Category Archives: Gender and Sexuality

Follow Up on “Art School Stole My Virginity” story.

Back in October, I blogged about a Queerty story about art school student Clay Pettet’s scheduled performance art piece.  At the time, the Queerty writer (and the handful of other writers I saw cover the story) presented it as if the performance art would involve Pettet being anally penetrated in front of an audience.  According to a report in Gay Time Magazine by Darrel Larkin, that’s not what the actual performance involved:

We hear Pettet revealed himself to the crowd with “TEEN WHORE” written on his body and a few other performers carrying signs that read “ANAL VIRGIN”. So far we’re scoring 10 out of 10 on the terminology used, all of which Google would happily suggest well over 500,000 results for. Then afterwards he migrated to another dim lit room where randomly selected guests were invited to penetrate his mouth with a banana….

Quite a different experience than what everyone was expecting.  Larkin makes some interesting points about how our expectations of this performance was an underlying point of it.

 

Coming Out Anniversary Post: The Need for a Relationship

Going to Hell Tee ShirtIt’s April 1st once again.  For those who have been following my blog for a while, you know that this is significant in that it’s the anniversary of my initial coming out.  Eighteen years ago, I quit denying that I was attracted to other men, quit claiming it was “just a phase,” and quit trying to change myself.  (Well, where my sexual orientation is concerned.)

I don’t commemorate or blog about the event every year (See the bottom of this post for links to older anniversary posts), though I decided I wanted to again this year.  This year, I want to consider how my attitude about dating has changed since I came out.

When I came out, dating was extremely important to me.  This is partly because part of the reason I finally came out was because I was tired of being alone.  I was tired of suffering, thinking I may never be able to find — or even allow myself to find — someone I could deeply care about and build a lasting relationship with.  So when I came out, finding someone to love was of grave importance to me.  To put it quite frankly, I was rather desperate at the time.

Consider that I was walking away from years of belief that being gay was bad and that the kind of relationship that appealed to me was strictly prohibited.  Consider that rejecting that belief required me to give up a lot of my identity (being an evangelical Christian — and most evangelicals still insisted that the phrase “gay Christian” was an oxymoron and an abomination at the time — was a huge paart of my existence and idenity) and to strain many freindships and relationships.  So the idea that I’d give all that up and still end up alone was terrifying.  So I ended up putting a lot of energy into the idea that I had to find someone.

It’s a mentality that lasted for years, over a decade and a half in fact.  In time, though, it’s a mentality that began to fade and is now more or less gone.  That’s not to say that I don’t want to find someone to build a life with.  Dating is still important to me.  Having a loving relationship is still important to me.  It’s just not my single-minded obssession anymore.  Now, it’s just something that I’d like to achieve when the time is right and I meet a great guy I’m compatible with and mutually attracted to.

I think I really began to notice this change a few months ago, when I ended my most recent relationship.  I ended it because I just couldn’t see myself being with him long-term, which was something he was definitely looking for.  In general, I’ve found myself far more picky about the guys I date and continue to invest time in, which I think is a positive thing.

I think part of this is due to the fact that once I quit spending so much time and energy figthing with myself over my sexual orientation, I was able to slowly build myself back up.  With the question of how my being gay affects my identity and worth, I was able to more fully explore my identity in all areas of my life.  I was able to build up who I saw myself as, and where I found my sense of worth and emotional strength.  As a result, that idea of a relationship quit being the life-vest I clung to out of desperation.

But that’s something that could only develop once I came out and accepted that one part of myself.

Previous Anniversary Posts

Also, be sure to check out Journey to Queerdom.

So, Fred Phelps is Dead

[Content Note:  Death, Homophobia]

I didn’t get a chance to write about this yesterday, but Fred Phelps, the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church (that’s the “God Hates Fags” church, for anyone not familiar with its name), died on Wednesday night.

I’ve seen tweets, facebook updates, and blog posts about it.  Some have been humorous.  Some have been matter-of-fact.  Some have been offering sympathy to his family and friends.  Some have been about how LGBT people should respond to his passing.  Some have speculate on what (if any) afterlife he is now facing.

To be honest, I neither mourn nor celebrate his passing.  I never even met the man, and I think it’s difficult to truly mourn someone you don’t have at least some sort of personal connection with.  The only connection I have to the man is his declared hatred of me and those like me.  Again, this I only experienced in the most abstract of ways, or seeing how his words affected others, sometimes in horrible ways.

And truth be told, I suspect that part of Phelps’s legacy will continue past his death.  I do not expect that the WBC or its campaign of hate will disband with the death of their founder.  There are still enough people who have been infected with the man’s hate that will continue on without him.  Perhaps in a few more years, a new name (quite possibly that of his daughter, Shirley) will become more widely known as the name associated with the WBC and their campaigns, but that’s about it.

And, as both Fannie and Peter Montgomery noted, there are people outside of the WBC whose anti-gay views and actions are just as harmful, if not more insidious.  As both linked bloggers, such people have often pointed to Phelps and his cult as proof that they’re “not that bad” compared to the “real haters.”  I have no doubt that particular trend will continue as well.

Fred Phelps may be dead, but his legacy of hatred is alive and well and will continue for some time yet.  As someone who believes in reincarnation and believes that the cycle is about justice1, I pray that his soul returns to the earth soon and finds a way to clean up some of the mess he has produced and given root to.


1As opposed to retribution.

Musings about Piers Morgan

And by “musings” I mean “a barely (hardly?) contained rant.”

Okay, for those who may not be familiar with what I’m talking about, Piers Morgan had trans woman, activist, and author Janet Mock on his show earlier this week.  The way he handled the interview was highly problematic, as has been explained by numerous people who did it far better than I can, so I’m not going to try.  Mock and those who support her decided to criticize the way she was treated on his show, and Morgan has acted like an ass since.  Furthermore, he’s acted like an ass who insists that he’s now the one who’s being wronged.  (Because you know, heaven forbid you actually criticize a white cis man who sees himself as a good guy.

One of his more recent complaints is this whine:

And there you have it, folks, the martyrdom of the faux ally.  Because, you know, allies never have unexamined privilege left lying around (we1 do).  Allies never screw up (we do, and all the time).  Allies are always above criticism (like hell we are).  Here we have Piers Morgan demanding the “cookies” he feels he earned from (alleged) past good deeds.

I call bullshit.  A real supporter would have display more critical reflection than that.  A real supporter would be open to correction and seek to be supporting.  And a real supporter would never dream of whining about how the people he’s supported “turned on him,” as if they owe him anything.

If Piers Morgan thinks this is what “supporting LGBT rights” looks like, then this is one cis gay man that would be much happier without his support.  I won’t abandon my trans* friends and acquaintances for anyone’s support.


1I’m saying “we” because as a cis gay man, I have relative privilege compared to trans* people.

(Disjointed) musings on Jennfier Roback Morse’s recent interview

[Content Note:  hostility to agency]

I’m reading the recent interview with Jennifer Roback Morse in the National Catholic register and I just have to shake my head.

Let’s go over some of the more…interesting statements.

When asked about the injuries caused by the sexual revolution:

Contraception is an expected part of a woman’s career path. So that means the whole system is built around women treating their bodies as if they were men’s bodies.

So wait a second, using contraception and terminating an unwanted pregnancy amounts to “women treating their bodies as if they were men’s bodies”?  So the only thing that makes women’s bodies different from men’s bodies is that the former can be used as a baby-incubator?  I find Morse’s depiction of womanhood and women’s bodies unfortunate and horribly dismal.

In defending her insistence that the sexual revolution is a totalitarian movement:

So the government has to step in and control people’s behavior and even people’s thoughts about what’s possible, desirable and realistic. The HHS mandate is just one example of the government stifling dissent by essentially saying: “This society will be built around contraception, and there will be no dissent from that.” That’s one example of totalitarianism coming straight from the government and literally shutting down people who disagree.

Here’s the thing:  No one is being forced to use contraception.  The government is saying all people should be allowed and able to use contraception if they so choose.  That’s a signifcant difference from the strawman that Morse is erecting here.  Indeed, it is Morse and those like who are insisting that those who disagree with their position should be forced to comply with their view of the world.

while listing the “victims” of the sexual revolution:

Consider, for example, people who’d like to stay married but their spouse wants a divorce, so that’s the end of it. The government takes sides with the party who wants the marriage the least.

Would she actually prefer that the government coerce someone to remain with a spouse or partner they do not love and do not wish to be around anymore?  Talk about totalitarianism.

But wait, it gets better:

We all know somebody in this category — the jilted wife or the husband who’s kicked out of the family because his wife didn’t want to be bothered with him anymore, and now the courts are making him pay child support for kids he doesn’t see.

Reread that last clause a few times.  Here we have Jennifer Roback Morse — who spends a great deal of time talking about the importance of marriage and families to care for children — now talking about men being “forced” to help support the children he helped bring into this world.  Apparently, men should only be held responsible for the children they bring into the world if “they’re allowed to see them”?  Doesn’t sound like a very “pro-children” position to me.

On “heartbroken career women”:

These women are also all around us, but we simply don’t see them. [Culture says] the entry fee into the professions for women is that you chemically neuter yourself during your peak childbearing years in your 20s — and if you have an “accident,” you get an abortion.

Exactly what “culture” tells women that the price for them having a career is not having children?  There are organizations that advance and push for legislation to protect pregnant women in the workplace.  You know who doesn’t support that legislation?  The so-called “pro-life” crowd.  People who insist that for women, having a career and a family are incompatible.  In short, people like Jennifer Roback Morse.  So the fact that she an those like her push this “career or family” dichotomy, then have the audacity to feign pity for those women who feel like they’re stuck with that dichotomy is contemptible.

On the men and women who are “victimized” by the sexual revolution by “the lack of suitable mates”:

Absolutely. And I hear it from men, too [about not finding suitable wives]. Our whole culture is so sexualized it’s hard to find a suitable mate. Many young people have told me they wish the Church would do more to facilitate young adults meeting each other in a faith environment, where people won’t always be coming onto you.

I don’t know, maybe part of the problem here is that people are looking at other people as “potential mates” rather than people to get to know.  This whole thing makes finding a mate sound like a mission that erases real interpersonal relationships.  That’s something Morse listed as a problem earlier in the interview.

(h/t Right Wing Watch)

Anti-gay rhetoric and immature morality

Thanks to TWitter user @DeekyMD, I became aware of the following “response” to “Same Love” by Christian rapper Bizzle:

There’s a lot I could say about this video, a lot which is quite exemplary of religiously-motivated anti-gay sentiment at large.  I could talk about the underlying Christian supremacy in parts of it.  I could talk about how Bizzle claims there’s no such thing as “gay oppression” despite stories about anti-gay bullying, violence against LGBT people, and the fact that you can be fired for being gay in 29 states and being transgender in 34.  I could talk about the audacity it takes for him to then turn around and complain about “violence against Christians” (many alleged instances of which are exaggerated or trumped up by the anti-gay industry in an attempt to paint themselves as martyrs I might add) by LGBT people and their supporters.  I may talk about some or all of those things in the future.  (This video is a veritable “goldmine” of such garbage that can and should be laid out for all to see in its complete ugliness.)

Today, I want to focus on the following statement at the 1:09 mark.

And I’m sure that you lust like I do, just in a different form.  But I’m married, so if I give in to mine, I’m a cheater.  But if you give in to yours, you just fight to make it legal.

What gets me about that statement1 is that the man completely ignores the fact that he’s comparing two completely different things:

  1. A married man — who has committed to a woman and promised her sexual monogamy2 — breaking that promise and becoming sexually involved with another woman.
  2. A person — whose relationship status is unspecified and who has given no promises of sexual monogamy — choosing to become sexually involved with someone of the same sex.

The bolded parts of those two descriptions underlies exactly why these two situations are completely different.  The person in the first situation has entered into a relationship built on certain agreements, including sexual monogamy.  Breaking those agreements is a matter of breaking one’s word.  It’s also a matter of undermining the trust that such a relationship is built on and that is absolutely essential to maintaining that relationship.  That’s a big problem.

But the person in the second situation?  There is no such relationship or agreement.  There is no promise of monogamy to be broken.  There is no violation of trust.  There is no relationship that will be destroyed by said (nonexistent) violation of (also nonexistent) trust.  There is no moral wrong being done here3.

The problem with Bizzle’s comparison is that he has failed to draw an analogy to what exactly makes the situation wrong and how that carries over into the second relationship.

I posit that this is because to Bizzle, it’s not actually the breaking of a promise or the violation of trust that makes the first situation wrong either, but the fact that it goes against one of God’s rules.  I’ve noted this tendency of some Christians to reduce morality to nothing more than obeying Divine dictates.  I’ve noted how this sort of simplistic thinking causes them to do horrible things, like erase victims of abuse.  Once more I want to call attention to it here.

I am convinced that one of the biggest problem with certain segments of Christianity — especially those segments that seem far more interested in moralizing about others rather than seeking out what it means to live moral lives themselves — is their refusal to develop a more mature framework for their moral view than “[My interpretation of] God says so.”

Then they get completely confused when (and leap to ludicrous explanations to explain why) those of us who don’t believe in their interpretation of God or his “say so” don’t find their arguments compelling at all.


1Well, besides the fact that yet another anti-gay bigot is immediately reducing all same-sex relationships to a matter of lust and sexual gratification and no one is challenging him on it.

2Yes, I’m pointing out that Bizzle is in a monogamous marriage and want to make a point of noting that not all marriages or relationships are monogamous.  How other people choose to construct and negotiate their relationships is entirely up to them and I refuse to diss those who reach a consensual agreement to build non-monogamous relationships together or throw them under the bus to prove “not all gays are like that” or engage in some other form of approval seeking by being “the right kind of gay.”

3Say a gay man is in a relationship with another man wherein the two have agreed to sexual monogamy, then goes and have sex with someone else.  Then there is the broken agreement, the violation of trust, and the undermining of the relationship he is committed to.  In that case, it is not only analogous to the first scenario, but is identical to it.  But that’s the thing, Bizzle is trying to generalize this into all same-sex relationships.

Such a superficial attempt to show one cares

Over at Right Wing Watch, Brian Brian Tashman reports on Tea Partier Selena Owens’s reaction to the Grammy awards.  His post is titled “Prove You’re Not Homophobic By Complimenting Your Lesbian Store Clerk’s Haircut,” which helps draw attention to this part of Owens’s statement:

Sometimes I deliberately go through the checkout line of the lesbian clerk to drop a few words of Jesus’ love in her ear and then compliment her haircut.

There’s just so much that’s wrong with that statement.  Not least of all, I find it telling that her go-to example of “coming into contact with LGBT people” is a situation where she approaches a working class person at her place of employment.1  Owens is approaching someone in a situation where she’s operating from a position of power.  This poor lesbian who’s just there trying to do her job has to put up with whatever conversation Owens may start up2 because, let’s face it, she has a job to do.

Heaven forbid that Owens actually seeks out LGBT people in places where they may be on equal footing to her and be equally comfortable.  Or heck, heaven forbid she step outside her own comfort zones3 to approach LGBT people on their terms.

Then there’s the whole “compliment her hairstyle,” an act that Owens seems to pat herself on the back for.  As if such a superficial pleasantry somehow shows she actually cares about the woman.  You know, as I think of a lesbian working as a cashier in a grocery show, here are the things that cross my mind:

  • How much is she making?  How many hours does she get per week?  Does her schedule and her hourly wage work out to something she and any family she has can live on?
  • Does she have healthcare through her employer?  Can her partner (if she has one) be covered through that her employer’s plan?  Her partner’s kids (if she has any)?
  • What kind of harassment does she have to put up with from some of the customers who come through her line?

Granted, these are not questions I’d ask a random stranger who’s ringing up my groceries.  That would be completely inappropriate.  But knowing those are serious questions with potentially serious ramifications, I also wouldn’t do something as superficial as compliment her on her haircut and pat myself on the back as if I’d become the epitome of compassion.

Owens’s second example is just as awful:

Or I encourage the star-struck 17-year-old to become informed on political issues that will affect her life, then discuss those big hoop earrings she’s sporting.

Why is Owens automatically assuming that this young woman isn’t already informed on political issues that will affect her life?4  And why does she simply encourage the young woman to “become informed” on such a topic and then go on to discuss those big hoop earrings?  Maybe the young woman would rather discuss the political issues that affects her life — those issues that she may well know better than Owens, as it’s her life.

This whole thing reeks of a person who obviously sees herself as superior to others seeking to engage others in situations where her perceived superiority is reinforced by the circumstances, behaving in a manner that makes it clear she feels herself superior, and acting patronizing.  And she thinks this paints her in a positive light?


1And don’t even get me started on the whole “deliberately” doing so thing, as if Owens finds choosing to through a particular checkout lane some major effort or ordeal on her part.

2Let’s face it, I’ve seen what passes for “a few words of Jesus’ love” in some Christians’ minds when it comes to LGBT people.  It ain’t pretty, and most decent people would wonder what definition of that word such Christians are using.

3Assuming she doesn’t think just talking to a lesbian — even in a place where Owens can probably still create problems for her by simply complaining to the store manager — as something terribly uncomfortable.

4Oh, right.  Because Owens is probably assuming that anyone who is really informed on such issues will automatically agree with her.  The condescending smugness of it all is vile.

Let’s not be squeamish about the prostate

[Content Note:  Sex, Homophobia]

This morning, I was listening to the morning radio show.  For their “What would you do” segment, they chose a woman who was dating a guy who was practically perfect and with whom she had been building a great relationship.  She indicated that she had looked in his bedside table drawer the other day and found a dildo and wasn’t sure how to react.  To the credit of many people who called in or texted the show, many people seemed to have an attitude of “who cares?”  Some even went so far to suggest she offer to incorporate it into the couple’s own sexual experiences, which I thought was awesome.

However, there were also those who were leery about the whole thing.  One of the (male) radio hosts was even trying to come up with non-sexual explanations why the guy might have one.  (Seriously?  To massage an old shoulder injury?)  Because, you know, heaven forbid that a guy might enjoy actually having his prostate stimulated.  That might make him gay, I guess.1

But here’s the thing:  Stimulation of the prostate can be highly pleasurable for men.  A lot of men enjoy it.  Some of us are gay.  Some of us are bisexual2.  Some of us are even heterosexual, which is great.  Heterosexual guys should be free to enjoy whatever pleasure their bodies offer them as it pleases them.

Other guys — of all orientations — prefer to skip that particular activity for whatever reason.  That’s great too.  But we as a society would be well served to stop getting squeamish and/or offering up value judgments on those guys — reagardless of orientation — who know what they like and choose to indulge themselves.


1I’ll note that there’s not just a negativity toward the idea that a guy is gay, though.  There’s often added negativity toward the idea that some guys actually like being the receptive partner in anal sex.  It’s something completely unthinkable by some people, as can be noted by Phil Robertson’s underlying assumption that the only two possible choices a man could make is whether to stick his penis in a vagina or anus in his recent homophobic remarks.

2A possibility I suspect neither the show’s hosts nor those listeners who responded even considered.

When Anti-Gay Rhetoric Erases Victims

[Content Note:  Child Sexual Abuse, Homophobia]

As he is often wont to do, Bryan Fischer had some horrible things to say about gay people, this time in the context of how he’s greatly upset over the legislature’s most recent consideration of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, which would protect LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace.  In his diatribe, Fischer refers to homosexuality as sexual deviancy, and compares it — shocker, I know — to pedophilia.  He even refers to ENDA as “The Jerry Sandusky Pedophile Protection Act.”

People have covered how laughably offensive it is to compare gay people to pedophiles and other sexual predators.  The idea that any sex between consenting adults is the moral equivalent of non-consensual sex of any kind demonstrates a complete failure to appreciate the importance of consent when it comes to sex, and this is a failure that I’ve noted before.  Today, however, I’d like to draw attention to how this kind of rhetoric, as evidenced by Fischer’s statements, also erases victims of sexual abuse and assault and trivializes their experience.

Note that Fischer mentions that Sandusky was imprisoned for “engaging in sexual deviancy.”  That’s not an entirely accurate statement.  Sandusky was imprisoned for raping and otherwise sexually abuses young boys.  Sandusky’s crimes were not “deviating from some norm,” but violating other human beings, human beings he had some measure of power over due to his work with them.  Reframing his crimes as “sexual deviancy” ignores and erases the fact that other people were harmed by his actions.  They become the easily forgotten pawns in Fischer’s rhetorical campaign against LGBT people.

That’s just not right.

I’m not down with media that polices other people’s sexual choices

[Content Note:  Sex, Policing others’ sexual choices, Homophobia]

While perusing Twitter today, I ran across a link to a Queerty story (linked article includes NSFW image) about a young man who plans on having anal sex for the first time as performance art.  The article describes the planned event thus:

The sweeping act of teenage narcissism deflowering will be tittled “Art School Stole My Virginity” and will feature 19-year-old Pettet and his friend engaging in safe sex until completion.  Afterwards, they will ask the audience what they thought of the performance.  Because who doesn’t like to be critiqued after sex?

No PolicingThat quote is verbatim.  I did nothing to edit it.  The phrase “sweeping act of teenage narcissism” is included in the original article, complete with strikeout font.  Because apparently, the Graham Gremore, the writer, couldn’t help but fill the entire article with signs of his contempt for Pettet’s choices.

And that what my blog post is about.  I have nothing to say about Pettet’s plans, other than to wish him the best and hope that he finds the whole thing rewarding, however he chooses to evaluate what would make the experience rewarding to thim.  Because in the end, I’m pro-choice and fully embrace Pettet’s agency.

It becomes pretty obvious that the writer for Gremore would rather condemn and ridicule Pettet’s choice.  Fankly, I’m not okay with that.  I think this is just more evidence that the LGBT community — or at least certain segments of it — is still all too willing to police the sexuality and sexual choices of others.

Of course, a lot of this plays into the attempt to gain LGBT approval through mainstreaming.  “Oh, we’re not all like those promiscuous [a word which, in my experience, is highly subjective and simply means “has had more sex than the speaker personally approves of”] gay men in bath houses.”  It’s true, of course.  But I’m deeply troubled by the fact that some people are willing to throw gay men who are like that under the bus for the sake of their own increased freedom.  (And to make matters worse, it’s not a very effective strategy.)

I am pro-choice and I believe that everyone’s sexual choices should be respected.  People should be allowed to have as much or as little sex as they want, with who they want (and only with who they want), how they want, and for whatever reason they want (be it love, the need to get off, or performance art).  To me, this idea is central to the equality and freedom of sexual minorities.

And I would like a site like Queerty to be a bit more onboard with and sensitive to that notion by telling Mr. Gremore and anyone else like him to keep their contempt for others sexual choices out of their writing.