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Monday, October 19, 2009

Note: I have not been keeping this blog going, in favor of writing in my two other blogs, one about political matters and the other a fotoblog about Newark, NJ. Recently, however, some things have drawn my attention again, so I will be updating this more like regularly.

Extended Conversation

An oldline gay activist, Billy Glover, sometimes sends out email messages to other long-time activists, who sometimes then reply, back and forth. Here is one such recent exchange, starting last Friday, October 16th with a message from Billy titled "What the homosexual community/movement really needs is not a 'leader'". Further steps in the conversation follow, in chronological order, oldest to newest.
Once again we hear voices, after the recent March on Washington, saying that the glbt community/movement needs a "leader." This seems to me to indicate a total lack of understanding of how this movement has been so successful in going from a single closeted organization in 1950, and a single lgbt publication in 1952 to the thousands of organizations and hundreds of publications and resources that we have today. The only question we should be asking ourselves is why there are so many glbt people who are unaware of just what this community and movement does have. There is lack of communication among the various elements.

It must be said that anti-gay bigots seem to know more about what is going on in this movement than we do. It is doubtful that many of us have actually thought about all the resources we have. I urge everyone to take a look at Gayellow Pages, the print verison or online version (gypages@gmail.com). Each group or publication is so busy trying to do the job it chose to do that they do not know what others are doing. It may be good that today we can have specialized resources, much as medicine now has "specialties," but we then face the same problem medicine is facing, a lack of general physicians, since everyone wants to "specialize" and have more influence.

But the reason we have been so wildly successful is that mostly we have all worked for the main purpose of gaining our civil/equal rights. Only in the last decade have we started specializing in having organizations for each of the areas, thus we have Lambda Legal and National Center for Lesbian Rights, GLAD, etc (as well as the ACLU) to work on legal issues. We have organizations for religious work, such as Dignity, Affirmation (Methodist and Mormon), Kinship (Seventh Day Adventist), etc. We have an organization working for youth, GLSEN, and there are groups for each profession; medicine, anthropology, law, journlism, etc.

And while most of our lgbt newspapers and magazine try to give coverage to all of our areas and groups, they don't always seem to do a good job. It seems that many editors and journalists think that we want to know more about the latest celebrity to come "out" than we do about what activities are going on in our community. How often do papers cover our libraries/archives? Do we know of the glbt book clubs? and the travel articles seem to think we would not want to know where the local gay center is in major cities, but only want to know where the closest bar and bathhouse or cafe is. We don't need a lgbt guide to tell us where a local museum is, general guides do that.

And too often when an issue is in discussion, a "specialized" group says they are not interested in it but only in their little domain-as if a religious organization has no interest in gay bars being attacked by police, or a legal organization has no interest in films that are pro or con.

There are a few efforts to get us informed on coverage of glbt issues. Daily Queer News (dailyqueernews@yahoo.com) tries to give us links to what is in the news that we should be aware of. For entertainment news there is Coming Out Support Weekly (onqyb@aol.com). There are others. But if we don't know about these resources they can not help build communication and cooperation within our movement. And thus the hundreds of good leaders working in various organizations, local and national, will not be able to support each other.

Celebrate our diversity. There is no competition among us except to se what we can all do to educate ourselves and the public on the truth about homosexuality. There is no reason to oppose a "march' or say we must only work on a federal/national level or that we must attack an organization that has chosen to work on only one aspect.

We must practice what we preach. We have to acknowledge that there are really gay Republicans as well as Democrats. That some of us are members of PLAGAL and are pro-life, while many of us are pro-choice. There are those who are allies and work with PFLAG, many of whom have lgbt children. And there is COLAGE, for children who have glbt parents.

There is no reason those who fear the lies of the religions can not work with those who choose to stay in the religious community and try to bring about better understanding and change.

We can be proud, of each generation that has added to our work, from the founders of Mattachine, ONE/HIC and DOB in the 1950s to those at Stonewall, and those who did the various "marches" and those who join us each day. THOSE WHO MARCHED Sunday will someday be pioneers. We are all pioneers, and we must have done something right, we are slowly but surely changing the world.
I replied.
You're certainly right about lack of communication. I didn't know anything about a march on Washington until I caught the end of a brief news story on TV. Yet, I have a website that has been up for years, and has an email address plainly shown and clickable!
However, we have NOT been "wildly successful". "Don't ask-don't tell" is still in place, as is the Defense of Marriage Act. NJ still, despite a pledge from Governor Corzine to sign a bill after the 2008 election, does not have same-sex marriage — and his opponent in the current gubernatorial election has pledged to veto any such measure if it comes to his desk — even as NH, a much more conservative state overall, does have same-sex marriage. 45 states do not permit same-sex marriage at all. There are gay-bashings even in liberal places, such as a well-publicized case in NYC last week. But apart from the legalities and bigotries of straight people, gay men are still isolated, gender-confused, unloved, unloving, and self-rejecting for much of their lives.
You are also wrong about religious organizations arising only in the last decade. The Episcopalian group Dignity, a Presbyterian group, and others, have existed for at least 35 years. And a Catholic group also called Dignity claims an origin in 1969!
Anything that uses the word "queer" is the ENEMY, and you must not recommend it, nor tell gay men that they have an obligation to see themselves as grotesque.
It is NOT POSSIBLE for gay men to work constructively with lesbians if to do so requires men to identify as women and take on women's issues — such as militant condemnation of pornography — that are diametrically opposed to what gay men want, sexual freedom. And it is NOT POSSIBLE to work constructively with gender-confused loons if to do so requires well-adjusted gay men to "accept" the "legitimacy" of their confusions, and identify with gender confusion and even PROMOTE it, as those loons do. Any engagement of well-adjusted gay men with gender-confused people should be to try to UNCONFUSE them and give them back their manhood.
So I'm not sure what the purpose of your email is. There is no unified information source because each group has its own agenda, and most are anti-gay, in the sense of being hostile to gay men as MEN, and promoting self-hatred and confusion by promoting a "community" that does not exist, membership in which requires each real community to give up some of its own identity and take on the incompatible identity of the others. Confused losers who really do see themselves as "queer" — grotesque, bizarre, extremely rare and deformed — cannot teach anyone anything.
Billy responded:
It may not be easy, and young people sure have no idea of how it was, BUT I can testify that my life is much easier today than it was in the 50s when I grew up and the 60s on when I got involved in this civil rights movement. There is a scale, let's say, from 0 to 100 and I can tell you that I believe we are 60-% there, from 1950 which was 0.
That prompted an email from someone I don't know.
I understand Craig's points, but I think some of them seem cranky — except for the "Cheers" signoff, which I like. I agree with you, Billy, that we're at least at 60% if not a bit further. I also agree that there's too little awareness by the gay man on the street of the extent of the gay "community," even as the word "community" itself has become something of an unthinking cliché in his mouth.

Craig is right that the growth of specialized groups, including religious ones, began much longer ago than 10 years--though the Episcopal group is called Integrity, not Dignity. [Oops. I couldn't keep the -ity's 'straight' in my memory after decades.]

I think Craig is a little behind the times when lamenting feminist anti-pornography crusades. Their day is largely past, and many feminists today take a much more enlightened, sex-positive view of such matters — even though, of course, to the extent that the pornography industry actually does exploit women, they still decry it. I think, by and large, it's quite possible to work with feminists, even though too many of them take one look at a white male face and assume the worst. I also think that, even though most states don't allow same-sex marriage, the day when many more of them do is coming fast. I just got back from a nephew's heterosexual wedding in Dubuque, where even though it's in a notably conservative part of a rather conservative state (which paradoxically allows same-sex marriage), and even though part of my family is bigoted and religiously backward, other parts have been surprisingly accepting of me and my partner of 30 years.


Bill Kelley, Chicago
I replied first to Billy.
You are more easily satisfied than I. Even if one were to concede a 60%-of-the-way progress mark, I don't regard that as a great leap forward for 60 YEARS. 1% a year?
Then I responded to Kelley:
Feminists demand that gay allies endorse all (lesbian-)feminist demands, including abortion-on-demand, even if that means that women kill boy babies and if a test is developed that detects a "gay gene", women then selectively kill gay babies. Allying with people other than gay men imposes upon gay men an insistence that they compromise away their principles and identity. No thanks.
Kelley followed up.
Does this mean you favor abortion rights as long as there's no targeting of male or gay fetuses?

Or are you just against abortion rights generally?

Either way, there are feminists who will ally with people who support some feminist goals (for instance, an end to sexual stereotyping, or equal pay for equal work) even if they don't support other feminist goals (for instance, abortion rights).
I clarified:
There's no such thing as a right to kill a baby, whether that baby be "yours" or someone else's. No child's life depends upon his/her parents "wanting" them. That gay men, many of whom suffer child-hunger at some point in life, should feel themselves compelled to back abortion-on-demand, even of gay baby boys, as part of the crazy bargain to seek larger numbers for political purposes, is tragic and insanely contemptible. The im/morality of abortion becomes plain when one does a very quick check. Offer a compromise where black babies could be aborted on demand but not white babies. Would blacks regard that as being granted superior rights or as being an attack upon blacks? For gay men to be told that women have the right to kill their child, and gay men have to support that "right", is to say that the powerful have the right to kill the weak, which is a very dangerous stance for gay men — and lesbians — to take.
Wayne Dynes joined in, addressing the hazards of allying with feminist women.
I agree with Bill K. that we can, in principle, ally with other groups working for social change on an issue-for-issue basis. However, it takes two to tango. All too often the groups we seek to woo either ignore us or ask that we sign on he dotted line for all of their causes — that is, be auxiliaries.

Abortion is a good example of such a nonnegotiable demand. My own position, for what it is worth, is that under certain circumstances abortion is justified in the first trimester. Not after that, because one is clearly dealing with a human being. Both sides of course demand absolute obedience: either abortion a gogo, or never at all.

At a recent meeting commemorating GLF John Lauritsen recounted his experience in 1969 of being in a delegation to the local NYC branch of the Black Panthers to bring them some money. They reluctantly agreed to take the "faggot donation." Lauritsen rightly called them out on this. During the seventies I remember trying to work with lesbian feminists. All I got from this was a reputation for being a misogynist, which I am not.

In 1993 a leftist-feminist cabal brought down my Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, which has been out of print ever since. I understand that feminists have moderated. As a result of my experiences, however, I want no part of them.
I followed up.

MANY organizations were destroyed by lesbians, deliberately by malice, happenstantially by driving away men who wanted a place where they could be comfortable with men. Of course, there are many ways organizations are destroyed. The group I founded at City College in April 1969, Homosexuals Intransigent!, was destroyed by a pathological liar and thief who worked his way into a position of power, divided the membership, stole the small treasury (about $107, a bit more meaningful in 1972 but not a huge amount), and skipped town, leaving the group too shattered to recover. Another small group I founded, Homosexuals In Mensa, was destroyed when National Mensa said it would recognize only one National Special Interest Group around the issue of homosexuality, and pitted us against a West Coast group that permitted women and straights. My guys didn't want to fite, so I abandoned the group — and left Mensa. The West Coast group didn't do much, but since I left Mensa, I have no idea whether it is still going. (The founder, by the way, died young, of a brain tumor or something.)
The fact that too few people seem [to] understand (tho they actually must) is that gay men are, for the most part — and especially young gay men, and boys in advance of adulthood — "damaged goods", severely maladjusted to their own nature by being pushed and pulled from birth to be something they are not. Too little recognition of their weak ego and insecure, frail identity is given by organizations that misconceive the purpose of The Movement to be gaining political power and political change. It doesn't matter if the laws change and even some social attitudes change if a person has been wrecked by years of trying to live up to expectations. Those expectations and assumptions will long survive any change in law.
This is why my focus has always been on what I proposed for the weekend around the first march commemorating Stonewall: Gay Pride, not Gay Power. Because you can have pride without power, and power without either pride or happiness.
I had an email exchange on this topic with a leading Liberal activist here in Newark, who had forwarded to me notice of an "LGBT" event (note, of course, that L is always first; gay men are second-class citizens in their own Movement) for possible inclusion in my well-regarded Newark fotoblog, "Newark USA": >>We are exactly a week away from Newark Pride Alliance's fundraiser: A Toast to Newark's Future: In Support of the Safe Spaces Initiative to be held on October 13th. All funds from the event will be used to support an after school program for LGBT youth, co-developed by The Hetrick-Martin Institute and Newark Pride Alliance.<<

I replied: >>I WHOLLY disapprove of compelling gay boys to identify as lesbians and gender-confused loons. In no way will I advance the corralling of gay boys in a demi-monde where their identity will be confused and they will be forced to regard themselves as freaks.<<

He then said: >>As a heterosexual I guess that I do not have a full understanding of all LGTB issues. It is my understanding the LGTB pride movement is akin to the freedom/civil rights movement.<<

To which I replied: >>NO, the comparison to a political movement in which the more people you can get, the better, is at best misleading. Even in political movements you have to be careful about whom you associate with, as the William Ayers tempest-in-a-teapot showed. In any political coalition there is risk of contamination of a movement by affiliation with an ideology that is inconsistent with or even antithetical to the base purpose of that coalition. And members of a political group from different ideologies can strive for primacy, and produce the splintering of the group. That would be bad enuf.
But the other side of the movements among gay men, lesbians, and people who are tragically confused about what they are, is a support group, in which people find others like themselves, when they thought they were alone, and can share and get reinforcement, not subversion. When a troubled kid is thrown in with people who are completely UNlike him and told that they are in fact COMPLETELY like him and he has an obligation to identify with them, disaster can ensue. Kids who know they are NOT like, for instance, gender-confused losers who dress in drag and want their genitals chopped off and a slit sliced into their crotch, may have the good sense to leave that group before too much harm is done. Kids who do NOT know what they are or want may be drawn into a nitemare world of confusion that could cause them to have themselves castrated. This is a very serious matter, and a firm gender identity is the sine qua non to happy personal adjustment, and without a happy adjustment to their own reality, political power is worthless. Of what value is it to gain the right to marry if nobody wants to get married and you can't find anybody to marry because you don't know what gender you are and the people you encounter are as confused as you? There is no such thing as an "LGBT..." community, but there is such a movement, and that movement is the enemy of gay men.<<

That is how the conversation ended — pr at ;east stands as of late Monday.

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