Friday, July 5, 2019


When society gets pushed too far in one direction, there is often a counter-pressure.

This is Gay Pride month, which has morphed from an annual parade in New York, to a series of in-your-face events that I think a lot of gay people are themselves tired of.  OK, rainbow flags, homosexuality.  We get it.

Back in the 1980's, I went to a gay pride parade in New York City.  We chartered a bus from Syracuse and it was a lot of fun.  It was, in fact, a party.    Back then, those were heady times.   Being "out" was still something that was novel - and in fact, you would face a lot of troubles if you were.   Bear in mind that while homosexuality has been around for a long, long time (it is, after all, mentioned in the Bible - although not favorably) it is only in the last two or three decades that any form of public acceptance has occurred.

Some people point to the Stonewall riots as the birth of the gay pride movement.  But there were precursors.  In Wiemar Germany, between the wars, gays became more vocal and gay rights groups were started - and then a few years later, stamped out with vigor.  Gays went back into the closet (those who were not killed) and with a World War going on, other issues seemed more pressing.

In the postwar period in America, some gay groups started, mostly in larger more liberal cities.  The Mattachine Society published a magazine and held meetings, but it was still considered an outlier.  In Eisenhower's postwar America, conforming was the norm, although there were a few malcontents and beatniks and whatnot.

Being gay back then was a pretty dangerous proposition (if you will pardon the pun) - much as it was in most parts of the world up until that time.  My great uncle was queer, and he visited the gay bars in New York City.  The mafia ran these, of course (and would for decades to come) with a quid-pro-quo with the Police, who would periodically raid them to "clean up the city" when someone was running for re-election.  It was also a perfect vehicle for intimidation and blackmail.   The mafia, the police - or both - could catch a prosperous married man in such a place and shake him down for money or influence.   It was a pretty sick system.   After these periodic raids, they would publish the name of the "perverts" (and often their home addresses!) in the newspaper, after which many would lose their jobs, their families, or be forced to move away.  Others were expected to "do the honorable thing" as my Uncle did, and shoot themselves.

Pretty sick stuff.   And by the early 1970's, people were pretty sick of it.  After all, the Police were suppose to protect the citizens, not exploit them.  And protection was pretty lacking.   If you were gay and the victim of a crime, don't expect the Police to help you out.   Often the Police were on the side of the gay-bashers, if in fact, some of them weren't actually off-duty cops.

In the 1970's, being gay became trendy, and overnight, it exploded on the scene - again in major coastal cities - in an orgy of drugs and wild sex.   Gay bars proliferated - again usually run by the mafia.  The balcony at Studio 54 became an orgy room - for gays and straights.  And then, people started getting sick.  Some scientists now believe that the HIV virus has been around a long, long time.  And the biblical stories of Sodom and Gomorrah might have their factual basis in the spread of venereal diseases. To superstitious primitives of the time (or even today) the spread of a mysterious, wasting illness must have been seen as God's wrath. After all, those who were not sexually promiscuous tended not to get sick, right?  And perhaps that is why our brains are programmed to want sex - but at the same time to be ashamed of it.   It, like all other aspects of our brains and bodies, are the results of survival skills.

For a lot of young men in the early 1980's, "coming out" was sort of a cruel joke.  It was more acceptable to be gay then, but if you actually had sex, you'd die of a horrible disease.  And they say God doesn't have a sense of humor.   But eventually, people started to discover that not all forms of sex were directly linked to the spread of HIV, and moreover, the extreme promiscuity of the 1970's (having multiple sex partners a night) were what was to blame.   Safe sex and new medicines put the HIV crises on the back-burner, although arguably that makes it even more dangerous.

That was only a couple of decades ago. When I moved to Washington, DC, there were gay neighborhoods, gay bars, and gay bashings.   Young thugs from the suburbs would drive into DC with baseball bats to "beat up some fags" killing some and critically wounding others.  Again, at first, the Police made only the appearance of intervening.  Eventually some culprits were caught and jailed.  Gay-bashing fell from favor - homeless-bashing is the new sport.

By the 1990's being gay became more accepted by most mainstream folks, although the idea of gay marriage was frowned upon by most.  Myself, I didn't see it as a burning issue, and felt that if legalized, would galvanize the right - which it has, to some extent.   Politicians running for office today are being castigated for their stands on the issue back then - which is easy to do, when you are a 29-year-old who was a mere toddler at the time - or not even born yet.

But a funny thing happened as gays went mainstream.  The gay ghettos of Greenwich Village, the Castro, Dupont Circle, Key West, and South Beach, started to gentrify.   Housing prices went up, and gays were not so much priced out of these areas, as they sold out, and went to live in the suburbs.   Since you could live anywhere you wanted to, why live in a gay ghetto?  And if you look at the history of any minority group, you see this same pattern.  The "Chinatown" in Washington DC is no longer Chinese (other than some legacy restaurants). Today it is largely black and Hispanic.  Before it was Chinese, it was Jewish.  The black Baptist church there used to be a temple.

Each minority group goes through these phases, and once accepted, largely leave the ghettos behind.   This is progress, but many on the Left argue that the "destruction" of these enclaves is a tragedy, as it means the end of identity politics.   If gays live in the suburbs - gasp! - they might turn into conservatives!

We lived in the suburbs of Alexandria, hiding in plain sight.  The funny thing is, most gays do - back then, and even today.   The gay ghettos housed only a minority of the overall population.   Living in a gay neighborhood, working at gay job, going to a gay grocer, and having a gay landlord (as one person put it - "my life is all gay!") gets tiring after a while.  It is hard work to be so witty and clever all the time.   Sometimes you just want to be a regular person.

And as gays were more accepted, the gay bars closed - or many turned into old folks' homes, as their clientele aged out.  The younger kids today go to a club and don't identify it (or themselves) as "gay" or "straight".   Acceptance has its price.

But of course, another effect has been seen - the constant pushing of the boundaries.  As I noted before, these special interest groups and lobbies take on a life of their own.   As director of the (fill in the blank) interest group, you have to justify your six-figure (or even seven-figure) salary and expensive K-street offices.  So once you "win" on one issue, you have to find a new one - or convince your donors that the issue you won is again in jeopardy.

We saw this with the NRA - winning time and time again, to the point there gun control has been thoroughly beaten down, not only by Congress, but now by the Supreme Court.  Since they had no burning issue to generate donations, they resorted to convoluted paranoid arguments that gun control laws in Australia were somehow a threat to Americans, or the tired old John Birch argument that the United Nations was somehow going to enact Sharia Law in the United States and "take away our guns!"

The gay rights groups have done likewise.  After a largely surprise win at the Supreme Court, they sort of floundered for a new issue to latch onto, and "transgender rights" has been the new rallying cry - a fight the far-right has gleefully responded to with moronic "bathroom bills" that address what is largely a non-existent issue.

The problem - as I see it - is that we have morphed from demanding the right to be left the hell alone to demanding the right of acceptance.    Coming from the old school, I was happy to put an end to the gay-bashing and routine raids on gay bars.   I just wanted to live my life in peace and quiet, and if someone didn't like me because of who I am or what I do, that didn't bother me.

Today, it seems that we are pushing - and that is the word, pushing - to have people be forced to accept and celebrate your sexuality.   These cake-baker and wedding photographer cases are just as moronic as "bathroom bills" in North Carolina.   If someone doesn't want to do business with me because of who I am or what I believe in, I would rather they did not.  I have done business with some fundamentalist Christian homophobic businesses, and the subliminal hostility started to surface pretty quickly.  I only wished that they just said up front they didn't like me - it would have saved me a lot of grief and shitty service.   Today, they put these "fish" symbols on their businesses, so I can steer clear of them.  I think this is a good public service, frankly.

But note, not all fundamentalist or evangelical Christians are that way.  Yes, there are even gay evangelicals these days.  Some of them actually read the bible (instead of quoting sentence fragments out of context) and are compassionate and caring people.   Stereotypes are never a good thing.   That being said, when I see the "Jesus Fish" on a business, I steer away - not only because of the prospect of an uncomfortable business relationship, but because any businessman who tries to meld his faith with his business, usually ends up being a shitty businessman - in my experience.

What worries me today is that being gay is seen as trendy.   I get a lot of comments from heterosexual people who want to high-five me and tell me how accepting they are.  This is a fine sentiment and all, but it is sort of akin to going up to a black person and saying "I just wanted you to know, that I support your causes.  Fuck the Police!" - or something like that.   You are making that black person very uncomfortable.

But what is trendy one day is un-trendy the next.   We've seen this time and time again, with products, celebrities, political theories, and whatnot.   What seems unstoppably popular one moment, ends up on the trash heap of history the next.   I don't want "gay" to end up in the same bucket as AOL and Reaganomics.   Because the same people giving me the high-five today are the first to follow the next trend, and turn that into a Nazi salute the next.  And if you don't believe me, read history

People change their minds a lot - and the people who are most extremist tend to change their minds the most - and make the most radical changes.  Scratch off the "MAGA" sticker on the back of your neighbor's pickup truck and you'll see a "Feel the Bern!" sticker underneath.   The far-left and far-right are only inches apart - the political spectrum is not linear, it is a Möbius strip.

And we are seeing this backlash today, arguably at the height of the gay rights movement - which has expanded from a once-a-year parade to an entire month of celebrations, which require that every left-leaning celebrity pander to us in one form of another.  It gets kind of embarrassing, quite frankly.

While I am told they are in favor of my "rights" and want me free from "oppression" I have to wonder what exactly I need in terms of additional rights.  Already, I feel that I have everything I need - and more than I ever expected.  I never expected or demanded that we live in the United States of Even-Steven, where everyone is equal and everyone has to accept everyone, no matter what.  But I am told that I am being oppressed by my employers, the government, and the Police.   Yet, like most gays, I manged to make a heck of a lot more money that many straight people.   And the raids on gay bars and the discrimination and shakedowns by the Police are largely a thing of history.  And discrimination in employment, while it still exists - on many levels - is fading quickly as employers realize that good workers are hard to come by.

Additional rights?  Be careful what you wish for.  A conservative friend of mine asked me what I thought about proposed legislation that outlawed employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.   As an employer, I told him, I was against it - which sort of shocked him.    Being an employer is a real wake-up call, and you realize all your employees have "rights" and you have none.  But in addition to that, you have to collect taxes, fund retirements, healthcare, and enforce immigration laws - oh, and put an end to thousands of years of gender discrimination.  That shouldn't be too hard, right?   Have that done by lunch.

People sue their employers at the drop of a hat as it is.   You can't fire anyone anymore - or even give a recommendation (good or bad) for an employee.   And odds are, if you do fire them, they come back with a gun and shoot you.   Who in their right mind would want to be an employer these days?

"But wouldn't these laws provide protection to employees?" he asked.  "I suppose so," I replied, "but then it would also give employees a cause of action to sue me, claiming I was discriminating against them because they were straight!"   He said he never thought of that.  But it is true - act shocked - that people abuse these "protection" laws by alleging bias when there was none.  Mark had to fire a number of employees caught on camera stealing hundreds, in one case thousands of dollars of merchandise from the store. More than one of those caught threatened to sue, claiming "discrimination" - and one actually did.   Even with videotape evidence, the store settled with them.

No one is saying that discrimination is right, but when you tell people they have a special right, well, often it goes to their head.  Not only that, it engenders a backlash from others, who see certain groups given what they believe to be special rights.   You have to walk on eggs around certain groups, lest you offend their sensibilities.  One wrong comment on twitter and you're toast.

And sometimes people go around looking for outrage.   Recently, an economist put together a video about the economics of pork production in China.  He referred to "Chinese Pigs" in the sense of pigs who live in China.   Either something was lost in translation, or the Chinese were looking for an excuse for more Western-bashing, as they claimed that this poor fellow was calling all Chinese people, pigs.   In fact, he was only referring to pigs (swine) in China.   It illustrates the sort of cultural landmines you have to watch out for these days.

People get sick of this stuff, though, and they start to resent - openly or subliminally - the idea that certain groups of people have to be treated with kid gloves.   This has the tendency to push people way from each other - which plays into the hands of the identity politics people.   When anything you say can and will be used against you in a Twitter torch-and-pitchfork campaign, you tend to say nothing - or bottle it all up internally, or on some 4-chan discussion group.

Take, for example, the image above, which I scraped from Google, showing a gay pride parade.  I googled "Gay Pride Parade" and Google helpfully listed some helpful subheadings:





As you might imagine, what is going on here is a form of vote brigading, where people organize to spoof Google's search engine by up-voting images on Reddit or other forums, so that they float to the top of the Google cesspool.  All this stuff is right there, under the surface, ready to explode.

So what is the answer?  Some would argue that if you don't assert your rights, then you move backward and let the haters win.  On the other hand, there are other minority groups in America that have succeeded and integrated into our society without such confrontational tactics.  In fact, the one group that has recently engaged in confrontational tactics the most - the blacks - seem to be the one group that is perpetually left behind in the American dream.

Today, the talk is about "slave reparations" and I doubt that will do much to enhance racial harmony.  Even if enacted (which has a snowball's chance in hell) it would just serve to divide us - and the "reparations" money would be spent within a year or so, leaving no one's lives permanently changed, and calls for yet more "reparations" because you know, the first was not enough.

No offense, but I don't want to be an oppressed minority, nor do I feel like one.   I think we've taken a good thing and maybe taken it a bit too far.   Yea, it is fun to have a parade and all, but it is better to be a part of society and not try to demarcate yourself as "different" from it.   Being "equal" often means being the same as others.

Sadly, to even have this discussion is considered verboten.   Any straight person who questions whether cake-baker cases have merit or whether Obamacare should pay for sex-change operations (on children, no less) is deemed "homophobic".   I cannot even address this issue, without being called a Nazi apologist or worse by some  kid with rainbow hair who wasn't even born when I was marching in the parade and leading the gay student group at university.   People who really haven't experienced much in the way of discrimination (other than "bullying" in high school - which can and does happen to people of all orientations - high school sucks, let's face it, and leaving it as soon as possible is the best plan) are claiming that the Police are out to get them and that in this era of gay marriage and gay acceptance that they are a put-down minority.

I just don't see it.  And a lot of other people don't as well.   Not when we have a gay pride month to celebrate.   I just hope this doesn't generate a backlash, but I suspect it will, as we live in an era of extremes and extremist politicians - and rising right-wing, nationalism, and fascism.   It is Wiemar Germany, 1935, and we are all celebrating our victory, without realizing there is an undercurrent of dissent growing daily.  It is like a bomb waiting to go off, but no one wants to try to defuse it.