It's taken me a few days to process this past weekend, but I think I'm now ready to take a stab at writing about my experiences.
It all started on August 1, 2012 with a Kickstarter Project. A friend of mine brought it to my attention, and when I first went to the project's page... I got very choked up. There are times in your life when, after spending a great deal of time training your subconscious to pretend a void doesn't exist, you are suddenly shocked into facing your reality. This was one of those moments, and soon a tear (or maybe two) found its way down my cheek, and I heard myself whisper, with cracking voice, "Thank you."
I backed the projected immediately.
Over the course of the year, as GaymerX gained more and more traction, some resistance from the general gaming community began to form: Why do you need your own con? To be somewhat blunt, we need our own con because the vast majority of gay gamers don't like being harassed at mainstream cons; we don't appreciate our identity being used as a emasculating slur; we're tired of being confronted, and asked the same questions by hundreds of people - most of whom don't really care about the answers, they just want an excuse to examine the "freak."
Can you imagine the pure bliss of spending the weekend with a group of people who are just like you? Where you are, finally, part of the normative group? Where you spend the time focusing on gaming, and stories about your experiences with gaming, and listening to vendors talk about stories you can relate to? Of course you can... that's *every* con for you. But not for us... this was the first time, and believe me, we loved it.
In fact, we loved it so much, one blogger's post about the event ended with a lament:
"I don’t have the right words to describe how much it meant to belong this weekend, or how hard it is going to be to go back to work tomorrow. For two days, I wasn't 'the other,' and it was wonderful; one day I hope I can feel like that all the time."
Again, that ever-present, formless feeling finally given voice. Again, tears.
Ellen McLain (GLaDOS, Portal Series) and John Patrick Lowrie (The Sniper, Team Fortress 2) lead a two-hour panel on Voice Acting - what it's all about, how they got their start, and tips on how to break into the biz regardless of where you live. They lead the panel-attendees in a Still Alive sing along, which ended quite dramatically in a marriage proposal which left the room cheering, and without a dry eye in the house.
The GAYMERS crew held a panel, hosted by The Tester Season 2 winner, Matthew Michael Brown, to show the pilot episode of their web series, and to get feedback from the attendees. It looks like it's going to be a fun show, and definitely one to keep an eye out for. Here's the web preview to give you a taste - they said the pilot episode we saw will be up Soon™
Not to leave everyone out, the Voice Acting Dynamic Duo came back during the GaymerX closing ceremonies to lead everyone in song. Ending, this time, with a standing ovation, and still much tearing up at the thought of this being the final moments of the con.
I absolutely can't wait to see what happens next year for GX2 - and I hope I can, even in some small way, help make it a success.
March 26th and 27th will be pretty monumental for the country, regardless of your orientation. SCOTUS will hear two cases this week, on these dates:
On Tuesday the 26th, the court will hear Hollingsworth v. Perry -- "Issue: (1) Whether the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the State of California from defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman; and (2) whether petitioners have standing under Article III, § 2 of the Constitution in this case."
On Wednesday the 27th, the court will hear United States v. Windsor -- "Issue: (1) Whether Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the laws as applied to persons of the same sex who are legally married under the laws of their State; (2) whether the Executive Branch’s agreement with the court below that DOMA is unconstitutional deprives this Court of jurisdiction to decide this case; and (3) whether the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the United States House of Representatives has Article III standing in this case."
In case you did not already know, dear reader, I am both a Gay Man as well as very Religious. I am a member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church which does not recognize a marriage between two members of the same sex. But that, in this particular argument, is completely beside the point. Why? Because...
THIS IS A CIVICS ISSUE, NOT A RELIGIOUS ONE
Civics, as (please God) you should know, is all about your rights and duties as a citizen of the State (as in, the general civil government of a country, not as in The State of Wyoming). In the United States, there is no State Religion; our laws and ordinances may be guided by our personal, individual faiths (don't steal, don't kill, don't lie under oath, honor your contracts), but they don't take the tenets of a single faith and impose them on all citizens.
Marriage is a contract between two consenting adults and the State, signifying a domestic and economic interdependence, which help to give stability and foundation to the State. This contract establishes rights granted to the new Unit by the State as an incentive, and responsibilities as a bond of trust between the Unit and the State for the formation of that stability and foundation.
There are no religious overtones in this contractual obligation between the Unit and the State. The Religious ceremony, while often performed at the same time, is separate from the Civil act of formalizing the contract. The lines blur in the United States because Officiants are most often also Priests/Pastors/Rabbis/Ministers, but they aren't required to be.
Yes, it does bother me that my Church maintains a hold on on these archaic, chauvinistic, interpretations of (very proof-texted) scripture, which can be shown to be completely inaccurate through an objective and holistic reading of scripture, but as I said earlier, that's not the point. My church is allowed to disagree with same-sex marriage; that's their right, and I would never advocate forcing all Religious to perform or acknowledge marriages of those they didn't want to.
But it's not the marriage within a Church at stake here: it's the Marriage contract with the State. And in the United States of America, we have Equal Protection Under the Law, and SCOTUS has already declared, in Loving v. Virginia, that "classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law."
I offer this with a sincere heart, and in the hopes that even just one person's mind can be opened to the possibility that personal and cultural biases have clouded biblical teachings on the matter.
This was written by the Reverend Justin R. Cannon, and it is my honest prayer that you take the time to read it and allow the Spirit to move on your heart.
The full text of the 50 page PDF has been embedded for ease of reading. There is a download link below it, but you may also download the file directly from Inclusive Orthodoxy, and clicking on the "Homosexuality" option in the nav bar.
I love the Adventist church. I honestly feel the Adventist church holds the most Truth at this moment in our history. One of the things that has helped us get to this point has been the way we intelligently analyze scripture, guided by the Holy Spirit, through the lens of history and culture. Understanding that God’s instruction, and Christ’s interactions, don’t live in a vacuum, we attempt to understand the message as it was being given, extract the spiritual message, and apply it to our daily lives. Thus, things like the prohibition against unclean foods lose its law-based ritualistic imperative, and gain a tradition-based application symbolic of our bodies being a temple for the Spirit.
There are two cases, however, where the Adventist church completely, and arrogantly, drops the ball with this historical-cultural method of interpreting scripture: Homosexuality, and the role of Women.
I knew very early that I was gay. This did not fill me with dread or self-loathing, however, because my family was rather gay-friendly; my Uncle was gay, and I credit him for “breaking in” my family, making it much easier for me to feel okay with myself. I have always been deeply religious, in general, and strongly Adventist, specifically. As I grew older and began to understand the oil-and-water relationship between Religion and Homosexuality, I came to a conclusion which has become quite popular with more mainstream churches wanting to put on a gay-sympathetic façade: I had no control over how I was born, but I could control how I acted – The sin isn’t in being homosexual, but in the homosexual acts themselves. Sound familiar? I was perfectly okay with this arrangement growing up. All through High School, I was just fine – when questioned by my religious friends, my stock example was, “It’s not my fault if I’m born to a coven of witches, but that doesn’t mean I have to practice witchcraft.” This always brought smiles, nods, and enthusiastic pats on the back.
Things changed once I entered college, and people started seriously challenging my position on the matter. I was painfully aware I didn’t have the scriptural knowledge to back me up, so I decided to take some time, one summer, to dive into the issue and get some biblical support under my belt. This is a key point: I went into this with the notion I was correct, and was simply finding the support I knew was already there.
As I have always done before doing any kind of bible study, I prayed for guidance and support, and for the Spirit to guide me to truth. By the end of my research and study, I was a changed person. This is when I began to understand the errors of the Adventist church on this topic; that they willfully detour from their traditional methods of biblical study when talking on this subject, and choose, instead, the evangelical mainstream God-spoke-in-King-James-English method of direct application.
There is, of course, a lot of religious anti-gay literature that uses lots and lots of biblical quotes to support their position. There are, also, a lot of pro-gay literature that debunks all of those biblical quotes, and attempts to make it seem like there’s never been anything wrong with it. What moved me the most, however, was an article written by one Walter Wink. His “Biblical Perspectives on Homosexuality” and “Homosexuality and the Bible” do point out errors in the anti-gay rhetoric, but it also admits that yes, in fact, there is clear language, no matter the translation, condemning male-on-male sexual encounters. “But so what,” I paraphrase, “there are plenty of sex-things the bible wags its finger at which we allow today; and, conversely, that the bible allows, but we wag our finger at today.”
For example, virtually all modern readers would agree with the Bible in rejecting: incest, rape, adultery, and intercourse with animals.
But we disagree with the Bible on most other sexual mores. The Bible condemned the following behaviors which we generally allow: intercourse during menstruation, celibacy, exogamy (marriage with non-Jews), naming sexual organs, nudity (under certain conditions), masturbation (some Christians still condemn this), birth control (some Christians still forbid this). And the Bible regarded semen and menstrual blood as unclean, which most of us do not.
Likewise, the Bible permitted behaviors that we today condemn: prostitution, polygamy, levirate marriage, sex with slaves, concubinage, treatment of women as property, and very early marriage (for the girl, age 11-13). And while the Old Testament accepted divorce, Jesus forbade it.
In short, of the sexual mores mentioned here, we only agree with the Bible on four of them, and disagree with it on sixteen!
This is when I began to see the error of the traditional Adventist stance – they were ignoring, for this particular issue, the spirit of what was being taught, and focused instead on the words. I attribute this to the very subconscious fear of emasculation that most men feel; and since they’re the ones with the power, they have controlled the dominant cultural stigma against homosexuals: “you make me feel uncomfortable, therefore you must be evil.”
Growing up in the Adventist church, I have seen everything from extreme bigots attempting to quite literally evict me out of town (while I attended SVA), to companionate and unconditional acceptance (granted, it was the Music Department at CUC, so I guess that’s kind of falling into the stereotype… hahahaha). The most heartbreaking experience for me (other than New Market waving pitchforks and torches at my door) was when I found a very small Adventist congregation in Waldorf, MD. They were super friendly, and welcomed me with open arms. I’ve never been one to deny or actively hide my sexuality, but I also don’t go around actively trying to make people feel uncomfortable either; I try to be sensitive to my surroundings, and act accordingly, so I’m not sure exactly how they ended up finding out I was gay. They had, however, and one Sabbath the tone and feel of the church was the polar opposite of how it had been the week before: no one talked to me, no one sat in the same pew as me, and the sermon was old-school fire and brimstone gays are going to hell. The subtlety was not lost on me. Nor was mine on them. I slammed my bible shut, the thud echoing in the small stone sanctuary, and I stood up and walked out. I never went back, and they never inquired after me (a stark reversal from when I was sick one week and got no fewer than a dozen members and even the head pastor checking in on me to make sure I was okay). They made it clear I was not welcome, and that my very nature was an affront to their sensibilities as Adventists.
This whole thing is so perplexing to me. How can we, as a church who prides themselves on our ability to hold the Truth, so willfully turn a blind eye to an issue that is so clearly a cultural misunderstanding? I am neither a temple prostitute, nor heterosexual acting against my nature. So… why are you harassing me?
It gets better though. Seriously... it really does:
Some sites for consideration:
The Bible and Homosexual Behavior, SDA Kinship International
This was posted on the It's OK to be Takei Facebook page today. I was unable to find the original, and no link was given, so I am unable to vouch as to its authenticity, but it's not that hard to picture this happening - even today.
"On September 23, 1995, my
husband was severely injured in an accident by a drunk driver. I was notified and rush to the emergency room immediately. I arrived at the hospital and asked where he was. I was told where he was, but was told I couldn’t see him at that time. Being the stubborn, defiant person that I was, I snuck into the back to find him myself. I heard him screaming in pain and telling the staff that he wanted me to be there. I followed the screams to the room he was being treated and was blocked by hospital security. I was told that there was no way I would be allowed to enter the room because I wasn’t a family member. I tried to explain that he was my husband. They LAUGHED at me!!!
You see, I was his HUSBAND also. It was explained (rather rudely) to me that men can’t marry men and that I had absolutely no standing to be anywhere near him. I produced papers stating that I was also his power of attorney and had the right to make medical decisions for him. The paperwork was drawn up at his lawyer’s office in Seattle, Washington and we lived at the time in North Carolina. I was also told that the paperwork was invalid because it wasn’t recognized in NC. The hospital would allow boyfriends and girlfriend to see each other, but not boyfriends and boyfriends. When I told them that he had NO family in NC, I was told, “It’s not our fault he lives so far from family.” This argument went round and round for about 30 minutes.
I want people to know about my husband. He was small in stature, only five feet tall and weighing at 104 lbs. He loved classic TV shows (I Love Lucy, Bewitched, and I Dream of Jeanie.) He was Felix to my Oscar. He worked a full time job, but still found time to make sure dinner was cooking when I got home from work. He was an adventurer who loved to try new things. He was, and still is, the love of my life. I could fill up 100 pages of things people should know about him.
Back to the point…my husband died, alone, crying, only wanting the person he loved to hold his hand. I died a little inside also, because I was denied to give him the only thing he wanted at the last moments of his life. What makes matters worse is that in the five years we were together, we’d only had one major argument. September 23rd was our second. The last thing I said to him in anger before he left the house was, “F*** YOU!” I can NEVER take back those words. That is the last thing he heard from my lips before he died. If I had been able to see him, just for a moment, the last thing he would have heard from me is, “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!”
The laws of this nation MUST change to allow same sex couples (legally married or not) the same, equal rights at opposite sex couples. Please contact your local law makers and ask them to change the laws giving equal rights to all! If even one person reads this and has an emotional breakthrough concerning their ideals of gay couples, this letter will not be in vain!
Thank you for reading this:
A Concerned Gay Husband"