Why coming out matters (South Bend mayor)

Yep, he knows what he’s talking about – I could say many of the same things about my life and experiences:
(And he is [or has] a great writer, too!)

“I was well into adulthood before I was prepared to acknowledge the simple fact that I am gay. It took years of struggle and growth for me to recognize that it’s just a fact of life, like having brown hair, and part of who I am.

… I’m not used to viewing this as anyone else’s business.

But it’s clear to me that at a moment like this, being more open about it could do some good. For a local student struggling with her sexuality, it might be helpful for an openly gay mayor to send the message that her community will always have a place for her. And for a conservative resident from a different generation, whose unease with social change is partly rooted in the impression that he doesn’t know anyone gay, perhaps a familiar face can be a reminder that we’re all in this together as a community.

Whenever I’ve come out to friends and family, they’ve made clear that they view this as just a part of who I am. Their response makes it possible to feel judged not by sexual orientation but by the things that we ought to care about most, like the content of our character and the value of our contributions.

Being gay has had no bearing on my job performance in business, in the military, or in my current role as mayor. It makes me no better or worse at handling a spreadsheet, a rifle, a committee meeting, or a hiring decision. …

We’re moving closer to a world in which acceptance is the norm. This kind of social change, considered old news in some parts of the country, is still often divisive around here. But it doesn’t have to be. We’re all finding our way forward, and things will go better if we can manage to do it together. … we have an opportunity to demonstrate how a traditional, religious state like ours can move forward. If different sides steer clear of name-calling and fear-mongering, we can navigate these issues based on what is best about Indiana: values like respect, decency, and support for families — all families.

Like most people, I would like to get married one day and eventually raise a family. I hope that when my children are old enough to understand politics, they will be puzzled that someone like me revealing he is gay was ever considered to be newsworthy. By then, all the relevant laws and court decisions will be seen as steps along the path to equality. But the true compass that will have guided us there will be the basic regard and concern that we have for one another as fellow human beings — based not on categories of politics, orientation, background, status or creed, but on our shared knowledge that the greatest thing any of us has to offer is love.”

South Bend mayor: Why coming out matters – South Bend Tribune

Edit: Changing all posts to “Standard” format, as the other formats look weird in the archive view.

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#DistractinglySexy: Women Scientists and Systemic Bias

Women Scientists Are Tweeting "Sexy" Photos Of Themselves At Work To Shut Down Sexism.

Women get paid 83% as much as men.* That’s a 17% loss of female earning capacity (real jobs or real pay that women have lost just for being women).

So compare this ongoing, systemic discrimination** against women with a very few, very sexist men losing their jobs.

If 17% of men lose their jobs over being sexist and male, then that’s an interesting statistic.

When 17% of men lose their jobs over just being male, then I’ll agree there’s something terribly wrong.

That said, I am a white man who benefits from systemic bias in many ways. I sometimes say stupid, discriminatory things. I don’t always realise. I’d hope to be told what I’d done, and given a chance to change.

I recently did the Old-Young and Gay-Straight Harvard Implicit Association Tests. It turns out I have implicit positive associations with being young and straight. Which is tough when I’m getting older (and gayer!) If you’re interested in your own implicit biases, and willing to be disturbed, give them a try.

After missing a week or so of blogging, I’m trying a new strategy – less-than-perfect drafts! Let me know how it goes, or if I mess anything up.

  • Yes, I rounded up.

** In orchestral auditions, the impact of gender on assessment is 50%.

On Homophobia, My Life, and Blogging

Someone scrawled the word “fag” on the side of my car.* In permanent marker.

It happened some time over the last few days, but I didn’t notice it until last night.

In one sense, it’s a very a minor thing. It (mostly) came off in 5 minutes with some methylated spirits. And I’ll take my car four-wheel driving some time, and the dirt will cover up what’s left.

But in another sense, it’s a big deal: I thought it would never happen to me. And I had been hoping (pretending?) that I didn’t live in a world like that. And I wondered: if someone would damage my property when I wasn’t there, what would they do to me if I was?§

I felt immediately frightened and shocked – am I safe? Then, I felt sad for the person who’d done it. And finally, I resolved to live my life, determined to be more honest and more compassionate. (What else could I do?) It took me about an hour to regain my emotional equilibrium.

I could imagine a few different ways this could have happened:

  • I was parked at night near a location known for gay and bisexual men, and someone disliked something I said to them.#
  • I was parked in the open carpark where I live, and someone knew it was my car, and that I am bisexual.~
  • I was parked somewhere, and it was a random act of homophobic graffiti. This is somehow the the most comforting option, because it has nothing to do with me personally.

When I started blogging, I made a deliberate choice to give up many of my conversational filters. They were a (failed) attempt to fit in. I’d prefer to be more honest, even if I’m misunderstood. I had intended to come out publicly at some point, but I really didn’t think it would be over such a negative experience.

As far as I can remember, I was always bisexual, attracted to people of my gender, and people of other genders. I just thought this was the way everyone experienced attraction. I’m still reminded, every so often, that there are genuinely straight and gay people in the world, that is, people who feel attraction to only one gender.

As I wrote in a previous post, I suffer from chronic physical and mental illness: chronic pain, chronic fatigue, insomnia, depression, and anxiety. Some of this is probably an adjustment disorder.**

For much of my life, I was able to pass as a straight, white, able-bodied, mentally typical, cisgender male. I was injured in a motor vehicle collision six years ago. (Again, I thought it would never happen to me.) Up until a few years ago, I almost entirely hid my sexuality. I’d occasionally suffered from depression and chronic fatigue, but they seem much worse now on top of everything else. It’s been quite a shock to realise how people treated me differently when I was no longer straight, able-bodied and mentally typical.

So now, I try to stand up for the marginalised. I did it before, but I was pretty clueless. I probably still am in many ways. I’m much more intentional and intersectional now. That’s one of the reasons I blog.

And, as a Christian§§, I pray “Forgive them father, because they don’t know what they’re doing” (Jesus in Luke 23:34).

Edit: Replace “neurotypical” with “mentally typical” in the post excerpt, as neurotypical is often used to refer to people with autism, and I didn’t want to cause any confusion. Also updated some tags and categories.
Edit: copyedit for phrasing & missing words, and add the Jesus quote’s biblical reference, and a link to the passage. It turns out I’m not as good a copyeditor as I expected, when it comes to my own work.



* “Fag” is short for “faggot”, a homophobic insult.

§ It’s such a minor thing, but it reminded me of the dangers that many people experience, just because they don’t fit people’s preconceptions.

# It’s quite possible that it was a combination of personal rejection, and internalised homophobia. Yes, internalised homophobia is a thing you get from growing up in a biased world. And some of us have it bad.

~ I try to talk about sexuality in a sex-positive manner that focuses on the diversity of human attraction. Although, for some reason, when I say “bisexual”, people think of a steamy porn scene. Try not to do that, ok?

Like many bisexual advocates, I define bisexuality as an attraction to multiple genders (“bi+ meaning “my gender” and “other genders”). This is similar to the definition of pansexuality/omnisexuality. However, some resources, including wikipedia and many dictionaries, define it in a binary-gendered fashion as “being attracted to both men and women”. This excludes people who are non-binary-gendered, such as agender, third gender, and genderqueer people.

I know this will sound strange to most people, but I had no genuine basis for comparison. And like people tend to do, I believed what I experienced was typical of everyone else’s experience.

I assumed that everyone was towards the middle of the Kinsey scale, a measure of sexual attraction towards men or women. Hearing that people had a choice about their sexuality from the churches I attended further confused my mistaken impressions of others’ experiences of attraction. As did the focus on sexual actions, not sexual orientation. As a bisexual, I obviously did have some choice who I dated, but still, regardless of who I dated, that didn’t actually change my sexuality at all.

** Actually, I am adjusting, it’s just happening more slowly that I would like. And I still remain frustrated at many of my limitations.

§§ Yes, it is possible to be both bisexual and Christian, and, for that matter, LGBTI and Christian. No, that doesn’t (necessarily) make me a heretic. Nor does it necessarily imply anything about my theology, or my sex life (or lack thereof). I’ll write more about being a bisexual Christian in future posts. But I certainly can’t speak for all LGBTI Christians – we are a very diverse bunch.