TMI, barbecue and other people’s sex lives

Justin Lee has a nice post up about “TMI” — too much information. He starts by contrasting the difference between a couple telling you about when and where their first child was born versus a couple telling you about when and where their first child was conceived.

The latter tends to make people uncomfortable because over-sharing the details of your sex life tends to be awkward.

Justin writes:

I think that’s one reason that some people want to scream “TMI!” when they learn that someone is gay or see them holding hands with a member of the same sex. Their mind goes right to the sex, like being told where their straight friends conceived, and that’s not an image they want.

But when I tell you that I’m gay, I’m not making a statement about sex. I’m not telling you that I ever have had sex, or that I ever will.

… I want you to know me. I don’t want you to know the details of when or if I choose to have sex. The latter is TMI. The former is love.

Meanwhile, over at John Shore’s place, reader Mike Moore makes the same point.

But Moore doesn’t quite share Justin’s gentle temperament and unfailingly patient spirit. So he made this same point a bit more vividly. And he did so in an Asheville BBQ joint where he spied a prominent Southern Baptist pastor who had been “a driving force behind the anti-same-sex-marriage law passed in North Carolina last year.”

Moore figured this might be a good setting for a dramatic serving of “turn-about is fair play”:

Given the vile things said during the election about gay people and their ability to be good parents, and given the “protect our children” mantra used by such churches, I thought I’d try an experiment.

Without invitation or preamble, I slid into an empty seat at their table.

“Hi Pastor Bruce,” I said. “I was wondering. Do you and your wife honestly consider yourselves capable of being good parents? And how’re things in the bedroom between you two? What do you like to get up to in there?”

I wanted the pastor and his wife to understand, in real time, from a calm voice, and face-to-face, what it feels like when a stranger forces themselves and their values into their life and then judges them, their parenting skills, their bedroom antics, and their morality. I wanted them to know how it feels to have a stranger attack them on personal matters which are none of their business and about which they know nothing.

Things escalated a bit from there, but go read the whole story — it has a happy ending.

Alas, it’s not the sort of happy ending in which Pastor Bruce learns to feel empathy and his heart grew three sizes that day, but the next best thing, in which the pastor leaves and never comes back and everybody enjoys good BBQ without quite so much ambient bigotry spoiling the mood.

* * * * * * * * *

It takes some courage to be a Christian in Malaysia, where Christians make up less than 10 percent of the country.

And it takes some courage being an LGBT Christian in the church, where you’re likely to be condemned as sinful or even subhuman.

And I think it takes exponentially more courage to be a gay Christian in Malaysia.

Tony Jones reports from Good Samaritan in Kuala Lumpur, which he says is probably the only LGBT-friendly Christian church in all of Malaysia.

In Malaysia, a church has to register with the government, and it can only do so if it is a member of a larger body of churches, like a denomination or the national association of evangelical churches. [Pastor Joe Pang] has asked to be part of these groups, but Good Samaritan has been rejected. Therefore, the church exists illegally. They have, however, registered their ministry to HIV/AIDS patients as a non-profit, so that aspect of their existence is legal.

“Joe Pang is a piece of work,” Tony writes. And he means that in the very best way.

And for another voice of courage cubed, from another gay Christian Malaysian, check out “Queer Eye for God’s World,” by Joseph Goh.

The world is large and full of wonderful people.

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  • Lori

    Thanks for the story about Mike Moore. A person being brave for a good
    cause + people supporting said brave person + good bbq = made of win and
    awesome. This has not been a good week (I’m now unemployed again), so a
    bit of cheering up is much appreciated. 

  • SisterCoyote

     Damn, I am so sorry to hear that, Lori. Hugs/thoughts/prayers (if welcome, etc. etc.) are with you. I really hope things improve for you soon.

  • Baby_Raptor

    *big hugs*

  • Aw no :(


  • esmerelda_ogg

    Aw, Lori. Hope things turn around quickly.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    Sorry to hear that, Lori.  I’ve been unemployed since April 2011.  Hopefully, you won’t end up lingering in the Jobless Zone as long as I have.  My prayers are with you.

  • Lori

    Thanks guys. I saw it coming, so at least it wasn’t a total surprise. The company where I’ve been temping for almost 9 months lost a major contract at the end of last year and are now “over staffed”, so it wasn’t personal. Still unemployed again though. Sigh.

    Incidentally, the contract that wasn’t renewed was with their largest customer—the USPS. This is one small effect of the relentless bashing that the USPS takes from some people. Decreasing usage of snail mail is obviously a factor, but the deep cost-cutting that resulted in the loss of this contract is more about some people hating on them. 

  • depizan

    That sucks. :(

    I hope employment comes your way soon.

  • Beroli

     I hope you get another job soon, Lori.

  • Fusina

    Best wishes on getting a new job soon.

    And our post office is awesome, and the regular delivery person who has this route often goes above and beyond, so count me impressed with our local USPS staff.

  • Trixie_Belden

    I’m sorry to hear that Lori. Being thrown back into uncertainty always sucks, even when the job was (shall we say) less than ideal and even when it isn’t personal. I hope better employment comes your way soon.

  • Lunch Meat

    Sorry to hear that, Lori. Hope you find something soon.

  • Thanks guys. I saw it coming, so at least it wasn’t a total surprise. The company where I’ve been temping for almost 9 months lost a major contract at the end of last year and are now “over staffed”, so it wasn’t personal. Still unemployed again though. Sigh.

    I am sorry to hear that, Lori.  I have been there myself (my job experience has either been retail or contract exclusively) and it always sucks.  

    Here is hoping you find something before resources get too tight.  

  • Lori

    Thanks again everyone. I honestly didn’t mean to make the thread all about me, but I appreciate the good wishes. 

  • Jessica_R

    Sending hopes and well wishes that the Employment Fairy will visit you soon Lori. 

  •  *hugs if you want em*

  • I applaud those Malaysian Christians who reject the pro-homosexual-sin agenda. And I don’t consider it TMI to discuss conception, either- but I’m frequently with conception-personhood-no-exceptions people, so maybe that’s why they are happy to tell me when their babies were conceived. (in several cases, on the wedding night :) )

  • I, too, have recently become unemployed — the bookstore I really enjoyed working at has shut down.  I also saw it coming, but it was still kind of a blow.  So I sympathize, and send you good job-hunting vibes.

  • *more hugs and best wishes, along with more hopes you will find employment again soon*

  • Hexep

    God, I would *love* to call people out on all the stupid shit they say to/about me over the course of my day. I know this is supposed to be inspiring, but – I don’t know why, this is a problem with me, I know – whenever I see an ‘inspiring story about someone doing the right thing despite adversity,’ I can’t help but think, ‘wouldn’t it be nice if I could do that?’ And then I remember, ‘yeah, but if I tried that, I’d get in tons of trouble.’

    February is the worst month for these things. Wherever I go, without fail, people ask me about my new years’ plans. ‘Why don’t you go home?’ Fuck you, this is my home, and I’m supposed to go lie on a beach in Sihanoukville and catch up on my smoking, but it looks like passport problems will keep me from even doing that.

    So, yeah. February sucks. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that 2013’s been pretty shitty all-around, apparently for everyone.

  • The_L1985

     Ugh.  *hugs* Well, I hope you find a new job soon.  One that isn’t a temp position. :)

  • The_L1985

    I’m frequently with conception-personhood-no-exceptions people, so maybe
    that’s why they are happy to tell me when their babies were conceived.
    (in several cases, on the wedding night :) )

    Yep.  Even the ones who had the baby 7 months after marriage!  (Not meaning to slander your friends, but I’ve heard of it happening, and of people insisting that their 9-lb baby was actually a preemie.)

  • The_L1985

     No, not the bookstores!! :(

    You have just reminded me to start haunting used bookstores again.

  • Amaryllis

    Sympathies to Lori, and I hope you find something better soon.

    So, yeah. February sucks. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that 2013’s been pretty shitty all-around, apparently for everyone.


    Thus, yesterday’s Writer’s Almanac Poem:

    January finally drags into February and one fumbles with
    numb fingers at the ordinary knots and hooks of life. People
    are irritable, difficult. Some days you want to stay in bed
    with the covers over your head and dream of paradise…

    – Louis Jenkins

    Today is already looking like one of those days.

  • vsm

    You’re a good person and a good poster. There are much worse ways to use a thread than wishing you well.

    Um, I too wish something turns up soon.

  • Lori

    Oh, ShifterCat, I’m so sorry. Losing a job and a bookstore at the same time just sucks. At least I didn’t actually like my job. I hope something comes along for you soon.

  • Lori



    It’s not helping that it’s has suddenly decided to be more or less winter here and is cold as all get out. We still have almost no snow, which is worrying (drought), but longjohns weather has arrived. It’s too cold for it to be enjoyable to be outside and being inside all the time makes everyone stir crazy. Not good.

  • Mike Timonin

    The January into February transition sucks, and February is the least pleasant month. It’s suddenly gotten all cold again here. So I’m going to make some Carolina style BBQ, and I’m going to play with the ice cream maker my sister gave us for Christmas. Take that, February – I’m making summer food!

  • Symthpathies and support to all those in need. 2013 was supposed to be better than the previous year, dang it.

  • P J Evans

     Mike, when I was in HS, we moved into a house that had an indoor BBQ pit. We could light a fire in it (after we’d filled it halfway with ashes – it was way too deep otherwise) and have grilled burgers or steak in the middle of winter. It had a fireplace, too, sharing the same chimney but in the next room.

  • P J Evans

    And my year went sideways the Monday after New Year’s, when they told me they’d opted not to renew my yearly contract. I’m actually relieved; it was getting to where I’d reached my level of incompetence. Fortunately I was putting money away, but at some point I will have to have a job.

  • stardreamer42

    The whole “gay people flaunting their sexuality” thing always reminds me of the fights my mother and I used to have about cleaning my bedroom. I’m a slob by nature, and she was a neat-freak, and… well, you can imagine. And so I’d say, “Fine, I’ll just keep the door closed, and you won’t have to look at it.” And she’d say “But I’ll still know what it looks like in there, and I just can’t stand it!

    Too many straight people can’t look at a gay couple in public without thinking that they know what goes on in there, and they just can’t stand it!

  • EllieMurasaki

    Always reminds me of how Mom insists that she and Dad wearing wedding rings is not them flaunting their sexuality but a same-sex couple wearing wedding rings is.

  • Heck, it is for this reason that I do not talk much about my relationships, and all of those have been heterosexual.  

  • Darkrose

    *hugs and sending good thoughts*

  • Good vibes and best wishes to everyone who finds themselves in need of a visit from the Employment Fairy.

  •  (nods) I usually summarize this mindset as “Straight people have families; queer people have sex.”

  • AlsnB

    This reminds me of a really good segment in one of Chris Crutcher’s awesome books that I read as a teen.  The main character discovers that one of his favorite teachers is gay, and confesses to his father that he feels guilty about his feelings on the subject because when he tries to picture it or think about it it makes him really uncomfortable.  And his father points out to him that he probably also feels very uncomfortable if he tries to picture his parents or other adult acquaintances having sex. 

    The moral of the story being that you don’t have to be envision other people’s sex lives to respect their orientations/relationships/selves.

  • Mike Timonin

    An indoor fire-pit would be grand! I’m making pulled pork in a slow cooker, so it’s not “reaaaaally” BBQ.

  •  WHat’s creepy is watching homopjhobes try to justify that. Like the idea that “Gay people are inherently sex-obsessed because if sex wasn’t more important to them than anything else, they’d just be straight.”

    Back when the Doctor Who episode ‘Gridlock’ aired, I recall one very outspoken homophobe who was scandalized that they had “Actually shown on-screen intercourse between a human and a housecat” (As part of Russel T Davies’s agenda to turn our kids gay by making them want to fuck their pets. Not making a word of this up).

    For the uninitiated, what they actually show is a family consisting of a humanoid (but technically non-human) mother and a father who was a humanoid feline described as having evolved from earth cats, and some babies who looked like kittens but could say “Mama”.

    According to the resident homophobe, the fact of the kittens did not simply imply but was literally explicitly depicting cat-human intercourse.

  • Lori

    That is awesome. Props to whoever built that.

  •  * chuckle *

    I have learned of necessity to accept “literally” as a general term of emphasis… my favorite being hearing someone described as a “literally flaming queen.”

    So I suppose I’m able to wince and accept “Actually shown on-screen intercourse between a human and a housecat” as a way of describing intercourse between a human and a housecat being implied in a highly evocative way.

    Failing to understand the difference between humans, housecats, and various fictional aliens… yeah, I don’t know, I guess that doesn’t surprise me much either.

    I think my standards may just be too low.

  •  As Ann Landers once said, “The baby was on time. The wedding was late.”

    (I don’t know why people still write to her looking for a way to use etiquette as a passive-aggressive attack on someone they disapprove of, given that she never EVER helps with that, being of the school of manners that says that all of etiquette derives from the concept of making sure not to put the other person on the spot)

  • Yeah. but this wasn’t hyperbole exactly. The guy legitmately thought that the specific intention of including the cross-species couple was to entice actual children to attempt to have sex with their actual cats, in order that same-sex relationships would seem “less weird” by comparison.

  • Lukea

    I appreciate the sentiment of the Mike Moore story, really I do.

    I’m not sure that “drive ’em out of town because they’re mean” is in any way associated with the way of Jesus. The retributive nature of that post is completely counter to the wisdom of the cross. “He did this to us, so I’ll do this back to him, so he knows how it feels.” Anyone else see anything wrong with that?
    Or is this just a high five circle?

  • stardreamer42

     people insisting that their 9-lb baby was actually a preemie

    There’s actually been research done on this from historical records, which I am too lazy to look up right now. Right up thru the first half of the 20th century, the percentage of firstborns listed as “premature births” — generally right at 7 months after the wedding — was far higher than the percentage for later births.

  • stardreamer42

     Well… was the guy who confronted the pastor Christian? Because absent the answer to that question being “yes”, the rest of your comment becomes irrelevant.

    From a slightly different angle, “reflection therapy” can indeed be a very useful approach when “setting a good example” has been tried, and failed, utterly and repeatedly. As the farmer said about the mule, sometimes you need to get their attention first. (And before you ask, no, I am not Christian.)

  • Lori


    According to the resident homophobe, the fact of the kittens did not simply imply but was literally explicitly depicting cat-human intercourse.   

    This sent my eyebrows perilously close to my hairline.

  • P J Evans

     We referred to him as ‘drunken contractor’ – whoever he was – because  that was the Italian neighbor’s description. It goes with some of the other features the house had.

  • P J Evans

     One of my cousins was ‘premature’ like that. I am so not bringing that up.