Friday, January 13, 2012

FRIDAY the 13th

          I'm not at all superstitious about Friday the 13th, or anything else for that matter. (Except for black cats crossing my path, but that's another story)
          Here's why today sucks:
          First off I finally received a response to my middle grade fantasy novel, which I had submitted to an editor with a big well-known publisher. It was a rejection, which is always a bummer, but I have to say the REASONS why my story wasn't right for him made me laugh out loud, considering the obscene and irreverent nature of a lot of my previous work. Here's what the editor said:

"Thank you for letting me read this, but I don't think it will work on my list as the story seems too old-fashioned and twee for my taste. Good luck finding the right publisher for this."

          I don't love having my work rejected, but I understand his reasons and kind of enjoy being called old-fashioned and twee. Especially since just last night I listed two "My Little Penis" coffee mugs on Etsy.
          The other reason today sucks is that I had to sit here at my desk and listen to a discussion/debate between a student and a substitute teacher about whether or not gay people deserve equal rights. It was a Social Studies class, and they're researching the different presidential candidates and their stances on the major issues.
          The student is Mormon, and VERY insistently anti gay marriage. The substitute did an AWESOME job of questioning the kid's faulty reasoning and trying to make him see the other side of the issue. But I have heard this kid go on about it before, and he's unfortunately full of brazen confidence and good-natured smiles and Mormon brain-washing. Blond, blue eyes, clean cut, just as you would expect. He's always been extremely polite and respectful to my face, and he KNOWS I'm gay, and married to a dude. It's amazing how people like that can sit right there in front of you and argue why you shouldn't have the same civil rights they do, and expect you to just accept it.
          It's like they expect you to react the way you would if the disagreement were over which is better, chocolate or vanilla ice cream. No big deal, right?
          So I listened to them go back and forth for a while, respecting each other's opinions, smiling and laughing, yet making their points. Finally I got up and said, "You know what? I wasn't going to say anything, but I have to. You all know I'm gay, and that I have a husband. Well, it's really weird for me to sit here and listen to you guys debate whether or not I should have the same rights everyone else does. I just think you should consider that, and try to imagine what it's like for me. It's like if you were arguing in favor of racism right in front of a black person."
          The kid tried to say that it's not discrimination, and he had all sorts of weird incorrect ideas obviously from his church. He was saying that if they make gay marriage legal, then if a church won't marry gay people, they'll have their tax-exempt status removed, and go bankrupt, and it's not right for the poor churches to go bankrupt over that. I finally interrupted and said, "It IS discrimination. What you want is the right to discriminate, and you should just be HONEST about that."
          I also said that during the 6 months or so that it was legal in California, my husband and I had a civil marriage ceremony, we certainly didn't FORCE ourselves into anyone's church, and I didn't hear about any OTHER gay couples doing that. I told him I wasn't even sure if he was correct that a church could be forced to hold gay marriages. I said, "I wouldn't want any part of a church that didn't respect and honor my marriage, anyway. Why would we want that?"
          Another issue the substitute had raised was the right for a gay person's partner to be involved in medical/health decisions, and hospital visiting rights. The kid actually, honestly, said, "Oh, but that's such a minor thing!" He even argued with the substitute about HOW minor that issue is. And he was not kidding. And he's a SENIOR. And we're a college prep academy.
          I told him it may seem like a very minor thing to him, at his age, but my husband is diabetic and it has and could in the future be a very real issue for us. It is VERY important.
          I tried my best to be firm yet not seem angry, and to give the impression that I respect the Mormon kid's viewpoints, even though I most certainly do not.
          I know some gay people might have thought it wiser to say nothing, but I REFUSE to make it easy for anybody to debate my equal rights in front of my face. Especially when the person arguing my rights away KNOWS I'm gay. That is seriously fucked up. It's like that type of person banks on me (the minority) being too intimidated to say anything.
          Needless to say, my nerves were totally shaken by the time that period ended, but I was determined not to show it.


  1. I can ALMOST understand how people can be ignorant if they haven't been exposed to the "real world", but an educated person has absolutely no excuse for discrimination of ANY kind. Kinda makes me a little sick...
    You showed amazing restraint Tommy.

  2. Tommy, I also don't give any credence to the Friday the 13th nonsense, but after shelling out $1100 on my car today, I have to laugh and/or spit in the face of the fickle fingers of the Fake Fates.

    That is truly a bummer that you got a rejection, but I'm glad that you're in the position to see the humor in the reasons. I'm sure if you shop it around to more receptive publishers they'll run with it, because it's a great concept. Plus, this doesn't preclude sending the guy another, less "twee" creation in the future.

    The Social Studies thing really grinds my gears. You know where I'm coming from as a blond-haired, blue-eyed kid who was raised Mormon and even served a full 2-year mission for them before I finally gave in to reason and "came out" as a secular humanist to my family.

    You also know that three of my four best friends in the whole world are gay (you and Anthony included of course), and the fourth, well, you know. This all gives me an intimate view into both sides of the Mormon stance on gay marriage.

    First, I am so glad you spoke up as it occurred, and that you retained your composure throughout. That sends the best message possible not only to the Momo, but to all those in attendance.

    Second, I can only imagine how frazzled you were after the fact. Please take care of yourself. It's impossible not to take it personally because, after all, your personal rights were the ones being debated, and it's normal to feel like you want to wring that smug little neck of his and/or every LDS person out there. That part I can understand completely; I don't need to be gay to get that.

    Third, that kid really has no clue about life. He's been insulated from reality and fed half-truths and/or outright lies about gay rights (among myriad other topics). Just because he's a senior in high school doesn't mean a DAMN thing. He's as receptive to outside information as a stone right now. Perhaps college will give him the permission to start using his mind for critical thinking and questioning (unless he goes to BYU). When I was that age, although I was active LDS I still had educated and open-minded parents and sought out non-Mormon friends and ideas, but clearly he is not so fortunate or so inclined. I'm not being an apologist for his bigotry, but I am at least telling you why he is the way he is, currently. My mom used to say, "There are many reasons, but there is no excuse."

    Parts 4 and 5 below.

  3. Fourth, although it doesn't seem like it, all Mormon churchgoers themselves aren't monolithically anti-gay or anti-gay rights or anti-gay marriage. You already know this also, from what I've told you about friends and family saying that they abhorred what the LDS church organization did during Prop 8. However, I won't lie and say that they are in the majority (yet; I truly think it's just a matter of time, like it was with blacks getting the priesthood in the '60s and '70s). Still prevalent in LDS culture is the attitude epitomized by a common Mormon saying: "When the leaders have spoken, the thinking has been done." This statement makes me want to vomit. It always did, even when I was active LDS. It similarly evokes reverse peristalsis emotions in many Mormons, but, sadly, usually not enough to speak up against it and risk censure. After all, Mormonism is a religion, and religions rely on the mindset that others know better than you. Now, the Mormon church organization, on the other hand, IS a monolithic force against gay rights, and anyone who says differently is a fool. Again, I'm not apologizing for church members not standing up in the face of the leaders and saying that they're wrong in this instance. I'm just reiterating that not all Mormons are dicks about this, I guess.

    Fifth, I would be more than willing to give you some political ammunition to use when in a debate with Mormons specifically and religious anti-gay zealots in general so that should this situation arise in future you can be armed to the teeth. Let's talk. By the way, your instincts were correct even though you weren't sure: churches will NOT lose their tax-exempt status NOR will they be FORCED to marry gay couples should such a measure pass, either here in Cali or at the federal level. That's utter bullshit and the kid needs to know that. (I'm not saying that some churches deserve to have their tax-exempt status removed for OTHER reasons, such as political influence, and I argue that the LDS church has fallen afoul of that over and over again and definitely deserves to have its tax-exempt status revoked immediately if not sooner. Other churches are just as guilty of this and other offenses yet remain tax-exempt, and it's WRONG.)

    So yeah, fuck Friday the 13th.

  4. Andrea & Matt- thanks for the kindness and support! Matt, we will definitely talk about all this, and I appreciate everything you're saying. I heard about your car. That sucks a bag o' dicks.