Thirty years ago in Gay History

MSNBC links to a good PI article on gay rights then and now. The story quotes Jamie Pedersen, an old friend of mine who David met for the first time at the gay-marriage discussion we attended recently at the new Library.

Of course the important thing to remember is how many people want to drag us back down Memory Lane, and how quickly that could happen if we’re not careful.

I’m a little prickly about the “Pride” in gay pride (as if Monday will be back to another 364 days of crippling shame). But if being gay (as opposed to being a good person) is something to be proud about, our collective ability to get out of the closet and keep from being shoved back in is that thing.

Pink Alert: Kiki and Herb in Seattle!

OK people, this is serious! God knows we could all use a laugh, and if Kiki and Herb can’t make you do it, nobody can. David and I saw them last summer in New York (albeit not at the same time), and David has been a fan for years. I just reserved eight tickets for Friday, June 25… email me if you want to go (first-come, first served, tickets are $18). The show is at 9, which leaves plenty of time for a nice dinner ahead of time. And thank God, the show’s 21+, so we can all try to keep pace with Kiki during the show.

Duplicitous son … or duplicitous dad?

I confess I didn’t know who Randall Terry is — I guessed he was one of the pantheon of homo-hating right-wing ideologues. Turns out he’s the founder of Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group with a mission to “rescue those unjustly sentenced to death”. Anyway, it seems his son is making the news, having outed himself in Out magazine.

Reading the response to this article from the father in the Washington Post — a story “about being Randall Terry’s homosexual son” — is just heartbreaking. Not because his son is gay, of course, but how the father claims to “understand” his son, but clearly just loathes who he is. The entire piece is written as though the son is some distant adversary, not a member of his family.

Some quotes from the article, and my comments:

The Out story paints a picture of my son based in fraud. The story states, “I was baptized Catholic and raised Protestant, and I later returned to the Roman Catholic Church.” This is not true. — Randall says “this is not true” with such certainty. I wonder if he could ever believe his son could return to the church without changing his sexual orientation.

The story states, “My father seems to believe that the fact that I’m an adopted child may help explain why I’m gay … I was adopted at the age of 5.” Jamiel was adopted when he was nearly 15, not 5. — And yet, Randall says that the boy joined his family at the age of 8 as a foster child (but not adopted until the age of 14). However, I’m sure the son counts joining the family as the defining event, not when the legal paperwork was finalized. And at that young age, the years kind of blur together — my parents divorced at around the same time for me, but I still can’t remember exactly how old I was at the time.

The story stated, “My father is still trying to get me to go to a three-month retreat to be ‘delivered’ from homosexuality.” Not true. Jamiel has repeatedly asked me to pay for him to go to “Love in Action” (an in-patient program with great success with homosexuals). I’m happy to pay that tab. — Offering to pay is a pretty clear sign the father wants the son to go. If the son had asked to go, and the father was willing to pay, why hasn’t the son gone?

He told journalists from CNN and The Washington Post that he is not welcome in my home because of his homosexuality. That is not true. I’ve had him in my home repeatedly since learning he was homosexual two years ago. — Having him in your home isn’t the same thing as him being welcome there.

My point isn’t to highlight the discrepancies between the father’s and son’s testimonies, though. What is so sad about this article is that the father apparently believes all of the discrepancies are due to the wilful distortions of the article’s author at Out magazine. But it’s plain that the real distortion lies with the father, who simply can’t see — or can’t accept — who his son really is.

Baby Okie has two daddies

Well this is one of those wild news stories where one knows pretty much everyone involved–as well as one of those that makes me hang my head in shame at being from Oklahoma. (If anyone ever wonders why I’m an expat Okie, read no further.

The short version is that the State of Oklahoma is giving some gay Seattle dads the run-around in getting a revised birth certificate reflecting both their names. It just so happens that Gregory, one of the dads, played rugby with David and I before the combination of daddy-duty and a nasty injury sidelined him. These are like the nicest guys in the world… and their daughter is darling. Too bad she came from where she did. The idiot Oklahoma Commissioner of Health (James Michael Crutcher, who has one of those great Oklahoma serial killer names) instructed the department to send a single-parent certificate listing Gregory, along with a note that they were unable to “establish maternity” for Ed. For that funny little quip, I hereby nominate Crutcher for the Golden Asshole award.

Thankfully proving that not all of Oklahoma’s political establishment are homophobic knuckledraggers, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson swiftly supplied the following opinion: “Upon receipt of a certified copy of an adoption decree the parentage established therein must be reflected on the supplementary birth certificate.”

Drew is a great guy–I met him several times when I was working for the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence (a group devoted to raising the “Oklahoma is OK!” standard a notch or two). I actually know his wife Linda much better, having worked with her on several good (which is to say, hopeless) causes in my Okie days.

Of course Gregory and Ed are still waiting for a revised certificate, but with the Christian Coalition having hijacked much of the state government, I’m sure the health commissioner knows he’ll get maximum political benefit from making them wait.

Now we know why we like Dozer so much

Scientists in England have announced the results of a novel (to say the least) way of answering (duh) the age-old question (duh) Of whether sexual orientation is innate (duh duh duh)–by testing how quickly one startles at a loud noise. Huh?

Apparently this is an innate response, and the same brain regions that initiate it also involve sexual desire. Apparently, gay men, like women, startle easier. Lesbians are less easily startled, like straight men. Of course. That must mean Dozer is uber-queer, as he gets startled before the sound waves actually reach his freakishly large ears! (Sorry, Dozer, it’s true.)

In unrelated gay news, Ananova also reports that several 17th century Cambridge chapels feature shared tombs of male lovers. Further research indicates that at least one of the couples referred to their relationship as a “connubium,” or marriage. Apparently somebody in the church was OK with it back then, pity we got lost along the way.

Of bears and bellies

OK, everyone… new category. When I do or say something really gay, Pete is always there to observe, “Well look at you, Gayee McGayerson!” It’s quite endearing, and from a straight guy way nicer than “Fag!”

Anyway, David is still down in the Gay Area, I mean Bay Area, at a trade show. I went down with him for the weekend and we had a lot of fun hitting the bars (except for the Eagle having been taken over by what I could only describe as polyamorous Linux geek club kids fresh from a thrifting binge) and shopping in the Castro. (What did we shop for, you might ask? I’ll never tell, but it was fun walking into the Leather Emporium in my floral-embroidered Hawaiian shirt carrying a bag of skin care products from Nancy Boy.) Overall, nothing that made us want to relocate– but fun.

The trip did reinforce my appreciation of one of the many joys of being in a secure and non-neurotic male couple: the lack of drama when something big and hunky crosses your field of vision. You both see it, you both look, and unless one of you stops listening and does an obvious double-take, no harm/no foul. You might even engage in a little rating or mutual spotting (“Ooh, look left, hottie at 3 o’clock”). But after all that, you both leave knowing that you’re leaving with the sexiest, most wonderful man in the place.

The key phrase in that paragraph was “big and hunky,” as neither David nor I have much interest in the under-fed and over-scupted gym bunny look. Neither of us fit that mold either. I’ve been working out regularly for months and for a lot of reasons probably more comfortable with my body that I’ve ever been, so I’m more than a little unhappy to hear David bemoan the really cute and sexy little belly he has. I mean after all, where some guys have six-packs, I’ve got a pony keg– so he better think bellies are sexy.

Well guess what? It’s official– bellies are the new Hot Gay Fashion Accessory. Don’t leave home without one! When the UK’s Guardian (which David loves) posts a story asking Is the potbelly the new gay ideal?, you know something is up.

This week in Salon (which of course you can’t really read anymore without paying or watching doofy interstitial ads), Andrew Sullivan has a great piece on bellies and bears, and their (our?) relation to the whole “post-gay” concept. While I gladly sign on as post-gay (I’m here, I’m queer, I’m used to it), I’ve been a little leery of taking on the “bear” label.

I took my tall, pretty, reedy, and nearly hairless friend Topher to a “bear party” a couple of years ago on the heels of a breakup with another tall, reedy guy. I was ready to claim my Bear Identity… until I got there. Wow. I will never have facial hair like that, I thought, or wear flannel shirts with the arms cut off. And did you smell that guy??? Topher was nonplussed, and kept suggesting we go eat. “But where do bears eat?” he mused, bemused. “What do bears eat? Honey?” By the look of things, bears ate a lot without much discrimination.

I did get flirted with a lot that night, but generally by the non-bear guys. I decided I was the “demi-bear,” kind of the gateway drug for skinny boys who just weren’t really ready to call someone “Daddy” (or, more to the point, “Smokey.”)

But it would seem that Bear-as-fetish is devolving into Bear-by-default, and that is something I can get with. I am always going to be hairy (and more so as the years go on). Even when I’m in prime rugby shape, I’m never going to be svelte. Getting “cut” or “ripped” just doesn’t happen, even when I bulk up precipitously. The Bear-by-default model is just a more natural and less artificial mode for most guys, and I’m happy to see myself as part of a trend that lets gay men enjoy good food, good beer, and the attentions of our peers who appreciate unfussy masculinity. And rugby proves that you can be a big boy and in great physical shape. The belly/bear trend may make the Quake the sexiest bunch of butch bitches in Seattle by year’s end (if we aren’t already).

That said, I still use two styling products in my hair. I still use deodorant. And until we hit the retro-Grunge era, no lumberjack flannel will grace my form. But I couldn’t agree more with Andrew Sullivan’s premise. Given the challenges of getting to anything good on Salon, I’ve copied his article below. Eager as I am to see “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” I’m glad this “Ursa Rising” aesthetic is there to counter the “cult of style.” It’s fun, but deeply stereotypical. And just not as hot as a guy with a hairy chest and a nice, comfortable belly.
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