Kevin Jennings appointed to Department of Education post

Big surprise, you elect a liberal president, you get liberal cabinet secretaries who in turn appoint liberal people to their departments. I can’t say I was surprised that Education Secretary Arne Duncan appointed Kevin Jennings, founder of GLSEN and co-chair of LGB fundraising for Barack Obama to be the assistant deputy secretary of the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools inside the Department of Education.

That said, I am concerned about this appointment. While in recent years I have warmed to the reasonable objectives of GLSEN which include violence prevention, I am not convinced that Mr. Jennings is the guy for this position. As a backdrop for my concerns about his views, readers should read the 2005 paper, Remembering Brewster.

In this paper, I note that Jennings told two different stories about an encounter with a student, Brewster, at Concord Academy in Massachusetts. In 2004, Mr. Jennings was accused by then chair of the NEA Republican Educators Caucus, Diane Lenning, of failing to report a potential abuse situation involving Brewster. At the time, Mr. Jennings denied the allegation and demanded via detailed letter from his lawyer that Mrs. Lenning retract the accusations. On point, the letter read:

Nowhere in the book does Mr. Jennings state he understood that the student was being abused or victimized, or that he suffered injury from any abuse, or indeed that the student was even having sex.

She never retracted and he never sued.

Later, I was given a tape of a 2000 lecture by Mr. Jennings discussing Brewster. He was speaking to a GLSEN rally in Iowa. In that lecture, he indicated that Brewster was involved in sexual behavior of some kind. After being informed that Brewster was not in class, Jennings went to find him in his room. Here is the relevant part of the talk (click link for the mp3 – you might have to turn up the volume):

And I said, “Brewster, what are you doing in there asleep?” And he said, “Well, I’m tired.” And I said, “Well we all are tired and we all got to school today.” And he said, “Well I was out late last night.” And I said, “What were you doing out late on a school night.” And he said, “Well, I was in Boston…” Boston was about 45 minutes from Concord. So I said, “What were you doing in Boston on a school night Brewster?” He got very quiet, and he finally looked at me and said, “Well I met someone in the bus station bathroom and I went home with him.” High school sophomore, 15 years old. That was the only way he knew how to meet gay people. I was a closeted gay teacher, 24 years old, didn’t know what to say. Knew I should say something quickly so I finally said, “My best friend had just died of AIDS the week before.” I looked at Brewster and said, “You know, I hope you knew to use a condom.” He said to me something I will never forget, He said “Why should I, my life isn’t worth saving anyway.”

If Jennings did not believe he was sexually active, then why advise him to use a condom? His handling of this incident, subsequence defense and alternate stories about it concern me. I have posted this story twice before on this blog and most commenters gay, straight, conservative or liberal agree that such an incident should be reported. I watched him refuse to answer reporter George Archibald’s question about the incident on the floor of the NEA exhibit hall. I do not think he has ever addressed the discrepancies in the accounts. I emailed GLSEN to ask for a comment in 2005 with no reply.

I may be misunderstood with this post. Let me be clear: the sexual orientation of the teacher and/or the student are not relevant to the need to get the parents, school and possibly the authorities involved in helping a troubled student in the situation Jennings described. Also, I am not disputing that GLSEN has appropriately raised awareness about bullying of GLB students; a problem which needs ongoing attention. However, I do wish the point person for school safety was someone with an unambiguous record on school-parent communication. If Mr. Jennings had said something like – ‘hey, that was a rookie mistake, I should have alerted someone about a depressed 15 year old boy being 45 minutes away from his boarding school without permission having sex, perhaps with an adult,’ then I would not have quite the same reaction. Instead, he denied what he earlier acknowledged and threatened to sue.

UPDATE: Some have asked me to verify Jennings position as fund raiser for Obama. Here is a video with Jennings and co-chair Joan Garry introducing Bill Clinton at an Obama fundraiser.

UPDATED POST:

Jennings refers to Brewster as Robertson in his 2006 memoir. In it he acknowledges the young man was in need of safe sex advice.

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  • Jay W. Walker

    You actually could not be more wrong. The sexual orientation of both the teacher and the student are incredibly relevant. There is a double (or perhaps triple) standard when it comes to teens having sex. Think about the way that our society deals with comely female high-school teachers having affairs with male students as opposed to male teachers having affairs with female students. Teenage gay boys, who frequently do not receive the love and common human respect from their families, peer groups and society at large, have very special needs when it comes to the reactions of educators to evidence of sexual behavior. Saying too much to the wrong person (and most specifically to a parent who may not be aware of the teen’s sexuality – most likely due to the teen’s fear of abuse from his parent/caregiver should his sexuality be “found out”) can result in the violence, intimidation and even to the death of the teen. A 24 year old gay man struggling with his own issues would, of course, feel solidarity with the teen and would most likely choose not to “alert” the “someone” about “a depressed 15 year old boy being 45 minutes away from his boarding school without permission having sex, perhaps with an adult.” Here’s the thing, Prof. Throckmorton: you clearly do not identify yourself as gay, yet you seem to evince a certain obsession with Gay people. I’m no psychologist, but I find that suspect. Mr. Jennings is gay and probably had experiences very similar to those of the young student, had gotten through them and moved on to the beginnings of a successful career. He knew that this teen would only be further damaged by the inquisitorial involvement of the authorities that you seem to suggest were in order. He knew that involving bigoted heterosexual (or even “well-meaning” non-bigoted heterosexuals) in the issue, would turn this boy’s life into a horror. He also knew that he could not step in and attempt to be a mentor to the young man because those same bigoted “authorities” would no doubt eventually accuse Mr. Jennings of an inappropriate relationship with the young boy, causing more horror for the young man and destroying his own career. So he decided that some safer sex advice and some space in the context of revealing that his friend died of AIDS (about as close to coming out to the student as he no doubt felt comfortable doing) in order to let the boy know that he wasn’t the only gay person in the world or the only one there at that school and that this horrible adolescent time would pass. Sometimes Prof. Throckmorton, trained professionals, authorities, guardians, et al are the worse people to involve in an adolescent’s time of difficulty. Pathologizing and/or criminalizing gay sexual longing, desire and expressions of it can have deep and lasting effects on the life of a gay man. But when people like you are more focused on protecting your perception of the natural order rather than protecting kids, that is what we get. Why don’t you focus your attention on something that you actually understand, like heterosexual teens? You clearly have no business working with (or even writing about) gay teens.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

      Jay W. – Appreciate the comments. You make probably as good a case as could be made. However, (correct me if I am wrong), you are making a case that the existing laws on the books governing teacher behavior are wrong and should be changed or inconsistently applied. You can make that case but that is not the one Kevin Jennings made. He simply denied he knew the boy was having sex.

      Teachers can be incredibly helpful in helping students with such problems. However, a 16 year SSA boy probably needs something besides, I hope you use a condom. And, in my opinion, any “older man” (or woman) that might be taking advantage of a teen-age boy (or girl) should be confronted.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    This one is difficult, there’s so many variables.

    First, we have to consider that in the 80′s Massachusetts still had sodomy laws. Reporting to the authorities also meant reporting the crime of sodomy – a crime that Jennings undoubtedly found morally objectionable.

    Second, involving authorities could mean Jennings would be questioned and might lose his job.

    Third, there is a natural disinclination to turn in someone who has confided in you. I can see how his empathy would be with the kid and not with “authorities”

    But, this kid was endangering himself. He needed someone to intervene and help him. He didn’t get what he needed.

    I look at the reasons that Jennings tells this story. It looks to me like Brewster needed an advocate and while Jennings didn’t help Brewster, he dedicated his life to helping other Brewsters.

    I think he could have responded better. But I really don’t know what I would have done in that time and place.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    There are more reasons to be concerned about Jennings in this post, but I don’t want to talk about them. I’ve already blogged about some of it.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Timothy,

    Heroism without personal risk is different than heroism in the face of risk.

    A teacher, using pot responsibly and adaptively, discovers a student, wreaking of pot who has just driven to school (high risk) and reports being out all night with an older pot smoker he met at the mall.

    Pot could be legalized later and certainly is not a morally inferior behavior to drinking alcohol…

    The issue is, and always is, that adults who work with children have a responsibility to care competently for those children when they “naturally and normally” place their lives at risk (it is the essence of adolescence to do so from time to time).

    Adolescents are not our friends, they are our responsibility.

  • David Blakeslee

    These anecdotal stories of victims identified by those in positions of responsibility provide powerful, public narratives that shape public policy even more than science.

    We have a right to scrutinize such stories…it is application of Philosophy 101 for secularists.

    Howard Dean, during the 2004 campaign told a similar story about teen pregnancy, I believe….to shape public policy about abortion for minors without parental consent.

    Compassion, without action and structure, is nothing…except a vehicle to manipulate others.

    The elevation of Feeling over Duty.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    David,

    You do make good points.

    I’m not sure what I would do were I a 24 year old educator and some kid confided in me that he had been out drinking the night before. Would I report him and try to get the adult who bought him liquor in trouble? Would I counsel not to drink and drive?

    Again, I don’t know what I’d do.

  • Jay W. Walker

    I take your point, Warren, about Kevin doing more; but young people in all professions make mistakes. I don’t believe that those mistakes are an albatross that hangs around one’s neck revealing some horrible character flaw. Expecting a 24 year old to have the wisdom of a 50 year old helps no one. Your initial post, Warren, and your earlier paean to “Brewster” show that it’s all just witch-hunt politics. “Let’s talk about how evil the gay guy is…”

    As for parsing Kevin’s words, well unless Kevin was in the presence of the kid and the person he picked up (and by the way, do we ever know if the other person at the bus station was an adult?) when they did whatever they did.

    As for this whole notion of the “victimized” teen boy: speaking as a former gay teen, when a gay 15 or 16 year old goes to a bus station cruising for sex and then goes home with someone (for “whatever”) he is not being victimized. When I was a teenager, several girls (and one guy, actually) in my school had affairs with grown men ranging in age from 21 – 36. They were all between the ages of 15 and 17 at the time of their affairs and I never considered them victims of anything. Nor do they, even in retrospect some 25 years hence, think that they were taken advantage of. These men were not teachers and there was therefore no inherent power dynamic at play. These girls (and boy) were sexually mature and had embraced their sexual agency. It’s a difficult situation and probably one that has no simple solution. I’ve seen 25 year old be taken complete advantage of and be emotionally destroyed behind a relationship and I have seen teenagers wrap legions of Lotharios around their little fingers. There are grey areas in life that the law does not always recognize. That is when adult humans have to make the decision of when to involve law enforcement and when not to. We must be conscious of the fact that this whole “teenage” thing is a fairly recent cultural phenomenon. Before this century (and really before WWII) it was common for 15 year old girls to marry men in their 20s, 30s and 40s (it still is in many Asian, African and Middle-Eastern countries and, of course, fundamentalist Mormon compounds). 16 year old boys going off to war was common place. But, the combination of the formalization of public education, the relative economic ease of the Post WWII period, the death of the family farm and many other factors have conspired to create this coddled, babied, new class of “adolescents.” And of course, after a few decades of this remade society, social scientists began to see the vast differences between teens and adults (never wondering if maybe these differences might be caused by the way they are treated by society or why the differences aren’t as apparent in other cultures where simple sexual maturity is equated with adulthood or why no one ever noticed these differences before).

    One final note on the subject of the sexual abuse of children and teens: The VAST majority of the abuse is at the hands of close family members, or members of the community known to the families of the victims (clergy, coaches, scout masters, etc.) I believe that the figure is around 90%. We, as a culture obsessed with protecting our children from “predators”, spend about 100% of the resources and attention given to this matter focused on the other 10% of cases that are at the hands of strangers (more often than not on the tiny percentage of cases that involve the internet.) No one wants to talk about the REAL problem because it hits far too close to home. I will never take any of this sturm-und-drang child protection stuff seriously until I see an MSNBC series entitles “To Catch a Molesting Father.” When grade-school teachers are trained to notice the signs of childhood sexual abuse and are engaged actively to confront this when it’s happening to 5-11 year olds, then we will see some improvement across the board: less sexually precocious teenagers, less inherited abuse being visited on subsequent generations, etc. The teen trolling the net for sex is the result of the actual problem. Face that and we might have some luck improving the lives of ALL children. At least we will do far better than we will by demonizing gay educators who made a youthful mistake on the job.

  • carole

    As for this whole notion of the “victimized” teen boy: speaking as a former gay teen, when a gay 15 or 16 year old goes to a bus station cruising for sex and then goes home with someone (for “whatever”) he is not being victimized.

    Bull. Just because a 15 year old, male or female, gay or straight, takes it upon himself or herself to seek out sex doesn’t mean society shouldn’t look out for that kid’s best interests. He IS a victim–a victim of his own bad judgement, of his propensity to make poorly arrived at decisions because of this youth and fearlessness, a marker of youth. That’s why we have laws protecting minors. We all screwed up at 15 to some degree and lived to tell about it, thank God.

    And you can’t compare this society to one a hundred yeas ago. That’s bunk too.

    I have been that 24 year old teacher who taught 15 year olds–kids with problems that span here to there and back again. Yeah, I had to make such decisions. Not easy, no, but a 24 year old is the adult and the 15 year old IS the kid.

    That having been said, I don’t think a bad decision at 24 should negate a lifetime of other good decisions.

    As for your comments about how others lack understanding…if your words or tone are any indication, you are the one sorely lacking in that area.

  • Mary

    A person has to wonder – why? Why is a child going someplace to seek unsafe sex – of any kind – regardless of gender.

    If a straight boy or girl did that we would wonder what was casuing them to sexualize their life so much (beyond the idea that hormones are verypowerful) Most children do not get it into their heads to meander around a bus station, park, or any other place (other than the mall) to seek sexual relationships.

  • Jay W. Walker

    Carole,

    My point is that the laws “protecting” minors can have quite the opposite effect. Involving the police in the life of a 15 year old who is perhaps lying about his age in order to have sex with adults or who merely appears older than his age, is probably not going to be helpful to him. Notifying his parents or caregivers can result in ostracism from his family, violence visited upon him by his family or even his death. And we absolutely CAN view our society through the prism of the sweep of history. To pretend otherwise because the past doesn’t match one’s narrow views of right and wrong, appropriate/inappropriate is nonsense. As for my tone, you are right: I have little patience for prudes, prigs and scolds. Sorry.

    Mary,

    One rarely hears a 15-year-old referred to as a “child.” How many 15 year old girls get pregnant every year? They are legion and they are all examples of Straight adolescents having unsafe sex.

    As for what causes gay teens to seek sex in public spaces, well that is a function of our society. In the eighties and early nineties, there was no GLSEN, there were no Harvey Milk Schools, there were no Gay/Straight Alliances, boys being voted “Homecoming Queen,” no internet, few parents supportive enough to allow their gay teens to date other gay teens and few gay teens comfortable enough with their parents to even come out to them. That is the world that Mr. Jennings and his student were living in. It’s the world that I went through my adolescence in. And it wasn’t pretty for gay teens. And even though these resources exist nowadays for some, they are not available for others. That’s why the suicide rate for Gay teens is still QUADRUPLE that of heterosexual teens.

    In the end, I always think that it is better to react to the actual world that we live in, rather than the one we wish we lived in. That is the fundamental tension between Social Progressives and Social Conservatives. Social conservatives legislate as though we were living in a world in which teens don’t have a natural and understandable interest in sex. Social Progressives legislate in the context of a world where adolescents are not only very interested in sex; but they have a lot of it: usually with other adolescents, but sometimes with adults. Sometimes the interactions with adults are coercive and sometimes they are not. There ARE grey areas. Is involving the law appropriate with a 19 year old with a 17 year old girlfriend? What if the 17 year old will turn 18 on January 1 and the 19 year old turned 19 December 1. Can they have sex on New Year’s Eve before the ball drops without fear of an arrest? In the end, maturity matters more than chronological age. And the nature of the relationship matters as much as either. Again, the (generally conservatively written in this area) law is sadly ill equipped to deal with nuance, so it is up to citizens to apply common sense rather than fear and bigotry.

  • carole

    Jay,

    You have to go by your experience and I by mine. There were a lot of heartbreaking situations, lots of tough, awful decisions to be made about a whole assortment of excrutiatingly difficult things. They weren’t hastily made decisions, and they weren’t made by those who felt they knew the answers to all in life or by those who felt the answers were simple. They were made with the best interest of the kid in our hearts, for whatever that’s worth. That’s about all I can add.

  • David Blakeslee

    Psychologists and teachers and pastors are required by law to advise authorities when adults endanger children….

    A 15 year old brain cannot make the same decisions as an 18 year old brain…the Supreme Court decided the scientific evidence supported a different standard.

    Jay,

    you throw around a lot of numbers…but I don’t recognize them from any research I have read…do you have citations to support your assertions?

    I believe children are 7 times more likely to be abused by step-parents and boyfriends than by their biological fathers.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Jay,

    You misunderstand Social Conservatives…we understand all to well the frailty and imperfection of human beings…through centuries we have learned that high standards inspire better behavior. We have learned that training in self-control in all areas of life (not just sexual), is both possible and beneficial to the individual and to the larger culture.

    Social Conservatives legislate from an older proven model of men being the masters of their impulses…rather than “driven” by their impulses. It is a realistically higher view of man

    It stopped being an applied model when we “thought” we could have sex without consequences (due to the pill and pennicillin)…now we know better, what we previously already knew.

  • carole

    One last thing,

    I think you are not exactly understanding of the relationship mostteachers and vp’s and prinicpals develop with law enforcement agencies and social services at least not where I live. There is an “understanding” (and I began teaching in 1971) that we are all working for the kid. There are ways. You seem to assume that alerting authorities, whether that authority is a school administrator, a law enforcement officer, etc. is tantamount to destroying the kid. Not so, not in my experience. That doesn’t mean things were easy, however, I”ll admit.

    Oh, and about prigs and scolds? A good point, but surely smug assuredness and lecturing is no different than a didactic scolding, as far as I can tell.

  • Jay W. Walker

    Carole,

    I am sure that you are right and that things are probably better now; but I would guess that given the time (late 80s- early 90s), Mr. Jennings would have been well advised to be circumspect in many communities, given the way that gay people (both students and teachers) were treated at the time by the authorities within many school systems and preparatory schools. I haven’t read his book, so I don’t know if e confronted tese sorts of issues at his school. The snippet Prof. Throckmorton gives us does suggest to my gay brain that he probably did. And re didactic scolding, OK you got me.

    And David,

    You merely re-stated my point. By governing from the perspective of a state of grace which does not exist for a vast majority of the population (and may in fact never have existed and instead been the province of popular works of folklore, fiction, and the fancies of biographers and court historians); they are in effect writing laws intended for an imaginarily perfect world (well, perfect to social conservatives), when they do not apply to the actual world. To me, it all seems like Woo-Woo, “Magical Thinking,” navel contemplating silliness.

    And, as for what your centuries of learning have taught you about “Higher Standards”. One might also say that these same “Higher Standards” have led to everything from the Magdelene Schools of Ireland to the culturally destructive forced removal of Australia’s aboriginal children from their families, to the vast numbers of people imprisoned hroughout history worldwide on any number of trumped up charges meant to keep lessers in their place under the guise of inspiring them to such lofty heights of Fine Feeling and Better Behaviour.

  • Jay W. Walker

    Absolutely, adults who endanger children should be reported to authorities. I don’t however think that a 15 year old boy should be interrogated by the authorities in an attempt to get the kid to reveal the name of the (possible) adult that they (possibly) had sex with after meeting up at a public cruising spot. I don’t think that that would protect this kis in any way; but would instead only serve to upset and possibly endanger him (parents have to be notified when law enforcement questions a child, and if the boy isn’t out to his parents, there could be hell to pay.

    I think that the only figures I threw out were:

    1. Gay teen suicide rates:

    http://gaylife.about.com/od/gayteens/a/gaysuicide.htm

    According to this study the gay teen suicide rate is actually 9 times that of straight teens.

    and 2: “The VAST majority of the abuse is at the hands of close family members, or members of the community known to the families of the victims (clergy, coaches, scout masters, etc.) I believe that the figure is around 90%.”

    From the website, darkness to light ( http://www.darkness2light.org/KnowAbout/statistics_2.asp)

    “30-40% of victims are abused by a family member. (2, 44, 76)

    Another 50% are abused by someone outside of the family whom they know and trust. ”

    So only 10 – 20% are abused by strangers. I don’t know about you, David, but all of the attention given to the issue that I see in the mainstream media is devoted to Strangers and Internet

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    So only 10 – 20% are abused by strangers. I don’t know about you, David, but all of the attention given to the issue that I see in the mainstream media is devoted to Strangers and Internet

    Thank you for pointing that out, Jay. I have been trying to get that perception straightened out for years. I co-published a book in 2005 by a woman who was horribly abused by her father for years as a child (Dollbaby: Triumph Over Childhood Sexual Abuse). I also believe a lot of mental illness has its roots in childhood sexual abuse.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Jay,

    Legislators disagree with your reasons for not “interrogating” children. In the past 40 years they have decided that individuals in authority rarely have the moral clarity to navigate such decision unsupervised and instead have made a slew of caretakers MANDATED reporters.

    Teachers are one of them.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Jay

    Point 1: Thanks for the citation…that is helpful. Previous assertions on suicide rates of GLBT adolescents have been terribly distorted. It is good to see more current studies cited.

    Anybody: Can you find this actual study, rather than the media article which cites it? What are its strengths and limitations?

    Point 2: I think you misunderstood me…I was not asserting, anywhere, that strangers were primarily responsible for sexual abuse.

    I was asserting that biological fathers were much less likely than step-fathers, boyfriends and step-siblings.

    The study you cite conflates family members with biological family…so it obscures the point I was trying to make.

    Finally…to return to the specific topic at hand:

    Your last citation notes that 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by age 18. BREWSTER is one of these boys.

    Oh, that’s right…gay adolescents WANT to be sexually exploited (read sarcasm) by older father figures.

  • http://www.tips-Q.com David Hart

    For the record, the age of consent in MA is 16. That cuts both ways. The adult violated the law yet he would undoubtedly claim that he thought the boy was of age. “Older” is ambiguous. Is that 18 years of age or 60?

    The bottom line is that Jennings would have exposed the teen’s sexuality in late 80′s Massachusetts. None of this has anything to do with Jennings’ leadership of GLSEN. At worst, someone barely older than the victim used poor judgment at that time. It hardly seems relevant. I would hate to be judged by some of the things that I did in my early 20′s.

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  • Olivia Ziegler

    @ Jay

    After reading all of your posts, it was my impression that you seem to assume the parent’s response to be volatile. (“Saying too much to the wrong person (and most specifically to a parent who may not be aware of the teen’s sexuality – most likely due to the teen’s fear of abuse from his parent/caregiver should his sexuality be “found out” can result in the violence, intimidation and even to the death of the teen…” “…parents have to be notified when law enforcement questions a child, and if the boy isn’t out to his parents, there could be hell to pay.”) You seem all too ready to condemn the parents of anger and violence, never motioning the fact that, in most homes, parents love their children, even when they make terrible mistakes (like driving my dad’s car through the garage wall when I was 14, or when I called the police on accident while playing with my new phone. Yes, I did get in big trouble, and yes, I did have consequences to pay, as in earning the money to fix the garage, and apologizing to the police that showed up to our house, but never once was I fearful for my health and wellbeing!). If Kevin Jennings truly had been thinking of the Brewster’s safety, and didn’t feel like his parents would be safe for the boy to be around, he should have notified the proper authorities (whether the school or the police) and have them go with the boy to tell his parents.

    Regardless of what your views are on the ethics of a 15 year old going home with a complete stranger from a bus station bathroom (talk about the possibility of the teen’s death!) Kevin Jennings did not act responsibly to the situation. As a school teacher, he was responsible for the boy’s health and safety. Both were at risk when he decided not to “interrogate” Brewster.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    I like what David said about teens not being friends but our responsibility. This is not about being for or against bullying gay teens. I am soundly against it and have gone out on several limbs to oppose such bullying. This is about modeling appropriate responsibility for an out-of-control teen. I say again, if Mr. Jennings had acknowledged this and indicated what teachers should do, there would be no real traction to this story.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    This is still a highly relevant discussion, on many points. I think we can appreciate the tumultuous passages in any adolescent’s life, gay or straight — and yes, a 15-year-old is, indeed, still a child. Likewise, I believe we can sympathize with the trepidation both Jennings and Brewster might have felt, given the social climate back then. BUT, the law, imperfect as it is, still seeks to protect children both from their own folly and from older predators. We cannot take that law into our own hands, no matter how grand our motives.

    Another point I did not see brought up in this discussion earlier is that Jennings had an abusive father who was a conservative pastor, no less. It’s clear to see where his sense of impending injustice facing the disclosure of the full situation might have come from.

    Yet another point that may be of interest has partly been brought out in the past by Warren when he wrote about the high correlation between depression in teen girls and sexual promiscuity. Another slant on this theme came from a recent study led by Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc at Canada’s McCreary Centre Society that examined the higher pregnancy rates among LGB-identifying youth (both boy fathers and girl mothers) than in straight youth. Here is a Vancouver Sun article about the study, FYI, and a link to the abstract.

    Saewyc also led a 2003 study that showed a marked increase since the early ’90s in the prevalence of suicide ideation or attempts among bisexual- and lesbian-identifying teen girls as compared with the other youth populations. The McCreary Centre’s abstract is here. The literature reference is:

    Elizabeth Saewyc, PhD, RN, PHN, Carol Skay, PhD, Sandra Pettingell, PhD, “Suicide Ideation and Attempts in North American School-Based Surveys: Are Bisexual Youth at Increasing Risk?” Journal of Adolescent Health, 34(2):138.

    Personally, I have issues with Saewyc. This interview question response she provided to Curve magazine earlier this year points up several contradictions:

    Curve: In the results of the study, bisexual male and female teens reported higher pregnancy involvement than their gay or heterosexual peers. What does that say to you about bisexual youth visibility in public policy and education?

    Saewyc: I can only speculate. Adolescence is a developmental stage and so some of the teens who are identifying as gay will eventually identify as bisexual, some of the people who are identifying as bisexual will identify eventually as lesbian. For all that, that people will frequently refer to sort of bisexual chic, that it’s sort of popular to claim to be bi. In our research, we’ve found that bisexually-identified teens are more likely to be excluded, more likely to be harassed. They are less visible.

    Hmmm. Less visible, but more likely to be harassed? Adolescents who identify with the new chic label of bi later possibly identifying as gay or lesbian, but not straight? There are unknown reasons for these numbers. Naturally, I would find all this quite interesting because women, in general, are less visible in all considerations — discussions like we have on this blog (as David Blakeslee recently pointed out in another discussion here) and in sexual identity and even drug trial studies.

    The higher risks for mental health issues and even pregnancy among “sexual minority” teens, especially girls, does lend credence to the concerns about Kevin Jennings’ DOE safe schools post appointment. There is legendary friction between gay men and lesbians. Would this give Jennings more reason to ignore the unsafe female populations in schools? Or am I just overly sensitive (being the invisible woman that I am)? :)

  • jerry

    he aagainst all the values and moral i grew up with and was taught by my parents. how could you let a **** in any school like him? he no safe school czar. how could sec Arnie Duncan aprove of him?

  • Georgia

    Your comment that “GLSEN has appropriately raised awareness about bullying of GLSEN students; a problem which needs ongoing attention” falls right into to the on going advancement of the homosexual community to infiltrate our public schools with their agenda. And yes, they do have an agenda. Bullying happens to all kinds of students and should not be tolerate ever but all you ever hear about is the homosexuals and their right not to be bullied. They continue to try and get a “bulltying”bill passed here in MI. We know exactly what they want-our kindergardners reading about gay penguins! My grandchildren being told “it’s just another lifestyle”. Do they ever talk abaout the problems of being a homosexual? Early death, AIDS etc. Don’t let the GLSEN fool you. They will only be happy when the homosexuals have the same “rights” as race.

  • Thoughts From The Mother of a Gay Man

    Let me be very clear, I don’t give a damn what age Jennings was when he was told by a minor that the minor was having sex with an adult. Using Jennings’ age as an excuse not to protect that child (and yes, Brewster was a legal child) was wrong and for that Jennings should have never been allowed anywhere near a school again, must less now part of a Presidential cabinet that mandates educational rules.

    Jennings first responsibility was to that boy. Not to his own agenda as a closeted gay. He should have not only reported that the boy had claimed to have been statuatorily raped by an older man, he should have realized that the boy had issues with his own homosexuality (not feeling he life was worth saving) and gotten the kid some guidance. I would warrant that the boy was just being used by an older man for his own nefarious reasons. And for that, that kid will have to live with that memory the rest of his life.

    There are lots of gay kids in our nation. And they have a right to their private life. They also have a right to be protected by teachers who have charge over them. I would not anymore condone Jennings telling a young girl who was having sex with an older man that she should use a condom and let it go at that.

    We have laws to protect our children. And we have laws governing how teachers, who are made aware of abuse of those children, are to respond. Does the fact that Brewster was gay, Jennings was young, eliminate the crime of rape of a child? No.

    My son councils gay kids. He tries to tell them that they should accept their homosexuality. He also understands that some kids are just prone to experimentation and are not really gay. Why does he do that? Because he too, was molested by an older man who knew he was gay but not yet out of the closet. He too, was 15.

    We too readily accept sexual activity among our young. Jennings was more concerned about his agenda than he was about a youth that was in emotional trouble. And if the statutes of limitations have not run out, he should be prosecuted for his failure to protect a minor.

    Jenning failed his responsibility as a teacher. And it was the kid that paid the price. I wonder if Jennings ever did a follow up to find out if the kid wound up HIV/AIDs positive. Or if he even cares.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Mother of a gay son – I am sorry to know about your son and you describe my problem with Jennings approach to this situation with Brewster. Just too casual. If Jennings said publicly, I made a mistake, I believe some of the outrage from moderates would be addressed. Some far right folk don’t want him in the position he is in because he is gay. I do not feel that way. If Obama wanted to appoint a gay person there are other people he could have appointed and we would not be having this conversation. I continue to be amazed that he has not addressed the discrepancies in his stories. In addition, he told the story again in his most recent book but changed Brewster’s name. I will be posting about that tomorrow.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Olivia Zeigler

    You seem all too ready to condemn the parents of anger and violence, never motioning the fact that, in most homes, parents love their children, even when they make terrible mistakes (like driving my dad’s car through the garage wall when I was 14, or when I called the police on accident while playing with my new phone.

    Police estimate that about one third of the homeless children living on the streets in Los Angeles were kicked out of their homes for being gay.

    Debbie,

    Gay men have a long historical reason for scoffing at the idea that the law is intended to “protect”. Today’s news has just one such reason:

    In July 2008, in South Salt Lake, DJ Bell took in two small neighbor children whose parents were having an all-night party, leaving the children wandering about unattended. Once the mother found they were missing – around 6:30 – she went to Bell’s house. Rather than be appreciative, she became hysterical, and brought the partiers over where they attacked Bell and his partner, smashing his head into the sidewalk until blood came out his ear.

    Then the police entered the scene.

    Bell was arrested and tried for kidnapping. No charges were brought on the assailants. This week the jury determined the case:

    After acquitting David James “D.J.” Bell of kidnapping two South Salt Lake children, jurors were asking why the case ever came to trial.

    “We agreed, as a jury, that [the four-day trial] cost taxpayers at least $100,000, and our time was wasted, as well,” juror Natasha Jorgensen told The Tribune .

    “We were appalled because it had come this far,” she said. “There was just no evidence.”

    Added Jorgensen: “I would hate to have a neighbor kid come to my house and become a D.J. Bell myself.”

    You see, Debbie, quite often in this country the police do not protect gay people. It is not uncommon for police to see gay people as a “threat to the community” rather than as part of the community and instead of protect them seek to find a reason to punish them.

    We do not often see safety in a uniform but rather fear an anticipated harassment. This year alone there have been three police raids on gay establishments. None appear to have been justified.

    In Atlanta about 20 officers raided a bar with 62 patrons. The left them face down on the floor for two hours while they joked around. They were “looking for drugs”, you see. But not having found ANY illegal drugs of any kind, they then ran a check on the license of every patron, looking for any outstanding warrants or other issues. Again, nothing. So they arrested the bar staff for having dancers without a permit. Not cited, arrested. After a day in jail, some local officials were finally able to get them released.

    In Fort Worth, the police slammed some guy’s head into a brick floor leaving him with brain swelling. They said he “fell” after he “groped an officer.” Fortunately, there were straight witnesses there who saw the whole thing and who were willing to talk to the papers. That one actually resulted in a couple firings and some changes in policy at the Texax ATF.

    But the axiom still holds true in the US. If you are gay, do not trust the police. They are not your friends and they are not out to protect you.

    Mother

    We too readily accept sexual activity among our young. Jennings was more concerned about his agenda than he was about a youth that was in emotional trouble.

    What agenda? Jennings wasn’t out himself.

    Also, I am offended and horrified by your use of the words “rape” and “molested”. Those people who have actually been raped and molested are diminished by your politicizing these terms to include consentual, though statutorily illegal, actions.

    Throwing around words like “agenda” and misusing words suggest that perhaps there’s a very good reason your son wasn’t out to you at 15. So you’ll forgive me if I’m suspicious about your objections to the appointment.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Police estimate that about one third of the homeless children living on the streets in Los Angeles were kicked out of their homes for being gay.

    Interesting. Can you substantiate that, Timothy? Is there a report somewhere?

    Gay men have a long historical reason for scoffing at the idea that the law is intended to “protect”. Today’s news has just one such reason:

    A lot of us have problems with the police “culture” in this country, Timothy. It isn’t just gay people who feel they are on the short end of the stick. Sometimes I wonder if the push for gay hate crimes legislation is really a move to get back at police.

    Also, I am offended and horrified by your use of the words “rape” and “molested”. Those people who have actually been raped and molested are diminished by your politicizing these terms to include consentual, though statutorily illegal, actions.

    Throwing around words like “agenda” and misusing words suggest that perhaps there’s a very good reason your son wasn’t out to you at 15. So you’ll forgive me if I’m suspicious about your objections to the appointment.

    Wow. Amazingly insensitive, considering you are talking to a real person with a real son who was victimized. You may offhandedly dismiss the crime of molestation because of perceived (and highly questionable) consent. A 15-year-old is not mature enough to consent to any kind of sexual activity with an adult of any age.

    And imperfect as it is, the law — not necessarily those sworn to enforce it — is intended to protect the vulnerable from the predatory. Our court benches are stacked with less-than-honorable judges, too. I guess self-interest and agendas are no respecters of persons at any level.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Whoever said that about the homeless kids, I would also like a source as I would probably write about that when I do the Golden Rule Pledge.

  • Thoughts From The Mother of a Gay Man

    Timothy, I also question the 1/3 homeless children due to being kicked out by their parents claim. My son can rattle off the number of HIV/AIDs patients, by gender, race and sexual preference like most people can rattle off their Social Security number. And I have never heard him claim what you did.

    And frankly, I don’t give a damn if you are “offended and horrified” by the terms rape and molestation. I lived with it because of my son. And maybe a reading comprehension course would serve you well. No where in my initial post did I say that my son was in the closet WITH ME. And the slug who MOLESTED my son spent time in jail for it, although in my estimation, not enough.

    My son is not one of the San Francisco “flamers” (my son’s words, not mine) that you see parading down Folsom Street. He believes that his personal life, is (tah-dah) personal and none of anyone’s business. What a concept, right? And yes, at 24 Jennings was quite aware of his homosexuality and whether he had come out of the closet or not, he had an agenda. And he has pushed that agenda for a long time.

    My son has a partner. A life partner. And he does not push any agenda, not even gay marriage. You see, he is comfortable in his own skin. And he doesn’t need anyone’s approval. He doesn’t feel that what he does in the privacy of his own home is your business or anyone else’s for that matter. He and his partner have acheived all they need to do to complete their relationship, from a legal standpoint ,and feel no need to shove their views on young children, as Jennings does. My son says that you can’t tell the government to stay out of your personal life and then demand special consideration for what you do in your personal life.

    I thank my lucky stars every day for my son. He has a cool, level head on his shoulders. He is secure in his own person.

    Now, to your Ft. Worth story: #1, it would be the police who raided any bar for drugs. #2, no FWPD policy would have any sway on policy with the ATF. #3, there is no “Texas” ATF. There is only a federal ATF. And drugs are not dealt with by the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency. Drugs are dealth with by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency). So color me skeptical about your story. At best, you had it wrong, at worse, you were just flat making it up. Maybe next time you tell that story you should make sure there is no one on board who is married to a Texas law enforcement officer.

    Gays are now afraid of police? What a joke. My son tried to join the Austin Police Department, but could not pass the physical. You see, he is HIV/AIDs positive. They didn’t turn him down for that, he just did not have the physical ability to pass the test the academy gives that requires physical strength.

    News flash, Timothy; there is no state in the union where sex can be consentual by a 15 year old.

    Jennings should have been held responsible for failing a 15 year old who confided in him. But hey, we can’t hold him to the same standard because he is, after all, a gay man. Right? And you seem to accept a lack of responsibility for that very reason.

    I think you should perhaps re-evaulate your own standards and ask why you would feel that it is OK to abdicate responsibility to a minor due to your own life.

  • Thoughts From The Mother of a Gay Man

    Professor Throckmorton, I want to thank you for your article. My son has spent his life trying to convince other homosexuals that the best way to acheive acceptance is to be like everyone else and not say “Hey, look at me. I’m gay and you need to accept me because I say so.”

    My son is the greatest guy in the world (besides his dad). And he brings me pride each and every day of his life. He doesn’t flaunt his homosexuality. He considers it his own personal business. When I asked him why he wasn’t like some other gay people, he said “Do you go around talking about your sex life? Why should I?”

    I am proud my son has learned to be comfortable with who he is and feels he has nothing to prove to anyone.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    FYI, after about 10 minutes of research, I found the following:

    The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) has a January 2007 report on homeless youth: “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth: An Epidemic of Homelessness.”

    This report claims that between 20 and 40 percent of homeless youth are GLBT. Perhaps this is where Timothy’s figures came from (?).

    The University of Nebraska released this study, also in 2007: “Sexual Health of Homeless Youth: Prevalence and Correlates of Sexually Transmissible Infections.”

    This study, from a Midwestern sample, which one may argue is not comparable to a Los Angeles one, says that as many as 2.8 million homeless or runaway youth are living on the streets on any given day. Approximately 15 percent (54 of 370 interviewees) of the sample identified as GLBT. The NGLTF report seemed to be looking at homeless youth without the temporary runaways added. The NGLTF report would have obvious reasons for bias, FWIW.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    RE: Jennings agenda. I think it was forming at the time if you read his books, he was looking for a way and rationale to come out at school. He was already out to many of the girls at the school. So his agenda may have been local at that point and may have sincerely involved helping Brewster/Robertson believe it was ok to be gay. However, those desires seem to have overridden his sense of responsibility to be the adult in the situation. Now even saying that, he was young and this lapse would be understandable and a non-issue if he didn’t keep using it as an example and refused to acknowledge the discrepancies.

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  • David Blakeslee

    @ Timothy,

    Those people who have actually been raped and molested are diminished by your politicizing these terms to include consentual, though statutorily illegal, actions.

    Why not call it “age discrepant sex,” Timothy? A wonderful euphemism, shrouded in scientific jargon.

    See: http://www.drthrockmorton.com/article.asp?id=132

    Rape and molestation take on a wide variety of forms. Passivity in the victim is often interpreted as consent by the offender and negligence or willingness by those who later investigate.

    This is true in the gay and straight world…I see it in my office most often with women, and certainly with men.

    Passivity in the face of aggression, whether sexual or not, is an evolutionary adaptation in mammals that seeks to speed the ending of the aggressive act.

    When consent is given, minors are less capable of giving informed consent…and this awareness in business law, marriage law, and medical law is well established.

    Some adult gay and straight men and women view the activity of having sex with “teens” as a form of mentoring…and love.

    I’ll be looking for your next “pro-gay” civil right to be able to have “consensual sex” with teens…perhaps your justification will be female teachers who have underage sex with their teenage students…and later marry them. Many narcissistic heterosexual men will eagerly support this right seeking.

    Or will those opposed to this next right be called anti-gay?

  • David Blakeslee

    Since Prop 8 Timothy’s comments seem to have been much more politically, rather than factually driven.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Timothy,

    In some parts of Europe, having sex with a 13 year old girl is OK. Prosecuting the heterosexual who was the adult in the situation is seen as “overly zealous.”

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2009/09/after-several-tries-us-officials-finally-nab-roman-polanski-in-1970s-rape-case.html

    I wonder if we can get Mr. Jennings to comment on this?

  • http://www.JustTalkingItUp.com Janet

    ” Or will those opposed to this next right be called anti-gay? ”

    Don’t forget, because he’s one of Obama’s appointed Czars, you’ll also be labeled a racist.

    Thanks for all this information/discussion. I will certainly be watching this more closely than I have been.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    In the Netherlands, home of the Pedophile Emancipation Movement, “consensual” sex between an adult and a child as young as 12 is (or at least used to be) lawful.

    San Francisco State University psychology professor John DeCecco, editor emeritus of The Journal of Homosexuality, also sat on the editorial board of the pedophilia “academic” journal Paidika, which published from 1987-1995 “to examine the range of cultural, historical, psychological and literary issues pertaining to consensual adult-child sexual relationships and desires.” No joke.

    To make it even more interesting: DeCecco, a gay man, told USA Today in 1989, “‘The idea that people are born into one type of sexual behavior is entirely foolish.” DeCecco headed the first Gay and Lesbian studies program in the country, at SFSU. He has authored a litany of interesting books.

  • Seamus

    How could you morons even consider arguing any point other than :

    As a teacher in a position of authority, you are not only morally obligated to report suspected child abuse, you are leggally bound to do so as well. An adult, molesting a kid, consensual/ gay /straight whatever is WRONG!!!!!!!!! Pull your heads out of your arses and make a stand to help children. You friggin idiots!

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  • Jay W. Walker

    None of you concerned citizens seem to be able to read. Nowhere does Brewster say he was having sex with an adult. But your internal narrative of the nasty gay child molester seems to win out over the facts as they were presented in Jennings’ memoir. You are just so ready to lynch Jennings because of a mistake that he made over a decade ago – a mistake that he admits in his book. You seem intent on blaming Jennings for this kid’s risk-taking. So, I suppose that the teachers and school administrators of every school in Ammerica are supposed to be policing the sex lives of every kid in the school. Get real. LOTS OF TEENS HAVE SEX. Always have (it used to be acceptable for 14-year olds to get married). Always will (puberty is happening earlier and earlier with each passing generation). Parents need to prepare their kids adequately to face an increasingly sexualized world. Comprehensive, age appropriate (real age-appropriate, not “Leave it to Beaver”/”Father Knows Best” age-appropriate) sexuality education (including non-judgemental information regarding homosexuality and bisexuality) beginning in Elementary school should be the norm. In such an environment, the Brewsters of the world would probably not make those sorts of rash choices and young teachers wouldn’t make mistakes out of that diifficult mixture of fear and concern.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Jay, it is, at best, fuzzy just what the age of the “older man” was in the Brewster incident. If he was a young adult, he was still an adult in the eyes of the law. We can see where you are coming from, but it doesn’t work. You wish to erase the line that distinguishes consensual sex from molestation or rape. Yes, those are strong words, for a reason. The emotional consequences for the younger, vulnerable people involved can be devastating.

    I, for one, would like to see the gay community stand up some better role models for their youth who are identifying as gay, even when that may be a premature assessment of their sexuality. Can you put forth some? Where are the Christian gay men, for example, who are stellar examples for them? Is there an incorrect impression that the GLBT talk of safe and responsible sex (“I hope you use a condom”) is just a smokescreen meant to hide an ulterior motive? Is NAMBLA really an aberration?

    Your marriage at 14 analogy doesn’t work either. Check out the scene around you today. Who wants to marry and be responsible anymore? Cohabitation among those of all ages is at an all-time high. The social problems it engenders are many. Younger teens married in days gone by for economic reasons. Lifespans were shorter. They matured much sooner than today’s kids do. They were expected to. Of course, as the apostle Paul said, if folks want to have sex (if they “burn”), then let them marry. Let them also take care of the consequences: children. Sex as a recreational sport doesn’t work so well, does it?

    The study I cited in an earlier comment in this thread — that GLBT youth, male and female, are responsible for more teen pregnancies than straight youth — reveals another troublesome aspect of the gay underground culture. You simply cannot put lipstick on the pig. Something is dreadfully wrong with the picture you seek to paint.

    And, as Warren said, Jennings has and had a clear agenda. He was merely biding his time when he was younger. The record is clear and damaging for him.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Jay W. Walker, for what “adventures” does one need to use a condom? Your defense of Jennings is interesting. You begin by saying he might not have been having sex and then you ask us to believe lots of teens are doing just that.

    What point are you arguing?

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  • Timothy Kincaid

    Wow, lots of response. I’ll reply chronologically:

    Debbie

    Police estimate that about one third of the homeless children living on the streets in Los Angeles were kicked out of their homes for being gay.

    Interesting. Can you substantiate that, Timothy? Is there a report somewhere?

    I misspoke slightly. It isn’t police estimates but the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services along with additional analysis.

    The national average is about 25% (or was a decade ago) and in Los Angeles it was estimated between 20 and 40%.

    Here’s a link to quite a bit of additional info.

    A lot of us have problems with the police “culture” in this country, Timothy. It isn’t just gay people who feel they are on the short end of the stick.

    Yes, true. But it does help us understand why many people – especially gay people – hesitate to have any involvement with the police that can be avoided. I just isn’t Andy Griffith’s world anymore.

  • Michael Bussee

    I, for one, would like to see the gay community stand up some better role models for their youth who are identifying as gay, even when that may be a premature assessment of their sexuality. Can you put forth some?

    How about teachers, parents, coaches, church members — and whole host of excellent role models?

    Where are the Christian gay men, for example, who are stellar examples for them?

    Many of these role models are quietly, privately gay. They have always held these mentoring positions and played these roles. Maybe only their closest friends know they are gay. They are there to teach character, not sexuality.

    Is there an incorrect impression that the GLBT talk of safe and responsible sex (”I hope you use a condom”) is just a smokescreen meant to hide an ulterior motive?

    Yes, that would be an incorrect assumption.

    Is NAMBLA really an aberration?

    Debbie, I think you know it is.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Mother of Son

    Thank you for your follow up comments. They confirmed everything I suspected about your ideologies, biases, perspective, and reason for attacking Jennings.

    Re the Texas story:

    So color me skeptical about your story.

    I’ll color you automatically inclined to disbelieve anything that doesn’t fit your worldview.

    I won’t post too many links as it will send this to moderation, but if you have any interest whatsoever in the story, the details can be found here and in the links provided.

    Incidentally you are correct that there is no Texas ATF. The institution was the Texas ABC, and I should have double checked before hitting post. But you’ll note, if you re-read, that the Ft. Worth story was not about looking for drugs – that was in Atlanta.

    Really, though, you could have easily avoided the embarrassment of false skepticism by Googling “Ft. Worth police gay bar”.

    Gays are now afraid of police? What a joke.

    No, dear. As much as you want to see the world from the safety of your prejudices, in many many places in this country gay people are afraid of the police.

    Professor Throckmorton, I want to thank you for your article. My son has spent his life trying to convince other homosexuals that the best way to acheive acceptance is to be like everyone else and not say “Hey, look at me. I’m gay and you need to accept me because I say so.”

    I certainly have met people like your son. For example, Phyllis Schafly’s gay son does noting to contradict her anti-gay activism.

    I know that there a plenty of gay people who either are so filled with residual shame and self-loathing that they believe that they are inferior to straight people and are not entitled to equality under the law. And there are also those who think, “hey, I’ve got mine so I won’t rock the boat. Who cares about the other gay people.”

    I don’t know if that is how your son thinks, and I know that you view his willingness to be treated legally inferior as being “comfortable in his own skin”. And please know I support his right to believe as he likes. I just hope some day he will recognize his own value.

    Fortunately such people are far fewer than they used to be. And even many of those who just a decade ago made such arguments now are questioning such notions and wondering why they ever were willing to be convinced that their life was “private, in the bedroom”.

    I have many connections to conservative gay circles so I am very familiar with just how rare you son’s attitude is anymore.

    But I’m very glad that you are close.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    David Blakeslee ~ Sep 28, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    As I was quite clear in my original posting, I’ll ignore your strawman arguments that seek to portray my views as something other than what they are.

    Other than to say that based on this accusation:

    I’ll be looking for your next “pro-gay” civil right to be able to have “consensual sex” with teens

    you, David, are a vile and disgusting person.

  • Michael Bussee

    An aside to the questions you raised, Debbie. Your questions seem to imply that gays men are poor role models and/or that they have some sort of ulterior motive to harm kids. This seems a bit like fear-mongering to me. Hope you didn’t mean it that way.

    I have met gay Christian men who would have made excellent role models, volunteers, teachers, etc, who decided against a career working with children — because they feared that, if their gayness was known, that parents would want them OUT — beliieving that gays do indeed have an ulterior motive and are NAMBLA-like.

    Over the years, I have been asked numerous times to be a Sunday school teacher or youth leader — and have turned down each request due to the fear that I might be accused of improper motives or conduct, just for being gay.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    David Blakeslee ~ Sep 28, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    David Blakeslee ~ Sep 28, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    I notice that you are now dedicating yourself to personal attacks.

  • Jay W. Walker

    Warren, I wasn’t denying that the kid had had sex. I was questioning whether the person he had sex with was, in fact, an adult. Brewster simply states that he went home with “somebody” he met in a bus station restroom. He doesn’t tell Jennings it was a man, an older man or a grown man; just “somebody.” That was my point.

    Deborah, Christians are hardly automatically good. Let’s not forget that the Catholic Church has spent the better part of its recent existence abusing children: from the Castrati, to the work houses, to the Magdalenes in Ireland, to the horrors visited upon children by abusive priests and the subsequent cover-ups by the hierarchy. The abuse visited upon gay children by so many “pious” parents of many denominations might account for the absence of more Gay Christian leaders. However I will name some: Mel White and his Soul Force organization, the organization of Catholic Gays, Dignity, Bishop Eugene Robinson who spoke at the Obama Inauguration come immediately to mind.

    When the forces that control the various Christian denominations who haven’t fully entered the 21st century in their regard for LGBT Americans finally get over their bigotry and stop (knowingly and unknowlingly) psychologically and emotionally abusing the young gay people in their flocks, there will be more.

    Oh, and pregnancy statistics about teens in Vancouver, British Columbia hardly tell us anything about “gay underground culture.” It might tell us that gay kids feel more pressure to have heterosexual sex (most likely peer pressure in order to fit in) and that kids that identify as bisexual seem to be more at risk. I wonder if sexual abuse in the home might account for both the identification as bisexual and for the hypersexuality leading to such high pregnancy rates. In a field as complex as adolescent sexuality, simple statistics without accompanying case studies make conclusions very difficult to draw. But I do agree that the subject deserves a great deal of scrutiny and, if possible, community based corrective solutions.

    That being said, the results of these studies actually support my point: that teens are having sex and pretending that something can be done to stop teens from having sex without honestly facing up to the fact that teens are sexually (if not emotionally, physically and psychologically) mature and that our culture (on every level) needs to deal with it honestly. And yes, that means dealing with that vast majority of the sexual abuse of children and adolescent that takes place in the home and extended family/close community. Jumping up and down and screaming about a mistake that an educator made with a student when he was just starting out is missing the point.

    But then, it’s so much easier screaming about how bad this gay educator is or how evil “gay underground culture” is, rather than trying to work on reforms in our society from the pulpit and the home to the classroom and the community center to help ALL of our kids make better choices. It’s so much easier to step into that stirrup and get up on that high horse to take potshots at scapegoats than it is to think soberly without adherence to a political or religious orthodoxy in order to deal with the real world as it is and offer solutions to the problems. But of course, solutions are rarely sought in modern times. Arguments are sought. Gotcha moments are sought. Advantage is sought. Political one-upmanship is an end unto itself. But solutions? Who needs em?

  • Michael Bussee

    I’ll be looking for your next “pro-gay” civil right to be able to have “consensual sex” with teens.

    I also find this disgusting, distressing, disappointing.

    Where are we headed with this? Gays not really being concerned about public heath, putting up smokescreens, trying to hide an ulterior motive, somehow NAMBLA sympathetic? Pro-sex with teens? I know some don’t like it, but the word, “anti-gay” seems appropriate to describe these false characterizations of gays…

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    An aside to the questions you raised, Debbie. Your questions seem to imply that gays men are poor role models and/or that they have some sort of ulterior motive to harm kids. This seems a bit like fear-mongering to me. Hope you didn’t mean it that way.

    If you read my comment that way, then others might have, too. Let me clarify. I am saying there are too many gay men who do not appear to me to be taking a caring leadership role as gay men. Not that they have an ulterior motive to harm kids (those people are lurking out there, gay and straight), but shouldn’t we be questioning why they are not being more proactive in educating young gays in things other than how to have safe sex or giving them an impression there is or ought to be more to gay life than sex? You and I talked about some of this earlier today.

    I am not necessarily going to walk into a gay youth center to see what is going on there as I would likely be viewed suspiciously. Someone like Timothy might have some information to contradict my impression. If so, I’d like to know about it.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Warren,

    You begin by saying he might not have been having sex and then you ask us to believe lots of teens are doing just that.

    I think his point is that we don’t know anything about the older guy Brewster met. We don’t know that he was an adult or of what age.

    I find it likely that he was an adult rather than an “older man” of, say, 17. But Jay’s pointing out that there’s a lot of indignation based on assumptions that are not clear.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Jay, you posted as I was just weighing in a few minutes ago.

    Deborah, Christians are hardly automatically good.

    First, I’m in the amen corner on that. And you used my biblical name. Thanks.

    I know about those folks you mention. Mel’s public, political persona tends to get in the way of what he may consider his altruistic work with youth. I’ll look more into it. I’ve heard other gays lamenting the same things I was.

    Yes, teens are, regrettably, very sexually active. We can’t turn the clock back on that.

    And yes, that means dealing with that vast majority of the sexual abuse of children and adolescent that takes place in the home and extended family/close community.

    BIG amen on that.

    Jumping up and down and screaming about a mistake that an educator made with a student when he was just starting out is missing the point.

    It is making a pertinent point, regardless of the degree it is or isn’t related to your argument.

  • Michael Bussee

    Debbie, Whew!!! Thought I must have been misunderstanding you.

    I am saying there are too many gay men who do not appear to me to be taking a caring leadership role as gay men.

    Part of that is the fear of being accused. As I mentioned, that is why I do not work directly with kids — only with their parents present in the room. It’s sad to have to worry about the misperception that gays molest kids, but it is a very real concern.

    Why they are not being more proactive in educating young gays in things other than how to have safe sex or giving them an impression there is or ought to be more to gay life than sex?

    Debbie, why would you assume that gay men are not pro-active in doing these things? — teaching character, not just safe-sex or a sex-focussed life?

    As I said, I think countless gay men are already doing this privately — in their day-to-day work as teachers, counselors, pastors, social workers, sunday school workers, parents, volunteers.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Debbie:

    I am saying there are too many gay men who do not appear to me to be taking a caring leadership role as gay men. Not that they have an ulterior motive to harm kids (those people are lurking out there, gay and straight), but shouldn’t we be questioning why they are not being more proactive in educating young gays in things other than how to have safe sex or giving them an impression there is or ought to be more to gay life than sex?

    I think your assumptions may not be reflective of the role that gay men are playing in their response to gay youth. I don’t have much personal experience with youth support services, but I don’t think that they are limited to safe sex discussions.

    I wish I had good info on this but I’m limited.

    I know that GSA’s tend to spend a lot of time on solutions to bullying (schools report that if they have a GSA that bullying overall goes down not just gay bullying). And the LA Gay & Lesbian center has a program called Lifeworks which they describe as follows:

    LifeWorks offers one on one, peer, and group mentoring opportunities for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth ages 14-24. Our goal is to help LGBTQ youth to realize their goals and dreams with a safe space, positive and affirming role models, and workshops & activities that are fun and educational.

    Sadly, it’s not very specific but it sounds like it’s much more than sex ed.

    Incidentally, they also have a shelter for homeless teens. And I know that one of their programs is to try and negotiate a way for the kid to return to his/her family – if that is both possible and safe.

    As for why more gay men don’t get involved in mentoring type programs? Sadly, that’s another area where they have been vocally and politically opposed (remember the efforts not to let gay folk even be teachers?).

    There is an automatic assumption that they have malevolent intent so lots of gay guys want nothing whatsoever to do with anything that involves youth. I’ve heard in the past that the Center has had problems finding mentors because gay guys are just afraid of the consequences of helping.

  • Jay W. Walker

    I think that Deborah is confusing existence with visibility. There are gay men and women working incredibly hard all over this country for the betterment of their gay communities and the general community as a whole all over this land. The problem is that the mainstream media pays them no heed. Gives them no TV interviews. Writes no glowing profiles on them in the community or neighborhood sections of the paper. Don’t feature them in the December holiday charity write-ups when their organizations for Gay youth could use coats for kids who have been thrown out of their homes before the holidays. And of course we all know why the don’t allow these gay men’s (and women’s) extraordinary lives and works to be seen by the public at large. To protect the children. Sometimes, you gotta’ laugh to keep from cryin’ in this great land of ours.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    A bit more info on homeless kids:

    From the New York 2007 Homeless Youth Survey:

    * 28% of youth identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual and an addition 11% either were unsure of their sexual orientation or were not comfortable answering the question

    * Almost 30% of youth reported that they were thrown out of their homes, 15% said they had runway, 28% reported some other reason

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    There are gay men and women working incredibly hard all over this country for the betterment of their gay communities and the general community as a whole all over this land. The problem is that the mainstream media pays them no heed.

    Jay, is the gay media writing about them? Could you provide some links?

    Michael and Timothy, you both assumed I was presuming/bemoaning the lack of gay role models in general settings. No. I meant in settings specifically designed for gay youth where the fear of accusations of improper behavior (God forbid) would not exist.

    It is hard, you know, for an “outsider” to get a clear picture of some aspects of the gay community or communities. I know there are more than a few openly gay media folks in the mainstream. And gay PR professionals are not in short supply. So, despite the gains in gay rights (not nearly enough for Jay and Timothy, I know), it’s still an uphill climb, you are saying. Is the closet phenomenon partly responsible?

    Of course, Obama is doing his best to appoint gay people to government posts. I see he has now nominated Chai Feldblum to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). That can’t hurt, especially considered she helped draft ENDA.

    .

  • Jay W. Walker

    Here’s the thing, Deborah. There are tons of organizations geared toward gay youth all over the country and most of them are run by LGBT adults. The problem is that by the time a lot of kids find these organizations, they have already been severlely damaged by their families, schools and communities. You see, Deborah, it’s not really gay role models that these kids need. They need human role models. They need parents whose love and support is unconditional. They need teachers who do not casually accept insults like “faggot” and “that’s so gay” being bandied about the classroom with impunity. They need school administrators dedicated to making schools safe and supportive environments for ALL students. They need to see that gay people in their communities can get married and raise families so that they understand that it is a real possibility for them.

    See, when you’re a gay teen, you’re not really a member of the gay community. That comes with adulthood when you are in control of your own destiny. Teens are members of their parents’ communities, whatever they may be and it is in those communities that they most need nurturing, support and understanding. Now, a lot of parents have seen the light (and not like “Mother of a Gay Son” and her “I’m so proud that my gay son is so straight-acting that I almost forget he is a vile sodomite damned to hell” dementia) and are really getting to know and understand their kids on a profound level and they are guiding them into adulthood as proud and loved young men and women. But not enough and parents are not enough. Schools, community, churches, civic organizations, city councils, mayors and governors, legislatures, Congress, The Supreme Court and The President all have their part to play in making the world safe for ALL kids. But I doubt they will. It’s a solution.

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  • Timothy Kincaid

    Debbie,

    I’m sorry, but I’m not exactly understanding the question. So if I answer something other than what you are asking please restate it and I’ll try again.

    It is hard, you know, for an “outsider” to get a clear picture of some aspects of the gay community or communities. I know there are more than a few openly gay media folks in the mainstream. And gay PR professionals are not in short supply. So, despite the gains in gay rights (not nearly enough for Jay and Timothy, I know), it’s still an uphill climb, you are saying. Is the closet phenomenon partly responsible?

    If we are asking about specific issues for same-sex attracted kids today, here is what I think are a few issues:

    * Substantially all media imagery – especially that targeting youth – starts with the assumption that their audience is opposite-sex attracted. Though there are some Very Important Specials that hand-wringingly and Oh So Sincerely address SSA kids, for the most part they do not see themselves reflected in the culture around them. This is obviously more of an issue in more conservative rural settings in which there is less visible presence of gay people.

    * Media coverage of gay lives – also especially in more conservative areas – seems to focus only on the unusual or flamboyant. If there is a pride parade in, say, Omaha, with 10 churches, 15 service groups, 8 social networking or sports groups and a drag queen, it is the drag queen that will end up on the news.

    Much drama is given to a handful of fellows arrested in a park. But when a paper wants an article about mortgage costs or lawn blight or the new sushi restaurant or anything non-gay-specific, gay people are totally invisible in many areas. Until very recently, most newspapers had a policy of not allowing same-sex couples to even announce their unions. So the only image for gay youth is one with which many can’t associate.

    * SSA youth are the only minority born into a non-minority family. When a black kid is picked on at school, he can at least go home knowing that mom and dad understand what he feels like. But often SSA kids do not have support from their parents.

    * Most SSA youth still go to a school that has no support network for them. Many literally know not one other living soul that experiences attraction in the same way that they do nor do they know anyone they can turn to with questions.

    Fortunately, there are a lot of changes. Things are VERY different than when I way a youth a few decades ago.

    There are now over 4,000 GSAs where a SSA kid can find at least a straight ally they can talk to, if not someone like them. Several drama or comedy programs on television portray gay people living lives that are full and diverse. Many more parents are supportive of their kids when they come out. And now the news stories that cover gay issues are as likely to be about a church becoming more welcoming as they are about the dangers of icky men arrested in a park.

    And kids can go online now to find out information and not feel so isolated. And the Trevor Project does a good job of reaching out to kids that feel hopeless and suicidal.

    I hope I answered what you were asking.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Timothy, you and Jay went way beyond what I was asking, but I gave you the opportunity for a commercial or two, I suppose.

    SSA youth are the only minority born into a non-minority family.

    Not quite. You are forgetting the mentally ill and the physically and mentally handicapped. By the time most gay folks are really ready to begin asserting their identity in high school or college, others, like my late brother, are being diagnosed with devastating mental illnesses like schizophrenia. Try that stigma on for size, the debate over biological causes notwithstanding.

    Yes, families nurture all sorts of dysfunctions, don’t they? Sad.

  • Jay W. Walker

    Deborah, you should see the most recent issue of the New York Times magazine. There is a great article by Benoit Dezinet-Lewis about the amazing change that has taken place with more and more LGBTQ kids asserting their identities in middle school. Fortunately, it seems that the younger kids coming out today are receiving greater support from their parents than many older kids did 10-20 years ago. The real changes will occur when it’s not just people who have gay kids wake up and get over demonizing gay people for the neuroses that a bigoted society has left them with and realize that love and understanding can get rid of a lot of those issues. But then the moral scolds would lose so much of their ammunition. And that’s why they choose to demonize gay people rather than actively try to improve the lives of others through non-judgemental means.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Debbie

    Not quite. You are forgetting the mentally ill and the physically and mentally handicapped.

    Ah yes, good point. However, I’ve yet to hear of either the physically or mentally handicapped being put out on the street so I do think my POINT (if not my technical accuracy) is still relevant.

    As for the “commercial” comment, well that wasn’t my intent. I was trying for communication and conversation.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Ah yes, good point. However, I’ve yet to hear of either the physically or mentally handicapped being put out on the street so I do think my POINT (if not my technical accuracy) is still relevant.

    Let’s go find the statistics on how many homeless youth and adults are mentally ill (and, I dare say, handicapped), shall we? Since I did your homework recently, I’ll let you do this one, Timothy. Patient- and community-centric policies have turned a lot of mentally ill folks out of hospitals and onto — where? — the streets.

    I’ll give you a pass on the “commercial.” You are sincere in what you feel.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Fortunately, it seems that the younger kids coming out today are receiving greater support from their parents than many older kids did 10-20 years ago. The real changes will occur when it’s not just people who have gay kids wake up and get over demonizing gay people for the neuroses that a bigoted society has left them with and realize that love and understanding can get rid of a lot of those issues.

    True, with a caveat, Jay. How will we “wake up” and figure out how to take the spirits out of people, for it is that which connects them in ways too deep for them to grasp with their Creator? Which, in turn, leads them to being convicted by that loving God of the destructiveness of sin and poor choices so they can be “transformed by the renewing of their minds.” We simply cannot have a tool for measuring the latter pain against the former, can we?

    We ought to be aware that both kinds of pain and suffering exist, which brings us back full circle again and again and again to what divides us in the great debate.

    Some folks do manage to “sear” their consciences and shut down their spiritual receptiveness altogether. Problem is, that doesn’t work for them in the long run. They have to fully change or reform their belief systems, or listen to those proselytizers who succeed in pitting them against the “evil” Church.

    Kevin Jennings is a sad case study, on some levels. He has lots of company.

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  • David Blakeslee

    @ Jay,

    and not like “Mother of a Gay Son” and her “I’m so proud that my gay son is so straight-acting that I almost forget he is a vile sodomite damned to hell” dementia

    When a person describes their gay son in ways that are not “stereotypically gay” they have dementia?

    Wow…what a hateful characterization of her.

    @ Timothy

    * 28% of youth identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual and an addition 11% either were unsure of their sexual orientation or were not comfortable answering the question

    * Almost 30% of youth reported that they were thrown out of their homes, 15% said they had runway, 28% reported some other reason

    The second set of stats refer to all homeless youth?

    Having worked with religious families for a number of years, and their children, I found them extraordinarily supportive, yet deeply worried, in the face of addictions, mild-antisocial behavior, premature sexuality and unwanted pregnancy. On the occasion of discovering that their child is attracted to the same sex, they often seek consultation spiritually and psychologically.

    In my 22 years of practice…none have been thrown out of the home.

    Adolescence is an extraordinarily volatile time, often made worse by parents with poor skills or drug and alcohol problems.

    Very often ending up on the street poses a whole new set of problems that are much more complex and potentially violent than their homes or churches or schools.

    Homeless adolescents deserve our support for being Homeless and at severe risk to exploitation by adults (kind of like Brewster was)…

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Debbie,

    Again I spoke without clarity. You are quite right that many of the homeless adults we see are mentally ill.

    Perhaps it would have been much more accurate to say that it is not common for mentally ill children in their teens to be put out on the street by their parents.

    And really we have no need to have the tragedy olympics to see who is less fortunate. That wasn’t my point.

    The recitation of concerns about SSA youth from which that one small point was extracted was intended to answer what I incorrectly thought was a question about the uphill climb of SSA youth.

    Some folks do manage to “sear” their consciences and shut down their spiritual receptiveness altogether. Problem is, that doesn’t work for them in the long run. They have to fully change or reform their belief systems, or listen to those proselytizers who succeed in pitting them against the “evil” Church.

    Kevin Jennings is a sad case study, on some levels. He has lots of company.

    That is a rather strong accusation that you are making against Kevin Jennings. And, by implication, a lot of gay people.

    My only response is to suggest that you spend some time in prayer and reflection to see if this is a godly revelation or something else.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    David

    * Almost 30% of youth reported that they were thrown out of their homes, 15% said they had runway, 28% reported some other reason

    The second set of stats refer to all homeless youth?

    Yes, that stat is not gay specific.

    Another source found that 26% of gay youth who come out to their parents are kicked out of their home. Offhand I don’t know how accurate the source is or whether it is outdated (I would suspect the real number to be much lower today).

    Having worked with religious families for a number of years, … In my 22 years of practice…none have been thrown out of the home.

    I would assume that homes – religious or not – who are seeking professional counsel are not the same homes that kick out their kids. I would be surprised if you had experienced that situation.

    But we have no reason to believe that Brewster was from a family similar to those you counsel. And the point of my statistic was to advise Olivia that not all “parents love their children, even when they make terrible mistakes.” It may reveal my own biases and stereotypes, but I suspect that those who send their children to boarding school may not have the closest of relationships.

    But back to the “kicked out” situation… you are correct in noting that parenting skills, addiction issues, and other factors come into play.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    And really we have no need to have the tragedy olympics to see who is less fortunate. That wasn’t my point.

    Not mine, either. Just suggesting we all think a bit before we comment.

    That is a rather strong accusation that you are making against Kevin Jennings. And, by implication, a lot of gay people.

    My only response is to suggest that you spend some time in prayer and reflection to see if this is a godly revelation or something else.

    And what if the “accusation” I am actually implying is against his parents, or more specifically, his father and possibly other Christians from his past? We are all “case studies” of something, good or not so good. I have stated previously that Jennings has a vendetta against Christians and that it has more than a little to do with his upbringing.

    And, Timothy, our common sense is supposed to be God-sense when we are rightly related to God. It is more than a little arrogant for you to presume to be my spiritual adviser.

  • carole

    @Timothy,

    I too think your point is relevant. Common sense tells me that a fair share of kids on the street are likely to be gay or to have sexual orientation issues that they know not how to contend with and for which they got little to no support.

    However, a hefty percentage of those street kids (and that includes the gay ones) had issues with drug and/or alcohol abuse before they took off for parts unknown, and those substance abuse issues have grown even worse on the streets.

    Just as it’s careless to say that boys are made gay by dysfunctional families, domineering moms and uninvolved dads, it’s careless to argue that homeless kids are homeless because of parents who mistreated them or didn’t love them or didn’t try to understand them, didn’t sympathize with them, etc.

    Yes, sure, there are those kids who come from such families, too, too many of them, but that is so much a generalization that I fear that by repeating it, we narrow our vision and miss seeing so many other factors at work. There are so many dynamics in today’s society that influence many kids’ bad choices, and you might be surprised at how many homeless kids come from loving families. I’d bet a fair share of gay kids are in that number too.

    However, I’ve yet to hear of either the physically or mentally handicapped being put out on the street so I do think my POINT (if not my technical accuracy) is still relevant.

    Not so–our streets are loaded with kids who have been diagnosed with things like bi-polar, schiz, ADHD, borderline pd, anti-social pd, etc. and who have stopped taking their meds or whose problems were never really controlled by their meds and those same streets are walked by kids with the same issues who have gone undiagnosed.

    In short, for every kid there’s a different story, a different set of issues that sent them on their way. For some, there is nothing more than “I wanted my freedom and who’s to stop me?”

  • Michael Bussee

    I would not try to argue, and I don’t think Timothy was either, that all homeless kids are gay or that they all come from families that rejected them for being gay.

  • Michael Bussee

    My own family did not kick me out, but my Mom said it was “worse than my Dad dying of leukemia”, my sister told me she would “pray that God would make me miserable for the rest of my life” and my brother would not come to Thanksgiving or other holidays because he “didn’t want me around his kids” — both girls.

    Thank God that over time they realized I was the same Mike that I had always been. It took some time, but the healing came. Some young people are not so lucky. During my time with Exodus, I worked with a number of these young people who did find themselves kicked to the curb when their gayness became known.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Michael

    My own family did not kick me out, but my Mom said it was “worse than my Dad dying of leukemia”, my sister told me she would “pray that God would make me miserable for the rest of my life” and my brother would not come to Thanksgiving or other holidays because he “didn’t want me around his kids” — both girls.

    Ouch! OUCH!

    So, so, sorry.

  • David Blakeslee

    How can one remain stable, adaptive and proactive in such a situation is amazing.

  • carole

    @Michael,

    I know he wasn’t. (Look back at my first statement.) However, the fact that a kid, gay or not, winds up on the street at all, is usually NOT traceable to ONE factor, including sexuality. Perhaps I was unclear.

  • Freddie

    A 15 year old having sex is really no big deal. Maybe it is in backwards, Christianist towns, but in most of America, kids have sex. Jennings resisted the temptation to rat the kid out. Good for him.

  • Michael Bussee

    Carole: I understand and agree.

    David: Thanks. I don’t know how stable, adaptive or proactive I was (or am) :) But faith in a heavenly Father who loved me no matter what is what sustained me. And it still does.

    “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out. (John 6:37) :)

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  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Doesn’t Jennings deserve to have his story told in a fair and accurate way?

    So says the NLGJA.

    Poor Jennings. Not fair coverage? If anything, not damning enough:

    “Toward the end of my first year, during the spring of 1988, Brewster appeared in my office in the tow of one of my advisees, …to whom I had been ‘out’ for a long time. ‘Brewster has something he needs to talk with you about,’ she intoned ominously….On a hunch, I suddenly asked, ‘What’s his name?’ Brewster’s eyes widened briefly, and then out spilled a story about his involvement with an older man he had met in Boston. I listened, sympathized, offered advice. He left my office with a smile on his face….” (Kevin Jennings, former teacher and current president of GLSEN, describing his interaction with a male student, in One Teacher in Ten: Gay and lesbian educators tell their stories, Kevin Jennings, ed., Alyson Publications, 1994, p.25.)

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    If Mr. Jennings want the story told, then let him explain it. This has been out there a long time with his lawyers threatening to sue over his claim that he did not know what it seems clear he did know. I would welcome further clarification from him.

  • carole

    @Freddie,

    A 15 year old having sex is really no big deal. Maybe it is in backwards, Christianist towns, but in most of America, kids have sex.

    No, your pronouncement is wrong. By the age of 17/18, IIRC, 50% of teens in American have “had sex,” depending on the source, but factoring in all the sources, no, you are simply wrong. Lots of kids at 15 and even much older have not have sex. Not.

    I think the 50% figure is probably not that far off. While I realize that one needn’t go out on what we’d traditionally call a “date” to find opportunity for a sexual encounter, you might be very surprised by the number of high schoolers who have never gone out on a “date” much less dated regularly by the time they graduate. In fact, I’d submit that it’s one of the saddest phenomena I’ve witnessed. I think this lack of dating illustrates both the isolation of so many of our kids, the impersonal character of the communities in which they live, and I’d submit that it contributes to what I’d say is their retarded social growth which carries into their adult years.

    BTW, I don’t live in a “backwards” town as far as my travels and experiences would indicate, and if I can guess, you are using “Christianist” as a word for an evangelical or fundamentalist Christian, and you are using it in a negative way to suggest one who promotes ideas you disapprove of?

    If so, no, neither the city nor the majority of the 7,000 kids served by our high schools fit into your characterizations. And we’re in the Bay Area too, hardly the bedrock of the “Christianists.”

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Carole,

    Per the CDC in 2002, looking at sexual practices of 15 year old males

    43.2% had opposite-sex sexual contact:

    25.1 vaginal

    35.1 oral

    4.6 anal

    35.4 female touched penis

    2.2% had experience either anal or oral sex with a male

    55.9% had no sexual contact with another person

    5.9% had sex with a female but not in the last 12 months

    30.3 had one sexual partner in the last 12 months

    11.8 had two sexual partners in the last 12 months

    7.0 had three or more sexual partners in the last 12 months

  • Timothy Kincaid

    oops. that last part is for boys 15 – 17 and should read “…had one female partner…”

  • Jay W. Walker

    Deborah,

    How will we “wake up” and figure out how to take the spirits out of people, for it is that which connects them in ways too deep for them to grasp with their Creator?

    Huh??? To whom are you referring: neglected and emotionally/psychologically abused gay kids or the members of their families and communities who inflict the damage upon them?

    Which, in turn, leads them to being convicted by that loving God of the destructiveness of sin and poor choices so they can be “transformed by the renewing of their minds.” We simply cannot have a tool for measuring the latter pain against the former, can we?

    The latter wouldn’t exist without the former.

    We ought to be aware that both kinds of pain and suffering exist, which brings us back full circle again and again and again to what divides us in the great debate.

    Some folks do manage to “sear” their consciences and shut down their spiritual receptiveness altogether. Problem is, that doesn’t work for them in the long run. They have to fully change or reform their belief systems, or listen to those proselytizers who succeed in pitting them against the “evil” Church.

    Kevin Jennings is a sad case study, on some levels. He has lots of company.

    Disagreement with organized relious entities is not the same thing as rejecting God. When you have a Christian community split up amongst hundreds of sects: some nurturing and accepting, others callous and bigoted, some somewhere in between, it’s a little presumptuous to state that just because someone doesn’t buy into YOUR sect’s dogma, they are rejecting God. They are not. They are rejecting your sect’s interpretation of God. Also Christianity (or any religious affiliation) is not necessary for personal fulfillment. Just because you feel that you would be lost without your faith is no reason to assume that the same is true for anyone else unless they tell you so. That level of religious arrogance is what does lead a lot of people to feel hatred towards many religious institutions and organizations. But, again, not necessarily hatred toward God. That is one of the fundamental problems with many religions. The hubris of humans imagining that they have an iota of a clue of what God intended or what His plan is. There are some Gnostic Gospels, for instance, that state that Jesus implored his followers not to raise any temples in his name. After all, the man who threw the Moneychangers out of the Temple understood something about the corrupting nature of religious institutions (all power (among men)corrupts). According to these gospels, Jesus believed that the relationship should be between each person and the Lord, with no intermediaries. Of course then leaders of communities, city-states and countries would have a much harder time manipulating their people using religion; which may be why that Gospel got kicked to the curb at Nicea.

    And, David

    When a person describes their gay son in ways that are not “stereotypically gay” they have dementia?

    Wow…what a hateful characterization of her.

    No, but when a mother writes,

    “My son is not one of the San Francisco “flamers” (my son’s words, not mine) that you see parading down Folsom Street. He believes that his personal life, is (tah-dah) personal and none of anyone’s business. What a concept, right?” you can see how self-hating her son has become trying to keep her love.

    When she writes :

    “My son has spent his life trying to convince other homosexuals that the best way to acheive acceptance is to be like everyone else and not say “Hey, look at me. I’m gay and you need to accept me because I say so,”

    This belief is practically totalitarian: There is no room for individuality! You must be like everyone else! How dare you swish! How dare you lisp! Straighten that wrist out!

    I don’t know whether I feel sorrier for this warped man or the kids he “counsels.”

    So, you are right, David, I do find this woman hateful.

    Finally, to all; all this pie slicing about what percentage of kids on the street are X or Y and why they are not in the home is getting so convoluted. Very, very few kids are “born bad.” It is, for the most part the adults in kids lives who create the circumstances (through action, inaction, neglect, abuse, etc.) that result in kids leaving the home. In almost all of these cases, the adults living in the home are guilty of some level of abandonment (either emotional or physical) or in creating a fearful environment in the home in which the kids do not feel safe admitting their issues (homosexuality, pregnancy, accidents, substance abuse, etc.). Now, sometimes those adults are group home supervisors or foster parents or even orphanage staff-members; but regardless, it is almost always the adults that are to blame.

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  • carole

    @Tmothy,

    Thanks for the CDC stats. I used to be pummeled with these kinds of stats at our school, not that I didn’t find the info useful. Often the reports from the drug counselors, the guidance counselors (when we had them), the administration, the police, etc. were just plain old depressing. I remember too well the one faculty meeting in which we were informed that down in our feeder middle schools there was a growing practice among some girls to perform oral sex on some boys in order to claim they had a boyfriend.

    The figures differ, of course, depending on urban/rural/suburban, on geographic location, gender, age, etc.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Carole,

    I grew up in a relatively small town in a rural area in Northern California. So it all seems way too much way too fast now.

    I agree it can get depressing.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    The latter wouldn’t exist without the former.

    Not wholly true, Jay. Perhaps we do not have the common language to discuss this. Sorrow is not all abuse or neglect-borne. Some pain we volunteer for by rebellion against God. People everywhere, of every sexual orientation, race and creed can find themselves there.

    The hubris of humans imagining that they have an iota of a clue of what God intended or what His plan is.

    Not hubris when you have a personal relationship with Him. That’s not religion, either.

    Why is even the APA now acknowledging, Jay, that significant numbers of people are unhappy with their same-sex attractions because they cannot reconcile them with their faith? Spitzer also turned up folks who said they were depressed being gay, and it was not because of discrimination.

    Very, very few kids are “born bad.”

    They are all born into the same sin-filled, fallen world with the same proclivity to be carried away by their own lusts when enticed (thank you, Saint James). There is evil in the world, and it does not all reside within the homes of kids who wake up one day and discover they may be gay or who have bad parents, teachers or priests.

    What qualifies a kid for being “born bad,” since you imply some are? Either we all are or we all aren’t. I know what I believe. What do you believe?

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Jay,

    She is just quoting her son….your hatred is really focused on him…but you direct it to her.

    @ Timothy,

    I don’t think your CDC stats differentiate molestation and abuse from consensual peer sex behaviors, do they?

    In that regard they tend to overlook those who are harmed that are included in the sample…overestimating in a way.

    Generally, as with drugs, we tend to overestimate those who are engaged in regular sexual behavior by conflating it accidentally with those who have engaged in sexual behavior at one time.

    Does anyone agree with the notion that such statistics imply that those who do not engage in such behavior prior to age 15 aren’t “normal.”?

  • Jay W. Walker

    Deborah,

    I don’t view the world solely through a religious lens; so I believe that some people are born biologically or biochemically damaged to the extent that they are “born” sociopaths. I think it is a very small number of people, though this is only opinion and I doubt their are statistics about these things. I think that the rest of humanity have their ethical compasses set by the adults and (as we grow into adolescence) our peers, as well as our greater culture.

    Unfortunately, there is no response to prostheletizing and dogma. The belief’s of your sect ain’t the beliefs of mine.

    David,

    You’re missing the point that her son’s belief that there is a “right” way to be gay and the rest of gay people are an embarrassment comes from a clearly minefield laden relationship that he had with his mother. With a mom like that, he’s clearly internalizing her shame and bigotry. So him, I feel sorry for. He’s probably lives in fear of his mother finding out that he likes Barbra Streisand.

    The woman whose oh-so-conditional love has forced her son into this quasi-closeted, afraid-to-support-gay-marriage, must…blend…in state of being: well, she was a bad mother. There, I said it and I’m not gonna take it back!

  • carole

    @Jay,

    Very, very few kids are “born bad.”

    While Debbie arrives at her repsonse to your idea through her belief in the fall of man, mine comes from a scientific view–we are not now, nor have we ever been the “blank slate” that social scientists passed us off as a few decades ago. Every day, biological research puts the lie to that.

    There are human beings born bad–sociopathic, selfish, conniving, yes, and there are those born the opposite. I needed that to be said whether you agree with it or not;, for most, the mix of nature and nuture is indeed pertinent.

    However, to your position that it’s always someone else’s fault how a kid behaves, what decisions he makes, how he turns out, I”d say “nonsense!” If you moderated your position by saying that there are societal forces that hinder the healthy emotional growth of many kids, I”d say, “You bet.”

    However, identifying those factors/forces and viewing how they work to undermine effective and healthy child-rearing is a far cry from damning parents who love their kids and who find themselves in positions they never thought possible.

    The world is full of people who ought not to have had kids. It’s full of those who love their kids and who’ve make mistakes raising them. It’s full of them who’ve done as much as any loving parent could have done only to see their child in turmoil and danger. In short, it’s full of selfish parents and loving parents and troubled kids who belong to both.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Jay,

    Your comments are so full of assumptions:

    The woman whose oh-so-conditional love has forced her son into this quasi-closeted, afraid-to-support-gay-marriage, must…blend…in state of being: well, she was a bad mother. There, I said it and I’m not gonna take it back!

    So, I have this friend. He’s gay, he’s out and proud…he doesn’t support gay marriage…if he changes his mind and does…great.

    Jay…you conflate all sorts of things, and assume a lot; his positions are valid all on their own…or they may be internalized homophobia…to blame his mother at this late stage makes you similar to…..

    Joe Nicolosi.

  • David Blakeslee

    Regarding born good or born bad.

    One doesn’t need to be a fundamentalist to have a stake in the “born bad” argument.

    Edmund Burke believed that we were born with equal potentialities to good and evil and that civilization (parenting, schooling, culture and our own behavior) played an instrumental role it guiding us one way or the other.

    He was just a conservative.

    File this under non-spiritual reasons for advocating for tradition ;).

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  • Thoughts From The Mother of a Gay Man

    Jay, what a total ass you are. Really. A total ass.

    Now perhaps you would like to share with all of us what makes you think that gays should live any differently than anyone else? Is there a “gay” way of cutting the grass? How about a “gay” style of grocery shopping? Maybe we could put in “gay” 7-11′s so you can buy “gay” beer or a “gay” chilidog?

    You miss my son’s point. Totally. But I am not that surprised. You don’t seem to be very smart.

    Here is the deal: gays are no different than anyone else. They work, pay bills, buy homes, buy cars, go to the movies, eat in restraurants, bar-b-que with friends, vote, travel, and have family and friends that they love. They don’t have to take their clothes off in public, walk around in hot pink g-strings during “gay” parades or do any of the other stupid exhibitionist things that some do.

    The only thing that makes them unlike their heterosexual neighbors, friends and family is their sexuality. THAT IS IT.

    THERE IS NO BIG MARK ON THEIR FOREHEAD THAT SAYS “GAY”.

    You think I am a bad mother because I have a son who doesn’t have to flaunt his sexuality just to prove he “belongs” to the gay community? Screw you. You should be as comfortable in your skin as my son is in his.

    Now, let me tell you something; it is people like you who want gays to be “different” that is causing the uproar. Not people like my son who lives his life, without your approval. He lives his life the way he wants, not the way you seem to think he should. Perhaps you would think me a better mother if I told you my son walked around dressed like a drag queen from Charlie Browns. Well, that is not the normal gay.

    I don’t know what you think gays should do. Get in people’s face? Demand rights they already have? Promote policy that really has no affect on them because you say so?

    Again, what an arrogant ass you are.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Mother of a Gay Son – I know these issues bring up passions but namecalling is not consistent with the commenting guidelines. Please observe them.

  • Thoughts From The Mother of a Gay Man

    Jay, one other thing; my son doesn’t like Barbara Streisand. So I guess he is not really gay, is he? And he doesn’t try to hide being gay. He just doesn’t wear it on his sleeve. And for that you slam me.

    If anyone is a narrow minded bigot, it is you who judges someone you don’t even know because they don’t fit your little mold of how a gay man should live his life.

  • Jay W. Walker

    To Mother:

    The Barbra Streisand bit was an illustrative joke. It’s so weird. Somehow you want to state your concomitant beliefs that gays are both just like everyone else; but don’t deserve the same (not different, not special; but equal) rights as everyone else. What’s that about?

    And, you misunderstand me. I recognize that gay men are a fabulously multifarious group of human beings. When, however, one of those gay men (or his mommy) decides that his particular type of gay man is that only worthwhile kind of Gay man, then my dukes go up. You see, “Mother,” I am one of those Gay men that is not overwhelmingly flamboyant. I don’t “dress up” on a daily basis, I don’t dress in drag or “mince” (whatever that is). However, I would never diminish the lives, struggles and triumphs of my gay brothers who embrace the hyper-masculine (traditionally considered feminine) traits that traditionally define “gay.” Gay men come in all srts of shapes sizes and behaviours. I spit in the general direction of straight people that wish to pit different kinds of gay people against each other. And I feel only pity for those gay people who fall into their evil traps.

    Kisses!

    Jay

  • Jay W. Walker

    Oh and “Mother”, you make a fundamental misunderstanding of the difference between people like your son (or who you claim your son is) and more flamboyant gay people. Your son is the one who spends his entire existence trying to get people to accept him (people like his horribly bigoted mother). Those “Folsom Street” “Flamers” don’t give a damn what anyone thinks. They are simply who they are.

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  • Thoughts From The Mother of a Gay Man

    Jay, if the Folsom Street gang is your idea of being “gay”, then I feel sorry for you. And if you don’t understand that American society doesn’t accept flamboyance from any segment (ever heard jokes made about goth kids?), then you are painfully uninformed.

    Gays in America want acceptance. We all do. But you seem to think that can be achieved by being outragous. My son (and yes, he is my son) disagrees. His point is (that you seem to miss) is that there is only one thing that makes him different from heterosexuals. A difference that is, frankly, none of anyone’s business. Unlike you, his homosexuality does not define him or rule his life, no more than his religious beliefs (or disbeliefs) define him.

    So because you seem to choose to not “dress up on a daily basis” you are arguing the point you seem to reject in me. That it is your way or the high way and anyone who doesn’t subscribe to your beliefs is a bad mother, a closet gay, or just flat out wrong.

    Gays who feel the need to act out are no different that goth kids who act out. Both are seeking attention. I find that sad.

    You spit on me? What a gentleman you are. You sound bitter. Why is that?

    And take you kisses and save them for your own mother. I am sure your bitterness weights heavy on her heart.

  • Mary

    I have often wondered why a person “acts out” in a flamboyant way. And I have often wondered why gays and lesbians (sometimes not always) fit the stereotype. It’s not like gestures, phrases, and tastes and dislikes are biologically influenced so much and it must be acculturation. In other words – acquired. Do they do this to fit in? And fit in with whom? And why? Regardless if someone is obviously gay or passes, someone will find a way to attack them for trying to “fit in”

  • Timothy Kincaid

    If you son thinks there is only one thing that makes him different from heterosexuals and that one thing is “in the bedroom” and “nobody’s business”, then he is both selfish and a fool.

    Selfish because until about six years ago, what he does “in the bedroom” was illegal in 12 states and until 1961 illegal in all of them. It was due to those “flamers” and their determined and committed efforts to bring about decency, equality, and justice that he now has the right to do what he likes “in the bedroom”.

    And a fool because he is woefully ignorant of the thousands of laws and rules and ordinances that differentiate him from his heterosexual neighbor. Your son can’t serve in the military, adopt in Florida, marry in Alabama, visit his life partner in the hospital in Utah, get social security spousal benefits, be exempt from testimony should his partner commit a crime, and on and on. In fact, if his home is in his partner’s name and something should happen to him, your son could be evicted onto the street by people he’s never met who despise him and his partner – without recourse.

    That he has decided that he doesn’t “need” equality is, of course, up to him. There were plenty of Good Negros who didn’t want to rock the boat in the 50s and 60s. There were plenty of women who didn’t want the vote. There were plenty of Jews who accepted housing division policies with “can’t sell to Jews” stipulations because they didn’t “need” to live in Hancock Park. And there are more than a few gay people like your son who will agree to second class citizenship and reduced rights and inferior treatment because they have been convinced that it’s good enough.

    It’s very very sad.

  • Ann

    Mother of a Gay Son – I know these issues bring up passions but namecalling is not consistent with the commenting guidelines. Please observe them.

    Out of curiosity – why is Mother of a Gay Son called to a higher standard than others on this blog who engage in namecalling and are not asked to observe the same guidelines you are requiring of her?

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Mary

    Regardless if someone is obviously gay or passes, someone will find a way to attack them for trying to “fit in”

    That is an unfair accusation. Jay is not attacking the son for “trying to fit in”.

    He’s criticizing the attitude of acquiescence, the willingness to accept inequality, and especially the permission that such an attitude gives to those who oppress gay people.

    Those, like the Mother here, feel justified in treating gay people unfairly. After all, good gays, like her son, don’t want to have civil equality. And good gays, like her son, dislike flamers so she can too. And good gays, like her son, don’t “need” marriage, or military service, or adoption, or basic decency, so she feels completely justified in her biases and animus.

    And, of course, “good gays, like her son”, is defined as those who agree that they are inferior and unworthy and deserving of her contempt. Then she can love them.

    It isn’t because they “fit in” that we are upset. For that matter, I “fit in”.

    It is their complicity in their own oppression that we “attack”

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    It is their complicity in their own oppression that we “attack”

    That assumes a lot that you can’t know about this man. One man’s “oppression” may be another’s contentment with his life.

    Gee, Timothy, this sure makes me travel back to the initial reaction of the gay community after “After the Ball” was published in 1989. They didn’t want to be told to fit in. They wanted to stand out. Maybe this guy read the book. :)

  • Mary

    Oh my goodness. Timothy you just proved what I was saying. Same thing about blacks back in the day. If a brother or sister was passing they were looked down on for oppressing their own kind. Now we hear it from a gay man? I think I was curtailed from expanding on this in another post about gay being in every crevice of a person’s life and a gay person agruing that that was not so. Just goes to show you that people are on both sides of the argument even though they are on the same sides of the yard. Amazing.

    Well, I’m a geek and always will be!

  • Jay W. Walker

    Really, “Mother of…” I’m not bitter at all. I just refuse to allow my gay brothers and sisters be attcked by small-minded bumpkins. Flamboyant people of all sexual orientations are frequently celebrated in our society: In the entertainment industry (Liberace, Prince, Madonna, Marilyn Monroe…); in professional athletics (John McEnroe, Dennis Rodman, “Broadway” Joe Namath, Muhammad Ali, Wrestlers…); in business (Donald Trump, Richard Branson); in the Literary World (Paul Rudnick, Jay McInerney, Tama Janowicz, Eric Van Lustbader; Art (Warhol, Haring, Karen Finley…); and Fashion (Almost everyone), the list goes on and on. The people I have listed are undeniably flamboyant in a host of ways and they come from a range of sexual orientations. But you only single out flamboyant gay people (and, of course, goth kids who do no one any harm).

    I was hardly arguing your point. I was stating that even though I don’t dress up nor am I particularly effeminate; I don’t denigrate people who do/are, like you seem to have taught your son too. That your son has convinced himself that the only difference between gay people and straight people is sexual practice is, well, sad. He clearly sees no worth in gay people who are not just like him (ah, the dear lessons learnt at mummy’s knee) and he therefore has only the tiniest sliver of an understanding of the richness and fullness of the gay community at large.

    Also, to correct you, I don’t WANT Gay people to be different than your son, I accept that many gay people are like your son (at least on the outside, though I am sure many don’t have the traumatic past of a mother like you making them hate other gay people) and many gay people are outrageously flamboyant and that most are somewhere in between. I don’t demand that people change their appearance to conform to my narrow, bigoted notions of acceptable behavior. But you do.

    See, I am disgusted by you (one single, bigoted, child-damaging harridan.) You are disgusted by millions of Gay people whose onle “crime” is flamboyance. And you call me hateful? Honey, your hate spans the globe. Sad, really.

    Thanks, Timothy for your understanding of my point.

    And, Deborah:

    One man’s “oppression” may be another’s contentment with his life.

    Did you really just say that? You sound like one of those revisionist historians of the Antebellum South who claim that most of the enslaved Black people were perfectly content.

    And Mary, the difference is that when Gays “attack” closet cases or internally homophobic Gays, or bigoted straight people for their attitudes toward Gay rights, we just use words. When we are attacked, fists and weapons are frequently employed, as well as legislation to destroy the lives of Gay people.

    But that’s modern conservatism. They foment violence and hijack the government to oppress people, then whine about how picked-on they are when someone simply speaks up and calls them out on their bigotry. I believe that the French word is “Pathetique!”

  • Jay W. Walker

    Oh and “Mother…”

    If you interpreted,

    I spit in the general direction of straight people that wish to pit different kinds of gay people against each other.

    as my spitting on you, then you are admitting that you are that type of person. I think you’re sad and bitter.

    Also, my mother is dead; but when she was alive she taught me the value of respecting all different kinds of people. She taught me that God created EVERYONE in his image and that it is blasphemy to denigrate any group of His children. She taught me that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. And she taught me that you can learn something from anyone and everyone. As a Black Woman in the 50s and 60s, she had participated on the front lines of the civil rights movement and knew something about discrimination; so when she had her son (me) she taught him that discriminating against ANYONE who wasn’t doing anything to harm someone else is wrong. Those are true American Values. It is sad that all the Hatey McHaterson’s out there didn’t learn those sorts of lessons from their parents.

  • Eddy

    Jay Walker said to ‘Mother’:

    That your son has convinced himself that the only difference between gay people and straight people is sexual practice is, well, sad.

    This is most interesting. Whenever we’ve tried to address other differences…or used terms like ‘gay lifestyle’…we’ve been shot down with ‘we’re just like you except for who we go to bed with’. Maybe you can help us get to the bottom of that one. In what ways, outside of sexual practice, are gay people different?

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Debbie

    That assumes a lot that you can’t know about this man. One man’s “oppression” may be another’s contentment with his life.

    I only am going on what Mother has to say. Perhaps he isn’t acquiescent in his own oppression. Perhaps he doesn’t exist.

    Gee, Timothy, this sure makes me travel back to the initial reaction of the gay community after “After the Ball” was published in 1989. They didn’t want to be told to fit in. They wanted to stand out. Maybe this guy read the book. :)

    You certainly are in love with your own delusions about that particular book. And your own delusions about the gay community. “They” didn’t want to be told to fit in? They?

    All in your own imagination, Debbie.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Mary ~ Oct 1, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Oh my goodness. Timothy you just proved what I was saying.

    Read it again, Mary.

    There’s a difference between “fitting in” and acquiescing to owns own oppression. Think about it.

  • Michael Bussee

    They didn’t want to be told to fit in. They wanted to stand out.

    I think most gays want the choice — Stand out? Be proud? Just as straights can stand out and be publically proud of being straight? Yes.

    Fit in? Be able to blend in? Be part of the culture, of the church? Have the same rights and freedoms? Yes. It isn’t “either/or”.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Eddy,

    This is most interesting. Whenever we’ve tried to address other differences…or used terms like ‘gay lifestyle’…we’ve been shot down with ‘we’re just like you except for who we go to bed with’.

    OH. COME. ON.

    I don’t believe that. I don’t think anyone gay on this site has told you that “we’re just like you except for who we go to bed with.

    First off, that’s just tacky. And no gay person here defines their orientation by “who we go to bed with”. What a nasty slur.

    Maybe you can help us get to the bottom of that one. In what ways, outside of sexual practice, are gay people different?

    Are we intrinsically different? Likely not. The direction of our attractions probably give neither benefit or detriment to our abilities to contribute to the world around us.

    But we most definitely are different in the way that laws currently discriminate against us. And it is this difference that Mother’s Son is embracing.

    If we are to believe Mother, her son accepts and even champions discrimination against him. How very very sad.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Eddy,

    …outside of sexual practice…

    Yeah I just caught it.

    Was that a deliberate and intentional slur or just an accidental diminishing of same-sex attraction to “behavior”

    Really really classy

  • Michael Bussee

    First off, that’s just tacky. And no gay person here defines their orientation by “who we go to bed with”. What a nasty slur.

    I agree. I believe that my gayness is much more than who I go to bed with. It has to do with who I am attracted to romantically and spiritually. It has to do with a deep appreciation of maleness — the experience of living in the world as a man who loves men.

    It even seems to play a part in my insterests, tastes, impressions, outlook and hobbies — in very positive way. I am not straight, but I would think that straight guys do experience the world differently than I do — in many subtle and no-so-subtle ways.

    It’s not my identity or a particular lifestyle. It is not who I am. But I do live in a male body and am SSA. That must be different than what a straight male would experience.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Well, I am confused but please don’t take this thread down this road very far. We had a thread where I supported Michael mildly when he made what I thought was the case that gays and straights were not terribly different.

    Without going back and getting quotes from other threads, can we just stick to the relevance that issue has to the Jennings thread?

  • Michael Bussee

    I do not think we are “different” (any less in the image of God) but our experience must be “different” in some ways. I most ways, my brother are are are much alike and yet as as different as our fingerprints. I think we need to be careful not to equate “different” with “wrong” or “less valuable”.

    Now, I will stick to the thread.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    It’s really quite easy to understand when folks aren’t trying to get in slurs or make points:

    1. Gays and straights are not terribly different.

    2. Gay folk are sexually, romantically, affectionately, and spiritually attracted to persons of their own sex in ways identically to how straight people are attracted to persons of the opposite sex.

    3. This can have culture and experience differences in the same way that someone raised in a Latino family or living in an Asian community may have differences.

    4. Government, legislation, society, and culture does treat gay and straight people differently. Were such differences applied to some other community (say Armenians), we would all be in agreement that they were oppressive.

    Some folks – including some here – believe that these differences in law are reasonable and necessary for the good of society. However, I think that all of us can agree that they are experienced by those subjected to the differences as being oppressive. Gay people respond to oppression differently, but such oppression is most definitely a difference and it does cause differences in perspective.

    And those of us who have and do experience such oppression are likely to view the attack (and it is an attack) on Kevin Jennings from that perspective.

    We see demands that “he should have done this or that” and we see absolutely no acknowledgment from, say, the Washington Post, that he could have been arrested for doing what they insist he should have done. Yes, in Massachusett 21 years ago, Kevin Jennings was defined as a criminal just for being gay.

    We hear indignant denunciations of “Brewster’s” behavior and Jennings’ response but we don’t see a comparable concern for Brewster’s feelings of worthlessness.

    Has anyone here (other than us gay folk) expressed even once any concern about Brewster’s feelings that his life wasn’t worth saving? Anyone?

    It almost seems to me that some may think that Brewster should have felt worthless and that Jennings is to be blamed for (as Peter LaBarbera puts it) using predatory seduction in making him feel OK. I can almost hear some saying, “but it’s not OK” and it isn’t difficult for me to think that some here would rather Brewster become HIV infected or worse as long as he didn’t “accept a gay identity”. Then at least he had some chance of being convicted of his sin and brought to Jesus.

    Am I wrong?

    These “differences” give us gay folk a different view of this political situation. We look at the ringleaders and, other than Warren, see the usual suspects. It’s blatant. It’s obvious.

    Of course they oppose Jennings’ appointment. They opposed the appointment of every gay person that has ever been appointed. In fact, they’ve opposed everything that could possibly be construed to be remotely beneficial to the lives of gay people. We don’t see justified outrage of a unique situation; we see more of the same.

    And that is one of the biggest differences between me and many of those here that are up in arms about Jennings. My “differences” have made me aware of just how contemptuous many in the conservative camp are towards ANY gay person.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Oh, my.

    I just found out something about Kevin Jennings that would just horrify some folks. They would NEVER want someone like this to have any access to school children.

    It appears that Jennings is a Christian and sits on the board of trustees for Union Theological Seminary.

    Yikes.

    I wonder if he’s going to push a pro-Christian agenda on poor hapless school children. Oh, my. Oh, dear.

    ;)

  • Eddy

    I missed a few of the later posts when I was responding earlier.

    Timothy and Michael,

    I see you both played the ‘outrage card’ against me in your response to my question to Jay Walker…and yet, it was comments by Michael (the ones Warren alluded to) that prompted my question. My question was not presented in a demeaning manner…I cited his observation and how it seemed to go against what I’d heard in response to questions here…and then I asked for his impressions of what the differences were. I do not see any justification for your ‘claws out’ attack. You certainly have no business assuming motives when none are even suggested.

    With that aside, Jay’s comments about differences does have some bearing on the future of the conversation. 1) if it’s just an off-handed remark meant to slur ‘Mother’, then it needs to be addressed as such. 2) if it’s true, then we really ought to discuss these differences. If there are common differences recognized universally in the gay community, then it’s reasonable to conclude that these differences will come across in the teachings of GLSEN. 3) the refusal to talk them out with us here comes across as arrogant…what, are we too stupid to grasp them? too bigoted to appreciate them? Is that the attitude we can expect when we question anything proposed or supported by Jennings?

    I read the differences Michael cited and went back to Jay’s comment in its context…and somehow I’m sure that Jay is alluding to different differences. So Jay, I’d still appreciate it if you weighed in on what differences you perceive…the ones that ‘Mother’s’ son is either in denial of or out of touch with.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Timothy said:

    We see demands that “he should have done this or that” and we see absolutely no acknowledgment from, say, the Washington Post, that he could have been arrested for doing what they insist he should have done. Yes, in Massachusett 21 years ago, Kevin Jennings was defined as a criminal just for being gay.

    We hear indignant denunciations of “Brewster’s” behavior and Jennings’ response but we don’t see a comparable concern for Brewster’s feelings of worthlessness.

    Has anyone here (other than us gay folk) expressed even once any concern about Brewster’s feelings that his life wasn’t worth saving? Anyone?

    A big part of my concern about this situation relates to what has been taught to teachers and volunteers at GLSEN over the years. I have not yet found a speech or discussion of this where he indicated to the listeners that suicidal boys engaging risky sexual behavior should be confronted for their own good. I don’t see letting this kind of boy go along without “legal and medical” (to quote Jennings) as being concerned, functionally speaking.

    Were people being arrested in MA in relationship to homosexuality in the late 1980s? If this was happening, I could understand better the issues you raise. However, he has acknowledged being out to his administration, to other students and in the most recent book, according to Brewster/Robertson, one would need to be stupid not to know. Two weeks later he came out to the world – he wasn’t concerned about being a criminal when he came out at Concord and started a GSA.

    Having said all of that, let me hasten to add again, that I might not have written about this in the first place, if Jennings had acknowledged the complexities, and inadequate response along the way and somewhere said what teachers should do and how intervening in uncomfortable ways can bring resolution.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Ann – If I missed some egregious namecalling, point it out and I will make the same stance…

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    PS – Timothy, I get you on the usual suspects observation. It grieves me to see that. I will no doubt be misunderstood for writing out my findings and opinions on this topic.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    it isn’t difficult for me to think that some here would rather Brewster become HIV infected or worse as long as he didn’t “accept a gay identity”. Then at least he had some chance of being convicted of his sin and brought to Jesus.

    Good grief, Timothy.

    Am I wrong?

    Yes!

    Could we stick to the facts instead of wild conjecture? This theater of the absurd has about run its course.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Warren,

    I think we all (now including Jennings) agree that he did not respond adequately. Interestingly, gay web sites have raised this same point. For example, Queerty’s take was

    If Jennings “technically” had a legal obligation to report the incident, he should have. His CV is impressive, and sounds like it qualifies him for the “safe school czar” job under Obama. But it’s an insufficient answer to why, as a teacher to young people, he did not attempt to intervene to stop an underage boy from continuing an unhealthy sexual relationship — and keep that boy from becoming a victim.

    And until he, or his supporters, can adequately answer that question, the attacks will keep coming. Actually, they will anyhow.

    But I disagree with the idea that Jennings was unconcerned. This seems to contradict the entire reason for him presenting the story to begin with. I think that you are perhaps putting on him a standard that you are not applying to any of his coworkers.

    As for folks arrested in MA, the purpose of sodomy laws was never to arrest those who engage in sodomy. If enforced all the courts would be full.

    However, they were selectively enforced to keep gay folk in line. Gay folk knew this and, consequently, avoided police. Especially in context of their orientation. To go to a police officer in a sodomy state and say “I’m gay” was an invitation for abuse or arrest.

    While I do think that Jennings should have involved mental health professionals or perhaps an attorney, I think he would have been nuts to call the police. I certainly wouldn’t have called them.

    Personally, I find Jennings’ statement to be a bit, well, lacking in substance. But it is my impression – and I hope that I am right – that GLSEN and Jennings has participated in the process of establishing protocol for educators to address SSA children that are sexually active. Although I may be mistaken, I believe that has been a large part of his efforts for the past couple of decades.

    Do you have a different impression?

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Debbie,

    Just so I understand you correctly:

    Given the choice between

    A. – Brewster comes to believe that being gay is OK and accepts his gay identity and thereafter behaves in a way that does not endanger his health. He never again thinks that being gay is not OK.

    B – Brewster continues to believe that being gay is not acceptable and engages in destructive behavior and becomes HIV infected. However, Brewster is open to feel conviction for his sin and come to Christ.

    you’d pick A.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Eddy,

    the refusal to talk them out with us here comes across as arrogant…

    Perhaps you missed where I discussed the differences. It’s at

    Timothy Kincaid ~ Oct 1, 2009 at 4:16 pm

  • Ann

    If I missed some egregious namecalling, point it out and I will make the same stance…

    Dr. Throckmorton/ Warren,

    That is not the position I want to take – I was just curious what the criteria was when determining who gets an admonishment and who doesn’t. I think it has been more than obvious that most of us here engage in civility, however, there are some that do not and resort to name calling, etc. They do not receive the same admonishment you gave to the Mother post and I was just wondering why.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Given the choice between

    A. – Brewster comes to believe that being gay is OK and accepts his gay identity and thereafter behaves in a way that does not endanger his health. He never again thinks that being gay is not OK.

    B – Brewster continues to believe that being gay is not acceptable and engages in destructive behavior and becomes HIV infected. However, Brewster is open to feel conviction for his sin and come to Christ.

    you’d pick A.

    Absurd just gets absurder.

    Presuming I could be the Fairy Godmother, I’d pick C – Jennings refers Brewster to a counselor and Brewster’s parents love on him. Whether or not he chooses to see himself as gay or engage in risky behavior, having been informed of the risks, then becomes his choice. Any other incidents like the first one would be reported.

  • Eddy

    Sorry, Timothy, your post from 4:16 only brought up one ‘big difference’…that of responding to oppression. A nice weighted and argumentative slant that still doesn’t seem to go to the differences that Jay went on the attack about.

    ‘Mothers’ son has a life partner and isn’t closeted yet has areas where he keeps his sexuality to himself. Jay’s attack almost sounded like he was accusing the man of ‘being in the closet’ due to her horribly oppressive views(an unfair portrait, IMHO)…if so, this would be the first time I heard that phrase in reference to someone who was ‘out’ to their family and had a same sex partner.

    Debbie–

    Excellent response! I couldn’t believe the nerve of Timothy trying to box you in with choose A or B! I constantly marvel at how conservative Christians are accused of thinking in terms of ‘black and white’ yet it’s those who oppose us who demonstrate so often that that’s how they think.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Debbie,

    Absurd just gets absurder.

    I didn’t think that you were in favor of Option A. He he

    Eddy,

    Yeah, I know. You weren’t really wanting a discussion of differences, you were just wanting to make a point.

  • Michael Bussee

    Are we very different or very alike? What difference does it make?

  • Timothy Kincaid

    This I’ll repeat

    We hear indignant denunciations of “Brewster’s” behavior and Jennings’ response but we don’t see a comparable concern for Brewster’s feelings of worthlessness.

    Has anyone here (other than us gay folk) expressed even once any concern about Brewster’s feelings that his life wasn’t worth saving? Anyone?

    I’ve yet to hear anyone say, “Yes, someone should have made Brewster know that his life was worth saving, that is was OK for him to be gay. Thank God that Jennings cared enough to do so even though no one else was willing to.”

    Of course, I don’t really expect it. That would be, in the words of Debbie, absurd just gets absurder.

  • Mary

    Timothy,

    I’ve thought about it – a lot. You and I look at the same thing and see it differently.

    Seems if you say gays are gays some claim they are just like everyone else. Some say that they act gay and should not be looked down on for not acqueiscing (sp) to a different standard than one that is obviously gay.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Michael,

    Do you agree with this statement?

    “Yes, someone should have made Brewster know that his life was worth saving, that is was OK for him to be gay. Thank God that Jennings cared enough to do so.”

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Timothy,

    Jennings membership on the Board of Union Theological Seminary is fascinating, but not surprising.

    It’s great graduates are all in years past: Tillich, Nieber, Bonhoffer and Earle B. Blakeslee (my dad).

    Living graduates with an impact are Cone (Black Liberation Theology), which has little to do with being a color-blind faith.

    UTS is a philosophical home to nearly every left of center political idea…what would happen if a board member of Dallas Theological Seminary was heading up Bush’s office of Safe Schools?

    Thanks Timothy, I thought this school had closed down some time ago, but my father, when he was alive, was very proud of his years spent here.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Mary,

    Seems if you say gays are gays some claim they are just like everyone else. Some say that they act gay and should not be looked down on for not acqueiscing (sp) to a different standard than one that is obviously gay.

    I’m not completely sure what you are saying.

    I say that gay people, like straight folks, come in all sizes, shapes, forms and behaviors. And that they should not be looked down upon for being gay.

    I think gay people should not acquiesce to their own oppression. In other words, they should never agree with those who would put them down, deny them rights or equality, or insist that they be inferior.

    Does that address what you are saying?

  • Michael Bussee

    Yes, TImothy, wholeheartedly. It reminds me of a young patient I had in 2006 — a devoutly Christian guy who told me he did not want to take his HIV medicine beacuse he was convinced that his illness was God’s punishment for being gay.

  • carole

    I find the playing of the “Well, this- case- is- different- because- it -involved- a -gay- boy -and- a -gay -teacher- at -a- time -when -things -were different for ‘gay folk’ ” argument to be an ineffective one.

    For much of history and even today, in this country as well as in others, girls and women who report advances, sexual or physical abuse, or rape by a boyfriend, a family member, a teacher, a neighbor, a husband—by anyone other than a Richard Allen Davis sort, in other words– were/are often scorned and blamed for “bringing it on themselves.” They still wear scarlet letters placed upon them by others as well as by themselves, even though they are victims.

    This victimization of the victim still exists, and it was even more a problem in the 1980s when the Jennings incident occurred, yet we’d not likely excuse a teacher for not reporting to higher authorities what a female student had confided in him, would we? Even though that teacher was begged by the kid not to tell? Even though the kid might have faced am incredibly hard road ahead?

  • Timothy Kincaid

    David,

    I’m not at all surprised it is liberal. And your point about conservatives appointing conservatives and liberals appointing liberals is well taken.

    I just thought it would be fun to point out that this guy – who someone on here (which, annoyingly, I can’t find) called anti-Christian – is a part of the body of believers. I wonder if that impacts anyone’s opinion at all.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Thank you, Michael,

    Does anyone else agree with this statement:

    “Yes, someone should have made Brewster know that his life was worth saving, that is was OK for him to be gay. Thank God that Jennings cared enough to do so.”

    ANYONE??

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Timothy,

    I am sure that not every teacher would have said the things that Jennings said to “Brewster”.

    But all of them would have said, “You deserve to live; lets get you some help and support.”

    Again, see this through the lens of a teenage girl with similar feelings of nihilism and high risk behaviors.

  • Michael Bussee

    I say that gay people, like straight folks, come in all sizes, shapes, forms and behaviors. And that they should not be looked down upon for being gay.

    I think gay people should not acquiesce to their own oppression. In other words, they should never agree with those who would put them down, deny them rights or equality, or insist that they be inferior.

    Exactly the way I feel, TImothy. Very well said.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    David Blakeslee ~ Oct 1, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    So then do you or do you not agree with the following statement:

    “Yes, someone should have made Brewster know that his life was worth saving, that is was OK for him to be gay. Thank God that Jennings cared enough to do so.”

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Everyone,

    By 1974 Tarrasoff was the law of the land (California) for psychotherapists…danger to self or others, extreme emotional impairment.

    I don’t know when this was applied to teachers, pastors and medical professionals.

    But Massachusetts, certainly a state with progressive laws at the time, must have had some policies in place by the time Jennings was a teacher in the 1980′s. Does anyone know what they might have been.

  • Michael Bussee

    What he said he should have done is exactly what he should have done.

    I should have asked for more information and consulted legal or medical authorities. Teachers back then had little training or guidance about this kind of thing. All teachers should have a basic level of preparedness.

    Operating alone is full of problems and pitfalls. Emotion can over-ride good judgement. Consultation with other professionals protects both client and helper. Consultation is a major part of preparedness.

  • carole

    @Timothy,

    I’ve yet to hear anyone say, “Yes, someone should have made Brewster know that his life was worth saving, that is was OK for him to be gay. Thank God that Jennings cared enough to do so even though no one else was willing to

    .”

    1). The topic addressed has been the behavior of the teacher. Your “I’ve yet to hear anyone say……” is an attempt to belittle the posters’ empathy and in particular to question their capacity for empathy for a gay boy. Come, on!

    2) Hell yes, I would have cared about what the kid felt about his life. Hell, yes, I would have cared about his emotional state of mind. That is but another reason I would have not DONE NOTHING.

  • David Blakeslee

    I would say it is OK for Brewster to be Brewster and he deserves our support and compassion…

    I balk at endorsing a gay identity per se, but not that his SSA is real, that he has every right to be supported while he figures out how to integrate these feelings into his life. He’s 15, Timothy. Identity is only beginning to be formed. It is premature to label. IMHO. But not too early to acknowledge as real his attractions and the risks they pose to him (by gay-haters; and by gay exploiters).

  • Jay W. Walker

    Hi, Eddy:

    What I’m talking about when I speak of differences, I’m talking about the personal, cultural, and social customs that have arisen among gay people. I’m talking about those cliches that happen to be true. Opera, Broadway, Soul Divas, wit, an aversion to violence, Camp, chick-flicks, close abiding friendships with straight women. I have seen super-femme gay boys and big straight acting galoots cry when Bette Midler sings “Hello in There.” There are a thousand little things that make up what can only be called a “gay sensibility.” This doesn’t mean that every single gay man has all or even most of these traits/likes/dislikes. They are simply shared by many of us. And yes all of those traits can be shared by straight people; but gay people bond around these commonalities and have added immeasurably to all of these areas of interest, deepening our connections to them and pride in ourselves and our community.

  • Mary

    Jay Sweetie,

    You have some of the most outrageous stereotypes for gays. One of those being disdain for violence. Please check the domestic violence records that occur in gay homes. Gays are outright against violence against gays until it is one of them doing the violent act. And then of course it becomes some other issue. But just like straights – gay domestic violence occurs – more often than gays want to admit.

  • Mary

    Not to mention that in addition to the that there is the larger representation of the S&M culture within the gay community (per capita).

  • Michael Bussee

    Gays are outright against violence against gays until it is one of them doing the violent act. And then of course it becomes some other issue.

    Mary, this is an outrageous and untrue statement. And I hope you know it.

  • Michael Bussee

    But just like straights – gay domestic violence occurs – more often than gays want to admit.

    What is your point here, Mary? Gays are people. They can have relationship, psychological and substance abuse problems that explode into violence — just like straights. What makes you think “gays” would not want to admit that?

    You take Jay to task for his “stereotypes” and then lay down a few of your own — gays are soft on violence when they are the ones doing it, gays don’t want to admit the extent of domestic violence, etc. Where do these stereotypes come from, Mary? What makes you paint “gays” in such a light?

  • Mary

    Michael,

    I am sorry about the facts. Domestic violence occurs in gay and lesbian relationships. Gays and lesbians become so outraged when a straight attacks a gay for being gay but then behind closed doors – there is gay on gay violence and domestic violence in gay homes.

    Of course, gays have this in common with the rest of the folks. Just showing that Jay’s comments were – well – uninformed. Gays don’t generally as a community have a disdain for violence. In public they have an outcry against violence. But when the doors are closed, there is more that goes on.

  • Mary

    By the way Michael – please follow up with any police department in a large city and see what the actual reports of domestic violence in gay and lesbian homes looks like. Also, follow up with the GLBT Center and GLBT counselors who work specifically with couples.

  • Jay W. Walker

    Mary,

    Gays are outright against violence against gays until it is one of them doing the violent act. And then of course it becomes some other issue.

    That’s like saying that women are against violence against women until women engage in violence against each other.

    Gay men don’t relish the culture of violence the way that heterosexual men do. You don’t hear a lot about gay boxing fans. You don’t hear about brawls at gay bars (unless cops are targeting the bar for a harassment raid.

    And as a gay man who has lived among and with gay men and has studied gay history for the last 24 years, I would say that I am far better situated to generalize about MY people than you are.

    Yes there is domestic violence in gay households. Most experts will tell you that domestic violence is a generational problem. Domestically violent people come from homes in which domestic violence and/or emotional abuse took place. Gay people as children suffer a disproportionate amount of domestic violence at the hands of bigoted parents and subsequently might have higher incidences of domestic abuse. Also, there is a possibility that gays might be more likely to report domestic violence (less households with children forcing the batterer to report the crime, more financial independence, etc) or possibly more likely to be taken in and booked by some bigoted police officers.

    S&M is the eroticization of pain, not necessarily violence. Although people who have experienced violence (and especially sexual violence) as children frequently develop SM tendencies as adults. In order to survive violence, some people try to make it their friend. For some adult survivors of abuse, it might even be a coping mechanism to avoid becoming a domestically violent person. Also, since gay people have been considered sexual outlaws; gay SM afficionados might simply be more open about their paraphilias than straight ones; so your statement that gay people are more into SM is on shaky ground, as well.

    When your first instinct is to judge a whole group of people, rather than to understand them you offer nothing to discourse.

  • Jay W. Walker

    Sorry,

    (less households with children forcing the batterer to report the crime, more financial independence, etc)

    should have been “forcing the BATTERED PERSON NOT to report the crime”

  • Mary

    That’s like saying that women are against violence against women until women engage in violence against each other

    That’s right. That’s exactly what I am saying.

  • Mary

    S&M is the eroticization of pain, not necessarily violence.

    And now you are providing the same lame excuse that some defense attornies have tried to get their clients off of a rape charge with.

    BTW, Jay – you do know I was lived among “your” people for well over a decade?

    I’m sorry that you are making excuses for people who have poor childhoods, toguh situations, and trauma. That does not give anyone a reason to perpetuate violence onto another human being or living creature for that matter.

    I am sorry but the facts are the facts about domestic violence and gay households. Not so different from the rest of the populations that has suffered domestic violence.

  • carole

    Jay W. Walker said,

    When your first instinct is to judge a whole group of people, rather than to understand them you offer nothing to discourse.

    before he said,

    Gay men don’t relish the culture of violence the way that heterosexual men do.

    Ironic. Telling.

    And….

    You don’t hear about brawls at gay bars

    Uhhhh, not a good example.

  • Mary

    Carole,

    LOL!!! I went back to my dismall television watcning and thought “Hey, he’s just lump all heterosexual men into one group! Wonder what he would say about the ancient armies that required a soldier to fight alongside his male lover?”

    Okay – Jay must be young and hasn’t thought some of these arguments out before.

  • Mary

    Jay

    I did not say more into S&M. I wrote – There is a larger representation of S&M in the gay culture. Meaning that gays are more outwardly expressive about this tendency if they have it than you would find in other “communities”.

    Tsk tsk. You sound like someone else I know.

  • carole

    Gay people as children suffer a disproportionate amount of domestic violence at the hands of bigoted parents and subsequently might have higher incidences of domestic abuse

    .

    I’ve not heard of this. Have a source? Stats?

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Mary ~ Oct 1, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    Jay Sweetie,

    You have some of the most outrageous stereotypes for gays. One of those being disdain for violence. Please check the domestic violence records that occur in gay homes. Gays are outright against violence against gays until it is one of them doing the violent act. And then of course it becomes some other issue. But just like straights – gay domestic violence occurs – more often than gays want to admit.

    Mary Sweetie,

    Perhaps you can provide some facts to support this assertion? Because by my last reading gay domestic violence was about the same as straight domestic violence.

    And not only do we “admit” it, but we have programs to address it.

    I did not say more into S&M. I wrote – There is a larger representation of S&M in the gay culture. Meaning that gays are more outwardly expressive about this tendency if they have it than you would find in other “communities”.

    Sorry, Mistress Mary, I don’t get B/D or S/M but from what I hear these are as popular with straights as with gays. We just don’t have our version of a Peter LaBarbera to print scandalous pictures and pretend that it is representative of all straights. Your little per capita assumptions seem to be based in your own stereotypes, not Jays.

    Incidentally, Mary, this whole train of argument is beginning to verge on ‘statements based on stereotype and assumptions of gay inferiority based on animus.’ I’ll not use the common word for that as it tends to ruffle feathers. I’d love it if you reconsidered some of both the assumptions and the way in which you are speaking.

    Phrases like “gays become outraged” and “Gays are outright against violence against gays until it is one of them doing the violent act” are inflamatory and designed to smear, demean, and anger others at this site.

    Tsk tsk. You sound like someone else I know.

    I was thinking precisely the same thing.

    BTW, Jay – you do know I was lived among “your” people for well over a decade?

    But for many years since you have been emersed in a culture that breeds, disseminates, and genuinely believes the very worst possible stereotypes about gay people. I think it is possible that in that time your attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions have become consistent with your communities shared attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions.

    Carole,

    On the issue of public interpersonal male relations, Jay is abosolutely correct in his characterization of avoiding violence. While there is domestic violence in all types of romantic relationships, anyone who deals with public violence will tell you that there is a sharp difference between the way in which gay men interreact with each other and the way straight men interreact.

    I don’t know if it is cultural or for some other reason, but a gay bar can go years without a bar fight while this is a common occurrance in bars frequented by young straight men.

    The most popular young people bar locations in Los Angeles are both in West Hollywood. Straight is on Sunset and gay is on Santa Monica, two parallel streets close to each other but worlds apart when it comes to fights or destruction of property.

    I wouldn’t necessarily assume this is an intrinsic difference. It may be culture, it may be a hold over from the days when you absolutely did not want to draw attention, or it may be something else entirely. But it is true.

  • Mary

    Timothy,

    That;s what I said – that domestic violence exists in the gay community as much as it does in the heterosexual community -so the idea that they – gays – disdain violence more so than heterosexuals is inaccurate.

    I said that S&M is given more outward expression by those who are into it that exist in the gay community – not that it exists at a greater level. Just given more of an outward expression by those who are into it. = thus once again showing that gays do not disdain violence more so than heterosexuals

    And actually Timothy, I don’t live in a culture that breeds and disseminates the worst possible stereotypes about gays – remember I am a conservative christian who supports gay rights, gay marriage etc… and live in a “diverse” community, Unless you think gays are misrepresenting themselves, you can not possibly make the assertion of what culture I am influenced by.

    You have confused facts with bigotry.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Also, there is a possibility that gays might be more likely to report domestic violence (less households with children forcing the batterer to report the crime, more financial independence, etc) or possibly more likely to be taken in and booked by some bigoted police officers.

    This veering off into a side discussion about violence and casting gay dysfunction against straight dysfunction is not generally helpful. It’s just the game of one-upmanship.

    I do see that Jay was attempting to make a point in line with the original topic above by pointing back to the fear or distrust of police or the general downside of the closet culture. I’ve seen reports that gay domestic violence is sometimes covered up because of threats by one partner to out the other or just the fear that getting police involved would do the same. Domestic violence is horrible, no matter what the orientation of the batterers or victims. It’s hard to get a handle on accurate statistics.

  • Mary

    This whole post started on a discussion of Jennings and has turned the corner many times.

    I am surprised at the lattitude of excuses provided to a gay person by other gays. And then the yelling and crying about how gays are just like other people – excopt different. Is anyone else tired of the double standard? As well, when a particularly uncomfortable aspect of life in general is shown to exist in the gay community (as well as in the heterosexual community) gays seem to take it as an attack and run to the defense of all gay people.

  • Ann

    Is anyone else tired of the double standard?

    Yes.

  • Eddy

    Jay–

    Thank you for your response re the differences. I’m sorry it got detoured around the issue of violence but I hear what you are saying. (Even about the overall attitude towards violence…I hear you…especially when you made it more clear with the allusion to sports like boxing. I realize you aren’t speaking for every gay man but I do believe you are speaking for a cultural norm. And every norm does seem to have its exceptions.

    And the main reason I brought it up is that, here on the blog, we are constantly being confronted for using phrases like ‘I left the gay lifestyle behind’…and, people who use that phrase are often referring to those very issues that you elaborated on. We get judged for thinking in those terms and yet many gay people, yourself included, do. Frankly, I think it’s a matter of ‘say anything’ from a few of the bloggers. When the discussion of differences came up several weeks ago, I was more or less ‘put in my place’ for suggesting that there were differences in approach to life, to sexual matters, and in lifestyle. Now, the same people are arguing that there are differences. I’m not going to go there. The absurdity has reached a new high. I do thank you for weighing in and answering my question; I appreciated that your answer was straightforward and honest even if some people did take exception to the violence example.

  • Michael Bussee

    Gays don’t generally as a community have a disdain for violence.

    Maybe not the ladies you hung out with, Mary, but the guys I know hate it — having been the target of it growing up. What makes you say something like this? What do you base this on, besides your own prejudice?

  • Michael Bussee

    Gays are different and the same. Straights are different and the same. I think we have to be careful making generalizations about an entire group of people. Of course we are the same. We are human. Of course we are different. We are gay.

    Being gay in a non-gay or even anti-gay culture is bound to create some differences in experience, attitude, beliefs, lifestyle etc. but these will vary from individual to individual.

    What I am reacting to are group generalizations, negative sterotypes. I reject the implication that these “differences” make one group less valuable, less opposed to violence, less opposed to child abuse, less concerned with holiness, etc. than the other.

    For example, Mary thinks gays, as a group, do not really disdain violence. It’s that kind of nonsense I am talking about.

  • Ann

    Michael,

    I am not sure but perhaps Mary is referring to domestic violence. I do not have any general population statistics but have personally known couples who have unfortunately had this occure in their relationships.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Mary

    I am surprised at the lattitude of excuses provided to a gay person by other gays. And then the yelling and crying about how gays are just like other people – excopt different. Is anyone else tired of the double standard?

    Do you genuinely not see that this sort of language is inflamatory and accusatory?

    I’m not so fond of abuse. Y’know?

  • Michael Bussee

    Ann, if that is what she means, she should make that clear. Of course gays, being human, are not immune to domestice violence, but to suggest that, as a community we do not have a “general disdain for violence” is just plain insulting. I agree with TImothy:

    Phrases like “gays become outraged” and “Gays are outright against violence against gays until it is one of them doing the violent act” are inflamatory and designed to smear, demean, and anger others at this site

    .I also agree with Debbie:

    This veering off into a side discussion about violence and casting gay dysfunction against straight dysfunction is not generally helpful. It’s just the game of one-upmanship.

  • Ann

    if that is what she means, she should make that clear. Of course gays, being human, are not immune to domestice violence, but to suggest that, as a community we do not have a “general disdain for violence” is just plain insulting

    Michael,

    I said “perhaps” because that was also another possibility. I do not think there is any more domestic violence in same gender couples than opposite gender couples. I could be wrong as my thoughts on this come from only personal observations.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Michael and Jay,

    Guys, I think I’m going to let y’all carry the torch for a while on your own.

    I’ve been paying attention during my latest participation at this site and I’ve come to some conclusions.

    Those who comment here are not interested in resolution. They aren’t seeking a common ground. Rather, they are primarily interested in maligning gay people and communities and finding faults, real or imagined.

    Perhaps this fills a need. I know that often ex-Christians are compelled to justify their bigotries and confirm their decisions by exaggerating every evil of anyone professing faith. I suspect something similar is at play here.

    But whatever it is, I’m done. At least for now.

    I’ve reached my limit for abuse. And far too much of it has been nasty, vile, and very very personal.

    I’ve tried hard not to react to personal insults and slurs. And I have gone out of my way not to respond in kind; not to single people out for retribution, accusation, and abuse.

    This has, however, been about as effective as giving in to the bully on the playground. By choosing not to attack others personally, it has only encouraged some to be ever bolder in their snide remarks, slurs, and contemptious postings.

    I’ll admit I did lose it briefly when David Blakeslee claimed that I would next be lobbying for the right to have sex with children. That one was just too much.

    But I could take that silly childish stuff if I were being effective. And clearly I’m not. So I’ll let those with more patience than me carry on. Or, at least for now.

    God bless you,

    Timothy

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Timothy, it’s interesting and timely that I would come to check the blog and find your last comments. Because I just came from a time of prayer and reflection, during which, believe it or not, your name was particularly in front of me in a God-compelling way.

    So, I had already planned to come here and say to you, especially, and for the benefit of others that I don’t want the hard time we have given each other in this discussion to be taken as a personal attack form either of us on the other. I have sought to stay above that, but I also realize how easy it is in rapid-fire exchanges for any of us to slip up and let our frustration get the better of us. If I have done that and have been overly offensive to you, I sincerely apologize.

    I hope we can all realize the difference between disagreeing and trying to get at the facts and conflating personalities with ideologies.

    I respect your beliefs, even when I can’t go along with them. I said yesterday or the day before that I believed you were sincere in your core beliefs. We differ on some key points, and ever will. So be it. Not the end of the world.

    There comes a point of diminishing returns in these discussions, and when they turn into a cacophony of ad hominems and hair-splitting mini-tirades, they ought to be put aside.

  • Ann

    Those who comment here are not interested in resolution.

    Timothy,

    Sorry I cannot read the whole post – who are you referring to when you say “they” and what kind of resoution would you like to have them interested in?

  • Mary

    Michael – I have made it clear several times. You just do not read the whole post.

  • carole

    @Timothy,

    To my “Uhhhh, not a good example,” about the lack of violence in gay vs. straight bars, you responded,

    On the issue of public interpersonal male relations, Jay is abosolutely correct in his characterization of avoiding violence.

    I agree that among most gays there is an avoidance of violence or physical as a way of resolving conflict. As the research of Bailey and others points out, the stereotype of little boys who wind up being gay avoiding the traditional rough (although not necessarily “violent”) masculine play, holds true as a generalization. Among those boys there is both an aversion to physical activities requiring competition, especially those involving one-on-one competition, and in many a fear of it.

    As young men and adults, it still holds true, thus suggesting that even with the added incendiary stimulus of alcohol, gay men in bars would use their fists much less than their straight counterparts should conflict arise. Let it be said, however, that fighting among straight men adults is pretty much limited to a rather steady subset of them who committ a high proportion of those acts.

    Second, like most straight bars, the gay bar is a social meeting place, a place where gay men find comraderie, and a place where they meet other gay men for sexual and/or romantic purposes–not a great place for violence if one wishes

    to make an impression on the cute guy sitting next to him. Thus, my “Uhhh, not a good example.”

    In straight bars where men wish to impress women, get a date with them or simply find a one-night stand, they too are not likely to indulge in violence. In fact, I’ve never been in a bar–in college where young men and women were looking to hook up nor since then as an adult and where any act of violence occurred. Never. Like I said, certain types of bars that serve a subset of males are those places where that stuff primarily occurs.

    Physical assertiveness and even aggression need not and most often doesn’t lead to violence; in fact, among men, it’s only the knowledge that some men will not rule out the possibility of physical altercation if conflict grows heated that keeps physical altercations to a minimum. The “weaker” male backs off.

    Thus, my “Uhhh, not a good example”–the bar example, that is, is a poor one for a variety of reasons when addressing the issue of domestic violence.

    After all, just as there are plenty of straight men who would never challenge another man physically but who would indeed commit violence against their physical inferiors–wives, girlfriends–there appear to be gays who’d never challenge another man, particularly a straight man, but would indulge in violence against a partner. I don’t know in the case of gay domestic violence if these two cases are analogous since I don’t know if the aggressor is the physically dominant one in most cases. (And yes, I do know that straight women are often at fault in domestic violence cases but to the extent men are).

  • Ann

    I do not have the same goodness or generosity of spirit that Debbie Thurman has in this matter. Timothy excuses himself from discussions when his hurtful remarks are met with confrontation. He seems oblivious to the fact that he can dish it out but cannot take it. It is easy to identify as a victim yet it takes courage to look in the mirror at one’s own behavior and then have the maturity and grace and humility to correct the wrongs that have been purposely directed to hurt others as he has done over and over and over again.

    I am humbly asking Dr. Throckmorton to submit this post and not delete it.

  • carole

    @Timothy,

    The most popular young people bar locations in Los Angeles are both in West Hollywood. Straight is on Sunset and gay is on Santa Monica, two parallel streets close to each other but worlds apart when it comes to fights or destruction of property.

    Sounds to me that there is a culture or tradition that has been allowed to develop in that area so that the “subset” of men I referred to have been allowed to continue to gather at the straight bar. There is no such place f in my community or even the surrounding communities. The bars in my area that cater to young people, have NO violence. What do you think?

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    I do not have the same goodness or generosity of spirit that Debbie Thurman has in this matter.

    I may not be feeling so generous in spirit tomorrow, Ann. :)

    Timothy is a big boy, and he has to look at himself in the mirror, same as we all do. I will pray we will all stop to examine our motives and words now and then.

  • Michael Bussee

    As young men and adults, it still holds true, thus suggesting that even with the added incendiary stimulus of alcohol, gay men in bars would use their fists much less than their straight counterparts should conflict arise.

    Carole, that has been my experience. I have been going to gay bars for years now, and have witnessed no acts of violence between the gay men. Some have gotten a little drunk and rowdy and had to be escorted out by the bouncer, but this is rare. Usually the atmosphere is social, relaxed, celebratory, cruisy and fun.

    I have witnessed only a handful of physical altercations — shoving, hair-pulling, beer bottles being thrown,etc. — but these were always between women arguing over whose girlfriend was cruising who. But as I said, these incidents have been rare and were definitely alcohol-related. I have also witnessed physical attacks by straight guys who wandered in to start trouble.

    I don’t know the stats on domestic violence and gays. I am sure it happens. Is it more common for gays than straights? More common for lesbians than gay men? Not making any assumptions, just curious.

    And then the yelling and crying about how gays are just like other people – excopt different. Is anyone else tired of the double standard?

    Mary, I do not recall any “yelling and crying” — just objections to negative stereotypic generalizations about gays as a group or community. We are individuals!

    Are we the “same” as straights? I think for the most part, yes. Same humanity. Same basic needs for love, attachment, family, purpose, meaning, safety, spirituality. Are we “different” that straights? Yes. Different attractions. Different experiences. Different sense of being in the world. But different does not mean good or bad. God is the God of variety and diversity. He didn’t stop at one color of butterfly or bird.

    .

  • Ann

    Michael,

    The only real difference I have observed is individual attitudes – gays and straights (ugh, still hate labels) either choose to see each other with dignity and respect and as individuals fearfully and wonderfully made or they choose to see each other as part of an enemy group and act accordingly. Being civil is much easier when we don’t have to be right all the time.

  • carole

    In my post I added parenthetically,

    (And yes, I do know that straight women are often at fault in domestic violence cases but to the extent men are).

    Whoops–I meant “but not to the extent men are.”

  • Ann

    It would be good for Kevin Jennings to put all this speculation to rest and allow himself to be interviewed on a tv show or hold a press conference to answer the questions that so many people have. Has he done that? It seems like he has a lot of people talking for him instead of for himself. Perhaps minds could be changed toward him if he addressed his past decisions and gave America the opportunity to see his sincerity.

  • Eddy

    WHAT?! Timothy’s gone AGAIN?? I swear he’s had more farewell performances than Cher! I love the very adult way he takes his leave hurling generalized, unproven insults around while playing the victim card. Almost an art form…oh…and a bit of a demonstration of the love for theatrics that Jay hinted at as a rather common characteristic of the gay community.

    Michael said:

    Gays are different and the same. Straights are different and the same. I think we have to be careful making generalizations about an entire group of people. Of course we are the same. We are human. Of course we are different. We are gay.

    Being gay in a non-gay or even anti-gay culture is bound to create some differences in experience, attitude, beliefs, lifestyle etc. but these will vary from individual to individual.

    What I am reacting to are group generalizations, negative sterotypes. I reject the implication that these “differences” make one group less valuable, less opposed to violence, less opposed to child abuse, less concerned with holiness, etc. than the other.

    I agree with all of it except the last paragraph. I believe he is reacting to more than that. When someone uses a phrase like ‘gay lifestyle’, he takes offense and assumes they mean it as something negative. When I’ve spoken of a ‘gay identity’ or ‘identification with gay culture or sub-culture’, my terminology is strenuously rejected…and there’s the constant ‘I don’t know what you mean by ‘gay identity’ or ‘identifying with the gay culture’. I believe that to be bogus. In my gay hey-day we often joked that you could have your ‘gay card revoked’ if you didn’t like Barbra, Liza or Bette.

    Years later, it was the likes of Donna Summer or comedienne Margaret Cho. Performers who are said to have a ‘large gay following’. Now, why is that? Are these performers gay? Are they attractive men? Yet there is something in each of them that touches a common thread of identification in large enough numbers to be recognized as a ‘large gay following’.

    Jay touched on a love for the theatre, wit, camp, the non-sexual but close female relationship…while these may be generalizations, they are also very true and are hallmarks of the gay lifestyle. (Jack and Will were very different gay characters but it’s interesting that they both had the listed loves. Will appreciated theatre while Jack loved theatrics (especially if he was at the center); Will’s wit was often more intelligent than Jack’s but Jack’s had a touch more sting; Will could camp it up around other gays while Jack camped with every breath; Will had Grace but Jack had Karen.) Am I a ‘used to be gay’ who got sucked into a bad television show because it pandered to straight stereotypes of gays? If so, I joined a crowd of gays who also bought into it. The day of the final broadcast was a big enough deal that several of the gay bars were riveted to the final episode. Some said that there hadn’t been such a cultural bonding over non-sports TV since the days of the Dynasty nights. (True to gay humor and wit, one bar drew a huge crowd every week by showing Dynasty…they gave away free drinks whenever one of the ladies slapped the other.) This is part of ‘lifestyle’; responding to it is ‘identification’.

    ——-

    I don’t have much to say re the ‘violence detour’. I see the reaction to Mary’s ‘stereotyping’ remarks but then I’m puzzled why there was no companion reaction to Jay’s ‘sterotyping’ remarks that gays were more sensitive and less violent. Why is proof and back-up demanded for Mary’s opinion but not for Jay’s?

    I’d like to submit a possibility that we’ve overlooked in the discussion. Jay said ‘gays’ and it may have been more correct to say ‘gay men’. It was interesting that even Michael, in his rebuttal to Mary’s opinion, mentioned that the only physical fighting you might encounter in a gay bar was two drunk lesbians. That struck me because it mirrored something I had heard way back before my first trip into a gay bar. “Oh, it only looks dark on the outside. It’s a nice and safe place. The only thing you have to watch out for is the drunk lesbians with pool sticks.” I reject stereotypes so it makes me cringe to say that BUT most stereotypes have at least a kernel of truth buried within. Is it possible that one difference between gay women and gay men is that the women have a greater affinity for violence? Beyond the ‘drunk and rowdy lesbian’ stereotype, aren’t lesbians more inclined to be involved in contact sports than their gay male counterparts? Is it a real difference or simply a stereotype? And…with the fact that Mary was involved in the lesbian lifestyle, is it possible that she saw more of this violent tendency than the men did?

  • Mary

    For anyone who is interested – please google this search

    gay domestic violence

  • Mary

    My goodness – we are using gay bar behavior as the gauge for gays? That’s offensive. And we have all seen some pretty nasty things happen in some gay bars. I AM SURE not all gays act that way in public.

  • Mary
  • Jay W. Walker

    Really, Mary. How often do you go to Gay bars? And we were not using Gay bars as a guage for gays. But since both straigt men and gay men congregate in bars, I thought that comparing levels of violence between the two would be illustrative of my point.

    And I think that was clear to everyone here but you, Mary.

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