Daily Archives: October 8, 2007

Bus Stop

It took awhile but John Aravosis has finally managed to get on my last nerve in a screed composed for Joan Walsh’s little playpen — obviously earning major “Good Little Faggot” cred with Joan.

” Like an ever-expanding mushroom cloud of diversity, every few years America’s gay leaders and activists welcome a new category of member to the community.”

Now really dear. Going All Condi Rice on us right off the bat?

“In simpler times we were all gay. But then the word “gay” started to mean “gay men” more than women, so we switched to the more inclusive “gay and lesbian Bisexuals, who were only part-time gays, insisted that we add them too, so we did (not without some protest), and by the early 1990s we were the lesbian, gay and bisexual, or LGB community. Sometime in the late ’90s, a few gay rights groups and activists started using a new acronym, LGBT — adding T for transgender/transsexual. And that’s when today’s trouble started.”

What “simpler times” are you talking about? “Homosexual” was invented by a Hungarian journalist named Karoly Benkert (aka. Karl Maria Von Kertbeny) as the 19th Century drew to a close. Self-styled “sexologist” Karl Ulrichs preferred “Urnings” from which others derivred “Uranians” — this identifying the sexual Heimat as extraterestrial. More recently fashion designer and professional publisexaul Tom Ford has declared that he “wishes he could reinvent the word gay, though. ‘If I were art directing the creation of a word that would describe homosexuals I think I might have tried to find another word. Gay makes us sound silly and frivolous, which is probably where it came from originally-it was first used in a Cole Porter song in the thirties-and I think it was probably a bit derogatory, and so it’s not a word I necessarily like, but it’s what I am, whatever, it’s fine.’ ”

Gee Tom, that’s swell. But what’s got Aravosis’ Calvins in a twist is less words than the prospect of deeds.

“America’s gay community, or rather, its leadership, is apoplectic over the imminent passage of the first federal gay civil rights legislation, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA. ENDA would make it illegal for an employer to fire, or refuse to hire or promote, an otherwise qualified candidate simply because of their sexual orientation (gay, straight, lesbian or bisexual). (Contrary to popular belief, it is legal to fire someone for being gay under federal law and in 31 states.) You’d think this would be cause for celebration, but not so much.”

Not all of us are such drama queens as to reach for the “apoplectic” when describing a point of disagreement. But were ENDA to pass in any form, I’d hold off any “cause for celebration” until the first court fight — when someone dismmised from their job because of their sexual orentation used it to fight back. As for “popular belief” it’s indeed a wonder to many that such laws are sought when Will & Grace was such a hit and Brokeback Mountain a major phenom. But this only goes to show that cultural cache and actual political power are not the same thing.

“ENDA was first introduced 30 years ago. In all that time, it only protected sexual orientation and never included gender identity. This year, that changed, and gender identity was added to the bill. Coincidentally, this year is also the first time that ENDA actually has a real chance of passing both the House and Senate — but only if gender identity isn’t in the bill. So the bill’s author, openly gay Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., dropped the transgendered from the bill, and all hell broke loose. Gay activists and 220 national and local gay rights groups angrily demanded that gender identity be put back in the bill, guaranteeing its defeat for years to come.”

Is that a fact? And what makes you — O All-Wise one — imagine that a non-transgendered ENDA has better prospects than the ERA.

Remember the ERA folks? Mazel Tov. Few do.

“Many of them, suddenly and conveniently, found all sorts of “flaws” with legislation that they had embraced the previous 29 years. They convinced House Democratic leaders to delay action on ENDA till later in October. They’d rather have no bill at all than pass one that didn’t include the transgendered.”

Don’t you just love the “conveniently” ?

“Then an odd thing happened. I started asking friends and colleagues, ranging from senior members of the gay political/journalistic establishment to apolitical friends around the country to the tens of thousands of daily readers of my blog, if they thought we should pass ENDA this year even without gender identity. Everyone felt bad about taking gender identity out of ENDA, everyone supported transgender rights, and everyone told me “pass it anyway.”
Their main argument, which I support: practical politics. Civil rights legislation — hell, all legislation — is a series of compromises. You rarely get everything you want, nor do you get it all at once. Blacks, for example, won the right to vote in 1870. Women didn’t get that same right until 1920. “

And women don’t have equal rights to this very day.

Such patience surely will be rewarded.

(Not!)

“The Civil Rights Act of 1964 provided a large umbrella of rights based on race, religion, sex and national origin, but failed to mention gays or people with disabilities. People with disabilities were finally given specific rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, but gays as a class have still to be granted a single civil right at the federal level. If we waited until society was ready to accept each and every member of the civil rights community before passing any civil rights legislation, we’d have no civil rights laws at all. Someone is always left behind, at least temporarily. It stinks, but it’s the way it’s always worked, and it’s the way you win.”

Uh no. The way you win is to fight back. But Aravosis and his ilk aren’t interested in that. At all.

“I have a theory about revolutions. I’ve always believed that you can’t force a country to have a revolution, and then expect democracy to stick. Yes, you can launch a coup, topple a government, and execute a Saddam, but for a revolution to stick — for democracy to survive — a country’s citizens need to be responsible for, and vested in, the social change happening around them. Otherwise they have no ownership of it, as it wasn’t their revolution.”

Imagine that! Executing Saddam was a Revolutionary Act ?

Can’t you just hear them singing in Dick and Condi’s offices?

“String up every aristocrat!
Out with the priests Let them live on their fat!”

“I have a sense that over the past decade the trans revolution was imposed on the gay community from outside, or at least above, and thus it never stuck with a large number of gays who weren’t running national organizations, weren’t activists, or weren’t living in liberal gay enclaves like San Francisco and New York.”

Yeah, it’s them Goddamned OUTSIDE AGITATORS!!!!

It’s the return of “Southern Strategy” folks.

In drag as it were.

“Sure, many of the rest of us accepted de facto that transgendered people were members of the community, but only because our leaders kept telling us it was so.”

Uh, no dear — it’s because actual gay American history tells us so. You’re probably too young to remember — and too disinclined to read up and find out — but your middle-class forebearers were quaking in fear at Julius’ while street gays, transexuals very much included, were taking on the cops a few blocks away at Stonewall.

“A lot of gays have been scratching their heads for 10 years trying to figure out what they have in common with transsexuals, or at the very least why transgendered people qualify as our siblings rather than our cousins. It’s a fair question, but one we know we dare not ask.”

Oh go ahead and dare ! Besides the questions you’re claiming to ask have been answered already by a great many people including a mind-bogglingly sophisticated gay Frenchman in the greatest motion picture ever made.

“It is simply not p.c. in the gay community to question how and why the T got added on to the LGB, let alone ask what I as a gay man have in common with a man who wants to cut off his penis, surgically construct a vagina, and become a woman.”

As anyone who knows jack shit about transexualism is well aware, the penis is not “cut off” but reconfigured as a vagina (see the kitchen scene in the film linked above where a pre-op transexual describes the process she’s planning to undergo)

” I’m not passing judgment”

LIKE FUCKING HELL YOU’RE NOT!!!

“I respect transgendered people and sympathize with their cause, “

Remindful of a marvelous early Jules Feiffer play, Crawling Arnold, where a house guest (white) says to the upper middle-class family’s black maid “I sympathize with the aspirations of your people” — over and over again.

“but I simply don’t get how I am just as closely related to a transsexual (who is often not gay) as I am to a lesbian (who is). Is it wrong for me to simply ask why?”

YES!!!!

“I wrote on my blog last week about this issue, and shared my doubts and concerns and questions. And I was eviscerated for it. While the majority of my readers either agreed with me, or found my questions provocative and relevant, a vocal minority labeled me a bigot, a transphobe, a rich, white boy living in a big city who didn’t care about anyone but himself, and worse.”

“Worse” nails it.

“An old activist friend even told me that my words were prejudiced, wrong and embarrassingly uninformed, and that no one of any consequence shared my concerns, and if they did, they were bigots too. “

That’s what old activist friends are for dear.

“I know firsthand that it’s not safe in the gay community to ask questions about how the transgendered fit in.”

Really? Are there roving transgendered gangs out there to beat you up — like those roving lesbian gangs Bill O’Loufa blathers about so much? Does Alexis Arquette “pack heat” ? Is Holly Woodlawn the capo di tutti capi ?

” I also know that I am not alone in my questions, or my fear of asking them. While I’ve been taking abuse for my position, I’ve also been amazed by the number of phone calls, e-mails and people stopping me on the street here in Washington, both straight and gay, thanking me for asking the questions I did, for voicing the doubts that they share. (Not surprisingly, many of these expressions of solidarity have been off-the-record.) “

Well if they won’t go on the record why consider them at all? Or are you suddenly a fan of Unnamed Sourcing ?

“”It would have been easy to simply write a blog post, or an article here today, about how I respect and support transgendered people and their rights (and I do),”

Oh sure. Your ‘respect and support” is right up there with “The check is in the mail” and “I promise not to come in your mouth”

” but how it was unfortunately political necessary to cut them out of ENDA. I could have chosen to never touch upon the question of the role of the T’s in the LGB community. But that kind of self-imposed censorship is the reason we’re in the pickle we are today.”

I won’t touch that metaphor if you won’t.

” For 10 years now, the right questions never got asked, never got answered, and as a result, support for the inclusion of transgendered people in the gay community remains paper-thin for a sizable number of gays. Normally that wouldn’t matter. But when we are asked — well, told — to put our civil rights on hold, possibly for the next two decades, until America catches up on its support for trans rights, a lot of gay people don’t feel sufficiently vested in trans rights, sufficiently vested in the T being affixed to the LGB, to agree to such a huge sacrifice for people they barely know.”

Well for the better part of my 60 years I’ve felt little interest in lesbians, being that I have no understanding or appreciation of their experience — though many gay men do, the most important being of course Marcel Proust and the most personally compelling my old boyfriend Barry Prince. I just don’t have what it takes to be a Lesbian-Hag.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize, or won’t fight for, the rights of lesbians.

“Conservatives understand that cultural change is a long, gradual process of small but cumulatively deadly victories. Liberals want it all now. And that’s why, in the culture wars, conservatives often win and we often lose.”

Who’s this “we” you’re talking about kimosabe?

Conservatives understand very little. And it’s their desire to keep it all now, that holds everyone back.

There were no Conservatives at Stonewall.

That you imagine there were only goes to show how little in common you have with a movement you claim to be part of. You began your career on the right and you haven’t left it. Consequently to me you’re little more than a slight variation on the gentlemen whose picture adorns this post — botn very close idological cousins of Patient Less Than Zero. If anyone gets “thrown under the bus” it’s them and their ilk. For as you’ve no doubt noticed, the transsexuals are driving.

“While conservatives spend years, if not decades, trying to convince Americans that certain judges are “activists,” that gays “recruit” children, and that Democrats never saw an abortion they didn’t like, we often come up with last-minute ideas and expect everyone to vote for them simply because we’re right. Conservatives are happy with piecemeal victory, liberals with noble failure”

Really? Tell that to the Fundies threatening to bolt the party if St. Rudy of 9/11 gets the nod.

” We rarely make the necessary investment in convincing people that we’re right because we consider it offensive to have to explain an obvious truth. “

No, it’s because we have too much self-respect.

“When it comes time to pass legislation, too many liberals just expect good and virtuous bills to become law by magic, without the years of legwork necessary to secure a majority of the votes in Congress and the majority support of the people. We expect our congressional allies to fall on their swords for us when we’ve failed to create a culture in which it’s safe for politicians to support our agenda and do the right thing. “

You would have thought Queer Eye for the Straight Guy would have done the trick, wouldn’t you?

“ENDA, introduced for the first time 30 years ago, is an exception to that rule. It took 30 years to get to the point where the Congress and the public are in favor of legislation banning job discrimination against gays. It’s only been five months since transgendered people were included in ENDA for the first time.”

I joined the Gay Rights movement in 1969 right after Stonewall. A cornersone of our fight was to establish basic civil rights laws in New York. They didn’t pass there until well after I moved to California in 1976, so spare me the lecture.

Maybe I should be the one to lecture you about ERA. For once defeated, it has never been heard from again. Where were your famous “Conservatives” when it came to women’s rights, dear? Watching Oprah? Baking cookies? Probably the latter in that they’ve ceded leadership in “Concerned Women For America” to men.

Grotesque doesn’t begin to describe it. For what are these “Concerned” Male “Women” of yours most concerned with? Defeating gay rights.

“I support transgendered rights. But I’m not naive.”

No, you’re if anything much too clever. If I were dealing with an honest individual with serious questions to ask about the subject I would reccomend they acquaint themseleves with the writings of Kate Borenstein. But in your case that’s quite beside the point.

“If there are still lingering questions in the gay community about gender identity 10 years after our leaders embraced the T — and there are — then imagine how conflicted straight members of Congress are when asked to pass a civil rights bill for a woman who used to be a man.”

Again — pass the ERA first before asking.

“We’re not talking right and wrong here, we’re talking political reality.”

No, we’re talking about right and wrong.

“The fact that the United States Congress finally passed legislation affirming gay and lesbian Americans as a legitimate civil rights community, as a protected class of American citizens rather than a group of mentally disturbed pedophiles, would empower our community, demoralize our opposition, and forever place us among the ranks of the great civil rights communities of the past and present.”

Mentally disturbed pedophiles? Why keep dragging the Republican party into this?

“That’s why James Dobson, Tony Perkins and the men at the Concerned Women for America are so hell-bent on defeating ENDA.”

And that’s why Patient Less Than Zero wants it defeated too. Didn’t you get the memo?

“To the religious right, ENDA without gender identity isn’t a weak, meaningless bill fraught with loopholes. Our enemies know that passage of any federal gay civil rights legislation is a legislative and cultural milestone that would make it that much easier for all of us — gays and lesbians, bisexuals and eventually even the transgendered — to realize all of our civil rights in our lifetime.

What’s the “and even” business? If it’s not in the law it’s loophole you can drive the bus you want to through the transgendered under through

“I’ll take that half-a-loaf any day.”

Sorry but I don’t like bread once its turned green and blue.

Back to the equally blinkered Mr. Ford.

It wasn’t in the thirties dear. Cole wrote this number for Let’s Face It in 1943

“Here’s a bit of news that’s quite a shocker
Proving Mother Nature still has charm,
Quoting Mr. Cholly Knickerbocker,
“Get in the swim and buy a farm.”
Acres of alfalfa, fields of clover
Suddenly enchant our top “Who’s Who,”
So the moment all this row is over
What say if we go hay-seed too?
For
Farming, that’s the fashion,
Farming, that’s the passion
Of our great celebrities of today.
Kit Cornell is shellin’ peas,
Lady Mendl’s climbin’ trees,
Dear Mae West is at her best in the hay,
Stomping through the thickets,
Romping with the crickets,
Make’s ‘em feel more glamorous and more gay,
They tell me cows who are feeling milky
All give cream when they’re milked by Wilkie,
Farming is so charming they all say.
Farming, that’s the fashion,
Farming, that’s the passion
Of our great celebrities of today.
Monty Woolley, so I heard,
Has boll weevils in his beard,
Michael Strange has got the mange, will it stay?
Mussing up the clover,
Cussing when it’s over,
Makes ‘em feel more glamorous and more gay.
The natives think it’s utterly utter
When Margie Hart start churning her butter,
Farming is so charming, they all say.
Farming, that’s the fashion,
Farming, that’s the passion
Of our great celebrities of today.
Fannie Hurst is haulin’ logs,
Fannie Brice is feedin’ hogs,
Garbo-peep has led her sheep all astray,
Singing while their rakin’,
Bringing home the bacon,
Makes ‘em feel more glamorous and more gay.
Miss Elsa Maxwell, so the folks tattle,
Got well-goosed while de-horning her cattle,
Farming is so charming, they all say.
Farming, that’s the fashion,
Farming, that’s the passion
Of our great celebrities of today.
Don’t inquire of Georgie Raft
Why his cow has never calfed,
Georgie’s bull is beautiful, but he’s gay!

Seeing spring a-coming,
Being minus plumbing,
Make ‘em feel informal and degage.
When Cliff Odets found a new tomater
He ploughed under the Group Theyater,
Farming is so charming, they all say.
Farming, that’s the fashion,
Farming, that’s the passion
Of our great celebrites of today.
Steinbeck’s growing Grapes of Wrath,
Guy Lombardo, rumor hath,
Toots his horn and all the corn starts to sway,
Racing like the dickens,
Chasing after chickens,
Makes ‘em feel more glamorous and more gay,
Liz Whitney has, on her bin of manure, a
Clip designed by the Duke of Verdura,
Farming is so charming, they all say.
Farming, that’s the fashion,
Farming, that’s the passion
Of our great celebrites of today.
Digging in his fertile glen,
Goldwyn dug up Anna Sten,
Fred Astaire has raised a hare and its gray.
Clowning in their mittens,
Drowning extra kittens,
Makes ‘em feel more glamorous and more gay.
Paul Whiteman, while he was puttin’ up jelly,
Ate so much he recovered his belly,
Farming is so charming, they all say.
Farming, that’s the fashion,
Farming, that’s the passion
Of our great celebrities of today.
Missus Henry Morganthau
Looks so chic behind a plow,
Mrs. Hearst is at her worst on a dray.
Tearing after possum,
Wearing just a blossom,
Makes ‘em feel more glamorous and more gay,
Why, Orson Welles, that wonderful actor,
Has Del Rio driving a tractor.
Farming is so charming, they all say.
Farming, that’s the fashion,
Farming, that’s the passion,
Of our great celebrities of today.
Just to keep her roosters keen,
Dietrich that great movie queen,
Lifts her leg and lays an egg, what a lay.
Going after rabbits,
Knowing all their habits,
Makes ‘em feel more glamorous and more gay.
So Harpo Marx, in a moment of folly,
Had his barn repainted by Dali.
Farming is charming, they all say.
Farming, that’s the fashion,
Farming, that’s the passion,
Of our great celebrities of today.
Lynn Fontanne is brandin’ steer,
Sophie Tucker, so I hear,
Rides en masse upon an ass, hip-hooray.
Hoeing new potatoes,
Throwing all tomatoes,
Makes ‘em feel more glamorous and more gay.
So Clifton Webb has parked his Ma, Mabel,
“Way Down East” in a broken-down stable,
Farming is so charming, they all say.”