‘There’s nothing mutual about it’: White evangelicals, privileged distress and grievance envy

‘There’s nothing mutual about it’: White evangelicals, privileged distress and grievance envy January 15, 2013

If the evangelical reaction to the Louie Giglio inaugural brouhaha seems familiar, that’s because it is. It’s mostly a repeat performance of the same song the same folks were singing when the fast-food chain Chick-fil-A was criticized last summer for funding anti-gay groups.

Same range of complaints, same range of complainers.

No need, then, to reinvent the wheel in responding to this rendition. Let’s just go back to one of the better responses to the earlier round, from Wayne Self at Owldolatrous, who wrote of the flustercluck:

This isn’t about mutual tolerance because there’s nothing mutual about it. If we agree to disagree on this issue, you walk away a full member of this society and I don’t. There is no “live and let live” on this issue because Dan Cathy is spending millions to very specifically NOT let me live. I’m not trying to do that to him.

Asking for “mutual tolerance” on this like running up to a bully beating a kid to death on the playground and scolding them both for not getting along. I’m not trying to dissolve Mr. Cathy’s marriage or make his sex illegal. I’m not trying to make him a second-class citizen, or get him killed. He’s doing that to me, folks; I’m just fighting back.

Self is describing an asymmetrical situation — “there’s nothing mutual about it.” This is not to say that the situation was entirely one-sided. Chick-fil-A and its owners and supporters were subjected to some harsh criticism and pointed ridicule and I’m sure that was unpleasant for them. Such unpleasantness, however, is not in any way comparable to the unpleasantness Self describes of having powerful people funding powerful lobbyists determined to invalidate one’s marriage or to make one legally a second-class citizen.

Nor can the unpleasantness of being criticized and ridiculed be separated from the immediate cause of that criticism and ridicule — the fact that the criticism and ridicule is a response to those folks trying to enforce, encode and defend legal discrimination.

So both sides have real grievances, but those grievances are in no way proportional or comparable. Hold that thought.

I was reminded of Self’s splendid post on the Chick-fil-A business when reading another terrific post from last year by Doug Muder of The Weekly Sift. Muder’s “The Distress of the Privileged” gives a name to something that we all recognize.

I don’t know if Muder coined the term “privileged distress” or not, but I learned it from him and I’ve found it invaluable. Privileged distress. The distress of the privileged. The anxiety that the privileged feel when others begin to enjoy the same privileges that had previously been exclusive to them. Ah, yes, that.

As Muder writes, “Once you grasp the concept of privileged distress, you’ll see it everywhere.” Actually, you saw it everywhere even before that, but you just didn’t know how to articulate and classify what it was you were looking at.

He describes the idea by reminding us of a scene from the movie Pleasantville:

In a memorable scene from the 1998 film Pleasantville (in which two 1998 teen-agers are transported into the black-and-white world of a 1950s TV show), the father of the TV-perfect Parker family returns from work and says the magic words “Honey, I’m home!”, expecting them to conjure up a smiling wife, adorable children, and dinner on the table.

This time, though, it doesn’t work. No wife, no kids, no food. Confused, he repeats the invocation, as if he must have said it wrong. After searching the house, he wanders out into the rain and plaintively questions this strangely malfunctioning Universe: “Where’s my dinner?”

Poor Mr. Parker, he says, is experiencing privileged distress:

As the culture evolves, people who benefited from the old ways invariably see themselves as victims of change. The world used to fit them like a glove, but it no longer does. Increasingly, they find themselves in unfamiliar situations that feel unfair or even unsafe. Their concerns used to take center stage, but now they must compete with the formerly invisible concerns of others.

If you are one of the newly-visible others, this all sounds whiny compared to the problems you face every day. It’s tempting to blast through such privileged resistance with anger and insult.

Tempting, but also, I think, a mistake. The privileged are still privileged enough to foment a counter-revolution, if their frustrated sense of entitlement hardens.

So I think it’s worthwhile to spend a minute or two looking at the world from George Parker’s point of view: He’s a good 1950s TV father. He never set out to be the bad guy. He never meant to stifle his wife’s humanity or enforce a dull conformity on his kids. Nobody ever asked him whether the world should be black-and-white; it just was.

George never demanded a privileged role, he just uncritically accepted the role society assigned him and played it to the best of his ability. And now suddenly that society isn’t working for the people he loves, and they’re blaming him.

It seems so unfair. He doesn’t want anybody to be unhappy. He just wants dinner.

Read the whole thing. It’s long, but it’s rich (and it includes plenty of insight that I’m not including here even despite the huge chunks I’m quoting).

One of the valuable insights Muder provides is that privileged distress involves legitimate distress for those who experience it. Mr. Parker never had to go without dinner before, but now he does. That is unpleasant for Mr. Parker.

Muder argues that we should acknowledge the reality of Mr. Parker’s experience, because privileged distress is a tipping point and Mr. Parker remains powerful enough that we do not want to tip him the wrong way. We should have compassion for Mr. Parker’s situation but, unlike Parker himself, we should also keep that situation in its proper proportion and perspective:

George deserves compassion, but his until-recently-ideal housewife Betty Parker (and the other characters assigned subservient roles) deserves justice. George and Betty’s claims are not equivalent, and if we treat them the same way, we do Betty an injustice.

The important thing here is not just that you and I recognize the distinction of what is due, respectively, to Mr. and Mrs. Parker, but also that we help George Parker to understand this. We have to help him come to see that his claim is not equivalent — that “there’s nothing mutual about it” and that the compassion he seeks does not trump, or equal, the justice due to his wife and to others.

Muder outlines what is at stake here:

All his life, George has tried to be a good guy by the lights of his society. But society has changed and he hasn’t, so he isn’t seen as a good guy any more. He feels terrible about that, but what can he do?

One possibility: Maybe he could learn to be a good guy by the lights of this new society. It would be hard. He’d have to give up some of his privileges. He’d have to examine his habits to see which ones embody assumptions of supremacy. He’d have to learn how to see the world through the eyes of others, rather than just assume that they will play their designated social roles. Early on, he would probably make a lot of mistakes and his former inferiors would correct him. It would be embarrassing.

But there is an alternative: counter-revolution. George could decide that his habits, his expectations, and the society they fit are RIGHT, and this new society is WRONG. If he joined with the other fathers … of Pleasantville, maybe they could force everyone else back into their traditional roles.

I think what we’re seeing from white evangelicals after the Giglio controversy, and what we saw earlier on Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, is the struggle of a group poised between those two choices, those two possible responses: Adaptation or counter-revolution.

This awkward moment between possibilities is characterized by what I’ll call grievance envy.

Let’s stick with poor George Parker. There he is just as Muder describes him, betwixt accepting and rejecting the change that he’s still struggling to understand.

And at that point he begins to perceive two things he hadn’t seen before. First, he notices that these others have a grievance, and that it is a legitimate grievance that gives them just cause to complain. (The clearest illustration of this is the “I wish I didn’t have to say this” tone of much recent writing reaffirming the traditional condemnation of homosexuality.) And the second thing Mr. Parker notices is that this grievance is powerful and compelling — that it gives those others a solid moral standing. He begins to see, in other words, that he is losing the argument precisely because the other side has a legitimate and serious grievance.

And so he attempts to respond in like manner. If their legitimate grievance gives those others an undeniable moral standing, well, then he has a legitimate grievance too. And keep in mind, he does — no one has brought him his customary dinner and he is experiencing a real, inconvenient and unpleasant peckishness.

If they have their complaints and grievances, then he has his, too. He didn’t see this contest coming, but if this is how the rules of this new world work, then he’ll do his best to match them grievance for grievance.

Again, I think this is what we’re seeing now from many white evangelicals in response to LGBT people and their increasingly bold demands for legal equality, marriage equality, equal protection in the workplace and equal standing in the church. We’re seeing grievance envy. The cruel reality and awful legitimacy of LGBT people’s complaint is beginning to sink in, and evangelicals have begun to apprehend, however partially, that this gives the argument for equality a compelling moral force. Evangelicals are beginning to grasp that this is why they are losing the argument, and maybe even that this is why they cannot win.

And so they instinctively do what nearly all of us humans do when first surprised by and confronted with the grievances of others: They start asserting their own list of grievances as though it was Festivus Day.

Here is a classic example of what I’m talking about:

Evangelicals are frequently mocked in popular culture, frequently given a raw deal in academia and elite media, and evangelicals who hold to traditional views of sexual ethics are — as the Louie Giglio affair shows — increasingly shoved to the side of the public square.

This is an attempt to claim mutuality despite the fact that, as Wayne Self patiently pointed out, “there’s nothing mutual about it.” This complaint is so utterly disproportionate, so completely asymmetrical and incomparable as a counter-claim that it’s tempting just to dismiss it as nothing more than self-centered, narcissistic flailing.

And when I say “it’s tempting,” that’s because this is what I am tempted to do, and what I often have done, and what I’m struggling not to do even here in this post.

I’m not suggesting that it’s wrong to regard this wholly disproportionate attempt to equate grievances as self-centered and narcissistic, or even that it’s wrong to characterize it as such, because that characterization is accurate. What I mean is that it’s wrong to completely dismiss such attempts and the vastly lesser grievances they inflate — both because that lacks compassion, and because it’s likely to produce poor results, nudging the privileged closer to using the power of their privilege to reassert itself in a counter-revolution.

Just like poor bewildered George Parker, these folks deserve a measure of compassion. Keep in mind that part of what it means to be privileged is that you don’t ever have to realize it. That’s why the “invisible knapsack” is invisible. They’re trying to make sense of a confusing new world. Confusion and obliviousness can produce the same effects as malice, but they require a different response.

Louie Giglio and his supporters have always thought of themselves as good guys. And they’re accustomed to being perceived as good guys. And I’m sure most of them don’t want that to be merely perception — they want to actually be good guys. But they’re no longer quite as sure what that means, or whether that’s even still possible. The world has changed around them and they’re trying to figure out this new world with its new rules. And why hasn’t anybody brought them dinner, already?

We need to help them sort through all of that — to help them see that counter-revolution is not their only option.

I think Muder is right when he says of Mr. Parker, “Which choice he makes will depend largely on the other characters.” Those others will have to show “firmness together with understanding,” he says, for Parker to see that “becoming a good guy in the new world” is still possible.

It may also depend, in part, on those other characters’ willingness to “engage in a correspondence” — perhaps for years.

Now, of course, George Parker cannot be my primary concern or my main priority. Justice for Mrs. Parker is a more urgent demand than compassion for Mr. Parker. But if compassion for Mr. Parker helps to rescue him from becoming a counter-revolutionary, then it will also help to rescue her from suffering the effects of his counter-revolution.

Such a counter-revolution will not and cannot be won, but it’s best for us all if, to whatever extent possible, we can keep it from being waged in the first place.

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  • Water_Bear

    There seems to be a bit of a weird logical leap there though; why should we automatically assume the rules apply equally to everyone? 

    Ms* Christina says that universality is the basis of ethics, but there are tons of internally consistent and equally valid ethical philosophies which divide moral agents into different categories, not to mention the way they decide who is a moral agent. Seeing as it’s a question of evaluating respect for authority, in-group loyalty and (ritual?) purity against fairness and hedonistic utility, starting from the position that ethics are always universal is a case of begging the question rather than a supported argument.

    *I don’t see a doctorate or anything on her bio, so I’m guessing here.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Never knowingly met any such people, then, and clearly wrong about their rarity. Sorry all.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    To be fair, it’s not the sort of thing one talks about widely. So you may know lots of people like this, you just don’t know that they are–I’m assuming it’s not just an Australian thing to keep your inner life largely to yourself.

  • Uh… I don’t think she’s saying that universality is the basis of ethics.  She’s saying that those ethics which are easily universalized ought to be held above those which aren’t.  Part of her reasoning is that as we expand our world and connect with people on a more global scale, prioritizing common interests over tribal ones is more likely to be beneficial to more people.

  • Water_Bear

    “In other words, the philosophical underpinning of ethics are that they ought to be applicable to everyone. They ought to be universalizable.”

  • Lori

    I’m assuming it’s not just an Australian thing to keep your inner life largely to yourself.  

    Here in the US we tend toward the extremes (I know you’re shocked to hear this about us). People seem to either keep everything inside or let it all hang as far out as possible. Our tendency toward massive overshare and the fact that it sometimes feels as if TMI is our national sport gets all the press, but bottling it up, possibly until it explodes. is also very much a thing.

    I don’t think this particular things is widely talked about and my guess is that it’s at least partially due to what we saw in this thread. It can be really hard to clearly express the notion of feeling compassion for someone without seeming to be defending them or siding with them or treating their issues as more important than those who they’ve hurt. It’s often easier to just not talk about it than it is to risk hurting or offending someone or giving people an entirely wrong idea about your beliefs and/or priorities.

    I think it can also be difficult to talk about without sounding naive or sort of Pollyanna-ish. Like you’re proving true all the nasty stereotypes about dumb Liberals who think everything would be fine if everyone just held hands and sang Kumbaya. That isn’t at all what I mean, but it’s tough to convey that.

  • AnonymousSam

    I would have thought Fred counted as one who is compassionate toward those who cause harm. After all, isn’t he so often criticized for giving too much credit to people with black marks on their record?

    I don’t entirely understand it myself. It’s something I try to emulate, but there’s only so much I am willing to extend to people causing harm to others. Then again… well, yeah.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I don’t think this particular thing is widely talked about and my guess is that it’s at least partially due to what we saw in this thread. It can be really hard to clearly express the notion of feeling compassion for someone without seeming to be defending them or siding with them or treating their issues as more important than those who they’ve hurt.


  • vsm

    It’s not very easy to divide the world into those who cause harm and those who are hurt. Black men are perfectly capable of appalling misogyny. Gay people have contributed to islamophobia. Many who vote Republican are economically and educationally deprived. Even leftists with the correct position on every question use computers manufactured by exploited third world workers to talk about their correct positions over the Internet. I have no idea how to pick which of these people deserve or don’t deserve compassion.

  • Okay, I missed that.  But aside from making a sweeping declaration that’s not verifiable, I’d say she’s bang-on:  universalizable values are the better thing for a global society.

  • AnonymousSam

    The dividing line, for me, is when that harm is intended. Sometimes it’s obvious, like the legislators who tried to pass a law requiring vaginal ultrasound probing to be eligible for an abortion. When physicians argued that an external ultrasound would be just as effective, and no ultrasound at all was medically necessary, the legislators refused to listen and continued to insist on vaginal probing being mandatory.

    I don’t think people like that are unaware of the harm they’re doing. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature. Do they deserve compassion? Personally, I’d rather have them tried for conspiracy to commit sexual assault.

  • Water_Bear

    Why? What makes them better, and how is better defined?

    This is what I took issue with about her post in the first place; stating a claim is not evidence of that claim, and a claim without evidence is not terribly useful.

  • *sigh*  How is “more likely to benefit more people” not an adequate explanation for “better”, in this context?

  • FWIW, prosecuting people who deliberately and knowingly inflict obvious harm on others sounds like a fine idea, and I endorse it fully.

    I have no idea if it’s legally feasible in the case you refer to, but if it isn’t, I prefer a legal system in which it is. And even if it turns out that such a system entails consequences which would make me change my mind were they explained to me, I would prefer those consequences not be entailed.

    If that’s incompatible with compassion for those who harm others, then I don’t understand what compassion is.

    Which is entirely possible.

  • Water_Bear

    Because the question is “Is weighing harm and fairness more important than purity authority and loyalty?” and your answer supporting harm and fairness is based on an assumption that harm is the principle axis we should judge and that we need to judge it fairly in terms of everyone’s needs.

    I’m not trying to be difficult and I understand utilitarian reasoning, I used to be a utilitarian. Part of the reason I stopped was I ran into this same wall; why should we make our ethics universal, and what is the point we’re willing to stop counting feeling creatures. I’m curious how other people resolved it.

  • For someone who’s not trying to be difficult, you’re doing an awfully good job.  You know what?  I don’t have the spoons for this.  Someone else can take over if they’re interested in trying to argue with you.  I’m done.

  • Universalizable ethics?

    About about the UN Declaration of Human Rights?

  • Water_Bear

    Is that a typo?

  • vsm

    I can’t say I feel much like walking a mile in their shoes either, though I would point out that compassion does not preclude prosecution. Still, legislators and the rich are kind of an easy target because of their high social position. What about, say, a black working-class family that disowned one of its children for being gay?

  • AnonymousSam

    Still relatively black and white to me. I’m sure they feel betrayed by their child, but that betrayal tends to resonate in terms of “my children are obligated to take after the best traits I see in myself, and to live according to my expectations.” It’s a denial of the individualism of the child, and disowning them is a far greater offense than any perceived fault.

    Bear in mind, if I got these things, then I wouldn’t have APD. My version of compassion is giving people a chance to change, but in terms of being sympathetic for them… I literally can’t do it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, I’d be siding with the gay kid over the kid’s black working-class family, because the issue at hand is heterosexism. If the issue at hand were, say, the kid got a $500K/yr job and started making noise about bootstraps and tax hikes for the poor and cuts for the rich, then the issue at hand would be classism (or wealthism or whatever), and I’d be siding with the family.

  • vsm

    I think most sensible people would side with the kid, but would you still feel sympathy for the family in other situations? Say, if they had another kid who did make it rich and did as you said? If so, I think I misunderstood you and AnonymousSam earlier.

  • EllieMurasaki

    In a different situation, yes, I’d feel different, what is your point?

  •  This is actually a very helpful comment for me in understanding your position; thank you.

    For my own part, I would say that the issue at hand in the scenario vsm describes is the family and their kid. Heterosexism is a big part of it, certainly, but so is institutional racism and class. And I expect so are lots of other things, many of which are personal to that family and that kid and I’m not aware of them (not least of which because vsm didn’t mention them).

    But I can see where, if I viewed the scenario as instead being primarily about heterosexism, I would approach it very differently.

    Perhaps relatedly: my father, had he been alive when I came out to my family, would almost undoubtedly have rejected me for my sexuality. That hurts, and I’m not sure that I can really forgive it, though I have tried.

    Nevertheless, when I think about it, what I think about is my father and the cultural and personal context that informed him; the issue at hand from my perspective is not solely or even primarily heterosexism.

    Of course, when I think about other people’s fathers, I can’t bring to that the same degree of context-knowledge that I bring to thinking about my own. But that reflects a limitation of my thinking, not some kind of fundamental difference between my father and other people’s, and I try to overcome that limitation where I can.

  • vsm

    I assumed that when you said you can’t extend sympathy to an oppressor, you meant that you couldn’t ever do it to such a person. I now see you were talking of a specific situation. Thus, you can sympathize with the hypothetical family in certain situations but not in others.

    I’m more sympathetic to a more holistic approach, along with Dave. Our family in question did not just wake up and decide to be homophobic, after all. They’re the products of social forces and have likely lacked resources that would have allowed them to better question certain assumptions.

    One potentially related thing I’m interested in is how someone has decided that LGBT people are white. This is a recent development: if you watch footage from the Stonewall riots, you’ll see a lot of PoC, and at least in the 70’s it was easier to depict black gays than white ones in movies, at least according to the Celluloid Closet. In a few decades, this appears to have changed. I think there’s a graduate thesis here.

  • Learned Cat

    I can’t help but hear Wayne Self’s plaint as a typical gay male persecution fantasy. Gays are not treated as second-class citizens and nobody is trying to beat them up. (The vast majority of the cases of “gay-bashing” the media promote turn out to be ordinary muggings.) In fact, gays are praised and pampered and promoted incessantly by the media, entertainment industry, academia and political establishment.

    The outrageous rhetoric of “civil rights” would be an insult to those who truly had to struggle to have their civil rights acknowledged, were it not for the fact that in the case of gays most people recognize they’re dealing with a lot of people who are somewhat mentally imbalanced. Of course, nobody has a “civil right” to redefine basic legal concepts like marriage.

    White privilege and male privilege and the privileges attendant on citizenship and wealth are serious, but not simple, subjects worth debating. But gays, as a hyperprivileged minority, look ridiculous trying to claim victim status.

  • The_L1985

    “Hyperprivileged?”  Please explain to me how any of the following are signs of privilege:

    1. Being unable to go to the courthouse and fill out a marriage license in many states, and thus being completely shut out from the literally hundreds of legal benefits that such a document confers.

    2. Being able to fill out said marriage license in some states, but having one’s legal relationship status completely ignored and treated as invalid the second you cross state lines.

    3. Being repeatedly and publicly called an “abomination” by religious leaders for finding the “wrong” sort of people physically attractive.  (It is possible to be gay without having any form of sex with anyone.  “Gay” refers to physical attraction, not to any particular action.)

    4. Being told that, by virtue of being attracted to the “wrong” sort of people, you are living some kind of entirely different lifestyle, even if you otherwise behave exactly like any heterosexual member of your community.

    5. Being told that you would be better off essentially living a lie by marrying someone to whom you’re not physically attracted, pretending that you are attracted to them so that they will marry you in the first place, and going through the motions of a happy marriage and hoping your spouse and children never catch on that it’s all an act.

    6. Being constantly portrayed in the mainstream media as a demeaning stereotype.  I literally cannot think of a non-campy gay person in the media that isn’t from an indie webcomic with a small readership.  I also have known dozens of gay people in real life, and exactly ONE of them behaved like the stereotype.  See also #4 above.

    7. Being told that a neutral, non-profane word that describes an aspect of yourself is not allowed to be mentioned in Tennessee’s public schools.  Imagine if an entire state banned the use of the words “black,” “Scottish,” “Presbyterian,” or “middle-class.”  It’s exactly like that.

    8. Hearing classmates in the halls use that same neutral word as an insult, day in and day out, throughout your middle- and high-school years.

    9. Kindergartens come under fire simply for acknowledging that you, and other people like you, exist.  Even the simple statement, “Your classmate Stacie has two daddies,” is seen as some kind of propaganda rather than a statement of fact explaining why Stacie prefers Father’s Day over Mother’s Day.

    10. Being banned in many states from adopting a child, even if you are a well-adjusted adult with excellent child-rearing ability, or put at the end of the prospective-parents list for any child who isn’t severely disabled.

    11. Living in a demographic with a high rate of depression and suicide, and seeing people blame you for it rather than considering that anything they say or do could possibly drive sensitive individuals to the brink of despair.

    12. Being divorced and unable to gain custody or even visitation rights to see your own child, based on something that has literally nothing to do with any form of unfitness to raise a child.

    13. Being able to be legally fired in many states for an aspect of your personality that in no way affects your behavior at work or your ability to do your job, with no recourse to the law.

    I support marriage equality and civil rights for gay people because I can tell that they are, in fact, being treated as second-class citizens. ALL of the above are textbook examples of prejudice.

  • jerry lynch

    There was a book I had to read on mindfulness in graduate school. It had been assigned reading for this particular class for five years. The book opens with a “scientific research” study of elderly people in care facilities. What would happen if these residents were given something to care for? The belief from the onset was that it would improve their health and mental well-being, living longer and more meaningful lives. So they gave this opportunity to some residents and not to others in a number of these settings. They were right and their study showed this conclusively. Given the responsibility to care for something–a plant, a kitten, whatever–helped them become mindful and attentive to their existence. But not a single student, or professor, or the book, for that matter, appeared to take note that this experiment incidentally but consciously condemned the other half to a lesser and more troubled (and shorter) existence. When I pointed this out in class, it angered quite a few while others were glad to be made mindful of their oversight. That’s one point.

    The other point is that those given the “privilege” of something to care for were oblivious to what it meant for the other residents to be without this substantial benefit. They did not ask for this privilege and did not set out to be the “haves.” How responsible are we for mindfulness? Can blame be assigned?  Is self-centeredness the real sin here?

    Most of us are centered in the wrong place, which makes for endless debates based on false dichotomies and premises.  No clear way seems to emerge. The arguments on both sides seem to weigh equally. But it is a form of blindness, on both sides. Mr. Parker needs to be freed as much as his wife and children. All are lacking in true compassion and mindfulness.

    Waking up is hard to do. It hurts, and it hurts all concerned, as was pointed out by the author. The resentment that comes with nearly all awakenings is the first nut to crack. More harm is usually done by the person who takes offense than the one who gives it. Recognizing that a resentment is the first sign of movement toward some bondage is helpful, and knowing we had our part in creating the situation puts the onus where it belongs: on self-realization. Being equally aware that restorative justice is the only real justice keeps the dialog and heart open to fundamental change in the way of things. This we owe both to ourselves and others.  

  • jerry lynch

    Edit: meant to write ‘Recognizing that a resentment is the first sign of movement toward FREEDOM from some bondage…”

  • EllieMurasaki

    Being constantly portrayed in the mainstream media as a demeaning stereotype. I literally cannot think of a non-campy gay person in the media that isn’t from an indie webcomic with a small readership.

    Point of order: Supernatural 5×09 has a gay couple and 7×20 has a lesbian (spoilers: fur’f nobhg gb orpbzr erpheevat), and none of them are any flavor of stereotypical queer people.

    Three examples, none of whom have been in more than one episode, isn’t a hell of a lot better than zero, though.

  • The_L1985

    I don’t watch Supernatural, because I dislike it for other, non-related reasons. So I guess I didn’t catch that it occasionally has decent portrayals of minorities in it. Thanks for the correction! :)

  • The_L1985

    “It’s a denial of the individualism of the child, and disowning them is a far greater offense than any perceived fault.”

     Indeed.  Even if the child is totally hetero, treating your children as if the slightest deviation from your Planned-Out Perfect Life is the ultimate betrayal causes all kinds of neuroses.  I think that’s why I empathize so easily with disowned gay teens–I would have been one myself if I weren’t attracted to men and well-practiced at hiding things from my father.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Not a problem, but now you know of non-campy gay people who are in mainstream television.

  • That must be why people convicted of gay bashings get astonishingly light sentences, even by Canadian standards, for what amounts to manslaughter.

  • That’s a pretty piddly sample size.

    And Battlestar Galactica’s not much better. Het ‘ships get tons of screen time, between Baltar knocking boots with ladies and Starbuck knocking boots with men, and Lee Adama/Dualla, etc etc et CETERA.

    But Hoshi/Gaeta? Blink and you’ll miss it in the webisode series. It’s not even in the main canon.

    Ditto Cain/Gina. It’s like, a few shared looks and a kiss. Again, not in the main canon, it’s in a 2-hour tv movie slotted in between two seasons.

  • AnonymousSam

    Torchwood is the only one I can think of, although I think the characters in particular are actually bisexual, not homosexual, for all that they spend far more time showing them in m/m pairings .

  • At least Barrowman seems to have great fun playing an omnisexual. :)

  • Lost Girl. Recently started chugging it via Netflix. Closest I’ve ever seen to a TV show in which non-heterosexuality is an entirely unmarked state. The main character’s totally bi, her housemate is het, a woman she (main character) has an on-and-off relationship with is demonstrably lesbian, there’s one episode where they’re investigating a graverobbery incident which involves a man’s recently dead husband, threesomes happen and it’s no big deal, etc. Not once can I remember a single line of dialogue in which non-het relationships were remarked on as out of the ordinary. It only gets brought up in purely pragmatic terms that could be said to someone of the same sex or the opposite sex, like, “I hate to break it to you, but… I don’t swing your way. Sorry?”

    Reminds me of the Terry Pratchett /Diskworld line about how “black and white got along in perfect harmony to gang up on green.” Homophobia? That’s so passe when you can instead get all tribal about Dark Fae versus Light Fae, both of which are totally bigoted against humans. I have similar feelings about the tendency for the show to totally sidestep the boring and infuriating “lovers’ triangle” tensions. Lesser shows would make a thing out of the main character finding her boyfriend with another woman and misunderstanding the situation and getting all jealous. This show skips that whole tiresome boondoggle by having the main character figure it out in a glance and/or talk to her boyfriend and get the true story, because the actual situation is so much more interesting. (And/or recognize that she doesn’t exactly have a leg to stand on in re: jealousy, so.)

    (Also–if you watch it, you’ll understand; if you don’t, you have this to look forward to–the show gets mad props from me for never once touching the obvious Smiths punchline regarding Nadia. And giving the main characters’ propensities for pop culture jokes, including some really obscure 80s ones that make me squee, I gotta say, I was surprised.)

  • SuziBrookz

     Louie Giglio and his supporters are good guys.  One day the LGBT community will see that they are wrong, I just hope it before they spend eternity regretting their choices.

  • AnonymousSam

    SuziBrookz (yes, I see you have attempted to delete your post; that doesn’t work): Any god who would make anyone suffer for eternity for their choice to express love and affection — wouldn’t be worth obeying in the first place.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     In reality, Mrs Parker will end up deeply resentful of Mr. Parker’s
    former ‘privilege’ and start demanding that he makes all the dinners
    from now on.

    The same way black people started enslaving whites after the Civil War, right?

  • Yeah, or being transgender. That would really screw up my life.

  • Evisceratus

    What isn’t being illustrated here is the fact that society needs to function, and function well. No one want’s to live in a dysfunctional society and a dysfunctional society doesn’t last long (long as in the pages of history long not compared to our short lives) anyway. Society under George Parker’s society. Not everyone was happy, but it functioned. Society before gay marriage was a thing functioned. Gays weren’t happy, but society functioned. Will it function if all states allow gay marriage. Most people say yes and even I am inclined to say yes it will function. Will it function as well? No It’s going to cause minor problems for a system that wasn’t designed with gays in mind. Cracks in the foundation. The foundation will hold, but what about the next crack in the foundation like marijuana legalization. Well the foundation will still hold. But one day the foundation doesn’t hold. Everything the foundation was built on has eroded away or been torn out and the entire thing collapses. It’s the fate of every nation and empire. Are you going to be the one with the chisel helping to hasten the decline?

  • EllieMurasaki

    A society that does not allow certain people access to certain rights is not a fully functioning society.

  • dpolicar

    The system I live under wasn’t designed with marriage equality in mind, agreed. And I understand that you support throwing that out, just to be safe.

    Where do you draw that line? I mean you, personally.

    I mean, the system I live under wasn’t designed with medical advances that allow a greater and greater percentage of the population to live longer lives. Want to throw the elderly out, just to be safe?

    At one time, the system wasn’t designed with low infant mortality in mind. Want to throw 25% of 3-year-olds out, just to be safe? Should the population have made that decision then?

    The system I live under wasn’t designed with mobile phones in mind. Want to throw them out?

    At one time, the system wasn’t designed with cars in mind. Want to get rid of cars? Should the population have made that decision then?

    Personally, I reject this whole “all change is dangerous” style of reasoning. If something new and good comes along — like helping people live longer, like treating our fellow human beings with greater justice and equality, like improving our ability to communicate and transport, etc. etc. etc. — we should embrace it and change the system to adapt to it.

    That’s how the system gets better.

    Are you going to be the one with the hammer helping build a new world?

  • Appeal to tradition, appeal to fear, slippery slope. Your entire argument is that things are the way they are because something bad might happen if they’re not the way they’ve been in the recent past.