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'10 Authors Insider Tips

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Still All Worked Up After All These Years

by J.T. Benjamin

 

J.T. Benjamin

A few years ago, in this very column, I waxed rhapsodic about an article on the “Focus On The Family” website called, “Is My Child Becoming Homosexual?”  The article consisted of a series of questions that parents ought to ask themselves to determine if their child was gay.  Such questions included whether a child preferred the company of girls or acted in an effeminate way, had a tendency to cry easily, dislike athletics and avoid roughhousing.  In all honesty, I answered almost all those questions in the affirmative, leading me to conclude that in the eyes of Focus On The Family, I was gay, notwithstanding my heterosexual sex life, my long-term marriage to a woman, and my lifelong love of all things vaginal. 

One question struck particularly close to home.  “(Does your child have) A susceptibility to be bullied by other boys, who may tease them unmercifully and call them ‘queer,’ ‘fag’, and ‘gay.’” 

Guilty as charged, Your Honor.  Not only did I inherit my mother’s short, stubby legs and not only was I a late bloomer, I’d been born two days before the cutoff date to enter kindergarten.  As a result, I was easily the smallest, slowest, weakest kid in my class.  Since I was also the smartest (hey, I don’t believe in false modesty, why lie?), and since I was completely incapable of keeping my mouth shut, feeling compelled to shout out all the answers and demonstrating to these knuckle-dragging idiots how it was done, I was on the receiving end of more than my share of bullying from those aforementioned knuckle-dragging idiots.  I heard all the usual taunts: “shrimp,” “shorty,” “teacher’s pet,” “smart-aleck,” “show-off,” and yes, even “queer” and “faggot.”

Now, when I was little, I had no idea what a “faggot” was, so I can be fairly certain the knuckle-dragging idiots had no clue, either.  For the first few years of school, I deduced it was a nickname for something like “easy target” or “kid who needs a pounding” or “wounded baby zebra.”  Once I did learn what the term meant, and that there were boys out there who wanted to kiss boys, and girls who wanted to kiss girls, I concluded that my tormenters would have to all have good-sized rocks transplanted into their skulls to meet the minimum intellectual standard set by the term “knuckle-dragging idiots.”  Maybe I WAS short and a teacher’s pet and a show-off, but watching lovely little Karen Saunders on the playground swings, her white skirt and her long black hair flowing as she soared into the air, one thing I also knew was that I’d never EVER have the urge to kiss a boy as much as I wanted to kiss Karen Saunders.

It is an unfortunate truth that as long as people come in all shapes, sizes and temperaments, certain people, including but not exclusively children, people will find ways to tease, torment, torture and bully each other, with every sort of cruel name they can think of.  I heard many of them as I dodged punches and headlocks and wedgies, but one of the ones that didn’t bother me much was being called a “faggot.”  That’s because I knew I wasn’t homosexual, and simply calling me one didn’t make me one.

But then, as I’ve said before, I’m not gay.  As bad as the teasing got, I know if I DID in fact harbor same-sex attractions, and that my knuckle-dragging idiot peers saw that fact as a reason to torment me, it would have felt only worse.

There’s been a lot of news lately about the bullying of young both gay and perceived to be gay, to the point that they feel compelled to commit suicide to stop the torment.  One tragic example is of 18-year old Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, who jumped off a bridge after two of his asshole classmates (excuse me…ALLEGEDLY asshole classmates) allegedly secretly recorded him kissing another (male) classmate, and then allegedly broadcast the clip on the internet. Mr. Clementi’s story has been only one of many such stories of young men and women, some in their early teens, who committed or attempted suicide after having had enough of teasing and bullying for being, or for being perceived to be, gay.  While sociologists report that gay teen suicides have not dramatically increased in recent months, it’s a sort of good-news/bad-news situation.  It’s good news that there’s no epidemic of gay teens killing themselves, but it’s bad news that it’s an apparently ongoing phenomenon which has only recently gained public attention.

In response, sex advice columnist Dan Savage launched the It Gets Better Project.  The project encourages people of all sexual orientations to broadcast messages of encouragement and hope to young LGBT people that as much as they may feel isolated and intimidated now, as they mature and grow, things will get better for them.  Messages have been broadcast by not just ordinary people, but by celebrities like Adam Lambert, Ellen DeGeneris, Tim Gunn, President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Secretary of State Clinton, and Houston, Texas city councilman Joel Burns, who tearfully made his statement during the middle of a city council meeting, to sustained applause.

So, in the aftermath of a series of tragic anti-gay bullying events, gay and straight Americans have responded by banding together to deliver a message to suffering LGBT teens that there is hope, that bullying is wrong, that they aren’t alone, that they aren’t depraved, and that their situations will improve.

And yet…

Although Focus On The Family scrubbed their “Is My Child Becoming Homosexual” article from their website years ago, they’re still up to their old tricks.  On August 29, 2010, an article in the Denver Post outlined the Colorado-based Focus On The Family’s fear that school programs which promote diversity, tolerance, and bullying-prevention initiatives must be fought because they’re promoting a hidden pro-gay agenda.  Candi Cushman, Focus On The Family’s resident education expert, said “We feel more and more that activists are being deceptive in using anti-bullying rhetoric to introduce their viewpoints, while opposing viewpoints by conservative Christians are portrayed as bigotry.”

The more things change, the more things stay the same.  Five years ago, being bullied was a sign you were homosexual.  These days, it’s a sign you’re being encouraged to be tolerant of homosexuals.  Either way, trying to stop one kid from calling another kid “faggot” and beating him up is a bad thing to do, in the eyes of Focus On The Family.

To quote Kurt Vonnegut, “So it goes.”

Seven years ago, Adrienne, the esteemed goddess/guru of this fabulous website, (may her virus scans always come up clean), gave me free rein to give vent to whatever bothered me.  Turns out, quite a lot gets me All Worked Up.  I’ve teed off on the Holy Terrors on the far right, on their “War On Whoopie,” their attempts to stifle all things fun about sex, gay marriage, Proposition 8, the benefits of pornography, the virtues of BBWs, teen lust, the hypocrisy of Newt “Impeach the adulterer! No, not me! The other adulterer!  No, not him!  The one in the White House!” Gingrich, Mark “Appalachian Trail” Sanford, David “How much for a handjob” Vitter, Larry “Wide Stance” Craig, and Ted “Spending Weeks In The Arizona Desert With Three Guys Cured me Of Homosexual Impulses” Haggerd.  I’ve ranted about porn chic, obscenity, the Purity Myth, the Monogamy Myth, the Sanctity Of Marriage Myth, and how we’d all be much better off if we just abided by a simple, direct credo, namely that when it comes to what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedrooms, we should all adopt my credo of “Mind Your Own Business.”

I’d like to say that after I’ve let off so much steam, I’m a much mellower and calmer person now, having allowed the benefits of my advancing age and wisdom to soften the harsher edges of my argumentative personality.

I’d like to say that, but I’d be lying.

The truth is, as the first part of this column indicates, I still get just as royally pissed off about the general state of affairs in the world today as I did years ago.  In fact, I’m more pissed off.  Because no matter how much I’ve been ranting and raving, certain idiot segments of the population out there still haven’t gotten the hint.

There’s a famous old saying that goes, “Give me chastity and give me temperance, just not yet.” 

With apologies to St. Augustine, “Give me the serenity to suppress the urge to choke the ever-loving shit out of some sexually-repressed asshole trying to ruin everyone else’s good time, but not yet, I’ve still got a few more scores to settle.”

There’s another famous old saying that goes, “All good things must come to an end.”

Just not yet.

It’s time to move beyond the hallowed cybernet pages of ERWA.  I’m launching a new blog called, (appropriately enough) All Worked Up.

And there’s this newfangled thing called “Facebook” I’m trying out as well.  Come by to sign up and be my online friend, join my “All Worked Up” group and we’ll go from there.

“All good things must come to an end?”

Fuck that.

I’m just getting warmed up.

It's worth a shot.

J.T. Benjamin


If you have comments or questions about this column, please drop by J.T. Benjamin's blog or send an email to J.T. Benjamin

Get All Worked Up with J.T. Benjamin in ERWA 2010 Archive.

______
"All Worked Up" © 2010 J.T. Benjamin. All rights reserved.

About the Author:† J.T.Benjamin says, "I'm a generalist. I write about what interests me, which is just about everything." His resume reflects the diversity of his interests. He's been a disk jockey, insurance salesman, private investigator, journalist, college professor, child advocate, political activist, truckdriver, thief,...doctor, lawyer, Indian Chief. He's currently trying to start a hippie commune in the Denver/Boulder area.
Email:† J.T. Benjamin



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