Friday, May 16, 2014

we are outsiders

Tomorrow is May 17, the day much of the world marks as the “Day Against Homophobia.” This is usually expressed in the West by Gay Pride parades, where men in tight, brightly colored clothing and/or drag march down the streets playing really cheesy and happy music. It’s an especially happy day today as the Q on the LGBTQRASLKDSF equation won out on Eurovision just recently, as the bearded man in drag ranked first in the music contest, since he was a bearded man in drag. But then, Eurovision hasn’t been about music in a long time and here I’m digressing.

Last year this time, I remember some events that took place in Tbilisi. There was a motley crew of mostly straight people, some Georgians, some foreigners, not really numbering over 20, holding up homosexual propaganda signs that said such family values challenging and damaging messages like, “Don’t hate gay people” and “God loves fags” or whatever. I don’t remember the exact messages, but I do remember that clearly, such messages were of such a convention to be endangering to the lives and sensibilities of the children - always the children! - as illustrated in this comic:

After this horrifying gathering, a 40,000 crowd of patriotic, crusading heroes descended upon that lone, peacenik 20 and tried to crush that infamous thing. Our heroes summoned within themselves the most animalistic of spirits to push them further, as they launched past the police blockade in a stampede of footage akin to Caesar leading the apes taking over Earth, rushing past and blitzing the buses onto which the small group of queer conspirateurs retreated.

It’s on this backdrop, in remembrance of such a day when Georgia’s future shined its brightest, when the Christian thousands showed their morality and willingness to slaughter the few, that we are living today. LGBTQI groups are under threat, gay friendly clubs are questioned and recorded by police, told that they would not be protected on the next day of the inevitable Kristallgaycht.

Now, with all of that in mind, I came upon a fellow Dive Bar alcoholic, Meghan, who wrote this blog:

(Click here to read)

And in her blog, she posed the questions:

Readers, have you ever lived in a place where your personal beliefs clashed strongly with the dominant culture?  How did you manage this, if at all?Could you ever settle in a place where your beliefs made you an outsider?

Those are tough questions. So I’ll number them to make them easier.

1. Yes. I’m living in one now.

2. There is a strong separation for me, for the us and them. But then, I had that separation all my life. I grew up a Catholic in Protestant Evangelical Oklahoma. I was into weird spiritual Wiccan stuff in high school. I listened to Marilyn Manson and NIN. I was a liberal in a conservative family. One of my closer guy friends in high school was gay and kissed me on the lips because he thought I was gay, not able to believe that a straight man could be so non-judgmental of him. And bless his heart, I still am not. But blah blah blah - most people grow up as outsiders in high school, since part of the human condition of self realization is loneliness. 

Any freethinking spirit lives life in a place that thinks differently from them - and what a terrible and crushing loneliness that is, almost to the extent it's better not to be freethinking - because they are a freethinking spirit and thus are doomed to question everything that others take for granted. In fact, anyone who takes the spirit of a willingness to be kind has gone against the dominant culture, because in order for a culture to be dominant, it must always crush all opposition. The will to power leaves no survivors, else it itself is destroyed, and that’s history folks.

But back to the point. I create a separation. I am me, he is he, she is she, and so forth. Each person acts according to their own will due to their own reasons. Each person has been led to his or her judgments and actions due to a long Pavlovian chain of slavery, that only very few people are capable of breaking out of, and even the ability to break out of that chain is granted by another chain of events. Within even the most vile man, within the man filled with such rage and hate that his soul is black and his canines are dripping with the bile of his enemies, there lies a kind of innocence. He is a victim more than any of his own. Because hatred is an outward effect of a rotten inside, of years of self desecration and immolation, of paralyzation of the heart. And that is the worst of parts, when we get to that point, maybe there is no hope left for the kingdom of God that has been written about, for that beautiful land of milk and honey that is actually here all around us, glowing in the daylight sun but so forgotten and out of reach, yet within an easy grasp.

I am an outsider. I grew up with my own norms and standards, even which were different from the culture that I grew up in. And I have to remember, each culture, as each person, is on their own path, their own trek up to the mountaintop. I cannot judge them for what route they take, or how long they take, or how lost they are along the way - how far behind I am from others? This is the most important thing to remember: growing up in the same conditions, I would be one of them, one of those stragglers I perceive as far behind. For what reason would I be thinking differently? For what reason would I be someone not rushing past the police crews, to smash the windows of the yellow buses crawling through the crowd?

3. Again, that’s anywhere. We are outsiders everywhere, one in all. Even those people who seem to be banding together in hatred of homosexuality, in the fear of other ways. Each one of them is lost and abandoned, feeling within themselves such isolation that the only way they feel they can define themselves is by uniting in some absurd cause that, when really analyzed, makes no sense, but when wrapped in the blankets of the flesh of thousands of people, seems to be something capable, something powerful, something awe inspiring and great and meaningful. Because isn’t that what we’re all searching for? Some sort of meaning to let us live another day in some satisfaction of our cursed wanderings in this drivel of creation?

For those who say God loves us unconditionally, I ask, for what reason should He, for what we do to each other and what we’ve done to this world? And if He loves us all unconditionally, how can we act with such condemnation towards each other? Would our fathers and mothers be content by our murdering our siblings, no matter how wayward we might think they are?


  1. Thanks for running with those questions, Shawn. I get what you're saying. I grew up as an outsider (an obnoxious atheist among Catholics), but I was always pretty brazen and proud of it (I also found a tight inner circle of like-minded friends). Something about being such an extreme outsider in Georgia just crushed me. Aren't there different degrees of outsider? A Texan in Massachusetts? A New Yorker in Kabul? I've lived in several places and I never felt quite as awful as I did in Georgia. Why did I blossom in Cartagena and crumble in Tbilisi? Sure, there could be a lot of factors at play besides religion/philosophy, but I still think it's fair to say that some transitions are more disorienting than others. Major props to you for being able to make that separation: "I am me, he is he, she is she, and so forth." I tried separating myself and it left me with that "terrible and crushing loneliness" you talked about. Why did Georgia, specifically, crush me?

    1. I think the more extreme the outsider, often the more we're able to cling to our worldview, because around us is so hugely alien. At least, that's what keeps me going. But I've been here for 4 years, sometimes it's a serious struggle for me, other times it's quite an easy thing to differentiate, and other times I find myself surrounded by like minded Georgians.

      I grew up in the 90s, when the LGBT movement was at its true apex of the cultural clash. Today's fights and struggles really are nothing compared to what they went through then. When gay rights parades were first getting big in the States, they too were confronted by angry mobs. Those mobs were held back a bit better by the rule of law, but if it had happened 20 years earlier, probably they wouldn't have been.

      And that brings me to historical progression. Hate is always on the losing side of history, but history is a big, long and often slow thing - you would be too if you were quadrillions of years old! It also takes its steps, often in the same pattern. In the US, culturally speaking, we had minority rights, then women's rights, then gay rights. In Georgia, we haven't really even had the first two movements. Baby steps. If you listen to the rhetoric of the LGBT activists, they're always hearkening back to those two things, and it's because those two things set a very important foundation for the modern ideas of civil liberties that our society and Western society as a whole is transforming into.

      Georgia, Russia, Iran, etc still have many struggles - as do we, but in much more isolated areas - in regards to simple human rights. They have to sort those out first, then they can start tweaking. But we can't expect it all to happen at once, or the result would be both disastrous and gut wrenching.