7/10/2012

NOT part of the Neo-Gay Agenda

Undoubtedly, the "Genderqueer" folks have decided
the Rainbow Flag isn't for them anymore. I didn't even
know this was a "new" thing. But I shouldn't be
surprised as I was told a few years ago that
they and the transgenders did not "identify"
with the Gay and Lesbian community anymore.


Out of the blue I got an email from the editor of a large gay blog asking if I'd be interested in writing for them or sharing content from here that deals with LGBT issues. I gave it about two minutes of thought and decided, no.

The more interaction I have with younger members of the community the more I realize I don't really fit in anymore. Those of us growing up in the 80's have one last real battle and that's marriage. We want to get married. We like the idea of settling down with the person we love and having a pretty normal and boring life.

Maybe that's a leftover of the Reagan era that somehow seeped into our brains. That idea of normalcy and family we heard so much about after the wild and crazy 70's. Who knows? But the upshot is that those of us in our 40's and 50's no longer really fit in all that well with the younger crowd.

I don't consider myself "queer." I like being a man. I believe in having a loving relationship that is monogamous and supportive. I can't do the neo-liberal "free pass" on religion thing where you have to criticize Christian fundamentalism but you put down Muslim fundamentalism to some sort of political and economic disparity that is really just the fault of the "Western World." I don't even understand the "T" part of LGBT anymore. Once upon a time I was pretty tight with some of the rarest in our community - those who had had sex reassignment surgery. One of my early mentors was transsexual (yes, that was the proper term back then.) Now, I have not a clue about the T portion. Transgender, Gender Queer, and whatever else is going on. It's not that I don't care, it's that I'm just tired of trying to navigate that minefield. No matter what you say or do if you're a gay man and white it's going to be wrong in someone's eyes on that end of the alphabet soup.

I think that's the crux of it. Once upon a time we all came together for common goals. Now, everyone has their own issues and think they need to be job one for everyone else. In the LGBT community there can be no compromise it seems. Righteous indignation is the watchword.

So, I won't be writing for an LGBT blog because I'm tired of it all. I wrote a column a few years ago on LGBT issues in our local community. I got so tired of dealing with the various attitudes of sub-groups that I just gave it up. Even when you were trying to help or be supportive someone was going to get pissed off because - well, they just wanted to pissed off.

I just turned 46 which is really old in the community it seems. At this stage in my life I look forward to getting a marriage certificate and just settling in for the ride. For 20+ years I battled for basic civil rights - things like being able to have sex with the person you love without being arrested. Now, I'm happy to see the promised land in my last battle - marriage. I don't want to keep battling people who should be my allies just because I'm old, like being a guy, was born white, and have a dream of just being a boring old married middle aged guy.

3/26/2012

Of Gods, Ghosts, and Gaps

Part of a ghost hunting kit.
I used to hunt ghosts. Something about the stories I grew up with in the south fascinated me to no end. I loved a good scary (or romantic) ghost story. Stories of phantom lights darting among Spanish moss draped oaks or ghost doctors whistling on the stairs of an old mansion south of Broad were my preferred way to spend a rainy afternoon. I idolized many of our southern folklorists who collected and passed along these stories. I was particularly fond of Mrs. Nancy Roberts who is the grande dame of traditional ghost stories.

Later in life I began to wonder if there was more to all this than just a good story. In junior high we did a section on folklore and history. As my project I tracked down information on a famous story from where I grew up: The Hound of Goshen. My mother drove me around with a little cassette recorder and notebook in hand while I talked to people in the area who had claimed to have seen the "Happy Dog" at one time or another. One thing I learned is that the folks I talked to were quite enamored with their ghost dog. That seemed strange because my icon, Nancy Roberts, told frightening tales of people being chased and scared witless by the hound. It was the first time I noticed that ghosts and stories could be changed in order to sell a product. I was all of twelve.

Fast forward thirty some odd years and I became interested in the "scientific" pursuit of ghosts. I joined a group of people who belonged to the esteemed TAPS family of ghost hunting groups and set to work trying to discover if ghosts existed and if so what exactly they might be. Honestly, I wasn't convinced of the whole "soul with unfinished business" stuff.

1/20/2012

Is Facebook worth it?

Over the time I've had a Facebook account I've often wondered whether the whole "social media" circus was worth the trouble and strife it causes. A couple years ago I even deleted my Facebook account and started a whole new one because over time I'd picked up dozens of people who did little but get on my nerves. I vowed that I would not make that mistake again and would limit myself to people I knew in the real world.

But here's the funny thing. A lot of the people I know in the real world cause a lot of grief. There's one person I was very close to and with whom I enjoyed spending time in the real world. Then, through Facebook, I saw a mean and ugly side of her. Racist rants against Hispanics and immigrants, rants against access to affordable healthcare, rants against "liberals" and Democrats, etc. I had a lot of trouble fitting that with how I had always viewed her. I found that I couldn't share in her Facebook experience because each time she posted those things (which was several times a day) I found myself grieving because I never expected such ugliness. I also found I couldn't look at her the same way in person. We drifted apart. I stopped planning days out, she stopped inviting us to dinners. Soon, there were no more shared meals, no more shopping days, no more movie marathons, no more shared holidays. We're still "nominally" friends on Facebook but I know that my posts are hidden on her feed as hers are hidden on mine. Rarely, now will we cross in a short comment on someone's profile we both know.

There's another friend I used to work with some years ago. We had a great time together. We sort of knew that we had different politics so following the old Southern rule of never discussing politics or religion we steered clear of the subject(s). We enjoyed our work time and developed a nice working friendship. Since I moved to Arizona we kept up a sporadic communication through email - sharing family news, commiserating over getting older and how her business was doing. Then we reconnected on Facebook and all that changed. Now politics and religion came into play because with the click of a button you can "share" things you normally wouldn't discuss in regular company. Sure enough, we began to drift apart. She posted photoshopped pictures of President Obama saying he wasn't a "real American." When I pointed out the photos were fakes she became upset with me. Now, we don't have a lot to say.

Some time ago, I reconnected on Facebook with an acquaintance from my high school days. He was an unusual character back then - think a blond Judd Nelson from The Breakfast Club. Yeah, there was a little bit of a crush thing going on for my part. Anyway, we connected and come to find out he's joined a very conservative religious group and is now a minister. OK, we could deal with that, right? Just keep it light, reminisce and have fun. It worked fine for about a month. When he asked about my home life I was honest and told him I was gay and happily partnered for many years. Then he realized I was an atheist. We suddenly went from reminiscing to him sending me long messages and posts more or less demanding I account for myself and my philosophy. At first I tried to be polite and explain things to him but it quickly became apparent I was some type of project. The messages became long lists of loaded questions. Finally, I had to tell him I didn't owe him anything - we'd known each other 20+ years ago and that was it. It was a very disconcerting experience. Would he have been that way in person if we'd met at a reunion? I don't know, but I can't help but think not.

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