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Profile Information

Name: Tom
Gender: Male
Hometown: yankee country
Current location: Virginia
Member since: Sat Nov 22, 2014, 09:04 AM
Number of posts: 231

About Me

Liberal, humanist, jazz loving gay man living in the heart of Jerry Falwell country. Help. I am surrounded.

Journal Archives

"homosexual agenda...?"

A report released by the BBC today showed that three viewers had taken up formal complaints against the series for promoting a “homosexual agenda”

I've always wondered about that phrase. My "homosexual agenda" is to get up every day and go to work. Do a good job. Be a good neighbor and citizen. Pay my bills and return my library books on time. And yeah, maybe to fall in love and live happily ever after. What exactly is so scary to the right wing about that homosexual agenda?

How Bigots Help Us (Cross posted from LGBT)

Long ago one of my college professors posed this carefully worded question for discussion:

"During the modern civil rights era, what one individual's actions did the most to advance the cause of African American rights?"

Responses in class included Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson and others.

After some discussion, our professor gave his own answer:

Bull Connor.

Bull Connor, as you recall, was the white racist Commissioner of Public Safety in Birmingham who is most remembered as the man who let loose the attack dogs on peaceful black protesters, and used high-powered fire hoses to slam them into walls and knock them down. All of this was captured and played over and over on national television, and the images have become iconic.

A great many white people in this country--possibly well meaning but ignorant--were shocked. They may have, in theory, been "all for" civil rights, but it wasn't a topic they thought was very important. The newscasts of what Bull Connor did in Birmingham woke them up. Oppression became real rather than abstract. The poison of hate was in their living rooms. Lyndon Johnson repeatedly used those images as a hammer that led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The fight for gay rights and acceptance has historically been hampered less by hate than by indifference. A lot of well meaning straight folks may be in theory "all for" equal rights, but they never saw it as a topic of much importance. They never thought of it as a "civil rights" issue, and they didn't understand why gay people were making such a fuss about it.

Then along came The Rev. Fred Phelps and his little band of Westoro bigots. It's true there have been (and still are) many equally venomous anti-gay bigots, but Phelps somehow got a huge amount of national news coverage marching around with his signs. Well meaning straight people saw the signs and couldn't help wondering what it must be like to be the object of that hatred. They may have imagined for the first time what it would feel like to be a gay 14 year old and see a pastor telling you that God hates you.

For gay people, Fred Phelps was our Bull Connor. He brought the poison of hate into the living rooms of indifferent straight folks. I really believe that much of the amazing surge in support for marriage equality and the ending Don't Ask Don't Tell is the result of an awakened awareness brought about largely by "God Hates Fags."

As painful as it may be to see these guys, the worst of the bigots sometimes do the most to advance the cause of the people they hate.

A middle-aged man's Christmas memory

On Christmas day when I was 7 years old, I was sitting on the living room floor surrounded by Lionel Trains and all the You-Can-Tell-It's-Swell-It's-Mattel toys in existence. My best friend Walter, who lived with his mother in a small house in a not-so-great neighborhood, came by to visit. He stood for a few seconds in silence just looking at all the loot.

I said, "Hey Walter what did you get for Christmas?"

He hesitated, then touched his neck and said quietly, "I got this scarf."

The memory sticks because I could tell that Walter was embarrassed. I was too stupid at the time to know that I was the one who should have been embarrassed. At seven, I thought I had gotten all those toys because I deserved them. I was too stupid to realize that luck is not the same thing as virtue.

I don't know what ever happened to my best friend Walter. We lost touch over the years, the way kid best friends do. But I hope he has a Merry Christmas, wherever he is. I hope ya'll do too, DU.

Mixed feelings about Mr. Vidal

I've been a big fan of Vidal's historical novels ("Lincoln" is a classic), but not much else.

Vidal was the kind of liberal that I usually wished was on the other side. His forte in political debate was hyperbole and snide insult.

He never seemed to be able to make a case without overstating his case. (e.g. quoted above - "The failure of the Bush administration to saves lives in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans is further proof that any first-world militarized nation can easily defeat the United States in a modern war".)

I recall a debate with Wm. F. Buckley where Buckley lost his famous cool and called Vidal, "you little queer." Buckley got a lot of deserved criticism for that, but few people seem to remember that his outburst was in response to being called a "crypto-nazi" by Vidal. As a gay man myself, I find Buckley's comment offensive. But I would find being called a Nazi far more offensive.

On the other hand...he was capable of some excellent one liners. When Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Vidal commented dryly, "Never underestimate the Scandinavian sense of humor."

Interesting man, brilliant novelist...but not a guy I'd want to sit down and have a beer with.

Who are you people?

Just reached my 10 posts, hooray for me. A brief intro would be to read my profile. Which leads to my question--I'm curious why so many DU members, even long-timers, seem to have no profile info at all posted? I know the purpose of the site is to discuss issues, but I'm also hoping there's some "social" aspect as well, and it would be nice to get a brief look at the person behind the post.

Anyway, this seems like a great site and I look forward to mixing it up some with y'all.
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