Tag Archives: homosexuality

On Jodie Foster and ‘privacy’ vs. shame

This image released by NBC shows Jodie Foster, recipient of the Cecil B. Demille Award, during the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Jan. 13, 2013, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater)

NBC/Associated Press photo

Actress Jodie Foster kind of officially, publicly came out of the closet the other night when she accepted an award at the Golden Globe Awards. Thankfully, the 50-year-old Foster’s apparent shame over her sexual orientation is rarer in our youthful non-heterosexuals today — no thanks to Foster, of course.

I don’t want this to be a repeat of what I wrote about lesbian astronaut Sally Ride’s posthumous outing in July, so I’ll quote what others have said about actress Jodie Foster’s recent quasi-coming out.

Matthew Breen, the probably-too-pretty editor of The Advocate, wrote this about Foster:

… Everyone should come out in her own time, but Foster was angry last night. One reason could be embarrassment at not having come out publicly (at least in her own estimation) until 2013. Last night’s speech clearly took a lot of guts for Foster to undertake. But too much anger was directed at a straw man of her own creation.

“But now apparently I’m told that every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance, and a prime-time reality show. You guys might be surprised, but I am not Honey Boo Boo child. No, I’m sorry, that’s just not me, never was, and it never will be,” she said.

There’s where she’s got it wrong. By referencing Honey Boo Boo, a stand-in for all that is shamelessly confessional about celebrity in 2013, Foster’s implication was that the choices she faces as a public figure are few: (1) stay closeted, never acknowledge your sexual orientation in public, or (2) tell the world every sordid detail of your intimate life.

That’s a bogus comparison, and it’s one that reinforces the idea that being LGBT is shameful, worthy of being hidden, and that saying you’re LGBT is an invitation to the whole world to come into your bedroom. That’s patently wrong. There are numerous out celebrities who guard their personal lives: David Hyde Pierce, Anna Paquin, Zachary Quinto, Amber Heard, Anderson Cooper, just to name a few. … [Emphasis is all mine.]

Breen states in his piece on Foster that The Advocate’s policy on outing is this: “While we encourage everyone who doesn’t risk his or her own safety by coming out to do so, The Advocate has a policy of not outing people who are not actively doing harm to LGBTs through word or deed.”

That’s pretty much my personal view on outing, too. Those who can be out should be out, in my book. You can’t assert that someone who might face real physical danger and/or who might be tossed out of his or her home (or maybe even his or her job) should come out if you’re not the one who would have to face the consequences — but often closeted individuals exaggerate how awful it might be should they come out.

Still, that said, even if I strongly think that an individual should be out, in the end, in many if not most cases it’s up to the individual as to whether or not he or she should be out (assuming that everyone doesn’t already know or strongly surmise the individual’s orientation anyway — there are so many closet cases whose self-awareness is so low that they seem to think that no one knows that they’re not heterosexual when pretty much everyone does).

In my book, the individual deserves the “protection” of the closet until and unless he or she does not deserve it, such as if it’s a closeted guy who is not keeping to himself but is sexually harassing others at the workplace (as happened to me) or, of course, if it’s a closet case who actively is working against the “LGBT community,” such as a “Christo”fascist “leader” or a politician. No traitor deserves the “protection” of the closet.

Most people agree on that point, but there remains a sticking point — that of “privacy.”

I like what LGBT writer Nathaniel Frank has to say on this:

… It’s true that hiding [one’s sexual orientation] hurts. Research shows mental health consequences to holding major secrets over time. And yes, it’s absolutely a wasted opportunity for powerful, visible people who probably could come out unscathed to deny young LGBT people the nurturance of knowing that an admired public figure is gay.

Privacy and shame are closely connected. Adam and Eve covered their “privates” the moment they gained moral consciousness, an awareness of good and evil, setting the tone for a truism ever since: You don’t cover up stuff if there ain’t something wrong with it.

Any step a gay person takes to hide their identity that they wouldn’t take to hide the fact that they’re, say, Irish, vegetarian or left-handed is probably not a neutral quest for privacy but reflects their own doubt about just how OK it is to be gay. Foster’s reluctance to just pull an Ellen (“Yep, I’m gay”), and her tortured speech, with its resentful tone and its ultimate avoidance of the “L” word, made being gay and coming out seem tortured things in themselves. … [Emphasis mine.]

And that’s the deep and profound problem that I have with the widespread argument that one’s sexual orientation (if it is not heterosexual, and only if it is not heterosexual, of course) is “private”: The vast majority of heterosexuals don’t go around asserting that their attraction to members of the opposite sex is “private,” do they? And why is that? Because they’re not fucking ashamed of their sexual orientation, that’s why.

So to assert that one’s non-heterosexuality — not one’s specific sex acts, but one’s basic sexual orientation — is “private” is to keep alive the toxic, ignorant, bigoted, harmful belief that to be attracted to members of one’s own sex is shameful, abnormal, “sinful,” etc.

And to contribute to that toxic, heterosexist and homophobic environment — and yes, all of us are responsible for the environment, since all of us make up the environment — is only to add to the number of non-heterosexual people who become addicted to drugs and alcohol, who contemplate or commit suicide, who don’t protect themselves from STDs because (in their low self-esteem) they don’t find themselves to be worth protecting, and who are the victims of hate crimes, since they exist in such a heterosexist, homophobic environment that encourages such hate crimes.

You are contributing to the problem or you are contributing to the solution.

Lying that your basic sexual orientation is a matter of “privacy” — and lying that what others really want to know are the “dirty” details of your sex life when, in fact, no one is inquiring as to such details — is to try to excuse yourself for your own laziness, selfishness and cowardice for which there is no fucking excuse.

That is the problem that I have with Jodie Foster and with others like her who toss out the red herring of “privacy” instead of manning the fuck up already and working to make things better for everyone.

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Immoral scumbag Scalia lectures the rest of us on the topic of ‘morality’

Scalia Reveals His Current Thinking on Gay Marriage (and Murder)

Atlantic Wire/Yahoo! News image

U.S. Supreme Court “Justice” Antonin Scalia yesterday publicly compared homosexuality to murder and then claimed that he didn’t do what he just did.

How in the fuck did Antonin Scalia get into law school? Didn’t he have to pass an exam on logic and reason? How did he pass the bar exam? How in the hell did he end up on the U.S. Supreme Court?

Of his opposition to homosexuality and same-sex marriage, Scalia yesterday asked his Princeton University audience, “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?”

So having sexual relations that others (theofascists, usually) consider to be “immoral” is in the same ballpark as taking a human life. (Scalia reportedly said that he wasn’t equating homosexuality and murder, oh, but wasn’t he?)

To answer Scalia’s deeply philosophical question — the kind of question that stoned, C-average college freshmen might ask each other — yes, one may have “moral feelings” for or against anyfuckingthing he or she chooses. That is his or her right, as sane or insane as he or she may be.

However, when it comes to imposing one’s own “moral feelings” upon others, that’s another fucking story altogether.

The long-standing general idea of FREEDOM in the United States of America — and the U.S. Constitution, which Scalia is supposed to be upholding, is supposed to guarantee us FREEDOM — is that one may do as he or she pleases as long as it does not cause actual harm anyone else.

And no, someone whose irrational (often religion-based) sensibilities are offended (gasp!) has not been harmed. Nor does the U.S. Constitution guarantee that the precious wingnuts shall never be offended (gasp!) in the course of civic life, although the wingnuts apparently believe that they possess that constitutional right.

This view of FREEDOM, indeed, is the libertarian view, and the libertarians tend to bend to the right, like Scalia, not to the left.

So, is it enough that some find homosexuality to be immoral — that is, icky, if not “sinful” — to deprive adults of the right to associate with whomever they please, including having consensual relations, sexual and/or affectional and/or matrimonial, with other adults of either sex?

Our nation is governed by the U.S. Constitution, not by the Old Testament, no matter what “Christo”fascists like Scalia assert.

I find “Christo”fascists to be immoral — they don’t even know the teachings of Jesus Christ, much more follow them — and I find the damage that these evil hypocrites do to society to be much, much closer to murder than is homosexuality, but would it be constitutional to outlaw the practice of their religion?

No, that would be a blatant violation of their freedom, right?

What about the rest of us who disagree with the “Christo”fascists? What about our freedoms?

Scalia and his ilk are doing their best to murder them.

Before we restrict another’s freedoms, we need to demonstrate that such a restriction is necessary to prevent actual harm.

Murder is illegal because the actual harm that it causes is amply desmonstrable. Those who oppose same-sex marriage and who support other forms of legalized discrimination against non-heterosexuals and non-gender-conforming individuals, however, have failed miserably to make such a demonstration of actual harm. They only can fall back upon their backasswards religious beliefs and/or their personal sensibilities and predilections — not upon logic and reason, certainly not upon science (which is why they detest science so much).

In the meantime, there is plenty that is demonstrably harmful that remains perfectly legal in the United States.

Despite human-caused climate change, pollution, poverty and overcrowding and overpopulation in the United States, it is held in the United States that heterosexuals have the right to reproduce irresponsibly, and that to limit the number of children that heterosexuals may bring into the world is a violation of their rights.

Corporations cause untold damage to the planet and to human beings — perfectly legal, because to the right wing, obscene profits are lord and savior, certainly not Jesus Christ. Indeed, the right wing tells us, corporations are people with the same constitutional rights of people (even though the right wing hates the fact that anyone outside of the right wing should have any constitutional rights).

Speaking of corporations, cigarettes and alcohol quite demonstrably are quite harmful. Many even find them to be immoral. Is Antonin Scalia willing to add the sales of harmful, addictive substances to his little list of what’s immoral — and what thus can be deemed illegal?

Of course not.

He just wants to bash the gays.

It has nothing to do with logic and reason, and nothing to do with constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, and the wingnutty scumbag Antonin Scalia does not belong on the U.S. Supreme Court.

He is an ugly, oily stain on the nation, a stain that should be removed.

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Cooper tarnishes his coming out with ‘no one else’s business’ business

Anderson Cooper arrives at the 39th Daytime Emmy Awards in Beverly Hills

Reuters photo

“The fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud,” CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, who long had been rumored to be gay, proclaimed in his official coming-out e-mail that was released today. Cooper’s explanation for why it took him so long to come out, however, indicates some degree of internalized homophobia that perhaps even he isn’t aware of. (Cooper is photographed above at last month’s Daytime Emmy Awards in Beverly Hills.)

While I’m pleased that CNN anchor Anderson Cooper finally came out of the closet — and pleased with most of what he has stated in regards to his coming out, such as that “visibility [for non-heterosexuals] is important, more important than preserving my reporter’s shield of privacy” — damn, he just had to say just one “little” thing that, for me, tarnished it.

“In a perfect world, I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business, but I do think there is value in standing up and being counted,” he stated in his coming-out e-mail to his long-time friend the right-wing gay blogger Andrew Sullivan, who published the e-mail with Cooper’s approval.

While I agree with that latter part — that there is value in standing up and being counted as non-heterosexual, because otherwise some (presumably heterosexual) people might otherwise think that there really aren’t that many of us non-heterosexuals — what the fuck is “In a perfect world, I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business”?

Heterosexuals generally don’t assert that their sexual orientation is no one else’s business. Heterosexual celebrities (actors and other artists, politicians, TV news/“news” anchors, et. al.) generally have no problem being seen in public with and/or talking publicly about their opposite-sexed mates, if they have an opposite-sexed mate, whether they are married or not. They generally don’t take the stance that their heterosexuality is no one else’s business — because they aren’t ashamed of their heterosexuality.

Heterosexual journalists aren’t seen as violating some journalistic ethic if they let the world in on the “secret” that they are heterosexual, so why does Anderson Cooper essentially state, in his apparent justification for his having dragged his feet for so long in coming out of the closet, that he had thought that to do otherwise would have been unprofessional?

Why would a gay man assert that his homosexuality is no one else’s business, and why would a gay male journalist act as though divulging his sexual orientation would be unprofessional, unless, at least on some level and to some degree, he is ashamed of his sexual orientation?

True, whatever the silver fox Coop likes to do sexually (or whether he even has an active sex life at all) is none of our business. It’s none of our business if he’s a top or a bottom, if he spits or if he swallows or if he won’t allow a dick inside of his mouth at all, if he’s ever done anal or if he’s anal-phobic, if he’s chocolate or if he’s vanilla, whether he masturbates (of course he does) and if so, how and how often, etc., etc.

But if there is nothing wrong with being gay, as Cooper says he believes — he proclaimed in his coming-out e-mail:

It’s become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something —something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid. This is distressing because it is simply not true.

— why, then, the rather revealing counter-statement that “In a perfect world, I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business”?

Cooper has, I suspect, residual shame over his homosexuality, which, in such a homophobic and sex-shaming society, I can’t entirely blame him for — neither he nor none of us exists in a vacuum — but I would hope that all of us gay men and lesbians and other assorted non-heterosexuals and non-gender-conforming individuals do the self-examination that is necessary for us to identify the homophobia that we all too often carry, to some degree, within ourselves.

Most of us non-heterosexuals, I believe, have some degree of internalized homophobia, and it is worth it for us to identify it and to work to dig it up by its roots. But until we first identify it, we can’t eradicate it.

Yes, our sexual orientation is everyone else’s business. It is an important and a basic part of ourselves, of who and what we are.

To assert otherwise is to lie — to lie to others, and worse, to ourselves.

Man up, Coop — your sexual orientation, as mine and everyone else’s, always was, is, and always will be our business.

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Assorted shit Sunday!

Updated below

Oakland is burning!

Occupy Oakland protestors burn an American flag found inside Oakland City Hall during an Occupy Oakland protest on the steps of City Hall, Saturday, January 28, 2012, in Oakland, Calif.  (AP Photo/Beck Diefenbach)

Associated Press photo

So hundreds of people were arrested in Oakland yesterday and last night, a night during which some individuals reportedly broke into Oakland City Hall, snatched an American flag, and burned it in protest.

The responses to this incident are interesting.

Stealing a presidential electionthat’s perfectly OK. Starting bogus wars in the Middle East that result in the deaths of thousands and thousands and thousands of innocent people and loot the U.S. Treasury of trillions of the people’s tax dollars via the military-industrial complex — that’s perfectly OK. Wall Street weasels causing the nation an economic meltdown that’s perfectly OK. The housing bubble, the student-loan shark industry, rampant unemployment, global warming caused by corporate greed — all of that is perfectly OK.

But some “thugs” burned an American flag? Intolerable!

One of my favorite sayings of Jesus Christ’s is one of his many slams of the hypocritical religious authorities (the Pharisees) of his day (today we call these hypocrites “Christians”) — in this slam, he tells them, “You strain out a gnat but you swallow a camel.”

An American flag burned: that would be a gnat. The egregious shit that I listed above, the blatant acts of treason against the American people: that would be a camel. And the staple of the American diet is the camel.

The plutocratic traitors and the traitors who aid and abet the plutocrats are damned fucking lucky that the only price that they’ve had to pay for their treason thus far is some relatively petty vandalism.

And for the record, the individuals pictured above look like anarchists to me, and while I’m not slamming the anarchists, I know from personal experience that if you hold a protest, anyone can show up, and that you cannot control everything that might happen at a protest, and that your presence at a protest does not, of course, mean that you personally endorse every sign, every message, every person, every act that might, in the end, make up that protest.

It’s easy (and maybe even fun) to generalize a group of people, but it’s inaccurate and it’s intellectually dishonest to do so.

I mean, the caption for the news photo above reads, “Occupy Oakland protestors burn an American flag found inside Oakland City Hall during an Occupy Oakland protest on the steps of City Hall, Saturday, January 28, 2012, in Oakland, Calif.”

“Occupy Oakland protestors”? How do we know whether these individuals consider themselves to be part of the Occupy movement? Or whether Oakland’s Occupy movement claims them? How do we know that they are not opportunists (anarchists, usually) who showed up at the protest in hopes of doing what they did? How do we know that they aren’t even right-wing plants attempting to discredit the Occupy Wall Street movement?

The right wing would love to make this kind of thing the face of the Occupy Wall Street movement, but that’s propagandistic bullshit. For better or for worse (I lean toward it being for the worse), the majority of OWS’ers are nonviolent.

Of course, the right wing isn’t nonviolent. The right wing and the plutocrats whom the wingnuts support love death and destruction on a massive scale — witness Vietraq, Afghanistan, and other parts of the Middle East — that our tax dollars fund.

Massive death and destruction perpetrated by the right wing is perfectly fine, but some relatively petty vandalism perpetrated in protest against the right wingthat’s absofuckinglutely intolerable.

And for the wingnuts to assert that President Barack Obama and the rest of the establishment Democrats fully support OWS — that’s another load of propagandistic right-wing bullshit. Obama took more money from the Wall Street weasels for his 2008 presidential campaign than John McCainosaurus did.

The establishment Dems might be careful not to alienate some of those OWS’ers whose votes (and maybe even campaign contributions) they still might get, but there has been no robust show of support for OWS from the Obama White House, which has been as missing in action in regards to OWS and OWS’ cause as it has been in the fight in Wisconsin to prevent the right-wing traitors there from destroying what’s left of our labor unions.

Oakland is one of our nation’s poorer cities, and at some point in the midst of such egregious income disparity, something has to give. I’m just surprised that what we’ve seen thus far has been all that we’ve seen thus far.

Multi-millionaire Mitt cannot feel your pain

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney returns a baby to his mother in the audience at a campaign rally at Eastern Shipbuilding Group in Panama City

Reuters photo

Mitt Romney campaigns in Florida yesterday. Gee, maybe the kid’s crying because he can see his future: In November the do-nothing President Hopey-Changey will be re-elected, or Mitt Romney, who is estimated to be 50 times richer than Barack Obama, will be elected to preside over the American economy, which in the Repugnican Tea Party’s book has left way too many millionaires and billionaires behind. 

You should read this little Associated Press article on how Mitt Romney, should he become president, would be one of the Wealthiest. U.S. Presidents. Ever. It begins:

Just how rich is Mitt Romney? Add up the wealth of the last eight presidents, from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama. Then double that number. Now you’re in Romney territory.

He would be among the richest presidents in American history if elected — probably in the top four.

He couldn’t top George Washington who, with nearly 60,000 acres and more than 300 slaves, is considered the big daddy of presidential wealth. After that, it gets complicated, depending how you rate Thomas Jefferson’s plantation, Herbert Hoover’s millions from mining or John F. Kennedy’s share of the vast family fortune, as well as the finer points of factors like inflation adjustment.

But it’s safe to say the Roosevelts had nothing on Romney, and the Bushes are nowhere close.

The former Massachusetts governor has disclosed only the broad outlines of his wealth, putting it somewhere from $190 million to $250 million. That easily could make him 50 times richer than Obama, who falls in the still-impressive-to-most-of-us range of $2.2 million to $7.5 million. …

This, very apparently, is the right wing’s answer to the nation’s main problem of insane wealth disparity: more of the same. Who could better feel the socioeconomic pain of the average American than the man whom the experts say would be one of the top four wealthiest U.S. presidents ever?

If you truly don’t know why they’re tearing up Oakland these days, you need to have your head surgically removed from your ass.

Prick Perry’s getting no love at home

Republicans Debate

Associated Press photo

Rick Perry refers to his crib sheets during a Repugnican Tea Party presidential primary debate.

I’d thought that Texans are so fucking stupid that Rick Perry wouldn’t suffer politically there from his disastrous run for the presidency, but apparently Perry hasn’t received a warm homecoming. Reports Reuters:

Austin, Texas — Gov. Rick Perry has gotten a rocky welcome home to Texas, facing low poll numbers and criticism over state expenses related to his failed campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

Travel for Perry’s security team cost the state nearly $800,000 between September and November, according to a new report from the state Department of Public Safety.

The money paid for airfare, food and hotels for the governor’s protective detail during trips both in Texas and to out-of-state locations such as Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Manchester, New Hampshire.

The longest-serving governor in Texas history was briefly the frontrunner among Republican presidential contenders, but he stumbled with poor debate performances and gaffes — including his memorable “oops” when he couldn’t recall the third federal agency he wanted to eliminate. He dropped out of the race last week.

His campaign paid many expenses, but the state provides security for the governor and first lady. That’s been the policy in Texas for decades, gubernatorial spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said.

“Governor Perry is governor no matter where he goes,” Nashed told Reuters in an e-mail. “It’s unfortunate that we live in a day and age where security is an issue.”

Democrats say he should repay that money.

“Unnecessary government spending is not just morally wrong, it is criminal,” state House Democratic Leader Jessica Farrar wrote Perry in a letter this week asking him to give the Texas comptroller a check for expenses related to out-of-state campaigning.

A poll of Texas adults released this week by the state’s major daily newspapers showed Perry’s job approval rating at 40 percent, the lowest level in 10 years. Forty percent said they disapproved of how Perry was doing as governor.

Still, Perry has proved politically resilient over the years. Until he launched his presidential bid, he’d never lost an election.

It’s time for Perry to step aside, methinks, and let someone else run the show. (I’m not alone; a recent poll of Texans shows that more than half of them believe that he shouldn’t run for re-election in 2014.) I have to wonder if Perry’s quixotic run for the White House indicates that he is burned out as the red state’s longest-serving governor.

Still, it seems to me, that if he wants to run for re-election again, the Texans will keep him.

I’m perfectly fine with Prick Perry being kept there, too.

Is it a choice? Does it fucking matter?

Alan Meeks, left, and Robert Domenico celebrate with a kiss during a reception inside Orlando City Hall after officially registering as a domestic couple during the launch of the city's new domestic partner registry in Orlando, Fla., Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012.  The registry gives non-married couples, both gay and heterosexual, some of the same rights as married couples in matters such as hospital visitation and healthcare decisions. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Associated Press photo

A same-sex couple kisses in Orlando, Florida, earlier this month after they registered as domestic partners there. The question is not whether these men could have chosen heterosexuality. The question is why any two consenting adults in the United States of America don’t have equal human and civil rights — and why we allow separate-but-not-equal substitutions for marriage, such as domestic partnerships, instead of full marriage rights for all Americans.

So apparently actress Cynthia Nixon (whose work I don’t believe I’ve ever seen) has come under fire for having proclaimed that she has chosen to be a lesbian.

Reports The Associated Press:

Cynthia Nixon learned the hard way this week that when it comes to gay civil rights, the personal is always political. Very political.

The actress best known for portraying fiery lawyer Miranda Hobbes on “Sex and the City” is up to her perfectly arched eyebrows in controversy since The New York Times Magazine published a profile in which she was quoted as saying that for her, being gay was a conscious choice. Nixon is engaged to a woman with whom she has been in a relationship for eight years. Before that, she spent 15 years and had two children with a man.

“I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me,” Nixon said while recounting some of the flak gay rights activists previously had given her for treading in similar territory. “A certain section of our community is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice, because if it’s a choice, then we could opt out.

“I say it doesn’t matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here and we are one group and let us stop trying to make a litmus test for who is considered gay and who is not.”

To say that a certain segment of the gay community “is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice” is an understatement. Gay rights activists have worked hard to combat the idea that people decide to be physically attracted to same-sex partners any more than they choose to be attracted to opposite-sex ones because the question, so far unanswered by science, is often used by religious conservatives, including [Repugnican Tea Party] presidential candidate Rick Santorum and former candidate Michelle Bachman, to argue that homosexuality is immoral behavior, not an inherent trait.

Among the activists most horrified by Nixon’s comments was Truth Wins Out founder Wayne Besen, whose organization monitors and tries to debunk programs that claim to cure people of same-sex attractions with therapy. Besen said he found the actress’ analysis irresponsible and flippant, despite her ample caveats.

“Cynthia did not put adequate thought into the ramifications of her words, and it is going to be used when some kid comes out and their parents force them into some ex-gay camp while she’s off drinking cocktails at fancy parties,” Besen said. “When people say it’s a choice, they are green-lighting an enormous amount of abuse because if it’s a choice, people will try to influence and guide young people to what they perceive as the right choice.” …

While the broader gay rights movement recognizes that human sexuality exists on a spectrum, and has found common cause with transgender and bisexual people, Nixon may have unwittingly given aid and comfort to those who want to deny same-sex couples the right to marry, adopt children and secure equal spousal benefits, said Jennifer Pizer, legal director of the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and the Law, a pro-gay think tank based at the University of California, Los Angeles.

One of the factors courts consider in determining if a law is unconstitutional is whether members of the minority group it targets share an unchangeable or “immutable” trait, Pizer noted. Although the definition of how fixed a characteristic has to be to qualify as immutable still is evolving — religious affiliation, for example, is recognized as grounds for equal protection — the U.S. Supreme Court still has not included sexual orientation among the traits “so integral to personhood it’s not something the government should require people to change,” she said.

“If gay people in this country had more confidence that their individual freedom was going to be respected, then the temperature would lower a bit on the immutability question because the idea of it being a choice wouldn’t seem to stack the deck against their rights,” Pizer said. …

Although science has not identified either a purely biological or sociological basis for sexual orientation, University of California, Davis psychologist Gregory Herek, an expert on anti-gay prejudice, said Nixon’s experience is consistent with research showing that women have an easier time moving between opposite and same-sex partners.

A survey Herek conducted of gay men, lesbians and bisexuals of both genders bore this out. Sixteen percent of the lesbians surveyed reported they felt they had had a fair amount of choice in their sexual orientations, while only five percent of the gay men did. …

Wow. Why are we even having a discussion as to whether or not same-sex orientation is a choice?

Why should it fucking matter whether or not it is a choice?

What any two consenting adults do with each other is their own fucking business. We claim that we are the “home of the free” — that should settle it.

However, since we’re on the topic, my feeling, from decades of observation and from my own experience, is that for some individuals, homosexuality is quite hard-wired into who and what they are. Homosexuality does not at all strike me as a choice for those male and female individuals who, since they were pre-pubescent, showed signs of latent homosexuality, such as non-gender conformity.

For other individuals, it seems to me, more choice indeed is involved, and it does seem to me that it’s a choice for more women than it is for men, as research indicates. (There has been a lot of research lately on female “sexual fluidity,” and this research indicates that females are more “sexually fluid” than are males.)

Perhaps these individuals for whom homosexuality apparently is not hard-wired have had satisfying-enough homosexual fantasies and/or sexual encounters, and so they stick with members of the same sex, whereas if their early sexual fantasies and experiences had been heterosexual, they might have developed into well-adjusted heterosexuals as well.

Who knows? And again, who cares?

I wholeheartedly agree with Nixon’s assertion, “I say it doesn’t matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here.”

Those who steadfastly argue that homosexuality could not possibly be a choice for anyone basically are arguing that homosexuality is a birth defect otherwise, why have to defend it?

I, for one, am not OK with essentially equating homosexuality (or bisexuality) as a fucking birth defect.

We should be arguing for our personal freedom to do what we want to do and to be with whom we want to befor our equal human and civil rights — and not whether or not homosexuality is “immutable,” which presumes that heterosexuality is the only OK way to be.

Update (Sunday, January 29, 2011, 9:00 p.m.): Via the Los Angeles Times’ website, I just saw this news photo of the exterior of Oakland City Hall that was taken today:

Occupy Oakland

Associated Press photo

Note that anarchists, with their spray-painted symbol, took credit for their handiwork.

The anarchists and the Occupy Wall Street movement are two different groups. True, some of their beliefs and values overlap, but their sanctioned tactics are quite different.

Again, not that I’m bashing the anarchists. They’ve yet to kill anyone, that I’m aware of, and property damage is not the same as violence against human beings. (That and, as I have pointed out, the right wing believes in mass murder, only mostly in other nations, so I certainly am not going to condemn the anarchists, who [thus far, anyway] only commit property damage, while the right wing perpetrates the worst crimes of all, war crimes and crimes against humanity.)

I like that the anarchists have balls (if they lack a certain amount of direction), and they might prove to be great allies against the right wing should all-out revolution ever break out.

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Clint Eastwood’s ‘J. Edgar’ is not your father’s gangster movie

Film review

Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer J. Edgar

Clyde Tolson (played by the Adonis Armie Hammer) and J. Edgar Hoover (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) have a lovers’ quarrel in Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar.”

Woe to the heterosexists who don’t bother to research the movies that they see who stumble into Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar” thinking that they’re going to see an action-packed gangsta movie (he-man Clint Eastwood is directing, after all) but who instead get “Brokeback Mountain” meets “Bonnie and Clyde” — in which “Bonnie” is the late long-time FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.

As others have noted, “J. Edgar” isn’t going to wholly please either side. The heterosexists don’t want the slightest flowery whiff of male homosexuality contaminating their gangster movies, as evidenced by the male homophobe behind me in the audience who twice uttered “faggot!” (and who once uttered “AIDS!”) during the movie and the female homophobe behind me who vocalized her disapproval during the scene in which a distraught J. Edgar Hoover dons his recently deceased mother’s dress.

And gay men like me are going to feel, as I do, that screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (who won an Oscar for his screenplay of “Milk”) and/or director Eastwood wussed out by having portrayed the very apparent real-life same-sex relationship between Hoover and his long-time “assistant” Clyde Tolson as essentially sexless.

No, I didn’t need a steamy sex scene, although I can’t say that I would have minded one; Armie Hammer, who plays Clyde Tolson in “J. Edgar” (and who played the “Winklevi” twins in “The Social Network”) is achingly beautiful, and much more handsome than was the real-life Tolson, just as the real-life J. Edgar never looked anything like Leonardo DiCaprio, even with all of that makeup piled atop his baby face.

But are we really to believe that although the real-life Hoover and Tolson were inseparable and never heterosexually married — and that although Tolson inherited Hoover’s estate after Hoover’s death and later was buried near Hoover — that the two of them never did more than hold hands and share just one (bloody, very conflicted) kiss?

“J. Edgar” apparently would have us believe so, and while many movies about gay characters have a closeted feel to them, this closeted feel can be artful if it is intentional and thus helps us to understand the characters and their sufferings better, but if this closeted feel is a result of the filmmakers’ own cowardice and/or discomfort with the material, then it diminishes the film, and this appears to be the case with “J. Edgar.”

“J. Edgar,” as others have noted, also tries to do too much. Hoover’s time as head of the FBI, which spanned from 1935 to 1972, can’t be captured in one film. Not that it has to be; “J. Edgar” is a fictionalized film, after all, not a documentary, but because “J. Edgar” portrays so many of the historical events during Hoover’s decades-long tenure at the FBI, it has lent itself to be criticized for what it leaves out — such as the “Lavender Scare” of the 1950s, which surely was relevant to the real-life Hoover and Tolson.

And because “J. Edgar” tries to capture so many historical events, the examination of Hoover’s psyche gets short shrift.

Judi Dench is good as Hoover’s mother, even if she is portrayed as a textbook case of the overbearing mother who lives through her son so that of course he turns out gay.

Perhaps the most memorable scene in the film is the one in which Hoover’s homophobic mother tells him the story of another young man who turned out to be gay and who killed himself, which was a good thing, in her eyes. Many of us gay men (my husband included) have been told by a homophobic parent that he or she could never accept a gay son, as Hoover is told by his mother in “J. Edgar,” so I expect that scene to resonate with millions of gay men.

Still, “J. Edgar” doesn’t go far enough with the examination of J. Edgar Hoover’s homosexuality. My guess is that that is a result of the combination of Dustin Lance Black’s upbringing as a Mormon, which, I surmise, keeps him on the “safe,” conservative side, and of the generation of Clint Eastwood (he’s 81 years old), who, while he reportedly is pro-gay, on other issues leans to the right (he reportedly can recall having voted for a Democrat only once, and that was former California Gov. Gray Davis in 1998), and who might be one of those individuals who is much more intellectually accepting of homosexuality (that is, in theory) than he is viscerally accepting of it (that is, in practice) — you know, the kind of person who says that he’s OK with gays as long as he doesn’t ever actually have to see two men kissing. (Thus, we could see Tolson and Hoover kiss in “J. Edgar” only if violence was involved. [The scene, by the way, is fairly reminiscent of a similar scene in “Brokeback Mountain” in which our two conflicted lovebirds who live in a homophobic place and time pummel each other.])

“J. Edgar” probably should have picked one path and stuck with it: the documentarian path or the psychoanalytical path. Hoover’s professional life alone was interesting enough to carry a film. It was because of Hoover’s gross abuse of power, including his notoriously illegal monitoring of prominent individuals, that directors of the FBI need the Senate’s approval to serve more than 10 years, indicates Wikipedia.

But also interesting are the psychological dynamics in which those who have something to hide — such as homosexuality in a society in which homosexuality is stigmatized — react to their inner conflict and their self-loathing by becoming anal retentive and relentless moralists who viciously attack others in order to ease their own self-hatred. We saw this not only in J. Edgar Hoover, but in Roy Cohn, the gay assistant to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who isn’t portrayed in “J. Edgar.” (I’ve wondered about the sexual orientation of McCarthy, too, since he was an alcoholic who viciously attacked others and since he picked Cohn to be his assistant, but that’s purely conjecture on my part.)

If I had made “J. Edgar” and were focusing on Hoover’s personal life, I’d have left out all of the Lindbergh baby stuff and focused more on the relationship between Hoover and Tolson, and I especially would have focused on the “Lavender Scare,” which bizarrely gets no real mention in “J. Edgar.”

And I would have left out the scene in which Hoover tries on his dead mother’s dress. The account that the real-life Hoover was seen in a dress is dubious, and in any event, it wasn’t as it is portrayed in “J. Edgar,” and we gay men have enough problems as it is for Black and Eastwood to give homophobes the idea that all gay men like to wear women’s clothing (not that there is anything wrong with that; it’s just that it’s a tiresome stereotype, and Black’s screenplay shows keen gay sensibility except for this fairly unfortunate scene).

Still, despite its flaws — which include the fact that it tries to do too much and that Armie Hammer’s old-man makeup is bad (maybe there’s just no way to make such an Adonis look unattractive) — and despite the fact that it doesn’t belong in the pantheon that includes “Brokeback Mountain” and “Milk,” “J. Edgar” is worth seeing.

My grade: B

Update:I don’t think that I’ve been unfair here to Dustin Lance Black. In a recent interview with the Advocate, he remarked, “I grew up in a military family, which was also Mormon and conservative, so he [J. Edgar Hoover] was seen as a bit of a hero.” Again, Black’s conservative upbringing seems to have greatly colored his portrayal of Hoover in his screenplay. And of the historical Hoover and Clyde Tolson’s relationship, Black stated:

I don’t know how much sex they were having. I couldn’t anchor that in anything provable. I also didn’t need it for what I was trying to say. They may or may not have [had a sexual relationship], but frankly, I wouldn’t want to see it. What’s important to me is they were not straight. They were two gay guys, in my opinion.

What is it with this phenomenon of de-sexing gay men, of stripping them of human sexuality? We don’t do that to heterosexual people! I can’t say that I would have wanted to watch the historical J. Edgar Hoover (who, again, was not an attractive man) getting it on with anyone, either, but was the only alternative to making “J. Edgar: The Gay Porn” making a film that portrays him as a celibate, frustrated closet case?

True, we cannot “anchor” the assertion that Tolson and Hoover had a sexual relationship “in anything provable” — we have only the very strong circumstantial evidence that they had a decades-long sexual relationship — yet the scene in which Hoover puts on his deceased mother’s dress very apparently was fabricated from whole cloth. Why was that liberty OK, but we couldn’t take the liberty of having the two of them ever do anything more than occasionally hold hands and share only one frustrated kiss? 

Critic Roger Ebert also apparently has jumped on the no-sex-for-gay-men bandwagon, proclaiming in his review of the film:

Eastwood’s film is firm in its refusal to cheapen and tarnish by inventing salacious scenes. I don’t get the impression from “J. Edgar” that Eastwood particularly respected Hoover, but I do believe he respected his unyielding public facade.

So to have made the two men sexually active human beings, I suppose, would have been “cheapening,” “tarnishing” and “salacious.” Since they were gay, much better to make them celibate! And apparently “[respecting Hoover’s] unyielding public facade” means going along with Hoover’s having been in the closet, because to do otherwise would have been “disrespectful.” (Fuck the truth!)

Ebert also notes in his review:

In my reading of the film, they were both repressed homosexuals, Hoover more than Tolson, but after love at first sight and a short but heady early courtship, they veered away from sex and began their lives as Longtime Companions. The rewards for arguably not being gay were too tempting for both men, who were wined and dined by Hollywood, Broadway, Washington and Wall Street. It was Hoover’s militant anti-gay position that served as their beard.

That reading of the film is correct, because indeed “J. Edgar” intended to keep the two lovers celibate, since gay sex is so dirty, you know, and while we can posit that Hoover was gay, we just can’t go so far as to assert that he ever actually had gay sex (ick!).

Again, the real film in the story of Hoover and Tolson’s relationship is the one indicated by Ebert’s assertion that “It was Hoover’s militant anti-gay position that served as their beard,” and I still find it rather stunning that the film glosses over the Lavender Scare of the 1950s. Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn should be in any film about the very-most-likely-gay relationship between Hoover and Tolson, it seems to me.

And speaking of McCarthy, I’m not the only one who has wondered about his sexual orientation. David K. Johnson, author of The Lavender Scare (The University of Chicago Press, 2004), notes (on page 3) that although McCarthy in early 1950 first raised the specter of Communists and gay men having “infiltrated” the U.S. government, McCarthy went on to pursue only the Communist angle, having “mysteriously recused himself” from the witch hunt against gay men. Johnson goes on:

A knowledgeable observer at the time suggested that [McCarthy] did not pursue the “homosexual angle” more aggressively because he was afraid of a boomerang. As an unmarried, middle-aged man, he was subject to gossip and rumor about his own sexuality.

I find the parallels between Hoover and Tolson and McCarthy and Cohn to be striking. Maybe Dustin Lance Black can redeem himself somewhat for his wussy “J. Edgar” screenplay and pen a movie with balls about Joseph McCarthy and his relationship with Roy Cohn, the latter of whom we know for sure was gay. I’ll even give Dustin a highly creative working title: “McCarthy.”

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‘It gets better’? How about ‘You are fabulous!’?

The recent rash of suicides by young men who had been taunted for being gay (or otherwise non-heterosexual) has taken me a bit by surprise.

First, while growing up in the backasswards red state of Arizona I always was keenly aware of homophobic sentiment all around me (and I still am aware of homophobia, although I encounter it much less often as an adult in the blue state of California), but never did I feel wrong or defective or dirty or sinful or any of the other negative, toxic things that the “Christo”fascists wanted me to feel. I always viewed them as the ones with the problem. Love is never wrong, and these bigoted dipshits were/are on the wrong side of history, I always have known.

It surprised me to learn over the years that other gay men haven’t had the same fortitude that I have had, that they haven’t been able to see, as I have been able to see, that while homophobia is shitty to have to endure, there’s nothing wrong with us non-heterosexuals. The fact that so many non-heterosexuals have internalized to some degree a belief that they are defective still surprises me at least somewhat.

Secondly, it long has been my impression that it’s much easier on today’s youth to be gay than it was back when I was young (I’m 42). I never contemplated suicide because of my sexual orientation, so it’s difficult for me to see why a young gay man of today* would go to the extreme of seriously contemplating suicide, unless, I suppose, his life were made a constant living hell by his tormentors. 

The recent suicide of the 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, a student at Rutgers University in New Jersey, is perhaps the strangest, or at least the most publicized, of the recent suicides of young gay men. Clementi jumped to his death after his roommate, unbeknownst to Clementi, captured a same-sex sexual encounter of Clementi’s and aired it on the Internet.

That would be embarrassing to anyone of any sexual orientation, to have a sexual encounter of his or hers aired on the Internet (unless he or she were an exhibitionist…), but added to the blatant invasion of privacy in Clementi’s case was the stigma of homosexuality.

As embarrassing as it would have been to have had one’s sexual encounter publicized as it was in Clementi’s case, I still can’t see that  embarrassment warranting one’s own death, but very apparently his own death seemed to make sense to Clementi.

I imagine that Clementi’s roommate feels like absolute shit, assuming that he has anything like a conscience. While Clementi’s roommate undoubtedly is guilty of invasion of privacy, whether or not he committed a hate crime is debatable, and whether or not he is guilty of manslaughter or the like is even more debatable, although it seems to me that it was not entirely unforeseeable that to embarrass someone as much as Clementi must have been embarrassed might lead the embarrassed individual to suicidal ideation.

Still, although he apparently committed a heartless act, it’s important that we not crucify Clementi’s roommate, in my estimation. One suicide of a young man in the case has been more than enough.   

In response to the recent suicides of young gay men, apparently, a YouTube channel called the “It Gets Better” project has been created, and features videos of non-heterosexuals telling their stories of how their problems related to their non-heterosexuality lessened over time. I surmise that it’s meant to encourage non-heterosexuals experiencing problems with homophobia to press on.

While that’s a good message, it seems to me that those of us non-heterosexuals who are struggling severely right now need to be reminded how fabulous we already are, whether the non-fabulous among us are able to recognize that or not, and regardless of how many non-fabulous individuals surround us. Indeed, we might be the only fabulous ones we know. But fabulousness is not about numbers. It’s not up for a vote. Fabulousness is about fabulousness.

So yeah, if you are fabulous and you keep the faith and you hang in there, it probably will get better as you learn to cope with being surrounded by so many who are so non-fabulous, but when you actually are contemplating suicide, perhaps promises that things will get better aren’t enough.

Those actively contemplating suicide aren’t thinking about the future so much as they are thinking about right now.

So again, it seems to me that what we need to do is to remind struggling non-heterosexuals how fabulous they already are — right now. Their first need is not promises of a brighter tomorrow, as accurate as those promises might be. Their first need is assistance in being able to see what they cannot see right now.

That happens best, I think, one on one. When we see someone struggling, that is an opportunity for us to help him or her to see the light that he or she cannot, at this moment, see. He or she might slap away our hand outstretched to offer him or her help — that’s always a risk when we extend ourselves to another — but he or she also might accept it. 

And we need to continue to improve the social environment, such as with the “Make It Better” project, which is about making our schools safer and saner for our non-heterosexual students.

And never underestimate what perhaps is our best tool for combating homophobia (and racism, too): Never allowing a homophobic (or racist) word or deed to go unchallenged. Social pressure is a powerful tool of social change, and silence kills, because silence in the face of wrongdoing only feeds that wrongdoing, as wrongdoers unchallenged come to believe that they are doing no wrong. 

And all of us, I think, are responsible for a social environment that allows so many individuals to be able to find suicide their only solution. Even those of us who don’t actively engage in homophobia, for instance, probably don’t do enough to combat it.

Suicide isn’t just an individual’s problem, but is our collective problem, and only when we work seriously to solve it collectively will we see suicides drop.

*When I was a high school student — indeed, even when I was a university student — openly having a boyfriend was not an option, unless I wanted to endure almost certain torment, and the plethora of gay-themed mainstream movies and television shows that exist today certainly didn’t exist back then. Non-heterosexuality is much more out of the closet these days than it was then.

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Ken Mehlman is NOT one of us

Ex-Republican and Bush campaign head says is ...

AFP photo

Repugnican Ken Mehlman, pictured in 2005, now finally publicly acknowledges that he’s gay. All non-heterosexuals of good conscience should shun him for having sold his community out for political gain. Ken Mehlman is a fucking piece of shit who should donate his organs now.

I’ve heard way too many gay men (and some others) defend Ken Mehlman, who was George W. Bush’s campaign manager for Bush’s 2004 “re”-election campaign and then served as head of the Repugnican National Committee before finally publicly acknowledging this week that he’s gay.

We (those of us gay men who were paying attention) all knew for years that Kenny Boy is gay. Way back in November 2004 I wrote about Mehlman’s closeted homosexuality.

The most common “defense” of Mehlman that I’ve been hearing as of late is that coming out can be a process, that it can take time, blah blah blah blah blah.*

Bullshit.

Mehlman was 37 years old when I blogged about him in November 2004. A 37-year-old man knows fully well whether or not he is primarily or exclusively sexually attracted to other men.

So the issue wasn’t that Mehlman wasn’t sure of his sexual orientation. The issue was that he was too much of a fucking coward and a fucking liar to be truthful with others about his sexual orientation.

And fine if we want to let pathetic closet cases pathetically drag their feet for years, knowing fully well that they are homosexual, perhaps even having sex with other men on the side while lying to everyone about their sexual orientation (a phenomenon that I refer to as “having one’s cock and eat it too”).

But not everyone who has his cock and eats it too is the fucking campaign manager for the BushCheneyCorp, which used whipped-up anti-gay sentiment as its centerpiece for the 2004 elections, just as the Repugnican Tea Party today is using the hatred of “illegals” and their “anchor babies” and Muslims as its centerpiece for the 2010 elections. And not every closet case then goes on to be the head of the RNC.

Ken Mehlman should be embraced by the non-heterosexual community to the same degree that a Jew who had helped the Nazis persecute the Jews should be embraced by the Jewish community.

That’s not hyperbole — that’s exactly how I feel about Ken Mehlman.

He’s a fucking traitor. He caused immeasurable harm to the non-heterosexual community and now he says that he’s one of us.

No, he isn’t one of us — and anyone who associates with him is, quite literally, palling around with a terrorist.**

*Mehlman himself is trying to use this defense. “It’s taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life,” he is quoted as having said. “Everybody has [his or her] own path to travel, [his or her] own journey, and for me, over the past few months, I’ve told my family, friends, former colleagues, and current colleagues, and they’ve been wonderful and supportive. The process has been something that’s made me a happier and better person. It’s something I wish I had done years ago.”

Mehlman conveniently leaves out the part, the little detail, where he supported the party that sold out non-heterosexuals for political gain, and he talks about his own happiness with apparent total disregard for what he did to others — who also wish that he’d come out of the closet years ago.

And really, anyone who uses the mawkish term “journey” to talk about his or her life should be shot immediately.

**My broad definition of “terrorism” is the use of fear for political gain, and Mehlman was instrumental in the Repugnican Tea Party’s use of the fear of and the hatred of non-heterosexuals for political gain.

There is no doubt that Mehlman’s support of the party that historically has persecuted non-heterosexuals has contributed to the national homophobic sociopolitical atmosphere that has caused the deaths of many non-heterosexuals.

There is no doubt in my mind that Mehlman is indirectly responsible for deaths of members of the community that he now claims for himself. I hope that his karma hits him sooner rather than later.

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