Posts Tagged ‘sexuality’

Yesterday, arguments on four consolidated cases relating to same-sex marriage began in the Supreme Court. The cases mostly have to do with the legality and constitutionality of same-sex bans in certain states, and if states have to recognize same-sex marriages from out of state, that sort of thing. According to the New York Times article I just read, things went about as expected: the justices were divided along the traditional party lines, though Justice Kennedy seemed to show some sympathy towards the couples opposing the ban. Not a bad start, in my opinion. And considering how the Supreme Court ruled in 2013 and the recent tide of marriage victories in states across the country, LGBT advocates have good reason to be hopeful.

If you’ve been with me for a while, you already know that I am openly bisexual (if you’re new here and this is your first time hearing this, surprise!). I also have friends and family who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender, as well as many different straight people. I’ve written an article about how the Bible could actually allow homosexuality rather than demonize it and I wrote a follow up article to that defending my beliefs. And from my perspective on this, these cases are about more than just marriage, though that’s a big part of it. It’s about making people feel equal to everyone else. It’s about acknowledging that LGBT are people, and deserve to be treated as people.

I first started realizing my sexual orientation during the fall semester of 2013, though I’d had inklings of it over the years. You know what the first emotion I felt was upon realizing I was bisexual? Fear. Because even though I knew so many LGBT people, that they and many others are accepted by the general populace, that the country is moving towards being more accepting and that by the time I had kids LGBT people will be fully-accepted members of society.

I was afraid. Because in many places, including places where the LGBT community is strong and loved, there are people who are scared to come out, that there are places where being out or suspected of being LGBT can get you ostracized or even killed, that there are plenty of people who hate me and the LGBT community because of our very existence, maybe even kill us in some cases.

And that scared me. Nobody wants to be hated, to be cursed to death for our existence, We all want to be accepted. But I had to accept myself and eventually I did. And then I came out, and I was loved and supported. But what about other people, those who can’t come out or be themselves because they’re afraid of how the people in their lives will treat them? Where they’re considered less than human, monsters masquerading and mistreating the human body? Why should they be unable to accept who they are?

Now I know that granting a marriage license won’t solve homophobia in America or worldwide overnight. But it’s a good start. Marriage is something that every kid knows about before they grasp the concept of death or where babies come from. It’s one of those things that’s made to be something magical, powerful, a bond that is not easily questioned or taken for granted without consequences. Imagine the good that can do if we as a nation extend that to everyone no matter their genetic predisposition (yes, it’s genetic, they’re finding more and more evidence of that every damn day, and no amount of praying is going to change that, just as no amount of praying is going to turn me into Vin Diesel) towards whom they’re attracted.

And extending marriage to same-sex couples isn’t going to cheapen marriage, or negatively impact heterosexual marriage, or hurt kids. All the research that says it will has been proven false or doesn’t actually exist. Clergy aren’t going to be forced to perform marriages they don’t believe in, because there is always going to be a clergyperson who does want to perform such a ceremony or there’s a courthouse where the marriage can be performed. And traditional marriage won’t be thrown out the window, because traditional marriage isn’t really a thing to begin with. Marriages used to be business deals between the heads of two households, with the creation of a new family as part of the deal. It was only during the late 17th and early 18th centuries that daughters had any say in their spouses, and only much later on that love became a major consideration in marriage arrangements. So marriage as we know it might only be 100 years old or so.

And believe it or not, there have been partnerships in this country between people of the same sex that were considered like marriage or as marriage. Several Native American tribes allowed for same-sex marriages (people attracted that way were considered special in the tribe) and after America was established there were same-sex marriages by their neighbors, including James Buchanan. Yeah, one of our Presidents. Prior to his time in the White House, Buchanan had a ten year partnership with a man named William Rufus King (later Vice President to Franklin Pierce) and in later years wrote to a member of the Roosevelt family about wooing several gentlemen without much success.

With all this, I think it’s important that the Supreme Court make a decision that reflects what I know is true: that just because someone is born a certain way doesn’t mean they are wrong or evil or they need to be changed. They just need to be given the same protections and opportunities as everyone else. In other words, they need to be treated like everyone else. And making that the law of the land with one of the most beautiful bonds one can create between two people is a good way to begin with that.

Thank you for reading.

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This really interesting article was posted on the Huffington Post the other day. This article, which you can read in full here, discusses how many schools in India are implementing gender studies classes at public schools across India, thanks to cooperation between the Indian government and advocacy organizations. The goal of this, according to the organizers of these programs, is to get students thinking hard about how gender roles affect them and make some changes for the better. Maybe even bring down the  rates of domestic violence.

And so far the programs seem to be working, according to 15-year-old Shakir Parvez Shaikh:

“We talk about how boys and girls are equal as human beings, but how we treat girls differently,” he told Reuters. “For example, girls are not allowed to play cricket or watch as much television as boys because they have to do housework or because it is not safe outside for them. I didn’t realize before … I think it’s unfair.”

A lot of activists see these programs as one answer to a very sad problem. According to the National Crime Record Bureau,  India saw a nearly 27 percent rise in 2013 in reported gender violence, including rape, sexual harassment, and other related crimes. And for many the 2012 gang rape and murder of a woman on a bus in India is still pretty fresh in their minds. This has helped to spur the creation of these programs, which might help today’s youth see things in a different perspective and cut down on instances of institutionalized sexism, gender discrimination, and domestic violence.

When I read this article, two thoughts went through my mind. The first was that it was good that so many teens, boys and girls, were being exposed to these classes. With statistics like the ones cited above, these programs could bring down that rate significantly and help to foster a more egalitarian society. And then I thought, “Why can’t we have that here in the United States?”

And then I marveled at how we didn’t have any of those programs in the United States. Generally speaking, gender studies courses are normally only taught at the university level, which means that students might never be exposed to these ideas in the midst of taking science and literature courses. The concepts of feminism and gender equality do sometimes come up in high school or middle school settings, but they are usually in the backdrop of English literature or history classes, and they may not always be given the attention they deserve.

Current statistics suggest that 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be victims of sexual assault, though those numbers may be potentially higher due to under-reported. Women still earn only 70 cents for every dollar a man earns, and in fields such as business, politics or STEM, women may face people who believe that women aren’t suited to those fields, that they are only promoted due to their looks or sex rather than their ability, and trying to be assertive is considered “bitchy”. On the flip side, men frequently under-report domestic or sexual abuse and are expected to be tough, virile and sometimes violent to show their masculinity. If you aren’t those, if you’re not depositing your DNA in as many women as possible, then you’re seen as less as a  men, something I see as absurd.

All these reasons and more are why perhaps gender studies courses should be taught in middle and high schools in America. Getting today’s teenagers to engage in these issues may bring down rates of domestic violence, reduce sexism in the workplace, and perhaps get Americans to stop treating the word “feminism” like a swear word. It seems to be working in India anyway, so why not try it over here in the States?

What would it take to get such a program in schools?

Now, I’m no teacher or education major and my formal training in gender studies consists of one class in my first term here at Ohio State (though I’ve informally found ways to expand my training). But even if I’m not, that doesn’t mean I can’t at least get the ball rolling or start a conversation. So tell me, if you’re reading this, have a background in education, gender studies, or anything else that could possibly relate to this, what would it take to create these sort of programs and implement them in a school system? What sort of course materials would be needed? And what sort of obstacles would such a program face? I’d love to hear what you have to say, as well as your thoughts on what I’m suggesting and if it’s at all possible.*

I know that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to change society rapidly or get rid of a prejudice or stereotype. But at the very least that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. If anything, it means we should try harder to eliminate it, looking at every available option. And perhaps this can be one of them.

*However, if you use the comments section to be hateful or say really mean things, I will not approve the comments. We don’t need any of that here on this blog. I’ve already gotten plenty of that from Second Amendment and anti-circumcision advocates. Not really interested in seeing that again.

It’s been a week since I decided to come out of the closet and reveal my sexuality. I’m happy to say that the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve heard people tell me that they are proud of me for coming out, others have told me as long as I’m happy they don’t care. One friend said that while she found it incredible that we lived in a world where people had to make a big announcement in order to come out, but wished me luck nonetheless.

But I think my favorite reaction has been that of my close friends at school. They all saw my post on Facebook and gave it a Like (I can’t be sure, I got over 60 Likes on that one post), and when I saw them the next day in classes they just didn’t say a word. They didn’t need to. They just smiled, asked me how I was doing, and then we got to talking about the usual stuff. In a way, I think that’s what all LGBT people and those who support them wish for: a day when sexuality isn’t something that one has to hide or reveal. It’s just something that’s part of a person.

Now that I’ve come out though, I think I’ll be a bit more active in defending gay rights on my blog. A couple of gun-rights advocates had turned me off political issues for a while, but I think it’s time I resume ranting on what I feel matters, especially for gay rights. So get ready for a whole storm of political issues in between my updates on writing and school and my musings on writing and horror.

In fact, I think I’ll start on one now!

(See what being encouraging does to people?)

This year in Ohio, same-sex marriage is on the ballot. As someone who supports LGBT rights, I’m throwing my support in for anyone who wants to marry someone regardless of their sex. It’s only just right.

But besides that, there’s something else I want to share with you all. I’m bisexual. I’ve been bisexual for nearly 21 years (though I’ve only just recently realized it) and I’ll be bisexual for the rest of my life. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

For those of you who aren’t very well-versed in bisexuality (or in the LGBT community at all, for that matter), this only means that I am attracted to men as well as women. I don’t really have a preference or a set type. All I care about is that I’m happy with the person I’m with and if they’re happy with me. I’m not confused or unsure of which one I really like, as some–even members of the LGBT community–might think. I also am not confused, living a horrid lifestyle, or have the Devil whispering in my ear (I think he’d rather whisper in the ears of Assad or Putin than in mine). It’s a biological trait based on a combination of several genes, and there could be a good argument that it runs in my family.

Also, I’m not oversexed or always looking at guys and girls in a sexual way. If I’m oversexed it’s because I’m a healthy young man in college, and we’re all oversexed to some degree. Also, don’t flatter yourself. I don’t look at every person hoping and praying for a hook-up, including you. I’m not even sure what my type is, so don’t assume you’re it. And I’m also not looking to molest kids or brainwash kids. The monsters who molest kids are only looking for power over victims or because they can’t rise to the occasion (so to speak) with adults, so they target kids. And you can’t brainwash kids to be LGBT: like I said before, it’s genetic. If you’re kid is LGBT, it’s because they were that way at conception. And the more you try to prove me wrong or pray away the gay or whatever, the more you’ll find I’m right.

And the LGBT community is not a cabal or a bunch of bullies. If there’s a cabal, gay marriage would already be legal in every nation on earth and anti-gay rhetoric would result in prison sentences. Also, calling us bullies is saying that a small minority, maybe 10-20% of the population at the most, is more powerful than the heterosexual majority and is able to beat up straight people on the streets. I really don’t think that’s the reality. Do you?

I also don’t let my sexuality define me. I’m not that kid from Glee who everybody identifies as “the gay guy” or “the gay guy with the really high voice”. I identify more with the fact that I’m a horror writer or that I’m Jewish than I do with my sexuality. So if you start calling me “the bisexual horror writer”, I’ll counter that with “I’m a writer that just happens to be attracted to both men and women.” And most people wouldn’t realize my sexuality if they looked at me. They might realize I’m eccentric or not your ordinary college student. But my sexuality? I’d need to reveal it or be detected by an actual gaydar for people to realize it.

How did this post become a testimony for the fallacies with most anti-gay arguments and how people should treat me? I’m not sure, but I want to say that I’m happy to let people know finally about who I am and not have to keep it to myself like a disgusting burp. It’s just who I am, like my being a writer or Jewish or that I can make a conversation amusing and strange with just one sentence. Just one part of being me.

And if you don’t like what I am, if you believe differently about my sexuality, then that’s your choice. Just don’t leave hateful comments or try to tell me I can be cured or that I’m going to Hell. I don’t even believe in Hell! Judaism has no set definition of the afterlife. We’re more likely to be plagued by acid reflux than by an afterlife of fire and brimstone for our transgressions, and I’m already on antacids. But if you want to try to change me or make me feel bad for being who I am, then I don’t think we should associate too much, online or offline.

Finally, I would like to close this post with a big, hearty thank you for all of you who’ve supported me and continue to support me. The love I’ve received and the acceptance of who I am is overwhelming, and I’m happy to be surrounded by so many understanding and loving people. It’s great to be who I am and not punished for it. So I bid you adieu till next time, my Followers of Fear (which might be later today, who knows?). And let me say to all those who are suffering from bigotry, it gets better. Don’t despair, because there are so many people like you and we all love you regardless of who you’re attracted to. All you have to do is reach out, and we’ll be there for you.

In the meantime, please enjoy this awesome video: Same Love by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. It repeats a lot of what I’ve been saying here, and it is an anthem of love, truth, and hope for so many people out there. Please watch it with me. Thank you.