Saturday, June 29, 2013

Pride And Victory For All LGBTQ Individuals In An Entire Nation On The Verge Of Extremely Positive Change!

               To conclude this months series of blogs regarding LGBTQ Pride, there seems to be almost too much to explain. Nationwide history was made this weekend. Only under a decade ago, Proposition 8 allowed for same sex marriage rights to be ripped away from citizens of the state of California. This week the supreme court officially ruled DOMA (Defense Of Marriage Act) as unconstitutional. This of course overturned California's Prop 8. While this closes the door to another ugly prejudice in a nation always preaching equality, two more major issues were decided on in Washington-one an important minority voting clause that was remanded and the other successful citizenship reform for immigrants. This is two major steps forward with only one major step back for American justice. And while not perfect by any means, it is a major start.

                 In an interesting way, these events paralelled a very fullfilling pride month for me personally. Knowing full well that I would spend that month writing blogs about my views on different LGBTQ related issues, I also found myself getting far more involved with local Pride festivities in my area than I ever had. Last summer was the first time I marched in a Pride parade. And this year would be my second. What happened was the local Pride organization decided to try a special Art Walk that would include painting,
photography spoken word and dance the Thursday before the parade. I decided to participate by submitting three of my paintings for display: two of which were portraits of famous LGBTQ historical activists Bayard Rustin and Harvey Milk. So the best way I feel to present this blog is as a written diary of sorts about my experiences in this historical several days for the LGBTQ community.

                First thing I did on the day that DOMA was defeated was attend a screening of a film called Gen Silent, a documentary discussing the stories of several LGBTQ seniors and the difficulties they still face with prejudice and health care. Betsy Smith, a major leader in the local LGBTQ community introduced the film announcing the defeat of DOMA to a round of applause-including from myself. The second thing I did was attend the Art Walk the next  night. It was a magnificent event. Seeing my paintings professionally displayed for the first time,talking to other art lovers about them. I visiting many other artists at different locations in downtown Bangor-one of whom was a singer whom I indirectly helped promote via a Facebook friend. There was also a complimentary tango lesson at the end of the evening. This was something I'd never done before. Hearing one has natural rhythm is very esteem boosting indeed for anyone.

               Third thing I did was attend the Pride parade of course. I was a bit nervous with rain and possible lightening storms in the forecast  Happily the rain held out enough for the parade and the festivities. Myself and someone I have very strong feelings were given the opportunity to hold up the pride flag for all to see. I gave victory/peace signs with my hand to the cheering crowd. Once we got to the festivities, different speakers from the head of EqualityMaine, the Bridge Alliance and a minister from the local Unitarian Church spoke about how vital and entrenched LGBTQ rights have become in our local town law. After that I was asked by a reporter for the local newspaper to have my picture taken and make a comment on video for a story they were running about the Pride festival.

              With all the delight and joy of the Pride Festival, the announcers made it very clear that coming up was the 29th anniversary of the murder of a homosexual man named Charlie Howard in the city of Bangor. There is a memorial in town we were all encouraged to visit. Today I didn't have a chance. But I fully intend to. I am firmly of the opinion that in order for human rights to advance in any way, its appropriate that humans continue to regard all the events of our past-positive and negative not as an anchor rooting us forever to the past, but rather as a peaceful guardian and protector as we all continue on our unique and uncertain individual and societal journeys through this thing called life. And this week I can thank the United States Of America for defeating DOMA and making this a week to truly celebrating human love,tolerance and understanding.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Homosexuality Across The World Wide Web

               After its launching in the mid 1990's, the internet was almost instantly stereotyped as a global pornography network. Much of this was based on the mediums extremely open and free spirit. Within that nearly two decades time the internet has grown from a noisy and difficult to use medium into something that is part of our daily lives. Of course I am using it to write this as we speak. In the here and now the internet is similarly serving LGBTQ people in a similar fashion that the minstrel show did with African American's over a century earlier: almost as a form of cyber burlesque in which both "gay" and "straight" people can understand,and misunderstand one another.

         My own personal experience with LGBTQ related media on the web was through,the oldest LGBTQ related website available that started as a chat room before I was on the internet at all. By the time of my own use of the sight, it was providing news and information for socially aware homosexuals and was the first place where I heard the term LGBTQ in the first place. Over the course of time has returned somewhat to its status as a chat oriented website-with its news and information area something one has to look a bit harder for.

        However the same difficulties facing homosexuals offline have found their way online. Even universal social media sites such as Facebook have a tendency to become all too easy a forum for homosexual people,often those discontent with their own lives, to create difficulty for other homosexual people who they should be all measures be supportive of. This negative behavior,based on my own experience,runs the gamut from idol ignorance of said people's daily site posts to out and out verbal harassment. 

        Personally, my own personal use of the internet in terms of LGBTQ issues have to do with exactly what I am doing now: online activism that is positively executed through blogging and comments I make on sociopolitical oriented memes on social networks that I'm involved in. There are a whole group of people who are still convinced the internet is nothing like real life,and nothing on it has a lasting effect on the world. Especially in cases such as with LGBTQ people and groups, the internet is real life. It tells real stories-some nice,others that have been warped into cheapness such as hookup sites such as Manhunt and WardZero. As with anything,the internet will make a good or bad difference depending on what one does with it.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The LGBTQ Cinematic Experience- The Door To The Celluloid Closet That's Now Fully Open

                             In 1981 Vito Russo (above), activist and once organizer for the Gay Activists Alliance,who had began creating dances and movie nights as an alternative to the Mob owned gay bars of the period,published a text called The Celluloid Closet. Of course Mr.Russo is no longer with us. However his prose, and the excellent documentary film from 1996 that it inspired has got me to think how homosexuality in cinema has evolved just as generationally as homosexuals themselves have in terms of their relationship to the world. As the late Tony Curtis coined in that documentary, film tends to be how the contemporary American continues to learn about the society around them. And as Vito Russo pointed out told straight people how to think about gay people, and gay people what to think about themselves.

                              To be frank I am not as well versed in the entire spectrum of LGBTQ cinema over the years. However so much has happened in the gay community, even the name to which it is now referred to, during my lifetime. Before I could even talk,for example there was a film  released that did something that is actually still fairly daring by presenting homosexuality as an act of love. It was called Making Love,starring Michael Ontkean and Harry Hamlin. This was released at a time so early in the AIDS epidemic that the disease didn't yet have a name. And spoke of two adult men finding love between each other in the post Stonewall era. I didn't see this film until my late adolescence-presented to me in a sociological context at that particular time.

                           During the early 1990s there was a sudden boom of films that celebrated the culture of cross dressing. These were also shown to me at a time when I started meeting the first homosexuals I ever know. A couple grown men who were acquaintances of my parents. These men were decent and fatherly types and generally treated me like a younger brother or a son. One of these cross dressing themed films was Priscilla Queen of The Desert,which revolved around a trio of cross dressers from three different generations going on a tour together in the Australian outback and the adventures they encounter. It told the same kind of well rounded and human stories I was then experiencing at the time with the first gay men I had a chance to formerly be aware of.

                          Interestingly enough,one of the biggest changes I've known with homosexual actors or actress's is how they are presented in films. When Ellen DeGeneres and singer/actress KD Lang first came out during the 1990's, their film roles were generally limited to "gay cinema"-such as  Salmonberries for KD and If These Walls Could Talk 2 for Ellen. The same went for Harvey Fierstein in his transition from theater to film. In today's world openly homosexual actors even such as Sir Ian McKlellen of Lord Of The Rings fame and Zachary Quinto, who portrays Spock in JJ Abrams Star Trek films can now enjoy the freedom of selecting any roles they wish and remain comfortably out of the closet.

                             Not only has gay cinema become integrated into mainstream cinema but another visual media has picked up on it: television. Even during the 1990's,outside Ellen's famous coming out on her own comedy series, homosexuals were almost non existent on television. After this came a major change in that when Will & Grace premiered in the late 90's and featured two fully integrated homosexual characters in the main cast. Now with prime time dramas such as Modern Family,as the celluloid closet has opened into the perverbial digital age bedroom a persons sexuality is slowly becoming far less the taboo it was not so long ago. So this proves Tony Curtis dead on right about cinema having an enormous influence-positive and negative on the outlook of people.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Generational Evolution Of Gay,Lesbian & Transgendere'd Individuals

               As many Americans are now aware the month of June is LGBTQ Pride month. Five months later is a far lesser known celebration of LGBTQ history in October. This difference in knowledge in fact points to part of the topic of this blog. With the great emphasis modern American society puts on media/celebrity focus over the more human experience of social consciousness, its only natural that a level of celebration involving a great deal of newsworthy events such as Pride month would take presidents over another month celebrating knowledge and education. On the other hand I do consider myself a very hopeful person, even though some see me as the opposite when I point out what should be an obvious truth. Without sounding the least bit cynical,however its likely there is a way (for me anyway) to combine the two very different ethics here,anyway.

                 One of the main inspirations in my even writing internet blogs in order to enrich the minds of those who read them-friends,acquaintances or otherwise came from a very unique history book that changed my life. Still amazes me how certain levels of literature can do that. This book is William Strauss and Neil Howe's Generations. Its referred to it very often in the blogs I've written. Mr. Strauss and Mr. Howe have actually named and cataloged every American generation from the 16th century and even dared to anticipate the future-making it a very unique and mentally stimulating text. In the context of the levels of generational categorization language these two authors have used in the text, I believe it will help to understand the generation evolution of the LGBTQ community in the last century.

                 To begin with there are the Lost Generation,the last to be born in the 19th century and the GI Generation-spanning from about 1901 through 1922. During this time anyone who was a homosexual,male or female,were considered in American to be mentally ill and had no rights whatsoever in society. These generations also saw combat in two world wars. After the first there was the roaring 20's, a time when some American cities began to develop a homosexual underground in bohemian communities. While amass in the first major wave of homosexual literature/plays from Radcliffe Hall,Tennessee Williams,Langston Hughes and Gertrude Stein this generation of homosexuals largely saw themselves as living a specific lifestyle. They generally had no sense of person or pride in who they were-behaving much like secretive criminals as society demanded of them.

               Probably the most interesting of generations in any context is the Silent Generation,born between 1925 and 1942 primarily. This was the generation of the early rock n roll musicians. Not to mention that of the major political icons of the 1960's counter culture such as Martin Luther King Jr,Robert Kennedy,Malcolm X,Jerry Rubin and Abby Hoffman.  It was also after the post WW2 years that homosexual activism,a then radically new concept was born. Members of the GI Generation such as Harry Hay and Bayard Rustin began new forms of social activism such as the former individual forming the Mattachine Society,publishers of the very first American gay/lesbian magazines One and Mattachine Review. As exemplified in the work of a very prominent Silent Generation literary figure Allen Ginsberg in a McCarthy-era trial regarding his famous poem Howl,filled with openly homosexual imagery this era saw the very first stirrings of what we now know as gay pride.

               The well documented baby boomers were of course the first generation to bring the idea of gay pride into the open. After the infamous Stonewall Riots in NYC in 1969, this was a generation of homosexuals that were tired of being seen as an embarrassment to society. They were strongly allied to those of the Silent Generation before them, who started gay activism going a decade earlier. In 1974 it was the assertion of this generation through early Pride organizations such as Gay Liberation Front that homosexuality was not a sickness and,as illustrated in the previous generations Kinsey report, represented an enormous part of the American population. This generation saw the emergence of the first out homosexual politician in Harvey Milk,city supervisor of San Francisco whose assassination actually made him into a martyr for the burgeoning gay pride movement. 

             What is now referred to as Generation X had to contend with something of a retreat from gay pride during the early 1980s with the frightening emergence of HIV/AIDS in society. This of course was at first touted by the Christian right wing,emerging in the late 70's in Harvey Milk's time,as being somehow a punishment by "God" for the "perverted lifestyle choice" of homosexuals. The modern day conception of homophobia as being based in the Christian right wing began most strong during this era.  Towards the end of the decade,however the activist culture of the previous two decades re-emerged as younger baby boomers and first generation X'rs mobilized themselves in vocal AIDS activist groups such as Act Up and by the early 90's Queer Nation. Gradually over the course of the 1990's celebrities such as Elton John,Ellen DeGeneres,KD Lang and Rose O'Donnell trickled out of the closet as the AIDS tragedy made homosexuals take a longer look at themselves.

             That brings us up to today,still very much in the early years of the new millennium.  Now the generation born in the late 80's and early 90's called the Millennial generation are facing a very technologically inclined age-where the internet,cellular telephones and microchip based devices are the mainstream. In their  rising adulthood they faced something Generation X didn't have to:a highly controversial "war on terror" that drained resources and created a very dismal career prospect for them. For the first time in decades,more young people have been returning home to live with family. And with modern science people are living longer. So while same sex marriage is finally becoming the law of the land Millennial,X,boomer,Silent and some centenarian GI's are still very much alive in life and politics-bringing many contradictory arguments on same sex relationships and many other things to the table-to such an enormous degree that many people are turning completely off to social activism amid the overwhelming amount of information now available.

               All American generations have their own cycles. This involves people from each individual generation behaving rather differently in their childhood,adolescence,rising adulthood, middle age and finally elder-hood. In today's highly conflicted sociopolitical atmosphere, those with an open mind are beginning to see that while LGBTQ Pride as its now called is widely celebrated and accepted often as a part of nature as opposed to a deviant subculture of ones choosing, the way in which it is often celebrated is antithetical to the concept of pride itself. Because such celebrations are often run by people belonging to generations who are still used to being "closeted" as the saying goes, Pride festivals and parades still often consist of young and flamboyant homosexuals who naively assume being who they are means they are more like the opposite sex,and an older homosexuals who converse with others of their age group in shadowy corners.  In my own personal opinion, the future of the LGBTQ generation cycle will need to be about resolving these social conflicts to create a totally functional sense of community.






Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fathers Day And Modern Children With Two Fathers

                What do you see when you look at this photo? These are not brothers, a father and grandfather or uncles or cousins. These men are both fathers,and these are their three children. This is a social concept that would've been unthinkable when even those of my generation were growing up. Thankfully we are likely the last American generation of homosexual men who will ever have to question whether or not we will be able to ever be parents. Personally I've never felt any particular desire to be fruitful and multiply. It is not based on selfishness of any sort, more on doubts about proficiency as a father figure to a young and growing human being. But this blog isn't about me. It's a tribute to all of the two fathers out there on this Fathers Day.

                 Until this time I have never actually known any same sex fathers before. But I have known a number of gay men who have kids and cherish them perhaps to an even more vital degree than heterosexual fathers. All of them were at one time (or are still in one case) married to a woman and have one or more special needs children-in both cases living with autism. Another that I know actually has a homosexual son of his own who is currently engaged to a man at present time. The other is a divorcee who is involved in a same sex relationship but has a grown daughter. These men alternately have a unique appreciation of fatherhood yet are alienating to other perspective male relationships having lied their way through a heterosexual one to produce children during a far less tolerant era.

                 Even though its been a quarter century since Heather Has Two Mommies was pulled out of America's public school's Rainbow curriculum, there has generally been somewhat more acceptance in society of two female parents as opposed to male ones. Many view all women has having a naturally sensation and maternal instinct that lends itself far better to child rearing. But in a time when even heterosexual men are playing the roles of stay at home fathers, that role reversal has helped open most people's hearts to same sex male parenting. While there is still a religious segment who will likely forever champion the idea that homosexuals are adopting children as a method of "recruitment" into what they view as a perverted lifestyle choice rather than a given, the fact that a recent yahoo! news story stating that the first confirmed studies that children from same sex families seem at present rather more tolerant and better adjusted in social life than some others tells a very different story that speaks for itself.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Transsexualism-Nature,Choice And Lack Of Choice

                                Even among homosexuals the topic of transsexualism is rather controversial. There are still some of the opinion that such people are only emulating what they feel society expects from them-that homosexual men and women are emotionally more like the opposite sex and must appear in kind. The result of this,once known as "camping it up" has resulting in cross-dressing  Call it masquerading or drag, its a self conscious parody of heterosexual stereotypes. This is essentially a form of caberet theater that has both evolved and de-evolved down the generations-its social rules depending largely on the mental maturity level of those involved in the activity. Such people might actually demean those who don't need to cross dress to feel good about themselves. As hateful as this sound, such a person is making a conscientious choice. And not the majority of cross-dressers are not homosexual. 

                             Of course there are those who do not have a choice. These are men and women who have feelings all their lives that they feel more like the opposite sex physically and emotionally. This is known as transsexualism.  Again a transsexual person may still be attracted to members of the opposite sex,but end up having a medical operation to become the opposite sex to themselves. Recently many celebrity transsexuals such as Chas ('ne Chastity) Bono have bought this more squarely into the public eye. In many chases,a transsexual person will start out as a cross dresser-only to find themselves in therapy in order to get a sex change when they realize who they are. I personally have seen this happen to a number of people I know. Especially if their family and friends are intolerant, this can be a very painful process for such people even today. Sadly in some cases in history,the matter of a sexual change wasn't one of choice. But rather thrust upon an individual.

                            One recent example of this that I just recently learned about was  shot  putter Heidi Krieger-shown above. A 1980's era athlete in communist East Germany, from the age of 16 Heidi became unknowingly involved in the states athletic "doping program" and was given massive amounts of anabolic steroids-without her knowing what said "mystery pills" were outside of being told they would improve her performance as an athlete. Two years later, she had begun developing male characteristics. These became so prominent that in 1997, almost a decade after the collapse of the Berlin wall, did Heidi have a sex change operation and is currently known as Andreas-also shown above. Even though he claims he always did have some transsexual feelings beforehand, Andreas  now maintains that he was at a critical point in life as an adolescent where his female genes were still in a state of flux due to puberty. And the steroids given to him changed his physical sexuality from female to male.

                             The name once used to refer to homosexuals sociologically was the gay community. Over time and with much changes in political correctness that term has been expanded into the LGBTQ community-the "T" of course standing for transsexual. That probably has a lot to do with the realization among the majority of people that not every person who cross dressers or has a complete sex change is necessarily a homosexual. At the same time those homosexuals who only feel psychologically fit if they are wearing a dress and are not truly transsexual might want to take some time to reflect on the plight of someone such as Heidi/Andres Krieger, who willingly had a sex change but due to the environment she came up inevitably had to do so only because of being an unknowing  Guinea Pig for someone else. The question of ones physical sexuality is strongly linked with ones self absurdness. Its important a person knows who they are before being too sure if they really do feel like a member of the opposite sex trapped in the wrong body, or if they merely dislike themselves because of the sex they were born with.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgendered/Questioning Cultural Futurism

          Only a few short days ago a friend of mine from Portland Oregon were discussing the previous blog I wrote here regarding the decaying nature of the gay bar as an important mainstay for the LGBTQ community. He made a suggestion that pointed I was not alone in my views on the subject. He came up with what may in fact still be a fairly radical idea-a  totally chemical free LGBTQ community. His suggestion was broad and daring in scope. A soda fountain-my suggestion of also serving Vitamin water. A dance floor that played a huge variety of music from rock,jazz,funk and a more diverse variety of EDM type music-with the possibility of live bands. Also an adjunct gymnasium and book store with a bakery that would serve tea rather than coffee. I find myself asking does such a place exist? And if it doesn't,than why not.
         Perhaps if something even remotely like this does exist,it might be in major cities where the gay bar is becoming passe. On the other hand, the pretense of such a chemical free gay/lesbian center might run into difficulties in more rural areas based on a conversation I had with another acquaintance recently. After asking this person if they were attending their local Pride festival this year, he said that he wasn't because he doesn't feel comfortable with his perceived segregation of Pride parades-and feels similarly about black history month festivities. Its an interesting game people play with themselves isn't it? The need for privacy mingled with a hunger for community and brotherhood. So many people these more rural areas seem to want it both. And that probably goes right along with how they would perceive such a facility coming into their community. Of course there are other matters on a more personal level.
             One of the appeals of a small town gay bar probably has a lot to do with a long standing love of inexpensive liqueur. Undoubtedly alcohol is one of the worlds most popular drugs,so much so that many don't consider it to be a drug at all. Since the LGBTQ community have long been oppressed from even discussing their lack of civil rights, inebriation has allowed for many of them to speak openly of their feelings and concerns. This of course poses problems when either such expression leads to physical conflicts or the further abuse of very dangerous illegal drugs.  I am frankly surprised that the government didn't put similar restrictions in the past on gay people drinking alcohol as they did on African American's taking cocaine in the early 20th century because the cultural perception is similar in both cases: that there is a "class" of people in society who can control themselves and a "class" who cannot.
           Another topic I discussed in a blog was technological futurism, of the type heavily propagandized by Cold War era America during  the JFK era "new frontier" of the early 1960's. In terms of human beings and their treatment of each other, we all live in a world where a degree of sociological futurism might be the order of the day. That would probably embody itself in a form of secular humanism-a genuine from free of the brutality and despotic behavior of the socialist/communist political systems of yore who used the idea of humanism as pure and dishonest rhetoric. By taking their egos out of a pattern of self pitying,self destructive and irresponsible behavior and into positive and genuinely freeing forms of social interaction such as healthy exercise and literacy as indicated in my friends idea which inspired this, than the LGBTQ community would be leading the way in general human futurism and,rather than be seen (and see themselves) as a pariah on society contribute perhaps the most positively to its continual development.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Gay Bar Pros And Cons For A Duel Nature'd Nation

            According to an article written for Slate by June Thomas, in 2007 Entrepreneur magazine put gay bars on the list of businesses on the verge of extinction along with record stores and pay phones. In two cases,that list was correct. And record stores have proven not to be one of those cases in actuality to add perspective. In the 20th century gay bars were to the LGBTQ community,before it was even broad enough to have such a name, what the Sanctified Church was to African Americans. It was not only a meeting place,but where sociopolitical movements began. Of course the historical Stonewall riots in 1969 took place at a gay bar. Several years ago gay bars became unneeded as most popular night spots became perfectly open to same sex couples conversing and dancing. That applies to major cities mostly. Even today, in the semi rural area of Maine I live in,its a totally different situation.

           Ever since I became aware of the earliest gay bar in my area called The Rage in the early 1990's, the gay community (as it was then referred to) depended solely on the gay bar in this area of Maine in order to network and meet each other. This was of course not yet a decade after the murder of Charlie Howard in 1984,which took place in the area where I lived and still live to this day. After the dissolving of my first relationship a gay club opened up in the town I lived in,actually right up the street.  They had a dance floor and a full bar. This was during 2005-2007 when they shut down. I had my theories why they were short lived. But the fact was,this club represented how similar the lives of the homosexual in my area was still very much how it had been for the rest of America two decades earlier or more. I would overhear tales of people having physical rendezvous with their partners in cars on dark,secluded side streets. As if being homosexual was still something appropriate to be ashamed of.

            Eventually some extremely tragic events began to occur. Due to some unfortunate local politics, homosexual people in my local area were like anyone else living there. Quite a few of them were on anti depressants or some form of psycho active medication. Many of them had also developed alcoholism and other drug dependencies. This seemed particularly strong among the transsexual individuals who did drag shows at the club. A lot of them were not in fact transgender'd individuals. Many of them were simply ashamed of their man hood. Instead of people having fun-dancing,laughing,eating and being happy there was a lot of depressive drinking,solemn attitudes not to mention a degree of crying and what some of the more cruel customers of the bar would call "drama". By the early months of 2007 this club had closed. Unsure if the owners or attendees are still in the area, I'll restrain from mentioning the club's name. 

          Overall this entire experienced nearly eroded some of my personal confidence in my own homosexuality. I started to feel displaced in the state in which I was born in. All of a sudden it became extremely difficult for me to mingle with many of the other people who'd gone to this club because at least one of them had made me into a subject of malicious gossip. It completely changed by point of view on the growth of the local LGBTQ community. Marching in the local Pride parade last year for the first time should've helped,and in the short term it did. But the main factor of it all remains. There is a reason why few to no mass social change movements have taken root where alcoholic beverages are being served. Hard alcohol is a well known depressant. And especially for middle aged homosexual men of the modern era,who've been told all their lives they aren't 'real men", these feelings of anger and anguish flow out in over arching ways when bought out with alcoholic consumption. My opinion? Perhaps the LGBTQ community in more sheltered and semi rural towns need to find a more productive way to socialize.   


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Same Sex Nuptials & Leviticus 20:13

                      There are many of aspects of life that individual people are embarrassed about in themselves. Some look to either side of them if they nibble on their fingernails in public. A driver might look with regret upon tailgating someone in the car ahead of them while on the highway. And what about those who get a sudden urge for ice cream,wind up eating an entire carton single handedly and end up with a headache not from the ice cream,but the guilt they feel over fat content,cholesterol or whatever.  At the same time,I've observed a source of embarrassment that creates more unnecessary social problems and even ill will towards fellow human beings than all of those things that I mentioned combined: religious doctrine.

                      All over the world there are many types of this doctrine. There's the Muslim faith in the Middle East, Judaism  in many areas of the world and other  more personal spiritual practices such as Buddism and B'hai. Of course the most commonly known is the Christian Bible. Of course it has an old and a new testament to it. In the old testament there is a chapter of it called Leviticus,20:13 to be specific. Never read the entire bible myself. So I took it upon myself to investigate Leviticus 20:13. Of course there are many variations of the phrase but the gist of it is this: If a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death: their blood shall be upon them. This has resulted in the source for one of the biggest human rights violations in history: active homophobia.

                      Only a year ago or so the US president Barrack Obama made clear to the entire nation his support for two people of the same sexual orientation to get married. Now I'm a member of either the X generation or Millennial generation. Either way that is considered to be a group of people in history who are,to coin a phrase,just-don't-carish. Speaking for myself,I happen to care a great deal about other people. In fact I often drive them crazy because my convictions are so passionate. Being myself decidedly non religious, never mind non Christian, I've long considered  the exact application of Leviticus 20:13 by a number of Christian organizations to be a hate crime-in the same league as the Nazi era racial cleansing to the southern US's own Jim Crow laws of  over half a century ago. So the news of the Presidents support for this basic human right showed that someone more important in position than I cared as well.

                   State by state the entire nation is starting to legalize same sex marriage. It has made the cover of almost every national magazine and into prominence in local state media as well.  Just last year, the state of Maine where I live was one of the states that legalized marriage. It was particularly triumphant for me because I volunteered heavily and made a number of vital emotional sacrifices for EqualityMaine,the local organization that helped that happen. In fact,it was addressed in one of the very first blogs I wrote here in fact. I was also similarly involved in the 2009 campaign with the same organization for the same issue and,in that case the bill was vetoed on the local level and lost. On the second occasion,LGBTQ individuals chose to reach out to more people as completely nonthreatening and contributing members of society, who satisfied the personal understanding of most heterosexual families (even many Christians) thankfully and made this basic right come true for Mainers.

                  This is going to be a wonderful and exciting summer for a lot of local same sex couples in the states that have legalized same sex marriage. This will be a wonderful time for them to have the rich full life any happy couple deserve. Many of them have been in a metaphorical waiting line for years sometimes in great hope that this day would come. Watching men and women of all races,knowing in some parts of the country marriage between a man and women of different races was one illegal as well,get married while they were excluded from this right over what essentially amounts to a hostile and threatening bible entry that takes less than 30 seconds to verbally utter. Of those who teach others to live by Leviticus 20:13 I can only say this: villains who twirl their mustaches are easy to spot. But a villain who clothes themselves in good deeds are well camouflaged. 

                  As for the cryptic photo you see above you,its visually symbolic of those I am dedicating this blog to. And those are the many homosexual people whom I know,and many more I don't,around me who grew up in an era when the type of attitudes that killed Charlie Howard and Matthew Shepard were commonplace. A time when Leviticus 20:13 was part of the "undeniable" word of "the good book" that 99% of the population lived by. This blog is for those who lived without freedom,without a voice and without a choice for years due to this simple right denied.  And most importantly this is for my dear friend Phil,one of many who took their own lives due mainly to shame in who they were and what society denied of them all of their lives. They aren't here to see this day happen. Neither are people like Charlie Howard,whose life was taken from him by hate. This is dedicated to all those who made it to the top of this mountain top, and who can celebrate in triumph for the sake of their humanity.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Pride,Prejudice And Persistence-Happy LGBT Pride Month From Maine!!

        Today begins a time period that during both of my parents youth would've been unprecedented. Its the beginning of Pride Month in the United States-all through the month of June. On different weekends,urban areas especially will be holding Pride events. The one near where I live have expanded this from merely a parade to include receptions and an art walk over the course of the weekend. So much as expanded in that and other ways,so very fast.  Only a decade and a half ago the concept of a same sex marriage was mostly an enthusiasts dream for America,nowhere close to an accepted right due not just to government but intense religious hatred. Especially in largely church bound rural and semi rural New England communities. Last year I marched in the local Pride parade. I found myself chanting the old slogan "Out of the closets,into the street". Why would I utter a completely antiquated statement from the immediate post Stonewall period at a contemporary Pride parade? I have my reasons and that is what I am writing about today.
           I personally revealed my homosexuality to my family at the age of 22. Because I had no closet to come out of,it was simply something that had never been bought up and changed little. My parents had apparently known for years of this. Even than I was more than aware how lucky I was compared to other children. My immediate family were not bound by any hateful political and religious dogma of any sort. However even the most democratic and open minded people I knew of seemed to turn into fearful hate mongers regarding sexual orientation. Believe or not,in the area I live in during the early part of the new century and millennium the local youth and homeless shelters were still filling up with adolescents and young adults who were excommunicated from their families-in that case due primarily to religious convictions. Its an age old take I know. The interesting part of it all was this silent subculture of denial that began to spring up right before my own eyes.
          During my first years of being openly homosexual the only place for gay people to meet in the area was a nightclub called The Spectrum. It was very much like a gay bar of the 1950's. It was hidden in the lower part of a building across the street from the local library. There was no sign out front of any note,no marquis. When you went even to the front,you say men and women of all ages huddled in corners. The inside was an open atmosphere on the surface. Yet the same conditions applied in the end. The man who ran a concession stand opened up a small pride shop in the winter of 2003 called the Lil Treasure Shop. It was located in an area of town that I'd describe as the local skid row. The shop fared poorly in those economically difficult times and closed swiftly,and was very quickly forgotten. Of course it never would by me because I was asked to design the template and paint the outdoor sign for the shop. Sadly it closed before I could paint that sing. I still proudly have the template.
             That summer I witnessed the tail end of the Bangor Pride Parade that year. It had been going on since the 1992. However even in 2003 the attendance for the parade was approximately a hundred individuals. The parade ended quickly and was led by a limo-the only part of parade I saw,with its windows shut tight. What happened was is that these people marched from the Bangor Auditorium to the parking lot of the Spectrum. And they served food outdoors while the Eastern Maine AIDS network presented literature on condoms. At least half the people who attended,of whom I was actually not one, were in my age group. And a young African American woman interviewed by the local paper stated the truth about this diversity parade which indeed describes exactly what I'd say about the general state of being for homosexual,bisexual and transgendered people of the area. She said she thought there was not enough support for diversity in the town of Bangor. And that it could be a very close-minded place.
           The largest Pride parade I attended was the massive Southern Maine Pride events in 2004,and that event was very similar to the Boston Pride event so I've come to see from independent research.The Pride parades I attended in the last few years were entirely different events. These were family friendly affairs conducted in the same manner as any other summer fair in a town of this type. Now I'll admit I have enormous clinical issues with crowds in too hurried a state so I tend to stay aloof from the other participants and communicate little to them. But I watch and listen from an outsiders viewpoint. What I see under this colorful banner of diversity is something that makes me think. I see men younger than me largely in full drag or attired in some effeminate fashion-still "camping it up" in that age old model of heterosexual archetypes. I hear grown men in my parents age group referring to each other as "girls","queers" and sometimes even "faggots" as a casual form of greeting. Its clearly not meant in a hurtful way. Perhaps that is what disturbs me most about it: its become fully ingrained into at least this part of cultural identification for a homosexual man.
             Now I cannot speak for the lesbians I now. Their cultural world intermingles but still seems rather more separate from that of men. However seeing this alienating lines of separation within a community of people preaching hope and diversity-sometimes looking at themselves with a degree of self loathing-sub consciously without realizing it,I thought of the homosexual people who were just coming of age after the Stonewall riots. And the sense of the sudden and complete liberation they shared when they were able to present themselves as human beings just as any other-with a difference but still a human being capable of goodness and love. This inspired me to remember an early gay pride slogan "2-4-6-8/gay is just as good as straight/out of the closet/into the streets". That is probably why the last part of that axiom suddenly spewed out of me that day. The last two years have seen major changes. Maine along with many other states have granted same sex couples the right to get married legally. Its just as an historical event as women getting the right to vote in the early part last century.In the next series of blogs I will be exploring more individual sides of this topic. And this will serve as my introduction. Have Pride in who you are,and most of all how you are. Its all more significant and interrelated than one might think.