Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The irony! It burns! (2)

The involvement of churches in the fight against same-sex marriage, whether the Catholic Church in California and Maine or independent Protestant churches in D.C., shows the hypocrisy of the attitudes of so many Christians, who seem to wink at just about any behavior except same-sex marriage (or sometimes abortion). If we shall know every tree by its fruits, as Christians' own holy book repeatedly assures us that we shall, then Christianity has failed spectacularly.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Kinksters: The icky queers of the LGBT community (2)

It's happening again. Someone recently tried to start an argument with me about the scene; despite admitting to having almost no experience in it, he was an "instant expert, just add wild speculation" who was sure that no amount of evidence could stand up to his guesswork. If you know such persons, and I'm sure you do, you know how much good it will do to argue with them, so I did my best to ignore him. I wish that that encounter were an isolated incident, but it is not. It also shows how often vanilla queers' arguments about kink mirror our enemies' arguments about homosexuality.

Another dogma bites the dust

According to this article in The Washington Blade, the Senate is considering granting domestic-partner benefits to federal workers to keep the federal government competitive with private-sector employers. What happened to the dogma that the private sector did everything it could to deny people equal rights and that the federal government had to drag it kicking and screaming into the modern age?

Marriage vs. queer identity

This column in today's Washington Blade reiterates the debate over whether we should strive for marriage equality or avoid giving up our "queer identity" and becoming "heteronormative." To me, the debate reflects a false dichotomy.

Other formerly marginalized groups, whether racial and ethnic groups or chosen communities such as religious denominations, have achieved equal legal rights without giving up their cultural specialness or being accused of selling out. Indeed, white ethnic groups are well known for expressing their cultural specialness through their marital customs.

Moreover, we can have marriage equality without aping "traditional" heterosexual norms. Many heterosexual married couples do not follow those norms either.

Finally, those who want to be outside of the mainstream will continue to be free to do so. They will not be compelled to follow those of us who wish to leave adolescent rebellion to the adolescents.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why marriage matters

We are increasingly seeing arguments, such as here and here, to the effect that the fight for marriage equality is the wrong fight because we should not have to register our relationships with the state or give the state power to grant special privileges to particular forms of relationships and that we should not need to do so to be committed to our partners. While I am sympathetic to those arguments, I do not consider them to be well thought out.

While I firmly believe that marriage and the family should be privatized and deregulated, I do not believe that any such thing will happen soon, at least in the United States. By contrast, recognition of same-sex marriages under state and local law, if not under federal law, is a reality in some states. Why should we let the perfect that is so far off be the enemy of the good that is in our grasp?

People also argue that marriage has nothing to do with the traditional civil-rights movement. I for one am glad that the Lovings did not receive that insight. Besides, even if the factual premise of that argument were true, so what?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tortured logic

When you can't answer someone's argument, assert that that person is using tortured logic (but don't explain how the logic is tortured, heaven forbid). Someone has used that tactic here to criticize a post on this blog. Fundamentalists use essentially the same tactic whenever they are losing an argument about their own holy book.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Who's who in LGBT organizations

The dramatis personae of LGBT organizations tend to look like this. The categories are not necesarily mutually exclusive.
  • The President got that position by sleeping with the right people and by coming up with one idea that sounded good over cocktails.
  • The Strong-Armer is always right; if you don't believe me, ask the Strong-Armer. The Strong-Armer has the force of will or other resources to bend everything to her/his wishes, which are often disastrously misguided, and is never there to pick up the pieces.
  • The Apostle of Ideological Rectification would be the Strong-Armer if she/he could be. Instead, the Apostle rebukes everyone else for heresy by thought, heresy by word, and heresy by deed and simply vanishes when the work needs to be done.
  • The Critic stands around criticizing what the productive people are doing. When invited to help, the Critic suddenly remembers a conflicting appointment. Most Apostles are also Critics, although the reverse is not necessarily true.
  • The Troublemaker fastens her/himself like a limpet onto organizations whose goals are clearly antithetical to her/his own. The Troublemaker fancies her/himself to be the Queen's Loyal Opposition, when in fact she/he is simply an attention hound. Things get interesting when, as sometimes happens, the Troublemaker is also a Strong-Armer.
  • The Babbler cannot differentiate between having to say something and having something to say. To the Babbler, the organization's one goal is to act as a group-therapy session.
  • The Monomaniac is consumed by a single issue and thinks that everyone else should be, too. The Monomaniac's understanding of that issue may be based on a single article in the mainstream press, but the Monomaniac is still convinced that she/he understands that issue better than do people who have worked on it their entire adult lives. When the Monomaniac shows signs of becoming an Apostle or, worse, a Strong-Armer, be afraid; be very afraid. It is best to try to keep the Monomaniac at Babbler level.
  • The Super-Volunteer shows up and then instantly involves her/himself in all aspects of the organization. Even worse, the Super-Volunteer tends to get things right, much to the annoyance of the other group members. At best, the other group members simply assume that the Super-Volunteer's work is mystically doing itself. Absent proper care and feeding, which the Super-Volunteer almost never gets, she/he tends to burn out quickly. LGBT organizations often collapse when their Super-Volunteers either quit or are driven out.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Planning on writing a science-fiction novel?

If you are, please take this simple quiz to determine whether you should proceed.

  1. Does the society in your novel have a single polity, namely, a galactic empire?
  2. Does it pretty much go without saying that the occupant of the throne of that empire is always an emperor and never an empress regnant?
  3. Despite having trillions of subjects, does the emperor find the time to involve himself directly in the nitty-gritty of those subjects' lives?
  4. Even though the galactic empire is, well, galactic, are all of its subjects human?
  5. Do the planets not differ significantly from places that one might find on Earth in terms of climate, atmosphere, and gravity?
  6. As an alternative to the galactic empire, are there multiple worlds, each with a single government, language, and religion?
  7. Is Earth called Terra?
  8. Do the planets have names, while the stars that they orbit are anonymous?
  9. Is the whole point of your novel to express a seventies sentiment about being kind to the environment or about the evils of capitalism or of the Catholic Church?
  10. Do you neither know nor care about this thing called "human nature"?
  11. Has the society in your novel seen less social change over ten millennia than my rather provincial home town has in the past forty years?

How to score: If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, I recommend that you not write your science-fiction novel.

Bears and racism

Yet again, I've heard the allegation that the very idea of a bear community is racist. People who make that assertion typically complain that because bearish traits, particularly chest hair, are associated primarily with certain ethnicities, men of other ethnicities are excluded. For a few reasons, that logic fails.

First, bearishness does not correlate perfectly with European ancestry. As a tool of racism against men of West Asian, South Asian, or African ancestry, let alone as a tool of anti-Semitism, the bear community would fail spectacularly.

Second, even if we assume away my first point, racism does not mean preference for particular characteristics in one's potential sex partners. Dictionary definitions of racism typically read like this:

a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others * * * hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.
May we please agree that preferring a particular physical characteristic differs from making a blanket assessment of cultural and individual achievement and from wanting to rule people lacking that physical characteristic? Otherwise, we should have to conclude that simply being a gay man makes one a misogynist. Moreover, anyone who equates a lack of sexual interest with hatred or intolerance has issues more serious than whether the bear community is racist.

Third, if we know each tree by its fruits, it is relevant that at least where I live, the most racially integrated gay bars have larger than usual bear followings.

Then again, it seems more and more that some people view the bear community as racist because they view everything as racist. If all you have is a hammer ....

Of course, I am not so sheltered as to deny the existence of real racism among gay men (or any other group of people). Nonetheless, blatant race-card-playing cheapens the issue of genuine racism.