Friday, September 27, 2013

Federal judge forces same-sex marriage issue in New Jersey

A federal judge in Trenton NJ has ruled that New Jersey must recognize same-sex marriages, because its civil union law denies same-sex couples federal benefits, apparently in defiance of the Equal Protection Clause. The Reuters story by Joseph Ax and Edith Honan is here
  
Governor Chris Christie (R), normally a moderate (and generally a pragmatist), has opposed same-sex marriage. It is not clear if he will appeal the ruling.
   
Reuters has also reported that Exxon-Mobil now says it will offer benefits to partners in same-sex marriages (it’s not clear if that’s only legal spouses).   Exxon-Mobil has had a questionable reputation on LGBT rights in the past. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

HRC holds small fundraiser at Town DC, screening a premier of Showtime's "Masters of Sex"

HRC (Human Rights Campaign) in Washington DC launched its buildup to its Annual Dinner on Oct. 5 (sold out) with an inexpensive benefit ($10) and raffle (of a Lexus) at the Town Discotheque off U St in Washington DC.  The featured attraction was a showing of the first episode of Showtime’s “Masters of Sex”, about the origin of Masters and Johnson, with digital projection onto a screen mounted on the stage.   The series will be reviewed soon on my TV blog.
  
The event was moderately attended, but there were empty seats.  There were hors d’oeuvres, which I didn’t know in advance, having eaten at Nellies and watching a warmup of Orioles baseball.
  

The Town could be used as a venue for special independent film screenings.   

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Virginia governor's race debate on NBC4 spurs exchange on gay inequality in the Old Dominion

Chuck Todd of NBC Washington (NBC4) moderated a debate this evening between Virginia gubernatorial candidates Terry McAullife (D) and Ken Cucinelli (R, now the state attorney general). NBC4’s link is here. It was carried on NBC4 in the DC area from 7-8 PM EDT tonight, which pushed up NBC Nightly News by a half hour.  
  
 It was held at the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce.   
  
The candidates were questioned on gay marriage.  McAuliffe said that if gay men and women could share the risks of combat in the military, they should have all other equal rights at home (an idea which I think drove the “dadt” debate for seventeen years).  He said he would sign any anti-discrimination bill or gay partners bill that came before him.  Cucinelli quickly referred to the 2006 amendment (Marshall-Newman) which would prevent gay marriage from every been approved in Virginia, unless the Commonwealth overturned the amendment first.  He said that as attorney general he was obliged to defend Virginia law and the constitution.
  
But  McAuliffe also pointed out that Cucinelli had one referred to LGBT people as  "self-destructive" and “soulless” (almost echoing Vlidimir Putin), which Cucinelli denied.  The comments would seem to be motivated by ideas about HIV and about supposed indifference to the potential responsibilities of procreation.  McAufllife said that Cucinelli’s anti-gay reputation almost prevent Northrup_Gruman from moving 300 jobs to Fairfax County.   
  
The debate did not get into Cucinelli’s supposed attacks on abortion, or on McAuliffe’s rumored misadventures with a company of his that went under in 2002, or about his forays in the electric car business.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Possibility of "Losing It"; more remarks on Narcissism, Upward Affiliation and Polairty

I’ve often used the term “upward affiliation” to characterize the way I experience male homosexuality.  I believe that the term was coined by conservative author George Gilder with his 1980’s book “Men and Marriage” (Books blog, April 12, 2006).  It refers to the enjoyment experienced with the belief that one’s partner or love object represents the achievement of some kind of “virtue”.  That enjoyment may require the presence of visual “external trappings” (as NIH psychiatrists called then in 1962), which, given the risks and vicissitudes of life, present (again to quote my patient records) “the possibility of losing it.”
  
Indeed, a same-sex relationship, especially with males, may fail if the more “attractive” partner believes that the other person has unduly invested in superficial aspects of the relationship.  That sounds like a bigger issue now than it ever was because same-sex marriage is becoming possible. “Loss” can occur for almost any conceivable reason: disease, accident, or violence at the hands of others.  In the 1980’s, AIDS obviously presented this concept, but in the earlier years of the epidemic, people wouldn’t live long anyway.  The Boston Marathon incident is particularly offensive partly because it was predicated on visibly maiming and disfiguring individual people in a crowd and presenting this issue for them and their partners. 
  
“Upward affiliation” often invests a lot in fantasy that remains quasi-private, and that can be withdrawn on demand by the practitioner.  It’s wonderful when it works.  But when “you” get caught at it, or when something unfortunate really does happen to the other person, it’s over.  The other person becomes exactly what you see, no excuses.   I had opined about this back in 2002 with Chapter 8, “Narcissism, Affiliation and Polarity”  in my Second “Do Ask Do Tell” book (“When Freedom Is Stressed”).
  
I mention this today because “upward affiliation” seemed to be a favorite psychological process of “people like me” a half century ago, and it seemed to draw particular ire of “the establishment” which saw it as a prototype for mooching, something that should be stopped in its tracks and made an example of.  That was certainly the tone of my William and Mary expulsion and subsequent NIH “hospitalization” as well as “individual therapy”.  This view was understandable given the Cold War, and the fact that WWII was then more recent history. 

Doesn’t the same thing happen in heterosexual relations and marriage?  Yes, it does, as I discussed on Sept. 16.  Critics say, however, that the procreation of children gives the traditionally married couple another anchor for a long-standing intimate relationship, where the spouse is welcome in the family bed for life, that is missing in a gay relationship, where there is, instead of complementarity,  a focus on possessing vicariously qualities that one should have had already and wants for oneself (NIH, again).  But of course that becomes circular, as more same-sex couples actually raise children, sometimes by adoption, previous traditional marriage, or surrogacy.  In some cases, as in the soap “Days of our Lives”, a gay relationship can become a way for a charismatic person to get others to participate in raising his own children.



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Navy Yard incident leads to calls for tighter security clearances. Are the old chestnuts for LGBT people finally roasted?

The discussion of security clearances for contractors, on the radar screen a few weeks ago because of Edward Snowden (and Bradley Manning) and again after Monday’s rampage at the Washington Navy Yard, brings back old chestnuts for me.  Security clearances used to be a big deal for LGBT people.
  
There is plenty of discussion right now that the procedures for mid-level clearances (Secret) are too lax, and their superficial nature always worked out for me in the days I need them.  When I would apply for a T.S. (either when I was in the Army, and later an employee – ironically – at the Washington Navy Yard from 1971-1972 – details on my IT Jobs blog yesterday) the problem clearly came up.  I had been treated by an individual therapist after my William and Mary expulsion for admitting “latent homosexuality” to the Dean of Men in late 1961, under pressure.  That therapy had run from almost immediately (December 1961) until June 1962.  In July, 1962, I became an inpatient at the National Institutes of Health, in a program set up by a Cold-War-driven Kennedy Administration to look at why “so many” students had difficulty adjusting to away-from-home life as college freshmen.  That isn’t so much of a problem today – 18 year olds are much more independent today than they were in 1961 (the Tyler Clementi tragedy is an outlier). 
  
The security clearances were actually important when I was in the Army – they kept me stateside and away from Vietnam – another moral quandary.  When I was mysteriously transferred out of the Pentagon in September 1968 to Fort Eustis as my T.S. fell through, I had to recertify the Secret again with an interview with a young Army psychiatrist at Fort Eustis, who asked practically nothing.  (This was indeed “don’t ask don’t tell” in the 1960’s.)
  
I actually had another period of individual therapy in 1964, after some compulsive thoughts were disturbing to me.

In my history, the discomfort over security clearances seemed to come from my being viewed as a sissy, and weak, willing to let others take the risks, than a real threat. However, I do recall being asked at a TS interview in the early summer of 1972 at the Washington Navy Yard (at NAVCOSSACT), "Has anyone ever tried to blackmail you?"  The answer was no.  Yet even my own father constantly warned me that this could happen. It never did.
      
Throughout the 70's, 80's and early 90's, available literature on security clearances for LGBT contractors was guarded, even when written by friendly sides like the ACLU.  It was a big issue.  Frank Kameny told Scott Peck on a radio show in 1993 that it was not a "do it yourself" operation. 
    
So I wonder what would happen today if I were to need a clearance?  Remember, the CIA stopped disqualifying LGBT people in early 1996, after President Clinton’s XO.  I presume the same should be true throughout the security establishment.   The emphasis is on “openness”, not living a double life (which was an obvious problem under DADT – what happened if a gay soldier had a relationship with a civilian with a TS clearance?) 
  

The same question could come up if I wanted to buy a weapon for defense at home.  Would the background check all the way back to 1961, where most records are probably lost?   

Update: Sept. 19:  I have since learned from the Piers Morgan show that Virginia's gun laws would only delve into my past if I had been involuntarily committed, so, no, there would not be a problem if I wanted a weapon at home. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Uganda, Russia make us ask what really causes homophobia?

Yesterday (Sept. 15), I reviewed a BBC film “The World’s Worst Place to Be Gay” on my Movies blog. It’s an hour-long BBC documentary by gay British DJ Scott Mills.  In the film, Mills journeys to Uganda to talk to people on the streets, and the hatred of gay people is even worse than reported.  Tabloid newspapers deliberately hunt down closeted gays.  The situation seems much worse than it is in Russia, where technically “only” public speech about gays is prohibited.   When quizzed about the basis of their beliefs, Ugandans seem to be unable to answer other than by referring to shallow religious ideas, and vague ideas of being “African.”  They believe what they are told to believe by politicians and preachers.  The exportation of this sort of hate to rural sub-Saharan (and not necessarily Muslim) Africa seems deliberate. BBC's link is here
  
This leads to the same questions, about why these things used to happen to gay people in this country, certainly into the early 1960’s;  after Stonewall in 1969, things rapidly improved.  
  
To answer these questions usefully, it’s useful to work inductively and look at my own life.  But my own experience is embedded in a larger controversy about how others saw my life strategy as someone who analyzed problems, often working alone, and then wrote and published content.  Looking at my own sexuality does not completely cover these problems, some of which are often more common with “heterosexuals.”  But once the subject of homosexuality came up, at least around 1961 or so, it would take over and dominate everything.
  
So I ask, why did people make my own “private interests” and intended private life their business?   Why was my being a homosexual a bigger deal than the opposite, getting a woman pregnant or committing some crime in the ordinary sense?  It’s both simple and complicated. Let me add here, I've never been satisfied with the "third down" punting inherent in immutability arguments (which do have some scientific validity).  That doesn't obviate the need to look at the ethical questions, from both sides.  "They" need to tell me what they really need.  And I have to answer for my own hidden karrma.  
   
But the world I grew up in, while saying it celebrated freedom over communism and fascism, was indeed still a bit authoritarian.  In a world where there were real identifiable enemies (and in the midst of the Cold War and not long after the “Greatest Generation” won WWII) there was a belief that everyone owed a basic loyalty to the common good.  It was important that people be able to perform well according to their natural gender if called upon to take risks and possibly make sacrifices for the good of others, starting with one’s own family.  If one did not “step up” when it was necessary, additional sacrifice might be borne by others. This sort of feeling could seem to justify bullying and teasing of those who needed to be “brought in line” protect the welfare of the group.

The human brain tends to give great importance to discovery of sexual interest in another person.  The person wants to believe that following up will serve some metaphysical purpose (if not having a baby). I may want to believe that some person is, in some way, angelic.  If I believe that, the apparent nature of this belief may say a lot about how I perceive and value others and may have an eventual effect on others. But of course this general observation is quite possible in the heterosexual world, too.
Over time, people have often expressed opinions of what they expect of me and of what they need from me.  But this presents a “Would’a-C ould’a-Should’a” problem. “What others want” from me may not add up to a coherent whole.  I have to cancel out the contradictions.
  
I can work this question from inside out.  One stark fact, from conversations with my roommate at William and Mary that occurred about two weeks before my expulsion late in 1961 was that he feared becoming impotent if he continued rooming with me, even though I never threatened or approached or expressed any direct “interest” in him particularly.  His language in one conversation was quite graphic (it’s in my first book).  An individualist today would ask, why isn’t that his problem, not mine?  But in those days people were indeed more likely to view some things collectively. I think that the fear was more that, as someone who was likely not to seek relations with women, I was likely to set myself up as able to sit in judgment (like an “alien anthropologist”) on the suitability of those who would.
  
Then, there was also the issue that I was an only child.  In the days that colleges acted “in loco parentis”, they might have felt this information of great urgency for my parents, because it would mean that there would be no future family descending from their committed marriage.  It seems odd to hold me responsible for the outcome of my parents’ relationship at a time in my life when that significance could not have seemed real to me.
  
Once I became a patient at NIH, the nature of my “fantasies” and the way I could produce mental “pleasure” from them seemed to be of great concern to the therapists (in the fall of 1962).  (My father's idea that "one day blue eyes will confuse you" had proved to be rather naive.) Much was made of my process of upward affiliation, of my interest in comparing my peers to some mental model of the ideal man, and then to become concerned that some particular “idol” might stumble and have a flaw, wind up with “clay feet”.  That would mean that were I to start a permanent relationship, it could fall apart if something happened, even superficially, to the other person.  Some of my fantasy material, as it pertained to the “external trappings” of manhood, related to the fact that I had grown up in a largely segregated world, where the while male was the only visible role model (for me).   This matter of sexual attractiveness can obviously be important to heterosexual marriage.  My parents had, after all, been faithful “in sickness and in health”.  Sometimes women have enormous weight gains after a first pregnancy, and their husbands have to deal with loss of interest.  Partners of both genders could get various cancers, or suffer traumatic disfiguring injury by accident, crime, or war.  All of these potential challenges could be bypassed in a fantasy life.  A potential partner was seen “as is”, without regard to time or any actions of others that might have contributed to a person’s appearance and performance. 

The therapists said that I wanted to “step on people’s toes” and remind them that they could be just as inadequate (particularly as eventual marriage partners) as me.   All of this had developed from my own inability to perform competitively according to my biological gender.  In the view of others, if this life strategy, once publicly recognized, was acceptable (even though “private” and “consensual” in the normal use of these terms), others might imitate it.  If too many people believed in this sort of thing, society socially and politically could someday go down the route of the Nazism we had just defeated, viewing some people who “didn’t make it” as expendable.  
  
One might think that these sorts of concerns could be distracting to “unit cohesion” in the military, and it sounds like it.  But the course of “don’t ask don’t tell” for seventeen years shows that this psychological tension was much less of an issue than feared.  I would take the draft physical three times in the 1960’s, going from 4-F to 1-A, and serve “without incident”.  But in Basic Training it was apparent that my education would protect me, while other more aggressive men would be making the sacrifices in combat.  There was a bit of banter about sort of thing when I was stationed at Ft. Eustis, but it was mostly harmless fun.  Two men (one a conventionally married colonel) did make passes at me while in the Army, but nothing happened either time.
  
Once I became a working adult, attention gradually shifted to the idea that men with families to support had less discretionary income and took on more debt than I did, which provided the other side of the equality debate.  I could sometimes lowball others because I could afford to work for a little but less (back in the 90s, activists used to claim that LGBT people, without the possibility to marry and with less visibility as parents than now) could be hired at a discount.  But so were women. In salaried work, I sometimes took nighcall (uncompensated) for people with families.

A Midwestern prosecutor used to tell me that he felt that anti-gay bias (and sometimes bullying or hate crimes) were more an expression of a need to prove one’s superiority to others in what they perceive as inevitable social competition. But a variation on this idea would be the need to see others compelled to live up to the same standards of "virtue" as "me", giving otherwise unwelcome permanent  intimate commitment enough "meaning" to make it exciting. It;s the sort of thing that works if everyone has to do it, and if people on the edge (like me) don't get to take advantage of irony.  The Vatican tries to set up a uniform standard of morality -- as if this could rectify all other unfairness in life -- by saying that sexuality should only be experienced in heterosexual marriage with openness to having and raising (more) children -- taking on more responsibility with unpredictable personal and emotional risk.  In these views, a man is defined first by his capacity as a husband, father and protector before he makes any other mark of his own on the world.  
  
One has to mention also that in the 1980’s, the extreme right tried to present gay men as a threat to public health, which could then spill over into the population at large.  This did not play out the way the doomsday theories on the far right then predicted.

I would wonder, if “upward affiliation” is such a bad deal for society (if emulated), why was it considered such a virtue to give up everything and follow Jesus?  After all, during the time of my upbringing, Jesus was depicted as the perfect (white) young adult male. I would find that if I “followed someone” too much, I could resent the dependency and need a new period of independence.  That fact certainly contributed to my relocation to Dallas at the beginning of 1979 (after a possible preview of the AIDS storm to come).  
  
I have to get so some idea of what all this adds up to.  A lot of it has to do with being able to value people for what they are, and form and build relationships on the basic of something organic or earthy and not just fantasy.  (This involves the process of "family first" which may not always work.)  That can certain apply to the world of gay marriage now.  But the values that I grew up with emphasized the ability to “step up” and show real courage in the face of real needs of others, even if that required sacrifice.  This idea could be expressed, for example, in considering the military draft at that time.  If one could deal with this (as I did not), one could then form permanent, stable relationships and be able to keep passion and initiative in their marriages, and idea that many people see as burdensome (particularly in chat rooms).  Marriage, in this view, was the result of virtue and self-giving, not the cause of it.  So lack of heterosexual function, in old time thinking, could mean a character failure in one’s development.   The world that I grew up in did not show a lot of respect for the rights and potential of the disabled, and this has always presented a paradox.
  
I got involved in the issue of the military gay ban, in 1993, because it seemed to be a test of whether I really did fit into my civilization.  As we came out of the 1980’s and as the political impact of the AIDS crisis calmed down, I was grateful to be able to live my own private life in some sort of separation.  It was a bit like living on another planet, maybe.  But “separate and unequal” could not last forever.   If I could demand real respect as an equal person, I needed the legal right to step up when occasion called for it, so I needed the “right” to enlist in the military if otherwise qualified, as a way of proving my equal worthiness.   I did not yet see marriage this way, because I still though that adults should be able to support themselves first.  The personal demands made of me in more recent years have certainly changed my perspective on the importance of marriage, commitment, and having some sort of personal stake in the generations to follow.  So why do people come knocking?  Well, life isn't fair to start with.

Update: Sept, 19

Pope Francis has criticized  the Catholic Church for its obsession with gays, contraception and abortion, as in a New York Times story today by Laurie Goodstein, here. The Church shouldn't talk about these all the time, he said.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Charlottesville, VA gay pride festival held today

Today, I paid a quick visit to the Charlottesville, VA Gay Pride festival, in a rather small area downtown called Lee Park. The basic web reference is here.
  
Perhaps the most remarkable part of the day was the trip down.  I stopped at a Sunoco and McDonald’s on US 29 south of Warrenton and could hear continuous rifle fire from a nearby range associated with a gun shop.  I haven’t heard fire like that since my adventures on the rifle range in Army Basic in 1968. I had stopped at that station in the past and never heard fire there.  I recalled a  riveting 1999 film “Bill’s Gun Shop” (by Dean Lincoln Hyers) that I saw at local film festival in Minneapolis when I lived there.  Then I recalled a recent day trip in West Virginia, going into a convenience store on US 50 west of Romney, and finding a gun shop in the convenience store.  Everywhere in rural Piedmont and Appalachian areas you see cars with NRA stickers.   I get a sense of how important self-defense seems as a fundamental right (and responsibility) in much of rural America.  But I’m really not part of the Pink Pistols crowd.
 

Ironically, just by chance, some of the Netflix film that I played tonight when I got home is set in Charlottesville.  It’s called “Don’t Tell” (or “The Beast in the Heart”), again ironic, although the story is a heterosexual one (I’ll cover it very soon on my movie’s blog). 
  
The festival had a country-western stage. I did not see as many people who appeared to be from the University of Virginia as I had expected.
  
The traffic was difficult, and Charlottesville is bigger than one thinks.  But I found “free” parking in a normally commercial lot on Water Street; at least, the gate was left open when I left.
  
When I was graduating from high school, I applied to UVa and got in, but wound up at William and Mary, which started my life story covered in my books and on these blogs.  In the 1960’s, UVa was for “gentlemen” and men had to wear suit and tie to class. A lot of people did not consider it cool. 
  
  How things have changed. 



Friday, September 13, 2013

Gay publication takes libertarian approach on regulation of tattoo parlors, salons, etc.

Mark Lee has a welcome libertarian perspective on the desire of the District of Columbia to regulate tattoo parlors and to hinder consumer choices to have them, in the Washington Blade, here.   Yes, it’s nice to see an article in this publication with a bit of a Cato Institute perspective.
  
That said. I still have to say that I’m personally “glad” that I don’t see an overabundance of tattoos, or other cosmetic changes (like “No-No”, etc) in the male gay community, at least not from casual visual sighting in discos or parades or beaches – even despite years of loosening of old-fashioned ideas about gender “appropriate” body image and appearance. .  I’ve always perceived tattoos as a bit disfiguring. So much for lookism. 


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"Russia Today" presents anti-gay law as just about propaganda

The Washington Post on Wednesday September 11, 2013 has a “Russia Today” paid insert with an article by Yaroslavka Kiryukhina, “The Making of a Cultural Cold War: Anti-gay propaganda law causes new wrinkle in the reset and overshadows Olympics.”  I could not find the story on the “rt.com” site.
    
The writer reports that this is viewed in Russia more as an “anti-propaganda” law than an “anti-gay” law. 
  
But the provisions would criminalize speech which “creates non-traditional sexual attitudes among children” or “makes non-traditional sexual relations seem attractive” or “gives a distorted perception of sociall equality between traditional and non-traditional sexual relations” or provides “information about non-traditional sexual relations that evokes interest in such relations.”
  
The law seems to view individuals as vulnerable instruments of a larger society and state and as incapable of making informed choices on their own.  It obvious does not respect the idea of immutability.
   

Most of all, it seems, on the surface, like it is driven by a desire to make a point about low birthrates and to communicate the idea that raising a new generation is a universal moral responsibility, not a matter of inclination or choice.  It stems from an idea of mandatory “fraternalism”, as social scientists call it.  

Monday, September 09, 2013

GLIL meets in Washington, liveliest gathering in my experience since the "good old days" of the 1990's

Late Sunday afternoon, Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty (GLIL) had its liveliest gathering (to my knowledge) since the late 1990’s, before I moved to Minneapolis (in 1997, to return in 2003).   The group gathered at the D.I.K. bar and then migrated down 17th Street a block to Annie’s steakhouse, where I had not eaten for years.  We got a table upstairs.
  
The gathering had been intended to celebrate the Supreme Court victory in DOMA, and the 2011 repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell”.
  
Early in the gathering, Tom Palmer, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, came by and distributed free copies of his new little book “Why Liberty: Your Life, Your Choices, Your Future”. The book includes essays by John Stossel, James Padilioni, Alexander McCobin, and Sloane Frost, as well as Palmer himself (the editor). The essay by McCobin mentions the concept of "fraternalism", the idea that people should be held responsible for the lives of others even when they did nothing (like having a baby) by personal choice that created an obligation to do so.  Of course, there is also a difference between saying government should influence or legislate such an obligation (like filial responsibility laws) and the practical reality that people need to take care of one another when free.  We did get into some discussion of lower birthrates and the retirement criis. 
  
During the dinner, however, some of the additional discussion took on counter-libertarian themes, partly at my instigation.  We got into the question as to whether government could regulate some behaviors to protect public health, when there are legitimate concepts like “herd immunity”.  Back in the 1980’s, some very dangerous “public health” arguments had been circulated against gay men because of the AIDS crisis.  We also got into the danger of terrorism, and there was a general feeling that strikes in Syria could make a catastrophic attack back within the homeland United States more likely.  We got into areas like how the power grid is not prepared well for solar storms or possible enemy EMP attack, and we seem to be sitting ducks for bioterror.  There was even the opinion expressed that Buce Ivins was not the perpetrator of the anthrax attacks in 2001 and that he had committed suicide in 2008 in a way that innocent people sometimes do if they believe that they have been hopelessly targeted and bullied.  There was the view that the attack on American Media in Florida really had been the work of Al Qaeda, attracted by the name of the company as iconic like “World Trade Center”. 

So all this was interesting. Surprisingly, there was no discussion of the NSA-Snowden-Wikileaks scandal or of the anti-gay law in Russia. 
     
Here’s a little aside:  I couldn’t find any copies of the Metro Weekly anywhere this weekend, in bars (I stopped at JR’s, too), or around Metro stops.  The website still works and has articles dated as late as Sept. 6, 2013.  Does anyone know why?




Sunday, September 08, 2013

For me, gender identity was a nuanced subject as I grew up, with a moral overtone

I just wanted to jot down a note or reminiscence of my own impression of gender identity when I was a boy, back in the 1950’s.

I felt like I was being pressured to defer to the needs of women and girls and protect them, long before I could understand what purpose that expectation meant. 

I was not able to compete well with other boys in physical activities, so I found that expectation humiliating.

Why, I wondered, was I less important than “them”?

It seemed that men and boys were fungible and expendable. For example, they could be conscripted or drafted and maimed in war, long before they were old enough to become husbands and fathers themselves.

Of course, I did not fully understand the social biology of it all.  I can remember times when my parents told the “truth” about “Santa Claus”, the “Easter Bunny”, and the “stork”.  I had no concept of what it was like for a woman to go through a pregnancy and deliver a baby. I had no idea that in previous generations women had taken their own risks and often died doing so.

It seemed that only women were to be admired for physical beauty while men were to be rough-housed and hazed.  The parameters of female beauty seemed to be arbitrary and sometimes artificial, as with the shaving of legs.  Men’s physical features were not supposed to be noticed or mentioned.

One of the enticing ideas in the gay male community was that men could also be valued for “beauty” (a frightening idea in old days to straight men).  This seemed more line with much of nature, such as with many birds. It seemed that avoidance of this topic was seen as a reassuring way to give lagging males “a chance” (at reproduction) after all.

Even though I was envious of the attention women got, I really did not want to be one.  This is different from the psychological experience many male-female transgendered people profess.  I admired “virile” men and wished I could have been more like them.  Virility itself seemed fragile.
  
I got the impression that biological males who failed to perform like males (even starting out in boyhood, with group or team sports) were leaving the risk-taking and dirty work for others to do, and in a sense cheating the system.  So I grew up with the idea of fidelity to gender roles as a moral issue.







Thursday, September 05, 2013

Some National Guards object to same-sex marriage benefits; chess grandmaster talks about Russia's anti-gay law and Putin's behavior

Although the Pentagon seems to have come around on same-sex partner benefits, state National Guards may not always have done so, especially in Texas and Mississippi, according to a Washington Post article by Josh Hicks on p A17 Thursday.  Officials in those red states say that state laws preclude offering same-sex spousal benefits. It was unclear how much they had interfaced with the Pentagon. The online link is here.
  

On CNN Thursday morning, spokespeople from HRC and NGTF discussed the situation in Russia (and mentioned Uganda and Zimbabwe). Retired chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov gives a detailed interview on Putin’s behavior and the anti-gay law to the Huffington Post here. It’s interesting to see these comments from someone high in the world of FIDE international chess.   
The Washington Blade gives and account of President Obama's meeting with Russia's gay activists, story by Chris Johnson, here

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

GLAAD publishes style manual for reporting on transgendered people, criticizes mainsteam media coverage of Chelsea Manning

GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) has sent out an email and link asking all journalists and bloggers to remain objective in reporting on transgender issues, especially the situation with Chelsea Manning (or Bradley Manning), story link here.
  
The blog posts complains about coverage in a number of major media outlets, calling a claim (subjunctive mood) that Chelsea “chose” to be transgender insulting, and asking reporters to use proper pronouns immediately.  The link is here.
 

GLAAD also has published a “style guide” for reporting (linked).  

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Fundamentalist preacher plays the "body fascism" card (indirectly) in "supporting" Russian, Ugandan anti-gay laws

A “fundamentalist” US pastor, Scott Lively (subject of a lawsuit discussed on the International Issues blog Aug. 18, 2013 for activities regarding Uganda) has praised Russia’s recent “anti-gay” legislation, and has further played the “Nazi” card in his remarks.  The details are in a story by Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade, here
  
A controversial book from Germany called “The Hidden Hitler” by Lothar Machtan had promoted that theory back in 2001 (review on my “doasdotell.com” site under the Books directory).  The book often refers to “Hitler’s homosexuality” as an established fact, which is hardly correct or credible. 

The Blade article refers to a theory that the Nazis wanted to crush the presence of men whose bodies trapped “female souls”, and that such an aim was enough to drive all the rest of the ideology of Nazi fascism.  I think “Mein Kampf” was about a lot more than this. 
  
I run into a variation of this kind of thinking personally sometimes.  For, at age 70, I resist invitations to “come in my shorts” (no pun) to events, or offer my body in sympathy to others undergoing chemotherapy at “be brave” events.  I don’t want to make the underlying circumstances appear “OK”.  This sort of situation came up when I worked as a substitute teacher some years ago, and rather ambushed me. 

Individual rights are one thing (Judge Bork would say “to do what?”), but the “meaning” behind a person’s desires and actions start to become significant as it becomes more public (significant during the Internet age and post) and as others accept it as part of cultural diversity.  “Lookism” becomes “body fascism”, and avoiding others intentionally because they aren’t “hot” enough, while an individual right in a narrow sense, evolves into a way to exclude whole ranges of people, including not only those with inherited disabilities, but also those who have made sacrifices in serving others, as in the military or in law enforcement or fire fighting.   Having certain visually apparent characteristics  (previously only "noticed" in women in past generations) gets equated with some kind of moral “virtue” (perhaps linked to ideas about who should or shouldn't have children and lineage), which loops back to right-wing fundamentalism that we all originally denounced.  Oh, this sounds like a therapy issue (as if was for me at NIH in 1962), but it has real social and political significance.  It may have been funny in Army barracks in 1969 when we tossed around the term "desirable" (accent on the first syllable), but in larger circles it's not funny at all. Some of the mentality of "SM", where another person's "losing it" becomes part of the meaning that confers pleasure, enters the picture. 
 
It's "natural" than when someone experiences "sexuality" with all its passion and intensity, one wants it to have some kind of transcendental meaning.  And that can become a big problem.
    
One remarkable aspect of the Russian law was that at least one (probably many) Russia parliament members claimed that gay men had made themselves unable to share their organs and blood when others needed it.  That’s an interesting view of intrinsic “moral obligation” to others in a community or nation.  It seems as though one owes the motherland new babies, too.

Jos Hicks has a story in the Washington Post this morning (Tuesday, September 3, 2013) about the difficulties gay couples face overseas in countries without western values.  In fact, this would be true of LGBT people in general, for whom some overseas assignments could be inappropriate.  It can be a problem for faith-based groups that send volunteers or entry-level young engineers overseas to the developing world.  The Peace Corps has long accepted gay volunteers (even while the military had DADT), but when I talked to them in 2002, they said that some people needed to have a low profile” overseas and that Internet presence or reputation could become an issue.  The Post story is here 
  
All of this fits into a larger cultural problem about “hyperindividualism”.


Sunday, September 01, 2013

Gay softball world series has closing night party at Town DC, with record crowds

The NAGAAA World Series moved into Town DC  (now also called "Town Danceboutique") Saturday night for the closing night party.

It seems, though, that the Washington Nationals needed another gay night.  Without “us”, well, “they” lost, 11-3, to the New York Mets, four miles or so from the bar down the Green Line.

The downstairs was packed quickly for the drag show, although the parking lot still had plenty of space at 10:45 PM.  The upstairs was opened immediately because of the crowd, and the upstairs filled quickly.

Some people had softball uniforms.  There were people who said they were from Portland, OR “Keep calm and reign on”) and from Boulder, CO (e.g., the Rockies).  I was told there were a few players who regularly reached the fences (300 feet is a long poke in slow pitch softball). 

The drag show did have the usual shirtless beauty contest on stage. "Smooth" often wins. I don’t get chosen for those.
   
After the show ended, both dance floors were packed.  I think it was the largest crowd I have ever een there, on a holiday weekend, when some people would have gone to Rehoboth or would be on vacation.

It did strike me as odd that the Gay World Series was held in DC the same week as the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.  Perhaps it was intentional.

I don’t know what team of city won.   Twitter doesn’t say yet, and neither does the website (here )  If someone knows, please comment. 
  
As I noted, I played softball one year, in Dallas in 1984.  

One other note about the Nats game Tuesday.  Maybe they didn't play "Free Fish", but I do love the pregame music from the HBO "John Adams" series (by Rob Lane and Joseph Vitarelli).  Just wanted to make that note.

Town will have a "From Russia With Love" party (also called "WTF: Russia") Sunday night this holiday weekend (that was the titled of the second James Bond movie in 1962, with Sean Connery and his hairy chest).  I'm not sure that the concept is in the best taste, given the tension in Russia over gay rights and the Olympics.  The latest news is that Russia will forbid demonstration near the olympic site and will go after pro-gay speech from athletes and visitors.  Not good.