White guy feels bad: news at 11
You have a question. It comes up a lot.
Can a nontrans, white gay man ever truly leave the comforts of his own identity without having to make frequent and loud apologies for the crimes of his ilk?
Tim Wise, who happens to be a white man so you can totally listen to him, bro, has an answer:
You shouldn’t feel guilty. You should feel angry.
But in order to live an ethical life, to live ethically and responsibly, I have to take some responsibility for the unearned advantage, which means working to change the society that bestows that advantage. It’s not guilt, but it is responsibility.
I hope this answers your question.
In which I agree with Ted Haggard, or: Hell freezes over
Remember Ted Haggard, one in a proud tradition of Christian anti-gay evangelists who turn out to be secretly having lots of homogay action on the side? Well, apparently he’s gone from the Hypocrisy Champion League to Team Hey I Live In The Real World. According to a new GQ profile, which I know of through Tracy Clark-Flory’s post on Salon, Haggard is now saying that if he were one of those young Skins-watching whippersnappers, he’d identify as bisexual. Here’s how Clark-Flory sums it up:
It might seem that he’s conforming to the conservative talking point that one’s sexuality is strictly a choice. At the same time, though, it could be seen as a progressive admission that bisexual people don’t have to — or even necessarily want to — pursue their every sexual desire. He added: “Just like you’re a heterosexual but you don’t have sex with every woman that you’re attracted to, so I can be who I am and exclusively have sex with my wife and be perfectly satisfied.”
Holy cats! There is a lot of weapons-grade bullshit out there about bisexuality, but it still surprising to hear some truth come out of someone who’s only out because he was such a flaming douchebag about sexuality in the first place.
Clark-Flory goes on to interview Professor Jonathan Alexander about bisexuality in general, and she asks the most tired old question imaginable: ”So, basically, just because one identifies as bisexual doesn’t mean that you have to actively explore every sexual avenue that’s attractive to you.” Just to be clear, I admire Clark-Flory’s work in general and am not blaming her for asking this—it’s the topic of the conversation. But how are straight people (and gay people) not getting this already?
Seriously, it is not that hard. Just as the gayness of your fellow soldier doesn’t mean that he’s going to play grabass during shower time, the bi-ness of your bi friend doesn’t mean she must have cock and vag in a 1:1 ratio. Bisexual people exist in the same vanilla-kinkfiend, monogamy-giant orgy spectrum that gay and straight people do, because we’re, you know, people. Personally, I’m a super-boring bisexual woman who is in a long-term nonmarried relationship with a guy I find really sexy. I’ve been monogamous for the last eight years. Have I thought about sexy ladies in that time? Hell yeah. But so have you, right? I thought so. In fact, I bet you are thinking about sexy ladies RIGHT NOW. But the fact that you feel sexual desire for people who are not your current partner actually doesn’t mean anything about your sexual practice; it’s really, really hard for me to understand that anyone, straight or not, actually believes otherwise.
Figure 1: Sexy lady
So: score one for Ted Haggard, I guess? Though he’s not someone I particularly want on my team, I hope his baby steps out of the closet add to a more honest discourse about bisexuality.
Discipline <—> Sodomy
“It’s a distraction while I’m on the battlefield and I have to concentrate on the guy 600 yards away, I’m worrying about this guy who’s got eyes on me… discipline does not mean sodomy.”
The cranky old men who predict that the military will just up and get its legs blown off because DADT has been repealed share a common, and perhaps logical, fear. They are afraid that gay men will treat them as they themselves treat women. Staring in the shower, groping in the barracks, ass-ogling on the battlefield: these straight dudes are terrified of being the object of another man’s gaze, because they can’t imagine sexual desire that is not accompanied by a desire to exploit its target. In their tiny patriarchally driven minds, if you want to bone someone, by god, you’re going to attempt to bone that person no matter what she thinks of you. Similarly, if Joe Q. Army thinks you’re hot (and why wouldn’t he think that of you, paragon of masculinity), your right to bodily autonomy and basic respect is no more, because discipline doesn’t work on the almighty wang.
Feminism: it’s for everybody!