Tuesday, May 29, 2007

In Case You Thought Gays Couldn't Commit


I'd like to update this post in response to a comment from Bruce Garrett. I encourage you to read the comment from Bruce because he brings up some very good and well thought-out points--points that I had not considered when I originally wrote this post.

Now, in my clarfication, I'd like to say that my comment about my coworker was not to condemn his behavior or demean the work of him or his generation (although I see now that my words were more harsh than I had intended them to be). My comment was that my coworker is falling for the same fallacy of logic that people like Paul Cameron fall for. Paul Cameron determined the average life expectancy of gay men by looking in the obituaries of gay papers during the height of the AIDS epidemic--thoroughly skewing his results to the point of being meaningless. Other anti-gay grouops have claimed the rates of STDs among all gays are astonishingly high by looking at studies done only on gay men in STD clinics, giving similar useless results.

Obviously, these are studies and claims that have poor results because of sampling. These groups ignored gay people that didn't die during the AIDS epidemic and those that didn't list an obituary in a gay paper. They also ignored gays that didn't go to STD clinics. My coworker unintentionally ignored a group of gay people that did not frequent the party scene or the drug scene (he was heavily part of this scene by his own account).

In my coworkers case, I believe that his experience was similar in that he knew most of his friends from the club scene, most of whom were involved in drugs and unsafe sex. Had he met his friends outside of this type of environment, he might have had a different point of view. Gay or straight--the club scene surrounded by promiscuous sex, drug use and partying is not a safe one, and these types of environments will skew people's perceptions just like a sampling problem in a study.

So, that was my intent. I apologize for not being clear and being too harsh about the environment I was describing. And, I appreciate Bruce's comment (which I encourage you again to read). Bruce is right--there are people out there like him and my coworker that have lived their lives as openly gay men for decades so that the life I have can be as easy and fulfilling as it is. They've fought the battle, and I frequently think back in awe of how hard it must've been, so I in no way want to demean that experience or contribution.

Now, if I've still come off to strong, I apologize again, but I believe my point about sampling errors skewing people's beliefs or perceptions about gay life and gay life span still holds true.

Here's the original post:

I was talking to an employee at work the other day about how there aren't any old gay people (Well really I was listening to him talk about it). He's gay and about 65 years old and was lamenting that most of his friends had passed away over the years. Now granted, he did live through the height of the AIDS epidemic, but he didn't seem to draw the connection between his few remaining friends and the out of control party days he fully admits he used to be a part of. Maybe if he had met some gay people at his local church or local community organization, rather than out at drug-induced raves he wouldn't have had such an unfortunate turnout. Then again, this is the same person that spent over 15 minutes telling me how hard life was for Geminis. I guess some people just don't get it--on both sides of the issue.

Anyway, in case you are like him and think that a) gays die young or b) gays can't commit, check out this story of the nuptials of an elderly lesbian couple that have been together for 40 years. Now that's a long time in anyone's book. Who knew there were even gay bars back then?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to me. Today I turn 28. 28 feels really old, but I think I've been saying that every year for the last several, so I think that feeling just kind of happens.

The owner of my company asked me to tally how many people at work tell me happy birthday today. I'm at 47 with about half of a day left. He thinks I can get to 100. We'll see.

Anyway, happy birthday to me (oh and my twin brother too ;-)!

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Cold Shoulder

When I came out to my dad a few years ago, one of the things he said to me was that if I was openly gay my life would be harder. He said being gay would negatively affect my career, my social life, my family, and basically every corner of who I am. Luckily for me, so far he's turned out to be wrong. And, while coming out hasn't been 100% easy, it's definitely been more positive than negative.

But, in a way, my dad was right. There are definitely going to be people in this world that aren't going to be ok with me being gay. Certainly some (maybe most) of my extended family has at least some level of uneasiness with my being gay. They may not agree with it, but they at least put on a good face, and for the most part they did a good job of showing that their love for me was bigger than an issue like my sexuality.

So, my family is one thing, but people at work are a bit different. See, there's a couple at work, an older married couple. I'm not their direct supervisor, but I am a manager, and I personally hired both of them into their positions. I hired the husband first. He's a very nice, jovial guy and does a decent job. He's not the top producer in the office, but he's reliable and dedicated. So, when he referred his wife to work for us, I agreed to interview her.

The interview with the wife went very well too. I expressed my concern with her that having the two of them work together was a concern for me, and in an attempt to address my concern, she told me that she and her husband had a very Christian relationship where he ran the house and she served as his wife. It was an interesting comment that sounded odd, but I didn't think all too much of it, and she got the job.

As employees, both were very nice. They both regularly said hi to me when passing, and occasionally would stop by my office to say hello. All that changed, though, at our company's Christmas party. I went to the party with J and introduced him to the couple when I saw them there. But, as I introduced them, I noticed a distinct pause as they put two and two together. It wasn't that big of a deal at the time because most people don't realize I'm gay unless I told them, so I figured that was the issue.

Fast forward a few months. These days the wife of the couple never acknowledges me, except for maybe a half smile if I say hello to her first. If we pass in the high, she deliberately avoids contact. And, for those wondering, we did not have any sort of work-related problem to cause this. It's more than not just saying hello, though. The other day she had a question about a vacation request she put in that I had not approved yet, and instead of coming the 25 steps to my office, or sending me an email, or calling me on the phone, she emailed another manager that does not handle vacation time to ask her to figure out what the problem was. A very strange move by someone that used to swing by my office just to say hello. And, when I called her to follow up on the request, she seemed almost put off that she had to speak to me. When I asked her how she was doing, she just said, "fine." When I apologized for not getting to her sooner, she didn't speak, and when I told her the reason I hadn't approved the time off was because of a misunderstanding, she just said, "ok."

Needless to say, it was an odd experience, and it definitely solidified for me that the perception I had about her changed behavior towards me was true. I'm sure some people will think I'm reading too much into the situation, but I'm pretty sure I have it figured out. For some reason, the simple fact that I am gay made her change her entire perception of me as a person. The person she seemed to like in the beginning fell to the wayside, and she somehow created this persona of me as a gay person that she didn't want to have anything to do with.

It's sad really. Don't get me wrong--I'm not going to lose any sleep over this, but I just find it odd and disappointing. A Christian woman chooses to ignore what she knew of me and respond negatively simply because she found out I am gay. She seems to have chosen to take up arms in the culture war than look at the whole of the individual. It's just too bad that if we're supposed to "hate the sinner," this is how things end up.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jerry Falwell Has Died

In case you haven't heard, Jerry Falwell passed away this morning, most likely from a heart attack.

I've been very opposed to Falwell's politics and much of his view on religion with regards to social issues like gay rights, but this is very sad. Please pray for him, his family, and his loved ones.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Speaking of Hate Crimes

Hate crimes are top of mind for a lot of people right now as the legislation to add sexual orientation to federal hate crimes laws has passed the Congress and is expected to do the same in the Senate. Sadly, from what I hear, President Bush plans to veto the bill. Note to the President--if your reason for vetoing the bill is that hate crime laws aren't necessary at all, you should really consider repealing all hate crime laws. You know, the ones that protect nearly all other groups of peoples, including whites, males, and Christians (despite what the far-right might tell you) along with the groups you hear about--blacks, women, and Jews.

But hate crimes have been on my mind for a while now. Recently I made a post listing several anti-gay hate crimes that had occurred in just the last couple of weeks. Reading blogs and news sites, I'm pretty sure that could be a regular post for me--it happens that often (again despite what some of the far-right would like you to believe).

But, in case you still think hate crimes laws aren't necessary, try reading this graphic first-hand account of what it's like to be gay bashed and then what it's like to have to drive yourself to the hospital because the police and EMT's at the scene don't seem to be too sympathetic to your gay-bashed bloodied face. Pretty unbelievable, but it still happens. Hate crimes laws prevent this type of response, at least in the courts. Sadly, some people, even in positions of power, still think it's ok to beat someone senseless because they're gay, and hate crimes laws make sure their personal views don't get in the way of justice.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Gary Bauer Perpetuates Conspiracy Theory about Matthew Shepard


College Jay has an excellent dissection of Gary Bauer's email in a guest post over at Ex-Gay Watch and at his own blog. This is definitely worth the read and really gets to the heart of my utter frustration with the far right on so many levels.


In his "End of Day" message yesterday, Gary Bauer, of The Campaign for Working Families, addressed the upcoming vote on hate crimes legislation (linked through Randy Thomas' blog because the "End of Day" email is for members only). Gary and Randy both lovingly refer to the legislation as "thought crimes legislation" even though they have yet to show how the thought behind or motivation for the crime, independent of the violence, has been restricted.

Unfortunately, Gary Bauer uses his email to perpetuate a conspiracy theory of the Matthew Shepard murder that claims the crime was not committed because Shepard was gay, but rather as a result of a robbery gone bad.

Gary's Words (emphasis mine):

A companion bill in the Senate was recently introduced by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), who chose to name his bill after Matthew Shepherd, a college student killed in Laramie, Wyoming nearly ten years ago.

Kennedy’s bill would have done absolutely nothing to save Matthew Shepherd’s (sic--really, didn't even get the name right?) life, which was tragically taken in a drug-related robbery. But Kennedy and other liberal Democrats believe that because Shepherd (sic) was a homosexual, his life is more valuable than the lives of others.

Unfortunately for Bauer, the court records show numerous times that Matthew's killers beat and and murdered the college student because he was gay, despite later claims and changed stories of one the murderer's girlfriends (under oath the woman testified that the two were specifically looking for a gay man, and their initial defense was "gay panic"). I'd like to see Gary Bauer explain why a "drug-related" robbery would lead to a man being tied to a barbed-wire fence after being beaten to the point of torture. How sad that someone could stoop to such a level and ignore the facts of a case and follow a hollow conspiracy theory simply to make a political point.

I'll let other bloggers hopefully address the other fallacies in Bauer's argument, including how the claim that hate crimes laws restrict religious liberties is bogus at its core. For now, let's just say that as long as you aren't specifically telling someone to go out and harm a gay person, your religious liberties are perfectly fine.