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Pen Points
Pen Points
Letters to GayToday

Not All Gay Men Are Sodomites

While we in the frot / cock2cock / dick2dick movement are relieved that the state is finally out of our bedrooms, and delighted that gay people will now be accorded equal treatment under the law, we are very concerned that reaction to the overturn of the sodomy laws in both the gay and nongay community is resulting in a heightened identification of gay men with anal sex, an identification which is false.

The fact of the matter is that not all gay men do anal sex -- or even oral sex -- and that when you take into account the total population of men who have sex with men, rather than those who self-identify as gay, anal sex is a minority practice.

Yet in every press report I've seen, from the Washington Post to the Fox News network, "sodomy," "anal sex," and "gay sex" are treated as synonymous.

What concerns me most about what's going on -- and which has been going on since the identification of anal sex as the primary mode of transmission of HIV among gay men in the 80s, but which has been given a tremendous if unwitting boost by the Supreme Court's decision -- is the effect upon gay kids who are seeking a sexual identity.

When I was growing up in the 50s and 60s, there were no role models for being gay.

I suspect now that was both a bad and good thing.

On the one hand, the absence of models was terribly isolating.

Like many gay men of that era, I thought I was the only homosexual on earth, and the ensuing loneliness drove me to thoughts of suicide -- often.

That was not fun, nor was it healthy, and it would be foolish to pretend otherwise.

On the other hand, the absence of role models and cultural supports meant that I had to quite literally invent myself.

No one would or could do it for me.

And that included sexually.

As a consequence, my ideas about sex were well-formed before I ever met another gay man.

Those ideas, which had no anal component, it now turns out were shared with hundreds of thousands of other "gay," "bi," and even "straight-identified" men.

But many of us found each other too late.

Bill Weintraub: Cockrub Warrior Instead, we came up against the cultural expectation that gay men are sodomites, an expectation which in no small regard was a heterosexual expectation; and to the extent we conformed to that expectation, we died.

In the celebrations of the overturn, I haven't heard much mention of the health impact of that expectation of anal sex upon the lives of gay men, and I wonder if the epidemic is about to be consigned to the dust bin of history.

It's as though Gabriel Rotello never wrote Sexual Ecology.

Yet the fact is that the epidemic was created by the anal sex frenzy of the late 70s and early 80s, that it decimated the gay male community in America and Europe, and then spread to the rest of the world.

And while it's true that we now appear to have HIV more or less under control in the American gay and bi communities, that's not true for other anally-transmitted pathogens like HPV.

The reality is that prior to the 1970s, there was no difference in the health of gay and nongay men.

Now there is.

Gay men are far less healthy than straight men -- and the reason is the prevalence of anal sex.

So -- when I think about the effect of the current celebrations of sodomy, I think about a gay kid -- perhaps 12 years old -- who like myself at that age is desperately seeking an identity.

What he's hearing -- from all the media -- is that gay equals anal.

And as he increasingly identifies as gay, he will come under more and more cultural and peer pressure to have anal sex.

And chances are he'll end up doing anal even if anal is not what he wants, deep inside, to do.

As a human being and Gay Liberationist, I think and I know that's wrong. Such an outcome was never the intent of Gay Liberation.

Our intent was to free people to be their true sexual selves -- not to impose a new model of sexuality upon them.

Yet that is what has happened.

If in our celebrations of the overturn of the sodomy laws we allow ourselves to forget why we fought those laws --we will have won the battle, but lost the war.

Bill Weintraub
The Man2Man Alliance

God's Perfect Hate: A Documentary Nears Completion

Dear Friends and Contributors,

Have you been asking yourself, "I wonder if Liz is ever going to finish the documentary about hate crimes she's been working on the past five years?" Well, the answer is "YES", and with your help it will be finished by the end of the year.

Let me give you a brief update. The last trip to Texas for filming took place in July of 2001. I had no money for post-production, so Bi Hoa Caldwell, the principal of Aki Kurose Middle School Academy (a public school in the Seattle school district) came to the rescue. I spent the next two years mentoring middle school students about documentary filmmaking. This mentoring was in exchange for use of the school's MAC G4 computer to rough cut the trailer and the film while working with teacher/editor Kim Sullivan and the students. We tested the students on historical facts about hate crimes after they had watched some of the footage about James Byrd, Jr. and had listened to my lessons, (from a curriculum I made up as we went along). If a student received a grade of 80% or higher on their test, their names would be listed in the film's credits. We learned in this process that middle school and high school settings are an ideal places to educate students about hate crime, legislation, enhanced penalties under the law, how hate can escalate and how to stop it before it begins. The curriculum we created during this two-year period worked toward these goals. The students helped log and capture the clips from the 40-hours of footage that I shot, and they learned many valuable "school-to-work" skills about video editing. I really had a wonderful experience working with these students and now they are asking their teacher, "When will Miss Latham's film be finished?"

Also, Corbis.com donated the use of their online image gallery (an in-kind gift of over $20,000) for use of still images in the final edit.

I am proud and honored to announce that the Emmy award-winning producers, Charlie "Priscilla " Hinckley and Lisa Yeakle from the Seattle Public School's Instructional Broadcast Center (Seattle Public School's TV studio and broadcast facility) have agreed to take God's Perfect Hate to completion. Charlie and Lisa will professionally script and edit the footage into a hour video with a curriculum supplement that will be distributed to middle and high schools nationally. Creating this kind of video for the classroom comes very naturally to these two fine women. If you conduct a search on either of these producers in google.com you will see the numerous awards that each has received for their work in educational television programming. I'm so very lucky to be working with these incredibly talented women.

In order for Charlie and Lisa to complete this final phase of editing, I must raise $12,500. With your help - we can do this. Every donation counts toward the end goal. We will be seeking large donations from specific individuals and foundations but please consider making one final gift toward the completion of God's Perfect Hate. It's time to get this video where it belongs - IN THE CLASSROOM!

As always, 100% tax-deductible contributions can be made to: "WAC - Hate Crime Documentary Fund" and mailed to: The Washington Association of Churches, 419 Occidental Avenue S., #201, Seattle, WA 98104. We have added an "In Memoriam" and an "In Honor Of" section to the films end credits. Contributors who give $500 or more to the "WAC-Hate Crime Documentary Fund" have the option of listing their loved one in one of those two credit sections.

I cannot begin to tell you how much your support has meant to me over the past five years. The best celebration of this project's completion would be to have it finalized by December 2003 - if not before! Then I'm throwing a party for all of you!

Thank you again for your kindness and support throughout my filmmaking journey. There is no way I could have done this without each and every one of you.

Blessings and peace to you,
Liz Latham
Executive Producer
God's Perfect Hate

Share Your Personal Story for a New Book

I am requesting any help that you could give me. My name is Joanie Bronson, I am a Clinical Social Worker, and I am writing a book. I am looking for people willing to share their stories and I would appreciate it if I could have this posted on your site or mass mail this email to the people on your mailing list.

The book is called The American Holocaust a people still in hiding, in reference to the suffering, harassment and even murder of homosexuals in this country. The book will outline the history of homosexuality, research, legislation (good and bad), politics and attitudes of the United States. It will include stories of real people, suffering homophobic discrimination, overcoming the odds against them, and becoming a family despite the injustice they experience in this country. In light of our recent victory at the Supreme Court level, we have just begun to experience liberation. It continues to be important for others to hear our stories and to hear the horrors that still occur, as many believe we live in a world where "these things don't happen anymore."

I am thankful to anyone who is willing to share with me. I ask that you share your own stories and not the stories of others. In responding to this email, you are releasing the rights to the story to the author and will receive no compensation, financial or any other, for your contribution. The stories may be edited, however, if you want the names in your stories changed, please submit the material with the names already changed in the body of the material, as all material will be printed with the names you send unless there is a special circumstance.

I thank all of you in advance, for the time you spend and can only hope that our stories help to educate the legislators, teachers, counselors and every day people in our country.

The following is a list of suggestions for the material:

Please submit material regarding any harassment, emotional difficulties, discrimination or any other issues you have encountered because of being homosexual.

What was it like for you or for your kids to have those experiences? What has been the emotional impact?

How is your life different that your heterosexual friends, coworkers.

How does being homosexual affect your everyday life? What are the downfalls, legally, emotionally and socially?

What have been your experiences in the different places you have lived and how have they differed?

Describe your coming out experience.

Describe coming out to your children.

Please explain if you have been discriminated against by any organization, agency or in any legal proceedings. What was the outcome?

Please describe your emotions and your thoughts in regards to your situations, as these have impact.

Please talk about how you overcame the above issues and how you continue to cope.

Please provide some details about your and your family. Who lives in your house, how old are they, what do they do for a living. Give as much as you are comfortable sending but do not send information that you are not comfortable having published.

Please provide a way to contact you, even if it only by email, incase there are questions regarding your story.

Once again, I thank you all for your time and dedication to making this country a better place for us to live.

In responding to this email, you are also giving permission for this author to contact you by email or, by whatever other means that you provide, for the purpose of asking you to respond to further questions or to clarify details about the information that you have already provided.

Joanie Bronson

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