24 July 2008


I'm moving this blog over to Wordpress.

See me there at mangledgutspretending.wordpress.com/

03 July 2008

For God's Sakes, Let Them Pee!

Sometime I feel like I'm the only person pushing for post-identity politics...

Monica's recent post "Dag, Can I Pee in Peace" highlights the discrimination that transpeople face when trying to use public restrooms that match their gender presentation. Right-wingers try the same old scare tactics to whip the public into a frenzy...

But what I find more disturbing is that conservatives simply can't get past equating biology and gender. When couched in biology, "natural" gender presentation seems to stem from someone's genitals. But ask any sociologist and they'll tell you that gender presentation, gender roles, even the way in which we gender people are all social constructions, learned traits and qualities that have close to nothing to do with biology. Just because traditional gender roles are typically associated with having one set of genitalia or the other does not make that association correct. Tradition is not always right.

We need to move past the identity politics that hold gender roles to the rigid lines of biology. For God's sakes, let them pee where they please!

White Racist Frame Strikes Again

Racism Review once again points out just how deeply rooted the white racist frame is in rural communities. So much misinformation is floating around about Obama and people simply refuse to hear anything to the contrary. Using the white racist frame allows ignorant people to mark Obama as unfit for office simply because of his skin color. How asinine.

Further, the white racist frame equates Muslims with terrorism. Newsflash: just because Obama has a different name, one that happens to sound similar to that of a well-known terrorist, does not mean that Obama himself is a terrorist. There's simply no connection; a non sequitur. Racism Review clearly points out that the white racist frame equates Islamic beliefs with terrorism, and by extension, Obama with terrorism, making him unfit (once again) for office.

This man’s statements also underscore an additional aspect of the white racial frame, one that has largely been neglected in much mainstream media discussion. In his statement of “the Muslim thing,” he reinforces a seemingly common idea that if Obama was a Muslim, his religious orientation would and should be sufficient to disqualify him from public office.


25 June 2008

I guess I'll take off my pissy pants

I've been a little upset at "jake" and Pageone over that past few days for the not-so-nice words posted about the Fairness Campaign. While I believe he has every right to do his own investigative reporting, using negative criticism does nothing to solve the problem and does nothing more than add fuel to the drama fire.

That said, his update on the whole matter is a little more even-handed, though personal stabs are still present in the article. According to him (I was not present), Fairness did its part last night to be open and welcoming, and I know the organization will do all it can to support a complaint filed by Herndon with the OAG.

Hopefully this all gets resolved. Hopefully Herndon will file complaints with KREF and the OAG. Hopefully Fairness (Carla?) will throw some money into investigating the mail piece. Hopefully we’ll be able to out whomever is responsible. And hopefully everyone can take off their pissy pants and put on a clean pair so we can move forward.

I agree. Let's work to get this behind us and find some healing for our community.

Full article here.

Here we go again...

Although I'm one of the "gays" who's pretty steamed at Pageonekentucky.com over the bashing of the Fairness Campaign, I still think this article follows well on my recent posts.

An editorial in the Breathitt County Voice once again bashing Obama for supposedly being a "Muslim Trojan horse". I concur, Pageone (link to their post)... this just makes me want to vomit:

On Obama’s family: “Due to his early Muslim background and paternal forbearers some believe that he could be a potential Muslim Trojan Horse, masquerading as a Christian. During these terrorist-threatening times when our future security is at risk, we can ill afford to have as our commander-in-chief someone we are not one hundred percent sure of their patriotism.”

On Obama supporters: “It seems Obama’s support is coming from a monolithic black vote, the college professors, extreme environmentalists, naïve young folks and those inclined to political socialism. Obama is rated as one of the most extreme liberals in the United States Senate. He supports an appeasement policy in our war against the terrorists, cuts in the military budget, secularism, abortion on demand, gay marriage masquerade as unions, gun restrictions, tax increases and broad general redistribution of the nation’s wealth from the haves to have nots.”

Read the full article here.

23 June 2008

All the racism is pissing me off...

So much so that I'm seriously thinking of moving to a more progressive country. I can't believe that there are still Americans out there who think that skin color has anything to do with whether you're a human or not, whether you deserve rights or not... And then reading comments on op-ed pieces in the CJ (see blockquote below) today piss me off. Alert: there are people out there who actually believe that racism doesn't exist and is just a leftist political ploy! Oh, the audacity!

Read here.

"Yes, government should do far more to relieve the burdens on those who struggle economically and work hard for little pay. And, yes, racism is a damaging reality that explains many of the problems faced by African-Americans -- including family breakdown itself."

SO, according to EJ, it's the white man's fault that the out-of-wedlock birth rate approaches 90% in the black community. And it's government's responsiblity to bail people out (read: more welfare).

EJ, can't you see that it's government who, through the liberal great society programs, has incentivized this behavior, and more intrusion will only make it worse? Why do you and your liberal minions (including Obama) always think government is the solution?

I had to look again at the author of this piece to make sure it wasn't written by Bette Baye. "It's not really their fault...it's racism.....government needs to fix it".....same old leftist manta.

18 June 2008

Clerk to Stop Officiating?

The recent Supreme Court Decision to lift the ban on gay marriage in California has caused little uproar. Yet one county clerk has taken it upon herself to refuse the sale of all marriage licenses in her county. In this NPR.org report, the clerk cites financial reasons for her decision, yet I believe her decision aligns too conveniently with the court's overturning of the same-sex marriage ban. While her office did not sell licenses on the first evening of the ban's lift, her office was forced to sell licenses to about forty same-sex couples today.

While the ban has been lifted for now, there has been a call for its reinstatement. The same-sex marriage ban will once again appear on the California ballot in November.

16 June 2008

Obama and Black Fathers

Racism Review did a nice critique of Obama's Father's Day speech. While his speech was well written and has some good points, I agree that the framing should have been different. Black families are not the only families that experience the lack of fatherly direction. Moreover, should we not be examining the causes of absent fathers, rather than blaming a racial group for their "self-created" family problems? How about social factors? Economic factors? Job availability? Education?

Obama does not deal with the racism these Black men face in his speech. What is always striking about such one-sided critiques, no matter who makes them, is that this problem is not a “Black fathers” problem. In the first place, this is a white-American and general American problem. He could have raised it in a much more balanced way. Why did he not address his sermon to all young men, including the large numbers of the “irresponsible” young fathers who are white? And, perhaps more importantly, where is the strong critique of a racist society that cannot provide decent educations and decent-paying jobs for young black men, indeed for every person who wants to work. Good fathers need decent jobs.

Go here for the article.

15 June 2008

Faux News

This is just getting to be too much... I've had it with Fox News (not that I watch Fox News anyway).

Go here. (racismreview.com)

14 June 2008

Some Musings on Love: Part 1

It's been about a year now since I've realized that I'm polyamourous. *You can pick you jaw up off the floor now* And several people have asked me what I think about love in light of my polyamourous views.

I've been wanting to post my thoughts on this subject, but have neglected to do so because 1) I really haven't had the time to mess with my thoughts, and 2) I wanted to be sure to have something semi-sensical to present. I know you may be thinking, "he's been through a bad break up, he's bitter, he's hurt and he's full of hot air!" Perhaps you're right. I'll leave that possibility open for the time being. I'll let you decide once you make it to the end of this.

So let me lay some foundations for my argument.
1. I believe that love does not exist. At least not in the way most people view love. Our (society's) notions of love are constructed and are heavily linked to sexism, racism, homophobia, etc. From early on, we are taught as children that we are to fall in love with one person, of the opposite sex (I won't go into the assumptions here), and that we are to marry and remain faithful to our "true love". While the narrative may be very romantic, it does nothing more than perpetuate heteronormativity and is anything (fasten your pew belts) but the "norm". Nowhere will you find a day care that actively educates children that there are many different kinds of families, save for perhaps in the Castro district. But then again, the gays aren't supposed to be having kids, right?

2. The construction of love has a history. But I won't bore you with the biblical implications of love, nor with those nasty Greeks and Eros... We'll just do a small bit of time travel. Alert: If you are like more than half of this country, you don't have a normal family (but that might be news to you). That's right folks, the nuclear family of the 1950s is still the standard. Husband, wife, two kids - oh, and did I forget to mention that the hierarchy of power follows that order? Everyone, please welcome Sexism to the stage! Granted many heterosexual relationships are becoming more egalitarian, but husband-over-wife domination is still very prevalent. Men are by and large considered the head of the household, and this image as man-as-leader is perpetuated by the media and by religious groups - but let's not open up that can of worms.

3. Love is a commodity. We are sold love in every aspect of our lives. Love comes pre-packaged in the form of flowers, silicone implants, and Barbie... AND with Love Spell from Victoria's Secret, love is quite literally in the air. Do you realize that the majority of the items you buy are to please the people around you or to make you're partner happy? And let's just bypass the whole issue of anniversaries, Valentine's day, Christmas, etc... Moreover, is it not painfully obvious how much money is spent in marketing "love" to consumers through the modeling industry - billboards, television commercials, radio spots, spam mailings, newsletters, newspaper ads, pop-ups (need I go on)?

I'll stop before you think I'm a delusional freak. ;-)

So, what is love, you ask? I'll save that one for part two.

13 June 2008

How much is too much?

Admittedly, I agree with some of the values that PETA holds. I believe that animals, who are dependent on us for their basic needs, should be treated ethically. I'm working on becoming a vegan (or at least vegetarian) who is aware of and educated on the commodification and trafficking of living, feeling beings in a greater global market. And while I respect an organization's right to protest, I have to wonder, how much is too much? Using scantily clad women? Blood? Bondage? (photo credit: reason.com)

I'll let you decide.

12 June 2008

The end of gender?

After all the gender studies I've been through, it's nice to finally see some research in support of what many genderist and feminists have been arguing for! Again, I think that a good look at masculinity and it's construction would do us all some good. Michael Kimmel, anyone?

Link here from feministing.com.

Better relationships without gender roles

I know this won't come as a shock to all you feminists, but relationships that don't hew to traditional gender roles are more equal.

Notably, same-sex relationships, whether between men or women, were far more egalitarian than heterosexual ones. In heterosexual couples, women did far more of the housework; men were more likely to have the financial responsibility; and men were more likely to initiate sex, while women were more likely to refuse it or to start a conversation about problems in the relationship. With same-sex couples, of course, none of these dichotomies were possible, and the partners tended to share the burdens far more equally.

While the gay and lesbian couples had about the same rate of conflict as the heterosexual ones, they appeared to have more relationship satisfaction, suggesting that the inequality of opposite-sex relationships can take a toll.

We've written a lot about research that shows unequal opposite-sex relationships "can take a toll" -- mostly on women, who are still stuck with the bulk of the housework. So it's understandable that, in a relationship where neither partner is socially "marked" as the one responsible for housework, things would be more equitable on that front.

Beyond the housework example, I thought the article was going to veer into "all women resolve conflict, and all men avoid it, therefore gay couples don't fight" territory. But I was pleasantly surprised. It's more about how couples interact within their relationship -- not necessarily about the gender of the individuals involved. I was relieved to see one of the researchers quoted as saying, "“Like everybody else, I thought this was male behavior and female behavior, but it’s not."

Of course, the overall frame for the article -- that same-sex couples are more equitable and therefore happier -- is a generalization. There are egalitarian hetero relationships. There are queer relationships where gender roles come into play. The take-away lesson should simply be that with more equality -- and with some breathing room from society's expectations for our gender -- we're all a lot happier in relationships.

09 June 2008

Thanks, UofL

Recently the University of Louisville has come under attack for supporting its LGBT faculty, staff and students. Right-wing conservative groups have been hailing UofL's creation of a center for LGBT Services, partnership benefits, and new LGBT curriculum (from the newly hired Dr. Kaila Story) as signs that UofL has lost touch with family values and seeks to support special interest groups.

I was relieved to read Dr. Shirley Willihnganz's op-ed piece that underscores UofL's commitment to diversity: not only in LGBT issues, but issues of race, nationality, research, development, etc. A university that supports and encourages diversity is the perfect model for coalitional learning. We not only learn from stats and facts, but from the life experiences of each other. It's only when we are able to examine the intersections of the issues that face all of us, regardless of where we fall in the identity comma set, that we can truly hope for change.

Please write to Dr. Willihnganz thanking her for the University's continued commitment to diversity.

From CJ <link here>

David Edmunds of the Family Foundation recently wrote a piece that attacked the University of Louisville for decisions made to help our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, faculty and staff. Edmunds seemed bent on alerting the community to what he considers horrific practices and developments at U of L. So let's look at these "alerts." (For the record, we got this idea from PageOneKentucky.com.)

Alert: U of L has gay people. Yes we do. And straight people. Black people. White people. People of all races and ethnicities. Our commitment to diversity means that all kinds of people engage in their quest for knowledge and a better life by coming here. This is a good thing. Just as we learn from facts and data, we learn from each other. That learning is more effective and more meaningful if it happens in an environment of trust and tolerance. As President James Ramsey says, the University of Louisville, as well as the Louisville community, values diversity.

Alert: U of L has a center for LGBT. Yes we do. We also have centers for political leadership, for predictive medicine, for humanities and society, for spinal cord injury research, for international students and for the visual arts. All of these, and many others, contribute to the mosaic of opportunity for us to fulfill our mission of increasing understanding of ourselves and our world.

Alert: U of L faculty study drag queens. We also study cancer cells, pollution in our rivers and air, child abuse, the history of the underground railroad, movement disorders, the old and new testament, the mysteries of the heart, how to make manufacturing in Kentucky more competitive, how to build a logistics cluster in our community, and many other topics. This is the essence of a university and the core value of academic freedom. Universities must be unafraid to look at anything and everything that could make our world a better place. We can't shirk from asking those questions simply because some folks might not like them.

Alert: We are also committed to telling the truth. So, when writing articles, we get the salary right (The head of our LGBT center also works for HR, so not all of his salary is for LGBT services), we get the health insurance policy right (our policy covers certain adults living with an employee, and could include adult children, brothers, sisters, friends) and we get the tag line right:

Commitment to Diversity, Freedom and Truth: It's Happening Here.



University of Louisville

Louisville 40292

14 May 2008

A follow-up

Just a follow-up to my previous post; more evidence that racism is still rampant in our nation. Even that type of racism which is hidden, suppressed, and thought to be long gone still affects how we think/visualize people. It's still amazes me just how interpellated we all are into systematic modes of thinking.

Go here.

08 May 2008

Confessions of a Neo-White Supremacist

Given the atmosphere of the current political debates and the division within the Democratic Party, I'm not surprised that lay people are making such an issue over the gender and race questions present within both candidates' campaigns. What does surprise me, however, is the amount of ignorance I've seen over the past month. With the race heating up and coming down to the final wire, it's unfortunate to hear so many people take reductionistic views of the campaign. (Ireland.com photo credit.)

Take, for example, a recent conversation I've had over a few cigarettes with a construction worker staying at my hotel. I'll call the guy Tom (I don't know his real name). Tom and I were discussing the recent primaries in Indiana and North Carolina when he said, "It's sad that that black man is going to get the nomination."
"Why?" I asked.
Tom responded, "Well, he's just going to change a lot of things, ya know, for the black people, and forget about us whites. He's going to change a lot of laws - we'll be taking steps backwards."

Hidden (or perhaps not so well hidden) within his words is the racist notion that somehow black people deserve to be controlled, manipulated, commodified and used to the betterment of the only racial group deserving of power: whites.

I am still amazed at the amount of blatant racism that still exists in the country today. I was in shock at this man's statements - so much so that I didn't provide much of a retort. I did however, express that the man had one thing right in his assessment of the presidential race: thing will change with Obama as the nominee. But unlike my conversation partner, I believe things will change for the better. Given his speeches on race over the past few months, Obama understands the need this country has for healing and for a coalitional politics for the people. Change needs to happen. Ignorance needs to be wiped out. Education of the masses must happen if we are ever going to move beyond the white supremacist thinking.

Tom also did not realize how temporal his statements were. By stating that "changing laws" to favor a currently marginalized group will somehow "revert" the country to an older time seems odd to me. Kath Weston in Gender in Real Time shows how lesbian feminist of the early 90s used the "Old dyke at the bar" narrative to historicize their own current movement while positing the "old dyke" as an historical artifact. This use of the temporal allows the legitimation of the then contemporary movement as "current" and "progressive" while oppositionally setting the "old dyke" as a fictive character that stands in the way of progress. Thus Tom's statements that reify (and temporalize) slavery and civil rights narratives as a collective artifact legitimize his white supremacist claims. Again we see the reduction of myriad narratives (and many that are still contemporary) to a single time frame. What goes unnoticed by Tom or many other lay persons who hold similar views are the ways in which the past and negotiated uses of time or the temporal still affect and shape how we think of things today.

Thing must change. And change they will.

07 May 2008

So long Sue! You'll be missed!

Long-time sexologist and my favourite grandmother figure, Sue from Oxygen's Talk Sex with Sue is retiring! See this link.

26 April 2008

An entry from a few years ago

Sitting there waiting for it all to come crashing in, he rhymically breathes trying to keep his composure, trying to keep it all in. He closes his eyes, squeezing them shut. Nervously his hands run through his hair. Sweat begins to pour. His throat tightens; breathing becomes labored. His hands grab fist-fulls of hair, trying to regain composure, fighting the loss of control. All color drains from his face; breathing becomes faster, shallower. Throuh his eyelids he can see the scene begin to spin. Objects blur, lights become streaks of color, silence takes over. He can no longer take it; he gives up, lets go. He falls. A nauseating crack. A burst of light, white and blue, then blackness.

20 April 2008

How Stella Got Her Groove Back

It seems that things are finally looking up.

Or perhaps just not so bleak.

I feel awful, but my current state of mind stems partly from my ability to take part in the consumerism of this country: I've spent well over $100 today, and I've yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  And what's more, most of this money has been spent on products for me.  Not things like food or gas; we're talking hair products, soaps, a haircut, etc...  But at least I feel better now about me and my self-image than I have in some months.  I was ready for a change.

I need to take better care of myself.  It's when I let myself go that I feel the worst.

I know it's cliche, but I've once again found that, when a door closes, another opens.  This semester has been the end of much drama and it feels that I'm finally seeing the end of all the pressure, pain and confusion I've felt.  The sky is clearing; the rain is subsiding and the summer sun is rising.  If anything, I see my goals are finally being realized, that I can learn to forgive myself and the individuals who have caused me much grief.  But more importantly, it's time to set new goals, to once again revision my future, whatever that may entail.  I'm happy to be moving on, to finally have some sort of reason to pick myself up.  I'm happy that I'm once again finding a reason to believe in humanity, to hope in the individuals around me.

I'm back on track.  And it makes me smile.  See...   :-)

12 April 2008

I'm beginning to think something's wrong.  I don't feel unhappy, depressed, down or anything like that.  Nor do I feel tired or lonely.

"I'm counting on a new beginning 
a reason for living 
a deeper meaning"

Perhaps I'm losing focus here.  Although I've registered for school next semester, I have no desire to go.  I really have no desire to complete this semester... It all seems so pointless right now, and I can't tell why.  School has always been my lighthouse, my refuge, the thing that keeps me going, and now my one guiding light is dimming.

Thoughts keep running through my mind, distracting me from the goal.  All that's passed over the past few months has taken a toll on me.  I question my ability to have a meaningful relationship, or even if I should; I question what it means to love another human.  It seems that everything I touch falls apart.

Something needs to change.  I need to move on, do something different, meet new people, try to find myself again.  But I'm trapped... I'm so close to having my BA, to finishing school.  Everyone else wants me to go on, and I guess I should.

I guess it comes down to this:  I've fucked up two other lives, and passingly touched myriad others... and I've left parts of myself along the way.  I guess in a way, they win.  

Perhaps if I had been successful a few months ago, no one would have to deal with this... and neither would I.

I feel like I'm getting sick again: my stomach has been hurting constantly for a few days and its not responding to my meds.  I guess I'll get to go through another round of liquid diets soon... and a loss of 20lbs...  It's a real confidence booster to look in the mirror and find only vestiges of yourself, a fragment, a half-self.  Emaciated.

"Got a stack of books,
So I could learn how to live;
Many are left half-read, 
Covered by the cobwebs on my shelf.
And I got a list of laws,
Growing longer everyday;
If I keep pluggin' away, 
Maybe one day I'll perfect myself.
Oh, but all of my labor, 
Seems to be in vain;
And all of my laws, 
Just cause me more pain;
So I fall before You, 
In all of my shame;
Ready and willing to be changed-

Own me
Take all that I am,
And heal me
With the blood of the Lamb.
Mold me 
With Your gracious hand;
Break me till I'm only Yours-
Own me

Oh, you call me Daughter,
And you take my blame;
And you run to meet me,
When I cry out Your name,
So I fall before You,
In all of my shame.
Lord, I am willing to be changed"

25 March 2008

Forward motion: Progress

Theory has ruined my life.

As per usual, the end of the semester is bringing much frustration and angst as paper due-dates stack up. I feel like I've done nothing but read and write for the past month, and another month of the same promises to follow. All I know to do it weather the storm: push through as best I can and pray for the summer sun to follow quickly.

But it's times like this that make me question my life and its direction (or perhaps lack thereof). Right now, the thought of doing five more years of school beyond my undergraduate makes me physically ill. Writing more papers, preparing presentations, and attending conferences all seem to be more work than I really want to pursue. I am aware of the benefits of completing a PhD, but part of me is looking for a change in the pace of my life. Something novel needs to happen... and who knows what that may mean.

So, In an effort to continue the never-ending pursuit of myself, I've decided the following:
1. I will become a non-practicing homosexual. This means that any relationship is out of the question. I'm officially on hiatus from any and all relationships with men (or women, for that matter).
2. I am removing myself from any and all social events as of today. I will not attend parties, nor will I participate in any on campus functions. I will be available by e-mail and phone; that's it.

This may seem like isolationism, but trust me, it needs to be done. I need to focus on school right now and getting myself through the program I've selected. Only then will I be ready to add the other things in life back in.

25 February 2008

Fuck in counterpoint

Finding yourself still wanting

Tu as raison, mon ami. Que puis-je dire encore? And what's more, I knew this from the start and should have heeded your warnings and advice. Que puis-je faire encore? Rien, maintenant. Exactement ça.

I'm finding it increasingly harder to think straight.

Forgive the pun.

Tu as peur d'être heureux? Me too. Imagine that.
I find vexing memories crowding my mind, and I can't seem to shake to feeling of loneliness. I can't take the invasion anymore! Comment survivre? The world keeps on turning... Tu sais les mots qui suivent.

How does it feel to find joy, pleasure, comfort, meaning in hurting?
It sucks, I know. I blew it; I fucked up, but must all be left in pieces? Qui l'a choisi?
Qui sait?

I invite Truth back in the room, and ask her to translate my message to you: I wish you well, though this will never be a goodbye.

You're never alone, jamais seul.

Je veux bien que tu pourrais encore parler à moi, rire avec moi. Quelle audace, non?

03 February 2008

e e cummings

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
-the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

28 January 2008

"Everything is Illuminated" - Jonathan Safran Foer

"I'm not going to lie and tell you that the future is full of promises. He awoke each morning with the desire to do right, to be a good and meaningful person, to be, as simple as it sounded and as impossible as it actually was, happy. And during the course of each day his heart would descend from his chest into his stomach. By early afternoon he was overcome by feelings that nothing was right, or nothing was fulfilled, alone in the magnitude of his grief, alone in the aimless guilt, alone even in his loneliness. I am not sad, he would repeat to himself over and over. I am not sad. As if he might one day convince himself. Or fool himself. Or convince others - the only thing worse than being sad is others to know that you are sad. I am not sad. I am not sad. Because his life had unlimited potential for happiness, insofar as it was an empty white room."

14 January 2008

Queering the self? : Reclamation and Use of Queer

Recent discussion in my LGBT Studies course has prompted much thinking on the use of the term "queer" and my personal identification. I have for the recent past identified as a gay man, largely because that is the political community to which I most strongly feel I belong. I am now finding, however, that my political beliefs are somewhat anti-assimilationist in nature and are overtly "queer" in nature, or at least fall under the paradigm of "queer politics".

But does the fact that many of my political values align with queerness mean that I should change my self identification as a gay man? What would this change mean to me, and how would it affect society's view of me as an extension of a community? I have been resistant to the term queer for several reasons: 1) identity politics are often difficult for me to conceive as something that is holistically personal and holistically political, and 2)The term queer still has vestiges of its pejorative meaning both for me personally and for society as a whole (or at least outside the academic community), and 3) I'm really struggling with associating myself with a community that can only be defined in the negative (or lack), as in a community that uses a lack of definition as its definition.

Allow me to comment on this last reservation. I believe, or perhaps I've just be been taught, that this lack of definition stems from the post-modernist de-centering of meanings and reality. Butler argues that Feminist movements are having trouble organizing themselves simply because there cannot exist and overarching and essentialist term that is "woman". Therefore, I believe that the term "queer" is an effort for people of marginalized sexual groups to provide a political face to a community while expressing the post-modernist decentralization of identity.

But I often wonder how useful this multiplicity of meaning is when it comes to identity politics and notions of selfhood. To allow for identity categories to be both constantly salient and constantly contestable sounds a bit like chaos to me. If a college student is in dire need of a self realization, but can't come to a sense of self simply because meanings of identity categories are constantly fluid, then how detrimental will her search for self be to her psyche? Will she ever be able to find "herself". And even if she is successful, then what's to say that her identity will not change tomorrow?

Now obviously identities change over time. What it means to be a women when one is ten years of age and what it means to be a married women with children at age 45 is holistically different. Identities are malleable and our societal scripts are edited as we negotiate our way through life. But to build a communal politics around identities that are never stable (and who would ever want them to be?) seems a bit dangerous to me. Moreover, I see using the blanket term of "queer" to mean gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, gender-queer, etc. as a faulty method of gaining political visibility. By using a blanket term to give a voice to the voiceless, you are removing the visibility of difference, which is what the whole movement was trying to give voice to in the first place.

Perhaps I'm still just a little too reserved on this issue. Today's class discussion has made me more open to the term, at least in an academic sense if not personally as well. My ideas of what it means to be "queer" are changing, and I'm hoping its for the better. Perhaps I need to reconceptualize my ideas of personal identity politics and what it means to me to be a gay man, or a member of the gay community. What privileges could I be unknowingly holding on to by my self-identification? Would identifying as queer demonstrate my want of a gender-inclusive movement that is not present within the gay community (since lesbians are so often left out)?

Look for more on this issue as the semester unfolds. :-)

11 January 2008

No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy

"They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. I don't know what them eyes was the windows to and I guess I'd as soon not know. But there is another view of the world out there and other eyes to see it and that's where this is goin'. It has done brought me to a place in my life I would not of thought I'd come to. Somewhere out there is a true and living prophet of destruction and I don't want to confront him. I know he's real. I have seen his work. I walked in front of those eyes once. I won't do it again. I won't push my chips forward and stand up and go out to meet him. It ain't just bein' older. I wish that is was. I can't say that it's even what you are willin' to do. Because I always knew you had to be willin' to die to even do this job. That was always true. Not to sound glorious about it or nothin' but you do. If you ain't they'll know it. They'll see it in a heartbeat. I think it is more like what you are willin' to become. And I think a man would have to put his soul at hazard. And I won't do that. I think now that maybe I never would."

09 January 2008

Take my hand and walk this road with me

It's now the third day of class of this spring semester and I'm already feeling a bit behind. The weather outside is a perfect reflection of my mood: sunny and warm one moment; cold, rainy and bitter the next. I wish that both the weather and my emotions would pick one extreme and run with it.

Admittedly it has been nice to get back into the flow of things, and I'm enjoying most of my classes. I'm finally in a place in my program where I get to take classes that specifically interest me. What sucks, however, is how limited I am now by my classes and their reading schedule. I've read well over two hundred pages of Feminist and LGBT theory in the past three days and I can already feel myself becoming overwhelmed. Panic is beginning to set in and I don't know how to curtail my feelings of indifference. I read over my last post and love how strong I sound in it, how sure I was of things getting better and my plan to re-evaluate and improve myself.

How silly I was.

Reading my last post gives me strength and hope that I can actually accomplish what I've set out to do. But the strength and assurance that comes from the wording of that entry does not accurately reflect the reality of my mental, emotional and spiritual state. Though I may speak with authority and sound brash and bold, I'm as scared as ever on the inside. Though I'm making progress in certain areas, I'm just as lost as before.

What I'm realizing is that, by giving up my "half-self" state of being, I'm actually risking much of what I've built my life on. Lately I've been reading Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex for my Feminist Theory course. In this book Beauvoir describes how women have become the subordinated "Other" through social institution of oppression that value men and their needs over women. Men do not need a definition, since they are the reigning champions of society. Women are defined as anything not male: therefore they become inessential beings who's subjectness can only be defined in relation to the being who has no definition.

What's more, Beauvoir wittingly shows how women are in fact "happy" with their state of subordination. If women were to suddenly cast off their men and assume a life of their own, then they are risking the loss of comfort and protection of the current oppressive system. Beauvoir says, "This is an inauspicious road, for he who takes it -- passive, lost, ruined -- becomes henceforth the creature of another's will... But it is an easy road; on it one avoids the strain involved in undertaking an authentic existence" (introduction, p. XX).

By casting off my "half-self" and rupturing my relationship with the person I most relied on for the gratification of all my needs, I have risked, and indeed, lost most of what I knew as life. I no longer have a partner. I go to bed and wake up alone. In fact, I spend most of my free time alone now. My joint banking account is gone, and I have lost an entire circle of friends. Moreover, my working relationships have been strained, and the color guard I've worked to build with my ex-partner is on the verge of falling apart.

No wonder women have been -- and to a certain extent still are -- afraid to rupture with the current power systems of privilege and oppression. As Beauvoir says in her introduction, we must get out of this rut! Rather than avoid the terror of taking on an authentic existence, I have taken the hard and arduous road of breaking with the one thing that gave me comfort, hoping that I can move on as an individual who is completely happy with me and who I am. As was stated in my last post, I will find myself in my studies (it's already happening) and I will learn to love again, both myself and others. I'm learning how to love in the face of hatred and extreme pain. I'm learning how to correct my mistake and let people love me the best way they know how. I'm ready to move forward, and I hope the people around me are willing and able to take my hand and walk this road with me.

02 January 2008

Wish me luck

I'm feeling this urge to write something, to let all that's happened over that past few weeks flow into this keyboard, hoping it will all somehow, once transfered to print, make sense. This holiday has been unlike any other I've experienced, and I can honestly say I've experienced the entire gambit of emotions ranging from complete despair to happiness to complete indifference.

And what scares me the most is that I've seemed to have lost who and what I am. I've worked so hard over the past couple of years to carve out a new me, someone that is independent of the Andrew that was present in high school. I intended to leave that person in Murray along with all the memories of people that I no longer need or want in my life. I came to the University thinking that I could have a rebirth of sorts, rising up in my own ashes a newer and better person. And in many ways, I think I've done just that: I'm now independent, I'm open and unashamed of who I am, and I'm no longer afraid of what being me may mean for myself or for others.

But in the process of all this, of recreating myself, of becoming the new me I made a grave mistake. Rather than defining myself as someone who is an independent subject, I allowed myself to become someone who was defined in part by my relationship to another person. Andrew was no longer the complete subject, but rather a half-subject that cannot be split from its other. This co-subject state allowed for me to put my life on the fast track to something that I never intended it to be, and the realization of this co-subject state and my subsequent break with this situation has caused plenty of mayhem for all subjects involved.

Let me be the first to admit that I've made plenty of mistakes: I am ashamed, and I see now that I have much growing to do. At times it seemed to me that my misguided choices had so irrevocably damaged the people around me that it was not worth carrying on. I wanted it all to stop, and if that had meant my "subjectness" needed to end, then so be it.

But of course that cannot be the answer. If god, whoever s/he may be, had wanted it that way, there have been ample instances that should have gone differently. I'm still here for a reason. And now, in this time of picking up the pieces, of once again trying to make myself whole again, I see now that god is trying to humble me and is deliberately putting me in this crucible. And I will not be defiant any longer. Come what may, I will keep my subject clean and close to my heart. I will no longer hurt anyone, whatever that my entail, even to the point of complete solitude (though let's hope it won't come to that).

Moreover, I hope that, if anything good comes of this, that its a renewing of my faith in whatever higher powers exist. I'm hoping to attend mass more often, and who knows, perhaps I'll start redeveloping my thoughts on god.

If anything, I want this next semester to be a time of self purification. I will find myself in my studies: I'm shooting for my first 4.0 semester in over a year. I will find myself trying to learn how to love again: this encompasses both myself and others. Should someone chose to take on my broken spirit and help me through this process, then so be it. If not, then so be it. Regardless, I will not become a half-subject again; I will not so attach myself that I cannot function on my own.

Wish me luck.