Gay Pride Month: Why The Fight Goes On

Ah, the year 2017.  It’s a far cry from 1969, but in some ways, not so much.  Given that society is generally more accepting of different lifestyles today, you’ll still find the old hold outs who view anything other than white Anglo-Saxon Protestant as an abomination in the eyes of whatever god they worship.  While we don’t live in closets anymore, for the most part, there are still sub-sections of the general population who create an atmosphere so uncomfortable that some choose to hide their sexuality to this day.  The level of violence against LGBT has risen in the past few years as well.  Governmental restrictions around the world are growing with the advent of religious zealots.

Throughout the 70’s, the gay community fought very hard to be seen and heard.  The Equal Rights Movement was the agenda, as you could be denied housing, fired from a job, and generally shunned by the community for being gay.  Homosexuality didn’t come off the psychology journals as a mental illness until 1974 / 1975, and even was considered a mental disorder by the World Health Organization up until 1990!  The organizations in the beginning had an uphill battle, but they didn’t allow themselves to become discouraged by the slow pace of progress.  Little by little, they chipped away at the stony faces of politicians and in some cases, the money helped.  Eventually protections were put into place, protecting the rights of gay men and women.

Into the 80’s we marched, with our pride and banners, to be hit smack in the face by the AIDS epidemic.  Hundreds of people had been dying from this disease over the years.  No-one knew why, and no one seemed to care because it was primarily gay men.  Then Rock Hudson brought it all to the forefront and suddenly there was shame upon the face of Hollywood.  Now, gay men were rife in the Hollywood scene.  But even then, no one talked about it.  No one disclosed their sexuality.  It wasn’t a topic of discussion, ever.  Politicians denied there was an epidemic happening in the gay community.  Research was done by a handful of clinicians with the meager money they could eke out of the government.  The organizations themselves were partially in denial, causing splinter groups to form who were more outspoken.  Thankfully these loud-mouths were the ones, just like at Stonewall, who made something happen. And all the while people died by the dozens.  Their names emblazoned on a quilt did nothing to stem the horrors which this insidious disease inflicted upon its victims, their families, their lovers.  The fight for gay rights also continued on through the 1980’s but we still had a long way to go.

Limping along but proud, learning from the mistakes of the past and girded by safe sex and condoms, we continued onward, to tackle the rights for trans-gender people in the 90’s and into the new millennium.  While the movement for trans-gender people had been moving forward all through these decades, not even the gay community embraced this culture.  As we moved through the 90’s, more and more issues arose that had to be dealt with.  In some cases, they were handled indelicately, or inappropriately.  So the politicians were sent back to their desks to rethink their offerings.  Once again, they showed that they wouldn’t be hidden or shamed.  Research of the HIV virus progressed and the medications were more effective with less side effects.  Gay youth organizations became more prevalent as well as college organizations who lent a hand to pushing the causes forward.

The new millennium arose, and with it, another piece of the puzzle:  gay marriage.  This battle would rage for at least a decade before any laws would start to be enacted, legally providing gay and lesbian couples with the joy of legal marriage.  2003 was the end of sodomy laws in the US.  2010 would see the end of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy which allowed people in the military to serve without repercussions for their sexuality.  The year 2010 would also see the first gay marriage laws in Iceland.  More and more professional sports players, public personalities, actors / actresses, musicians and politicains came out of the closet and into the forefront.

People in the LGBT communities have been fighting for rights for decades, never wavering and never giving up.  We’ve come far but we have a long way to go.  Still in many countries, LGBT people are suppressed, harassed, illegally detained, and killed.  Places like Chechnya, Philippines, Indonesia, Russia or the Middle East, gays are outright killed.  The Rainbow Railroad is working hard to relocated people from these countries but can only handle so many at a time.  There’s been more and more conservative views growing in places like the US and UK which threatens to reverse the strides of those who went before us.  Many of us enjoy the liberty of being who we are, going about our daily lives without discrimination or discord.  Many won’t see these abuses with our own eyes in our own environments.  But there are those who are affected and those who know someone affected in dangerous times.  There’s those who suffer in silence at being bullied or harassed, eventually ending on a tragic note.  Suicide is on the rise in our community, mostly in our gay youth.  With all of the support groups out there, it’s hard to fathom but it’s a reality, a very sad reality.

If any of this touches a person and they take to their heart the long struggle which has been fought, and the strides still needed for our communities, then it’s my hope that they take some action and get involved.  We need to be aware, protect ourselves and our loved ones, and do all we can to show the world that we’re a strong contributor to society in general.  We have a long history, filled with so many strong characters.  To know where we’re headed, we should take a moment to see where we’ve been.  To lessen the suffering of our brothers and sisters in these oppressed envrionments, we can make donations to causes, petition our governments to take action, or join an organization to help further our empowerment.  Together, all inclusive, we stand strong and march on to the next day.  The next time you take a vow to your partner, or walk down the street without being called a queer, remember the people who gave their time and effort, their sweat and blood, so that you can have this wonderful life.  Never take for granted all the work that’s been done to further the LGBT movements.  They’re fragile and with one swift swing of the conservative, narrow minded hammer, can be laid waste at our feet.

Manchester Leathermen

The voyage of discovery has taken me to many exotic locations within the sphere of self, and I’m happy to still be sailing the sea of existentialism, having not capsized over the shoals, whirlpools and occasional krakens that arose.  The ship has docked at a wonderful place, the Manchester Leathermen group.

A year ago, my husband and I went to see Avenue Q in Manchester, booking a whole weekend getaway for this.  After the show, my husband wasn’t feeling up to going out, so I went on my own down to the Quarter on Canal Street.  I popped into several bars, had a few drinks (one at each, just to patronize), and wandered the streets feeling as I usually do:  I don’t fit into this picture.  Honestly, I never have.

As I was walking past the canal, I spied upon the leathermen across the water on a barge, which was part of a restaurant.  I stood there waiting, as they seemed to be breaking up a meeting or some such thing, hoping to catch their attention.  When they came down the walkway, I inquired as to where people like myself would go to enjoy themselves.  Seeing how I was wearing a long black leather coat, they told me to follow them, which I gladly did.  We chatted along the way and I found out they were part of a social group.  We went to the Eagle where we talked some more and they told me of the group;  they seemed like a great bunch too!

When my husband and I woke the next morning, I imparted my little adventure to him and told him I was going to sign up.  Now, he’s more into the leather scene than I am so I figured that this would be a good way to get the door open for him.  I also had been involved with the leather community in Chicago and other cities, they having accepted me where no other group would.

It’s fairly sad to say that I’m still in the process of discovering my sexual nature, at this advanced age.  As far as the leather / BDSM community, I’m still not sure where I would fit in.  I don’t find leather to be a particular fetish for me.  I just wear it all the time.  I don’t think I’d make a good submissive, as I have a highly dominant personality.  And I don’t think I’d be a good dominant as I tend to fall into submissive personae at times.  Sometimes I think it’d be nice to have a collar on and a master there, but I wonder if I’d just be a colossal failure at it.  I’ve always had this authority problem in the past.  I’m not sure if I’m interested in bondage, or spanking, or any of the other aspects of this genre.  I can say that I knew there were a multitude of nooks and crannies to the realm of sexuality, I just don’t know exactly what parts of the buffet I choose to indulge in.

I’ve been with this group for a year now.  I’ve been to their meetings, their gatherings and the whole Leather Weekend.  I’ve met some amazing people.  There’s a huge amount of support within the group and I’m hoping that I’ll find my way.  If not, I’m still a huge supporter of leather communities around the world.  They took in a lost wildcat years ago and kept him from going feral.

Good things come to those who wait.

Manchester Leathermen Webpage:  http://www.manchesterleathermen.org

Manchester Leathermen Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/manchesterleather/

The Authority of Words

With the recent removal of ‘protection for transgender youth’ from Title XI, I decided to have a look at the document and see what it was about.  The crux of the issue is the following:

Title IX – Wikipedia:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

This particular piece covers things like enrollment, admissions, athletics, counseling, financial assistance, harassment / violence, discipline, single-sex education, employment, retaliation, and pregnant / parenting students.  Nowhere in the document does it cover toilet facilities.  And nowhere in the document does it include gender-identity.  As this was written in the 1970’s and the transgender movement actually really took off in the 1990’s, it appears this wasn’t even a concept for the Department of Education although transgender existed long before this piece was written and appears in numerous documents, mostly psychological as you’d imagine.

This document doesn’t even provide an inclusive definition for sex as it’s used.  So I decided to consult the great and powerful bibles of words:  Oxford, Cambridge and Merriam-Webster.  Here’s what I found:

definition of sex in English | Oxford Dictionaries

Either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and most other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions.

Sex | Definition of Sex by Merriam-Webster

either of the two major forms of individuals that occur in many species and that are distinguished respectively as female or male especially on the basis of their reproductive organs and structures

sex Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary 

the state of being either male or female

Fair take, these are the apparent authorities of words which we use every day, plainly stating that animals fall in these two categories.  This would probably upset a good majority of genus and species who are, in fact, asexual.  There’s also the curious quandry of the hermaphrodites;  do they check both boxes?  pick the best out of two?

So I broadened the scope and decided to see what medical dictionaries say, just to get the physician’s take on the score.  Thus follows:

Sex | definition of sex by Medical dictionary

the fundamental distinction, found in most species of animals and plants, based on the type of gametes produced by the individual; also the category to which the individual fits on the basis of that criterion. Called also gender

The biologic character or quality that distinguishes male and female from one another as expressed by analysis of the person’s gonadal, morphologic and chromosomal, and hormonal characteristics. Compare: gender

a distinctive character of most animals and plants, based the type gametes produced the gonads, ova (macrogametes) being typical of the female, and spermatozoa (microgametes) of the male, or the category in which the individual is placed on such basis.

Sex – Medical Definition from MediLexicon

The biologic character or quality that distinguishes male and female from one another as expressed by analysis of the person’s gonadal, morphologic (internal and external), chromosomal, and hormonal characteristics

Based upon these definitions, it would be hard for a legislator to include transgender because these definitions are biological,  not psychological or social, which is the distinction between transsexual (biological, those who seek / make the transition) and transgender (psychological, social, the internal gender disposition / predisposition).

So who exactly is going to amend this piece of legislation?   I’d be pretty scared of some cabal of morons, erm, experts who decide who is or isn’t what is or isn’t.  Let’s face it, most of those in positions of power are so distantly removed from the general population, they couldn’t have their finger on the pulse of the people if they flew down from their towers to face us.  The human race is becoming so incredibly fluid at this point that it’s becoming harder and harder to define what anything is anymore.  Not that I think society will stick with any hard and fast definition for anything at all.  There’s always exceptions.  Have the exceptions become the rule now though?

Within the past 10 years look at all the words which have been created to cover the wide spectrum of sub-cultures out there.  Seeing as how I don’t fit into most categories, they can’t even find one for me!

I do know this:  I’m absolutely certainly male, and have the most amazing man in my life, so that puts me in the gay category.  Beyond that, I think I’m positively uncategorically weird and celebrating my existence, beyond definition, every single day.