Central PA's LGBT News Source


Where were we going when we left the house?


By Frank Pizzoli

Crazy-makers, like President Donald Trump, are energized by their whirlwind nonsense. Normal people are fatigued. Tediously high-maintenance individuals cannot stop themselves. Regular folks take naps.

Against a news cycle backdrop that sounded like a high school slam book, I drove to the Milford Readers and Writers Festival in Pike County. I mingled with Alan Alda, a feminist delight of my generation and Suzanne Braun Levine, co-founder of Ms.magazine with Gloria Steinem, who interviewed Alda on stage about many then/now topics. Steve Ruben, president and publisher of Henry Holt & Company, who recently published The Fire and the Fury,was there sagely taking in the proceedings.

With the Brett Kavanaugh hearings only one day before the festival commenced, when will #metoo turn a corner? was the question on everyone’s lips. Perhaps not in my lifetime, although I hope so.

The Patriarchy owns the ground it grows in and the water that nourishes its millennial roots. Maybe that explains why Trump’s Evangelical and political-base supporters cannot find an act by him or those he supports that makes them draw a line.

Could it be that die-in-the-wool Evangelicals practice Moral Relativity?

That makes them exactly like the Left Coast/East coast snobs they deeply despise: They evaluate life with the tools of Moral Relativity. For example, as long as someone is against abortion, they can overlook other positions or behaviors they might otherwise oppose. Does that mean a married queer couple who voted for Trump and is anti-abortion is acceptable to them?

Susan Faludi faced a similar emotional and political quagmire when her father completed his transition from male to female.

She and her father hadn’t been in touch for decades, and, as Marilyn Rosenthal wrote for The Pike County Courier – “Imagine being a well-known feminist writer who rebelled against an abusive, sometimes violent macho father from whom she had been estranged for decades. Then imagine suddenly receiving an email from him saying, “I have decided that I have had enough of impersonating a macho aggressive man that I have never been inside.”

That’s how Faludi learned of her father’s gender reassignment surgery, when he was 76 years old. Her experience is also the subject of her well-known book, In the Darkroom, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and winner of the 2016 Kirkus Prize for non-fiction.

Faludi sees gender as being on a spectrum, Rosenthal writes, “and much more complicated than society’s expectations are. Her father’s transformation to transgender woman was an epiphany for her as both a daughter and a feminist writer and journalist.”

And if you’re involved in the ongoing affairs of the LGBT activism and advocacy, gender identity is as fluid as ever. That fluidity isn’t okay with everyone.

Last Fall, the Transgender Law Center program honored the lives of the 14 Black transgender women who are known to have been killed in 2018. They make up the majority of the 20 trans women who have been reported dead due to homicide this year. Samantha Allen has reported for The Daily Beastthat 2017 saw 28 reported killings of transgender people in the U.S. As of June, this year’s grim total is 14 with more trans deaths under investigation that could make that number higher.

Still at the intersection of gender and race is Mary Badham, who played Scout opposite Gregory Peck in the 1962 seminal film To Kill a Mockingbird.The racial themes still resonate while there is a growing sense that no amount reforms matter. The only reform is for the United States to come clean and admit its history. That American Exceptionalism and wealth was (and in many ways still is) based on the misery of slavery and all its current manifestations – for example, school to prison du jour policies and the growing privatization of Federal and state government contracts that keep the downtrodden down. Bail programs that favor the privileged, thwart the poor (SeeCash Bail: Is it a queer issue? by Louie Marven.)

To Suzanne Braun Levine, co-founder with Gloria Steinem, of Ms.magazine, and the first female editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, the world today must look like the classic movie From Here to Eternity– and back again. When she asked Alan Alda the one thing he wanted us to know about him he said, “I’m not the angel you think I am. I’m also not a devil.” That may be most of us.

When Gore Vidal said, “There was no such thing as gay — only gay sexual acts.” Was the cranky sage anticipating the state of affairs in gay land these days? So many men who report sex with men also include “no parades, no rainbows”. They like penis, I guess, just not homosexuals.

Tim Teeman, author of In Bed with Gore Vidal: Hustlers, Hollywood, and the Private World of an American Mastercajoled with author Sean Strub, both of whom knew Vidal. Over dinner Teeman, The Daily Beast,extolled both Vidal’s virtues and warts. We agreed we respected his monumental contributions to our world but that we wouldn’t have liked him socially.

Indeed, when you leave home with a certain set of ideas you may return with new thoughts. Where were we going when we left the house?