Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Main Problem with the Tea Party Part Two

As I said in part one of this post, my main problem with the "Tea Party" movement is that the people in the crowd protesting either have their facts wrong or just don't know what they're protesting.  And here's a video clip from a Tea Party rally in my own home state of South Carolina (in fact, in a neighboring city).

There have been rumors about Lindsey Graham's sexuality for as long as I've been in the state of SC.  And yet, he still gets huge amounts of votes from the Republicans in the state.  Now that Senator Graham published this op-ed piece with Democratic Senator Charles Schumer outlining a bi-partisan immigration reform plan, he is suddenly subject to attack by the Tea Partiers.  And they are attacking him for working with a Democrat on the very issue that the speaker represents, you know, his DAY JOB!!!  

William Gheen is the head of ALIPAC, a political action committee for immigration reform.  The headline on their website?  "We must reverse illegal immigration!"  Okay, so wasn't Lindsey Graham trying to do just that?  Why attack him in an area that has nothing whatsoever to do with his politics?  And to claim that he's being blackmailed to keep himself in the closet?  That is pandering of the worst sort, to the lowest form of people, judging by the cries coming from the crowd.

And another point, which Free brought up in my previous post.  Going to, which claims to be the Tea Party's "official website," lists "Fiscal Responsibility, Limited Government, Free Market" as their main goals.  Seriously, it's in big bold letters right on the top of their page (which I haven't linked to because I just couldn't make myself do it; if you want, just type it in your web browser's address field.).  

So, where are the protests against Arizona's new immigration law?  This is the most intrusive piece of legislation I've seen come out of the states ever.  Or Oklahoma's new anti-abortion measures?  Preventing private insurance from paying for a medical procedure?  Sounds like a cap on free market to me!  Requiring a woman to watch an ultrasound and get a lecture on fetal development and preventing her from suing a doctor who doesn't give her the information to make an informed choice?  Sounds like serious government intrusion to me!

But, immigration and abortion are something that most of the members of the Tea Party come down solidly against, so it's okay to cap the market or have the government intrude on.  And besides, who really cares if that makes them into hypocrites?  Nobody's gonna remember it in a week, right Senator McConnell?

Speaking about Financial Reform to the Seattle Times, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said "You know what happens on Monday or Tuesday versus what happens later is something largely lost on the general public."  Really?  Is the general public that attention deficit?  I think the leaders of the Tea Party movement count on just that.  And it seems to be working.

Monday, April 26, 2010

On Aliens...

Okay, going to show my age here, but with ABCs re-telling of the 1983 miniseries "V", I feel compelled to post about this.

I loved the original miniseries.  To a young kid like myself who was already wise to what was going on in our country at the time, the show was a perfect metaphor for our political climate.  The story line was provocative and edgy.  The imagery, though appearing dated now, was incredible.  I was completely hooked, though not so much with the second miniseries or the abysmal regular series.  So when I heard that the series was coming back, I was hesitant, but reluctantly began to watch it courtesy of Hulu.

I have now watched all eight episodes of the new series.  It's a huge failure to me.  I think the whole "regular people forming militas to fight the tyranny" hits a little too close to home for me now, given the stories coming out of Oklahoma these days.  And the idea (spoilers ahead if you haven't watched!!!!!) of being able to tell if someone is a "terrorist" by their ability to have human emotion is slightly disturbing as well.  Yes, I know these are aliens and not human beings, but still.  It seems to me that the people writing the show have taken the best parts of the original miniseries and left them on the cutting room floor.  I think that the success of shows like Lost and Heroes have made the "mysterious group with a sinister agenda" the trendy thing right now.  The problem is, V is nowhere near as good as Lost or Heroes (at least the first season).

It's also interesting, in news this week, the interview with Dr. Stephen Hawking about his new documentary series.  My favorite quote from the interview?   “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach.”

I'm not sure that I like the idea of Earth closing itself off from the rest of the universe.  If there is indeed intelligent life out there, I'd like to know about it and meet them.  It would be interesting to see if they were more advanced than us or if we can expect many more generations of our current issues.  Of course, there's always the possibility, promoted by Dr. Hawking, that any aliens we meet could turn out like this:

My Main Problem with the Tea Party

So, I'm having a conversation with a friend of mine at work who identifies himself as "Tea Party before there was a Tea Party."  He's staunchly conservative and a huge proponent of "small government."  He and I have had some very interesting conversations over the years and our political and social views are diametrically opposed.

As I was ranting (yes, I admit I was ranting) about the new Arizona new Immigration Law, we began to talk about Grass Roots Movements and he asked me what I thought about the Tea Party Movement.  I told him that I think true Grass Roots Movements are a great thing for this country and that most of the genuine progress we've seen on social issues in this country have sprung from such.  However, I think that there is an ulterior motive to the Tea Party Movement.  To clarify my point, I said that the people who come out to attend these Tea Party protests don't really seem to understand what it is that they are protesting.  They come to these protests using government-funded mass transit to protest overspending by the government.  They rail against the Health Care Reform law, saying they don't want government run health care, and hold up signs saying "Leave my Medicare Alone."

While reading over Talking Points Memo, I found this video, which is from  New Left Media (their bias is directly in their name as opposed to say, Fox News).  I wanted to share this with you.

Now, as I said, I'm all for Grass Roots Movements.  I even support the right of obviously disturbed people like the Westboro Baptist Church to share their views.  This is what makes our country great.  That being said, I think that if one is going to be out there protesting against something that the government is supposedly doing, it's not too much to ask to make sure that the government is actually doing what you say they're doing, instead of just listening to hyperbole or rhetoric by people who make a living doing that, such as Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin.  Time and time again, the points that these four in particular have brought up have been proven to be false.  And time and time again, their followers keep spouting that same rhetoric, even when offered proof to the opposite.  How do you debate someone who refuses to listen to facts?

Albert Einstein's famous quote "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" seems to apply here.  It makes me almost wish that was required reading.  Or that we could have runners at the bottom of our television screens that say "The program you are watching is most likely biased.  Please do your own research and form your own opinions."  And I would want those runners to be on Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann as well, thank you.

I don't trust the media anymore.  None of them.  Every media outlet in this country has an agenda.  So when I read or hear a story that interest me, I do my own research.  In the case of Health Care Reform, I went and read the proposed legislation. I did the same thing with Arizona's new law.  Doing things like this gives me the knowledge I need to enlighten people who think that the Health Care Reform law is socialized medicine.  It's nowhere near that, but the people in the above video don't seem to know that.  In fact, as one senior citizen mentions, they're still holding on to Sarah Palin's "death panel" ideas, even though those were proven to be false over a month before the law was passed.

We have become a country of sheep.  We follow whomever speaks the loudest, uses the most inflammatory words and has the highest ratings.  People are angry; the economy is in the crapper, unemployment benefits continue to go down, costs continue to go up.  Everyone wants to do something, find some outlet for their frustrations and anger, I get that.  But find out what's really going on before you rail against something that's not happening.  I'm incredibly incensed about Palpatine disbanding the Republic's senate and declaring himself Emperor, but I realize that it only happened in the Star Wars movies.  I'm not about to go out in public and make an ass of myself by calling for his overthrow.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Perfect Solution for a Stormy Sunday

After a lengthy conversation with my friend Free this morning and enduring the stormy weather that cut a devastating swath through Mississippi last night, I decided to devote today's post to one of my favorite singers, Loreena McKennitt.

While talking about poetry with Free, he mentioned the poem, The Lady of Shalott by Alfred, Lord Tennyson as one of his favorite poems, specifically because of the mention of Camelot and it's sing-song cadence.  I asked him if he had heard of McKennitt because she had set the poem to music and he hadn't.  I'm fairly excited to introduce Loreena's music to someone for the first time, so here you go, Free.  Enjoy it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Shades of the Past?

GetEqual, a rather out-spoken LGBTQ rights organization, has gotten some rather interesting, and possibly, disturbing attention lately.

I made this post last week about the heckling done by GetEqual at a fundraiser for California Senator Barbara Boxer.  Two days later, six members, including Lt. Dan Choi, a West Point graduate who was serving in the Army as an Arabic translator and was discharged for revealing he was gay, chained themselves to the White House fence as a protest aimed at ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."  Here's the video of what happened:

 I really, really hope that this wasn't a directive from the White House.  If it was, it smacks all over again of President Bush's "No Protest Zones."  I think we need someone from the current administration to explain why the media was pushed away from the protest.  I will write today to the White House via email and ask that question.  If I get a response, I will post it here.

The heckling and protests are only going to get worse for President Obama as long as LGBTQs continue to feel disenfranchised by a president who proclaimed himself "a staunch ally."  One of the things I have most despised about the last ten years in our political races was the use of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage/civil unions touted around by the Republicans to garner votes.  Now, I'm afraid that the pendulum has swung in the other direction, as the community saw with Bill Clinton.  If this is indeed the case, which only the next two years will tell, then Obama has changed from our great hope to our great disappointment.

Happy Birthday, Lorenzo!

My partner's birthday is today and he went with his friends to Waffle House for a celebration last night.  Hilarity ensued, but I think I'll let the picture of the birthday boy speak for itself:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dorothy Height

I just heard this morning that Dorothy Height, the leading woman in the Civil Rights Movement, has died.  Dr. Height has a long history of helping to make conditions better for people, especially women.  She served in a volunteer capacity all of her life, working with various organizations such as the YWCA, National Council of Negro Women, Delta Sigma Theta and was handpicked by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1938 to help plan a World Youth Conference.  She also stood on the podium when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.

I'll provide some links for you to find out more about this wonderful lady and the legacy she left us all:

And here's a great speech by Dr. Height.  May she rest in peace.

LGBTQ Activists heckle President Obama

President Obama, at a fundraiser for California Senator Barbara Boxer, was heckled by GetEqual, an LGBTQ rights group.  Here's the video:

And a link to the relevant story:  Los Angeles Independent.

Several commenters to this story on speculated that Obama's promise of "We're going to do that" when hecklers shouted for him to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will come back to bite him later.  I tend to agree.

Thanks to my friend, Free, for alerting me to the story and the discussion that followed.  I asked Free if he thinks that ENDA will pass.  I then asked him if he thought that President Obama would sign it.  See, I don't think that it WILL pass, saving President Obama the unfortunate choice of which segment of the population he will ostracize by signing it into law.  And make no mistake; if ENDA gets to his desk, whichever way he decides to go will piss off some group.

I feel very much let down by President Obama.  I understand that he has many balls to juggle and that recovering from our horrible recession is, and should be, the nation's first priority.  I appreciate the fact that the Health Care Reform was signed into law.  I also applaud him for his recent order that hospitals accepting Medicare/Medicaid can't discriminate and must let the patient decide who can visit and make medical decisions on their behalf.

But it's not enough.  I feel that Obama is doing just enough to trot out to the LGBTQs in 2012.  "Look, I appointed openly gay people to my administration (but not in any positions of real power).  Look, I ordered a study on Don't Ask, Don't Tell (even though several military leaders are for repealing it).  Look, I ordered hospitals to actually act humanely (because even the Republicans realize they can't fight this without looking like the bigots they are)."

I lost a group of friends over just this argument.  When Obama appointed Brad Kiley to the head of the Office of Management and Administration, I was deliriously happy, until I looked at what the Office of Management and Administration actually does.  Kiley is basically a pencil pusher with no real authority to do anything; he implements the policies that Congress decides federal employees will have.  When I complained to my friends that this smelt of pandering politics to me, they pretty much jumped on me en mass.  "But I want full marriage rights now.  I'm tired of waiting," I said.  They told me to be patient; that it takes time.  And one of them actually asked me "Were you planning on getting married anytime soon?"

I should explain:  They were all straight, married people.  Asking me if the reason that I wanted civil rights because I wanted to get married was akin, in my mind, to asking Rosa Parks "Are you planning on riding the bus tomorrow?"  I sent them an email saying that I was incredibly offended and, though I'd already forgiven them for offending me, it was just too exhausting to try and explain myself to them every time we had a discussion.  They didn't understand; after all, the world is made for them.  Not so much for me.

So, my baseline opinion hasn't changed (and yes, I would actually like to get married now).  I want my full civil rights and I want them now.  I want my gay family who are so inclined to be able to serve our country openly, without fear of expulsion.  I want to be able to leave property to my partner if I were to die without it being taken away by the state in a challenge.  I want to be able to adopt, or at least have the option to adopt. Hell, I want to be able to give blood.

I'm tired of waiting.  Obama did some good things but they are not enough.  If the government tried to please everyone during the civil rights era, Rosa Parks would still be riding in the back of the bus.  Why should he pander to the right-wing conservatives now?

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Most Compelling Reason for Marriage Equality

My friend Brian sent me an email today to let me know about the case of Clay Greene, from Sonoma County in California.

Clay, 77 years old,  and his partner of 20 years, Harold, who was 88,  lived in Sonoma County when Harold fell and broke his hip.  According to reports, Clay and Harold had all the proper power of attorney, wills and medical directives filed.  After Harold was admitted to the hospital, county officials were called in, preventing Clay from seeing Harold, and, rather surprisingly, admitted the two men, against their wills, to separate nursing homes.

In court, the county represented Clay as Harold's "roommate" and took control of all of Harold's resources.  They cancelled the lease on the house that Clay and Harold had rented and sold off all the possessions in the home, without trying to determine which possessions were Harold's and which were Clay's.  The court also gave the county access to Harold's bank account to pay for his care.

Harold died three months after he was placed in a nursing home.  Clay never saw Harold alive again after he took him to the hospital for his broken hip.  The final three months of Harold's life were spent alone, without the company of his 20 year companion.  And the only thing Clay has left of his last 20 years is a photo album he made for Harold.  He has not been able to recover any of the property that was his, let alone any of their shared possessions.

Clay is suing Sonoma County.  Here's the link to the lawsuit filed in court by Clay and the Executor of Harold's Will; the National Center for Lesbian Rights is helping with the legal representation.

So, tell me how "separate but equal" works here?  While doing research for this blog post, I came across another story of an elderly heterosexual couple who were treated somewhat similarly, though they were placed in a nursing home TOGETHER.  Their situation is horrible as well, but at least they have their long-time companions with them.

When my partner was sent to the hospital by ambulance because of an asthma attack, I was refused when I asked to ride along in the ambulance with him.  I was told I wasn't family.  We live together, we share each other's lives, we laugh together, we cry together and we have sex.  We raise a puppy together, pay bills together and spend a significant amount of time together.  How are we not "family?"  Why is the fact that we are two men instead of a man and woman so significant?  How much would it harm anyone to give us the same civil rights that our parents have?

As part of my job, I handle personnel issues, specifically the annual insurance sign up period.  I called our home office to ask about covering my partner on my insurance and was told that, since South Carolina doesn't recognize same-sex partnerships, they couldn't cover him.  (I already knew what their answer would be, but I wanted someone to tell me voice-to-voice; I can be a prick like that sometimes).  So when another employee came to me for help with his insurance, he put his common-law wife on his policy.  The requirements for covering his partner?  That they lived together for six months.  No wedding license, no ceremony, no recognition necessary.  So much for the sanctity of marriage.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

History repeating itself?

Okay, I had to work last night, so I missed the Rachel Maddow show.  No problem, I usually just watch it online when I get home.  I did so this morning; I wasn't expecting this little segment of horror:

Hopefully, this scares the hell out of you; I know it does me.  State Senator (and Governor hopeful) Randy Brogdon is self-identified as a Tea Party member.  And though you probably just watched the clip, I want to repeat his quote from the AP story:  The founding fathers "were not referring to a turkey shoot or a quail hunt.  They really weren't even talking about us having the ability to protect ourselves against each other.  The Second Amendment deals directly with the right of an individual to keep and bear arms to protect themselves from an overreaching federal government."

Now, I have never even pretended to be a Constitutional scholar.  I have, however, read the document and all it's amendments.  So in the interest of fair and balanced reporting, here is the text, in full, of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America:  "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

Okay, even an incredibly liberal reading of the Second Amendment can't come close to what Sen. Brogdon is claiming the founding fathers meant.  The militias referred there were to PROTECT the state, not raise arms against it.  That's what "being necessary to the security of a free state" means!  Does having government regulated health care reform somehow threaten our national security?

So, if this is a forward movement of the Tea Party, can we expect more of the same?  And speaking of Tea Party, their matriarch, Sarah Palin herself, had this to say when she was running for Vice President alongside John McCain in 2008:

Okay, so health care reform is fine and dandy when REPUBLICANS propose it, but let that upstart socialist/corporatist Obama do it and now it's cause to take up arms against an "overreaching federal government."  I get it now.  

I have a funny feeling that, had this happened during the Bush/Cheney years, people would have no problem calling Brogdan "insane" or even "seditious."  I have no problem doing either now.  This is planned sedition, plainly and blatantly.  If the FBI is not investigating him and all those in the Oklahoma government that support him, they should be ashamed.  And I'm absolutely ecstatic that the first of the many more to come midterm elections went solidly Democrat.  Here's hoping that the Tea Party movement being associated with Republicans moves more people to the Democrats as the only sane choices in the upcoming elections.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Diversity exists, even in terrorists

After another stimulating conversation with my friend HSCFree last night, I received, yet again, the inspiration for a blog post.

I was lauding Rachel Maddow for her willingness to call Scott Roeder a terrorist for his actions, walking into a church in Wichita, Kansas and shooting Dr. George Tiller for daring to perform abortions. Roeder was just sentenced to life in prison, effectively, for his actions; during his own testimony, he was totally unrepentant for what he'd done.

One of the biggest misconceptions among the American people is that terrorists are Muslim men. In fact, on the gay chat site Bear411, which caters to hairy bearded men and those who like them, one of the members has in his profile "attracted to dark skinned, hairy, bearded men. Terrorists are hot!"

So, I thought I'd do some research to educate people. Of the 22 acts defined by the FBI as "terrorism" from 1990 - 2001:

- 17 of those were committed by American organizations (Animal Liberation Front, Earth Liberation Front, etc).
- 4 of those were committed by White American men
- Only the 9/11 attacks were committed by Muslims

Please don't misunderstand me; I'm not trying to diminish the effects of 9/11. I lost a good friend that day from the actions of Al-Qaeda. And it is the most significant terrorist activity yet on American soil. But to ignore the other acts classified as "terrorism" to plant all terrorists as Muslim men is racial profiling to the extreme. People such as Ted Kaczynski, Eric Robert Rudolph, Clayton Lee Waagner, Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols and Bruce Ivins (who allegedly terrorized the country during the month after 9/11 by sending anthrax through the mail) deserve the label "terrorist" just as much as the members of Al-Qaeda. And more modern examples such as John Allen Mohammed and Lee Boyd Malvo, Jim D. Adkisson, James Wenneker Von Brunn, Joseph Stack and, yes, Scott Roeder, also deserve the moniker. (If you want to know more about any of the names listed, it's fairly easy to do a Google search. There are far too many links for me to add without taking all day.)

Terrorism isn't limited to one subset of a racial group. One simply has to ask a Briton or Irishman to determine that. They've been targets of terror attacks for hundreds of years. While I agree that we need to be vigilant as a country to protect ourselves from terrorists, I strongly urge that we not forget the actions of those mentioned above; they don't fit the current racial stereotype that the name "terrorist" is applied to. Forgetting about them leaves us incredibly open to more attacks of the same.

There is much more I could research and say about this topic (but I think I'll leave that to the historians like Free). Suffice to say the resources are out there if you want to know more. Knowledge is a good thing and it leads to an open mind, something the general public is sorely lacking these days.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Remembering Dixie

I was at work last night listening to NPR when I heard the sad news that Dixie Carter had died. You may remember her from her Emmy award winning stint on Desperate Housewives a couple of years ago, but, to me, Dixie will forever live in my memory as Julia Sugarbaker, the fiesty, yet always classy, owner of Sugarbaker's Design Firm in Atlanta, Georgia.

Designing Women was a great show for me. I had a good upbringing, courtesy of my grandfather, that taught me to always be willing to fight for what I believed. Julia Sugarbaker personified that, always willing to lose a client that espoused views that were abhorrent to her own morals. The writing on the show was excellent, but Dixie's portrayal of Ms. Sugarbaker was spot on. She was moral without being preachy, conservative without being callous, compassionate without being a push-over. And boy could she rant. I often watched the show just to see Julia go off on some bigot or moron. It was nice to see, even in a fictional setting, someone get their deserved comeuppance.

So, in honor of Dixie Carter, I would like to share a couple of clips, via YouTube, of the wonderful Julia Sugarbaker in action. Enjoy them.

And my favorite clip of all, one that made a great impression on me when I first saw it (sorry about the poor quality).

Friday, April 9, 2010

"Why can't we all just get along?"

(Title courtesy of Rodney King)

My friend HSCFree of The Well Spoken Negro's Salon (link to the right) did a post about Bill O'Reilly volunteering to cover the costs of a father of a fallen marine who's been ordered to pay the legal expenses of the Westboro Baptist Church incurred during a lawsuit to stop their protests.

In my comment on his post, I said that I was of a mixed mind about this, as I believe very strongly in free speech and the right to protest. I went further and said that it would take someone more intelligent than me to come up with a solution to this problem.

Well, color the people of West Virginia my intellectual superiors. I was alerted to the happenings in WV by my friend Brian who lives near Charleston, the lovely capitol of that state. Seems WBC has decided that those vile heathens in WV need their particular brand of salvation, and plan to be there all week. Follow this link to see what the people in WV have done to counter the protests.

Brian has promised to keep me updated and send me pictures of his part of the protest and I will happily revisit this topic when he does so. I'm fairly proud of him and all the people of West Virginia right now.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Why do we crucify ourselves?

(Title shamelessly ripped from one of my favorite Tori Amos songs)

In case you missed it, I am a "recovering Catholic." Let me clarify: I gave up the Catholic church, as well as my beliefs and no longer consider myself a christian. The fact of the matter is, I gave up my affiliation with the church, and christianity, when Joseph Ratzinger was elevated to the office of the pope.

A quick primer on catholicism for those readers who aren't familiar: Joseph Ratzinger, before he became Pope Benedict, was the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. On paper, the DoF "promotes in a collegial fashion encounters and initiatives to spread sound doctrine and defend those points of Christian tradition which seem in danger because of new and unacceptable doctrines." In reality, the DoF pretty much sets the beliefs of the catholic religion.

When Ratzinger ascended to the head of the DoF, the church suddenly became much more conservative, especially with its stance towards LGBTQs, which makes the current revelations coming to light particularly interesting. While doing some research, I came across a NY Times article detailing a priest accused of molesting as many as 200 deaf boys, many during confession. According to documents obtained by the Times, Ratzinger failed to respond to the investigating archbishop about putting the accused priest on canonical trial for his alleged actions. After receiving a go ahead from the DoF's second in command, Cardinal Bertone, who is now the Vatican's secretary of state, the trial preparations began.

This is where it gets interesting; Cardinal Bertrone halted the trial. Seems the accused priest wrote to Ratzinger claiming poor health and that the statute of limitations was past. Follow the link for the entire document trail, obtained by the NY Times from one of the victim's lawyers.

Pedophilia is a serious problem. No one's disputing that in the church. Allowing an accused pedophile to escape scrutiny when there are processes in place to find the truth and deliver punishment, however, is inexcusable. To shield someone from the process of investigation and thus never give closure to the possible victims is inhumane. And, if I remember my teachings over the years from the very same church, it's not at all Christ-like. Something to think about.

Perhaps instead of accusing the "liberal media" of persecution when worried about scandal, you should actually take steps to handle the problems as they occur. I'm sure the publicity would be much kinder if these accusations were handled by the church or secular authorities instead of shuffling the accused away to limit the media exposure.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mavericks are sooooo last year....

In an interview with Newsweek published April 3rd, Senator John McCain, former Republican nominee for President of the United States, declared "I never considered myself a maverick."

Say what?

This campaign ad for his Presidential run (you remember Sarah Palin, right?) says otherwise:

And then there's the matter of his autobiographical story, the one that picks up where Faith of our Fathers leaves off. The title/subtitle? Worth the Fighting For: The Education of an American Maverick, and the Heroes Who Inspired Him.

Okay, so you never considered yourself a maverick, Senator McCain. Fine, I could deal with that, if it wasn't systemic of your constant backpedaling on issues that are important to me. Like, oh I don't know, Don't Ask, Don't Tell?

John McCain was one of the people in Washington I respected (not enough to vote for him for President, but that was LARGELY influenced by the wingnut he chose for a running mate). He had a fairly consistent record, if one stacked on the militaristic side, and had a good reputation for working across the aisle to get things done. Now, he's siding with the mainstream Republicans to the actual detriment of his constituency. Though he clarified his remarks later to soften the harshness of claiming there would be no cooperation across the aisle, he's still falling rank-in-file with the rest of his party.

My uncle Howard served with John McCain aboard the USS Forrestal. Howard was there when it caught fire (and we learned that after my uncle died, he had received a Presidential Citation of Meritorious Service for his actions, but I digress). So, when John McCain was running in the Republican primary and made his obligatory stop at Spartanburg's famous landmark, The Beacon Restaurant, McCain took the time to sit down with Uncle Howard and talk to him for a bit. That impressed me. I thought "Wow, that's a classy guy, to sit down and reminisce with an old service mate." My uncle was impressed too and helped stump for McCain.

I know at one time that John McCain had the desire to genuinely help people. He has done some outstanding, across the aisle legislation to do just that. I think I preferred Maverick, Senator McCain. You shouldn't be so quick to dismiss your past to simply win a reelection.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Thoughts about "Prayers For Bobby"

"Before you echo 'Amen' in your home or place of worship, think and remember...a child is listening."
— Mary Griffith

For those of you who don't know, Prayers For Bobby is a Lifetime movie that was released in January of 2009. I won't go into deep detail about the plot (you can follow the above link if you're interested). What I want to discuss is the message of the movie, because I have mixed feelings about it.

I watched the movie with a young friend of ours who's family is conservative christian. He is also black, as is my partner. I tell you this to put the thoughts I'm about to write in context and to give you some idea of where those thoughts are coming from, not to show how cosmopolitan I am for having an interracial relationship or friends.

Earlier in the week, I was speaking to HSCFree from the absolutely wonderful blog "The Well Spoken Negro's Salon" (link in the sidebar). He was mentioning the fact that there is an unspoken "Gay equals White" thing going on in the gay community. I told him that I hadn't found that at all in my experiences.

Free, I owe you an apology.

Going back and doing some thinking, as well as reading and watching of various documentaries and movies, I realize that Free was absolutely correct. I had seen it, had experienced it and it flew right under my radar. That bothers me a little. Now, what brought this on was watching "Prayers for Bobby" with my young black friend (my partner was snoring on the couch, as he does for any movie that doesn't have explosions and excessive violence and a kicking metal soundtrack, but I love him anyway). I immediately identified with the various aspects of the movie, being raised in a christian household, being told I was shameful and sinning, being rejected (not by my mother, but by my father), etc. So I was entranced and absorbed by the skillful acting, if somewhat simplistic and repetitive plot (perhaps Sigourney Weaver thinks about Alien 4 when she cries on cue like that, y'know whaddimean?).

After the movie was over, I turned to my young friend and asked him if he wanted to borrow the dvd to show to his mom. I was only half joking, but the look of sheer horror on his face at my suggestion brought a point to me: he couldn't relate to anything in the movie. At all. Nada. Zip. Nothing.

I know, since he is my partner's best friend, some of his circumstances. His mother knows that he is gay; she has undeniable proof of that. But they don't talk about it. It was forgotten as quickly as it was found and it's never brought up again. He is, for every practical purpose, still very deeply in the closet. There is no discussion, no attempt at understanding, no tears, no condemnation. It just doesn't exist.

Now, there were times in my coming out period that I would almost have preferred the denial to what happened in my case. I say "almost." I don't think I could have stood the silence. At least, with the condemnation and gnashing of teeth, you have visible proof that someone is thinking about the issue. With the silence, there's nothing. And I endured that silence for far too long before I kicked the closet doors open.

So, where are the movies and documentaries and writings that my young friend, or my partner for that matter, to relate to? I know they're out there and Logo did a great service by airing "Noah's Arc" (though I have my own problems with that show), but they're not being shown on Lifetime.

A quick internet search lets me know that those resources are out there. This link will let you see some of the best movies, including the ground breaking film "Tongues Untied," which I saw on PBS many years ago. But they're not the movies that people think of when they think gay. The movies that immediately come to people's minds are all about white men and THEIR problems and THEIR struggles. I realize that we have a long way to go before gays are accepted in this country; I fear that my black and other minority family have even longer to go. If the whole idea of gay equates to white men, where is the diversity and welcome to our family members who are not white men? We, as a community, need to get our shit together and decide if we're going to be inclusive or not. How can we expect the straight community to accept us if we can't do the same for each other.

Now, please don't think that I'm saying that films like "Prayers for Bobby" shouldn't be made; the story is one that needs to be out there, as Mary Griffith turned into a fierce advocate for LGBTQs. But with those stories, I'm sure there is a black or hispanic or asian mother who has done the same thing. Or father, for that matter. Let's get those stories out there so that everyone of us can have something to watch and identify with.

A Reintroduction...of sorts

So, my last attempt at blogging was a kind of therapy for me. It wasn't all that successful. I learned a lesson from it, though, which was invaluable to me nonetheless.

The lesson was: I don't need validation. There's nothing wrong with me unless I let it be.

Now, more than a year later, I've decided that I have something to say again. Perhaps it could be better voiced by someone else, perhaps not. But with all the changes in the past two years I believe that now, possibly more than ever, every voice should be heard, if only to counteract the voices that would try to harm me and my interests.

The title of this new blog comes from a quote by Plato: "Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion and knowledge." Though seemingly simple, there is a universe of truth in that statement. I like it.

Now for the condensed biography. I'm a gay man living in Spartanburg, SC. I'm a recovering Catholic and currently practice a simple version of wicca mixed with ethical compassion. See relevant links in the side posts. I have a partner of little over a year and, though it hasn't been perfect the whole time, it's a good thing. As Larry King said once "When America finds out that gays are as boring as the rest of us, it's all over." ;-)

The purpose of the blog this time is to combine those three qualities mentioned by Plato to try and come to a conclusion on things that I find interesting, that bother me, that perplex me or that make me happy. If there is discussion to come to these conclusions, so much the better.

Regardless, welcome. I don't know if it'll be worth reading or not, but I promise it won't be boring. :)