Thursday, June 30, 2016

Happy Heterosexual Pride, I Guess

Imagine being the kind of person who says this, two weeks after the worst mass shooting in US history, which occurred at a gay nightclub:
"In my experience, there is nothing like the hatred that comes from the LGBT movement and its allies, even straights."
Sadly, this kind of ongoing rhetoric, uttered by none other than conservative Christian Rod Dreher (and proponent of Christian segregation from the rest of depraved, secular society) is to be expected after various LGBT victories (and mass shootings, I guess).

People of this sort seem to so misunderstand, indeed they don't even try to understand, what it is to grow up transgender, bisexual, lesbian, gay, or queer and thus what it is to be on the receiving end of multiple hatreds, that they trivialize our pain as whining or political correctness while their pain - their having to endure living in a society that treats us equally- they categorize as a human rights violation of the first order.

The message, consistently, is: our pain matters, yours doesn't.

And, I suppose most (all?) groups of people have this attitude to a degree.  Oppression Olympics and all that.

At this juncture, I could list some of the historical pain and grief of the LGBT movement in the US: our government's inaction with respect to the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, the religious right's approval of LGBT oppression under law, historic sodomy laws, the categorization of homosexuality as a mental illness, the disrespect of trans individuals' bodily autonomy and mental integrity, "love the sinner hate the sin" rhetoric, laws that disrespect the dignity of LGBT families.

I could analyze how all of what I list above is the result of various hatreds, and hell I suppose that's much of what I've done here over the course of years (plus femslash, obvs, because you have to have fun too).

And I really don't know what to say anymore about anti-LGBT Christians who have both large platforms to rail against "the LGBT movement" and yet who seem to so profoundly not understand our pain at all.

At a certain point, as I've quoted Karen Armstrong before, we have to ask ourselves (no matter how victimized we feel):
"'How much do I really know about [the other side's] history of pain, achievement, oppression, disappointment, fear, idealism, and aspiration ~ all of which, on both sides, have contributed to this violence?'"
Many days, I don't have the capacity for this, to be honest - and I don't blame others who feel the same. I suspect most people don't, and that's why... the world is what it is (ugh, worst sage philosophical saying ever: "it is what it is").

My startling revelation here is that I'm not sure what the best solution ever is in such situations - call people out? (which the Drehers of the world perceive as us oppressing them with charges of bigotry), dialogue (which can be incredibly draining: "Yes, please tell me how you're being oppressed, Straight Christian Anti-Gay Person"), blogging about it (somewhat cathartic, I guess)?

Dreher wrote a lot of words in his post from which I've pulled his quote. So, when I started the post by asking us to imagine being the kind of person who says what he says, well, I think it takes a strong LGBT person to get past (to want to get past) being called the Biggest Hater On Earth by an anti-LGBT individual.

And, simply put, because I read his blog on the regular, I do understand his position. I understand it far better than he has appeared to ever understand ours (ours being the LGBT movement) - which he often mocks relentlessly. I understand he has books to sell, too.

I also understand that when one is both interested in and adept at "mixed-company" conversations, they also understand that understanding itself furthers civil discourse and distances us from hatred. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Celebrate the Victories

I've been doing a re-watch of Queer As Folk and I'm finding that it's still entertaining, perhaps surprisingly, still relevant, at least insofar as it possibly represents a white gay male experience.*

Token lesbians Mel and Lindz aren't half as annoying as they were when I first watched the series 10 years ago (or so), perhaps due to my being, ahem, older now and finding myself relating more to them.

Emmett has remained my favorite of the gay male characters and I alternate between rolling my eyes at Brian Kinney and respecting his moral code. He is unashamedly an ethical slut, honest about his open relationships, as opposed to who I think of as The L Word equivalent, Shane, who is both promiscuous and capital-D-for-drama dishonest about it.

During a recent episode I watched, I appreciated a quote from PFLAG Mom Extraordinaire, Debbie. In context, the gay community was out in the streets celebrating the defeat of an anti-gay politician on election day. She says, to Emmett:
"Mourn the losses, because they are many. But celebrate the victories, because they are few."
This sentiment seems to be where I'm at in my political thinking at the moment.

I won't begrudge the dreamers of the world their dreams. In many respects, I stand with them. What I've been struggling with as of late are are those who, with every victory, are the first to remind us that there are always more important things we should immediately be worrying about.

It's important, at least to my ability to think about this stuff on an ongoing basis, to take time to acknowledge progress when it happens, no matter how incremental it is, even if shitty other things are still happening.

By the way, two favorable SCOTUS opinions yesterday (one on reproductive rights and one regarding gun control) AND Elizabeth Warren fully endorsing Hillary Clinton in the same day?! (*cough* Bernie who? *cough*)

Be still my heart.

(*Signal boost: Logo's Noah Arc, focusing on the lives of a group of black gay men in LA, is also entertaining if you haven't seen it yet! It doesn't seem to be streaming on Netflix though, unlike QAF).

Friday, June 24, 2016

Femslash Friday: Midwifery

I was going to make today's post an Orange is the New Black special, but if what I've been hearing about one of my favorite characters is true, I'm not sure I can bear to watch the recently-released season.

Instead, I'll highlight another woman-centric fave, Call the Midwife.

I like this one as it highlights two of my three most likely career choices if I had been a white 1950s lesbian: (a) midwife living in a convent or (b) an actual nun (I reckon I could somewhat have faked the being Catholic part if it meant I got live with all those other women, especially Sister Julienne, wait what?)

Anyway, if you're wondering what (c) is, I also could have probably played outfied or second base for the Rockford Peaches (obvs).

Enjoy some Patsy and Delia. I know I will. And I'm not 100% up to date on this, so if you have any bad news about either of these characters, share at your peril. I'm a broken-crayon length away from going Dark Willow on any show that wantonly kills off bi/lesbian characters.

Now, who wants to meet me for a Clandestine Glove Lunch at Lezzies for a couple of Eleanor Roosevelt Combos?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Bigots Gonna Bigot

Thought I'd check in to see if regular purveyor of anti-LGBT animus National Organization for [Heterosexual] Marriage (NOM) had anything to say about the largest mass shooting in US history, in which the killer targeted NOM's regular targets- LGBT individuals.

At its blog, NOM did not acknowledge the shooting.

As of today, it has posted 5 articles promoting its March For Marriage, which seeks to protest marriage equality in the US.

Inauspiciously, less than a week prior to the shooting, on June 7, 2016, it promoted an article at The Federalist, written by Rachel Lu, in which both NOM and The Federalist highlighted the following quote, implicitly approving of it:
"Within my lifetime, the LGBT movement will die."
How nice for Rachel and NOM that on June 12th, 2016 a piece of their apparent fantasy was fulfilled.

My cynical point here is not meant to be a "gotcha."  It's a plea, rather. Here, perhaps it would be best to quote from Rachel Lu's piece again, the context of which is to bemoan political correctness and the acceptance of transgender individuals:
"Ideas have consequences, and gender ideologues are only beginning to grapple with the fruits of theirs."
Yes, and when, if ever, will anti-LGBTs grapple with the fruits of theirs?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Yes, Queens!

Welp, I called it, regarding YaraAsha and Daenerys on Game of Thrones!

"I never demand, but I'm up for anything really."

Here's to hoping that actually progresses into maintext.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

If Fascism Comes

To the United States, it will have been enabled in part by progressive anti-establishment critics who can at least find solace in the fact that they are more morally-enlightened than the rest of us.

I've become increasingly disappointed with the way Jill Stein has been conducting her Green Party run for President.

A key strategy of hers seems to be to try to pick up Bernie supporters by attacking Hillary Clinton with the same Evil, Crooked Hillary talking points and allusions used by both Trump and Sanders. Meanwhile, she renders little to no criticism of St. Bernie, who himself is hardly perfect, perhaps so as not to anger his already-angry, most-ardent supporters.

It would seem more intellectually honest to acknowledge Sanders' weaknesses and problematic actions and votes, as well. As it stands, attacking the female front-runner for not being perfect but not attacking her also-imperfect male opponents has not been a good look. I doubt it will endear her to many women and feminists. Clinton has endured decades of smears and attacks, and is still, still battling in both a Primary and General Election, as Sanders has stubbornly failed to concede the Primary when it's clear he has been beaten.

This continual piling on from a "progressive"? Yikes. The Greens will have to try really hard to ever win me back as a voter.

A Twitter juxtaposition shows the basic incoherence of the Evil, Crooked Hillary narrative:

Hillary Clinton, Stein says, is the worst. Even worse than Trump. Sad!

In fact, Clinton is so bad that Stein herself is a mere 91% match with her.


Make no mistake, both Sanders and Stein are politicians, even though Stein herself has never held office, making it difficult for critics to point to/use/exaggerate her missteps. Yet, playing into the currently-fashionable populist anti-establishment narrative while framing Clinton as a corrupt, corporate polar opposite is likely a very intentional strategy.

Or, let's call the strategy what it is. After all, I was a registered voter in 2000. I now like to call Green strategy: "When leftwing purity has rightwing  consequences."

Look at last night's failed gun control measures, blocked by Republicans even after the worst mass shooting in US history.

Now think about a Sanders or Stein presidency and imagine four years of the same.  Incremental compromising pragmatism might seem "more evil" than holding high progressive ideals, but hell, at least it makes some progress given the realities of our legislative processes.

Which raises a question.  Is it better to hold morally pure ideals and accomplish nothing, or to compromise those ideals and accomplish something?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Extreme Self-Centeredness of the Anti-LGBT

My title doesn't reference a clinical diagnosis, but rather a sort of cultural narcissism that would seem unbelievable perhaps to anyone not familiar with the LGBT "culture wars" in the US.

I'm referring today to anti-LGBT Christian Rod Dreher turning the worst terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11, one in which LGBT people primarily of color were specifically targeted, all about.... you guessed it... the oppression of anti-LGBT Christians. His concern seems to be that Christianity-motivated hate speech and laws against LGBT equality will no longer be as tolerated in the US after this attack. Thusly, does he rally his brave, oppressed Christian soldiers:
"Now we will see the price individual Christians are willing to pay to remain faithful. Now we will see how many Christians have the inner strength to obey Jesus’s command: 'But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you.'
When I talk about the need for the Benedict Option, this is part of what I mean: the need for orthodox Christians to come together in thick communities to keep our faith, to help each other through things like what’s to come, and to remind one another that no matter what, we cannot return hatred for hatred. That is forbidden to us."
He Godwin-labels his post "Orlando: The Reichstag Fire," suggesting that the Orlando attack will be the precipitating event that turns the US into Nazi Germany, with anti-LGBT Christians being the equivalent of Jews under Nazi Germany.

This absurd, histrionic view, of course, is the very belief that enables homophobe oppressors to mistakenly believe they are victimized underdogs which is what, cyclically, many anti-LGBTs use to justify their oppression of LGBTs.

What else can you say, really to such a despicable, self-centered view. Except maybe, Rod Dreher, how dare you? How fucking dare you co-opt this tragedy to further your own anti-LGBT agenda. You are part of the problem.

A homophobe living in a homophobic society just killed 49 people at a gay club and Rod Dreher takes a moment to navel-gaze about the harmful impact the shooting could have on religious bigots.

Like I said in my original post about the incident:

"[M]ost of all, what those who utter [anti-LGBT] rhetoric know with 100% certainty is that any harm LGBT people experience is 100% not their fault.

Well, I see you, bigots. I've seen you for years. You don't fool me and you don't fool many other people.

To the LGBT community: I stand with you. In fear, anger, pride, courage, and determination, we grieve and we vow to carry on."

Not in spite of people like Dreher, but because of them.

Monday, June 13, 2016

I'm With You

My deepest sympathies for the victims of this past weekend's shooting in Orlando, as well as for their friends and their families - chosen and biological - during this difficult time.

I've been going to Pride Parades for about 15 years now.  At every single one, the possibility of a mass shooting occurring has crossed my mind.  This is not because shootings at LGBT events are common, but because I've often felt so hated that violence always seems like a possibility whenever the public knows groups of LGBT people might be congregating together.

In some ways, gay bars and clubs have been sanctuaries for many within the LGBT community. They're where I've met friends when I've moved to new cities. They're where many of us have felt safe to be with romantic partners in a society where, in many places, we still can't or don't openly even hold hands with each other. When traveling, my partner and I often make a point to take at least one trip to a local gay bar just to get in touch with "our people."

I started this blog in 2007, when an anti-LGBT element within the blogosphere was particularly ramped-up about California's anti-equality Proposition 8.  A network of rightwing bloggers calling themselves the "Digital Network Army," dedicated their blog presences to vilifying LGBT people and trying to get anti-LGBT laws passed.

I began directly countering these bloggers, both here and at their blogs. Within a couple months, I received my first rape threat and, later, encouragement to commit suicide.

Many of these bigot blogs have since petered out, likely as people realized marriage equality has no bearing on their lives. But, the attacks on LGBT people and our rights have not stopped, even with our marriage equality victory.

Hatred of LGBT people is still a very real thing.

It will always be a real thing as long as people believe they are under attack for having to live in a society that treats LGBT people decently and equally.

When mainstream politicians and Presidential candidates like Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee attend a forum held by an anti-gay pastor who believes gays should be put death, we are threatened.

When the Human Rights Campaign is currently tracking about 200 anti-LGBT bills in the US, including a wave of anti-trans bathroom bills and bills designed to give Christians special rights to discriminate against us, we are threatened.

When religious men with relatively large platforms like Rod Dreher rage against the "berserk" "cultural left" that supports "transgenders," effectively giving cover to their readership to do the same, we are threatened.

I don't know what more to say, really.

We live in a society where many of the same people who are full of "thoughts and prayers" for victims of violence, will the very next day express their disgust at trigger warnings, safe spaces, and any other "politically correct" mechanism vulnerable people try to assert to keep themselves safe.

We've been saying for decades that anti-LGBT rhetoric is hurtful and can cause real-world hate crimes and violence. Psychological groups insist that homosexuality is not a disorder, and so many people continue to insist otherwise. They want to deny us children, or take away our children. They know literally nothing about gender identity, but they defame transgender people as "crazy" or "selfish."

But, most of all, what those who utter such rhetoric know with 100% certainty is that any harm LGBT people experience is 100% not their fault.

Well, I see you, bigots.  I've seen you for years. You don't fool me and you don't fool many other people.

To the LGBT community: I stand with you. In fear, anger, pride, courage, and determination, we grieve and we vow to carry on.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Femslash Friday: GoT Edition

Dear Game of Thrones fandom, I demand a YaraAsha/Daenerys fan video.

How perfect would the pairing be? Dany is in need of some "wooden horses" with which to sail to assume her rightful place as the ruler of Westeros. YaraAsha has just sailed forth with a fleet, fleeing those who want to kill her.

And, yes while Euron thinks he's going to somehow go woo Dany, let's be real regarding his chances. For starters, many a man has believed he could swoop in and marry Dany for her power and dragons, just because he's a guy in charge of stuff used to getting his way. Many a man has been wrong.

Secondly, I'll just say that I think Dany would by her nature be more sympathetic to a competent, strong-yet-downtrodden Greyjoy who was usurped from a leadership position by a murderer.  Would it be true love? Who knows. What it would be is both pragmatic and HAF. A double bonus.

LOL your patriarchy

Somebody make it happen, okay, byeeee!

(See also, good interview with actor who portrays YaraAsha.  I appreciate that she doesn't let the reporter box in YaraAsha as "gay," saying instead: " I don’t think she’d limit herself to one or another. Anything goes. Get the job done with whatever if fun and interesting.")

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Green USA Experiment

As I mentioned last week, I've been playing the government simulation game Democracy 3.

I'd been toying around with the idea of running simulations where I try to implement the platform of each of the 2016 presidential candidates.  For my first experiment, I tried my hand at governing Green USA, with the goal of implementing as closely and fairly as I could Jill Stein's Green Party platform.

To learn the specifics on Stein's platform, I mostly read her website and several interviews. Calling her platform the Power to the People Plan, its cornerstone seems to be what she calls the Green New Deal - a massive mobilization to create "millions of jobs by investing in 100% clean renewable energy by 2030." Broadly speaking, she also supports a massive state infrastructure including free education through college, a government jobs program with guaranteed government employment as a last resort, free universal childcare, state-owned banks, and single-payer public healthcare.

She also supports ending police brutality and institutional racism within the criminal justice system, ending war, a progressive tax arrangement where the rich are taxed more than the poor and middle-class, and cutting military spending by half.

Very generally, it is a laudable ideal to want to eliminate poverty and guarantee basics such as housing, jobs, and healthcare while cutting spending that goes toward military action. On a practical level,  the platform is broad and details seem lacking on how these steps would be accomplished.

Nonetheless, I gave running Green USA a try:


This was a golden year.

I entered the first quarter of my Presidency having inherited a large debt and a polarized electorate in which conservatives and patriots outnumbered liberals and environmentalists.  Intelligence reports also indicated that extremist environmental groups were up to shenanigans due to dissatisfaction with high pollution levels.

Now, how the gameplay works is that you, as the President, get a certain level of political capital to spend in order to implement or change policies each quarter. You implement policies with the help of your Cabinet, with loyal Cabinet members having higher political capital than disloyal ones. Cabinet members remain loyal if they like the policies you implement. And, while you can fire Cabinet members, you will piss off certain voter groups (trade unionists, minorities, etc) by firing specific Cabinet members, thus losing voter approval.

So, it doesn't perfectly mimic the US legislative process, but the general idea is that, as President, you cannot walk into office and immediately implement your entire agenda without political consequence - you have to work with other people and keep them happy, while also keeping different voter groups happy.

Soooo, there are those factors.  And then there's Stein's platform.

Realizing that environmental issues are a large piece of her platform, during the first year I implemented a hybrid cars initiative, invested in biofuel and clean energy subsidies, and maxed out public investment in mass transit.  Now, in anticipation of having to start somehow paying for all this stuff, I decreased military spending by 50%, which is a specific number referenced in Stein's plan.

To touch on other aspects of the platform, I used my last bits of political capital for the year to also max out state school funding and eliminate private school vouchers (corresponding with her wish for tuition free education and an end to public school privatization). And, corresponding with Stein's disapproval of surveillance, I decreased funding for intelligence activities.

I said this was a golden year and it mostly was.  For three straight quarters, the deficit trend was reversed (the US was spending a lot of money on the military!) and we began seeing relatively small quarterly surpluses of about $35 billion (which, sadly, barely made a dent in the overall debt situation). My approval ratings went from a starting point of 30% to a high of 40%.  We also started to see reductions in poverty and improvements to the environment.


With environmental progress a-cooking, I began to tackle other issues mentioned in the Power to the People Plan. Specifically:
  • Cannabis was legalized;
  • Labor laws moved from being pro-employer to pro-union;
  • State housing funding was increased;
On the plus side, poverty continued to decline during Year 2.  However, somewhat unexpectedly, crime began to increase each quarter - possibly due to the reduction in intelligence funding?

During this year, I began to see quarterly deficits, thus beginning a downward trend.  The previous cut to military spending was not enough to cover the increased costs of new programs - particularly the state housing program. I increased income taxes to try to make up for the revenue shortfall.  

At the end of the year, Green USA's credit rating was downgraded from A to BBB.  Approval rating; 29%, a decrease. People don't like higher taxes, even if society on the whole is getting less poor.


Still seeing quarterly deficits, I used a significant amount of political capital to increase corporate and luxury goods taxes to try to make "the rich pay their fair share of taxes" (as Greens believe should be the case).  It was in Year 3 that I realized 4 years is not a lot of time to implement massive state-run programs. Green rhetoric does not leave much room, however, for incremental change.

So, more than halfway through my term at this point without having implemented a single-payer public health insurance plan, I decided to spend political capital on this endeavor so as not to break an important promise to my voters.

During implementation of the state healthcare program, the quarterly deficit grew larger, but 43% of people now approved of me, albeit with greatly diminished support among capitalists and greater support among liberals, socialists, and environmentalists. 

Even with max spending on state schools, the country now had a "brain drain" situation going on, where US talent was supposedly leaving for more hospitable capitalist countries. On the issues, we still saw increases in crime each year but improvements in the environment and health. GDP was down, a trend since the end of Year 1.

During Year 3, Green USA's credit rating dropped to BB, then B, and then C.


Desperate to raise revenue (while also benefiting the environment!), I passed a plastic bag tax, which added like $5 in revenue per year and made zero dent in the quarterly deficit.

A few of my Cabinet Ministers, particularly those with patriot and capitalist sympathies, became disloyal and had to be fired/replaced with people sympathetic to the socialist environmentalist cause.  These changes cost political capital, so I had to less to spend on policy during the final year of my first term. I also began receiving vague warnings from my "completely ineffective" intelligence services that an extremist capitalist group was on the rise.  

By the end of the final quarter in office, the country was in a debt crisis situation and my approval rating was 20%. (You need 50% approval to be re-elected - *sad trombone*).  And, this is super-melodramatic, but I was eventually attacked by that aforementioned capitalist extremist group. I guess because I had cut intelligence spending and gotten rid of surveillance while also pushing through a slew of anti-business policies.

On the upside, poverty, pollution, and homelessness were down and population health was up. The main negatives seemed to be that crime remained up, GDP was down pretty much my whole time in office, and we simply could not find a sustainable way to pay for the promised state health care, housing, environmental, and education programs. The businesses that generated tax revenue under the previous capitalist regime were either leaving the country or slowing production.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I found this experiment exceedingly difficult.  Remember - my goal wasn't to govern in what I thought the best way would be, but rather, in what I thought was most true to the candidate's platform, promises, and rhetoric. And, that's just really damn hard to do without a super detailed policy plan. So, maybe these results are way, way off.

Perhaps the biggest question I would have for any serious Green candidate is how the heck do you implement all of these programs without completely bankrupting the country. Gods, that makes me feel like such a Republican for saying out loud, but there we are.  Some of us aren't shills, we just need more than someone's word and good faith that this revolution stuff will all somehow work out just because this platform consists of mostly-noble-sounding ideals. It also seems like pushing through major policy programs within a short timeframe would lead to a lot of political instability.

What do you think? Flaws in the game's algorithms and assumptions? Yes, possibly, in my opinion (why did crime keep increasing when poverty kept decreasing, for instance?).

Would you have implemented the platform differently?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

History Made!

Well, did you hear the news?

Today I want to offer my congratulations to Hillary Clinton for effectively clinching the Democratic Nomination last night, becoming the first woman to do so for a major US political party.

And, because it's been a contentious primary, I'd also like to take a moment to give major kudos to Clinton for her genius political strategy called earning more votes than her opponent. Indeed, by every measure - popular vote, pledged delegates, super delegates, states won - she has beaten Bernie Sanders.

I celebrate this achievement unconditionally and without apology.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Lesbian Vote Achievement Unlocked (n=1)

All of these women are everything. Check out Kate Mckinnon doing battling impressions of Hillary Clinton and Ellen DeGeneres, right in front of them


 Also, I. would. die. if I was being fought over by Hillary and Ellen.

 Annnnd, just to fully capture the zeitgiest for the sake of posterity, the cast of the upcoming all-female Ghostbusters reboot were on the very same same episode of Ellen that Hillary Clinton was on. They too were the proverbial "everything."



Thursday, June 2, 2016

Nerd Alert!

So, I've been playing the government simulation game Democracy 3.  My master plan is to simulate governments based on the policy positions of the 2016 presidential contenders.

I'm currently President of Green USA, which I've been trying to base off of Jill Stein's platform.  My goal is to be as fair as possible to each candidate's platform in making policy choices, although it gets difficult fast when platforms are, ahem, super vague.

I'll keep you posted on how the experiment goes, because I know you're on the edge of your seats!

Talk about this - or other stuff!  Any other government, civilization, or city simulations I should know about?  Aside from the obvious choices: the various incarnations of SimCity and Civilization.