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    Ann Rostow: Thanks For Nothing

    By Ann Rostow–

    Thanks For Nothing

    When a single major news event explodes onto the world stage, it relegates all other subjects to the sidebars and back pages, to use a 20th Century metaphor. Our GLBT trials and tribulations are dwarfed by terror this week, but I am nonetheless obliged to focus on whatever I can find to say about the scant reporting on our community life. 

    To be sure, I could write many paragraphs about India’s five-member top court that unanimously ruled against marriage equality on October 17. But that would require me to untangle the various opinions and master the history of gay rights in the world’s most populous nation. I decline to accept this onerous assignment.

    I will say that the Chief Justice made a big deal about respecting GLBT citizens and preventing discrimination. Um, okay. Another justice, S. Ravindra Bhat, said same-sex couples were free to conduct relationships “in whichever way they wish within the social realm,” adding that this “does not extend the right to claim any legal entitlement to any legal status for the same union or relationship.” Say what? Yes, basically Bhat gave gay couples the legal right to date, so there’s that. I gather the main justification was that the Court could not make laws and that marriage policy was up to Parliament.

    Also, I had not registered that Joe Biden addressed the big Human Rights Campaign shindig in Washington on Saturday, October 14. That’s a pretty big get, HRC. I guess some 2,500 attended the festivities. “At this pivotal moment in our history,” POTUS remarked, “Jill and I have come here tonight to say thank you for your courage, thank you for your hope, and thank you for your pride.” I know. I would have thought he’d be a little busy, so count me kind of impressed.

    Hate crimes are up across the board for everyone, but us in particular. I’ll spare you the numbers. And I was happy to see some good news in Poland, where centrists have won enough seats to form a coalition government to replace the far-right faction that has recently been in power. No, it’s not a GLBT story, but it resonates for us, as we do not fare well with far-right factions as a rule.

    Sex and the Single Seahorse

    I was just scanning a story about the insidious “Moms for Liberty” book-banners, a Tennessee group that has taken a leading role in many local school policy debates around the country. I’ve written about them before and was going to skip over their latest shenanigans, but I have to comment on one thing. According to an article last month from LGBTQ Nation, the gang was going after schools in “Williamson County,” which could be anywhere, and on their wanna-ban list they included a picture book that included illustrations of seahorses in what purports to be an intimate position.

    Sea Horse: The Shyest Fish in The Sea dares to show two sea horses [sic] holding tails or touching bellies as it describes the animal’s unusual mating ritual,” the news report quotes. “They twist their tails together and twirl gently around, changing color until they match.”

    “Today, Sea Horse’s mate is full of ripe eggs,” the informative text continues. “The two of them dance until sunset and then she puts her eggs into his pouch. Barbour sea horses mate every few weeks during the breeding season. Only the male sea horse has a pouch. Only the female sea horse can grow eggs.”

    That was more than enough for Moms for Liberty!

    For the record, the illustration shows a grey seahorse with its tail around a yellow seahorse. They’re not “doing anything,” if you catch my drift. And I also just learned that seahorses are monogamous and bond for life. What could be more wholesome? What the hell is wrong with these women? (Please note that I would not advocate banning the seahorse book even if the creatures were debauched and unfaithful. But that’s just me.)

    The same article reports that Moms for Liberty want to dump a book about Johnny Appleseed because “the story is sad and dark.” They want an age limit on a book about hurricanes, since kindergarten kids are too young to read about the “devastating effects,” and they object to a Civil War novel that includes “out of marriage families between white men and black women” and depicts “white people as ‘bad’ or ‘evil.’”

    Death Be Not Proud

    While I was on LGBTQ Nation, I couldn’t help but click on a link to a “New Independent Fundamental Baptist” preacher at the Stedfast Baptist Church in Watauga, Texas, called Duncan Urbanek. It’s usually a waste of time to rehash some of these fringe men of God who like to spew venomous antigay rhetoric into the willing ears of the devout Christians in their audience. But this bozo takes the cake.

    “The Bible teaches that being a faggot is a crime,” Urbanek told the faithful. “It’s a crime against society. Police should arrest them, criminals should be put in jail, to be charged with a crime, and they should go to court. Evidence should be used against them, and they should be convicted and guilty of death. If you’re going to follow the Bible’s prescription, the city, town would be throwing rocks at them until they die.”

    “These homos are worthy of death, they should be charged in a lawful assembly, and the government should execute them. The government should line them up and shoot them in the back of their head.”


    Urbanek later complained that he and other preachers of his ilk are often “taken out of context.” In fact, he clarified on X/Twitter: “Here’s the thing: We want them all to die! But it’s not like I’m gonna do it … . No, we just want them dead.” Elsewhere, he suggests that God should give gays and lesbians “a slow painful death,” which I guess would rule out being shot in the back of the head, but whatever. And we wonder why hate crime numbers have risen significantly? 

    I’ve got a flagpole on my house and a dozen or so flags for every occasion. At present, I am flying the University of Texas longhorn flag, which was put up to replace the University of Kansas jayhawk flag. College football season is an important priority in our household. 

    We raise the rainbow flag in June, we put the stars and stripes up on the Fourth of July and the French flag on July 14. We have a Ukrainian flag, a “no hate lives here flag,” a Scottish flag, a “let’s party” flag, and a giant Biden Harris banner. At times, over the last few years when there’s no reason for any particular flag, I’ve felt nervous putting up the rainbow flag. We have not stopped flying it, but I’m just aware of a vague danger when it’s up. Once our car was keyed, perhaps because we have a “Proud Democrat” bumper sticker. I don’t know, but I’ve never experienced this uncomfortable sense of latent violence until recently. 

    Swiss Miss

    This is a good moment to discuss the First Amendment, a laudable feature of American jurisprudence, but not one without intricacy. Duncan Urbanek has the right to preach about the death penalty for GLBT people, but he can’t issue a direct threat of violence. That’s a high bar, however, because as he points out, “it’s not like I’m gonna do it.” Still, you do more than recoil at men like him, and perhaps his “sermon” might lead a follower to “do it,” right? 

    But the point of the First Amendment is to protect difficult and controversial speech against state censorship. So, we are stuck with having to listen Urbanek and his like, unlike citizens of, let’s say Switzerland. Yes, we have here another example of European nations where our version of the First Amendment does not operate and where a man has been sentenced to 60 days in prison for calling someone a “fat lesbian” and “unhinged,” certainly a mild attack compared to some of the name calling that runs amok in our country. Alain Bonnet, who writes as Alain Sorel, was charged with defamation, discrimination, and incitement to hatred after ranting against journalist Catherine Macherel. He was previously nailed for denying the Holocaust in 2019.

    The ruling was “hailed” by gay activists, according to NBC news, but as an American I just can’t handle it. Presumably, if Sorel can’t call Macherel a fat lesbian, I can’t call Sorel an ugly prick, or however I might describe him were I reaching for a vulgar critique. It’s just all wrong.

    Meanwhile, this reminds me of a story I covered elsewhere last month, and again, it’s from our old friends at LGBTQ Nation. Thanks, guys! Apparently, a 14-year-old boy named Rylan decided to troll a TikTok commentator named Michele, who Tiks and Toks at local lezbian. 

    “Your family is going to be in a drive-by shooting on oct 28 2023,” wrote Rylan, “tread lightly scum of the earth. (in Minecraft).” It seems Rylan erroneously believed that by inserting the parenthetical “in Minecraft,” he could not get in trouble for making a direct and specific threat, which indeed in not protected speech and could theoretically have bad repercussions. Those repercussions became more likely when Michele noted that Rylan did not bother to hide his identifying information, including his school. 

    “You are not the brightest crayon, little fella,” she replied, via a post to her 1.5 million followers. “I kind of have some sympathy for you, because again, you’re only 14 years old. You’re not born feeling and viewing people in that way. You are taught that. So, I hope when I contact your local authorities that not only you learn a lesson, but your parents, as well. Your parents don’t want to teach you right from wrong? Allow me to teach you a little something: that’s f—ing unacceptable. You do not do s–t like that.” Michele also informed Rylan’s school principal, who agreed that his behavior was not okay. Not even in Minecraft. I’m dying to know what happened.

    What’s Love Got to Do With It?

    Here’s an intriguing headline: “What A Lesbian Monkey Love Triangle Can Teach Us About Darwin’s ‘Paradox.’” I don’t know about you, but I’m game. Tell us, One Green Planet!

    Darwin, of course, suggested that natural selection favors animals and plants that are likely to survive and thrive, hardly descriptive of lesbian monkey love triangles, who waste their reproductive capacity on Sapphic escapades rather than procreation. So, why would such instincts be rewarded with continuity in nature? 

    “Lesbian monkey love triangles,” the scientists tell us, “just like human ones, are complex. They revolve around the pursuit of pleasure and the desire to build essential social bonds.” Or, as the case may be, the consumption of half a gallon of Southern Comfort in my college dormitory. At Animal Tracks, a sanctuary north of Los Angeles, two female brown capuchin monkeys named Haley and Maci have been joined by a younger white-faced monkey named Bailey. According to the theories, “both male macaque monkeys and lesbian monkeys like Bailey, Haley, and Maci demonstrate that same-sex interactions serve distinct purposes, from strengthening social bonds to potentially increasing reproductive success.” 

    After this flat statement, the authors provide zero evidence or explanation of why this fun-loving primate behavior would increase reproductive success, other than to speculate that the trio’s social bond contributes to a happy community and encourages, um, good things in general. I’m not convinced, but I don’t feel like listening to an entire episode of Science Quickly, which may or may not provide more information. 

    Must there be a scientific reason for everything? Can’t there just be a few exceptions to Darwin’s precepts? Can’t lesbian monkey love triangles exist for their own sake? Must they contribute to the larger ecosystem? 

    Must any of us?

    GLBT Fortnight in Review
    Published on October 19, 2023