Saturday, December 13, 2008

Getting ready for yuletide Prop 8 fallout

My boyfriend, my son and I will be spending the entire Christmas week with my sister and her family in Utah. My sister holds orthodox LDS views on (as far as I can tell) all subjects. On politics and religion she and I agree on virtually nothing. She likes me but would rather that the whole gay thing just go away.

I have not talked to her about Prop 8, but I feel confident that she is completely behind the Church's recent involvement in rolling back gay rights. I think that this comment from one of the LDS blogs might sum up the way she thinks:

I’m a Californian. I know not one or two but many people who identify themselves as gay. Yet like most in the LDS community and most in the Christian community I voted Yes on proposition 8.

I’m not ashamed of my vote because I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ nor of his prophets President Monson or Elder Ballard who specifically addressed this issue to Californian members. I knew it would potentially be hurtful to gays. Yet I also know the commitment required by my faith.


I'm sure that my sister (and my brother-in-law and my nieces and nephews who are in their 20s) will be kind to Tobi. They have met him before and think he's cute and nice.

I'm sure that my son will have a great time with his cousins. He's spent most of the Christmases of his life with his cousins, who are math and science geeks just like him. (We go to my sister's every year.)

I'm not so sure how I will do. My feelings about the Church's involvement in anti-gay ballot measures are still running high. I am feeling under siege because of Tobi's uncertain visa situation that is directly impacted by the unequal treatment of gay relationships under civil law. I'm afraid that I'm not going to be able to hold my tongue if the topic comes up at the dinner table.

I am resolved to leave the room if the subject of gay rights or gay anything comes up. I just hope I can keep my resolution. I'm leaking at the seams and ready to blow.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Book review: Swish

At the recommendation of Edgy I read Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever.

Joel Derfner's book is a collection of humorous essays about his immersion in "the lifestyle." He's a smart guy and is sometimes very, very funny. You can think of him as a cross between Dan Savage, David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs. If you like any or all of these authors, you'll probably like Derfner.

Derfner was a bookish, studious child who grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. When he was about 12, he started to realize that the might be gay. He confided in a adult gay friend:
I waited and waited and waited to get up the courage to say what I wanted to say and I finally did but I was so scared I couldn't do it in English so I used French. "J'ai peur que je suis gay" I said, failing in my nervousness to use the subjunctive. I'm scared that I'm gay.

His confidant was kind and, after a brief conversation, said "Yes, you're gay." It was one of those conversations that made all the difference.

In other parts of the book, Derfner goes undercover at an ex-gay conference run by Exodus International, joins a gay cheerleading squad and becomes a go-go dancer for a summer. And he knits.

I found the book to be amusing and at times touching and even wise. I don't think it matches the best of Savage, Sedaris or Burroughs, but if you're looking for a quick amusing (and very gay) read, check it out.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Milk review

I saw Gus van Sant's movie, Milk, a mostly factual dramatization of the last years of the life of Harvey Milk. Van Sant's treatment of the subject follows Randy Shilt's biography The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (St. Martin's Press, 1982). Walking into the theater, I was a bit skeptical, since I am a fan of the 1984 documentary film The Times of Harvey Milk.

I needn't have worried. Milk is an impressive, unsentimental retelling of the story of California's first openly gay elected official. Sean Penn does an amazing job of channeling Milk. The movie is going to win awards. (I'm going to predict Best Picture and Best Actor at the 2009 Academy Awards.)

The only reason not to watch the movie would be if you were a Prop 8 supporter and don't want to leave the theater thoroughly ashamed of yourself. (The movie portrays the fight over the anti-gay 1978 Briggs Initiative, with some historical footage. Anti-gay campaigns, like all attempts a rolling back civil rights, don't pass the test of time.)

Milk is a well-made film with compelling current relevance. Two thumbs up. (That is, both of my thumbs.)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What is the Church's stand?

Recently France has been putting together a proposal for a United Nations resolution that would call for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality. Homosexuality is punishable in 83 countries (out of 180 or so in the UN) and by death states such as Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen. Decriminalizing homosexuality is a basic humanitarian step.

Unbelievably, the Catholic Church has come out against this resolution. Its reasoning is that eliminating jail sentences and capital punishment for homosexuals would threaten traditional marriage. In other words, if you don't persecute homosexuals using all means in your arsenal, this "would create new and implacable discriminations" against Catholics who disagree with gay marriage.

A mainstream newspaper in Italy, La Stampa, called this reasoning grotesque.

I wonder, given the LDS Church's general concordance with Catholic thinking on the issue of homosexuality, whether the Mormon Church would also oppose this proposed U.N. resolution.

Via AmericaBlog and ThinkProgress

See also Time