July 2006

What’s that you say? Sly, wearing a…ring?

As we’ve long known, rings are culturally significant gifts. But as we’ve also known, Sly is one to play with the significance of such items. For instance, my faux-engagement for a few months last summer. Serious.

This one is a little more conventional, though the partner and I have no plans of marriage or anything. For starters, it’s illegal in this state, and the real important part is that we’ve been together much too short a time to consider it. But as i type, the claddagh flashes back at me, turned with the heart in and the crown out. I’m owned.

But is it read that way? I go shopping this morning, and I’m a single man walking around with a ring. I’m much more likely read as an owner than anything else. Out of the context of seeing the both of us, a ringed man is identified as a woman owner. And what is it that the partner and I intend? He says that he wants it to be something of his (he used to wear it) to remember him by. Is that how I read my use of this?

As I mentioned, last summer, I gave an “engagement” ring to a friend…and we played with the idea that a man and woman are automatically together if they spend enough time together. It had an odd history, marking both our agreement to perform this kind of burlesque of the normative hetero pairing…and by later absence, our eventual falling out.

Now, I look at this decidedly less ironic piece of jewelry…

What exactly are my investments in these ideas? Am I really pushing back? Or did I just sell out?



For today at least. From Shake’s Sis…1800 SUICIDE is in trouble.

There’s been some really good commentary on how Bush’s plan will hurt queer people, so i’m going to talk a little about the religious issues.

Here’s the premise. In a time of personal crisis, a person has the right not to be exploited.

Simple, right? Which is why i get mighty nervous about the fundagelicals getting into this business, both governmental and otherwise. As Pam reported, federal pressure has been mounting to support faith-based suicide prevention. All well and good, until one realizes that the biggest faith based operation for this is…

The Crystal Cathedral? What would a televangelism empire have to do with suicide prevention? Converts? Cash?

Am I too cynical? Am I uncharitable and untrusting of my more conservative brethren (and i do mean to be gender specific here, as their leadership is too)?

Privatization of this kind of resource means that people, at their most vulnerable hour, are going to be subject to ideological pressure, anti-queer bias, and be ushered into dependency on a group to which they otherwise might not have any contact. CC, and other fundagelical outfits have a right to seek converts. But to choose to do so in this manner is only a fair if people have a meaningful choice. This means being upfront about the association between “care ministries” and the operations that fund them. And it means that people must have access (and referrals if necessary) to similar services that are open to and affirming of all faiths. And it should very much mean being upfront about the training level (often minimal to non-existant) of the staff of such ministries. It wouldn’t be the first time that proselytizing got masked as medical care

So yeah. Go, call, act. As taken from http://www.save1800suicide.org/

1. Tell the Government to keep their commitment to 1-800-SUICIDE and send the $266,000 that was already allocated.

2. Help Fund 1.800.SUICIDE.
We need to raise $266,000 for our bills with AT&T to keep the Suicide Prevention Hotline running privately. Once we pay off AT&T for our old phone agreement We have to pay roughly $30,000 per month for the next 6 months in order to come out of debt.

3. Keep Suicide Prevention Private and Confidential Petition.
Our Government should not duplicate the efforts of the Hopeline – but help with training of social works, education and awareness of the issues of mental health.

4. E-mail your friends.

Get crackin’ folks. We’ve got a national resource to save.




In honor of heading north for the weekend…lake, cabin, campfire, friends, beer, woods, trails, vacation…this is my playlist for the morning, watching my boy sleep while i get us packed to go.

1. Me and U (Cassie)
2. The Last Great Saturday (Accident Clearinghouse)
3. Breathe (Blu Cantrell ft. Sean Paul)
4. E-Pro (Beck vs. Beastie Boys by Dj Erb)
5. High Road (Fort Minor ft. john Legend)
6. Every Shade of Wrong (Waterson)
7. Guns and Cigarettes (Atmosphere)
8. Crazy (Gnarls Barkley)
9. Playground Love (Air)
10. Girls and Boys (Blur)

That’s the list, folks.

Things are a little better here…the boy is starting to heal up some, and we’re starting to think we’re seeing progress.

Anyhow…i’ve been a busy bee trying to make the blog rounds, and actually trying to comment instead of doing drive bys. I’m just going to use two of those from the discussion here at Alas to be today’s post, since i think they say most of what i’m thinking at the moment.

To the subject ot teaching…w/o specific reference to above comment.

One of the things that i think may be present in nubian’s frustration with “I learn so much” is the obvious insufficiency. If what you read there is radical, new, and unprecidented in your experience, you may have little to no contact with black feminism. This is NOT to say she is unoriginal, or entirely equivalent with some unified “Black Feminist” ideal. But it is to say that if your world gets shattered every time you read, you may have some serious catching up to do with the fact that WOC often have different feminisms than white women do.

So when a person says “I learn so much” one of the things that may be broadcast by that is “I don’t know nearly enough about this important subject, and i consider your blogging to be my sole source of information.”

Outside of a broader relationship of respect, such drive by “compliments” feed the writer’s suspicion that she is being used for off label purposes. Writing that is not intended to be primary education is being leaned upon in an unsafe manner. Taking nubian’s blog, and moving it until it can be represented as “all a white person needs to know about racism” is clearly problematic. And I strongly suspect that the nature of these comments might lead her to believe that’s exactly what’s going on.

Yes, one cannot control the way in which one’s writing is used. But so too, those bad readers cannot control the way the author chides them for reading poorly. If the reader has agency, so does nubian. So don’t get it twisted. If I read Grapes of Wrath and think it’s about big family vacation out west, it’s totally fair game for the Ghost of Steinbeck to call me up and state for the record: “Dumbass.” Why is the white urge to commentate suddenly supirior to nubian’s countercommentary?

Why are you assuming the best, anyhow? In a situation of systematic white priveledge and racism, what looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck…it’s most likely the Duck of White Racism. And we have people here asking nubian to assume that they’re swans, or otherwise dictate her reaction to OUR problem.

Calling in to the doctor’s office this weekend, I got another object lesson in how prejudice makes you stupid.

I try to talk to the doc on call, who promptly asks my relationship to the patient.

Boyfriend brings on the response: “……oh.”

I tell him that my boy is in a lot of pain. His witty contribution: “You know, pain is subjective.”

At which point, I load up on every male priviledge i can grasp at for the purposes, telling him that if my boy is an Eagle Scout farm boy who got this injury driving truck…then the least he can do is take this seriously. I mean, since when is queer pain not as real as straight pain. And if he wasn’t all these things, should he be deserving of less care? If he was the kind of gay that wears pink feather boas, we don’t take him seriously or think that he can be tough? What the fuck is up that i have to masculinize his persona in order to get his pain taken seriously?

I try to tell the doc that he’s got an infection. No, the white pus in the wound can’t be an infection…they’re careful, and besides, it would be draining more. Guess they decided to store some tapioca in the incision, and it’s nothing to worry about. Nevermind that it’s been clearing with the application of peroxide and anti-biotics. No, it’s better to assume that the gay boy doesn’t know shit, and it’s just whining.

I really want to meet this doc.

I have a feeling he doesn’t really want to meet me.

Yours in anger,

Sly Civilian

How you address your political others.

Recently, in a otherwise extremely cogent and well argued piece on the terroristic aspects of the pro-life movement, Jill of Feministe made the following statement:

These people are sick. They are seriously mentally ill.

My immediate response was a rather uncharitable anger. It’s prejudiced, and it’s bad argumentation too. As i commented, it’s a terrible ad hominem not just because of the damage that it does to persons with mental illness, but because it erases the responsibility of the person you’re using it against.

Lest you think I regret being peevish,I should say that I think I had reason to be cross with her. This is not an isolated event, but a larger pattern of rhetorics that confuses mental illness with political disagreement, generalized anti-social behavior, and/or percieved danger to the proper order of things. Race is often medicalized in this fashion, there are gendered and sexualized implications for women and for queers, class…the list goes on. If you’re part of a marginalized or oppressed group, chances are that the discourse of mental illness has been deployed against you.

Sucks, doesn’t it. But the primary victim of this particular pattern is not any of these groups. It’s persons with mental illness. Frankly, let’s admit it. The Man has plenty of ways of using political language dressed as science, social commentary or medicine on marginalized folks. If it wasn’t this, it’d be something else. But for persons living with mental illness, the fact that the powers have chosen to use this trope has been devastating.

The Wellstone Act still lingers in Congress as an indictment of all of give it lip service.

Even in disaster, mental health is ignored, sidelined, and is allowed to magnify the suffering.

Treatment of serious mental illness is still fraught with charlatans and sadists.

Costly, limited and biased access to care makes mental illness disproportionately harmful to racial and ethnic minorities.

I’m sick to death of all of this. I know there’s a lot I can’t change in a day. But this is what i do expect, and I do expect it now. Concurring with Spotted Elephant, who added to the thread:

Equating terrible behavior with mental illness MUST stop. It’s bigotry, pure and simple.

If you’re progressive, if you’re trying to change the world for the better…if you think you’re one of the good people of the world…

Stop using these rhetorics. Stop participating in this marginalization. Start interrupting, start confronting and start changing these biases and prejudices in yourself and the people around you.

For the record, I need to state that Jill did apologize, and that I accept that as sincere.

But that doesn’t change the rest of it. That’s up to all of us.


So, with a barbeque Tuesday night, i officially ended “Coming Out Season” until further notice. My friend that i talked about in this post was there, and while the partner and I were not very obvious, we weren’t exactly hiding either. The parents, too, are being clued in slowly.

Enough. It’s been fun and all, but really I think it might be time to get back to life in general. At least for a while.

So what’s left to talk about? Plenty.

Health care is on my mind at the moment. The partner (I need a code name for him for the blog) is getting himself ready, and then we head over to the hospital for him to have surgery. It’s a minor one, as surgery goes, but he’s quite nervous about it. First time and all. But what really gets me is the luck of it all. His is a work related injury, and he happens to work for a company that actually pays attention to such things.

We’ll drive through some of the most challenged nieghborhoods in the city on our way over…Cedar/Riverside Hospital sits right next to the projects built in the 60s, which somehow have still been left standing, even after mixed development and section 8. Do you think they get their operations done by the same Doc that treats the players of the Minnesota Twins? Have they got any insurance at all? Is there a word in Somali for Worker’s Comp?

I’m just glad that he’s gonna be okay. I’m just relieved that he’ll be taken care of.

I don’t want to feel selfish about that. Isn’t it about time we had some actual national health care?


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