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June 30, 2005

Comments

lj: You haven't quoted anything that I have actually written.

Actually, I have. And frequently. You, on the other hand, have chosen to pretty much ignore everything I've been saying, as far as I can see.

Honestly, I don't see that we're accomplishing anything by further debate: it's frustrating me that you won't respond to what I'm saying, and it's evidently frustrating you that you feel I'm not, either. Let's just agree to quit.

Sure, that sounds fine. I'm sorry if I offended you in any way as that was not my intent.

lj, part of what has been so frustrating about this discussion for me is that I recognise you're a person of goodwill. It's just that - as Gwendolyn and Phil both commented - we seem unable to communicate properly on this issue. I have taken momentary offense at some of the things you've said (and apologise for the things I've said that have offended you) - but only momentary. I'm not bearing a grudge - I'm just giving up!

LJ -- it is absolutely your right to be offended by people kissing, but it is not your right to therefore prevent people from kissing. You have no right to an offense-free life.

Sorry, but that's the way it is.

LJ -- it is absolutely your right to be offended by people kissing, but it is not your right to therefore prevent people from kissing. You have no right to an offense-free life.

Sorry, but that's the way it is.

Old, typepad! I said it was getting old!

Find a new routine, damn server!

it is absolutely your right to be offended by people kissing, but it is not your right to therefore prevent people from kissing. You have no right to an offense-free life.

As I read it he doesn't want to prohibite it or anything, he just thinks it is rude and counterproductive. Which means I agree with him ;-)

I live in a relatively gay-friendly country but even here there still is a difference. To name an example: Either gays are notoriously bad at topsport (which would suprise me greatly since there is no difference on the recreational levels) or that is still a sector where gays are not comfortable expressing their sexual preference. And my friend who is director of a local bank-office needed some time before she decided to take her girlfriend to the partner-events.

At the same time: we have quite a number of gay politicians, from party-leaders to mayors. In my basketballteam I have one half of a gay couple with kids who will marry this year, a gay couple without kids who *are* married and plan on climbing all the big mountains in the earth, and half of a couple with registred partnerships. There is no difference between them and the ones in heterosexual relationships/marriages with or without kids. Not in attitude, not in behaviour, not in dress, not in items they discuss.

I always felt that having plenty of 'normal' people who were gay was more constructive for acceptance than having people who behave in a very provocative manner.

Dutchmarbel: I always felt that having plenty of 'normal' people who were gay was more constructive for acceptance than having people who behave in a very provocative manner.

The only problem is, people frequently seem to have different standards of "normality" for gays than they do for straights. Is it "provocative" for a man to kiss a woman? If not, then it shouldn't be considered provocative for two women to kiss, or two men. Is it "provocative" for a woman to have her wife's picture on her desk, or a mug that says "Eight out of ten cats prefer lesbians"? Not if it's not considered "provocative" for a man to have his wife's picture on his desk, or a t-shirt that says "My other girlfriend is a super-model".

I've said, consistently, all along, that gay people ought to feel able to be as "in your face" as straights do. No more, no less. For some reason, lj consistently interpreted this to mean "rude" - but never explained if he thinks all straights consistently behave rudely and aggressively about their sexuality. (This is not my experience, I should say.)

For some reason, lj consistently interpreted this to mean "rude" - but never explained if he thinks all straights consistently behave rudely and aggressively about their sexuality.

Jes, I agreed to step back, but apparently, like 'in your face', 'stepping back' is something where our definitions don't match.

I've tried to explain that it's not the question of being rude, it's a question of how we move society to where we want it to be. I feel that there are a lot of people who see the world and their culture changing quickly, far too quickly for them to make sense of, and the argument of (and I repeat) 'we're here, get used to it' may be counterproductive. The response has been 'well, we control the reins of power, get used to that'. Nothing about kissing, or holding hands, and every time these get thrown up, I try to carefully redirect the conversation to what I want to talk about, I get more and more florid accusations about my personal likes and dislikes.

If we take the template of civil rights for African Americans as a model, I just don't see the 'we're here, get used to it' as part of the strategy. Perhaps this is simply the mismatch between civil rights for ethnic minorities and that for sexual minorities, but I'm wondering how we move to a society where a homosexual couple can say 'we're pregnant' and have that treated as commonplace. As I noted, your quote seems to suggest that when straights do this, it is 'blatant'. That's all. I agree that there are different standards of morality for gays as opposed to straights. I don't find any of the examples you cite as "provocative", but by listing them, you seem to acknowledge that people think they are. The question is why do they think so? If it is that you believe that they are hopelessly backward and can never be educated, then you are seem to be suggesting that we need to crush these kinds of people totally. When I suggest that this may be springing from something that might be explainable, I get called a homophobe. Please stop.

The response has been 'well, we control the reins of power, get used to that'.

Has it? Who said that? And who does, in your view, control the reins of power?

I've tried to explain that it's not the question of being rude, it's a question of how we move society to where we want it to be.

Okay. Can you explain, then, why you feel that the primary method used by the LGBT civil rights movement from 1969 and earlier to the present day, which has in fact worked very successfully, ought to be abandoned?

but I'm wondering how we move to a society where a homosexual couple can say 'we're pregnant' and have that treated as commonplace.

Well, I can tell you, but it's a method you appear to want the LGBT civil rights movement to abandon or reverse. It's very simple on the face of it, though it takes considerable courage: it means doing exactly what straight couples do. Telling people, whether or not they'll be offended. Because when enough people become aware that it happens and it's no big deal, then it will be a commonplace.

A Christian bigot may still attempt to make a big deal out of lesbian couples having children by AID, but will find an audience who thinks of the nice couple they know with one child already and another on the way less receptive: certainly less receptive than an audience who don't know they know any lesbian couples with children, because all of the lesbian couples they do know have hidden in the closet to avoid giving offense - or rather, to avoid getting beaten up, their children bullied at school, or even taken into care. In point of fact, LGBT people tend to be far more offended against than offending.

I don't find any of the examples you cite as "provocative"

Good. Then perhaps we have been arguing past each other: because this is how I have been arguing all along that LGBT people ought to behave, and you, it seems, agree with me once you understand what it is I'm saying. Which is nice, if a little exasperating.

If it is that you believe that they are hopelessly backward and can never be educated, then you are seem to be suggesting that we need to crush these kinds of people totally.

No. Rather the reverse. I am saying that the strategy I have been advocating in this thread has worked for the LGBT civil rights movement for decades because most people are not "hopelessly backward and can never be educated".

The strategy you seemed to be advocating, that of pushing LGBT people back into the closet to avoid offending people, would appear to suggest that most people are indeed "hopelessly backward and can never be educated". But no, we can move society to where we want it to be: indeed, over decades, we have done so far more nearly than a gay man in the 1950s would have thought possible. But it wasn't done by carefully avoiding giving offense - no more than civil rights for ethnic minorities were achieved by carefully tiptoeing around white sensibilities.

Has it? Who said that? And who does, in your view, control the reins of power?

Sorry I wasn't clear, the smaller comment box makes it difficult to navigate and edit longer comments. The response I mentioned is to the argument "we're here, get used to it' and it is what, AFAICS is the reaction to the notion of gay marriage. My larger point is that this argument is akin to a Taoist argument for historical inevitability. This assumes that what is right will eventually win out. Perhaps, but 'eventually' is not what I want for my gay friends, or my children, or even for me.

Can you explain, then, why you feel that the primary method used by the LGBT civil rights movement from 1969 and earlier to the present day, which has in fact worked very successfully, ought to be abandoned?

Let me type this one more time, I'm not calling for 'abandonment', or 'renunciation'. Provocation is useful as a tactic, especially when people are refusing to acknowledge the existence of gay people. (It also seems especially useful on blog comments when one wants to provoke a response, I think).

But are you saying that the Gay Liberation Movement has been nothing but provocative acts? Looking at this timeline, I am having a hard time determining the cause and effect of this. 60's timeline and a 70's timeline.

Each situation calls for a different set of tactics that is tailored to that situation. In the context of the comments of a thread that is supposed to be an opportunity for people from different sides to get together and discuss, how is 'get used to it' a useful argument?

it's a method you appear to want the LGBT civil rights movement to abandon or reverse.

Everytime you say "you appear" or "you seem", I think you should take a deep breath and ask yourself why you are using those phrases. Please read my paragraph that begins with "let me type". Rinse, repeat.

I've cut out a large portion about provocation, because I don't think it moves the conversation forward and I thought we agreed to leave it. Honestly, Gwendolyn and Dutchmarbel seem to understand where I am coming from, so I'm at a loss why you don't. Perhaps I am just not happy with the notion that one must constantly give offense in order to effect change. It seems that this kind of philosophy covers a range of sins.

This assumes that what is right will eventually win out. Perhaps, but 'eventually' is not what I want for my gay friends, or my children, or even for me.

So, again, why are you advocating the renunciation of the successful tactic of being open about being gay - as open as you take for granted you can be about being straight?

Let me type this one more time, I'm not calling for 'abandonment', or 'renunciation'. Provocation is useful as a tactic, especially when people are refusing to acknowledge the existence of gay people.

Huh? I thought you'd just agreed that gay people who are being as open about being gay as straight people are about being straight weren't being provocative. Do we have to go back over that again, or should I just give up now?

But are you saying that the Gay Liberation Movement has been nothing but provocative acts?

Nope. You are the one apparently persistently arguing that a gay person being out of the closet is nothing but a provocative act. I'm not.

In the context of the comments of a thread that is supposed to be an opportunity for people from different sides to get together and discuss, how is 'get used to it' a useful argument?

How is "get back in the closet, stop being so provocative as to remind people you exist" a useful argument?

Let me type this one more time, I'm not calling for 'abandonment', or 'renunciation'.

But as far as I can see, you're doing nothing else. You again seem to be arguing that gay people being out - as out as straight people take for granted - is "provocative". Having decided that, you then argue that being "provocative" isn't a good strategy.

Perhaps I am just not happy with the notion that one must constantly give offense in order to effect change.

And I am just not happy with the notion that for me to be truthful and open about what I am is regarded, by you, as to be "constantly giving offense".

Perhaps I am just not happy with the notion that one must constantly give offense in order to effect change.

And I am just not happy with the notion that for me to be truthful and open about what I am is regarded, by you, as to be "constantly giving offense".

So, once again, I give up.

I want to throw something out for discussion, and I really regret that I can't provide a cite - the article is archived, but only available for a fee. (Unless someone has a copy of last Sunday's Toronto Star lying around? If anyone is interested enough to pay, try here.)

At any rate, this article ("When Matt Became Jade") details the story of a student at a Toronto high school coming out as a transgendered person. (Apologies in advance for any pronoun issues!) When this student concluded that he would really feel most comfortable living as a woman, he was fortunate enough to have very supportive parents, but also to go to a supportive school. The day she first came to school, dressed in women's clothing, the school had a guidance counselor there to field questions and give Jade some insulation and support; the school administration also passed around information to teachers, expressing the importance of supporting Jade.

This is probably not a realistic situation for all gay/lesbian/trans people coming out - there are only so many guidance counselors, after all - and certainly for an adult coming out at work, there isn't likely to a person to stand with them this way.

But I think this article is important because it shows that people can come out, all at once, and in a way that some people would certainly call provocative, and there need be no issues. (I believe one parent called Jade's school to ask what they intended to do about the "issue", only to be asked, "What issue?") What struck me as most important was that 1. it was made clear from the first that the adult population of the school was behind Jade all the way, 2. it was treated as an open, normal thing by the adults, giving the students a clear and positive model to follow, and 3. somebody was there to make sure students who were upset could go and talk to an adult, get explanations, and hopefully some understanding of why Jade felt the need to live openly in the way that felt most right to her.

Some people will always be offended by some actions - but it strikes me that this is good anecdotal evidence that, at least in a situation where the person who is coming out (or whatever) is not alone and not perceived to be alone by the general population, coming out can be a (fairly) smooth, safe process. High school isn't all that far behind me, and I remember how much homophobia there was, and how much of it was just taken for granted. Homosexuality is normal; making sure that it is shown to be is the way to get people to take it for granted that it is, and to just accept it like any other relationship.

I think this is what we in Dutch call "krommunicatie" (krom = twisted).

Jes: I read LJ as if he feels that gay people should be as open as heterosexuals, but not MORE provocative than them. Which is why I tend to agree...

I like the exaggeration in a gay parade and laugh about all our police officers wearing pink bow-ties on gaypride day, but if all gay people would walk around like that in normal live it would be counterproductive. We have darkrooms in gaybars and such, people know they exist, but it is not the first thing we think of when we think about gays and I think that is a good thing.

You are right about how difficult it sometimes is to choose a kind of behaviour. It is for heterosexual couples too. The mores differ from environment to environment and there are a lot of unwritten rules in various groups.

I think talking about your children or your fertility problems (not being able to have a child with your partner counts as fertility problem in my book) is normal. Being very open about our own fertility problems showed me that among heterosexual couples it is often perceived as a taboo subject too. I am more irritated by the guy who was very "possesively" fondling his girlfriend than by the gay couple who are holding hands and are obviously very much in love. I have worked in environments were having a picture of your loved one on your desk was "not done", I have worked in environments were everybody had a picture on their desk: hetero's, gay's - and the single guy had a picture of his beloved dog on his desk.

That is why I feel that the best way to behave is the way the other people in your environment behave. If you move in circles where people are scantily clad and kiss all the time - feel free. If you live in an environment where people are not very affectionate in public (like LJ's from his description), refrain from to much fondling and kissing. If people talk about their loved ones, talk about yours too...

If I look at the Netherlands and the changed attitude in the past decades, I think the best promotion of gay rights was more gay people that other folks could identify with. In soaps, in politics, in entertainment, in series... As an example: Having a popular entertainer who was in a fixed relationship with a sympathetic guy for 30 years created a lot more understanding in a population that associates gay men with leather, chains and orgies.

Dutchmarbel: Jes: I read LJ as if he feels that gay people should be as open as heterosexuals, but not MORE provocative than them.

Actually, that's what I've been saying - and LJ has been disagreeing with me. If in your view he's been agreeing with me, he's not been communicating his agreement terribly well.

Which really has been the thing all along, AFAICS.

I quote from Liberal Japonicus:

I suppose, but it's not that I want gay men and women to go hide in the closet, it's that I don't want to see them parade on the street in leather and chains. I feel the same way about heterosexuals parading in similar garb.

I forgot to check the time of the post (/me smaps forehead) but it was one where he described how he and his wife are not very affectionate in public either because that is their norm.

I have the impression that you read his comments as if he suggested that gays hide their orientation to make sure they do not offend. For me the comment I quoted was the condensation of LJ's view and I read everything afterwards in that light.

Your comments can easily be read as promoting more open and more provocative actions from gay people. That can be interpreted as "be as open as heterosexuals" but it can also be interpreted as "just stuff it in their face till they recognize and accept it". I am glad you made clear that the first interpretation is the correct one - but I wasn't sure. It might well be that the hurt you must have witnessed and experienced in how people did NOT accept you and/or your friends makes your tone slightly more agressive, which for the reader translates into a more agressive stance than you actually try to describe. For those who have to live through it it is a much more emotional subject than for those who observe it I'm afraid, and emotion is usually a communication distortion.

I *am* glad to see that I can agree with both of you. And I would like to add that I really hope that in the near future homo(bi)sexuality will not be something outstanding at all.

There seems to be a lot of bad karma floating around, not helped by the fact that Typepad made the response time rather random, so I just want to note that Dutchmarbel accurately captures my feelings and leave it at that.

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