aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, March 01, 2008
Obama Spends for Knockout Blow
Taking advantage of his financial edge, Senator Barack Obama is buying large amounts of advertising and building extensive get-out-the-vote operations in an effort to end Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s candidacy with twin defeats Tuesday in Ohio and Texas.
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.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
The Talk of the Green Iguana
The rumors about Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and the Green Iguana just wouldn’t go away.
The story goes that the Florida governor frequented the Green Iguana, a bar in Tampa, back in the early 1990s when he was just starting his political career. He was less careful back then, people say, and during his partying at the Green Iguana, he was openly gay.
When I got Rick Calderoni, the bar’s well-known owner, on the phone, I expected him to stonewall me about it.
Calderoni, who is gay, confirmed that Crist came into his bar quite often and that the two of them became friends.
Getting to the point, I asked him if he knew Crist to be gay.
“Yes,” he answered bluntly. “I just wish he would come out and admit it. That would be a great thing if he did.”
Via Wonkette, who has more:
- One rumored ex-boyfriend of Crist’s served as regional director for Kitty Harris’ delusional, delightful U.S. Senate campaign.
- Another rumored ex-boyfriend is also an ex-felon.
- Crist is linked to a “wealthy socialite from the Hamptons” named Jennifer Faga.
- If John McCain asks Charlie Crist to be his running mate, nobody will care about any of this completely pointless, stupid, sleazy, and wrongheaded speculation.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
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.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Why just one kiss?
It all started last Christmas, when Luke and Noah, the young gay couple on “As The World Turns,” were about to kiss. Though fans had seen them kiss before, this time the camera panned up to the mistletoe.
Over the next few months, while heterosexual couples were kissing, Nuke (as fans call the couple) was restricted to holding hands, playing with one another’s neck scarves and sharing meaningful looks.
Ensuing complaints of discrimination to CBS and the show’s producer and sponsor, Procter & Gamble, had no effect. And the last straw apparently arrived on Valentine’s Day, when every other couple but Nuke shared a kiss. They hugged instead.
Online fans began a nationwide media blitz on Feb. 20 to bring attention to the show, which has been twice nominated for an award from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). “Presenting a gay couple on television only to relegate them to insulting hugs and slaps on the back is the 21st century version of putting African Americans on the back of the bus,” wrote one disgruntled fan named Tony. “We’re simply supposed to be happy that we got the ride at all. This is 2008, and yet CBS and Procter & Gamble are clearly stuck in the past.”
Here’s the site started by fans targeting producers and Procter and Gamble.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Charles Barkley Supports Obama, Gay Marriage
Former pro basketball star Charles Barkley appeared on CNN’s The Situation Room on Friday and talked about why he’s voting for Obama. He also excoriated members of the GOP who use the bigotry and hate of the religious right to move their agenda forward, calling them “fake” Christians. It’s not the first time Barkley has spoken out about gay marriage. He gave an interview in August 2006 to Chris Meyers on FOX sports in which he said, “I think if they want to get married, God bless them. Gay marriage is probably 1 percent of the population, so it’s not like it’s going to be an epidemic. Hey, trust me, I’m never going to kiss you and say, ‘Chris, you’re sexy.’”
Andy’s got the transcript & video.
Don’t Ask, They’ll Tell
DownWithTyrany looks at a piece in the March issue of Out Magazine on the “service” men for anti-gay Republican closet cases who have managed to trade in escort agencies for PR agencies.
Invited to White House press conferences, Ann Coulter cocktail parties, and guest host on Fox, Jeff Gannon, Matt Sanchez, and Mike Jones are male prostitutes whose momentary mainstream media fame comes from having sex with closeted Republicans.
[Be forewarned: Don’t click, they’ll show]
Sunday, February 17, 2008
I’m totally gay for the US of A!
It’s The Love Song for Uncle Sam. Sing it loud and proud…
RELATED: Indiana rejects gay marriage ban.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Andy at Towleroad brings us the first three:
A minister and former Christian college instructor in Canada was found guilty of sexually assaulting a young man who came to him for ‘therapy’: “In earlier testimony, the alleged victim, now 29, told court he started meeting Lewis for counselling sessions in early 2000 after his parents caught him viewing gay pornography on the family computer. Lewis â€” a family friend and minister - confided he had his own sexual identity issues and the two embarked on weekly counselling sessions designed to ‘assist me to be straight and to live a straight life,’ the man said. The man said Lewis started a program of ‘touch therapy,’ which included the two kissing and fondling each other and engaging in sexual roleplaying. ‘He said I was to tell no one about it because no one would understand,’ the man testified.”
And in Texas a Catholic priest accused of sexually molesting children in two states is HIV-positive, officials say: “Last week, a leader in the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth heard someone mention that the Rev. Philip A. Magaldi has the virus that causes AIDS, said diocese spokesman Pat Svacina. The diocese leader then got verbal confirmation from Magaldi as well as a letter from his doctor who said he has HIV, Svacina said. Church officials said they believe he has been HIV positive since 2003. The diocese then alerted the alleged victims - at least five minors in two states - and the parishes where Magaldi served for nearly four decades, Svacina said.”
A Methodist Church in DC has been criticized for recognizing committed gay relationships: “If they’re not violating the letter, they’re certainly violating the spirit of United Methodist standards...Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.”
That Texas priest had also embezzled a couple hundred thousand bucks. Good Catholic!
This last is a twofer—Republican and an officer in his church:
Robert A. McKee, a long-serving Republican delegate from Western Maryland, announced his resignation yesterday after authorities, who say they are conducting a child pornography investigation, seized two computers, videotapes and printed materials from his Hagerstown home.
First elected to the House of Delegates in 1994, McKee was chairman of the Western Maryland delegation and sponsored legislation to protect minors from sexual predators. McKee, 58, also resigned yesterday from his post as executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County, a child mentorship program where he has worked for 29 years.[...]
McKee, who is considered a political moderate, has sponsored bills this year dealing with minors, including the Child Protection From Predators Act and a proposal to collect DNA samples from sexual predators. McKee has sponsored several other sexual offender and child abduction bills in previous years.
For decades, McKee has been involved in youth athletics and children’s groups, according to his General Assembly biography. He has served in officer positions in two Little League groups and as secretary of a parent and child center advisory committee.
During the 1970s, McKee was a reservist in the U.S. Navy. He is a former chaplain for the Hagerstown Jaycees and is a trustee and community services chairman at First Christian Church.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Republicans scold Craig for bathroom arrest
Oh those tough on crime Republicans:
The Senate Ethics Committee released a ‘Public Letter of Admonition’ today to Idaho Senator Larry Craig with regard to Craig’s conduct following his arrest last June in a men’s room at the Minneapolis airport.
The letter scolds Craig for his statement to the arresting officer regarding his position in the Senate (Craig told asked the arresting officer, “What do you think about that?") and also for his attempt to withdraw his guilty plea, about which it says this: “Your claims to the court, through counsel, to the effect that your guilty plea resulted from improper pressure or coercion, or that you did not, as a legal matter, know what you were doing when you pled guilty, do not appear credible.”
Georgia’s own Johnny Isakson signed the letter. Let’s just say it’s the least he could do.
Let me remind you that it’s not gay men we’re finding in rest stops and bathrooms these days. Gay people are busy fighting for marriage rights and the right to serve in the military and to worship along side other Americans.
Of the twenty men arrested, all were married except for the priest. They’ve been charged with crimes ranging from loitering and public lewdness to trespassing. All are scheduled to be in court on Thursday.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
With the strike over, we can embed Comedy Central videos again! This one was repeated recently and is dedicated to Marla Spivak…
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
38 & HS student spars with Rove
Think Progress is always worth reading, but a couple important posts today include…
Number of women who have contacted gang-rape victim Jamie Leigh Jones and said that they too had suffered sexual assault while working for Halliburton/KBR in Iraq. Jones, who testified to Congress today, says that many of the women “cannot speak publicly due to arbitration agreements in their employment contracts.”
And a high school student asked Karl Rove “to explain how giving gay people the right to marry would endanger other people.” Rove answered that the issue “should be resolved by a legislature or a referendum, not a court.”
[The student, Choate senior Marla] Spivack kept pressing. “You never actually answered, how does it threaten anyone?” she asked.
Rove asked, what’s the compelling reason to throw out 5,000 years of understanding the institution of marriage as between a man and a woman?
What, Spivack countered, was the compelling reason for society to allow interracial relationships when they had once been outlawed.
Then Rove invoked the Declaration of Independence before Spivak interjected that its reference to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” seemed to support her claims.
He was speaking at New England Choate Rosemary Hall prep school last night after the school decided to cancel his address at its commencement ceremony this year.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Aug. 17, 2007 - As The World Turns
The kiss seen* ‘round the world…
* It’s the most viewed selection in the history of YouTube.
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Sticks & Stones
My sensitivity to racist and sexist language comes, in part, from growing up gay. Verbal bullying is common for people perceived to be gay.
In 1990 I made this video to raise awareness of the problem. That year 4 in 10 gay teens attempted suicide. Ten years later it was 3 in 10, still four times higher than heterosexual youth. The problem has not gone away.
RELATED: Here Hillary Clinton addresses a question on gay teen suicide.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
It’s All Because (The Gays Are Getting Married)
‘Dykes on Bikes’ trademark OKd
A San Francisco motorcycle club gained long-sought legal approval Monday for its trademark of the name “Dykes on Bikes” when the U.S. Supreme Court turned away a challenge from a lawyer who said the term denigrated men.
Without comment, the justices denied review of an appeal by Michael McDermott of Dublin, who challenged a decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to grant the San Francisco Women’s Motorcycle Contingent exclusive rights over the commercial use of Dykes on Bikes.
The motorcycle club applied for a trademark in 2003 after using Dykes on Bikes for three decades as the moniker of the motorized unit that leads San Francisco’s annual Gay Pride Parade. The club’s attorney, Gregory Gilchrist, said the group had no business plans for the phrase but decided to seek legal protection after an offshoot group, now independent, discussed putting the name on T-shirts for sale.
The trademark office initially rejected the application, saying the name was disparaging to lesbians, but approved it in January 2006 after the club submitted evidence that activists were trying to reclaim dykes as a term of pride. Gilchrist said the lawyers pointed out that the office had approved trademarks for other once-derogatory terms - for example, the television show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”
McDermott, a self-described men’s rights advocate, objected to the trademark office and the courts, arguing that the term was disparaging - to men - as well as “scandalous and immoral.” Those categories are grounds for denial of a trademark.
A trademark would put the definition in the hands of a group of “thought police” and contradict the “widespread documented understanding of the term â€˜dyke’ as describing hyper-militant radicals hateful toward men,” McDermott wrote in his Supreme Court appeal.
Monday, January 07, 2008
Tom Cruise: still not gay
I never thought he was. The trashy Andrew Morton biography would have it if there were even the slightest hint. Instead we get that Cruise is second-in-command at Church of Scientology.
And more trashing of Scientology:
According to Britain’s Daily Mail: “[Morton] quotes Hubbard’s son, Ronald De Wolf, who fell out with his father, giving a Playboy interview: â€˜You have complete control of someone if you have every detail of his sex life and fantasy life on record. In Scientology the focus is on sex. Sex, sex, sex. The first thing we wanted to know about someone we were auditing was his sexual deviations. All you’ve got to do is find a person’s kinks, whatever they might be. Their dreams and their fantasies. Then you can fit a ring through their noses and take them anywhere. You promise to fulfil their fantasies or you threaten to expose them.’ Morton says Karen Pressley was at Gold Base one evening when John Travolta’s sexuality was openly discussed. He writes: â€˜’It made my head spin,’ she recalls, â€˜and made me realise that the idea of confidentiality was a chimera.’ As another Scientology executive admitted bluntly, â€˜These files come in handy if they want to blackmail you’.’”
According to the tabloid, the book makes no claims about the actor’s sexuality.
Cruise’s attorney Bert Fields is threatening legal action based on the reaction of the public.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Andrew Sullivan’s sexist id
Queer misogyny doesn’t receive much attention these days but it’s alive and living in our community.
Andrew Sullivan should know better. He comes dangerously close to slipping down that slippery misogynistic slope aimed at Hillary.
On The Chris Matthews Show yesterday:
Mr. SULLIVAN: Then go to the end of the year, where I think the real one-liner happened when it was brought up in that debate with Obama and Clinton about his foreign policy advice and whether he was relying on Clinton’s advisers and how then could he have a new change. And she laughed this devilish cackle that she’s now become known for, which in itself might be the--one of the one-liners of the year. `I’d like to see how he’d answer that,’ she said.
MATTHEWS: I love that--devilish cackle. Where’d you come up with that?
Mr. SULLIVAN: Somewhere in my id.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
No glutton for punishment
Matt Hill Comer, 21, is an LGBT journalist, activist and youth advocate currently living and working in Charlotte, NC. He recently went back to his childhood church, Grapevine Baptist in Lewisville, N.C., - “where the stench of hatred, bigotry and oppression was, and still is, thick in the air” - to talk with the preacher there.
Matt was home for his 14-year-old brother’s birthday. He was motivated to go back and talk to the preacher by that brother’s telling of a Saturday night church youth rally. He took another brother along with him when he went.
Matt’s tale of that awkward homecoming was found on his blog by the Grapevine choir director. From his comment to Matt’s post we learn that he knew Matt as a child. And that he had been present for Matt’s conversation with the preacher.
The choir director’s love-the-sinner justification of the church’s rejection of Matt is one familiar to and experienced by most all gay people. Strong and vulnerable, thoughtful and sensitive, and brave and honest throughout, in Matt’s response to the choir director we see he can give as good as he gets:
Bro. Tarron, you are overweight correct? You are overweight to so much of an extent that you are, without a doubt, obese, correct? I’d dare say that your obesity is bordering on morbid obesity. There are also many other members of Grapevine guilty of the same sin of gluttony, far many more than those who are “guilty” of the “sin” of loving another person.
Gluttony causes more deaths than any the religious right attempts to pin on homosexuality. The entirety of American culture focuses on more, more, moreÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ eat, eat, eatÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ drink, drink, drinkÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ buy, buy, buyÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s.
If Grapevine is so concerned about the total teaching of Scripture and denying “sin,” why isn’t there a bigger focus on gluttony - a sin discussed more in Scripture than any perceived passages of homosexuality, a plague affecting more Americans - and Grapevine members - than homosexuality and a death sentence facing more Americans - and Grapevine members - than homosexuality.
WaitÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ Those words hurt you didn’t it? Welcome to my lifeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ every day of it.
For a deeper understanding of the kind of thinking Matt is up against in that church, see Russell Shorto’s important NYTimes piece from summer 2005, What’s Their Real Problem With Gay Marriage? It’s the Gay Part.
Not much has changed since Shorto wrote his article. What has changed is that people like Matt are standing up to it, and in the process being important role models for family, neighbors and the kids to come. Thanks Matt!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell & Undescended testicles???
Hilzoy’s discovered that it’s not just gays the Army doesn’t want:
If you actually read the Army’s Standards of Medical Fitness (pdf), you’ll discover that the Army seems to have a truly bizarre devotion to the idea that only men and women with absolutely, completely normal genitalia and reproductive systems can possibly defend us in time of war. Among the people who do not meet its standards:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Women who experience unusually heavy menstrual bleeding, or bleeding at irregular intervals, or no periods at all.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Women born without a uterus.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ In men, “Current absence of one or both testicles, either congenital (752.89) or undescended (752.51) is disqualifying.”
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ And, for both men and women: “History of major abnormalities or defects of the genitalia such as change of sex (P64.5), hermaphroditism, pseudohermaphroditism, or pure gonadal dysgenesis (752.7) or dysfunctional residuals from surgical correction of these conditions is disqualifying.”
Undescended testicles??? Unless I am very, very wrong about what exactly service in the military involves, I can’t see that an undescended testicle would affect a soldier’s ability to perform his duties. I checked to see whether undescended testicles might lead to some more severe problems later; apparently, they reduce fertility, which is hardly the Army’s concern, and increase the odds that one will get testicular cancer. But since the Army accepts smokers, I can’t see that this explains why they disqualify recruits with undescended testicles…
Last year, the Army had to grant waivers to nearly one in five recruits because they had criminal records.” If they’re willing to overlook criminal records, I imagine that they’re probably granting waivers to people with undescended testicles as well. But that’s only a stopgap measure: the real question is: why on earth does the Army care whether or not its soldiers have undescended testicles in the first place? Why not just ask whether a soldier is physically able to do his or her duty, and leave it at that?
Monday, December 17, 2007
Saudi King pardons rape victim
You’ll recall that a Saudi court sentences a 19-year-old gang-rape victim to 90 lashes for meeting with an unrelated male. When her lawyer appealed the court upped the punishment to 200 lashes.
Today comes word that King Abdullah has pardoned the victim. But, says a spokesman, the pardon does not mean the king doubts the country’s judges:
‘’The king always looks into alleviating the suffering of the citizens when he becomes sure that these verdicts will leave psychological effects on the convicted people, though he is convinced and sure that the verdicts were fair,’’ al-Jazirah quoted al-Sheik as saying.
It’s unlikely that the king would want to eliminate the kingdom’s strict segregation of the sexes even if he could, but in that light it’s worth revisiting the May Atlantic’s The Kingdom of the Closet to understand some of the unintended consequences of such restrictions.
The piece opens with a young gay man, “Yasser,” touring the article’s author, Nadya Labi, around the gay spots of Jeddah:
Yasser turned onto a side street, then braked suddenly. “Oh shit, it’s a checkpoint,” he said, inclining his head toward some traffic cops in brown uniforms. “Do you have your ID?” he asked me. He wasn’t worried about the gay-themed nature of his tour-he didn’t want to be caught alone with a woman. I rummaged through my purse, realizing that I’d left my passport in the hotel for safekeeping. Yasser looked behind him to see if he could reverse the car, but had no choice except to proceed. To his relief, the cops nodded us through. “God, they freaked me out,Ã¢â‚¬Â� Yasser said. As he resumed his narration, I recalled something he had told me earlier. “It’s a lot easier to be gay than straight here,” he had said. “If you go out with a girl, people will start to ask her questions. But if I have a date upstairs and my family is downstairs, they won’t even come up.”
Sunday, December 16, 2007
The military’s “Lie and Hide” enforcement plummets
That’s what Stephen H. Miller calls “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and he points to tonight’s 60 Minutes for this:
Discharges of gay soldiers have dropped dramatically since the Afghan and Iraq wars began, from 1,200 a year in 2001 to barely 600 now. With the military struggling to recruit and retain soldiers, gay soldiers claim that commanders are reluctant to discharge critical personnel in the middle of a war.
Comments Miller, “So much for the argument that gays must be drummed out to preserve the ‘unit cohesion,’ especially among our fighting forces.”
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Facebook Questioning: Coming Out the Facebook way
A potential suitor I had scoped out for my nephew changed his “interested in” status on Facebook today. Having my nephew living here has given me some insight into how young people come out these days in this rural southern college town… They change their “interested in” status on Facebook!
There’s plenty of room for mystery in these declarations. They change with a frequency that baffles people of my generation.
My nephew has no clue about the Beacon debacle.
Beacon, you will recall, is the ad program that sends word of your web purchases from sites like Fandango and Overstock.com to be listed in your Facebook news feed.
That and the story on the lawsuit brought by former Harvard classmate associates questioning the provenance of Facebook - which has elicited further fumbling on Zuckerberg’s behalf - have convinced me that those questions are legitimate.
Earlier this week AdAge’s Simon Dumenco had a fun column suggesting other apps Facebook users will “love” one day. Here’s the first one:
Are you a closeted homosexual in a small Southern town? Facebook Questioning will automatically suggest to those friends and colleagues who are able to “read between the lines” that maybe you’re “questioning” your sexuality. It does this by comparing Beacon data with thresholds of what’s considered “normal” heterosexual behavior by marketers. “The purchase by an unmarried, middle-aged male of more than two movie-musical soundtracks or DVDs per quarter doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s gay,” says a Facebook veep. “But it will raise a rainbow-colored flag within our algorithm and might even help certain in-denial Facebook users with their own voyage of self-discovery. After a while, we believe that our users will fall in love with Facebook Questioning.”
So my nephew’s been reluctant to pursue that nice young man I’ve been encouraging him to get to know better because he had listed his status as “interested in women.”
Well this morning, my nephew tells me, he changed his “interested in” status from women to men. And listed that he’s “engaged to” a well-known openly gay local pleasure-seeker.
My nephew’s considering his next Facebook move. A poke? Some writing on the wall? Give a virtual gift? Ahh, youth…