Thursday, December 29, 2005

Broken-back Mountain

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, all!

Peter and I just returned from a wonderful trip to San Francisco where I was able to see the city and we spent the holidays with his adorable family. During our tour of the city, we were able to see Brokeback Mountain.

In anticipation of watching the movie, I read the short story by Annie Proulx on which the movie is based and follows incredibly closely. Many are heralding this movie as the great gay hope - a gay romance movie that will be seen in fairly mainstream circulation and appeal all sorts of people who would never otherwise be exposed to such a story. Many are claiming that people will be intensely moved and reconsider their ideas about gay people. Many call it a tender, loving look at two men in love and how accurate Ms. Proulx portrays this dynamic. All of these assertions are dead wrong.

WARNING - following are major SPOILERS. If you don't want to know the ending or any other details, don't read this post until you read the story or see the movie. Also, I'm not giving a synopsis of the movie, so some of my comments may be lost on you until then.

First, let me say that this movie is well done and worth your time and money to see. Heath Ledger's and Jake Gyllenthal performances are top notch, as are all of the supporting cast. The cinematography is gorgeous. The movie adds logical and appropriate story material that the short story only suggests or omits. You are definitely moved and touched by this movie; it's hard not to be.

However, this story (and here I refer to the source material) suffers from problems found in many gay romance stories. Despite reviews I have seen asserting otherwise, I do not believe Proulx truly understands same-sex male intimacy. The story she wrote is a straight person's perspective (and a woman's perspective in addition) on and, ultimately, shows that bias, albeit unintentionally.

There are few tender moments between these men; indeed, Jack Twist (the character Gyllenthal plays and the member of the couple most attuned to his sexuality) specifically recalls his favorite moment between them as a time (very brief in the film) when Ennis Del Mar (Ledger and the character who suppresses his sexuality) holds him, wanting nothing. The rest of their time is marked by sex, often rough, and sometimes violent. Their first sexual encounter is particularly forceful, painful, and animalistic. Yes, these men are ranchers in the mid 1960's, and supposed to be rough and ragged. This doesn't mean that their sexual interactions must always reflect this, or even mean that sex between them should reflect this. Proulx has unwittingly bought into the stereotype that sex between men is violent.

These two gay men are shiftless, submissive, and substandard. They lack ambition, direction, or any real authority or power. Twist is something of a con-man. He's also emasculated by his capable and seemingly uninterested wife and his overbearing father-in-law (the "stud duck" as Proulx calls him). Twist and Del Mar are constant failures. Twist loses the sheep herding job, is a pitiful rodeo contestant, and his plans for himself and Ennis (and possibly another man) are thwarted. Jack's father mentions how Jack's often planned big ideas, but none ever came to fruition. Ennis wanders aimlessly. His marriage fails and in the movie, his second relationship with a woman fails. Obviously, his relationship with Twist fails to be fully realized and meaningful. He also never finds success. In the short story and the movie, it's clear that he is left late in life with only a memory of love and happiness, and certainly no bright future prospects. Even Jack's last wishes are denied; he is thwarted beyond the end. Ennis and Jack possess character flaws frequently associated with gay men.

One cliche that I'm glad the movie omits is an encounter that Jack has with his father. Jack recounts a time when he was very young and accidentally wet himself. His father, in a rage, takes out his penis and pisses all over Jack and the bathroom. This story is brought up in the context of an interesting juxtaposition: the emotional separation between Jack and his father as represented by Jack's circumcised penis and his father's uncircumcised one (again, though, Jack, the queer, is "missing" a piece of himself - a piece of male-ness). Although Proulx never tries to make the assertion, it's far to easy to see the all too common misconception that child abuse leads to homosexuality (and the emotionally unavailable father as another possible factor).

Another tiresome cliche that remains, however, is the death of Jack. Jack, who clearly accepts and acknowledges his sexuality, is the one who is disposed of - silently almost - in the film, quickly and brutally. It's a tired theme in literature that gay people must pay for their forbidden love, that death is the fitting penalty for opposing God (or the gods) and nature. Ennis, who struggles with his identity and tries to live a straight life, is spared. Once again, a gay couple is denied a happy ending; they taste what could have been but are forever denied it.

It's clear from both the movie and the book that life could have turned out better for Ennis and Jack, had Ennis only accepted his identity. However, it's not so clear that the casual movie-goer will come to that conclusion. Only a handful of people who like to analyze and discuss themes and motifs in films will likely arrive at that conclusion; more likely your typical moviewatcher will simply see an example of a gay relationship that was doomed to fail from the start. Another notch in the belt of bigots who claim that gays can't have successful or meaningful relationships. More support for the stereotype that male-male relationships are simply about sex (and violent sex at that). It's far too easy for people who already possess negative stereotypes to see those ideas reinforced: gay people are deceitful; we get into marriages and cheat on our spouses; gay people are sex fiends; gay people are weak and purposeless. This movie is unlikely to change peoples' minds, even if they are open to a different perspective. Brokeback Mountain simply doesn't offer one.

Like many adaptations of literature, this one misses some important nuances available only through a reading of the original material. The story begins where the movie ends - I would have preferred that the movie follow this layout as it added a slightly brighter sheen on the events. The events of Jack's death are more dubious in the story. The movie asserts a violent death for Jack. The story is much less clear on this issue. Ennis clearly believes that Jack was beaten to death, but we never know for certain. I'd prefer to think this was Ennis's own fears creeping into his interpretation of events and that Jack wasn't killed. The movie leaves very little room to doubt the cause of Jack's demise.

The film does retain a structural problem from the story that could have been easily corrected. The first sexual encounter between Jack and Ennis is sudden and mostly unprescidented. There are some cues that a mutual interest might be brewing, and the movie makes these slightly more clear, but given Ennis's self-repression, their initial sexual encounters seem unlikely, given the lack of build-up to them.

The question that remains is why was Brokeback Mountain chosen to make into a film and why are so many gay people happy about it? Other books covering the same territory (gay cowboys in the midwest) exist and have much happier endings (not to mention a gay male persepctive). The likely answer is that this story appeared in the New Yorker and that the interested parties didn't think to research similar stories or didn't see the appeal of less prestigious publications. Also, pathos is often seen as being artful, while happy endings are capriciously seen as being much less so.

And why are we so happy about it? Yes, it's a film worth seeing, but it's not the best gay film ever made. And despite a more mainstream distribtution, it's not likely to draw in a lot of people who don't want to see queers on screen. It's a good film based on a flawed story and will do little to generate compassion or acceptance that didn't already exist.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Alms for the Poor (Readers that Remain)

Boy, has it really been over two months since my last entry!?

Either I've become less angry or more busy - and are the two related? Mmm, methinks that, yes, they are. This semester (I think in terms of academic years, not calendar years) has been exceptionally hectic and next semester does not seem like it will be any different. Understandably, the blog has taken a huge back seat. Honestly I almost forgot about it!

And although I figured nobody still checks in on it, I'd still like to write down a few events, thoughts, and developments in my gay life.

I had the opportunity to see Mrs. Jane Elliot speak. Mrs. Elliot is the teacher responsible for the infamous "brown eyed - blue eyed" discrimination/oppression exercise. (She initially did this with 3rd graders and now uses the same exercise with adult groups.) She's a spark plug of a woman and strident in her opinions. Still, she's out there preaching the right message - mostly on racial issues, but also on gender and sexual orientation and social/economic status.

I also had the opportunity to hear Karen Popp, a former White House lawyer for President Clinton and a prosecutor of several famous mob bosses (including John Gotti) speak on leadership. Unfortunately she wasn't a particularly good speaker, although she had some highly interesting stories. When I asked her about challenges to women in attaining high levels of leadership, she basically said that, yep, there are challenges. I had hoped she would speak to what women could do to equip themselves for these challenges, and also possibly speak to challenges gays and lesbians experience (how do I know she was lesbian? see below).

Thanksgiving was a nice visit with my family. It was strange to think that this might be "the" family gathering for many years - my sister has a beau that's she's very serious about and his two sisters also visited us. Peter and I also got to spend some time in Atlanta on our own, which was very much fun. We even braved the post-Thanksgiving crowds for a reasonably good time and some nice deals.

Peter and I finally ran into a jewlery salesperson who wasn't freaked out when we told her we were looking for rings for us both. Not only was she not freaked, but was very enthusiastic and bubbly (sounded like she may have had a gay son).

I'm very excited about heading out to San Francisco for the holidays. We're visiting his family (and I ADORE his mother) and I think San Fran will be lovely and romantic this time of year.

I've lost 31 lbs in the past 13 weeks! How cool is that!!?? I know again look like the picture you see up here on my blog taken a few years ago.

I've long had a theory that some (not all) gay men have what I call "gay face." Gay face is a certain symmetry or something in the eyes, something I can't quite describe that identifies them as gay. Friends laugh at this, but now a study from a Harvard pyschology undergraduate seems to support my theory. The now graduated Harvardian showed people of various sexual orientations face pictures of other people and told the observers to rank how hetero or homosexual the person in the picture was. And there seem to be a correlation! Of course, gay men and lesbians did better at being correct, but, interestingly, gay men were easier to identify as being gay. Looks like I'm not so crazy after all!

If you've never seen the documentary Trembling Before G-d, do take time to see it. It's a great look at being Jewish (especially orthodox) and gay/lesbian. Recently, Rabbi Steven Greenberg was on a local radio interview program "Charlotte Talks." Listen to his interview here. What I thought was very interesting was his discussion of the relationship between homophobia and misogyny. I've long held this notion in my head, but the rabbi articulated it beautifully: "homophobia is a smaller room in the larger hotel of misogny." He goes on to talk about the threat that out gay men pose to traditonal patriarchical structures and notions of masculinity.

Back to personal news, I've begun teaching aikido again. This is a real joy; I certainly miss it when it's not in my life and seeing another person discover the wonder of this art is very rewarding. I'm thankful to the Lesbian and Gay Community Center of Charlotte for hosting me.

Unfortunately, the Gay and Lesbian Switchboard of Charlotte, of which I'm a board member, is not fairing as well. Donations are way down (this seems to be the case for many charities -likely a result of the generous donations to the hurrican victims) and our volunteer base is anemic. Next year is our 25th Anniversary, which we plan to celebrate with a bang, especially since it might be our last. Any suggestions on reviving an ailing volunteer organization?

Well, if I don't get back to the blog in time, I want to wish everyone Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah as appropriate. I'll be sure to tell you all about my trip when I get back.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Equality Index

The HRC has released its nnual Corporate Equality Index - showing, according to the HRC, what companies are the most gay-friendly. Like most things with the HRC, I don't agree completely with how they arrive at the scores. For example, giving domestic-partner benefits is counted as equally as offering diversity training including sexual orientation as gay positive marketing. While training is important, benefits should count much more. That costs the company significantly more money and sends an even greater message (action versus words) in my mind. Training should be a bit heavier than marketing; marketing is simply trying to reel in a customer demographic. Training sends a true message of inclusivity.

But a record number of companies (101), scored a perfect 100 rating. That's an impressive number and nearly double last year's count of 56.

North Carolina, my state, did pretty well, with two companies (out of 9 companies in the state that were rated) scoring 100. Those companies are Replacements Limited, a store that specializes in helping you finish collecting out of print china and antiques and Mitchell God + Bob Williams, a furniture company (with a three-page ad in the October 11 Advocate).

Replacements Limited is gay-owned and operated. Plus all employees are allowed to bring their pet dogs to work - how cool is that? They are gay owned and operated and have been strong supporters of NC Equality and other positive non-gay programs. Give them some business if you can.

Of the other seven, three scored an 86, two a 71, and a 43 and a depressing 14, the lowest score on the scale. Oh well, can't win them all. But that's a pretty impressive showing and a good sign.

Perhaps not too surprisingly, the South didn't fare so well over all with only a handful (around 13 or so if you count Texas, not a true Southern state, but more conservative) in the 100 scoring range. The South has always been slow to catch on, it's sad to say, but I believe that it will eventually turn the corner. Southerns are slow to change their minds, but generally care about doing the right thing.

Go patronize some businesses that treat their employees right and take your money elsewhere with companies who don't.

Land of our Forefathers

"This is a Christian country and Christian teaching is very clear on these matters. I am extremely concerned that young peoople today are being bombarded with literature which suggests that a homosexual relationship is the same as a heterosexual relationship, which it is not."

So to whom, according to the September 16, 2005 edition of Southern Voice, does this little gem belong? Rick Santorum? Pat Robertson? James Dobson?

Guess, again, it's Gerald Howarth. Who?

Mr. Howarth is the Conservative Party spokesperson in Britian. He spoke these words in response to the British government planning to allow military same-sex couples to live in barracks as married couples do.

So, not all of the right-wing bigots are in our country and it certainly echoes our Puritan roots. I guess his ancestors didn't make it out. I'm not sure whether to feel a little bit of relief that it's not all just us or time to sigh a heavier sigh.

This from our more accepting neighbor across the pond while here in Red State Land, Jerry Falwell has decided that gays should have some basic civil protections! It's Wacky Wednesday to be sure.

Sticking on the religious note, the latest Advocate has an article on Al Sharpton's campaigning against homophobia in the black community. Damn it but I found myself agreeing with Sharpton a few times in the past few years and now he does this! Sharpton used to fit firmly in the looney bin as far as I was concerned, so I'm startled to find myself cheering him on.

Somebody needs to address that problem and the only people who can do it are black leaders. As almost any gay black man can tell you, and many news articles, the black community is VERY anti-gay. Much of it ties into the firm place that religion has in that community, but there are issues of machismo that probably stem from having to prove one's worth as a black man during post-slavery and pre-civil rights years. So, thanks, whitey. And thanks to our forefathers for bringing slavery over her instead of seeing it for the evil it was.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Did you miss it? Yesterday (Sept 19) was National Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Being a gay pirate is a lot of fun - you can say "booty" a lot and not get into any trouble. "Walking the plank" can take on new meanings.

Remember, it's ARRRRR, not ARRRGGGHHH. You're not in pain.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Rise Up, Californians

Oh, get your mind out of the gutter. If you live in California, do everything you can to shut down the governor's phone, email, fax machine, and offices. Demand he sign the marriage equality bill or request a recall. Have thousands of people storming his office, filling up lobbies and offices. Please, for all of our sakes, do something.

Rex Wockner has been following this news at his blog and the kinds of "demonstrations" and "protests" held (and I'm a firm believer that picketing and public protests don't do much) have been weak. Don't pick up a sign; pick up a phone. Pick up your feet and march yourself and a ton of your friends and family and coworkers into his office.

You're not just doing this for California gays, but all American gays. This is an important step for all of us. Failure to act, failure to confront Arnold head-on, failure to call for his metaphorical head on a pike is a concession to the idea that we are limp-wristed pansies and don't deserve to be treated like decent Americans.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Terminating Equal Rights

Should I now introduce Mr. Egg to Mr. Face? Not long after my last post, where I trumpted the value and virtue of gay equality through legislative processes rather than judicial ones, the Governator strikes down via veto the California legislature's marriage equality bill. It's a matter for the courts or the people, he insists. (This, of course, runs contrary to what Dubya has been telling us, which is that it's a matter for the legislature. Make up your minds Republicans.)And, oh, hey, Arnold, legislators are the voice and will of the people - they are the people's duly elected officials designated to speak for them.

Despite what Arnold says, he's no friend to gays. He clearly doesn't respect our rights or equality as fellow Americans (many, if not most of us, naturally born Americans, Mr. Naturalized). He should be bold enough to just admit it instead of pretending otherwise.

I still don't think I'm wrong in my earlier assertion, however. This is slow and tedious work. Part of the backlash we experienced was because of the amount of progress we made in a very slow time (as well as how that progress was made). Arnold shouldn't have rejected the bill; I suppose not enough legislators voted for it to override his veto? Or do things work that differently in California? In any case, the trick will be to keep pushing it through. Yes, I want equality and I want it now, but that timeline has a cost that may be too heavy. Even if we get "it" now, if it's rushed through without adequate support, we could lose it later or lose out in other arenas. And just because a law is passed, doesn't mean it's always enforced. That's why we need proper support and the time to create support.

I certainly don't believe that minority rights should be put before a vote of the people. Why would the majority grant you access into their club? Why should they let you into their swimming pool? This is what legislative and, yes, court action is for.

I don't mean to say that courts have no place in this process. They certainly do and they've certainly made a difference, but we can't have all of our decisions finalized this way. In California's case, since the governor is leaving it to the courts, that may be a proper venue for the courts to decide. I still don't think that's the best place for it to happen, but California may have just proven there's enough home support so that backlash is minimized (at least in-state). Still, a court decision would be just the rallying cry, much like Massachusetts's case was, for the far right nationally.

One solution, not so out there, is to remove Arnold and elect a governor who will do the right thing and sign the bill. That would certainly speak volumes about how the people of California feel about gay equality.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

And Chief Justice for All

Is John Roberts a good choice for the Supreme Court, particularly Chief Justice? Will he support gay civil equality? How will he choose to interpret the Constitution? It's hard to know right now. Unfortunately, that hasn't prevented some organizations from coming out and opposing his nomination already.

HRC, NGLTF and PFLAG have already taken the unwise step or rejecting Roberts's nomination. Lambda Legal has instead sent a list of questions to senators that they feel need asking prior to making a decision. These questions are broad-reaching and go beyond simply how Roberts would vote for gay civic equality. They ask important questions relevant to all Americans, but particularly important are questions regarding Robert's view of the right to privacy and how he interprets the Constitution.

Until we hear how he answers these questions, it's very difficult to know if he's a good choice. He may very well be a bad choice; or he may end up being more moderate than we expect. There is some hint of promise in his prior legal work. Many of the criticisms those three organizations level against Roberts object to how he views the power of the courts. Although I agree with some of the criticisms against him, I also believe that for too long we have relied on the courts to rectify civil injustice.

I believe that some of the backlash we have experienced is because we have failed to convince our representatives, our senators, our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends and families of the need to pass legislation supportive to our civil rights. Instead, we've fallen back on the courts without bothering to win public approval; it's proven to be a costly mistake in the past couple of years as anti-gay legislation HAS passed. It's a clear signal that we need to worry less about how justices view the role of courts and more about how we rally legislators and the public to our side.

I also have to think that Roberts isn't the most conservative person that could have been nominated. Do we really think that Bush is going to nominate a true moderate? He hasn't made any other type of concession to non-Republicans or non-conservatives. What makes us think defeating Roberts will make Bush pull a better choice out of his hat. I think we need to strongly consider if Roberts may be the best choice we can expect.

I certainly hope these organizations aren't reacting simply because it's Bush's first choice. I also hope they aren't acting out a sense of doing what they hope will be popular, rather than prudent. PFLAG I give some latitude in this area, and some less to NGLTF, but I extend almost no credit to the HRC, which seems to jump on every bandwagon they think will make them look like they're actually doing something.

Roberts could prove to be a disasterous choice for not just gay Americans, but all of our country. But we need more information first. "Bush" usually does equal "bad" but this is a choice we must seriously and thoroughly consider before pronouncing judgment.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


I'm simply stunned at the devastation caused by Katrina. I have friends and close family in some of the hardest hit areas. Although I know my family is safe, I don't know if their property survived. I have no word on my friends.

When something like this happens, it's always tragic, but when you know people involved, it makes it that much more personal. I'm moved by many of the stories I have heard the past few days - stories that are simply amazing. I hope against hope that things turn out fine for my friends who live in Gulfport. Although I feel confident they are alive, I worry about their house. I worry for my grandparents' house near New Orleans.

I find myself thinking strange thoughts, such as I wish the hurricane weren't named after a friend of mine, although it fits in some ways. The Katrina I know is a large woman, not fat, but more of a linebacker build. I can laugh that for such a large storm, the name is appropriate, but my friend is one of the most gentle people I know and this destruction doesn't warrant her name applied to it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Is it a good time to be gay?

I often wonder if this is a good time to be gay. It seems like we have the most tolerance and acceptance than ever before, including more recognition of our rights from companies and states, yet the attention and outpouring of hatred towards gays and lesbians must be at an all time high.

Sometimes I wonder if it was easier when it was something nobody talked about. People may or may not have known, but it was left unsaid. People weren't out campaigning to not just prevent you from having the same rights as they enjoy, but to make your life a crime. Worse, people weren't using you as an excuse to gain power and influence, raise money, or advance their own political agenda. Certainly it happened to a certain extent, but not on the national scale it has now, when our civil rights are threatened and I've more than once thought seriously about moving abroad. Not to be histrionic, but there have been days when I genuinely felt as if one more step to the right could land gays in concentration camps.

I have no doubt this will pass eventually and one day, Americans will look back on this time and think about how primitive we were as a society. So, yes, in many ways, I believe that today is better or will at least lead to better times. It's just a tad uncomfortable living under heat of the spotlight.

Quote Unquote

I was quite pleased with myself for coming up with "never piss off a drag queen" while facilitating a Safe Zone presentation on Monday. I was describing the Stonewall riot; at the end of the workshop my co-facilitator announced an annual campus drag show participants could attend and I reminded the group that, if they went, to "not piss off the drag queens."

Here's some more interesting and original quotes, courtesy of Rex Wockner. I love Matt Foreman's statement:

There has been zero negative effect. The only people who have beenaffected by the decision to allow same-sex marriages [in Massachusetts]are a few people who lived across the street from a couple of lesbiansand had to buy them wedding presents. That is clear to people inMassachusetts. No one -- credibly -- argues now that this has had anegative effect on anybody. We knew that would be the case."--Gay U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., to the Seattle Gay News, July 29.

"We have sanitized and intellectualized our cause to the point ofabstraction. Our argument is always about -- you know, you get a betterdental plan if you're married. Stuff like that. But marriage is just acode word. The fight is really: Are we equal humans in society or not?The right wing goes for the gut and we respond in this completelysterile way, talking about academic issues like the 1,038 rights thatare denied us. It's kind of like John Kerry in the presidential race."--National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman tothe Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Aug. 13.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

King for a Day

While reviewing some speeches for a class I teach on leadership, I was re-reading Dr. Martin Luther King's famous "I have a dream" speech. One segment, not usually heard during re-broadcasts of the speech, caught my attention. It spoke to me about my position on gay marriage. The question about whether to accept civil unions as a stepping stone to full marriage rights has been hotly debated among gays and lesbians. Although I used to go back and forth on this issue, during the past few years I have stood firmly in the belief that we should settle for nothing less than full equality. Dr. King's speech has solidly galvanized that belief.

With a few simple substitutions, it's easy to relate Dr. King's passion to gay America's current situation:

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

Unfortunately, we have not done enough revolting. Gays and lesbians have not been sufficiently malcontent. We have failed to grasp the "fierce urgency of Now." We are far too complacent. We are content to be the modern Sambo, the helper to the straight man and woman: the servant, the maid, the footstool, whose only value is in helping straight people to get a leg up on us and others.

We are also too divided. Our national organizations are not sufficiently united and some have lost their way. We, as a community, fail to come together and agree on what is important. We fail to realize that while I may not want something, it can still be good for others. And, if I support a cause that doesn't directly impact me, my brothers and sisters should do the same for me. We also face a silent enemy; we must deal with traitors in our midst. Men and women, particularly those in power, who refuse to deal with their sexuality for whatever reason are a threat. This doesn't exclude the closet politicians who pass anti-gay legislation; every man and woman who fails to be honest and open about their sexuality (and I realize some for safety reasons cannot, but the vast majority of our people certainly do not have to fear this) damages our cause.

In ending, I'll now take a page from the flip side of Dr. King and quote from a less striden passage from Malcolm X's "ballot or bullet" speech. I've substituted "queer" for "black" and "straight" for "white":

Billy Graham comes in preaching the gospel of Christ. He evangelizes the gospel. He stirs everybody up, but he never tries to start a church. If he came in trying to start a church, all the churches would be against him. So, he just comes in talking about Christ and tells everybody who gets Christ to go to any church where Christ is; and in this way the church cooperates with him. So we're going to take a page from his book.

Our gospel is queer nationalism. We're not trying to threaten the existence of any organization, but we're spreading the gospel of queer nationalism. Anywhere there's a church that is also preaching and practicing the gospel of quuer nationalism, join that church. ... Join any organization that has a gospel that's for the uplift of the quuer man. And when you get into it and see them pussyfooting or compromising, pull out of it because that's not queer nationalism. We'll find another one.

And in this manner, the organizations will increase in number and in quantity and in quality, and by August, it is then our intention to have a queer nationalist convention which will consist of delegates from all over the country who are interested in the political, economic and social philosophy of queer nationalism. After these delegates convene, we will hold a seminar; we will hold discussions; we will listen to everyone. We want to hear new ideas and new solutions and new answers. And at that time, if we see fit then to form a queer nationalist party, we'll form a queer nationalist party.

Now in speaking like this, it doesn't mean that we're anti-straight, but it does mean we're anti-exploitation, we're anti-degradation, we're anti-oppression. And if the straight man doesn't want us to be anti-him, let him stop oppressing and exploiting and degrading us. Whether we are Christians or Muslims or nationalists or agnostics or atheists, we must first learn to forget our differences. If we have differences, let us differ in the closet; when we come out in front, let us not have anything to argue about until we get finished arguing with the man. If the late President Kennedy could get together with Khrushchev and exchange some wheat, we certainly have more in common with each other than Kennedy and Khrushchev had with each other.

The text for these speeches was found on American You can read the full text of these speeches as well as listen to them at that website.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Weird Science

How cool is this? I participated in the MIT blog survey!

What to be part of an important (well, I'm just assuming here) academic survey?
Sure you do! Click the tag below.

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Common Cents: Victories Abroad and Small Steps at Home

Well, something to celebrate as both Spain and Canada legalize same-sex marriage (and Spain legalized gay adoption also - so go adopt all those gay babies).

The United Church of Christ is on the verge of passing a resolution this week in Atlanta that will support of same-sex marriage, making it the first mainstream religion to do so. You may remember them from this fantastic commercial proclaiming their acceptance of diverse congregational members. It was so controversial CBS and NBC refused to air because of it's radical message.

Less celebratory, but just as interesting is that Bush appointed openly gay Israel Hernandez, (better known to Bushies as "Altoid Boy" for his supplying of Dubya with mints) as Assistant Secretary of Commerce.

Living La Vida Queero

Here I am back again on the bitch train apparently. But yet another item has struck a nerve.

I was listening to our local NPR call-in radio talk show when a nervous caller offered to the program host that there are people who have found Jesus and left the "gay lifestyle." The caller seemed nervous and not quite fully convinced of his own assertion, but the host was gentle and asked if he left the "lifestyle" because he was unhappy because of external pressure. No, the caller replied, the pressure and unhappiness was all internal. He just prayed about it and got religion and left it behind him.

One, I hate the term "gay lifestyle." That doesn't even mean anything. Are you referring to sex with men, or more specifically my husband? That's a fraction of my life that is no different from anybody else with a spouse. And prior to having a husband? Don't tell me straight people don't have sex with non-spouses.

Drugs? Ibuprofen here and there. Booze? I drink every third blue moon. Clubbing? Sorry, don't have any baby seals around here.

Perhaps you refer to my tastefully decorated house? You're certainly not suggesting it's about my fairly conservative Old Navy polos and Dockers khaki pants. Although you might mean choice of snazzy Bass buckle loafers.

I'm not sure what kind of lifestyle I have. I guess it's quasi-yuppish for the most part. Other than that, I have no idea.

The only people who feel the need to leave "the gay lifestyle" are those who have bought into all the messages that something is wrong with them. These are the people who, if they were politicians, would be hiding in the closet while trying to kill gay civil rights legislation. They hate themselves.

Or, they've allowed themselves to think that their choice to drink heavily, consume illegal drugs, or have risky and/or promiscuous sex is because they are gay. Everybody else blames all the bad stuff on being gay, why not hang your alcoholism or lack of personal responsibility on that hook too? Face it, if you were straight, you'd still be doing the same things, only you've convinced yourself that your problem isn't that you are a slut, but that you are gay.

I would feel bad for these people, but I'm tired of them telling me and others that their personal problem is a truism about me and my, I'm not afraid to brag, very well put together life.

Monday, June 13, 2005

A Wake Up Call for the Gay Community

Hiltons to be grand marshals of L.A. Pride parade
Associated Press Friday, June 10, 2005 / 06:33 PM

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- Paris Hilton and her mother, Kathy, will be
grand marshals for the annual Gay Pride parade, one of the city's biggest celebrations.

They will greet tens of thousands of people expected Sunday at the Los
Angeles Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual and Transgender Pride Parade.

Paris Hilton, the 24-year-old star of television's "The Simple Life" reality show, provoked controversy recently by appearing scantily clad in a Carl's Jr. burger commercial.

The hotel heiress is engaged to Greek shipping heir Paris Latsis, a grandson of John Latsis, the last of Greece's shipping billionaires from the postwar boom years, who died in 2003 at 93.

This news clip exemplifies perfectly to me a problem in the modern gay community. We are, and have been for a while, failing to be the activists we need to be in order to secure not just legal rights, but societal respect and acceptance.

Pride parades have become another meaningless entertainment venue, devoid of any purpose other than to get nekkid, scare the straights, and get tweaked. Instead of putting some person of value and significance, we put up a sleazy whore who has no redeeming social value, not to mention not even any celebrity of worth or entertainment value.

She is a non-person, a non-entity, a non-celebrity. To quote a recent book on teen girls, the only reason Hilton has been put up on a pedestal is so men can look up her skirt. Why gay men (or any self-respecting lesbian) would look up to her other than to reinforce the pervasive stereotype that we are also sleazy whores is beyond me.

And so once again we buy into our own internalized homophobia. We celebrate not that which makes us special or valuable, but our most base aspect, the societal spectre that follows us and seeks to destroy us as a people not worth respect or dignity or legal rights.

We fail to make a statement other than an addiction to the sexual and the shallow. We fail to be activists and retreat into the safety and denial of a stereotype that emphasizes sex and shallowness. And it must be right; we embrace those values in the choice of Paris Hilton.

We have grown accustomed to being denied rights so long as they don't shut down the bathouses. We have accepted being seen as living demons and spreaders of perversion and disease so long as they don't call us queer and fag. We have allowed ourselves to be the gay Steppin Fetchit.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Crash Coarse

Everyone's a little bit racist, or so the Avenue Q song goes. That's certainly the main conceit of the recent movie Crash, which puts a not-so-fine of a point on that idea.

Crash, much like its name, is anything but subtle. It paints in broad, course strokes, only occasionally using a more understated approach. Not only is everyone racist, but almost everyone is a raving bigot and aren't afraid to express their bigotry. A gun shop owner has no problem insulting the Persian man purchasing a weapon from him and then denying him the purchase. A black police detective doesn't hesitate to demean his Latina partner and lover. A black wife and husband freely hurl invective at each other about how black the other actually is. And everybody is down on the Hispanic locksmith.

Which is not to suggest that the movie is entirely inaccurate. Modern racism tends to be more subtle and insidious than the coarse verbalization found in the movie, but the thoughts and perspectives expressed are certainly valid representations of the way many people think or feel. Although reflected in real life, the movie does take easy shortcuts in dealing with bigotry. The affluent city DA is politically correct in the worst sense; he cares more about surface perception that actually dealing with true racial problems. His wife recoils from any non-white, mortified of any minority after they car-jacked. Racism is also a bit too neat: Americans hate Muslims, black and white people hate each other; black and Asian people hate each other; LA police are corrupt, white and black, etc.

Even with these shortcuts, the film is not devoid of complexity. Just as virtually everybody is racist, so is no one person made completely evil. Even the most compromised characters possess some degree of virtuousness. Characters have to learn to compromise and deal with each other despite their problems and differences. Although perhaps overly simple, paradoxically a complex web of connectivity is created among the principle characters.

Yet it is this simplistic six degrees of separation that is the point to be taken away here. The title of the movie does not apply to car crashes, indeed there are only three crashes: one at the beginning, one slightly over half-way through the movie, and one at the end (and interestingly enough the end crash is the only crash we actually see happen). The movie opens with a line by Don Cheadle who speculates that people crash their cars into each other to have contact with other people that is missing in every day life. Indeed, Crash refers to the way we have the potential to crash into each other culturally. Instead of choosing to reach out in equality and with an open-mind, we choose to be hurtful and oblivious to the people around us. As much of the cultural destruction that happens is purposeful, an equal amount is the failure to see beyond our own cultural filters and lenses.

Ultimately we witness the destruction that our self-imposed isolation (both physical and cultural) brings about in both the lives of others and in our society. Although this point is brought home with a hammer, Crash does seek to raise the audience's awareness of the personal and larger consequences of failing to understand and interact with our fellow human beings. Crash could have been more interesting by playing with the more internalized and subtle aspects of racism. Some of the sub-plot and character development outcomes could have shown more meaningful results (will Sandra Bullock's spoiled rich white woman's revelation truly lead to her making her housekeeper's life better?)

Crash does offer a highly intense and thought-provoking experience that does captivate the audience. And, interestingly, at least in the theater where I saw it, drew perhaps the most diverse crowd I have ever seen at any movie. Crash has the potential to bring about meaningful dialogue and could open doors not normally open for multicultural understanding.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Mr. Postman

Post Secret is a blog that, in the name of an art project, encourages people to send in a secret, anonymously, on a post card. Most of the secrets have a graphic representation of the secret. Some seem too incredible to be true, yet surely the perverse imagination of these people is telling and insightful nonetheless.

Interestingly, more secrets than not it seems deal with deception as opposed to sheer covertness. The sender has lied rather than merely failed to disclose or kept hidden information or an aspect of their life. Many represent some sense of failure in life, a sense of incompleteness, a lack of achievement or worth of being: a reminder that ultimately most people just want love and acceptance.

Not surprisingly, a few deal with gay or gay-related themes, both amusingly ("I had gay sex at church camp. Three times") and tragically ("I spread rumors about my gay classmate to see how people would react if they found out about me"). Some postcards such as "I used to write poems and dream of being I just do drag" leave one wondering if the sender has made peace with his/her status or mourns lost (or perceived lost) potential.

Several of the postcards are humorous and may share a secret one can relate with (no, I won't share which ones), gay or straight. A a few are even uplifting: "I believe I will achieve something truly great in this lifetime. I am going to be 53 tomorrow."

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Out on a Limb

When is it appropriate to "out" one's self, if self is so inclined to do such things? As part of my interests and profession, I do not infrequently give presentations. I also teach a class. And, despite being an out and proud gay man, I often find myself wondering if and when it is appropriate to disclose my sexuality.

I am a firm believer in my need to be an example and role model to any gay men who may not already be out: that is ok to be out and that you can lead a happy, productive, fulfilled life as an out man. I also want any gay men in my class or workshop to feel like he has someone to talk to or ask questions to, if he might be looking for somebody else to connect with who has shared his experience: you can't tell who is gay just by looking at them, so connecting with each other can be difficult.

I don't, as a matter of course, just blurt it out. My sexuality usually only arises when doing some type of personal disclosure icebreaker or when I'm teaching on diversity or leadership. In class, I like to disclose realitively early because I'm about to spend a long few months with these people and if my sexuality is going to be a problem for a student, I'd like to save us both some small amount of trouble. Also, it provides me some shorthand; I don't have to back up when the person asks me during a casual conversation, "did you just say your husband?"

Of course part of me feels like it isn't anybody's business and certainly they don't have a right to know this about me. Some people would argue that it is inappropriate to disclose my sexuality; after all, heterosexuals don't flaunt their sexuality in class. But of course they do. They can talk, without thought or hesistation, about their girl/boyfriend or husband/wife. I, on the other hand, frequently think about what kind of ramificiations talking about my husband will have on the situation at hand. Announcing that I am gay has actually helped prevent some awkward situations. Of course it creates some too, but then I'm prepared for that and the perverse side of me enjoys the controversy I've just caused.

A recent uncomfortable moment happened when I was talking with a college student who mentioned that he had recently earned his Eagle Award as a Boy Scout. I was congratulating him and mentioned that I had been a Cub Scout, never taking the initiative to be a Boy Scout, butthat my husband was an Eagle Scout too and so I knew how much work went into that. The previously engaging conversation went stone dead at that point. The student became noticeably uncomfortable and so did I; I admittably was trying to put out there the message that gays are Boy Scouts too, but I was trying to be casual about it. Instead, I got the sound of crickets and an atomic bomb at the same time.

Outing myself early can produce interesting results: More often than not, I receive words of support and encouragement; sometimes people tell me about parents, siblings, or other relatives that are gay or lesbian.

Opening avenues for discussion on several levels is good, but what doI lose, if anything? Does outing myself early cut me off from people who would otherwise hear my message? Am I forgoing a relationship that could truly change a person's perspective later on after mutual trust and respect has been established?

Obviously, no easy answer exists. Appropriateness, motive, safety, educational opportunites, and convenience all converge to create a puzzle that must be solved differently on an almost daily basis. Being out involves regularly stepping out on a limb, hoping that you make a higher connection with people without the branch snapping under your feet.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

To The Special Women in My Life

Congratulations to my sister, Lesley, for graduating college!

Lesley earned her BA in English, just like big brother. She looked dazzling in her new earrings and sassy in her cute shoes. Lesley was one of the first people I came out to and has been a wonderful support to me. She has also been an outspoken advocate for gay people in her college classes and with her peer group. She has gone beyond the call of simply being a loving sister and has acted as a true ally to me and my husband. Lesley was a great sister even before I came out and it's never been truer. She has a very bright future ahead of her as the loving, beautiful, and creative person that she is.

And I cannot forget Mom during the coming and passing of Mother's Day. Nobody could ask for a greater mother, truly. I remember during college commenting to a professor that my mother was probably an ISFJ (that's Myers-Briggs type if you don't know. You can go here to get something very much like it). My professor said that it was the perfect mom personality. That professor was right. I also hope that my sister and I take after our mom in the looks department; she's a vision of youth.

My deepest love to both of you.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Latte of Christ

I have frequently bemoaned the current trends in modern Christianity here. Fundamentalism has taken far too strong a grasp into the modern church. But, how has religous common sense been replaced by fantatical dogmatism? Part of that answer is the modern mega-church.

Many of the churches who have built congregations into the thousands are the churches putting forth ideas of non-acceptance and blind adoption of their tenets. Mega-churches are more like country clubs than places of worship; their popularity has been predicated on making congregants feel like members of an exclusive and priviledge elite. And part of your membership requirements is agreeing with what the church tells you to believe.

But why accept those tenets? What makes mega-churches so attractive in the first place? These exerpts from an article in the April 27th edition of the Washington Post reveal how:

For Church on the Move, one of the Bible Belt's fastest-growing nondenominational churches, the efforts to attract the next generation of believers comes at a 92,000-square-foot state-of-the-art community entertainment complex called Oneighty -- complete with basketball courts, 20 Apple iPod centers, 20 computers and countless video play stations suspended from the ceiling.

After listening to an hour-long sermon and Christian music performed by a 10-member rock band, students have full run of the place. It is a model that has been adopted by several hundred churches nationwide. "They make church fun," Ramiro Satoe, 13, said as he aggressively worked the race-car arcade game on a recent Wednesday night.

In the next few months, Church on the Move, which has 12,000 members, will renovate its lobby areas, putting in a cafe and conservation areas.

"We want to make our halls like Barnes & Noble -- feel at home, get here early, stay late . . . where we can talk about life issues, we can get to know each other," he said.

Indeed, gone are long fire-and-brimstone services. Wednesdays now tend to be more casual, social and personal -- a time to study the Bible, but also interact with like-minded worshipers who are often outnumbered on Sundays by what the devout church community calls the drop-in "seekers."

So, obviously the answer is: clever marketing and upper-middle class amenities. Really, ecclesiastical teaching has been replaced with Ipods, or at least made more interesting and palpable because you're sipping on a double mocha latte while listening to it. Also note the in-crowd attitude displayed by referring to Sunday-only worshippers as "drop-in 'seekers'." Sounds mildly condescending, doesn't it? These casual seekers aren't seen as being part of the truly committed, video-game playing, rock music listening church community.

I certainly don't begrudge a church providing entertainment outside of worship services and a comfortable environment for church members, but the whole purpose of church, to worship God and study God's teachings, seems to have taken a serious backseat in favor of church-malls and church-coffee shops. Malls and coffee shops where only the most devout and elite are truly welcome.

Thus are the politics of exclusion formed early in the fundamentalist world: through selective inclusion. So people who would probably be uncomfortable discussing homosexuality and gay issues but otherwise open become people who will not tolerate the moral threat posed by the "gay agenda." Their conversion from tolerant people to people who exclude others is predicated on their own fear that they will be excluded from their newfound church club of convenience and entertainment.

Membership to a church or participation in sanctified video games has overtaken the true practice of Christianity. The two have been great confused, as evidenced by this quote in the same Post article:

"Christians understand that church is not an activity -- it's a lifestyle," said Buddy George, a pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., home church of Rick Warren, author of the best-selling "The Purpose-Driven Life."

Like many modern Christians, Pastor George has it wrong. Church is an activity. Christianity and worship is a lifestyle.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Real Threat of Gay Marriage

NPR's weekly program This American Life recently dedicated its hour to the topic of "The Sanctity of Marriage." (Click the link and search for the title - you can listen to the whole program free.) The first section of the show covered the work of Dr. John Gottman, founder of the Gottman Institute. Dr. Gottman and his associates study predictors of marital success. They also teach the techniques that they have discovered to be successful in happily married couples

Gottman and his team observe couples that have been asked to discuss a topic they disagree on (and according to Dr. Gottman's research and common sense, all couples disagree on something (and usually about certain key subjects)) and then study that interaction. While the couple discusses the issue, researchers categorize every level of interaction: from what is actually said to how it is said (not just the emotion behind it but the rate, tone, pitch, volume, etc. of speech) to facial expressions and body language to how couples respond to each other.

Gottman's research includes same-sex couples. Dr. Gottman's research sample of same-sex couples is very small (21 lesbian and 21 gay male couples )but has produced interesting results. If the results are representative, straights could be in real trouble.

Dr. Gottman tells reporter Ira Glass that same-sex couples are not just as good as straight couples, but are "even better" when it comes to handling conflict. He notes that compared to 42 straight marriages of the same length and satisfaction), same-sex couples were better at "listening when criticized,... [being] less defensive,...[and being] more positive." He notes a conversation one gay-male couple had regarding sex initiation where one of the men told his partner that he didn't have the kind of body he was turned on by. The partner acknowledged that and then re-asked the original question. Dr. Gottman compares that to a male-female couple: how many wives would not become defensive and upset when told her husband didn't find her body attractive.

Dr. Gottman doesn't know why these same-sex couples did better. Possibly, he postulates, it's simply "easier for men to talk men" and likewise for women.

Also, interestingly, Dr. Gottman notes that it's impossible to find government funding for research on committed homosexual relationships or their sustainment without being very careful about the types of words used in a grant proposal. Certain watchdog organizations use computers to locate certain words like "gay", "lesbian", and "homosexual" to protest any government funding. As such, those proposal aren't even reviewed. This is "the kind of climate in which we're working" Dr. Gottman notes.

Unfortunately, it's not surprising that certain elements of our society,don't want gays to have successful relationships and that our government, rather than doing the right thing, bows to the pressure these zealots exert. It's also not surprising that almost no major press coverage has been given to Dr. Gottman's (admittably limited) results on same-sex relationships.

The general population, and I believe a good portion of the gay community, wants to buy into the stereotype and the hype: we can't have stable relationships. We seem desperately to need to believe the idea that we're so flawed that we can't commit to one another. This idea certainly allows those among us who are promiscuous and want nothing more out of life than meaningless sex and drugs to rationalize their irresponsible behavior.

We are no more flawed than any straight person. We are told we are flawed constantly; others would have us believe that something is wrong with us, but I believe that it is life with those messages that make us better in relationships. Perhaps we are more sensitive to our spouse's viewpoint because our own viewpoint is so often denigrated in society. We know what it's like to be told we are bad and wrong, so we are reluctant to automatically label another person as such. Conflicts then become less about "winning" (oppressing the other viewpoint or need) or villianizing our opposition, but about giving that person the understanding and opportunity to express his/her side that we so often wish others would give us.

The information I quote in this entry can be found beginning around the 25 minute mark. After this segment, the program tears into DOMA with a satirical eye and also seriously looks at the legal arguments being used against gay marriage. However, I recommend listening to the entirety of the excellent program.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Planet Out-of-Line


Thanks for the encouraging words. Funny you should mention the Pope as subject matter, since that's exactly the topic that was on my mind currently.

For the record, I was raised and still consider myself to be Southern Baptist as far as a religious denomination goes; my partner is Catholic. Neither of us are huge fans of Pope John Paul II, particularly in regard to his rigid stance on issues surrounding gays in the church.

The Pope could easily be called neglectful towards gay Catholics. He very easily could have made the distinction that he feels that homosexuality is non-Biblical, but that gays should be welcome in the Church with love and not denied communion or any other service, ministry, or rite of the church. He didn't take the opportunity to bring his people together in love in harmony despite his Biblical interpretation. He may have gone further by taking actions that allowed gays to be villianized and ostracized.

It's hard to understand how a man who was subject to oppression from Nazis and Communists could fail to see the evils of perpetuating oppression upon any other group. Still, he likely took the stances he did out of a sense of what he thought was truly right; unlike many leaders of the religious right, John Paul II probably acted, for right or wrong, good or evil, with the best of intentions with no ambition of bringing in more money, gaining political advantage, or solidifying a power base. This does not excuse his failure, but it does contextualize it.

On April 1st, PlanetOut, a leading gay website, sent out its regularly scheduled article updates on email. The subject line was "The Pope's Legacy of Homophobia."

Ironically, a "Social Grace" column, PlanetOut's answer to Miss Manners is also listed in this update. PlanetOut could have taken some lessons in manners; rather than sending this exceptionally insulting, insensitive, tasteless email. At the time that the email was sent, the Pope was clearly in the last stages of his life, on the verge of death.

He did then, and does now, as he rests in repose, deserve a show of respect. For his faults and failures in this area, the man did much good in his life. Regardless, he, like any other human being, deserves respect in death. The man man have committed evil to his gay members, but attacking the Pope does an evil to gay Catholics as well. It is hard to explain the connection I have seen between my partner and other Catholics with the Pope, but it is very tangible and important to them. Attacking the Pope is an indirect attack upon Catholics; it causes harm to an already harmed population.

There will be ample time to discuss his failures and lack of love and attention to his gay congregation. But, for now, we should let him rest in peace. He deserves the respect that any human, full of flaws and foilbles, but also capable of great love and compassion, deserves. This does not excuse him, but rathers shows ourselves to be something other than the evil he may have believed us to be.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Been a Long Time Blogging

Hi, I haven't gone away; I'm still here.

I haven't entered in quite some time because I've found it difficult to get wound up about anything in particular because it all seems to be the same old stuff over and over again, sometimes repackaged and recycled.

Gays and lesbians continued to be hammered by state consitutional amendments and the religious right. Bush continues to blatantly lie to the public and get away with it. We are still in Iraq and will probably be in Iran before Bush is out of office. The news media continues to focus on the banal and unimportant and so does Congress: steroids and Shiavo. Politics among gay organizations continue to hinder any real progress.

So, I've had very little to say that I thought was new or interesting. I could bitch and moan, but I've done a lot of that and didn't want to continue. Instead, I've had a lot of time focusing on doing instead of saying.

My work has been hectic as I spend enormous amounts of time developing a course sequence and sharpening my own skills and abilities as an instructor for freshmen interested in becoming leaders. Also, my volunteer work with our local "gay hotline", the Gay and Lesbian Switchboard of Charlotte has taken up my remaining free time as we both struggle to survive as well as make some impressive improvements and strides in service and outreach to callers and our volunteers.

Blogging would have felt like spinning my wheels. These activities make me feel like I'm actually accomplishing something. I have no idea who, if anybody, I'm reaching with my blog. Even my website, which used to bring me at least one email a month, has produced no contacts. So, time here feels far less productive than my other endeavors.

That said, I am not folding up shop. I actually have some thoughts and information to share. So, if you're out there, stick around. I'll be blogging around the mountain when I come.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Homer Sexual

The Simpsons couldn't be less controversial nowadays. Fox clearly tried to improve ratings by fanning the flames of controversy as Sunday's episode of the Simpsons centered on Springfield's quest for more tourism dollars by legalizing gay marriage. The episode was remarkably bland. Although funnier than the last few episodes of the season, it easily bypassed the more controversial, provocative (and sometimes obvious) jokes.

Yet every few minutes, the local Fox news program had a commerical where "Charlotteans react to the controversy." But it hasn't aired yet, I kept thinking. How can people react? I refused to watch the non-event coverage. Peter did, however, and it turns out one woman called in to say she was never watching Fox again. Now, for Fox, this is actually a huge ratings blow.

I did read an article in the New York Times where the president of the Parents Televison Council said that, despite not viewing the episode in question, gay marriage shouldn't be covered in a cartoon where children would be exposed to the subject matter. Obviously, this raises the question if the person had ever viewed any episode of the Simpsons. If so, he might have guessed that no child should be exposed to almost any single episode of the Simpsons. You would think people policing TV would actually watch it sometimes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Expressions of Love

I hope everybody had a lovely Valentine's Day. It was pop culture love around the Thorsett-Denton household as we exchanged tokens of affection via The West Wing and Angel.

Even if you had no boyfriend or s.o. to share it with, I hope you loved the best possible sense of that phrase. If not, go out and buy yourself some flowers or something nice. It may have been Black Monday, but remember, black is slimming.

Here's a little love from Canada (pulled from Rex Wockner's files):

"It is the responsibility of Parliament to ensure that minority rightsare uniform across the country. The government cannot, and should not, pick and choose which rights they will defend and which rights they will ignore."
--Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler as the government introduced legislation in Parliament Feb. 1 to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. Courts already have legalized it in eight of Canada's 13 provinces and territories.

And no love for the dear president...

"George Bush's second inaugural extravaganza was every bit as repugnantas I had expected, a vulgar orgy of triumphalism probably unmatched since Napoleon crowned himself emperor of the French in Notre Dame in1804. The little Corsican corporal had a few decent victories to his escutcheon. Lodi, Marengo, that sort of thing. Not so this strutting Texan mountebank, with his chimpanzee smirk and his born-again banalities delivered in that constipated syntax that sounds the way cold cheeseburgers look..., and his sinuous evasions and his brazen lies, and his sleight of hand theft from the American poor, and his rape of the environment, and his lethal conviction that the world must submit to his Pax Americana or be bombed into charcoal."
--Mike Carlton writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, Jan. 22.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

It's a Jungle (and Zoo) Out There

Late last year, a study came out that demonstrated that stress in cows' lives increases them being lesbian, at least in Australia.

Far more alarming news, the term "homosexual cow" brings up about 10,000 hits in Google. These two disturbing facts caused everybody's favorite senator, Rick Sanitarium, to urge for the screening of cow meet for homosexuality, lest the American public be turned by too much queer beef. Honest to God, Ricky said on October 8th, "Obviously, this is a matter of grave importance to all parents - this is why I'm committed to making sure packaged beef comes with warning labels if the meat isn't 100% pure heterosexual." I kid you not.

Some conservative alleged intellectuals have suggested that if stress causes homosexuality in cows, then anti-depressants might cure or retard homosexuality in children.

One might try this with penguins as well, since aversion therapy has not succeeded in straighting out some of the queer fowl in Germany. When separated from their mates and forced to socialize with female penguins, the gay male penguins just moped about. Perhaps they needed some Paxil.

Famous New York penguin Roy (of Roy and Silo fame) did recently claim to be bisexual, although the polar bears are saying he was just hanging out with some fag hags.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I Love Black Women

I do. I loves me some black wemmen.

The bond between gay men and women is legendary, reminiscient of the bond shared between crocodiles and the birds that clean their teeth.

Hmm. Perhaps a better analogy would, that's a pretty accurate parallel. As strong as the bond between gay man and woman can be, I think none are more stronger than that between white gay man and black straight women.

It's almost enough to have your gay license revoked if you are white, gay, and male, and don't have an O.B.S.W. (obligatory black straight woman). I think the bond between us exists so strong because we come from similar circumstances. We are largely overlooked and underestimated by society. We have constant troubles from straight men (hell, men in general, for that matter). We're self-assured and usually sassy about it. And we know we look good no matter what you think about our outfit. It is fab-u-lous, Mr. Mann.

My entire life black women have helped me out. I didn't become aware of this until college, but black women have always stood by my side, even before I was out to myself. They have offered support while shining the harsh light of truth on you. Black women do not let you delude yourself. Are you crying on her shoulder because you've lost your boyfriend by sleeping around? She'll let you know she loves you, but, yes, you are a slut and you need to stop your whoring ways.

Admitedly, not every black woman had been kind or helpful to me (and neither I to to them), but this only brings on bad karma. Somewhere, somehow, they have suffered for breaking the great karmic balance. That's why it's vitally important to treat all black women with respect and dignity. Even if you don't know them, even if they are taking too long to cross the street in those hotpants three sizes too small, you must treat them well. To do otherwise is to invite disaster upon yourself ("oooh, it's gonna rain on yo' head').

Black women are fabulous and fierce. White gay men aspire to be black women, to release our I.N.P.(Inner Nubian Princess).

At the worst time of my life, a black woman gave me strength I didn't possess. At the sickest I've ever been, I was nursed and cared for by a black woman. At my first big interview, I was given a helping hand (literally) from a black woman (she was lesbian, but I love my lesbian sisters too). Whenever I become a drag queen, I have picked the name of a black woman (either Crystal Love or Delicia Butts).

A black woman, Coretta Scott King, has been a vocal advocate for LBGT rights and marriage.

A black woman, Rosa Parks, fueled the black civil rights movement, which gave rise to the gay rights movement.

I hope I have begun to repay some of that love and strength. I try to advocate for all black women whenever I can. I try to give freely of myself to the women who have made my life better.

Black women are beautiful, unpredictable, quick to anger, and full of love and comfort. I think God must be a black woman. Or, at least, I hope so.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Because Jesus Never Advocated Understanding or Respect

While James Dobson, head of uber-fundamentalist Christian Focus on the Family, rails on about the gayness of Spongebob Squarepants, in a statement rivaled only by (I'm sure) close friend and fellow evangelist Jerry Faldwell's outing of Tinky-Winky, the uber-fundamentalist and not-just-a-little nutty "Mississippi-based American Family Association, in a detailed article by the editor of its monthly journal, insists the endeavor [ of handing out a 'pro-tolerance music video for kids, featuring scores of their TV heroes ranging from the Muppets to SpongeBob SquarePants' by the We Are Family Foundation] has a pro-gay subtext.

'On the surface, the project may appear to be a worthwhile attempt to foster greater understanding of cultural differences,' wrote Ed Vitagliano. 'However, a short step beneath the surface reveals that one of the differences being celebrated is homosexuality.'

To back his assertions, Vitagliano...complained of a 'tolerance pledge' found on the We Are Family Web site, borrowed from a civil rights group, which says in part, 'To help keep diversity a wellspring of strength and make America a better place for all, I pledge to have respect for people whose abilities, beliefs, culture, race, sexual identity or other characteristics are different from my own.'"

I'm glad Jesus never said anything about loving little gay children: "It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones." Luke 17:2

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Happy Ingaguration Day

In-gag-uration Day news:

Today a Jazz Funeral for Democracy will be held to coincide with the start of Bush's inauguration.

According to the website, "'While the rest of the country will be focused on the beginning of Bush’s second term, our objective is to show the world that we are not in support of a continued war in Iraq, record inflation, flagrant disregard for the constitutional rights of all citizens and four more years of rule by a small group of wealthy elite. This will be a time to remind the president that he has a sworn obligation to represent and respect the rights and wishes of ALL Americans, including the 56 million people who voted against him.'

A horse-drawn hearse will carry a mock coffin containing copies of the Patriot Act and the U.S. Constitution through the streets of New Orleans. The Treme Brass Band will lead the procession, followed by marchers wearing traditional mourning clothes and black armbands, symbolizing the tragedy of the Iraqi war effort. The march is hopeful of picking up support from workers in the CBD during their lunch hour, as well as other sympathizers along the route.

'We hope that this event will result in the establishment of a Southern front for resistance to the occupation of Iraq. We are staging this peaceful event for one simple reason . . . because we can. Because the Bill of Rights, at least for now, guarantees that we can. Ours will be a defiantly upbeat gathering of the tribes; an opportunity to prepare for many months of resistance to come.'"

Anti-war group sues for access to presidential inauguration:

"An anti-war group filed a lawsuit Friday challenging what it called "the unprecedented exclusion of the public" from President Bush's inaugural parade route.
The lawsuit in federal district court claims the National Park Service is illegally blocking the general public from access to vast portions of Pennsylvania Ave. reserved solely for guests screened by the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Park Service officials say they have fulfilled their obligation to allow the public including demonstrators access to open areas along the parade route. The agency has offered A.N.S.W.E.R. space for up to 10,000 protesters to stand or sit in bleachers in a large plaza along the route, just a few blocks from the Capitol.

The park service also has issued A.N.S.W.E.R. permits for protesters to stand in nine other smaller locations along Pennsylvania Ave. But the group says most of those areas are tiny pockets behind bleachers or in fenced-in areas more than 100 feet from the parade route. "

And, finally, I leave you today with some words from the Reverend Desmond Bishop Tutu, as spoken to Newsweek magazine in their December 30th issue (thanks to Rex Wockner posting this):

"I still can't believe that it [George W. Bush's reelection] really could have happened. Just look at the facts on the table: He'd gone into a war having misled people -- whether deliberately or not -- about why he went to war. You would think that would have knocked him out [of the race.] It didn't. Look at the number of American soldiers who have died since he claimed that the war had ended. And yet it seems this doesn't make most Americans worry too much. I was teaching in Jacksonville, Fla., [during the election campaign] and I was shocked, because I had naively believed all these many years that Americans genuinely believed in freedom of speech. [But I] discovered there that when you made an utterance that was remotely contrary to what the White House was saying, then they attacked you. For a South African the déjà vu was frightening. They behaved exactly the same way that used to happen here [during apartheid] -- vilifying those who are putting forward a slightly different view."

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Mr. Sensitive

Sometime in the late 70's, I was watching a television program with my mom. The program, "That's Incredible", warned that sensitive viewers may not want to watch their next segment about the poaching of elephants. I turned to my mom and asked if I was "sensitive."

"Yes, you are," was my mother's gentle reply.

And so I remain. I can easily look back on my life and see my development as somebody with strong feeling about almost everything. As uneasy as it makes me, I can recall those times when I was, and sometimes remain, hyper-sensitive or a bit too self-centered in my feeling. I thought, however, that at least regarding the outside world, I had, over the years, toughed up.

Yet tonight I'm nursing a wound that wasn't directly targeted at me or that I had anything to do with at all. A letter that I was privy to really unnerved me. In it, a person went on a virulent, wide-ranging homophobic rant, regarding an incident that involved no gay person. This person simply took their complaint about one issue and then springboarded into the evils of gays and gay-friendly organizations.

Now, other comments in the letter clearly mark this person as lacking any kind of general sense or stable perspective on the world, but nonetheless it bothered me. I am disturbed about how emboldened this person felt to express their bigotry so freely to a person whom he had no idea if he was gay or not. My heart actually aches to think that this person is so insensitive and callous to not care who the letter recepient was (or too dull to consider it). I'm troubled at the aggressiveness and spite of this person. I fear for the legacy that this person is leaving for future generations. I'm saddened that this person is proud of his hate.

This person's value structure was, to me, considerably misaligned. The threat of entitlement oozed from each sentence. Swift and merciful justice was implied upon all wrong-doers towards this man. A miasma of superiority infested the message. And, yet, based on certain statements in the letter, I envision this person as a "pillar of the community" and admired God-fearing Christian. And if I'm right, this person knows nothing about Christianity; certainly this person would trumpet the merit of traditional values, yet he has no aquaintance with morals or values of any worth.

My flowerly language clearly illustrates the sensitive chord this letter struck in me. I think perhaps the problem for me is that this letter, affecting people near to me, so personifies the very worst of our current climate. This letter is the epitome of the hypocrisy of so many in power and so many conservatives. To see such a personal example of the empowered, elitist, ignorant and intolerant attitudes that exist, chips away at a hope I hold. I need to believe that the majority of America, while not comfortable with gays and some aspects of gay civil rights (such as marriage) do hate us or seek to marginalize us to the degree that this person clearly would. But this letter threatens to rend the veil.

My rational side tells me that I'm over-reacting; that I'm over-personalizing, and that I'm over-sensitive. This person didn't actually hurt any gay person; nobody got beaten or had their job taken away. Yet here I am, Mr. Sensitive, and the scar remains.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Common Cents: Sweet Home Illinois

From --

After a decade long struggle to gain civil rights protections the Illinois legislature has passed a law banning the discrimination of gays and lesbians.

The House passed the measure by a 65 - 51 vote Tuesday on the final day of the session. The bill passed the Senate Monday night. It now goes to Gov. Rod Blagojevich who has said he will sign it.

The law adds "sexual orientation" to the state law that protects people from bias based on race, religion and similar traits. It applies to discrimination in jobs, housing, public accommodations or credit.

Opponents argued it would lead to approval of gay marriage in Illinois, supporters called it a basic human rights issue, saying discrimination of gays and lesbians over housing and employment is just as wrong as discriminating against people because of race or religion.
A recent poll sponsored by Equality Illinois shows that a wide majority of Illinois residents support granting civil rights protections to gays.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Louie Louie

My friend Anne (thanks, Anne!) forwarded me this: "From the blog of Louie Crew -- resident expert of gay folks in the Episcopal Church. It is in comment to the news that the Lutherans are getting ready to release a paper on gay folks. Louie also goes by the name Lutibelle....."

Bishop Rick Foss of the Eastern North Dakota Synod said he does not believe the church should change its policies on homosexuality, but he said the church must do a better job of relating to homosexuals. "We have to figure out how to care for God's people, including those who describe themselves as gay and lesbian," Foss said.

Yeah. We've been shaming them into silence for years, but it's not working anymore. More and more now insist on identifying who they are. We need to tell them that we don't really want to shame them; it's God that makes us do it. Even God will welcome them if they'll just stop loving each other. 'Whew! That's what happens when bowels are clogged with ecclesiastical concrete. They're supposed to be filled with mercy. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy!


If Michelangelo had been straight, he would have painted the Sistine Chapel off-white, with a roller. --Rita Mae Brown

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Deal Breaker

Orson Scott Card is a noted science fiction author who has been recently hired to be the writer on a new Marvel comic book, Ultimate Iron Man. The "Ultimate" line is Marvel's re-envisioning and re-conceptualization of some of their core properties (Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, etc.) so that new readers will be encouraged to read these titles since they are unecumbered by the 40 years of historical baggage (continuity as we comic geeks say)that the main titles are saddled with.

However, Card is a noted and published homophobe and some small to-do has been made online about his hiring (for one example, see Prism Comic's "Open Letter to Marvel"). Paul O'Brian, a writer for the comic website 9th Art recently wrote an excellent article about Card and touches on the greater issue of homophobia in media.

First, go read Paul O'Brian's article at the 9th Art website before reading my following response to that article.

I think Paul has written an excellent and thoughtful article and I almost completely agree with him. However, I take exception to one of Paul's points as I reach a more definite conclusion.

Paul states that he thinks that Orson Scott Card's views "hardly place him miles outside mainstream opinion." Paul also opines that "you'd probably find a substantial proportion of the population that agree with him." I think Paul strikes a wrong note here. Although I completely agree that "[homophobia is] so widely held [that homophobes] cannot be confined to the mad and the stupid," I don't think that substantial numbers of Americans subscribe to the extremist viewpoints that Card holds. Card posits the downfall of civilization and the total debauchery of the human race squarely on the shoulders of homosexuals.

Americans have a much more complex and mixed view of homosexuality, however. They may believe some of the erroneous facts and assumptions that Card asserts, but the end result is much more interesting. In more in-depth polling by CBS and the New York Times weeks after the presidential election, only 2% of the population considered gay issues as a concern or factor in their voting. In a poll that has a margin of error of +/- 3%, that means 5% to less than nobody considers gay issues a significant political concern.

Clearly, Americans are divided on gay politicial issues, as well as on homosexuality in general. According to a poll conducted in April 2004 by the LA Times, 60% of Americans support some type of legal recognition for gay unions, although 6 in 10 believe homosexual realtionships are "against God's will." The CBS/NYT poll found about 50% of people in favor of some type of legal recognition for gay relationships. A majority of Americans do not support a Constitutional amendment to prevent same-sex marriage.60% polled people "described themselves as sympathetic to the gay community" and would vote for a gay political candidate. Two-thirds would maintain a friendly relationship with a person they discovered was gay yet 6 in 10 would be upset to find out their child was gay. 6 in 10 felt that gays can be a good role model to children, but about half of the people wouldn't let a gay person baby-sit.

Not surprisingly, and as Paul points out, the younger generation is far more favorably disposed toward gays. the 18-29 crowd was four times more likely to favor same-sex marriage than people 65 and over.So, while clearly, the issue of gay rights and attitudes towards gay personally are a mixed bag, acceptance is on the rise. Particularly with the acceptance of the younger generation towards gays, many of the hotly contested issues we face today will be non-issues. And the misrepresentations and distortions that people such as Card project will no longer be accepted.

Even among these figures, I don't see the Card's ideas strongly represented. Undoubtably, they exist among the American population, but they don't have the stranglehold they once had. And, to fancy my own guess, based on my own interactions on-line and off, and given the 18-29 year old mindset towards gay issues, these ideas are not prominent or widely accepted in the comic reading community.

Which all then still boils down to Paul's question: does any of this matter?

I say a resounding "yes." I'm not sure Paul disagrees, except that we reach somewhat different conclusions. I think Card is well outside the mainstream, although his views are not confined to hicks, the insane, or the mentally deficient. Far too many people (at least half the nation, probably much more) hold on to some type of homophobic ideas and/or stereotypes. But even these prejudices and ignorant beliefs are not the extremist viewpoint of Card. And we shouldn't support ideas that are dangerous or just factually wrong, particularly when they can impact negatively on a segment of the population.

Paul comes precipitously close to, yet still manages to veer away from, the idea that homophobia is so wide-spread that we shouldn't care that one voice has been added to the dissonance. Still, and I say this in light of Paul's astute observations on tolerance, we should not tolerate such a strident and potentially harmful chord. Even if Paul is correct, and Card's homophobia reflects that of society at large, that does not negate the obligation to, as our super-hero comics have taught us, fight the wrong. Many gains in civil rights were made despite popular consensus. Most recently, laws against interracial marriages were struck down by courts (and "activist judges") while a majority of Americans still rejected the idea. I don't think Paul suggests this, but popular approval does not equate with being right.

I do not advocate censorship or even censureship. I would propose a boycott, but as Paul right points out, it's hard to boycott something you have never intended to buy. If you were going to buy this Iron Man series, however, I would ask you to spend your money elsewhere. I also propose writing to Marvel: not a campaign, not showering them with emails or letters, just one simple missive. Tell them that you wish they wouldn't employ people who publish hateful and misleading rhetoric and you won't buy the product of people who promote anti-gay (or, if there's another cause, whatever your cause) sentiment.

In this case, tell them that Card is a deal-breaker.

Common Cents: Then and Now

This message was forwarded to me and comes from a liberal youth site called Left Hook.

I think that an a useful comparison for leftists today to use when talking to people about Bush is the election of Richard Nixon in1968. The election that year took place in a context of growing social polarization and anger around the Vietnam War. In the spring of 1968, the Tet Offensive in Vietnam had demonstrated the incredible unpopularity and weakness of the U.S. occupation in that country.Nixon of course was a right-wing Republican, who had made his name as [a]vicious anti-Communist during the 1950s. His campaign was built around a deeply reactionary platform that included support for the War in Vietnam (though he did promise that he had a "secret plan"to end the War), opposition to court-ordered integration, a focus on "law-and-order," and strong defense of the status quo against the Black Power and womens' rights movements.

His opponent was Hubert Humphrey, a "liberal" Democrat and Lyndon Johnson's Vice-President. Humphrey supported the Vietnam War as well, although he said at the end of his campaign that he would like to bring the troops home. He was a pure establishment figure, as beholden as Nixon to the U.S. ruling-class, and was certainly not a "movement" candidate in any sense. Despite his support for the War, Humphrey had the backing of much of the anti-war movement. Many of those who had actively opposed the U.S.'s butchery inVietnam had been brought back into the Democratic Party during the primaries by Eugene McCarthy, a mixture of Dennis Kucinich and Howard Dean. Like Kucinich and Dean, when McCarthy lost the nomination to Humphrey he handed all of his supporters over to the pro-war Democrat.

In the end, Nixon defeated Humphrey by less than 1 million votes in one of the closest election in American history. Many on the left were of course devastated, believing that the election had demonstrated a new rightward shift in American popular consciousness.

They were totally wrong. The 1968 election, a contest between two pro-war candidates, was never a referendum on what the U.S. was doing in Vietnam. In fact, in the period immediately following Nixon's election the United States experienced one of the most intense periods of mass radicalization ever. By 1969, 3 millionpeople were calling themselves revolutionaries. Opposition to theWar continued to grow, especially among working-class and poorAmericans. The continued resistance of the Vietnamese and the revolt of GIs in Vietnam augmented the expanding anti-war movement, creating the conditions that eventually would force the U.S. out of Vietnam.

Moreover, despite Nixon's deeply reactionary personal politics, the power of the social movements in this country forced him to offer a series of other concessions. Under Nixon, federal spending on social services increased substantially, the first affirmative action programs were created, abortion was legalized, and the death penalty was (for four years) declared unconstitutional. The left right now needs to be real clear. We oppose everything that George Bush stands for, everything that he wants to do. But Bush's reelection, like Nixon's election in 1968, doesn't mean that the game is up; it doesn't mean that people in this country are just right-wing and that's all there is to it.

The left needs to do what John Kerry and the Democratic Party never could: offer people a genuine alternative to what's going down right now. Polls consistently show right now that people are feeling particularly vulnerable and insecure about their lives and their futures. People are looking for answers, for people to blame. If the only solutions they're hearing are reactionary solutions they're going to move in that direction. But if the left can tap into the growing anger about the Iraq War, about stagnating wages and job losses, about unaffordable health care and racism, we can build movements that can present people with alternative, progressive solutions.

In this project we have some allies, most importantly the resistance in Iraq and the growing disgust in the army about the occupation. The U.S. ruling-class is facing serious contradictions right now, and we cant't forget that. The only way that Bush's reelection is going to kill us is if we get so demoralized that we give up on the movements.

Jonah Birch, ISO, Columbia University

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Common Cents: The Liberals are Coming, The Liberals are Coming

There may be a light at the end of the tunnel. I've been wondering to myself for a while now how long before we cycle to a more liberal era in America. More specificially, I've postulated to myself that once Gen X'er's kids starting growing up and entering college and Gen X'ers begin to age and take the positions of power and authority held by the Boomers currently (whom I largely blame for the conservative morass we've been living in) we'd see some type of switch in values, and probably one is more liberal. (As a side bar - I think that the Millenials - the current college generation - the mini-van generation - whose annoying tendency toward self-centeredness and reliance on helicopter Mom and Pop who jump to the rescue of their 25 year old baby - will be replaced by a generation of kids who parents tell them to go out and do it on their own).

Looks like my prediction may not be so far off according to FuturesWatch (thanks Petey for the link):

"To gain an understanding of the shifts occurring in American society, it is necessary to look at political and social trends reaching as far back as the American Revolution. An analysis of these trends reveals a consistent pattern of shifts between conservative and liberal values in the United States . The cyclic shifts (or swing of the pendulum, if you prefer) occur over a period of roughly 25 to 30 years.
If this two-century old pattern holds true, the United States is in the midst of a major transition from conservative to liberal social and political values, with 2004 being dead center in the transition period.
An analysis to American trends and events across religion, morality, philosophy, and human rights reveals a series of "conservative" and "liberal" periods over the life of the nation. The most recent "conservative" period began in the late-1970s and reached its peak between 1994 and 1998. Conservative dominance of the American social and political landscape, though still potent (as the 2004 elections demonstrated), has begun to ebb.
As the pendulum begins to swing back towards the liberal end of the political spectrum, the nature of American politics and policies will change. But because of the lag time between the beginning of social change and its appearance in the public (and therefore political) eye, it may well be another five to 10 years before the United States begins to show significant evidence of this change"