In the Netflix series “Grace and Frankie,” Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston play two wealthy divorce layers who have had a decades long homosexual affair and choose to come out now that they can have their relationship sanctioned by marriage. This leaves their wives over 30 years in a bit of a pickle.
For their bachelor party, the twelfth episode, the men want decorous, tasteful and elegant. One daughter, though, rents a mechanical bucking penis and puts it in the front yard, deeply disturbing their mental stability.
This prompts a party attendee to lash out, saying that he could tolerate homosexuality, but why did they have to be such horrible faggots? Sheen’s character has to be stopped from punching him by Waterston’s character.
After all, they are nice, entitled, privileged, mature, well assimilated white men entrenched in power, which is why they waited until they had permission to be openly homosexual.
Respect is missing. They don’t respect the fact that their “friend” sees them as faggots. They don’t respect their own faggot side, that queer and transgressive truth that the daughter tried to honour and celebrate.
Most of all, they don’t respect all those people who struggled for centuries to make queer visible and respected in the world. Those generations of faggots and dykes? They are disrespected by these two guys, reduced to a history of marginalized losers who can be dismissed because they were just too damn queer in the world.
I treasure the history of queers in the world, the bold and brilliant people who were out before being out was sanitized and convenient. These are the people who made space for me to emerge in the world, who laid down their own ease to cut through convention and open the sky.
The experience of entitled people standing on the shoulders of transcendent queers even while they dismiss, erase and stomp on them is not new to me. I have seen many who are happy to take advantage of change while pissing on the people who made that change happen as too radical. too weird, too disruptive, too rude, too disgusting, too damn queer.
Barney Frank is clear that while he understands people who are in the closet, those who don’t support others like them from that closet, or worse, those who demonize and dehumanize others who are not closeted, are hypocrites to be challenged.
It may be easy to feel smug, trying to maintain standing with “the right people” by attacking the too challenging, but it is immoral. The attempt to create separation between the good and the evil, painting your choices as righteous and supreme, is oppression internalized, leaving you sick and twisted at the core.
The author of one enormously popular crossdressing blog has dismissed any need to engage the press around transgender issues today. They have been doing what they are doing for decades now and they know all they need to know, rationalizations having hardened into dogma the more they comfort her.
The ease of preachy preaching is how it creates separations between us and them, allowing us to feel entitled and blessed because we are not like those messy people who cause trouble. The challenge of teachy preaching is how it asks us to see the connections between us and them, acknowledging that there is only one human nature and we all share it.
I am pleased that it is easier, cleaner, neater and much more accepted to be out in the world today.
I am furious that many want to believe that benefit came only out of nice, gracious and appropriate movement.
Someone had to be too damn queer, had to break the rules and push the boundaries so that normative could move forward behind them. Someone had to pay with their bodies and their life force to go beyond, opening up social space for the truth of transgressive hearts beyond aggressive heterosexist compulsion. Those Kinsey 6 people had to take the pounding to open space for nice Kinsey 4 to love beyond convention, even if you find them disquieting.
It is lovely that homosexual can now be part of a nice, sanitary, approved lifestyle. Standing against queerness to stay aloof, though, claiming you are just like everyone else on the block except that you like a bit of sodomy on Saturday night is disingenuous and destructive.
Not respecting the queer inside you because the lady across the street might be disturbed is a problem. Do you respect her comfort or the contents of others hearts?
I once proposed a 36 hour intensive for newly put crossdressers. Strap them into a chair in a hotel room and have someone call them a faggot for all that time. They will end up going through all the stages of grief for their illusion of being straight, starting with anger (How dare you!) denial (I’m not!) bargaining (Well, they may be, but I color in the lines), withdrawal (I give up) and acceptance (Yes, I’m queer). It’s not a practical plan — we all grow and heal in our own time and our own way — but think how things would be better of they got clear in a weekend. Acknowledging that you do hold meaning you do not yet want to engage is very hard.
How queer is too queer? How queer is not queer enough? That is the LGBTQI version of the primary duality: How wild and individual is too wild? How tame and assimilated is too tame?
Getting respect requires giving respect. Progress always takes icebreakers and system makers. I have seen people who identify as queer disrespect others just because they seem too conventional and assimilated on the surface. That doesn’t create shared respect. is not fair, not right and not queer in any way that I understand it.
In the show, the entitled rich white guys wanted to not be too queer, but still got called faggots. That made them mad, not for all the people battered as queer over centuries, but for their own arrogance and self belief.
I understand the issue, have for over twenty years.
You are here, you are seen as queer, get used to it.
You can be as assimilated as you want. Just don’t claim that entitlement by dismissing and dehumanizing the queers who made assimilation possible for you.
Respect beyond comfort, respect for those who make choices you would never make for yourself, those who were bolder, braver, and more driven.
Respect for what is inside of you, not just how learned to be nice.