November 2006 Archives

I hope everyone has had a lovely Thanksgiving. Mine has been quite nice: quiet and restorative, which is what I wanted--nothing like the exciting trip to Paris and Brussels I took last year over my Thanksgiving break. I had dinner Thursday with friends but other than that I've mostly just worked. I'm still struggling to dig myself out from under the mountain of grading and school-related business that fell on me two weeks ago, but I think, by the time classes start again next week, I will have succeeded.

Anyway, here is something I wrote in my journal two years ago about an event that happened the Saturday after Thanksgiving in 2004.


I got bored with the business I was doing on campus and decided to go for a walk in an area I'd never explored. I discovered this very old, very tiny cemetery, from the early 19th century. There's this "meditation garden" outside it with no place to sit but it does feature a kind of cool cairn built of fragments from broken headstones. The cemetery itself is enclosed in a waist-high chain-link fence, and there was a gate in it, and I thought, if the gate is unlocked, I'll go in it, because I have always been the kind of person who goes through unlocked gates in public spaces--they seem to demand it; they seem to say "go through me" the way that bottle in Alice in Wonderland said "drink me."



A guy walks into a bar.... And two women having a leisurely conversation over drinks they bought themselves don't even notice.

Marriage Manifesto

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My friend Troy is awesome. He is not only gay (sexual orientation) but queer (social identity) and after the four panelists had spoken in the Brokeback session at Sunstone (see the intro and the excerpt), I asked him to come up and make a comment, in part because he knew all four women on the panel, and in part because I knew he'd deliver both a queer-positive and a woman-positive message. He gets it: he understands the patriarchy is the basic problem, and claims that one reason he's such a decent, enlightened person is because he has listened to the women in his life. He also doesn't take the "oh, I'm gay and it's such a source of heartache" approach to homosexuality--he acknowledges that people go through that stage, but at some point, he says, embrace your gayness! Love yourself for who you are! Be positive about all the fabulous aspects of gayness, instead of trying to retain as many elements of straightness as you possibly can.

Troy does a radio show in Salt Lake called Now Queer This. He's working a documentary about some brouhaha in southern Utah over legislation to define a marriage as existing only between one man and one woman. He has filmed orthodox Mormons, gays, and polygamists as part of the movie.

Troy gets this as well: alternative marriage is alternative marriage, and so he supports the decriminalization of polygamy. Independent polygamists get it too: many support legalization of gay marriage between consenting adults because they realize that it will pave the way for decriminalization of polygamy among consenting adults. (Which many in the gay community find distressing.) My family, which is well stocked with Mormon Republican lawyers and judges who find both gay marriage and polygamy revolting (one is counter to god's will, and the other is entirely god's will, but not something anyone with any self esteem and a real love for her spouse would ever do if she could possibly avoid it), understand that point as well--and they're really afraid.

Blooming Early Christmas


Check out my Christmas cactus!



OK, it has bloomed early, given that it's only the beginning of November. But it will feel like Christmas to me if I wake up Wednesday and find that the state I live in is no longer Santorustan!

Teaching Carnival

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OK, I don't read EVERY blog I enjoy and respect every single day (or even, sometimes, every single week), because like everyone else I know, I'm busy. But sometimes I find myself with a few unclaimed hours, and I go through my list of bookmarked favorites, and realize, "Hey, I haven't visited that blog in a shamefully long time!"

And I visit and I find something really cool, like Teaching Carnival 15 on New Kid on the Hallway.

A Little Love for Big Love


All the disks of season 1 of Big Love are somewhere in my Netflix queue, but I can't be bothered to move them closer to the top. First of all, I'm currently far too preoccupied with getting through season 2 of both Project Runway (which I'm rather obsessed with--if I had any skill in making patterns and such instead of just sewing them together, I'd be auditioning to get on) and Battlestar Galactica (which I respect and am intrigued by but find kind of tedious--the tone and tenor of each episode is too unvarying).

Plus I can't get all that excited about a watching a show that will require me to look at both Bill Paxton and Chloe Sevigny, two of my least favorite actors. I honestly don't understand why they are ever cast in anything. Shows with just one of them are bad enough, but I will really have to grit my teeth to make it through an entire season of something where the two of them share screen time. Chloe is so whiny, and has SUCH horrible posture: I want to slap her across the shoulder blades and scold, "Didn't your mother ever tell you how important it is to stand up straight?" As for Paxton, I find it a shame that he's not torn to pieces by aliens in every show he's in.

But I will watch Big Love some day, because I feel a commitment to seeing how Mormons are depicted in the mainstream media, yada yada yada. Then there's also the fact that one of the most interesting panels I attended at Sunstone was on Big Love, and two of the panelists were women who work on Mormon Focus, the pro-polygamy magazine that supposedly served as the inspiration for the series. These two women consider themselves "independent" polygamists, meaning that they are not affiliated with some fundamentalist group telling who to marry whom. And they LOVE the show.

Buffy, Fiction and God


Here's an entry from Stephen Frug that speaks to several of my primary interests: good writing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, moral and artistic complexity, and religion. I recommend it with this disclaimer: it's LONG, as long or longer than some of the stuff I post. But it's really thoughtful and interesting, and worth your time.

Here are some excerpts from the paper I presented as part of this panel.

As part of my presentation, I pose this question, "why isn't it politically correct for a gay man to venture into the exclusive territory of straight men--to marry a woman and have a family--if that's what he chooses to do?," first posed by Ben Christensen (whose temple garments are all in a twist because I claim the right to think he's a self-deceived, selfish gas bag--see the comments on this post) and cite ancient Athenian and Hebrew society (both of which required men who had sex with men to nonetheless marry women) to support my contention that Christensen's basic assumption is flawed. As it happens I am all for opening what has been the exclusive territory of straight men--to marry a woman and have a family--to gay WOMEN. But Christensen shows little care for the rights and opportunities of women, gay or straight: his concern is with preserving the privileges of MEN, straight or gay. Thus remains a question needing an answer, which is this:

What does it mean for a homophobic, patriarchal, misogynist society to require men to marry women and impregnate them as part of their duties as members of the community?


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