Queer


When i was working on a paper on mental health and theology, i had some questions about how churches have dealt with suicides in the past. i asked around a little, and started to expect a fairly disappointing answer. I read stories about refusals to inter bodies or even conduct the most basic of services.

A true moment of light was when Fr. Pat Malone talked to me about the options that a priest has when facing that decision. As of now, the preference is to bury and to give rites. But even prior to those reforms, a priest always had a choice to declare the matter private, of the internal forum. What amazed me was the strength of belief in a system of resolution beyond that of hierarchy. Not exactly my pre-conceived notion of Catholicism.

Simply, as I understand it from his explanations, there are matters of faith and personal life that cannot be expected to be resolved by church courts or strict adherence to teaching. Like Christ, the church too must be merciful and responsive to the individual soul.* The most common use of internal forum today is to allow Catholics to return to the sacraments after getting divorced. As long as they come to understand through prayer a reconciliation of their actions and their faith to God. It might be repentance of sin or it might be the finding of a clear conscience, doing what was truly best.

This simple notion has come to underscore my entire theology of queerness and the church. Queer issues are primarily pastoral, not theological to me. There is nothing about the character of God or the scriptures that are at stake for me. I know God to be loving, and I understand the witness of the Bible as reflective of that love.

The question is not transcendent. It is entirely immediate. What are we doing, pastorally, to care for those who are in pain?

This is where Father Pat comes in. When a family is in pain because of suicide, a sudden and traumatic loss occurs, he tells me that the clear choice is to move matters out of dispute and into the care of the church. To address the human need to know that God is with them in their pain, the priest has a wide authority to do what they need. Most often, it came in the form of burying the deceased and offering blessings and prayers that gave the family hope. Despite a ostensibly clear teaching that suicides were damned, the reality of the church has been a steady move towards a more humane approach. Many times, this was done quietly. Other times, it came in the form of a public burial that served to reconcile the deceased, the family, and the community.**

So what do we do in the face of queer issues in the church today? Protect people, care for the hurt, and do what we can in a broken world.

The time to break with tradition is when the application thereof leads to more pain, not the grace of the Kingdom. And even if we cannot, as a whole Body come to an agreement, individual pastors still have an obligation to provide care in the interim.

If that means blessing a marriage so that couples have a greater chance of being able to see each other in the hospital….then that’s what we do.

If that means publicly fighting transphobia to try to stop the violence…then we have an obligation to do so.

If it means trying to address the concerns of those who are leaving the church because they are conservative…then, as church leaders, we do that too.

Grander theological concerns notwithstanding, a clear pattern emerges. The conduct of the church on the local level can have real effects of the quality of people’s lives. Do they feel as if God loves them? Can they be protected by the social privilege given to the church?

Even when Christendom as a whole fights over what to do, these remain pastoral issues. This is not revolutionary, this is a move to compassionately meet people where their lives are. That’s gospel, right there.

This post is dedicated to a wonderful ally in the Lutheran Church who has given me much to think about.

-sly

*Mark 2:27
**The teachings and law on internal forum are varied on this point. Many authorities point to the need for the resolution obtained in internal forum not to damage the rest of the faithful. This might outlaw any public recognition of variances, but that hinges on the definition of damage. I, for one, think there is plenty of theological room for seeing the pastoral needs of the harmed and the dishonored coming before the strong. 1 Corinthians offers an extended vision of what it means that God has sought out what has been despised, to show the full breadth of grace and reconciliation made known in Christ Jesus.

BA wrote a really cool post, and by cool, I mean hot.

Hawt, even.

I’ve been kicking myself to start writing again, and with a subject like this…how could I resist.

BA is right.

my thought is that sexual care fits into self care because it is an admission of yourself and the right to live as that self…

There’s a world beyond the sunset…where the playing out of what we need in private doesn’t always have to refer back to the troubled world outside. But the correct answer is not to stop fucking the mean time. “Ain’t this what you revolutionaries are supposed to be dying for?”

A good fuck has rarely cured the world, but since when did we ask that of everything we do? Recently, i think in commentary on Sudy’s awesome video, some folks talked about how the phrase complicity is usually a good sign that we’re doing some good old fashioned self-examination that has the big raging problem of assuming that collective individual action is what’s required. As you know, opposed to just plain collective, break the damn mold action.

Which is why so much of the continual sex wars bullshit is just that. Power intersects with the sex I have. But as R Mildred aptly points out…

Yes, and?

The world and we are dying every day. And practices of self-denial feel like something we can do about it…a tangible, feels good in a feel bad sort of way.

We are a nation on converts and backsliders, dependent on rituals of lapse and redemption.

What BA points to, is the richness of sexual imagination and what it means to actually take it to heart. There is nothing wrong with being the

oral fixated hand on her chocha, big titted bitch in me.

And there’s nothing contradictory about that statement and still being a virgin.

I had a sexual identity long before I had sexual partners. Some parts of that identity have come to expression, others found compromises, some have evolved, some I have hopes for, others I treasure memories of.

The SO and I were at brunch in her hometown, catching up with a friend. Apparently, he asked while i was away from the table…”Does he miss the cock?”

She replied, and incorrectly.

It means nothing. I had and have no plans of leaving her, going outside the relationship, or even directing my imagination in ways that detract from the relationship.

But it means everything. I do miss it. That desire and urge, even if never acted upon, remains with me, helping me to understand who I am in the summation of things.

I desire.

I desire things, people, feelings, comfort, pain, experience, growth, shelter, and new horizons. I desire, and the naming of my desires is important, not a list to be abridged at the whim of others.

I am a person who desires, for desire is that which a person does. A pawn, a stand in, a cardboard cutout…a stereotype….could not do so.

They might have a fixation, or a fetish, the animating purpose of such a caricature, But it is in fact, they that are the fetish, the toy of a lazy imagination.

I am, one who desires, who names what I desire in all the contradiction and complexity that I can muster, knowing that it comes down to this.

Who I am is not what I name myself as. There is no end result, only the striving.

Who am I?

The one who names myself.

This is what i need and i wont accept anything else nor

WILL I LET ANYTHING or anyone try and sell me ANY OTHER VERSION OF IT

PEtit imagine what movement full of people thinking like that loosk

-sly

PS: Links go where they came from, all block quotes are from Black Amazon. Video embed from Ms. Sylvia/M.

So, the bruhaha of the day seems to be Bill Richardson failing to state in uninterrupted prose that being gay isn’t a choice. We have the eager interviewing skills of Melissa Ethridge, Lifer Extraordinare, to thank for this shocking revelation.

His campaign is in full back spin mode, stating the Holy Manta of Gay Orthodoxy.

We believe in one orientation, begotten and not made of culturally based choices…

I’m sorry…they actually said:

“I misunderstood the question. Let me be clear- I do not believe that sexual orientation or gender identity happen by choice. But I’m not a scientist, and the point I was trying to make is that no matter how it happens, we are all equal and should be treated that way under the law. That is what I believe, that is what I have spent my career fighting for. I ask that people look at my record and my actions and they will see I have been a true supporter of the LGBT community.”

Uh. Who gives a crap? Who gives a flying fuck if a presidential candidate thinks we were born that way so we have a right to be who we are?

How about we care if they are going to work to repeal DOMA? Or if they think that since there is nothing wrong with being queer it doesn’t matter why we are what we are?

I have decided to file LOGO, Bill Richardson, Melissa Etheridge, and HRC under the category: Idiots, Un-useful.

-sly

The other morning, i got in a bit of a….disagreement…with another driver over who had right of way. I think the “green” light in my direction should have clarified that. Or the “red” light in his. But after following me to my parking lot, he screamed all manner of obscenities at me, and told me that i should fear for my safety. He also called me gay, which i really rather enjoyed. Otherwise, i might forget.

I did my best to ignore him, but I’m starting to think I should have laughed. What better to let him know that such threat and vitriol was worse than useless?

Note: This is where i lost a whole chunk o text. So bear with me, as i try to reconstruct my argument. I was reading over another round of the rad fem/trans stuff, and was finding my blood pressure rising. Heart and Mandolin were going a few rounds, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, amen.

I tried to even imagine a way that one could stay on totally pure theoretical ground, and discuss why gender is fixed…i can’t do it, and i’m pretty sure that the creation of a fictive category implies harm to those so determined, but sure…let’s give it a whirl. Let’s say they could.

But even then, we’ve got a track record here. The discussion doesn’t stay in a imaginary and pure theoretical moment. It moves to conclusions, associations, allusions, supports, inferences, and hypothesis. And we’ve seen them to be hateful to queers of all kinds.

All because everything is being described in term of m/f. If that’s the only language you speak, you have to have an essentialism to fix your categories. You can obfuscate it all you like by claiming that it might be biology, it might be common experience, it might be yada, yada, yada. You have to fix your categories. Or it wouldn’t make sense to commit to m/f as a sufficient description. You have to have a tribe to have a tribe that bleeds, see? And if Heart hasn’t used that phrase herself, she’s still on record with material that posits a certain mojo to womens and something else to men.

Guess who you’re sharing the dance floor with now?

Sorry. if you can’t bracket gender, you’re going to end up needing to make a description of how you differ from the other kinds of essentialists you’re contesting with. And so far as I’ve seen…it’s all pretty thin sauce.

Which then leads us back to the defenses of why the rhetoric must go on. If you like, read what Heart is claiming as a history of trans oppression of rad fem communities…a bunch of it boils down to some queer folks not wanting to see a movie. Yup. We don’t want to see Gendercator. Ouch. That’s pretty harsh.

I commented over at Feline Formal Shorts on the issue
Heart in particular is committed to a victim status as proof of her moral superiority. WOC are oppressing rad fems, gay men are oppressing rad fems, lesbians who enjoy SM are oppressing rad fems, MOC are oppressing rad fems, sex workers are oppressing rad fems, transgender women are oppressing rad fems, transgender men are oppressing rad fems…

The list continues. What isn’t separated is injury from status. Someone might hurt me, but still be socially disadvantaged over all. If i get robbed on the street by a radical feminist (pretend!), i still have my dudely privilege to help me recover. It’d be a pretty lame argument to translate this personal experience into a theoretical understanding of the opressive nature of radical feminism. Or even if some of them shouted me down over expressly political matters. Extrapolation from anecdote is not going to give you a wall to wall universally applicable theoretical apparatus.

And most of us have conflicted status…a mix of privileges and disadvantages. But as long as their bet for moral authority is placed on coming out dead last in the power calculation…they won’t own up to the power they do have. Disguising that takes effort…mostly the kind of flailing we’ve come to know and love like this mess.

Kactus also notes over there that we shouldn’t assume that online representation of radfem causes does the movement justice, and that’s a fair proviso. But as far as I’ve seen it expressed by such folks as Heart, it’s something that I can’t be arsed with.

Does it look het-centric? Does it sound transphobic? Does it need my time and energy?

Yes. Yup.

No.

-sly

PS: Since writing the original draft, i’ve heard something along the lines of Heart getting DDOS’d. That, of course, is about the worst way one can deal with conflict and is asstastical. Boo.

One of the arguments that I’ve heard about homophobia in communities of color could be boiled down to:

We’re the victims!

Now, I don’t play too many games with this stuff…if someone hates you on account of you being queer, I’m not going to ask if you’ve been following your Emily Post. It’s probably safe to say that they may be a homophobe. Especially if violence, threatened or otherwise is involved. A individual queer gets attacked for being queer, that is not their fault. I don’t blame the victim.

But don’t get it twisted. Communities are not individuals. But on a macro level, we don’t get that kind of consideration. Why? Because we do have power. Maybe not enough, maybe at a high cost, but we’ve got power. In many regards, we have institutional level backing. Conflicted support, sure, but watching the dems dodge the questions last night about gay marriage should remind us that we’re in the room to ask the question, and they at least think they can’t outwardly gay bait us. Did you watch the republican debate?

I’m not celebrating, i’m still fighting. And i won’t stop until queer love has the same legal considerations as straight love. But incomplete power is still power. And that means accountability.

Journey Woman is in Trinidad these days, and finding herself torn. Go read the whole thing, but i’ll post this as a teaser.

At this point I had to fight back the urge to scream, cry and just run away from this all. This is all too much to handle at sometimes.

I want to hold on to my people and this country so tight, but I can only do this if I deny who I am. I find myself now in a bind, do I continue to blend? Or do I make a stand? Do I even have the agency and authority to make such a bold stand? Where is my safe place?

You see, it’s a question we have to ask. Why is homophobia taking such strong root in certain places and culturess? We, as a community, can ask that without violating our own dignity because as a whole we’re not the victims. This is an externality.

Mainstream advocacy, movements, and cultures directed at and created by us are responsible for the choices we make. And some of those choices, such as unchallenged racism and complicity with traditional power structures, may be part of the fuel that feeds this fire. And even when it’s not our doing, but the cynical manipulations of others that pits communities of color against us…

We can do better than playing the victim. To the extent that we’re safe, protected by whiteness, class, or situation…we have to do better. Because we’re not bearing the cost of our actions and rhetoric. It’s become an externality, where queers of color, our alleged siblings in the struggle are taking the hit, and feeling a double alienation and a painful disconnection.

I’m a white queer, and this is the question I can be asking and the work I can be doing. I cheer on and give any (appropriate) support to movements within communities racked by homophobia that seek to challenge that. And I’m honored by the friendship of folk who are doing just that. There’s no reason for delay, no accounting to be made if we’re still the disadvantaged party who ought to wait for the other to do right. As if our open arms and healed relationships will not give those allies more strength for their work?

The bottom line is that some of us are being asked to choose between parts of themselves, made to cut their identities apart.

We have to treat our family better than that.

-sly

Ahem.

THE MOST IMPORTANT achievement of the early gay liberation movement was its pressure on the American psychiatric establishment to reexamine its evidence for classifying homosexuality as a mental illness. It was important because if gays weren’t mentally ill, it was hard to justify any kind of discriminatory policies or treatment.

I’ve talked about this before. Social issues are medicalized, and folks suffer for it. It’s real. And it’s worth resisting. Queer communities ought to contest the way in which their lives are made the subject of this kind of talk. What we must be careful to ask is how we are to resist.

Because the power relations that class sane and insane are still present after such a “liberation.” In fact, they are rendered all the more believable if medicalized labels reflect social practices. A liberal society that treats a gay man as a hysteric is thought to be archaic, but if they apply the same treatment to a woman who has been traumatized…well, that’s just good medicine.

Don’t fight the label. Fight the system that assigns it.

-sly

Hat tips to Allison Hymes and Flawed Plan.

In a patriarchy, wherein one class oppresses another for its own profit, there can be no ‘consent’ between oppressor and oppressed.
-Twisty

It sounds to me like these guys would rather be having sex with their male friends,
-Comments

It’s no coincidence that “being fucked over” and “taking it up the ass” are synonymous with the most egregious examples of deceit and betrayal….Notice, too, how “bitch” has replaced the homophobic slur “cocksucker” as the most derogatory term a man can call another man. In heterodude terms, women are lower than “faggots” and as such, deserve to be brutalized and violated for the mere “thrill”. Or to put it more simply: why go out and bash “fags” when you can commit your own little hate crimes in the comfort of your own home?
-Comments

Albert is slightly different from John psychologically: rather than being a sociopathic rapist, he seems to me to have a disastrously conflated madonna/whore complex and probable OCD
-Message Board

Sorry, that’s just too disgusting. I know more than enough about human anatomy & physiology to know that the anus was designed as an exit, NOT an entrance; therefore, anal sex violates that rule completely.
-Comments

If that’s the asshat’s attitude, then I would invite him to bend over while I get the vaseline and my 10 inch thick black rubber dildo.
-Comments

[This] also explains the increasing obscenity/violence in rap and music videos, movies, etc.
-Comments

Pleasure, as well, has never been something I let be the all-important summit of to do/not to do–if this were the case the patriarchy could thrive evermore, for pleasure does not automatically parallel such things as: freedom, sexual liberation, choice, consent, needs, or will. People may receive pleasure from slapping their genitalia against a barbed wire fence–that doesn’t mean the reasoning is rooted in something sexually healthy.
-Message Board

For what it is worth I posted a comment on the article echoing the sentiment that it is rape, and upping the ante a little by listing why anal sex is bad for the recipient from a medical point of view.
-Message Board

For Best Results: Start with a chilled shaker with 5 cubes of ice, add 3 cups gin and 2 shots vermouth. Shake seven times, and empty into a chilled glass. Finish in one go, and headdesk until loss of consciousness is achieved.

-sly

PS: I’m quite purposefully not actually responding to the article itself, blameworthy as it might be.

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