Fluent in Fag

Friday, September 07, 2007

With Friends Like These

In the wake of the Larry Craig story, here's what GLAAD has to say:

GLAAD urges media developing such stories – whether separately or as part of their coverage of Sen. Craig – to place them in context by consulting credible experts who can discuss whether such behavior is reflective of any healthy orientation, gay or straight. Gershen Kaufman, a professor emeritus of psychology at Michigan State University, yesterday told ABC News, "[C]ruising is practiced mainly by deeply closeted men...There is a lot of self-hatred and shame, and they can't allow themselves to come to terms with their sexuality."

Additionally noteworthy is the fact that such behavior is being condemned by gay and straight people alike. Intimations that gay Americans broadly object to the enforcement of laws against this kind of activity simply are not supported by the facts and should be avoided.

Finally, GLAAD stresses the importance for reporters to note that these kinds of furtive activities stand in stark contrast to the loving commitments that gay couples everywhere are making to care for each other and for their families.

"GLAAD Provides Recommendations For Media Covering Revelations About Senator Larry Craig", August 30, 2007

Let me be tactfully understated: there are some problems.

What exactly is GLAAD's point of view? Despite the (understandably) mealy-mouthed nature of their recommendations, I think we can glean the following:

1) Cruising reflects an unhealthy "orientation".
2) Gay Americans are probably okay with the enforcement of "decency" laws. Possibly even when it involves the state merrily dancing right up to the line of entrapment.
3) Cruising is the "polar opposite" of committed gay relationships.

It's hard to decide which of these statements is the most appalling and why.

Is it the joylessness and sex-negativity of (1) and (3)?

Or perhaps it's the nonchalant acceptance of marginal sexualities as criminal/pathological in (1) and (2).

Or maybe it's the willingness to engage in divisiveness in the service of political acceptability evidenced by (2) and (3).

What GLAAD's message here boils down to, not to put too fine a point on it, is: "Please don't confuse the good, upright, reasonably chaste gay citizen couples with those sick, lawless men who have sex in bathrooms. Unlike them, we deserve the rights and privileges you're still denying us."

This is an edited excerpt from a longer (and more rambling) post about the media response to Larry Craig that I made on entrepreneurialcity.

Monday, July 30, 2007

It wasn't a choice

*Image removed*

All I want is a room somewhere, far away from the cold night air, with one enormous chair . . . lots of chocolate for me to eat . . . oh wouldn't it be lovely?

Rest and easily digested nourishment - Eliza Doolittle guiltlessly celebrates caloric accumulation. Puritanism is only necessary in a state where nourishment and rest are easy to come by. In a situation where one is starving and constantly on the run from predators (and other people), it hardly makes sense to extol the virtues of industry and abstinence. No "ought" without "can", but correspondingly, no oughtn't either.

Now what I eat is constrained partly by time, partly by money, and of course a lingering sense of guilt. Gone, however, is the literal parental control, punishing me for having chocolate, denying me the extra plate of noodles. In theory, life for me could be one long, sweet meal, punctuated by sleep, television, books and radio.

But enough about food. Let's talk about sex.

Sex continues to be an area where I dare not dream. And perhaps it is an area of life where a certain obliviousness serves us well. Dig around too much in your sexual tastes and activities, and you might uncover truths about your past and present that you'd rather not face. Colonialism, childhood fears, family violence, insecurity, economic status (or lack thereof), all affect our sexual desires, just as they do our more prosaic appetite.

The drive towards structure as we follow our appetites is ever present: eating is neatly quarantined into meals and snacks (although the new healthy way to eat is to constantly "graze," though that too implies a kind of structure: a levelling out, rather than a gathering together); sex is confined to a few or one partner, or, if not, then wrapped in a sanitizing "safe, sane and consensual"* language. But rarely do our (perhaps I am projecting. Let me just say "my") appetites run solely to monogamy, or safe, sane consensuality, or punctuated regularity. They hit us (me) as an insistent rumbling, a hunger that is larger than myself.

To have a desire - is this an act? I suppose it is merely a property in that we "have" a desire. To want, then, is the act. One may protest, and many do, that it is an act that one has no obvious hand in, at least, not without intense investigation. However, as the Oedipus myth teaches us, guilt may attach to acts which we didn't know we were committing, so why not to acts that we didn't know how to not commit?

If I trip while holding a child, and she falls and breaks her neck, does not her family feel resentment, no matter how careful I was?

By protesting our innocence, either through an appeal to genetics or even to the inscrutability of desire, queers allow our acts to be defined as criminal. Nobody is called upon to justify their taste for chocolate (although given the nature of the two cultures, Colonial European and Aztec, that are responsible for it, perhaps they could).

*Note: Just a little internet reading on this phrase reveals that slave david stein (who coined it in 1983) was/is aware of the potential for its misappropriation as yet another way for one group to define what is "good" sex and what is "bad" sex (or even "not" sex).

photo: Loving it... by barbus22

Monday, July 23, 2007

So you want to marry a lesbian

You may have heard about the eharmony lesbian lawsuit by now. If you haven't you can read all about it on EDGE Boston. From what I understand, a lesbian sued eHarmony because they provide services for straight women only (and straight men, of course), and claims this is a violation of Californian law. Of course, the more-centrist-than-thou John Corvino of IGF wasted no time deciding that this was a "frivolous" lawsuit:

It’s not that I approve of their policy (I don’t). It’s not even that I think that their policy, while wrongheaded, is in fact legal (I’ll leave that question to those who know California anti-discrimination law).

It’s that the last thing the gay-rights movement needs is a frivolous lawsuit.

Oh really? And here I thought that the last thing the gay-rights movement needed was, oh, hmm... apologists for anti-gay discrimination?

Anyway, I'd looked up the story because my friend J. and I had discussed it while/instead of studying for the bar. For the record, J. thought that regardless of the legal merits of the case, eHarmony should not have to accomodate lesbian users, because same-sex dating is qualitatively different from hetero dating, and would necessitate a whole different Special Process. On the other hand, he acknowledged that inter-racial dating was also qualitatively different from same-race dating, but that he would probably find it problematic if a site were for "whites only" dating and prohibited non-whites from using its services. Still, he thought that in the realm of dating, not catering to those seeking same-sex relationships was ethically justifiable.

According to tech.blorge, one of eharmony's explanations for the lesbian/gay/bi exclusion is that it seeks to connect users for the purposes of marriage, and since marriages between two people of the same gender still are not recognized by the states in the U.S. (has anyone thought of bringing suit in Massachusetts, btw?)

I'm guessing that the suit is brought under California's Unruh Civil Rights Act, which includes the following language (it's California Civil Code section 51. This is section (b)):

All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.
(emphasis mine, obviously)

My favorite quote from one eHarmony user (taken from the EDGE Boston article):

As a single woman seeking a single man, I do not want to stumble upon a lesbian on my dating site, purposely or by accident," wrote an eHarmony user. "As it is, it is a long shot at finding compatibility on line, so I really appreciate eHarmony for connecting me with the right matches. I am not anti-lesbian, but for the love of God, I do not want to tell lesbians to fuck off for cordially or accidentally contacting me.

If the thinly veiled homophobia of that last quote isn't clear enough, the EDGE article points out the real chewy, caramelly, how-many-licks-does-it-take-to-get-to-the center of this dispute:

Given that eHarmony’s founder is a Christian evangelical with longstanding ties to James Dobson and the anti-gay group Focus on the Family, the real objection is probably that eHarmony does not want to facilitate what it regards as immoral and unbiblical relationships.

Yes. Once again a religion whose central figure was an anti-government, anti-wealthy, anti-hierarchical, homosocial, ass-kicking bachelor rebel has been turned into an "Ick, not the gays!" club.

The thing that intrigued me most about the EDGE article, however, was the author bio at the bottom:

Caught between the moon and New York City which he calls home since 2000, Ambrose Aban wrote for Malaysia, Singapore and Bangkok Tatler, reviewed restaurants and wrote special ad supplement, "Christopher Street", for HX Magazine New York, contributed to leading English dailies in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore. Ambrose loves giving up the secrets of everything from where to find the most delicious Orange Glazed Peking Duck to how to prepare extravagant chic soirees in the city.

Another SEASian queer expat online, perhaps?

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Pomo Homo Hypo

Breaking news from the I-should-be-sleeping-instead-of-reading-these-blogs front:

Check out comment #35 on F44's post about inter-racial (i.e.: white-asian heterosexual) partnerings. I quote:

Finally, let me clarify the “gay” analogy. I said:
“Finally, choosing a mate/spouse is a fundamental human rights issue. Let’s say that gay people are not born gay, but choose homosexuality. That still doesn’t mean we should tell them to stop. Doing that would be oppressive, wouldn’t it?”

And you said:
“Your example would be relevant if I was not born gay, and I advocate for how awesome straightness is, and then I chose homosexuality in my private life. What does that do to my message?”

If someone was not born gay, and was an advocate of how awesome straightness is, and then ends up choosing homosexuality, then yes, that would be hypocritical. That’s because homosexual identity is an identity of action as well as sexual preference (assuming being gay is a choice). In other words, the gender of one’s partner is the defining action of a gay activist, and therefore, it should be a factor when gays choose an activist.

Now you know FiF ain't a hater, and I mean to cast no aspersions on Mr. lycheng's worth as a person, but OMG can you spot the We Are Living In Two Different Worlds nature of this comment?

Please analyze the So-Not-Down-With-The-Queers
(Yet-More-Than-Happy-To-Use-Us-To-Make-A-Point) characteristics of the following words/phrases in the above comment.

1) "gays" (the noun)
2) "the gender of one's partner is the defining action of a gay activist"
3) "when gays choose an activist"
4) "homosexual identity is an identity of action as well as sexual preference"
5) "homosexual identity"

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Inter-racial dating, a websurfing chronicle and some thoughts

So last week, toughstuff from belowthebelt emailed me and asked me to look at the blog. I, flattered, did so and paid particular interest to some of the recent posts about asian men and white men dating (by the way, has anyone else noticed that often "inter-racial" dating discussions default to POC-white? I've dated interracially several times, and not always with whitey).

Anyway, one of the posts (the first link) led me to Andy Quan's page for his campaign against racism in online personal ads. Quan calls for an end to online ads which contain charming racially-exclusive lines such as "no GAMs" or "no fats, fems, or asians."

From that page I clicked through to his archive of and response to Dan Savage's callous and (un)shockingly privileged advice to an Asian man experiencing sexual racism (the one I read back in the day in SF Weekly right before I stopped reading both Savage Love and the SF Weekly).

From that page, I went to modelminority's repost of a student note in the Harvard Law Review about the use of race in personal ads, which I found quite well-reasoned. I have to admit that, as an example of law review writing, the student note is almost parodically methodical. Still, it gets the job done. Those Harvard boys are nothing if not thorough. Take, for example, the introductory paragraph of part II:

The use of racial signifiers in personal advertisements may have a stigmatizing impact on the excluded group. Moreover, such signifiers may perpetuate the notion that racial group members should "be with their own kind," which in turn may lead to increased social segregation and economic stratification. It is possible, however, that racial signifiers in personal ads serve valuable purposes that outweigh any harms they pose. This Part explores these purposes, and weighs the social costs and benefits of this conduct. There are several possible motives that lead advertisers to specify the desired race of respondents . . . [author then goes on to give each possible motive a heading and analysis]

I wish Supreme Court justices would write as clearly.

Meanwhile, some hetero Asian bloggers I follow (well okay, I just follow Jenn at reappropriate, but she linked to the other blog!) are having their own discussion about Asian-white dating. Oh, and also marriage. Of course.

Jenn's first post that I read on the subject links to C.E. Le's statistical analysis of inter-racial marriage, which seems to show that Asian women marry white men more often than Asian men marry white women. To be precise, my understanding of the numbers on Le's page is that his analysis shows that asian-women-who-marry-white-men are a greater segment of married-asian-women than asian-men-who-marry-white-women are of married-asian-men. Which makes me want to know what percentage of asian men are married, and what percentage of asian women are married. After all, the other stereotype/perception of Asian men is that we are losers who can't get dates. It wouldn't surprise me if this social stigma was reflected in lower marriage rates for Asian men.

Of course, I have issues with both Jenn and FF44's posts (would I be FiF if I didn't?), though I tend to side more with Jenn's "don't blame the person of color for stereotypes imposed on their dating choices" approach than with FF44's "be a role model, date Asians" exhortation (which is a little creepy, and reminds me of the oft-unspoken "only gender-normative, clean-cut, monogamously coupled gay men and lesbians need apply to be LGBT community spokespersons" attitude that I've always deplored).

I do think that Jenn is a little too quick to dismiss as "stereotyping, pure and simple" Asian (presumably hetero or bi) men's complaints about certain Asian women's explanations of their choices to date white men. I've personally heard Asian (and white) women, in explaining their preference for white men, denigrate Asian men's masculinity and sexual attractiveness, or make the same old tired excuses that feminists rightly called men on when they were used to devalue women ("oh, Asian guys just never ask me out!" sounds a lot like "oh, women just don't participate enough at meetings!").

I do think that Asian women should not be singled out as the cause of the sexual disenfranchisement of Asian men (and thus saddled with the burden of undoing it), but neither should they (or any of us) ignore the many ways they have been affected and are sometimes complicit in that disenfranchisement.

Image from daviddarling

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Guy love

I find it very easy to talk to some straight guys about my sex/romantic life and they, in turn, find it easy to talk to me about theirs. Is it because both of us are "safe" for each other? After all, we don't share a grapevine or a dating pool.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Love will keep us together

But the Uniting American Families Act won't hurt.

It's a bill that was re-introduced on Tuesday. It has been introduced several times (previously also under the name Permanent Partners Immigration Act). Each time, the list of Congressional supporters grows. Seems like only a matter of time.

UAFA would extend to same-sex couples the same immigration rights currently afforded only to opposite-sex couples.

Historically. the U.S. government has committed to the position that family unity is a worthwhile policy objective for immigration law and that forced separation of family members may be a hardship. Congress has eliminated numerical restrictions upon immediate family members of U.S. citizens to immigrate to the United States. The disparity between same-sex and opposite-sex couples then is an undue hardship imposed not only on foreign national partners, but on American citizens and permanent residents.

UAFA holds Congress and the U.S. government to its commitment that immigration law should keep families together.

Although a growing number of countries are recognizing the importance of allowing same-sex partners equal immigration benefits, many couples are unable to live together because neither of them lives in a country that provides such recognition. The U.S. needs to get off that latter list, and on to the former.