Queer and Queerer Ep. 74 – Coming Back and Moving On

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Inspired by Arrested Development, Zack and Peterson have returned from their indeterminate hiatus. Peterson discusses the passing of his father, and Zack offers a few updates from the blogging world. Peterson is also now a climate activist, and rightfully so! If you’re excited that we’re back, you should leave some comments, or tweet us, and let us know you want us to keep coming back.

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Here’s some more information about what we talked about this week:

» Read Peter “Pete” Toscano’s obituary.

» Learn more about Zack’s upcoming show, “Love, NY,” by liking it on Facebookfollowing it on Twitter, or supporting it on Kickstarter!

» Follow Stephen Ira on Twitter: @supermattacine.

» Read Zack’s blogging at ThinkProgress LGBT.

» This week’s poem was:  “Meaning” by C.P. Cavaf,y from The Collected Poems of C.P. Cavafy, Translated by Aliki Barnstone, W.W. Norton 2006.

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Being Adopted Does Not Mean My Parents Bought Me As ‘Chattel’

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It’s been a long time since I’ve written here at ZFb, because I find my role as LGBT Editor at ThinkProgress provides me the venue to say most of what I feel needs to be said. Today is an exception, as I feel the need to write a personal response to an attack I received on me and my family from a semi-prominent spokesperson for the anti-equality movement.

This past week, the Republican National Committee approved a resolution affirming its opposition to same-sex marriage. I debunked that resolution earlier in the week, pointing out that its only foundation was the “bullshitjunk-science study on gay parenting by Mark Regnerus as well as a number of assertions that simply amount to declarations of heterosexual supremacy. This provoked a fairly heated response from one Robert Oscar Lopez.

Here’s what I know about Lopez’s story: he identifies as bisexual but has disowned his gay side, he blames his lesbian parents for his social ineptness, and he seems all too happy to help out groups who oppose same-sex marriage — at the state, federal, and international levels. Notably, he was among the featured speakers at the National Organization for Marriage’s “March for Marriage” last month.

Lopez’s primary talking point is that he was damaged by same-sex parenting and he wants to save other children the same fate. As my fellow blogger Joe Jervis describes his argument, “Nobody Likes Me,” and he makes it over and over. His argument against my “reckless dismissal” of the RNC resolution was similar:

 If you don’t see flashing red lights and a gigantic billboard saying “BAD IDEA” when you contemplate gay couples buying other adults out of their offspring and then raising kids as if one of the biological parents never existed, then there’s really no point in discussing the ethics of parenting. Please don’t call in the APA to settle the matter for you.

Zack Ford discredits Doug Mainwaring’s line that the same-sex marriage movement is turning children into “chattel” to serve the selfish demands of adults. Zack, how do gay men and lesbians come to be exclusive parents of children? They pay men for their sperm and women for use of their wombs, then pay them to go away. This is essentially buying other human beings as property because certain adults — not always gays, but here we are talking about gay adults — care more about having kids than about the kids’ right to half their ancestry. What part of “chattel” or “selfish” is unclear?

Mainwaring, I should point out, is another of NOM’s go-to “gays against gay marriage” — except they like to leave out the part that he’s a Tea Party activist essentially living an ex-gay life with a wife and children. Mainwaring and Lopez may both have sexual orientations that aren’t exclusively heterosexual, but if they’ve disavowed those identities except when it’s politically expedient, it’s hard to credit them as members of the LGBT community.

At any rate, I think Lopez’s argument is pretty offensive on its face and doesn’t require a whole lot of analysis on my part. It’s worth noting that he pits his own testimony and one fraudulent sociologist against the consensus of all psychological, psychiatric, and sociological groups. To prove his point, he made the following suggestion to me and my colleagues at ThinkProgress:

Maybe Zack’s compadres should talk to adoptees and people conceived with anonymous sperm donors or surrogate mothers.  While some are unaffected by the dislocation from their biological origins, many are haunted and scarred.  (As a descendant of slaves, I am haunted and scarred because my ancestors were cut off from me.)

But here’s the thing: I was adopted. I’ve also gotten to know a lot of other people who were adopted, as well as children of same-sex couples. As far as I know, none of us are “haunted and scarred.” I know essentially nothing about my blood-parents, but you know what? I know a lot about my actual parents — the ones I’ve known my whole life — and about their ancestors and whatnot. Just because I don’t share their genes doesn’t make me scarred. It’s actually just kind of cool. When I go to my cousin’s wedding next month, I’m not going to feel somehow ostracized from everyone there just because we have a few different strands of DNA. Family is family.

And I’ll be honest, while I think knowing about your past can be interesting and fulfilling, I don’t know that it’s healthy to feel like you need that information to define yourself and live your own life. I feel bad that Lopez doesn’t know anything about his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather — and obviously slavery was an egregious human atrocity — but is that what’s really holding him back in life?

That might be kind of a harsh personal challenge, but he did just insinuate that my parents were the equivalent slave-traders for adopting me. And given I’m also a gay man who someday hopes to have my own family, he also seems to think that I’m going to “buy” children for selfish reasons that will somehow impede their identity development.

Here are a couple questions I have for Lopez:

  • Were my (heterosexual) parents “selfish” for wanting to have a child in the first place?
  • Was my mom “selfish” when she put her body through hell (a.k.a. in vitro fertilization) trying to have a child?
  • Were my parents “selfish” when they adopted me after my mother failed to conceive?
  • Given you apparently oppose adoption, does that mean you fervently support a woman’s right to choose an abortion?

What I find most interesting about arguments like Lopez’s is how easy it is to see how they are the last remnants of past anti-gay talking points. It used to be that same-sex couples would either abuse their children or somehow turn them gay. Nowadays, the supposed threat to children is that they might just learn in school that same-sex families exist. The Regnerus study — and its knock-off imitations — are a last-ditch effort to try to convince people that there are consequences for the kids of same-sex couples. Now NOM is stuck arguing against adoption, suggesting the children of same-sex couples will resent their parents, and Lopez’s icing on the cake is that they will be deprived of “half their ancestry.” Is that compelling to anybody?

It just strikes me as sad that these groups have such antipathy against gays and lesbians that they actually have lost sight of what’s best for children. Adoption and foster care are good for children who don’t have parents to care for them. Marriage is good for same-sex couples and their children so that they have the same legal and financial protections as other families. Perhaps Lopez is just so troubled by the conflicting values he’s faced throughout his life that he’s lost sight of these common sense realities. I sincerely hope he can find a way to feel better about himself, his past, and his identity that doesn’t require attacking families like mine — both the one in which I was raised and the one I plan to raise myself one day.

 

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Queer and Queerer Ep. 73 – The Presidential Election Roundtable

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After Zack stops yakking about his momentous musical weekend, Peterson welcomes his husband, wanna-be swing voter Glen Retief, and nephew, “G,” to the Queer and Queerer intergenerational white-man presidential election roundtable. The group digs into some foreign policy issues, religion, and the many Mitt Romneys.

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Queer and Queerer Ep. 72 – The Lost Gospel of Thaddeus

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Peterson has recently uncovered the lost book of Thaddeus, that was hidden away and kept out of the Bible. He imparts its wisdom upon Zack, who is no more convinced by its alternate depiction of the life of Jesus than of the original tellings. He’s more excited that he’ll be speaking at his alma mater, Ithaca College, for National Coming Out Day. And who, pray tell, is the most effervescent co-host of this podcast?

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Queer and Queerer Ep. 71 – The Resurrection And The Return

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Zack’s blog has found salvation after being completely reconstructed, allowing it to be cleansed of its impurities and restored to new life. Similarly, Peterson has returned from his month of journeying across Europe and eagerly regales Zack and listeners with tales of his misdeeds. In fact, Peterson had quite an impact on how people think about their religious beliefs, challenging traditional interpretations of scriptures. On the island of Malta, in particular, his performance raised quite a few eyebrows and then opened some hearts. His experiences mesh with recent uprisings in the Middle East, so the podcast segues into a conversation about the fine lines between challenging, mocking, and outright offending religion. Most importantly, the podcast is back and not going anywhere anytime soon! (Note: This episode was recorded Wednesday, September 26, 2012.)

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Queer and Queerer Ep. 70 – Peterson Prepares For British Humanists

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The long-lost episode! This was originally recorded August 13, 2012, but was the first lost when Zack’s blog was in disrepair. Now it’s back and ready to be listened to in case you missed it!

Peterson and Zack are back to have a conversation about the intersection of faiths. Peterson is getting ready to head to Europe, where he’ll be speaking and performing before the British Humanist Association. (You’ll also find him at the Greenbelt Festival.) Unsure of how a room full of non-believers will receive him, he turned to Zack, who obviously is prepared to speak on behalf of all atheists. We get into a conversation about discussing religion across “interfaith” spaces, and effective ways to keep the event inclusive. Plus, Zack gets one step closer to winning that toaster.

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Queer and Queerer Ep. 69 – The Outing of Jonathan Merritt (ft. Azariah Southworth)

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The married Peterson and award-winning Zack are back with an intense conversation about the outing of people who use the closet to hold anti-gay positions, an extension of a conversation from way back in Episode 3. The conversation focuses on a very specific outing, that of Jonathan Merritt, an evangelical writer who takes mixed positions on LGBT issues and who most recently defended Chick-fil-A despite its anti-gay positions and donations. Blogger Azariah Southworth responded by outing Merritt as gay, and he joins us on the show to discuss that decision. We discuss outing, religious narratives about LGBT issues, the “ex-gay defense,” and more.

The Queer and Queerer Podcast!

Listen to this week's episode:  

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Here’s some more information about what we talked about this week:

Zack’s background on the Chick-fil-A controversy:
» Memo To The Media: Chick-fil-A Condemns, Discriminates, And Campaigns Against LGBT People
» The Chick-fil-A Controversy Is About Religious Bullying, Not Chicken Sandwiches
» Chick-fil-A And The Conservative Appropriation Of Christianity As An Anti-Gay Wedge
» Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day Round-Up: Intolerance On Display

» Jonathan Merritt: In Defense of Eating At Chick-fil-A.

Azariah Speaks:
» Jonathan Merritt: Come Out
» Why I Outed Jonathan Merritt

Ed Stetzer: Jonathan Merritt Shares His Story

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Queer and Queerer Ep. 68 – The (Peterson’s) Wedding Episode!

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Marriage is an issue talked about a lot, but weddings themselves less so. Given Peterson’s impending nuptials (THIS WEEKEND!!!), it seemed an apropos topic. So what is this whole “wedding” concept? Is it a heterosexual institution? What’s the point of the ceremony? Zack and Peterson go back and forth about their own experiences at weddings and thoughts on the power of the ceremony as a form of direct action.

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Queer and Queerer Ep. 67 – So You Think You’re An Ally (ft. Anarchist Reverend Shannon Kearns)

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No doubt, allies are crucial to every community, but being an ally is not easy nor simple role to play. Zack and Peterson talk with the Anarchist Revered, Shannon Kearns, to discuss how allies sometimes get it wrong. Sometimes allies make it all about them, or believe that apologizing for the actions of their church counts as action. Zack and Peterson discuss their own experiences as trans allies, and Shannon offers some insights about the intersections between queer and faith identities. High standards are important for allies, and hopefully people committed as allies will appreciate the task before them. Take a listen!

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Learn more about our guest, Shannon Kearns:

» The Anarchist Reverend (and on Facebook).
» Camp Osiris (and on Facebook).
» House of the Transfiguration.

» “Things I Need From Allies.”
» “Six Things I Don’t Need to Hear From Cisgender People.”

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Queer and Queerer Ep. 66 – Proud And Prouder

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Zack and Peterson are back after a week off with a lovely conversation about LGBTQ identities. Peterson talks about his ecstatic dancing and Bible lectures at the Quaker Jamboree, the duo discuss the significance of Anderson Cooper’s coming out, and Zack pontificates a bit on “pride.” If this half hour isn’t enough, make sure to listen to some of Peterson’s lectures!

The Queer and Queerer Podcast!

Listen to this week's episode:  

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Here’s some more information about what we talked about this week:

» Take a listen to Peterson’s Bible lectures.

» Anderson Cooper came out, and Zack reacted.

» Zack’s view of the New York City Pride parade:

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