December 2008

Enough

Until just a few years ago I acted like the Christians are supposed to act, and I “turned the other cheek,” tolerating and even supporting a religion that has been persecuting me all my life.

But more recently, as readers here have noticed, I’ve found myself wondering why I’d been doing that, why I haven’t been defending myself.

When I initially read Paul Monette several years ago, I was honestly shocked at his charge that the source of homophobic hatred in the society of his youth had been the church, and in his case, that was the Roman Catholic Church. But then, the more I read him, the more he made sense, and I came to realize that well, where else did the homophobia come from but the religions?

After all, anti-gay persons always cite the Bible as the justification for their hatred, and the most cursory look at the places in the world where gays are accepted reveals that these are precisely those places where the majority of the population has abandoned religion, the western and northern European countries.

And as all this soaked in, I found myself becoming increasing hostile toward religion and willing to speak up for myself.

This fall’s political campaign to deny gays the right to marry fanned the flames, even though it’s not marriage I want but rather, the statutory benefits. A bit of fallout from that campaign that I found especially annoying was the court attempt by contributors to the anti-gay campaign to bar public access to records of their contributions. Well, I understand their fear. If people knew you were funding a campaign to strip them of their rights, some of them might be vindictive enough to stop patronizing your business, which would mean that your hateful action might cost you profits. Can’t have that, now can we?

But then, I spent Christmas hanging out with Gloria, and somehow being with her made me ask myself whether getting worked up and hating those folks right back made me happier. Well, of course not. Seething with rage over their lies and hate campaigns doesn’t help me sleep. Nor does thinking about the issues enough to write this stuff. So enough, already, at least until the bastards mount another major campaign against me. Wouldn’t hurt my karma, either, to lay off. Ummm, that’s karma in a secular sense, as Hinduism is only marginally more tolerant of gays than Christianity and Islam.

Gloria and I went out the day after Christmas for dim sum, and I got some pics of the West Portal Muni station that reminds me of the newer architecture in Amsterdam. Here’s one. Note the clever barriers to discourage folks from walking out onto the roof. So handsome, so Dutch:

West Portal Station

I’ll end the year with a pic outside my retinologist’s office. Somehow, going there inspires me to see beauty better, especially since she has managed my retinal damage so well that my vision loss has stabilized. Good Christmas present.

red pipes

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Penan

I had the most extraordinary experience last night, a screening of the documentary on the work of my friend Ian with the Penan in Borneo. My friend Stephen, who introduced me to Ian, has described the documentary in his blog Arod in San Francisco, so I won’t try to rewrite him. Do click on that link, which has links to Ian’s work. Unfortunately, the link to the documentary film itself does not work unless you are in Canada. Something about distribution rights or whatever.

All I can do is say that I was profoundly moved to see how the way of life of a nomadic people was made non-viable by the advance of “civilization”, in this case the logging industry, which is busily chopping down the last barrier to global warming.

Of course in the sixteenth through nineteenth century the native American cultures here were destroyed in much the same manner for precisely the same reason – there was profit to be made by displacing them, and nothing has ever stood long in the path of profit.

Just as linguists and anthropologists here are trying to record the moribund native American languages and oral history, so Ian has written a dictionary and grammar of the language of the Penan and is now recording their oral history.

A sad undertaking, but a noble one, and I am fortunate to know a man so fine.

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Hope

I’m trying to assimilate the results of November’s election … the California results.

The passage of Proposition 8, which reversed last spring’s state supreme court decision legalizing same sex marriage, came as a shock. Not that it should have, considering that the evil jackal and brilliant strategist, the Most Reverend George Niederauer, Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco, coordinated with the Mormon Grand Troglodyte in Salt Lake City to raise  fifty million dollars to fund a clever and mendacious media campaign in support of the measure.

And now that that vicious scumbag has succeeded in buying legislation forcing millions of us non-Catholics to obey the rules of his church, he’s calling for everyone to “tone down the rhetoric and move on”.

The mind reels. I sent a letter to the Chron – which they published! – in which I asked His Grace a couple of questions: 1. Tell me, Your Grace, Does “toning down the rhetoric” mean that Your Grace is going to stop calling me an “objectively disordered grave threat to the family”? and 2. Would Your Grace be telling both sides to “move on” if Your Grace’s side had lost? Oh please, this is just more of the glittering hypocrisy we have come to adore in the pronouncements of the church. The churches have initiated and supported and funded every piece of anti-gay legislation in the history of this country.

But I have to be fair and admit that a pitiful handful of Christian clerics actually had the balls to speak against Proposition 8. The majority of the Episcopal leaders, in fact, were against Proposition 8. And a few others courageously spoke out. A Baptist, even, the Reverend Amos Brown, flew in the face of the overwhelming bigotry of the black churches and was harshly denounced by some of his fellow black ministers for doing so.

And yet, yet, in the face of all this hate and bigotry, I have hope. An incident in November of 2007 is illustrative.

On the way home from my road trip to Texas, I was passing through the Los Angeles area and took an exit for lunch. I blundered onto a Whole Foods, and as I was eating my sandwich at a table just beyond the checkout stations, I watched this cute checker in his twenties come on duty.

He wasn’t a flamboyant queen, but it didn’t take much nose for lavender to sense that he was gay as he came sashaying in with his cash tray and a big grin. What blew me away was that every single checker, sacker, sweeper – all the employees in sight on the floor – greeted him warmly with big smiles and cheerful greetings as he walked past them, “Hi, Jason!” “Hey, dude, how’ya doin’?” All of ’em. And not one of the others was noticeably gay.

But they were all young.

So no matter how much the old Christians and their vicious churches despise me, the hateful old bigots are dying off, and their children are much less bigoted. And their grandchildren are mostly tolerant.

And the old ‘phobes know this. That’s why they’re pouring millions of bucks into anti-gay campaigns all over the nation. That’s why they home-schooled their children or at least sent them to religious schools for indoctrination. They’re trying desperately to inculcate them with hatred and stave off the inevitable.

I won’t live to see it, but in the next few years the scales will tip. And in another couple of decades or so the United States will join western Europe in tolerance for gays. Eastern Europe will doubtless continue rotting in the clutches of Christian bigotry, hatred second only to that found in the Islamic countries. Let ’em stew in it.

Here’s a good red curtain on 18th Street:

red curtain

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