Tuesday, February 25, 2020

I Have a Conspiracy Theory For That

What roused me from my luxurious sloth to start writing today is the apprehension that I may be blocked from seeing the tweet that set me off.  But my readers may be able to see it even if I can't.

I'm not a Buttigieg supporter or fan, and was criticizing him before a lot of people smarter than I am caught on to him.  My opinion of him has sunk ever lower as time has passed.  But I was skeptical of this tweet right away, and when I watched the video I saw that Carlo had transcribed Buttigieg's words inaccurately.  What he said was not "I'd take it" but "I woulda jumped on it."  That indicates that Buttigieg was not describing his feelings now, but how he felt before he came out.  There are other little problems I have with Carlo's version, but I do agree that Chasten looks less than enthused.  (But at least now I know how to pronounce his name.)  There are some truly weird aspects to Carlo's work that I'll return to presently, but let me concentrate for now on Buttigieg's statement.

There are many gay people who would have agreed with Buttigieg before they came out, and some still wish they could change (or be changed, magically) even now that they say they're Out and Proud. Allow me to quote a story I've told before:
I once asked another speaker on a GLB panel what he would do if it were proven, scientifically and unquestionably, that he had chosen to be gay. He thought for a moment, then said that in that case, some psychiatrist would make a lot of money helping him undo that choice. I was stunned, not least because earlier he had been talking about how he'd helped younger gay kids come out and feel good about being gay; yet he himself clearly felt quite bad about it. He was also wrong in assuming that all choices can be reversed. This doesn't mean he is a bad person; it does show how deeply miserable and wrong many of us have been made to feel about ourselves, our desires, and our loves. 
Ever since the early 1970s, when I first moved among gay people, I've encountered some of us who claimed that there was no need for activism, no need for debate, no need for Pride, because all gay people had their act together by then and bigotry was no longer a problem.  It was a dramatically clueless position at that time, but every so often someone still says it.  Sometimes the point is that pushing back against bigotry is unnecessary; sometimes it's that only the weak still feel bad about themselves, and we enlightened queers should just let these losers stew in their own juices.  I've been critical of gay people who claimed retrospectively that it was impossible to do other than hate yourself in 1972, 1982, 1992, 2002, or 2012 -- not because they hated themselves, but because they were distorting the very history they had lived through.  They're projecting their own unhappiness and isolation onto everyone else. 

But I don't blame people for wanting to change.  I did myself when I was in high school in the late 60s, and wanted to go to the main campus of Indiana University because I'd heard that the psychology clinic there did change therapy.  I failed to make the move, however, and went to a nearby regional campus instead, where I found more reading material and learned that change therapy doesn't work.  I also began encountering the ideas of the Gay Liberation movement - the Stonewall Riots took place just as I was graduating from high school -- and learned that change wasn't necessary or desirable even if it were possible.  I also learned that, contrary to the heterosexual  propaganda I'd imbibed, it was possible to be homosexual and have a fulfilling life.  By the time I made my way to IU's main campus in the fall of 1971, I'd forgotten about the psych clinic and was ready to join the gay student group there instead.

Most gay people I met, including many I met at GLF meetings, didn't feel the same way.  Any time their love life went awry, they blamed it on their homosexuality and spoke wistfully of going straight. As a young newly-militant homo, I probably saw this more negatively than I do now.  But I still saw it as the result of growing up and living in a homophobic society.

Nor do I imagine that homophobia and antigay bigotry are things of the past.  I'm not surprised in the least when they rear their heads, or when young gay people are affected and influenced by them.  I am a bit surprised when I find that they were able to block out the rapidly increasing counterimages, positive ideas, and resources available and feel sorry for themselves.  But who would I be to condemn others for feeling sorry for themselves?  My interest is to encourage them to feel better, and to help them if I can.

I don't know how Pete Buttigieg came to terms with his homosexuality, and have little interest in finding out; it's not really important.  For my purposes today, what matters is that he clearly has done so, and this Carlo person is lying, either deliberately or through agenda-driven laziness, about it.  There are many other, I think, more important reasons to despise and oppose him, so why make one up?  Many people seem to prefer made-up reasons to real ones, which I don't understand and hope to return to in another post sometime.

But it goes farther than that.  See Carlo's hashtags, #GayTrutherism and #PetesNotGay? I realized that I've seen seen the results of his "research" before, and one of his favorable commenters confirmed it.  Unfortunately, she has set her tweets to be invisible to non-followers without actually blocking me, so I can't link to her, but what she wrote was that Buttigieg doesn't set off her fine-tuned gaydar, and she was grateful to Carlo for confirming that he just isn't gay.  Gaydar is bullshit, and neither this person nor anyone else is authorized to decide who is or isn't gay.

Someone else commented: "I’ve heard 'gay for pay', but never 'gay for power'. You’ve stumbled across something here."  I've run into uncountable bigots who argued that people were claiming to be gay just to seem cool, to seem hip, to get attention, to be trendy.  (He replied: "Muncan Ditchel."  Oh my god what brilliant wit!  I am totally DESTROYED!!!! SCHOOLED!!!  YAS SLAY QUEAN!!!!)

Another commented: "He came out when Indiana was getting blasted globally for their anti-LGBT discrimination bill. Not saying that he only came out after it polled well, but it sure is interesting!"  We've made a lot of gains since 1969, but opportunistically hitching one's star to LGBT identity doesn't look like easy money to me.  Also, I came out largely after and because of the post-Stonewall explosion of the gay movement; such events do have a tendency to give closeted people the boost of encouragement they need.  It doesn't count against them.  Buttigieg's willingness to run as an openly gay candidate is probably the only thing I respect about him.  These people are the queer equivalents of aging right-wing wunderkind Ben Shapiro, who just declared that Bernie Sanders isn't a real Jew.

What Carlo has stumbled on is something much less positive than he thinks.  Trutherism isn't a flag I'd care to march under: to adopt it voluntarily is basically to declare yourself a crank.  I don't think Carlo's going to do Buttigieg any harm -- he's doing it to himself abundantly, without Carlo's help --but I hate being reminded yet again what bloated and inflamed, lying assholes many gay people are.  I already know that about Buttigieg, and now I get to/have to put Carlo on the list.  Forbear, girlene!