Monday, May 31, 2004

A Queer By Any Other Name

I think this is the very least I like the judge's reasoning. So take that Tom Cruise...

Judge: Homosexual Isn't Libelous Term


Associated Press

BOSTON - Stating that someone is homosexual does not libel or slander them, particularly in light of new court decisions granting gays more rights, a federal judge has ruled.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner came as she threw out a lawsuit by a former boyfriend of pop singer Madonna who claimed he was libeled because his name appeared in a photo caption in a book about Madonna - under a picture of Madonna walking with a gay man.

"In fact, a finding that such a statement is defamatory requires this court to legitimize the prejudice and bigotry that for too long have plagued the homosexual community," she wrote in her opinion Friday.

The attorney for plaintiff James Albright, who had worked for Madonna as a bodyguard, didn't immediately return telephone and e-mail messages seeking comment Saturday. Attorneys for the defendants, who included Madonna biographer Andrew Morton and St. Martin's Press, the publisher, also didn't respond to messages.

Gertner said other courts' rulings that stating someone is homosexual is defamatory had relied on laws criminalizing same-sex sexual acts that might well be unconstitutional. Previous decisions hadn't taken into account more recent decisions recognizing gays' equal rights, she said.

She pointed to a Supreme Court ruling last year that found a Texas sodomy law unconstitutional, and to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling last year that it would be unconstitutional to prevent gays in the state from marrying.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Enya Face

Currently I'm listening to Enya's Orinoco Flow, which is really a fine, soothing piece of music. Unfortunately it has been forever tainted by an incident where I was kidnapped by the drunk ex-girlfriend of my roommate. Too drunk to drive herself, one of her roommates drove her to our apartment where she, on the edge of an emotional breakdown, asked me come over and visit. She then locked me in her room, lit candles, and played an Enya CD that repeated in an endless loop. She asked me to lay next to her (fully clothed) while she drifted off to sleep. No way I could possibly sleep and was horrified at the possibility of her trying to make a move on me (this is not vanity speaking; she had, at a previous incident, acted incredulous when I refused to invite her inside my apartment after having dinner with her). Luckily, she drifted off in a drunken stupor and I departed post haste.

See, now that's why I'm gay!

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Men for All Seasons

If you haven't ever followed the Adam & Andy link here on my blog, do so today.

A&A is just the cutest little strip (not cute in that make me want to sacrifice Bil Kean's children to the devil kind of way) about a mid-thirties gay couple.

Now, James Asal the creator of A&A has posted the original run of strips on his website along with DVD-style commentary. And everyone I know knows that I just LOVE DVD-commentary.

Check it out here and then go read the modern stuff.

Way Down South

You must understand that growing up in the South means you look at the Confederate flag on a regular basis. Maybe not every day or even every week, but the Confederate flag, or at least the representation of its bars and stars, is pervasive. In the South, someone somewhere near you believes that the Confederate flag is a symbol of pride and heritage, and many, although certainly not all, of these people truly do not understand how anyone could see it as an image of exclusion, hatred, or oppression.

Thus, you must also understand that, to a certain extent, this pervasive exposure dulls the senses to the inherent symbolism of the flag somewhat. Although I firmly believe that if a large majority of the black population sees the flag as offensive, then we have a moral obligation to remove it from our governmental buildings or anywhere else it is associated with a formal representation of the American people, the sight of the Confederate flag does not inspire in me much of any kind of feeling.

So, I was taken by surprise somewhat as I was driving home tonight by an abundant display of Confederate flags that drew not just my attention, but some deeper reflection. On my way home I pass a major NASCAR speed track and this week is one of the larger races, the Coca Cola 500, I believe. NASCAR, despite its mainstreaming, for some reason manages to draw out copious numbers of Confederate flags, whether they be flown over an RV trailer or worn as a dew rag on the head. For reasons that seem both obvious and confusing to me, NASCAR, despite popular acceptance (at least by white middle-class America), has held on firmly to its anti-establishment, redneck roots and character.

I sighed heavily; initially because of the impending wave of traffic that would impair my way home from work in the approaching days, but quickly my exasperation with the traffic- jam-to-be turned into an annoyance with seeing so many Confederate flags on display. Why must these people insist on putting the flag in peoples' faces, especially after so much debate in recent years over its symbolism and meaning.

And then it struck me: this is exactly the question we face as gay people every day. "Why do those queers have to flaunt their sexuality? Why do gays have to talk about being gay so often?" Many straight people, and even some gay people, do not understand why anyone would choose to fly a rainbow flag in front of a house or put a rainbow decal on the back of a car. I myself have been conservative in this area, but understand and respect those who choose to do so. After some consideration, I recently decided to put an HRC sticker on my car to show solidarity and support for gay rights issues in these turbulent political times.

Gay people can easily hide their sexual orientation. It's not like race or ethnicity which is typically very obvious (although skin color is much less telling than it used to and certainly an accent or dialect is no clear indicator either). Nobody ever has to know that a gay person is gay. So why do we choose to "flaunt" it? Why wear that t-shirt that says "I'm not gay, but my boyfriend is"?

The answer is simple; we do it for the same reason some Southerners or NASCAR fans fly a Confederate flag. We do it for the same reason that you put a "My kid is an honor student" bumper sticker on your mini-van or that high school kid wears a shirt featuring his favorite band. We do it for reasons not unlike the one someone puts a "Vietnam Veteran" license plate on their car. We're proud of who we are and you need to know it.

All human beings fight a constant paradox; we desire both to be unique individuals and to belong. As such, we choose to identify ourselves with labels and indicators of our characteristics, personalities, and/or preferences that people might not otherwise know about us. We identify ourselves in order to serve our warring needs. Gay people also do it because you need to realize that we're sitting right next to you. We do it because you need to know we are your son, daughter, neighbor, brother, sister, mother, father, co-worker, boss, cashier, teacher, church pew sharer. We do it because we're here, we're queer, and, by God, you're not used to it by now?

If you don't want us putting our gayness in your face, then don't put your Confederate flag, Mary Kay lapel pin, favorite sports team banner, Shriner order, or kid's perfect attendance in ours. Don't want us to talk about being gay? Stop talking about being heterosexual then; you know, how great your girl/boyfriend, husband/wife is, how little Johnny/Suzie did the cutest thing one year after he/she popped out from between yoru legs, or what a beautiful wedding your best friend just had despite the trouble with the caterer.

The thing is that we aren't asking you to stop talking about these things. And despite my internal monologue, I wouldn't suggest we ban individuals from displaying a Confederate flag. All we are asking is to be included in on the conversation; to be allowed to share every part of ourselves that we choose to share just as you do. All we're really doing is, like the people who display a Confederate flag, letting you know what we like way down south.

Monday, May 24, 2004

A Gay Old Time in Seattle

I just returned from Seattle, where I was attending an educational conference. During my stay I was able to explore a little of the downtown area. Last year I was in nearby Olympia, Washington and had very little time to see downtown Seattle, but I fell in love with it anyway. The people were friendly and relaxed and the weather happened to be beautiful and warm. (This year the weather ranged from chilly to warm, with sunshine and rain sharing time.) Although Seattle suffers somewhat from having the same chain-stores that every other major city has (Gap, Macys, etc.), you can easily escape the corporate businesses for a slice of Seattle life and local ownership. Starbucks are much more prolific than churches in the South; you can find one every few feet, even in the community neighborhoods, but they don't overwhelm it.

One of my favorite aspects of Seattle is that the gay population is evident. Actually, a totally remarkable aspect of Seattle is, as a colleague put it, the crazy homeless black man walks right beside the professional upper-class white woman and she doesn't clutch her purse. Seattle is home to a true diversity of people and everybody seems quite ok with the arrangement. The only required fashion statement seems to be a backpack.

But, as I said, the gay community is out and evident in every part of the city. Having lived in or near Atlanta for several years, I'm used to seeing gays heavily populating a city. Charlotte, NC, where I live now, has a small but proud gay population that isn't very evident. Gay sightings here tend to be limited to Targets, Garden Ridge, and grocery stores (surprise, surprise). Even then, you need to be fmaily or have well developed 'dar to usually recognize these queers. In Seattle, it's much different than even Atlanta. I saw more gay couples holding hands walking down the street, and not just in the "gay section" of downtown, than I did straight people. And nobody gave them funny stares; no heads turned, no whispering lips.

I obtained a map of "gay Seattle" from a Seattle gay bookstore, Beyond The Closet, a nice little bookstore with some great deals. So, using the map, I set off in search of said bookstore, as well as another bookstore on the map. Mostly, I just wanted to see the gaytto .

My search took me up a steep hill on Pike street (a fairly fitting name for a street leading into the gay area of town) which brought me first to the Seattle Eagle, a leather bar. I probably would have passed on by it without even noticing it has it not been for a large crowd gathered outside, and a police contingent. Not wanting to pass through what I thought was a fight, I started to cross over the street until I saw another crowd. The crowd that stopped my crossing held signs that said "God hates fags" and "Thank God for 9/11" (I'm not sure what that had to do with God hating fags; I guess we died too in the Towers.) Looked like the Fred Phelps gang was in town. I chose to stay on my side of the street and passed through, what I then realized were, the Eagle patrons angrily shouting back. Nobody was accomplishing anything, but it made for an interesting welcome committee.

I found Beyond the Closet and made a few purchases. I continued on into a lesbian sex toy shop (Toys in Babeland). I didn't stay long; I didn't want to be evicted by a lesbian, but who could resist a window display of dozens of dildos waving at you? I peeked in some other local vendors and made my way to a couple other bookstores. The sun came out and the day seemed about perfect as I walked amid locals eating or drinking outside by alternative shops and cafes that nobody else has ever heard of (no Starbucks here although still plenty of coffee shops).

My gay adventure didn't quite end there. On the plane trip home, a woman in her late 50's/early 60's easily sat beside me, her husband on the other side. She sat without speaking a word. I was reading Fast Food Nation and wearing an Evergreen College t-shirt (which has a rather phallic looking clam on it, their mascot the Geoduck) so I don't know if my apparent liberalism discouraged her from speaking. Her husband sat on her other side. She wore numerous gold braclets on each arm and large gold earrings. She smelled faintly of that heavy sweet parfume smell older women smell like no matter what time of day it is.

She pulled out a workbook, "When Godly People do Ungodly Things: Arming Yourself in the Age of Seduction." A little checking on Amazon reveals this to be a book; this woman was clearly working on the companion reader's supplement. "Week One"'s course of the study included "Background on Satan" and Day Three:"Sexual Orientation Bondage."

Oh boy. The truly perverse side of me wanted to lean over and demand to see Chapter Three. The question, "Oh, are you into bondage too? Guys in chaps are hot, huh?" wanted to slip past my lips. I demured instead, hoping that if she happened to strike up a conversation that I would find myself with an opportunity to articulate a reasonable and sensitive perspective this woman was undoubtably unfamiliar with. She never said a word the whole time. In silent (or not so silent, I can't tell how loud my earbuds are to others) protest, I listened to the cast recording of Naked Boys singing on my ipod.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Your Honor, I Present Exhibit A in the Case for the Gay Agenda


Bandanna-wearing lesbians stormed the national convention of the Concerned Christian Coalition April 17 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Seven women and one man burst into the conclave at the Coast Plaza Hotel, screaming, "Right-wing bigots go away, Gay Militia is here to stay."

According to the Calgary Sun, convention attendees held hands and prayed as the protesters unfurled a banner reading, "Liberation: Queer Invasion."

Police are reviewing tapes of the intrusion and may charge militia members with mischief or with disturbing a peaceful assembly, said Calgary police Constable Doug Jones.

******************** (news from Rex Wockner (where else do I get this stuff?))******************

People, please, do we really have to give people a reason to fear and hate us? Are people just not paranoid enough for you? What gives? Despite this completely irresponsible and banal act, I can't help but find a touch of humor that it was a group comprised solely of lesbians. Which isn't all that surprising because fatigues just are much too drab, dearie, for any self-respecting gay man to be seen in them.

Now if they'd just worn black, then it'd be kind of a Hefner thing. It says "I can fight all day in the jungle and in the evening, come in, put on some pearls and I'm ready for dinner." (with apologies to Robin Williams).

While the Rest of the World Moves Forward...

I'm suddenly having flashbacks to Kermit the Frog as the Sesame Street newsreporter, so "Hi Ho Everybody"..

Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero promised to legalize same-sex marriage during an April 15 speech to Parliament.

The mayor of Bègles, France, plans to perform a same-sex marriage in June. Bègles is a suburb of Bordeaux.

There's nothing in French law to prohibit the marriage, Noël Mamère says, and gays should have full equal rights.

The commission reviewing Portugal's Constitution approved adding a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation April 23.

"Portugal is now one of the few countries in the world that include nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the fundamental law of the nation," said João Paulo, editor of the Web site PortugalGay.PT.

Other nations that ban antigay discrimination constitutionally include Canada, Ecuador, South Africa, Switzerland and, possibly, Fiji

(news from Rex Wockner)

The Virginia legislature recently passed House Bill 751, which states:

"A BILL to amend the Code of Virginia by adding a section numbered 20-45.3, relating to the Affirmation of Marriage Act for the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. § 20-45.3. Civil unions between persons of same sex.

A civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage is prohibited. Any such civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement entered into by persons of the same sex in another state or jurisdiction shall be void in all respects in Virginia and any contractual rights created thereby shall be void and unenforceable."

You can read the law for yourself here.

What's so shocking about this bill is that it goes so far as to nullify any kind of legal arrangement including medical power of attorney or wills, even health insurance from domestic partner benefits at your workplace. Not merely satisfied to prohibit us from entering into marriage or trying to compromise with a civil union, Virginia leaps back in time (well perhaps Virginia didn't have to do so much leaping in the first place; go visit Gay American's blog on his encounter with Virginia's PR department) to strip any kind of legal benefit we might have.

What the hell is wrong with people? Why am I so frightening because I want to have a few basic protections for my partner and me. Why does my existance as a law-abiding, productive citizen (and hell I'm a Protestant white male even) provoke such hatred, evil, and maliciousness? Other have said it and I've repeated it here, but marriage is the most conservative demand/request in the world. The other major world powers see us as people worthy of dignity, rights, and respect, why do so many of my fellow Americans fail to rise to this level? We're a nation founded on bestowing proper rights, liberties, and responsibilities on people; we've struggled with it for centuries to grant it to all citizens. Why haven't we learned our lesson?

Transsexuals Cleared for Olympics

Back in November, it was reported that the IOC was going to allow transsexuals to compete in the Olympics and now it seems to have become reality. What a wonderful historic moment, seems we're having lots of those lately.

The following is from and called to my attention by my friend and OBSW, Countess, since she knows I don't pay any attention to sports news.

Athletes who have had sex change now eligible

Associated Press
LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Transsexuals were cleared Monday to compete in the Olympics for the first time. Under a proposal approved by the IOC executive board, athletes who have undergone sex-change surgery will be eligible for the Olympics if their new gender has been legally recognized and they have gone through a minimum two-year period of postoperative hormone therapy. The decision, which covers both male-to-female and female-to-male cases, goes into effect starting with the Athens Olympics in August. The IOC had put off a decision in February, saying more time was needed to consider all the medical issues. Some members had been concerned whether male-to-female transsexuals would have physical advantages competing against women. Men have higher levels of testosterone and greater muscle-to-fat ratio and heart and lung capacity. However, doctors say, testosterone levels and muscle mass drop after hormone therapy and sex-change surgery. IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said the situation of transsexuals competing in high-level sports was "rare but becoming more common." IOC medical director Patrick Schamasch said no specific sports had been singled out by the ruling. "Any sport may be
touched by this problem," he said. "Until now, we didn't have any rules or regulations. We needed to establish some sort of policy." Until 1999, the IOC conducted gender verification tests at the Olympics but the screenings were dropped before the 2000 Sydney Games. One of the best known cases of transsexuals in sports involves Renee Richards, formerly Richard Raskind, who played on the women's tennis tour in the 1970s. In March, Australia's Mianne Bagger became the first transsexual to play in a pro golf tournament.

Michelle Dumaresq, formerly Michael, has competed in mountain bike racing for Canada. Richards, now a New York opthamologist, was surprised by the IOC decision and was against it. She said decisions on transsexuals should be made on an individual basis. "Basically, I think they're making a wrong judgment here, although I would have loved to have that judgment made in my case in 1976," she said. "They're probably looking for trouble down the line. There may be a true transsexual -- not someone who's nuts and wants to make money -- who will be a very good champion player, and it will be a
young person, let's say a Jimmy Connors or a Tiger Woods, and then they'll have an unequal playing field. "In some sports, the physical superiority of men over women is very significant."

Monday, May 17, 2004

You Haven't Got a Prayer

I fully believe in praying for our nation's leaders. They can use all the help they can get. We can only benefit as citizens by God doing some intervention with the current administration. In this noble pursuit, an organizaiton has been formed, The Presidential Prayer Team. So, on the face of things, the PPT seems like a very noble and wise idea. Instead, unfortunately, while it does have an Adopt-a-Troop program (and hey, you can get your very own PPT dogtag for a minimal donation), it serves as a facade for the Relgious Right.

Rather than just putting forth issues that the President and his administration could use guidance on, and asking God to lead them to the right conclusion, the PPT presupposes what the answer should be. They ask God, much like lawyers ask a judge, to bring our leaders to the proper predetermined outcome.

The PPT has requested that we: "Pray for the President as he seeks wisdom on how to legally codify the definition of marriage. Pray that it will be according to Biblical principles. With any forces insisting on variant definitions of marriage, pray that God's Word and His standards will be honored by our government."

Futhermore, the PPT has The Presidential Prayer Team has since October 2003 urged members to "pray for the President as he seeks wisdom on how to legally codify the definition of marriage. Pray that it will be according to Biblical principles."

Also, on March 25, 2004, they asked members to "pray for the ongoing effort to strengthen our nation by creating and passing a constitutional amendment codifying marriage as being only between a man and a woman. Pray that godly values will be honored."

They even put up a picture in the October edition of a cute young white couple to remind us what American marriage is all about. Nonetheless, as my partner, Peter, pointed out, "any good religious person believes prayer should be balanced by action."

Therefore, I present to you the new PPT (Peter's Prayer Team) and its revised goals in
support of a proposed Constitutional Amendment codifying marriage entirely on Biblical principles:

A. Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5.)

B. Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines in addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21)

C. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21)

D. Marriage between a believer and a nonbeliever shall be forbidden. (Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30)

E. Since marriage is for life, neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor any state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9)

F. If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he refuses to marry his brother's widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe and be otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law. (Gen. 38:6-10; Deut25:5-10)

G. Divorced people may not remarry without being considered adulterers. (Math. 5:31-32) (Mark 10:4) Adulterers shall be stoned to death. (Lev. 20:10)

Who Invited Him?

Many of the couples in my life who got married had to decide on a critical factor of the wedding: must they invite that one strange or obnoxious relative that they really don't want there, but feel obligated to invite because he/she is family? In at least two of the weddings I can recall, the unwelcome, but still invited guest was an alcoholic who could have disrupted the solemn proceedings and/or caused a scene at some point in the ceremony or celebration following. Fortunately, none of these fears came to pass.

So why must Uncle George make a scene at one of the happiest day for gay Americans and certainly the most monumental one since Stonewall, if not ever?

According to journalist Rex Wockner, our esteemed (and frankly uninvited) President took time out to wish the newly married couples well:

"The sacred institution of marriage should not be redefined by a few
activist judges... I called on the Congress to amendment to our Constitution defining and protectingmarriage as a union of a man and a woman as husband and wife. The need for that amendment is still urgent, and I repeat that call today."

Wockner reports that Uncle G.D. made this comment while travelling to commemorate "the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that ended racial segregation in schools." Wockner rightly points to the irony of the situation, or, as Dubya would say, it's ironical.

Not to be outdone by noisy Uncle George, not-so-much Friend of the Family James Dobson proclaimed this day as the moment when "we will look back 20, 30, 50 years from now and recall this day as the day..[when]the documents being issued.. [that] may say 'marriage license' at the top...are really death certificates for the institution [of marriage]."

And again I get to ask how allowing people such as Paul McMahon, 71, and Ralph Hogdon, 69, life partners for 49 years, sounds the death kneel for a sacred institution. Are these people concerned that we might have longer lasting marriages? If queers start lowering the divorce rate, then I guess we really have flouted the institution of marriage. We will have wrecked the institution of 50% divorce rate. If our marriages start lasting, on average, longer than hetereosexual marriages, I guess we will have made a mockery out of their lack of commitment.

In the end, however, the point of all of this is to wish the couples getting married today the best of luck and love. I hope this is the start of something even more wonderful for them and the rest of us. As for Uncle Dubya and neighbor Dobson, who put their names on the guest list? Never mind, hand me that bouquet, I know a perfect receptacle for it.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

If this is all we have left to complain about...

First, I'd like to say my term has been co-opted by the more famous; designer Isaac Mizrahi has obviously been sneaking a peek at my blog and found the term "gay face." If he'd only have given me credit, I wouldn't mind so much. Nonetheless, he makes an interesting point that minorities may have to have this transitionary period before acceptance, as he applies the term to the non-sexual, non-threatening, fairy godfathers of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."

Additionally, he also made the observation that "it is crazy to think that just because you are gay you have a great sense of style." Meanwhile, National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman complained that "People [who watch TV] believe we are all single, rich white males ...and are all good at interior decorating. We need a more realistic portrayal of our lives." Really people, if this is how we're viewed nowadays, is it that bad? They could view us as insidious whore mongerers out to destroy Christianity, heterosexuality, western civilization, the sanctity of marriage, and boring wedding parties. Oh wait...

You say to-may-to, I say to-mah-to

Rex Wockner reports that during an interview with MTV, Presidential candidate John Kerry said:

"My feeling is that what is important is equal protection under the law. An equal-protection clause, I think, pertains to the rights you give to people, not to the name you give to something, so I'm for civil unions. That gives people the rights: the rights of partnership, the rights of inheritance of property, the rights of taxation and so forth. But I think there is a distinction between what we have traditionally called
'marriage' between a man and a woman and those rights. ... I believe very strongly that we can advance the cause of equality by moving toward civil unions. But that's where my position is at this point in time.

What is distinct is the institutional name. Whatever people look at as the sacrament within a church or within a synagogue or within a mosque as a religious institution, there is a distinction. The civil state really just adopted that. It's the rights that are important, not the name of the institution."

Okay, so why not just call it marriage again? I'm not sure who exactly is indicted by this statement. Is this a sad reflection our social climate, where a candidate who is, for all intents and purposes, in favor of a civil arrangement that is equal to marriage in every way, forced to call it by a different name? Or does this reflect poorly on Senator Kerry? If he's in favor of gay marriage, which it sounds like he is, shouldn't he just have the courage to admit it and call it what it is? The answer is probably both. Mr. Kerry can't hope to win if he comes out in favor of gay marriage, but dancing around the issue and coming up with a "separate but equal" plan is laughable. We all know how well "separate but equal" worked. Still, while complete candor would be welcome, civil unions could be a good transistory step on our way to federally recognized full-blown gay marriage.

Although, with gay marriage set to happen in mere hours in Massachusetts, who really needs a transition? If Senator Kerry is proposing, however, that the government shouldn't be in the business of marriage at all, but rather leaving the sticky issue of marriage to religious institutions and creating civil unions, I'd find that pleasantly refreshing. This idea certainly isn't new, but, as far as I'm aware, this could be the first time a major political figure has suggested it (if that is what he is doing). If everyone is given a civil union in the eyes of the government, that certainly seems fair play all around. And then you have the option of joining a religious organization that supports the type of marriage you personally believe in. Sounds like everybody wins, no matter how you spell it.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

They haven't closed off the borders to Gaston yet?

Good grief, I knew it was coming, but you still hold out hope. Still, it's not like moving from Georgia to North Carolina made a huge difference, since Georgia has introduced it's own constitutional amendment. Still, I don't think I hear of most of these proposed amendments trying to bar all forms of recognition for same-sex unions. That's just particularly thick icing on this devil's food cake.

I'm afraid that this will pass, however. North Carolina seems even more conservative than most of the Deep South, given that it's home to Billy Graham and much of the regional evangelicism, including the long-defunct Heritage USA. And given that the turnaround time for this amendment process is so quick, there is no time to show the gentle God-fearing populace of North Carolina that gay marriage won't bring about the next Soddom and Gamorrah. I'm still confused as to why a conservative request for marriage is more threatening and evil than gay people who choose to whore around and abuse drugs?

According to Equality NC, a statewide organization that advocates equal rights
and justice for North Carolina's lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender community:

Sen. Jim Forrester (R-Gaston), the newly-chosen Senate Minority
Leader, has filed a bill that seeks to amend the North Carolina
Constitution to discriminate against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender community.

North Carolina already discriminates against same sex couples by
denying us the right to marry, but Sen. Forrester's bill would
elevate that discrimination to the Constitutional level,' said Ed
Farthing, Executive Director/Development. 'The bill also seeks to
deny recognition of same-sex domestic partnerships, civil unions, or
other similar relationships recognized in other states.'

In order to become part of the Constitution, the amendment would
need to pass the North Carolina House and Senate by a three-fifths
margin; the amendment would then be placed before the voters on the
November ballot, where a simple majority is required for passage.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

I Will Survive

Tonight the progress and acceptance that gay people have made in mainstream culture was surprisingly and pleasantly highlighted during the live television finale of Survivor: All Stars . Host Jeff Probst was going around talking about love matches various All Star Survivors had made since being on the latest installment of the show that made reality television the phenomenon that it is today.

Some Survivors had connected with other Survivors (Amber and Boston Rob got engaged on the show tonight) and so Jeff was talking about other matches. He then brought up that since being voted off, Richard Hatch, the winner of the first Survivor, had found love during a cruise the show sent him on. Richard said he met a man in Argentina and they had been together ever since. I'm unsure, but it seemed as if the camera tried to pan to this man, but was unable to for some reason.

I was really struck that a gay romance was casually mentioned liked any of the straight romances and somewhat touted and celebrated on a major show on a major network. It was a nice touch and one the producers or Probst could have easily glossed over. I'm glad they had the courage not to do so. I'm glad America is finally becoming a country where we can express our love openly and freely.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

What Does It Mean to Have Pride?

Last Saturday, May 1, Charlotte, North Carolina held Charlotte Pride exceptionally early. Going on downtown simultaneously was "Taste of Charlotte" an outdoor food festival where numerous restaurants and chefs from Charloote shared their wares for partiers. I'm not sure if there was an intentional connection, although certainly Pride is a very particular taste. A salty and slightly bitter one if I'm to understand correctly.

Charlotte has not had a Pride event for many years; in fact, this was the fourth annual Pride. The Charlotte community is to be commended for starting one up and having it be so successful. A nice aspect of Charlotte Pride was the holding of free educational seminars. I'm not sure how many Pride events have those, but I think it's a wonderful idea.

What was interesting to me, however, was mostly the conservative nature of the attendees. I'm not being critical, just stating an observation. I showed up in khaki shorts and a white t-shirt with an embroidered pride ribbon. I thought I was being very conservative myself, but found that almost nobody else was wearing any pridewear other than volunteers. No "I'm not gay, but my boyfriend is" t-shirts, no dykes on bikes, and a surprisingly low number of people who don't know when to keep their shirt on. There were three leather men strutting about, but that was about it for outrageous. Normally I would ranting about how the media only focuses on the most outlandish people who attend Pride, but none really existed.

So, as Pride season typically does, I began thinking about if Pride was needed any more and if Pride has value or serves a purpose. We've come a long way, baby; we're days away from the first full blown, legally recognized gay marriages. Sodomy can no longer be used as a legal means to discriminate against us or lock us up. Many major companies offer domestic partner benefits. Even the universities I have worked at in the South have domestic partner benefits, although being state institutions, they're limited to what the university itself provides, rather than the state (ergo, no insurance or medical/dental plans, etc.). So, really other than knocking down DOMA laws once and for all, what's left to do? And although I'm not a fan (nor am I necessarily an opponent of) the more outlandishly or skimpily dressed Pride participants, if we're all just walking around Pride in every day casual dress with nothing at all to identify us as lesbigay and proud (like even dressing the same as your partner), then what's the point?

The point is that I still think that Pride is a wonderful place to experience the diversity of the gay community. For people just coming out, or still in the closet, it's a wonderful opportunity to realize that, hey, there are people who are gay and like you or, hey, there are people gay and very different from me. For the non-gay person, it shows them that actually it's hard to stereotype us. You can't, for the most part, tell the gay people from the straight people at Pride except for who is kissing who (and that's not necessarily telling either). We're all different shapes and sizes, of various dispositions and personalities, of various levels of hirsuiteness, of diifferent tastes in clothes, of different faiths, of different ethinicities and different ideas of fun. Gay people are as hard to characterize as straight people. We're, well, we're all the colors of the rainbow. In other words, we're like everybody else: different. And I'm proud of that.


Civil rights issues should not be put on the ballot. ... How is my
marriage under attack if two gays or lesbians down the street want to
make a lifelong commitment to themselves ... Love is bigger than
government. Government should not have the right to tell you who you
fall in love with and who you want to spend your life with. ... I don't
like it when I see human rights violated. ... We are not the Hetero
States of America. America should be inclusive, not separating."

--Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura speaking against the proposed
Massachusetts constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, in an
appearance at the Massachusetts Statehouse, March 22.


"Gay marriage is simply not a civil rights issue. It is not a struggle
for freedom. It is a struggle of already free people for complete
acceptance and the sense of normalcy that follows thereof -- a struggle
for the eradication of the homosexual stigma. Marriage is a goal
because, once open to gays, it would establish the fundamental
innocuousness of homosexuality itself. Marriage can say like nothing
else that sexual orientation is an utterly neutral human
like eye-color. Thus, it can go far in diffusing the homosexual

--Shelby Steele writing in The Wall Street Journal, March 18.


"The fundamentalist Christians and the Catholic Church and the
Republicans and the Bob Jones University assholes and the Fox media
guys, they're not fun to hang around with. They're mean, and you can't
have a normal conversation with them. So why bother?"

--Queer As Folk's Hal Sparks (Michael) to The Advocate, March 30.