Sunday, August 30, 2015
The New York Times has a big article this Sunday morning, “Once a pariah, now a judge, the early transgender journey of Phyllis Frye, here now a judge in Houston.
Frye was an Eagle Scout in 1962 and graduated from ROTC at Texas A&M. But he eventually resigned under pressure from the Army in 1972. Her change of identity was gradual, and the article says she never underwent full reassignment surgery.
The article says that George W. Bush was the first president to welcome an openly transgendered person to the White House in 2003.
Note that today, on the movies blog, I have a detailed discussion, through a movie review, of the leather bar "The Hoist" in London, which I probably won't get to visit for a while.
Saturday, August 29, 2015
Cato executive answers GOP claims that marriage equality could somehow bring back religious "persecution"
David Boaz, an executive vice-president of the Cato Institute and author of "The Libertarian Mind" (Book reviews April 1, 2015), has an interesting perspective in Time Magazine, “Marriage Equality’s ‘Reign of Terror’ Is in the Past—Not the Present”, link here.
As Boaz points out, the claim that “gay activists” are imposing on the religious freedom of Christian conservatives and somehow threatening them, is indeed a canard (one of Boaz’s favorite words in conversation).
But he does go on to explain the “reign of terror” of past decades on gay people (often younger men) indirectly, through sodomy laws, which had been an excuse for all kinds of discrimination, bar raids (as in Dallas until 1981), and expulsions (like mine at William and Mary). The laws used to give gay men the status of “unapprehended felons”, as Scott Peck (the Marine Corps’ general son during the 1993 debates on the military ban) often said on his radio show. To me, the word "persecution" always sounds like a leveraging of "victimization", even "injustice collection".
Friday, August 28, 2015
Kentucky clerk defies court order, still refuses same-sex marriage license on personal religious grounds, despite her "job"
Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis still refuses to issue same-sex marriage licenses as late as Thursday, Aug. 27, despite an appeals court upholding a lower court ruling that she follow the US Supreme Court ruling and issue to William Smith, Jr. and James Yates. People has a typical media story here.
Again, a government official cannot use her job as a podium for articulating her religious beliefs. If she cannot comply with the order, she should resign the job or be held in contempt of court.
The county is in the northeastern part of the state, on the edge of the mountains and Bluegrass country.
Update: August 31
The Supreme Court has ruled against the clerk today, details at MSNBC here.
Update: August 31
The Supreme Court has ruled against the clerk today, details at MSNBC here.
Thursday, August 27, 2015
This is not pretty news, but a story in the Washington Post, front page, on Thursday August 27, 2015 by Peter Hemann, Paul Duggan, and L. Alexander, “’Vester Lee Flanagan was a man with a lot of anger, ‘station manager says”, reports that Flanagan (aka public name Bryce Williams) had complained about “shunned” for being gay, and that his sexual orientation had been confirmed by a “cousin”, link here.
Breitbart (a conservative site) mentions the alleged homophobia here.
But I am not aware of this having been said in any other public gun homicide incidents in the past two decades.
In any case, the face is not familiar to me personally.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Here’s a disturbing story, from Reason (Scott Shackford), about the shutdown and civil asset forfeiture from the site “Rentboy. The DHS civil complaint is here and is predicated solely on New York State prostitution laws. There is no possible connection to terrorism.
The incident reminds one of the Megaupload seizure.
I tried the site myself and got a Timeout error from Chrome.
Monday, August 24, 2015
I wanted to make a few notes about the tragic Tyler Clementi suicide in September 2010, and surrounding circumstances.
There are a couple of ways in which his narrative seems to relate to my own experience. One is that I had a “roommate issue” at the College of William and Mary in the fall of 1961, which would lead to my “expulsion” for admitting homosexuality to the Dean right after Thanksgiving weekend. I’ve covered the details before many times in the blogs (and especially in the first of my three DADT books). The circumstances for my experience were different because the historical time period was different. This was the height of the Cold War (almost), and there was a feeling that “non-conforming” people had to be brought into line for the good of everyone. I don’t consider my roommate’s boorish behavior malicious, because it was common for the times. But the incident actually had culminated with the Dean calling my parents away from a weekend trip, and then “telling” them when they returned to campus and had to “take me out of school”. Family attitude definitely mattered. (And I am an only child.)
In fact, had Clementi been born three or four years later, the same kind of incident probably couldn’t have happened at Rutgers.
I do remember September 2010 well, as my mother was entering her final decline and would soon pass away (in December). I made a couple of major Sunday day trips, including one to Penn State Sept. 19 (over an unrelated issue, not even concerned with the football team’s scandal) and then to the Spruce Knob area of West Virginia Sept. 26.
I definitely can relate to the bullying issue, and to a component of my own personality that has no tolerance for the idea of promoting victimhood. To me, it seems shameful. I also don’t relate to being forced to go along with someone else’s “agenda” in life and living a life other than my own.
The rule of law and social stability is necessary to prevent these things, and social instability (partly related to inequality) can undermine that, leading to coercion and the pressure from “enemies”. I can relate to the idea that it could be shameful to live under those circumstances. I have reached the age 72 without this actually happening, but it has certainly been “threatened”. I am considered not to “see people as people” and “like people” well enough to have “real relationships”, other than fantasy, with them. A victim, I believe, helps pay for the sins of the attacker. Enemies and “terrorists” know this, as do political movements that take over territory by force (by bullying). So, I can imagine being in the position of a “Job”, with everything taken away by force, and thrown at the mercy of “God”. It hasn’t happened to me, but it happens to others. I can understand the view that only Grace (or its equivalent in any religious faith, including Islam) can save someone. Otherwise, there is only death, sometimes. Even so, suicide itself is shameful. There are times when one has to deal with the hand one is dealt, no matter how harsh. Everyone faces different challenges. So it is not morally appropriate to name an organization after someone who took his own life.
News reports indicated some private letters from Clementi which were never made public, and probably never will be. I had thought that his death might have been a way of showing contempt for what had happened, to see that others were punished (which would make it cowardly). Again, I don’t think Mr. Ravi acted with malice. I think he misjudged how seriously his actions would be taken. I think the prosecution in New Jersey was overblown and a lighter sentence was appropriate.
But going back over the literature, it does seem that Clementi’s motives really had to deal with acceptance (or fear of rejection) by his own family members (after “finding out”), and not over contempt for Ravi or for “life” or for “society”. Wikipedia even indicates that here. Two important accounts in the New Yorker by Ian Parker and New York Times by Kate Zernike bear this out, if read closely.
This is a horrible tragedy, where impulsive events got out of control and led to consequences far worse than normally could have been foreseen. Dr. Phil often talks about teens “not seeing around corners”. But the same was true, relative to a different set of values, with my own expulsion in 1961. Later a therapist said “You don’t see the consequences of the things you say and do”, but that was in part due to the circular reasoning in the minds of others.
I can remember that in the earlier days of the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy for the military, Charles Moskos had sometimes talked about similar “privacy” issues in college dorms (at his own Northwestern University in Chicago). Moskos’s own views on this aspect of the issue changed quickly after 9/11, however. Times are changing, and this is no longer perceived as an issue for most college students today as it had been.
I know at least one other gay mid-20s grad student (I think in med school now), whom I will not identify, with music (violin) talents similar to Clementi’s. Thankfully, his whole college experience went well (with multiple talents) as far as I know. We lost a real talent with Clementi, whether he had stayed with music or not. It was an improbable tragedy, but this happens.
Picture: Rutgers campus, 2011, my visit. I had lived in Piscataway during much of 1974.
Sunday, August 23, 2015
I’ll pass along the “Opinionator” column in the New York Times by John Corvino, “Gay rights and the race analogy”, link here. There are other analogies, like age and religion.
A Facebook friend passed this along a little while ago. I gave his post a “Like” and I wrote as a comment, “Immutability has (at best) always sounded like a lazy argument, often misleading.”
Corvino presents several examples, involving wedding cakes, birthday parties, and other stuff, and shows how “logically” many commonly accepted arguments for “gay rights” (sold by organizations who have to raise a lot of money) break down. I like his comparison of counts of Confederate and rainbow flags, and mention of Jim Crow laws of the past. I'd recommend Kevin Willmott's 2004 indie mockumentary film, "C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America".
My own case, as I’ve often written here, is definitely mixed. The more you look into my own life narrative, the more troubling paradoxes and ironies you find.
But just carrying a placard that says “born this way” in a pride parade seems intellectually lazy. It may raise money and get converts. But it won’t always work, even morally.
Saturday, August 22, 2015
The Wall Street Journal, in a Weekend Investor column on p. D7, has an interesting refresher “tax report” column by Laura Saunders, “Another reason not to marry”, link here.
The Ninth Circuit in California continued to allow separate deductions for pricey homes from two gay men in a “domestic partnership” preceding marriage. Saunders goes on to point out that with two partners of about equal earnings (and both ample), the law still discourages “marriage” which now will apply to gay couples, too.
So public policy could simply recognize no relationship except “marriage” as “family” not that gays have won it.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Bill Nye, the Science Guy: some homosexuality seems to occur naturally in many mammals, doesn't necessarily undermine a species's reproductive success
Here is a video (published recently) where “Bill Nye the Science Guy” is asked whether homosexuality contradicts the interest of a species (human or animal) by diverting sex away from reproduction (the whole Vatican thing). The questioner asks if homosexuality comes from instinct, or from “personal whim”?
Nye mentions the book “The Naked Ape” (Desmond Morris, 1967) which he hasn’t read in years. But he says that gay men often marry and have children anyway, and some degree of bisexuality seems common in individuals of other mamma species, especially primates (like bonobos). It seems to occur on its own in nature. It may happen in cetaceans.
Homosexuality in nature seems to supplement reproduction rather than undermine it, by (in some cultures), offering other social structures and possibly encouraging familial altruism (support from members who did not personally reproduce), which many social mammals need (where relatively few males reproduce). Paul Rosenfels used to articulate similar ideas at the Ninth Street Center in the 1970s.
One problem is that “sex only within marriage” is (or was, in past decades) put on a high social pedestal to support having and raising children within intact families. But, as a logical consequence, a prohibitionary policy (as Andrew Sullivan had described it back in the 90s in books like “Virtually Normal”) individuals could be punished for suspected private behaviors merely for violating a defined exclusionary social norm, so those who did fall within the norm felt better about themselves and remained passionate in marriage.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
The US Navy is reporting that it will accept women into its Seals program, just after the Army announced that two women had completed an Army Ranger program that only 40% of males pass. CNN has known details on both stories here. Both services would require that women pass the same physical performance standards as men. It was not clear how quickly women would actually be deployed in combat missions, but that sounds inevitable. Women will be very valuable in intelligence gathering in some conflict zones if they can serve in these units.
There was no discussion of the sexual orientation of anyone in the program, but the report is interesting because it supports the idea that someday a transgender soldier will probably be able to pass one of these programs. Kristin Beck (“Lady Valor”) had changed to female after serving in Seals as a male.
The prescient 1997 film “G. I. Jane” (directed by Ridley Scott, Hollywood Pictures/Disney) portrayed a female (Demi Moore) as passing Navy Seal training. I had seen the movie then at the Mall of America just after moving to Minneapolis.
Monday, August 17, 2015
Gay leather and sports bars love the San Francisco Giants, and the effects of "rituals"; more on the Nationals losing streak
Late Sunday afternoon, I visited the new DC Eagle, for only the second time, on Benning Road NE in Washington. (See Feb. 28, 2015).
What does a gay leather bar do on Sunday afternoon? Well, I missed the brunch (interesting menu, like corned beef) but a virtual box seat to the Washington Nationals’s baseball game in San Francisco’s ATT park, the last of a four game series, was there at the bar. It was pretty much like being there, as the Nats got swept in the series by the San Francisco (whom the Nats had swept at home themselves over July 4 weekend).
Since San Francisco has the public reputation as the “gay city” (pretty much so since the late 1970s, the Harvey Milk days, with the 1978 assassination, before the worst of the AIDS crisis), I guess it seems fitting that a team that represents Washington politicians gets swept. The people in the bar loved to see it happen. And all of this on the same day that the story of the first “openly gay” player associated with MLB was announced (yesterday’s post). Of course, the social makeup of a city doesn't determine who plays on their pro sports teams.
The San Francisco Giants are ("is") one of the most consistently performing (and best managed) franchises in baseball. They barely squeak into the playoffs, but use their experience to outplay other finalists and win the World Series. ATT Park is the most attractive in all of baseball (maybe three miles from the Castro). The Giants LGBT night link is here.
Actor Richard Harmon ("Judas Kiss" star) seems to like the Giants (as well as specific football teams, like Notre Dame).
The biggest spectacle was provided by pitcher Madison Bumgarner, who pitched a complete game 3-hit shutout, and homered himself, his fourth of the year, as a pitcher. Madison was essentially Smallville’s Clark Kent in the game, as in last year’s World Series. Everybody sees him as the “Perfect 10”. (His main competition would be the Los Angeles Dodgers's Clayton Kershaw.)
Is there something ritualistic going on? Look closely at Madison in successive appearances (going back to last year’s WS).
Now, turn around, and look closely at Nats Player Jayson Werth, at various times. Notice something?
It doesn’t help that Werth couldn’t stay out of jai earlier this year. (Oh, yes, I watch my speed on empty Interstates when I remember what happened to Werth.) That’s never good for a team.
And, yes, Bryce Harper even says, before a magazine ad, that he is comfortable about how his body looks.
The lack of performance by many Nats stars (Harper alone is doing well, it seems, and maybe Desmond) is inexplicable. Something is really wrong. Storen’s performance after his “demotion” seems to be part of it. Oh, yes, I was watching a Boston Red Sox game on the road (in Detroit) in a “straight” bar with friends in Newport, RI last weekend – same up front box seat plasma view of Comerica Park – when I learned that Storen had blown a lead to the Colorado Rockies with one hanging pitch that even I could have hit.
The trip home on the Metro got interesting. Some African-Americans faked a fight on the platform at Minnesota Ave., which continued on the train (they got into the same car). It seemed staged (there was break dancing) but I almost got kicked once. I don’t think it was malicious. Skateboards were involved.
Then I stopped at Ted’s Bulletin in SE on 8th Street – Bryce Harper’s favorite breakfast stop. The 8th St area needs to replace Remington’s. The next time the Nats come home they may not be greeted with as much glee (Ted’s is packed for breakfast when the Nats play night games at home, on the expectation of Bryce’s appearance.)
On the way out, a block north of Ted’s, I saw someone homeless just sprawled out on the sidewalk, sleeping.
On my last train home, from Eastern Market, another group of kids, this time all upper-middle class GW students got on, with skateboards. Only one was African-American. One wore the rainbow shirt. But I noticed the difference in conversation. Sentences were complex, and contained a lot of detailed information. The lower income skateboarders at Minnesota Ave many communicated in short bursts, and were interested only in fun, or in their own local social power structure.
Wikipedia attribution link or ATT Park picture by Bspangenberg, under Creative Commons Share Alike 3.0 License. Drove past it in 2002.
Sunday, August 16, 2015
A player in the Milwaukee Brewers farm system is now the first openly gay player affiliated with Major League Baseball, although MLB has publicly promoted its non-discrimination policy for several years now. The Washington Post news story is here. Comparisons could be made to Glenn Burke, and Billy Bean (without the "e'). MLB's account is here.
The player is David Denson, 20, who plays for a minor league team in Helena MT (a city which I visited just once, in 1981). He hits with some power.
At the same time, Michael Sam has withdrawn from attempting to compete in professional football, at least for now.
It’s apparent to me that there are some young men, from mid 20s on, who probably could have competed in professional sports, like baseball and hockey, had pro sports been more accommodating in the past.
Don’t be su rprised if some day there is a transgender baseball player (particularly, pitcher).
As an aside, I found some articles on home-field advantage in pro sports to pass on: Major LeagueBaseball, and then the NFL. More gay bars (like Nellies in Washington) have sports screens than ever before.
Saturday, August 15, 2015
United Methodist Church conferences move to strike anti-homosexual language by 2016 from denomination
While at a volunteer event at the Mount Olivet Methodist Church in Arlington VA, I noticed a copy of the denominational magazine “The Advocate” (not to be confused with a commercial LGBT periodical by the same name), I saw mention of the Virginia Annual Conference, and the vote to approve a Petition 14, to eliminate the sentence “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching”, from the United Methodist Book of Discipline. A vote on the measure before the whole denomination can occur in 2016.
The Religion News Service has a broader report on LGBT rights in the United Methodist denomination here. One matter contains an action in New York State against a Methodist pastor for performing same-sex weddings.
The Baltimore-Washington conference also approved a petition to remove that sentence on homosexuality from the church code.
Friday, August 14, 2015
Florida balks about allowing both partners in a lesbian marriage to be named as parents on a birth certificate
A lesbian couple has sued the state of Florida over the right to have the names of both partners on a baby’s birth certificate, ABC News and the Associated Press have a story by Tamara Lush here.
The couple, Cathy Pareto and Karla Arguello, was the first to be legally married in Florida.
Pareto gave birth to twins. The couple points out that a heterosexual couple using surrogacy because of fertility problems would be allowed to list the intended parents on the birth certificate.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
An appeals court in Colorado has ruled that refusal to bake and sell a wedding cake to a gay couple is discrimination in public accommodations, not protected (“religious” or even “religulous”) speech, link here, The defendant was Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop. Sounds like it came right out of the TV series “Everwood”. The Think Progress article is here.
There is a line to be drawn, when doing one’s job is viewed as personal speech. Generally it is not if someone else pays you to do it in a routine fashion.
But in Morehead KY a clerk defies a court order to issue a marriage license to a gay couple, NY Times story here. The word salad here is a bit of a mouthful, but again, Kim Davis is doing her job, not expressing herself.
It’s odd, because in a communion ceremony by intinction at my own church, the minister says, “I come not to offer an opinion.”
Wikipedia attribution link for photo of Continental Divide by Milan Suvajac, under Creative Commons 4.0 Share-Alike license. My own visits to Monarch Pass: 1966, 1973, 1994.
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Civil rights attorneys have filed suit in federal court to overturn Mississippi’s ban on adoption by same-sex couples, according to “The Week”, here. Tamar Lewin has a story in the New York Times here. Obergefell and the Supreme Court decision on marriage will certainly be relevant.
Florida had banned such adoptions (leading Trump’s enemy, Rosie O’Donnell, to move), and back in the 1990s New Hampshire had a “must ask, must tell” personality.
Ronnie Musgrove has a Huffington piece on Senator Rob Portman’s change-of-heart, over his own family, here.
The Washington Blade is reporting that in Mexico the supreme court has overturned a ban on gay adoption.
Monday, August 10, 2015
I skirt the gay life in Boston and Cambridge, as I visit the "origins" of Facebook, and watch a BLM demonstration
Well, I’m back from my tour of Rhode Island (West Warwick and Newport), Provincetown, and Boston, some of it for “business”, with details later.
I covered P-town yesterday. Sunday, I tried to look up gay life in Boston, and had a hard time getting to the right streets. I did find the Paradise on Massachusetts Ave on Sunday afternoon; it appeared to be closed, but a sandwich shop next door was open, and a lot of the local community was around, much of it riding bicycles (with at least two familiar faces from DC, one riding piggeback).
I had detoured because of a “Black Lives Matter” march nearby (details on Issues blog).
I didn’t get to the right area (around Boyleston, or the Southie areas) to see the Boston bars; instead, a couple more familiar faces. Lot’s of scenery of people rowing and training for regattas on the Charles River (we all know about this from “The Social Network”). This seems to be a very popular city.
It would be wonderful today to be a young adult living on a campus like any of those in Cambridge. It would be nice to be 19 years old, able to run up the stairs of one’s dorm and invent a social network that would make one a billionaire. College is the time you start your adult life, but the university still provides some ballast, some infrastructure, some real structure, some stability.
For gay men, this was not very easy when I started in the 1960s (William and Mary in 1961). It’s so much better today. In another month, Jack Andraka will start at Stanford, and it would look like an afterthought to his medical invention and worldwide tour this year.
I’ll add something else, sobering. It’s a little chilling to see signs like “Watertown”, “Cheshire”, “Sandy Hook” and “Newtown” while driving Interstates and know that very near where I am, horrific things have happened. No, I didn’t go to those exact locations, didn’t have time to, or feel inclined.
But history can visit oh so close.
Note also, the remnant of the Station Club in West Warwick (a straight club, but the fire in 2003 provided a major lesson in club fire safety.)
Sunday, August 09, 2015
I can recall a session at the old West Side Discussion Group in 1973 (shortly after “my second coming”) when the question was posed, “are gay resorts really gay?”
Well, around DC there is Rehoboth with Queen Street, not that big a deal any more. But as far as I know the two main “gay cities”, separate set-asides, are West Hollywood (which I visited in 2012) and Provincetown MA. (Oh, there is Fire Island's Cherry Grove on Long Island, NY, too -- "where the sea meets the sky".)
The main attraction at P-town is Commercial street, along the southern shore, one block south of Route 6A (itself south of 6, which runs 3670 miles to Long Beach, CA). It is part summer-long Pride Festival, with a touch of other-worldliness, almost like a dominion from Clive Barker’s novel “Imajica”. Guest houses, bars, and little shops abound. The street allows cars but is filled with pedestrians, bikes and pedicarts. The best known club is probably the Boatslip, with bar, dance floor, and hotel. Much of the property is accessible only to guests during the day.
Parking is provided in a public school lot run by the city in the summer, with an hourly rate. There are overflow lots on school property. This is the same concept as West Hollywood: banning most street parking, and proving one large commercial pay garage. The U Street and Dupont Circle areas of DC need to do the same.
Dogs are common, and have the luxury of being the center of attention. Same-sex couples raising children will certainly increase with time, and eventually somewhat change the character of the area.
Along the way are numerous beaches of the Cape Cod National Seashore, with cliff-like structures build up from dunes as if to give the visual effect of the south English coast. Cranberry bushes abound, with their white and pink flowers as well as the berries themselves.
There is a horrible road merge (of 25, 3, and 6) and Bourne and the Sagamore Bridge; it’s surprising that this has never been widened.
Wednesday, August 05, 2015
Danny and Larry Lennox-Choate, the first male couple to be married at the United States Military Academy at West Point, became the targets of a verbal anti-gay attack in a retail store in SoHo in New York City, leading to a minor physical attack. NYPD is looking for the suspect.
Both men graduated from West Point (in 2007 and 2009). They were married in the Cadet Chapel in November 2013, a little more than two years after the final official repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell”.
The CNN story by Laura Ly is here.
Sunday, August 02, 2015
James A. Lyons in the Washington Times brings back “old chestnuts” with an op-ed Thursday, “Undermining the military”, complaining that “the armed forces must deal with social engineering”, link here as it criticizes the lifting of the ban on transgender personnel as well as the 2011 repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” (which had required approval by Congress).
An earlier TWT editorial in March had talked about “the gelding of the military” but now Lyons ventures into the territory of “mental disorder”. That is to say, not conforming to what society expects from one member as a prerequisite to belonging to some “common good”, must be a disorder, the kind of thinking 50 years ago.
Twenty years ago DADT was justified by concerns about “privacy” in the barracks, as well as concerns over distraction and unit cohesion. Yet, younger adults do not share the same concerns about the supposed ulterior motives of others with whom they share relatively close quarters as did people in older generations. Times have simply changed, with technology and living standards, and modernism.
Saturday, August 01, 2015
Many media outlets report an attack on the gay pride parade in Jerusalem. A repeat attacker (and Zionist fundamentalist) who had been imprisoned and let out, stabbed six people, seriously wounding two. The CNN story is here. The attacker was an “Orthodox Jew” and NOT from Islam.
On a few occasions of over the years (going back to the 1990s), US and European authorities have broken up extremist plots that could have affected gay events or venues.
The Jerusalem Post reports that Israel is cracking down on "Jewish" terrorists (as well as Islam), here.
The Jerusalem Post reports that Israel is cracking down on "Jewish" terrorists (as well as Islam), here.
Wikipedia attribution link for NASA photo of Jerusalem