs.
I often joke, and it is just a joke, that I have a Pinata List...people you just want to whack with a big stick. My dear old friend and "twin sister" Lindsay thinks things like my list are bad karma. I'll take the debt. My list makes me smile and sometimes laugh. It helps me vent my frustration...until another hypocritical homo-in-hiding gets caught with his pants down around his ankles in the Atlanta airport bathroom. But enough about Ed Wall...
While I don't expect politicians or ministers to be without faults (or sin, as the case may be) I do expect them to own up to their mistakes and to fix the problems. I really don't like it when they start channeling Roy Cohn and begin cannibalizing their own kind through religious or political platforms. Four hundred years ago, Shakespeare identified the behavior with "The Lady doth protest too much, methinks." That's how I view all these homophobic religious and political barking dogs, they're just barking to cover for their own sexual identity issues.
At this year's Pride celebration in Atlanta, every time I passed a religious protester, I said to them, rather casually, "You're a self-loathing homophobe." Most of them seemed not to understand me. That's ok. I understand them. I don't like them and I wish they'd go away, but I understand them.
* - This is the same Ted Haggard who founded a Christian church in his house that grew to a 14,000-person congregation. The same Ted Haggard who was the head of the 30 million member National Association of Evangelicals. The very visible and very outspokenly homophobic Ted Haggard. The Ted Haggard who had a same-sex relationship with a former male prostitute for three years.