Friday, January 29, 2010

The Conundrum of Monogamy

I thought the phenomenon was fairly unique to Atlanta. With all the gay boys here from all over the Southeast, I figured the proverbial pond had too many fish. It seems like boys in relationships here always have one eye on the crowd to see if they might not be able to find someone "better". Rarely do you see people actually enjoying the person they are with. It's the most frustrating and depressing part about being single in Atlanta.

Yet, here comes a new study on gay monogamy (or lack thereof) from San Francisco State University, featured in the New York Times. The Gay Couples Study followed 556 male couples for three years, and about 50 percent of those surveyed have sex outside their relationships, with the knowledge and approval of their partners. The study reveals that monogamy is not a central feature for many same sex relationships. Some gay men and lesbians argue that, as a result, they have stronger, longer-lasting and more honest relationships.

The key to success are rules. The rules agreed to by the couples vary, but one couple said their rules were: complete disclosure, honesty about all encounters, advance approval of partners, and no sex with strangers — they must both know the other men first. I guess for them, a trip to the sex club is out. The notion of interviews for potential playmates seems to me to be odd, but if it works for them, that's great. The only "cheating" that can occur is if the agreement is broken. The study found that open relationships were just as happy as monogamous ones.

I realize that as men, we think of sex differently. For most us, there's not a very long road to separating sex and love. You can deeply love someone and still have emotionless sex with another person. I don't think the situation is ideal, because there is something about sex with someone you love.

My other question for these couples is: Do you still have sex with each other? I've known several "open" couples who spend most of their free time together looking for playmates online. Personally, one of the of the benefits of a relationship is not having to waste all that time looking for the false intimacy of a trick. If you don't have sex with each other, then aren't you just glorified roommates? How's it different than living with your best friend? Is that a real romantic relationship?

I have very mixed feelings. The first emotion that came up was anger. Such a study is not helpful when we are trying to win gay marriage. That is why most couples contacted by the Times declined to be interviewed. Why anger? To me, it seemed greedy. These people have found love and companionship, and now they're still out playing the field, competing for attention with guys like me who are alone. Maybe some open couple becomes fuck buddies with a guy that would be perfect for me, but hey, he's getting regular sex, so why bother with an actual relationship with someone?

I have been struggling mightily over the last couple of years with my perpetual single state. I am 34 years old, and I thought by now I'd be settled down with someone. When my parents were my age, I was NINE. The fact that I'm single with no prospects makes me feel like a personal failure. Intellectually, I may know that's poppycock, but it is how I feel. I'd like to find a guy who will choose to love me like I'm family. I'm talking the kind of love that your parents have for you, or maybe your siblings...with a sexual flavor of course. But it's the kind of love that you can be totally secure in; no matter how badly you might fight over something, they are not going to stop loving you. They will stick with you through thick and thin, not because you are blood, but because they choose to love as if you are blood. There's no question about severing the relationship except under the most dire circumstances.

If I found a man to love me like that, would I agree to an open relationship? Not at first. I think it's crucial to have a period where you are monogamous as you build the love and trust between you. There has to be a period where it's just you. I'd love that period to last the life of the relationship, but if I found a guy who loved me as I have just decribed (and who I loved the same way in return), I don't know how how I'd feel 5-6 years into the relationship and he/I/we wanted to explore opening it up. I don't know what rules I'd need to feel comfortable with that arrangement. I do know that it could not include stopping sex with me. Openness should enhance, not replace the relationship you have already. Of course, if the guy who loved me the way I described wanted monogamy for life, I think I'd be fine with that. The hunt for physical intimacy is tiring.

But until I find my prince charming (I'm trying to keep hope alive that a match for me exists... and that is a very difficult fight for me to wage), I do have some resentment of the folks who have their cake, but would like to eat mine too.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Poor, Sad Harry Reid

It appears that Mr. Reid, Democratic Senate Majority Leader, really stepped in it when he told an author on the record that Obama could win the Presidency because he was "light skinned" and didn't speak with a "Negro dialect" unless he wanted to. The Republicans, digging up the corpse of Trent Lott from 2002, have been screaming for Reid's immediate resignation and/or ouster. It's only fair, they say. Trent was run out of town for saying less. If Reid isn't ousted, it proves there is a double standard! Reid's just shown he's a big ol' racist, and we can't have that!

First, I think Harry Reid's comments were impolitic, and his use of "Negro dialect" was idiotic. It's 2009, Harry; "Negro" as a term has long fallen from the American lexicon. It's not nearly as toxic as "n*gger", but it's awfully close. FYI, we also no longer use the word "colored" to describe people of African American descent.

Second, who in the Democratic race didn't wonder if a black man or a woman could be elected in 2008? We knew we stood an excellent chance with the disaster that was the Bush presidency, but no one was sure how the general election would go. There were people who didn't think Hillary could be seen as "tough enough" in an era of terrorism. Others thought she was "too hard". I'll never forget the night of the JJ Dinner in Atlanta on the day that Edwards ended his campaign when I heard *many* stalwart party members swear, "Well, I know one thing, I'll never vote for that fucking bitch!" (emphasis NOT mine) In my mind, that answered the question of which was stronger in Georgia: racism or sexism. Turns out, having a penis was more important than being white, at least when voting for President of the United States. I estimate that about 95% of Edwards' vote in Georgia went straight to Obama.

My point is that everyone was speculating about the role of race and gender in the 2008 election! Many black folks wouldn't give Obama a second look until he proved he could get white folks in Iowa to vote for him. To have a quote from Reid during that primary remarking on the strengths of being biracial or "light skinned" in presidential politics is not racist. It was a fact. In Georgia, we were forced to attempt overcoming racism in some of our voters by urging them to for Obama's "white half". That was a disgusting argument to be forced to make to voters who normally voted Democratic, but it was one we used. Whatever would earn their vote for Obama was what we'd use. If a racist has to comfort himself by voting for Obama's "white half", then so be it; at least he voted for Obama.

As for his speaking style, Obama's oratorical skills have been noted since he came on the national scene in 2004. Even Biden got in trouble during the primary by saying Obama was "well spoken" and "clean". I never did understand the "clean" part because I haven't found that African Americans are dirty unless they just got off a construction site where EVERYONE is filthy. If Obama had not been the articulate candidate he was and instead spoke in either Ebonics or another street vernacular favored by today's hard-core rap artists...would he have stood a chance? I'd love to hear a serious argument that he would have stood a chance in such a circumstance. As it is, if Obama ever trots out a rapper dialect, I'd dissolve in laughter because it just wouldn't be believable. Likewise, if Obama started wearing blue jeans so big that he showed us his underwear, I'd be convinced that: A) Michelle had left him, and B) he'd lost his mind. That was the argument that Reid was getting at with his "Negro dialect" remark. A better characterization is an "urban street" dialect because it spoken by white and black alike in the areas where it is used.

Finally, when thinking about the Lott comments that our nation would have been better off if Strom Thurmond had been elected President in 1948 so we could have avoided "all these problems" over the years, I am struck by the truthfulness of those remarks versus Reid's comments. Lott was lamenting that an ardent segregationist had not won the White House in 1948, and "all those problems" could only be described as the dismanteling of the aparteid system in the United States at the time. It is DEMONSTRABLY FALSE that the United States would have been better off had Strom Thurmond been elected President in 1948. His election would have set our nation back DECADES, and likely have resulted in a much more violent civil rights movement. Anyone wistfully remembering segregation and wishing it could have been prolonged, and saying it would have been GOOD for the country is lying.

With Reid, who can say his statement was false? How would Obama's chances at election have changed if he had a darker skin color? What if he wasn't nearly as eloquent, and spoke instead in a general urban street dialect favored by hard core rappers? Who can seriously argue that making such a change would not have killed his chances at election? I don't know how his skin hue would have changed things, but I do know that skin tone is still a huge issue in the African American community, where lighter skinned folks are seen as "better" somehow in the media and by the public in general. We're trained to think "dark" is "sinister" and "bad". If we only changed his skin hue, would Obama have won? I don't know. I'd hope so, but I simply do not know. Reid did not speak a lie when he made his remarks, unlike Lott when he made his.

Finally, I think it does make a difference when a public official makes a stupid statement like Reid did with "negro dialect" to look at his public record. Harry Reid has been pro-diveristy and has worked on behalf of black Americans during his career. Trent Lott, on the other hand, did little to nothing for black people, and could be argued to have had a career that was outright hostile to them and their interests. Such a record DOES make a difference. Lott had a horrible record on helping black Americans, and his statement was an ugly, bald faced lie. Reid's statement was ignorant, but his assessment of the role of race in the election was a common one, and made by political people from the grassroots to the very highest levels. His assessment was also truthful, even if we find its discussion embarassing.

That's why the Reid and Lott situations are different, and why Reid does not need to step down.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

IF Republicans Ruled

Let's pretend that the American people simply lose their collective minds, and completely hand over control of the US Government to Republicans. I'm talking 90-95 seats in the Senate, 90-95% of the seats in the House. Oh, and they would also need to control state legislatures in at least 36 states. Yes, that's an obscene majority that would not happen in reality, but IF it did happen, what would be the consequences? What would be the wet dream of Hannity, Faux News, Rush, the Tea Baggers, and all other "conservatives"? My take is based off all the crap we hear on talk radio, as well as the GOP platform, along with arguments I've had over the years with Republicans.


With this kind of majority, the Constitution could be amended at will. Here are the changes to look for:
  1. Amendment XVI (Income Tax) - REPEALED
  2. Amendment XVII (Direct election of Senators) - REPEALED. This would put us back to the system where state legislatures elected Senators.
  3. AMENDMENT: Presidential Candidates must provide any evidence demanded by a member of the Electoral College as to qualifications for holding the Office of President. (sop to the birthers)
  4. AMENDMENT: Human Life Amendment, which will give the status of personhood and US citizenship from the moment of conception. (Bye, bye Roe, hello rusty coat hangers!)
  5. AMENDMENT: Balanced Budgeet Amendment, requiring balanced budgets every year but with a 75% vote required to waive this requirement in times of war ONLY (this is for you, Tea Baggers!)
  6. AMENDMENT: Will require that the Constitution be interpreted using word definitions in place at the time of adoption. (Originalist dream... anything the founders could not have forseen in 1787 will be unconstitutional without amendment. Amendments will be interpreted only as they might have been understood at adoption. That means the 14th amendment can only be looked at through the lens of 1868.)
  7. AMENDMENT: Federal Marriage Amendment that will adopt language of "Super DOMA" amendments of states banning same-sex marriage AND any benefits resembling marriage for same-sex couples nationwide. Amendment will also clearly undo any marriages that have already occurred.
  8. AMENDMENT: Citizenship granted only at birth for children whose parents are already citizens.
  9. AMENDMENT: Stating that the United States is based on Judeo-Christian tradition and values, and to protect our freedoms, no law may controvene that tradition.


With their reconfiguring of the US Constitution finished, the GOP will then turn its eye on laws and agencies they hate.

  1. Social Security Act - REPEALED (not in one swift act, but those not already on Social Security at time of passage will not have it available. They'll let seniors currently in the system stay in it until they die off.)
  2. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Education - ABOLISHED completely. All other departments, except Defense, will be seriously scaled down to about 10-20% current size.
  3. Food and Drug Act - REPEALED. Oversight of food and drug production only hampers business and increases prices, after all. Caveat emptor bitches!
  4. Health Reform - REPEALED. Whatever the Dems may pass this year will be repealed in its entirety. In its stead, the GOP will institute its "reforms": a) allow interstate sales of insurance (helps companies make more profit in low-cost areas by charging everyone as if they lived in NYC), b) BAN all medical lawsuits except in cases of gross negligence (to be fair, actual negliance could also be used, which is a lower threshhold), and that would be about it. Medicare/Medicaid REPEALED, although people currently in the system will be allowed to stay in until they die or are no longer eligible.
  5. Immigration Reform - Build a fortified wall on the Mexican border. Order all people deported to their country of origin who cannot provide absolute proof of legal residency. Legal residency will have an English fluency requirement. All government communications will be in English only without any translation provided. All illegal immigrants will be banned from any public service whatsoever, including schools and hospitals, even emergency rooms.
  6. Labor - All pro-labor laws and regulations will be REPEALED. The United States will become a "right to work" nation with the minimum wage also ABOLISHED.
  7. Education - States will be mandated to provide vouchers, although there will be no requirement that private schools accept any children they don't want to accept, and will be free to charge any amount they wish above the voucher limit, which the parents must pay or their children will not be allowed to attend. Teachers unions ABOLISHED and BANNED.
  8. Taxes - All income and inheritance taxes are REPEALED. Capital Gains Tax also repealed. Everything replaced with a 23% national sales tax.
  9. Environment - Endangered Species Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, etc all REPEALED. EPA ABOSLISHED. All regulations repealed; they only interfere with private enterprise anyway.
  10. Voter Reform: All "motor voter" laws REPEALED. Only people who prove that they have paid federal taxes may vote. No one on public assistance may vote until they are off public assistance. Felons banned from voting for life. Absolute proof of citizenship required to be shown before voting.

These are the top initiatives I believe would be swifly enacted with a GOP dominance of our government. I'm sure it would make the tea-baggers and other frothing conservatives very happy to see all these policies enacted. However, as we have seen time and again with legislation, unintended consequences would be a bitch. This America is not one that I would recognize, and if the people of this country approved of such changes, I would no longer feel welcome in my own country. I'd have two choices before me in such a scenario: join an armed rebellion to allow more liberal states to secede, or find another country in which to live. Neither option is palatable for me.

I hope this horror scenario will inspire you to not sit on your hands this year. We need to RETURN to the polls, no matter how disappointed we may be in this Congress and President Obama. It's important to remember that even with our large majorities, the Republicans have been dedicated to obstruction and forcing failure on all of our initiatives. We Democrats certainly have played our part in helping them out, but we've never been a party like the GOP that has sought to impose the absolute iron discipline on all of our members. It leads to problems, but I prefer it over the command and control style of the Republicans.