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May 3, 2006 4:08 PM   Subscribe

Steering Them Wrong: How Schools Push Kids to Accept Pro-Gay Dogma.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket (129 comments total)

 
Cripes, here we go again.

(from the first link) "However, singling out "sexual orientation" for special protection (along with the usual categories of "race, color, national origin, sex, and disability") is illogical. The latter qualities are usually inborn, involuntary, immutable, and innocuous--none of which is true of homosexuality, despite the claims of its advocates."

It always seems to boil down to this. What is the current scientific research on this subject? That could seal the deal, right?
posted by undule at 4:24 PM on May 3, 2006


Please, please tell me your sentence structure was meant for irony's sake...and that you don't actually believe that.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 4:24 PM on May 3, 2006


(I was talking to Mean Mr. Bucket, btw... not sure whether His Bucketness actually believes this nonsense, but given this post of a year ago...)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 4:25 PM on May 3, 2006


Religious belief is also singled out for special protection, and it's not inborn, involutary, immutuable or inocouous. So it strikes me that whether or not sexual orientation is any or all of the above is irrelevant.
posted by solid-one-love at 4:26 PM on May 3, 2006


The law, said opponents, would also create a biased approached to homosexuality by prohibiting any textbooks, instructional materials or teaching content that would “adversely affect persons because of their gender—either real or perceived—or sexual orientation,” Ron Prentice, executive director of California Family Council, told CitizenLink.

That's a novel definition of biased.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 4:27 PM on May 3, 2006


I think Mr. Mean Bucket is simply letting the bigots' words speak for themselves. Looking at his posting history, I'm pretty sure the guy's not a hardcore Republican.
posted by EarBucket at 4:32 PM on May 3, 2006


"...The latter qualities are usually inborn, involuntary, immutable, and innocuous--none of which is true of homosexuality, despite the claims of its advocates."

What they mean is that homosexuality can be HIDDEN. If you're black, short of a whole lot of cosmetic surgery, everyone is always going to know you're black. If you're a woman, unfortunately, you're always a woman.

But homosexuality? They've been hiding in the closet for millenia and marrying women and being miserable the whole time. Why should that change now? All this social change just makes us uncomfortable. They need to just know their place and stay in it - and that's in bed with the wife they secretly despise.

/pseudo-channelling
posted by InnocentBystander at 4:32 PM on May 3, 2006


From the first link:

by encouraging confused children to identify themselves as "gay" at an early age, at the same time that homosexuals are allowed to serve in positions of authority over them, society increases the danger that some will become the victims of child sexual abuse

i.e. gay = paedophile.

Not happy about that one.
posted by wilful at 4:48 PM on May 3, 2006


It always seems to boil down to this. What is the current scientific research on this subject? That could seal the deal, right?

I'm not sure of his standing within the academic community, but Marc Breedlove has been churning out some interesting research suggesting that among the causes of homosexuality is exposure to abnormal (or non-standard, if that's less offensive) amounts of certain hormones while in the womb.

Obviously, there are plenty of other causes - sociological reasons, psychological ones, sexual abuse, etc. - but it seems likely that for a large percentage of homosexuals the causes are biological but not genetic in nature.

The question then becomes - if this is so, should homosexuality be 'cured'? I actually posed this question to my mother, having explained the above to her, as she's about as fundamentalist non-denominational Protestant as it is possible to get. Curiously, she said she didn't really know, because if it genuinely was biological than presumably God must have allowed it for a reason. It was one of the few times I have failed to accurately predict her response to a question of ethics.
posted by Ryvar at 5:05 PM on May 3, 2006


solid-one-love nails it.
posted by Zozo at 5:09 PM on May 3, 2006


It's remarkable what a divide there is between the anti-gay and the "couldn't care" people in the USA today. The red-state people, for lack of a better term, are intensely bothered by homosexuality. It's very important to them, in a negative way. The blue-state people (I refer to mental types, not geography), just take a "live and let live" attitude.

Of course this is only one person's impression based on meeting a variety of people, reading the media, etc.. But I'm continually impressed by the stark difference in attitudes.

Is it just religion that makes the difference? Or are there really sincere beliefs in the "homosexuality is contagious" or "... a choice" theory or the "always only a few percent" theory? Sometimes it seems the former is only a pretext for some deeper animus but I can't tell what it is; other times it seems to be really believed.
posted by jam_pony at 5:10 PM on May 3, 2006


Furthermore, by placing children under the influence of homosexual teachers, mentors, and even adoptive parents, society not only undermines the traditional family values that promote healthy child development, but it also increases the chances that children will end up adopting the destructive homosexual lifestyle themselves.

Oh yes. The Traditional Family Values. Yes, we mustn't undermine those for sure. Traditional child raising which relies heavily on not sparing the rod, that's important to preserve . And Traditional family style incest is so much nicer. Traditional bigotry, hatred, sexism-- these are all things we need to preserve. And God knows it has never happened that a Traditional Family has given birth to a homosexual child-- especially not a traditional family where Dad remained in the closet like he was supposed to and forced himself to have sex with a woman.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:14 PM on May 3, 2006


· Homosexuality and Education--how children are subjected to pro-homosexual propaganda in schools, even in the very lowest grades;

A is for Anus
B is for Blow Job
C is for Cocksucker
D is for Dirty Dicking
E is for E-Coli
F is for Fist Fucking
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:22 PM on May 3, 2006


E-Coli?
posted by kyrademon at 5:33 PM on May 3, 2006


So national origin is immutable? Is a person born in Vilnius in 1975 forever a Soviet citizen?
posted by rdone at 5:35 PM on May 3, 2006


Is a person born in Vilnius in 1975 forever a Soviet citizen?

Well, the people who wrote the article almost certainly believe that regardless.
posted by Ryvar at 5:41 PM on May 3, 2006


E-Coli?

Oh God please don't make him explain that one
posted by blag at 5:41 PM on May 3, 2006


So national origin is immutable? Is a person born in Vilnius in 1975 forever a Soviet citizen?

Did you not notice the word "origin?" "National origin" isn't the same thing as "citizenship."
posted by JekPorkins at 5:46 PM on May 3, 2006


Escherichia coli, enterobacteria, model organism, beloved of geneticists everywhere.
posted by fFish at 5:48 PM on May 3, 2006


I really don't understand why the religious right is so bothered by homosexuality. Reading this without understanding that is very peculiar, because nowhere do they really say why they think gay == bad, and without that this whole thing reads like a screed against some arbitrary personal characteristic - sort as if there were pages devoted to railing against the pro-brown hair agenda.

I just don't get why some people care so much about homosexuality.
posted by pombe at 6:02 PM on May 3, 2006



Obviously, there are plenty of other causes - sociological reasons, psychological ones, sexual abuse, etc. - but it seems likely that for a large percentage of homosexuals the causes are biological but not genetic in nature.


Hold on, sailor -- one guy's research suggests a possible theory and all of a sudden it seems "likely" that homosexuality isn't genetic? Not in my concept of science.

I'm no "It's genetic! Leave us alone! We can't help ourselves!" fag either. But that's quite an assumption. I'd like to learn more about Breedlove (paging Dr. Freud...) before I hop on his bandwagon.
posted by digaman at 6:03 PM on May 3, 2006


I just don't get why some people care so much about homosexuality.

Because it helps them win elections.
posted by digaman at 6:04 PM on May 3, 2006


Personally I am all in favor of undermining traditional family values. In fact, right now - under my desk, I am subverting family families even as I type this.
posted by filchyboy at 6:07 PM on May 3, 2006


Hold on, sailor -- one guy's research suggests a possible theory and all of a sudden it seems "likely" that homosexuality isn't genetic? Not in my concept of science.

Sorry, that was poorly worded on my part - started one sentence, replaced it with another, and didn't notice the result was unclear. It seems likely that for a large percentage of homosexuals the causes are biological (although not necessarily genetic) in nature.

Better?
posted by Ryvar at 6:07 PM on May 3, 2006


I just don't get why some people care so much about homosexuality.

Because the Bible says it is wrong.

And -hopefully- if we focus on homosexuality as the sin the Bible says is wrong, God won't pay attention to all that stuff about greed and giving away all of your earthly possessions and stuff, and we'll get into heaven.

Because, you know, the Bible of full of anti-gay stuff. Read it. You'll see.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:12 PM on May 3, 2006


jam_pony: The red-state people, for lack of a better term, are intensely bothered by homosexuality. It's very important to them, in a negative way. The blue-state people (I refer to mental types, not geography), just take a "live and let live" attitude.

I'm really too tired to point out ,yet again, that the "red-state" vs. "blue-state" dichotomy is, at best, a fatal demographic oversimplification based on a quirk of our electoral college, and at worst, a self-defeating ideology that currently favors Republicans much more than Democrats.

Instead, I'll just point out that both of the major political parties at the national and state levels are anti-gay to various degrees, and differ only in the mean-spiritedness with which they justify maintaining the legal and social status quo.

undule: It always seems to boil down to this. What is the current scientific research on this subject? That could seal the deal, right?

Well, one of the problems is that scientists (and I'm talking both about developmental biologists & developmental psychologists) don't usually think in terms of nature vs. nurture, but of models involving complex interactions between genetics and environment.

Furthermore, the belief that homosexuality was some kind of a biological trait pretty much dominated discussion and treatment of it until the 1970s. People consider the APA declassification of homosexuality as a political issue. It certainly was a human rights issue in that previous "treatments" for homosexuality included forced incarceration, hormone treatments, castration and electroshock therapy.

Religious conservatives are comfortable either way with their rhetoric, and the amount of effort spent trying to push a "born this way" ideology is dangerously magical thinking. But then again, I'm an old-school sexual liberation guy who does not consider a choice to marry a man as being that far removed from my choice to buy a dildo on Sunday. Both choices are none of your business, thank you very much.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:14 PM on May 3, 2006


Yeah, I also will have to go with solid-one-love's solid response.
posted by jenovus at 6:15 PM on May 3, 2006


I'm waiting for the day when these appear and are as big an issue:

Steering Them Wrong: How Schools Push Kids to Accept Pro-shellfish Dogma.

Steering Them Wrong: How Schools Push Kids to Accept Pro-mixed fiber clothing Dogma.

Steering Them Wrong: How Schools Push Kids to Accept Anti-sex with handmaidens and slaves Dogma.
...

They're just gearing up for another election year (and the immigrant thing has fallen flat)--it's not like they have any accomplishments to run on (and Alito and Roberts actually are, but that won't get people to the polls)
posted by amberglow at 6:26 PM on May 3, 2006


Furthermore, the belief that homosexuality was some kind of a biological trait pretty much dominated discussion and treatment of it until the 1970s

I'd always understood it to be the exact opposite: that it was actually environmental explanations that were favoured prior to the 1970's. ie, the fixated development theory, imprinting, the role of certain types of mothering, Freudian stuff, etc.

And surely the idea that it might be a choice emerged with the work of Kinsey as long ago as the 1950's and dominated the discourse until very, very recently?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:39 PM on May 3, 2006


I hate to eat fish, but I love to eat shellfish. I did not choose my love for shellfish and hatred for fish, but the bible condemns me for eating shrimp. my pro shrimp agenda should be stopped and I should be prevented form adopting children, as I might teach them to like shrimp and hate fish just like me.

Right?

I mean god hates crustacean eaters just as much as cock smokers right?


Levi 11:9-12 :
9 These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.
10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:
11 They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination.
12 Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.

Deut 14:9-10 :
9 These ye shall eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat:
10 And whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean unto you.
posted by Megafly at 6:42 PM on May 3, 2006


I just don't get why some people care so much about homosexuality.

Because the Bible says it is wrong.


The Bible has one passage that is commonly interpreted to be a warning against homosexuality. It also has *dozens of warning passages targeted at heterosexuals.

But solid-one-love said it best, I agree.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 6:50 PM on May 3, 2006


PeterMcDermott: Perhaps. However Freudianism certainly wasn't the only game in town in regards to mental health treatment in the United States, and I'd argue that biological/medical models were just as influential given the varieties of surgical, chemical, and electric treatment methods attempted. Kinsey certainly did a lot to liberalize things but it didn't happen overnight, and medical treatment continued through the '60s.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:52 PM on May 3, 2006


thanks, ryvar.
posted by digaman at 6:57 PM on May 3, 2006


yup, Peter, it was the opposite, pretty much. It was seen as a mental illness--and shock treatment was used to "cure" it (some reparative "therapies" are apparently trying to bring it back as a "cure"), and it was a crime (until just very recently, actually) and people were blackmailed--and "overmothering" and "coddling" and "weak" or "absent fathers" were blamed a lot, too--a mix of all of those. It wasn't seen as biological or genetic at all, and people hadn't been studying it (the Germans mostly did, and Havelock Ellis and others, from the late 19th century til the Nazis, but Kinsey was suppressed after that, and it was only the 1960s and 70s when it started to be studied again, i believe--with most studies only happening since the 90s, when money became available.)
posted by amberglow at 7:00 PM on May 3, 2006


I'm willing to negotiate on this one. If these freaks concerned parents agree to keep all mention of the bible and creationism out of school, then fine, we don't have to talk about homosexuality.

I, for one, would have been okay not hearing about role models of sick twisted people like Dag Hammerskojld and Amelia Erhardt if I hadn't been harrased by Christian "values".
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:02 PM on May 3, 2006


homo says what ?
posted by mishaco at 7:07 PM on May 3, 2006


I just don't get this biological determinism thing. It's irrelevant. Digaman's paraphrasing of the viewpoint he doesn't agree with goes right to the heart of it: as an argument defending homosexuality, biological determinism does more harm than good. It cedes the moral argument to the opposition. It smacks of desperation.

Homophobic parents, siblings, and friends of gay people use biological detemrinism as a means to "accomodate" their loved one's homosexuality. That this is the case suggests that for gays themsleves who find this self-justification attractive there is involved in it some amount of self-loathing. "I can't help it, I was born that way" isn't an argument, it's a capitulation.

There is only one thing that needs to be said in defense of homosexuality: there's nothing wrong with it.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:11 PM on May 3, 2006


Amberglow, there are so many parts of the world-- including rural red-states-- where things never have gotten better, except for possibly lower voltage EST. Technically sodomy is still illegal lots of places And I make a point of having hot sex in as many of this as possible. In fact our esteemed AmbASSidor Boulton cooperates with entire countries where homosexuality carries a death sentence.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:12 PM on May 3, 2006


There is only one thing that needs to be said in defense of homosexuality: there's nothing wrong with it.

.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:13 PM on May 3, 2006


EB - I agree that it may seem like ceding the moral argument, but on the other hand, it's not "I can't help it, " so much as it's "this is the way I am, just like you have blue eyes and brown hair." From many people's point of view, it's not something you say, "I can't help it," about because it's not something you're bothered to stop. It just is. You might as well argue about whether or not the sun will rise, becuase you can "help" whether or not that occurs just as much as anyone can "help" being homosexual.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:22 PM on May 3, 2006


Well, as far as I know on the research, I believe it's been shown that gay men are aroused by male hormones instead of female, which points more to a biological condition, but isn't conclusive.

Also, I know that when examining the INAH3 region of the hypothalamus (suprachiasmatic nucleus? can't remember) they've found that men and women have differently shaped regions, and gay men have INAH3 regions shaped like women's. That's pretty strong, although if I remember correctly that study was done post vivo (on dead people, i'm making up the latin) and most if not all of their gay corpses had died from AIDS.

So, there is research which suggests homosexuality is a biological condition, and it certainly seems to me to be a definite possibility. It'd be relatively small changes early on, like to what arouses a sexual response, and everything else would follow from that. Thus the research into hormone-based arousal.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 7:50 PM on May 3, 2006


There is only one thing that needs to be said in defense of homosexuality: there's nothing wrong with it.

I absolutely agree with this, and every family member I've managed (with some difficulty) to speak about the topic absolutely disagrees with it. Their holy text, laughable as it may be to you and I, clearly illustrate the consequences of homosexuality in the destruction of Sodom.

There is, therefore, no means of persuading them that "there's nothing wrong with it" short of completely demolishing their entire ideology one brick at a time. If you're up to the challenge of rolling back the tide of religious fervor with the light of reason than you have my full support, but I don't think that's what you're proposing to do.

Because we cannot override the totality of their worldview with an appeal to reason we are left to highlight the other, lesser, fallacies inherent in their position. The belief that homosexuality is universally a choice reflective of an a priori weak and corrupted character is one of those fallacies that we cannot let stand unchallenged.
posted by Ryvar at 7:54 PM on May 3, 2006


Sorry for the multiple grammatical errors above - it's late and I'm exhausted.
posted by Ryvar at 8:01 PM on May 3, 2006


60 Minutes: The Science Of Sexual Orientation
"There are few issues as hotly contested — and as poorly understood — as the question of what makes a person gay or straight. It's not only a political, social, and religious question but also a scientific question, one that might someday have an actual, provable answer.

The handful of scientists who work in this under-funded and politically charged field will tell you: That answer is a long way off. But as Lesley Stahl reports, their efforts are already yielding tantalizing clues. One focus of their research is twins." [more]
posted by ericb at 8:17 PM on May 3, 2006


God Hates Shrimp.
posted by ericb at 8:18 PM on May 3, 2006


The great thing about the biological argument is how far it will stretch. This guy says that conservatives are hardwired to mistake disgust and fear of authority for moral intuitions.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:22 PM on May 3, 2006


The issue of choice shouldn't have anything to do with how homosexuals are treated. I'm gay and, to be honest, I'm not entirely sure if I chose to be this way or not.
posted by hjo3 at 8:31 PM on May 3, 2006


amberglow: It was seen as a mental illness--and shock treatment was used to "cure" it (some reparative "therapies" are apparently trying to bring it back as a "cure"),

Um, the entire rationale for shock treatment, along with hormone therapy is grounded in physiological theories of mental illness. That is, people are mentally ill because there is something about the structure of their brain that makes them abnormal.

It wasn't seen as biological or genetic at all, and people hadn't been studying it

The notion that there were not biological theories for homosexuality before the 1980s, and that those theories had little or no impact on how lesbigays were treated is a huge myth, and one that is largely false. Just doing a quick scholar search, this chapter documents the relationships between treatment of homosexuality and the eugenics movement in Brazil. The eugenics movement which linked most mental illness and "sexual deviance" to biology had a profound influence on the early development of the mental health system, both in directing research and in the popular press. Homosexual people were victims of Oregon's forced sterilization law.

Ryvar: The belief that homosexuality is universally a choice reflective of an a priori weak and corrupted character is one of those fallacies that we cannot let stand unchallenged.

The thing is, no biological model of homosexuality is going to make them accept homosexuality. History proves that religious bigots are more than happy with the notion that pre-dispositions to behavior are inborn. For a long time, racists argued that the black man cannot help but be predisposed to criminal behavior and sexual violence. It's in their fundamental and genetic nature.

All you've done is changed the ground from a weak and corrupted character that is socially constructed and can be deconstructed, to a weak and corrupted character that is biologically constructed and needs to be "fixed" through medical intervention. To think that these people are going to tolerate homosexuality simply because we have proposed a new theory of its development is naive and dangerous.

Not to mention that I think that lesbigays risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater by taking a radically assimilationist stance and trying to bury the socially constructed aspects of identity into the closet.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:43 PM on May 3, 2006


First: a quote from one of the textbook-haters:

“It read a lot like erotica, it’s very detailed,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be.”

Passages include references to rape, mutilation, wife beatings, adultery, sodomy and sexual assaults on children.


Second: Textbook publishers take their cues from Texas and California. That's where they sell their books. Despite the fact that such practices are hardly unique to Western Culture, it's pretty damn unlikely that they are phrased erotically, unless you have a pretty Puritanically Erotic way of reading text.

Please, Puritans, lighten up. Many of us are normal and can deal with reality. I wish, like most parents, that subjects like slavery, genocide, and parental abuse were more openly dealt with.
posted by kozad at 9:12 PM on May 3, 2006


Um, the entire rationale for shock treatment, along with hormone therapy is grounded in physiological theories of mental illness. That is, people are mentally ill because there is something about the structure of their brain that makes them abnormal.

If it was thought the structure of the brain itself was abnormal, shock wouldn't help at all, no?

Isn't it that they had all these treatments they thought worked for all sorts of mental and emotional things and behaviors and states because they believed they could fundamentally change that structure? Which is entirely different from what we see as biological and genetic bases for things, no? Is chemical alteration for certain reasons (antidepressants, etc) seen as biological?

The big reason the "it's not a choice" argument is used so much is because of the "it is a choice" constantly being thrown at us. We know it's not a choice, and that no straight person chose either. It's not about a weak and corrupted character that is biologically constructed and needs to be "fixed" through medical intervention. It's about how people are--all people-- and how people don't choose some things. It's not a weakness nor does it cedes the moral argument to the opposition... smacks of desperation...some amount of self-loathing. "I can't help it, I was born that way" isn't an argument, it's a capitulation. It's a commonality of being human. It's a way to get straight people thinking about something they rarely if ever have to think about, given the overwhelming and pervasive reinforcement of their orientations anyway. It's a point of connection and it doesn't matter if it makes people accept or not. It's more of a fact, i'd say.

There is also no possible hope of attaining the same rights as other citizens if it's a choice. It's not a choice--putting on a red shirt instead of a green one in the morning is a choice. This is not like that. There's way way more at stake here. Sexuality is not taken that lightly in this or any other society--it's why there are thousands of laws, rules, regulations about it, and prescriptions and proscriptions, etc, everywhere you look. Reducing all sexual orientation to a choice is simply not in tune with most people's experiences of sex, love, attraction, or marriage. Nor do straight people ever feel the need to do so.
posted by amberglow at 9:40 PM on May 3, 2006


The thing is, no biological model of homosexuality is going to make them accept homosexuality. History proves that religious bigots are more than happy with the notion that pre-dispositions to behavior are inborn. For a long time, racists argued that the black man cannot help but be predisposed to criminal behavior and sexual violence. It's in their fundamental and genetic nature.

Of course they're not going to ever completely accept homosexuality - that's flatly impossible. What you can do is convince them (and truthfully so) that homosexuality is not the 'fault' of a homosexual person - essentially an emotional appeal. It won't completely solve the problem as it runs directly counter to the Old Testament, but it leads to empathy and filters down to the lowest classes, reducing violence against homosexuals and making equal rights for them a possibility.

That you bring up racism is spot on - overt racism was looked upon with something approximating horror in the intensely religious environment I was brought up in. That's not to say that black people were especially welcome in the country clubs, but it's a damn sight better than what existed less than a century previously. Until people stop taking the magical man in the sky seriously, I don't think there's another viable approach. Do you have one?
posted by Ryvar at 9:52 PM on May 3, 2006


There is also no possible hope of attaining the same rights as other citizens if it's a choice.

Bingo. Amberglow nails it.
posted by Ryvar at 9:57 PM on May 3, 2006


Acceptance via the naturist argument is an illusion. The argument is built around the abstract "orientation" and not the concrete "behavior". The result is social acceptance at the cost of remaining mostly closeted. It's marginally more socially acceptable to "be gay", but certainly no more acceptable to act gay.

For the highly motivated homophobes that Ryvar describes, the genesis of homosexuality is important, but not crucial. The Nazis concentrated on an attempted extermination of Jews, Gypsies, Gays, and the disabled. That no one was a member of those groups by choice didn't seem to dissuade the Nazis from mass murder.

Probably a majority of people in our culture are still homophobic. Their individual homophobias predate their exposure to a religious argument against homosexuality. Most of these people experience their homophobia viscerally to some degree or another, not as a conclusion to a reasonable argument. Any and all reasonable arguments against homosexuality are window dressing; are retroactive rationales. There is one primary reason why this is the case, why homophobia is almost uniform and seemingly instinctive: unfamiliarity.

The acceptance of a core identity as homosexual will only make a small dent in this homophobia. What will make a large dent is familiarity with behavior. The naturist argument is a cul-de-sac; it's not radical, it's accomodationist. Gays, Lesbians, and gay rights activists of all sexual orientations should insist, loudly, that their behaviors are morally acceptable; and by example make homosexual behaviors as socially familiar as their straight counterparts.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:02 PM on May 3, 2006


There is also no possible hope of attaining the same rights as other citizens if it's a choice.

Sure there is, just as we have religious freedom, even though your religion is a choice. Religious differences have caused exponentially more bloodshed through history than differences in sexual mores, and yet the Western world at least has come to the conclusion that Catholics and Protestants and Jews must coexist in peace.

And there's a lot of room between sexual orientation being a matter of rational choice, like choosing a shirt, and being a matter of biological determinism. Many people seem to have relatively fluid orientation - I'm gay, but I've had sex with women (and enjoyed it), and lots of ostensibly straight guys occasionally sneak out for a little down low action.

I suspect that social conservatives harbor more antipathy for gay sexual identity than they do for people just having gay sex - sex itself is not the problem, it's the rejection of the social order implicit in identifying oneself as gay.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:57 AM on May 4, 2006


I just don't get why some people care so much about homosexuality.

They're probably repressed.
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 2:38 AM on May 4, 2006


Many male homophobes fear that gay men are out to pork them. Others believe (even these days) that they're out to pork their sons. These two sorts are the most obsessed and frightening homophobes, in my experience. A serious anal fixation. Some of these, I am fairly certain, are afraid they'll love it, which would make them less of a man (these are the ones who also consider women inferior).

Baby Balrog nailed it for the fanatic Christian types.

IMO, the nature vs. nurture debate is a waste of time, with regards to politics. Just follow the principles of equality that have been there all along. Keep your politics off my cock, and keep your church off my politics.
posted by Goofyy at 3:06 AM on May 4, 2006


For the highly motivated homophobes that Ryvar describes, the genesis of homosexuality is important, but not crucial. The Nazis concentrated on an attempted extermination of Jews, Gypsies, Gays, and the disabled. That no one was a member of those groups by choice didn't seem to dissuade the Nazis from mass murder.

Yes, and therein lies the difference between the Nazis and the bulk of the religious right. EB, I've been a religious fundamentalist myself, and extremely homophobic to boot - there isn't any desire to round up gays into concentration camps, simply a desperation for them to "stop sinning" as I would have put it at the time. For them to do so requires a choice not to sin, hence the biological determinism argument being so important. There's a reason the book of Job is unpopular with Christians, and considered more representative of the pre-Covenant God of the OT than New Covenant God of the NT. That opportunity needs to be seized.

It's marginally more socially acceptable to "be gay", but certainly no more acceptable to act gay.

I see. So that explains, off the top of my head, Will & Grace, Queer Eye, Spin City, the Birdcage, and countless others I can't recall at 6AM.

Any and all reasonable arguments against homosexuality are window dressing; are retroactive rationales. There is one primary reason why this is the case, why homophobia is almost uniform and seemingly instinctive: unfamiliarity.

I agree that you're not going to win over the religious right on rational arguments because the text that defines their personal moral code in concrete terms is pretty clear, and it's not just one or two verses (the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is pretty long), and it's not limited to the Old Testament. Familiarity with homosexuality is not a problem, and flipping on your television would tell you that.

Gays, Lesbians, and gay rights activists of all sexual orientations should insist, loudly, that their behaviors are morally acceptable;

I can hear my sister right now, telling me: "No, they're not, Because God Said So." You cannot reason against Because God Said So, and the magic man in the sky isn't here to unsay it. The problem is not one of PR, nor familiarity - gay people get face time far out of proportion to their numbers, and are universally portrayed as smart and funny, both of which have done wonders for the American perception of Jews. The problem is one of the perception of homosexuality as an innate deficiency of character and a personal failing and that myth must be dispelled.

I can't ever remember hearing my mother hesitate, to stop and think about an ethical dilemna before I read a couple articles about Breedlove's research to her. It was a crack in her airtight ideological armor, and through it I saw the first signs of doubt.
posted by Ryvar at 3:43 AM on May 4, 2006


Many male homophobes fear that gay men are out to pork them.

Agreed. I think most men view themselves as sexual predators, with women their prey, and anything that upsets that order is frightening. You'll notice that lesbians get a fraction of the resistance that gay men get.
posted by Ryvar at 3:48 AM on May 4, 2006


"Will & Grace, Queer Eye, Spin City, the Birdcage, and countless others I can't recall at 6AM"

Yes, but two men kissing is still movie and TV taboo. It's more acceptable to be gay as long as you don't do any of those icky gay things.

I do think that it's that the loudest gay-hating contingent in US society is capable of committing a genocide.

As far as what conservative Christians think, I'll see your sister and raise you mine: a full-time minister and missionary (conservative) evangelical who thinks homosexual behavior is a sin but no more so than adultery and who thinks the people who go apeshit about it are hiding their bigotry behind their bibles.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:00 AM on May 4, 2006


Adding to that point, studies have shown that both men and women appear to be aroused by homosexual members of the opposite sex (lesbian porn and so on). Is there any biological explanation for this?
posted by malusmoriendumest at 4:05 AM on May 4, 2006


Heh. My sister is also a missionary (Mexico this year, Asia the next). Ditto one of my cousins (missionary MD in Africa).

In any case, no truly fundamentalist woman is a minister - Paul was terribly clear on this in 1st Timothy 2:12 and 1st Corinthians 14:34-35.
posted by Ryvar at 4:13 AM on May 4, 2006


Sorry, fixed link: 1st Corinthians 14:34-35.
posted by Ryvar at 4:15 AM on May 4, 2006


Anyone who thinks the Sodom Gonorrhea (sic) story is about homosexuality hasn't read the book.

Any Christian who waves his OT in my face isn't.

Paul is a PITA. I could refute the interpretation of his words as regards homosexuality, but I find it more interesting to simply dismiss his words as the rantings of a pretender. Removing Paul suddenly makes things seem much more Christ-like, to my way of seeing.
posted by Goofyy at 4:33 AM on May 4, 2006


Goofyy: I've read it, multiple times - in the Bible it's a story highlighting the consequences for sexual 'deviation' of any sort, and for any nation that permits such. I'm aware that a reading in the original Hebrew offers far more leeway as regards the cause for the destruction of the cities.

I agree with you about Paul. Christ may have been a headcase, but the majority of what he said was relatively benign and clearly bent on reforming increasingly tyrannical rabbinical law. Paul, being of the conservative religious extremists within Judaism, was in no way benign and clearly tried to stymie Christ's efforts from within. I think a lot of what's come out of Christianity since can be laid at his feet.
posted by Ryvar at 4:58 AM on May 4, 2006


Homosexuality is simply an easy target. Christianity (well, not really even Christianity - western society more specifically) has always been strong on sexual taboos. They're obvious. Opposition to homosexuality comes from the same roots as the aversion to nudity in public, and the continued ban on sex toys in certain jurisdictions. For some reason someone else may be able to better identify, it's something that's come out of western culture, and has gelled well with the dominant religion. For contrast, look at the Christian justification for eating port - "Paul says the law has been fulfulled" - in reality, Germanic pagans had a lot of wild boar running around that were a substantial part of their diet, so they had to twist their religion to suit their lifestyle.

Gays are easy targets. It's a binary state - you either do engage in homosexual activites, or you don't. Other sins, like jealousy, or being uncharitable, are harder (but much more worthy) targets to pick. Fred Phelps' congregation would quickly dissipate if he spent every sermon condeming people to hell for not accepting homeless people into their homes. It hits too close to home. It's just a numbers game.
posted by Jimbob at 5:14 AM on May 4, 2006


in the Bible it's a story highlighting the consequences for sexual 'deviation' of any sort, and for any nation that permits such

Actually, it's not at all clear that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for sexual deviation, and it's not clear when that idea became established. There's a whole book on the topic of what exactly Dante was referring to by "the sin of Sodom" (and it's a good read, if anyone's interested). Some think the sin was originally intended to be lack of hospitality (a primal virtue in the Near East). I realize all this is irrelevant to changing people's minds in the present (I tend to agree with EB that in the long run the only thing that will work is enough openness that everyone knows openly gay people and sees that they're not demons), but it's interesting stuff.
posted by languagehat at 6:44 AM on May 4, 2006


amberglow: If it was thought the structure of the brain itself was abnormal, shock wouldn't help at all, no?

The entire rationale for shock treatment was that induced grand mal seizures triggered something akin to the immune system forcing the brain to heal its self.

Isn't it that they had all these treatments they thought worked for all sorts of mental and emotional things and behaviors and states because they believed they could fundamentally change that structure? Which is entirely different from what we see as biological and genetic bases for things, no? Is chemical alteration for certain reasons (antidepressants, etc) seen as biological?

Yes, chemical therapies for mental illness come from a biological theory of the causation of mental illness. Gays were subjected to shock treatments because of the "mind as organ" analogy. They were given hormone therapies and anti-psychotics because of theories that claimed gay men were suffering from a chemical imbalance. Ironically enough, those theories proposed alternately that gay men were either hyper-masculinized with an uncontrollable sex drive, or hyper-feminized, funny how those that ended up in institutions frequently ended up sterilized either way.

Choice...choice...choice...choice.... It's a commonality of being human. It's a way to get straight people thinking about something they rarely if ever have to think about, given the overwhelming and pervasive reinforcement of their orientations anyway. It's a point of connection and it doesn't matter if it makes people accept or not. It's more of a fact, i'd say.

Well, there is some huge volume of sloppy thinking there. A close friend of mine is fond of putting the "choice" argument in perspective by pointing out that he didn't choose to be a native English speaker. There is a big gap between saying, "it's a choice" and saying "it's genetic." I mean, for pete's sake, Freudianism, Behaviorism, and Imprinting are not theories that are big on human agency either.

There is also no possible hope of attaining the same rights as other citizens if it's a choice. It's not a choice--putting on a red shirt instead of a green one in the morning is a choice. This is not like that. There's way way more at stake here. Sexuality is not taken that lightly in this or any other society--it's why there are thousands of laws, rules, regulations about it, and prescriptions and proscriptions, etc, everywhere you look. Reducing all sexual orientation to a choice is simply not in tune with most people's experiences of sex, love, attraction, or marriage. Nor do straight people ever feel the need to do so.

Well, I don't know where you get that I'm reducing all sexual orientation to "a choice." I personally find that kind of simple-minded reductionism to be appalling, and wouldn't choose to engage in it. There are aspects of my sexuality that I find to be reflexive, aspects that are constructed by my culture and history, and aspects that I've constructed for myself.

What I object to again and again is the naive belief that such reductionism is going to lead to liberation, or automatically improve the mainstream attitude towards lesbigays. I object to presenting a false history that ignores the ways in which lesbigays were physically and mentally mutilated at the hands of well-intentioned doctors trying to "cure" them. I object to having the entire history and impact of the eugenics movement on mental health systems dismissed with "It wasn't seen as biological or genetic at all...." You should know better than that.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:49 AM on May 4, 2006


Ryvar: Of course they're not going to ever completely accept homosexuality - that's flatly impossible. What you can do is convince them (and truthfully so) that homosexuality is not the 'fault' of a homosexual person - essentially an emotional appeal. It won't completely solve the problem as it runs directly counter to the Old Testament, but it leads to empathy and filters down to the lowest classes, reducing violence against homosexuals and making equal rights for them a possibility.

On the other hand, it also opens the possibility to the idea that homosexuality is a disability to be controlled and overcome. By all means, I'm all for empathy. But many well-intentioned racists in history have been empathetic to the struggles of their ethnically-challeged brothers and sisters to overcome the behavioral taints of their blood, while still insisting on laws to protect the dominant classes. I know people who can be empathetic to lesbigays as individuals, while still objecting to equal rights, marriage and adoption.

Until people stop taking the magical man in the sky seriously, I don't think there's another viable approach. Do you have one?

I think it's going to be a long and hard struggle. My criticism is not with lesbigay people talking about their personal experience that aspects of their sexuality is reflexive and "not a choice." My criticism is with the magical thinking that a naturalist view of homosexuality will automatically lead to equal rights and acceptance under the law. Forced institutionalization and sterilization of lesbigay men and women are not so far removed from our history that it couldn't happen again.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:07 AM on May 4, 2006


Or to reduce it to a single sentence:

Arguing that lesbigay people didn't choose their sexual orientation, is no defense against efforts to define it as a mental illness or disability.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:31 AM on May 4, 2006


We know it's not a choice, and that no straight person chose either.

I do? I know this? It's not a possibility that I idenfiy as straight because of the prevailing social norms of my time, helping to define my early experiences? Oh good to know.

But as others have articulated, the choice/no choice issue is a dangerous red herring.

by encouraging confused children to identify themselves as "gay" at an early age, at the same time that homosexuals are allowed to serve in positions of authority over them, society increases the danger that some will become the victims of child sexual abuse

Yeees, those children would be much safer under the authority of the church.
posted by dreamsign at 7:39 AM on May 4, 2006


What KJS said.

And "shock therapy", more properly called electro-convulsive therapy, is still the single most effective treatment for depression and no one's found any long-term side-effects from it. It's not really "convulsive" anymore, as the patient is under anaesthesia. I don't think there is a generally accepted theory on how it works.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:45 AM on May 4, 2006


The battle will be won--I think the battle is (slowly) being won--as more and more people come to know gay people and realize that they are not abstractions.

And as more and more gay people come out.

On the one hand, no, it's not really a choice--I mean, why would people choose to be discriminated against?--but on the other hand, I know a few people (both lesbians) who say that their homosexuality IS a choice. Who am I to disagree with them, or to know what motivated them? And does that make their gayness immoral? Of course not.
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 7:49 AM on May 4, 2006


How do the "God says it is wrong" nuts explain hemaphrodites?
posted by nofundy at 7:58 AM on May 4, 2006


"traditional family values" - ugh... ugh, ugh, ugh. If I have to hear this term again... It's code for "bigotry I want to pass along to my children."

All I can ever think of when I read this kind of tripe is how the word "homosexual" has simply replaced the word "negro" in the same arguments these folks would have been making 40-50 years ago against having black teachers and civil rights activits in their schools.
posted by smallerdemon at 7:59 AM on May 4, 2006


The Family Research Council paper raises the use of scare quotes to a new level. I was imagining the voice of Dr. Evil as I read the words.
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 8:04 AM on May 4, 2006



The Family Research Council paper raises the use of scare quotes to a new level.

That's why it's important to throw it right back at them--"cure", "reparative therapy", etc...

Well, I don't know where you get that I'm reducing all sexual orientation to "a choice." I personally find that kind of simple-minded reductionism to be appalling, and wouldn't choose to engage in it.
You are engaging in it each time you agree with those who would harm us and eliminate or restrict our rights. You are reinforcing their frame and view on the matter. You are enabling them, and giving them support, whether you think you are or not. In the marketplace of ideas, complexity is not what gets thru to people. For decades now, the haters say, over and over and over--"it's a choice" "it's a lifestyle choice" "they choose to live an evil/ungodly/perverse/immoral/dangerous/deadly/etc life", etc. While your nuanced stand works for you personally, you'd be surprised what many straight people get from hearing you, especially after being conditioned for so long to hear "choice" only from the haters.

Arguing that lesbigay people didn't choose their sexual orientation, is no defense against efforts to define it as a mental illness or disability.
The effort is not at all to define it or to declare why we are who we are--the effort is to fully enjoy the same rights and privileges as straight citizens. The effort is to allow coming generations to grow up with less fear and hatred and fewer laws directed against us. The effort is to have the same rights as others. Agreeing with those who would see us back in the closet or imprisoned or in jail, etc, on the matter of choice, is a distraction that helps them "keep us in our place." I hope you realize that. I also hope you realize that for the vast majority of people, their sexuality is not at all a choice, nor is seeing it that way at all in tune with their lived experience or common sense.
posted by amberglow at 8:41 AM on May 4, 2006


"You are engaging in it each time you agree with those who would harm us and eliminate or restrict our rights. You are reinforcing their frame and view on the matter. You are enabling them, and giving them support, whether you think you are or not."

No, you are giving them support and enabling them. There. We could do this all day.

There are a lot of gay rights activists and gays and lesbians that believe either the genetic determinist argument is too simplistic and not true, or that the genetic determinist argument is counterproductive to the cause, or both.

Think for a moment about your claim that a nurturist/choice argument strengthens the homophobes. How can it possibly strengthen their argument unless homosexuality can't be justified as a choice alone? Let's compare this to racism. Does contemporary popular anti-racism justify itself on the basis that blacks can't help being black, or, alternatively, that there's nothing wrong with being black? We know that black people don't choose to be black. So why isn't the "they can't choose being black" rhetoric common as a defense against racism? I'll tell you why: most black people stopped apologizing for being black long ago. They're not hoping for understanding and empathy built upon a white person's supposed realization that "only a crazy person would choose to be black in a racist society" because a) anti-racist activists realized long ago that pity and patronization are just a ghetto in a different part of town, and b) it's perfectly fine being black, even in a racist society—they're happy to be black and that someone might make a choice to be black is completely reasonable to them.

None of this self-hating "would I choose this for myself?" bullshit for them.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:38 AM on May 4, 2006


(this thread has been really interesting to read)
posted by bardic at 9:48 AM on May 4, 2006


Beside the fact that this has been done to death and you will never convince a homophobe, let alone someone who fervently subscribes to the pathos of an organized religion, what more can be done?

All we can do is post that differences in race creed colour gender sexuality and limb count are irrelevant. There is not a singular justifiable arguement which can be raised to say that a gay person is different from anyone else and that society must be protected from this difference. Nonsense begets nonsense.
posted by pezdacanuck at 10:00 AM on May 4, 2006


languagehat, you left off my second sentence:
I'm aware that a reading in the original Hebrew offers far more leeway as regards the cause for the destruction of the cities.

Again, I'm aware of the controversy surrounding the original meaning of the story, but as it appears in your standard NIV Bible it's pretty unambiguous - particularly the references to it in other portions of the Bible. The Wikipedia article sums up much of it quite neatly, and is worth your five minutes.

KJS: I noticed that you didn't answer my question, other than to say that it would be tough (+5, Insightful), and I think amberglow hits it bang-on:

In the marketplace of ideas, complexity is not what gets thru to people.

You are never, ever, ever going to win an argument on points with a fundamentalist on this topic because God Told Them It Is Wrong. No "long hard struggle" is going to change their holy text. Since research suggests that there may be a biological component in many cases (which fits, as some of the gay people I know claim they have no choice, while others say they do) it is important to keep repeating it. Partially as an emotional appeal, but also for another reason: a fundamentalist who believes your homosexuality is a biological predisposition, and therefore permitted by God, is going to assume that this is a personal challenge that God has created for you. To deny you the opportunity to 'overcome that challenge' on your own would be to defy God. Therein lies the answer to your concerns about active attempts to 'cure' homosexuality medically.

Yes, it's patronizing and makes me a little ill, but it's almost certainly the best you can expect from the fundamentalists on this topic.
posted by Ryvar at 10:19 AM on May 4, 2006


amberglow: Calm down. Step back a bit. Step way back a bit.

We both agree that sexual orientation is not a choice for most people. Get that? I've said as such multiple times now. Sexual orientation is not a choice for most people. That's not the core issue here.

What I see as the core issue is that between the 1900s and the 1980s, thousands of gay men and women were forced into mental institutions, subjected to a wide variety of "treatments" that caused considerable pain and suffering, and forcibly sterilized in the United States by doctors who considered that homosexuality was a symptom of some underlying physical defect or hormonal imbalance.

Certainly, the current rhetoric of anti-gay bigotry is centered on "choice." However that rhetoric can change. It changed in the 50s and 60s as the eugenics movement fell out of fashion. It could change again in less than a decade. 20 years from now rather than demanding we be stripped of our rights and thrown in jail, they could be demanding we be stripped of our rights and institutionalized. They could be demanding that young children and teens who show early signs of homosexual behavior be treated as if they had emotional or learning disabilities. I don't see this as an improvement.

The eugenics movement in all of its various guises has been just as damaging to the lives of gay men and women as the religious right. It has never fully vanished from American culture, and gay men and women in other countries risk being institutionalized today. By all means, testify that sexual orientation is not a choice, however don't pretend that this fact will give or protect your rights.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:23 AM on May 4, 2006


So why isn't the "they can't choose being black" rhetoric common as a defense against racism?

Where I grew up, it was - but that was in an extremely classist environment where there were sociological shadings to the whole business.

Where I think your greater error lies is that there's nothing in the Bible about black people being inferior - there's a couple of verses about slaves obeying their masters and masters treating their slaves well, but skin color isn't mentioned. There's mention in the Bible of homosexuality being an "abomination," though.
posted by Ryvar at 10:24 AM on May 4, 2006


Ryvar: You are never, ever, ever going to win an argument on points with a fundamentalist on this topic because God Told Them It Is Wrong. No "long hard struggle" is going to change their holy text. Since research suggests that there may be a biological component in many cases (which fits, as some of the gay people I know claim they have no choice, while others say they do) it is important to keep repeating it. Partially as an emotional appeal, but also for another reason: a fundamentalist who believes your homosexuality is a biological predisposition, and therefore permitted by God, is going to assume that this is a personal challenge that God has created for you. To deny you the opportunity to 'overcome that challenge' on your own would be to defy God. Therein lies the answer to your concerns about active attempts to 'cure' homosexuality medically.

But there are a few HUGE gaps in your logic here.

First, the foundation of fundamentalist ideology is that the Bible trumps all other forms of knowledge. We see this every day with Evolution. There is overwhelming evidence supporting the Theory of Evolution. However Evolution contradicts the Bible. Therefore, those aspects of the Theory of Evolution that can't be reconciled with the Bible must be wrong. Theories of sexuality that contradict the divine script of the Bible must be wrong.

Second, fundamentalist ideology (in the broad sense) is entirely comfortable with the concept of inborn taints and disabilities that must be overcome. So in the Old Testament, you have the sins of the father passing on to to the sons. In the New Testament you have Paul's admission of some kind of unmentionable flaw that he was forced to struggle with in order to practice his faith. So a fundamentalist can just as easily say, "sorry, it sucks to be you, how can I help you overcome this burden god laid upon you?" Interestingly enough, some of the ex-gay ministries admit that they can't completely remove the temptation for homosexual sex, just enable their clients to live a "godly" life in spite of that temptation.

Third, although I think fundamentalists claim that their ideology is driven by the Bible, if you look at fundamentalist political rhetoric over the course of U.S. history, fundamentalist political rhetoric is flexible and situated in a socio-cultural context. One of the most telling examples of this is how the Bible was used by fundamentalists on both sides of the slavery and civil rights debates. If there is compelling evidence that homosexuality is genetic, the anti-gay Religious Right will just find ways to appropriate that to their advantage. You seem to want to view fundamentalist ideology as some sort of idealized essential position that's fixed in place and time. To me, it's obvious that fundamentalist ideology is flexible and situated to be nice, or opportunistic to be less than nice.

Yes, it's patronizing and makes me a little ill, but it's almost certainly the best you can expect from the fundamentalists on this topic.

I think there is the fundamental disagreement. IME, Fundamentalist Christianity is not the only front on which we have to fight. You have Social Conservatives who argue that homosexuality should be discouraged because it has negative effects on family structure, and hence, the long-term survival of Western Society. You have a eugenics movement that has had a profound effect on shaping the way legal and medical systems have dealt with homosexuality. You have a large number of people who are not particularly fervently religious, but are just squicked by the whole concept, (except where it can be safely appropriated for their own use.)

I also think that another form of anti-Gay bigotry comes in the form of assimilationist ideology which says that lesbigay sexualities that blend in well with mainstream heterosexual culture are good, while those that don't are bad. However, you really can't talk much about assimilation without acknowledging that some aspects of sexuality are *gasp* socially and individually constructed. Denying any social construction of sexuality requires taking both heterosexuality and homosexuality for granted, and cuts short any radical queer critiques of institutions such as marriage, heteronormative views in art, gender expression, and childrearing.

If the cost of convincing anti-gay fundamentalists means that we can't talk about the complexities of sexuality and sexual orientation even here on MetaFilter, among a highly intelligent and sympathetic audience,

If the cost means that like amberglow, we have to engage in a wholesale denial of atrocities committed against us by doctors and institutions who considered our behavior symptoms of a physical flaw that must be corrected or suppressed,

If the cost means that we must engage in a narrow-minded reductionism that prevents us from critiquing North American heterosexuality as socially constructed and political, even here on MetaFilter, among a highly intelligent and sympathetic audience,

Then the cost is too high and the lesbigay communities are much impoverished for paying it.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:14 AM on May 4, 2006


Ryvar: Where I think your greater error lies is that there's nothing in the Bible about black people being inferior - there's a couple of verses about slaves obeying their masters and masters treating their slaves well, but skin color isn't mentioned. There's mention in the Bible of homosexuality being an "abomination," though.

But of course, fundamentalist ideology was more than able to fill in the blanks by proposing that modern Europeans were descended from the tribes of Israel. It wasn't uncommon for Medieval Kings to trace a mythical lineage back to David or Solomon to justify their divine right to rule! Fundamentalism isn't monolithic or fixed in stone, it is quite able to adapt to local political circumstances.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:18 AM on May 4, 2006


Does anyone else find that 60 Minute article ericb linked to a little cringeworthy? the girly twin and the boyish twin, the girl playing with a truck is not girly enough, the left handed elder brothers theory, hormones in the womb, women developing antibodies against male foetuses, agh...
posted by funambulist at 11:34 AM on May 4, 2006


“(this thread has been really interesting to read)” -posted by bardic

Seconded.

/I hate to interject anything since it might look insipid by comparison.
I will say I’ve rarely felt so patronized as when reading the Family Research Council tripe. It’s infuriating.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:38 AM on May 4, 2006


Denying any social construction of sexuality requires taking both heterosexuality and homosexuality for granted

That's exactly what made me cringe about that article...
posted by funambulist at 11:40 AM on May 4, 2006


Yeah, I'll third bardic's comment that this thread is really interesting. Thanks, everyone.
posted by JekPorkins at 11:42 AM on May 4, 2006


Ryvar: Yes, it's patronizing and makes me a little ill, but it's almost certainly the best you can expect from the fundamentalists on this topic.

I don't see many fundamentalists here. As far as I can tell, this is a discussion among gay rights supporters who should be well capable of wrestling with the messy complexities of queer theory and history. If we are forced to reduce our dialog with each other to four-word soundbites, then what kind of a community can we have?

Amberglow's claim that even among ourselves, discussion of how messy this is amounts to some kind of treason seems spectacularly mean-spirited and disappointing.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:07 PM on May 4, 2006


languagehat, you left off my second sentence

I wasn't taking issue with you, just using your quote as a springboard for a discussion of what to me is an interesting issue (even if peripheral to this discussion). Thanks for the Wikipedia link, which was indeed worth the read.

this thread is really interesting

Agreed.

As far as I can tell, this is a discussion among gay rights supporters who should be well capable of wrestling with the messy complexities of queer theory and history. If we are forced to reduce our dialog with each other to four-word soundbites, then what kind of a community can we have? Amberglow's claim that even among ourselves, discussion of how messy this is amounts to some kind of treason seems spectacularly mean-spirited and disappointing.

Agreed.
posted by languagehat at 12:23 PM on May 4, 2006


it's not messy at all---whether it's a choice or not is irrelevant and plays into their hands and uses their framing. We deserve the same rights as other Americans--period. Why we are how we are is irrelevant. What made us this way is irrelevant. Continuing to agree with what those who hate us say about us and how they define us is a horrible mistake.

When they started passing laws against us Jews in Germany, they classified us all as degenerates and evil and not quite as human as others. First, we couldn't teach anymore, then not marry gentiles, then had to wear identifying marks, then couldn't own property, etc. It was irrelevant whether we Jews were observant or orthodox or reform or conversions to Christianity or 1/2 jewish or 1/4 jewish, or ate bacon every day, etc. How my people defined themselves was totally irrelevant to what was done to them. By continuing to use their definitions of us, and their framing, and by agreeing with those who oppress us now, you enable them.

It's not messy at all--it's simple to the vast majority of people. There are those who would make it seem like our sexuality is something we can just change. They repeat this every day on the airwaves, over and over in all media, and have defined us as evil and degenerate and a threat to children and dangerous--and what's worse, that's it's all just some choice, and that we can just be normal like them and other straight people.

Just because you think it's a complex issue won't help us either gain the rights due us or regain lost rights. By continuing to focus on whether it's a choice or not, and by continuing to agree with them, you help them.
posted by amberglow at 12:39 PM on May 4, 2006


“Amberglow's claim that even among ourselves, discussion of how messy this is amounts to some kind of treason seems spectacularly mean-spirited and disappointing.” - posted by KirkJobSluder

Yeah, I was thinking LGBT needed a militant nationalist group like the Black Panthers, or the Grey Panthers.
But what to call it?

Seriously though, Ulrichs isn’t Garvey,
And there is a long precedence within any political, social, and most particularly sexual grouping of conflict and disagreement.
But - to quote Biko - it’s better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die.

I’m not taking a position on what the focus should be, how to counter that cultural dominance and reframe the issue, but I think everyone’s on the same page with amberglow’s: “We deserve the same rights as other Americans--period.”
posted by Smedleyman at 1:13 PM on May 4, 2006


amberglow: it's not messy at all---whether it's a choice or not is irrelevant and plays into their hands and uses their framing. We deserve the same rights as other Americans--period. Why we are how we are is irrelevant.

I agree with this (and have been in agreement all along.)

How my people defined themselves was totally irrelevant to what was done to them. By continuing to use their definitions of us, and their framing, and by agreeing with those who oppress us now, you enable them.

I agree with this. But there are two groups of bigots out there: those who define us as willfully rebelling against god, and those who define us as medical aberrations that need to be fixed or removed from society. No matter how you stand on the choice issue, you will play into the framing of one or more types of anti-gay bigotry.

They repeat this every day on the airwaves, over and over in all media, and have defined us as evil and degenerate and a threat to children and dangerous--and what's worse, that's it's all just some choice, and that we can just be normal like them and other straight people.

I agree with you that it's not a choice.

Just because you think it's a complex issue won't help us either gain the rights due us or regain lost rights. By continuing to focus on whether it's a choice or not, and by continuing to agree with them, you help them.

I think that about 30 years of queer theory would disagree with you that it's a simple issue.

And here is where I loose my temper. I have said that sexual orientation is not a choice several times. I have not said or implied otherwise. Here is the time for you to put up or shut up. Either identify where I have "agreed with them," or admit that this is a misunderstanding, or get off my fucking back.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:20 PM on May 4, 2006


amberglow: And you do know that at the same time the Nazi's were killing Jews and homosexuals in Germany, doctors inspired by the same body of writing, the same ideology, the same philosophy, were committing atrocities against gays and lesbians in the U.S.?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:25 PM on May 4, 2006


First, the foundation of fundamentalist ideology is that the Bible trumps all other forms of knowledge. We see this every day with Evolution. There is overwhelming evidence supporting the Theory of Evolution. However Evolution contradicts the Bible. Therefore, those aspects of the Theory of Evolution that can't be reconciled with the Bible must be wrong.

Tangentially, this is not so in this particular example. Rather what's done is that evidence of evolution is repurposed to fit any Biblical text it might directly contradict (ie we find dinosaurs under tons of sediment because prior to Noah's Flood there was still topsoil on all the freshly created mountains). So-called 'Creation Science' has notable depth and complexity precisely because a pastor who cannot reconcile the natural world with immutable dogma will shortly be out of a job. That a true expert could debunk a particular portion of it is irrelevant - it only requires complexity sufficient to extend beyond the attention span of the majority of the congregation.

Theories of sexuality that contradict the divine script of the Bible must be wrong.

It sounds like we are finally agreed that fundamentalists will not be convinced by sheer volume of outspokenness, I hope.

Second, fundamentalist ideology (in the broad sense) is entirely comfortable with the concept of inborn taints and disabilities that must be overcome. So in the Old Testament, you have the sins of the father passing on to to the sons. In the New Testament you have Paul's admission of some kind of unmentionable flaw that he was forced to struggle with in order to practice his faith. So a fundamentalist can just as easily say, "sorry, it sucks to be you, how can I help you overcome this burden god laid upon you?"

Right, and overcoming that burden requires the exercise of free will. The dogma of pre-destination has never been accepted by mainstream Protestantism, and never will be because fatalism removes the ability for people to use religion to find meaning and purpose in their lives. To forcibly treat homosexuals with hormone therapy and ECT removes the all-important decision to reject homosexuality. That's a single-sentence simple argument that any reasonably intelligent person can understand, and it would find traction even if resorting to such measures didn't naturally squick people out in the first place.

Third, although I think fundamentalists claim that their ideology is driven by the Bible, if you look at fundamentalist political rhetoric over the course of U.S. history, fundamentalist political rhetoric is flexible and situated in a socio-cultural context.

Yes and no. Certainly, the feminist movement has significantly changed the daily operation of the church such that women have an active role in worship - my mother created the worship team of my old church from scratch in order to bring more contemporary music, etc. into the services. Two of my fifteen Sunday School teachers were female. On the flip side of the coin, my grandmother's position within the ruling body of the church lead to a major schism in my early teen years (she was the first, last, and only female member), and certainly no female minister would have been tolerated in the years I attended both before and after.

In short: in my experience with fundamentalist Christianity there have been limits roughly adhered to in all of the several churches I attended during the years of the aforementioned schism. Women not being permitted as ministers was one, the requirement of free will as regards obedience to God is another. Flexibility ends where reintrepretation falters, such as when it encounters a Thou Shalt Not.

One of the most telling examples of this is how the Bible was used by fundamentalists on both sides of the slavery and civil rights debates. If there is compelling evidence that homosexuality is genetic, the anti-gay Religious Right will just find ways to appropriate that to their advantage. You seem to want to view fundamentalist ideology as some sort of idealized essential position that's fixed in place and time. To me, it's obvious that fundamentalist ideology is flexible and situated to be nice, or opportunistic to be less than nice.

The Bible is notoriously ambiguous on the topic of slavery, because it lays out guidelines for the treatment of slaves in both the Old and New Testament, but no opinion is given as to whether it is acceptable for Christians under the New Covenant to hold slaves - tacit approval is provided in the Old Testament, of course, in that the Hebrews took slaves during their conquest of Palestine. It should come as no surprise that people of the modern era exploited that ambiguity to the hilt.

Homosexuality, on the other hand, is fairly clear-cut even if we dismiss Sodom and Gomorrah, which we can't, although I'm not going to launch into a rundown of the principle of Biblical Inerrancy here. Short version: God must exercise his power to ensure that the common versions of his words are reflective of his will.

I think there is the fundamental disagreement. IME, Fundamentalist Christianity is not the only front on which we have to fight. You have Social Conservatives who argue that homosexuality should be discouraged because it has negative effects on family structure, and hence, the long-term survival of Western Society. You have a eugenics movement that has had a profound effect on shaping the way legal and medical systems have dealt with homosexuality. You have a large number of people who are not particularly fervently religious, but are just squicked by the whole concept, (except where it can be safely appropriated for their own use.)

I agree, it isn't the only front - but it's the only one I'm qualified to speak of in any capacity, and I've spent a LOT of time debating the topic with a lot of extremely religious people.

However, you really can't talk much about assimilation without acknowledging that some aspects of sexuality are *gasp* socially and individually constructed. Denying any social construction of sexuality requires taking both heterosexuality and homosexuality for granted, and cuts short any radical queer critiques of institutions such as marriage, heteronormative views in art, gender expression, and childrearing.

This is a key point, very well made and I find myself agreeing with it. Furthermore, I agree that outspokenness is crucial as regards the viability of any critique of bedrock social institutions. Perhaps a two-pronged approach is called for, with message cut to fit the audience.

But of course, fundamentalist ideology was more than able to fill in the blanks by proposing that modern Europeans were descended from the tribes of Israel. It wasn't uncommon for Medieval Kings to trace a mythical lineage back to David or Solomon to justify their divine right to rule! Fundamentalism isn't monolithic or fixed in stone, it is quite able to adapt to local political circumstances.

It's worth pointing out that the specific phenomenon you describe died out with the printing press, and for a good reason - communication necessitates consistency. Fundamentalism is defined by its rabid adherence to dogma, and after people cease to do so we stop calling them fundamentalists, and as such there is a limit to flexibility.

But there are two groups of bigots out there: those who define us as willfully rebelling against god, and those who define us as medical aberrations that need to be fixed or removed from society. No matter how you stand on the choice issue, you will play into the framing of one or more types of anti-gay bigotry.

This is an oversimplification - I think there are many, many people currently opposed to homosexual rights in the extreme who would be amenable to the view that homosexuality is a medical aberration that God has placed as a challenge to the individual for them to overcome. Essentially shifting the element of choice from being homosexual to remaining so. The arrogance and false piety inherent in that view makes me want to vomit, but I think that with a good segment of the populace it's likely to be as far as you'll get.
posted by Ryvar at 2:00 PM on May 4, 2006


Smedleyman: Yeah, I was thinking LGBT needed a militant nationalist group like the Black Panthers, or the Grey Panthers.
But what to call it?


Well, I think there are segments of this. But really, I came out as bi about the time as this essay and perhaps it's because I'm quite a bit less connected that I used to be, but I don't see much from radical separatist movements anymore. Separatism wasn't literally about retreating away and creating a separate nation, but about creating a space to create and explore a culture of one's own. I think these communities are among things that we risk in loosing in running pell-mell away from social construction.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:02 PM on May 4, 2006


Ryvar: Rather what's done is that evidence of evolution is repurposed to fit any Biblical text it might directly contradict (ie we find dinosaurs under tons of sediment because prior to Noah's Flood there was still topsoil on all the freshly created mountains).

I've read some Creation Scientists admit that some of the evidence for evolution can't be easily retrofitted to the Bible. But as an article of faith, the Bible trumps all other knowledge.

Right, and overcoming that burden requires the exercise of free will. The dogma of pre-destination has never been accepted by mainstream Protestantism, and never will be because fatalism removes the ability for people to use religion to find meaning and purpose in their lives. To forcibly treat homosexuals with hormone therapy and ECT removes the all-important decision to reject homosexuality.

Well, I think we are crossing over between issues here. For the most part, I really like your points and will consider them.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:17 PM on May 4, 2006


Thanks, I found your points about stifling queer critique to be enlightening. Also: it's completely possible that I'm wrong about all of this, it's just that being completely immersed in church until 18 and a private religious school until 14 . . . this is what I think my reaction would have been.
posted by Ryvar at 2:42 PM on May 4, 2006


I'm way too tired to be coherent about this. My intuition tells me that the fault line among we supporters of gay rights who are disagreeing here runs along the lines drawn by identity politics. There is, unsurprisingly, a deep connection between what is implied to be inherent by virtue of a biological determination and identity. Those things we must be, especially if not universally accepted, form large parts of the foundational psyche of the social sense of self and identity. Therefore, for those who have a large emotional investment in that social identity, the naturist argument is a high-road to a kind of assumed-to-be-inevitable acceptance by the larger society.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:09 PM on May 4, 2006


I have said that sexual orientation is not a choice several times. I have not said or implied otherwise. Here is the time for you to put up or shut up. Either identify where I have "agreed with them," or admit that this is a misunderstanding, or get off my fucking back.
Sure hon--you do it all the time.

Them: However, singling out "sexual orientation" for special protection (along with the usual categories of "race, color, national origin, sex, and disability") is illogical. The latter qualities are usually inborn, involuntary, immutable, and innocuous--none of which is true of homosexuality, despite the claims of its advocates."
You: I'm an old-school sexual liberation guy who does not consider a choice to marry a man as being that far removed from my choice to buy a dildo on Sunday. Both choices are none of your business, thank you very much.

You: Not to mention that I think that lesbigays risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater by taking a radically assimilationist stance and trying to bury the socially constructed aspects of identity into the closet.
Them: not only are children not "born gay," but the development of a homosexual identity can actually be prevented by appropriate intervention on the part of parents and caring adults.

You do this in every thread on this, and you always make room to talk about it, while criticizing those of us who see it otherwise. You come from radically different places from them, but say much the same thing. (if i had more time i'd find more exact matches but these are good enough)
posted by amberglow at 3:12 PM on May 4, 2006


the naturist argument is a high-road to a kind of assumed-to-be-inevitable acceptance by the larger society.

most of us don't want to be accepted or even liked--just not killed, bashed, or denied our rights--that's it. we've done nothing to warrant any of it and it must stop, not grow as it's doing now. what we do need is support by those who talk of equality and rights but ignore this (which includes the national Democratic party).
posted by amberglow at 3:37 PM on May 4, 2006


amberglow, I think most of us also want not to have others believe that our conduct is immoral (regardless of what that conduct is). We, as people, get especially bothered when people's condemnation of our conduct is extended to a condemnation of what we perceive as status.
posted by JekPorkins at 3:52 PM on May 4, 2006


KirkJobSluder- I was just sorta riffing on the queer nation/black nationalism thing initially as a joke (Pink Panthers), but with the recognition of the history (Ulrichs/Garvey) of the creation of that as an example of conflict/difference of opinion in execution within any sort of group. Not in earnest suggesting similar operation or indeed any particular method much less radical separatism.

Just trying to lighten it up a bit without breaking the cogent well reasoned interesting flow of the thread.... I’m probably not as witty as I think I am.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:10 PM on May 4, 2006


No matter how you stand on the choice issue, you will play into the framing of one or more types of anti-gay bigotry.

Exactly. It's pointless to favour adjusting one's arguments to those supposedly less likely to give ammunition to opponents - they'll get their ammunition ready anyway, and the advantage they have is they don't ever worry about how their arguments get received.
posted by funambulist at 4:49 PM on May 4, 2006


amberglow: If I do it all the time. Then it would be trivial to find one quote that supports your claim. Instead, you found a quote that talks about marriage as chosen, and identity as socially constructed. You didn't find anything about sexual orientation (which you still refuse to acknowledge that we agree about.)

Marriage certainly does not equal sexual orientation. Are you arguing that marriage is not a choice, or should not be a choice?

In regards to identity, it seems rather obvious to me that "identity" is being used to describe two different things between the two passages. IME most people's identity is more than just "homosexual" or "heterosexual." I've known people who identify as bears, bisexual leathermen, radical faeries, lesbian separatists, occasional swingers, church moms, bi-goths, scouting dads, working class drag queens and cross dressers. While sexual orientation is about sight, scent, taste and arousal, identity is about community and society.

Just as an example, is it really possible to argue that the concept of a "bear" isn't socially constructed? Bears by their own community history claim that their little subculture developed in reaction to norms in the larger gay community.

If you really think I'm giving aid and comfort to anti-gay bigots because I insist that self-identified bears, leathermen, faeries, and queens are just as valid as church moms and nascar dads, and that their communities are just as beautiful and valuable as the United Methodist Church down the road, then you need to have your head examined.

If you really think I'm giving aid and comfort to anti-gay bigots because I don't see that biological studies of sexual orientation are incompatible with queer studies of sexual identity and community then you should have your head examined. (And if you are honestly confused as to how those concepts are different, perhaps you should hit the library before throwing shit at me?)

Why shouldn't there be room to talk about these things? And I've been bending over backwards trying to point out places where I think we agree. But it seems that you want to pick a fight even if you want to create a strawman to do it.

From what I can tell, the bottom line seems to be that you are profoundly hostile towards anybody who does not conform lockstep to your agenda. You give me shit about my belief that we need build grass-roots communities everywhere. And you give me shit because I'm an advocate of radical queer theories and identity. I don't even see where my agenda conflicts with yours.

Instead, you seem to be pushing this idea that we just can't talk about these things, even here, because heaven forbid that queer theory and feminist theory get watered down and appropriated by cultural conservatives. Better to have no theory at all and say nothing at all!

If you want me to sit down, shut up, and not talk about the ideas, philosophies, and communities that saved my life 16 years ago. Sorry, I won't betray them that way.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:00 PM on May 4, 2006


bull--we'll see. i'm not the one conflating identity and orientation--you are, ascribing your views to one one day and the other another. belittling and flippant statements like yours about marriage ignore totally both the enduring traditions we're brought up to participate in, and the very very necessary legal and tangible rights and benefits families are bestowed with. it's not a game, or a theoretical exercise, nor is it mandatory---it's vitally important to many people, especially those with children. it's vitally important to our society as well, given the immense emphasis we place on families, and the many many laws and rights concerning them. You don't have to value any of that, but many of your statements here include those that echo what i hear from those who hate us.

I don't want anyone to shut up, and i won't shut up if you persist in echoing their statements. Let's talk about heteronormativity, and how your statements disassociate yourself from opening up the structures of this society to our participation in them, and also reinforce the heteronormativity you belittle because you personally don't value those structures and make sure everyone knows it. Let's talk about how you call things "radically assimilationist" and throwing babies out with the bathwater at the same time you champion grass-roots communities and coming out--how does that make any kind of sense? Grass-roots communities in America include many who are families, who desperately need the legal protections other families get thru marriage. Grass-roots communities need protection from discrimination in housing and employment. Grass-roots communities are made up of people who have differing views from you, and value other things than you do. I'm not talking about how we can't talk about one thing or another---i'm talking about how YOU talk about the things that are posted about here (mostly marriage and rights and politics things). None of us are talking about subcultures or subgroups (like bears, etc) within larger groups--we're talking about all of us--all adult gay and lesbian Americans (A group you yourself don't self-identify with, by the way).
posted by amberglow at 6:17 PM on May 4, 2006


amberglow:
You know, I think that underlying this entire discussion we agree more than we disagree. I find it frustrating to be accused of "echoing them" when I'm spending large chunks of my posts trying to say, "I agree with you. Please back off."

Here are what I think are the key issues here:
1: Sexual orientation is not a choice for most people. We both seem to agree with this statement.

2: Theories about the origin of sexual orientation are not relevant to equal rights. I think we both agree with this statement, but I'm not certain.

3: Marriage rights are not trivial, and critically important. I think we both agree with this statement, and I apologize if the flip attitude of my first post communicated otherwise.

4: Theories about the origin of sexual orientation can be framed by anti-gay bigots in ways that benefit them. I think we both agree here, but I'm not certain.

5: Protection from discrimination in housing and employment is critically important. We both agree on this, and I have fought for laws to add sexual orientation as a protected category in this area.

6: local education and support networks vs. state and federal activism. My perception is that in the past you have been hostile and dismissive of attempts to build and expand local support and education networks in small cities, towns, and worship congregations in "red state" areas. I am supportive of both kinds of activism, but I'm skeptical as to the actual ability of federal and state law to change the local status of lesbigay people. (My feelings regarding this have to do with the overall failure of local school systems to respond to the mandates of equality provided by Brown vs. Board of Education.)

7: Tailoring our message around current rhetoric. I'm fundamentally skeptical that anti-gay bigots won't appropriate and successfully reframe any kind of message that we use. Furthermore, I find the eugenics movement to be virulent and latent under the skin of U.S. culture. This makes me profoundly skeptical that evidence for genetic or pre-natal orientation "could seal the deal," the statement at the top of the thread I was originally responding to.

In addition, I found the debate about how to tailor our message to be problematic and divisive back in the early 90s when it was focused on drag, leather, and swishing vs. straight acting. As a result, I've been frequently skeptical when anyone starts talking about hiding or masking what we do or say because, "In the marketplace of ideas, complexity is not what gets thru to people." The gains made in the 70s, 80s and 90s came from a steadfast refusal to compromise.

8: As for my own identity. I'm a frequently gender dysphoric, bisexual man who was always called a sissy in school and am always the one people think must be really gay in educational panels. As a result, I really thank my stars that I was born in 1971 to fairly understanding and liberal parents in the United States, as opposed to 1940 U.S. to parents who might have institutionalized me, or 1920 Germany when I would have probably been castrated and gassed, or 1986 in a country that still considers kissing boys and crossing my legs the wrong way to be a medical aberration.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:42 PM on May 4, 2006


If you want a simple message for the "marketplace of ideas" how about this?

Lesbigay people should be granted equal rights in housing, employment, and marriage right now.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:03 PM on May 4, 2006


Oh and one last request:

Define sexual orientation.

Define sexual identity.

Because I suspect that a large chunk of the problem here is semantics. (Although I would have a hard time relating to any definition of "identity" that does not use the terms "development," "community," or both.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:24 PM on May 4, 2006


Fuck,

I've just realized that this is the second time in less than a month that the "marketplace of ideas" has been used as a rationale for compromising core values here on metafilter.

The previous discussion involved people arguing that supporters of Evolution education should compromise core values of qualified claims and provisional knowledge to avoid being reframed by fundamentalists. The problem that qualified claims and provisional knowledge are central to the nature of science and Evolution as a theory didn't really matter.

Heterosexuality is a socially-constructed institution in our culture. There is no inherent or essential reason why it must consist of one man and one woman in a long-term relationship as part of nuclear or extended families. Heterosexuality as it is constructed in the U.S. is not the same as it is constructed elsewhere. It can be critiqued attacked and forced to share its rights and benefits with other equally valid sexualities. These statements have been core values that a large chunk of the gay rights movement borrowed from radical feminism.

People who wish to compromise and avoid statements like this because of the possibility that "social construction" can be reframed as "choice" should think carefully about what they are giving up. "Social construction" does not collapse neatly to "choice." Language and family are both social constructions, but we are very limited in our ability to choose either.

I've just become primed to know that whenever I see the phrase, "marketplace of ideas" that I'm not going to like the way in which important and critical ideas are reduced to a brand. I also think that this is a bit of a distortion of the basic concept invoked by the phrase which had less to do with brand-name catchiness and more to do with long-term usefulness and viability.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:59 AM on May 5, 2006


The underlying message of these nuts:

Homosexuals = pedophiles

As in homosexuals must "recruit" members to their ranks.

Bullshit. Homosexuality, in the entire animal kingdom, is just a natural as heterosexuality. While it is not the most common sexual interaction it is in no any way any less a natural part of our world. What's so fucking scary about it?
posted by nofundy at 6:50 AM on May 5, 2006


I've just realized that this is the second time in less than a month that the "marketplace of ideas" has been used as a rationale for compromising core values here on metafilter.
Nope. The core value is that Lesbigay people should be granted equal rights in housing, employment, and marriage right now. Anything that diverts from that message or turns the conversation away from that is compromising core values. Anything that steers people into discussing choices or fantasies of utopias where everyone can just live however they want instead of rights is really compromising core values unless it's in a thread that specifically is about those things. The links in this thread are wholly entirely full of other people's evil hatred, slander, and lies about us--you really think that you're countering or even rebutting their ideas (which they are making into laws daily in school boards all over the country) by going off sideways? talk about diverting.

I'm not talking about being reframed or miscontrued or twisted by those who hate us---I'm talking about having conversations that don't echo them. I'm talking about having conversations where we're not stuck in their frames (which you agree with more than you admit), or simply stuck off in a corner talking utopia.

Heterosexuality is a socially-constructed institution in our culture. There is no inherent or essential reason why it must consist of one man and one woman in a long-term relationship as part of nuclear or extended families. Heterosexuality as it is constructed in the U.S. is not the same as it is constructed elsewhere. It can be critiqued attacked and forced to share its rights and benefits with other equally valid sexualities. These statements have been core values that a large chunk of the gay rights movement borrowed from radical feminism.
Whether something is socially constructed or not is irrelevant, and you know it. In fact, that's just another echoing of what they say we want with our "gay agenda". This is not ideal worldbuilding, nor creating utopia---this is the very practical and necessary need for opening up the existing institutions and protections and defined rights so that we are under their umbrella. The minute you start talking about more than one man and one woman, you are echoing their statements about us, and you are not at all talking about our rights anymore. The actions that schools have taken to include us (or at least not let us be bashed every day, with no repercussion) are part and parcel of the general recognition that there are different kinds of families and people and that's ok. It's a deeply deeply threatening and abhorrent idea to them and they're fighting it with every tool at their disposal (and they have more money and more tools). Those links have lawsuits behind them and stealth school board candidates all over the place ready to implement their hateful discriminatory plans.

Call it "message discipline" if you need a term, but if these conversations are going to always spin wildly away into theory or someone's dreams of a world, while we're under real attack, there's something wrong. Maybe it's not the best idea to talk theory and wishes at the same time more and more states are making us permanent 2nd-class citizens, and haters like the AFA and FRC are having their messages spread far and wide over and over and over and over. I have dreams too, but i live in the real world where there are real battles---there's no real fight to make marriage polygamous or open, and even if there was they wouldn't include us. It doesn't matter that it's socially constructed.

And no one has said that anything will "seal the deal"---no one has ever said that. Pointing out commonalities is not a compromise nor is it a capitulation. We're all here together and all have to live together, and many seem to forget that.
posted by amberglow at 8:09 AM on May 5, 2006


Call it "message discipline" if you need a term.... Maybe it's not the best idea to talk theory and wishes...

You really do sound like you're trying to keep people from talking in ways you don't like. And I've hated the idea of "message discipline" ever since I tried to discuss tactics with some antiwar protesters at my college and some self-important twit with an armband came up and said nobody was allowed to talk with me except "authorized representatives." Gotta stay on message! Fuck that.

And you also sound awfully belligerent in dealing with someone who seems to be bending over backwards to find common ground with you. You might reflect on how many hearts and minds you're likely to win with such an approach.
posted by languagehat at 8:59 AM on May 5, 2006


amberglow: Nope. The core value is that Lesbigay people should be granted equal rights in housing, employment, and marriage right now. Anything that diverts from that message or turns the conversation away from that is compromising core values.

So, lesbian separatist discourse is compromising core values.

Queer theory is compromising core values.

Lesbigay subcultures are compromising core values.

That is what you are saying here.

I'm not talking about being reframed or miscontrued or twisted by those who hate us---I'm talking about having conversations that don't echo them. I'm talking about having conversations where we're not stuck in their frames (which you agree with more than you admit), or simply stuck off in a corner talking utopia.

I can pull quotes from eugenics and Nazi literature about homosexuality that are superficially similar to your statements about homosexuality not being a choice, does that mean that you are echoing the Nazis and eugenicists? That you are stuck in their frames?

You can't win by trying to play the game of saying this or not saying that because it might get reframed, or it might be superficially similar to something that a fundamentalist Christian said, or a social darwinist said. No matter what we say, it will be appropriated or have been appropriated. I think that when we let their opinions and their rhetoric dictate we say, then we have lost a critical battle and perhaps even the war.

This is not ideal worldbuilding, nor creating utopia---this is the very practical and necessary need for opening up the existing institutions and protections and defined rights so that we are under their umbrella.

You seem to continually present the idea that this is an either/or proposition. We cannot simultaneously act to open up existing institutions, protections and defined righs, and at the same time create lesbigay positive petit utopias. I reject this false dichotomy that we can have one or the other but not both. And in fact, I think we need both. This is an idea that I can trace back to Ida B. Wells, a founding mother of the NAACP. Fight for equal rights, but create your own cultural, educational and economic enclaves for support and protection until then.

Maybe it's not the best idea to talk theory and wishes at the same time more and more states are making us permanent 2nd-class citizens, and haters like the AFA and FRC are having their messages spread far and wide over and over and over and over. I have dreams too, but i live in the real world where there are real battles---there's no real fight to make marriage polygamous or open, and even if there was they wouldn't include us.

Here is where I feel that you are spinning off sidways because I did not say anything about polyamory. Although now that you mention it, I think that people in the community should be free to talk about the wide varity of sexual experience: monogamy, bath houses, sex work, poly, rest stops, sport sex. They should be able to do so without someone yelling at them to shut up because they are "echoing" anti-gay rhetoric about gay promiscuity. They should also be able to express and talk about the wide varity of gender identification and expression supported within the lgbt communities without fear of breaking "message discipline" and echoing claims made about lgb as a gender perversion.

Perhaps we are speaking fundamentally different languages here, but I don't see how you can demand equal rights for same-sex marriage, without attacking the idea that heterosexuality as practiced in the U.S. is somehow natural, eternal, essential or created by god. By insisting that same-sex relationships are equivalent to mixed-sex relationships, you are attacking heterosexuality as an institution.

In every civil rights battle in U.S. history it has been a group of radicals who were outspoken and unapologetic in criticism of existing institutions, expression of their utopian dreams, and advocacy of separatism who have paved the way. First wave feminism, the NAACP and the labor movement were created and led by radicals. MLK's "I have a dream..." is an enduring expression of a utopian vision, by a man who was more than willing to champion pragmatic separatism as a form of activism.

As I see it, we need a critical dose of radicalism right now. We need "we're here, we're queer, get used to it." We need to put a million people on the Mall in D.C. saying, "we don't care what you think about us, we demand our rights." Fuck "message discipline," that's code for playing defense and letting them call the shots.

And there are real battles being fought in cities, schools, campuses and churches over suicide, depression and drug abuse. And there is where we need for those utopian dreams, theories and debates that you consider to be "diversions" spoken loud and clear. Fuck "message discipline" there.

And no one has said that anything will "seal the deal"---no one has ever said that.

It was in the first response to this thread:
It always seems to boil down to this. What is the current scientific research on this subject? That could seal the deal, right?
posted by undule at 7:24 PM EST on May 3 [!]
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:52 AM on May 5, 2006


the thread wasn't about marriage-- you made it so. the thread was about schools and children and our supposed evil and dangerous agenda.

This is an idea that I can trace back to Ida B. Wells, a founding mother of the NAACP. Fight for equal rights, but create your own cultural, educational and economic enclaves for support and protection until then.
Cultural, educational and economic enclaves don't help the couple who need to ensure their kids will stay together if one dies, or ensure hospital visitation, or insurance and health coverage, or any of the more than 1000 protections straight families get--we all live in America together, and it's abhorrent to self-ghettoize us. It would also absolutely thrill those that would be rid of us, hate us, and are legislating against us--it'd be doing their work for them.

I'd definitely say that we need group health plans tailored for us, but that would only help up to the point where we all have to deal with the existing larger system, which comes up very often when you have kids and/or property, especially. And we've already seen things like the Milk School here in NY--part of the public school system, not separate from it.

By insisting that same-sex relationships are equivalent to mixed-sex relationships, you are attacking heterosexuality as an institution.
No, we're not, and i'm not. We're saying we want in, like heterosexuals. We deserve to be in, like heterosexuals. Our tax money helps provide those rights and protections we are excluded from. We recognize the value of marriage and family---especially the enormous power of state support for families. We are families. In no way is it any kind of attack on heterosexuality---in fact it's a support in a way.
posted by amberglow at 2:44 PM on May 5, 2006



As I see it, we need a critical dose of radicalism right now. We need "we're here, we're queer, get used to it." We need to put a million people on the Mall in D.C. saying, "we don't care what you think about us, we demand our rights." Fuck "message discipline," that's code for playing defense and letting them call the shots.

A million people on the mall stops nothing nowadays--withholding money and votes has much more effect (see Hillary's problems here with us, for just one example). They are calling the shots and will continue to do so. They're the ones who make certain issues the ones that get on air, and used for votes, and legislated against. Those are facts. These are facts and tactics being used all over the country too, which you ignore: ... In some states, parents have found no other recourse but to turn to the courts. There may be a number of grounds on which schools could be held legally liable for damages for teaching about homosexuality to children. In addition to parental rights issues, they include:1) Endangering the physical health of a child; 2) Endangering the mental health of a child; 3) Contributing to the delinquency of a child; and 4) Unconstitutional restraint of First Amendment rights through restrictive student speech or anti-harassment codes....

It's a pity we didn't discuss any of that. But go on, please. It's ok if one school district after another changes their curriculum because of them, and one company and college after another removes us from workplace rights codes and rules, and one state after another passes amendments to their constitutions against us and removes us from state protections...
posted by amberglow at 2:58 PM on May 5, 2006


amberglow: the thread wasn't about marriage-- you made it so. the thread was about schools and children and our supposed evil and dangerous agenda.

Well FTR, my inital post wasn't really about marriage, I only used marriage as an example to illustrate that equal rights should be based on rights to privacy and sexual autonomy, not a dubious creation of sexual orientation as a genetic class. This was in response to "What is the current scientific research on this subject? That could seal the deal, right?" in the second post.

But by all means, I'm getting rather sick and frustrated of playing defense and avoid being seen as having an agenda. Conspiracy theories and fictional agendas are the bread and butter of bigotry. Protocols of the Elders of Zion and concerns about papist agendas anyone? I have an agenda, it's equal rights and acceptance. This is a radical attack on their ideology, and they will see it as "evil" no matter how we try to sugar-coat it.

Cultural, educational and economic enclaves don't help the couple who need to ensure their kids will stay together if one dies, or ensure hospital visitation, or insurance and health coverage, or any of the more than 1000 protections straight families get--we all live in America together, and it's abhorrent to self-ghettoize us. It would also absolutely thrill those that would be rid of us, hate us, and are legislating against us--it'd be doing their work for them.

The ghettos are created by pervasive and systematic discrimination. Separatism isn't about creating the ghetto, it's about refusing to let the dominant class leech off the money, energy and creativity of the oppressed groups living in the ghetto. It's about putting your time, energy and creativity into the institutions that help you, and not into the institutions that harm you. If Memphis won't treat black labor and business fairly, then perhaps it's time to stop letting whites take advantage of that (Wells). If the Montgomery bus wants blacks to ride at the back of the bus, then supporters of civil rights shouldn't ride the Montgomery bus (MLK).

But again, this is a false dichotomy, one that I think you should realize when you advocate petit separatist acts like withholding money and votes, the Milk school, and gay-friendly health plans. I have nothing but respect for those who take their separatism one (or many) steps further. That's their choice, and everyone should be free to pick and choose their activist agenda.

No, we're not, and i'm not. We're saying we want in, like heterosexuals. We deserve to be in, like heterosexuals.

But you can't get in, and don't deserve to be in without challenging some the fundamental laws and assumptions of heterosexuality as an ideology. Gay rights is a radical attack on an oppressive ideology that considers heterosexuality to be normal, universal, and ideal. By insisting that gay relationships are normal, common throughout human populations, and just as functional and ideal as heterosexual partnerships, you are engaged in an extremely radical statement that is incompatible with heterosexuality as defined and expressed by mainstream society.

A million people on the mall stops nothing nowadays--withholding money and votes has much more effect (see Hillary's problems here with us, for just one example).

Withholding money and votes is a form of separatism, and entirely compatible with a radical activist movement that doesn't give a flying fuck about "message discipline."

It's a pity we didn't discuss any of that. But go on, please. It's ok if one school district after another changes their curriculum because of them, and one company and college after another removes us from workplace rights codes and rules, and one state after another passes amendments to their constitutions against us and removes us from state protections...

Now you are just being silly. Of course it is not "ok," and that's not our disagreement. Our disagreement is that you seem to be advocating for a large chunk of queer activism to just disappear because it does not conform to your nice progressive ideas of "message discipline." I see this as fighting with one hand behind our backs.

So how would you suggest fighting this? I have a school board election coming up, so I have some ideas for my own district.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:01 PM on May 5, 2006


But you can't get in, and don't deserve to be in without challenging some the fundamental laws and assumptions of heterosexuality as an ideology. Gay rights is a radical attack on an oppressive ideology that considers heterosexuality to be normal, universal, and ideal. By insisting that gay relationships are normal, common throughout human populations, and just as functional and ideal as heterosexual partnerships, you are engaged in an extremely radical statement that is incompatible with heterosexuality as defined and expressed by mainstream society.

It's not radical nor an attack---it's what most if not all Americans are brought up to do--fall in love and marry and have a family. It's perhaps one of the most conservative things around---staid even.

All of our fights for rights are that way too. Workplace protections, housing protections, hate crime protections, marriage, health insurance and hospital and inheritance rights, etc---none of them are even remotely radical, unless you start from the belief that those rights truly do only belong to straight citizens---that's not true (and the continual expansion of rights throughout our country's history shows)--and, again, it's exactly what the haters believe.
posted by amberglow at 3:26 AM on May 6, 2006


amberglow: It's not radical nor an attack---it's what most if not all Americans are brought up to do--fall in love and marry and have a family. It's perhaps one of the most conservative things around---staid even.

I thought you wanted to talk about education.

Well, yes. They are brought up to believe that marriage consists of one man and one women. They are brought up to believe that this is natural, normal, and ubiquitous. This is a dominant ideology. Challenging the basic assumptions of a radical ideology is called...

Bueller?... Bueller?

All of our fights for rights are that way too. Workplace protections, housing protections, hate crime protections, marriage, health insurance and hospital and inheritance rights, etc---none of them are even remotely radical, unless you start from the belief that those rights truly do only belong to straight citizens---that's not true (and the continual expansion of rights throughout our country's history shows)--and, again, it's exactly what the haters believe.

It is frustrating that you have all the dots lined up on the page, numbered in sequence but you refuse to connect the dots.

Radical simply means confronting the fundamental assumptions of the dominant ideology in a culture. It is derived from the Latin radix or root, radicalism reaches beyond the paragraphs and clauses of law and policy, and also attacks the root of those policies, the visible and not-so visible prejudices, beliefs, and ideologies those laws represent. The dominant ideology in the culture says that rights truly only belong to straight citizens. Every time you voice disagreement with this ideology, you are making a "radical" statement. You are challenge the root of why those laws exist in the first place.

Every civil rights struggle in U.S. history has been a radical battle against an ideology which says that a group should not have equal rights:

The American revolution was based on the radical claim that landholders have inherent rights, in opposition to British colonialism which said that many rights truly only belong to nobility.

The civil rights movement is based on the radical claim that blacks and other ethnic minorities have basic rights to equal participation in society, in opposition to an ideology that is believes in the inherent inferiority of blacks and rights that truly only belong to white citizens.

The feminist movement is based on the radical claim that women have basic rights to equal participation in society, in opposition to an ideology that believes in the inherent inferiority of women, and that rights truly only belong to men.

Now, connect the dots.

The gay rights movement is based on the radical claim that same-sex couples should have equal rights to mixed-sex couples, in opposition to an ideology that believes in the inherent inferiority of same-sex couples, and that marriage rights truly only belong to heterosexual couples.

We just don't disagree with "the haters" over law and policy. We disagree with the entire worldview that heterosexual relationships are more valid, more equal, and more worthy of respect and consideration. We disagree with their beliefs of what is "normal" social and sexual development. We disagree about the very definition of family. These disagreements are not superficial. They are deep. Fundamental. At the root. They are radical whether you choose to claim that adjective or not.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:26 AM on May 6, 2006


And really, if you don't want to consider yourself radical, or engaged in a radical political struggle, that is OK. The question is, why have you chosen to engage in an attack on lgbt radicalism that comes off as being intensely hostile, and mean-spirited. I think this discussion needs to happen in some form or other. But the feeling I get from you is that it's your way or the highway, that we shouldn't even be talking about lgbt radicalism.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:36 AM on May 6, 2006


Pfeh, "just don't disagree" should be "don't just disagree".
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:10 AM on May 6, 2006


We just don't disagree with "the haters" over law and policy. We disagree with the entire worldview that heterosexual relationships are more valid, more equal, and more worthy of respect and consideration. We disagree with their beliefs of what is "normal" social and sexual development. We disagree about the very definition of family. These disagreements are not superficial. They are deep. Fundamental. At the root. They are radical whether you choose to claim that adjective or not.
Disagreeing with worldviews and beliefs is not radical unless it fundamentally upsets, or destroys either that view or the society itself--wanting all the rights and protections they have don't do that, and they know it, and America knows it. By your definitions, Native Americans were radicals simply because their existence was a threat, without them even having to lift a finger or do anything--that's not how it works. Illegal immigrants today who have always been here and always will be here are radicals too, for just living the lives they do, which threaten some. They're not radicals either.

All groups threaten other groups, all groups live differently and have differing values on things, and all groups have to share this country. The radicals--and extremists--in this country--are those who deny others the fundamental rights to life and liberty and the rights and protections of our laws and Constitution--they're the radicals. Wanting to be part of the systems is inherently not radical, except to them because they use it as a wedge issue and to bring people to the polls, and they're willing to lie, legislate, and agitate about that until they radically remold this society to fit solely their worldview.
posted by amberglow at 9:51 AM on May 6, 2006


I don't think i can say it any more clearly--they're the radicals in all these situations--from schools to work to law to culture to society.
posted by amberglow at 9:53 AM on May 6, 2006


amberglow: Disagreeing with worldviews and beliefs is not radical unless it fundamentally upsets, or destroys either that view or the society itself--wanting all the rights and protections they have don't do that, and they know it, and America knows it.

Claims to equal rights are fundamentally incompatible with the worldview of the dominant culture in our society. You can't weasel around this fact. You can't demand equal rights without fundamentally upsetting, and if successful destroying (or at least marginalizing) that worldview.

By your definitions, Native Americans were radicals simply because their existence was a threat, without them even having to lift a finger or do anything--that's not how it works.

Well, I would say yes in part. Native Americans are a threat to the dominant culture that would like to pretend that North America was created by European settlers. So our dominant culture tries to make them invisible, or appropriate them in ways that neutralize their moral threats.

But what is radical is when Native Americans refuse to be appropriated and marginalized, and loudly and boldly expose and attack the colonialist assumptions that are at the core of the dominant culture in North America.

Wanting to be part of the systems is inherently not radical, except to them because they use it as a wedge issue and to bring people to the polls, and they're willing to lie, legislate, and agitate about that until they radically remold this society to fit solely their worldview.

One, wanting to be a part of systems is radical when those systems are historically, politically, and culturally defined around your exclusion. There is no room for equality of same-sex couples or lgbt people in the dominant ideology. None. There is, at best, the possibility for weak forms of accommodation and appropriation. Wake up and smell the coffee, those systems are defined around your exclusion. The best you can get without some pretty radical changes to that system is to be the pet, the sideshow, the entertainment.

Second, they don't need to remold this society to fit their worldview. They are the reactionary voice of our society's dominant culture. Lesbigays have never had a place at the table. This was made clear to me during a lunch conversation among my extended family earlier. We may be good friends and co-workers but we are never the equal of straights. There is something wrong about us, something different, something fundamentally flawed with our relationships. The only difference between progressives and conservatives on this is that progressives pity us for the injustice and prejudice we face, and conservatives attack us for the implicit threat we pose to their power.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:31 PM on May 6, 2006


You can't demand equal rights without fundamentally upsetting, and if successful destroying (or at least marginalizing) that worldview.

Wrong, and if right, not relevant at all. Rights delineated in the laws and constitution of our land are not finite, or only meant to appply to some, or that would have been mentioned then. Rights don't run out and people here don't lose rights when people there gain rights.

One, wanting to be a part of systems is radical when those systems are historically, politically, and culturally defined around your exclusion.
Wrong again-- no founder of this country nor signer of the Constitution even dreamed of us when there were alive. Nor did they write our Constitution or laws so specifically as to exclude us by name--on purpose. Nor did they specifically include women or blacks, etc. They easily could have done so, but knew that things were changing, and they were just starting that change.

I'm sorry you still believe the lies they tell you--i believe all Americans are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights--believing less than that is a fool's game--for all Americans.
posted by amberglow at 6:09 PM on May 6, 2006


fine by me
posted by amberglow at 4:37 PM on May 7, 2006


Lesbians' brains respond differently from those of heterosexual women [AP | May 08, 2006]
posted by ericb at 3:27 PM on May 8, 2006


From ericb's 60 minutes link:
"One has the impression that gay men are much more inclined toward casual sex than straight men," Stahl said.

"They're just more successful at it, because the people they're trying to have sex with are also interested in it," Bailey explained.
Haha. I just love this.
posted by rafter at 5:57 PM on May 8, 2006


"i believe all Americans are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights--believing less than that is a fool's game--for all Americans."

Do you really believe this? You believe in "natural rights"? So under what metaphysics are human beings "created equal" and then "endowed" with rights?

Sounds an awful lot like Phelps's language and reasoning.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:49 PM on May 8, 2006


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