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LGBT Lessons for Straight People: Ridicule and Oppression is not Tolerance.

July 29, 2010 By: geekgirl Category: Headline, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

LGBT Lessons for Straight People - Why Equality MattersThe National Organization for Marriage, with its key speakers Brian Brown, Maggie Gallagher and Louis J. Marinelli III, are touring the country.

Their rhetoric has changed and I am the first to admit that there must be a genius, albeit it one without morals, on their team. They tried, and succeeded, in taking away marriage from California and Maine by telling lies. Do we all remember the Gathering Storm video? Letting gays marry will mean that:

  • homosexuality will be taught in schools (wrong),
  • will force churches to marry them (wrong),
  • gays will make bad parents (wrong), and
  • since gays are pedophiles, we will condone that sort of thing (very wrong).

The arguments went on:

  • Gays cannot procreate. [Well, procreation is not a requirement for marriage.]
  • Homosexuality is a choice and is deviant behavior (wrong).
  • If we make gay marriage legal, where will it end? We’ll legalize pedophilia and bestiality.

What they are really saying is that they believe gay people are sick.

Pedophilia is abhorrent and is mostly committed by people that identify as heterosexuals. Just ask the Catholic Church, they are experts in this area.

What they fail to recognize is that being gay is not a mental illness, it is not a choice. Couples who want to marry are simply trying to make a commitment so strong that they are willing to commit to each other legally and financially. Marriage is what stabilizes families; all families.

Their Biblical arguments are a failure. Again and again, they ignore the points about other sins in the Bible. They cannot seem to remember that adultery made it to the Ten Commandments, not being gay. They cherry pick from Bible verses. Proven wrong at the Prop 8 trial, they have now resorted to two strategies.

The first is that there is something special about the union between a man and a woman. We can all see this right? Special. I don’t remember the word special anywhere in our Declaration of Independence or Constitution. I have not seen our country evolve to take away rights. We have always read more deeply into our founding documents to expand rights. Should we have stayed in 1776 when white male property owners were the only ones who could vote and slavery was legal? We have come a long way in over 200 years. But we are not done.

Their second strategy is playing the victim card. NOM is now the face of tolerance. They want civil dialogue. Those who disagree should be civil. Yes, if someone wanted to take away my rights, I’m sure I would just sit by politely and calmly and let them. [Sarcasm].

Everyone’s love is special. Tolerance? That is what they call denying rights now? Tolerance?

Do you want to know what NOM supporters really believe? Visit their Facebook page Protect Marriage: One Man, One Woman. Here are some lovely screen shots of the discussions that occur there:

Judge for yourself, is this tolerance?

Protect Marriage: One Man One Woman

Protect Marriage: One Man One Woman

Protect Marriage: One Man One WomanNational Organization for the denial of Marriage to Loving Couples (a/k/a NOM)

National Organization for the denial of Marriage to Loving Couples (a/k/a NOM)
And if you still see “tolerance,” take a look at this video of Larry Adams, a NOM supporter and Rally attendee from Equality on Trial:

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude, the author of this post, is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science. More of LGBT Lessons for Straight People can be found here.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: Gay Hypocrisy

July 12, 2010 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

LGBT Lessons for Straight People - Why Equality MattersThe Today Show recently changed the rules of their wedding contest to allow same sex couples to enter. This change came about pretty quickly through civil discussions and reminders that same sex marriage is legal in several states. While it is not legal to get married in New York, New York will recognize a same sex marriage performed in a different state.

The Today Show had to know that this decision would create a firestorm from people who do not approve of same sex marriage. The comments on The Today Show Facebook page and The Today Show website went wild.

I like to follow reader comments. It’s hard to find something new. I still haven’t heard one logical argument against same sex marriage. In these discussions, there are plenty of Bible thumpers and those that insist homosexuality is a choice and a lifestyle. And there are always the pro-equality folks with something to say. Inevitably, someone will use words like bigots or haters.

Their newest response is:

Gays are all about tolerance and acceptance except when it comes to people who don’t agree with them.

Gay hypocrisy. What an interesting claim. You want gay people to accept your desire to keep them from having rights? I think you are missing the point. Returning tolerance and acceptance would be gay people accepting that you are straight, accepting that you deserve the same legal rights as LGBT people.

No one who supports marriage equality is ever going to buy your arguments. Did you follow the trial in California on Proposition 8? My bet is that you didn’t. The right wing groups did a remarkable job of preventing it from being televised. They also were a miserable failure, with all witnesses dropping out of the case except for one, who ended up saying that legalizing same-sex marriage would probably benefit society. The transcripts are online.

There are no arguments that hold water. The Bible was written by people hundreds of years ago. Your belief that it is the word of God does not make it so. Your cherry picking is obvious. You can’t disguise your bigotry behind religion. There is no proof that gay people are pedophiles or desire to recruit your children. It isn’t a lifestyle. It isn’t a choice.

There is no proof that legalizing same sex marriage will open the door to polygamy or marrying sheep. The implication, of course, is that gay sex is deviant. Otherwise, why don’t we have legal heterosexual polygamy and legal heterosexual marriages to animals? Why will this happen only if we legalize same sex marriage? Ah. It’s about sex.

I have to say, my respect for Mike Huckabee went up. For years he hid behind religion to argue why he is against gay rights. He finally came out and said that he finds gay sex icky. Kudos Mike, for having the courage to be honest. Now get over it. No one is asking you to engage in gay sex, which by the way is legal. They are asking for equal rights. 1138 rights given to married couples under Federal Law. Equality, as guaranteed under the 14th amendment.

Now try this. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender individuals are just like you and me. They want the same things. The list could not be more normal or more boring. The right to a legal commitment to their relationships: to provide for each other and protect their families; to go to work; to be treated fairly and with respect; to serve in our military; to become ministers. It’s so boring it sounds conservative.

Acceptance and tolerance. You aren’t giving it – yet you expect it in return? Be careful who you demean and degrade. It could be someone you love. Open your mind. Open your heart. You do know someone gay. I assure you that you do. Stretch beyond your assumptions. Take the challenge to get to know a gay person Today.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude, the author of this post, is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science. More of LGBT Lessons for Straight People can be found here.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: What Do You Tell A Seven Year Old About Homosexuality?

June 14, 2010 By: geekgirl Category: Headline, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Representative Ike Skelton from Missouri is against the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (“DADT”), which bans service in the military by openly gay people, because he doesn’t want to open a national dialogue about homosexuality. Specifically, he doesn’t want to have to force families to explain homosexuality to their children. Setting aside the absurdity that repealing DADT will come up at the dinner table with our children, let’s talk about the real issue here. Homo-ignorance.

Was there ever a moment in the LGBT movement more perfect than this for Geekgirl to speak out?

Mr. Skelton sounds like he is, what I call, homo-ignorant. Let’s be honest here and take off the politics. A lot of straight people don’t know what to say to their children about gays, lesbians, bisexuals or transgender individuals. Heck, many of them don’t know what to say about straight relationships.

We’ll talk about what to say. But first a little story. When I was in 5th grade I watched two boys fighting and one of them said the word fuck. I didn’t know what it meant. Being the straight A student that I was, I turned to my dictionary. No word. So I asked my mother. She slapped me across the face and sent me to my room without an answer. I remember sitting there thinking, “hmm, whatever this word means, it must be good because it has power.”  My parents never told me about sex. Imagine my horror when my best friend told me that sperm go into your stomach through your belly button and that is how you get pregnant. She never did say where the sperm came from.

The point of that little story is that parents don’t know what to do when they feel uncomfortable. Having grown up to be a biologist, I was determined not to make that mistake with my own children. When my son was born, I read a lot about how and when to explain sex and sexuality to a child. I wanted my son to grow up healthy – both physically and psychologically when it came to sex. I remember when our son was four years old. He knew that my friend Sandra liked girls. She didn’t have a partner at the time, but I had already explained this to him. I remember he said to me, “So, it’s ok if girls love other girls?”

I said, “Of course, love is important.”

His answer came in the form of a four year old experiencing relief, “That’s good. Because I love Sandra and I want her to be happy.” I’m proud to say that Sandra and Kim have been part of our family’s life to this day. They adore our son and he adores them.

Explaining gays and lesbians to a 7 year old can be this simple. Some people are born attracted to the same sex. Two girls can feel the same love for each other that a girl and a boy can. The same is true for two boys. Love is love. Children instinctively understand love and family. It makes them feel safe.

People have a tendency to make sexual orientation about sex acts. But do we ever explain straight couples this way to our children? “Well, Johnny, meet your Aunt Sue and Uncle Bob from California. You haven’t met them before. They are married. And when they have sex, Uncle Bob puts his penis inside Auntie Sue’s vagina. Oh Bob, do you also have oral sex?” Of course we don’t explain it that way. That’s absurd.

So, am I saying don’t explain how gay people have sex?  Children do need to know about the physical acts of sex. Part of that conversation must include preventing pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, how sex and sexuality affect us psychologically. Children need to know about “bad touches,” respecting and being respected.

But if you never talk about gay sex, it’s fine. That isn’t what they need to learn from you. They need to learn that all humans, all couples, experience love. They need to learn that commitment and respect are very important in all relationships. Our children are not born with prejudice or discomfort. It is learned.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude, the author of this post, is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science.  More of LGBT Lessons for Straight People can be found here.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: The Quota System for the Right to Marry

January 14, 2010 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Like many others, I have been following reports from the courtroom of Judge Walker. I’ve really appreciated the highly detailed reporting at Empty Wheel from Fire Dog Lake.

I could not help but be both bewildered and intrigued by the line of questioning regarding the percentage of straight relationships and gay relationships that are stable, the percentage of couples that want to be monogamous and how long these relationships last. Even more odd, the defense attorney wanted to compare relationships in domestic partnerships compared to marriage. So, the anti-gay marriage crowd wants proof that gay people want to be married, will stay married and will stay monogamous. That’s going to be tricky IF YOU DON’T LET THEM GET MARRIED.

Sorry. I had to get that point about the twisted logic out of my system.

Are we going to apply this same standard to heterosexual couples? Are we now going to legislate whether or not to grant marriage based on how long people stay married? Because if we are, a 50% divorce rate is a failing grade in any class I ever took.

Are we now going to legislate whether or not to grant marriage based on the number of people that want to get married? “Sorry gays, we need for 99% of you to want to get married, stay married and promise to be monogamous, or we won’t give you the right to marry.” Will we have this same quota system for straight couples?

Monogamy? The line of questioning contains a section about a study that shows that not all gay men want to be monogamous. First, the studies are very old. Second, the gay men mentioned having open relationships.  Hmm, so the gay men who answered this study, twenty years ago, were being honest with their partners? We straight people have a better method. It’s called cheating. In other words, adultery. You know, that act that right wing conservatives always seem to be caught in. Mark Sanford? Hiram Monserrate, State Senator of New York? Can someone please tell me the last time somebody went to jail for adultery? Are there even laws against it anymore? Oh yes. Biblical law, right there in the Big Ten Commandments. Yet, that one seems to be ignored by groups like National Organization for Marriage, a well known anti-gay marriage group.

Straight people decide if they want to get married. If you are above the age required in your state and meet the requirement for however biologically unrelated you need to be (i.e. not first cousins), you can get married. No one asks if you intend to be monogamous. No one asks how long you plan to stay married. No one asks why you want to get married. There’s no training, no test. It’s a whole lot easier than adopting a dog from a shelter. Just fill out the paperwork, wait a few days, get married. No church required.

None of  these standards have ever been applied to heterosexual marriage. A 50 percent divorce rate could be an excellent argument for getting rid of marriage all together. Yet, somehow, I think straight people would be up in arms if anyone suggested this.

If only one gay couple wants to marry, that is enough for me. If that couple wants an open relationship with others, that is their business and theirs alone. If one cheats, that is their business and theirs alone.

If their relationship doesn’t last, how is that the government’s business? Britney Spears was married for less than three days. If the government can process a marriage and a divorce in three days, why is it taking 40 years to give same sex couples the right to marry?

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude, the author of this post, is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: Discrimination Ends at Home

November 30, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Gay EducationSometimes I have questions that don’t have answers. Sometimes I have questions that I figure if I write about them, it will bring on a barrage of angry comments. Then, I discover I still have the question. Today’s question is about prejudice. Is it better when people are overt about their prejudice, or is it better when they hide their prejudice? For me, the answer has become more complex. I have always believed that I would rather have someone be honest, even if it’s ugly, because then I know where they stand. I found myself debating the value of silencing ugly speech, and I surprised myself.

Prejudice, bigotry, stereotyping; One of my favorites is “It’s reaching the point where a person can’t say anything about homosexuals without being called names.”

I grew up in the sixties. It was an every day occurrence to tell jokes regarding someone’s ethnicity, race or religion. People just couldn’t get that the jokes were hurtful. They would protest that they were only jokes and meant no harm. We still hear that today.  Worse were the comments intended to be blatantly derogatory. Negative stereotyping and generalizations about any group of people are typically  inaccurate and damaging. Slowly, as a people, we’ve learned that our words were hurting people, even when we thought we were telling innocent jokes. Many of those that purposely and knowingly practiced hate speech were on the end of enough social pressure to stay silent. It didn’t necessarily mean that their minds had changed.

And that’s the part that would bother me – knowing that bigotry still exists in people’s hearts, behind closed mouths, behind closed doors. I have always maintained that I would rather know someone is a bigot. After all, people are still finding plenty of ways to discriminate against people, they just hide their bigotry behind something else.

After reading articles about LGBT rights and readers comments for over a year now, I found myself pondering the question of the social pressure to refrain from making derogatory comments. (Please note carefully. I said social pressure, not legal pressure. I’m a big fan of freedom of speech. I don’t deserve freedom of speech if I want to take it away from someone else.)  I began to realize the benefit of making this kind of talk unacceptable. Our children don’t hear it. I want to believe that each generation of kids has become more open, that it is natural for them to have friends of different races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientation and political beliefs.

Do I really want my son to hear people making ugly comments about someone’s religion? Someone’s gender? Their race? Ethnicity? No. I don’t. So I have come to realize that pressuring people into silence has risks but also has value. When we don’t speak up against hateful words, we make it acceptable. We build a better society for all of our children when they aren’t exposed to prejudice and bigotry. When they don’t learn bigotry, they won’t move on to the next steps of verbally and physically harming people.

We learn prejudice and hate. We learn name calling and stereotyping.  Can we learn the meaning of human dignity acceptance and respect?  Does this mean I accept and support everything that everyone says? No. It means I look at each person for who they are as a person; their behavior, their values. Are they honest? Are they kind? Do their actions hurt others? Do they treat others with respect and dignity? Do they stand up for the weak? Do I judge people when I don’t like their actions? I would like to say I don’t, but I do. However, I tell them what I don’t like and why. I don’t threaten to kill them. Believe me, it twists them in knots when you refuse to stoop to their level.

We live in a society where divisiveness and sensationalism are so pervasive, we call it news. People on the extremes get the attention of the media. This creates impressions that cause us to make sweeping generalizations about groups of people. This is done to LGBT people every day. We shouldn’t lower ourselves to that standard.  Direct your voices to the individuals who have hurt you. Thank those that support you.

LGBT people have faced discrimination and brutality for too long. We can’t change the world through violence. We can’t change it by being silent. We can’t change it by asking nicely. We can change it through courage, an unwillingness to back down, and articulate and persuasive arguments.  But mostly, we can change the world by living our values.

“It’s reaching the point where a person can’t say anything homosexuals without being called names.” All I can say is – I certainly hope so!

To find that heart of compassion in brutal leaders and people in power situations is, I imagine, one of your greater challenges. Power by humiliation is an acquired disease, cultivated by thousands of years of pathological history. We need to find the antidote, which is compassion coupled with a firm, non-violent use of resistance and pressure

– Victor Zurbel, November 30, 2006, in a personal message.

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home—so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person: the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.

– Eleanor Roosevelt

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: I Hate Gays But I’d Die for their Civil Rights.

November 08, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Gay EducationI like to read comments from readers on news articles. I’ve read so many that it is rare that I find one with a new point. I admit it. The general public is a broken record when it comes to their point of view.

So I was surprised to find this comment. What intrigued me the most is that this person takes complete ownership of his feelings. He doesn’t invoke religion, tradition or biology. He does invoke incorrect psychology, and then he turns 180 in a surprising way.

Let’s walk through this. The comments are just my humble opinions. And yes, I’m truly interested in what this says to you. I have not changed a word.

Posted by vlongwell

November 07, 2009, 11:37AM

Good gravy. I abhor the homo, and lesbian lifestyle. I’m insanely, irrational threatened and intimidated by it. I resent when they join up in their little cliques and, frankly, benefit from this where I don’t. Getting eye-f**cked by some creepy dude just turns my stomach.

But you know what? It couldn’t possibly be any less of my business. I make no distinction between hardcore BDSM nuts, and these nuts. I strongly believe that inter-gender sexuality is destructive on a lot of levels. All of which I’m entitled to believe, as long as it doesn’t negatively impact another person.

I hate gay people.

But you know what, I’d die for any one of them and their basic civil, no human, right to marry whomever the hell they want. Who are any of you to even concern yourself with such an incredibly personal part of everybody’s lives as that of choosing a person to spend the rest of your life with?

Freedom means sacrifice people. I wish I was a better man, and that I did not view it as a sacrifice, but I do what I can. And in this, I say let freedom reign, get your nose out of gay-people’s business, and get back to work.

Sheesh. Always trying to tell me how awesome they are without realizing I don’t care. You got opposable thumbs, and a fore-brain? Then whom you decide to marry, boink, talk to, and hang out with is none of my darn business. And I don’t even feel I have to like it, so there.

You want freedom? Then give it.

[emphasis added]

He starts with how he feels about gays. He calls it a lifestyle. Wrong. Destructive. Wrong. He says he hates gay people. Honest.

Then the astonishing twist. He would die for their rights. He chastises people and tells them to get their nose out of gay rights. His last line could become a poster at a gay rights march.

So what is my take on his opinion? He is able to recognize his emotional reaction and own it. He’s able to separate his emotional reaction from what he knows about civil rights and freedom. I don’t think he really hates gay people. Why would he say in the next sentence that he would die for their rights?

In a way, hasn’t this been part of the argument on the LGBT side? Do you care how other people feel about what you do in the bedroom, or do you care that they respect you and your rights? Does this man need to get to the point of singing in a pride parade as a straight ally? Or is it enough that he believes in full equality and that it isn’t his business, it isn’t harming him.

You may have heard the quote “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” from The Friends of Voltaire, 1906.

Does the same logic apply to equal rights? I disagree with many people on many topics, yet I would never vote to take away their civil rights. That’s what this country is about.

Who knows, perhaps Vlongwell, in his unusual way, reached someone? Let’s hope so.

I’ll take this guy over Maggie Gallagher any day of the week.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: Coming Out Day is For Everyone

October 07, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Headline, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Gay EducationOctober 11th is Coming Out Day. I can’t help but wonder what it is that prompts a gay person to come out. Especially in a place like a workplace, where your very livelihood is at stake. As a straight person, I can only imagine and I would never have the audacity to say this is something I know or feel. In last week’s Closet Talk interview with Jen Dugan, of the 1st Annual Nationwide You Are Loved Chalk Messages Project, Jen told her own coming out story and how surprised she was at the support. Many individuals told her that had they known, they would have supported her. She used the words “It goes unsaid.”

I wrote those words down. I know that for me and many straight friends, support goes unsaid. So why does it go unsaid and how can we say it? Perhaps more importantly, I would love to hear from LGBT folks what clues you look for to know that it is safe to come out to someone? A recent study showed that only 27% of LGBT people are completely out at work, even in companies with anti-discrimination policies.

Back on topic. We straight people, who support equality, have been trained not to ask; not by don’t ask, don’t tell.  We feel like it is a matter of respecting someone’s privacy.  You worry that all we will see is your sexual orientation or gender identity. We worry that you will think that is all we see.

So what are some ways that you can show your own values? If you think of it this way, it’s easier to see what you can do. Because then you are just being yourself.

If you hear remarks that are negative toward LGBT people, speak up. It could be in private or during the conversation. It can be as simple as “I didn’t think that was nice/funny/appropriate.” If it’s a good person that you feel is just naive, do it privately and let them know you are sure they are not the kind of person who would want to hurt someone. I grew up in an environment where people told racist and ethnic based jokes. I didn’t realize how hurtful those comments could be until someone told me.

If you have gay family or friends, talk about them in the same ways that you would a straight friend or couple. You don’t have to focus on the gay part. Focus on who they are as people. Most of the gay friends I have feel like being gay is not the most important thing that you should know about them.

Never hear anything negative and you don’t have gay friends? Do you like a gay musician or actor? Did you like Will and Grace?  Glee?  Modern Family? Do you go to a gay-affirming church? All of these will reveal something about your values.

I have an HRC equality sign visible in my cubicle. LGBT people recognize it immediately, yet most straight people are not familiar with it. When people ask me, I tell them what it means. I find that if I let someone know my values, they either show their support or simply move on. No one has picked a fight with me yet.

Last, but not least, if you are LGBT, just be yourself. You don’t need to be an activist. In fact, just being yourself is the best thing that you can do for yourself and the LGBT movement. Because when others see you as a real person who just happens to be gay, that is when they are the most supportive. 83% of people who know a gay person as family or friend are supportive of equal rights. There is  a message in that statistic for straight people who don’t know anyone gay.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: You Do Know Someone Who is Gay.

September 09, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

0006 crop - CopyThis is the story of my friend Kurt. I was the new kid in high school and I discovered that in a small town, it is difficult to break into social cliques. I was marginalized by the popular kids because my dad worked in a factory and I was from Chicago. One had to be in the right social circles. Somewhat ironic in a town of 8,000 after living in Chicago. One country club does not a social scene make.

The first student to approach me was Vicki, as she muttered in the library that they had no good books. She introduced me to  her brother, who was a living doll, cute butt and very funny. Kurt and I spent the better part of an evening at an “accidental”  date discussing the worlds problems, as teenagers love to do. I discovered that we had nothing in common and we argued for literally hours. He was a Republican, a bigot and, worst of all for this young hippie chick, he littered.

And yet, he was funny, witty, smart and completely charming. We became the best of friends and for many years people  believed that we were dating. It was always difficult to explain to potential boy/girl friends that we were just friends. Very few  got it and most were jealous. Kurt’s life became more troubled. He disappeared from school, starting doing drugs, then harder  drugs. His parents sent him to a psychologist and it got worse. When he returned after disappearing for a week, our circle of  friends discovered that he was doing heroin and had thoughts of suicide. We watched him like a hawk. He had many, many friends.

Not once did the thought cross my mind that he was gay. He chased girls like there was no tomorrow and he called kids queers and faggots. We would argue about that. He had me completely fooled.

After high school, we lost touch and when I looked him up, he was living in San Francisco, in the time of Harvey Milk. It was the only safe place to be out in that time.  He watched the White Night riots from his window as he lived near Civic Center. San Francisco was a place where he could be happy and began to accept himself. Then HIV came and wiped out the gay community. His partner died, his entire circle of friends died. He feel into a very deep depression. This was during the 1980’s when Republicans were doing things like putting bumper stickers on their cars that said “All the right people are dying of AIDS.”

Each day this month brings me closer to the grief that I know that I will feel. Because his birthday is at the end of September and his death was in early October. Outside of my husband, I was closer to him than any other man. He was my friend. We knew each other and loved one another unconditionally. I cannot begin to fathom the fear, the internalized homophobia and shame that he had to overcome. He was so smart and could have achieved anything. Instead, he fought a society that constantly told him that he was sick and a pervert. he loved his friends, was an amazing host, was knowledgeable in so many areas and was always entertaining. He was the epitome of graciousness, with lovely thank you cards and birthday cards. He was always excited when we visited and loved to show us his city. There is a hole in my heart that no one else will ever fill. I keep my memories of him alive on a flash drive, with photos, letters and music, that I store inside a little box from Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, his favorite building. Not a gay bar. A church. An amazing church.

Every person who has lost a loved one, for whatever reason, knows what I mean. Everyone is human. Everyone is vulnerable and has feelings. Everyone can be hurt and struggles to protect themselves from hurt. My friend was as human, as worthy, as amazing as anyone else. Being gay was such a small part of his personality, of his potential. Yet others could see only that, not the real person underneath.

Someone you know IS gay. You may or may not know it. When I hear people say “I have gay friends and they know how I feel”, usually in reference to not supporting same sex marriage, I ask you “Are they really your friends? Have you asked them how your opinion makes them feel? Friend? Really? Or just acquaintances. While I applaud you for not preaching hatred, it is truly naive to believe that gay people don’t fall in love and don’t want stable, legal marriages. They are just like you and me. In the grand scheme of things, don’t each of us deserve the right to marry the person we love? How can love ever be wrong? How can a fight to legalize marriage take so long and so much money? How can love make us more uncomfortable than words of discrimination and marginalization. Do you really want to be the one to say “I won’t give you rights to Social Security, Medicare, tax benefits, the right to visit your partner in the hospital”.

Nothing will convince me that my LGBT friends are less worthy in any way. Not Shirley Phelps Roper, not Maggie Gallagher, not Pastor Steve Andersen, not Ann Coulter, not the Pope, not James Dobson, not the conservative in the cubicle half way down the hall from me, and most importantly, not the Bible. I have way too many LGBT friends. They are diverse, amusing, amazing, and a few are annoying. Because they are human. In the forty years that I have known gay people, and I’ve known a lot, not a one has tried to abduct my son or indoctrinate me with some kind of gay kool-aid. They talk about the same things as everyone else. Work, money, pets, car trouble, grocery shopping, their knee hurts, the kids don’t sleep at night, the cable company screwed up the bill. It’s only a myth that the gay lifestyle is glamorous. Most of them live just like you and me. Except we don’t have to be afraid that someone will kill us for being straight. Love is not a sin.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: Today You Are Gay

August 17, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Gay EducationMany years ago, I went to dinner and the local Lesbian Variety show with a lesbian and another woman friend, also straight. After a few drinks, I asked my lesbian friend – in the most respectful way that I could – what did it feel like to be attracted to another woman, what did it feel like to love that person? I just didn’t know if the feelings were the same or somehow different. Her answer wasn’t much help. It was along the lines of “well, it probably feels like you do about being attracted to men and the love feels like the best friend in the world.”

Not so different. But somehow, it didn’t answer my question. I was so young at the time, that I was hung up on anatomy and stereotypes. Women are from Venus & men are from Mars.

I knew intellectually that my friend’s relationship was filled with romantic and deep, abiding love. I just couldn’t grasp what it felt like. After all, I’m attracted to guys, not women. And I’m a girl. But now I think I have come close to knowing. And I hope to offer you some insight too. Just by using who you are.

I like to check out reader’s comments when I read articles, especially when I am looking for a blog topic. It gives me a glimpse into the everyday person out there, not just the author. Rarely do I find one that is unique. But today I came across a comment that was made in response to the Great Nationwide Kiss-In, specifically the Kiss-In held in Salt Lake City. The article was about two lesbians and one is a minister.

Here’s the comment, followed by my mullings. I’m not going to address the Christian based portion of the comment as I feel it is irrelevant. I have put in bold the question that intrigued me.

Dave of Detroit wrote:

Well, I have to admit that a kiss is a great symbol and that gays want the right to marry and consider their relationship as loving and meaningful as a marriage between a husband and wife. The only thing that I can possibly question is whether or not the meaning of the relationship is the same. A husband is bound to care for his wife’s emotional, physical and spiritual needs-he is the husbandman or keeper of the vines in that he is the head of the household that bears his name. The wife promises to honor and respect the husband and their love will bring forth children that bear the husbands [sic] name. This relationship is blessed of God and a Holy Sacrement [sic] of the Church. It is a lifelong committment [sic] to forsake all others and cling only to each other. The children of a Christian Marriage are given the promise of eternal life through the faith and consecration of the parents….Can a gay marriage make these statements?

I’m much older now and I’ve reflected on a great deal of what life puts in front of us. Let’s try to answer David’s question. Only this time, I’m going to ask you to participate in finding the answer. Yes, you can play along if you are LGBT. But since this lesson is for straight people, that’s how it will be written. And to make the writing simpler, I’ll write this from a woman’s point of view. Mine. I think you are capable of turning the pronouns, etc., around to get the point.

Could we have same fade-in dream like waviness please? Thank you

A romantic getaway. You are with your husband, lying in bed, and you are both feeling very close to each other. You feel all this wonderful love. You’ve been together for a while so you’ve worked through some ups and downs. For the next hour, you indulge in intimate conversation, pleasure and cuddling. The details are not important. The feelings, both psychological and physical are of love.

Where did the feelings of love start? Where did the feelings of wanting sex start? In your head. Not elsewhere. In your head. Stop and think about it. You are attracted to your husband. Part of that attraction is based on his own unique personality, part is based on being male and part is based on the male anatomy.

And it’s all in your head. Right? Every single piece of it. Now, when it gets to having sex, obviously – we make the desire that we feel in our head real.

Sit for just a moment and enjoy this. How does it feel? Two souls committed to one another, two souls who understand and support one another. Two souls who “get” each other. No other relationship is this open, this deep, this rewarding.

Now, something changes. But only from the neck down. You look down and you are male. Yep, a few things lost, a few things gained. But in your head, you are the same. Feeling like you are in a Star Trek episode? You are. They always have a moral.

A pause for an editorial note – am I saying gay men are women inside their heads? No. Don’t react that erroneous, over-simplistic conclusion. This is an exercise about you and no one else.

What do you feel now? Remember, all that love, closeness and desire are exactly the same. You still feel that undefinable mixture of attraction to your man – that combination of personality, looks, intelligence and specialness that you have always known. That same sexiness is there. He’s as gorgeous and sweet as ever. Our own anatomy doesn’t create our desires. Our minds do.

Still with me? Do you feel normal? Do you feel like there is nothing wrong with the love that you feel for your husband? Does having someone to love you back make you happy, more secure? It does for me.

Gay people feel the same things we do. And yet, straight people who cannot put themselves in a gay person’s shoes feel that there is something wrong, something perverse. It may not be what you feel. But it is what they feel and it is every bit as normal as what straight people feel.

Try to put yourself in a gay person’s shoes. It’s easiest to do if you start with your mind. Keep that the same, then change from the neck down. Go ahead. Once you are finished with the exercise, imagine telling your parents, siblings, friends and co-workers. What do you feel now? Fear? Fear of losing everything you have? Fear of rejection? The weight of dealing with everyone’s emotions? Fear of losing your job, your family, your church? Uncle Joe’s homophobic name calling? Fear that no one will see who you are, your uniqueness as an individual, because they will take only a second to label you with a stereotype and move on?

All because of who you are naturally. All because what you feel hurts no one. Do you think you deserve the reactions you are going to get? Do you think you deserve to hear “I don’t mind gays but I wish they would keep quiet.” What will you feel when someone tells you that God hates you, that you should kill yourself? What will you feel when you can’t bring the person you love home for Christmas, when the family pretends that your partner, whom you cannot even call a spouse, is more like a roommate?

No crime is committed when we love someone. But many sins are committed when straight people judge and degrade our fellow human beings who happen to be LGBT.

They are just like me and you. Treat others the way that you want to be treated.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Geekgirl (Jude) is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: Be Honest.

July 31, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Gay EducationSame sex marriage: Are there any original thoughts left on this topic? I can’t believe how many times I have read, and seen refuted, the arguments against same-sex marriage. I still cannot find one that is reasonable. The Iowa Supreme Court could not find one that was reasonable. Neither could the California Supreme Court. The judges were interpreting laws regarding equality. For that, their punishment is to be called activists judges.

I am too tired to go into all the arguments. Everyone has heard them. So I’m going to try this angle. What marriage really is.

Marriage is a legal contract that provides at least 1138 protections under the law. It protects the right to inheritance, sharing property, parental custody, tax deductions, signing legal documents for one another including health care and power of attorney. You are automatically the next of kin. In addition, many employer benefits are extended to spouses.

Let’s get something straight. Gay people are not seeking the right to be married in the eyes of any church or religion. Why? Because getting married in a church doesn’t get you a marriage license. It’s a ceremony, not a legal event. That’s right, you blew $10,000 when all you needed is to shell out the money for the license and have two witnesses. Plus gas money.

Marriage is not about procreation. What law requires that married people procreate? God’s law? That’s not law. That’s religious scripture and has no legal standing in the courts.

Marriage is about two people making a commitment to each other. A commitment so profound, that they are willing to share their financial wealth, protect and care for one another, commit to providing for each other. It’s a big deal and is not to be taken lightly.

Marriage is also about receiving support and blessings from one’s families and friends. This is the social aspect.

Gay people can and do have children. Of course they can procreate. They aren’t born sterile for goodness sake. So what if they use artificial insemination or surrogate mothers? Straight people do too. One thing is certain. When a gay couple has a child, that child is wanted and loved.

We all love and want to be loved. Why on earth would we oppose two people making a serious, monogamous commitment to each other? What is more conservative than wanting to be married and have children? Gay people are not going to stop being gay. Straight people are not going to stop being straight.  Gay people  are not going to stop falling in love. Neither are straight people. Gay are not going to stop having sex outside of marriage. And believe me, neither are straight people. Gay people are not going to stop being born.  In fact, most of them come from straight people. We can’t make who they are and what they feel illegal.

So why do some people oppose same sex marriage? Let’s just say it. They don’t like it. It could be any number of reasons.  They are uncomfortable with it. They think about what gay people do in bed and it upsets them, repulses them, seems unnatural to them. They believe stereotypes about gays. They believe lies put out by groups like NARTH, Focus on the Family, Jerry Falwell and Republicans. They don’t know anyone who is gay or if they do, they really have not figured out that that person is human and has the same feelings as everybody else.

So from now on, every time I hear the same tired arguments against same-sex marriage, my response is going to be this.

Just be honest. You don’t like the idea. Admit it. Say it. Own what you really feel instead of hiding behind religious texts or your lack of knowledge about biology. Because that is the real answer. You don’t like it. And that answer is not enough to deny two individuals the right to be married.

I’m here. I’m not queer. Love is love. Get used to it.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Geekgirl (Jude) is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science.