Monday, June 04, 2007

The Lives of Others

I won’t go into detail as to how it came about, but I found myself the other day in a situation wherein for several hours I had a choice between staring at the walls or reading a stack of fan and gossip magazines. I should have stared at the walls, for thumbing through page after endless page of the absolutely enthralling details of the daily lives of movie stars and far more “celebrities” than I ever knew or cared existed convinced me without a doubt that we, as a society, are doomed.

Children are starving in poor countries around the world, yet we cut down millions of trees to print glossy drek to let us know that Nick and Jessica (who?) absolutely are/are not getting back together, and that Lindsay Lohan (who?), and Brittany (who?) are back in rehab for the twelfth time in two weeks.

American servicemen and women are being slaughtered in Iraq, but there’s a ten-page in-depth report on Tori Spelling (who?) and her new baby...he’s only six months old and already he is cutting his first tooth!!!!

We are constantly being lied to by our own government, but who cares? Did you catch what Rene Zellweiger (who?) wore to the C.R.A.P. awards?

Global warming? Why waste your time? You can’t do anything about it anyway. But what’s really hot is that shot of Matthew McConehey (who?) In his briefs.

And how can I possibly care about skyrocketing gas prices when I am consumed with angst over word that Tom and Katie (who?) are either definitely considering a divorce or are the happiest married couple on earth.

The ever-changing status of these I mean like awesome people’s relationships ( “married.” “wed,” “hitched”, “engaged”, “living together”, “dating” , “seen with”, “constant companions”, “gal-pal”, etc.) is far more important than the petty lives of insignificant nobodys like…well, like you, for instnace..

But I am being unfair, and I apologize. People do care about bigger issues. Did you see that darling little girl Brad and Angelina (who?) just adopted from…uh…one of those places in Africa (or was it Asia? Oh, well, no matter…she’s just darling.) Nor are they unaware of human suffering: there was a heart-rending article on the agonies Parker Posey (who?) underwent when a drain backed up in not one but two of her bathrooms at the same time! and just ruined her new carpets.

I was vastly reassured, however, to derive from a careful analysis of each of these august periodicals, albeit by implication rather than stated fact, that homosexuals apparently do not exist. The supposed ratio between heterosexuals and homosexuals is not, as science has indicated, 9 to 1, but as these learned tomes undoubtedly correctly indicate, more like 99,999,998 to none. Certainly the appearance of the words “homosexual” or “gay” is scarcer than hen’s teeth. And when one of these revered bastions of journalistic excellence does use one of the words—usually on a shocking headline on the front cover, carefully placed there to draw readers like flies to a slop bucket—“Inside the Rumors: Is Ryan Seacrest (who?) Gay??!!!???!!!???”, you can take great comfort in the fact that upon reading the article, you learn that the answer is of course he isn’t gay, you silly goose!

But the most discouraging thing about my hours with this idiocy—other than that I spent them at all—was that I am not, as I had always thought, the only one who refuses to acknowledge reality. The difference, as I see it, is that while I find so much fascination within myself so as to have little time for it, far too many others apparently find so little of interest or worth within themselves that they must seek it in the delusional “reality” of others.

It is to weep.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Different Worlds

I was reading a post from a cyberfriend on one of the many predominantly straight lists to which I belong She was telling of her Memorial Day weekend activities with her husband and family, and of picnics, and nieces and weddings and all the other wholesome things that seem to be part of every heterosexual’s life, and I was struck yet again by how totally alien these things are…and have always been…to me.

The sense of belonging to my own family is something I cannot imagine being without. It is the one solid, unchangeable thing in a constantly changing, turbulent world. Yet even with them, I am aware of vast gulfs in our daily lives…differences which go far below what appears on the surface. So much of the lives of heterosexuals revolve around the problems (and joys) of raising children, of weddings, engagements, bridal showers, baby showers, messy divorces, church functions, and the like. All integral parts of the average heterosexual’s life, and all completely foreign to me.

I don't have much trouble, day to day, dealing with straight women. But I tend to be uncomfortable around straight men I do not know well. It probably stems from the fact that while I myself am a man (and have never either doubted it or had the slightest desire to be anything else), we simply cannot relate to or understand each other. Intellectually there may be few differences, but socially.... Straight men's lives social lives understandably revolve around the wife and kids or the girlfriend or fishing or deer hunting or sitting around with their emotional peers watching the Big Game du jour (and even more incomprehensibly, getting jump-up-and-down excited about it). Sorry, but we might as well be from two different planets.

I’ve never understood, for one thing (among many) why it is that straight men seem driven to go to great lengths to prove that they are “real men”? Why in the world should the question ever even have to arise?

Straight men tend to view gays with widely varying degrees and mixtures of suspicion, mistrust, revulsion, and curiosity. I rather suspect that deep down inside there is also an element of grudging envy of some of the “freedoms” gay men supposedly have that they do not. While gays have long been condemned for their “promiscuity” (largely because society won’t allow us the rights of monogamy), I wager that more than a few straight men would love to be as unrestrained in their sex lives as they condemn (usually wrongly) gay men for being.

Straight men may well...and rightly...resent the fact that gay men are as a rule far more free to ignore the chained-to-the-wall constraints our society imposes on men. “Men” do not cry when they are sad or hurt: in fact, the less emotion they display, the more “manly” they are (or consider themselves to be), and if keeping things bottled up inside leads to ulcers or a stress-induced heart attack, well, so be it. Straighten up and face it “like a man.”.

I find it fascinating that while sex is an integral and undeniable part of human existence, it is the object of our sexual attraction which creates nearly insurmountable walls between us. Love, the most positive emotion known to our race, is only considered valid if the two people experiencing it are of different genders.

With a global population of six billion or so, and counting, one might think that the fact that Adam and Steve or Eve and Joanne cannot naturally procreate would be considered in a far more positive light than it is. (“Breeders” is a pejorative gays direct against straights in partial retaliation for the endless string of epithets directed against us.)

The fact of the matter is that our society concentrates far, far too heavily on strict adherence to arbitrary gender roles, and in so doing it prevents our focusing on those things far more basic to humanity: love, loyalty, honesty, kindness, honor, and common decency toward one another.

It is said that the mills of the gods grind exceedingly slowly. Our society is, in fact changing. But I wouldn't put off doing the laundry waiting for the change to be complete.

New entries are posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back.