Tag Archives: Gay

Fireworks against a Stone Wall

Cause baby, you’re a firework
Come on show them what you’re worth
Make them go, “Oh, oh, oh”
As you shoot across the sky

Props to the folks from Vermont PRIDE who made the Third Annual Stonewall Commemoration happen. A nice blend of music, history, and personal reflection, it beautifully celebrated – and remembered – the night 45 years ago when some drag queens in a dive bar were being harassed yet again by the police, as they had been harassed time and again by pretty much all of modern society, and said “fuck this.”

They fought back. And inspired, on that significant queer night, for others to join them. Fought back and reclaimed a little piece of themselves that no one else has the right to take: their pride.

There is more to that night, of course. A lot more. And there’s more history before it, more after it, and the writing of such pages is ongoing. But I’ll save parsing of significant events and analysis to my political scientist husband who graduated summa cum laude and did his honors thesis on the gay rights movement.

For this little blog, and with the little time that I have before I go to work, I wanted to focus on just one aspect of the amazing, moving event: the opening song.

Trevor, an Outright Vermont youth, played an incredible acoustic rendition of the song Fireworks by Kate Perry.

I’m not a Kate Perry fan. Heck, I didn’t even know who she was till he played the song and mentioned her as being the songwriter. Afterwards, so touched by that song and it still resonating in my thoughts, I found her original version on You Tube.

I wouldn’t have thought that one could have a lyric like “Make them go, “Oh, oh, oh”” in a song without it sounding insipid. In Kate Perry’s version, I was right. So I clicked Perry off in mid “oh”, closed my eyes, and heard Trevor’s soft and soulful “Oh, oh, oh”; a voice that brought out the meaning of the lyrics – and here I will give props to Mrs. Perry for penning them — in a way such that tears came unbidden to my eyes.

Right now my current situation is very difficult and I feel oppressed, depressed, and stressed.

Perhaps ironically, being queer is the one thing in my life that isn’t brutally marked by those three things. Sure, oppression is still there; of course it is.

But what I mean is: I am now legally married to my spouse of 18 years and live in a progressive state. I am also out 24/7 and do not put up with homophobic bullshit. So although there is still much – much — work to do with regards to queer rights – especially for Trans folks – I feel mostly safe and secure in my sexuality. Maybe not yet safe as houses, but safe as at least a decent tent.

Right now it is poverty that is causing me the most anguish. I am one of the working poor: I work over forty hours a week at a low-paying, physically-demanding job and feel trapped; locked in an economic closet, as it were.

So trapped, disillusioned, and full of worthlessness, I almost didn’t go to the Stonewall Commemoration.

But Gary and I did and I heard Trevor sing.

The song is about being queer. It is about being poor. It is about being in any situation where you feel like others are in control; a song about feeling worthy no matter what others say or do. About knowing that you are inherently worthy despite circumstances that might make it seem otherwise. About showing that worth no matter what.

My writing is my attempt at showing.

My writing, though, hasn’t been as consistent as I would like it to be; that is, I haven’t been writing consistently. Hard financial circumstances and emotional exhaustion tends to dampen the fireworks of creativity despite the mythical and romanticized view of the starving artist.

My story thoughts have been disjointed and jumbled, all mixed together with trying-to-make-ends-meet ones; the latter casting doubts on the story ones being worthwhile at all. I have had a lot of starts and stops of new stories, fizzling out not because of no story left but because of the fire going out; extinguished by the dark water of despair that insidiously advised me that I wasn’t getting anywhere.

I recently installed the trial version of Scrivener to try to regain some order. It is a writing tool that allows for disjointed thoughts for when the linear is too overwhelming. With it, you can worry about coalescence and cohesiveness later; it encourages you to run with whatever story thread you have at the moment.

This morning I was thinking about how I could best use it when it occurred to me that one of those fizzled stories could have another view added, which would take it in a fresh direction. Using the flexibility of Scrivener, I could start working immediately on some scenes involving that view and worry about compiling them into the whole later.

But I’ll save the immediately for tomorrow, when I have a day off. For now, with the time counting down to the start of my shift, I will let this minor post be a little spark across the sky.

New Year’s Gay

Yes, this is another gay-affirming post. But it is also about dark matter, hyperloops, giant drill bits, collecting dung, and English as the dominant language for science.

I just wanted to mention the gay part upfront so that any homophobes who may have unintentionally stumbled upon this blog can flit away to the safety of their sandboxes where they can bury their heads and wait for Fox news to come on.

This post started at the Laundromat.

Well, technically, significant parts of it started way before that, but I will say it started at the Laundromat just for the sake of narrative clarity. Regardless, I found myself stuck there with the horrible misfortune of not having brought anything to read.

Now the nice thing about places that often require a great deal of waiting is that they tend to have reading material strewn about. It may not always be the preferred choice of such things, but it is there. As such, I can typically make do, having an eclectic enough yearning for learning that I can find things of interest from a variety of sources.

Just the other day, I read a most fascinating article by a biologist on the abnormal shift in the rutting patterns of deer. This was at the Mazda dealership, in a hunting magazine outside my usual perusing of periodicals called North American Whitetail.

As luck would have it, the Laundromat had something more straightforwardly in align with my tastes: the November 2013 issue of Popular Science.

Sad to say, I’m not smart enough to do science, or at least do it justice. Lot of the math behind the cutting edge leaves me in question mark land. But I can usually — somewhat — grasp the significance and implications of, say, a discovery, even if some (much) of the technical part goes over my head. If nothing else, I can go “ohhh” and “ahhh” as my understanding, dim as it may still be, is illuminated.

Dark matterDunkle Materie — is an entire intellectual orgasm worth of Ohs and Ahs. If you study philosophy and/or religious studies, you should want to pay some serious attention to it. Basically, it would seem, based on things like galaxies rotating faster than what would be expected and other gravitational effects that would require more mass — more material — in the universe than what is visible, that something is missing.

Something that takes up about 85% of our reality.

Another way of putting this would be that we are woefully ignorant — in the dark, to squeeze in a lame pun — of 85% of the universe. That’s a mind-tripping large amount of an invisible something making up the vast majority of, well, everything.

The way the article describes the current hunt for the elusive dark matter is too good an analogy not to share. It is like going after the invisible man. Say the invisible man were a jogger. You believe he is likely to jog down a certain street that has other joggers on it. So you watch the street. Watch and watch and watch. Because it is probable that at some point at some time during his daily jogging, he will happen to bump into another jogger, thus giving evidence of his presence.

You watch, and hope, and pray for that bump.

Other articles didn’t leave me quite as spellbound, but were nevertheless fascinating:

The fifty-seven foot wide drill bit tearing into Seattle ground with a force that would bring tears of joy to Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor’s eyes.

A proposed Hyperloop transportation system that seems like something straight out of science fiction, but is close to becoming reality. I could be wrong in my imagining here, but I’m thinking of the contestants in The Running Man traveling down those high-speed tubes and ejected onto the stage.

Profiles of some of the worst and best jobs for scientists. Worst were things like Dead Moose Dissector and Bush-Meat Market Data Collector (i.e. collecting dung). One of the best, and my personal favorite, was Extreme Product Tester, which should be self-explanatory.

The short bit on English being the current international language of science made me think how we evolve as a human race and how easily it could go in some other direction. We who speak English as a native language tend to expect the world will always understand us. What if we suddenly found that to be taken seriously as thinkers we had to write in Chinese?

Okay, so, that’s the science bit of this post, and on to the gay content.

But a prelude to the gay content is straight content, as the contents are linked. And it’s from the same magazine I’ve been talking about here: Popular Science.

As I flipped through the pages I came across an ad for Lee jeans. Now this was Popular Science, not GQ or Sports Illustrated, so the heterosexual context was more low-key. But still, in the picture, hanging on to the male model’s arm, was a woman, looking up at the jeans-wearer with adoring, relationship eyes.

They were not doing anything sexual, yet the image clearly indicated a heterosexual predisposition. A predisposition subtle enough that people with a similar predisposition might not notice it any more than right-handed people regular notice that the majority of desks in classrooms are designed with them in mind.

But I notice.

And I try to remember this when my culturally-instilled self-loathing tries to emerge and tell me I’m “too out” or “flaunting it” or in some other way acting in a fashion deserving of restraint. I try to remember this and think “Are you kidding?”

If anything, I’m not out enough, not forward enough, not yet bold enough in my proclamation of self.

We soak in heterosexuality. It is flaunted in subtle and not so subtle ways. So much so, it is not recognized as the flaunting that it is, or even that it is. Instead, it is typically absorbed without awareness into our subconscious and sweated out in policy-making that might seem at first glance — which is far too often also the only glance — as neutral, objective even, but actually isn’t.

So what is to be done about this? What can be done? What should be done?

Well, for starters, we of the LGBTQ community can speak out more. I don’t mean speak out more against the status quo of heterosexuality or against the subtle pervasion of homophobia. Although of course we can do those things, and we have been doing those things, and we should continue doing those things.

Rather, I mean we need to speak out more for ourselves.

We need to move away from being a persecuted class into being that of a liberated one. We need to become less concerned about how others view us and more concerned about how we view ourselves. Acceptance by others is a benefit, but acceptance of ourselves is a requirement.

These are not unrelated or incompatible notions. For the more rock-solid view of ourselves we have — and the more we assert our natural right to express it — the less damage the fickle weather of the majority can cause us. What does a mountain care about either sunshine or thunderstorm?

My 2014 goal is to market my writing, and myself, with the artistic honesty and integrity both deserve. With that in mind, I have created New Business Cards.

New Business Cards

Let the New Year begin!

Becoming a Vermonter

IMG_20130813_171755

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

Okay, so I need to get in the habit of regular blogging. I mean that’s what you are supposed to do, right? No one just works on stories and poems any more. You need to ensure your social platform is regularly infused with new content to stay visible.

Often what happens, though, is my brain is so regularly infused with new content, and the subsequent new new content that comes from that then old new content getting processed a half-dozen different ways, is many things that might at the moment be cool (I think) to blog about end up getting buried instead.

But at this moment — and that’s all we ever really have — I feel like it might be cool to talk a little bit about our new place and new city and maybe even throw in a why or two, even though why questions by their very nature can be dangerous in the hands of the philosophically careless and any purported answers to them should be handled with kid gloves if handled at all.

But such thinking is for later posts — unless that thinking gets buried and stays buried — and at this moment I’m thinking of Gary and me both having places to work in our new place. The picture at the beginning is my particular work area and shows the table where I did my current paying work today of checking papers submitted to Public Library of Science, ensuring metadata is accurate and that the manuscripts are formatted correctly and so on.

And yes, there is an empty box there at the back and also a swath of brown paper on the floor near the front. What can I say? Our cats love boxes, especially from Amazon. As for the brown paper, it is the special kind of packing paper that you sometimes get in those empty boxes when they aren’t empty yet.

Amber, our young female cat, goes nuts over the crinkly, crackly claw-friendly stuff. She plays with it in all sorts of self-entertaining ways. She covers herself with it, dives into it, and hides things under it. She nestles it, shreds it, and in general has a right good time rearranging it like it is all the cat’s meow this side of feline origami.

So we keep it and an empty box or two at the expense of looking a little trashy.

As you probably can guess from that, my space is shared space.

IMG_20130813_172013

But there is enough room that it isn’t too bad, as Amber frequently finds other places to be.

IMG_20130813_171822

As far as that goes, and it goes pretty far, our oldest cat hangs out in the shared space, too, loving the couch. But he also finds other parts of the apartment to his liking.

IMG_20130813_171938

As far as outside our apartment, the best way to describe it is green. Mountains and green with small towns separated by miles and miles of this incredibly beautiful mountainous green. So beautiful I’m thinking at this moment that it maybe should be a post in itself, along with talking about what all is within walking distance of us now that we are living in the smallest capital in the nation.

So I’ll just jump forward to a blog-entry-ending why. Although there are many why‘s, as there always is, one of the most significant why‘s is answered by something we didn’t think we would see in our lifetime.

IMG_20130813_185038

With section three of DOMA struck down and the visit to the Justice of the peace that we took soon after moving here, our well over 17 years of marriage is now a marriage that is not only legally recognized by Vermont and 12 other living-in-the-twenty-first-century states, but Federally recognized as well.

The importance of this ruling is huge.

Huge enough that it totally changes the why question. It is no longer just a Why should we move to Vermont? Instead, with Indiana being as legislatively hateful as it was, is, and continues to strive to be, it is Why on earth would we stay?

He’s My Husband Not My Couch

Language is an arbitrary system of articulated sounds made use of by a group of humans as a means of carrying on the affairs of their society (Francis 1958:13) [my emphasis]

I think that’s close to the definition my mom shared with me over three decades ago as we discussed reading, writing, and the power of both. I was in elementary school then and am relying on memory now, but the impression it made on me has kept 80% of her exact wording intact despite no active effort on my part to remember it.

We are so used to using words, we sometimes forget that words in and of themselves have no inherent meaning. One doesn’t go digging out in the desert and uncover the word “Dog”, or even “Sand” for that matter. Rather we develop a system where we can make an utterance that another fellow user of that system will understand we are talking about dog and sand if that is what we are needing to convey to them.

Persons who oppose marriage equality often accuse me of redefining marriage. But that’s misunderstanding how language works. Definitions, like cultures, are never static. They come out of society’s need to communicate certain ideas, not the other way around.

This need is society dependent. As such, between any two societies there can be whole swaths of words that are utterly absent from one or the other, or are at the least quite cumbersome to translate if they can be translated at all.

For purposes of this blog entry, the Yanomamo tribe of Indians comes to mind. Familial relationships are important to them in carrying out their affairs. So where we use the generic word Aunt and Uncle to describe a sibling of either our mother or our father, they have a separate word for each, instantly letting the listener know with a high degree of specificity what the person’s exact relationship is to them.

Likewise, when I am allowed to use the word husband to describe Gary — which I am prevented from doing so in the course of filling out any number of heterosexist forms, such as taxes — any listener or reader in my culture instantly knows where he fits into my life.

They know we are not shacked up. They know I’m not referencing a business partner. They don’t think he is just one of many others in my life who are significant. Nor do they think I am referring to a fellow member of a union that requires dues.

And they sure as heck don’t think I’m talking about the davenport in my living room, the Internet, or cell phones.

Only someone being deliberately ignorant would claim to be confused by my use of husband. Only the slyly disingenuous would say they do not know what I am meaning when I say, He is my husband. Only those who are being maliciously incendiary would assert that I’m using the term husband in some wholly foreign way comparable to using it to refer to a tree or a rock or a box turtle.

For we as a society have a common bond of shared language that allows this effective, and wholly unambiguous, piece of straightforward — and honest — communication:

I am married.

I have a husband.

His name is Gary.

Three simple sentences that you don’t have to be smarter than a fifth grader to understand. Nor do you need a dictionary for comprehension.

The Necessitation of Sexual Orientation Revelation

EMT Timothy McCormick was killed Saturday night.

He was gay, an eagle scout, and on duty. Those three words — gay, scout, and duty — are important ones and should be said loud and clear, in that order, over and over again.  They need to be Klaxon loud until deaf America hears.

To do so is not playing politics, pushing an agenda or showing disrespect. To NOT do so would be more accurately described as possessing such attributes and is exactly the kind of subtle inaction anti-gay factions promote in their fabrication of reality.

We are having discussions of the discriminatory sexual orientation policy of the Boys Scouts of America in the unreal world of there being no gays in the scouts. The real world is where gays are already there and have shown their mettle rising up through the ranks from Cub Scout to Eagle Scout. You’re damn right it is important that Timothy was an Eagle Scout AND gay.

We are having discussions of marriage equality in the unreal Micah Clark world of gays not caring about anyone but themselves. The real world is where gays not only care about others but are actively engaged — on duty — in jobs that serve and protect adults and children alike. You’re damn right it is important that Timothy was an EMT AND gay.

We are having discussions of sex education in the Stacey Campfield unreal world of gays wanting to recruit children. The real world is where self-identified LGBT children are being bullied and it is society as a whole that needs better sex education.

The fact that in the real world Timothy made an It Gets Better video empowering such kids is damn important, too.

A crucial step in disenfranchising a class is rendering that class invisible in the social sphere. This allows malicious artists of the unreal the opportunity to paint broad brushstrokes of generalizations. The best counter to such sweeping statements is specificity.

The kind of specificity that necessitates constant, continuous, and unrelenting revelation of sexual orientation.

Such call for action might be construed as a call for gays being in your face about their –and others — sexual orientation. You’re damn right it is such a call.

For It has to be that way as long as blind America keeps on turning its head and omitting us from obituaries, wedding announcements, and any other normal societal frame of reference that humanizes us and the people whom we love.

Timothy’s death was a tragedy, make no mistake about that. But to not draw attention to his sexual orientation would be a travesty.

Timothy McCormick, may you rest in peace.

And may the world in which you lived keep on getting better.

Not Enough Compasses

We have too many laws and not enough compasses.

I was going to write about Mr. Marsh of Marsh Supermarkets and his curious claim that he was unaware of being under a code of conduct during his employment.  I have strong opinions about morality versus law (or code or policy or commandment).

Obeying or not obeying some edict or other has little to do with being moral. Many religions drive me crazy with their specious claims to morality. If you are only doing or not doing something for fear of punishment by the Big G in the sky, the policeman down the street, or your mum and dad, you may be curbing behavior but you are certainly not automatically being moral.

Instead, you are just a dog not pissing on the carpet for fear of the master’s lash.

I thought I would write on this and segue into Boy Scouts territory with a deconstruction of “morally straight” in their oath. I would talk about the shallow absurdity of believing that straight refers to “put your penis there but not there.”

But I think I might write about a dead raccoon instead.

Living in the city, I do not see a decent variety of wildlife. But my husband and I have started feeding the stray cats that come by and that has attracted other creatures, like birds and dogs and squirrels. And, until now, the raccoon.

He loved our house. After eating, he would shimmy up the wooden beams on our porch and hang out on our roof.

Last night I came home from the SGI Buddhist Center. As I parked in the street I saw him about fifteen feet in front of me. Dead.

Ran-over. Killed. Murdered.

He was so beautiful up there on our roof; a beautiful that will be no more.

Today I sent a service request to the Mayor’s Action Center. It’s an efficient site. I just picked the correct options from drop down boxes: dead animal — raccoon — location.  There are laws governing such things and I did my part, my civic duty, by reporting it.

But such action on my part wasn’t moral. It was functional,  behavioral, and responsible, but not moral. Morality can certainly include those three things, but those things can also be separate.

Instead, morality is the feeling I get when I contribute to the beautiful, whether on the rooftop or elsewhere in the world. It is the pit I feel in my stomach, like it’s been hollowed out, when I see the once beautiful now just so much discarded meat in the road.

Morality requires action, but it also requires a feeling; an emotional pull on the needle of your personal moral compass that keeps you heading in the right direction.

Passing laws or policies has little to do with instilling people with their own moral compasses. But the good news is that compasses come pre-installed. There just aren’t enough compasses being used as we too often settle on the ease — and empty morality — of simply obeying the rules.

It is time for us to move beyond canine obedience into human compassion.

Think Progress.