Tag Archives: There I go ranting again

That’s all, I don’t think of you that often

While it might be really lame and cliche to write a “year end retrospective” post on this ole here bloggy thing, I’m going to do it anyway. Now that my time in Portland is being counted down (somewhat eagerly, I must admit), I can reflect back upon a few revelations I’ve had this year.

Despite a brief period of desperately wanting to go back to Austin, my wandering days are decidedly not over. Tom is applying to, I believe, 14 graduate programs, and about half of the places he’s applying, I’m pretty excited to potentially live in. We sort of made a tentative decision that if, for some reason, he doesn’t get into any of them, we will hightail it back to where our hearts lie, to our beloved Texas. And while I do want to end up in Austin, I’m not sure I’m totally ready to go back just yet. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

I hope he doesn’t mind my telling people this, but one of the schools where Tom is applying is University of Memphis. We both desperately hope that’s where we end up. I keep researching Memphis, and it sounds amazing. And a good high school friend of mine lives there. I went there a lot growing up, but I haven’t been as an adult. The idea of living someplace cheap is also very exciting.

Most of the schools where Tom is applying also have PhD programs I can apply to for the fall of 2011, which I’ve decided I want to do. I know a lot of people in doctorate programs right now, and I’m, like, a thousand times smarter than most of them are.

Inspired by this person, I have completed my first novel, and I’m working on the second draft right now. I have 2 more books in the pipeline as well that I want to write. One of which I’ll probably start on very soon.

Portland has, in my opinion, an unearned reputation. I am disillusioned. People here are mean. I’ve overheard more offensive conversations here than anyplace I’ve ever lived. I’ve had more shit (like “faggot” and “fucking idiot”) shouted at me from cars while I’m walking around than anyplace I’ve ever lived. People here speed up when you’re walking across the street. People are rude on the trains (and everywhere else). The weather is ungodly. It’s crime-ridden and drug use is completely out of control. Even nice people are flakes and non-committal. It has its positives too, though, I guess. It does have great public transit, even if it’s true that most people in the city hate it and complain about it and think it’s a waste of tax dollars and it’s annoying when it holds up traffic, and most people here are actually quite anti-density. Despite that, the density is nice. Even beyond the transit, I love that I can walk to almost everything I need from where I live: myriad bars, restaurants, coffee shops, 4 grocery stores, 2 movie theaters, a post office, 2 video stores. And that’s just in my immediate vicinity. There’s much more I can walk to in neighboring neighborhoods, within about 15 minutes. It’s a beautiful city, the prettiest I’ve ever seen, surrounded by the most awe-inspiring country that exists on this continent, I’m convinced. But I’m over it. Everytime I meet a new person here (at a party, say, or at work) and they learn I’m from Texas, I end up spending 20 minutes defending it, and usually they’ve never even been there, or they were in the Houston airport once. Which I both love and hate doing.

Now that I’m doing it, I’m no longer convinced counseling is something I want to do for a living. At least not full-time. I know, I’m never happy. Seriously.

I think I still want to move to Europe or Mexico. Maybe Tom and I can both become paid writers eventually and do that. In many ways I’m very grateful to be alive at this point in time, but there’s definitely a part of me that wishes I lived in the 1940’s or something. At least as it’s idealized in my head and through literature.

I kind of like having no idea where I’m going to be in 9 months, or even what part of the country I’ll be in. It’s exciting.

Happy New Year!! May 2010 be two thousand times better than 2009.

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Light of Truth

The radical queer/trans group Bash Back! that I wrote about a couple of months ago have taken responsibility for vandalizing a billboard in Memphis supporting a repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. In response, there were multiple rallies held by Memphis’ gay and lesbian community to help maintain a sense of safety, of course acting on the assumption that the vandalism was an anti-gay act. A Bash Back blogger writes:

I’m here to dispute the claim that this action was an anti-gay act. First, sending gays to be military fodder is NOT pro-gay or conclusive whatsoever to gay liberation. State militarism only reinforces the dominant structures, and the racism/heterosexism they perpetuate, as well as reducing the number of gay people in the world (both those in Amerikkka and the countries Amerikkka is colonizing/conquering). Second, we accuse the MGLCC of being flat out racist/anti-queer/anti-trans; and we furiously question how that the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center can squander $3500 on military billboards, when Memphis has the highest trans-murder rate (11 trans women of color, 1 white transwoman and 1 transman of color), as well as one of the highest queer youth homeless rates in the nation, and how they can justify putting a pro-military billboard in the overwhelmingly POC neighborhood of Morris Park, when the poor Black community in Morris Park is disporportionately preyed upon by the military (through the court system’s ‘prison or military service’ rule for minor felonies as well as recruiters’ false promises of otherwise impossible economic/education opportunities)?

While there is some part of me that agrees that gay people shouldn’t go fight in wars to support a country that not only doesn’t support them but that actively discriminates against them, unfortunately, that’s not reality. For many people the military is their only way out of a desperate situation, and while in a perfect world no one would have to make that decision, this isn’t a perfect world. So that’s pretty much the only reason I support the repeal of DADT, to be honest with you. At least until the United States decides to practice what it preaches and makes every person equal (although really, does anyone still bother to espouse that nonsense, because no one really believes it do they?)? I say let the straight people go die if that’s what they wanna do.

I also don’t support Bash Back defacing overtly gay billboards in an attempt to bring shame to what they see as the community center’s racism and trans-phobia. There is already so much hostility directed towards queer people (especially in Tennessee), why contribute to that climate of fear and act as a breeze on the already smoldering embers of hatred, discrimination and violence? I agree that as a whole the gay world is still pretty racist and trans-phobic, and while I can still theoretically get behind protesting churches, this I cannot get behind. The comments on the above-linked blog are pretty funny.

In other radical gay news, after the Catholic Church’s appallingly stomach-churning threat against the Washington, D.C. area if gay marriage is recognized there, someone has started a web site to out gay priests who continue to support the church’s campaign of terrorism against gay people. And while I am also never in favor of outing queer people, I am in favor of outing hypocrites. Especially in the service of saving kid’s lives, both physical and spiritual.

I had a very emotional session with a 14-year-old client this morning who I go see at their school because their parents won’t bring them to counseling. Sweetest kid ever, and clearly in a lot of pain. So I’m a little fired up today.

And God bless you.

Tom and I have this new thing we do, where anytime we see anything in our neighborhood that’s weird, or disturbing, or just annoying, we turn to each other and say, “We live downtown!” It is a bit like living in a different city from before, namely that our neighborhood has tons of homeless people in it. They live here just like we do, except we have a nice apartment to go into.

There is one lady, though, that hangs out at the front entrance of the Trader Joe’s right by our house. She doesn’t beg for money, she just sits on the sidewalk with a large sign that says, “God Bless You,” and she mostly looks like she’s praying. And she’ll also occasionally say, “God bless you,” as you walk by, but she’s never aggressive or even asks for anything. I made a comment to Tom the other night as we were leaving that having to step over homeless people with your arms full of bags of fresh, healthy food as you leave the grocery store adds new meaning to feeling guilty. But I try to acknowledge her when we walk by, either by nodding or saying hello.

The other night, though, we were standing in line checking out at the register closest to the door, when this lady swooped in angrily and practically crawled over us to complain to our cashier about this homeless lady outside. She practically demanded that he make her go away, because she made the lady feel “uncomfortable,” and freaked her out, and also “freaked out” her children. Then she stomped off and nestled her two young, obviously sort of upset looking boys to her and they walked into the store.

The three of us, Tom, myself, and the cashier, all just sort of stood there, stunned, looking at each other. We made the requisite jokes about going back to Hillsboro (a truly hideous and plastic suburb), and to stop slumming it in Portland. And that she was in a dense, old downtown area of a major city, what did she expect? The cashier told us, though, that the homeless lady had cancer and was dying, and continued to criticize the bitch that complained, saying, “That’s what happens when people have cancer. They waste away, and don’t look healthy like you and I do.”

When we left I made a point of looking the homeless lady in the eye and smiling at her, and she said, “You guys have a great night now.”

Mostly the situation made me sad (and this happened last Sunday or Monday, and I’ve been thinking about it all week) because it was such a wasted opportunity. That lady that complained could have used that as a chance to show her sons how some people have really shitty lives, but still deserve respect. And that some people are homeless and sick and have to beg for money on street corners. Why not use the situation to help your children foster a sense of compassion and empathy, rather than fear and revulsion?

The older I get, the more I appreciate so many things my parents did for me when I was growing up. The first time I recall seeing a homeless person was when we were on a family vacation in Florida, sometime when I was around 5 or 6. We were having breakfast at a McDonald’s and a homeless guy walked in and started digging through a trash can near us and pulled out pieces of food and ate them. As a child I was stunned and couldn’t stop staring at him. But did my parents freak out and go tell the manager to kick him out? No, they took that time to explain to me and my brothers that yes, sometimes in the world, people are starving and eat out of trashcans. We shouldn’t stare, but they wanted us to see it. They wanted us to know that we were lucky. They wanted us to be aware that these people existed, and it was sad.

I hope those two boys get that same kind of lesson someday.

Sometimes it’s true that you can’t go home again

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks not really thinking about the 4 vitriolic anti-gay amendments passed on that otherwise glorious Day of Reckoning on November 4th. Partly because at this stage of the game, I just truly don’t care that much, and partly because I don’t really expect anything different from our mostly uneducated, willfully ignorant, happily bigoted population of the United States. The amendment I’ve spent the least amount of time thinking about, truthfully, is probably the one that should hit closest to home, but doesn’t: the passage of Arkansas’ amendment that gay (or unwed) couples can no longer be foster parents or adopt children. But don’t let that “unwed” part fool you into thinking that wasn’t an amendment based completely and utterly on blind hatred.

I explained it to a friend a few days ago, but had it backwards. Several years ago, someone tried to float an amendment simply barring those diseased gays from becoming foster parents, but a local judge denied it, calling it unconstitutional, so it never went to ballot. So it was revised to include any single person, or unwed couple, and since gays can’t legally wed in Arkansas, voila! The job is done. This one got by a judge (somehow) and went to ballot, and overwhelmingly passed.

This honestly confounds me far more than gay marriage. I mean, I realize that gays are all hedonistic, Satan-worshipping child molesters that eat babies on Christmas morning, but this shit didn’t even fly in Texas! (And everything demonizing gay folks flies in Texas.) What I find most laughable (and pathetically depressing) is that this doesn’t really hurt gay people. If they want gabies that bad, they can take their business (and tax dollars) elsewhere in the country. This really just hurts kids. It’s astonishing, and I mean completely, unspeakably unbelievable to me that people in that state hate gay people so much, that they’re willing to significantly deplete the pool of available foster parents in order to try to hold some kind of moralistic superiority over the heads of gay people, and create a much more dangerous and hostile atmosphere than before. And remember this ban also includes single and unmarried straight people. That’s how badly people in this state wanted to try to make life miserable for the mo’s.

It’s astonishing, and one can only conclude that anyone who voted for this ban either has ice water in their veins, and doesn’t give one shit about kids in desperate need (unless they plan on fostering or adopting all the needy children, which I highly doubt), or they’re simply stupid. I won’t even give them the benefit of being “uneducated” or “ignorant of the facts,” or all the other bullshit p.c. euphemisms we throw around in this country to excuse fascist Christian’s desperately longed-for gay genocide. I’m not going to try to reason with these people, or calmly explain to them why I’m a human being, or try to be a model of love and forgiveness. Fuck that shit. If you voted for this, you’re a stupid fuck and should probably do us all a Darwinian favor and throw yourself off a cliff (before you create anymore babies, especially, that you’ll probably beat and neglect, but that’s okay, because you’re straight and married). Come on, seriously, take one for the team.

I don’t plan on ever living in Arkansas again, and got out of Arkansas as quickly as I could. It’s not a place I’ve ever felt safe, or would ever feel safe taking my family, or really care about at all. And that’s unfortunate, since all the rest of my family lives there. I assume this amendment will be overturned at some point in the future, but what really concerns me is my own future. What if i have to move back to Arkansas sometime to take care of an ailing parent or something, and have to take my family with me? Since we would technically be residents of another state, would we be protected, or subject to Arkansas law? That prospect I find terrifying. And it’s not such an outlandish prospect. (Not to mention the physical danger of two men raising kids in Northwest Arkansas, of all godforsaken places.) I decided recently that once I’m done with school, I want to start taking tentative steps towards gettin’ me some babies, one way or another, and my parents are getting on with age (though they’re both still in great health). It’s a real concern I have. (And, uh, this isn’t anything I’ve actually spoken to my Significant Other about, so I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get there…?)

It’s ironic to me that the more visible and outspoken the gays are, and the more rights we’re granted in places where people have brains and hearts, the more threatened other people are by that, and feel the need to regressively pass laws that criminalize and dehumanize our lives. Whereas if that visibility didn’t exist so much, people might be more willing to just let things be, and not pass draconian laws punishing kids, who have already suffered so much, in their attempts to punish gay people for being born gay.

Funny how that works.

The Last Straw

Contrary to what most people might think, gay marriage doesn’t mean a whole lot to me aside from its symbolism. The passing of such things like Prop 8 gets me so upset not because I was making plans to rush out the door and get hitched and now I can’t (in fact, Oregon has a domestic partnership registration that grants Oregon citizens every single right available to married couples, but just doesn’t call it marriage, and frankly, that’s fine with me). It upsets me because it’s a way for the majority to hold power over, dehumanize, and dictate “morality” to the minority. I know it’s the history of this country, but frankly, I can’t really understand why these things are put to voters in the first place. Shouldn’t the courts be the ones deciding? If somebody started a petition tomorrow to reinstate slavery and got enough signatures, would people be willing to go vote on that too? (Yes, I understand there’s a a federal amendment banning slavery; I’m just speaking hypothetically.) It doesn’t seem very different to me.

All this talk about a “tipping point” in the gay rights movement right now is pretty exciting. People are talking about ACT-UP and Stonewall as models for a resurgence of gay activism. As one op-ed piece I read the other day said, gays have been shaken out of their complacency and their belief that their only duties as gay people are to “fuck and shop.” It seems that California and Prop 8 are the wake up calls the activists have been waiting for to mobilize.

Dan Savage (I sure have been quoting him a lot lately) said it best in an op-ed yesterday though, about this new rage exploding from the gay community in response to one, giant, Californian gay bash:

Gay people generally aren’t the placard-waving, bomb-throwing, chaps-wearing, communion-wafer-stomping radicals we’re made out to be by the Bills O’Reilly and Donohue. Most gays and lesbians are content to be left to alone; many gays and lesbians go out of their way to ignore political threats and political activism and political activists. Only when gays and lesbians are attacked—only after the fact—do gays and lesbians take to the streets. Remember: the Stonewall Riots were are a response to a particularly brutal and cruelly-timed (we’d just buried Judy!) police raid on a gay bar in New York City; ACT-UP and Queer Nation were a response not to the AIDS virus, but to a murderous indifference on the parts of the political and medical establishment that amounted to an attack.

Most gay people grow up desperately trying to pass, to blend in; most of us flee to cities where we can live our lives in relative peace and security. We don’t go looking for fights. And most gay people walk around without realizing that they’ve internalized the dynamics of high school hells some of us barely survived: it’s better to pass, to stay out of sight, to avoid making waves, lest you attract negative attention, lest you get bashed.

But once you get bashed, once someone else throws the first punch, then you fight back—what other choice do you have?

I’ve been saying this for years

And I know that this is pretty much a joke, but I really do think it’s time we started trying to get some laws on the books making divorce illegal. I mean, if the true intention of denying gay people the right to get married is to protect traditional marriage, shouldn’t the conservatives be all over this? Methinks they should.

Let’s call their bluff. And let’s see what we can do about denying straight people some rights.

And lest you think I’m joking, I’m not. If this was a legitimate movement, I’d totally donate my time and money to it.

Protect families! Make them have to legally suffer each other forever.

Do you think

that all those redneck, rural, bigot idiots that are the only thing left of the Republican party even know what Socialism is? I bet they couldn’t even tell you if you asked them. They probably think it has something to do with being a Muslim.

I’ve never been so alternately depressed and hopeful at the same time. It’s a strange feeling. However, thisis one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen. I got really choked up watching it.