Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Friday, January 26, 2007
It should be said that the Sunday Times article was wrong about devices being implanted in the sheep's brains. But, after reading the scientists' rebuttal, I'm not convinced that much else about the article was wrong. Sheep are, in fact, killed in the experiment. To which the researcher, Dr. Charles Roselli, responds: "Why would you pick on a guy who’s killing maybe 18 sheep a year, when there’s maybe four million killed for food and clothing in this country?" OK, sure, he's not a flagrant example of animal cruelty, but he's still killing animals for less-than-necessary research.
To charges that their research finding a fix for homosexuality in sheep fuels the idea that human homosexuality should be fixed, rather than accepted, Roselli responded that they had never claimed their research would help find a cure for human homosexuality. When he wrote that the research "has broader implications for understanding the development and control of sexual motivation and mate selection across mammalian species, including humans," he was using "control" in a scientific way that we laypeople couldn't possibly understand. And, he said, he only mentions human implications because scientists are "forced to draw connections [to humans] in a way that we can justify our research."
Now that is the weakest claim of all. It essentially says that, however disturbing the potential human use of his research might be, you can't blame Roselli for doing what he has to do to get money. That argument wouldn't even stand if the research were more vital than increasing sheep fertility.
The Times article is way too sympathetic, making gay activists look too stupid to understand science, and letting Dr. Roselli off the hook without even asking him if he would reject grant money from the mad scientists at, say, the Foundation for the Family.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
But then it struck me: That's what this is all about. The whole idea of banning gay marriage is to make gay people feel that they don't deserve happiness. And whoever is polling on gay marriage right now is on their side. Hasn't gay marriage been polled enough? Wasn't there just a spate of polling in November? Is there any new legislation to prompt new polling?
Nope. Gay marriage is quite definitively illegal (in many cases by both law and constitutional amendment) in all but one state, where the wheels are already in motion to make it illegal again.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
No matter: Do as I say, not as I do. Catholic priests are demanding exemption from a new British equality law that demands that gays not be discriminated against in adoption proceedings.
They say the law would force Catholics to go against the teachings of the church. Never mind that the priests are hardly in a position to criticize any group when it comes to the treatment of children. And, needless to say, they don't generally ask potential adopters if they covet their neighbor's wife or take the Lord's name in vain.
The shocker is that T.B., who's wife and children are Catholic, is rumored to be thinking about granting the priests an exemption—as is his Opus Dei (read: Loony Tunes of the Mel Gibson variety) communities secretary, Ruth Kelly. However, Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, gave reason a voice when he said, "If we take the view as a society that we should not discriminate against people who are homosexual, you cannot give exclusions to people on the grounds that their religion or their race says 'we don't agree with that.'" I mean, I know British law isn't exactly the same as U.S. law (they don't have a constitution), but the reason for granting basic rights through foundational law of whatever sort is to pre-empt people claiming that, for whatever reason, they have the right to treat a particular group badly.
Monday, January 22, 2007
Do Americans just love a clebrity smack-down or are they actually concerned about the use of epithets? I have a hard time believing the latter given that, even in San Francisco, I hear "faggot" used as an epithet at least once a week. (See update below.) Perhaps the story has gotten big because the entertainment industry wants to make a show of its tolerance. The number of gay actors in Los Angeles is so high that if networks develop a reputation for crapping on them, they won’t be able to stay in business.
More compellingly, the Times is running an article on GLBT opposition to Harold Ford’s nomination for chair of the Democratic Leadership Council. Ford lost his bid for Tennessee’s Senate seat largely because he was just as conservative as his Republican opponent (that and he’s black). Ford was one of just 34 votes for a national constitutional amendment barring gays from that precious institution of marriage.
As Democrats try to portray Ford as one of them, conservatives are frantically trying to defend Mitt Romney from charges that he is a closet gay-lover (these charges come despite the fact that after Romney had exhausted all legal options for halting gay marriage as governor, he filed suit as an individual.) Both dust-ups suggest that gay rights advocates will have a voice in the 2008 election, rather than being just an easy smear target as they have been in the last three elections.
Statistics on use of epithets
GLSEN, a group focused on creating GLBT-friendly educational policies, reports that in 2005 three-quarters of all GLBT high school students often heard derogatory remarks such as "faggot" or "dyke," and nearly nine out of ten frequently heard "that's so gay" to mean "that's so stupid." Meanwhile, only nine states and the District of Columbia have comprehensive anti-bullying laws that include sexual orientation and only three include gender identity.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
I met a woman there, a lesbian journalist, who greeted my claims of male-identity first with "but you do identify as a lesbian, right?" To which I said, teasingly, "of course, or else I couldn't be at this party." Then I gave a more earnest answer and she said "that's so interesting."
I'm guessing it was an "interesting" like those my colleagues and I at Mother Jones utter when pro-life activists and American Enterprise economists tell us about their views. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
The conversation began by being about gay and lesbian journalism. She made a point about it being a male-run show. (I've made a similar point here.) She attributed that to women not having had enough chance to put their sistahs in power. I added "or they don't always hire women." That's where the fun began. She claimed that women are better than men; women help a sister out.
I wanted to make the point that women can be real assholes too. They don't always run the show in a feminist way. (I've made a similar point here.) And I wasn't sure that shoehorning your friends into power was a particularly good quality to emulate. I said prioritizing your people over another people never really helps anybody on either side. She disagreed. She said she was a "radical feminist that way" because she didn't give a shit how white men felt. She said that, as an Asian woman, she had suffered double oppression for thousands of years, and if evening it out meant turning the shit-stream the other way for a while that was fine by her.
So I decided to make it personal, too. I said that as a trans-identified dyke, who was ever going to take me under their wing? This isn't just about white men.
She encouraged me not to see myself as such a victim. Up to this point, dear reader, I had been very friendly in my disagreements. But being told I was acting like a victim by someone who, at age 30, was claiming thousands of years of double oppression was just too much. I called her bluff. She didn't like it much, replying "I think we should end the conversation, Cameron, because it's getting really fucked up."
She needed to see my disagreement about the nurturing benevolence of women as sexism. If I didn't identify as a "woman" and I didn't agree with her 100% about the sweet superiority of women, I must be a sexist. And sexists really piss her off. It was a fascinating experience—and one I probably wouldn't have gotten to witness had my interlocutor not been drunk—to watch someone construct a box around me and then work herself into a frenzy that yet another person fit in that box.
My question is, who is teaching her to hold so true to an outmoded ideology that isn't working for her? And how can she steer so clear of third wave feminism when she (a) lives in San Francisco and (b) works as an online journalist?
I don't know many women under 30 who still think that way. (To support my woman friend Ann, I send you to Feministing.) Sadly, those who do are usually lesbians.
Just to be snarky (it must be the man in me), I will add that this woman works for a lesbian entertainment website, and I work at Mother Jones. Maybe she thought that was a maternity magazine?
Friday, January 19, 2007
Thursday, January 18, 2007
In another disastrously-Deirdre ditty, Dee Deirdre Farmer is being returned to jail this week after being sentenced for identity theft and fraud. Dee Deirdre Farmer is a transgender woman who chose her name. She scored a landmark victory for trans people in 1994, when the Supreme Court ruled that prison officials could be held responsible for her gang rape while in men's prison. Ms. Farmer was a pre-op transsexual at the time.
But it seems Ms. Farmer's interest in changing identities goes farther than her sex change and subsequent selection of the misfortunate name Dee Deirdre:
Farmer was sentenced in 1986 to 20 years in federal prison for credit-card fraud and 30 years in state prison for theft. While awaiting sentencing, she was caught participating in a telephone jewelry theft scheme from jail.
After being released because she was dying of AIDS, Farmer again indulged in identity theft. In order to avoid prosecution, she presented a forged court order in an attempt to "change the death certificate of a man named Charles Smith, who died June 6, 2006, to reflect that Dee Farmer had died on that day instead."
I'm not sure the exchange is newsworthy enough to qualify for A.P. coverage (not to mention Knight's appearance on the Ellen DeRidiculous show). After all, this kind of name-calling happens every day. But I am perturbed that the gay actor has been type-cast as a no-balls loser nicknamed "Bambi" (or is that the no-balls loser doctor in Scrubs?)?
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Now the heir to an IBM fortune, Olive Watson, is trying to un-adopt her ex-partner Patricia Spado so the partner won't have access to a grandchild's share of her ex's parents' inheritance.
It just gets more fucked up. Watson is claiming that the adoption was never valid because the two were in a sexual relationship. Which is why they undertook the adoption. There is nothing as repulsive as a gay person using the homophobia of the law to their benefit when it suits them. (Sure, the money-grabbing ex is no saint either, but could you resist a stab at the IBM fortune if it came your way?)
Watson's lawyer is also claiming that allowing her ex-partner to inherit would set a dangerous precedent: Gays, prevented from marrying, would flock to Maine to adopt each other instead. Right, because we're all a bunch of sick fucks—except Watson, who adopted her lover and is just now getting around to crying "Ew!"
Last paragraph of the New England News story: "Advocates for same-sex marriage told the newspaper that gay and lesbian couples aren't likely to pursue adoption in any state because the arrangements do not always work as intended." You can say that again.
Just in case the story isn't freaky enough, the editors paired it with a picture of a woman holding a little Chinese girl. That is obviously the best way to mark someone as a lesbian without her, say, looking like a lesbian. Never mind that it's been illegal for queers to adopt Chinese babies for some time.
The religious right has pounced on the study's findings, but those of us pushing the homosexual agenda have our doubts. Is it because we "put maintenance of [our] ideology above science," as the study's straight author claims, or because (a) the study may have examined the effects of homosexual sex among heterosexuals and (b) we have at least on occasion found ourselves stuck to the sheets, semi-catatonic and really fucking happy?
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Last night I met a straight couple at a bar. They asked me something about oral sex and why some men didn't like going down. To which I replied, measured sage that I am, especially under the influence of a couple mojitos, "You either like pussy or you don't. Those guys have a problem."
The straights roared with laughter. But then they raised the point that some women weren't so good at getting gone down on either. To which I said, again with composed wisdom, "They really have a problem! They've taken society's shame over pussies to heart."*
They looked at me as if to say, "Say more, wise bulldagger, say more!"
So I did. I said, "Have you ever met a guy who's embarrassed about liking to have his dick sucked?" They still looked enthralled (I'm actually fucking serious here), so I said, "Let's go one further. Have you ever known a guy who says, 'It's OK if you suck my dick, but don't touch my balls--I get embarrassed'?"
This story was repeated with awe at least three times. I mean, Christ. I was loaded.
*I'm not an expert on flesh-and-blood cocks or anything, but in my limited experience I recall that they also have a distinctly genital odor and have also been known to ooze. So what is our problem?
Update: The Times story on "training" your husband is back on the most emailed list. And a piece breaking the news that more women are now unmarried than married has joined it. If married life is so bad, I'd say not getting married is a more rational response than learning exotic animal training techniques.
Monday, January 8, 2007
A quarter of GLBT couples fall prey to domestic violence, the article says--about the same as among straight couples.
But talking about domestic violence among gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people is, to paraphrase Rick Santorum (loosely), like talking about domestic violence among people, dogs, snakes, and supernovas. The statistics require parsing to reveal anything at all. About two-thirds of the way through, the article finally notes that domestic violence is more common among gay men than among lesbians (the picture at the top is, however, of a woman, and obviously comes from stock "domestic violence" footage). That's a start, but in an article on any other topic, statistics as murky as these would end up in the editor's blue file.
Note to MSM: GLBT is an acronym that refers to four different groups of people.
The article makes a worthy point in highlighting that domestic violence programs are so heavily geared toward heterosexual women that gay, lesbian and transgendered victims may not get the help they deserve. True enough, but Mother Jones reported in 2005 that 15 percent of domestic violence victims are male, suggesting that there are more than a few straight men who also can't access social services. (Imagine the reception they would receive at a safe space!) Our public dialogue and services surrounding same-sex domestic violence are in the larval stage, to be sure. But it's not clear that underreporting is any more of a problem in the queer community. After all, 70 percent of all domestic "incidents" go unreported, and heterosexual women, like the GLBT folks in the article, fear unsympathetic ears at the P.D. To practice what it preaches, the article should give more information about underserved populations. By lumping GLBT together, it ends up giving us less.
This article is so tongue-tied in trying to talk about queer issues that it exacerbates the problem it is trying to point out. The Guardian clearly needs a queer reporter, yo. (Wait, was that a bilingual pun? Why yes, yes it was.)
Saturday, January 6, 2007
The Montgomery County, Maryland, school district developed its most recent sex-ed curriculum with some input from PFLAG. The curriculum would have taught that gayness is just another way to be. It would also have included at least a brief mention of transgenderism. Before the curriculum could be taught, a religious right group with the ironic name "Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum" sprang up and made a stink.
CRC was especially angry that the material contained "no mention of the increased risk of sexually transmitted disease inherent in homosexual sex." It's funny that the group should defend science with a scientifically incorrect statement. (Well, actually it's not because these people have made it pretty clear that they have absolutely no regard for science, which is why they just make it up.) In the world called reality, women who have sex with women are at extremely low risk of getting STDs. If STDs are really the Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum's main concern, the best thing they could do is tell pubescent girls to become lesbians. The next best thing would be to tell them to use condoms, which they don't. (Is their true agenda protecting or killing the children?)
As yet another example of total disregard for science—of which this curriculum forms a part—the group complained that the curriculum did not address "that a homosexual 'orientation' could be changed." That's because the preponderance of evidence that it can't is almost as crushing as the evidence suggesting that Darwin was right.
Get this: The curriculum was then redesigned with the participation of its critics. The revision adopted 69 of 83 changes recommended by the religious organization. But they're still not satisfied. Once you start including religious ideas in science curricula, there is no good stopping point.
CRC's remaining complaints reveal that members won't be happy until the only mention of homosexuality in the unit says that it will kill you. The group takes issue with several statements suggesting that queers feel better when they come out. Because homosexuality can't be changed, it's cruel to teach a roomful of students--some 5 percent of whom are immutably gay or lesbian--that they are destined to be as miserable as they probably are at that moment. Oh yeah, CRC also takes issue with the inclusion of material meant to lessen gay-bashing. The statistics on bias, the website scolds, are "provided by a non-medical, gay advocacy group GLSEN." Generally, it is advocacy groups like GLSEN—certainly not medical doctors!—who conduct large-scale issue-focused social research.
The group is up in arms about passages in the anti-bias section, such as “Homophobia may be shown in ways as mild as laughing at a gay joke” and “Children are not born hating; they learn to hate and fear from messages they receive growing up." That just speaks for itself.
Friday, January 5, 2007
Much as I don't identify as a Democrat, you gotta admit it's better to have them in power than the alternative. Take a look at the bills addressing gay rights already under consideration. My favorite is ending employment discrimination.
On the other hand, John Edwards came across as a typical sell-out Democrat in a campaign stop yesterday, trying to sound tolerant while also being pretty explicitly homophobic. How else can he explain finding it a "challenge to him personally" to wrap his mind around gays getting married?
Wednesday, January 3, 2007
The sound byte for gay marriage supporters in Massachusetts has been that the civil rights of a minority should not be put to a popular vote. After all, as Equal Marriage puts it, "This is the basic guarantee of our constitutional democracy."
Tuesday, January 2, 2007
Breaking news: Homos love the internet—this from a recent Harris Interactive poll. I'm not sure if this is good news—you know, the old optimism about using the internet as a tool to create communities (and more readers!)—or bad. Let's just say I felt a little queasy when I read that "Excluding email, nearly twice as many gays and lesbians (32%) say they are online between 24 and 168 hours per week, compared to 18 percent of heterosexuals." On the one hand, that number could simply indicate that queers are more web-savvy (a fifth of us use Craigslist, compared to a seventh of hets), especially if it includes workday hours. On the other, it could suggest that many of us are terrified to leave the house or can't find dates in the real world. Or even worse: We're lazy slobs.
But the real issue is that our military needs more soldiers, and queer soldiers are better than no soldiers. "Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East," Shalikashvili writes bluntly, "We must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job."
The military has already lowered many of its other standards, so don't be too flattered. The most interesting thing to come from a possible policy shift will be that legislators will have to debate gay issues again, this time with pressure on them to include gays in our national cultural institutions.
Monday, January 1, 2007
Scientists at the
Gay rights activists are outraged. While it's a bit silly to defend sheep's "right" to be "gay," as Martina Navratilova did, there is talk of applying the research the humans by giving pregnant women the option to receive an injected hormonal cocktail to nip their son's homo tendencies in the bud. A Northwestern neurologist—not ethicist, not ob-gyn, not psychologist—tells the
Perversely, it's PETA that sounds the lone sane note of the article, condemning the study as "a needless slaughter of animals, an affront to human dignity and a colossal waste of precious research funds."
The research appears not to address ewe behavior in any way--which is odd, because their willingness is at least somewhat necessary to the mating process--or whether the hormone shot would be likely to keep human girl babies on the straight and narrow, too.
And, in yet more bad news from Iraq, this article tipped me off that gays and lesbians have been targeted for kidnappings and killings in Baghdad. Though, with the number of murders in
On a lighter note, lesbians in