Dan Savage vs. Brian Brown: The Dinner Table Debate, Part 1

The Dinner Table Debate between Dan Savage, author of the Savage Love column, and Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, was moderated by Mark Oppenheimer, a writer for the New York Times. If you haven’t seen the video yet I encourage you to check it out, though be aware it is just over an hour long.

As Kate mentioned I decided to do a review/commentary/critique of the debate for the purposes of posterity and because it was just darn interesting to watch. Most of us from Patrick Henry College have had some experience in debate, either formally or informally, or at least interacted with the many excitable debaters. I am going to approach the debate from a more formal debate perspective and evaluate its persuasiveness.

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Why is Your Sexual Orientation Such a Big Deal?

I was having a drink with a good friend of mine, when she asked me why gay, lesbian, and bisexual people* made “such a big deal” of their sexual orientation.

I asked her to clarify what she meant, and she said that she would never identify herself as straight.

I asked, “Are you exclusively attracted to men?”

She said, “Yes, but I would never introduce myself like, ‘Hi, I’m [Name] and I’m straight.’ I just think of myself as [Name].”

I fumbled in looking for the words to express my frustration with this question. She’s always been supportive of me, even when she doesn’t agree with everything I think, say or do, and I knew that this question was merely coming from a place of curiosity and simple ignorance.

And I’ve been thinking about this question ever since. I knew what she was referring to. Why do we make such a big deal of our sexual orientations? Why do we take part in pride parades? Why do we make certain deliberate choices about what to wear, how to talk, how to act? Why do we keep posting about it on our Facebook walls? Why do we keep coming out to people? Why do we keep talking about it?

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Queer People Don’t Really Exist…

At least according to spokespeople from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). This idea isn’t a new one, but it was recently restated by NOM and it came up in a conversation with a friend that I had last week.

Jennifer Roback Morse, who is the head of The Ruth Institute, NOM’s education arm, said in an interview by Michael Brown that as Catholics they don’t even “accept the category of gayness.” She also goes on to confuse gay men with being trans*, while dissing trans* people and saying that biological sex is a “permanent and basic characteristic” (as opposed to sexual orientation, which she calls “accidental”). She even agrees with Brown’s conflation of a woman having a mastectomy with being a post-op trans man. This is seriously one of the most whacked out, crazy, nonsensical things I have ever heard. Go listen to it and let your mind explode.

Then just a couple weeks ago at The Ruth Institute’s It Takes a Family to Raise a Village conference, Thomas Peters, NOM’s Cultural Director, said, “And so, as a Catholic, the church doesn’t believe in gay and lesbian people.”

They aren’t denying that people have same-sex attractions, but they are denying that makes them queer. To them queerness is about how people act, not about who people are on the inside. It’s purely physical and behavioral. I’m not advocating for queerness as the sole aspect of a person’s identity, any more than I would advocate for maleness or whiteness or tallness as the sole aspect of a person’s identity. However, those things are fundamental aspects of our character and bodies. They don’t exclusively define who we are, but they are a vital part of us.

I mentioned that I had a very similar conversation with a friend, who doesn’t know I’m gay, just this past week. She said that in essence she believes all people are inherently straight, and same-sex attractions, while they do exist, are just a distortion of natural feelings. To her being LGBTQ is a lifestyle and has nothing to do with innate characteristics. (This is like saying that black people are inherently white.)

This persistent denial of reality by anti-LGBTQ people is one of the most frustrating things. As I’ve mentioned before, I used to believe it as well, but I did so out of ignorance and changed over time when confronted with the reality of queer people. I know I harp on this a lot, but I really think that one of the most powerful tools we have in changing the way people think is for them to just get to know a LGBTQ person. My friend even admitted that her views and those of most conservatives are formed in a vacuum where they aren’t confronted and challenged by the reality of queer people. My hope is that when I finally come out to her that will start a process of changing her beliefs.

So here’s to a future where we exist in the minds of everyone.

P.S. I wonder if this is in some way similar to how God feels about people who don’t believe He exists.

Fabulous Friday: 08/24

Happy Friday, baby queermos! I’m proud of myself for posting this on time.

Erin Lynnelle

Book Recommendation: I just finished Ash, a YA version of the classic Cinderella story, retold with a lesbian twist by former AfterEllen.com editor Malinda Lo. It’s an enjoyable read, although I found the ending a bit rushed and contrived, and the character development a tad shallow. Still, if you like your fantasy with a side of lesbian romance, you’ll love Ash. If you’re a queer girl looking to meet like-minded fantasy-loving queer girls, I recommend reading this in your favorite vegan coffeeshop, or maybe in that used bookstore where the cute clerk with the alternative lifestyle haircut makes feeble attempts to straighten the topsy-turvy stacks of books before diving back into Promethea.

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I Wish I Had Been Exposed to ‘Gay Activism’ as a Child

Kids are heading back to school, which means parents are stocking up on new pencils, backpacks, notepads, and queer-retardant clothing for their young ones.

Actually, since that last item has not yet been completed in the Focus on the Family labs, Candi Cushman is here on CitizenLink Report to warn parents of the ongoing threat of “gay activism.”

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Here and Queer

You guys, I fail at writing Fabulous Friday posts on time. I’m skipping it this week, but I promise it’ll be back next week.

Ezra Miller

Photo by Lauren Charlea Nolting

I love Out Magazine’s interview with Ezra Miller, in which he identifies himself as queer.

“I’m queer. I have a lot of really wonderful friends who are of very different sexes and genders. I am very much in love with no one in particular.”

He goes on to use the term “zefriend” in addition to “boyfriend” and “girlfriend,” in describing who he might date or be attracted to. I love this kid!

Miller’s choice to use the word “queer” is an important one. When we first started QueerPHC, we had a conversation about what we would call the site. We batted around the idea of calling it “LGBT PHC” but decided that it was too acronym-heavy. “Queer” is also used regularly in academia, in the context of classes on “queer studies,” something we very much lacked at Patrick Henry College. We also didn’t want to inadvertently leave out any group of people that fell under the queer umbrella but were not covered under the LGBT acronym.

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Not Just Homosexual, But Homoromantic Too!

I was reading some of the blog posts over on Waking Up Now the other day, and came across this gem: “I’m Not Just Homosexual — I’m Homoromantic,” which is basically just the post with the title, one little line, and this video: (nothing explicit, but it does having kissing in it)

I really liked the sentiment expressed in the post. Especially among conservative anti-LGBTQ people there is a huge emphasis on “gay sex,” and often a complete ignoring of what it means to be gay. (The other thing is that there is typically a huge focus on gays and gay sex, but an ignoring of bisexuals and lesbians.) This of course plays into a lot of the stereotypes that conservatives have about LGBTQ people–many of which I once had as well. There is so much misinformation and ignorance in conservative and Christian circles about queer people and what being queer entails. It’s honestly quite overwhelming. I was not raised in a fundamentalist family, but it still took me several years to unlearn all the false ideas I had picked up over the years and replace my ignorance with knowledge and understanding.

Queers are often seen and portrayed as the frightful and evil “other,” rather than as people who are fully human. It’s a common human trait to vilify and fear what is considered “other,” especially when that other is a minority. I think this is one of the reasons that one of the best ways to bring about change in people is for them to get to know actual LGBTQ people. When someone has a human face to associate with their idea of queerness, it is no longer so easy to view us as other and vilify us.

(This is one of the ultimate reasons for the creation of this blog: to put a human face to LGBTQ people at Patrick Henry College. Of course, at the moment we are anonymous faces, but we do have faces and look forward to the day we no longer need to conceal them.)

I think I got a bit off topic there, but my point is that we are just the same as other people. We aren’t sex obsessed maniacs. We fall in love just as straight people do. We mourn the loss of beloved ones just as straight people do. We desire intimacy and tender moments just as straight people do. Many of us want families just like many straight people do. And yes, we do want sex, but then last I checked so do straight people. (You may find the idea of being with someone of the same-sex to be icky, but I find the idea of being with someone of the opposite-sex to be icky, so I can sympathize. Just do what I do, and don’t think about it too much if it bothers you.)

Romance and the love that it expresses is a beautiful thing. (And yes, I find straight romance to be sweet, even if I’m not interested in it.) So here’s to hoping we all get more love and romance in our lives, and of course, that we get “kisses for Christmas.”

I have to add one more video. This one is a truly beautiful portrayal of the romance and love of a developing relationship:

Husbands? The Webseries.

Thanks to the ever wonderful–and far more knowledgeable about all things gay culture than me–Kate, I recently discovered a rather entertaining webseries called Husbands. Which if it’s not obvious is about two gay husbands. The tagline for the show is “They’re doing it wrong. That’s their right.”

Today was the premier of season 2 of the series, so I thought it would be a good day to mention the show. It’s a delightful little comedy and here’s the description: “Waking up married after a drunken Vegas weekend used to be an adventure reserved for one man and one woman. But thanks to a new law, athlete Brady Kelly and actor Cheeks find themselves unexpectedly and legally wed. Unwilling to undermine the hard-fought battle with a public quicky divorce, these two decide to make a go of it. They were doing okay when they were dating. But how will it work out, now that they are HUSBANDS?”

You can find all 11 mini-episodes of the season 1 here.

Here’s the teaser trailer:


Enjoy the fun craziness!

Fabulous Friday: Gold Medal Edition

Happy Friday! I’m back and ready to start posting more regularly again. Thanks to Alan Scott for his willingness to step in and write so much in the past couple of weeks.

It’s been a good Friday so far. The U.S. Women’s National Team took the gold in yesterday’s soccer match with Japan. I guess they weren’t satisfied with taking the hearts of baby queermos everywhere.

You might have a heart of gold, but Megan Rapinoe would still eat it.

Out WNT midfielder Megan Rapinoe and girlfriend Sarah Walsh bite down on Rapinoe’s gold medal.

If you shipped same-sex Disney pairings as a child (guilty as charged), this Rodolfo Loaiza gallery pairing characters like Belle and Jasmine will make you happy. Check it out on Buzzfeed.

We’re big comics fans here at QueerPHC. I’m obviously partial to Batwoman (if you like comics and haven’t read Batwoman: Elegy, stop everything you are doing and read it now), but I also faithfully read each new issue of Batgirl every month. At ComicBookBin, J. Skyler makes the case for Batgirl being a prominent gay and feminist icon in comics. A few excerpts here:

I am a transgender woman, meaning that I am a genetic male (xy) whose gender identity or self-perceived sense of self is female. Since I have not chosen to undergo sex reassignment surgery (transsexual is a medical term indicating whether an individual is in the pre-operative or post-operative stage of SRS, whereas transgender is used to describe gender identity regardless of one’s surgical status) and since I am exclusively attracted to men, it’s natural to look at me and assume I am simply a gay male…. As a child, I was aware of the fact that I saw myself as a girl at age 4. I knew I was different from other children, even though I didn’t understand why at the time. I modeled myself after women I loved, my mother first and foremost. Being a fanatical lover of animation, fantasy and superheroes, fictional characters were some of my earliest role models and continue to be to this day. I remember being 5 or 6 years old flipping through the channels and coming across the opening credits of the 1960s Batman television series…. Just as I was about to turn the channel, Batgirl swung across the screen on the line of her grappling hook, kicking a villain in the chest….From that day forward, Batgirl was a model of femininity, intelligence and righteous fury that continues to drive me.

This Autostraddle article (and accompanying documentary short) on how gender identity and presentation affect one’s personal style is my new favorite thing in the history of things. The documentary is called “gender, bespoke.”

I’m a big believer in the sort of mantra of like, all gender is drag, so I definitely think of getting dressed as a drag performance.

– gender, bespoke

As someone who is genderqueer but who is nearly always read as female, this documentary really resonated with me. My clothing can be a source of great stress or great comfort to me. It’s a constant balancing act between representing who and what I feel like that day, and sometimes having to meet social expectations for what I should wear in a given situation. As a working professional, I try to make compromises between my personal identity and professional appearance. Gender, for me, is a fluid thing. Sometimes I feel masculine. Sometimes I feel feminine. Sometimes I feel androgynous or gender-neutral. Sometimes I feel like a girl who feels like a boy who feels like a girl who feels like a boy. There are days where I dress to my comfort zone (generally casual and androgynous or slightly masculine-of-center) and days where I go for a more tailored or femme look, with a blazer, high heels and a pencil skirt.

Tumblr of the Week:

Because I’m still obsessing over the Women’s National Team’s gold medal win, I’m going to feature my longtime crush, Abby Wambach. The way Wambach motivates and inspires her teammates is always touching to watch.

Plus, there is this .gif, which makes me fall off my chair laughing.

Song of the Week:

I know I’m about two weeks late on this one, but Todrick Hall’s “CinderFella” is fun and worth a watch.

Olympic Obsession!

Hello all!

I know I have been totally absent lately; my life has been busier than what most normal

Jacob Dalton

I swear, he’s not the only reason I watch gymnastics . . . really!

people have a tolerance for, but then again who ever said I was normal?

Of course, in addition to all the fun I’ve been having in life in general, there’s also been this thing going on over in London that I feel compelled to read about and watch whenever I have a spare moment . . . some events more than others. Honestly, I’m a much bigger fan of the winter Olympics. But there is something so fun and exciting and emotional about watching all these people gather together in one place and demonstrate such amazing feats of athleticism!

I’ve REALLY been into following the men’s and women’s gymnastics, the equestrian, and the swimming events. What I find really interesting is seeing countries that are not necessarily “associated” with a sport come out and win a medal, like Saudi Arabia nabbing a bronze in the jumping events.

How about you guys? Anyone else out there completely obsessed with Olympic glory? Any particular events that you simply can’t miss?