Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Programming Note

It is now offical. I have apparently been swallowed up by the blogging conglomerate known as The Malcontent. It's possible roofies were involved in all this. Something about a contract signed in a seedy club and using a certain cute husband to lure me into submission. Who are we to question the cut-throat tactics of the blogosphere?

I'm not sure what that will mean for this blog. For now, I plan on keeping it, possibly as an outlet for some of my more, ahem, vehement personal and political musings (read: apoplexies). It's a little strange to have only blogged for a month before wandering off for greener pastures, so I'll try to keep something in this space that will hopefully be just as interesting.

Hey, anything beats the endlessly tedious crap I put in my livejournal.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Politicians Pander to People Like Me

I don't usually spend time on quizzes, but here I am:

You are a

Social Moderate
(55% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(61% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Not as right-wing as you'd think, is it?

h/t Gay Patriot

This is Time, Right?

Entitled "The Battle Over Gay Teens," the cover story in the October 10th issue of Time Magazine takes on the contentious issue of gay youth and the political and cultural struggle to influence them. We know Time is deadly serious when they put the gayest youth they could possibly find in the cover shot. Honestly. A pink-striped shirt and a necklace rejected by Hot Topic for being just a little bit near.

The author gets the broad point out of the way right from the start:

. . .last year's big UCLA survey of college freshmen found that 57% favor same-sex marriage (only about 36% of all adults do). Even as adult activists bicker in court, young Americans--including many young conservatives--are becoming thoroughly, even nonchalantly, gay- positive.

Gay marriage is a foregone conclusion in this country. It is important to remember in a world of hyper-hysteria over the issue that young people in this country will pass gay marriage bills without blinking.

Still, the article is bizarrely balanced, even for Time. After noting the increasing acceptance of gay peers by heterosexual youth and the explosion of Gay-Straight Alliances in schools, the writer, John Cloud, turns endless sympathetic paragraphs over to the ex-gay movement and attendant Christian ministries.

Thompson never accepted a gay identity--"Heterosexuality is God's design," he says--and today he is a leading spokesman for young Christians rejecting homosexuality. Thompson says a new kind of bigotry has emerged--among gays. "Those of us who have chosen not to embrace this orientation are often misunderstood and sometimes even ridiculed," he writes in a pamphlet he distributes at campus speaking engagements.

Not only does he give religious conservatives equal time, the writer humanizes them:

Even those point scholars with the darkest stories of adversity, like Emory's Bryan Olsen, seem more buoyant than Point lets on. I heard Olsen speak to Point donors twice, once in New York City and again in Michigan. Both times he said that after his Mormon family learned he was gay when he was 15, he was sent to a boot camp for wayward teens in Ensenada, Mexico. Olsen says the facility, Casa by the Sea, required residents to wear shoes without backs so they couldn't run. He says that as punishment for a three-meal hunger strike, he was forced to sit in a stress position--cross-legged, with his nose touching a wall--for two hours. Olsen's small face, which is framed by a pop-star haircut that makes him look as though he's still 15, scrunches with tears when he gets to the next part: "I could only come home when I wrote my parents and promised to be straight and Mormon." There were gasps in the room the first time I heard him tell that story.

But much has changed since Olsen returned from Mexico in 2000. He and his parents haven't completely reconciled, and they aren't paying for his education. Olsen says they told him he had to choose between their financial help and "this lifestyle." But Olsen and his partner, Kyle Ogiela--they met in 2002--are welcomed at the family table every Sunday. Ogiela, 26, even works for Randy Olsen, Bryan's father, as the office manager of the family pest-control firm in Woodstock, Ga. As a Mormon, says Randy, 53, "I don't believe that men should be together. I never will. But I love him as my son. And he and his partner are good boys." Randy says his first reaction to Bryan's teen homosexuality was, "I'm going to find him the best hooker I can." But he says he and his wife sent Bryan to Casa not because he was gay but because he was a "totally unruly kid" who was "just so mean ... To go get that scholarship, I understand he had to be the poor little victim. But for three years, my wife and I were the victims." Seconds later, though, Randy yields again: "It's like God put a pair of new glasses on me ... I thought I could talk him out of [being gay]. But it's not something you can talk someone out of."

Time pulls off a near media impossibility in this article. It presents both sides of the issue, introduces both pro and anti gay figures as complex individuals rather than chariacatures, and reveals sexuality as a complicated social and familial issue rather than a mere label. People are allowed different beliefs and opinions without being labelled unmitigated human evil for having a disagreement.

A paragraph towards the end states it best:

Yet, according to Savin-Williams, most gay kids are fairly ordinary. "Perhaps surprising to researchers who emphasize the suicidality, depression, victimization, prostitution, and substance abuse of gay youth, gay teenagers generally feel good about their same-sex sexuality," he writes. A 56-year-old gay man with a slightly elfish mien, Savin-Williams has interviewed some 350 kids with same-sex attractions, and he concludes that they "are more diverse than they are similar and more resilient than suicidal ... They're adapting quite well, thank you."

If you find yourself with a little time near a news stand, give the entire article a read.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

As a Southsider, I have to . . .

Sox vs Sox

Oh, it's on.

Time to clean up the Wankees' mess.

AR Part Two: Me Me Me!

This is an installment from the Adolescence Revisted series, started here.

I've been getting a little bit of grief over my comparisons of gay liberals with adolescents. Some believe it's an ad hominem attack beneath contempt. No, beneath contempt would be the various press releases of a certain task force.

My intention is not to call names, but to illustrate certain political approaches. When I think of politics, I try to reason my way through the swamps and swat aside the mosquitoes of emotion and midges of personal discontent. Politics oughtn't be an emotional business, though they almost always are. My guides are the Constitution and the Republic. No matter what my personal stakes or inconveniences, I try to discern what is the best way to go about something so that these things are kept intact. It is one thing to profess a love and respect for America and the Constitution. It is quite another to actually practice it. We hear plenty of the former while seeing little practice of the latter.

In the great gay debates, in the midst of it all, homosexuals often tell heteros "If you were me, if you had to live my life, you'd feel differently about gay rights and gay marriage!" That is the most often heard argument.

I'm gay. I live that life. I don't feel differently.

I have lived a life more affected by my sexuality than most people. If we're going to use our lives as a battering ram of reason, then indulge me as I delineate mine.

We'll call him V.

I had just come off one of the most psychopathic relationships I'd ever experienced. I wrote for various web publications. After I put out an article about an experience with the local police and the endless homophobic slurs I was subjected to in their presence, a boy, V, e-mailed me about it.

We hit it off. He was British, I, American. Over time, I grew more attracted to him, distance be damned. We smiled to each other every night over webcams and spent, literally, thousands of dollars saying hey on the phone. He bought a ticket and came to meet me in September, 2001. We spent a week of bliss before we dealt with the horror of Sept. 11th. Only by whim were we not in New York that day, as we had plans to visit that week but chose not to at the last minute. Even then, every member of his extended family and beyond called in desperation. It took us two weeks to find him a new flight home as he'd missed his in the grounding of the airlines.

Still, our relationship turned out to be very strong. I loved him and he loved me. But how could we make such a thing work? He had not finished British college, but we thought America offered us the best chance in terms of opportunity and career advancement.

We approached American immigration just as the INS disintegrated in the newly minted Department of Homeland Security. We found ourselves hitting barrier after barrier to his immigration. We consulted with every immigration attorney under the sun. We found the names of prominent gay-oriented immigration specialists who wanted endless thousands of dollars to even attempt immigration for V.

In a moment of desperation, we even drove to Canada, hoping his passport would be renewed for another three months. No deal.

It became abundantly clear that, given his level of education, V. immigrating to America was very much an impossibility. If we wanted to stay together, I had to move to Britain.

I did not want to move to Britain. I had a budding career here in the states. My aging parents had both fallen ill, and I didn't care to put 4,600 miles between us. Was that the choice facing me?

So it was. I bought a ticket and moved to Britain, leaving my entire life behind. I had no friends, no family, no job, no life outside of my boyfriend. Britain's laws are far more lax than America's. I could live there for six months, leave the country for a weekend, then re-enter and have my passport stamped for another six months. We continued on this way for years. Tony Blair and Labour had not yet passed an immigration act allowing for domestic partners, so it was not an option for us.

Though I set up a bank account and obtained credit cards, I could not work in Britain. I was reduced to free-lance writing for a meager income as we trudged along. I was effectively an illegal immigrant, a man without a home country, a nomad traveling across Europe trying to salvage some vestige of stability in a situation wrought by the lack of protections for gay relationships.

I spent nearly three years this way, my life in the air, my future the very essence of uncertainty.

No homosexual making a political argument can lecture me on the realities of domestic partnerships or gay marriage. I know. Not only do I know on the state level, but I was made painfully aware of it on the federal level.

And yet, I persist. There are methods to all of this. Yes, I would have liked it if the federal government recognized my relationship. It cost me beyond reckoning when it did not. I gave up everything because of it. My entire established life. When my mother had a heart attack, I was over four thousand miles away and helpless. There is no limit to the pain I suffered as a result of the situation.

But I believe in America and the Constitution. There are appropriate methods to get what we want. There are things above us, beyond us. There are institutions and systems that must endure when we've shuffled off this mortal coil. My personal pain and chaos is but one drop in the flood of the Republic. We cannot demolish that because I personally found discomfort and hardship. My wants and needs matter, but not so much that I'm willing to wreck the constitutional order and insist a few black robed arbiters with an agenda remake law and our foundations in their self-appointed images.

It is wrong. It is a recipe for governmental disaster. It is an attitude and an ideology that will have effects that will rain upon the generations to come. We, every single citizen, are the guardians of the Constitution. It is only ever as good as the viligance of the citizens.

Do not tell me it is your life. It is my life. And yet, I still understand the importance of the Constitution, the government, the Republic. It is not all about you. It is not all about me.

It is about those who come after.

And that is everything.