aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Tougher than marching in Selma
I just wrote a friend that I believe Hillary will pull out after Tuesday. That friend, like many of my New York friends, tries to be kind and gentle and humor me but he thinks I’m nuts for supporting Hillary in the first place and can’t hardly hide his scornful skepticism.
He shot back his doubt. I protested that the results are obvious. She needs a knock-out Tuesday. She will not get it. If she keeps on after that she’s being as bad (well, not quite) as Ralph Nader. If she keeps on after that she will lose my admiration.
I say she gets out. It may not be on Tuesday, but waiting past the 11th is just embarrassing. I said last night that I would follow John Lewis as he moved today to endorse Obama. It’s with the greatest of empathy and sincere admiration that I do that now.
When I see this video I see something honest and rare and highly estimable, admirable and desirable in an elected official. I will be very, very interested to see how history looks back on this election…
LATER: Of course it was used by Lewis’ priary opponent against him.
Homosexual vs. Gay: choose gay!
I’m a guest in a couple classes this week on diversity in education (one undergraduate and one graduate) where students will be asking about my gay identity. You’ll recall that I like Richard Thompson Ford’s notion of moving away from “diversity” and towards “integration” and Wendy Brown’s notion of moving away from “tolerance” and back to “equality and justice” for all.
Those concepts will infuse what I have to say. But I will start by handing out this article from MSNBC, I married a gay man, How one woman recovered from a heartbreaking deception:
The movie “Brokeback Mountain” turned a spotlight on gay men who lead double lives, having sex with other men while they are married to women. But that film only scratched the surface of their wives’ miserable experience. When I saw the movie, I started to cry as I watched Ennis, the young cowboy played by Heath Ledger, wed his sweetheart even though he’d been involved with another man. I wanted to scream: “It is such a lie! Don’t do it!” My mind flashed back to my own wedding day, when I was the virgin bride standing before family, friends and a minister. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
This kind of union happens more often than people may think; research done by University of Chicago sociologist Edward Laumann, Ph.D., estimated that between 1.5 million and 2.9 million American women who have ever been married had a husband who had had sex with another man. That means there are a large number of women who have no idea what their husband does in secret.
When I saw the movie, I wrote, Being gay is a choice. A homosexual proclivity may not be:
Homosexual and gay are not synonymous; all homosexuals are not gay. Homosexual acts may be circumstantial - a man in prison, a drunken evening - or experimental and do not mean an individual is homosexual by nature. But experimentation can lead to the discovery of a homosexual inclination.
Once that inclination is realized, how it is addressed matters to all of us. Because then there is a choice to be made: to accept homosexuality or to resist and fight it. To embrace it is to become gay. To resist it leads to all kinds of trouble.
In Abraham Lincoln’s day, a more agrarian time when the family was the economic unit, gay was not a choice. Had it been, I’m persuaded beyond all reasonable doubt that Lincoln might have chosen it. And that he’d have been happier if he had.
Urbanization and mobilization - particularly World War II which brought women into the workforce and men together as it took them around the world - brought with it the beginnings of a gay identity. That identity is rooted in the collective experience of those who have gone through the difficult process of making the choice to embrace their homsexuality.
I saw Brokeback Mountain yesterday. Its peculiar achievement is to show straight America the cost to all of us when someone chooses not to be gay. For Ennis’s torment was not his alone; he shared it with Jack and Alma and their daughters and every woman he dated and every random person that fell victim to his wild outbursts of rage against the world.
Jack had a choice too, one that would not have made as tragic a movie.
Ennis was right when he said, “If you can’t fix it, Jack, you gotta stand it.” The heartbreak was in the way he chose to “stand it.” Ennis didn’t realize he had a choice. In the final shot, alone in his trailer, Ennis looks at a postcard of Brokeback Mountain tacked to a closet door. He closes the door.
What we must see, all of us gay and straight alike, is that it’s in our interest to help open the closet door. We must make the choice to come out of the closet and become gay an easier one; the obvious one. Because that’s the right choice, the good choice, the healthy choice, for our society and for all of us living in it.
I’m thinking I’ll use that as a hand-out for the class…
Online movement for autistics’ rights
Wired’s got a long feature on Amanda Baggs, a woman with autism who doesn’t speak, but who uses video and online forums and MMOs to make an eloquent case for autism as a different—but valid—style of cognition, and argues for the rights of people with autism to be recognized on their own terms. The article looks into the long-held belief that autism and retardation are tied together and concludes that this just isn’t true—rather, that people with autism have been incorrectly classed as retarded for generations.
Baggs is part of an increasingly visible and highly networked community of autistics. Over the past decade, this group has benefited enormously from the Internet as well as innovations like type-to-speech software. Baggs may never have considered herself trapped in her own world, but thanks to technology, she can communicate with the same speed and specificity as someone using spoken language.
Autistics like Baggs are now leading a nascent civil rights movement. “I remember in ‘99,” she says, “seeing a number of gay pride Web sites. I envied how many there were and wished there was something like that for autism. Now there is.” The message: We’re here. We’re weird. Get used to it.
This movement is being fueled by a small but growing cadre of neuropsychological researchers who are taking a fresh look at the nature of autism itself. The condition, they say, shouldn’t be thought of as a disease to be eradicated. It may be that the autistic brain is not defective but simply different - an example of the variety of human development. These researchers assert that the focus on finding a cure for autism - the disease model - has kept science from asking fundamental questions about how autistic brains function.
I, of course, love that she was inspired by gay pride web sites.
The Economics of Free