Sirenia Digest #77 went out to subscribers this ayem. You should have it by now (unless, you're not a subscriber, but that's easy to fix).
And Aunt Beast's Salt Marsh Home Companion has not been forgotten. I have a web lemur on standby, and a back-up web lemur, should she need any assistance. At this point, the ball's in my court. I mean to have the podcast up and broadcasting by the end of May. The podcasts will be free, but you won't be able to download them. At least not for now. I'll investigate other options when I have time. Which I presently do not.
We have a very special new auction that began last night.
And speaking of last night, the latest episode of Fringe was almost as emotionally harrowing as the last episode.
It's unfortunate I spend so much time pondering the nature of hatred. The news is hatred, writ large and small. Past war and acts of terrorism, what really caught my eye this morning, sitting out in the middle parlor trying to wake up, was a story on CNN.com informing me that Bristol Palin blames the President's daughters for his support of same-sex marriage. Because they watch "too many episodes of Glee." So, just exactly when did we begin caring about the opinions of Bristol Palin? And just why? Okay, set that part aside. But now the bigots can at least blame Ryan Murphy for this turn of events. Of course, many of them saw it coming.
I grew up, for the most part, in Leeds, Alabama way back in the 1970s. Alabama schools had been forcibly, violently desegregated during the years immediately preceding my enrollment at Leeds Elementary in 1972 (before that, I was attending school in Jacksonville, Florida). In theory, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had ended segregated schools. In practice, it was a much messier affair. But, at least, black kids and white kids went to the same schools. Meanwhile, the town was anything but desegregated. Almost all the African-American inhabitants of Leeds lived – were confined would be a more accurate description – to a slum part of town known as Moton, the "black part of town." They didn't eat in the same restaurants or shop in the same grocery stores. And I grew up hearing racial slurs from most (but not all, not my mother who did her best to teach us better) the members of my immediate family. Shit I would never repeat. My "father" once struck my sister at the dinner table because she innocently showed us a photograph that had been taken of her and a close black friend standing together (I'm pleased to say they're still friends today, decades later). There were no interracial couples, no interracial children.
So, now we have a black president – well, actually an interracial president whom we label black – and, coming from where and when I do, that, in and of itself, seems miraculous. And now our president has stood up for gay marriage. He has said we should be able to have the same rights afforded heterosexual couples who love one another. Much of the nation is outraged. Sounds familiar, right? But here's the kicker. Many of those decrying the President's announcement are black men and women. From an ABC News article, I quote:
African Americans oppose gay marriage 55 percent to 41 percent, while all poll respondents support it 52 percent to 43 percent, according to an ABC News poll taken in March. While 94 percent of black voters in California supported Obama in 2008, 70 percent also supported the Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage, according to exit polls.
This is irony, if ever you needed a concrete example of irony. It also isn't especially surprising, which I suppose creates a sort of psycho-social paradox.
Christians (and others) condemn the government's attempts to legislate morality. But, see, that's how we stop hatred in this country. You think you can educate it away? You think you can sit bigots down and calmly reason them out of their hatred? You think this is about fear and ignorance? I don't. I think it's about hatred, which does not follow from emotions like fear and ignorance, but is, in itself, an emotion. It took the Federal Government's intervention to end racial segregation, right down to the use of the National Guard, and it's going to require the Federal Government's intervention to slowly, painfully end discrimination against gay men, lesbians, and transgender people. Period.
Back in Leeds, things are better if you're black. Much better, though, of course, far from ideal. Most still live in Moton. But no one tells them who they can and cannot marry. Queers on the other hand...well, let's just say that Kathryn and I felt the hatred as recently as December 2007, just before our move to the Northeast. Change will probably come. Probably, it's inevitable. But it will not come of its own accord. Simple love does not trump hatred. It has to be beaten down, suppressed so that in generations to come children may grow up less encumbered (but never truly free) of it.
But those black church leaders in the South, I have to look at them and feel a deep shame and confusion. They won their freedom by the same means the GLBT community will. By force. Nothing's really changed, not in those darkest parts of the human psyche. Or, if you prefer, soul.