I Am … Was … Speechless

For the first time in a long time, I am speechless. I have been for awhile, that’s why I haven’t written anything here since March 29th. I have been absolutely drained, indignant, and exhausted. I was feeling like my work as an advocate was irrelevant and ineffective. It’s not that I became weary of writing, I still love it very much, but I was torn that there was so much going on in my own movement that I disagree with, and I was particularly torn over what I will discuss in a moment. It’s hard to criticize both sides, it makes you feel alone. Then last week, I received a message from a former schoolmate and friend who reminded me that what I’m doing as an advocate is important. With that being said, let’s talk about the more troubling reason I have been speechless … the mind-numbing absurdity of the religious right.

It’s very easy for those of us who engage in pop culture, as progressives, to become blind to the dirty religious underbelly that still permeates our culture. We see progress, laws passed to protect us, backlash and swift consequences for laws that harm us, and our world continues to get better. But behind it all, behind every “religious freedom” bill, and in response to every celebrity who speaks out for us (thank you Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, and others), there sits the brooding and plotting bitterness of the religious right. Every day, the most outspoken evangelicals take to their radio and television shows, their websites, and the publications who print their material, to spew more misinformation and hatred about us … and they have become so comical, so cartoonish, yet so dangerous, that I was left speechless.

By now, everybody knows about North Carolina’s “bathroom bill,” HB2. For those who don’t you can Google it, I will not give it anymore credence by posting a link. In a nutshell, this bill keeps all counties and cities in North Carolina from enacting anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBTQ+ people. It actually prohibits municipal governments from extending non-discrimination ordinances to LGBTQ+ people! HB2 is the result of the irrational fears and panicked reactions of those furious over their loss of privilege, as they take to the streets screaming about “religious freedom.” Arguments for the bill were (are) few, focusing mainly on the debunked “allowing Trans people to use the restroom that best matches their gender identity will make way for pedophiles and other perverts to just say ‘I’m a woman;’ and get access to our wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters.” Never mind the fact that sex crimes have not gone up in places where Trans people are protected while they pee. Never mind the fact that nearly everybody in North America who goes out in public regularly, has most likely shared a restroom with a Trans person and didn’t know it. Never mind the fact that most in favour of the legislation are getting their information from a book that is very obviously not an authority on LGBTQ+ issues, and its evangelical messengers who are just as ignorant as their congregants.

As soon as there were consequences from companies like PayPal … as soon as celebrities like Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr started cancelling shows in North Carolina … as soon as politicians decided to veto discriminatory legislation in their own states … the loud and proud religious opponents of equality absolutely lost it. And they continue to lose it! Their anger is manifesting in more and more outrageous claims. Some of these claims are getting so outrageous that I have personally spoken with fans of these people who are starting to raise their eyebrows and question what is being said. This is unprecedented. In my experience, it’s very rare for a follower of any popular evangelist to question what that evangelist has to say. This is a good thing, but at the same time, we have to stay on guard. There are, after all, still many who believe it, and more fear means more risk of violence.

I wonder what it’s like. What is it like to live everyday in fear of what you have never encountered, a fear that only exists because of what a minister told you, or what you think you read in the Bible? Even when I was an evangelical Christian, I wasn’t as out of touch and afraid as these people are. It has really begun to reach a different level. America is boiling over, and it’s causing turmoil beyond her borders as well. Angry evangelicals, the ones who seem to have forgotten how to form a coherent thought or argument, are influencing the impressionable, and violence toward gay, lesbian, and transgender people the world over is going up at the very time it was starting to go down. This is a particularly scary time for Transgender people, who are being subjected to such an obscene level of misinformation that walking out the door can cause an anxiety attack. And all of this is happening because extreme conservatism is in its death throes, and Christian extremists are scrambling to ruin as many lives as they can before the ship goes down.

I have had two reactions to the comical, yet dangerous behaviour of these people over the past few weeks. The first is to laugh. When I hear a full grown adult crying about how they can no longer exercise their religious freedom to oppress others, I find that so pathetic that it’s funny. The second is to become altogether angry and sad. Their rhetoric, as cartoonish and silly as it is, is doing real damage. My fellow Trans people are being killed in droves, my fellow LGBTQ+ people hunted down and murdered all over the world, and all because of the lies of people who use religion to gain dominance. That’s what this is all about, after all. Christians in the west have had the upper hand for so long, that the thought of losing it scares the hell out of them (pardon the pun). So many of them say “I do not condone violence. I am not a hater. I do this out of love.” These are the same people who support Uganda’s laws that punish homosexuality with jail time, and Russia’s reluctance to act in any way respectable. They say nothing of the “corrective rape” of lesbian women going on in so many countries, and some have even gone so far as to praise the actions of ISIS when they throw gay men from rooftops. At the very least, they stay silent on all of the harm, preferring instead to use their voices to say we’re wrong. If this is love, I don’t want it.

If you think you don’t support violence, think long and hard about what initiatives you do support. Learn about the beliefs of those who do support direct violence against me and people like me. Anti-LGBTQ+ beliefs and rhetoric is standard everywhere. It’s all in the same pot, and if you go around condemning me, I am going to see you as just as dangerous as the gun-wielding psycho hunting people like me in Russia. My desire to live, my instinct toward self-preservation, keeps me from differentiating between you and the predator in Africa waiting for the opportune moment to rape an LGBTQ+ person. I know you don’t want to be lumped in with those people, but your rhetoric is the same. And I know it’s the same, I have spent the last three years learning that it’s the same. I know very well the minds of those who wish me harm, either directly or indirectly. Don’t you dare tell me this is out of love.

So I was speechless, I have been speechless, but I guess I’m not anymore. As a matter of fact, I’m more pissed off now. It’s still not safe for me to be myself in some places, and that is unacceptable.

Same-Sex Marriage Will Pave The Way For …

With the U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage to be released very soon, the social arguments and debates are again ramping up in the familiar venues – Fox News, social media, you know the circuit. Now, a common argument against marriage equality that hasn’t been addressed to my satisfaction is that same-sex marriage will “pave the way for polygamy, marrying children, and bestiality.” This objection is not new of course, it’s been around for quite some time, but I’m pretty tired of hearing it. Its popularity is due, in part, to its simplicity. On its face, to a person who is against LGBTQ+ rights to begin with, it doesn’t sound unreasonable. Redefine the institution of marriage, and the door opens for other non-traditional family arrangements … right? Well, no actually. It’s a non-sensical argument for a couple of reasons. 

Polygamy
My bias toward polygamy, and polygyny, is that I don’t understand it. Jealousy and other factors would plague me, I just couldn’t do it. That being said, any first-year Anthropology student can tell you that polygamy is practiced in many parts of the world, and it appears to work just fine when all parties are consenting adults of similar minds, and nobody is getting hurt.

The existence of polygamy as a taboo subject in the evangelical community appears somewhat contradictory given the disconnect between what many self-professed Christians say vs what they do. Studies consistently show unusually high numbers of infidelity and porn consumption within the most religious regions of North America, and the same goes for the multitude of bar-hoppers who can be seen on any given Friday night – throwing around slurs like “faggot” while hooking up with whoever will sleep with them, and sitting tight in their pews on Sunday morning. Polygamy and polygyny, committing to multiple partners within the confines of matrimony, may be something that some of us find distasteful … but it’s a more stable and healthy way to live than running around sleeping with multiple strangers. Now, I’m well aware of the Christian arguments against those who cheat and sleep around, I’m not suggesting that all Christians are sex-crazed fiends. My point is that as a community fighting “moral decay,” evangelicals live in a big glass barn. If you’re going to condemn, get your own house in order first.

Polygamous marriage isn’t for the majority of people, but it’s been practiced within humanity for millennia (even in the Bible). It’s not new, and if consenting adults want to do it, and nobody is getting hurt, I have no moral objection.

Marrying Children
This could take two forms. (1) Children marrying children, or (2) adults marrying children. Both forms are wrong, and here’s why: Consent. Adult opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples have the capacity for consent. Children do not. Children marrying children cannot be allowed because there is a fundamental issue concerning brain development and the ability to make rational decisions with foresight and maturity. Adults marrying children, practiced in India and some other countries, is a disgusting example of adults using their power to dehumanize and degrade helpless youngsters. A young girl of 12 cannot consent to marrying the 54-year-old pedophile who has paid her parents a dowry. It’s slavery, it’s child rape, it’s dehumanizing, demoralizing, and demeaning. Same-sex marriage is none of these things, it is the union of two consenting adults who commit to one another for the long term. Same-sex marriage and marrying children do not belong in the same category – they just aren’t comparable.

Bestiality
What a disgusting thing to say that marriage between two loving human beings is akin to a person marrying a dog or a horse. The consent issue is blatantly obvious in the case of bestiality, but how about the fact that the very suggestion that same-sex marriage could pave the way for this is beyond insulting? How hateful do you have to be to suggest that two men or two women getting married is no different from a marriage between a person and their family pet? People come up with this, and then have the nerve to say that gay people are immoral and disgusting.

And so …
If same-sex marriage paved the way for polygamy, so what? Polygamy is kind of a non-starter, or at least it should be. Where there is consent, and nobody is getting hurt, I really don’t know that we have any right to deny what comes naturally to those involved. We may disagree on that, but ultimately I don’t think polygamy is an issue.

Same-sex marriage could not pave the way for children marrying children or adults marrying children, since children do not have the capacity or maturity to give consent to such a thing. I might add, just because I think it’s noteworthy, that I haven’t yet seen any Christians holding signs against pedophiles taking child brides.

Same-sex marriage could not pave the way for bestiality because animals cannot give consent, and humans marrying humans is not comparable to humans marrying animals. Again, those making this argument have no authority to call anybody immoral.

“Same-sex marriage will pave the way for …” is the height of ignorance and desperation. It’s what people resort to when they’ve lost every other argument. Those who believe it are either ignorant of consent, not to mention human decency, or just don’t care. The goal is to put down and stop legal love between people they disapprove of, and the fallacies in the argument don’t matter to them in the least. What same-sex marriage will pave the way for is more people in loving relationships entering into the institution of marriage; just like the rest of us. All that changes is that a state-sanctioned loving commitment becomes available to more people. It doesn’t pave the way for polygamy, child marriage, or bestiality – it paves the way for inclusion and equality.

Being “Macho” Is Nothing To Be Proud Of

*Potentially Severe Trigger Warning*

Today I’m going to talk about knuckle-dragging ‘macho men.’ You know the type, the arrogant jerks who use the date rape drug and film their abusive exploits, calling it “fun.” I make no apologies for using the term “knuckle-dragger,” and I’ll get to that in the final paragraph, but I first want to address two notions that exist in the social consciousness of these people. The two ideas at issue today are: two women together = hot, two men together = gross. These two notions have big implications, too big for one post, so let’s scratch the surface.

Two women together = hot. This, of course, is an opinion held by the majority of heterosexual males who fantasize about being with two women at the same time. It’s a common fantasy pushed by advertisers, sitcom characters, and the adult film industry, and it’s problematic for many reasons. Aside from the obvious objectification issues, the heterosexual male attraction to two women together becomes particularly troublesome in cases where the two women happen to be gay. The average young knuckle-dragger will picture himself in between the two women, completely missing the point that they don’t want him there; regardless of how much he thinks he deserves to be. So long as he doesn’t act on these fantasies and cause harm, ‘two women together = hot‘ is merely an ideological issue, although ideologies admittedly do a lot of damage as they permeate social norms.

Two men together = gross. This notion causes a lot of social disruption. ‘Macho men,’ often feeling they have to prove their ‘manhood,’ use slurs and hateful actions designed to humiliate gay men in public. Unable to fathom two men together, unable to see it as anything less than threatening, they go out of their way to comment, point, and laugh … yet drool like complete idiots at the lesbian couple who just walked in to the room. If you ask them about this, which I have, you usually get a response in which they reveal their disagreement with homosexuality. Oh, the irony, and there’s the big problem.

Drooling over a lesbian and condemning a gay man demonstrates an aversion to homosexuality, and a failure to realize that women can truly be gay. This is dangerous. Thanks to the patriarchal foundations of misogyny, we see this idea play out all the time. A lot of you won’t like this, but here’s what it boils down to: “women are different from men. They’re weaker, submissive, and as such can be objectified, because we have that right. There is no such thing as a true lesbian, lesbians are just women who haven’t met a man who could satisfy them. I am that man. Since there are two of them, and since that pleases me, I will take them both and show them what a real man can do. As for that gay couple over there in the corner, that’s disgusting, and those filthy fags should be dragged out into the street and shot.” Like it or not, and hard as it may be to get anybody to admit it, this is the mindset (as an entirely different issue for another post, let’s not forget that justifications for rape result from this mindset as well). 

This is the attitude of ‘macho’ culture. It’s a misogynistic entitlement of a patriarchal culture obsessed with gratification. It’s a dangerous failure to understand homosexuality, and a waste of human intelligence, resulting in gay men and women being further dehumanized and reduced to mere objects. A lot has to change for this problem to disappear. It’s not just a matter of education on LGBTQ+ issues, the patriarchy and all of it’s components have to be taken down on this one. 

This interconnectedness of minority issues is what the fight for equality is all about, and the misogynistic ‘macho men’ who espouse their views in nightclubs and online forums for “The Men’s Rights Movement” have to be called out. It’s not a joke or a bunch of guys having a good time, it’s an idiotic display of extreme ignorance and entitlement, being seen in recent years with increasing frequency. 

There is, among many people, a reluctance to confront these guys. I understand that. They often travel in packs and do their level best to appear intimidating. In the town where I went to university, a lot of them were military personnel. In this case it’s unwise to start anything, since they often go out for the express purpose of ganging up on people, and act tough when they win a 7-on-1 fight. If you get a lot of these people sober, however, you find that they’re just like most bullies – they back down when confronted. Don’t be afraid to stand up and say “this isn’t right.” These guys are a big problem. They are hurting people, and they think they have the right to do it.

I make no apologies for using the term “knuckle-dragger.” When you willingly and without regret go out and hurt people for your own gratification, you deserve to be labelled for what you are – primitive and savage. When you start acting like a civilized human being, and treating people with equal consideration and dignity, you will earn the proper respect. Being ‘macho’ is nothing to be proud of.