Friday, November 30, 2007

The Part I Object To

I have had two spots of basal cell carcinoma removed before, so I went to the dermatologist this morning knowing that they would lay me down on the table, numb my forehead, and cut out the red spots that have been hanging around there for the past six months. I don't like having minor surgery performed on me, in fact the very thought of incisions makes me sick to my stomach, but I understand it needed to be done.

I was going to a UW clinic and I know that they all exist largely to provide a practicing ground for UW medical students, so it didn't surprise me to get a student doctor doing his dermatology rotation. I know that at some point students need to make the jump from practicing on dummies or corpses or whatever to doing real work with real live people, and I don't mind being one of those practice patients. I've never felt that I was in bad hands with a medical student. My student doctor this morning was both warm and professional, in fact, and I'm sure he'll make a very good doctor.

I understand that medical students, just like real doctors, are human and make mistakes. I don't mind that my student doctor this morning had two failed attempts at sewing up the incision--the first because the suture tore right through the damaged skin and the second because he pulled too hard and broke the suture--before the attending physician did it right. Really, I don't mind. It was a minor mistake that is apparently easy to make, and no permanent damage was done. As much as it grosses me out to think about it, it's okay.

And that's where the problem comes in. As I lay there with a bright light in my eyes, a numb forehead, and two men over me, doing mysterious things with sharp objects, I did not want to think about what was happening. I did not want to know there was some kind of trial-and-error thing going on with the bleeding open wound in my forehead. I closed my eyes because I didn't want to see what they were doing; I could have been spared the play-by-play narration. If the thought of it now makes me queasy, imagine how I felt at the time. It's no wonder I started to black out afterward while scheduling a follow-up appointment with the receptionist, and had to sit down.

So yes, medical students of the world, you are welcome to practice your suture technique on my forehead (assuming, of course, that the procedure is necessary in the first place). Mess up as much as you want, as long as it gets done right in the end. But please, please, don't talk about what you're doing out loud. Use sign language.


Actually, scratch that idea. Sign language doesn't go well with the whole carrying-sharp-objects-with-one-hand-and-holding-the-pieces-of-my-head- together-with-another thing. Speak Latvian instead.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

What I Want For Christmas

So considering my profession, I probably should have heard of the Amazon Kindle before now, but I tend to be out of the loop that way. At any rate, wow. I like it. I've seen other attempts at portable reading devices, but I'm really impressed by this one. It seems to be lightweight and easy-to-use (or at least Amazon says so), and it uses ultracool technology that gives the screen the look of printed paper. And it makes perfect sense that would be the people to make the portable reading device that is actually going to work, since they already dominate the market in all kinds of related media so they're in a position to back the device up with a service that makes it usable, but for some reason the idea never occurred to me.

Considering Marvel Comics' recent foray into digital comics (and DC is sure to follow sooner or later), I'd say it's only a matter of time before I'm reading my weekly comics on the Amazon Kindle that you're going to get me for Christmas (yes, you--c'mon, it's only $400).

And you know what? I'm okay with that. Call me a traitor to librarianship. Yes, there will always be books that I want to have in a tangible form on my wooden (well, plywood) bookshelf, but I'd say the majority of what I read I'd be just as happy to read without paper. Why kill another tree?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Gay Mormons on YouTube

I saw references to these YouTube interviews with gay Mormon Clark Johnsen a few weeks ago, but didn't feel a strong desire to go see them. Yesterday Ron Schow suggested I watch them for a perspective on the whole gay men courting straight women issue, and I'm glad he did. I don't actively advocate gay people dating and marrying heterosexually (nor do I get the sense that Johnsen does), but if you're going to do it, this seems like the most honest way to go about it--Johnsen told her before asking her out the first time.

While I was popping around on YouTube, I also came across this interview with Lester and Barbara Leavitt, a couple I've heard of before but never looked into too deeply. They are former Mormons and he came out as gay a few years ago, after they'd been married for more than twenty years. I'm not entirely clear on their current marital status--I get the feeling that the video was made during a transitional stage in their relationship, but it appears they've now separated to pursue other paths while remaining friends. Apart from some overgeneralizing they've done in making statements about "the Church" when referring to stupid things local church authorities and members have done or said, what strikes me most about the video is the love they have for each other. Their strong relationship shows in how they talk about each other and how they interact. They seem like good folk to me.

Oh, and did you know I'm on YouTube? I am. It's nothing new--just last year's Fox13 interview with me and FoxyJ. It's nice to know it's on YouTube now so more people can make mean comments about us. It's okay, though--ignorant criticism is much easier to take than educated criticism.


Complete and utter weirdness.

Moral of the story: don't name your kid Lemuel. It can only lead to bad things.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Straight Spouses on the Go!

The first of the (hopefully) ten interviews I'm conducting with straight LDS women and men who are (or were) married to gay men and women is up at Northern Lights. I also recommend you read the foreword to the interviews, mainly because I wrote it.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Weekly Confession #3: Fostering Dependence

Forgive me, Blogger, for I have sinned. I seem to be hellbent on raising children who are entirely dependent on me.

We had a family conference with S-Boogie's teachers at her preschool the other day. The conference went well and I was happy to hear that S-Boogie is having fun, being friendly with all the other kids, and adapting well to change. The areas of improvement that the teachers would like to work on with us don't surprise me. They want to help S-Boogie manage her emotions better (i.e. not break into screaming fits every time something goes wrong) and to encourage her to develop better problem-solving skills.

This goes right along with something SkyeJ noted after spending the afternoon with S-Boogie on Friday. S-Boogie had asked to do construction paper art, it seems, and Skye quickly realized that what this meant was that S-Boogie wanted her to do construction paper art while S-Boogie watched. If Skye encouraged S-Boogie to do her own cutting or gluing, she would insist that she couldn't , that she needed Skye to do it for her.

This is basically how any project goes with S-Boogie. And I take full responsibility for encouraging it. In the past couple weeks she and I have made some cool-looking butterflies, mice, cats, boats, and fish with construction paper, and in each case her involvement is limited to telling me what to make and what colors to use. I don't insist she do cutting and gluing herself because I don't want her to hurt herself with the scissors or make a mess with the glue, and when it comes down to it I don't have confidence in her ability to make that butterfly look nearly as good as I know I can. She wants to make something pretty, and I want to help her. So I do it myself.

There's a similar dynamic when I help her brush her teeth. She is fully capable of doing everything by herself except turning on the water (because our sink has a particularly difficult knob), but I tend to rinse off the brush, put the toothpaste on, and fill up a rinsing cup myself because I know that if I do it the brush will actually get rinsed off, toothpaste won't be wasted, and it won't take us all night to get through a simple process.

The emotional management part of the equation comes into play when she gets frustrated that she can't do things. She'll be trying to build a Duplo tower, for example, and when it falls over she'll cry and scream. I don't like to hear her crying and screaming, so I'll rush in and fix the tower, rather than helping her work through those emotions of frustration and encouraging her to solve the problem herself.

In short, I encourage my children to be dependent on me because I'm a perfectionist and I don't trust children to do everything perfectly.

As penance for my sin I will slap myself every time I start to solve a problem S-Boogie can solve herself or do something for her that she can do herself. I will work together with FoxyJ and S-Boogie's teachers to teach her to manage her emotions and to find creative solutions to problems. And I will buy her some children's safety scissors.

I am sorry for this and for many other sins of my past and present life.

Penance or Blasphemy?
You Decide

As penance for last week's Weekly Confession, Scot suggested I perform ten Hail Scotties. This sounded like a good idea until I stopped to realize that Scot is a member of that most abominable of species: married men. Never mind the fact that he's married to a man; his sole purpose in life can only be to oppress women and take advantage of his patriarchal power. Add to that the fact that he's a former Mormon and it becomes quite clear that his goal in making such a suggestion was to oppress FoxyJ by luring both her and me into some kind of polygaymous marriage arrangement.

So I've decided to take another reader's suggestion and do ten Hail Foxys instead. If I'm about to offend any devoutly Catholic readers, stop me now.

No objections? Okay, here I go.

Hail Foxy, full of grace, Blogger is with thee; blessed art thou among bloggers, and blessed are the fruits of thy womb, S-Boogie and Little Dude.
Foxy Foxy, mother of blogs, blog for us sinners, now and at the hour of our disconnection. Amen.
Hail Foxy, full of grace, Blogger is with thee; blessed art thou among bloggers, and blessed are the fruits of thy womb, S-Boogie and Little Dude.
Foxy Foxy, mother of blogs, blog for us sinners, now and at the hour of our disconnection. Amen.

Hail Foxy, full of grace, Blogger is with thee; blessed art thou among bloggers, and blessed are the fruits of thy womb, S-Boogie and Little Dude.
Foxy Foxy, mother of blogs, blog for us sinners, now and at the hour of our disconnection. Amen.

Hail Foxy, full of grace, Blogger is with thee; blessed art thou among bloggers, and blessed are the fruits of thy womb, S-Boogie and Little Dude.
Foxy Foxy, mother of blogs, blog for us sinners, now and at the hour of our disconnection. Amen.
Hail Foxy, full of grace, Blogger is with thee; blessed art thou among bloggers, and blessed are the fruits of thy womb, S-Boogie and Little Dude.
Foxy Foxy, mother of blogs, blog for us sinners, now and at the hour of our disconnection. Amen.
Hail Foxy, full of grace, Blogger is with thee; blessed art thou among bloggers, and blessed are the fruits of thy womb, S-Boogie and Little Dude.
Foxy Foxy, mother of blogs, blog for us sinners, now and at the hour of our disconnection. Amen.
Hail Foxy, full of grace, Blogger is with thee; blessed art thou among bloggers, and blessed are the fruits of thy womb, S-Boogie and Little Dude.
Foxy Foxy, mother of blogs, blog for us sinners, now and at the hour of our disconnection. Amen.
Hail Foxy, full of grace, Blogger is with thee; blessed art thou among bloggers, and blessed are the fruits of thy womb, S-Boogie and Little Dude.
Foxy Foxy, mother of blogs, blog for us sinners, now and at the hour of our disconnection. Amen.
Hail Foxy, full of grace, Blogger is with thee; blessed art thou among bloggers, and blessed are the fruits of thy womb, S-Boogie and Little Dude.
Foxy Foxy, mother of blogs, blog for us sinners, now and at the hour of our disconnection. Amen.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dear The Ram Restaurant & Brewery,

If, despite the fact that you are located all of thirty feet away from student family housing (i.e. where lots and lots of small children live), you feel the need to have a beer garden for every UW football game, with the intent of getting already-irrational football fans stark raving drunk, please keep your drunks caged up until they are sober enough to not throw bicycles into my living room window.


Mr. Fob

P.S. No, the broken window is not your fault and in fact I have no way of knowing that the culprit was one of your drunks, or even drunk for that matter, but I have to be angry at someone, don't I? And the fact that your drunken football lunatics are still disturbing my peaceful Saturday evening with their yelling and swearing as I write this, you're an awfully convenient target.

My Post-Thanksgiving Brag

FoxyJ has much more to brag about than I do, as she put together an amazing meal yesterday and did so while hardly breaking a sweat, but I want to show off the very cool namecards that S-Boogie and I made:

What's so cool about those namecards, you ask? Well, since you're so fascinated by every little thing I do, I'll tell you. Knowing that I was in charge of the crafty decorative stuff, Foxy sent me a link to a website that has cool Thanksgiving crafts to do with kids. The site did have some good stuff on it, but unfortunately if you want anything bigger than a thumbnail to print you have to pay for a membership. I could have searched more for free templates, but the site had given me enough of an idea to do it on my own. So I drew the pictures, cut the cards out, and penciled in the names. S-Boogie colored the pictures and traced the names with pen over my pencil.

What I really want to brag about, though, is not the cards themselves, but rather the innate talent for literary criticism shown by my four-year-old daughter. The observant among you will notice that I followed in the colonial tradition of my white ancestors and other-ized our Thanksgiving guest, Foxy's sister SkyeJ, by representing her as a stereotypical "Injun," feather headdress and all. (I also dehumanized my children by turning them into traditional holiday food items, but that's another story.) S-Boogie, in true postcolonial form, subverted my colonization of her aunt by other-izing Foxy and myself, turning our pilgrims into a Smurf and a demonic scarecrow. She also highlighted the crudeness of my caricaturization of Native Americans by making Skye look like a black-face minstrel show performer. S-Boogie's postcolonial "reading" of the "text" of my Thanksgiving namecard pictures reveals not only the oppressive history behind the holiday tradition but also my own latent racism. In my defense, I did extensive research to represent 17th-century Native American clothing accurately; SkyeJ's dress is based on the one worn by Pocahontas in the Disney movie.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Child from Bizarro World!

As many of you know, my daughter, S-Boogie, was Supergirl for Halloween this year:

I'm beginning to wonder if a more appropriate costume wouldn't have been Bizarro Supergirl:

Besides her naturally pale skin and her backwards logic, there is her handwriting to consider. Take a good look at this picture of Bizarro Superman, then look at the handwriting sample below. Notice, particularly, the "S" in her name.

Keep in mind, folks, this image has not been flipped. That's how she writes her "S"es. There is no possible explanation for this peculiar phenomenon except that she's a spy from Bizarro World. Or she secretly wants to be Z-Boogie. I'm banking on the former, though, as at least that way I'll always be a winner in her eyes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Year Seven, Day One

This morning FoxyJ and I woke up in the loft of a farmhouse on Whidbey Island, with a view overlooking Useless Bay. Thanks to Tolkien Boy for changing his work schedule and skipping a class in order to give Foxy and me a night away from the kids.

And thanks, of course, to Foxy for six years of marriage.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Six Years Ago Tonight

It was a Monday night. We had a big pre-wedding family dinner at Olive Garden. It was good. Several people had tummy trouble the next day, FoxyJ included. I still like Olive Garden anyway.

That's all.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Weekly Confession #2

Forgive me, Blogger, for I have sinned. I married my wife for all the wrong reasons. Well, no, that's an overstatement. Several of the reasons for which I married my wife were not good ones. Rather than tell the whole story again, I'll copy and paste the narrative as I frame it in "Getting Out":

So I came home from my mission less sure that marriage and family were in my future. I’m not sure what kind of life I envisioned for myself—a lonely celibacy, I suppose—but for a month or two I’d resigned myself to it.

Here’s where Epiphany #1 comes in. This must’ve been in January, because I’m pretty sure it was before Jessie came home from her mission. I’d attended one of those BYU firesides where they tell you to get married. I pretty much tuned out the entire thing because it didn’t apply to me, but then I got home, sat on my bed, and had a distinct impression that yes, it did apply to me. Yes, I was gay, but that didn’t mean I was excluded from Heavenly Father’s desire for his children to marry and have families.

I thought of a sister missionary that had been in my district for nearly eight months and was coming home soon. I really admired her intelligence and her love of reading, and her complete disregard of whether people thought she was cool or not. She seemed like the type of person I’d like to marry. So I planned it all out. I’d email her when she got home, and we’d build our friendship while she was in Maryland. Then she’d come out to BYU and we’d start dating and then we’d get engaged and then we’d get married.

I think more than anything I liked this plan because it seemed like a Normal Mormon Guy type of thing to do (or at least a Normal BYU Student type of thing—it’s hard to distinguish after being in Utah Valley for so long).

What we have here, basically, is premeditated falling in love and courtship. This is at best creepy and at worst misogynistic. I think the truth lies somewhere between those two poles, personally, but since I'm the one confessing my sins and you're the one absolving them, I'll let you be the judge of that. I have acknowledged this creepiness before. In the paragraph immediately following the above, in fact:

To my surprise, the following months happened exactly as I’d planned. This is quite disturbing, now that I think about it. It must have disturbed me then, too, because on the morning of the day that we were to mail out the wedding invitations, I was still worried that I was marrying Jessie for the wrong reasons. I didn’t want to marry her just to prove to myself and others that I was normal, or to avoid hurting her feelings, or because it was the right thing to do. I wanted to marry her because I loved her and I wanted to be with her. Which I was pretty sure I did.

Now, I come from a literary school of thought that values subtlety, so when I'm acknowledging a bad quality in myself I generally don't come out and say "and this is a very bad quality, of which I am deeply ashamed and hope to rid myself completely" because I assume my readers are intelligent enough to figure it out. I assume that if I say, for example, "I am a narcissist," that everyone knows I don't mean it as a compliment. It's come to my attention, though, that the subtlety in the above paragraphs has been lost on at least one person, so I'd like to be clear about what I'm confessing to here. Among the possible motivations I had for marrying FoxyJ were:
  1. God told me to.
  2. In abstract, "she seemed like the type of person I'd like to marry."
  3. That was the way I'd planned it.
  4. It "seemed like a Normal Mormon Guy type of thing to do."
  5. To "prove to myself and others that I was normal."
  6. To "avoid hurting her feelings."
  7. Because "it was the right thing to do."
Let me be absolutely 100% completely and for totally sure clear: These are all Very Bad Reasons to marry someone. KIDDIES, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. Yes, even if God told you to marry someone but you're not sure you want to, please take Emily Pearson's advice about "the danger of taking 'every spiritual experience ... at face value" in situations such as these" (as cited in Holly Welker's "Clean Shaven"). If the narrative of "Getting Out," framed as it is in the discourse of personal revelation, seems to excuse the Very Badness of the reasons listed above and makes them seem Not So Very Bad, then I have compounded my sins by representing them as That Which Is Good and True. Which they are not.

I said before that to say that all my reasons for marrying FoxyJ were bad ones is an overstatement, and I feel the need to clarify what I mean, even if doing so detracts from the purpose of confessing my sins. So here are the good reasons I had for marrying FoxyJ, some of which are present in "Getting Out" and some of which are not:
  1. "I really admired her intelligence and her love of reading, and her complete disregard of whether people thought she was cool or not."
  2. I was "pretty sure" that "I loved her and I wanted to be with her."
  3. She had said that she loved me and wanted to marry me.
  4. I felt happy when I was with her and could see that being with me made her feel happy.
  5. She and I shared many values such as our faith, education, family, liberal politics, and social justice.
  6. She wanted to marry a traditional Mormon patriarch no more than I wanted to be one. (That is to say, not at all.)
  7. Despite the strong feelings I had and knew I would always have for men, I had been surprised over the course of our relationship by how excited I was to be with her--the tingly sensation at first holding her hand, the butterflies before our first awkward kiss, the unignorable arousal we both felt once we finally figured that kissing thing out.
  8. She was not afraid to talk frankly about sex, to acknowledge that she was nervous and excited about having sex, and to discuss (or joke about, as the case may be) the logistics of our future sexual relationship. (One of the funnier discussions we had was about whether it's okay to have sex on the Sabbath. Or when you're fasting.)
  9. One of my happiest memories is driving home from a date with her and putting a mixtape she had made into my sister's car stereo. The first song was Lauryn Hill's cover of "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You." I felt giddy all over and almost cried at the realization that this very mature college student, this incredible person with whom I'd had so many intellectually stimulating conversations, would do something so teenage-romantic as making me a mixtape to say she was in love with me. And she'd used a Lauryn Hill song!
  10. Marrying her meant I wouldn't have to buy my own copy of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
So there. I've confessed the Very Badness of some of my reasons for marrying FoxyJ, as well as the complexity introduced into the issue by the good reasons I also had. So what penance can I do to make up for these sins? How do I right this wrong?

I decided earlier this year that the bad reasons outweighed the good--it's easy when one wants to focus on the bad to ignore the good, or vice versa--and that the best way to make this right for me, for FoxyJ, and for our children was to divorce and start over. I would have a man who loved me, Foxy would have a man who loved her (the way that only a straight man could), and our children would have not only two parents who loved them but the added bonus of two stepfathers who would love them just as much. The problem with this plan was not that divorce is inherently bad or even that divorce is an inherently bad option for us. I believe that for the three months we were separated we did an exceptionally good job of co-parenting and relating to each other respectfully as formerly married friends--this is much more to Foxy's credit than to mine, as it is easy to be nice to the person you have wronged but not so easy to be nice to the person who has wronged you. The problem with this attempt at penance, see, is that just like in the case of my original sins I was doing something Very Very Bad: I was deciding for myself what was best for us. Divorce was never Foxy's idea; it was all me.

After realizing this grave error, acknowledging the complexity of my reasons for marrying her and the fact that I did indeed still enjoy spending my life with her, I regrouped with Foxy in order to come up with a plan together. We talked more honestly than we had ever before about the problems in our relationship. We discussed frankly what each of us would need to sacrifice in order to make this marriage work, and whether the benefits of the marriage would make it worth it for each of us. We considered together all the less-than-noble motivations that might underlie our mutual desire to reunite--chief among these questionable motivations was the financial stability our continued marriage would provide for the duration of my master's program and her doctorate. Ultimately we decided together that we had enough genuinely good reasons to stay together and enough faith in our ability to work through the difficulties that it was worth another shot. I am happy with that decision, and happy most of all that we made it together.

As penance for my past sins, then, I propose the following:
  1. I will continue to take intuition (what I once would have called God speaking to me) into account when making choices, but I will not do so at the expense of other factors and certainly not at the expense of other people.
  2. I will do my best to love FoxyJ not as an abstract idea of the type of person I'd like to marry, but as a real human being.
  3. I will not adhere strictly to plans I have made when those plans involve the lives of other people; rather, I will include those people in the making and evaluating of such plans.
  4. I will not do anything because it's the Normal Mormon Guy thing to do. At this point in my life, I think that goes without saying. In addition, I will not do anything simply because it's not the Normal Mormon Guy thing to do, or because it's the Normal Agnostic thing to do, or any such stupid reason.
  5. I'm going to stop trying to prove to myself and others that I'm normal, or that I'm anything. This one's a bit harder, because I tend to put a lot of energy into proving all sorts of things about myself, and really I just need to get over it. I'll do my best.
  6. I will avoid hurting Foxy's feelings, but not by thinking only of what I think she needs, but by listening to what her feelings really are and working with her to honestly address those feelings.
  7. I will not do things because they are the right thing to do. Rather, I will do things because I and others affected agree that those are the best things for everyone's best interest. This is a subtle difference, I know, but the important thing here is thinking through the consequences of choices I make and not objectifying others in that process.
I am sorry for these and for many other sins of my past and present life. I hope that through my penance and FoxyJ's continued Foxy-ness we can make the next six years of our marriage even better than the first six years have been.

One Thing (For Now)

A clarification, because I don't like to be misunderstood:

A large part of Holly Welker's argument against "Getting Out" rests on this paragraph:

I don’t understand people who call themselves liberal and progressive but are threatened by homosexual reparative therapy enough to try to stop people like me from having that option. In my mind, this kind of thinking is anti-progressive. The whole point of the civil rights and women’s liberation movements was to allow blacks, women, and other minorities to break free from what had been their traditional roles. We live in a world now where it’s okay for blacks to do what was once considered “white” and for women to do what was once considered “male”—get an education, have a career, etc. Why then is it not politically correct for a gay man to venture into what is usually considered the exclusive territory of straight men—to marry a woman and have a family—if that’s what he chooses to do?

Apart from her accurate criticism of my painting the women's liberation and civil rights movements in such broad strokes, her objection, if I understand correctly, is that I seem to be co-opting these movements for my own purposes, essentially equating my position as a married gay man to that of women and black Americans. I can see how it may appear that way superficially, and if you interpret it thus it is certainly offensive. As Welker has pointed out several times, there is absolutely no legislation against gay people marrying heterosexually, no institutionalized bigotry as there has been and continues to be against women and racial minorities. I would have to be a complete moron and self-serving jerk to claim that I've experienced anything comparable to this kind of oppression.

If you read what I've said carefully, though, you'll see that I haven't made any such claim. What I've said is that it's contrary to progressive thought--for which I list as examples the progressive thinking behind the women's liberation and civil rights movements--to say that anyone--using myself as an example--should not be respected in their choice to marry any person who wants to marry them. I've not said that anyone is denying me that right, because no one is*, but that my choice is not considered "politically correct." This is demonstrated by the fact that Welker and others like her immediately jump to the conclusion that any gay man who dares to express his right to marry a woman who wants to marry him must be a backwards-thinking conservative hick. Would they accuse a woman expressing her right to marry another woman of having an overblown sense of entitlement? No; Welker has said as much. Why then the double standard? Why are some choices more politically correct than others?

A commenter on Welker's blog says that she is "astonished by the backwards reasoning of that paragraph you deconstructed, particularly the idea that having a woman to reproduce with and run your household for you has historically/traditionally been denied to men who are attracted to other men." I would be equally astonished by the backwards reasoning of such an idea, had I read an essay that made such a claim. What I actually say in the paragraph above is that "to marry a woman and have a family" [notice I've said nothing about who is running the household] "is usually considered the exclusive territory of straight men." There is a huge difference between the phrases "is usually" and "has historically/traditionally." The latter, hers, makes claims about historical reality, while the former, mine, speaks only of present social attitudes. No, gay people have not traditionally been denied heterosexual marriage, because traditionally gay people haven't been a part of public discourse. Notice also that I use the word "straight," which is not necessarily the opposite of "men who are attracted to other men"; I'm speaking not of sexual preferences that have existed for thousands of years but of sexual identities that have existed for less than two hundred. I would argue that yes, in the past fifty years or so since lesbians and gay men have legitimately entered the discourse, the assumption is that their rightful position--at least as far as progressive thought is concerned--is in lesbian and gay relationships. As I point out elsewhere in the essay, gay people in heterosexual relationships are "not even recognized enough to be repressed."

So if I'm not being oppressed, why then does it matter that some people, in the name of progressive thought, are so critical of mixed-orientation marriages? If there's no legislation against me, why am I complaining? Because bigoted legislation doesn't magically appear out of nowhere; it is borne of widely-accepted bigoted discourse. Twenty-six states haven't adopted constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage just because. They've done so because the majority of voters in those states believe the bigoted rhetoric against homosexuality that is so prevalent in our culture. Welker rightly criticizes my oversimplified statement that "We live in a world now where it's okay for blacks to do what was once considered 'white' and for women to do what was once considered 'male.'" No, as much as I would like to think so, we don't live in that world. I would like to live in a world, though, where no one's choices are limited by their gender, race, or sexual orientation, and I believe that world can only exist once we start respecting those who make choices different from our own, even choices we don't understand.

I am thankful for the many, many people--whether or not they would call themselves liberal and progressive--who have respected me in the choices I've made. I will do my best to return the same.

*Except for the campaigns against homosexual reparative therapy that I reference in the paragraph preceding the one quoted here, which I'll freely admit is an entirely different argument than the right to marry. I'll also freely admit that my conflating the two arguments in the paragraph above is confusing. On the other hand, they do both come down to respecting the right of mentally capable adults to make the decisions that they deem best for themselves. The only difference is that in the case of reparative therapy we're talking about a single person--the one who seeks out reparative therapy--while in the case of marriage we're talking about two people--the two spouses who, as consenting adults regardless of their gender and/or sexual orientation, decide to marry each other.

Friday, November 16, 2007


This morning I read the inevitable mean-spirited responses to the mean-spirited posts I wrote a couple weeks ago.

Meanwhile, my friend L expresses nostalgia for the happy place the MoHosphere used to be before it degenerated into sophistry and rudeness.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post cites horribly rude internet commentary about Kanye West's mother, who died earlier this week, as an example of the cruelty and malice that electronic anonymity seems to bring out in people.

Meanwhile, another friend of mine has been receiving extremely rude comments on her blog, and to be fair she and I and other readers responded with rudeness, but now the rude commenter has resorted to making threats of physical violence, which crosses all sorts of social and legal lines.

So I spent today thinking of the response I'd write to Holly's rude response to my rude response to her rude response to my rude response to her rude attack on my character. FoxyJ has suggested it would be wiser of me to, if I feel the need to write the response, set it aside for a while before putting it anywhere public. I think Foxy is a wise person. It bothers me to leave untruths about me out there unrefuted, particularly when said untruths portray me as an enemy of values that are in fact very important to me, but unless I want to spend the rest of my life arguing with this woman then I'm going to have to eventually just leave some things unsaid. For the past several days I've been composing an essay about feminism and Mormonism and illiberal liberalism and ex-Mormonism, but I've decided to leave it alone until I'm sure my motivation is to say the things I want to say, not to express my frustration with Holly.

I will say, though, that I appreciate the comments of Rebecca and MoHoHawaii, who spoke in defense of my character on Holly's blog without taking sides in this feud. They both did an admirable job of respecting both me and Holly rather than jumping on Holly's Ben is a Misogynist bandwagon or my Holly is a Hater bandwagon. If more people (myself included) could respond so maturely to complex issues, the internet would be a nicer place for everyone.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Green Lantern's Wisdom

"My power ring can't stop those yellow comets, so I'll have to move the Earth out of their way!"

--from the Challenge of the Superfriends episode "Invasion of the Fearians"

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Booga Basement Ban

If you are in the habit of reading S-Boogie and Little Dude's blog, send me or FoxyJ an email so we can invite you to continue reading it. We've decided to limit access to people we know (either in real life or in the blog world). Sorry, I know this means it won't show up automatically in readers, but we've decided there are enough psychos in the world that we don't want to regularly share pictures of our children with.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Tonight a friend had to decline an offered slice of the delicious peanut butter chocolate pie left in our fridge after another friend's visit last night. He explained that he does not have a nut allergy but his girlfriend does, which means that if he comes home with traces of peanut butter in his beard, she'll, like, die. In order to protect her from this fate, then, he denies himself the pleasures of peanuty goodness.

As someone who will often pull the peanut butter jar out of the cupboard just to sneak a fingerful, I can't help but see this as the highest and purest form of love.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Weekly Confession #1

Forgive me, Blogger, for I have sinned. This is my first Confession.

I covet my wife's intelligence and worse, I am proud of it. FoxyJ is one of the most well-read and well-educated people I know, both in the sense of formal education and that of informal education, in the form of the wide array of facts she can recall from the thousands of books, newspapers, and websites she's read in her lifetime. When I need to know something about history, literature, politics, or whatever, I ask Foxy, my personal living Wikipedia (except with less web vandalism). I am truly grateful to live with such an intelligent person, not only for the education in trivia she provides regularly, but for the inspiration she gives me to learn more about the world. I have to admit, though, that I am not infrequently jealous of Foxy's intelligence. Why am I unable to recall every random fact I've ever come across? Why can't I glance at a page and process in an instant every word on it? Why don't I have the interest in the first place to read the New York Times on a daily basis and devour nonfiction books about war, food, and famous people? The downside of living with such an educated person is that I feel, in comparison, very uneducated.

The greater sin, I believe, is the pride I feel in regards to my wife's education. I brag about her master's degree every chance I get, find ways to work into conversations the fact that she passed the test to be included in Jeopardy's contestant pool. I am proud of my own high score on the GRE, but even prouder of her perfect score on the verbal section. This may all seem innocent enough, perhaps you're even thinking that it is forward-thinking and decidedly unsexist for a man to be so proud of his wife's intellect, but that's exactly the point. I flaunt my wife's education precisely because I believe it makes me look good. Ultimately, this is no better than the man who shows off his trophy wife, the perfectly pretty woman who exists solely as a symbol of his own social status.

As my penitence, Blogger, I vow to show my appreciation for Foxy's other positive qualities, whether such appreciation makes me look like the feminist-minded man I want to be or not. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit, for example, how much I appreciate the delicious food Foxy cooks every day, because I fear that puts me in the category of chauvinistic men who expect their wives to be barefoot in the kitchen, preparing nice meals for their husbands to enjoy upon returning home from work. The fact of the matter is, though, FoxyJ is a chef extraordinaire, and that is a talent she values in herself, so I should not be ashamed to admit that I do too.

I am sorry for these and for all--well, most--the sins of my past life.

Friday, November 09, 2007

S-Boogie's Wisdom

"Life* is kinda like Corn Chex."

Really, I can't think of an apter metaphor.

*The cereal, that is. But still.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I remembered tonight that last Tuesday, the last night I saw the wedding ring, I had been going through a suitcase that we use as storage. So I pulled it out of the closet, opened it up, and sure enough there was my white gold ring, sitting on top of all the old papers and childhood memorabilia.

Nine Things (Not a Meme)

  1. New favorite candy bar: 100 Grand
  2. New favorite sitcom: Aliens in America
  3. New favorite Spanish word: defenestrar "to throw [someone] out the window"
  4. Grade on the first paper I've written in Spanish in more than four years, which took me ten hours to write ten pages: 10/10
  5. Favorite new Blogger feature: the "Email follow-up comments to" check box--it stuffs my inbox, thus making me feel loved
  6. Most recently lost possession: wedding band
  7. Most expensive lost possession: wedding band
  8. Favorite birthday gift: an afternoon nap (thanks, Foxy)
  9. Justification for letting my four-year-old daughter watch such violent shows as Batman, Justice League, and Teen Titans: this article

(which is a lot like cross-pollination, or so I hear)

Yesterday I guest-posted on Northern Lights a Call for Questions and Interviewees for a series of interviews with straight spouses of gay people I'm hoping to guest-post over there. It occurred to me that I'm likely to reach a different group of people by soliciting help here as well, so here I am. Here is what I need:
  1. Interesting, insightful, and respectful questions to include in the interviews. What do you want to know about straight people who marry gay people?
  2. Interviewees. The implied focus of the interviews at NL is straight and faithfully Mormon people who are currently married to gay people, simply because that's the nature and scope of the blog, but if there are any straight people who are not (currently or ever) Mormon and/or who are no longer married to gay people, I'd love to interview you as well and post it in another venue (perhaps here?). So if you fit any of these categories and are willing to be interviewed (either anonymously or nomynously), comment here or email me at bgchristensen (at) gmail (dot) com.

The idea of these interviews, both in the public and personal spheres, is to shed light on an oft-discussed issue from the perspective of people who don't seem to be quite so oft-discussed.

Thanks much for your input.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Things That Have Made Me Happy in the Last 24 Hours

  • Last night I wrote a short story that I'd been wanting to write for a couple weeks. I like it. The title is "The Changing of the God," a pun that according to Google only eight people have thought of before, ever, and even several of those seem more like coincidences of syntax than intentional puns. I hereby declare myself clever. Given my co-editors' approval, it'll be in the forthcoming Fob Bible, about which you will hear more in the near future.
  • A very intelligent friend asked for help with a cataloging question this morning. I was quite flattered.
  • I registered this morning to take advanced cataloging next quarter from one of the leading researchers in the field of cataloging and knowledge organization.
  • I watched parts of a very funny movie this morning while cataloging it.
  • This afternoon S-Boogie and Little Dude went to a friend's house while Foxy and I went on a date.
  • We saw some very cool exhibits at the Bellevue Arts Museum, which has free admission on the first Friday of every month.
  • We ate some very yummy avocado eggrolls and Thai chicken pasta at the Cheesecake Factory.
  • We are now going to eat the very yummy cheesecake that we brought home with us.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Costumes, Candy, and Poop

S-Boogie wore her costume all day. Me too. I was the only one in my metadata class this morning wearing a costume, but that just shows how much cooler I am than everyone else (last year a classmate dressed up as the FRBR model, which I thought was one of the coolest costumes ever). After class I headed over to S-Boogie's preschool to help with pumpkin carving and trick-or-treating. It was a lot of fun to see all the kids' costumes and to see how excited they were to get candy. The school gave parents the option to have our kid's treat bag swapped for a healthy treat bag after the trick-or-treating, and FoxyJ and I decided to take that option since S-Boogie already had a bunch of candy from trunk-or-treating on Saturday and we knew she'd get more tonight. She was suprisingly cool with this, very excited when she got home to eat her bag of "special treats"--fruit leather, apple sauce, carrots, and juice.

After school and snacks, S-Boogie and I went to the comic shop to pick up my comics for this week. I figured that if anyone would appreciate our homemade Supergirl and Bruce Wayne costumes, it would be comic shop people, but no one said anything. I figure it's because they were amazed to the point of speechlessness.

This morning I had wondered if it was a good idea to dress Little Dude in the red turtleneck onesie he needed for his Robin costume this afternoon, but I figured it would be fine. When I got home from the comic shop and opened his bedroom door to find him sitting pantsless in his crib, licking poop off his fingers, I realized that I should have listened to that still small voice of Halloweeny wisdom. FoxyJ gathered up the dirty clothes and bedding and threw it in the washer while I cleaned off the child, then on her way out the door suggested I use LD's red coat for his costume, since it was cold outside and the turtleneck onesie was no longer an option. A poopy disaster turned into a blessing, as the red coat ended up looking even better than the onesie (under the coat he's wearing a red short-sleeve onesie with some car design printed on the front; if I'd had a green onesie under the coat it would have been perfect):

So S-Boogie, LD, and I went trick-or-treating at the shopping center that doubles as our backyard while FoxyJ headed off to teach her class. My only complaint with that experience, besides the crowd, is that everyone was giving out lollipops and Smarties. Where's the chocolate, folks?

The best part of the day, I have to say, came at the end: after sloppy joes and tater tots for dinner, then a quick bath (eliminating the final remnants of poopiness), we turned off the lights, put The Batman vs. Dracula in the DVD player, and ate as much candy as our stomachs could handle. I'm all for encouraging kids to eat healthily, but c'mon, it's Halloween! That's the point! And in my defense as a responsible parent, LD went to bed halfway through the movie and after only one package of Smarties and one lollipop. One-and-a-half-year-olds don't get to decide how much candy their stomachs can handle.

S-Boogie went to bed just a little late, a few minutes after FoxyJ got home from work, and then I lay down in bed and read my comics. The perfect end to a perfect holiday.