I Kissed A Girl

I’ll never forget the first time I heard Katy Perry’s instant hit, “I Kissed A Girl.” It was a rare occasion where I was at a lesbian bar with some friends (I don’t go out because I can’t handle large crowds in confined spaces). All of a sudden, this song started and within the first two measures the whole club was cheering wildly. I paid attention to the lyrics and discovered why quickly.

I am not as thrilled with that song as so much of the gay community is. A few years ago, I worked part-time as a mentor at a shelter home for girls taken from their parents by CPS. One of the girls, the first night she was there, announced to the rest of the house that she liked to tell girls at school that she was a lesbian purely for the shock factor. I explained (without giving myself away) that saying that sort of thing for that reason could be offensive to actual lesbians, particularly if one of them asked her out and she had to tell the truth. I explained that it wasn’t nice because not only is coming out a difficult process for some people, but if you give a lesbian hope and she falls for you, she’ll be crushed when she finds out that you lied. The girl didn’t quite understand what I was saying and refused to stop doing it.

I’m still struggling to figure out when it became chic to say you’re gay.

I like Katy Perry. I still remember when she was recording under her real name, Katy Hudson, as a Christian singer. I remember when she made an appearance on the POD song “Goodbye For Now”. Even though I prefer hard rock and heavy metal, I do like Katy Perry’s music. I don’t really care for this particular song, though, because being gay should not be a fashion statement. I don’t think that’s how she meant it, and I certainly don’t mean to criticize her too harshly because she’s not the only person to have sung, written, or talked about experimenting with same-sex relationships. This song is one of the most widely-recognized missives about it.

When I began to realize that I might actually be a lesbian, my whole life turned upside-down. I had been raised in a culture that wasn’t very forgiving. Southern Christian churches in the late 80’s and early 90’s were far more anti-gay than they are now, believe it or not. The only time I ever heard anyone talk about gay people it was usually in church and the things said were very disparaging – and usually accompanied by the most shocking images the Christian world could find of gay pride parades and festivals. I was raised to believe that being gay was an illness, and if you were gay then G-d had given up on you. I spent six months so depressed that I am, to this day, surprised that I survived.

Hearing a song like “I Kissed A Girl” was almost a slap in the face to the struggle that I recall as the darkest point in my life. I don’t think for one second that Katy Perry meant to offend anyone with the song – not even her parents, who are still deeply religious. That song is just one part of a growing popularity contest on who can be a better friend to the gays. More often than not, it includes straight people saying that they pretended to be gay and using that to say they understand how I feel.

No. You really don’t. If you’re going to support us, then support us. Don’t toss out your version of “I Kissed A Girl” and claim it as a badge of honor. If you are straight, be straight and happy and support us as exactly who you are.

Practice What You Preach

Russia is not very gay-friendly. That’s putting it mildly.

The 2014 summer Olympic games will be held in Sochi despite a frightening number of very real gay hate crimes being committed all over Russia. Vladimir Putin himself recently gave a speech in which he said that Russia would not tolerate “being genderless or fruitless” (I personally consider myself VERY fruity, actually, so that shouldn’t be a problem).

When speaking to MSNBC about the issue, gay actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein (you’d know him from Independence Day, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Disney’s Mulan) was very candid in talking to Chris Hayes about Russia’s new ban on “gay propaganda”. The language of the law is so ambiguous that police can toss anyone in jail for the most minor support of gay rights. Fierstein gave Vladimir an out that the dictator doesn’t deserve when he said that Putin is only in it for the money – that it’s right-wingers and their popularity that’s driving this mess.

Fierstein is falling victim to a belief that people are inherently good. Human beings are not. Putin is likely every bit as anti-gay as the new laws suggest, and it has more to do with his communist beliefs from his days in the KGB than with any religious or political ideal. Communism – like the Nazi brand of fascist socialism – needs new workers to survive. People have to procreate and add more able bodies to the force of “the people”. Gay people cannot procreate and are therefore useless to the greater good, so they must be done away with.

It astounds me that so many people fail to understand that concept. What’s more, gay leftists like Fierstein are far more willing to pin the blame on “right-wingers” than to acknowledge the truth – an act that goes against his stated mission to make people face the realities of anti-gay Russia.

Fierstein is right in making the parallel between 1936 Germany and today’s Russia. In 1936, the world gave a squishy “we don’t like your anti-Jew campaign” response to the Games being held in Berlin. Rather than boycott the games, they allowed Hitler to get away with just taking down the propaganda – then when everyone went home, Shoah began. More than six million Jews and upwards of eight million other “undesirables” (including homosexuals) were butchered. The anti-Jewish propaganda began in Nazi Germany much the way anti-gay propaganda is starting in today’s Russia. An undercurrent of belief that gays are filthy, lazy, and destructive to the country’s morals has given rise to a government movement. Laws banning gay couples from adopting preceded laws banning public support of any form of gay rights. Public attacks on gays are becoming more violent and more popular. It will continue to escalate until and unless other people stop talking and actually do something.

He is wrong to suggest that religion alone or a certain political ideal that many gay liberals believe is mirrored here in the US is responsible for this kind of thing. Like it or not, Russia, like Iran and most of the Sharia-loving Muslim nations in the Middle East, believes that the gay rights movement DOES come from the West. They believe that it’s a problem that we gave them. He can get angry with that fact all he wants. It does not negate the truth that he’s refusing to face.

We should be boycotting the Games. We should be standing up to Russia on this issue. We won’t now any more than we would have in Berlin in 1936 because the Games are more important. Fierstein, however, is like the rest of the gay left. He is far too willing to blame the conservative movement for this problem. In so doing, he (and Dan Savage like him) encourages the people who openly hate me for being a lesbian who is conservative. The people who push me around, throw drinks in my face, pick fights with me, and send me death threats take their cues from men like him.

When you learn to control your own hate, you can preach to the rest of the world about controlling theirs. Clean up your own act before you get on that pulpit.

Grow Up

This was included in a recent comment about Equal Marriage Arizona’s campaign to allow same-sex marriage, from a fellow lesbian in Tucson:

“JMJ, I have publically stuck my neck out for 40 years so people like her can come out. Grow up.”

This is not the first time I have heard this very remark from a gay liberal. Many times I have had gay liberals bash me for being conservative by telling me that they’ve been “out” for a long time and that they are the ones who helped make my coming-out and that of others possible. It is a remark that is designed to be demeaning and belittling.

I will not tolerate it.

Nobody, regardless of how long they’ve been out, some how “made it possible” for me or anyone else to come out. You didn’t come out so that it would be easier for me – you came out for yourself. I would have come out of the closet regardless of anything you did or how long you did it. Why? Because I’m a lesbian, and it was something that I couldn’t ignore. I couldn’t deny it anymore than I could deny the fact that I am alive and need to breathe, eat, and sleep. Some of my friends got married and tried to have what society considered a “normal” life; they had children, they tried to love their spouses, but in the end realized they were living a lie. Like me, they had to eventually accept the fact that they were lesbians. Nobody who came before us came out so that we could. You were NOT thinking of future generations when you first stuck your neck out publicly.

We would have come out with or without you. It would have happened sooner or later simply because it was our nature. It is unbelievably pompous and arrogant to attack us with the belief that you are somehow responsible for us coming out. You say you “stuck your neck out” for 40 years? Bravo. Thank you. Don’t kid yourself, though. None of that was done to make it easier for me. I am well aware that you only did it for yourself and I find it insulting on many levels that you expect me to believe the way you do just because you’re older.

The big difference between gay liberals and my friends who tried desperately to make their straight marriages work is astounding. It takes a hell of a lot more courage to come out when you’ve been married for 20-odd years and have children than it does to come out when you’re young and have no obligations. Think of everything some of those women have had to go through. After years of believing that they’re living the right way, they realize that they’re lesbians. They know they’re about to upend the lives of everyone around them – their husbands, their children, nieces, nephews, in-laws, their own parents. They face the possibility of being disowned by everyone. They know their children may never speak to them again. If they’re attending church, all of their friends will disappear. Everything that is familiar is going to evaporate before their eyes, and they know it. It is a hell I am grateful I didn’t have to face.

Claiming that you are somehow responsible for anyone else’s realization and ultimate acceptance of their sexual orientation cheapens the struggle that each of us faces. In that one comment, you had the temerity to say that what we have gone through is meaningless. It is as crass and selfish as it is smug to make the presumption that you had anything to do with any of us accepting who we were.

We can at least say that we have been able to have civil, rational conversations with other conservatives and they are willing to consider changing their minds because we aren’t calling them names. That’s a hell of a lot more than you can say. When I have to start a group of conservative lesbians that has to be kept closed and invisible to others on Facebook because of the retribution we face from gay liberals, it says a lot about you and your character.

DOMA Has Fallen

As expected, the Supreme Court has handed the decision over California’s Prop 8 back to the lower courts (all of which held that it was Unconstitutional). Now gay marriage will resume in CA. What SCOTUS didn’t do, as many gay liberals had hoped they would, was declare all gay marriage laws Unconstitutional, throwing the doors wide open for gay marriage everywhere, regardless of state laws and in violation of state’s rights.

What they DID do, however, was strike down DOMA. That is a consolation we can definitely live with.

What does that mean? It means that the federal government cannot legally deny benefits to same-sex couples married in states where gay marriage is legal. It also means that states where gay marriage is banned cannot continue to deny the benefits of married couples to those same-sex families. SCOTUS declared DOMA to be a violation of both equal treatment/due process (Fifth Amendment) and the Full Faith and Credit Clause (Article IV, Section I of the Constitution). In short, the federal government cannot pass a law that singles out gay couples to be denied certain benefits, and the states must honor any contract made in another state – which, in this case, would be gay marriage.

Now I’m just waiting for the Full Faith and Credit Clause to be applied to my paramedic license and my CCW. But that’s another issue.

The fact that SCOTUS didn’t hand down a ruling that immediately legalizes gay marriage in every corner of the Republic is not something to get upset about. They did what they were supposed to do – they interpreted the laws being challenged under the scope of the Constitution and ruled accordingly. They left the state issue to the state in question and handled the federal issue before them. DOMA is no more. That is something to celebrate.

I think I might actually take my nose out of my books for once and go out this weekend.

What it means for Equal Marriage Arizona is that the movement goes forward with efforts to bring marriage equality to Arizona. Having already taken the wind out of Cathy Herrod’s sails, Equal Marriage Arizona happily released to the public their intent to immediately begin collecting signatures to put the measure on the ballot next year. Warren Meyer said, “The US Supreme Court said today that the states can decide this issue for themselves, and this legitimizes our Equal Marriage Arizona efforts, allows Arizona voters the chance to guarantee the freedom to marry and guarantee religious freedoms. We’re confident the Arizona voters are ready to say YES to both of these interrelated freedoms.”

Erin Ogletree Simpson continued the sentiment: “Petitions will be printed today and our volunteer efforts will start tomorrow. People can get a petition by calling us at 480-625-8620. Whether you’re straight or gay, conservative like I am, or liberal this is an effort we all can embrace – an effort for guaranteed freedom to marry and a guarantee for religious freedom. The Supreme Court said it’s up to us, so now it’s up to all of us.”

If you’re in Arizona, it’s time to start work. Everywhere else…smile!

Equality Is Coming (UPDATED)

I am finally able to say it: I’ve been in the loop on the first initiative of its kind here in Arizona. Currently, 12 states have legalized gay marriage. Now, Equal Marriage Arizona – helmed by conservatives and libertarians – has come out with amendments to the Arizona constitution that would legalize gay marriage for the first time in a Red State.

Today I joined a meeting that began with people from both ends of the political spectrum to begin coming up with strategy and attempting to enlist gay rights groups in an effort to bring marriage equality to the state I currently reside in. The tension was palpable; I could almost say there were some who exuded animosity at certain times. During our discussions, some could not help but bring up the fact that they’ve been working on equality for a long time. I couldn’t help but wonder whether that was their way of saying they knew better than the conservatives leading the charge what to do or if it was their ego coming out to say, “we want credit” – either way, I felt a sense that we had taken a big step forward in achieving something that no primarily conservative state has been able to accomplish yet.

A good friend and the chair of Arizona Log Cabin Republicans Caucus, Erin Simpson, had let me in on it and asked me to keep it on the down-low since nobody was sure if it would make it off the ground. I was excited to meet some of the other people behind the initiative and get the chance to hear everyone’s concerns, and I was particularly excited to finally be able to say publicly that we could actually win this.

I have said many times before that I would never support any marriage equality bill that did not also include specific provisions to reinforce religious freedom. Any law I got behind would have to explicitly protect the right of any church or religious organization to refuse to assert their freedom of religious expression and refuse to marry a couple, whether gay or straight. This initiative does exactly that. It is exactly two sentences, changing the language of the bill that was voted into law in 2008 that declared marriage as being between one man and one woman. It changes the language from defining marriage as between “a man and a woman” to being between “two persons”. Also added is the following phrase:

“A religious organization, religious association, or religious society shall not be required to solemnize or officiate any particular marriage or religious rite of marriage in violation of its Constitutional right to free exercise of religion.”

No church will ever be forced to marry a gay couple if they choose not to. The doomsday predictions that churches will be sued for such refusals are shut down before they even begin. Gay and lesbian couples get their right to marry and Evangelicals are protected – which was exactly what I was personally after. And – bonus! – it’s been started by right-leaning leaders in the Arizona political scene. Erin is also a lesbian, a successful retired lawyer, and a wonderful woman with a lot of experience and wisdom to add to the debate on equality. The co-chair, Warren Meyer, is a successful businessman and libertarian. Others who are on board now once didn’t believe in marriage equality. That they are so honest is inspiring to me. It gives me hope that we can live in peace.

Equality is coming. It’s inevitable. I would simply prefer to have a say in all the other issues that come with it, and I am happy that things are changing.

UPDATE: after re-reading this post, I am aware that I didn’t explain something very well. I was never aware before the day of the meeting that this legislation was coming. I knew that SOMETHING was about to happen, but I did not know what until the day of the first meeting. When I finally got to the meeting and found out what it was, I had a very hard time not whipping my phone out and sharing the news with everyone. Someone that I know and respect was helping to get this initiative off the ground and I did not want to say anything until I had the green light from them. I apologize that this was not clearer when I first posted this.

By Proclamation Of The One

Apparently, June is now GLBT Pride month. So saith President Obama, who – upon making his declaration – once again took the moment to bang on his chest about all he has done for the gay community.

Gag me.

I don’t need to go through all of the reasons why he is not our friend again. You can read what I had to say about that here. What I am going to do is pull back the blinds on an issue that irks me – one you’d think gays and lesbians in the US would be more conscientious about.

Gay rights in the Middle East.

President Obama makes grand speeches like the one he made just a few days ago, regaling us all with tales of his “partnership” with the gay community and his belief that we should be equal, but he openly ignores the plight of gays and lesbians in the Middle East. In Iran, gay men are hung publicly. In Egypt, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Qatar, and especially Saudi Arabia, gay men are beaten, starved, tortured, stoned and beheaded. What’s more, the same things are done by the supposedly peace-loving Palestinians – uneasy neighbors to Israel.

What should be heartwarming is the fact that Israel welcomes gay people. There is no legal discrimination (with the exception of a ban on gay adoptions, which can easily be circumvented there, as opposed to here). Gay pride parades can happen in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem without fear of bombings or shootings because they are protected by police and IDF. Gay tourism in Tel Aviv has grown, and this year’s pride festival drew more attendees from Israel and Europe than most US pride festivals. Tel Aviv is listed as one of the world’s most gay-friendly cities – I dare say because there are very few, if any, Palestinians there.

Go ahead, call me a hatemonger. I don’t hate them – I just don’t trust them.

I am damn proud to be an American, but I am mortified that my President will proclaim an entire month gay pride month while he throws billions of dollars in cash and weapons at nations that would see my people rounded up and slaughtered if they could get away with it (both gays and Jews). Celebrities in my country of birth claim to support my rights as a lesbian to live freely and openly while also attacking the only nation in the Middle East that allows gay people to live in the open and cares when one of us is attacked or murdered. I am disgusted that so many people of note in America are so willing to be so hypocritical and excuse themselves as somehow more “moral” than I am.

June is also cat adoption month. It has gone ignored by Obama.

You know what else it is? This is very personal for me – PTSD awareness month. This is where I come out of the closet. I have PTSD.

The details are my business, but until I was diagnosed in 2009 I struggled with depression, memories that I couldn’t get rid of, flashbacks, panic attacks – the whole nine yards. I knew something was off but I couldn’t tell what until I met a therapist who put it all together. Right now, that therapist is the only reason I’m still in the Phoenix area. I have made incredible strides toward having something resembling a normal life only to have liberals in the past few months saying publicly that I should have certain rights – particularly my Second Amendment rights – taken away because I’m somehow dangerous. June is the month set aside to bring attention to those with PTSD, and Obama all but thumbed his nose at it when he decided to declare it gay pride month.

I am insulted. I feel like I’m being slapped in the face by a government that refuses to acknowledge my right to disagree. I am being lied to by a man who claims to care about my rights as a lesbian, yet cares nothing for the gay and lesbian victims all over the Middle East who fear death every day. I refuse to accept his proclamation. As soon as Obama stops trying to pander to groups that he refuses to help protect overseas, I’ll believe he cares about my rights.

A Time For Equality

When I was born, being openly gay was only acceptable in certain parts of San Francisco. Even in the Castro, police would harass known gay people. Everywhere else? Forget it. New York City wasn’t even partially as progressive as San Francisco was. I’m getting ahead of myself, though.

With the collapse of Nazi Germany (the third installation of which I will post tomorrow), a gay-rights movement sprang up in Europe, the UK, and the US. I think it may have been spurred on by the revelation that the Nazis had targeted homosexuals for extermination along with the Jews. The original movement gained a surprising amount of steam considering the conservative social sensibilities of the time. In 1966 LAPD officers raided Compton’s Cafeteria to arrest men dressed as women and a riot broke out – the drag queens and transgendered patrons destroyed the place. The next day, they went back to the cafe and smashed the newly-replaced plate-glass windows again (because, you know, destruction is the only way to get your point across when you’ve barely attempted to talk). In 1969, NYPD officers raided the Stonewall Inn, one of many mafia-owned gay bars.

Maybe I should explain here what laws were like in America at the time. Even in places that are now known as firmly leftist – Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco – there were decency laws. Some were targeted specifically towards those who identified as G, L, B, or T – in fact, it was illegal to knowingly run a bar or restaurant geared toward homosexuals. Men were not allowed to wear women’s clothing and women were not allowed to be too masculine. Laws for women were specific enough in some areas that in New York, for instance, a woman was required to wear at least three pieces of feminine clothing. Anyone caught in violation of public decency laws was subject to immediate arrest. Police harassment was commonplace. The First Amendment did not carry the same weight that it carries now; you were allowed to speak freely and express yourself, but if you ran afoul of the morality laws you no longer had those rights.

Nobody can accuse me of not knowing or understanding gay history.

Mafia crime families knew that clubs catering to gay patrons were cash cows waiting to be exploited, so they opened the first regular gay bars in Greenwich Village. They overcharged for drinks and watered down the booze, but they also paid off the police to make raids on their establishments less frequent. On June 28, 1969, four NYPD officers barged in to raid the club. Patrons began to refuse to produce IDs, so the officers decided everyone was going to jail. Male officers frisking lesbians all but sexually assaulted them. The few who were released assembled a crowd outside, even gathering passing pedestrians to witness what was going on. Finally, a lesbian being dragged out was beaten for complaining that she was uncomfortable – she called to the crowd that had gathered, at least 150 strong, to “do something!” They did. A mob of around 500 or so gravitated to the area within minutes and construction materials, particularly boards and bricks, ended up being used. Police officers had to barricade themselves inside the bar they’d raided to protect themselves. Rioters then tried to light the bar on fire, even tore a parking meter out of the ground to break the door down. Riots continued for at least five days, with multiple fires being set.

The riots were bound to happen, but Stonewall was too extreme. Much like the Black Panthers on the heels of Dr. King’s assassination, the Stonewall rioters did more to damage the cause of gay rights than they did justice. It is a good thing that gay rights organizations began to sprout nationwide, but what was the cost? Much of America began to fight back in subtler ways. It would be another thirty years before gay rights movements would be acceptable in any form. Decency laws are still on the books in some areas, merely being ignored because it’s too time-consuming for police to enforce them. Sodomy laws were already on the books in some states, but many – including my home state of Texas – enacted them in the years following Stonewall, not to be overturned for 40 years.

I explained that so I can explain this: I don’t think that a Supreme Court ruling striking down all state-level gay marriage bans or even DOMA is going to be a positive thing for gay rights. I think it would, yet again, set our cause back significantly.

The arguments being made by social conservatives about gay marriage right now are so ridiculous in many cases that I’m having a hard time keeping a straight face as I listen to them. The sanctity of marriage? Really? We have a divorce rate soaring well above 60% and they want to prattle about the sanctity of an institution that the overwhelming majority of our society abuses at an alarming rate? There’s the argument that gay couples cannot procreate. Out of curiosity, does anyone have the latest figures on married couples who either actively refuse to have children or simply can’t have children? Do we now expect all married couples to produce a child for their marriage to be valid? Yeah, I didn’t think so. My personal favorite so far is the argument that children being raised in gay homes are more prone to being ostracized – more simply, bullied. I’m sorry, but how is that my fault? Is it not YOUR prejudices that teach your children to treat other people that way? If you know your kid is being a jerk, it’s up to you to correct their behavior. It’s not my issue and I won’t be disrespected because you’re too prejudiced and lazy to do the right thing. Your religious misgivings about my sexual orientation do not deserve recognition in the law of the land any more than Sharia does.

At the same time, history has proven that gray areas like this (yes, it is a gray area, whether we like it or not – we can’t yet be classified as a race and subcultures do not count) draw intense backlash when the courts issue broad rulings too quickly. As evidence, I present Proposition 8. After the California State Supreme Court made gay marriage legal in the state, the backlash was swift and severe. Prop 8 gained popularity among far more than conservatives in the state. California voters gave Obama a resounding victory – the same people who voted for him also voted yes on Prop 8, making gay marriage illegal once again and proving that opposition to gay marriage crosses political ideologies and is not confined merely to the GOP. Why? Californians of all stripes and party affiliations were saying that the courts, comprised of judges who are not elected, are not the final authority on what the people are willing to accept. Enough liberals in California were not yet prepared to allow gay marriage that the half-hearted, snarky anti-Prop 8 campaign was doomed to failure.

And the gay left is still blaming conservatives. Forget looking inward to figure out how we can change our message, we want someone to blame.

Our society has come a hell of a long way since that late summer raid in 1969. Despite those leaps forward, the gay left is acting as if marriage equality is a life-and-death struggle. We’re not being persecuted by government agencies. We’re not being hounded by the police anymore. I’m not going to be tossed in the clink because I have short hair and my clothing couldn’t be remotely considered feminine. The argument has now turned from ending oppression to government-sanctioned happiness, and really, I don’t need the government to give me a blessing or any special privileges – I’d still love my girlfriend with wild abandon and not give a damn who sees me holding her hand or kissing her in public.

We need to learn that there is a time for all things. Not all forms of equality are going to happen overnight, and my greatest fear is that the Supreme Court would hand down a ruling that would throw the gates open for gay marriage just so society’s pendulum can begin to swing the other way and we’ll end up with hard-line social conservatives at the helm that will undo so much of what we’ve accomplished. It can happen. It has happened before. Now that the real struggle is over, we need to back off a little bit and work on winning hearts and minds.