aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, March 01, 2008
A note on language (updated)
I also told the students that though the word “homosexual” has about it a certain venerable quality, contrary to public convictions, the word has neither a long nor distinguished history. Coined in Germany in 1860 by a Hungarian physician named Henkert (using the pseudonym K.M.Kertbeny), it was not introduced into the English language until 1891(Probably by John Addington Symonds in A Problem in Modern Ethics) and was considered too new to be included when in 1899 the Oxford English Dictionary published its “Hod-Horizontal” volume. It was conceived as a neutral term--and remains lexically opaque--at a time when no single terminology existed. However neutral it set out to be, the whole point was to define something that was then considered to be a disease! I clearly prefer the term “gay.”
LATER: It turns out, my note is timely:
From: Patrick Tuohy
Date: February 25, 2008 4:43:13 PM EST
Subject: Style changes
Here are some recent updates to TWT style.
1) Clinton will be the headline word for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
2) Gay is approved for copy and preferred over homosexual, except in clinical references or references to sexual activity.
3) The quotation marks will come off gay marriage (preferred over homosexual marriage).
4) Moderate is approved, but centrist is still allowed.
5) We will use illegal immigrants, not illegal aliens.
Conceptualizing closeted priests
Among those things the students asked this week, again and again, was about my faith. I told them that I had none, that I had been raised Catholic and that my rejection by the church had been so complete—and the teachings of the church so hurtful to me—that I would not, could not, go back there and find comfort or community.
I told them, too, that I am sad for that and think it too bad. That I applaud the gay fight for inclusion in the church and those other central institutions in our society: marriage and the military. I want us to keep up the fight and keep it the centerpiece of our campaign for equality.
I note that the Pope is making noises about abortion and gays prior to coming to America. Too bad he couldn’t have persuaded Georgia Republicans to support the life begins at fertilization amendment. It would have been the best news for Georgia Democrats in decades!
I’ll take this opportunity to quote Andrew Sullivan commenting earlier in the week on how he’s barely clinging to Catholicism:
Institutionally, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to overcome the feeling of disgust and despair at my church’s long-standing policy of allowing grown men, in the image of Christ, to rape, abuse, molest and traumatize boys and teens - and persistently cover it up. Seeing, as a gay man does, the depth of the hypocrisy and cant and sexual and psychological pathologies that drive the Vatican, it is very hard to regain trust in such a deeply corrupt and dishonest institution. Benedict cannot help symbolize this to me. He’s a brilliant, brilliant man; he has not been a new Torquemada. But he is so much a part of the reactionary regress of the Church that only his departure will allow a rebirth. I cling because such a future is always possible; and hope is not the same thing as optimism.
At different times in my life as an out gay man I’ve had occasion to come in contact with closeted priests; I’ve never been able to accept them. Even if/when such an individual doesn’t prey on young men, there remains an ethical violation—they break their vows and lie to their congregation.
[Episcopal Bishop Paul] Moore - who made the cover of Newsweek in 1972, when he took over the Archdiocese of New York - died in May 2003. His daughter, Honor Moore, the eldest of nine children he had with his first wife, Jenny McKean, writes that six months after his death, “the telephone rang. [The caller] had a confident voice. Andrew Verver (as I’ll call him) was the only person in my father’s will whose name was unfamiliar.” When Honor asked “Verver,” who had traveled with Moore to the Greek island of Patmos the summer before, about her father’s sexual life, he replied, “I was his sexual life,” and, “Of course, there were other men.” Then, Honor describes bringing “Verver” on a touching visit to Moore’s grave in Connecticut.
Now, I must hasten to add, that I don’t want to paint all gay priests with the same brush. If they’re going to be gay they should be out about it, an admonition one priest apparently took to heart last November:
Before a packed church of some 400 on the campus of the famed St. Joseph’s University, Father Thomas J. Brennan announced that he is homosexual.[*] During the Mass he spoke of his homosexuality as one of “the worst kept secrets” on campus. He failed however to mention that homosexual acts are considered intrinsically evil by the Catholic Church.
Fr. Brennan, S.J., is an Assistant Professor of English at the University, who on his website lists “lesbian and gay studies” under “general fields of professional interest”.
The announcement came at the 10pm Mass to a congregation of mostly students and a smattering of alumni.
With that announcement comes a certainty that he won’t be coming on to Catholic school children. And no comment from the university about those suspicions (aren’t there always some?) but not for the reasons one might expect:
Archbold, an alumnus of St. Joseph’s, suggested that suspicions on campus related to Fr. Brennan’s homosexuality may have been due to his having written a chapter in the book “Jesuit Postmodern” which was entitled “A Tale of Two Comings Out: Priest and Gay on a Catholic Campus.”
*SEE ALSO: A note on language.
Following Jack Kingston
Keep those cellphone cameras rolling!
IT has much to learn from libraries
I worry about IT in our state. And the state of IT. Late last year the governor said our computer infrastructure isn’t working. And so his plan is to hand Georgia’s information technology over to the private sector.
He’s right, of course, that it isn’t working. And I agree that the private sector is the place to be these days. But then, there’s the “private sector”—stodgy staid status quo incumbent telcos and cable cos—and there’s the private sector—lithe hip cool innovators Google, Amazon, and eBay who reside on the other side of the Net Neutrality divide.
What worries me is that the “IT mindset” is rooted in that old incumbent telco/cableco way of looking at the world, when what I think it should be—what I’d like it to be—is the hip-cool-innovator Google, Amazon, and eBay mindset.
What’s more, I’d say let’s chuck the whole notion of “IT.”
Information is overrated. It’s a hyped buzzword. We live in an age of information promiscuity. All too often a colleague will dump an unfiltered email string on me, or a ton of unread documents, and call it “background material.”
Without proper filtering and processing and synthesis and context, information is not knowledge. It is useless! Worse, it is counterproductive.
The “T” is no longer so pristine either. When this week I asked a group of students if they were “good with technology,” all agreed emphatically that they were not, even as each professed high usage of cellphones, web cameras, facebook, and a myriad of other technologies unimagined when I was their age.
So I say chuck it! Chuck IT! The term, that is, not the technology.
The term to keep, the tradition to protect, is found in the library. The library has a tradition, the librarian has a practice, of privileging the individual patron, of protecting that individual patron’s relationship to the knowledge being sought. The librarians’ profession has successfully codified and established the means, methods and sometimes even the laws to protect our privacy and our rights to access that knowledge.
Apparently I’m bucking a trend here:
Library science graduates are finding jobs with software companies, biotech and law firms, even the military and CIA, said Ron Pollock, career services director at University of Texas’ School of Information.
In 2003, the faculty renamed the graduate school, dropping the word “library” from the name. The new moniker reflects the fact that library science has grown into information science and that librarians do not always work in libraries, Pollock said.
I have never been a librarian, but I have spent my life in libraries. I have the utmost respect and admiration for librarians.
Today, I work as a Technology Specialist in an academic library. I know, intimately, the IT world. We have much to learn from the libraries. My sense is, we don’t know what we’re missing.
We’d better start learning.