Sunday, November 05, 2006

Back in 1999, when I was watching the movie, “American Beauty,” I almost let out an audible – “Oh, come on!” in the theater when the homophobic Chris Cooper character admits that he himself is gay at the end.

I mean, if I were teaching a screenwriting class and my student had turned this script in, I would say – that is way too much of a cliché – the homophobe turns out to be… gay! It’s so one-dimensional; it’s a cartoon character. And while I’m sure there are SOME outspoken homophobic men out there who are actually gay, I think there are a whole lot more outspoken homophobic men out there who just don’t have a clue. They aren’t gay; they are just unsocialized and small-minded. And this stereotype is just that, an enormous over used cliché.

And now here we have that cliché prancing around us, with Haggard. OH MY GOD. It’s too good to be true. And yet, here it is, TRUE. Oh! I am so giddy. And yes, I hope that Richard Dawkins is lifting a nice glass of bubbly in the air. This guy is so reprehensible! He was also featured in “Jesus Camp.” That movie is even creepier now.

It’s so obvious that when we make some behavior absolutely taboo, we tend to fetishize it. This is like, SEX 101. So while I think it’s an overused stereotype – the closeted preacher, it is also everywhere! I just hate that people like Haggard and Foley fall into self-hate so quickly (and in Foley’s case, blame.) If they derive pleasure from having sex with people of their own gender, it’s not hateful. They aren’t in “sin.”

And it’s so tricky, because the progressives just want to heap disgust and anger on the person, not for being gay but for being such hypocrites. But it’s obvious that the person themselves, who has been set up for this naughty-boy, self-hatred by their screwed up church, takes the criticism as if it’s about the sex act itself, not the fact that they were penalizing others who had the same tendencies. They don’t seem to get it – it’s not about being gay, it’s about lying about it. And I fear that the message American’s get is: being gay means being fucked up. When it doesn’t. Only if you are lying about it and, oh – yes, in this case, advising the president about legislation in regards to it. THAT’s when it’s morally reprehensible.

And the cycle continues, I’m good – I’m bad, I’m clean, I’m dirty. It’s so depressing!

This is what I don’t get. When I see people on television, like Bush – like Haggard – they seem to be so obviously reacting to some deep screwed up personal issues. Their facial expressions, the way they get heated up and testy over the smallest things. I’m not saying Bush’s thing is sexual – I actually think his problems are so much deeper and more twisted than that – but to me, is just so… OBVIOUS. And come on, aren’t we supposed to be social animals that have evolved a keen ability to detect insincerity in others? And yet all these people voted for Bush because they “trusted” him more - they “liked” him more. And the same with Haggard – when I saw him in “Jesus Camp” or in the Dawkins BBC show – or even when I saw him preaching on television, he was so obviously about to explode with repression. I mean, look at the guy’s eyeballs – they are practically bursting out of his head! He seems crazed and on edge.

Haggard wrote to his congregation about his attempts to “cure” himself of his sexual “problems.” He wrote, "… the dirt I thought was gone would resurface ... the darkness increased and dominated." It’s like he’s involving his congregation in his own naughty-boy sex games!

Haggard, you are such a bad boy! A bad, bad boy! And you just need to be spanked right now! Jeez, it’s almost like we’re reading pornography. I just kept thinking, “Wow, his next sexual encounter with a man is going to be muy, muy caliente!”

Can’t write more now because I just flew home from New Jersey where I attended a Bar Mitzvah. (It was really fun! It was my first! So much like Catholicism to me! The venerated objects! The recitations! The goblet, even!)

I also want to say that my website has so much wrong with it right now, it’s making me lose sleep. I am trying to get things the way I want them by the end of this week. But at least people can finally order the Cds.

And yes, Shannon is obnoxious. But I feel weird banning someone from commenting on my blog. He doesn’t take up a lot of space.

And it’s weird to me, that since I am sympathetic to people’s nostalgia for the church, and appreciative of the community it creates, that makes them think I am leaning towards belief in God – when that is so very much not the case.


Anonymous said...

"Their facial expressions, the way they get heated up and testy over the smallest things. I’m not saying Bush’s thing is sexual – I actually think his problems are so much deeper and more twisted than that – but to me, is just so… OBVIOUS."

Please, do tell. I seem to be missing something.

Dame Wendy said...

"when I was watching the movie, “American Beauty,” I almost let out an audible – “Oh, come on!” in the theater when the homophobic Chris Cooper character admits that he himself is gay at the end."

THANK YOU!!! I felt exactly the same way.

Anonymous said...

I remember when I saw the movie, several people said out loud, "Either he's about to stab him or kiss him!" and sure enough, the creepy butch dad kisses the guy he thinks is boning his son. So predictable.

Anonymous said...

Julia, once again, it's so refreshing seeing someone not afraid to say what they're really feeling! I'm so glad I drop by almost daily to see what's up :-)

I agree totally about Haggart. It's amazing how the same progression of admission of guilt goes: deny completely until you know there's proof you can't argue with; then admit to a lesser offense, in the hopes that the proof isn't *that* damning; and ONLY then, when you're a$$ is about to be nailed to the wall, do you repent and beg for forgiveness.

Funny how these kinds of people ALWAYS wait until they're about to be exposed before they confess, isn't it?

I keep thinking, if only I could be as unethical as these Christian leaders, I could be rich. I could damn everyone who doesn't agree, get people to sendm e huge amounts of money for my "good works" and all the while lead a secret life of debauchery and deception.

But as an atheist, I answer to a higher calling: goodness. Not "godliness." Being good for goodness' sake.

Funny how atheists are feared because we don't have a "published" code of conduct. I mean, these people do, and look what they're doing. Maybe they've all got it backwards, huh?

Anonymous said...

I'm disturbed by the way Haggard's "confession" today was dealt with by his former church. I haven't seen any video yet, but apparently when his letter was read to the congregation there was a standing ovation, along with many tears, and talk of the "Gospel at work".

So, he gets to lie about it for a few days, then sort of confess, and now the whole thing is an example of Jesus' redemptive power?

David said...

Yeah it's weird how life is so often obviously cliché, Haggard and all. Ironic that he'd be more readily accepted into the progressive party opposing his conservative party. Anyway, reminded me, randomly, of the equally obvious cliché of the empathy Martha Stewart showed towards prison inmates, when she became herself, a prison inmate. How mundanely predictable!

Steven said...

I live the UK and we actual get news on tv and not in the form of entertainment. I have seen clips of those crazy right wing nuts on fox news and the like and I seriously do think they have a semi for George W. I know Rush Limbaugh does. Bill Hicks's comments about Rush Limbaugh are hilarious. I totally thought that part in American Beauty was a cliche also. Never really liked the movie to be honest. I mean CMON! its a damn plastic bag. Love that bit in Family Guy where god is sitting on a cloud and he shouts down "Its a plastic back dammit, if you want to see something amazing check out your circulatory system" lol great family guy funnage. Richard Dawkins is great. Love "The God Delusion".

Anonymous said...

"If they derive pleasure from having sex with people of their own gender..." Common pitfall. It was an epiphany when a gay man told us that, "People miss the point when they think of homosexuality as being about having sex. It's about relationships. Which gender do you relate to when you need someone to confide in, someone to hold hands with, someone to share a special moment with?"

And it made sense. Sex is only a small part of what makes a good heterosexual marriage. Conversly, if it were only about sex acts, gay marriage would not be all that important.

And it made sense, in the larger context. Specifically, in this case, if you're talking about sex with a prostitute, maybe it is only about sex.

Smartypants said...

Haggard was quoted today in an AP wire story saying this:

"The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality... There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life."

What this man is guilty of is not sexual immorality, but social and religious immorality. He was first -- most unfortunately but all too commonly -- a victim of his church, which taught him to loathe himself and others like him with such vehemence. But that he still espouses this dogmatic crap is both sad and unforgiveable. One might write off a heterosexual's religious rantings as an ugly mixture of ignorance and dogma. But this man understands that he has no choice about his sexuality and still spouts the kind of rubbish that makes young people throw themselves off tall buildings.

Tell me which is the bigger sin being committed here. Buggery? No. Religion-based bigotry? Absolutely.

Although it's hard to believe the figure, it's been reported that 30 million people belong to this church. That's one in ten Americans! (Coincidentally the same number sureveys say are gay.) Talk about shocking.

(BTW, I meant to ask you today if you saw South Park this past week, with Richard Dawkins and Mr. Garrison dating --and then some. VERY funny.)

Anonymous said...

Hey Julia!

I love your work and I hope to see your perform someday.

I discovered this blog when I visited your website after listening to your interview on the Humanist Network News Podcast. The link to your blog was not working so I had to “use the Google” as our dear President would say. Now that I have read your latest entry, I understand why I was having problems on your website. I’m sorry you are having trouble. I work with computers professionally, so if I can be of assistance, drop by my MySpace page and leave me a message.

As for the esteemed Mr. Haggard—this guy is definitely screwed up. I don’t feel sorry for the guy after all the preaching he has done against homosexuality, but I do think he is a victim. He is a victim of a religious system that teaches people to hate themselves, and as a result, to project that hatred toward those who choose to embrace who they are.

I did feel sympathy for his wife when he was being questioned with her beside him in his vehicle. I cringed when I saw him glance at his wife after saying that he had just gotten a massage. The look on his face gave the impression that she was surprised by even this fabrication of the truth.

Bla…Bla…Bla—Anyway, I look forward to reading your blogs and just maybe I will get the opportunity to meet you someday. I don’t know how often you find your way down to LA(Lower Alabama), but if you ever do, I’ll make damn sure I catch your show.


Sheldon said...

Hey Terry, I agree with your main point, but I have to disagree with your assertion that homosexuality isn't about sex. It's about sex just as much as heterosexuality is about sex.

Now, if we're talking about RELATIONSHIPS, that's a different matter. In that case, it IS about "confiding," "holding hands," etc. But many of the guys I've been with over the years had NOTHING to do with that. Ours was initially a strictly sexual thing, and the confiding stuff came later.

Come to think of it, I confide a LOT more in my female friends than I do with my partner of 9 years. I suspect that's true in a lot of heterosexual relationships as well. I know a lot of women who SAY that their husband/boyfriend is their "best friend," but come on. Best friends are the people we talk TO about our husband/boyfriend. LOL

I'm totally behind you on the Gay Marriage thing, though. It's strange to me that, when people think of gay and lesbian relationships, the first thing that comes to their minds is the people having sex. Yet, when they attend a heterosexual wedding, no one is imagining it as a ritual that justifies the couple having sex...even though that's basically what it is.

Anonymous said...

Julia, don't lose sleep over the website. It really is just a website, and yours is a lot better than most of the Internet.

In Ted's defense. I feel sympathy for the guy. Be critical of his politics but man... can you imagine? This guy has basically been "ex-gay" all his life, and his demise really demonstrates how profoundly misguided that entire movement is. The internalized homophobia. The EXTERNALIZED homophobia. And then having those feelings. All I can say is, that's gotta suck.

You know, he might be a pretty happy person right now if it weren't for the societal condemnation of homosexuality. Poor guy.

Brian said...

As much as I appreciate your glee over this guy lovin' gay sex and meth - lest we forget the METH! But I kind of hate that this new scandal is only expanding this ongoing, terribly awkward conversation, as with the Foley scandal. Gay is the new commie. Who is? Who isn't? Can we trust anybody? I'm afraid it's all feeding flames of homphobia. Homo-sex still gets deemed sinful, and the evangelical nutjobs can all see his actions not as hypocritical but as another example of someone's faith being tested.

And typical, just like the gays who go straight thru the help of the church... he couldn't just have a quickie with a male acquaintance, but has to make recorded calls blatantly asking for drugs. It's always these extremes, so homosexuality is associated with drugs and prostitutes. Cliche indeed.

Lastly, the man is too ugly to talk about sex of any kind. I'm all for evangelicals being exposed as hypocrits, but I can't look at him much longer...

Anonymous said...

Well we COULD think of it THIS way: Ted Haggard is- miraculously and finally- a servant NOT of the Lord but of REASON !!! and has by his inablilty to maintain a lifelong and crippling facade, taught 2 important lessons:
1) that homosexuality is NOT a product of choice, or deliberate self indulgence, of predilection for SIN, but is biologically determined and thus as basic to who and what a human being IS, as is heterosexuality.
And thus INESCAPABLE except at such great and cruel cost to health and well being as any other denial of reality foisted upon us by irresponsible religious teachings. And,
2) that "American Beauty" was just a movie,and not a very good one at that, despite the deep implications of the floating plastic bag, the homophobic, domineering father, the pathetic beaten down mother, AND, AND, AND an entire American community whose only decent citizens were a gay couple who managed to find each other in that American Garden of Eden of clean streets, impeccable lawns, and what seemed to be the detritus of the human species.
Although I hardly speak for heterosexual America I do submit that such can simply NOT be the case.
Gays are not better OR worse than the rest of us but just the same.
Or WOULD be, were they not suffering from an unreasonable onus particularly by those who claim that that the ominpotent god is responsible for EVERYTHING, including who and what we are, and how we behave.
It serves little purpose for the opposite of religious propaganda to be equally irresponsible social propaganda.
So isn't the larger question that we have to deal with in order to be reasonable and decent, really less concerned with the nature of our gay parents and children than it is about the nature of the god that we are entreated to believe micromanages the animal kingdom within the Universe?
Could a god, unless he were evil beyond belief have created humans in his own image merely to torture them by their natures, or allow their fellows to abuse them with impunity for their biology?
And if such a god exists - fruit of the seed planted in to many human minds by early and unavoidable indoctrination - aren't we required to seriously inquire why we should be ordained by both custom and often law to not only treat him seriously but to unquestioningly ADORE him?
All roads - including the one trod by the unfortunate pitiable as well as ultimately repellent Haggard - lead to the same end: too much religion, in all its manifestations including the spurious preaching of love where there is nothing but immutable hatred is FATAL to mental health, to human well being.
Neither the concept of god (s) nor the structure of religion serve any socially responsible purpose.
The mystery is how we have allowed either of them to be perpetuated for so long
And the problem is what to do about them so that our species can be freed to deal with the genuine wonders with which knowledge endows us, and to use that knowledge to insure our survival and/or the survival of our planet.
Norma Manna Blum

JeSais said...

Ditto on the American Beauty reference, even though in every other respect I think it is an excellent movie.

RE the whole gay thing... I would just like to add that if there weren't such predjudice against homosexuality these problems would not exist. People shouldn't have to feel that "...a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it ..."

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post Julia. And some interesting responses. I was particularly taken by the comment of "Atheism Quotes" who writes:

"But as an atheist, I answer to a higher calling: goodness. Not "godliness." Being good for goodness' sake."

So, I guess we can conclude that while "Atheism Quotes" does not believe in God, s/he does believe in Santa Claus. Let's us all recall that stanza from the familiar seasonal classic, "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town":

"He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!"

"Being good for goodness' sake." Now there's a thoughtful motivation for ethical living for you. Indeed, it is a truly superior raison d'être for atheists worldwide.

By the way, what is goodness? Why is it a higher calling? What is it higher than?

Oh, and why is the sky blue? ;-)

Have a nice day!

gzee said...

"And while I’m sure there are SOME outspoken homophobic men out there who are actually gay, I think there are a whole lot more outspoken homophobic men out there who just don’t have a clue. They aren’t gay; they are just unsocialized and small-minded. And this stereotype is just that, an enormous over used cliché."

While I almost always agree with you, on this point I have to differ: MOST homophobes are gay and in severe repression. Self-hate is a powerful motivation when denied and projected onto others.

JeSais said...

Singer/songwriter Jewel has a song on this very topic, the title track from her first album "Pieces of You" the refrain being

"do you hate him 'cause he's pieces of you?"

Anonymous said...

I don't feel too sorry about Haggard. My heart goes out to most of these "ex-gay" people, but in this case, the exposure of such a master BS artist pretty much made my week.

I still can't order the CD, and I'm getting pretty antsy about it. Why no international shipping options?!

Andrew said...

Hello Julia. I watched 'Letting Go of God' on ST last night, (8/18/10) and I was blown away on many levels. I've always liked you, (and Pat) but now... I love you.
Being my first post here, I'll use some key words & phrases to try to illustrate how deeply I connected with your story, instead of telling my own:

Cancer... Mother... Death... Atheist (me)... Mortality, hence life precious... Disgusting biblical shenanigans... Freedom of sexuality/love... NATURE!!!... MYSTERY!!! (willingness to utter the words, 'I don't know.') Chopra's Quantum WHA???... Parental tenderness... Emphatic applause (mine)

You touched me deeply, and I won't ever forget that. Thank you.

By the way- watching the show, it didn't take me long to notice that you and my girlfriend bear a startling resemblance to each other; Physically, facially, the hair, the eyes, the voice, the shape, and the mannerisms as well. I'm wondering if perhaps my sweetheart Roseanne is leading a double life, secretly becoming Julia on the sly. (or vice-versa) I guess it doesn't matter, 'Julia', as long as you're having fun and you keep returning to me, so we can continue to rock our world together. (Roseanne, the last session was FANTASTIC! This whole 'Julia' thing is actually rather kinky; Maybe bring some rosary beads and/or a little plastic glow-in-the-dark MARY next time? That would be HOT!)

Anyway- Loved the show, the humor, your intelligence, your sensitivity and... love you.