Gay/Gender Issues


A friend directed me to this Newsweek article by a gay Israeli solider.

It was fitting timing, really, since this morning I found a new Facebook group called “1,000,000 people who know the state’s permission isn’t needed for marriage” and became enraged when I read their brilliant solution: All you need is a few witnesses and call it a common law marriage. Listen, I’m all for the symbolic meaning for marriage as much as the next romantic sap, but we’re dealing with messy bureaucratic red tape here.

While I appreciate the sentiment, it doesn’t exactly hold weight in a courtroom, a hospital, or when signing adoption papers. A even when we think we have the legal circus figured out, we manage to find some situation where we don’t have the right paperwork and things go terribly awry. While our straight counterparts fly through the system with the greatest of ease, we have to constantly manuveur and jump through hoops.

So when I read Yoni Schoenfeld’s article, this passage struck a particular chord:
“As Israelis, we are taught from a young age to admire the United States. The American dream offers an alternative to the somewhat harsh reality of life in the Middle East. But that dream has been betrayed by the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that governs gay and lesbian service in the U.S. military.”

As you may or may not know, Israel does not have a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy in their military. And while gay marriage is not legal in Israel, at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if they beat us to it. (Along with Mexico City, Portgual, and South Africa, thank you very much.) And at the very least, each person in the country is given the opportunity to serve in the military, without fear of being outed and discharged. The only fear that should prevade in combat is the fear of death or injury – not who the guy or girl next to you is screwing.

The observation has been made that the cruel irony is that our government has towed the great freedom of democracy line all over Iraq and yet, some of our soliders serve there with that fear of being outed and kicked out. Personally, I would never volunteer for service, particularly in this climate, but each person should be able to make his or her own choice.

After all, isn’t that we claim to the rest of the world?

An email I wrote to Andrew Sullivan, following the posting of his “Dissent of the Day,” 10/13/09.

Wow, heterosexual love can produce a universe?

I had no idea. From the way I understand it, heterosexual sex sometimes, but not always, produces a child. Hunky dory for you.
 
Maybe I’m just a little oversensitive about some anonymous person calling my love a “ghostly comparison” to theirs. Maybe I’m finally coming into (or returning to) my angry dyke phase. Maybe I’ve just read far too many comments like your reader’s. But I am sick and tired of this pissing contest. It’s the origin of every argument against gay marriage, DADT, and gay rights in general. It’s the concept that there is only one absolute in life and if you don’t abide by it, you’re a second-class, subhuman being.

And what if being gay were a choice? (And personally, for me, I think it’s a combination of several factors, so choice may be involved.) I don’t know if it is, but I do know I choose to be with the woman I love and she chooses to be with me. We choose to support and take care of one another, to help realize each other’s dreams. So if that commitment is somehow “beneath” the heterosexual model, well then I’m happy to choose it.
 
By the way, you know what else a sperm and an egg produce? Gay people.

You can take the girl outta Jersey, but you can’t take Jersey outta the girl.

http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2009/09/15/Corzine__NJ_Gay_Marriage_This_Year/

Granted, my homestate is a bloody mess in almost every other respect, but it’s nice to know the governor cares about marriage equality – even if, in true political fashion, he’s using it for votes. Civil unions yesterday, marriage tomorrow.

As I take in the glory that is Queer as Folk, I’ve been making a mental list in my head of things I want to discuss in a future blog. (Almost at the end of Season 4- one more season to go!) Last night’s episodes particularly had me reeling from the characters’ painful dilemmas. And that’s when I got to thinking – I wish people would see us, our lives as not just gay, but human.

Then I stumbled across this article. The writer, Jon Rauch relays a personal essay about his cousin and his cousin’s partner during a tulmultous hospital ordeal. Rauch sticks it to the conservatives by posing (over and over and over again), “If gays aren’t allowed to get married, then what CAN they do?” which of course, exposes a larger problem in Republican politics: they don’t offer any alternatives to gays.

Thank you, Andrew Sullivan for continuing to post pieces about the hopeful future we should look to. No one is going backwards anymore.

Last week, I went on a cruise to St. John, New Brunswick and Halifax, Nova Scotia. While in the quaint port town of St. John, I stumbled across this posting outside of a bar:

There isn't a caption to do this justice.

There isn't a caption to do this justice.

Meanwhile, in Halifax, Nova Scotia I found a more sobering message:

Gotta love those Canadian churches.

Gotta love those Canadian churches.

I was touched by both sightings for different reasons. But the one commonality? It made me remember why I love traveling, especially outside of the US. It’s the reason why people like Bush could never understand what life is like in other countries — because they had never bothered to investigate.  And you could argue that Canada isn’t all that “foreign,” just our neighbor to the north. Well,  if that’s true – then why don’t I find more church signs like St. Matthew’s in the US instead the “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” lot? (No joke – I actually saw one of these on a highway in Delaware several years ago.) It may be a minor thing to some, but I believe what an outsider observes  is powerfully revealing. I wonder what those Canadians think when they cross the border….

(Yes, I’m quoting Denzel Washington in Philadelphia.)

I was tempted to post a very angry rant/lecture about how transgenders/sexuals should play nice with gay people. And then I took a 3 hour break from the interweb and tried to calm down.

Earlier today, I stumbled across a post on Andrew Sullivan’s blog, The Daily Dish (heart) about Obama’s strategy with the gays. The blog linked out to this site where I discovered a rather upsetting comment from a trans woman. She left a link to her own blog, so like the glutton for punishment that I am, I went there. 

I found two entries regarding gay people and gay sex. Some of the observations/opinions were really hard for me to read from a transgender woman – a person who in many people’s eyes (though not my own) would be considered abnormal, crazy, gross, an abomination. Yet, here she was proclaiming it was gay people who were all these things, kicking in the bricks of the very foundation of why there’s a fucking T at the end of LGBT: because most of society tells us we are perverted, amoral, disgusting, sick.

I have known several trans people (admittedly none who had undergone a full, surgical transition, but still) and I found them to be nothing but welcoming and warm toward ALL kinds of people.

Oddly enough, just recently I had heard of some kind of anti-trans movement within the gay male community. (I still don’t know why the articles/sites/etc. I have come across specifically state MALE, but maybe I’ll figure it out eventually.) I was just as appalled that these men were hurling insults back at trans men and women like they hadn’t experienced the same kind of bullshit.

This kind of interfighting really sets me off – from either side.
So, for all those concerned out there – why can’t we just get along?
I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

The 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots passed this weekend. Today, many people are aware that this anniversary coincides with gay pride festivities. There are parades in New York (where the Stonewall Inn bar still stands) and all over the country.

But just this past Sunday, June 28, police raided the Rainbow Lounge, a gay bar in Fort Worth, TX.
(Read more, here at Andrew Sullivan’s blog.)

This story is particularly poignant as my girlfriend is from Dallas. I think I will have to discuss this more with her and possibly update this post.

But suffice to say, I thought we really had gotten past this. In New York, on the east coast, in Texas, in the United States.

*Drumroll*

That’s right, the gays sent us over the edge.

Apparently, some state senator from Oklahoma decided to issue a “proclamation” (ha) that it was Obama’s endorsement of “immoral behavior” that got us into this mess.

Of course. It couldn’t have been the banks, the greed of Wall Street, Bush et al, the real estate industry, the irresponsibility of the entire country. Nope. There’s no accountability here in the US, just good old-fashioned bigotry. Way to go, nutjob.

And on that note, Happy 4th of July. Woo hoo.

I promise to make more of a regular appearance in the next coming weeks. I’ve got lots more where this post came from.

It’s June, aka gay pride, which means I’ll be searching for cool (and possibly free) gay events happening this month.

I’m really excited about this event which is being hosted by the New York Public Library.

And just for fun:

Then…

Gay Liberation Front, 1969 (by Diane Davies)

Gay Liberation Front, 1969 (by Diane Davies)

and now….

Gay is the New Black cover (courtesy of The Advocate)

Gay is the New Black cover (courtesy of The Advocate)

This personal essay/informal expository piece was originally posted on Livejournal in January 2009.

I may continue working with it, or expand upon it to create some sort of a series about gay/lesbian dynamics and the influence of nightlife.

Enjoy. As always, comments are welcome and appreciated.

Last night, Trisha and I went to the L Word premiere at this club on 46th and 11th Avenue (read as: the end of the universe – everything ends when you get to 11th-12th Avenue). It was ridiculous. Just plain ri-dic-u-lous.

I mean, don’t get me wrong – it was entertaining, the first new episode and the various people watching.  But man, some of these girls…well, they just reminded me of the sluts hanging around Henrietta’s or Cattyshack. It was like I had seen them all before somehow, even in a city as big as New York. There’s also this perfume or cologne that always seems to infiltrate every lesbian/gay bar or club that I’ve ever been to (possibly even in London). It’s like the secret password I don’t know.

Maybe it was the fact that I waited alone in the incredibly long-ass line to get in which always sets me in a self-conscious mood. (Trisha was coming from the theater, so I got there before her.) I feel intimidated in front of that many girls, especially when I KNOW they’re all gay. Even when I have a girlfriend – an amazing one at that, who I’m completely in love with and practically live with, I get stupidly insecure. I felt like I was on display out there. Sure, I chatted with some groups of girls (friends) who were waiting and we made the best of the wait together, but it was awkward. And I’m usually okay with strangers. Not dykes, though. Especially not hot ones. 

When I finally got in, I killed time at the bar and then Trisha made it inside. We did some serious people-watching on a couch in the upstairs lounge. The place was HUGE, one of those warehouse-turned-nightclubs. Given the location, I wouldn’t be surprised if Pacha used to be the home some kind of distribution center. (I almost wrote “fish market” – ha, how appropriate.) It was three floors and on this night, jam-packed with girls from probably a 20-50 mile radius. The main floor was really insane – I only went down there for a few minutes, but I encountered many interesting characters along with go-go dancers. Yes, go-go dancers. Seriously, WTF, HRC? These were not cute, campy burlesque type go-go dancers. These were cheerleaders in heels. I’m sorry, do what you like, ladies, but it’s not my idea of entertainment. They were just so…gross. Maybe that’s harsh, maybe you just had to be there… 

After the show (and by show, I mean the actual television program – ha), we had to fight our way out through swarms of women to exit. (I actually thought of Jenny’s line from Season 1 – “women bodies.” The last time Jenny was remotely nice and endearing.) On our way, we stumbled across some more go-go girls – this time in glass boxes. Again, WTF? 

When we finally made it outside, I was so grateful to link arms and walk to the subway in the snow. It was cold and I had to pee, but I was happy. Happy to go home.

The whole night felt like a sociological experiment, like the producers of The Real World had hijacked the club and made sure every type of girl was present. Nearly every archetype was represented, there were even a few goofy in-love kids like me. However, overall, the meat-market vibe was the most predominant. But then I started thinking: hasn’t my clubbing/gay scene experience ALWAYS been more of a meat-market? Hardly anyone’s there to meet The One. But I used to…Then I learned that I was in the minority. So I tried to play the game and I sucked at it. (For the most part – I probably had more success in London than anywhere else and that was probably due to the fact that I was out of my element.) And then, I met Trisha. But not at a lesbian bar, thank the gods. (It just makes our story a little more original, to me, anyway.) 

While I’m a little disturbed and a lot disappointed in the lesbian/gay scene in New York, it also reminds me of conversations I’ve been having with a good straight friend of mine. She’s lamented how there are no good guys in New York and how cruel the dating scene can be. I never really GOT IT until last night when I scanned the rooms at all these women – some putting on a front, some blatantly putting their agendas out there, some not sure what the hell was going on. Everywhere you go – gay or straight – it does seem to be one big metaphorical game of Scrabble or Poker and you’re wandering around with the wrong letters or face cards. I know this is an understatement – and obvious one at that – but man, it’s rough out there.

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