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Liberal Dad Wants You to Know How Cool He Is for Celebrating His Gay Kid

Posted by V the K at 1:12 pm - June 15, 2014.
Filed under: Gays / Homosexuality (general)

“Dave” a contributor to the Huffington Post wants you to know he is a really cool progressive parent. He knows his son is gay, and not only that, he knows what kind of guys his kid is into. Isn’t that cool? He’s totally supportive and isn’t that cool? Dave wants everybody to know he’s the coolest dad ever.

BTW: The kid is nine years old.

I know what my 9-year-old son’s “type” of guy is. This is not something I expected to have knowledge of, not when my son was 9, and perhaps not ever. But that knowledge is in my brain anyway, and now I have to deal with it. And as much as it weirds me out, it is so cute to see him when the right kind of boy walks into his life. …

Slim, fit, dark-haired boys with strikingly pretty faces just set his heart all aflutter. You can see it on his face, and it is cute, even if it makes me go all wiggy-giggy in the dad part of my brain.

I honestly thought the piece was written by a woman until I saw the byline. Usually, it’s liberal moms who treat kids as extensions of their own egos.

Maybe this nine-year-old really is gay, maybe not. And if the kid’s parents had the attitude “we love him no matter what,” then props to them.

But  “Dave” seems to care more about using his kid to show what a cool parent he is, and as a weapon to bash the ‘H8rs’ whom he imagines will think ill of his creepy obsession with the type of boys his prepubescent child is attracted to.

That’s not good parenting; that’s using your kid for ego gratification.

Conservatives, gay politics, and lost opportunities

At the time of the Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage this summer, it seemed to me that by ruling as it did, the Supreme Court had involuntarily handed many conservatives a great opportunity to move beyond the issue of gay marriage in ways that they hadn’t in the past.  Instead of making it a social or cultural issue, many conservatives could have sidestepped the issue entirely by talking more about economic issues and questions of taxation and state-sponsored benefits instead.

After all, the plaintiff in the case which challenged the Defense of Marriage Act was moved to file suit largely because of the estate taxes she incurred when her partner passed away.  So instead of viewing  it as a social or cultural issue, they could have taken up the cause of greatly reducing estate taxes for all regardless of marital status.

While I’m obviously biased on the issue, it seems to me that running on an anti-gay agenda is not a winning issue for conservatives.  I recognize that social conservatives played a very big role in the Reagan revolution, and I acknowledge that social conservatives are still an important part of the base that the Republican Party needs to keep winning elections.  But I believe that there are ways to accommodate social conservatives without alienating other potential voters.  Talking about court appointments is one way of doing this, because one needn’t be a social conservative to believe that the court should focus more on applying and interpreting the actual intent of the Constitution rather than legislating from the bench.  Likewise, one can have an honest debate about tax policy and whether or not it is in the state’s interest to carve out special exceptions for marriage or whether the state should get out of the marriage business all together and just simplify the tax code instead.

There are some signs that more and more Republican are getting this message.  On September 11 of this year, Politico reported on a survey that showed that more and more Republicans are embracing libertarian views about government.  (Hat Tip: The Blaze.)

FreedomWorks commissioned a national survey of registered voters last month, shared first with POLITICO, that finds 78 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents self-identify as fiscally conservative and socially moderate.

It’s not that Republicans are suddenly self-identifying as “libertarians” and devouring Ayn Rand novels, but more that they seem to be embracing underlying libertarian priorities and views about the role of government.

The Politico piece goes on to quote the Republican pollster who ran the poll saying that more and more voters are disturbed by both the size and the intrusiveness of government in the Obama era:

Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, who ran the poll, said she’s seeing a spike in voters who feel the government is too expensive, invasive and expansive.

“The perfect storm is being created between the NSA, the IRS, the implementation of Obamacare and now Syria,” she said. “People are looking at the government more suspiciously. They’re looking with deeper scrutiny and reasonable suspicion.”

It all sounds great so far from my perspective.  I think this is a direction that Republicans need to embrace to be able to win significantly in the future.
And then, there’s the sad case of Virginia.  I first heard of Ken Cuccinelli when he was elected Attorney General of Virginia in 2009, in an election that many viewed as a sign of trouble ahead for the Democrats in 2010.  I knew he had played a large role in fighting Obamacare and in bringing the fight to the Supreme Court, and so it seemed to me that he would have a good chance of being elected Governor of Virginia this year, especially since he is running against corrupt Clinton crony Terry McAuliffe.  Over the summer, though, I kept hearing that Cuccinelli was not doing well against McAuliffe in the polls, and I wondered why that might be.

Chris Christie bans reparative therapy for minors

Via Bloomberg:

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican…said that homosexuality is inborn and not a sin…as he signed a bill banning therapy that tries to change a minor’s sexual orientation. Christie said such efforts pose “critical health risks including, but not limited to, depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.”

“Exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate,” Christie, 50, said today in the statement.

The question is whether this is an entirely good thing.

I love it (don’t we all!) that Christie told his constituents the truth about New Jersey’s budget mess, which he inherited from Wall Street rip-off artist and Democrat, Jon Corzine. But some of Christie’s other positions suggest a Big Government, authoritarian streak in him. Perhaps this is one.

Low as my opinion of reparative therapy is, some people (probably a small minority, when we’re talking about men) can change their orientation if they want to, and none of us have the moral right to stop them from getting assistance.

Minors do need a higher standard of protection, but that’s why they have parents. So, either way, I’m not sure this should be Chris Christie’s (or government’s) decision.

At the very least, the “age of consent” for gay sex and reparative therapy ought to be the same. A teenager who is viewed legally as old enough to make his own decisions about sex, should be old enough to make his own decisions about what therapy he may want.

UPDATE: Apologies to Kurt for ‘topping’ his excellent post; I wrote this one in a hurry, without checking the blog first as I should have. Having said that, the issue I’m raising here is the liberty of the one who (rightly or wrongly) may seek reparative therapy. The individual has a right to pursue the life she thinks is best, even when Chris Christie (or gay activists, or anyone else) thinks it’s a mistake.

On long discussions and gay-related policy news

Jeff’s brief post on Friday linking to a piece in The Onion has generated one of the longer discussion threads here in recent months at GayPatriot.  At the risk of mischaracterizing or oversimplifying it, much of the discussion has centered around the policy goals of gay activists of various stripes, as well as whether or not, criticizing or finding fault with some of those goals means one sympathizes with the aims of various anti-gay activists.

I think it is well-known to most regular readers that several of the contributors at GayPatriot, for instance, are either ambivalent or agnostic about the policy questions regarding same-sex marriage.  I, for one, feel that the courts are the wrong place for the argument over so-called “marriage equality” to proceed and that it is better taken up through the legislative process.  Likewise, I don’t feel that one needs to call it marriage if doing so antagonizes a significant portion of the populace who feel that marriage has a traditional meaning which they would rather not modify.  I’ve said before and I’ll say again that what we’re really talking about when we talk about same-sex marriage is a matter of  1). how the state recognizes a contractual relationship between two individuals, and 2). whether or not it has any business granting special privileges to those in a “traditional marriage” which it does not grant to others.  I’d argue that a debate that focused on the desirability of certain policy choices would be much more productive and much more worthwhile than one centered on emotional claims about “rights” and “equality.”  I’d also say that a more dispassionate debate about the implications of policy is more in keeping with both conservative and libertarian principles.

My aim today, though, is not to revisit that debate or to consider the implications of the recent Supreme Court decisions on those issues (though I’m still planning to do so in a future post), but to bring up some of the questions raised by the fact that today New Jersey became the second state (after California) to ban “conversion therapy” for gay youths.  My personal view on the issue is that “conversion therapy” doesn’t work in most cases and, to the extent that it is practiced, it should really only be viewed as an option for adults who choose to willingly commit to it.  In other words, New Jersey’s ban is in accord with my personal view on the matter, and yet, for philosophical reasons, I’m still bothered by some aspects of the legislation.

Neo-neocon expresses reservations similar to mine when she writes:

It is no use pretending that therapy—and the licensing of therapists by the state—is not at least partly a political endeavor subject to political fashion rather than a science. Nor should therapists be completely unrestricted. For example, therapists are already prohibited from sexual contact with patients—even willing patients, even adult patients—because it is considered inherently exploitative. But the most harmful practices that could be used by conversion therapists (for example, electric shock) could be banned without banning the entire enterprise. And as the articles point out, mainstream therapy organizations have already condemned conversion therapy and do not advocate it.

But apparently none of that would be enough for the advocates of this bill; the therapy itself must be defined by the government as inherently and unfailingly abusive (what’s next, taking children away from parents who don’t applaud and celebrate their gayness?) As the nanny state grows, so will these essentially political moves by the government. This bill opens the door for a host of governmental abuses in which the state dictates the enforcement of politically correct thought through the mechanism of so-called therapy, and therapists become the instruments by which the public is indoctrinated in what is currently politically acceptable and what is verboten.

Chilling, indeed.

At the risk of invoking the “slippery-slope” argument, I can’t see a way around the concerns that Neo-neocon expresses.  I’d have preferred to let the market regulate itself without getting the state involved in this way.  Once the state has weighed in on this question, though, where can we expect it to weigh in next, and will it ever stop trying to regulate the way parents raise their children?  I can’t see that it ever will.

It’s an unfortunate reality that many gay kids grow up in homes that are not especially loving, nurturing or supportive.   The state, though, is none of those things, either, no matter what the expressed intentions of lawmakers might be.  Increasing the reach of the state into individual lives should not be a comfort to any of us.

Misadventures in Multicultural Studies Indoctrination

Jeff’s post the other day about the questionable workshop at Brown University came to mind recently when I saw a very far-left Facebook friend link to this article by a professor named Warren Blumenfeld who had just retired from a position as a professor of education at Iowa State University.  The article contains the professor’s reflections and gives voice to both his lamentations and his indignity about those students who took his class who were not won over to his worldview and who had the temerity to announce that fact in their final papers.

The course was entitled “Multicultural Foundations in Schools and Society,” and Blumenfeld describes it in the following terms:

I base the course on a number of key concepts and assumptions, including how issues of power, privilege, and domination within the United States center on inequitable social divisions regarding race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, sex, gender identity, sexual identity, religion, nationality, linguistic background, physical and mental ability/disability, and age. I address how issues around social identities impact generally on life outcomes, and specifically on educational outcomes. Virtually all students registered for this course, which is mandatory for students registered in the Teacher Education program, are pre-service teachers.

In other words, this is a required course in “multicultural studies” indoctrination.  If the course were voluntary, it would be a slightly different situation, but as a required course, it amounts to an example of the sort of thing that conservatives can easily point to as illustrating the left-wing biases of academia.

Professor Blumenfeld is particularly alarmed by the case of two female students who tell him quite boldly that the course has not changed their socially conservative Christian worldview:

On a final course paper, one student wrote that, while she enjoyed the course, and she felt that both myself and my graduate assistant — who had come out to the class earlier as lesbian — were very knowledgeable and good professors with great senses of humor, nonetheless, she felt obliged to inform us that we are still going to Hell for being so-called “practicing homosexuals.” Another student two years later wrote on her course paper that homosexuality and transgenderism are sins in the same category as stealing and murder. This student not only reiterated that I will travel to Hell if I continued to act on my same-sex desires, but she went further in amplifying the first student’s proclamations by self-righteously insisting that I will not receive an invitation to enter Heaven if I do not accept Jesus as my personal savior since I am a Jew, regardless of my sexual behavior. Anyone who doubts this, she concluded, “Only death will tell!”

Now while we might question the wisdom of both students in advertising the heresy represented by their beliefs so boldly in a graded assignment,  I think we might also be heartened by their courage in being true to their faith, even if we do not agree with all of the particulars of their worldview.

The professor, however, is shocked and appalled, and the rest of the essay is his attempt to reconcile–through reference to one leftist theory and tract after another–what he calls “our campus environment, one that emboldens some students to notify their professor and graduate assistant that their final destination will be the depths of Hell.”  Notice his word choice, there.  The problem is with the “campus environment” which “emboldens some students.”  It seems like a foreign idea to this professor to think that a university could be a place for the free and open exchange of ideas, especially those ideas that are unpopular.  I trust we will not find him quoting Voltaire or Jefferson anytime soon.

No, instead what we get is a description of and a reflection on a course that sounds like it could have been lifted straight from  the pages of Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, albeit with a more contemporary reading list.  While the professor uses the (more…)

Weekend Gay Odds and Ends

Some weeks, life contains too many distractions and it’s hard to find time to blog.  At least that’s what happened to me this week.  My list of potential topics to write about keeps growing, but my time and, more importantly, my energy for writing about them has been rather limited.   In the meantime, I keep coming across links and articles of interest.  Here are a few things which caught my attention this week, that might interest our readers, as well, or at least generate further discussion.

I rarely look at the “Dear Abby” column these days, but this one caught my eye.  I wasn’t interested in the first item about the wife whose husband of 30 years was having an affair with a prostitute from a strip club.  No, the one that caught my eye was the second item, the one from the gay Democrat whose new romantic interest is a Republican, and suddenly, the Democrat finds that all his gay friends have cut him off and stopped calling him and inviting him to things.  I was intrigued to see gay leftist intolerance so openly acknowledged in a mainstream newspaper column.  Dear Abby responds:

I know several couples who have strong and happy “mixed” marriages in which the spouses do not always agree politically. It is a shame that you would be required to choose between the man you care for and your longtime friends, who want to ignore that there are also gay Republicans.

I see nothing wrong with continuing your relationship with Mark; however, I think it may be time for you to expand your circle of friends if this is how your old ones behave. You’ll all be happier if you do. Trust me on that.

On a related note, I appreciated this piece on “Coming Out as a Black Conservative” at PJMedia.  I’m sure most GayPatriot readers can relate to it.   I particularly liked its last point about the importance of independent thinking rather than group identity:

Independent thinking got you here. Independent thinking will keep you going. Group identity, or more specifically the group authority Shelby Steele writes about, degenerates into herd instinct in the unthinking. Individual rights can only be effectively defended by those who have rejected any claim upon their life. You do not belong to anyone. Your life is yours. Your mind is yours. Direct it intentionally. Choose what you believe and know why you believe it. Never let someone else, anyone else, tell you what you must think or do. By all means, consider trusted advice, but take responsibility for your decisions once made.

Also at PJMedia this week, VodkaPundit Stephen Green reflects on Rob Portman’s reversal on the issue of gay marriage and suggests that the best solution is to get government out of the marriage business in this piece.   As he explains, the left doesn’t really care about what’s best for gay people: “No, for the progressive left, gay marriage is just another club for beating America’s churches into submission to the State. First Catholic birth control, then Baptist gay marriage, and so on. Progressivism is a truly jealous god and will have no other gods before it — not even yours.”

Along similar lines, earlier this week, Rand Paul suggested that the best, most value-neutral solution, would be to get marriage out of the tax code.  Walter Hudson, author of the above-linked piece on “Coming Out as a Black Conservative,” also makes a related point in this article from January on “The Distinction Between Sin and Crime”:  “The uncomfortable truth surrounding the marriage issue is that heterosexual couples have long been subsidized by their unwed neighbors. It is that state endorsement which homosexuals covet, along with the social sanction it implies. Under government informed by objective morality, marriage contracts would be just that, conveying no special benefits beyond the terms agreed upon. As a result, religious individuals and institutions with conscientious objections to homosexuality would never be forced to violate their conscience.”

 

Social Psychology, Politics, and Disgust

I saw this item at Reason.com the other day.  It’s a short piece reflecting on a video of a speech by social psychologist Jonathan Haidt talking about how one’s “sensitivity to disgust” is supposedly some sort of predictor of one’s political views.  I haven’t watched the whole video yet, but the speech was given at the Museum of Sex in New York City, so some amount of its content seems designed to appeal to the audience that would be attending a speech in that location.

Jim Epstein at Reason.com summarizes the key points of the speech as follows:

“Morality isn’t just about stealing and killing and honesty, it’s often about menstruation, and food, and who you are having sex with, and how you handle corpses,” says NYU social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, who is author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics.

Haidt argues that our concern over these victimless behaviors is rooted in our biology. Humans evolved to feel disgusted by anything that when consumed makes us sick. That sense of disgust then expanded “to become a guardian of the social order.”

This impulse is at the core of the culture war. Those who have a low sensitivity to disgust tend to be liberals or libertarians; those who are easily disgusted tend to be conservative.

The full video of the speech is available at the above link.

My reaction to all this is that it 1). depends on how one defines conservative, and 2). it depends on what kinds of things one labels or considers to be examples of disgust.

With respect to point 1)., I think that a large portion of the conservative coalition is rather heavily libertarian-leaning, and it just makes more sense for us to identify as conservative and vote for Republicans because  the Libertarian party seems doomed to remain a fringe party, at least as long as that party’s leadership continues to endorse an isolationist or head-in-the-sand approach to foreign policy.  Now while it may be the case that many traditional “social conservatives” have a “high sensitivity to disgust” with respect to issues of sex, I’m not even convinced that that is as widely the case as Haidt’s remarks suggest.  I’ve heard socially-conservative Christian ministers talk about sex in ways that show they may have a better understanding of the variety of human sexual experience than many academics who claim to be experts on the subject.

On the other hand, with respect to point 2)., I can find many, many examples of “disgust” fueling the attitudes of liberals and leftists.  One could begin by looking at their intense hatred of Sarah Palin and anyone like her.  Some of that hatred, I would argue, was fueled by a disgust at the lives of anyone who doesn’t live the life of a modern liberal in a major coastal city.

Most modern liberals are disgusted by hunting, by the people who shop at Wal-Mart, by the petroleum industry, by the food industry, by the military, by evangelical Christians, and by the reality of life in small-town, rural America.  James Taranto and British Philosopher Roger Scruton call it “oikophobia”: it is a worldview which accepts or excuses the transgressions of select special-interest groups or of non-western cultures, while it judges the familiar by a harsh standard and condemns them with expressions of disgust at the nature of their lives.

Our Agenda-Driven Press Corps

In his post yesterday about the Los Angeles shooter, Jeff pointed out the noteworthy lamestream media silence on certain key elements of the shooter’s manifesto.  Indeed, as Noah Rothman notes today at Mediaite: When crazed shooters can’t be linked to the Tea Party, the media displays admirable restraint.  The story of the shooter in Los Angeles, in fact, is–like several other recent shooters–only of interest to the press corps to the extent that it helps feed the narrative about “gun violence” and the need for more gun-control.  Elements of the story that don’t fit with the narrative are omitted, and especially those elements that contradict the narrative or help to fuel competing narratives.  Because the Los Angeles shooter’s manifesto complains about perceived “racism,” this could theoretically turn into a story about how the racial grievance industry has created a monster, but of course it never will because that is not an agenda the media has any interest in promoting.

Most of the times these days it seems that the press corps is pushing several different agenda items at one time, and news stories are only of interest or worth covering to the extent that they help advance one of those agenda items.  Rather than report the facts and let things fall where they may, the press tries to shoehorn as many stories as possible into the service of one agenda item or another.   The other day, for instance, I woke up to this story on NPR explaining that:  “The gun violence that scars some Chicago neighborhoods has been a plague for one woman. Shirley Chambers first lost a child to gunfire in the mid 1990s. In 2000, a daughter and a son were shot to death just months apart. On Monday, Chambers buried her last child.”  The story could have focused on the horrible failure of gun-control in Chicago, it could have talked about the problems with gangs in the city or crime related to drugs, it could have talked about the plight of inner-city blacks caught up in a dysfunctional culture, but it didn’t do anything like that.  No, the story had to be forced to fit the current narrative about the evils of “gun violence.”

But it’s not just “gun violence.”  As I write, a huge winter storm is bearing down on the Northeast.  When I spent a few years in New England in the 1980s, this sort of thing was to be expected and was known simply as “winter.”  These days, every storm of any magnitude is a big story, people are encouraged to panic and to scurry about, and inevitably, the articles begin to appear linking the storm to “climate change.”

Other common themes of note these days include the repeated focus on “bullying” as a way of pushing “anti-bullying programs” and “anti-bullying” legislation.  Hence, this horrible story is of interest to the media because it is seen as a way of advancing the “anti-bullying” agenda.  In years past, it may have been reported simply as a brutal fight in a school yard, but not any more.   I’m curious to know more about the attacker, but the story doesn’t tell us, nor does the journalist who wrote the story have any interest in reporting what the actual issues in this case are, because doing so would only undermine the “anti-bullying” agenda.  Even NFL cheerleaders are of interest largely to the extent that they can help advance the cause.

And of course, gay issues are another big agenda item for the press corps, but only insofar as gays and lesbians can be portrayed as either victims (of hate or discrimination or abuse) or as inspiring and selfless humanitarians.  Hence, this story about a supposedly “gay” dog in Tennessee was picked up by the national press because it helped advance the narrative that people in “red states” are stupid bigots who hate gays;  in truth, it is really a story about how there are people in all states who shouldn’t own dogs either because they are irresponsible and self-centered or because they have no knowledge or understanding of normal canine behavior.  Had the dog been euthanized after having been abandoned by a gangster or a meth addict in the inner city, you can be certain it wouldn’t have made the news.

“3.4% of U.S. Adults Identify as LGBT”

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:48 pm - October 18, 2012.
Filed under: Gay America,Gays / Homosexuality (general)

“The inaugural results of a new Gallup question — posed to more than 120,000 U.S. adults thus far” report Gary J. Gates and Frank Newport, “shows that 3.4% say “yes” when asked if they identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.”  4.4% refused to answer (or didn’t know).

This suggests that gay people make up about 4% of the population:

These results are based on responses to the question, “Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?” included in 121,290 Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted between June 1 and Sept. 30, 2012. This is the largest single study of the distribution of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population in the U.S. on record. (more…)

So, now we yawn when a celebrity comes out. . . .

Yesterday, our reader TGC alerted me to this piece on Queerty which reminded me that I had neglected to write a planned post on Matt Bomer’s coming out:

As the cover story in last week’s Entertainment Weekly reinforced, it’s a different world out there for gay celebrities: We’ve seen Matt Bomer, Zachary Quinto and Jim Parsons come out to little or no controversyHeck, even American Idol and The Voice alum Frenchie Davis just came out in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

.

The basic point I had intended to make was, well, how little controversy such comings-out excite nowadays.  When Ellen De Generes came out in 1997, it made the cover of Time magazine.  And interestingly, she’s become more of a pop culture presence since publicly identifying as a lesbian.  And by and large, Americans like this out-lesbian.  Her sexuality hasn’t hurt her image.

It is, I believe, a good sign for gay people that today, we pretty much yawn when a celebrity comes out.

Responding to the question, “What does it mean to be gay”

In honor of Gay Pride Weekend in Los Angeles, Patrick Range McDonald of the LA Weekly asked me to write an essay answering the question, “What does it mean to be gay?”  This is my response:

I can’t remember the last time I was asked — or even considered — the question, “What does it mean to be gay?” I don’t really think much about being gay any more. I just am gay. My sexuality is an essential part of who I am, but it doesn’t define my existence.

I take it for granted that others know. As a result, I am occasionally surprised when women interpret my friendly interest as a romantic (or sexual) advance. Ever hopeful that men I find attractive will find me attractive, I often forget that woman too can be drawn to me.

After all, most people in our society seek romantic/sexual attachments with members of the opposite sex. It’s only natural that then a woman would take an interest in a single man. And when one does, her interest serves to remind me of the difference created by my emotional/sexual orientation and the journey required to find myself where I now stand — taking that difference for granted.

Unlike our straight peers, gay individuals must distinguish ourselves from the social norm in order to be true to — and live out — some of our deepest feelings.

You can read the rest here.

Legislation needed to stop coercive “conversion therapy”?

Nine months ago, when writing about “conversion therapy,” I expressed my doubts about the effectiveness of this treatment, designed to “cure” people like us of our longings for same-sex intimacy and affection.

Despite those doubts, I believe, as I then wrote that, in a free society, “Christian groups have every right to set up . . . companies [offering such therapy, provided they do not coerce anyone to enter treatment.”  Even though in a subsequent post, I expressed the intention to address the issue of “coercion“, I have yet to do so.  Given that  many of those “coerced” to enter such treatment are minors, the issue is not as simple as it might first appear; should the state intervene to prevent this coercion, it would then be acting in loco parentis.

As a reader said when we were discussing the issue on Facebook, “It does get hairy for minors.”  On the one hand, I very much want to prevent any teen from experiencing some of the extreme treatments in such programs.  On the other, I fear the slippery slope created by any legislation removing parents’ rights to raise their own children.  Will the state then try to prevent parents from home-schooling their children or learning to hunt?

At the LA Weekly, Patrick McDonald writes about a bill pending before the California legislature to allow teens to opt out of therapies their parents choose;

Written by California State Senator Ted Lieu and sponsored by the gay rights group Equality California, Senate Bill 1172 would force psychotherapists to tell gay patients about the mental and physical harms of undertaking any so-called “gay therapies.” Therapists would also need the consent of a patient before moving forward with their dangerous work.

Most importantly, the bill seeks to stop all gay therapies of minors, regardless of the wishes of his or her parents. So you have to be at least 18 years old and sign off on treatment before a whacked-out therapist can do anything to you.

He goes on to detail some of the treatments to which young people have been subject.  The text of the legislation is here.   (more…)

Do some people hate gays because they share feelings similar to our own?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:31 pm - April 9, 2012.
Filed under: Gays / Homosexuality (general),Real Homophobia

I have always objected to the term “homophobia” because it means fear of sameness and have always thought those who harbored anti-gay attitudes did so out of ignorance of or hostility toward people who differed from themselves. But, now we have one study suggesting that the word’s denotation might actually be accurate:

Homophobes could be attracted to people of the same sex but are not admitting it to themselves, a series of psychology studies has found.

Researchers in New York, Essex and California say they’ve found evidence that gays and lesbians remind homophobes of themselves – which is why they develop an intense aversion and fear of them.

They claim homophobic people tend to repress their true sexuality as they’ve often been brought up in families where being gay is not acceptable.

Via Hot Air headlines.  That does sometimes seem to be the case. Do recall Joseph Campbell once saying (I’m paraphrasing here), ask a man what he hates and that is his “shadow”, the part of himself that he tries to repress.

On the unrecognized(?) loneliness in the gay male community

Social media have allowed us to interact and connect in ways not possible just a decade ago.  They have made it easier for us to track down long-lost friends and to  learn about their present doings.  Even as I write this, I am chatting on Facebook with an Australian gay man who, like many of our readers, differs from the norm of our community; he reached out to me after discovering the blog.

Facebook has also allowed me to see a phenomenon I first witnessed when I came out in the 1990s, of the loneliness of many gay men, perhaps a loneliness paralleled among our straight peers, but one which, at times,seems unique to our particular situation.  And Facebook magnifies it.  Some men seek solace in identifying with a political group, fearing to differ in one iota from its ideology, lest their peers cut them off.  Others relate the most mundane items of their day, as if that will help link them to the outside world.

Here we have this means of instant (virtual) connection and yet all too many of us aren’t really connecting.

These observations have caused me to revisit some (somewhat) dormant ideas about loneliness — and that too human hunger for real connection, for friends who see us we are and in whose presence we feel part of the universe because to truly feel part of the universe, we must, all of us, feel some connection to our fellow man.  And not just the connection of their physical presence, but a meaningful bond where they delight in our idiosyncrasies — and they in ours.

Understanding that, I found it very hard to watch the 1964 Bette Davis movie Dead Ringer, a film where the screen siren plays twin sisters, with the less financially fortunate Edith Phillips murdering her more wealthy sister Margaret in order to assume her identity and live in luxury.  As soon as Edie commits the crime, then puts on her sister’s clothes and goes to her house, all I could think about was how miserable her new life would be, no longer able to spend time with the Karl Malden‘s Jim Hobbson, the cop who truly appreciates her–cut off not just from him, but from her friends in the bar she manages.

I just couldn’t believe that anyone, well into middle age, with real friends would want to give them all up for a chance at riches.  And yet some people do.

After all, what is wealth if you have no one with whom to share it? (more…)

Kirk Cameron in Context

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:52 am - March 13, 2012.
Filed under: Gays / Homosexuality (general),Movies/Film & TV

Perhaps, it’s because Kirk Cameron is not an elected official that I didn’t make much of his comments earlier this month, calling homosexuality “unnatural“, even, as he put it, “detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.”  He has a right to his opinions. And we have a right to challenge him on them.

The fact that so many have raised such a ruckus over his remarks shows how far we’ve come since he was at the peak of his celebrity.  His hit TV series Growing Pains ended its run in 1992, five years before Ellen DeGeneres’s coming out made the cover of Time magazine.  Today, homosexuality has become so mainstream that we barely bat an eyelid when a celebrity comes out.

Had he made offered similar comments at that time, his notions would have generated far less controversy.

Not just that, most of us are secure enough in our sexuality that we don’t feel threatened by a one-time teen hearth throb’s contrary opinions.

Something else to bear in mind:  the night Mr. Cameron offered his opinions on homosexuality, fewer than half a million Americans tuned into Mr. Morgan’s show.  More than twice that number were watching the openly lesbian Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.  Ellen De Generes’s daytime talk show draws nearly three million viewers.

And that’s the real change.  These “out” lesbians anchor television programs and continue to flourish in the open market.  So, let Mr. Cameron speak his mind; his opinions won’t undo the social changes of the past twenty years.

The Visual Power of A Single Man

Last night, I finally got around to watching A Single Man and wish I had seen it on the big screen.  Although the script had a numerous problems, the art direction and cinematography made the flick a real treat.  And Colin Firth‘s portrayal of the solitude of gay man in the early 1960s struggling with the recent death of his life-companion paralleled Katharine Hepburn‘s portrayal of the solitude of a woman in middle age in the mid-1950s confronting her emotional longings (in Summertime).  It really was that good.

Perhaps, it is unfair to fault the film for lacking a traditional narrative.  Perhaps that was not its purpose.  It sought instead to show what it was like for a man to bear the grief of such a significant loss in a time much different from our own.

Visually it was absolutely stunning.

It did make me feel — as good movies tend to do.  And think — as better ones do.

Had I been awake enough last night to write a review, I would have offered a less enthusiastic appreciation of the film than I do today.  The plot seem contrived, the ending relationship too ambiguous, some of the dialogue (when Firth’s Falconer was teaching) too politically correct.  And it’s tiresome to see gay movies where the filmmakers portray a same-sex relationship in a good light while showing straight ones as flawed (his neighbor/close friend Julianne Moore‘s recollections of her marriage).

All that said, like the Hepburn movie, it does remind us of the power of human relationships. As George says to the Nicholas Hoult‘s Kenny, a student infatuated with him:

You know the only thing that’s made the whole thing worthwhile has been those few times when I’ve been able to really, truly connect with another human being.

Perhaps it was the power of the imagery that has caused the movie to leave such a sweet impression now nearly twenty-four hours after first I saw it.  Last night, I considered more its flaws.  Today, I remember the images.

And in a visual medium, perhaps that is paramount.  And the flick once again does remind us of the importance of relationships.

Michele Bachmann’s silence & a lesbian mother’s cowardice

Based upon my experience as an uncle, having seen (or currently witnessing) eight nephews pass through the late single-digit stage, if an 8-year-old boy were to, of his own accord, ask a question of a presidential candidate, he might ask him to name his favorite superhero or to discuss the various characters in Star Wars. He would not ask a question about homosexuality.

Which brings me to this video:

Now, despite the attempts of the folks at Yahoo! to spin this as Michele Bachmann vs. the 8-Year-Old, just by watching the video, it’s clear his mother is putting him to telling the candidate, “My mommy’s gay, but she doesn’t need fixing.”

Now, to Mrs. Bachmann’s credit, she’s not rude; she just refuses to answer.  The real question (which our friends at Yahoo! fail to ask) is why the boy’s mother didn’t have the guts to make a similar statement to the Congresswoman.  Unlike the hestitant child, the woman could follow up with the candidate, pressing her to respond.

Despite her social conservatism, Mrs. Bachmann (in the current presidential campaign) has shown considerable reluctance to talk about her views on homosexuality.  As we reported here, she didn’t even respond to GOProud’s request for a meeting.  And that is a serious strike against her.

It is legitimate to ask the candidate about her views on homosexuality.  It’s pathetic when a mother puts up her son to speak on her behalf.  And it’s telling that the media eager to make a martyr of the boy don’t call the mother out on her cowardice.

Rugby player suffers stroke, wakes up gay

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:06 am - November 9, 2011.
Filed under: Gays / Homosexuality (general)

Yesterday, Bruce e-mailed me an article about a straight rugby player who, after “breaking his neck and suffering the stroke”, woke to find that he preferred men to his fiancée.  After attempting a back flip, the then-straight man “fell down a grass bank” where he sustained the injuries:

He was taken to hospital where his fiancée and family spent days waiting anxiously at his bedside before he delivered the shocking news.

Mr Birch recalled: ‘I was gay when I woke up and I still am. It sounds strange but when I came round I immediately felt different.

‘I wasn’t interested in women any more. I was definitely gay. I had never been attracted to a man before – I’d never even had any gay friends.

It’s doubtful we could learn much about the nature of our homosexual feelings by studying images of his brain unless scans had been taken before he sustained the injury (then we could see what parts had changed).

And this is not the only case where strokes have changed individuals’ personalities — or given them (gave them access to?) skills which they previously lacked — or of which they had previously been unaware.  Wonder if there are other stories of strokes changing an individual’s sexual orientation — and what scientists learned from that.

Time to e-mail my favorite neurosurgeon (my older brother).

Is there a gay community, but not a conservative one?

In a thoughtful post over at his blog Canadian Rattlesnake, Naamloos, a young gay man, contends he lacks “any loyalty to the gay community,” contrasting sexuality to race:

Unlike race, sexuality is not hereditary.  My father is not gay.  Nor is my mother.  Most black people have at least one black biological parent.  I wasn’t born into the gay community.

I haven’t known that I have been gay for my entire life.  Some of my characteristics, however, I have known about, or have become aware of prior to my acknowledgement of my homosexuality.  Such as my conservative political views.

Although I do use the term “gay community” quite frequently, sometimes I wonder if there is such a thing.  With my fellow gay men, I share an attraction to our own sex.  And I do tend to get along well with lesbians, well, the ones like Ellen DeGeneres and Mary Cheney who don’t define themselves by their sexuality.  But, does that a community make?

I also tend to get along well with my fellow conservatives, but rarely hear the expression, “conservative community.”

So, let me leave you with a question, why should we have a community based on our sexuality, but not our ideological inclinations?

Dick Cheney on his daughter’s homosexuality

This really isn’t news.  We’ve read about it already in Mary Cheney’s wonderful book, but we haven’t heard much praise for example set by the immediate past Vice President of the United States, particularly from the supposed advocates for the gay community.

Seems they don’t want to be seen praising a man who has been designated a demon by the arbiters of correct political opinions.  In his book, In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir, where the Wyomingite details his rise to power, in sparse prose (as is his wont throughout), Dick Cheney describes how he reacts to his daughter’s coming out.

Talking about his travels during his “congressional years” when he frequently took one of his two daughters with him on trips back to Wyoming,” this good man writes:

It was on one of those trips–in the Denver airport, to be precise–that Mary told me she was gay.  I told her that I loved her dearly and that what was important to me was that she be happy.

So should all parents react.  Nice to see this leading conservative setting such a fine example.

If you’re aware of the heads of any gay organizations praising the Republican for setting the standard for responses to a child’s coming out, please let me know so I can update this post accordingly.