Even with my unconventional hours of teaching, I don’t have time to tune in to Oprah. This past Wednesday, she interviewed Ted Haggard, nellie closet queen and defrocked Evangelical minister, and the videos are featured in an article in the Huffington Post.
In the spirit of the Repeal DOMA Rally tomorrow in San Diego, San Francisco, and other cities, here is the Life and Times of Harvey Milk, presented by Hulu.Com. Note: This is the 1984 documentary on Harvery Milk, not the feature film with Sean Penn, which is fabulous. Do go the theaters and pay the $10 to see Milk. Also, take action regarding DOMA, whether it is attending the rally or writing letters to Obama’s transitional office.
Facebook-land is an interesting place. Most of the time, it is fairly inane, especially with the apps that are designed to distract people from their work. There’s tons of statuses and other kinds of feeds that go on all day. Most of the time, my timeline of statuses, links, and other news seems to go largely unnoticed. However, some of my items related to Rick Warren have provoked responses from some people on my network.
I joined a Facebook discussion group No Rick Warren at Obama Inauguration and I got a response was from a good friend of mine, an evangelical Christian, who wondered what my personal beef was with Rick Warren. To his credit, he and his wife took some flack from people they knew for voting for Obama and voting against Props 4 & 8. I sent him a response saying we can agree to disagree and these were my reasons:
I’m not at ease with Warren’s gentler rhetoric about GLBT issues. He certainly showed his loved towards “sinners, not the sin” with support for Prop 8.
If Obama was insistent on getting an evangelical pastor for this invocation, couldn’t he have gotten Brian McLaren?
Thankfully, a unifying opinion on Warren is not the basis for our friendship (which would be in trouble if it were). There is room to talk about him and the issues he represents.
Given that, I don’t have a soft opinion on Warren right now. I think it’s great that Melissa Etheridge is having a dialogue with Rick Warren. She is someone who has a lot at stake with this whole Prop 8 issue, so she’s a better person than I can be right now. I’m just not there.
I haven’t been a good gay blogger by editorializing on how Rick Warren is so innapropriate for Obama’s inauguration (which is my opinion). All I’ve been doing was doing things here and there on the Facebook feed such as joining that group and posting links to a Rachel Maddow commentary and an SF Gate editorial appropriately entitled The Purpose-driven Bigot. That, and I posted a tweet on Twitter. Given that people seem to pay more attention to my Facebook feed than my blog, I was asking for it.
There are a few things I’d like to completely disappear or go away for good, but they won’t. These things are bothersome year after year, but I can only wish…
For the past few eight years, we have lived through an incredibly stupid era. It was definitely exemplified by George W Bu$h and his rhetoric, but it’s been expressed through some of his constituents (see Religious Right). American stupidity reigned supreme and any American abroad were ashamed and pretended to be Canadian instead. It’s difficult to believe that Americans are stuck in provincialism, bizarre religious concepts, and good old-fashioned bigotry. However, there seems to be an evolutionary imperative for the human race, especially the American subspecies, to remain stupid as the idiots keep having litters of children while smart people have few or no children at all.
2. The Religious Right
I’ve got to hand it to these people. They’ve been taking hit after hit in the past few years and they keep going. My admiration for them, however, ends there. They have engaged in a culture war against a great deal of the American population including women, racial minorities, gays and lesbians (major target), intellectuals, liberals, and common sense. While helping themselves to the freedom of speech and religion, they have sought to limit rights for women, gays, and minorities. Also, they have sought to reduce the quality of an American education and impose their religion upon non-Christian school children in the form of Creationist “science” or “Intelligent Design.” If they had their way, everyone would have to follow Old Testament type laws while they are free to wear mixted textiles and eat lobster.
One would think that a closeted, nelly queen of a mega-church pastor or several allied politicians such as a certain senator from Idaho being exposed for engaging in acts they sought to criminalize would send the Religious Right into shame and hiding. If that wasn’t enough, what about the numerous sexual and financial sins of some prominent clergy that has surfaced over the years. No matter, the faithful are either in denial or migrate to another bigot who mirror their views.
Religious right leaders, candy coating your tired, hateful rhetoric for a new generation doesn’t work. We can see right through it.
3. Financially Irresponsible Corporations
Why do the banks get a bailout package from the government? Why can’t I and every other citizen get the bailout instead of some insulting economic stimulus package? The money would have been better spent paying off all the student loans out there, putting some money back to banks at the banks at the same time. I’d say let the banks suffer, but this wasn’t put up for a popular vote.
Banks, you got our tax money, you better clean up your act. If it is put on the ballot, you can count on me to vote on nationalizing you.
4. Post-adolescent Celebrity Trainwrecks
Britney and sis, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan: All your drama in 2007 and 2008 has gotten old and tiresome. Get some dignity, please.
This should be number one on my list, but see Stupidity and Religious Right. This one affects me and a lot of other people on a very personal level. First of all, prejudice of any kind is never right. Many people still harbor bigotry towards minorities, but it is easy to tell them they’re wrong. If they persist, especially in making racist comments, they’re assholes. If they commit hate crimes, they should be thrown in jail. We should hold people to the same kind of standard when it comes to homophobia, but it then becomes someone’s personal belief, a differing of opinion, religious convictions, a moral issue, etc. However, racism, misogyny, and even religious intolerance are dealt with through social and even legal sanctions.
While there is some social and legal protection against homophobia, it’s pretty thin. Plus, the religious right and other homophobes won’t stop until gays and lesbians lose those rights. Also, preventing sexual minorities from gaining any more equal rights is high on their agenda.
Eventually homophobia will be as archaic as bloodletting. I only hope it happens sooner, not later.
These are the things I wish would go away in 2009. As for items 1, 2, and 5, we all have to keep fighting the good fight.
There’s an article in the NY Times this morning about diminishing gay enclaves. Some of them have become quite famous over the years – Castro District, West Hollywood, Dupont Circle, and locally Hillcrest. Gentrification and the internet are some of the factors that have contributed to their decline in recent years. Are gay enclaves or “gay ghettos” still relevant and/or necessary?
I didnt go anywhere on Friday and television didnt appeal to me. Even What Not To Wear failed to get my attention (and I love to watch Clinton and Stacy cattily tear people down before they build them and their wardrobes up). Theres also a new show on TLC about a wedding dress shop, to which I utter the Valley Girl phrase Gag me with a spoon. There must be something missing in my gay genome, but how much of the bridezillas and their mothers can any sane person take? Instead of giving this unreality show and much more episodes of What Not To Wear any more ratings, I read a few a couple of books this weekend.1
Barbara Ehrenreich, Bait and Switch
Ive been going over Nickel and Dimed with my students in two of my classes this sememster. Anyone familiar with the premise of Barbara Ehrenreichs best selling work knows about her undercover, first hand look at low paying blue and pink collar labor. In Nickel and Dimed, she actually worked at the jobs she covers in the book and she also discusses her co-workers and her bosses. In Bait and Switch, Ehrenreich takes the same approach with white collar professionals looking for work. The prospects, as Ehrenreich finds through empirical research (the same kind employed in Nickel and Dimed), are grim for those who did everything right.
A job search in What Color Is Your Parachute is described as a full time job, and this is the job Ehrenreich takes on for a few months (along with a negative cashflow). She observes that the out of work are encouraged to think of their job search in this manner, and she also points out the absurdity of this mentality.
As Bait and Switch progresses, the author meets various people in her research. Ehrenreich skewers those who prey on the hapless jobseekers (career coaches/motivational speakers, resume editors, and ministries seeking to give hapless job seekers Jesus instead of better job leads). One of the more entertaining parts of the books is when she tries to turn the tables on a career guru. On the other hand, she is more sympathetic to the professionals having difficulty finding the jobs theyre qualified for, only to get caught up in self blame.2
That insightful documentary The Corporation characterizes the typical corporation as a psychopath. The way that they have routinely reduced redundancies over the years (cutting jobs to maintain profits) is one example of psychotic behavior. Bait and Switch also provides insights into the how irrational companies have become with the pop psychologies and philosophies they couple with their hiring practices.
Bait and Switch is a definite must read for our economically troubled times. Barbara Ehrenreich continues to follow up on labor issues on her blog. Since some of her recent posts have covered topics such as law temp agencies and adjunct teaching, I can only hope for such a book from her in the future.3
Mike Jones, I had To Say Something
My cue was not to say anything, unless I had to, and I never had to.
Mike Jones, pg. 88
Of course, we all know the story of how Ted Haggard, that great megachurch evangelist who was brought down by Mike Jones, a Denver based masseur and escort.4 Jones revelation seemed so quick and sudden when it hit the news, but the recently published I Had To Say Something shows it was anything but. The decision to reveal cost Jones in many ways, a highly emotional process chronicled in his very fresh memoir.
Mike Jones gives much insight into what is was like for him to be an escort. Without giving away much of whats in the book, Jones gives us a compassionate look at clients such as Art, a conservative Mid-western religious type who comes to him out of desperation. We do know who Art turns out to be, but Jones effectively keeps the secret until it is time to reveal the surprise.
Jones also shows us his family life and how that shaped him growing up. He does it without resorting to blame (a religious right ex-gay writer, on the other hand, would blame being a homosexual and being anything else deviant on their families). If you want more, read about it in the book.
Youll definitely laugh, cry, and feel righteous anger when reading I Had To Say Something. As for the question of Ted Haggard being completely heterosexual5, I think Mike Jones provides a very definitive answer for that.
- I did log in an hour to watch Property Ladder on Saturday, but watching house flippers make tragic mistakes never fails to entertain me.
- I already hate Dr. Phil and those of the blame the victim ilk, but Bait and Switch made me hate them even more.
- I should be careful of such suggestions. In making a suggestion to the editor of Harpers that someone should investigate low wage working conditions, Barbara Ehrenreich wound taking on the article about Merry Maids.
- The news media called him a male prostitute. I agree with Mike Jones. Its a dirty term and Id rather not use it.
- Ted Haggard claimed to have discovered he was straight after three weeks of reparative therapy.
A friend of mine forwarded this to me. The Reverend Susan Russell comments on our lovely Anglican friends in Nigeria. It’s nice to know Akinola and Company (one mentioned here) and their American minions (the American Anglicans) are so concerned about butt sex.
Nothing like a little rabid rhetoric from Nigeria — that bastion of
Christian orthodoxy — along with your morning cup of coffee to get your
Wednesday morning going:
The Anglican Bishop of Uyo, Rt. Rev. Isaac Orama, has condemned the
activities of homosexuals and lesbians, and described those engaged in them
as “insane people.” “Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman. Those who
practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live because they are
rebels to God’s purpose for man,” the bishop said.
Not fit to live.
I just saw the piece on Google alerts but Fr. Jake had the story yesterday
… check him out before you email/comment that this is just one Nigerian
Nutcase who stands alone.
Not fit to live.
This is what we’re up against, people. If anybody out there is deluding
themselves that this is just a “gentleman’s disagreement” about polity or
theology or hermeneutics then here’s your wake-up call: