I thought this would be a fast topic and let me get back to my novel revision that I aim to have done by Friday, but I was wrong. Regardless, because the emotions we regard as "negative" are in most cases healthy normal requirements to be a healthy normal human, it can be very therapeutic to embrace them sometimes instead of trying to pretend they don't exist. These songs hurt me, but I love them. Not every song can be "Walking on Sunshine". I have excluded breakup/unrequited love songs from this list to prevent it from exceeding eight thousand entries, and instead focused on some of the other crap that life has to offer. Enjoy.
Bill Mumy - The Ballad of William Robinson
Being lost in space forever is a special kind of depressing, though if he gets to keep visiting actual planets and having adventures I don't know what he's complaining about.
Green Day - Boulevard of Broken Dreams [Explicit]
I currently live on Kip Thorne Boulevard, which became a boulevard of broken dreams when I moved here a couple months ago.
Harry Chapin - Cat's Cradle
The only thing sadder than missing opportunities is growing up.
Loreena McKennitt - Dante's Prayer
A song that will doubtless by repeated on my upcoming list of songs I want included in the new Latter-day Saint hymnal.
Genesis - Dreaming While You Sleep
I honestly thought the lyrics of this song were some kind of artistic metaphysical nonsense until I actually paid attention to them and was like "Holy crap!"
Kansas - Dust in the Wind
Even if you, like me, believe in immortal souls and another life that will suck considerably less than this one, the reality check of how temporary and insignificant humans are can be sobering.
Tracy Chapman - Fast Car
A song, introduced to me years ago by my friend Cece, about how poor people deserve to have crappy lives because obviously if they just pulled themselves up by their bootstraps they would be fine (sarcasm).
Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy - Heartbeat (Instrumental)
Knowing the plot of the movie makes every song from the soundtrack melancholy, but this one really tests the limits of how beautifully (I can't stress that enough) soul-wrenching an instrumental piece can be.
Billy Joel - Leningrad
"Storm Front" is my favorite Billy Joel album, and most of the songs on it are criminally underrated, including this one.
Suzanne Vega - Luka
Not just the abuse per se, but the resignation and broken spirit really drive this one home.
Stephen Moore feat. Kimi Wong - Marvin, I Love You
Okay, I lied, and don't have the heart to refuse entry to this breakup/unrequited love song by everyone's favorite manically depressed robot, accompanied by an irrelevant cute video.
Nightwish - Nemo
"Nemo" means "no one" and if that's not cause for introspection I don't know what is.
Alanis Morissette - Perfect
With her unique voice and interesting liberties with pronunciation and scansion, Alanis comes across as a very real person singing about real issues, like impossible expectations from parents or authority figures.
Mika - Rio
Again, upbeat but not upbeat, illustrating low self-esteem and the perceived futility of trying to change things, but in a way you can dance to a little.
Simon & Garfunkel - The Sounds of Silence
Kitaro - Symphony of the Forest (Instrumental)
As I've mentioned before, this song gave me my first experience with depression and loneliness when I was three or so, and now I listen to it just to show it who's boss.
Matchbox 20 - Unwell
Only I and a few hundred million other Aspies have adopted this as our unofficial theme song.
Bruce Hornsby & the Range - The Way it is
Somehow this song is upbeat but not upbeat, even without getting into the subject matter of racism and civil rights.
Scorpions - Wind of Change
The fall of the Berlin Wall was a joyous occasion for most, but this hardly comes across to me as a joyous song, probably because it's reflective and nostalgic instead of celebratory.
Madonna - You Must Love Me
Eva Peron sings about her husband staying by her side as she dies of cancer (which isn't a spoiler because the musical literally starts with her death and goes into flashback for most of the next two hours).
I got into Star Wars fan films because, being the selfish and impatient brat that I am, I was unsatisfied with the quantity of material available from official sources. And nowadays, the bar has been raised so high on fan projects looking for YouTube views that many of them wouldn't look out of place on a movie screen themselves. When I'm sufficiently impressed I make them canon as far as I'm concerned. I marvel at how far they've come in really not very long. Because as I sift through fan films from the early to mid 2000s trying to find the good ones, I find a lot of garbage. Maybe that's a bit harsh. If a group of high school friends made some good memories hitting each other with lightsabers then that's all that matters. But that doesn't mean their film deserves to be remembered or watched by anyone else, and indeed in many cases these early low-quality efforts have all but disappeared from the internet. Many of them aren't even on YouTube.
Of course the main issues are the craptastic special effects and video quality, which again I marvel at because that wasn't very long ago. As a result, the best fan films from this era are often parodies or meta-things that are set in the real world and make no attempt to hide it. For example, "The Emperor's New Job" is hilarious if you have a twisted sense of humor, which I do. But a few "legitimate" efforts managed to shine through in spite of their limitations. I have a lot of respect for creativity and ambition. A few, while they may not be as visually impressive as I generally look for when creating my personal canon, impress me enough to overlook that. And one such effort is "Jedi Heritage". This one deserves to be more remembered and more watched than it is. Made in Australia in 2005, it was ahead of its time for several reasons:
- "Jedi Heritage" doesn't have an opening crawl. Prior to "Rogue One" in 2016, most fan film creators thought an opening crawl was obligatory even if their film was five minutes long. After "Rogue One", most fan film creators have stopped using one and I think that's for the better. It stops being special when it's in everything, let alone when it's entirely unnecessary or redundant. Frankly, when watching these older films I usually mute that part because even the best music in the world gets annoying after a while. This film wasn't the first not to use one, but it was one of the few during that time. It takes a more traditional approach of letting you figure out what's going on by watching it, including an impressive "show, don't tell" sequence at the beginning.
- "Jedi Heritage" has all-original music. Nowadays it's the norm, but at that time most understandably just ripped off the Star Wars movie soundtracks which, again, get annoying after a while, especially the overuse of "Duel of the Fates" or "Battle of the Heroes" for lightsaber duels that are nowhere near worthy of such caliber of music. The music here is of course not as good as John Williams' original scores, as most music even by professional composers isn't, but it's different and that makes it better for this situation.
- This film creates digital settings instead of just being filmed in the woods somewhere. Now in fairness, forests are a convenient setting for filmmakers with little or no budget trying to avoid anything too "Earthy" (houses, cars, etc.) and we can suspend our disbelief that so many planets in the Star Wars galaxy have the same varieties of deciduous trees. Maybe they're invasive species that stowed away on freighters, making them a greater threat to the galaxy than any of the three Death Stars ever was. And in fairness, I don't think forests are nearly as common in Australia as in North America and Europe where most fan films are made. The fact remains, however, that these filmmakers were ambitious enough to create an alien-looking environment instead of just using whatever they could find close to their own homes. The results may not be particularly impressive by today's standards, but they were ahead of their time and a lot of work went into them.
- "Jedi Heritage" has two aliens, including one who's an important character with dialogue. One thing I'm sick of in the official movies, to say nothing of fan films, is that humans appear to outnumber every other sapient species in the galaxy millions to one and get to do almost everything of significance ever. I can only assume they were the first species to invent space travel and the last to invent birth control. In the original movie, this was justified by budgetary constraints and a concern that audiences wouldn't connect with a non-human lead. But times have changed. Ahsoka Tano is neither human nor even "real" (so far she's just a cartoon), but she's become one of the most popular characters and most-requested subjects for a future spinoff film that will probably never happen after "Solo" flopped. And look, if you can't afford an elaborate costume or puppet or CGI, you can literally just paint someone green or pink or blue or red and call them an alien. It's better than nothing. For example, this babe (on the left) is a canonical species from the movies (Mirialan) recreated with ease (though they forgot to paint the back of her neck, but whatever).
(Note: although the above film is set in a forest, I like it for using an alien protagonist and for its clever script and especially the chemistry between the alien and the robot.)
- And finally, "Jedi Heritage" has a thought-out story that doesn't revolve around a lightsaber duel. Really, one can presume that there's more going on in the galaxy than Jedi and Sith/Inquisitors/Dark Jedi dueling each other on forest planets, especially during the era when most Jedi are supposed to be dead. This film focuses more on how the Jedi legacy affects a handful of normal people trying to live in peace or do their jobs, and their interactions are what make it compelling, instead of a flashy fight with little or no substance. (See also one of my other all-time favorites, "Days Past", which is little more than a conversation.)
So without further ado, if you're a Star Wars fan you probably haven't watched this and should do so. If you're not a Star Wars fan, a. you should be and b. I don't know why you bothered to read this far, but thanks.
And now, just because I can, here's a more recent fan film that has no relevance other than also being made in Australia. "Jedi Heritage" is overtly Australian because everyone has an accent. This film is overtly Australian because everyone speaks in Strine (with English subtitles available, though I understood most of it from context and an episode of Irregular Podcast!), the music employs didgeridoos, and the plot revolves around the stereotypical Australian love of alcohol (none of which is racist because the filmmakers are themselves Australian). It's a joke, of course, but since it's actually set in the Star Wars galaxy with Jedi and Sith as opposed to being a straight-up parody, I decided to make it part of my personal canon that nobody can take away from me. On a more serious note, the film uses a lot of CGI, including spaceships, vehicles, robots, and a grumpy alien who looks like something from a Mucinex commercial, yet its settings also put Australia's stunning natural beauty on full display. The only thing that could make it better would be if Icehouse's "Great Southern Land" played over a travel montage. Special Edition, anyone?
The American Psychological Association recently made official its pre-existing opposition to hitting children, colloquially known as "spanking", as a form of discipline. This is a long overdue move considering that the adverse affects of spanking have been known for some time and this institution is kind of a big deal in the world of psychological stuff, but perhaps also a futile move because people will believe what they want to believe regardless. The more experts reach a consensus on something, the deeper the conspiracy runs, am I right? The science is settled on vaccines and evolution, but that hasn't stopped nobodies with no credentials from fabricating asinine debates that shouldn't exist. And the same is true here.
A few months ago, some Facebook page I forget and don't care the name of shared a story about a father who got arrested for hitting his daughter too hard. I said spanking should be illegal (which it is in at least thirty countries, but I meant in the United States) and posted the most recent study I was aware of. Exactly twenty parents responded to mock me with brilliant retorts like "You are completely wrong!" and "Pure baloney!" and "Sounds like you should have been spanked!" I mean, I don't know for a fact that they were all parents - unlike some of the creepy people I argue with, I have no desire to stalk people's profiles for things to use against them - but it seems more than likely, and my heart breaks for all children who have the misfortune of being born to or adopted by such imbeciles. It really is amazing how defensive so-called adults can get about what they think is their God-given right to hit children. You'd think I had threatened to take away their guns. I suppose that when their children develop mental health issues, they'll just blame vaccines.
The closest thing to an intelligent response - and I'm not saying it was an intelligent response, because it wasn't, but it was closer than any of the others, which isn't saying much at all - was some guy calmly explaining that he doesn't trust science because he thinks that scientists just choose what they want to believe and cherry-pick evidence to support it. First of all, it would be nice if we could stop everyone who claims to not trust science from reaping the benefits of it and see how quickly they change their tune. Second, this is a logical fallacy that does nothing to address the data. Third, it's absurdly hypocritical because what he accused scientists of doing is exactly what he and all proponents of spanking do. I mean, you can't make this stuff up. They start with their conclusion that hitting children is wholesome, beneficial and what have you, and once they've made up their minds no amount of actual facts matters. They cherry-pick the fact that they were spanked and they think they turned out fine. Frankly, the vast majority of people who say "I turned out fine" are the kind of people whom I would rather die than turn out like.
Another stupid and fallacious comment I saw recently: "If spanking doesn't work, why has the prison population skyrocketed since the 1970s?" Gee, I don't know. It couldn't possibly have anything at all to do with Richard Nixon's war on hippies and black people, I mean drugs. That would just be silly.
Also, something about how the APA is a "liberal" institution and can't be trusted because of their stance on transgenderism. Okay, sure, they're not infallible, and the labels and diagnoses we put on all these mental things are somewhat subjective and arbitrary and subject to change, but this is a slightly bigger deal than whether or not something is classified as a disorder. This is a decision based on the information that scientists have gathered by studying how spanked children and non-spanked children turn out over the course of their lifetimes. Unlike Andrew Wakefield, these are legitimate scientists doing legitimate studies. They don't make up their own facts. And frankly, it's just kind of a no-brainer that hitting someone much smaller than you doesn't tend to fill them with positive feelings or valuable life lessons, but that's none of my business.
Okay, so I should have waited longer before responding to these respondents, and taken the time to desensitize myself to these parents' soul-destroying level of stupidity, so that I wouldn't succumb to the temptation of telling them exactly what I thought of them. Barring that, I should have at least removed the phrase "take your heads out of your asses for a few minutes" from my explanation of why their asinine responses were deficient and made me lose brain cells. But I didn't. I'm working inconsistently and half-heartedly on being a nice person when I don't feel like it, but I'm still very deficient in that area and my motivation was kind of obliterated by the parasite who sucked more than five thousand dollars from me in two months and has paid back thirty cents in five months. If I had been mean to her in high school like everyone else, she wouldn't have asked me for anything in the first place, or if I had told her what she could go do instead of giving her any, she wouldn't have kept asking, right? Why would I want to ever be nice to anyone again? Um. Off-topic. Sorry.
Dear all parents of the United States and wherever else still has this problem,
You don't know everything. And that's okay. Nobody does and nobody expects you to. And for the most part, I would agree that your parenting tactics and whatever permanent psychological damage you inflict on your children are none of my business. Heck, you're even well within your rights to let them die from preventable diseases because you hate autistic people and worship one discredited doctor with one fraudulent study. Okay, that was sarcasm again. I can't help it. To reiterate the actual point: you don't know everything and that's not an accusation, just a fact.
However, if - and I realize I'm not referring to all of you here - you pretend that becoming a parent somehow magically downloads God's knowledge into your brain, that you're smarter than doctors and scientists in fields where you have approximately zero knowledge or experience, and that what you for some unclear and unhealthy reason desperately want to be true trumps actual observable facts, you shoot your credibility in the head and run it over with a steamroller. You broadcast to the world that you're a moron and proud of it. And your child(ren) suffer(s) the consequences.
Your opinions are not sacred because of your parenthood. They are not entitled to respect or deference just because they exist. They are not God's law just because your parents or grandparents held them too. They can be and sometimes are wrong. If you're an adult, you should be able to acknowledge this, change them, and move on with greater wisdom. You should be able to acknowledge and ignore your own confirmation bias instead of pretending that scientists and/or liberals are the only people who have it. Thinking is scary, yes, but you get used to it.
And while I'm at it, I'd like to apply this to politics as well. Several of my political opinions may be wrong, but I'm honest and willing to change them based on evidence. I don't hold one side of the spectrum to an impossible standard and ignore the other's deficiencies. If more Americans were honest like this, maybe our country wouldn't be in the proverbial toilet. I honestly believe that the two-party system is the biggest problem in our government today. George Washington, for all his white maleness and slave owning, warned us about it. Did we listen? No. That was stupid of us.
"In terms of physical abuse, I have never accepted the principle of “spare the rod and spoil the child.” I will be forever grateful for a father who never laid a hand in anger upon his children. Somehow he had the wonderful talent to let them know what was expected of them and to give them encouragement in achieving it. I am persuaded that violent fathers produce violent sons. I am satisfied that such punishment in most instances does more damage than good. Children don’t need beating. They need love and encouragement. They need fathers to whom they can look with respect rather than fear. Above all, they need example." - Gordon B. Hinckley
Some Musing on "Body Image"
One group or other at USU recently had a night dedicated to a thing called "body image". What is body image? As far as I can tell, it's a specialized subset of another thing called "self-esteem", referring specifically to how people feel about their bodies. I went to this event because it had food, some healthy, some not so much. And also because this was a topic I didn't consider myself super knowledgeable about and I believe in educating myself and stuff. This will be a fun topic for me to write about and not strange or awkward at all.
What always gets overlooked in any discussion about human bodies, the proverbial elephant in the proverbial room, is the fact that all human bodies - male, female, intersex, black, white, orange, young, old, thin, fat, weak, muscular, healthy, diseased, or whatever - are fundamentally the same: disgusting beyond all reason. For real. I don't understand people who claim that learning about human anatomy strengthens their faith in God, because personally it makes me lean toward nihilism. Maybe at some point you get desensitized, but I'm nowhere near that point. A body is basically a mobile odor factory that doubles as a galaxy for bacteria. Even innocuous little things like vocal chords are unnecessarily gross. In one class or other I had to see footage of vocal chords doing "vocal fry", an obnoxious thing that every teenage girl in America does to make her voice sound obnoxious. I could have died happy without seeing that. And it wasn't just me, because most of the class let out noises of shock or revulsion. Humans are grubs. I just needed to get that off my chest and thanks for tolerating me.
The presenters showed us some videos geared toward women but stressed a couple times that their research has shown that men have just as many negative views of their own bodies. Eating disorders, however, remain a predominantly female phenomenon. They didn't address this apparent discrepancy. If I had to guess, I would say it's because our society teaches men from a young age that they're not supposed to have feelings, so they're more likely to repress and ignore their negative ones until they kill themselves. Something like 85% of eating disorders are among females and something like 75% of suicides are among males. Or maybe body image really doesn't bother men as much because they know women don't tend to be as visually stimulated anyway. (Please don't send me death threats for making that generalization.) Personally, I hate every part of myself except my beautiful eyes and average ears, but I don't worry about it very often. I just figure this piece of junk is what God gave me and there's nothing I can do about it, so why stress? Besides, I know it's really my voice, mannerisms, and personality that make me unattractive.
Somebody needs to do a study, though - and maybe we could redirect a few billion dollars from Trump's stupid stupid wall to this far more important endeavor - on whether California girls have higher self-esteem than other American girls because of the songs by the Beach Boys and Katy Perry. Really, when you think about it, the Beach Boys song is unnecessarily cruel. They could have just been like "This is our personal preference in girls", but no, they had to be like "The girls in every region of the United States besides California all have their own positive qualities, but they just aren't good enough and we wish they were different." Really. It's kind of awful when you think about it. The good news, however, is that being a true "California girl" is more a state of mind than a geographical designation. If you like sunshine, heavy taxes, and getting cancer from literally everything, then you too can be a California girl. Even if you're a boy. But that's just my mansplanation and it could be completely wrong.
The group discussed the phenomenon of movies and advertisements manipulating people to an impossible standard of beauty, again stressing that this is done to men as well as women, though again, I can see how it would have a more negative psychological impact on the latter. This is one of those things that I'm well aware of but get angry about all over again every time I'm reminded. What I wasn't aware of was that the manipulators will sometimes actually mix and match parts - eyes, arms, legs, whatever - from different people. Why do they do this? Because many consumers are stupid enough to buy products that are advertised with attractive people who have nothing to do with them, and to throw money at whatever sewage Hollywood wants to pour down their throats. I will say that while I think Rian Johnson is a godawful writer and Rose Tico is an annoying and preachy character, I respect his decision to turn her attractive actress into a frumpy-looking nerd on purpose. Most directors' idea of a frumpy-looking nerd is a hot girl with glasses. Rose, for all her deficiencies as a character, is a real person fawning over her celebrity crushes and that's awesome.
I will say that I don't believe everyone is beautiful, let alone equally beautiful. I think that's a load of crap. "Beauty", at least in the physical sense, refers to traits that most humans are programmed by millions of years of evolution to find attractive because they signal reproductive fitness. ("Cuteness", though sometimes used interchangeably and able to serve a similar purpose, refers to specific kinds of imperfection, e.g. a disproportionately large head, that are meant to signal helplessness and trigger instincts of care and protectiveness.) Preferences differ between individuals and across cultures, but the basics are pretty universal. Most of us at first glance find certain people more attractive than others, but most of us are woke enough to know that looks don't really matter, so in order to resolve our guilt we tell ourselves and each other that "everyone is beautiful". We all know on some level that this isn't true but we try not to think about it too much because then we would feel guilty for having evolutionary instincts.
What if, instead of repeating this lie, we taught our children from childhood up that everyone has the same intrinsic worth independent of what they look like, how they talk, how they dress, who they vote for, and so on? Of course, most parents are already trying to instill this value in their children, but obviously we as a nation and as a world need to do a much better job of it. Society is no help. While preaching out one side of its proverbial mouth that "everyone is beautiful", it does all this airbrushing and Photoshopping and objectification crap that broadcasts the insincerity of its first message to anyone with half a brain. We're supposed to believe that plain and ugly people don't exist, so this frees us to guiltlessly dehumanize them. There was a viral meme on Facebook a few years ago where jerks shared pictures of people that most of the human race would consider ugly with captions like "Will someone please tag so-and-so, he left his whatever at my place last night". I think most people who did this never realized how mean-spirited it was. News flash: most people in photographs on the internet are/were real people. Momo is an exception. Probably.
The societal hypocrisy was even apparent in one of the well-intentioned videos the presenters showed us. It was that video that went around Facebook a few years ago where this forensic artist asks women to describe themselves and then he asks other people to describe them and the pictures he draws from the latter descriptions are more attractive. Even though this video says that "You are more beautiful than you think you are", it implicitly affirms that some features and some people are less beautiful than others. The first pictures are clearly meant to be less beautiful than the second, but they still look like women. One woman says something about the size of her jaw, indicating that she has low self-esteem and sees this feature differently than other people, but this only matters if some jaws are less attractive than others. And we all know that they are. The world is horrifically unfair. But I believe it's almost always better to acknowledge harsh truths than tell ourselves comforting lies. We need to cope with life as it really is, or spend as much time as possible escaping from it into sci-fi and fantasy worlds like I do.
Speaking of women, a federal court recently noticed that requiring men to register for Selective Service in order to be granted rights that women are granted by turning eighteen is constitutionally indefensible. I think a perfect solution to this problem would be to abolish Selective Service, but nobody asked me, and it's more likely that within a few years women will be required to register and then get drafted when North Korea bombs us. So now conservatives are rhetorically asking, "Is this what you wanted, you stupid feminists?" and the feminists are like "Uh, yeah, actually it is, thanks." If I cared about the future of the human race, I would point out that males are much much more expendable from a reproductive standpoint and that sending a more or less equal number of females to their deaths in the event of war would not prove beneficial to our species or society in the long run, but what's the human race done for me lately?
In conclusion, God - whom I still believe even though the nightmare-inducing hideousness of His alleged greatest creation poses a significant challenge to my faith - loves you the same as everyone else no matter what you look like. He doesn't care what you look like really at all. "[T]he Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."
On Labeling and Coming Out
Today, because it resonated with me I decided to share a lengthy Facebook post from Ben Schilaty that he shared from someone else and then offer my own commentary and make it about me.
My friend Blake shared an analogy that is so good I wish I’d come up with it. The following are Blake’s words:
I always appreciate when people ask me sincere questions about LGBTQ+ & SSA (same-sex attraction) topics.
I’m often asked the following question by straight people who are trying understand better:
“Why do LGBTQ+ people feel like they have to label themselves, “come out”, or talk about their experience with sexuality? I mean I don’t go around talking about my sexuality all the time.”
There are many ways to respond to this question, but sometimes I use the following metaphor (let’s just say I’m sharing this metaphor with a straight man):
“Okay, imagine that you wanted to get away… just take a vacation by yourself. You decide to go on a 10-day cruise. You forget to read the fine print and you discover shortly after leaving port that you are, in fact, on a gay cruise. Wonderful married gay couples, dating couples, and single gay people are everywhere and they’re having a great time.
Many of these people see that you’re by yourself and come and talk with you, and yes, most of the time they assume you’re gay. They ask you if you’re interested in finding a nice guy on the cruise. They ask you about “type”, they even make assumptions about how you live your life, your interests, goals, political views, and religious beliefs. The group will make jokes about shared experiences, “we’ve all been there” they’ll say laughing (even though you’ve definitely not been there).
Single gay men keep approaching you and striking up innocent flirtatious conversations, some of them even ask you on dates. The married gay couples around you encourage you to go on these dates because they want you to be as happy as they are. You try to decline without hurting anyone’s feelings, or “outing yourself.” You join these wonderful people in all their activities and have a lot of fun with them, but in the back of your mind is the question, "Would my new friends still like me if 'they knew'" How would that fact change the relationships?
You realize how stressful it is when everyone’s assumptions about you, your life, your goals, and your perspective don’t match your actual experience. It would be so nice if they just actually had a full picture of your experience and who you are. You don’t define your whole life by your sexuality, but you begin to realize that it actually informs more of your choices and conversations than you previously thought. All the people around you talk about sexuality more than they probably realize, but being in the majority, they probably don't realize it.
What do you do?
Perhaps you could say you’re simply not interested in dating right now, but that doesn’t really address all the other assumptions made about your lifestyle, goals, perspective, religious views etc. Then you realize that the simplest thing to do would probably be to tell them you’re straight (you worry about which label to use).
"Wo, wo, wo… don’t throw your sexuality in our face!” they’ll say. “What you do in your bedroom is your business, the world doesn’t need to know your personal stuff.” You’re a little surprised and even offended when they assume you talking about your sexuality, goals, and experience is automatically connected to an agenda. "You're just wanting attention." What if the married gay couples even assumed that you being “out” as a straight man will actually lead their children to being straight (which would be THE WORST)? They say that they don’t go broadcasting their sexuality all the time and you think “well, yah… you don’t have to, everyone assumes you are gay, this whole cruise is designed with the assumption that you’re gay.” Some will even say, "You only THINK you're straight, you haven't event REALLY tried being gay... you'll see."
Some of the gay people would say, “Oh, we ‘still’ love you, this doesn’t change anything.” and then they proceed to talk about gay things, rarely taking time to ask you about your experience. The lesbians on board find out you’re a straight man, and they assume you’re attracted to ALL of them, you know, because they’re women.
And, of course, there would be many of the gay people who would be great about you coming out as straight (or opposite-sex attracted... your choice), they’d apologize about some of the assumptions they made, and they would be excited to learn more about your life, your perspective, and your goals. They would see if there is anything they could do to make your cruise more comfortable. You don’t talk exclusively about sexuality with them, but when it seems pertinent, you feel comfortable talking about it. Awesome.
Once and a while you get a little tired of navigating false assumptions or explaining your sexuality to people, so you think it could be nice to find some other straight people on the cruise to connect with. The “wo, wo, wo-ers” are pretty critical of this decision. They assume you are just looking for other straight people so that you can have sex and showcase your relationship. When you’re with your straight friends, the gay majority on the boat can’t help but notice, observe, and even comment. Part of you wonders if there are other straight people around you who are keeping quiet, feeling a little lonely. You talk about your sexuality a little more, just in case it could help a “closeted” straight person feel less alone and know where they could find some empathy.
You wonder if it would have been easier just to continue to pretend you’re gay. BUT you remember how frustrating it was to have so many false assumptions made about you, to be set up on dates, to be hit on, and to feel like the people around you didn’t see the whole picture of your life (including sexuality)… it can be really lonely. Thank heaven for the cool gay people on the cruise who are okay with you being straight (and talking about it).”
So why do LGBTQ+ and SSA individuals feel like they want to talk about their experience or “come out”?
There are MANY reasons (many not addressed in my analogy), but sometimes straight people can understand a little better when they try to imagine if everything was switched (and it could be argued that straight person on a gay cruise would still experience more advantages… and dare I say… privileges, than a gay person in a straight majority culture – a conversation for another time).
There are also many reasons someone may choose NOT to talk about their sexuality… and that’s fine too. I have generally noticed that people become a lot healthier when they can talk to people about their complete experience.
Being at BYU feels like being on a straight cruise all the time. Being in a singles ward feels like being on a straight cruise. Being a member of the Church… being in Utah… and honestly being an LGBTQ or SSA person in this world can feel like being on a straight cruise… all the time. (Do you feel yourself reacting with, “well only if you made it a big deal”?... just curious?) Is feeling like you’re always on a straight cruise a bad thing? Not necessarily, but it has its complications... and some empathy makes all the difference.
Anyway… this metaphor is clearly imperfect and has a lot of holes, but hopefully it was a little thought provoking… and maybe it gives a little insight about why some people “come out”. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Warning: the next part of this post mentions sex a few times. Leave now if that will upset you. Ben's part of the post that I plagiarized is far more important anyway, and from here on I'm just going to talk about my own similar but less significant experience.
Another reason I would add for LGBT people taking pride in their labels is as a backlash against thousands of years of abuse from straight people. LGBT people have a right to feel loved, worthwhile, and good enough the way they are. Being open about one's sexuality is a way of telling society As a young idiot, I didn't understand gay people and shared in the prejudice against them - ironically, I suppose, since I was also on the receiving end of said prejudice. I was called "faggot" four or five times a day throughout elementary school. I had to ask my parents what that word meant. They said, "A boy who has a boyfriend." Even at that young age, it occurred to me to wonder why a boy would choose to have a boyfriend when I personally never felt the slightest inclination to do so, but I suppressed that thought. My ignorance didn't really start to unravel until a close friend privately said that he was bisexual - and later on I guess he realized he was just gay, but even at that time the issue was that he liked boys and didn't want to. As he cried, I felt awkward. I thought, but fortunately didn't say, If it bothers you that much, why don't you just... not be gay?
I make no claim to know what it's like for gay men, let alone lesbians, but since realizing that I'm not heterosexual either I do feel a kinship and some similarity of experience. I can say without hesitation that in ways large and small like those mentioned in Ben's post, heterosexuality has been shoved in my face and down my throat 99.9% more than homosexuality. I try not to take offense from well-meaning people but I do roll my eyes sometimes. Like one time I invited this friend to watch Star Wars with some other friends because she likes Star Wars, and one of these other friends who was also female kept asking me questions about how well I knew her and what she was like or whatever, and she announced that "Christopher brought a girl" and it was obvious that she thought there was or should be something between us, because she wouldn't have said "Christopher brought a boy" if I had brought a boy. I just feel like there's this implicit assumption that I must be in desperate search for a girlfriend, and also that I must really want to have sex and think about it constantly because male.
Of course I realize there's nothing malicious here. Most people are heterosexual and that's why our species still exists and "heteronormativity" is just the natural default view, not a conscious choice to exclude people. And I don't want to overstate how pervasive the straight cruise stuff in Ben's post is for me personally. Because I'm not at BYU, almost nobody cares about my nonexistent love life, which is fine with me. Because women in our culture are taught to let men do all the work in dating instead of taking initiative to get what they want, any woman who for some unfathomable reason may be interested in me is not asking me out. Don't get me wrong, if she did I would totally say yes and give her a chance. I have been asked to two "ladies' choice" dances in my life, and each of those instances was
And it wasn't my fault neither of them went anywhere. I'd bet my life that I don't get flirted with very often, but it could be happening every day and I wouldn't notice. I only realized in hindsight that the one girl in the campus library in 2013 was either flirting with me or being an idiot because she started a conversation by asking me something she could have just looked up on the computer she was using. She was nice. I would have gone out with her if she had asked me out.
Like Ben, who also recently posted about his experience with relatively benign but nonetheless disturbing conversion therapy, I've had the very uncomfortable experience of people trying to explain that sex is beautiful or sacred or something. Only one tried to convince me personally that it isn't actually weird and gross, using logic, perhaps unaware that interest in sex is the literal opposite of logic. It literally comes from hormones that literally override the logical part of one's brain to convince one that sex isn't weird and gross even though it is. Years ago in my poetry class I had a classmate, now a good friend, who wrote a poem describing sex in explicit, thorough detail with the purpose of making normal people realize for the first time that it's weird and gross. But I was just like, "Yeah, I didn't know all these details, nor did I want to, but this is how I've always thought about sex because this is literally what sex is, so thanks for making me not feel like the only person on the planet who isn't blind." This clued me in to the possibility that others like me existed. Soon I discovered their community and felt understood and supported for a change and it was nice.
It turns out these people also used the label "asexual". I had picked that label for myself just because the prefix a- means "not", so it seemed straightforward. "Hetero"sexual people want to have sex with the opposite sex, "homo"sexual people want to have sex with the same sex, so an "a"sexual person would want to have sex with nobody. The only time I heard the word used in this context growing up was at Youth Conference when my friend Mike didn't dance with any girls and he said "I'll probably hate myself tomorrow, but I'm just feeling pretty asexual tonight." And I don't remember if I remembered that when I chose the label but thanks either way, Mike. This orientation was of course no more a choice than being straight or gay, and would persist whether I chose to label it and make myself more comfortable or not. The simple fact of the matter is that I never once at any point in my development from birth to this moment have felt the slightest hint of an inclination toward thinking that sex could be something I might possibly consider ever wanting to try. And I'm very cognizant that this makes me highly abnormal.
I "came out" in a blog post on the previous incarnation of my blog, and I've come out more personally with various friends either because it was relevant to something or I was just feeling frustrated with the world, and I've mentioned it around Facebook whenever it was relevant to something or I was just feeling frustrated with the world. I've gotten a positive response from everyone except my parents that I've talked to about it. Even when they had never heard of asexuality, which was often, I just explained that I don't have raging hormones in my brain telling me to want to have sex with literally anybody, and they grasped and accepted that simple concept very quickly. So there isn't a lot of stigma against asexuals. Others have reported getting comments like "You just haven't found the right person yet" but those comments, while insensitive and usually wrong, are not born of prejudice. But a lot of people don't know that we even exist. For me that's the most frustrating thing. As the world around me flaunts its obsession with sex and assumes I'm a part of that, I kind of just want to flip it off with both hands.
I guess proclaiming my sexuality or lack thereof - I honestly don't know or care which way to classify it - is a way of doing that. It's like saying to the world, "Your assumptions about me are wrong. You don't get to tell me what I'm supposed to like. I don't appreciate you constantly shoving sex in my face. Bite me." Of course I can't literally say "Bite me" to people because I want to be a good Christian. But freely acknowledging this one quirk as a significant part of my identity is very cathartic and I want to do it more often.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.