Tuesday, December 24, 2013

On the Gay Thing

This isn't the usual post. I usually post about guns, cooking and various things that either thrill or peeve me - with the exception of the last, those are fun to write about and that last exception is good for me as it lets me vent, lowering my blood pressure.

This one? This is more a post about using small words for the hard of thinking.

When did you sit down and decide to be heterosexual? MMmmm...you can't remember?

If you can, you're one of those rare "bi" critters and can take this entire post and file it under "mmm, never mind."

But for most folks, gay or straight, there is about as much choice in the matter as there is about how tall we are, our natural eye or hair color, or whether we need glasses. It's neither good nor bad, it's simply the hand that we're dealt. For our merely human purposes, it really doesn't matter whether you subscribe to the notion of an uncaring universe filled with randomness or a more personal divine influence on such matters - in either case, or the many possibilities between - you get the hand you're dealt, and that is the hand you get to play as your life unfolds.

You have choices in how you're going to respond to this hand you've been dealt. You can go pout in the corner, jump up and down and cry about how unfair it all is, try and pretend it just isn't so (though this has a number of particularly ugly complications), do the last with bells on and try and *prove* it just isn't so (which usually involves doing things that allegedly "can't be done by gay folks", whether trying to become a SEAL or taking up gay-bashing as a hobby - or you can take a deep breath, and with greater or lesser drama, simply accept that you're a member of the LGBT community and get on with life.

In short, it's not a choice. It's not a lifestyle. A lifestyle is something like deciding you're going to join the Hells Angels, Bandidos, Society of Creative Anachronism or a Civil War Re-enactors group. You might take up Buddhism or Catholicism, or even become a Pastafarian. All of those are, to a greater or lesser extent, lifestyles.

Being a blonde or a brunette isn't a lifestyle. Neither is being short or tall, nor white/black/asian/etc. You might get some cultural baggage for falling into one of those groups, but that doesn't make any of them lifestyles. Same thing is true of being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.

What makes a lifestyle a "lifestyle" is that at some point you had a choice in the matter. LGBT folk have no more choice in the matter than hetero folks, or any of these other groups I mention. You either are or you aren't, and all you get is to decide how to react to whatever you are.

If we postulate God doesn't have a particularly sadistic and slapstick sense of humor, we're left with the notion that at least LGBT folks (and the list can get longer awfully quick) are some kind of horrible divine error OR that LGBT folks are here for some divine purpose beyond our comprehension.

At least in the faith I grew up in, fundamental precepts include that God doesn't make mistakes (kind of shooting down an entire range of logical possibility), that God is omnipotent (ruling out accident) and loving (ruling out "sadistic bastard with a lowbrow sense of humor"). This leaves us with God putting LGBT folks here for an as yet unknown divine reason.

With this in mind, we are not either doomed or blessed to any greater extent than the average hetero kid with the same general range of sins, foibles and virtues.

Like a lot of other groups with the misfortune of being different (i.e., "goat du jour") the LGBT community has gotten to put up with generous heaping helpings of bonus bulls**t over the years. Bashings, discriminatory laws, social opprobrium (look it up!), and generally an extra rough road.

Difference makes demonization (the politicians friend "THEY ARE DIFFERENT! AND SCARY! YOU NEED TO GIVE US POWER/MONEY/ADORATION TO PROTECT YOU FROM THEM! ESPECIALLY YOUR CHILDREN & WIMMINS!") a fair amount easier. It's HARDER to be scared of Joe Dungaree next door that looks just like you, believes the same thing, as far as you can tell does the same variety of things with his life, etc.

So those with detectable differences are easy targets for these twits to use in their quest for power - the only thing that changes is who gets to be the goat on a particular day.

And this is where Robertson's comments got folks in the LGBT community so riled up - the familiarity of the tone. An awful lot of the crud we've put up with over the years can be tracked right back to some holy type preaching to a crowd of knuckle-draggers a theme of "hate the sin, love the sinner" - knuckle-draggers that most frequently are too dim to understand the "love the sinner" bit and rush out to either "punish" the sinner (see assault/rape/murder or (possibly even more vile) to pummel the sinner into "virtue" for the "sinners own good."

I suspect, by now, all but the hardest of thinking might - just maybe - pick up now on why many in the LGBT community got a tad fired up.

I stick with my original theme ("Spankings for All!") in this matter, but will admit that this episode has both left me a bit more concerned about how much progress towards simple safety we've made based on some of the comments out there, and glad that I can carry tools to either ward off such nimrods or at least ensure that I have a decent sized honor guard.


Old NFO said...

Understand your point GC, but what 'I' have problems with are the 'attack dogs' from various (not just the GLADD) organizations, that immediately seize on something like this or the nativities at Christmas, and blow it up as hard as they can. They play the PC card, or racist card, or atheist card for all it's worth rather than having a real 'discussion' of what may have been the root cause of the issue. When rhetoric and emotion get ramped up, there is not really a good way to defuse the situation. Just sayin...

Anonymous said...

"Alternative" types are so utterly programmed to act in kneejerk ways to kneejerk stuff they oppose. It makes them look emotional, reactionary, immature...and I fear that a lot of ground is going to be lost in the coming decade or two because of that. "Alternative" is supposed to mean another way of being. Around my still-liberal friends, I often feel like I'm trapped in the pages of /Elmer Gantry/. (I consider myself ex-liberal/Progressive but not conservative.)

I have had four different conservative Christian gunnie friends ask me what I thought of this whole kerfuffle with Mr. Robertson. I don't lead with my queer with these folks--it's really nobody's business, for starters--but they all know something is unusual about my home life. They also know (and in some cases have worked with for decades) all of us involved. Since I don't merchandize commodify or politicize it ("We're a bisexual and gay polyamorous family--GET USED TO IT you intolerant teabagger homophobe!"), and since we are part of a larger system of support, it doesn't seem to matter.

In response to the Robertson thing, I asked them to be more precise about what they were asking me to react to. I was positively surprised that several said, "Do you think it should be OK for someone to express their disgust over homosexuality in public?"

My reply to that is that I am a First Amendment as well as Second Amendment absolutist, so, yes, absolutely. People should always be honest, for even if you deeply disagree with someone, it helps you with the mission of holding your friends close and your enemies closer.

I waited a beat then proceeded to note with dry humor that it seemed to me, however, that Mr. Robertson's obsession with anal matters indicated a problem in his childhood with potty training.

One of my Christian atheist friends was offended by that, and I replied very gently, "It sounds like you're upset by this topic." Took several weeks of gentle intermittent interaction to learn that it turns out he was deeply upset because he'd learned years ago that a (same sex) close friend of his was gay, expressed his own similar (to Robertson's) opinion, and lost the friendship. He eventually said, over coffee, "I never had the chance to talk it over with him. I didn't know how. Now instead of a friend I've got wounds and confusion."

I'd say that's a good statement of where we're at. I keep telling my "progressive" friends--look, doods, we WON. We changed the world. It's not 1950 anymore (if indeed it ever was, at least the version of the ghosts in their heads). It's time to stop replaying the old dramas and learn new ways of interacting.