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    Ann Rostow: Time to Grow Up

    By Ann Rostow–

    Time to Grow Up

    When did Americans become so simplistic? We conflate innocent Palestinians with barbaric Hamas terrorists, defending the former without condemning the latter. We blame all Israelis for the narcissistic far-right leadership of Netanyahu, who, like Trump, represents a fringe minority of his country. And we wind up with a frightening rise in antisemitism around the country, including on liberal college campuses where everyone is supposed to be open-minded, inclusive, intersectional, and politically correct to an annoying degree. Just when did it become okay to denigrate an entire category of human beings based on religion, specifically a category decimated by mass murder within the lifetime of our oldest generations? 

    When I was in my early twenties, my friends and I were part of the revival of feminism and the awakening of the gay community. For a time, there was a pedophilia group called the “National Man Boy Love Association,” which attached itself to the evolving gay civil rights movement that, of course, was dominated by men. The explanation for this was that “prejudice” against child sexual abuse was on par with society’s disdain for same-sex relationships. Based on this rationale, just about everything under the sun was grist for our mill, including NAMBLA.

    NAMBLA didn’t last long, happily. At one Pride March in New York, most of the women split from the men in protest and finished the march by a different route. Eventually, sanity emerged, in some part thanks to the influence of lesbians. But I remember being mystified by friends who took longer than most to recognize that the group (which approved of sex not just with older teenagers, but with actual pre-pubescent kids) was loathsome. For a movement that argued same-sex love was equivalent to other relationships to embrace deviance made no sense, but it happened because people followed a logical path to an illogical dead-end and lacked the maturity to backtrack. I feel as if that’s happening now.

    In truth, I wasn’t that mature back then either, but luckily my little gang of friends all agreed that NAMBLA was bad news. What would I have done if my peers had felt differently? I’ve never thought about it, assuming instead that all my good qualities arise from my own superior natural instincts. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that I’m not that different from anybody else, so who knows?

    Phlegmatic Nutcase Takes the Gavel

    Moving on, what is there to say about Speaker Mike Johnson? This is a man who spent years working for the Alliance Defending Freedom, née the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal organization specifically designed to fight the GLBT civil rights movement. Worse, he’s basically a Christian Nationalist. Although he himself doesn’t use the term, he espouses the insidious notion that our country is built on Christianity, should be run on Christian precepts (not in a good way), and should elevate Christianity to the status of a national religion. As noted, we’re talking about a hard right faith, where minority religions, cultures, sexual orientations, and gender identities are subjected to state sanctioned prejudices. Oh, and he tried to overturn the election of Joe Biden.

    Part of me thinks that the GOP House majority, already dragged around by a ring through its nose, will be unchanged even by such a drastic election. Plus, some pundits say the elevation of Johnson will come back to bite the Republicans a year from now. We’ll see. But meanwhile, we have a real lunatic on our hands. To think of this joker two heartbeats away from the presidency is chilling. 

    Finally, get a load of Johnson’s wife. Kelly Johnson is a Christian counselor, whatever that may entail, with a specialty in “Temperament” counseling. “The temperament-based approach breaks people down into five types,” we learn from Business Insider, “Melancholy, Choleric, Sanguine, Supine, and Phlegmatic.” According to the founders of this scheme, Richard and Phyllis Arno, you can buy their diagnostic kit, use the techniques to relegate your hapless patients into one of these unpleasant sounding rubrics and extrapolate from there. Fun times!

    What Color Is Your Parachute?

    There’s considerable overseas news, which I always try to avoid based on a vague “America First” attitude towards our community developments. Things are bad enough in our own country, I reason, so why discuss the horrors beyond our borders that are invariably worse? For example, I have written “bad stuff in Uganda” on my list and should probably go check on what that was all about even though I don’t want to. Can we leave it at that? 

    Nigerian paramilitary thugs just arrested 76 people at a gay birthday party, just a few months after police arrested dozens at a same-sex wedding. These gatherings are illegal under Nigerian law, which sounds much like Ugandan law although, unlike Ugandan law, it might not include capital punishment for gay sex. 

    (I checked this. Sharia law in some northern Nigerian states calls for the death penalty for some gay sex, although we have not seen any fatalities in the press. Uganda, meanwhile, has the distinction of being the only Christian nation to put capital punishment for gay sex on the books.)

    There was so-called “good news” out of Japan, where a court has determined that it is unconstitutional to sterilize transgender citizens. According to Human Rights Watch, this qualifies as a “Victory for Transgender Rights in Japan,” and I suppose technically that’s accurate. According to the organization, trans people in Japan must petition a family court for permission to transition. “Under the Gender Identity Disorder Special Cases Act,” HRW tells us, “applicants must undergo a psychiatric evaluation, be surgically sterilized, and ‘have a physical form that is endowed with genitalia that closely resemble the physical form of an alternative gender.’ They also must be single and without children who are younger than 18.” Nice that you no longer have to be sterilized. Too bad about your partner and kids.

    Returning to Uganda, where a strict anti-GLBT law was passed earlier this summer, I see that the law will be reviewed by the nation’s top court that I would not have listed as “bad stuff” in my notes had I been paying attention. Meanwhile, after Googling “Uganda constitutional court gay,” I can’t help but notice the many headlines discussing the 2014 ruling that revoked the previous antigay law, which I recall was just as bad as the current version. How could the law be re-enacted after the court struck it down a few years back? Can we assume the court will strike this one as well? What would stop Uganda from simply passing another antigay statute? Inquiring minds want to know.

    In England, a survey reveals that the most popular profession for GLBT people is air travel assistant, where one in seven employees is part of our community. Other gay friendly jobs include coffee shop worker, theme park attendant, and entertainment presenter, which include one in ten gay staff members, while bartender, public relations professional, and library assistant draw one in 13 of our ilk. Our least favorite careers, at one in a hundred, are bricklayer, farmer, and window cleaner.

    Bricklayer? Theme park attendant? Really? Where did they get these arcane categories? And what’s the percentage of GLBT people in the overall British work force? If it’s five or ten percent then there’s not much there there, is there? I guess the big headline in that case would be that gay people hate farming, which doesn’t ring true to me. According to The Independent, the numbers are derived from the 2021 Census, which included optional questions about sexual orientation. So, it could just be that air travel assistants are more forthcoming about their sexual orientation than others.

    Whose Turn Is It?

    One million Moms has found a new objectionable TV commercial, this time for Snickers, which I think I read recently is the best-selling candy bar on the American market. Following their highly entertaining theme of embarrassing moments by hungry people who need to eat a Snickers, the ad shows two straight couples playing a board game. 

    “Hey guys, want to do a little swap?” one woman asks. The group exchanges neutral glances and the other woman replies with a naughty smile, “I mean, yeah, I could be into it … . Would I, like, move in with Tyler, or is it just more of a one-time, casual thing?” 

    Surprised, the first woman explains, “I was talking about switching up teams—for fun.” The husbands are not smiling as the tag line appears: “You’re unfiltered when you’re hungry,” and the frisky woman tries to backpedal. “Of course! Whose turn is it?”

    The million Moms were not amused. “Snickers has crossed a line that many viewers find to be repulsive,” she huffed. I say “she” because it is pretty clear that the million Moms are actually one individual, Monica Cole, who runs this division of the American Family Association. “Please sign our petition urging Snickers to stop its inappropriate marketing campaigns immediately,” Cole entreats us. “Also, let Snickers know that continuing to air this offensive commercial with sexually suggestive double entendres will force you and your family to avoid this candy and all products made by Mars, Incorporated. And please share this with your friends and family.”

    “Everyone knows children repeat what they hear,” Cole also points out, which raises the disturbing possibility that the little ones will soon be parroting provocative phrases like, “I could be into it,” or, “Whose turn is it?” 

    Oh, speaking of turns and commercials, have you seen the Allstate ad with the guy who knows the roads better than his GPS system, ignores directions from others, and blows through signs on his way to a shortcut that will save him five minutes? This driver is supposed to exemplify the typical street-smart Allstate client, but he’s actually infuriating. 

    I’ve driven with people like this, mostly men but not always, and there’s nothing smart about them. Their special backroads lead nowhere. They lose themselves in neighborhoods where all the streets have highly similar names like Oak Drive, Oak Place, Oak Lane, and Oak Place Lane. They refuse help from their passengers and won’t stop to ask a knowledgeable pedestrian. They are beyond irritating and don’t deserve to qualify for car insurance of any sort. 

    Just sayin’. 

    Priests Behaving Badly

    In other international news, I forgot to tell you about the hot sex party in Poland that led to the resignation of the local Bishop. As The New York Times reports, Grzegorz Kaszak, the 59-year-old bishop of Sosnowiec, “announced his departure after one of his priests was placed under criminal investigation in connection with reports last month that he had organized a sex party during which a male prostitute lost consciousness from an overdose of erectile dysfunction pills.”

    Woah, Nellie! It’s not clear what exactly took place at the August 31 bacchanal, but I guess the prostitute took too many little blue pills and had some kind of medical crisis. Someone called an ambulance, and when other partygoers tried to block the paramedics from tending to the ailing man, the medics called the cops and were able to continue treatment.

    It sounds as if Kaszak was guilty, not of personal debauchery, but of failing to keep tabs on his libidinous underlings. The main culprit, known only as Father Tomasz Z, has been forbidden to celebrate mass, relieved of all responsibilities and “sent to live outside the parish.” It doesn’t sound as if any minors were involved in the festivities, but it’s certainly not acceptable behavior for a celibate priest now, is it? 

    Last but not least, Michigan is about to sign a ban on conversion therapy becoming the 22nd state to do so. At the same time, the Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a petition at the Supreme Court asking the justices to weigh in on efforts to outlaw the practice, which have been upheld by two federal appellate courts, but struck by a third. You know what that means. Yes, a circuit split that often leads the Court to accept review. So far, this latest case out of Washington State, has been discussed in conference several times, but the Court has yet to take action on the petition.

    How do you overdose and lose consciousness on Viagra? Ah, I see here that excessive use can lower your blood pressure, which is counter intuitive to me. Who knew? Not Father Tomasz, it seems.

    GLTB Fortnight in Review
    Published on November 2, 2023