8.5% – An Open Letter to Linda Harvey

jesus-facepalmThank you Linda Harvey of the conservative Christian organization Mission America for giving me the fire to write this.  You and I do not live in the same world…and I’m glad.

Dear Linda Harvey,

Yes, indeed, I have decided to come out to myself as straight. I find women sexually desirable and beautiful and powerful. I totally and completely want women in my life as partners and companions. I think that the union between a man and a woman is Divinely inspired and should be upheld as a God given right.  But quite miraculously, I am a big enough human in my heart and an enlightened enough person to realize that just because I have strong feelings for women, it doesn’t negate the fact that my feelings for men are stronger.  I also think that the union between two men or two women, regardless of their gender identity is a God given right as creatures with a conscious and free will (also given to us by God.)  This is what separates us from animals (because I know you want to go there and compare my sexuality to bestiality…which is a manifestation of your sick mind and not mine.) This is also why we call it “sexual PREFERENCE” and not “sexual DICTATE.” God gave us two things in this question: sexual expression and free will.  Even if God did give us the Bible, and I won’t challenge those people who live by The Word, God also gave the Bible hundreds of authors and interpretations; clearly even God is not not willing to make the wild spectrum of our feelings and emotions simply black and white.  Gay and straight aren’t a binary.  The only ones who decided that human sexuality was built on strict opposites were physicians in the 19th century who were driven by colonial politics and society and a healthy dose of fear.  Linda, if you want to live in a world that is black and white; a world where you are willing to ignore that yellow and red and pink and purple exist…that is your choice.  But I resent anyone who would tell me that the sky is blue and corn is yellow just as much as I would resent anyone telling me that male/ female, gay/ straight etc.  are strict and unmalleable  opposites. So yes, indeed Linda Harvey, I am fully willing to come out to myself as straight…but only about 8.5% straight; the other 91.5% is 100% gay male queer.

Adam Dyer

To my Readers: What’s you’re percentage?  There is no scientific test for this.  This is a question for your heart and only you can tell for sure.  You might not ever want to act on it and it doesn’t define who you are but if you ever looked at someone of the same sex and found them attractive, I’d say give yourself 2% and celebrate…because you’re probably 100% normal…whatever that is.

Happy Birthday

Today is the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  It was a pivotal day in the history of the Civil Rights movement in America.  Although it had been conceived before (reference is made in the film Brother Outsider to a plan in the 1940’s for a march of this nature) it was the first time any demonstration of this magnitude had ever come together in this country.  A mixing of races and religions and economic backgrounds came together and stood united in demonstration of the need for change for one specific demographic sector…black people.

These kinds of demonstrations aren’t so simple now.  As we progressed from the era of fighting for the rights of one marginalized population, other groups began to find their voices in the song of freedom.  Women, Gays and Lesbians, Latinos, Asian Americans, people with disabilities, Jews, Muslims, Atheists.  But eventually people started to realize as well that they weren’t just part of one group.  We used to joke (before political correctness) that if you were a black Jewish lesbian in a wheelchair, you had the ultimate minority status.  But we don’t make those jokes anymore; in fact, we are starting to see the value of recognizing what a black, Jewish, disabled lesbian would represent in the mix.  She would represent the degree to which we all sit at intersections of cultures, demographics and social standings.  Each of us has privilege; each of us has disadvantage.  The Civil Rights Movement ushered in an age of self identity that has now culminated in all of us finding multiple self identities.

As we look back on the March on Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech, the brilliance of Bayard Rustin’s organizing and the willingness of the people to buy into the effort and gather en-masse during a weekday, it does seem clear that somethings have definitely changed.  But it is also clear that some things have not really changed at all.  People have died for a cause who’s banners would be just as relevant today.  A white man can kill a black man and walk free.  We talk about how demographics are shifting to make people of color the majority in this country by 2050; but that kind of binary based demographic still leaves white people as the “norm” or the barometer against which everyone else is measured.   Change…but the same.

Progress…real progress, will mean a time when we are able to look at the world through something other than the binary lens: black/white; gay/straight; male/female; rich/poor; able/disabled.  We will look at each other as hearts and minds and we will look at life and maybe even God as a continuum…a spectrum of experience.  We will have no need for demographics because we will no longer be judging each other.  We will fully embrace our selves as black lesbian disabled Jews and our society will actually not raise an eyebrow when it is asked to embrace us back.

But over all, my point is, this day, in 1963 is when it began.  Certainly others fought hard before and after this date, but it is the one date we can point to when we know that at least 250,000 other people were thinking pretty much the same thing: “we need to do something about this mess.”

Today is also my friend Stacey’s birthday…in fact at the exact moment when those 250,000 people were gathered on the National Mall, when Martin Luther King, Jr. declared “I Have a Dream”, while Mahaila Jackson sang “How I Got Over,” Stacey sent her first cry to the heavens.  And although both Mahalia and Dr. King are gone, Stacey is still here and still crying to the heavens, singing jazz.  In 50 years, she has changed of course…as we all have, yet she is the same; just like this country, just like our dreams for justice and equality for all.

So, today, rather than lamenting how much things are the same after 50 years, let’s celebrate what is good about those things that haven’t changed…our basic desire for honesty, humanity and humility; our basic desire for good.  Our need to see the arc of the moral universe bending toward justice.  Our God given talents and gifts that lift one another up and unite us as one people to declare that we ALL have a dream; and of course the fact that we are still singing jazz.  For without dreams, whether they be great or small, what else do we have to live for?

Happy Birthday Stacey!

A Binder full of Ubuntu

“We need to learn that unleashing the power of women has the potential to transform our world in extraordinary and many as yet unimagined ways” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu

I did not watch last night’s debate.  Nor did I watch last weeks…or the one before that.  Several pundits in criticizing the Romney-bot, summed up this phase of thecampaign very well in stating that this is all about salesmanship.  We are being force fed a choice between two parties that both have fairly icky records, not just in recent history, but throughout the history of their existence.  I will not watch the next debate.  I have chosen my candidate based on a combination of personal feeling, aspirations for our society, political and social record and what I see as a viable and sustainable future for the United States on a global stage.  This blog is not about endorsing “my” candidate (although I’m sure it will be pretty obvious who that is.) Rather, this entry is about the total audacity of placing not just women but anyone in a binder.

If I were asked to come up with 10 friends who were attorneys, at least half of them would be women.  If I were asked to come up with 10 friends who were artists, half of them would be white.  If I were asked to come up with 10 friends who were in the church, half of them would be latino, and so on.  I wouldn’t have to try to fill these demographic quotas, it is simply the color, shape and size of my world; what/who they are is secondary to why they are in my life.  When I hear that a Governor-elect had to “search” for qualified candidates to fill his cabinet so that it didn’t just look like a white male house of mirrors, it says more about how truly whitewashed his world is.  Not to mention the god complex of idly leafing through a binder that says “women” or “blacks” or “Jews” to carefully place these poor underlings in key spots because otherwise they wouldn’t be there.

Yuk.

This morning, I’ve been reading and listening to the words of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.  My word for the day is Ubuntu.  Not the computer operating system (thank you Dad) but the southern African philosophy:

A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed. – Archbishop Desmond Tutu

This is the cornerstone of everything I believe and everything I believe our world actually aspires to be.  In one of his addresses, Archbishop Tutu mentions how Western capitalism has often highlighted the antithesis of this concept, stressing individual wealth, success and position.  It is therefore no wonder that our hearts are empty and that our communities fail…we are working against nature in the most basic sense.  I’m not talking about the dictates of any one scripture or theology, for these will never all agree.  Although they are all the word of God (if we believe as such), we must first understand ourselves as part of a great interdependent existence before we can get to that God, by whatever name we call God.

We have a tremendous opportunity in our world.  We have come to an age of re-enlightenment where science has taken us so far that we are now coming full circle.  We are not satisfied by reducing and reducing life from tissue, to cell, to molecule, to atom, proton, electron, quark…no, not satisfied.  Even the greatest scientific minds of our time get to a point where they say “we don’t know” and more and more of us are okay with that.  Instinctively, we know as human beings that there is a level on which we function that cannot and will not be explained by a formula.  It is the “knowing that he or she belongs to a greater whole” that cannot be quantified.  Some call this spiritual connection, some call it Ubuntu and some even dare to call it love.

Personally, I am thrilled to live in a world where all women…cisgendered, trans, lesbian, queer, etc. do not live in files.  Where I know that every day and every moment of my life is intertwined with theirs and affirmed by theirs and where we aspire to hold each other up and celebrate our greater whole as one humankind.  Let us strive to live today and every day with our own personal and cultural Ubuntu. Whole and connected human capital is the only really valuable commodity we have.