Homosexual Holy Day

People think that Halloween is the holiest holiday in the LGBTQ+ calendar, but this is not correct. Today is the holiest day, and I almost missed it. Today is National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day, which according to Life Site News was founded in 1995 by ex-gay advocate Michael Johnston. (Ordinarily I would point backgrounder links at Wikipedia, but in this case both of these topics are MYSTERIOUSLY ABSENT.)

National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day celebrates former homosexuals. Finding official pages about the holiday is difficult because they are also MYSTERIOUSLY ABSENT from my search results, but according to third party reports Coming Out of Homosexuality Day honors the changed lives of thousands of men and women who formerly identified themselves as gay. Once upon a time people of alternative sexualities had little vocabulary to describe themselves. Even lesbians called themselves “gay”. Now, thanks to decades of LGBTQ+ activism, we have a rainbow of labels to plaster on ourselves, from “twinks” to “demisexuals” to the ever popular “heteroflexible”. We are no longer limited to putting ourselves in the stifling box of “gay”.

But Coming Out of Homosexuality Day has a more serious purpose. Do you know of people who are struggling with their homosexuality? There are many resources on the internet you can point them to. Exodus has rebranded itself as Changed Movement, a “community of friends who once identified as LGBTQ+”. You can take a Journey into Manhood on the Brothers Road (formerly known as “peoplecanchange.org”). Then of course there is Focus on the Family, which has a phenomenal Frequently Asked Questions section, which you should all read even if you are not struggling with same sex attraction (hi Deedles!).

Honestly, the Frequently Asked Questions page makes for fascinating reading. If your mind has been poisoned by the liberal sex radical Dan Savage, this is the perfect antidote. Savage frequently counsels callers who struggle with visiting their religious parents over the (straight people) holidays, but have you ever considered the other side? The advice from the anti-Savage is both what I was expecting, and not what I was expecting at all.

The ex-gay movement gets a bad rap these days. For example, the aforementioned Michael Johnston got into trouble when it was revealed he was having unprotected hookups with men (and possibly infecting men with HIV in the process). Any number of ex-gay leaders subsequently dropped out of the movement and turned homosexual again. But I have more than a little sympathy for it, and not just because I am a self-loathing homosexual. I’m not on board for the Jesus stuff (more’s the pity), but I honestly think that more than a few of the advocates most involved in the movement acted out of love, not hate. I listened to a series of interviews with former Exodus leader Alan Chambers. There is no question that Exodus and its brethren have caused harm to many, many people. There is no question that some people in the movement were (and are) cynical fundraisers preying on people’s ignorance and fears. But from listening to Chambers’s interviews, and from associated with some mild homophobes in my own social circles, I do not feel our demonization of them is accurate. (I also feel that if bisexuals exist they have a lot to answer for, but that is neither here nor there.)

Furthermore I think that the techniques they use to lure self-loathing homosexuals work because they reflect some of the actual struggles gay people face. Furthermore, I think that gays inflict some of these struggles on each other (Grindr, anyone?). None of us want to admit this (victim blaming!) but I see evidence of it all over the blogosphere.

Although National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day is not widely remembered, I think it is important. It is important to understand what people thought and felt in the bad old days when stores did not festoon themselves with Pride flags. It is important to understand the humanity of those who went through the ex-gay movement and those who cling to it still. History repeats itself, and we have new targets now (transpeople, drug addicts, sex workers), and when the liberal media shoves this stuff down the memory hole then we lose something important.

So Happy Coming Out of Homosexuality Day, everyone. I hope you have a joyful celebration, and you don’t let the spectre of National Coming Out Day* tomorrow hang over you too heavily. (But Steven should still come out to his high school friend and his uncle whether he wants to or not.)

* Oh look. National Coming Out Day is on Wikipedia. How mysterious.

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HIV Non-Disclosure

If the title was not trigger warning enough, be aware that this is one of those “alienate the rest of my readers” posts.

Recently, I listened to Episode 643 of the Savage Lovecast, Dan Savage’s situational ethics podcast. One call in particular made me more furious than usual, and I am still trying to understand why. In the spirit of free association I am going to type things out and see whether I can find any clarity.

The call in question was from a transwoman sex worker. She had a sugar daddy who was offering to take her on a trip (a boat cruise?). She had not told the sugar daddy (or presumably her other clients) about her HIV+ status, and wanted Dan’s blessing for this. She claimed to have an undetectable viral load, and since undetectable equals untransmissable, she reasoned (or “reasoned”) that this was none of her sugar daddy’s business, and besides if he knew maybe he would not be her sugar daddy any more. Dan gave the sex worker his blessing on ethical grounds, but cautioned that legally there might be laws (oh so regressive laws!) that mandated disclosure from HIV-positive people to their sex partners. Dan said that if the caller did not want her sugar daddy seeing her pills, she should not go on the trip.

The caller was pretty flippant. She rhetorically asked whether she was the future for not disclosing. She was pretty clear that she was happy not to disclose to her partners, and she was pretty clear that she did not want to lose business on account of her status. Hearing that made me very, very angry. To be fair, I was already angry, but this call made me angrier in ways that other calls (including the previous call, which was also about HIV disclosure) did not. Let’s explore why, starting with the most phobic reasons.

Am I just being HIV-phobic? Sure. There is an element of that at play. Intellectually I know that undetectable is untransmissible. I also know that it is safer for somebody to be on HIV meds than sleeping with somebody whose status is unknown and who is not on PrEP (aka HIV meds). But even though my intellectual comfort with HIV has improved over the years (particularly since 1996), I don’t think that emotional gutpunch will ever go away. Maybe it would if I was in an intimate relationship with somebody who was poz. Maybe not. I have a lot of debilitating and sometimes irrational phobias, and HIV is one of them.

If some hypothetical universe where somebody was willing to sleep with me, I would be pretty ticked off being in that sugar daddy’s position. That is not limited to HIV. If somebody had syphilis or chlamydia or even herpes, I would want to know, so that I could be the one making the decision of sleeping with that person, as opposed to having that decision made for me. I feel very strongly about this, and it is probably a large source of my anger.

So there is an emotional gut-punch of HIV-phobia, but I do not think that explains everything. Let’s turn to the next accusation. Am I just being transphobic? Am I reacting so poorly to this call because the caller is a transwoman?

My answer to this is maybe. Certainly other people (in particular some trans activists) would label me as transphobic, because I do not adhere to every ideological stance taken by (some? most?) trans activists. I do not, however, think that I am more transphobic than the median LGBTQ+ person. I won’t pull the “some of my best friends are trans!” nonsense on you (it is not as if I have friends) but I do know and occasionally interact with at least a dozen trans people through my activities with local LGBTQ+ groups. I am not trans and do not claim to know what being trans is like, but I broadly support the rights of trans people to exist and live with safety. But I am sure it is possible that I reacted poorly because this caller was a transwoman as opposed to a gay man or cis woman sex worker.

Am I just being anti-sex-worker? Maybe. There is definitely an element of my reaction that is related to the caller being a sex worker, but that has more to do with trust and less to do with her profession. I believe that uncoerced prostitution should be legal, but that people should have good choices available to them so they do not have to become sex workers unless they really want to. But overall I do not see that much difference between being a sex worker and being a regular worker. They are both forms of prostitution, in my view.

I think there is more going on here, though. The first thing has to do with what being ethical means. My personal definition (which I am sure I have unconsciously stolen from some famous philosopher) is that ethics is the tension between individual and group benefit. When I do something for my own benefit at the expense of broader society, then I am (usually? always?) acting unethically. In that light, I see two ways in which this caller is clearly acting unethically, and neither has to do with HIV-transmission directly.

The first way in which this seems unethical is the same way in which staying in the closet is unethical. By being out of the closet straight people see us and become more used to having LGBTQ+ people around, and thus they are less likely to be phobic to us or about us. In some sense, we have gay marriage because Lynn Lynne Mary Cheney came out to her dad, and because George W Bush enjoyed watching Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Having said that, although remaining closeted does some passive harm to our fellow LGBTQ+ people (by not paving the way) it is difficult for me to argue that it does active harm, provided that we are not acting in homophobic ways ourselves to fit in. I consider not coming out a venial sin, not a mortal one.

In the same way, this caller is missing an opportunity to reduce HIV stigma in the world by not coming out as HIV positive. That part is a venial sin. But there is something about her situation that feels more serious. The caller is staying in the HIV-positive closet not only to avoid stigma, but to financially benefit from this lack of disclosure. That seems more serious to me. The caller wants to have as much business as possible, and is unwilling to disclose any information that might reduce that business, regardless of whether those reasons are rational or not.

Say this sugar daddy (or the caller’s other clients) is comfortable with the idea of hiring an HIV-positive sex worker. Then there is no harm done if the caller comes out. Say the sugar daddy is not comfortable with this, and like me feels a gut emotional reaction to HIV. Then what? Then this caller is definitely doing harm to broader society, because when this guy finds out it will affect not only her business, but the business of other sex workers as well.

That brings up trust, which I think is the biggest ethics violation here. The caller is not disclosing her HIV status because she has a financial incentive to hide it. In doing so, she undermines trust in all sex workers. (To be fair, this is a problem with all of capitalism, which is why the smoothest transactions happen between partners that already know and trust each other, and the most frictionful ones happen between strangers.)

But she also undermines her own trust. She knows that her sugar daddy would prefer to be aware of his sugar baby’s HIV status, but she does not want to lose the business. Otherwise she would not have called at all. So she is deceitful for her own benefit. Why should we believe she is trustworthy in every other way? When she says that she is undetectable and therefore untransmissible, why should we believe that? What other things is this caller willing to lie about to secure her business? The flippant way in which she dismisses this deceit makes me want to not trust her at all.

The analogy that comes to mind is when people have affairs (another activity that Dan Savage almost always blesses, on the basis of increasingly flimsy “what-if” scenarios). The damage when someone has an affair is not usually the sex. Usually it is the loss of trust from that person’s spouse. How do you recalibrate to know the ways in which this person is or is not trustworthy?

Maybe I do not like this caller because she is HIV positive, or because she is trans, or because she is a sex-worker. I definitely do not like this caller because she has demonstrated herself to be untrustworthy, and I would feel very very betrayed if I was her client. Maybe that is just my internalized hatred speaking, and this really is about transness or HIV status or career choice. But based on how I have reacted when straight, non-sexworker men of unknown HIV status have ripped me off, I have my doubts.

Biokids

While we are on the topic of Labor Day, let’s talk about babies. In particular, let’s talk about fatherhood. Nobody wants to speak frankly about gay men and kids, and I think that is a problem.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want kids myself, and never have. I went so far as to get The Snip as added protection against accidents (as if I had to worry about accidents, or indeed anybody wanting to touch my penis ever). Admittedly, I am a freak, but there are also lots of successful, well-adjusted gays who don’t want kids: CB, Travel Penguin, Blobby, Sassybear, and probably many others.

Having said that, there are gay men who want children. Poor Steven has expressed regret at not having kids, and John Gray has (wistfully?) commented that he would make a good dad. The standard prescription for this is to make like Dan Savage or the couple from Jesus has Two Daddies and adopt. That is fine if it works for you, but there are men — even gay men! — who for whatever reason want their own biological children. This may be irrational but I think this urge lives underneath our rational thought. Our genes want to propagate themselves, and those whims are difficult to resist.

So if you are a gay man who wants to have biological children, what do you do? If you are rich, maybe you can pay to rent somebody’s womb, find an egg donor, and then have a baby carried to term for you. You can then rip the infant from its mother and raise it as your own, which raises no ethical concerns whatsoever.

What if you are not rich? Then life gets trickier… or does it? After all, many gay (and to be fair, bi) men in the blogosphere have fathered biological children: Two Lives from If I Do the Right Thing, BearToast Joe, Buddy Bear from One Step at a Time, and of course Michael54 from My Secret Journey. Although it seems Michael54 has a tough relationship with one of his kids, for the most part this group of bloggers has been grateful for their children. Of course, all of these bloggers have something else in common: they married women. Some of them married women accepting that they had homosexual attractions, and some of them married in the hopes that straight marriage would cure them.

I feel this is a problem. Is the best gays can do to marry women, have kids, and then lead lives as openly gay/bi men later on? Is it okay that gay men who hate themselves and desperately want to be straight get rewarded with biological children, and gays who come out early enough in life that they don’t get straight married have no options other than renting a womb?

The lesbians have figured this out, possibly because wombs tend to be more prevalent in the lesbian population. Lesbians watch some educational movie on the miracle of birth, decide that they want to be moms, and then hit the Internet or male-order catalogues for a vial of sperm and a turkey baster. Before you know it, Heather has two mommies. But it seems way more complicated for same-sex couples with no wombs between them.

Andrew Solomon, the aforementioned author of Far From the Tree, offers a glimmer of hope. He has a complicated, multiple-state web of biological children, where he and his partner had some lesbian friends carry their kids to term, and in return he and his partner provided sperm for those lesbians. Maybe this is not that different from renting a womb, but it feels more egalitarian somehow. To some extent it reinforces heteronormativity, though: it turns out the homophobes were right, and you really do need Tab A to fit into Slot B if you want babies.

I don’t have a clear answer for this. I do think it is a difficult truth that we should acknowledge, especially as kids come out of the closet earlier and earlier. Some of those queer kids are going to want kids of their own, and it is not clear to me what ethical ways there are to deal with that.

Mind! It is not as if the straights have everything figured out either. Nobody wants to acknowledge that women are more fertile (and maybe have healthier babies) when they are quite young, in their late teens or through their twenties. Biologically this makes sense, but socio-economically we have decided this is a bad idea, because (surprise!) straight couples want financial and life stability before having kids, and that often means that women get to have careers. Thus we end up with Facebook and Apple offering to freeze eggs for their female employees, so they can put in 80 hour weeks at their Silicon Valley jobs while worrying less about their biological clocks. Too bad freezing eggs is expensive. What do the rest of the straight people do, now that we expect kids to go to school until age 25-30 and then wait another 10 years to get out of precarious employment?

Also, can we please outlaw two parent households? I won’t go so far as to call two parent households child abuse outright, but I am tempted. Children need way more than two parents, as far as I can tell. In the Good Old Days there would be grandparents and spinster aunts and confirmed bachelor uncles to help take care of the kids. But now we obsess over the nuclear family as being the platonic ideal of a “correct” family, and I feel it is doing children a lot of harm. The nuclear family may be economically convenient for capitalism but it’s no way to raise a family.

Food Blogging

What could this be?

Oh look. A juicy, fresh, locally-grown* heirloom tomato, picked ripe off the vine a few hours earlier at a hippie organic farm.

So tasty!

Let us all be grateful we have access to such tomatoes during the summer. Imagine how horrid it would be to live in a place where no such tomatoes were available? Where the best you could do is get tomatoes shipped to you from hundreds of miles away, picked green and ripened (or should I say “ripened”) with ethylene gas? How would one bear it?

*Astute Spo-fans will observe that the adjective “home-grown” is missing from this list. It appears that I will harvest zero tomatoes from the three seedlings I planted this year. Why do I even bother? Remember, folks: gardening is a valuable and in-demand skill, well worth mentioning on your Grindr profile.

Lurkopolis Pride

As previously threatened I did end up going out of town, and it did coincide with Lurkopolis Pride. Attending Pride had not been the focus of the trip, but I interacted with the festival in two ways.

First, I inadvertently ran into the Dyke March. I was trying to get to downtown Lurkopolis, and the road got very busy very quickly. What could I do? I stopped and watched the march. First there were scary dykes on motorcycles, and then there were scarier dykes on bicycles, and then there were some marchers advocating assorted left-wing and sex-radical causes. I have never been much of a parade person, but this march felt different from a typical parade. Maybe it is the war drumming that changes the tone? Certainly the march seemed to be as much a political demonstration as a celebration.

Secondly, I later spent a couple of hours intentionally wandering through the festivities. It was busy! Also corporate, and you know my feelings about that. I saw a lot of ridiculous faux-allyship from assorted brands, but the one that sticks out in my mind was a misappropriation of Froot Loops to somehow become a sugar-laden artificially-colored gay symbol.

Mostly I wandered through the boothing area. Again, there were lots of corporations hawking their wares, but there were more grassroots groups as well. I was interested to see that members of my ethnic background (which is not exactly known for being queer-positive) were attempting to put together a support group. More power to them, I guess.

The nudists were also out, which was moderately jarring (the nudists tend to stay under cover during Lurkville pride) but overall it was fine. I attempted not to gawk (after all, nudism is about freedom and body acceptance, not sex), but I will note that a couple of the participants could have been straight out of that line drawing of secondary sex characteristics, except for the cockrings. It did occur to me that this was the first time in over fifteen years that I had seen another adult’s genitals in the flesh. Having seen educational materials on the Internet, I knew what adult genitals looked like, so maybe it should not be surprising that naked grownups turned out to be no big deal? Later that afternoon I saw a bearish couple get out of an Uber, and honestly that was more titillating. (One of the fellows was wearing tight, shiny booty shorts.)

There was one group that was desperately and loudly trying to raise funds for gay refugees. They probably harshed a few people’s mellows, but it was probably good that they were there. There are many places in the world where corporations refuse to associate their toucan mascots with queerness.

I saw some good T-shirt slogans over the weekend, but oddly enough few of them were at the Pride festival itself. Somebody at the festival was wearing a “More Fats, More Femmes” T-shirt that was endearing, but it was not until I was in the suburbs that I saw a fellow wearing a shirt that read “PWR BTTM”. I also saw a jogger wearing an “Anti Running Running Club” shirt that I thought was cute.

As I was heading out of Lurkopolis I saw some of the parade floats being trucked in for the parade. Boy howdy am I glad I got out of town in time.

Was it worth taking time during my Lurkopolis trip to attend Pride? I guess? I had never been to a big-city Pride before. Now I have attended once, so I can say that I have done it. Having said that, the trip would have been worthwhile if I had missed Pride completely.

Mostly I felt out of place. I was not festooned in rainbows, which probably hurt. Despite all of the community groups on display, I did not feel there is a place for people like me. I have little reason to feel much pride in anything I have done, especially on the LGBTQ+ front. Much of the time I feel the queer community would be better off without me, and attending Lurkopolis Pride did little to dissuade those feelings.

Then and Now

Then

“Homosexuality is unnatural. Men and women were meant to come together to have children. Homosexuals are promiscuous and spread disease — do you think AIDS was an accident? The homosexual lifestyle is worldly and hedonistic, in pursuit of shallow pleasure, but in the end gays end up unhappy and unfulfilled. Homosexual impulse is always prompted by an inner sense of emptiness. Homosexuals cannot be allowed in our classrooms. They will convert our children to their homosexual lifestyles. As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they must recruit our children. I do not wish harm on homosexuals — and I know some homosexuals personally — but I cannot support their deviant lifestyles. Homosexuals are out to destroy families and the institution of marriage. If homosexuals are allowed to marry, what comes next? People marrying their dogs? Children need a mother and a father to grow up. Why would you jeopardize the well being of children by allowing gays to adopt?”

Now

“Yes, you’re gay. Good for you. Nobody cares. Do you have to keep bringing it up? It’s so boring. People are people — I don’t see gay, straight, whatever. Why do you have to keep pushing your sexuality in our faces? Straight people don’t go around announcing their sexuality all the time. They don’t need a big parade. They don’t fly their flags everywhere, and they don’t complain to City Hall when it refuses to devote their entire month to their so-called celebrations. Why do you make such a fuss? Being gay is not a personality. Do you really have to dress like that? Do you have to act like that? I know you are desperate to draw attention to yourself, but it is embarrassing to us respectable gays.”

“Don’t you understand that we can’t let those people into our country because they don’t respect gay rights? They want you gays dead, and would just as quickly throw you off a building as say hello to you. They are not enlightened the way we are.”

Corporate Pride

A few days ago I went to the mall. Boy was that a mistake. Not only are impoverished homosexuals prohibited in shopping malls, but now I am going to write the entry that finally at long last will alienate the rest of my readership. What I saw in that mall was supposed to be inspiring, but it made me real angry.

The stores had all decided that this was Rainbow Month. They festooned their displays with full-color posters and platitudes about Diversity! Celebration! Equality! Love being Love! and of course Pride! Pride! Pride!

I was supposed to be heartened by this. I was supposed to be glad that we went from being the enemy to being celebrated by retail outlets. I think the vast majority of these companies don’t care one bit about us. We all know exactly why they turned June into Rainbow Month. Do I need to spell it out for you? Fine. D-I-S-P-O-S-A-B-L-E I-N-C-O-M-E. The companies think that if they represent us they’ll get our pink dollars. And we fall for it again and again. The worst part is that I am no better than anyone else. Put a g-ddamn bear paw on something and I’ll be drooling with consumerist lust. Advertise a product with some woofy spokesperson and I’ll buy whatever is being sold. But just because I am gullible does not make this practice ethical.

Marketing to gullible queers is one thing. Doing so under the pretense of allyship is something else. If some corporation is going to claim that love is love and that it is proud to support diversity, said corporation had better be damn well prepared to back those claims up. In 2019 Lurkistan, the gays are beloved and Pride is cool, so it is the easiest thing in the world to market your allyship — and you appeal to those progressive straights who want to show they love the gays too! Where were you in 1989 Lurkistan, when gays were still dying of AIDS because drug cocktails had not been invented yet? Were you supportive allies then? Were you providing healthcare for your sick employees? Were you tending to their hospice needs? Or were you firing them as soon as you found out they were gay, because you had an image to maintain and a reputation to protect? Where was your pride then?

How about in the early 2000s, when gay marriage had not been legalized yet? Were you providing same-sex health and insurance benefits to the partners of your gay employees? Or were you arguing that offering same-sex benefits were too expensive and too complicated? Were you festooning your stores with rainbows and pride displays? Or were you too apprehensive about scaring off the straights?

Okay, fine. I am being totally unreasonable. Corporations have gone on a learning journey just like the rest of us, and now they are much more understanding and tolerant of sexual and gender diversity than they once were. Are they supporting their employees as they transition, by funding hormones and surgeries via insurance benefits? For that matter, are they even supporting their trans customers by insisting on gender-neutral bathrooms in those aforementioned malls?

Okay, maybe supporting trans people is too difficult. How about poly people? Does any employer anywhere support benefits for complicated families with several primary partners? If one member of a triad gets sick, can that person depend on the benefits provided by one of their partners’ employer? No? That would be too expensive? Too complicated? Too prone to abuse? Where have I heard those arguments before?

Okay, let’s forget about those weird poly people. How about those regular old gays and lesbians, the kind you are proud to support? How about those gays and lesbians that are persecuted in foreign countries, including some of the foreign countries in which you do business? Aren’t a bunch of those t-shirts you sell manufactured in Bangladesh? As of this writing, LBGTQ+ rights in Bangladesh are not good. How about that wonderfully soft Egyptian cotton? How are gay rights there? Oh, but you couldn’t advocate and pressure local governments on LGBTQ+ issues. That would be colonialist in a way that regulatory capture for your financial interests would not.

Okay, improving the conditions in an entire country seems difficult. You do know that some of those Bangladeshis who sew your fancy t-shirts are themselves gay, right? Are you doing anything to make sure they are safe from persecution? What’s that? They aren’t actual employees of your company? You have no jurisdiction on how they are treated? That’s just too bad.

Funny, isn’t it. Any time supporting gay rights or being an ally would cost you money or require some political courage, you shy away. You have all kinds of nice lip service for the affluent gays who have money to spend, but are you willing to put your principles where your mouth is? Do you even put up your pretty rainbow displays in the Southern United States just as you do in progressive Lurkistan? (The majority of you are multinational, after all.) If you are not willing to do these things, then maybe you really aren’t an ally. Maybe the next time we become stigmatized or unprofitable, you’ll throw us under the bus too.

And that, Virginia, is why impoverished homosexuals are not permitted in shopping malls.

(Of course, dear readers, your favorite shopping establishment is a true ally which does things properly. Right? If you asked these questions of that establishment, surely it would pass with flying colors. Right? Right?)

Sympathy for the Devil

In a recent comment, Debra (the dear! [1]) exhorted me to “not go over to Satan”. As is usually the case with Debra, this was wise and insightful advice. Unfortunately, it is not easy advice to follow. The Prince of Temptation has done a real number on me. I mean, just look at him:

Satan on a cruise

With that broad chest and manicured goatee, he would fit right in on Fearsome’s blog:

Satan portrait
Cuddly Beard

As you know, I am not much of a Christian. Everything I know about Satan comes from the documentary South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. (Incidentally, this is also where I learned everything I know aboot Canada.) Although it was released in 1999, the documentary has aged well. In the film, Satan has recently gotten into a same-sex relationship with Saddam Hussein, but already the relationship is rocky.

Saddam and Satan

Being from 1999, you might think that the filmmakers would portray Satan and Saddam’s relationship as a great big joke, and although there are jokey elements, the issues that Satan and Saddam face are not that different from any straight relationship where one partner is a tone-deaf, emotionally abusive jerk:

Kenny asks Satan what is wrongSaddam doesn't nurture Satan's emotionsSaddam just wants sex and can't learn to communicate

The thing is, Satan just wants the same thing every gay on Grindr is looking for: love and companionship with someone who understands them and appreciates them for who they are inside. But I have some news for you, Satan: Saddam isn’t that guy. He is not good enough for you.¬† You’re gorgeous, and you have a job, and you have that deep resonant voice that would fit right in with a Gwaenysgor choir. You can do so much better than Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti.

Girl, I know you have baggage. We all have baggage. Sure, Jesus doesn’t like you. Join the club. Sure, a lot of people don’t like your career. The thing is, every society has unpleasant tasks necessary¬† in order to keep it functioning, and we should celebrate you — not disparage you — for being willing to get your hands dirty and do what needs doing. Sure, you are the embodiment of evil and sin in the world, but does that mean you don’t deserve love? That it is okay for that Saddam to mistreat you and diminish your self-worth?

I don’t care that you skip leg day. I think you are gorgeous, and although I am no catch I would like to think I would make a better boyfriend for you than that Saddam. I would listen to you go on about whatever book you are reading. We could stay up and cuddle instead of just having sex. Admittedly, my immortal soul is a pretty steep price to be in a relationship, but am sure we could work something out.

Oh, who am I kidding? I wouldn’t be a better boyfriend than Saddam Hussein. If anything I am more controlling and less mature than him. At least Saddam was good in bed, and he managed the affairs of an entire country for decades. Meanwhile I can’t pull myself together enough to get to the grocery store before it closes. Come to think of it, I suck at both nurturing emotions and at communicating effectively. Debra is completely right. I am not boyfriend material for anybody, and I should keep well enough away. I have hurt more than enough people for one lifetime, and you deserve better.

But don’t give up hope, little horn. Somewhere out there there’s a boyfriend who is kind and supportive waiting for you, and I hope that you and he will cross paths sooner rather than later.

Satan looking up

[1] Yes, as we recently learned, this expression is not intended to be entirely complimentary. I do not care; we should never let facts spoil a good catchphrase. All of you (well, most of you) are dears, and you will just have to deal with it.

Unpride

Oh look. It’s Debbie Downer with another whinefest. What tedious opinion will she share with the world today? Well, it’s June, so I guess that makes this the obligatory Pride entry.

Everybody seems to be taking Pride especially seriously this year, probably because of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Although I have some problems with the narrative behind those riots (namely: violent resistance is an effective way to earn political credibility), overall I am glad that people are commemorating the event and taking Pride seriously. I genuinely want each and every one of you to get out there and have a lot of fun. But speaking only for myself, I’m just not feeling it this year. I don’t have very much to be proud of, and I increasingly feel there is no place for me in the LBGTQ+ community.

Although I am still doing some behind-the-scenes volunteering for the Lurkville LGBTQ+ center, the truth is that I am not very involved any more. The reading group I was involved with ran its course, which means that (a) I don’t go down to the center much any more and (b) I am reading a lot less LGBTQ+ literature than I used to. I also participated in an exercise group (yes, really), but that is now a shadow of its former self. The obvious solution to this would be to get more involved, but I don’t, partially because those groups that interest me conflict with other commitments. If this was poor Steven’s blog I would be leaving some acid-tongued comment about how he was making excuses, and I would be correct.

I did attend a second social gathering for LGBTQ+ people a couple of times, but I felt super out-of-place there. For one thing I am too socially awkward to do well in the presence of others, and for another I was at least a decade older than anybody else. I definitely came across as the unwelcome, creepy fat old guy, so I stopped attending.

Up until recently I had not experienced the dreaded “too old to be gay” feeling that so many others write about, but it has hit me hard over the past couple of years. It seems many (if not most) of the LGBTQ+ events locally are either implicitly or explicitly for the kids, and those that aren’t are for lesbians. And since I am cisgendered and more conservative than I like to admit, I am now classified as an oppressor, enforcing heteronormative privilege and the patriarchy. For all of our talk of diversity, there is not much room for people like me under the umbrella.

Having said that, I did go to Lurkville Pride for a bit. The event was rained out, but even before that I was feeling out of place. Admittedly, I skipped the “march” that was to happen the next day, so that is my fault. I also went to a second Pride event in the nearby municipality of Lurkton, but I got there late and only caught the tail end of the festivities. Again, I felt pretty out of place.

I will be taking a multi-day out-of-town trip to the big city of Lurkopolis this summer. I had not realized it at first, but I will be visiting during Lurkopolis Pride celebrations. Honestly the prospect fills me with more dread than excitement. Lurkopolis will be busier than usual and more expensive than usual. If I get a few spare hours during the trip I might wander through the festive areas but I am not sure I will enjoy them. Mostly I am grateful that I will have left town before the big Lurkopolis parade, because that is going to be a zoo (and will probably be co-opted by an activist group anyways). It is not good news that I am so apprehensive about being around the big celebration. Shouldn’t I want to be around my people?

This is probably all just projection on my part. Although none of the areas of my life are currently in crisis (knock on plastic), they have been uniformly disappointing. The only topics I have been able to consistently discuss with others have been my lack of employment and my dismay at the current state of politics, not my pathetic love life. But truth be told I am increasingly unhappy about being lonely. Even as I am grateful I do not have a sex partner, my body wants to be touched. I don’t think I have ever been the object of another person’s desire, even when I was in a relationship. To my knowledge I have never been hit upon, and nobody has ever flirted with me. (One caveat: back when I was younger and thinner, some people apparently made comments about my butt. However, those comments were not made in my presence, and I learned about them secondhand.)

I ought to be grateful for all that (maybe not the butt comments) but it gets hard to take sometimes, and it is not getting easier as I get older.

Whine, whine, whine. Scooter boys and Argentinians, Europe shed the blood of the Indians. And here I sit in the land of plenty, crying about my own virginity.

Be sure not to end up like me. Go out and celebrate. Happy Pride, everyone.

Public School Sex Education Turned Me Gay

No doubt some of you wonder exactly how I became such a horrible person. It is not difficult to connect the dots. Unlike many of you who were raised in the warmth of a values-based, God-focused Catholic education, I was indoctrinated with the treacherous secularism of the public school system. Part of that indoctrination, of course, consisted of sex-ed.

I vaguely remember the evening before my first sex-ed class, when I was twelve years old or so. I remember feeling nervous. I knew there was a thing called sex, but I didn’t know what it was and I was not sure I wanted to. I was right to feel apprehensive; not only would the subject of sex preoccupy my time and attention for years to come, but public school sex ed turned me into a homosexual.

The first day of sex-ed wasn’t terrible. We were handed a booklet produced by a tampon company, which detailed the many ways our pubescent bodies would betray us, and told us all about tampons and the role they played in dealing with the menstrual cycle. The booklet was 80% focused on cisfemale development and the many questions that young women might ask. The remaining 20% discussed male body parts and nocturnal emissions. I was relieved to know that being a cismale was far more straightforward than becoming a woman and menstruating. We also learned the “proper” names for our private parts, and some information about how cismale body parts interacted with cisfemale ones to make babies. (Readers wanting a refresher on this might refer to this entry I wrote for poor Steven.)

The pictures in the tampon-sponsored education book were sterile and abstract, the cutaway renditions of human genitals pointing out fallopian tubes, the vas deferens, etc. But then our secularist schoolteachers (or more likely the amoral, culturally relativist curriculum designers who probably studied postmodernism in university) took things a step farther: they passed around photocopied line drawings illustrating (so to speak) secondary sex characteristics in human development. The line drawings were reminiscent of those in coloring books, but instead of farm animals or Disney princesses these drawings consisted of a man and a woman standing side by side. Unlike the educational drawings from the tampon-sponsored education manual, these were not medical diagrams cut away to show the innards. They were just drawings of people — naked people. Neither of them was wearing any clothes.

Supposedly, these nefarious drawings were intended to be educational, pointing out the different changes puberty would bring. But these drawings were nothing less than soft-core pornography, and like an innocent gosling gazing upon Konrad Lorenz, I imprinted. One secondary sex characteristic was facial hair, and sure enough the naked man in the drawing sported a full beard, in addition to a broad chest, pubic hair, and a lengthened wee-wee. If he had not been a line drawing, this man could have come straight out of Fearsome’s blog, and he warped my impressionable young mind immediately. That was the point I turned into a homosexual (For further evidence, see shocking disclosure #2.)

Almost immediately I knew something was wrong. I felt the drawing was somehow shameful. I hid it in my room and only took it out to gaze at it when I thought nobody would catch me.

Why? Why did the public school system do this to me? If they had not exposed me to such images maybe I would not have imprinted on Mr. Naked Dude and maybe I would not have been doomed to a lonely, loveless life.

I’m not trying to say that I oppose sex education. To the contrary, I learned many things in sex-ed that I might not have been aware of otherwise: never put anything other than food in your mouth because that is unhygienic; using a tampon does not mean you have lost your virginity; and condoms really aren’t good at stopping the transmission of STDs, because they only cover your penis and not your entire body. I do believe we should have comprehensive sex education, but it should be age appropriate, and we should be sure to defer material that impressionable young minds might imprint on until their hormones have settled down — maybe age 35 or so. In exposing young minds to morally corrosive illustrations of naked people, just how many homosexuals are we trying to create?