Sunday, April 9, 2017

Let Me Piss Some People Off..

     So… I’m sitting here as it’s about to turn midnight and I can’t sleep. There has been something gnawing at me for the better part of a week and I think I’m go to throw caution to the wind and just speak my mind. I know I’m going to piss some people off and well… tough. Suck it up buttercup.

     NOTE: I have said it before and I’m going to say it again. If you want stop bullying towards LGBT kids, then gay history needs to be taught. Only when ignorance is shown to be just that, only then will it be stopped.

     There was something said by a M/M author this week that at first, I shrugged and said, “Well, that’s nothing new.” and proceeded to go on my merry way. Mostly because I was really busy this week and didn’t give it much thought. But… it lingered there in the back of mind. And as I was lying in bed, trying to get to sleep, it just kept making me more and more angry to the point where I gave myself a headache and got up to write this.
     Now then, let me be perfectly clear here: I am in no means attacking this author for making this identity statement. However, I would like to point out a few things to all the women, and there have been quite a few, who have said to me that they identify as a gay man, especially in this genre.
     They clearly have no clue as to how insulting this can be to gay men, especially those who are as long in the tooth as I am. I am going to try and temper this and be as logical and as forthcoming as I possibly can and not insult too many people, which I seem to be able to do without even trying. It seems I have that talent, or so I’ve been told.
     First off, there have been gay people for as long as well… there have been people. I am only going to give the bit of history that I can attest to, since I lived it.
     Back in the sixties there was a group, founded out of San Francisco, if you can imagine that, who decided that homosexuals deserved to be treated equally and basically get homosexuality off the list of mental illnesses. They dressed in business attire and walked around carrying signs stating that they were not sick and that this was not a life style choice and blah, blah, blah. They got a little recognition but mostly they were pretty much ignored.
     They implored gay people (this was before lesbians broke off and decided they didn’t want to be lumped in with the men) to not try and shove their sexuality down people’s throats and to act like the normal moral population around them. Yeah… well, I think we all know that didn’t work.
     Here come the ‘70’s and the revolution was upon the establishment. Kent State happened, Viet Nam was in full swing and young people were really tired of being told they were wrong and basically immoral. Bras were burned, Roe v Wade was judged and damn if our country wasn’t changing and fast.
 Then Stonewall happened. Drag queens were on the national news, riots happening and… there you have it. It got right up in everyone’s face, drag queens, butches on bikes and the whole sordid queer community got right up in America’s face. The fight was on and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty.
     I can attest that being chased down 10th Street in Atlanta by rednecks with baseball bats wasn’t exactly on my agenda that particular Saturday night, but it was on theirs. By the way, those aluminum bats hurt just as much as those wooden ones, in case you wanted to know. Eggs, rotten veggies, stones, bricks… yep, those hurt too.
     I can’t even tell you how many gay murders happened that were never reported by any news agency. Who cared? It was just another dirty faggot. Many gay bashings were never reported because there was just no use in it, so why bother. We learned to deal with it. We fought back when we could, but most of the time it was by cowards who ganged up on one or two gays and beat the every-loving shit out of them. For them, it was just sport.
     I don’t know of a gay man alive who hasn’t at one time or another held their breath, afraid that they may have said the wrong thing, or were terrified of… being themselves. Oh there may be a few who maybe in the twenties and never had to be afraid, but chances are, those are a very few.
     Back in the ‘70’s, ‘80’s and even 90’s there was a good chance of losing your job, getting kicked out of your apartment or disowned by your family if it was found out you were gay. This was a real fear and justifiably so. It happened. I saw it. I was there.
     Then we had AIDS. The President of the United States refused to say the word. During his whole term, he only said the word once and that was because he was shamed into it. But he only said it that one time.
     Our government turned their backs on us. Health insurers turned their backs on us and refused to cover AIDS. Families, friends turned away and those who didn’t were just afraid of us. Hairdressers started losing customers. Waiters were no longer needed. Not that they were sick, they just happened to be gay. People were terrified of catching ‘the gay disease’.
     It was the gay and lesbian community that pulled together and supported each other. That’s not to say there weren’t some good straight people who stood there with us, but they were a very small minority. I knew some fantastic nurses who tended to our sick and dying who went far beyond the call of duty. They became family and fought the fight right alongside us. But as I said, they were very few and very brave souls. They also lost a lot during those years, just by association.
     It was our own community who had fundraisers to pay for rent, food and medications. It was the gay community that educated and looked out for one another. Not the government. Not our neighbors and in many cases, not our families. It was us, our own that took on that job and quite often that was all.
     I cannot begin to tell you how many friends and loved ones that I lost during those years. As many of you who know me, I don’t even send out Christmas cards because of it. (This past year I did send out a few for the first time since 1990.) That is how hard it was for me personally.
     So when a woman, who is my age or younger who says to me “I identify as a gay man,” I cringe. What I want to say is… have you ever been beaten with a bat? Have you had to sit there and hold the hand of the man you’ve loved for the past seventeen years die, drowning, his lungs full of pneumonia, for which there is no cure for and no one but you gives a whole goddamn? Have you ever attended a funeral once a week for a full year? Have you ever had to call all your friends and see if you couldn’t find a place for a young kid to live because his parents just kicked him out or left on the side of he rode because his parents found out there were gay? Have you ever been afraid twenty-four hours of the day, looking over your shoulder constantly?
     This was a very real life for me and for many gay men. So when you want to say so casually, that you identify or feel like a gay man, I would really appreciate it if you would consider all the things I’ve said and think long and hard first. Does the reality of history still make you feel the same?
     I think the thing that really struck a nerve with me and what got to me the most was this one author did a semi-apology after the identify thing and then bragged about their book sales going up; book sales that depict gay men’s lives.. sort of. Of course this was only after they got called on the carpet for it. I felt as if someone had just spit in my face. Yeah, that hurt and pissed me off.
     Now, I think that I can safely say that we, the LGBT community greatly appreciate all the support that our friends and allies give us. We truly do. Our communities are stronger and much better for it. We feel safer now than ever before… for now. (I’m still holding my breath on that one for the time being.) We thank you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart, I really, really do. But please, before you make such a broad and casual statement, think about what you’re saying and who your audience is. There is a lot more to gay men than just a rosy romance with a lot of fucking in it.
     Normally, this is where I tell everyone to go and do something nice for someone else. Today, I’d think I’d like for everyone to just take a step back and do a little self-reflection. Gain a little peace, as I plan on doing.
     Have a grrreat week y’all,
     Max


32 comments:

  1. Bravo. I am a 47-year-old white cis het woman, I tried to say something on that MM author's post about how she could sympathise and empathise but could never appropriate and my comment was removed for being "hateful".
    Well fuck her, because this, your comments here and those of the other gay and gay FTM trans men who have commented are the authentic voices who should be heard, not hers and not her sycophantic fan club who felt it amusing to add their joking comments or, as one did, to claim the "haters" should be rounded up and sent to the outback.

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    1. Thank you so much for your support, Mirrigold.

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  2. I don't have an awesome reply such as one you deserve for speaking your mind and touching my heart.
    I hope that you are treated with respect. I wish that the world was a better place and everyone realised that we are all human no matter which way we were born.


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  3. I love this post. I was so angered by that fb post and how her little clique rallied around her and made people who disagreed into the villains. Thank you for writing this post. It was brilliant.

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  4. You said this so well. From the lesbian side of the fence, so many things were different. Back in the 70s and 80s, "lipstick" was used as an insult for those who got accused of trying to "pass," and the community was imploding between those who wanted to be out and loud and those who wanted to be quiet because for lesbians, "passing" was easier.

    I admit that I chose to "pass" because being out (which I was went I went to my first college for a few months) was terrifying. I had men tell me how they would cure me with their cocks in specific detail. One pushed me up against a wall, and that was back when I was 17 and a virgin. I wasn't out to my parents, so I had no support at home. The lesbian community was supportive about condemning cisgendered men and their privilege, but they also pushed me harder than a 17 year old could go. I often found myself hiding in the gay men's spaces. And there I saw all the pain, the death, the fear, the bashing.

    I can't even remember those days without crying, and I have never been socially comfortable, so when I moved to a new state, I went back in my closet. The pain now comes in different ways. I've lost friends by coming out to them later in the relationship, but the pain is quieter. I can handle it more.

    But if you haven't cried over your sexuality or prayed to God to make you "normal" or hated yourself for not being strong enough to be proud of yourself or had people threaten you because of your sexuality (whether the threats are bats or rape), then you can't just "decide" you are something. And that's way more than I meant to say on the subject, but it's all true, so I hate to delete it.

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    1. No need to delete any of it! I was told that I was going to hell because I was attracted to women & just stopped fighting it & hiding it. I've not had a lot of friends, so I didn't lose any to AIDS, but one very sweet, attractive gay man who sold me my first waterbed, named Michael. W/gorgeous gray hair & pretty light blue eyes, he was friendly & I felt welcome on his space. Even though I never told him I was a lesbian. I shopped at his store for years, then suddenly he was gone. It was several months since my last purchase & when I stopped in, someone else was there. I asked where Michael was & they told me he'd died of AIDS. I felt like the sun had sputtered out. He wasn't even a friend, really, but my heart iced over & I mourned for him like we'd been pals.
      People don't always realize what they're saying; more interested in trying to be clever. Let's just stop that. There's more value in being real & true than being clever. If you want to say you have a warm place in your heart for gay men, then say that. You can't identify w/something you don't have the capacity to experience. And it doesn't take away from the depth of meaning in what you feel for that to be true.

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    2. Yes, Lyn, this is what I'm talking about. Thank you for sharing something so personal and heartfelt. Thank you so much. XOXO

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    3. Janvier... that is what we were all told. Thank you for sharing your story here. XOXO

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  5. Love you. Perfect post. As someone of 'an age' I remember it all, just like you do, from the fear, the bashings and beatings, AIDS, and the abuse in the military when I was outed. I particularly remember that night I was chased several blocks in mid-town Manhattan by 9 men screaming 'get the little faggot'. In mid-town Manhattan, where I had felt so safe. If I hadn't found that NYPD officer, things would have gone far worse. And sadly things haven't changed that much. I still have to think twice before I call Steve my husband, even though we're legally married (for now) in all 50 States. Unless you've lived this life, you can't 'identify' in my humble opinion. In the perfect 'gay romance' world it all about rainbows and butterflies, but not so much in real life sometimes. Thanks for writing this buddy. Big hugs.

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    1. Thanks, buddy. We all have these stories I'm afraid. XOXO

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  6. I wish I were as eloquent as you sir.

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  7. Your post was very informative and moving. I found myself tearing up just thinking about what you all in the LGBT community have gone through and continue to each day. Keep fighting for equal rights and just being able to be you. I have a 19 year old son who identifies as asexual and he gets picked on a lot for not dating and just wanting companionship. I can't imagine what all you and the rest of our generation's LGBT community have had to put up with. I personally would love to call you friend. Hugs. ��

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  8. You have touched my heart, as you have done with your words most days. All I can do is empathize, try to spread positivity and openminded words and take a stand against hate. I could never, nor would ever have the nerve to appropriate another's reality as my own. All I can do is carry on as best I can and apologize profusely when I am in the wrong. This was a very powerful post, Max. Thank you. Love, Jo

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  9. Well said, Max. Thank you.

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  10. Thank you for sharing your experience. It's very vivid and I'm sorry you've had to go through all of that. I've been hearing stories from the older generation of gays and lesbians in Iceland about how things were back before they formed the queer organization. We don't have baseball bats here (we don't have baseball), but they had to go through so much violence and hatred to get equal rights. They're also very scarred by it. They've paved the road for the rest of us and I'm very grateful for that. If it hadn't been for their bravery, my generation and those younger wouldn't be able to live relatively hassle free as ourselves. They've also paved the way for other minorities.

    I know several young gays and lesbians who have never run into any trouble in regard of their sexual orientation. They're still gays and lesbians, so obviously you don't need to have gone through the trauma go qualify, but it's because of what people like you fought for that they're not ostracized by their families and have so many cis hetero friends that they don't even feel the need to seek companionship among other gays and lesbians (which is why the National Queer Organization in Iceland is mostly run by other minorities that are now fighting for acceptance: trans people, intersex people, bisexuals, pansexuals and BDSM oriented people). Young gays and lesbians rarely join anymore.

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  11. Excellent blog post, Max. Well said.

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  12. Thank you everyone for leaving such heartfelt comments and for sharing your stories. I'm a bit overwhelmed. I'm not used to seeing comments on my blog posts.
    XOXO

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