The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

QueerlyKos – The “Just As I Am” Edition

Can we just not talk about this week? Suffice it to say I was otherwise occupied, and when I looked back over the lgbt-related links I somehow still managed to compile I was surprised that there was actually other stuff going on. So trust me, I’ll find these links as informative as anyone else will. Because it’s almost like I’m hearing them for the first time.

  • Uh. There’s no easy way to bring this up. So let’s just get it out of the way. Wednesday — hump day, as it were — was the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Defense of Marriage Act. I never was much good at remembering anniversaries.
  • Appropriately, Bill Frist introduced another bill to protect marriage. Well, it makes about as much sense as any of the actual bills introduced. Doesn’t it?
  • Seriously though, pamindurham dropped to point out the hard hitting new ad by Fair Wisconsin that spells out just why it matters. And what happens when same-sex couples find themselves without any rights.
  • And if you’re still wondering whether marriage matters or not, or you having had enough of progressives arguing about it, the Campus Progress gay marriage debate is now in its fourth day.
  • Wisconsin may be the first state to turn back one of these amendments. Now voters in Minnesota showed signs last week that they’re tiring of the issue, when they rejected two Senate primary challengers backed by the state’s largest anti-gay marriage group.
  • Backers of anti-gay marriage referendum Illinois gave up trying to get it on the ballot after falling short of the required number of valid signatures.
  • Speaking gay marriage, both Good As You point and Ex-Gay Watch pointed out Focus on the Family’s hypocrisy on marriage, the latter emphasizing that “they will trot out some married ex-gays to hint and suggest that gay people can miraculously become heterosexual but behind the token wives and children is the message that for the vast majority of gay people, Focus’ goal is a life of celibacy.”
  • Maybe they’re just setting realistic goals. Wayne Besen ventured into “ex-gay” territory, attending a “revival” at one such “ministry” in North Carolina, and heard the minister admit never having been “cured” himself. Pam points out that he’s made similar admissions before,and this is after 30 years of marriage. The kicker is that if you try and fail, it’s your fault. Doesn’t mean you can’t change. Just that you didn’t try hard enough. Wayne points out that this comes at a high price for some. “Wilkins stressed that those who don’t become straight or successfully celibate fail because they are not sufficiently obedient to God. From my experience this message is particularly dangerous. People who don’t “change” after long and emotionally draining efforts often think they have been rejected by a God who doesn’t hear their prayers while He helps others become heterosexual. This can often lead to low self-esteem, severe depression and even suicide.” Seems no matter how you slice it, according to them we’re supposed to be miserable. Is that the best they can offer?
  • Well, maybe. After all, things don’t always end well when gay people marry heterosexuals. The Gay Parenting Show notes that former NJ governor Tim McGreevey got so twisted up in the closet that he opposed same-sex marriage in order to keep his own sexuality hidden. And Damn Straight features a letter from a man who grew up with a closeted gay dad, suggesting that growing up with a parent who invests so much energy in repressing their feelings can have have on a kid who faces (in the authors words) “growing up learning how not to feel how I felt.” (The blogger at Damn Straight shared her own feelings on the subject several months ago.)
  • As Bill puts it, a person can’t get that twisted up without hurting other people, whether intentionally or not.
  • Or to put it another way, with no need for a link, here’s two words: Karl Rove.
  • Straight, Not Narrow points out an Advocate column titled “I Hate Being Gay” which is about the best example of what the “ex-gay” crowd has to offer. If that’s not gut-wrenching enough, the author of the article is a teenager. Jim, at SNN, sums it up better than I can. “Sadly, I very strongly believe that he is mistaken in his belief that he can deny who he really is and still live a happy life. He and many others like him have allowed Satan to speak to him through those who don’t understand or intentionally misrepresent God’s word and prevent him from experiencing the fullness of life as a gay Christian.”
  • No link here. Just a summary. It seems they actually don’t offer much of a choice. Either way, it’s a lifetime of self-hatred and constant struggle. The only choice appears to be a matter of how many people you’re going to drag down that path with you. Hurt other people, or hurt yourself. Period.
  • Shared without comment: ten percent of straight-identified men have sex with men and 70% of those men are married.
  • Funny thing is that children of gay parents who aren’t in the closet can turn out alright.
  • But children that have two gay parents who love them, and a happy enough to sing about it, just don’t know how unhappy they should be.
  • Maybe that’s because those gay parents are doing what good parents do, like being actively involved in their children’s lives, and interested in their education. Turns out those gay parents are wrong for doing any of that. That leaves me puzzled. Is it that we can’t be good parents, or that we shouldn’t?
  • Or maybe it’s that if we’re being good parents and raising healthy, happy children then we’re failing to live up to their lies about us.
  • Lies they keep telling, even if they’re the butt of the joke.
  • But there are people out there who aren’t laughing; people who believe them. Like the person sent a letter to my future state Senator, who also happens to be a gay dad. Among other things, the letter says “Same-sex attraction and transgender feelings are abnormal, preventable, and treatable,” and “You are too close to the problem to see it.”
  • But this is the same twisted logic that defines unconditional love as “I love you. Now change.”
  • Unfortunately, they don’t own the market on twisted logic. Pitin points out that the Virginia Log Cabin Republicans will hold a fundraiser for a Republican state rep. who’s declared his support of the proposed anti-gay marriage amendment to the state constitution. It takes two to tango, I guess.
  • It’s not like there aren’t Republicans worth supporting. Eternal Hope notes that John Danforth weighed in against anti-gay discrimination and against an anti-gay marriage amendment to the U.S. constitution. And he doesn’t even have a gay kid, I don’t think. Imagine if he’d been the pick for VP.
  • Speaking families and Parenting, Damn Straight also has a fascinating post about a straight couple in Ottowa who helped two gay couples become parents, with an even more fascinating tidbit about one half of that couple.
  • OK. I’ll admit it. Damn Straight was hot this week. If I had to guess at a reason why the other side doesn’t want gay people to be parents, or even good parents, my guess is that something like this post scares them to death. If gay people have kids, and those kids don’t grow up in a house filled with pain, deception and self-loathing, but instead grow up with parents who accept themselves and can thus be fully present for their children… Well, not only might they grow up healthy, but they might vote. And they might register other people to vote.
  • Thinks about it. Already a majority of people in Colorado support giving same-sex couples most of the legal rights that married couples have. This is James Dobson’s back yard, folks. Now, if you have gay couples showing up at PTA meetings and going to little league games to support their kids (where people can actually see them, and meet them), that’s gonna influence people. And if their kids grow up healthy, not to mention voting and registering other people to vote? Well, sooner or later you might have full on equality.
  • Of course, it’s our fault for being immature and downright crazy enough to want whole, happy lives and full equality. Acting as if we deserve that much may be grounds for a ticket to the nearest psych ward.
  • After all, that stuff’s reserved for married, heterosexual Christians. They can break out the sex toys and swing from the chandeliers if they want.
  • To be fair, not all Christian folks would sentence us to lonely, sexless, loveless, childless lives (or lonely, sexless, loveless lives with heterosexuals spouses, and children if we nix the sexless part), or mental institutions. Well, there’s at least one who doesn’t, and he’s a tattooed, pierced evangelist raised by Tammy Faye Baker. That might explain it. If I’m ever in Williamsburg, I might drop in on a service. But just for the candy.
  • Maybe that’s why they’re more invested in misery, like the Republican governor of Missouri who — benwaxman points out — is outraged that LBGT students might not be discriminated against, or that they might have legal protections if they are discriminated against. Once again, people just don’t know how unhappy they should be.
  • Because LGBT students should be harassed. Going back to school should be hell for them. How else are they going to be kept in line? How else are they going to have an incentive to change, or at least force themselves to conform externally to conventions that tie them in knots internally? So what if it’s painful or even horrific? So was slavery, but the end justified the means there. By the way folks, that’s not me talking. That’s NARTH. Strangely enough, they said it, and then took it all back. Twice.
  • Dammit, this is exactly why teachers and students need the right to proselytize in school. One person’s “harassment” is another person’s “ministry,” after all. And besides, what’s a little hell on earth as opposed to…? Well, you know the rest.
  • And some are so concerned for our souls that they get nearly apoplectic at the thought of someone else not discriminating against us.
  • Can you blame them? Even Fox News isn’t safe. The network just spent $10,000 to sponsor a gay journalists conference in Miami, FL. That’s $10,000 the network won’t spend on its new faith-based programming. Plus they put a black homosexual on the air, talking about “the danger of the closet.”
  • I said some, not all. There are some Christians who don’t support boycotts of companies that don’t discriminate against us.
  • If you want to know how some folks really think things should be, let wclathe take you a journey back to 1957 and what came to be known as “the purge” in Greensboro, NC.
  • And that story reminded me of one I read years ago, from the same era, about a panic set off by the sexual murders of two children. It ended with 20 gay men who had nothing to do with the crime, being arrested, charged as “sexual psychopaths” and locked in a state mental institution. Don’t think that’s the world they want? Remember, they think we’re “treatable.” Fortunately, we have the right to refuse “treatment.” For now.

I could add more, but I’ll stop in the interest of actually getting this posted, and because I think I’ve exhausted the theme in this round-up. It’s one that I still find myself pondering about. When I weigh in one hand the best that the “ex-gay” path can offer me, and the life that I have now with my family, there’s no contest.

What’s stranger still is that, at bottom, the “ex-gay” and I are simply different sides of the same coin. I thought about it as I was getting lunch, and realized that the eatery was playing instrumental Christian “Muzak” over the AP. I recognized one of the chorus of one song that I grew up hearing and singing, around the time I was coming out (at 12): “At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light, and the burdens of my heart rolled away. It was there by faith I received by sight, and now I am happy all the day.”

The difference between the “ex-gay” and me is simple one of different burdens, different struggles. The minister Wayne Besen rights about, sees his sexuality as a burden, a cross to bear. Growing up and coming out in a similar religious context, for me, has meant something different. Despite all my noise about being “out, loud, and proud” the struggle for me has been to let myself believe that I’m worthy of love and happiness “Just As I Am,” to borrow a phrase from another hymn. The burden is having been taught almost from the beginning that I don’t, and contending with people who still believe that.

Which struggle is harder? Which burden heavier? I can’t say. For me, there just wasn’t any other real choice.