What it Really Means to be Gay

Let’s get uncharacteristically serious for a second, here…

It was really hot last week.  I mean hot – like 95 degrees with humidity and no air conditioning-hot.  Usually when that happens, I have to leave the front door open to prevent the entire family from dying of dehydration; this time it was a necessity for most of the day and night.  On the third day, a group of punk ass kids were walking by outside and I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation, which was riddled with the term “that’s GAY.”  This annoyed me, because I’m almost certain that they were not referring to things that were actually gay.  So I thought it would be good if we established for everyone what it really means to be gay, once and for all.

(This might seem a bit simplistic for our usual discussions, but it is clear that this conversation needs to be spelled out as simply as possible.)  There are a few possible definitions of the term “gay.”

#1 Gay:  happy, a state of overjoy.  This is the more archaic way of referring to someone that is happy.  I remember when I was about six I kept asking my mom what it meant to be “gay” and she said “happy” so for a few days I walked around saying “I am feeling very gay today!”  Most people giggled, but the older folks were glad I was so happy.  There is nothing wrong with saying you feel gay if you mean you are in a great mood.

#2 Gay:  homosexual, or identifying with a group of people who prefer the sexual orientation of the same sex as their own.  In the “gay community,” there are many different factions:  lesbians, bisexuals, homosexual males, transexuals, etc., etc.  Sometimes when you say “gay” in the “gay community” you are referring to the man-et-man faction; other times you will hear lesbians and bisexuals saying they too are gay.  There is nothing wrong with saying you are gay if you mean you prefer the sexual orientation of the same sex as your own.

There are a number of things that the term “gay” does not refer to:

The term “gay” does not mean something is bad or stupid or unfortunate.  This is a direct negation of the first definition, which was “happy, a state of overjoy.”  Would you be happy and in a state of overjoy if you were in the presence of something bad or stupid or unfortunate?  I think not.

The term “gay” does not mean something is morally wrong.  No matter what your moral standard, “gay” does not mean something that is morally wrong.  If you mean overjoyed, there is certainly nothing wrong with that feeling.  Further, there is nothing wrong with being “gay,” as in homosexual, from a moral perspective.  Let me elaborate:  if you use religion as your moral standard, you cannot say there is anything morally wrong with being gay – unless you are so literal as to your interpretation of the Bible that you abstain from the entire list of things that are considered wrong.  This is including (but not limited to) driving on Sundays and eating shellfish on any days.  Do you drive to church?  Then you are not a literalist and you cannot apply your loose Biblical standards so fickly.  Every person that I explain this to goes on, then, to say that being gay, as in homosexual, is morally wrong because it is unnatural for a man to have intercourse with another man.  To that, I ask:  why?  Why is it unnatural?  Is it natural for women to give hummers to their boyfriends?  Is it natural for men to watch shark porn?  A personal preference in the bedroom is no more unnatural than preferring to add salt instead of sugar to your apple pie.

And while we’re at it, there is no such thing as “gay marriage.”  There is marriage, there is gay (happy), and there is gay (homosexual) – and I’m very sure that there are gay (homosexual) people that are married and gay (happy).  But there is no more a thing as “gay marriage” as there is “straight marriage.”  There is marriage, which is a spiritual, as well as legal and financial, union between two people.  Not a single person or law has a right to mandate who those two people can be – whether they are of the same sex or not.

Generally, when people try to use the term “gay” in a pejorative way, they do so because they think that underhandedly establishes a precedent for saying that gay people are bad.  All this does is make them sound ignorant, though.  How stupid do those punk ass kids walking outside sound when they say something is “gay” when we have established that “gay” either means happy or homosexual, and that there is nothing wrong with either one of those things?  “Dude, that shirt is so gay.”  Why thank you!  I thought it was happy-looking, I’m glad to hear you are overjoyed at the sight of it!  “Mrs. Steiner is so gay!”  I’m sure Mr. Steiner is not a woman, but if he were – what is your point?  To the punk ass kids walking by, and anyone else that believes “gay” means anything other than what we have established, shut the hell up.  All you are doing is making yourself sound even stupider and ignorant than you already are.  One day this whole “gay thing” will go down in history books as another blunder on the part of ignorant America, like segregation and racism against African Americans was.  Do you want to be lumped in with those ignorant hillbillies that were too stupid to read a dictionary?

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Pig flu, pig head

The CDC just released a zombie apocalypse preparedness memo on their blog and hoards of Americans are now scrambling around in terror over the fact that the CDC would give credit to such a thing.

Okay, maybe it hasn’t been in terror, but a lot of people are most certainly taking it seriously.

Sad to say, but the post by the CDC was actually a joke.  Well, not even so much a joke as a backhanded way of trying to make Americans prepared for actual emergencies facing us every day.  And they said just that in the opening lines of the post:  “maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.”

What does this have to do with the pig flu you ask?  A lot.

By pig flu, I am of course referring to the 2009 H1N1, which raised a very serious issue in our culture, that being that in our paranoia over things we should not be paranoid about, we completely disregard the things that should actually cause us to worry.  The zombie apocalypse included.

The CDC recognized this when 2009 H1N1 made the news:  people were rushing out to buy HAZMAT masks and unnecessarily throwing away their pork products, all the while ignoring what they needed to do to actually protect themselves from the virus, and (more disturbingly) the more deadly Influenzas A and B.  In response to this alarming trend to ignore real concerns in favor of ones that we should not worry to much about, the CDC issued a statement in 2009 that hysteria over things that we should not be made hysterical about inspires us to ignore real issues that threaten the safety and lives of ourselves and others around us every day.  And boy does it ever.

Anyone remember when people were so paranoid about the possibility of a biological terrorism that they began buying gas masks and duct taping themselves into their homes?  Countless people across America fed so strongly on that paranoia that they ignored basic safety and closed off all of the air inlets to their homes, many of whom died of suffocation and carbon monoxide poisoning.  And I’m sure we all know someone who has considered (dear God, please don’t say actually followed through with) not giving their child innoculations due to unreasonable concerns about the very rare, possible (and some unproven) side effects.  Daily we see horror stories in the news about situations like this:  someone is so concerned that they will get the superbug that they refuse to take their antibiotics and develop pneumonia and die; a couple is so worried over the BPA scare that they refuse to sterilize their baby’s bottles “to be safe,” only for the baby to get deathly ill with ecoli  poisoning.  Somewhere, at some time, we stopped listening to our professionals and our own common sense.

I recently read an article that old and previously dormant diseases are now cropping up again, such as old strains of tuberculosis and whooping cough; and that this was undoubtably a direct result of the decrease of people receiving immunizations out of a growing (unproven) concern that thermosil causes autism.  What is sad about this is that the people we want to protect the most – our children, our family, our friends – are so negatively impacted by unreasonable paranoia.  If the zombie apocalypse were to ever happen, I’m pretty certain it would not get out of control by some randomly occurring, bizarre mutant toxin.  No, it would come of people’s ignorance – of disregarding basic matters of safety and health in the name of having our dangerously close-minded and opinionated hysterics.

Cloudy With a Change of Imminent Rapture

Well it is now well into Sunday, May 22nd in some parts of the world and Harold Camping is sitting at his abacus, desperately trying to figure out just where he went wrong.  In the words of one of my near-and-dear Facebook friends:  Cheer up, Harry!  It’s not the end of the world!

Oh wait, that was a little awkward wasn’t it?

If you are anything like me, you are sick of hearing about this whole rapture business.  From the Judgement Day billboards to the fanatics that quit their jobs to pass out fliers; from the Tweets giving shouts out to Kiritimati for first-hand accounts of people floating in the air to the endless postings of worldwide earthquake hotspots – now that the hour has passed, it’s time to let it die (no pun intended).

But before we do just that, I think it’s time to sit back and question just why Rapture Fail 2011 captured the hearts and minds of so many people, and on a global scale at that.  While only an approximate 2 or 3% of the world’s population actually believes in the The Rapture Doctrine of Camping’s radical Evangelical sect (with even fewer having subscribed to his actual prophecy this time around), it seems that everyone and their mother has jumped on the rapture bandwagon to capitalize, poke fun at, and gossip.  Predictions about the end of the world are nothing new.  We all remember the grocery lines right before Y2K, and the 90s were not exactly free of believers in the imminent apocalypse, either.  In fact, as far back as the 1800s (just shortly after the origins of the birth of belief in The Rapture Doctrine) doomsday predictions based on subjective interpretations of the Bible were being talked about.  Something tells me, though, that even if the Internet and Twitter were around for the failed predictions of William Miller, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the other pre-Facebook civilizations, they wouldn’t have been standing around Tweeting, gossiping, and throwing parties.  So why now?

There are a number of possibilities over just why now, more than ever, the buzz of Harold Camping has had such a phenomenal impact on what we talk about, the three most probable being: (1)  subconscious fear, (2) subconscious atheism, and, (3) a disdain for cult mentality.  What I think really has happened here, though, is the same thing in the viral nature of Rebecca Black parodies, Bin Laden death photoshops, and the ongoing controversy over just why Obama’s long form birth certificate was submitted in PDF.  In these trying economic times, when unemployment is at an all-time high, gas prices continue to soar, and families finding themselves struggling just to put food on the table, people are just as succeptible to parodies as they are to belief in such nonsense in the first place.

Okay that was awkward too.  While economic hardships are just as probable as fear, atheism, and a disdain for cult mentality, what I really think this whole rapture business is all about is this:  people just don’t take anything seriously anymore.  With all the viral puke that flows through the Internet; the virtual (read: fake) lives we are able to compose for ourselves ala Facebook, Twitter, and the like, and the massive mindset of failure that the above economic state has put our contemporary culture in, who would?

The good news is that the world – even some that believe in The Rapture Doctrine (but probably not Harold’s) – were able to get a chuckle out of the events that unfolded as May 21st came, and went.  The world needs a little levity once in a while, and I’m sure Mr. Camping is considering using that as an excuse come Monday morning when he’s expected to be on air at his usual time.  While there may been some earthquakes in various places of the world (earthquakes which happen hundreds of times a day), Camping’s predictions most certainly did not come to fruition.

In the words of one late-night Tweeter, after New Zealand was either spared from the rapture, or proven to be entirely full of sinners: “Yeah, there were some earthquakes no one felt, and the world is still crazy, but it ‘aint like people were flying into the air and shit.”  That’s right, Twitter user.  People weren’t flying into the air.