co-op marriage

A (gay) friend was talking about the ongoing drama of his parents (decades old) divorce. I said, "I don't get this whole [gay] marriage thing."

"Right," he said.

"I mean, whatever, but I think we need to work on convincing straight people to not get married rather than convincing states to let us get married," I said.

"It'll never happen," he said.

"Right, besides we'd need better Corporate law, and good luck seeing that happen," I said. "I mean what we really need are ways to incorporate sustainable co-operatives without the concepts/burdens for-profit/non-profit entities."

Which is, if you've ever wondered, what its like to live in my head.

When we get down to the heart of the issue, marriage has a lot to do with inheritance, powers of attorney, legal agent-representation stuff (is that different than powers of attorney), relationships and families are orthogonal.

This isn't to say that either the importance of the combined legal entity of a married couple or the legal recognition of a relationship/family isn't a valuable institution, but marriage seems to be a poor implementation of either and both.

Sex Writing

I've had "write post about writing/read sexuality" on my todo list for too long and I wanted to make the general note before it got too stale. In a lot of way's this is in response to Nora's post on magic district and I think something else that I can't trace down the reference to.

Basically I saw a couple of things where non-normative sexualities (more promiscuous, more casual, more queer) were underplayed or criticized fiction because of concerns (real or other wise) that the non-norm sexuality would be distracting or feel "Ham handed."

And I sort of gawk. Not because I think that this is incorrect. Writing about queer sexualities in fictional contexts is distracting, and something of a big deal, relative to non-queer sexualities in fiction. I also think it's a bit distracting in real life, that the discomfort/distracting experience that many people get isn't the result of ham handed political message insertion into writing, but rather, a fairly reasonable depiction of what it's like to have your embodied experience politicized, to be (nearly constantly) reminded of the cultural dissonance you have.

Sure, it's possible to under-represent queer lives in fiction, it's possible to write queerness inappropriately, or to over-normalize it. But if your readers are distracted, if they're made uncomfortable, you probably did something right.

Identity Theory

I realize that this isn't exactly a new post (at least conceptually,) and I realize/hope that this kind of discourse isn't ultimately useful to anything or anyone; but at the same time, it's an issue/debate that I find myself caring about a lot. Additionally, I think I've become a lot more coherent on the issue of late, which might be helpful. This doesn't mean I have any answers, but my questions are more crystallized (to mix metaphors a bit,) which I need to learn to become content with. Let us also not forget the fact that I'm bored out of my mined (mostly,) and musing about this is one of my favorite things to torture myself with in fits of boredom.

I suppose these statements/questions, on some level apply to every kind of group identity, social identities like race, class, education, age, and of course gender/sexuality for starters. Because gender and sexuality are my thing, and while I'm perfectly content to go on about race and class, I'll constrain myself a bit, but I would beg the readers to not be so constrained.

As I explained briefly in the Why it all Matters post, identity is made up of: what you actually do, what you see yourself as/claim, and how other's see you.

I think there's a Vorlon quote from Babylon 5 that says something like: Truth is a three edged sword: your side, their side, and fact or something like that. It's an interesting analogy that I don't want to stray into, so I'm moving on.

I view the trifold aspect of identity as one of the unexplainable facts of the world. I'm not sure how I feel about the "how others see you" part, and "what you claim," and while I'm at it strict behavioral identities don't really fully account for the complexities of identities.

So the questions I've been asking:

  • If an effeminate (gay acting, for lack of a better term) guy, says he's bisexual, but only has relationships with women; then what's up?
  • What would the "status" bisexuals in long term monogamous relationships be, and how does their previous relationship history affect their identity?
  • Are non operative transgender people, who don't take hormones, aren't seeking surgery, and often live in the gender of their birth, really trans?
  • If a women exclusively dates women, and is out as a lesbian, and then falls in love with a man and gets married and lives in that relationship happily for 20 years, is she still a lesbian?
  • If someone is out as a bisexual, but is only has relationships with one sex, are they really bisexual?
  • If someone claims a particular identity, and then "changes" identity at some later point, is that identity shift apply retroactively? Does behavior affect this?
  • If someone who is out as a gay man doesn't have relationships with men at all (or only occasionally), are they still gay?
  • If a man, who dates women exclusively, has sex with men occasionally, is he still straight?
  • In cases similar to the one above, would that man's behavior affect the answer; that is, if he bottomed (took the receptor roll during anal sex) would that affect the answer?
  • An individual whose in the closet, has very little if any heterosexual attraction, dates heterosexually, but given the proper contextual situation, would be almost exclusively homosexual, is

Again, the idea of retroactivity plays into this one.

There is of course the obvious "why does it matter" response, but excluding that, I think there are two ways to answer these questions: what they are, is guided by what they do, or, regardless of what they do, they are what they say/feel they are. In my gut, I usually answer behaviorally, though on an intellectual level, I know that the 'say/feel' option is probably closer to the truth. Something inside me says, bisexual people need to have relationships with both men and women, or they're really hetero or homo, and that a self-identified gay man shouldn't have relationships with women. That a man who had a relationship with a woman for a number of years, and then only had relationships with men would be gay. But bisexual people frequently lean one way or the other, that some homosexuals have hetero relationships (to varying degree's), and that lots of homo-leaning bisexual people, identify as gay men (and lesbians). I suppose the thing is, that there's no one right answer to identity, that it's an individual combination of those aforementioned three aspects.

Once we've gotten that one mostly squared away, the issue of "Why it matters anyway?" remains.

Identity is important because it makes it possible, let alone easier to study sexualities and gender. It separates people into groups that you can study. It allows people to fit into communities based on their identities and the intersection of their identities. Having said that, you could also say, that identity segregates people and enforces stereotypes.

And it does.

Knowing this, is the fact that identity is the source for a great many things that are wrong, reason enough to abandon it, knowing that there is a lot of insight to be gained by studying identity?

Having asked that, I don't think that its possible to ever completely avoid identity. It's as central to the human experience as oxygen, Swedish Meatballs (Babylon 5 joke, please disregard,) curiosity, and fear. Therefore, if identity is unavoidable, how on Earth do you study it (in some form) without releasing (and therefore bathing in) the unavoidable detriments of identity?

Full Stop.

That about covers it for now. Maybe it's enough just to write something like this, to acknowledge that the issues are out there, and then maybe it's not. Well I tried. Hopefully I can avoid this for a while now. Carry on.

Affinity Story Guidelines

I've started to make a list of guidelines for my Affinity story project. It's by no means definitive, and subject to change/my whim at this point, but I think this itÔøΩs helpful to my process, so here it is.

  • Contributors should be male, and have been raised as such.
  • Contributors should be gay, bisexual, and/or have had significant romantic and/or sexual relationships with other men.
  • Stories should be factual, though it's ok to change minor details, like names and locations to protect yourself and/or your friends/family.
  • Stories should be written from the perspective of the author in the first person.
  • Stories should tell of event(s), and feelings the author felt in reaction to the events, and thus should not attempt to analyze the event in a larger context.
  • Contributors need not have "come out," to their friends, family, teachers, etc. confidentiality will be respected.
  • Contributors need not be 18. (Is there some way that I can pull that off? Also, is there a way that we can dodge the mandated reporter bullet? I mean I don't think I have to report anything if I don't want to, but I need to decide how I feel about this. I'd want to encourage confidence in possible contributors that have stories about cutting, abuse, etc?)
  • How has being gay/bi has affected your friend type relationships?
  • How has coming out has affected existing relationships?
  • How dose your gay/bi identity affect your relationship to women?
  • Dating as a young gay/bi man?
  • How has being gay/bi affected school?
  • How has coming out affected your relationship with your parents? Grandparents?
  • Have you ever come out and regretted it later?
  • How do you feel when you see a straight couple your age being affectionate in public?
  • Have you gone to a Pride celebration? Why or Why not? If so what was it like?
  • Examples that other gay men/youth have presented for you.
  • How has being bi affected a heterosexual relationship? A homosexual one?
  • Gay role models.
  • Having a closeted relationship even if you were out.
  • Being in the closet, and staying in the closet.
  • Your feelings about the community of young gay/bi men.

Examples of subject matter for stories:

  • Your reaction upon meeting someone else that was gay (or lesbian).
  • The first time you identified with some one who was gay/bi and how you felt.
  • How you felt when you met/saw/heard about the first (other) person in your age group that was gay/bi.
  • A time an unexpected ally came to your defense, ie. A teacher standing up for you. Conversely, the time when an expected ally (like a best friend) didn't come to your defense.
  • How you felt when HIV/AIDS became real for you.

And basically this amounts to me thinking out loud on the 'blog, but then I'm prone to doing that even under the best of circumstances. Now all I have to do is synthesize this in to something a bit more coherent, and more user friendly.

Gayer then Thou

Editor's Note: The title isn't original, and it doesn't really have to do with anything David wrote about in his entry, it's just a good title, and appropriate for what I want to talk about today.

I suppose that despite the voyeuristic nature of the weblog, I've always tried to remove myself from actually showing too much. As defense I've intellectualized damn near everything on this site, and by some wacky coincidence it's actually worked, and I suppose I'll keep doing it, even here. This is the entry that I don't really want to write, that I don't really want to have to write. Enough with the vague ramblings.

From the onset, the gay community looks like this inclusive grouping of targeted people, and in some senses it's really is, but in other's its not. We're not inclusive of anything more than surface level cultural and racial diversity, and the community is barely inclusive of all its members, and that vision that you find at the onset very quickly begins to splinter, and fall apart.


Good question. The term internalized homophobia is something that a lot of people know, a lot of people even acknowledge it, but until very recently I haven't really known what it means. And even then, I haven't rid myself of this curse, and while I'm making progress, I'm not there yet, and given the nature of the curse, I kind of doubt that I will be.

I was talking with David at some point and he said that people will say "I didn't know you were gay" or "You don't act gay" (whatever that's supposed to mean) as if it's a compliment. Acceptance in our culture apparently means "I can accept you for what ever makes you diverse, as long as you don't act, look, sound, think, or smell diverse." That's not true acceptance, and is only a short cry away from tolerance, and in some ways is even worse.

Which brings us to this statement: Gayer than thou.

This implies that someone can be more or less gay, which depending on what we mean, might be possible, but by quantifying someone's gay-quotient, we establish hierarchy, and as hierarchy's are prone to doing, they exclude people, the push people away. After all, people are either gay, or they're not; they're either bisexual or they're not, they're either lesbian or they're not. There isn't a "kinda" box. There really shouldn't be boxes of any kind by, as Kinsey said "_ Only the human mind invents categories and tries to force facts into separated pigion-holes. The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects._" That's as evident in my own speech as it is in the rest of the world.

It wouldn't be so bad if the categories didn't hurt people, but they do. They hurt the people that we try and force into categories they don't belong in, but they also hurt us. By separating and 'ranking' people, the community loses cohesion and a splintered community is ineffectual and incapable of caring for the members of the community as a family should. We're not just hurting our friends we're hurting ourselves.

Masculinity Study

Editor's Note: This entry will be posted as the category description for the "Beyond John Wayne category. I'm posting it here as a site update, for your own pleasure. Enjoy!

As some of you may already know, in order to get this International Baccalaureate Diploma you have to be able to do two things. First of all you have to be able to spell Baccalaureate (which I don't quite have, but I suspect I'll get it within the year) and you have to write a four thousand word "Extended Essay" in any subject of your choosing. It's tough and a major pain, yes, but assuming your advisors are really awesome, as mine are, it can be a load of fun to have the opportunity to get into what you're really interested in and get credit for. Also it gives you an opportunity to take all of the dry stuff you've done in class and have some fun with the topic.

In perfect form, my Extended Essay is going to be a masculinity study. (For those of you who don't know, in IB there are a number of papers/projects that we have to complete, most of which are graded by IB people outside of the school, and usually out side of the country as well. Well all of my IB projects fall into the category of gender/masculinity/queer studies, but we'll talk more about that in a little while.)

I have to have a draft of this paper before classes start in September, which shouldn't be too much of a problem, but I do have to start working on it more. So in that motion, I'm going to start writing about it here at TealArt. We'll probably get excerpts of this paper as I write it, and there'll be a fair share of brainstorming. Think of it as a project blog, if you will. I at least think its interesting stuff and hope you do too (and all of your feed back is going to be really valuable).

I wonder if I post this paper, in stages to this website, and IB uses that anti-plagiarism software to search the web, and they find it here, will they start having farm animals (cows to be specific). Because it's completely legit, unless of course IB is demanding first run online publication rights, which I sort of doubt. Having said that, if this stuff pops up on someone else's website and I'm not credited, it could get ugly. Really ugly. So consider yourself threatened. You can use this material if you want, but credit is required.

The working title for this paper is "Beyond John Wayne: A Contemporary Definition of Masculinity," and in it I hope to define the traditional conception of masculinity, as represented by the kinds of character's John Wayne is famous for portraying, then show how this definition is both flawed and not realistic in both historical and contemporary circumstances. Finally, I plan to conduct interviews several with youth and young adults from various backgrounds to establish a realistic definition that makes sense in contemporary contexts.

I'm going to start handing out background surveys this week, (to give me material that I can build a more substantial and meaningful interview that's tailored to the subject instead of something that's to general and not substantive enough). Depending on how that goes, I should be able to start having interviews this week as well and thing will proceeded as they should.