Gay Culture and Me


Earlier today, I was reading The Dish and Andrew Sullivan had this to say:

A confession. I have long had an aversion to gay-themed plays, TV shows, movies, etc. I wasn’t born with it. I learned it. I learned it through what can only be called a series of cringes. I cringed at Philadelphia‘s well-intentioned hagiography of the “AIDS victim”; I cringed through Tony Kushner’s view of the plague as a post-script to the heroism of American communists; I winced at the eunuch, the sassy girlfriend, and the witty queen in Will And Grace; I had to look away as Ellen initially over-played her hand (understandably and totally forgivably, but still …). The US version of Queer as Folk was something I could not get out of my recoiling head for weeks – and I barely got through fifteen minutes of it. And please don’t ask me about Jeffrey. Please.

He then goes on to talk about Looking, the new gay series from HBO.

I’m 100% with Sully in his views about gay-themed movies and TV shows. I’ve enjoyed a couple of them, but most of them I find to be boring, repulsive, dull, repetitive, or just plain bad. The vast majority don’t show people like me or anyone that I know. I don’t hang out with the circuit party crowd, the bears, the leather men, the drag queens or any of them. I’m just a normal guy who, in the immortal words of Jay, “loves the cock”. I define myself by many measures, but not my preferred body part.

And that’s where most of gay culture loses me. I’ve never been comfortable in a gay bar. I’ve attended exactly two gay pride parades, and found them kind of pointless. I’ve never felt the need to put on a dress, or chaps, or grow some extensive amount of facial hair, and I’ve certainly never felt the need to do any of those things while singing “I Will Survive” and drinking a mojito. I have no real connection to gay culture, and I’m completely fine that way. I don’t feel that I need that in my life.

I will concede that back in the day, when gays in this country were hounded by the law on a pretty much regular basis and heavily marginalized by society, having some sort of gay culture made perfect sense, if only on a survival level. But now…I don’t need it.

15 States (and One District), Down. One More on the Way. 34 States and 5 Territories to Go!


Blue kangs states are best!

Blue kangs states are best!

Since August, Minnesota, New Jersey and Illinois have legalized same-sex marriage. Hawaii is poised to be next. New Mexico will probably follow sometime in the next few months. At present, well over 100 million Americans (37% of the population), live in a state where same-sex marriage is legal. All of us live in a country where the federal government grants recognition to marriages legally performed in these states.

So this begs the question: when will the other 34 states and five territories get off their collective asses and legalize same-sex marriage?

The territories will likely be a mixed bunch. Guam has discussed the issue, but hasn’t moved on it. Peurto Rico is heavily Democratic, but also heavily Catholic. Pope Francis has told everyone to basically stop worrying about the gays, but it remains to see if that’s going to matter. The US Virgin Islands, American Samoa and CNMI all have their own issues as well.

As for the various states, well…look at that map. The problems are basically where you’d expect them to be. Looking at another map may be informative.

US_miscegenation.svg

That’s what laws against mixed-race marriages were like back in the day. And by “back in the day” I mean up until the late 1960s. The Supreme Court case that struck those laws down, Loving v Virginia, was decided less than five years before I was born. We were only two years away from landing on the Moon, and yet it was still illegal for a white and black person to get married in vast parts of the country.

There are some significant overlaps in that map. The last states to have anti-miscegenation laws are also, with the exception of Delaware, all states that ban gay marriage to greater or lesser degrees. These holdout states had to be dragged, sometimes almost literally, kicking and screaming into the 20th century.

Sadly, I think that’s what it’s going to come down to again. Some currently “red on the first map” states will be pragmatic and pass gay marriage laws. I expect Michigan and Nevada to take this route, and both to do it for money. Others will gradually sober up and take their mouths off the Tea Party exhaust pipe and simply realize, with good ole fashioned Midwestern populism, that what two consenting adults do together is their own damn business. Montana, the Dakotas and possibly Kansas will go this route. Oklahoma may, especially as word gets out that some of the Indian tribes there will perform gay marriages.

But we know what the real holdouts will be; the deep south. The place where people sometimes still refer to “the war of northern aggression” and think that Richard Nixon was dangerously liberal. What they think about Lyndon B. Johnson doesn’t even bear repeating. Most people in the south aren’t racist, that’s sure. But I think we can assume that if there’s any place where one can be fairly openly racist, the deep south is that place.

Mind you, this is several decades after Loving, after Martin Luther King, Jr, after school integration and after the Civil Rights Act. So, no, I’m willing to bet that the deep southern states, except maybe Florida will keep gay marriage illegal up until the bitter end when the Supreme Court forces them to accept it.

And when will that be? Well, it depends on what happens between now and January of 2017. If Obama gets another SCOTUS nomination or two (Scalia will probably hold on until he’s dead, but Thomas might leave), then my guess is somewhere around the 2018 or 2019 term. If there’s only a couple of the Dark Side-style conservatives left, it could happen then. It could happen earlier. Roberts has been slightly impressive over the last couple of years and has proven to be very good at figuring out where the winds of change are blowing.

Even then, I don’t imagine that we will get a full-on “all states must have gay marriages” ruling. That will probably not come until sometime next decade. But a ruling that says all states have to recognize any marriages legally performed in other states? That will come sooner and will frankly make a lot of sense.

It’s only been about ten years since Massachusetts became the first state with gay marriage. Oddly, pretty much nothing the anti-gay marriage crowd has predicted has come to pass, and now we have many, many other states joining the team. Soon more will, and this imperfect experiment of American equality will take another grand step forward.

The First Lesbian in Space?


It came as a surprise to me yesterday when I’d heard that Sally Ride, the first female American astronaut to go to space (though she shouldn’t have been the first), had died. I hadn’t even been aware she was ill. She kept that private. I also hadn’t been aware that she was a lesbian. She kept that private, too.

Does the fact that she was a lesbian matter? Well, it does somewhat, I suppose. Role models and all that. I wish it didn’t matter and could be mentioned without comment, but there you are. As far as other astronauts go, I’d love to have a time when we could have an openly gay astronaut actually up in space. To be fair, that may have already happen while my eye was on the sparrow or something.

Ultimately Ride’s sexuality should not matter. That it does matter says nothing good about us as a people. That it matters less than it would have twenty years ago shows progress.

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.

Prop 8: The Final Round?


The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, a darling among those of us who enjoy the Constitution, has overturned California’s horrible Proposition 8. This means that, in theory, gay marriages are on again in the state. Realistically, they’ll probably be on hold while an appeal is filed with the Supreme Court. Jeffery Toobin, legal analyst for CNN, expects that, given the narrow wording of the ruling, the court probably won’t take the case. If they don’t, that’s fine. But I do look forward to the day they rule that states don’t have to allow gay marriage, but do have to recognize any marriages legally performed in other states.

Well, This Was a Welcome Surprise…


In retrospect, the hair was probably a major hint.

Zachary Quinto, who, among other things, played Spock in the recent Star Trek reboot, has come out of the closet. He did this apparently in response to a gay teen killing himself back in September.

It’s really quite rare when actors who have active careers come out, but we’re starting to see more and more, with people like Ellen Degeneress and Neil Patrick Harris. Usually it’s actors whose time on the stage has passed. Coming out these days and still having a career isn’t as rare as it used to be, but it’s still quite notable, and good for Quinto for doing so!

Next up on the lists of “People Who I Want to Come Out”… let’s have an active NFL player and a member of an active and popular boy band.

Goodbye to a Bad Law


So you know that useless, ineffective, Carter-like President of ours? The one who hasn’t done anything useful with his first term? Well, I mean, aside from health care reform, student loan reform, bailing out GM, passing consumer protection law, ratcheting back the unwinable war on drugs, reducing troops in Iraq, ending torture and, oh, yes, killing bin Laden. You know, other than that stuff.

Well, here’s another thing he’s done: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is finally, after eighteen years, officially dead. About fucking time. I understand why Clinton signed off on the law and why he thought it was a reasonable compromise, but, well, it wasn’t. Not even slightly.

What’s going to be most interesting is to see what this does to the gay marriage debate. Now you can have soldiers entering into same sex marriages in those places where it’s legal, then finding themselves transferred to somewhere where it isn’t. That’s not going to be tenable and it won’t last long before the courts have to step in and overturn DOMA (speaking of things Clinton might have thought were acceptable at the time…). This will certainly help the gay marriage debate in the long run, and that makes me quite pleased.

But what makes me more pleased is that we’ve finally joined the civilized world on the issue of gays in the military. We can finally take our stand next to countries like just about all of NATO and Israel, as well as most of the rest of civilization.

And all of this from a feckless, do-nothing President.

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