Is Coming Out Still an Act of Bravery?


A few days ago, indie film darling, and occasionally successful mainstream actress, Ellen Page, came out of the closet. Most of us yawned and went back to playing Flappy Birds, which led CNN to ask the question, “Is coming out still an act of bravery?”

I’d say…maybe. Perhaps. It depends on the circumstances. If you’re a reasonably popular indie film actress who isn’t bad looking and has probably given up on any real hope of massive, mainstream success…then no, it isn’t. If you’re someone at the tail end of your NBA career, aware that you probably aren’t going to play professionally again…then no, it isn’t. If you’re one of the best football players in the country, confident of getting a multi-million dollar contract once you’re drafted…then no, it isn’t. If you’re a transgendered person spending the next few years in federal prison for leaking documents…then no, it isn’t. If you’re a male figure skater…it’s kind of just taken as read that you’re gay.

But on the other hand, if you’re someone whose career is still on the rise, with no guarantee of further money, fame or success, then, yes. If you still have almost everything to lose, then coming out is an act of bravery. If you live in modern Russia, then coming out is an act of bravery. If you live in a fucking awful country like Uganda, then coming out is an act of almost suicidal bravery.

But for the most part, in 2014 America, coming out is…just a thing. And most people will yawn, and go back to playing Flappy Birds. And that is exactly how it should be.

Take Your Allies Where You Can Find Them


FrancisPlane

Pope Francis, a man I’m finding so much to admire about that I haven’t even given him a snarky nickname, was flying back to Rome from Rio the other day. He decided, as he did, to wander back to talk with the press. It was apparently a free-wheeling conversation about a number of issues, and at one point the question of gay “lobby” at the Vatican and more broadly about homosexuality within the church. The Pope had this to say:

“There’s a lot of talk about the gay lobby, but I’ve never seen it on the Vatican ID card … When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem … they’re our brothers.”

Now on the face of this, it doesn’t sound like much. All he’s doing, really, is reasserting the overall concept that while a tendency toward homosexuality isn’t a problem, perhaps giving into that tendency is. This seems to follow course with what he was doing during the Argentine debate on same-sex marriage, where he took a stand against it, and on gay adoptions, which he also is against.

But that said, it’s worth remembering that he seems to be a pragmatist on certain issues. When the Argentine government was clearly moving toward legalizing same-sex marriage, he changed tack and offered a compromise position of civil unions. That didn’t work, and it honestly wasn’t enough, but it was a step in the right direction.

The same with his comments recently. It’s worth remembering that his predecessor, Benny 16/Pope Gollum/Pope Palpatine, a man I never had any trouble mocking, was not just against homosexual activity, he seemed to think that even chaste, celibate gay men should not be allowed to be priests. He was taking a very different track from “hating the sin, but loving the sinner”.

And it’s worth noting that Pope Francis is not a stupid man. He made these remarks clearly knowing that they would gain wide dissemination, and knowing that people would pay close attention to them.

For a more detailed, and more Catholic, examination of this, check out what Andrew Sullivan as to say. For now I’ll stand by what I’ve said before: I don’t think this Pope will be the great liberalizer or reformer that people like me want to see. But I do think that he will set the stage for reformers and liberalizers to come.

I also want to reiterate what I’ve said in general about this Pope. While I disagree with him on certain very fundamental points, it seems like I do agree with him on many of the more important social issues of the day, and there is much I find about him to admire. I’ll take an 80% ally over a 100% enemy any day of the week.

Maryland, My Maryland!


And now, Maryland. Yes, another state has legalized same-sex marriage. It won’t go into effect until next year, and doubtless the evil-minded, small people who hate gay marriage will try to stop it, but for now we have yet another state where it’s legal.

Now we just need to get gay marriage recognized in every state and at the federal level. The struggle continues.

The Knight of Pansies


I can't wait for him to unseathe his sword!

(this post covers last night’s episode of Game of Thrones, and discusses one plot point/revelation in particular. You've been warned. SPOILERS, AHOY!)

So on last night's outing of Game of Thrones, we had an impressive display of swordsmanship with all the thrust and parry, with mighty warriors returning blow for blow and… oh, I can’t keep going with this. The Knight of Flowers is gay. Yep.

Now I knew this because I’d read the books and while it’s never really explicitly mentioned in the books, it is broadly hinted at and flat-out confirmed by the creator, George R R Martin. Ser Loras, the Knight of Flowers in question, had a very minor role through the books, but in this last episode his part was much larger (ok, I’m stopping now), and had expanded mightily (I’m weak, dammit! Forgive me!). There was a particularly wonderful scene with him and his boyfriend, Renly Baratheon, which was well-handled, very well-acted and nicely done all around. I hope this speaks of bigger things to come (… never mind…), for the two, Loras especially.

Finn Jones as Jo Grant's grandson. Oh, my...

On a bigger note, this speaks well of the acceptance of gays on TV. I mean, this scene was flat-out erotic, in addition to being character and plot building, and it was between two men who aren’t at all the stereotypes of gays. This is by way of being a very good thing. It’s not as ground breaking as it would have been 10 or 15 years ago, but it’s still notable, especially since this is a genre series, and the fantasy genre tends to be mostly centered on heaving breasts, chain-mail bikinis and men wearing loincloths. Gay characters in fantasy aren’t unheard of, and in fact 20 years ago it was reading a fantasy series with a gay main character that helped me to come to terms with my sexuality, but seldom are they as well-done and interesting as in this.

It’s worth noting as well that at least part of why this scene was so cool is due to the talent, charisma and beauty of Finn Jones, the actor who plays Loras and who described him as the Knight of Pansies on his Twitter feed. I’ve kind of had the hots for him ever since I saw him as Jo Grant’s grandson in an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures, a part I’m sure Russell T Davies seriously enjoyed casting. I can easily see Jones becoming the next big gay icon and I’m quite pleased about that, though not quite so pleased as I’m sure his bank account will be. ;)

One last note: I really like this series so far, and I’m quite looking forward to the next book, which is due in only a couple months. I’m so pleased that someone has finally made a good, intelligent, workable fantasy TV series! Good job, HBO!

Sometimes I Hate Being One of the Good Guys


Because if I weren’t, if I were as amoral as atheists are supposed to be, I’d go to Arkansas and do something really unpleasant to Clint McCance. Something like, oh, I don’t know. Sugar in the gas tank? Burning paper bag on his front porch? Putting up a sign on his front yard saying, “Clint is a poopie-face”? Something like that, anyhow. Or possibly something else.

Now why am I angry with Mr McCancer- er… McCance? Well, he’s an elected official in Arkansas. He’s a member of the local schoolboard. He’s also just a tad on the homophobic side, as you might see from a comment he put on his Facebook page.

Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers committed suicide. The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed therselves because of their sin. REALLY PEOPLE.

You know, I’m almost inclined to think this is an example of Poe’s Law, but what I really think it is is someone who hates gays so much he could give Orson Scott Card a run for his money. When people complained about this, he had the following comment to them.

Being a fag doesn’t give you the right to ruin the rest of our lives. If you get easily offended by being called a fag then don’t tell anyone you are a fag. Keep that shit to yourself.

Of course this ignores the fact that the majority of people who are called fags, especially by middle and high school students, aren’t actually gay. They’re just not jocks.

There has, not surprisingly, been widespread calls for this gentleman to be fired. While normally I’d have no problem with someone voicing their opinions, and don’t necessarily think they should get in trouble with their jobs for doing so (I’m looking at you, Rick Sanchez!), I’m willing to make an exception in this case. This is a man who is part of a school board that should and must treat all students equally. Since he’s made it very clear that gay kids should kill themselves, he should lose his job for doing so (after a full investigation, of course). Since he’s clearly of the opinion that gay kids should die for being gay, he needs to not be in a position of power over gay kids, or any kids.

I’m glad that the problem of gay kids and bullying in general is finally catching on in the media and in the mainstream culture. Hopefully something can be done about the bullies, no matter their age or position.

Obama’s Pointless Strategy


President Obama clearly means well when it comes to dealing with the gay community and putting an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. I believe he’s very sincere when he talks about wanting to put an end to it.

But sadly his methodology for putting an end to it is to wait for Congress to bring it about. As a result, the Obama administration is appealing a court ruling that overturned DADT, and at their request the 9th Circuit has issued a stay of the ruling.

This is a bad idea on several levels. First, Congress won’t be putting an end to this any time soon. With a majority of Democrats in Congress and the Senate we couldn’t end it this year. With a likely majority of Republicans in Congress next year, it sure as hell isn’t going to happen, since they won’t want to hand Obama a legislative “victory”.

Second, the idea that it’s best to let Congress overturn the ban, rather than the courts, perpetuates a belief that there’s only two branches of government that matter; the Legislative and Executive. It says that the Judicial branch, equal under our government, doesn’t matter and isn’t valid.

I really do believe Obama “gets it” on gay rights in general. Yes, he’s in favor of a “separate but equal” civil union policy rather than gay marriage, but otherwise he seems to be on our side. He even recorded a video as part of the “It Gets Better” campaign.

Change is going to happen and DADT will be repealed, likely by the end of Obama’s first term of office. Gay rights are improving around the country, complete with Florida deciding not to appeal a ruling against their laws on gay adoption. Even the Pentagon has now said that only five people will be empowered to remove someone from the service for being gay.

So we do have progress of a sort. I just really wish that Obama had let the courts do their job and put an end to this stupid practice.

Second-Class Kids


As I wrote the other day, and as the media has been reporting lately, there’s been a lot of attention on gay or perceived gay kids committing suicide. It’s a very nasty problem, and one that requires a number of solutions, including stomping down hard on bullying.

But I can think of one solution that no one else seems to have mentioned. Part of the problem is that gay kids feel like second-class citizens and, indeed, they are. There’s only three groups that are legally discriminated against in the USA, and the third one is gays. The others? Convicted felons and sex offenders, and even they have a very important fundamental right that gays lack: marriage.

If you’re a murder, you can get married. If you’re a rapist, you can get married. If you’re gay? Not so much, except in a handful of states, and that’s not recognized at the federal level. In many other states you can’t adopt kids if you’re gay.

It’s clear to me that an essential part of dealing with the issue of gay and perceived gay kids being bullied is to actually make gays equal with the rest of the country. Children take their cues from adults. Make gays truly equal under the law, and soon you’ll find a serious decrease in the rate of bullying over sexuality. And if you don’t? Well, then, at least America will be living up to the ideals of equality we’re supposed to have.

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