What if Homophobia was Resisted Twilight style?

The following piece is cross-posted here. As it argues, Twilight is a rampantly heteronormative series. Yet, given its concurrent rampant popularity, why not seize the opportunity to consider the ways  the Twilight cultural phenomonon can be used to furtheer discussion about gender, sexuality, racism, classism, etc? This is the aim of my forthcomign book, Seduced by Twilght (which, by the way, I just secured an agent for yesterday — woo-hooo!)

Ah, more proof that the U.S. is still a homophobic nation. Just what we don’t need. Maine’s rejection of a same sex marriage law earlier this week means that  attempts to legalize gay marriage have now been shot down in 31 states. As such, I thought it fitting to post a few thoughts about heteronomativity, homophobia, and Twilight.

Poking around Google, I found almost no posts that consider the heteronormativity of the series. One exception is Emily Rutherford’s “Heteteronormativity, Again; or, the Experience of Reading Twilight.” As Rutherford writes, “…there is no homosexuality in Twilight. Despite the obvious ambiguity of Edward’s sexual appeal, there are no gay couples in Forks, WA. There are no explicitly gay vampires. Bella herself doesn’t experience same-sex attraction.” As she further argues, “For all that it confuses clear-cut sexualities; for all that it builds upon and complicates our traditional notion of the innocent love story, it is still profoundly and aggressively heteronormative.”

As for the widespread heteronormativity the book upholds, all characters are represented as heterosexual and hetero-monogamous marriage is presented as ideal. Amongst other types of diversity depicted in the series – race, class, age, (dis)ability – there is not one single non-hetero character nor even a nod to the fact that not everyone on the planet is hetero. Given that Meyer’s is Mormon, a belief system that is notoriously heteronormative, it is hardly surprising that heterosexuality is represented as the unquestioned norm.

In addition to the series’ seething heteronormativity, the practice of buying the books and related products results in profits for those institutions that want to bolster heterosexism. Profits from the series are funneled to the Mormon church through the practice of tithing – such funds are used in various ways, but one of them is to prevent same sex marriage laws from passing (as with California’s prop 8). Here are some relevant portions of a piece I wrote on this topic:

Meyer has on multiple occasions stated that, in accordance with her Mormon belief, 10% of all  her profits for all things Twilight go to the Mormon church. (See, for example, The Advocate).

While she has not made any public statement regarding Prop 8, her tithing to the church supports institutionalizing discrimination against those who are not heterosexual. By extension, a percentage of the multi-billion dollar Twilight industry went towards the Mormon Church, an institution that played a huge funding role in initially getting Prop 8 on the ballot, and then kept the funding in plentiful supply in order to grow support for the Yes on 8 camp. The success of this campaign, which relied on dollars and dogma, would not have been possible without the big money that came from the Mormon Church and other religious donors.

….

Meyer’s silence about the issue of homophobia in her church in general, and Prop 8 in particular, comes across as deafeningly loud –it speaks volumes, showing support for discrimination via economic buttressing of an institution that helped California, the state I live in, to etch inequality into law. So much for the sunshine state – so much for dazzling, sensitive vampires…Guess it’s ok for a lion to love a lamb, but not for a man to love another man.

Unfortunately,  such homophobia does not only exist in the USA, but plagues the globe. As evidenced by a Twi Crack Addict piece posted last week, Wales is one such place. The piece, “Wolfpack Poster Removed from South Wales Cinema for being Homoerotic,” reports that a theatre in Cwmbran, South Wales, removed the wolfpack poster because it was “too homoerotic.” Given the rampant heteronormativity of the series, this accusation seems a bit ironic, especially given that the wolf characters are the only ones to give voice to their homophobia in the texts.

For example, in Breaking Dawn when Quil says to Jacob “I don’t notice girls anymore,” Jacob jokes ““Put that together with the tiara and makeup, and maybe Claire will have a different kind of competition to worry about.” Here, Jacob insinuates that Quil’s tiara-wearing antics might lead to some non-hetero ‘competition.’ Quil laughs in response, making kissing noises at Jacob and asking, “You available this Friday, Jacob?” Ah yes, homosexuality is SO FUNNY – especially in a book that presents heterosexuality as the ONLY option with a message that screams “Be hetero! Get married and have babies!”

In Breaking Dawn Leah also teases Jacob about his heartfelt goodbye to Quil, snickering “Thought you were going to make out with him.” Yeah, cuz it’s so homo-esque for a male to care about his guy friends. Leah might as well have said, “Hey, wolf boy, grow some hetero balls and put your focus where it should be – on the ladies!”

The inclusion of various homophobic sentiments from the Native American characters seems to go above and beyond Meyer’s staying true to her Mormon roots into the territory of actually mocking and deriding homosexuality. Further, the fact that the Quileute characters are the only characters to voice their homophobia is ironic given that native culture is historically far more accepting of diverse expressions of gender and sexuality. Such sentiments would be far more realistic out of the mouths of Meyer’s demi-god Mormon-esque vampires.

I am wondering if the above poster would have been removed if it featured shirtless white men instead — if it depicted the Carlisle, Edward, Jasper, Emmett pack? (Who are of course not referred to as a pack – think about the racial implications of that!) I would venture a guess that the poster would be less likely to be accused of homoeroticism if those pictured were white – partly because hegemonic, normative masculinity is linked  to whiteness, and partly because (due to a global system of racism) it’s easier (and more common) to discriminate against non-white men.

The ubiquitous shirt-lessness of the “wolf pack” (written about in my earlier post here) is linked to this notion of hegemonic masculinity and whiteness. White males, more often associated with mental activities and acumen, are often less sexualized (as explored by scholars such as Jackson Katz). Raced, or non-white men, and working class men, are more associated with their bodies and bodily activities. The fact that the male Quileute, as both raced and working class, are often depicted without clothes accords to this sexualization of males who are deemed as “lesser” – either due to race or class. Yes, I know they “run hot” in the books because of their wolf identity, but this alone does not explain why all the actors portraying them are photographed shirtless far more often than their white actor counterparts…

Finally, the removal of this poster due to its “homoerotic” message is ridiculous and repugnant. It smacks not only of homophobia, but of sexism (if those pictured were half naked women, there would not be a problem) and racism (speaking to the fear of the “Other” and of women or men finding raced Others attractive). As you go about being repeatedly seduced by the series and its offshoots, I hope you will once in awhile pause and think about these more troubling aspects. By voicing our discontent about those aspects of the book, the fandom, and the franchise that trouble us, we can bring homophobia (and other discriminatory ideologies) out of the closet. And, by discussing such regulatory ideals often and vociferously we can bring some progressive sparkle to the Twilight table.

This is partly my intent with the parodies from Twi Kids Trio – many who wrote to me thus far about the first skit noted their favorite scene was Jacob sitting on Edward’s lap (and, by the way, if you watch the skit, please leave comments or feedback on You Tube!). Future parodies will continue to mock the cult of masculinity and nod to the latent homoeroticism that heteronormativity attempts to deny. As per the theories of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, homoerotic elements pervade the majority of literary texts. They may be deeply hidden and denied in Twilight, but often that which is most strenuously resisted is also ardently, if shamefully, desired. Don’t know about you, but I find it quite fascinating to ponder a queer version of Twilight… doing so makes the hand-holding abstinence and virginal purity message seem all the more antiquated, and, yes, discriminatory.

What if porn makes you gay?

As reported as Salon.com, the “Values Voter Summit” this past weekend (you know with a name like that this has got to be a scary meeting of ultra-right, ultra-white, hetero-loving nuts), a panel entitled “The New Masculinity” discussed how “feminism has wreaked havoc on marriage, women, children and men” in an attempt to get “the principles and ideals for a new ‘masculinism’ right.” Hmmm, sounds like this “new” masculinity is not all that new—rather, it’s the same old “blame women while keeping all our privileges” tactic. And, who deserves the most blame? Those nasty, evil, turning-your-kids-gay-and-away-from-god feminists of course!

But, there is a remedy—at least for sons. Tell them pornography will turn them gay!

With references to homosexuality as a “malady” that is “inflicted on people” Michael Schwartz, the chief of staff for Senator Tom Coburn (of Oklahoma), shared that “All pornography is homosexual pornography, because all pornography turns your sexual drive inwards.” Whoa, now there is some brilliance of the magnitude that if you touch yourself, your hands will fall off and you’ll be headed straight to the devil. Brilliance such as this harks from the Victorian age, that era of sexual repression that brought us circumcision as a “cure” for masturbation. It is also the era, of course, of thriving not-so-subculture porn and erotica. Surprisingly enough, with all that “smut” circulating in society, not all boys were “turned gay.”

That these conversations took place is not surprising given the right-wing homophobic bent of our nation, but it is still incredibly disturbing that leaders frame homosexuality as a disease, using tired ideas that you can be “infected” with gayness. Ah, if only the world could be “infected” with the idea that policing sexuality is not the answer to any of our problems. Rather, such rigid constructions of sexuality create a multitude of harmful practices and beliefs.

More generally, if we could “infect” the world with feminism, perhaps homophobic, misogynist leaders such as Schwartz would have to hide in the closet, masturbating to images of Dr. Laura or Rush Limbaugh.

Hmmm, how best to infect the world with feminism? We need some summits longer than a weekend to figure out our plan for transmission… Maybe we could sneak a dose of feminism into the swine flu vaccination?

What if we are a fanpire nation, allowing the passage of Prop 8 via our Twilight obsessions?

I have been absent from blog-land for some time now, immersed in teaching, grading, research, parenting, etc. I was spurred to post today due to the appalling decision yesterday regarding Prop 8 that has blighted the sunshine state in which I reside.

Part of what has kept me from blogging is my current research/writing project – a feminist analysis of the Twilight phenomenon in relation to girl culture, abstinence-only education, the hyper-sexualization of females, and our corporate capitalist patriarchal world of Christian, white, male, hetero privilege.

This project was born via the intervention of one of my very favorite feminists – my ten-year-old daughter. She wanted to read the series and find out what all the fuss was about, so we read it together. I expected to be disturbed by it, I expected to hate it, yet I was surprised on both counts.

I was DEEPLY disturbed by it – but not only or mainly for the reasons I expected (more on this later).

And I did hate the series in many ways– but I also became fascinated by it – I could not put the damn books down!  (more on this later, too)

For today, I want to focus on Prop 8 and what it represents – the continuing homophobia and heteronormativity of our culture– and how the mega-profitable Twilight franchise helped to enshrine such hatred into law.

As Dancin With Your Mouth Open posted back in November of 08,

With the huge boxoffice success of “Twilight,” it grossed over $70M domestically, this past weekend, not only is Stephenie Meyer making tons of money so is the Mormon church. Stephenie Meyer, described as the “the Mormon Anne Rice,” does what any good Mormon does which is called tithing. Tithing is a requirement in the Mormon religion and it’s usually 10% of their earnings. So, with all the talk about the Mormon church being a huge supporter of Prop 8, it seems like “Twilight” and Stephanie Meyer are contributors as well.

Meyer has on multiple occasions stated that, in accordance with her Mormon belief, 10% of all  her profits for all things Twilight go to the Mormon church. (See, for example, The Advocate).

While she has not made any public statement regarding Prop 8, her tithing to the church supports institutionalizing discrimination against those who are not heterosexual. By extension, a percentage of the multi-billion dollar Twilight industry went towards the Mormon Church, an institution that played a huge funding role in initially getting Prop 8 on the ballot, and then kept the funding in plentiful supply in order to grow support for the Yes on 8 camp. The success of this campaign, which relied on dollars and dogma, would not have been possible without the big money that came from the Mormon Church and other religious donors.

Can we finally admit that rather than a separation of church and state we have a MARRIAGE between church and state – they are like the perfect couple, supporting each other via campaign contributions on the one hand and tax exempt status on the other.

In terms of the fanpire’s role, their obsession with all things Twilight has further lined the pocketbooks of a Church that is unashamed of its homophobia. Even those of us who are not members of the growing legions of fanpires, those of us who merely read the series and watched the movie and yet can still somehow sleep at night without dreaming of Edward, have contributed to Meyer’s tithing, and, by extention, to the success of Prop 8. To be honest, I didn’t consider this component of purchasing the books until a friend mentioned it to me, and I feel the fool for NOT realizing it. (Then again, it seems even going to see Milk helped those in support of prop 8).

How in a world where homophobia is the norm can one NOT contribute to it? I think not contributing at this time is an impossibility  –  our culture has it set up so we all must contribute, even if only subconsciously.

Yet, I find tithing, from whatever religion (as not only Mormons tithe), particularly abhorrent when used in such ways. Not only is it tax-exempt but it  is used (as in this instance)  to turn prejudice and discrimination into law in the name of religion. How ironic given the frequent complaint from the Mormon Church that they are discriminated against for their religion, that they are the Christain ‘Others’!

Meyer’s silence about the issue of homophobia in her church in general, and Prop 8 in particular, comes across as deafeningly loud –it speaks volumes, showing support for discrimination via economic buttressing of an institution that helped California, the state I live in, to etch inequality into law. So much for the sunshine state – so much for dazzling, sensitive vampires – instead, we have Prop Hate funded in part by Ms. Meyer and her adoring fanpire. Guess it’s ok for a lion to love a lamb, but not for a man to love another man.

What if you still have a nasty case of the gays?

Well, December 10, 2008 is the day for you – the “Day Without a Gay” campaign (from Join the Impact) is urging LGBTQA folks to “Call in Gay”:

Day Without A Gay seeks to shift our strong feelings about injustice toward service! Let’s fight for equality by out-loving those who would deny us rights. Call in “gay” on December 10th (International Human Rights Day) and volunteer for your local LGBT and/or human rights organizations.

This reminded me of the joke by lesbian activist, writer, and comedienne, Robin Tyler. “If homosexuality is a disease,” Tyler quipped, “let’s all call in queer to work: ‘Hello. Can’t work today, still queer.’”

Sadly, any sexuality other than normative hetero is still coded as aberrant, dangerous, and/or diseased. Even if you are hetero, you are expected to practice your sexuality bound by various rules and expectations (with a different set of directives for females and males).

I myself am in favor of trying to move towards defining ourselves as SEXUAL rather than as H or G or Q or L… Why can’t we acknowledge that humans are sexual creatures and that sexuality is expressed in diverse ways? Who cares how we are doing it or who we are doing it with?!? Alas, we are along ways of from this shift I fear.

In the meantime, let’s all “Call in Gay” on December 10 and direct our attention toward activism — and remember you can be any letter of the sexuality alphabet to support the day! What better way to stick it to the H8ers than to work for human rights for ALL people.

And, 10 days later, on December 20, why not “Light up the night for equality.”

For today, get your LGBTQA-humor via this uproarious video from Funny of Die (found thanks to Confessions of a Gay Male Feminist):

more about ““Prop 8 – The Musical” starring Jack …“, posted with vodpod

What if God hates heterosexuals?

I am not a believer in the big bearded white guy in the sky touted by my Catholic school upbringing. However, many in the USA subscribe to this belief.

Prompted by all the H8 (hate) circulating in the California air, I would like to hypothesize about God’s supposed hatred of homosexuals. (And, you Yes on H8ers, don’t even try to claim that you are not homophobic – that you ‘have a gay friend’ or ‘support civil unions for gays’ or any other flap-trap. I am sick of your sad little excuses for prejudice and your sorry attempts to cover up your H8.)

I think if there is a God, and if this God had to hate (which seems to be a requirement judging by how often religious people refer to what or who got hates), I think God would be far more likely to hate heterosexuals. They cause all sorts of ruin on this planet… Wasn’t that whole “fall” thing caused by a hetero couple? Don’t heterosexuals start all the wars and commit the majority of the world’s violence? Aren’t they the furthest from the golden rule – Prop 8 being a prime example?

And, quite a bit in the bible actually indicates a certain bent, shall we say, towards same sex love (especially of the male variety). What price, for example, did David give to Saul for his first wife? 200 foreskins! What kind of straight guy would go with that present option? And what group of people makes it into God’s heavenly choir? 144,00 male virgins not defiled by women! (Revelation 14:1-4). Sounds like a gay man’s paradise to me.

So, for a minute, let’s imagine that God hates heterosexuals. What might a website devoted to spreading this news include? (This idea came about in part due to the abhorrent website godhatesfags.com, headed by Fred Phelps, and NO, I will not link to it.) According the logic of Phelps’s brand of homophobic Baptism, homosexuals can be blamed for just about everything. Groups like his, in order to further their agenda of hate, take biblical passages out context and give no historical framework. Sections of the bible that have nothing to do with condemning homosexuality are skewed into a “God hates homosexuals” and “homosexuality is a sin” dogma.How would heterosexuals like it if the bible was used to condemn their sexuality? To accuse them of being damned? To blame them for all the ills of the world? Well, in order to turn the tables, let’s flip some of the often used claims about homosexuality around by condemning heterosexuality and proving that heterosexuals are sinful:

Heterosexuals defy Jesus by loving their families! As Jesus proclaims in Luke 6:22″If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters…he cannot be my disciple.” Heterosexuals flaunt their love for their ‘traditional’ families in direct defiance of Jesus!

God punishes heterosexuals with eternal war! God protects Homosexuals from fighting with the crafty “Don’t’ ask don’t’ tell” policy! Praise to our Homo loving God!

God punishes heterosexuals with natural disasters! Tornadoes are God’s punishment for heterosexual sin! Alaska, thanks to its recent homosexual denunciation of the demon heterosexual Sarah Palin, has been spared!

Heterosexuals are overpopulating the planet by sowing their evil seed and producing demon hetero offspring! They are the cause of climate change! They are the reason fires rage in Southern California! They bring God’s wraith upon the sunshine state.

Adultery is a sin!!! The chosen people – Homosexuals –  cannot commit such a sin – this is why God has blessed them by keeping them safe from the twisted institution of marriage.

Fred Phelps, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson… These heterosexuals, with their H8ful acts, spread the sin of heterosexuality throughout the land. God will smite them with hurricanes, meteors, and terrorists!

Heterosexuals are rapists! Their only hope for salvation is to attempt to lead a homosexual lifestyle. They can be cured! Those who refuse salvation should lead a celibate lifestyle. Help save the heterosexuals among you!

These all sound preposterous of course – but they are just as preposterous when similar claims are made about homosexuals.

And, when the bible, or any sacred/religious text is used to denounce entire segments of the population and to spread hate, well, doesn’t that go against what most people claim is good about religion? If religion gives people a moral compass, as so many claim, it seems the compass is out of whack for quite a few believers.

Further, what about homosexuals of faith? Can we quantify the damage done to LGBTQ folk who are taught their desires are sinful? That who they are is ‘against God’? As Alice Walker* so beautifully puts it, “It is fatal to love a God that does not love you.” Walker writes this in the context of  her “inherited religion,” of growing up in a faith where it seemed God did not love her for at least two reasons – because she was female and she was black.

Noting that “We have been beggars at the table of a religion that sanctioned our destruction,” Walker elucidates how oppressed peoples have often furthered their own internal colonization via their religious belief practices – or, they have learned to ‘not love’ themselves via their religions, to internalize the belief that they are not worthy, not chosen, not equal in the eyes of their God. Yet, “All people deserve to worship a God who also worships them,” Walker claims.

Put in the context of today’s religious fueled fights over LGBTQ rights, many people believe that not all people are deserving of God’s love, that not all people deserve to worship God, that God has a ‘special’ place for heterosexuals and their type of love. How is this any different from the days when many churches were claiming “God doesn’t love blacks”? How is it different from the times when women were not allowed to speak in church?

For my own part, I do not believe in nor love the traditional Christian God so popular in the USA -  this God seems to me selfish, judgmental, sexist, racist, homophobic, and cruel. This God is much like a Troll who won’t stop leaving inane, infuriating comments and who somehow draws other crazy trolls to him!

If I were to believe in or love a God, s/he damn well wouldn’t hate homosexuals – rather, s/he would be spreading the love on November 15th, a national day of Protest Against Prop 8, blessing all those who see fit to fight the scourge of homophobia that blights our land.

*Alice Walker, Anything We Love Can Be Saved, 1997.

What if hate crimes got equal coverage? (Prop 8 and/as hate crime)

HR 1592, or the “Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act,” is the 2007 legislation sponsored by John Conyers that constitutes hate crime a federal offense.  The legislation defines hate crimes as “a violent act causing death or bodily injury because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability of the victim.” The bill does not rank the motiviations for commiting such crimes. However, according to recent coverage of Prop 8 in San Diego, the SD news media ranks crimes based on actual or perceived religious belief as WORSE than crimes based on actual or perceived sexuality.

For example, notice that in this story, violence against a Yes on 8 person is foregrounded in the headline and the opening. The story notes that:

Proposition 8 supporters, who are fighting to overturn gay marriage in California by changing language in the state Constitution, describe …”a wave of intimidation and violence up and down the state.”

According to Chip White, Californians from around the state have reported being harassed by people who are against Prop. 8. Among the incidents he related were: verbal harassment of Prop.8 supporters on the freeway, including obscene gestures; the theft of yard signs; and a woman in Riverside, California who had her garage sprayed with graffiti. [Catholic News Agency]

Notice there is no mention of a “wave of intimidation and violence” against No on 8 supporters. Notice also there is no quote from any agency that places violence against No on 8 as just as, if not more, ubiquitous. Notice also that the DAILY violence, harassment, and intimidation targeted at the LGBTQA community are given no mention. Rather, violence against the No on 8 community is framed as a “teen prank” via the fact that the ONLY story we are given about violence against No on 8 is as follows: “it was reported that a neighborhood teenager burned No on 8 yard signs. The teenager was taken into custody for a 72-hour psychological evaluation.”

In this story, about the march in West Hollywood, the choice of words such as “snarling” and “noisy” is telling, as is the fact the story finds it necessary to point out that “The event did not have a permit or approved march route.” The story also covers arrests and incidents of violence while failing to focus on the more positive messages of togetherness and equality that the march conveyed. Moreover, the story capitalizes on spreading hate, making a point to include a comment where a gay man blames African-American and Latino voters for 8′s win. (For a great post on this ‘blame the blacks’ trend, see Womanist Musings here.) And, yet again, the violence against the Yes on 8 crowd is framed as far worse than against the No on 8 crowd. Or, as this story tells it, Yes on 8 people throw eggs, while No on 8 people surround cars, rip up signs, and beat people.

Another story, from San Diego’s North County Times, reported the burning of a Baptist church in Vista. The fire is being treated as a suspected hate crime. Michael Hoffman, the spokesperson for the U.S. Bureau of Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is reported to refer to “heated confrontations between supporters and opponents of Proposition 8 down the street from the church in the weeks before the fire.” And, while “Authorities have no suspects or motives in the case,” the story clearly points the finger at someone opposing Prop 8. Television coverage of the same event at San Diego’s NBC news (channel 7) suggested the church burning was a vendetta carried out by a No on 8 supporter although there is NO EVIDENCE to suggest this is the case. Local San Diego activist Jennifer Schumaker responded to the story as follows: “We’ve been ignored, and now they are going to try to highlight anything that even LOOKS like it might be vengeful and point to us, evidence or not!”

Here is yet another story of No on 8 supporters committing violence. Yet, when I searched for stories detailing violence against No on 8 supporters with the phrase “violence against No on 8 supporters” what came up was stories about the No on 8 side supposedly calling for violence against Yes on 8 supporters! Stories such as “‘Gays” Call for Violence Against Christian Supporters of Prop 8″ (here) insinuate that all the violence and hatred is coming from the No on 8 side and, in particular, frame No on 8 supporters as perpetuating hate crime.

In these and so many other examples, the No on 8ers are framed as committing hate crimes. Yet, hate crimes against the LGBTQA community are rendered invisible and/or framed as relatively harmless (i.e. as ‘egg throwing’ and taking signs).

Another way these stories are being framed in the media paints No on 8 supporters as anti-religion and, in many cases, as perpetuating and even calling for hate crimes based on religious bias.  Interestingly, the number of religious bias hate crimes and sexuality biased hate crimes were almost equal in 2007 accoring do the FBI’s hate crime statistics. Or, more specifically, there were 1,477 religious bias hate crimes reported, and 1460 sexuality bias crimes reported. Yet, if one gets their news from the MSM, it would seem as if those in the LGBTQA community are only perpetuators of crime rather than victims of it.

In fact, some who opposed HR 1592, the hate crimes prevention act, did so via claiming that ‘elevating’ homosexuality to the level of ‘normal’ would pose a danger to race equity and freedom of religion! For example, a senator from North Carolina urged the congress to oppose the act claiming that HR 1592 would:

*Elevate homosexuality and cross-dressing behaviors such as drag queens, transsexualism, she-males, etc. to the status of federally-protected minorities. These behaviors will be considered equal to race under the federal law.

• Fund anti-Christian curriculum for children K-12, through the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice to promote homosexuality and cross-dressing as normal behaviors

Oh, the horror! Making homophobia on par with racism???? Teaching that homosexuality is NORMAL? What is this world coming to?!? Wow, with senators like these, maybe we should renaim the USofA, the HSofA – or the Homophobic States of America.

To find stories of the violence and attacks against No on 8ers, one must go outside the MSI (mainstream internet) and look to more progressive cites and blogs. To find stories of all the positive work being done AFTER Prop 8 passed, including marches, rallies, candlelight vigils, etc, one must also go beyond the right wing, biased news sources such as NBC, The North County Times, and The San Diego Union Tribune.

For coverage of the march that took place in San Diego today, which drew thousands of No on 8 supporters, see here (note that while this story puts the number of marchers at 2,000, other sources report the number was closer to 10,000).

If you would like to take action to support No on 8 or to make your voice heard regarding media bias, here are a few options:

  1. Go to www.InvalidateProp8.org and donate to the legal fight to overturn the proposition.
  2. Write to President Elect Barak Obama and encourage him to support, in word and deed, full equality (including marriage equality!) for LGBTQ folks.
  3. Read and sign the petition to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger calling him not to allow Prop 8 to pass into law. (This petition debunks a bunch of the myths/lies spread by the Yes on 8 camp.)
  4. Thank the Los Angeles Mayor for his support of No on 8.
  5. Review the petition to remove the tax-exempt status of the Mormon church here. Whether or not you agree that their tax-exempt status should be removed, the petition is worth taking a look at for the arguments it makes regarding the fact that organizations with such status cannot focus their activities on influencing legislation.
  6. Call NBC San Diego at (619) 231-3939 to complain about their biased news coverage of Prop 8.
  7. Visit Queers United here for a listing of upcoming protests and rallies. Get out your rainbow and go support No on 8!
  8. Go to one of the nationwide protests against Prop 8 on Saturday, November 15. To find an event in your area, see this post for more info.

If you wish to read more about homophobia and hate crimes, a good source is Beyond Homophobia, a website maintained by Gregory Heck editor of Hate Crimes Confronting Violence Against Lesbians and Gay Men. Also, in case there are any HDP’s (heterosexual privilege deniers) reading this post, I encourage you to read the “Heterosexual Privilege Checklist” here.

Proposition 8 in and of itself comes all to close to being a hate crime. While it may not directly cause “death or bodily injury” to LGBTQ folks, it most certainly will indirectly do so. The LGBTQ community already has a high suicide rate, depression rate, and poverty rate. Might not legislating further disenfranchisement exacerbate all of these? Might Prop 8 not also suggest that it is ok to be homophobic? Or to take it further, that it is ok to commit hateful acts (sometimes violent) against this “dangerous” group that “threatens” religious traditions? Prop 8 is not only unfair and wrong, but its passage, if you ask me, would be a hate crime carried out by the government of California and endorsed by 52% of voters. Scary.

What if you don’t know whether to laugh or cry?

Obama’s landslide is cause for celebration. It was truly wonderful last night to watch the joy on people’s faces in Grant Park in Chicago and across the country. And, as per usual, Obama’s speech was inspiring.

How refreshing that we will finally have a president who can give a good speech after 8 long years of gibberish. And how encouraging that in a country mired in racism, we have FINALLY elected a person of color to live in that (until now) house of white privilege.

How encouraging that in a country seething with sexism, we have elected a president who supports women’s full equality and reproductive freedom.

How encouraging that in a homophobic, heteronormative nation, we have chosen a candidate who believes in equal rights and supports same sex marriage.

And, how encouraging that he does not speak as if the whole world were white and male (as so many politicians and media mouthpieces do) but acknowledges that  we are “young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled.” My daughter perked up with this line in particular from his speech as we watched (past her bedtime) last night.

How encouraging that we had such a massive voter turnout, that people are energized to vote again.

How encouraging that my 9 year old daughter went to the polls with me, and, when the very nice poll lady (thank you!) gave her a ‘play ballot’ to vote with, she said on the way home “I need to read up on all the propositions I don’t know about so I can fill out the ballot all the way. So far, I only know my vote for president, prop 2, 4, and 8.” And, guess what? She did! She sat there at the kitchen table, sharpie in hand, reading my voter information pamphlet to make a decision on all the other propositions. She is 9, people!!! If she has this much dedication with a FAKE BALLOT, why are there so many who could fill out a real one but just can’t be bothered?

Many attacks against social justice were defeated yesterday. South Dakota’s back-ass-wards law aiming to criminalize abortion failed, as did Colorado’s attempt to define life as beginning at conception. Here in California, the third attempt to pass a “parental consent law”, or Prop 4, failed. Now that is one issue I wouldn’t mind to be treated with the “three strikes and your out” rule.

Obama’s win, a win for pro-choice and reproductive justice, various wins for progressive leaning candidates. This is all cause for joy and laughter.

However, the 52.4% of the voters that chose to endorse Prop 8 is cause for tears. How can over half of the people of this state that likes to call itself progressive decide that it’s ok to discriminate against other people? And to vote to put this discrimination into law? How can we possibly claim to have a separation of church and state when Propositions such as these, paid for by those on the religious right, are overwhelmingly supported BASED on religion?

My son crawled out of bed extra early this morning and went straight to the computer to look up if the news on Prop 8 was in. He is 12. He is, along with me and his sister, devastated by the news that California has voted yes on hate. He immediately mentioned a dear family friend of ours, who is engaged to be married, and who, thanks to this F***** prop, will (at least for now) not be allowed to marry the person she loves.

To all my LGTBQA readers out there, I am truly sorry that this sad little state voted yes on hate. It severely dampens the joy I feel at Obama’s win.

Yet, when I lamented with my daughter on the way home from the school pick up today about what looks like will be a win for Prop 8, she reminded me “But mom, remember what Obama said last night? He said rich or poor, gay or straight, married or not, we are all equal. Maybe he will make marriage something for everybody as president.” Ok, so she got the quote a bit muddled, but she certainly got the message straight. And I, along with her, hope we will see A FEDERAL LAW passed during Obama’s presidency  THAT SUPPORTS MARRIAGE EQUALITY not just for “the straighties,” but for everyone.

To end with laughter and joy, I would like to encourage you to watch the wonderful Sara Benincasa’s last Palin vlog. One thing I know for sure, while I will not miss Sarah Palin and her hateful agenda, I will miss Sara B’s hilarious impersonations of her. Grab your pet moose and give this a watch:

http://www.236.com/video/2008/final_sarah_palin_vlog_10071.php

What if the numbers of supporters of “Yes on 8” in California are indicative of the de-volution of the USA?

The USA has undergone a massive dumbing down in the past decade (not that we were ever the most intelligent of nations, mind you…). A confluence of factors has led us to a state where we think it is just hunky-dory that we have a Vice Presidential candidate that peppers her speech with “You Betcha,” winks at the crowd, and knows wolf killing like the back of her hand but can’t name more than one Supreme Court Case.  Likewise, many don’t seem too bothered by the huge educational and intellectual discrepancies between the Mcain/Palin ticket and the Obama/Biden ticket. (As various versions of the educational background comparison posts peppering the web reveal, M/P are the flunkies and O/B the grads. See, for example, here and here.) Yet, it would be ELITIST if we elected someone really intelligent. We need to vote for “real Americans” (gag) – you know ones who don’t like them city folks, think community organizing is for liberal commies, and love ‘em some weapons to kill wolves, bear, and Asians (on McCain’s anti-Asian racism, see this book). Plus, it’s so much easier (and apparently more fun) to focus on skin color and celebrity cavorting. The VP candidate on Saturday Night Live with Alec Baldwin telling her “she is way hotter in person”? Cool!

I wonder how many other countries around the world that actually still value education, intellectual debate, ‘high’ culture (rather than Girls Gone Wild and The Man Show) look at us in horror. “How did that sad nation avoid evolution?” they must wonder. “How did a nation run by man-children (the top of which brags that he doesn’t read) ever get so much power?” Of course, as they read papers and news magazines, as they follow world news and exercise their brains, they surely see how this has happened – it is a case of a bully and his gang using threats, lies, and fear to takeover the playground (or, in this case, the world).

And how funny that a nation that is de-volving rather than evolving in such obvious ways is currently on the rampage to DENY evolution and act as if we were all prancing around with dinosaurs 6,000 years ago. Perhaps our own failed evolution here in the US has led us to be more prone to denying evolution exists –  a denial many would like us to teach to children – you know, because the bible is such a nicer story with neat Saints and stuff – it is far more useful to learn about Eve’s fall rather than scientific mumbo-jumbo. Who needs to know evolutionary science when there are so many more important things to teach – like sexism, prejudice, and out and out hate?

I can hear the cries from the Yes on 8 bible band that “Teaching children religion is not about teaching hate!” Oh really? Well, the Christianity I see evidence of in mainstream society is all about hate – hating gays, hating sex, hating science, hating other religions (especially Islam). It is about teaching children that “God loves us all,” but HE really only loves heterosexuals, Americans, Christians (aAnd loves men more –wait a second, is God gay? Come to think of it, isn’t there quite a bit of homo-eroticism in the “good book”? All that male bonding and male love…Was the last supper actually a gay dinner party? Looks that way according to some of the paintings I have seen…Anyhow, I digress.)

I know not all religions teach hate, I know many churches are working to progress ideas about “loving one another” (regardless of sexuality or nationality), and I personally know many religious people who are kind, good-hearted, non-judgmental, and anti-racist/sexist/homophobic. Yet, if I were to judge religion via what I have seen in my region surrounding Prop 8 and Prop 4, as well as via news coverage of these Propositions, I would have to say that, in these cases, religion is being used to spread hatred and lies.

I recently drove passed an entire cadre of Yes on 8 sign wavers. Many of the signs read “Vote yes on 8. Protect religious freedom.” How is a homophobic law based on denying rights to all people equally ‘protecting religious freedom’? Oh, I get it – they mean the freedom to hate, to judge, to disqualify any deemed “Others” from fair and just treatment.

I assume the misleading tag-line about religious freedom is referring to the false claim that priests will be FORCED to marry same sex couples if Prop 8 fails to pass. Yes, hordes of lesbian on motorcycles will roar down church aisles, tie up unsuspecting priests, wrap them in a rainbow flag, and force them to marry non-heterosexuals.

Perhaps the “Yes on 8″ ideology is a case of “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” (The famous Shakespeare line that indicates one is objecting so strongly that one loses credibility. The phrase is often used to indicate that someone’s ‘protest’ points out their guilt. Or, that their objection is denial based – meaning, they are protesting something based on guilt, complicity, or to distance themselves from their true actions/desires.) In other words, are the Yes on 8 people so busy “protecting marriage” because they themselves fear their own sexuality and desires? If the ‘love between a man and a woman’ is so damn natural, why does it need laws to ‘protect’ it?

All that being said, the good religious voices (or, in my book, the one’s that care about social justice for all) are being pretty well silenced by the religio-crazies. As Rabbi Elliot Dorff notes,

“Much has been made recently of faith leaders expressing support for Proposition 8, California’s measure on the November ballot that would eliminate the right to marry for thousands of committed gay and lesbian couples. Speaking less loudly – or perhaps ignored by media outlets hungry for controversy – have been the voices of thousands of other clergy members: Episcopalians and Methodists, Quakers and Unitarians, Muslims and Buddhists, and Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative Jews.”

So, why are the voices of No on 8 clergy members not heard – or at least not heard as widely – as the Yes-on-8-We-support-hate group? Well, I think this again has to do with the whole de-volving of our culture. We have de-volved into a society that thrives on controversy, on soundbites and headlines rather than analysis, on ‘extreme news’ that functions to grab attention rather than to educate. How ‘extreme’ is it to claim that if marriage is going to be a right, it needs to be one all people can partake in? It’s so much more exciting to focus on how a priest is going to be forced to marry two men or how teachers will be giving lessons on homosexual lovin’ to 5 year olds…

Yet, the claim that any clergy member will be forced to do anything by Prop 8 is an outright lie. As Dorff further notes:

“under California law, no pastor, rabbi, priest or imam from any denomination can be forced to marry a same-sex couple against his or her will.  Religious groups and clergy members have a constitutionally protected right to celebrate or refuse to celebrate religious marriages based on the tenets of their particular faith…

…Unfortunately the proponents of Prop 8 are using falsehoods and scare tactics to try and sway voters. As I said above, there is NOTHING in Prop 8 that would affect any religion or religious ceremony.”

The Rabbi also does a fine job of elucidating how Prop 8 wouldn’t protect or bring about “religious freedom” (as it claims), but, rather, would curtail religious freedom:

“…Proposition 8 would prevent thousands of faith leaders like me from following the dictates of our own denominations and consciences by not allowing us to marry gay and lesbian members of our communities. It essentially accepts only the interpretation of some denominations, but not those of many others, about what constitutes the “sacred” institution of marriage. That means the government, and not our own faiths, is telling us whom we can marry.”

As for the other claim, that Prop 8 will hinder “educational freedom” and teachers will be forced to instruct children about homosexuality, well, this one is preposterous too. As if all schools will bring in a “it’s great to be gay” rainbow colored pamphlet the day after 8 fails… yeah, right. Plus, wouldn’t it actually be useful for the at least 10% of kids that are not heterosexual to learn about homosexuality? Or should we just burn the kids exhibiting non-heterosexuality at the stake right now? I am sure James Dobson would provide the wood at no cost…Fannie’s Room points to the hypocrisy surrounding this “we can’t teach kids about same sex marriage” camp as follows:

“It’s not okay to teach kids about same-sex marriage but it is okay to promote dishonest propaganda and asinine slippery slope arguments in order to vilify same-sex couples as playing a key role in the End of the World!”

Yes, apparently dishonesty is fine and dandy as long as its done in the name of the children, in the name of “traditional marriage.” Apparently all those biblical injunctions to be honest, to love they neighbor, to treat others as you wish to be treated, well those can all be set aside when it comes to same sex love. As the post here reveals, the “Yes on 8″ ads are chock full of not only misleading information, but of downright lies. Oh, is THAT what they mean by “protect religious freedom” – they mean protect the freedom to lie to get what they want? Huh. (Furthermore, the ‘traditional marriage’ issue is fraught with complexities that neither side of the  Prop 8 divide is regularly addressing  —  the institution of marriage itself is questionable and problematic in many ways. The continuing construction of women as property within marriage, as well as the state sanctioned control of marriage, is perhaps something we should also be considering. However, if we are going to keep this flawed institution, everyone should be allowed to take part. For more on this line of argument, see my earlier post here.)

The Yes on 8 crew that live in my neighborhood are so blinded by the light of their own hypocrisy that they fail to see that their lovely little signs illustrate a same sex marriage image along with the ‘protect marriage’ logo. The sign is intended to represent a man and a woman (characterized by her skirt) holding hands above two children (one presumably a boy as he is in pants and bigger, the other supposedly a girl, smaller, next to mom and also in a skirt – so, yes, in ‘traditional families’ females must wear skirts! This law I am sure is somewhere in the bible. I will have to check here). Anyhow, when the sign is viewed through the sunlight (as it invariably is in San Diego) the mother’s skirt from the other side of the sign shows through and thus it looks like both adult images are wearing skirts. It looks like two women in skirts holding hands to celebrate ‘protecting marriage’!! Ah, poetic, illustrative (and, if you are so inclined to believe, divine) justice!

Please Californians, don’t do our supposedly progressive state wrong, vote no on Prop 8.

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