As the fight for Marriage Equality continues — now with the U.S. State of Alabama grabbing headlines for the insolence of Justice Roy Moore — and the Supreme Court having announced that they will hear arguments regarding cases overseen by the 6th Circuit Court of the United States I’ve been contemplating how this all came about. There have been several groups working tireless for decades to see equal rights extended to all people within the United States that do not hold to the hetero-normative standards; without the efforts of groups like The Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders helping make the U.S. State of Massachusetts the first U.S. state and only the sixth jurisdiction globally to recognize the basic human right of marriage for same-sex couple we would not be living in an age in which acceptance and recognition of same-sex couples’ rights has expanded exponentially. And yes, while the decisions within the courts — and the rare legislative motion — have been the means through which the official recognition of same-sex marriage has come to pass, the driving force behind the rising levels of acceptance has not been driven from exclamations from on high but rather by changing the thoughts and attitudes of the general populace. For this I believe we have these most visible people for their bold, fearless leadership in driving forward proper equality for all within the LGBTQ community.
For those keeping track at home — or not but think these things are cool anyway — in the past week the United States saw
* Oregon have it’s gay marriage ban deemed unconstitutional
* Utah be ordered to recognize the 1300 marriage certificates issued to gay couples
* Pennsylvania have it’s gay marriage ban deemed unconstitutional
*Maryland passed a law banning unequal treatment of trans* people
This makes 16 consecutive rulings since the DOMA ruling that have been in favor of equality. Slowly yet surely that section of the listing ship that is inequality in the United States is being repaired. As Maryland has demonstrated, full inclusiveness requires more then granting two people in love the ability to seek equal recognition under the law.
We’ll get there. Someday soon, I hope.
Stay SINful, friends.
Less than one week ago, the NFL draft — in and of itself a terribly boring thing to watch — found itself in the center of a media blitzkrieg when openly gay player Michael Sam became the first such player to be drafted. His reaction was televised live and included a very heartfelt kiss with his boyfriend in reaction to the good news.
Some perspective for non sports fans — Michael Sam was the Defensive Player of the Year in the NCAA Southeastern Conference, or SEC. The SEC is widely considered the most competitive and elite of the college football conferences. Other NFL players from the SEC include Emmit Smith, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, and Champ Bailey. Generally speaking, the SEC players are very good; in several recent years more NFL draftees hailed from colleges that were members of the SEC than from any other conference. Michael Sam was the best at what he did in a conference considered the best in the game. The fact that he was drafted based on talent is little surprise. The fact that he was drafted next-to-last is of mild surprise, despite the fact that several teams and high-profile players commented than his sexuality would have no bearing on his draft status. What is sadly surprising is the amount of open bigotry displayed since the airing of Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend in celebration.
Right now a Google search of “Michael Sam kiss” yields 114 million results. The first page focuses nearly entirely on the homophobic and bigoted reaction from members of various local media organizations — most prominently a female TV personality from the Dallas – Fort Worth area who became so incensed at the idea of ESPN “pushing their agenda” and giving her “no choice but to watch this kiss” that she stormed off the morning set when two of her co-hosts disagreed with her.
We have reached the odd balance point, where an openly gay potential NFL player can get drafted — and quickly generate the 2nd fastest player jersey in history — yet in the process of kissing his boyfriend in spontaneous celebration help reveal just how narrow minded large swaths of society remain. Some of the remarks have been as outrageous as “I don’t want my children being forced to see that kind of thin”, when nearly every stadium or arena has a “kiss cam” that at some point during the game will distract the fans with images of heterosexual couples in the stands kissing or being encouraged to kiss. The audacity of the double-standard is stunning.
Let us not be downtrodden, though. After all, we’ve now seen the NBA and the NFL — two of the most testosterone driven sports organizations in the United States — feature an openly gay player. This is progress, let there be no doubt, the pace of which is yet to be determined. Slowly public perception will shift and this will stop being a source of controversy. In the mean time, as Galinda from “Wicked” would say, we’ve got an awfully long way to go.
Stay SINful, friends.
As has been widely reported, in the near future there is a strong likelihood that the National Council for the Boy Scouts of America may convene, and that during this convention they would vote on a change to the national by-laws for the organization that would allow Area Councils or individual Troops to choose to lift the current ban on accepting openly gay, bisexual, and other non-heterosexual oriented men and boys. For an organization as old and as publicly homophobic as the BSA, even the potential for such a vote to swing in favor of progressive, albeit moderated, acceptance is a large step. As a former Scout, I do not think the current proposal goes far enough.
I grew up as an active member of the BSA. My parents enrolled me during my first year of grade school, and I remained a member until a combination of school requirements, poor area Troops, and an increasingly full event calendar essentially forced me to drop out. Nevertheless, I gave 10 years of my life to the BSA. I attended the weekly meetings, in uniform. I joined every monthly hike, camping trip, or canoeing trip that I could. Every summer from the time I was first eligible, I attended a week of camp. Courtesy of the High Adventure program, I spent a week in a replica schooner in the Florida Keys. Because of the efficient organization of the BSA, I have hiked portions of the Appalachian Trail, I have attended regional Camporees, I have learned First Aid, how to properly care for a rifle, how to tie elaborate knots, how to whip and fuse rope, and how to be both a good leader and a good follower. The lessons I learned as a member were invaluable, and carry with me still.
Some of the core tenets of Scouting that I learned and embraced are contained with the Boy Scout Oath. While I will not recite the entire Oath here, I will focus on the key tenets that apply to the current debate over proper acceptance of members who do not fit the hetero-normative mold. “On my honor… I will do my duty… to help other people at all times … to keep myself … mentally awake and morally straight.” Those tenets apply strongly to this fight. Allow me to break them down.
Pardon the alliteration, friends, but I’m feeling whimsical. You’ll forgive me, yes?
I stumbled this morning on an excellent piece hosted on the Huffington Post titled “For Bi Guys Thinking of Coming Out” by author Patrick RichardsFink. If you have not already, please go read the piece. Regardless of your gender or sexual identity there are some incredible insights found within the piece, particularly in dealing with the preconceptions most people still carry about sexuality and gender identity being based within the binary normative structure of gay/straight, male/female.
As I have mentioned repeatedly in my writings, I knew comparatively early in my life that I am Bi Male. Additionally, I came to realize later in life that I am also a Queer Male. In my further explorations into the roles of gender and sexual identity as parcel to development and establishing meaningful interpersonal relationships, I have had to undo the same kind of binary thinking still prevalent in modern Western society. Sexuality and Gender are not necessarily static, but may instead exist on a dynamic continuum. It is with this greater understanding, both externally and internally of the fluidity of self-expression, that led me to the belief that Bi-Curiosity is a misnomer, a stumbling block upon the path to actualization. The conversation is not as simple as there being two sides to a coin, but is instead as multifaceted as a Princess-cut diamond. This complexity requires adopting not only a new approach to coming out but also a new mindset to those still within the binary-normative structure.
Goodness, has the past week been brutal for the LGTBQ and Polyamorous communitie.
Really, why can’t we all just take heed of the wisdom of Depeche Mode?
Friday night Mrs. AP and I went to a party held annually by one of our friends. It’s nothing terribly raucous or sexy, usually, although sometimes somebody does get tied to the St. Andrew’s cross and whips and floggers come out. This year, though, it was primarily eating, drinking, and lots of catching up with friends seldom seen.
At one point Mrs. AP and I were in a small circle of people talking, and one of the other ladies was remarking how her Gene Simmon’s-like tongue often attracts lesbians, and that she’s always turning them down. She segued this into how men in earshot so often respond with “but 2 girls together is HOT!” Her response to this line of logic lately has been to turn to the guy and challenge him to go down on another guy because she thinks that would be “so damn hot,” and how the guy’s always act revolted at the thought.
Mrs. AP quipped that “that doesn’t necessarily apply to everybody at this party tonight.” This other girl then turned to me and asked “would you suck a cock if she asked you to?”
Nonchalantly, with the slightest grin forming on my face, I coolly replied “I already have.”
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a group of kink-friendly people go slackjawed so quickly in my life. Mrs. AP couldn’t stop laughing for at least 5 minutes.
Stay SINful, friends.
A couple weeks ago I got an email from my mother. In this email she explained part of her reasoning in how she’s trying to come to grips with my Bisexuality. For those who do not know, my mother is of a very deep conservative devout Lutheran nature. This nature has only been intensified since my father retired from the U.S. Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel and immediately enrolled in Seminary to become a Pastor for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. His path to ordination saw him and my mother both become further entrenched in the religious dogma that is as close to Catholicism as a Protestant Denomination can be.
It is within this framework that my mother has advanced from the belief that all non-hetero-normative people are hellbound abominations of nature to this evolved belief instead: ” I believe that brain anomalies, chemistry imbalances, or dysfunctions are responsible for homo or bisexual feeling or desires.”
When I read that line, I screamed at the computer screen. A long string of obscenities poured forth from my mouth like the rushing floodwaters from a broken dam. Tears were a river down my face, dripping unceremoniously from my chin. I called Mrs. AP in hysterics, and only through her loving kindness and soothing tenderness was I able to reach a point where I was able to talk calmly again. I kicked Mrs. AP the email to get her thoughts, and did my absolute best to soak in her response and understand why these sentiments from my mother affected me so deeply.
Mrs. AP and I have had many an interesting, sometimes frustrating conversation over the past few years regarding politics in the United States. When she first met me — and indeed for some time thereafter — I as very staunchly holding to the views I developed from being raised in a Southern, Military, Lutheran household. While not entirely on the right of the political spectrum, and in fact testing as a conservative-leaning Libertarian, I found myself more often identifying with the Republican Party than the Democratic Party on matters of spending, defense, and social programs. Where I vehemently disagreed was in matters regarding sexual and identity freedom, but thought that by tending to the GOP priorities first the road would more easily open for the social changes required for sex, gender, and orientation equality. I realize now that this view was misguided, a product of a misinformed youth and an ignorant, naive approach to life. Like many others, I find I can no longer balance the iniquities of the Republican Party against the good I assumed they could do. What changed in me that I can no longer, in good conscience, align myself with the ideologies of my yesteryears? In short, I finally matured.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. As one who has literally stood on the brink and looked over the edge, I feel compelled to mark this day and share my story. Below is an exact re-posting of a post from 29 May, 2012, titled It Gets Better and STOP Teenage Suicide.
Despite knowing better, I engaged in a comment war on Facebook over the past 10 hours. The comments have been on a picture posted by a religious group, across which was written “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” Despite how absolutely ridiculous and trite the phrasing of the statement sounds, the intention from the posting is very clear; God did not make gay people, nor any other kind of people, but instead only made straight people. This has led to a very exhaustive counter-argument on my part where I have knowingly broken my “don’t feed the trolls” mantra of online forum etiquette. Nevertheless, as one who identifies as part of the LGBTQ community and is becoming increasingly vocal in my support for the equal treatment of that community I could not in good conscience sit idly by as person after person praised the bigoted nature of this posting. Below are some of the thoughts I’ve taken away from this defense of my people. Fair warning: if you are a deeply devout Christian, I may be attacking parts of your faith. If this upsets you, move along now.
The ever fantastic Lily Lloyd posted a picture on FetLife (the social-networking site for kinky adults) showing the position of all current U.S. Presidential Candidates for 2012 in regards to equal marriage rights. The answers are based on survey results, which were in turn sent out by MarriageEquality.org. The latest results, well… I believe they speak for themselves.
I have a bone to pick with every person out there on dating sites, swinger sites, BDSM sites, Adult Sites, and every other site in which one or more people are looking to find somebody sitting within a particular category or another of sexual or gender identity. For years, this term Bi-Curious has been available as an option, as if to indicate that a person is uncertain about one’s own proclivities until experience has been gained. This is the underlying concept with which I disagree, and the more I think about it, the stronger that disagreement becomes.
The whole concept behind Bi-Curious is that one does not “Really Know” if one likes members of the same sex until one has attempted some sort of sexual interaction. This concept is bullshit. Complete, utter, inane, homophobic bullshit.
You may be thinking, “but that can’t be bullshit! How can you really know until you try it?” You want to know how? You really need me to tell you how the label of Bi-Curious is an stinking pile of logical fallacy?
My last 2 entries in the 30 Days of Truth series got me thinking quite a good deal about the struggles I’ve faced throughout my life, and in particular about how I often felt incredibly lonely, alone, and misunderstood as a teenager. While I am absolutely certain this is true of nearly every teenager on the planet — after all, shifting hormonal levels combined with re-appropriations of neural pathways as the brain circuitry is re-wired is enough to cause frustration in anybody — it is no small secret that teenagers who identify anywhere within the LGBTQ spectrum face more isolation and persecution than any other demographic subset, especially in conservative or fundamentalist countries (or sections of countries, such as the Southeastern United States). A great deal of evidence supports this, but even without the evidence, I know how that struggle feels. As trite and cliche and overused as the phrase may be, I have been there and yes, it does get better.
I am living proof that it gets better. Nor am I alone in this proof. Dan Savage started the It Gets Better Project. At the time of this writing there are 520,703 people who have pledged to support and spread the word about the IGB Project, myself included. This is an absolutely invaluable resource for ANY person within the LGBTQ community who feels lost, alone, isolated, depressed, or in despair. Featured front and center on the site are videos from people who have face the same struggles and found a way through to the other side (no, I am not among that number [yet?]) to find something bigger and brighter. These people were shunned, beaten, persecuted, isolated, excommunicated, and whatnot, but they got through it. They found love and support and happiness. If the videos are not inspirational enough, however, at the top of the page is the link to Get Help, wherein is the number to the Trevor Project along with a drop-down box to select each U.S. State, which results in displaying every available help group and center in the state. Within my current state of Florida there are 49 entries listed!