Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Door Is Open

Fairyhedgehog, who blog I follow, just posted about online aliases. Here is the link.

I commented that giving up an alias is sort of like coming out as a GLBT. I know there is an official "correct order" for those letters. I also know the order changed at least once. And I also know I can't remember which is the latest version. However, since I mean no disrespect I make no other apology regarding the order I chose. Okay?

For people like me, anonymity is still necessary. And I think fairyhedghog's post is a fitting one. You see, I am slowly, but surely, moving from one phase of my life into another. While never a "conservative", I did at one time hold and adhere to many conservative ideas and attitudes. Now, being older (and hopefully wiser), I have come to recognize many of those ideas and attitudes as more wrong than the things they stood against, which often are not wrong at all.

It's a scary time. And it explains the way I write about some things. Such as sex. And being GLBT.

Leaving one way of living and entering another is - confusing. At least sometimes. I don't know who - or what - I am right now. And so at times I apply labels to myself which are from my past - because I haven't completely absorbed the new way of looking at myself. But make no mistake: I like what I'm becoming better.

Mainly because I don't think I'm "becoming" anything. It doesn't have that feel. Not like a caterpillar entering a cocoon and emerging a butterfly. More like - a snake shedding it's skin. The old skin was confining. Dirty. Stuffy. The new skin is clean. Bright. Refreshing.

But frightening all the same.

Maybe being let out of prison is a better analogy. Or, not so much let out, as the door has just been opened, allowing me the freedom to leave on my own. But, like some caged creatures, leaving - the thing longed for throughout captivity - becomes something to be feared. And so only a few hesitant steps are made. And whenever anything startles it's back to the cell, which is familiar - and hated.

I am happy that those of you who read/follow this blog sometimes also comment to me and gently remind me that some of what I say about myself just isn't so. I'm using old terms from an old and narrow minded way of life to describe what it means to just be a person. No need for harsh words.

And maybe no need for anonymity, either.

But I expect that will be the last gate to pass through. Until then, I need to be Nightwings. As Nightwings I can talk about sex, romances, and other things.

And not be too startled.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Why I Became What I Use to Condemn

Sometimes when my heart is hurting I write. I write a lot. Sometimes I only write a little. But when the heart is sick there is still the chance to write something. Even if it's just a short piece, or a poem to express the feelings of anguish.

It's different when the body is sick. A sick body means frequent visits to the bathroom and little time for actual writing. Maybe a blog post, or a mail chat. But to actually write. Doesn't usually happen.

I've been making bathroom trips. And so I have not been writing. My heart is in that numb stage after being hurt. You know? That emotional catatonic state in which it refuses to acknowledge any feelings whatsoever. Not easy to write without the passion.

But like I said, maybe there can be a blog post. And so here I am again.

There is a shame in being someone else's one night stand. I'm not sure exactly why that is, other than to guess it has to do with the reaons behind acquiessing. When the reasons can pretty much be boiled down to "I wanted to feel loved again" I guess being a one night stand is something of an indictement against my own intelligence.

Catching someone on the rebound isn't much better. Not if the relationship doesn't last. The feeling becomes that which is suspected of a ping pong ball. Bouncing from one lover to another. Do it too often and you get a reputation. Whore.

To be honest, I used to look down on men and women who behaved like that. Running from partner to partner. How could they do that, I wondered. Didn't they have any desire to just have one person to love and be loved by?

And now I'm the whore. And suddenly I understand something I never did before. It is precisely the desire to be loved by just one person that inspires the behavior. And with each failed relationship the desire becomes stronger. And more desperate.

I don't look down on "whores" anymore. I don't like looking down at me, I guess.

Anyway, I was thinking about it. Nobody becomes anything without some sort of history behind them to encourage it. This is important for writers to know and understand. WHY is my antagonist the antagonist. They're greedy? Why? What caused them to be greedy while the heroine is not? Why is the heroine going to stick with the story mission, instead of just chucking it away in boredom and indifference?

These things do not always need to be in the story itself. But the author should have answers to these questions. Many authors will write entire backstories for their characters. That way, the author understands what is "in character" for each and what is not. It is just as important to know why your antagonist has a soft spot in her heart as it is to know why she is such a bitch the rest of the time. And if you tell me it's because "that's the way women are" I will slap your face. All behavior has a reason. Those reasons do not always belong explicitly in a story, but they must be there as a background to keep characters in character.

Meanwhile, this whore needs to visit the bathroom again.

Monday, April 19, 2010

You Can't Have it Both Ways - Unless You Have the Money to Force It

Regarding politics, social laws and things like that I am a bystander. I realize that makes me a disappointment to people who are working very hard and making tremendous personal sacrifices in order to ensure the betterment of living for themselves and/or for others. But the truth is, I don't like attending rallies. I don't picket. I don't like attending meetings and conferences - for anything, really.

In essence, I don't join causes - even when the cause should be my own.

Never have. Maybe that will change as I age. Don't know.

But I do know I am finding myself speaking out more and more about certain issues. And these issues tend to be closely associated with my faith. The main issue which inspires me to speak out is the issue of - acceptance.

As a member of the Christian faith - as opposed to the Christian religion - I am inspired to try and behave as Jesus behaved. And regarding acceptance of others, there was only one group of people Jesus rebuked: religious hypocrites.

So when I read news articles like this one, I find myself annoyed enough to want to speak out loud.

Apparently, there is this national group calling itself the Christian Legal Society. (For some reason I find that name scary. Even foreboding.) It wants to exclude certain people from its voting membership because they don't act/think/believe the same way as the group's general membership.

Personally, I have no trouble with these kinds of groups excluding others. Women's groups can exclude men. Men's groups can exclude women. Gay groups can exclude non-gays, and so on and so on.

Where I have trouble is when these groups want government money. By definition, this money is coming from ALL of the people. The government is not a separate entitity - no matter how badly it behaves. So by taking money from the governemnt, these groups are also taking money from the very people they are excluding. I think that's wrong.

The CLS (sounds like a disease - and I have a sick feeling it just may be one - a fatal disease if not treated correctly) claims it has the right to only include those it wants. No argument from me on that point. To paraphrase something my best friend once said to me when we were young: Anybody who would join that group deserves to belong to it.

The CLS also claims it has a right to receive financial help from the universities and campuses where it holds meetings.


Forming a group which poses no threat (and I'm not sure CLS qualifies in this) is a right of all U.S. citizens. And even visitors.

Receiving government money for your group is a priviledge, and as such comes with stipulations which must be met. The CLS does not meet these stipulations of openness. Therefore, the CLS should NOT get any money.

They say they are Christians? Okay. Then hear what Jesus said about the government:

Then he said to them, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."

That's in the Gospel of Matthew. Chapter 22, verse 21.

This is a government issue. Therefore, if CLS is going to "do as Jesus would do", they should shut up and give up on the money instead of trying to force the government to give it to them.

The CLS claims gay/lesbian/bi-/trans/etc. people are "evil".  No. They're not. They are normal human beings. Made in the image of God and due the respect as such.

What is evil? Using religion as a cover for lack of faith in order to gain wealth and power while making the lives of others miserable.

The CLS is a legal group. They are entitled to exist by U.S. law.

But I think their behavior is an abomination in the eyes of God. I don't care what they call themselves. I see nothing of Christ in their behavior.

And do you know what's sad? The court decision is going to be based less on what is right, good or morally just, and more on who has the most money to get what they want?

That's another kind of evil.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

If I Am Who I Am While Making Love I May Not Actually Be Anybody At All

Recently, fairyhedgehog had a post about sex. Oh, damn! I just lost my reading audience.

Most of us are fascinated by sex to one degree or another. I know I am. There's something about sex which seems to get to who we really are. I think when we're engaged in lovemaking we have let down our final guards. We do if we really give ourselves to the experience anyway. Some of us are so inhibited we can't really enjoy sex as much as we could.

But that is not where I intended to go with this post.

Fairyhedgehog began her post with a quote from on Russell Smith. In that quote Mr. Smith makes a statement about "not truly understanding a character unless he knows how they are in bed." He adds that that is true of his real life friends, too.

Personally, I find Mr. Russell to be a sick sick man.

I mean, I have talked about sex and sexual activity with some of my friends. I even remember talking with my best friend a few days after I had my first encounter. But you know what? I didn't go into any great detail. At the time I was very upset with myself (I liked being a virgin) and so I focused more on why I gave in and how I was seduced more than the details of what actually took place.

Some people probably do get into the nitty gritty details with their friends about what they do. Mr. Russell apparently is one of them. Personally, I don't think I could do that. Nor do I want my friends doing that with me.

Not that I think it's "dirty" or "bad" or anything like that. As long as it isn't rape and it doesn't involve children, it's probably just fine.

But sex seems to get right to who we really are. It's the final guard to our spirits. I think that's why it's used by rapists. I seem to recall that most rapists don't actually enjoy the experience either - even if they do cum. But having consentual sex with another person is probably as close as we will ever come (no pun intended) to actually touching their spirit. We are all locked inside our bodies. We can't get out without dying. Hence the old phrase, "I'm trapped in a woman's body!" Or a man's. The spirit inside is at odds with the body nature gave them, and now they want out. With modern medical science those who can afford it can actually do something about it. The rest remain prisoners.

I don't talk about the details of my sexual behavior. Not even with my closest friends. (And they are SO grateful to me.) I don't think many people do. Especially across gender.

This is because I think if a woman starts telling a man the details of her bed behavior he's almost certain to assume she's coming on to him and wants him in her bed. And if a man starts telling a woman she's almost certain to think the same thing. Generally, in neither case is it all that comfortable conversation.

I don't talk about the details of what I do in bed because I don't like exposing myself (maybe it's subconscious, but I don't think I mean to be cute with the double entendre) like that. I have not had that many lovers in the real world. Had a few more in online fantasy. What I discovered is that lovers are easier to have online. I think it's because, unlike the real world, you can have sex online and still keep the separation of spirit. I don't like that. It's touching the spirit which makes the sex more meaningful to me. But more so online than in real life sexual partners are often only interested in pleasing the body.

Nobody likes to just cuddle anymore.

I could do that without ever having sex.

Well, maybe not ever. But you know what I mean.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It Never Was But it Never Matters

Losing friends is part of life. All life on this planet ends in its time. People, animals, plants - relationships. Ultimately, they are all doomed to death.

Some things die in natural course. Some die before their time. But all things die.

There were people who lived hundreds or thousands of years ago. Not a single person on this planet today knows they were ever here. But they were.

There was a time when they were alive and living. And when they died their life continued in the memories of those who knew them. But then those who knew them died, and their life could only live on in those who had been told about them. And then those who had been told about them died. Fewer and fewer people talked about them. Until nobody remembered they were here. All that become known was that someone was here. But nobody knew who.

The physical death of a lover is devastating. Some people never actually recover. The best they ever manage is to continue in their own life. But they don't really live it anymore. The grief just doesn't go away.

They are lonely.

I won't say it is more or less painful, but when the lover lives but the loving has died it is very much like physical death. There is grieving. And some people never actually recover.

We're lonely.

I have been told by many people recently that if someone truly loves me, then in time they will let go of anger/hurt/whatever negative feelings they have and return to me. And if they don't ever return to me then they probably never really loved me in the first place.

I know they mean well, but does making me think they never loved me in the first place supposed  to make me feel better? The only remaining joy I have of my lover turns out to be a lie? That means there are no happy memories.

When Blue-Eyed Boy was very young - couldn't walk or use many words - I had him with me in a store. He was fussy. Life gets awful samey when you're sitting in a shopping cart. And for people that young samey can get bad in a hurry. But before his fussed too much he saw something fantastic: a giant wind-up jumping Tigger toy. It was being demonstrated. Wind it up and it would bounce its head a few times and then do a big flip. Blue-Eyed Boy thought that was pretty cool. And by letting him hold on to one and play with it I was able to complete my shopping in peace.

I had no intention of buying the toy, so it never really belonged to Blue-Eyed Boy. But you all know what happened when I finished shopping and finally put Jumping Tigger back on the shelf? Blue-Eyed Boy was upset.

Now I have been lucky with Blue-Eyed Boy. He has only thrown one tantrum in his whole life. That was a difficult time, but we got through it well enough. It took the most difficult time out I've ever experienced. I sat with him. We were BOTH in time out. And maybe that's why he never had a tantrum again. He knew he was not alone.

But losing Jumping Tigger was hard. Blue-Eyed Boy had come to believe Jumping Tigger belonged to him. So having it taken away was not a matter of him not getting his way. It was like losing something he already had.

He didn't throw a tantrum. But he cried. He cried a cry he had never cried before, and only repeated since when we lost animals due to illness. He was grieving.

Did it matter to him that the toy had never really been his? That poor communication on my part had helped him misunderstand? No. That didn't matter at all. What mattered is that he had believed he had something precious. And now it was gone. It broke his heart.

There are those who probably disagree with what I did next. We were actually more than a mile away from the store when I stopped the car to try and talk with him. Then, crying myself, I turned around and went back to the store and bought Jumping Tigger. Blue-Eyed Boy still has it. Hasn't played with it in more than ten years, but he still has it.

That was the only time anything like that ever happened with Blue-Eyed Boy. Since then I have been careful to be more clear about what is - and what is not - his.

But why is it so wrong for me to feel the same way about a lover?

Does it matter their love was never actually mine in the first place? No. Because there was a time I was convinced it was. There was a time when I sat in my shopping cart content with what I believed was mine. And now that it has been taken away - - - - -

I'm grieving.

So go ahead and tell me I was never loved in the first place. The proof is that my plea for reconcilliation has been ignored. Not even a "no" answer. Just silence. Like I don't exist.

It doesn't matter if they never loved me. Because I believed they did. And now they don't. And it hurts. And I always feel like crying. And I don't know how long it's going to take to recover.

I'm lonely.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Would the Real Me Please Step Forward

I think I've mentioned before that I have played a few online games in which I get to be a whole new character other than myself. Some of them can be quite fun. Some not so much so.

What I find most enjoyable are the people I meet. Yes, we're all telling fantastic lies about ourselves - mostly with regard to our appearance. For even if we confess our age (which I kind of do - I give a decade) our visual images are generally young - and quite good looking. Mine is compared to the real life me anyway.

I've met people from a variety of occupations and countries. And ages. One of the people I've met is a young psychology student from somewhere in the eastern side of the United States. I actually know the state, but will grant her further anonymity by not revealing it. She said she read about people and their online behavior in one of her classes. There have been studies made. (Of course there have been studies made. There's always a study.)

Not surprisingly, the studies reveal that people are often more the way they want to be when playing these online games. Shy people often find themselves with arm loads of friends. And I suppose weak and powerless feeling people become dominant in the war games. (She didn't say that one. I'm guessing.) Followers must become leaders and I bet some leaders even become followers. And then there are the gender swappers.

I asked this question of her: So, if being online removes the barriers and fears I have in real life which prevent the real me from displaying to the world, does that mean I'm more real online than in real life?

Her answer: In way, yes.

What online has done is remove the visual aspect of who I am - which ultimately has little (nothing) to do with who I really am.

I believe this. Kind of.

For what I look like, and my physical gender, both directly affect my behavior in real life. If my body has limitations then I have limitations. There are places women and can go but men can't, and places men can go but women can't. There are socially accepted behaviors for women which are unacceptable for men, and the same in reverse.

She asked me to close my eyes and envision myself. Who do I see when I look at the me inside my body? In a cooperative mood, I began to list about six to eight character qualities I think I have - but rarely display - in my real life. As I listed them I felt a chill on my arms. Why? Because many people online have used those very words to describe me - without prompting of any kind from me. In real life I don't often get these compliments, even with prompting.

That conversation made me feel happier about myself online. And I realized just how many people online actually seem to like me. And if all of this mumbo jumbo about the real me showing up online more so than in person, then perhaps I am as kind, caring - and likeable - as I wished I was in real life.

Also makes me wonder about the people who are complete assholes in these games.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Complicated Characters

Lonely people can make fascinating stories. I think so. Maybe that's because I kind of identify with lonely people, being a lonely person. But the Sad Clown act always appealed better to me than happy clowns. Happy clowns annoy me. Never liked them. Not even as a child.

A few months ago I stumbled across an old Jackie Gleason movie on our local PBS station: Gigot. It was a movie about a mute man living a pitiful life who befriends a woman and child down on their luck. Apart from the humorous aspects of the film, of which there were many, what I especially liked was the sensitivity of Gigot. Not that every lonely person is automatically sensitive. Some are lonely because they're so creepy nobody wants to be around them.

I remember seeing the movie "Lili" when I was young, starring Leslie Caron. She played a lonely young women who becomes part of a circus troupe. I haven't seen the movie in years but I remember it pulled at me.

There was a scene in a Burt Reynolds move (The End) which just made me cry. It was near the end, right after Reynolds' character realizes he doesn't want to commit suicide after all. He makes it back to shore only to find Dom DeLuise's character there - ready and willing to help him die. There is a struggle scene which ends with Reynolds throwing DeLuise to the ground and screaming at him that he doens't want to die and so "Quit trying to kill me! Do you understand?"

It was DeLuise's reply which makes me cry. He chokes up and says, "Yes. You don't like me anymore."

There is something in those words put together in that sequence and uttered from the heart that tears at me. It was at that moment that DeLuise's character, who had hitherto been annoying to me, endeared itself to my heart. Suddenly, I felt I understood this character. And in understanding, I found I liked him.

Sad characters are not so easy to write as one might think. For one thing, they have to have a reason to be sad. Seldom do single events turn people into sad people. Single events can make people sad, but unless that event is completely devastating it probably won't have the effect of turning that person sad henceforth. Humans tend to recover. Especially if we have support of people we care about.

The sadness I'm trying to talk about seems to result from a person seeing their self-worth as no longer a part of themself. The two have become disconnected. You will notice - in real life - that sad people often are very giving. Why? Most likely because the times when they have received what they want have resulted from when they gave.

And so they give.

Money. Food. Possessions. Sex.

What makes their situation even sadder is that there are a lot of people who recognize the signs of such people and will take complete advantage of their giving nature. They will take every penny they have. Eat them out of house and home. Steal possessions. Make them their sex toy instead of their lover.

These are the stories that are hard to write. They may seem fairly straightforward, but they're not. Not if one is to make them believable.

Friday, April 2, 2010

So What Have I Done Anyway

Fairyhedgehog, who has some of the most adorable, humorous, and clever posts has another one: Have You Had Sex.

She links to another blog in which study results are listed. Included in those results is the statistic that 95% of respondees considered penile-vaginal intercourse sex. So what do the other 5% think of that? God knows. lol

What I find most amusing about that statistic is I have struggled with the definition of sexual intercourse myself. (Oh. In case you're wondering, this is one of the few times I go with the majority. I DO think putting a penis into a vagina is having sex.)

But then there are the cases of rape. Is that sex? Unfortunately, yes. It's just that sex has become a weapon and not a means of love making.

But enough about that.

One of the the comments to fairyhedgehog's post mentioned "phone sex" and "cyber sex". IS that sex?

And what about this scenario:

A woman goes online. She takes on a male personna. (Why doesn't matter. She just does.) She meets a female personna. They get to chatting/texting and find they are attracted to each other. So, unable (and unwilling to take the risk of) to be together physically, they begin talking about what it would be like if they could be together. IOW, they have cyber sex.

Is this woman a lesbian? Did she engage in sexual activity? I mean, she knows she's not a man. But she really doesn't know if the woman she's been pretending to have sex with is actually a woman. What if it's a man pretending to be a woman?

This whole gender/having sex thing online is very confusing to me.

No wonder I say I'm gender confused.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Experience Makes for Good Stories

It never ceases to amaze me how stupid I can be. I mean, by many standards I am actually an intelligent person. In school I always got As in classes I liked, Bs in classes that were interesting but not my favories, Cs in the other classes.

When confronted with problems at work and school I would usually come up with a creative solution that worked. I remember the one place I worked I redid their entire coding system. Spent three months doing it. I found out that fifteen years later they were still using it.

And my ideas for improving efficiency were all implemented with great success.

No, I am not a stupid person.

So why do I behave so stupidly?

It's desperation. You know?

That feeling of extreme panic when I realize what my life has turned into. And so when someone likes me, I put reason and caution aside and leap forward, hoping to find something that just isn't there.

I can make use of my stupidity. In my writing.

My characters can be just like that. Intelligent. Until it comes to a matter of the heart. And then - like the flipping of a switch - foolishness reigns supreme.

Except I have a difficult time not writing happy endings. Too much reality for me, I guess.

I guess I can't find what I'm looking for because it's beyond my having in this life. Or maybe I just don't know what it is.

Whichever, I now have another painful experience to draw from when writing a story about a character  I want to be real.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Different Mes

It never ceases to amaze me how pain and loneliness seem to bring out the greatest in artistic effort.

Some of the best songs were written through tears. Comedians draw upon past pain to make us laugh. And the anguish of a heart inspire great poetry and prose.

Not always, of course. Some of the funniest comedians admit to happy childhoods.

I guess I can't speak to that.

I do know my best work - the writing I've done which I enjoy - stems from great sadness and loss. Rejection. That feeling - knowledge - that I never fit in.

At times it seems like a friend. You know? But I know it's warped me. Why else do I not know who and what I am?  It's why my "about" section uses the word genderqueer. To be honest, I don't even know that THAT means. But I know what I wish.

I wish I could put on and take off what I am like clothing. Some days I could be physically strong. Some days I would be petite. Some days I would be a leader. Other days I would follow. Some days I would be beautiful beyond words. Other days I would be down and dirty, actually getting something done.

But whatever I wore, this would be true: I would be me. And I would have value.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Creating Real Characters

For people who wish to write creative stories, either for the theatre, film, internet, or printed pages, need to be aware of. It's stereotypes.

While not necessarily bad in a story, I think they are when they happen without the writer's knowledge. My reasoning is that instead of making a statement (pro or con) regarding the stereotype, the writer is simply perpetuating it. Generally, stereotypes are not good.

I'm old enough to remember the 1960s. It was a time of great civil rights strife for everyone, but prominently for black people. Hollywood, wishing to appeal to a wide audience, did what it could to demonstrate equality. But as its motivation was money alone, sometimes its own prejudices came out in its very efforts to show no prejudice.

I recall reading a Mad Magazine issue in which the primary movie being satirized had a black character in it. In the satire, when the black character shows up he identifies himself as, "Hi! I'm the token black."

What made the satire so funny was it was absolutely true. In the actual film the only purpose that character served was to be a black person getting along with white people. It didn't come off (for me), as is evidenced that I can't even recall the movie's title anymore. All I remember is that one scene from Mad Magazine's parody.

Stereotypes can be useful things in setting up statements about our society. They are especially useful in humor, as is evidenced by stand up comic routines about "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men_Are_from_Mars,_Women_Are_from_Venus"

When writing with a purpose, stereotypes can work very well. But what if a writer includes stereotypes in their work unaware?

Back in the 1960s and 70s virtually ALL gay people on television were male. Lesbian was a word people knew about, but on television there didn't seem to be any. Not that I remember anyway. (Maybe I just watched the wrong shows. There were women who were depicted as being very "manly", and perhaps that was television's way of dealing with it.) And EVERY gay man I recall being depicted was over the top gay.

Now there is nothing wrong with "manly" women, or over the top gay men. But not every lesbian is "manly" (not sure anymore what that means either), and not every gay man is over the top. (Oh, by over the top I mean the lispy voice, extreme fascination with fashion, limp hand wave, etc.)

I once saw a comedian on television talking about how several of his friends were gay and a few were, in fact, over the top. He said he acted that way sometimes, too. Why? "Because it's FUN! I love to say spritz!" You had to have been there. But in poking fun he was also telling us something in his routine: Not all gay men act the way you think they do. In fact, even with a softening of attitudes toward sexuality, there are a lot of gay people who are still afraid to let others know. For some it is even dangerous to let this truth out. People are often surprised when they learn someone is gay. How can that be - if all gay people act the same? If people can't tell without being told, then I maintain that there is no gay behavior which reveals a person's sexuality - other than what would take place in private. But even then. Do all gay people engage in gay sex? I don't think so. After all, not all heterosexual people engage in heterosexual sex.

I maintain that sexuality is not just what we do with our bodies. In fact, our bodies may have much less to do with our sexuality than we realize. I believe sexuality is at the spirit level. In the heart of hearts. We simply give labels based on the bodies we were born with.

So I think we need to be careful when writing characters. I've only read one of her books, but Tanya Huff writes about gay and bi-sexual people. What makes her writing so wonderful is how natural the characters are. Nobody is "acting gay". They are behaving like people. Real people. The way real gay and lesbian people behave.

We need to keep that in mind when we write our characters. Remember, a character can be gay and never have it referred to in the story even once! Consider J.K.Rowling revealing that Albus Dumbledore is homosexual. Until she said that how many people suspected - or cared? It wasn't important for her to tell/show us in the story. She knew. And that was what was important.

As writers, I think we need to keep this in mind when creating characters who have an historical stereotype which can be applied.

Just a thought.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Ostrich People

I saw a television special the other evening about George Carlin. He was being postumously awarded an honor by the Kennedy Center. I enjoy watching these shows when it's comedians who are being honored. I've seen Lucille Ball and Bill Cosby honored, too.

George Carlin could be immensely funny. He could also be simply strange. I once saw him on the Jerry Lewis Telethon. He came out looking very angry. He positioned himself in front of everyone and stood and stared for roughly four to eight minutes (whatever his allotted time was). When his time was up he smiled and bid the crowd thank you. Those were the only words he spoke. Whether he was pissed off at Jerry or someone at the place, or whether he was testing a new routine I do not know. Neither did the crowd which was there.

But George Carlin understood humor. He also understood something else: people. The two kind of go toether, I think.

One of the clips from the special in his honor was a bit in which George mentions something about Americans and language. Americans constantly change which words are appropriate to use. The reason? Americans have trouble facing the truth. The bit talked specifically about "shell shock" versus "combat fatigue" versus "post traumatic disorder". As the terminology changed, so did Americans' attitude about those suffering from the problem, until those suffering no longer got the treatment they needed, deserved, and had earned.

I've known this about Americans for a long time. As a people, we are liars. Mainly, we lie to ourselves. We tell ourselves we're smarter than people from other nations. That was ingrained in me when I was growing up. Everything I was taught in school supported this belief. And yet America does not rate in the top ten in academics around the world. Some college students from England came to the United States to do a study. They were curious about how much Americans knew about their own country. The English students visited several large cities and randomly stopped people and questioned them. Nearly three quarters of the people they spoke with couldn't identify which state Cleveland is in. (Ohio, if you're wondering.) Some even thought it might be a state. Virtually none could repeat even the first three words of the Constitution. (We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America..)

This ignorance is often premeditated. I have seen this with many simple, but well-meaning people, who simply (pun intended) choose to pretend that certain things/people/ideas do not exist. I know a woman who, every time the news began to speak of rape, murder, child abuse, or anything like that, she would change the channel so her children wouldn't hear about it. If the topic of gays and lesbians came up she would usher her child away from the room. Such things are not for children's ears.

Why not?

I had more than a few arguments with this woman, and never could she give me a definitive reason for her actions. Other than fear. What if her child became like that?

I don't know the answer to that. But what if her child grew up to be like her? Turning off the news because it talked about something she didn't like, or understand, or agree with? What if her child grew up to be the kind of person that believed people who think and act differently from a select group's established norm should be suppressed and oppressed? Possibly even put to death?

America has become a battle ground, I think. It's an all out war. Not being fought with tanks and rifles and aircraft. It's being fought with ideas. The most important idea is whether any person has the right to think and be what they want. On the one side is a growing number of people who believe in freedom for all. On the other is a growing number of people who bear a striking resemblance to the people who surrounded Adolph Hitler.

Many people refuse to believe that what happened in Germany in the 1930s and 40s could ever happen in America. Like this woman I know they bury their heads in the sand, or run away, whenver the topic is even hinted at. We can't stop it if we don't stand against it. And we won't stand against it if we refuse to admit it even exists. Or is our problem.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Is There Another Holocaust On the Horizon

Lee Wind just posted recently about a new law the Ugandan government is planning to pass. Basically, the law states that homosexuality (and lesbianism) is illegal, and the penalty for being such is death. HERE is his actual post.

Although this is Uganda and not the United States, it is still frightening. As Lee points out in his post, this fear-mongering is exactly how Hitler and his people came to power. It's how the Bush Administration was able to remove so many civil rights for everyone in this this country, and how the ultra-conservatives are still attempting to manipulate and control us.

The fact that we already have these (powerful) elements in our own society is what makes this Uganda thing so frightening. They were instrumental in helping the Ugandans come up with this atrocity. And they're here! In the United States.

They haven't achieved this level of insanity here - yet. But with this action their intent has become clear. It may seem like complete science fiction to believe they could create death camps such as Auschwitz and Buchenwald here in America, but I expect that's what it seemed like to Germany in the 1920s and early 30s.

We have to be aware of how these enemies of humanity operate. And we must try and block them. America is so filled with fear and hatred now it is a very scary place to live.

Read Lee Wind's post. I believe he links to the original New York Times article.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Being Who We Want to Be

Hello. It's been more than a month since my last post so I would not be surprised if nobody reads this.

A lot of what I write now deals with males and females behaving in a-typical male and female ways. Or, I should say, what the social perception of male and female ways are.

Apart from writing about lesbians, I also put women in dominant roles, both on the "good guys" side and the bad. Men can be subordinate to women and women to men. But in my stories I don't really mention that that is so. The reader can clearly figure that out for herself as Emily, director of the company, is a woman, and Brad, some junior executive, is a man.

I try to treat my characters' roles naturally. Nobody in the story is surprised that Vanessa is a great warrior, or that Gary likes to cook and take care of the house. Nobody gets teased about what they're doing because their job is opposite their gender.

I've read many stories like that and I find that makes those stories so much better. Stories that need to point out how normal something is just do the opposite: they reinforce how UN-natural the writer sees it. To be honest, I do not consciously assign roles to female and male characters - except my main character and main antagonist.

To be honest, I think most people, whatever their visible and vocal declarations are, prefer that as well. What is more, I think, given a chance, people would like to experiment with things like that.

I have heard many people criticize those who get operations to change their gender. Yet I wonder how many of those who make these criticisms do the same thing in the cyber world? I've been doing a little reading on this topic (very little, compared to what is available). All of these chat rooms, make-believe worlds, Twitter and Facebook accounts, and even Blogger, are filled with men and women pretending to be the opposite sex.

I have done it. I have joined a couple of "worlds" online in which one chooses an Avatar and moves about, interacting with others around the real world in this created cyber world. I have been women. I have been men. I have been dark-skinned and light. I have been blonde and brunette. I have been gay and I have been straight.

Why do people do this? Why have I done it?

From what I have read the reasons are probably as varied as there are people doing it, although curiosity seems to be the most frequent reason given. For those of us who have always been the same gender, there is a natural curiosity about what it would be like to be the other. Women see the advantages of being a man much more clearly than men. And in reverse, men see the advantages of being a woman. I think both have more difficulty seeing the disadvantages of the other side.

Apparently, most gender changing is done by men. But that is not to say there aren't plenty of women doing it, too. Perhaps more than is realized.

Apart from curiosity, there are a couple of practical reasons for a woman to choose a male Avatar - particularly in competitive games. One woman wrote to say that she had joined an online community game which allowed for players to form teams. She wanted to lead her own team, but found few players willing to join a team led by a woman. (Sexism exists even in the cyber world.) So she created a new Avatar and found plenty of able and strong characters willing to submit to her authority and leadership. Meanwhile, a man wrote that he was having difficulty advancing his character in an online game community he had joined. So he switched. Suddenly, he found "male" characters falling all over themselves to him him/her out.

What I found comforting was that the instances of "perversion" being a motivating factor seem to be low. It exists, just like in the real world. But mostly it is people experimenting in a way which is - mostly - harmless. I say mostly because there are risks.

I read how a man (real world and game world) had got to know a female game character. Their relationship blossomed to the point where the man began to believe he was falling in love for real. He began to pressure the female character to let him call her  for real. That was when the female character had to admit she was really an old man in the real world. Quite a shock.

But that exmemplifies something I have believed for some time now: true love is not based on gender. It is based on two people connecting in such a way that they wish to bond together. For some people (men and women), this is far more likely to happen with a woman than a man. For others (again, men and women) it will be with men. We call the women who fall in love with women, lesbians. Men we call, gay. But perhaps the day will come when we simply call them lovers. Husband and wife. Marriage partners.

For myself, I find when I feel a need to be sexy, slinky, and greatly desired, I will put on my female Avatar. I have yet to find a site that creates unattractive and poorly proportioned characters. When I want to "be in charge", I will put on my male Avatar.

Am I being sexist? Yes. I guess I am. But to me, that is one of the beautiful things about pretending. I can be anything I want. They're all just characters I can put on and take off like a sweater. Some fit tigher than others. And some are more comfortable. But woman or man, none of them are really me. Any more than the characters my characters interact with are real. That's probably the saddest thing about pretending. It isn't real.