Jason C.

Owner of Lorien
Co-Administrator of Bridges-Across

Born: 1976
Current Residence: Tucson, Arizona, USA
Much has changed since the intro post below. Check my website for updates on my whereabouts and doings.

2/23/01: Well, I also recently joined the queer by choice group and thought I would post an intro...even though I will probably be mostly a lurker on the list. I was pointed here by Jim Maynard, and I was also glad to see at least one familiar face from elseweb *wave Jayelle*.

I also live in Memphis, TN, and am the current president of the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center, along with being a medical student, so I have lots of free time (heh). I came out during my freshman year at UT Martin, located in a small rural town in northwest TN, and eventually co-founded a GLBTS alliance group there which is still going strong.

I'm here because I liked what I saw on the web page: I don't know what the origins of sexual orientation are, and I don't think it matters. But I do think saying "we can't help it" does promote the idea of illness and victimhood, and is also promoting an exclusionary idea of what "queer" is.

Other gratuitous personal information: I'm almost a quarter of a century old, usually refer to myself as gay though I answer to queer, fruit, faggot...even lesbian(it's a long story), and I'm a recovering Southern Baptist.

Good to be here,
Jason C

3/6/01: On Virginity:
"I know it's around here somewhere, now where in the world could it have gotten off to?"

Certainly I think it is something to be proud of to not have lost one's virginity in a society that devalues it. Too many people just kinda drift into sexual activity or do it for peer-related reasons...thus the term "lost" I suppose? But does the very idea of virginity being "lost" have value judgement overtones? What if you made the conscious, considered decision to become sexually active? Is "lost" really the most appropriate term?

Anyways, the critique of "virgin" as sexist and heterocentric is definitely warranted. Suggestions: exploring the fact that the term primarily refers to a woman...it's only recently that the usage has become more unisex. And even now, for men it's generally used in a demeaning manner. Then, for a woman it can mean purity and the like, but it can also indicate naivete, need for protection, etc. Yet the implication is that a woman who has "lost" her virginity is now something less than she was before. Thus are women placed in a sexual Catch 22 of sorts? The norm answer to this being: she can get married. The various types of "virginity" were already brought up. Related to that, you could get into the provocative area of same-sex relationships (especially woman-woman) and virginity and heteronormative ideas about that...queer folk are categorically perceived as sexually active, lesbians are often considered "virgins"...of sorts anyways, etc.

On Bi Appearance:
I think that all may boil down to the fact that if you aren't read as "normal/mainstream"(which can mean lots of things, but our society tends to assume straight), you are read as "queer"(which can mean lots of things, but our society tends to assume lesbian/gay). This works from both sides: if you aren't "us" you must be "them." Whether you are us or them is more important than which us or which them you might be, so distinctions aren't always made and assumptions often are. To draw an analogy, a crossdressing man might be read as a woman (assumption of normality) or drag queen (assumption of queerness).

On Queerness From Feminism:
Half of my family comes from rural Mississippi, so yes, I've witnessed the desire for a homogeneous culture firsthand. I feel like an outsider when I go to visit them, and my sexual orientation has little to do with it. However, my mother taught me to love and respect persons regardless of race, gender, culture, age, etc...and she made a good example of her life, too. And she did perhaps a better job than she intended. :) I can't say that I've thought much about my queerness coming FROM feminist thought...but I do think the relative ease with which I dealt with my same-sex attractions (especially considering my religious background) was a direct result of her teachings. My mother had never labeled her teachings as "feminist," nor probably would she now, and I don't think I made the connection until I learned about feminist theory in college. But it was, to me, a natural extension of what I had been taught. I think my queerness made me perhaps more open to feminism (being the WASP male that I am)...so perhaps my feminism came from my queerness as much as the other way around.

On Personality:
Well, I generally score as an INTP more than anything else, and it definitely fits (like a glove)...but similarly to Gayle, as my personality type would predict I'm not satisfied with this. When I analyze the actual answers or percentages my N/S is very close to or right at 50/50, which by Gayle's prediction may be as close as this list gets to an S. No one has "come out" so far! Of course, I'm also borderline for everything except Introversion (something like 90/10), being about 60/40 T/F and P/J. Interestingly enough, though, INTJ and INFP fit much better than ISTP...weird.

4/11/01: The "cad" or "hunter" way [of asking someone out] is to approach the person you are interested in and basically tell them you are interested, be it with a corny come-on line or asking them out on a date after a short bit of banter. Then during the date you let them know BIG-TIME that you are interested—talking about how attractive they are, a little "dirty dancing," or whatever... I can't get into details obviously because it's not my way and I don't understand it or its rules.

The "shy" or "dancer" way is different. I don't think I have asked a person out on a "date" per se in my life! They shy way is variations on this: to talk to the person you are interested in about anything but a date. Perhaps meeting the person (say, at a party or coffeeshop) was arranged by a friend and perhaps the meeting includes a friend or friends, at least at first (they may make excuses to leave later if things seem to be going smoothly without them), to help everyone feel more comfortable. Instead you talk about your interests or something interesting you did recently or whatever. Attraction is shown by showing interest in what they have to say, body language, etc. And perhaps one or the other will ask the other at the end of the conversation (or after talking a few more times) whether the other would like to go to a party, see a movie, go to dinner sometime, or whatever (again, perhaps with friends being included). Then, after a lot of subtle hints and/or body language, someone might eventually make the first move to hold hands or give a goodnight kiss or whatever after one of these outings. It is generally only AFTER this step that attractions are discussed or something might be termed a "date." Keeping things "just" a movie, or "just" talking keeps the anxieties and pressure down, which are really big obstacles when you are shy. Mike's example is a good one, where they were friends, and went over to the guy's house to watch a movie. The other person "accidentally" has to leave, while meantime the other two have "accidentally" ended up in very close proximity. When in fact everything was one big dance everyone had been taking part in, orchestrated from the start.

4/13/01: Sadly enough I think this ["the magazine you were born to read"] is The Advocate's new "tag line," or what have you. I recently got an envelope from them in the mail asking me to subscribe, and it said something along the lines of "The magazine you were born to read" on the outside...I threw it away, so I can't be sure what the exact wording was, but I'm pretty sure that's it. The "it's genetic" mindset is pretty pervasive even in mainstream straight culture, so it's hardly surprising that the world's most mainstream gay publication has adopted the mainstream ideas of the movement.

I found it annoying, but more so because because of the triteness of it, though with my new-found queer-by-choice sensibilities it did cross my mind someone would probably say something about it on here! :) But while it's obvious where such a statement's roots lie, does it necessarily have to speak only to a "it's genetic" existence? Something to ponder.

And isn't this the same line that has been used by men's/women's magazines for years? With a transgender sensibility, isn't that equally offensive, if not moreso?

And if The Advocate has any journalistic integrity left, Gayle is exactly who they should be calling, to get a balanced viewpoint.

4/27/01: I have only recently started more seriously exploring the idea of being alternately gendered, though I have considered myself "transgendered" in a loose sense for a number of years (especially in solidarity when I thought trans persons were being excluded as "them"). I identify quite comfortably as a gay male, but as I mentioned back in my intro that I also identify as a lesbian. Now is as good a time as any to explain, I suppose.

It usually ends up as being a source of humor when I mention it, which is fine because I can be self-deprecating about it too, but I am serious. Since middle school almost all of my closest friends have been women, with a few men with feminine qualities (not necessarily in the sense of being effeminate but in having more traditionally "female" ways of thinking about social or intellectual issues and interactions). Most of the women have been bisexual or lesbian. I first began to identify as an "honorary lesbian" in college when I was one of very few gay men but quite a number of lesbians who were more-or-less out on a small rural campus. I guess you could say the lesbians took me in and raised me as one of their own. ;)

I highly recommend Trans Liberation by Leslie Feinberg and Read My Lips: Sexual Subversion and the End of Gender by Riki Anne Wilchins...probably in that order if you are just starting to explore, since parts of Riki's book just totally blew my mind. I have met both of them in person and they are just amazing people.

5/6/01: *SPOILERS*

I saw what I guess were the first 3 episodes [of the British Queer as Folk] on a friend's DVD. That's all I've seen of the series, British or American. I have problems keeping up with the character names, but bear with me. It does seem like Justin might have said something to one of his schoolmates about it not being a choice, actually. But I could just be making it up. Then again he is the young one and was portrayed as naive and immature on some levels, as well as prone to saying things others found stupid or just amusing, so I don't know how much impact anything he says necessarily has.

It was very graphic, but then I haven't seen the American version to compare. As to Boy George saying they are "nasty people"...well, I have my thoughts on that, but yeah I would have to agree mostly. Stuart is one of those sleazy people you can't help but hate. And yet everyone else just pretty much seems to be scheming to get him (or some other guy) in bed. Justin you kind of felt sorry for for being so deluded, but then he also had the markings of a Stuart in the making. He spent most of the time plotting on how to get Stuart and/or just stalking him. Stuart's friend who pines for him was the most empathetic character for me, but even he had his scheming side. On the flip side, the lesbians seemed to represent the "wholesome" side, with committed relationships, children, sane friends, etc.

Anyways, as to my thoughts on the series, while I personally don't find it great entertainment, I feel like this is just a gay soap opera basically, and this is how soap opera characters behave. Every character or show on TV doesn't have to represent all of queerdom or even the most positive aspects of queerdom, anymore so than the daytime soaps represent real life for straights.

5/21/01: I relate to the anger at people who seem so shallow and only interested in fitting in as a "typical" gay person, and it is sad that you have experienced so much intolerance and discrimination by so many other queers. If I looked around here in Memphis I might quickly conclude 99% are closet cases, sex addicts, clubbers...none of which do I particularly closely identify with. And there is plenty of bickering and infighting, etc. But I tend to look at those people with pity rather than scorn. However, I do display my [rainbow] colors proudly because I have found GLBT people here who I do identify with closely and who do want to make a difference...and I know there are more out there, and I want them to know that the only option isn't one of the three I mentioned. They may be rarer, but that does not mean I let the others coopt the symbol. The different colors of the RAINBOW were originally meant, after all, to symbolize the diversity within our community—that there are many different ways to be queer, and many aspects to queerness, but we should come together despite our differences to stand up for our rights. To me, it would make more sense to shame those who display the colors but don't follow the credo behind it, than to throw up hands and let others have control...

Not everyone lives in NYC. It may not matter much there, but here in Memphis you can't assume anyone is queer-friendly unless the business hints or tells of it directly, or another queer whose opinion you can trust tells you. But even with NYC, just because a business will take your queer dollars doesn't mean they don't use that money somewhere along the line to fund something you don't agree with. Workers may not care as long as they are being paid, but owners or shareholders might be rather conservative. Certainly this is a possibility with gay businesses, too, but it seems to me the chances are considerably diminished (especially if they are advertising in a gay yellow pages). I do try to go out of my way to not only support gay-owned or supportive businesses, but to buy products from companies that have gay-supportive policies in place. It doesn't replace grass-roots activism, but it certainly doesn't hurt either.

It COULD be (possibly) that the rainbow is an outdated symbol in SOME places, but I hardly think it could be said "most." NYC, SF, etc. do not constitute "most" of the U.S. (much less most of the world). For one thing, let's recall the outcome of the most recent presidential election. I think it's safe to say despite some gay support for Bush, that any area that went for Bush is not exactly a safe haven of progressive support for queers. And, frankly, I saw more red on that map. Nor do I think, in any case, that the rainbow is only useful in "very benighted communities." I believe it is also useful in simply moderate or even what I would describe as...(dare I say it?) "New Democrat" areas, that may be moderate-left leaning on fiscal and social issues, but who can be wishy-washy when it comes to true equal rights for queers. Which really I think covers 99% of the U.S. ... But then maybe that's just my skewed perspective from what could be considered a "very benighted community."

The very idea behind the rainbow flag is that we ARE a disparate group, including "weirdos." It is not supposed to mean conformity, but diversity. Unity despite our differences.

Laugh if you will, but I get sentimental over the [American] flag [too]. Maybe it's my grandparents' influence (both grandfathers fought in WWII and used to tell me stories growing up). Maybe it's that even if I were to become homeless here tomorrow I'd still probably be more fortunate than 90+% of the world population by virtue of being born in this country. Maybe it's the realization that even if the reality is far from perfect at least the ideals behind the creation of the country seem to be pretty close. So, yeah, the actions of government representatives often anger or scare me...but I still sometimes get teary eyed when they sing the Star Spangled Banner at a baseball game or such.

5/21/01: Question of whether sexual orientation is in any way genetic or not aside, IF homosexuality WERE to have a genetic basis, it does NOT follow that it has to be considered a disadvantage, flaw, or mistake. Such arguments are based on an simplified or incomplete understanding of evolutionary theory. There are a couple of hypotheses that would cover homosexuality. The most obvious is "kinship selection." The hypothesis goes something like this: a trait is passed along that decreases an individual's chances of having offspring that survive to reproduce, but increases the chances that closely related individuals will have offspring that survive to reproduce. Given a large enough amount of shared genetic material and a large enough increase in offspring, such a trait can give an overall advantage to that subgroup of the population that carries the trait. Some examples include bees (workers don't reproduce, but allow their queen to spend pretty much all her time reproducing) and scrub jays (who often stay with their parents extra time and assist them with the new young rather than going off to raise their own). How this could be applied to homosexuality is this: Homosexual individuals would be less likely to reproduce, and so would be likely to have to use less (or no) time and resources towards the care of their own offspring. However, they could use these extra time and resources towards assisting a close relative (say, parents or siblings) in the care of their offspring (who have a high chance of carrying a hypothetical gene for homosexuality), thus increasing their survival rate over those with no extra assistance.

5/22/01: I just wanted it to be clear that not everyone using the rainbow is a shiny, happy cookie-cutter queer, nor was that ever supposed to be the meaning of the rainbow symbol. Making those kinds of assumptions is just as bad as assuming people who wear black are all dangerous freaks. People say they don't want to be put in a box with others, well don't go boxing others up. By calling it a box, giving it that kind of recognition, they help construct it. It is only a box if we decide it is. I have queer friends and acquaintances of all persuasions: everything from granola to gendertrash, alternative to ambercrombie & fitch, academia to anarchist, bear to prep (had to stop that same-first-letter trend ;) ), etc. These are labels they identify with, but it is only if I treat them differently because of the labels or have expectations of them based on the label rather than the individual that the label has any meaning to me. These are things I try not to do, and expect others not to do to me.

5/22/01: The first thing I want to say is that this discussion of kinship selection is not an espousing a "gay gene," which I thought I made clear before by saying that I was setting that argument aside. The idea was to address how a hypothetical gay gene (or same-sex-attraction-associated trait, if you will) COULD be explained in evolutionary terms if it did exist.

YES, biological predisposition to be unattracted to the opposite sex would be an evolutionary disadvantage if looked at strictly in terms of potential to have many of one's own offspring and in terms of an isolated trait. But evolution does not deal in individuals, it deals in populations. It does not deal in isolated traits, but overall effect. Indeed, if there is any genetically based predisposition to have less offspring than the general population, even if based only on such slight things as brain structure or hormone production levels or what have you, evolutionary theory says it would eventually breed out of a population. Thus, if a trait is genetic and does _persist_ despite evidence that it decreases an individuals number of offspring, it is a given that there is some conferred advantage for a population carrying said trait. Call them "compensatory" mechanisms or traits to counterbalance a perceived disadvantage if you want, but it all comes down to a fundamental ADVANTAGE for a population to have said trait.

At risk of flames for using a disease model, I disclaim this by saying my area of expertise is medicine, so this is what I know: This is why sickle cell trait persists in Africa (and various blood thalassemias all over the globe), because despite producing individuals with sickle cell disease that die before reproductive age, it confers an advantage to those with the trait because they are resistant to malarial infection. Thus they are relatively healthy, while others die or are ill with malaria. Persistence of a trait is not determined by individual outcome, but by overall effect in a population.

Moreover, mixing science and politics is dangerous in the extreme, despite our propensity to do it. To say that a trait is a biological disadvantage should not have automatic implications for moral/ethical/political arenas. White people in the southern U.S. have a biological disadvantage. It's too sunny here, and we are more prone to skin cancer if we don't wear sunblock or adequate clothing. Black people in the northern U.S. have a biological disadvantage. It's not sunny enough, and without Vitamin D supplements in various foods, most would be prone to Vitamin D deficiency. Does this mean we should institute mass migration of different ethnicities to more appropriate climates? No!

Finally, I reiterate I am not saying I believe there is a "gay gene," or that if there were one that kinship selection would be "the" explanation. What I am saying is that it misrepresents evolutionary theory to place the label of biological flaw or mistake on such a hypothetical gene.

5/22/01: If the parasite that causes malaria mutates tomorrow and is resistant to all the drugs we have available (not entirely unlikely) and/or is now able to spread out of tropical areas to other mosquito populations, having sickle cell trait might be looking pretty swell again.

Another thing I wanted to throw in is that just because something is an evolutionary advantage does not mean it is desirable. In other species, increased male aggressiveness allows them to mate with more females. Should the same thing hold true with humans, is that really what we would want as a society? Really, in ways, we have moved to the threshold of being beyond products of evolution and more towards shaping it, which is a scary thought in and of itself.

Again, evolution does not deal in true good or bad or right or wrong. It is just survival of life.

6/18/01: Straight Actors/Gay Roles:
I don't think "blackface" is an accurate parallel to all straight actors being in gay roles, but it is in certain cases. I don't even think it takes straight actors to do "queerface." Take The Birdcage, for example, where we have Nathan Lane totally playing up stereotypes for laughs from a straight audience. And, no, I am not blackballing Birdcage, it is a very humorous movie (the old Amos and Andy shows can be pretty humorous too, frankly), but there are cultural and political implications there. So I think advocating that only gays play gay roles is ridiculous.

Anyways, where I see the biggest problem is with "straight" actors who do gay parts, but somehow reluctantly. A letter in the newest issue of The Advocate addressed just this matter. A recent issue interviewed a couple of straight actors playing in a gay-themed movie, and one of the guys' comments was that he had initially been willing to do the movie "as long as he didn't have to kiss a guy," or something to that effect. I have trouble believing this person would be willing to really get into the role. These "straight" actors will do these gay parts and be on the cover of gay mags to sell tickets or videos, but then must flex their heterosexuality for all to see, just in case there was any doubt about their sexuality. This does little to nothing to support the idea that "anyone could be queer," in my mind. And it happens over and over again, and I don't have much inclination to support it.

Those who are "straight" but like to play around with sexuality or gender are a different story, and obviously are more concerned about working on getting into the character, and do play into the matter of choice. And I don't think I've ever seen a gay actor talk about how "icky" an idea it was to have to kiss a girl for a straight part, at least in anything but a joking fashion.




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