(Not About) Part III …

gay and proud

I’ve decided not to post anything today about Part III of the story. I do have some people to thank and a couple of comments to make, but I’ll do all of that next week when I post the notice that Chapter 24 is up.

I do want to call your attention to a terrific project about LGBT kids that I think you may find interesting. You can find out more about it here.

This project is the brainchild of a gay photographer named M. Sharkey. You can visit his official website by following the link. Sharkey is a terrific photographer and I’ll let him speak for himself about the project: “The idea for this project arose from my own desire as a gay teenager to be given a voice. I desperately wanted to be made valid in the eyes of my peers. Sadly, coming out (and of age) in the ’80s, as I did, proved to be quite difficult. I’ll never forget being punched by a high-school classmate, as I’m sure all the other kids who suffered some physical abuse because of their sexuality will not forget. It was precisely this willful, painful defiance that I want to capture in the portraits. But what you may also see is the delight that is the domain of a new generation: the sheer joy of being able to stand up and be seen without shame.”

What I find so powerful about this project is the incredible diversity of the kids Sharkey portrays. If you ever assumed all LGBT kids are pretty much the same, you need to take a look at his work. There is no single, one size fits all, image of a gay kid. Instead, gay kids are like all of the rest of the kids. They are male and female, tall and short, thin and thick, black and white, restrained and flamboyant, and just about anything else you can conjure up.

I encourage you to take a look at these kids and see some of their amazing answers to the questions they were asked. In particular, I would call your attention to Patrick, a 22 year old basketball player, and to the distinction he draws between gay and queer. It’s a distinction I think is relevant to this blog (or at least to the way I think about you as readers). To be honest, I suspect some of you may not think of yourself as either gay or queer. As for the rest of you who do accept you are different, I hope most of you are reasonably comfortable at some level with being gay but I doubt very many of you at all are comfortable with being queer.

Don’t ask me why I think that and, who knows, maybe I’m wrong (so feel free to push back with a comment below). At times it just seems like everyone visiting this web site is pretty indifferent, as if all the battles have been fought and there is nothing left that gay people need to stand up and fight for. Maybe it would be good if we’ve become that assimilated. I just don’t believe it and that’s why I struggle on with this blog in the face of the indifference.

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5 thoughts on “(Not About) Part III …

  1. I was not able to get Patricks comments regarding gay and queer. I’m a product of 1940 and I have always known that I was homosexual, long before I even knew the word for it. I was probably 10 or 11 when I found the word homosexual and knew that described me.

    As for gay and queer I do not feel there is any difference. Gay is a word that seemed to come common in the late 70’s or 80’s. Prior to that we were queers, fairies, powder puffs, gear boxes, pudpackers, limped wristed the list goes on, but it does not mean anything. I am a homosexual. It is the technical term and it describes me, the same as diabetic describes diabetics. To me I know what I am, my friends know and that is what matters. What you call me is your business. To put it bluntly I have a penis, to call it anything else does not change what it is. If you call it anything else to some they will find it offensive, others will find the word penis offensive. But hey, that is what it is.

    It is nice to know that in larger communities homosexuality is accepted to a degree but there is far too many kids that are still being kicked out of their homes because one or both of their parents will not accept them. The suicide rate of homosexual teens is higher than heterosexual. And that brings me to another topic. I belong to a group where a person from Chicago claims that he has been a teacher and currently works as a administrator in the Catholic school board. Recently when I brought up the suicide rate of homosexual youth, I was told that I did not know what I was talking about. That is sad, it shows how far that we still have to go.

    There probably is not one person here who has not lost one friend when they came out. Some return after the shock is over. In my case one of my closes friends shunned me for the better part of a year. But I never held it against him. We had been the closes of buds. Sleep overs, skinny dipping, sharing his families sauna. The thing is he thought and correctly so, that many would think that he was homosexual also. He wasn’t, but some did. Eventually the friendship was more important than what others thought but he himself lost buddies that we both had been close to. This was in the mid 50’s, I know attitudes have changed but I have a gut feeling this still happens.

    Back to the words gay and queer, I will take my late aunts feelings on this one. I to resent the fact that a very good adjective has been lost to common use. To many today the word is derogatory the same as queer is to others. Lets quit hiding behind words and call ourselves what we are. And I still have that penis:)

    1. Great post, James. For those of you who may have had the same problem, here is what Patrick had to say when asked exactly when he realized he was queer.

      I realized I was gay pretty young, maybe the ninth grade. I realized I was “queer” this year, actually. I view those two things as very different. I like “queer” a lot more. I feel like it’s a more confrontational identity that’s necessary when you are in such a marginalized position. It’s got a tough attitude about it that I like. “Gay” is really “nice” and “friendly” and, you know, you’re friends with all the really nice girls, and you look pretty and wear your V-neck sweaters, and you want to maintain your privilege. You don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, and you don’t want to be in your face. “Queer” is in your face and tough and calling people out and not being afraid to speak your mind, and that’s more me, more of what I am about. I like “queer” — I’m “queer.”

  2. I always hated labels in general. I love to like and like to live freely- never prejudiced toward outward appearance or what is between someone’s legs. I fall for personality, and if he or she is cute then that’s a bonus, if there is a penis that’s another bonus, but the lack thereof never stopped me before. Yet no one can ever really let life be that simple. A label is required because, because I don’t even understand really.

    I like what all three of you have said really, it sparks interest. We are all so different, just people being people.

    1. A world without labels would be good, Dexter. But we don’t live in that world. In the world we live in, people apply labels to you every day whether you like it or not. Just scroll down to that Hurt Feelings posting I put up on Tuesday: pussy, queer, bitch, girly-man, real-man. And this from a role model, a coach, and a high school guidance counselor no less.

      Well, look Kit, you’ll respond, they removed him, at least as a coach. Doesn’t that show we’re making progress?

      I don’t know. Does it? Just scroll through the postings I’ve put up on this blog. A 17 year old who feels his only option is suicide; a kid punched in the face for being bisexual; politicians endorsing bullying if it results from “a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction” (talk about an oxymoron); a man fired from his job for being gay; more politicians who want to be your President but who would deny you basic rights. And that’s just on this page, Dexter! You’ve seen most of the postings on previous pages. You know this blog hasn’t exactly been a chronicle of human enlightenment and progress 🙂

      So, yeah, sure, maybe none of this has happened to you. Or to me. Or to others. Yet. But the hatred and bigotry is still out there just lurking in the shadows waiting to spring forth. Kids bear the brunt of it in lots of ways because they’re easier targets.

      So, no, there’s nothing wrong with just being yourself. It’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with being gay. That’s fine too. But there are lots of people out there who need us to be queer at times too, who need some people to be in their face, to be tough, to speak out against the bigotry, the stupidity and the hate.

      Sighs. Sorry to be so shrill all the time. I’m not at all as nice as my characters. But they humor me nonetheless 🙂

      1. I’ll correct only this, I’ve read all of your postings. Take that as a compliment.

        Now if that were my coach and I read the survey, I would have literally stabbed the man several times with a knife. I know that’s wrong, people should be won over with actions and words, not violence. Yet school has been leading me to the darker times where law was extremely simple and people were killed or dismembered for the simplest of crimes. Then I dream of a kingdom where I make it a law that idiots shut the fuck up, and all intolerance is punished by severe beatings.

        I know my ideals are very Utopian but in all honesty, the less everyone bitches about life and stupid societal rules of engagement, the easier life becomes. Its not as unobtainable as society deems the truth, it’s just made impossible by the media and governing powers. Funny how an idea can be simple and plausible but due to our way of life it’s impossible.

        This world is ridiculous and the drama affiliated only proves that more true. But only because we abide by laws of society. Is our social standing and credit really that important? I dream too big because I see a world in which no one person is greater than another, fame does not exist, race isn’t a factor and gender is something forgotten. Our one goal in life to to be content, and honestly that’s all we need. Greed, status and power destroy us yet they gain nothing more than words. It’s fucking stupid when you think about it.

        The only thing that should matter, the only thing we need to know:

        People are people, that’s it.

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