Considering how meaningless marriage has become, I hereby withdraw any opposition I’ve ever had to gay marriage

Playland at the Beach fun houseFor an almost 80 year run that ended only in 1972, Playland at the Beach was San Francisco’s Coney Island.  Beginning in 1928, and subject to a few minor changes over the decades, Playland settled into the form known to City residents through its final days:  it had roller coasters, the camera obscura, a merry-go-round, and the famous Fun House, home of Laughing Sal (who now lives at the Musee Mecanique).

At its peak, Playland was a vital entertainment hub. It was bright and shiny and fun and funny. The roller coasters and the Fun House were state-of-the-art entertainment. The latter boasted a giant barrel roll; rocking, moving floors; air vents to blow up girls’ skirts; long, wavy slides; spinning floors; wavy, distorted mirrors, and all the other accoutrements of 20th century amusement park culture. You can get a sense of Playland’s attractions from this clip from 1973’s Damsel in Distress, featuring Fred Astaire, George Burns, and Grace Allen:

I went to the Fun House several times in the late 1960s and very, very early 1970s. There was still a musty magic to the slides, mirrors, vented floors, and, of course, Laughing Sal, but mostly the Fun House was a drab, depressing place. For starters, it was filthy, clotted with five decades worth of grime, made sticky from a nice Pacific Ocean salt overlay. All of the attractions were rickety. I always had the lowering suspicion that the moving, rocking sidewalk would suddenly buckle, either throwing me into the air or dropping me into some damp, spider-ridden basement.

playlandfunhouse620x618The Fun House’s clientele was no longer made up of a cheerful amalgam of families, young couples, and children old enough to go there on their on. Instead, it was overrun by screaming, usually overwrought children. It wasn’t bright and shiny. It was less Disney and more Lord of the Flies. We children ran around frantically, evidencing a grim determination to have fun in this hallowed San Francisco amusement park, a bleakness captured nicely in the picture to the right, which was taken shortly before the Fun House closed for good.

I was always delighted with the offer of a trip to the Fun House (I really liked the idea of Playland at the Beach), but I was even happier when it was finally time to go home. I invariably left there tired, dirty, overwhelmed, and both depressed and demoralized. The only magic left was the patina of age, which I was too young then to appreciate.

Sara Gilbert And Linda PerryPerhaps because my brain is wired a bit differently, I thought of Playland at the Beach when I saw this headline: “‘Roseanne’ Alum Sara Gilbert, Rocker Linda Perry Wed.” I have no idea who Sara Gilbert and Linda Perry are, so I was unexcited by their wedding (although I naturally wish them many happy years together).

Thinking about it, it occurred to me that, even if I had known who they are, I probably still would have found the headline uninteresting. Looking at the state of modern marriage, I can no longer articulate a good reason to care about other people’s weddings and subsequent married life.

Just as the Playland I knew was a faded, dirty, broken-down relic of its past, barely hinting at its former grandeur, so too is marriage today leached of the meaning that once gave it such preeminence in Western society. Historically, marriage has been an extremely important event, both at the individual and the societal level, controlling as it did sexuality, paternity, and property.

Up until our very modern era, before a girl got married, she was (in theory, at least) a sexually uninitiated child under her parents’ care. Marriage was her entry into the adult world: she left her parents; her faith and her state both encouraged her to have sex (with her husband); and she began producing and raising the next generation. For centuries, even millennia, the wedding was the single most transformative event in every woman’s life. It marked a profound change in her standing in society, from child to woman.

Victorian wedding photoWhile men weren’t necessarily the sexual innocents their wives were supposed to be, marriage was an equally life-changing event for them. They might not have been virgins, but their previous sexual relations were illicit, carried out with prostitutes or lusty widows. Any children that resulted from these relationships were not supposed to be acknowledged. They were bastards without legal rights, and the man’s obligation to care for these children was a personal decision, rather than something mandated by law or religion.

By marrying, the man got unfettered access to sex, with his church’s and his state’s approving imprimatur, and he got children that were presumptively his, with all the legal and moral responsibilities that entailed. The man’s carefree bachelor days were over, and his days of maturity and responsibility began. If he wanted to be assured that his wife’s progeny were indeed his, he’d better be a good husband.

Marriage’s centrality in pre-21st century society wasn’t just about questions of sexuality and paternity unique to heterosexual relationships. It was also an important economic relationship. For rich people, it meant the blending of fortunes or even of nations. For poor people, it meant that the man and woman formed an economic unit, with the man laboring outside of the house to bring in food or goods, and the woman laboring inside the house (and in the garden), to enable the man to work and to do whatever it took to stretch his earnings as far as possible.

In America’s past, a healthy society depended on the marriage partnership. It regularized sexual relations (and paternity issues), creating social stability and slowing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. It also increased men’s economic opportunities, thereby enhancing America’s potential economic growth, which operated to everyone’s benefit.

No wonder marriages were celebrated, not just by the participants, but by society at large. Add in the fact that traditional religions sanctify marriage, elevating it from a social and economic relationship into a covenant before God, and it’s easy to understand marriage’s preeminent position throughout Western history, generally, and American history, specifically.

Nowadays, every one of those reasons for marriage is gone. Sex is unrelated to marriage. Childbearing is controlled by birth control, abortions, and fertility rituals . . . er, fertility treatments. Paternity is determined by genetic tests. Economically, marriage is a good thing, but the state will step in and help the mother and children out if the father decides that all the responsibilities that flow from impregnating a woman are just too burdensome and too little fun. Only people who have a middle class aversion to poverty and welfare enter into marriage for economic reasons. Religions still support marriage’s importance, but many congregants seem more interested in the party than the sacrament.

Sexy wedding dressAnd of course, there’s modern divorce. Marriage isn’t a permanent commitment; it’s a relationship experiment that is easily shucked. It’s a very good thing that we no longer live in a time when only death would part a couple, leaving married people (usually women) at the mercy of abusive, insane, or absent spouses. It’s not so good a thing that we now live in a time when people divorce simply because they’re bored and want the thrill of a new relationship. (And yes, I have known people to divorce for just that reason.)

Modern marriage no longer serves any of its necessary societal functions. It’s a relic, just like the Fun House I knew as a child was a relic. What once was shiny and central to American life has become a peripheral excuse for a frenetic party. The couple standing at the altar have already had sex (with lots of people), they (with financial help from taxpayers and employers) are controlling the woman’s fertility, and they’re making financial decisions irrespective of their marital status. Societal changes, mass media, and the vast wedding industry have ensured that modern American wedding is primarily about the right dress, the beautiful cake, and the most viral wedding video.

All this means that the LGBTQ crowd is arriving at the party when the party’s already over. Looking back on my Fun House experience — high expectations in advance, followed by a disappointing reality when faced with a dusty ghost from the past — I actually feel sorry for those same-sex couples rushing to take part in an event that’s long past its heyday. As a society, we haven’t quite reached the point of Miss Havisham presiding over her long-gone wedding feast, but the decay is setting in.

The end of Playland at the Beach

The end of Playland at the Beach

Modern American marriage has become a form without substance . . . a Fun House without the fun. Given that reality, why should we care that the LGBTQ crowd is flocking to catch the tail-end of the party? Let them have their last dance as the lights dim and the tables are littered with dirty plates and half-filled glasses.

For those Americans who have a religious commitment to marriage, they should go and have that religious ceremony and live their married life in accordance with God’s commandments. And for those Americans who subscribe to the belief that the children’s well-being is best served in a stable, heterosexual relationship, they should get married (in a church, synagogue, temple, or mosque, or before a registrar) and they should stay married for the children’s sake. For everyone else, the caravan has already passed on and it’s probably long past time for the dogs to stop barking.

When it comes to stories told by gay activists, have we come to the point where we must verify before we trust?

Gay-flowerThere have been a lot of stories lately about hate-crime hoaxes that gay rights advocates have perpetrated.  Just to list a few examples, there was the waitress who falsely claimed that a receipt included a scathing gay insult along with a refusal to tip; there was the radio station that doctored an invitation to make it appear parents refused to let their child socialize with a child from a same-sex parent home; there was the massive hate-crime hoax at Oberlin, which apparently was suddenly overrun by racist, homophobic, antisemites; and, most recently, there was the transgender student at a California high school who falsely alleged a hate crime.

In addition, there’s also a trend to paint every long-dead famous person as gay.  Lincoln was gay, we’re told (he shared a bed with his business partner when they traveled through the backwoods, a common practice at the time); Norman Rockwell was gay, we’re told (he painted pictures of little boys); Florence Nightingale was gay, we’re told (she never married).  There’s no proof for any of this, of course.  Just supposition and hope.

Given that many gay rights activists don’t feel they owe any fealty to the truth, I’m suspicious of the newest uncorroborated story advancing the gay rights agenda.  This one, though, isn’t a story about hate.  It’s allegedly a story about love:  Grant Rehnberg, a gay young man, claims that, shortly before dying, his 90-year-old Baptist minister grandfather, James, who had been married for 65 years, confessed that his entire life had been a lie, that he was gay, and that a friend from his youth was his true love.  Grant has now put together an art installation — and is looking for funding — celebrating his gay grandfather (and shredding the Bible he alleges that James gave him when he was a boy).

There’s no doubt that Grant’s story could be true.  Gay people have for centuries sublimated their desires to live mainstream lives.  Just last month, I linked to a post about a gay Mormon man who has made the conscious decision (with his wife’s agreement) to live a heterosexual life.  He believes that the rewards of that life exceed that transient pleasures of gay sex.

There’s also no doubt that Grant’s story could be a bald-faced lie.  Right now, these lies tend too often to be the stock in trade for gay rights advocates — and that’s a shame.  When your cohort cries “wolf” once too often, no one will believe you anymore.  The coin of your realm has been debased, making everything suspect.

Given the rush of cheap lies and dishonest speculation, why in the world should anyone believe an unverified statement about gay love or gay hate without independent proof and investigation to support those claims?  If Grant is telling the truth,  his grandfather’s life story and decisions are certainly worth examining and understanding.  If he’s telling a lie, though, he ought to be ashamed of himself for painting a false picture of a dead man.  It would therefore be interesting to hear what other friends and family members have to say about James Rehnberg’s life and love[s].

 

Drag shows and the American military

Sailors-Dancing-on-DeckAs the picture to my left shows, there is nothing new in the American military about men in what used to be an all-male, or predominantly-male, society still trying to resurrect a simulacrum of their civilian life.  Two musicals that emerged during and immediately after World War II make heavy use of men in drag.  The one with which most people are familiar is Roger and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, which revolved around sailors in the South Pacific during WWII.

Most people remember South Pacific for two reasons:  it’s principled stand against racism and the gooey hit song “Some Enchanted Evening.”  I doubt many think of the scene in which Ray Walston dresses himself up in a coconut shell bra for the amusement of his fellow sailors and Marines (starting at 3:02):

Irving Berlin made even greater use of drag performances in “This Is The Army,” the Broadway-style review he created for the Army. It’s all-male, all-Army cast toured throughout the European theater in the thick of the war, bring a great deal of pleasure to the troops.

Because it was a Broadway-style review, Berlin of course had to write parts for women. And because there were no women to be had, every female part was a drag part. I can’t find any discrete clips but the entire movie is below, with the drag scenes at 58:00, 1:08, 1:12, and 1:28.

As best as I can tell, regardless of whether individual performers and audience members were getting a homoerotic thrill from the drag performance, the purpose behind these WWII shows was entirely heterosexual: it was to fill the gap the troops felt in their lives because of the women they left behind.

That was then. This is now:

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Since the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, U.S. military bases have hosted a gay marriage ceremonies and a potluck gatherings. But on Saturday, servicemembers here may have been the first to take to the stage and perform as drag queens on a military installation in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender troops.

Drag queens and drag kings, to be precise.

Six servicemembers — gay, lesbian and straight — donned heavy makeup to dance and lip sync songs such as “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” for a raucous capacity crowd at the Rocker NCO Club at Kadena Air Base. The event was a fundraiser for the recently formed Okinawa chapter of OutServe-SLDN, which is the largest nonprofit advocate for the military’s LGBT community.

[snip]

But an initial 200 tickets were plucked up almost immediately, so they issued another 200.

“We ended up selling 400 tickets in 10 days,” she said.

Amid the unexpected success, OutServe carefully avoided any mention of politics, but its variety show comes at a pivotal time for gay civil rights in the United States, with many states passing laws dealing with marriage or debating individual liberties.

It is also a sign of the times within the military; just a few years ago, gay and lesbian drag performances on a military base would have been unthinkable and potentially a cause for dismissal from the service.

The repeals of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, as well as the Defense of Marriage Act — the law barring the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages — have allowed gays and lesbians in the military to be open with their sexuality for the first time.

The historic shift appears to be mostly accepted and embraced throughout the ranks despite warnings the DADT repeal could harm order and good discipline.

On Saturday night, the Rocker club was packed for performances by servicemembers using stage names such as Chocolate Sunrise – a crowd favorite — and Artemis Faux. The event’s sole lesbian performer took the drag king name Manny Nuff.

I think Irving Berlin, Richard Rogers, and Oscar Hammerstein would be surprised.

I leave to your personal beliefs whether this is a change for the better or not, insofar as American military health is concerned. I just note that the military’s focus has changed a lot in the last seventy or so years.

The Left turns the idea of same-sex couples having babies into a shallow fashion statement

Elton John babyLast week, I posited that gay parenting has a problematic biological component that the Left assiduously ignores — or, more accurately, it has a lack of a biological component that the Left assiduously ignores. In any gay parenting relationship, at least one of the parents is a step parent, something that might explain why a recent study shows that children raised in same-sex households are less likely to go to college. History shows that (subject, of course, to individual differences), step parents don’t do as well as biological parents when it comes to the children in their care.

At the time I wrote my post, I was unaware that the New York Times had published a very excited article about gay parenting.  I was probably unaware because it published the story in its “Fashion and Style” section, which I never read.  The Times was just thrilled that affluent, beautifully dressed older gay people could spend lots of money to create children through science, not biology.

Before I address the Times‘ peculiar placement of that article — which is the main point I want to make in this post — I need to address some of the issues about same-sex parenting that the Left refuses to discuss.

In earlier post about issues connected with same-sex parenting, I focused on the possible problems arising from the step parenting aspect of same-sex child-rearing.   Rivka Edelman, who grew up with two fathers, writes about another problem with same-sex parenting — misogyny and misanthropy:

Sometimes I feel like such a stickler. I am not nitpicking when I say there was a mistake in the pages of The New York Times Fashion and Style section, piece, “And Baby Makes Three.”

We must fall on the side of intellectual honesty. That title should have read, “four,” or “five,” if one were to consider the actual human females involved in the production line of surrogacy these days.

The Times’ telling omission reflects something ominous, the deep misogyny of a gay male community, which in turn has been accepted and championed by many people who consider themselves progressive.

[snip]

Well, that dog doesn’t hunt. I grew up in a gay household and I know the arguments better than I know the pledge of allegiance. So save it. All of it– the missives, the threats. Don’t prove my point to people about loving the gay community. They will turn and tear their own to shreds in a heartbeat. Because the fragile narrative has to be protected at all costs. Family is a photo op. And children are props.

Let’s not kid ourselves about the cute photograph affixed to this New York Times article: That kid is not related to both of the “Daddies.” That child has been denied one parent so that men could prove that two men can play at baby-making—and ironically the men needed two women to do it.

The misogyny that Edelman talks about is the erasure of women from the equation.  Who needs women in this brave new world?  What Edelman could also have said was that, when lesbians have babies, men have been erased from the equation.  Who needs men in this brave new world?

When I started reading Edelman’s piece and saw it was about misogyny, I actually assumed it would head in a different direction:  How well does a man who finds women repulsive manage to parent a little girl and how well does a woman who finds men repulsive manage to parent a little boy?

Although it came to me as hearsay, I once heard from a very reliable source (who got it from the horse’s mouth) a dreadful story about a little boy born to one of two women in a lesbian relationship.  Because she was the biological mother, he felt a physical affinity for her and wanted to cuddle her.  Because she found men revolting, she could not bear to have him — her own son — touch her.  When he was a little boy, whenever he sought comfort from her, she didn’t rebuff him directly.   Instead, she held herself rigid (rather like someone with a tarantula crawling up his leg) waiting for the moment he would go away.  (I’ve heard that the same is true for some — not all, but some — women who raise a child who resulted from rape.)

I recognize that anecdote is not the same as data, but I do wonder about the “opposite sex” dynamic in a LGBTQ household.  Growing up in San Francisco, I had many, many gay friends.  The friendships were peculiar.  These men sought me out, which was flattering because these men were intelligent, and witty, and just fun to be around.  (Two of them had a moral decency that still has me rank them among the best people I’ve ever known, and that was true despite the fact that, before I knew them, they had been promiscuous members of the San Francisco leather scene.)  Many, although not all, of them were also complete bitches about women, constantly criticizing how women looked and acted.  It was as if these men were competing with the women, proving through their verbal attacks that they were better at being female than the women were.

My Dad summed it up best for me.  Back in the 1970s, looking at the hideous clothes women wore and the openly gay designers who created those fashions, he asked, “Why in the world would women want to be dressed by people who find them repulsive, or at least unappealing, at a fundamental sexual level?”  Good question and one that should interest all people of good will, gay or straight, who look at the gay parenting trend.

I’ve known fabulous same-sex parents and horrific biological parents.  Again, anecdote is not data, and my incomplete little samples prove nothing.  They just raise questions.  Nevertheless, considering the gay marriage and gay parenting debates roiling our society, it’s criminal that we’re not even allowed to ask these questions.  If we dare to raise them, we’re shouted down as “haters.”

Peculiarly enough, I don’t see myself as a hater.  Instead, I see myself as a “seeker” — someone who is witnessing profound changes in our society and who would like more information about the data underlying those changes. Indeed, when I ask and answer my questions, I come out pretty darn libertarian on the subject of gay parenting.

For example, if I found out that 25% of gay men who parent girls hate their daughters, would I say that’s a reason to oppose all gay men from parenting?  Or, conversely, if 25% of all lesbian women parenting sons hated boys, would that be a reason to oppose gay parenting?  No.  Emphatically not.  In terms of the broad bell curve of all parenting, those numbers, while tragic, are insignificant.  The number of children cruelly abused at the hands of heterosexual parents (both biological and step parents) makes it plain that nature is cruel to children and that the inevitable unlucky ones will find themselves at the hands of cruel, careless, horrible people.

I’d still be libertarian even if solid data showed that, at the highest point of the bell curve, it’s very clear that boys raised by lesbians and girls raised by gay men have significantly worse outcomes than comparably situated children when it comes to drug use, suicide, alcohol abuse, lifetime earning, etc.?  Even with that data, I don’t think that’s a reason to stop child-rearing in the LGBTQ community.  Take away gay parents, and there will still be children, raised in both functional and dysfunctional homes, who turn to drug use, suicide, and alcohol abuse, and who end up in poverty.  There will always be dysfunctional homes and sad children.

If I’m so libertarian, why am I concerned about that fluffy New York Times article and why am I asking the questions in the first place? The answer is that I’m trying to put the breaks on the Left’s thrill-a-minute approach to the sheer excitement of gays having babies.  Let me state again what I said at the beginning of this post: The New York Times put the story about gay designer babies in its Fashion and Style section, along with articles about the latest from the Paris design houses.  This bespeaks a profound lack of seriousness about a very serious subject — namely, the societal embrace (as opposed to the legal embrace) of parenting relationships that may be damaging for children.

Gay parenting as a fashion statement

For those members of the LGBTQ community who desperately want a child, my libertarian soul says “go for it.”  But for those who see — indeed, are encouraged to see — a child as the latest, trendy fashion accessory, I am utterly appalled that we live in a world where no one is standing athwart the barricades yelling “Stop and think about this first.”

When I stop and think about the New York Times‘ latest fashion trend, you know what I think of?  Black teen mothers in the inner city.  In the late 1980s or early 1990s, before political correctness made the topic impossible to raise, NPR did a report about black teen girls having babies. There are still stories about that problem today, but they’re always couched in Marxist terms involving black oppression at white hands. (And, considering the staggering numbers of black babies getting aborted, there are almost certainly fewer black teen mothers, making such stories less compelling.)

What made this “old time” NPR report different, was that it focused on the dynamics within the community itself. What I remember was that the story revealed was that having a baby was a statement about style and popularity. While the boys just wanted sex, the girls wanted those babies. They willingly got pregnant so that they could pick out a cool name (this was the era of those made-up faux-African names), have a baby shower (cool gifts), and otherwise take on the social status of a teen mother who was “hot” enough to attract a guy willing to impregnate her.  It was also a story about low self-esteem and loneliness, both of which these unhappy girls thought would be alleviated if they had a mini-me.

To the extent that the New York Times is using its fashion pages to encourage same-sex couples to have babies, then the LBGTQ baby-making community is no better than the inner city teens at the end of the last century. One does not have babies to be stylish, cool, avant-garde, edgy, or whatever else the fashion mavens want from this life. One has them because biological reality demands it (traditional same-sex couples) or because one genuinely wants the task of loving, caring for, supervising, worrying about, and educating a malleable little creature to become a good adult. It is extremely hard work. It’s a 24/7 job that requires constant vigilance, values, and energy. It’s not a purse that you carry around proudly for a season and then put in the closet.

In addition, if those gays living in their hermetically sealed gay communities (as almost all of my gay friends started to do once they became politically radicalized) feel that their lives are empty, and that a baby will fill in that space, they will learn what those black teens learned:  a baby will not fill the emptiness in your own soul.  Instead, the terrible thing is that you nurture that same emptiness in your baby.

Let me repeat:  Babies are not fashion statements.  But by stifling debate, the Left can sell the notion through its fashion pages.  This is a terrible thing.  How terrible?  You can get some insight into what happens to kids who are born to parents who have them for reasons of fashion, not love, read the chapter about Hollywood parenting in Andrew Brietbart’s and Mark Ebner’s Hollywood, Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon — The Case Against Celebrity. It will make your skin crawl.

A free society lets people have babies if they want babies.  A sick society hides from people the potential downsides of this decision, both for them and the baby, and encourages them to think of babies as nothing more than the latest trendy jacket.

(Note:  Regarding the photo of Elton John, his partner, and their first baby at the head of this post, I should say that I like and respect Elton John.  He’s a grandfather to his own children, but he’s also proven over the years that, after an exceptionally decadent and self-destructive few decades, he’s come out on the other side with a lot of stability and common sense, both of which make for good parenting decisions.)

Should the gay marriage debate include the biological reality of parenting versus stepparenting?

cinderella_sitting_in_the_ashes_by_dulac_print-r16c185ce0b2f4152b4c244a92067bde3_2vuj_8byvr_512The “Cinderella effect” posits that, for atavistic reasons, stepchildren tend to fare less well than biological children.  That’s not always the case, of course.  There are utterly vile biologic parents and wonderful, loving stepparents (as was the case with Abraham Lincoln’s stepmother).

The data for the Cinderella effect comes from analyses of child abuse statistics — and it turns out that, more often than is the case with biological children, stepparents tend to abuse the other parent’s child (hyperlinks and footnotes omitted):

In the early 1970s, a theory arose on the connection between stepparents and child maltreatment. “In 1973, forensic psychiatrist P. D. Scott summarized information on a sample of “fatal battered-baby cases” perpetrated in anger (…) 15 of the 29 killers – 52% – were stepfathers.” Although initially there was no analysis of this raw data, empirical evidence has since been collected on what is now called the Cinderella effect through official records, reports, and census.

For over 30 years, data has been collected regarding the validity of the Cinderella effect, with a wealth of evidence indicating a direct relationship between step-relationships and abuse. This evidence of child abuse and homicide comes from a variety of sources including official reports of child abuse, clinical data, victim reports, and official homicide data. Studies have concluded that “stepchildren in Canada, Great Britain, and the United States indeed incur greatly elevated risk of child maltreatment of various sorts, especially lethal beatings”. Studies have found that not biologically related parents are up to a hundred times more likely to kill a child than biological parents.

Powerful evidence in support of the Cinderella effect comes from the finding that when abusive parents have both step and genetic children, they generally spare their genetic children. In such families, stepchildren were exclusively targeted 9 out of 10 times in one study and in 19 of 22 in another. In addition to displaying higher rates of negative behaviors (e.g., abuse) toward stepchildren, stepparents display fewer positive behaviors toward stepchildren than do the genetic parents. For example, on average, stepparents invest less in education, play with stepchildren less, take stepchildren to the doctor less, etc. This discrimination against stepchildren is unusual compared to abuse statistics involving the overall population given “the following additional facts: (1) when child abuse is detected, it is often found that all the children in the home have been victimized; and (2) stepchildren are almost always the eldest children in the home, whereas the general (…) tendency in families of uniform parentage is for the youngest to be most frequent victims.”

This data, which had been floating around in my mind for some years, surfaced when I read Dennis Prager’s defense of traditional male-female marriage.  His main point was that the federal courts are diligently working against the will of the people nationwide when they rule that homosexual marriage is identical to heterosexual marriage.  As you would expect, Prager makes excellent arguments supporting the traditional view of marriage — and, probably to the consternation of the Leftist haters, he never denigrates a same-sex couple’s ability to have a stable, loving relationship nor claims that gays should be marginalized, criminalized, or stigmatized.  Instead, Prager looks at the nature of marriage as a biological construct and at marriage’s role through history.

The starting point for Prager’s analysis is the decision that Judge Vaughn Walker wrote for the 9th Circuit overturning the will of California voters who believe that marriage should be reserved for men and women.  In the context of his analysis, Prager took Vaughn to task for ignoring reality:

Walker: “Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples.”

Yes, without in any way reducing the worth or the decency of any gay human being or dismissing the depth of same-sex love, California, like the rest of the world, has indeed believed in the superiority of man–woman unions. Not in the superiority of straight men and women as people: The gay human being is created in God’s image every bit as much as the straight human being; and there are gays who have led vastly more moral lives than many straights. But regarding how the family — the building block of society — should be constituted, the civilized world has always believed that it should be based on a married mother and father.

Society has also believed in the superiority of mother–father families to single-parent families; and that, too, never meant that every married person is inherently superior to every single person.

It was that last sentence that triggered my memory of the Cinderella effect.  We know that, statistically, two-parent families are economically best for children.  We also know that, statistically, children raised by same-sex parents are less likely to graduate from high school.  A high school degree or higher has traditionally been associated with better economic prospects.

What occurred to me after reading about mother-father families is to wonder whether anyone has ever looked at the Cinderella effect as it relates to gay families.  After all, there’s no getting around the fact that, even if one partner in a same-sex family provides the sperm or egg for a child, the other does not.  I’ve known lesbian couple where one provided the egg and the other the uterus, and gay couples where each provided sperm for non-identical twins carried by a surrogate mother, but I do not know of any case in which two men or two women have produced (or can produce) a child that they’ve both genetically parented.  This means that, in a same-sex relationship, one parent is always the genetically-unrelated stepparent.

I also don’t know of any study that’s looked at the Cinderella effect in the context of gay parenting.  Indeed, I doubt that anyone could conduct such a study, since the premise is offensive to those who claim that there is no difference between same-sex parenting and heterosexual parenting.  I don’t know.  I think it would be fascinating to compare similarly situated heterosexual and homosexual parents.  The comparison groups would presumably have to be (a) straight couples who have biologically related children; (b) straight couples with stepchildren; (c) straight couples with adopted children; (d) gay couples with adopted children; and (e) gay couples where one partner is genetically related to the child/children and the other is not.

Follow-up to my post about the gay rights movement (as distinct from gay rights)

Obama First Gay PresidentMy post the other day about the gay rights movement didn’t touch upon the movement’s merits. Instead, I posited that the movement grates on me because the Democrats are using it as an avoidance technique to distract people’s attention from the administration’s myriad failures in every area within the executive’s scope. The comments I got from all of you were amazing.

Eidolon’s comment resonated especially strongly with me since it touches up the intellectual dishonesty, bullying, and Alinsky-ite targeting behind the whole “homophobia” movement. I therefore took the liberty of re-printing that comment here:

One thing that really gets to me about all the “gay rights” stuff is the insanity of insisting that anyone who doesn’t change their beliefs as facilely as the most hardcore advocates do is evil. Holding the view that Obama had when he was elected in 2008 is now hateful and bigoted.

I can’t understand the thinking here. There is no new factual information; there’s been no “gay gene” discovered (not that I see how that would matter either, but at least it would be something new), there’s no definitive fact that changes the nature of the situation. It’s not as though something has changed which invalidates the positions of nearly all people throughout all of history on the subject. It’s not as though it has been clearly proven that the Earth is not flat, in which case I can understand feeling that those who cling to the old view without evidence are backwards.

Besides, do they think that people like Hillary, who in the 90’s gave an impassioned speech that amounted to “how dare anyone suggest that I’m any less dedicated to marriage being between one man and one woman than anyone else,” hated gays then but suddenly stopped hating them recently? Did Obama hate gays until a couple of years ago? Or do you have to change your views constantly in order to not hate gays? It’s amazing that if you were an advocate for civil unions 10 years ago and are still one today then you went from loving to hating gays while standing still.

MLK argued successfully that racial discrimination and segregation were not consistent with the moral foundation of the United States, nor with the Christian faith. He understood that not all people who opposed him were evil, and continued making his case to them. He said that one must love others if one is to change their minds. The gay rights advocates, apparently know better; one must constantly accuse, belittle, lie to, and sue those with whom one disagrees. One should not acknowledge any evil done in the name of one’s cause, and should proudly trumpet any lies that might be useful to the cause. One need not acknowledge this his opponents are human beings, and should freely call them bigoted monsters while giving no new evidence or argument as to why he should change his view. Leaving others alone with whom one disagrees is not enough to not be evil, one must enthusiastically endorse the correct views.

Do they not see how dangerous this is? How this exact mechanism, bullying demands of acceptance without making a remotely convincing case, dismissal of all disagreement of any kind as bigotry, and rejection of the accumulated knowledge of the generations, could be used for anything at all? You could certainly use this mechanism to convince people to practice any number of awful things. This would be an excellent way to implement eugenics, population control, or other evil policies that can be made to sound nice when you don’t think about them.

I know they control the culture, so they think that would never happen. But apparently they’ve forgotten that liberals once passed Jim Crow laws and endorsed eugenics (not to mention socialism and communism). Cultural inertia meant that these practices didn’t catch on as much as they could have in America, and eventually their evil was exposed and they were discarded. Terrible, terrible damage could be done if we rush to judgement and force the views of a small elite on the general populace in this way.

I’ve finally figured out why I dislike the gay rights’ movement — and it has nothing to do with my support for gay civil rights

Obama First Gay PresidentI’ve always thought of myself as someone who’s cool about gays.  For many years, I could honestly say that many of my good friends, and some of my best friends, were gay.  I didn’t appreciate their lifestyle excesses (especially because I lost a lot of friends to AIDS because of those lifestyle choices), but I appreciated the qualities that made them my friends.  These were the same qualities I looked for in any friends, female (straight or gay) or male (straight or gay):  humor, kindness, intelligence, loyalty, etc.

Lately, though, I find myself increasingly uncool about gays and I haven’t been happy about that feeling.  I kept asking myself, “Am I a homophobe?”  My answer was, “I don’t think so, because I wish all American citizens well, and I pray for the well-being of all victimized people at home and abroad.  I don’t see where homophobia fits into that world view.”

It was Ben Shapiro’s article about the failed Sochi Olympics that made me realize what was bugging me.  It’s not the gays that bother me; it’s the way the Democrat establishment, from the White House down, is hiding behind gay rights to avoid being called upon for the Obama administration’s myriad failings in every area of domestic and foreign policy.

Here (in no particular order) are just some of the headlines that should concern the President:

Venezuela is teetering on the brink of revolution.

America is completely reliant on China and India for prescription drugs — countries that frequently provide tainted or defective medicines

Syria peace talks have failed, leading to increased tension between Russia and the United States

Islamist rebels in Africa are attacking Christians at an accelerated pace

Obamacare is proving to be a costly, destructive train wreck (no link needed for that, right?)

America’s debt now stands at $17 trillion, and that number is growing at an exponential rate

Our jobless rate is artificially low, because many people have just given up

Obama is paving the way for a nuclear Iran

The routine persecution everyone (including gays) in Muslim countries.

America is running out of clowns

Those are some pretty damn significant issues, and all of them fall within the purview of a President who owns half of Congress and who, for two years, owned all of Congress.  Moreover, this is a president who came into office with all the goodwill in the world to give him a head start on tackling big issues.

Obama and his friends, however, are not interested in big issues.  Instead, here is what the administration and its spokespeople are talking about:

Climate change, despite the fact that there’s ever-increasing evidence that the earth’s temperature hasn’t risen in almost two decades, that any change is natural and cyclical, and that we’re losing the benefit of the lovely warming period that’s made the earth so fruitful for the last few centuries.  In other word’s, climate change is a con.

Gay rights as the “unfinished business of the 21st century.”

Gay football players

Gays in Uganda (when the administration should be talking generally about the dysfunctional, corrupt Ugandan political scene)

Transgender bathrooms in California’s public schools

Gays at the Sochi Olympics

Persecution of gays in Christian countries (although persecution of gays in Muslim countries and societies continues to be the persecution that dares not speak its name)

And, of course, gay marriage, gay marriage, gay marriage

Just about the only thing lately that gets the Obama administration excited is a report of discrimination against gays anywhere in the world.

Let me be clear:  It’s morally right to take a stand against discrimination against gays, whether in Russia or the NFL or Uganda or the entire Muslim world.  No one should ever be imprisoned, murdered, beaten, fired, barred from employment, harassed, or otherwise accorded violent or oppressive treatment at the hands of the state or of fellow citizens simply because that person does not embrace heterosexuality.

My complaint, therefore, isn’t that the administration regularly takes a principled stand for gay civil rights.  My complaint is that, in addition to Obamacare (a terrible, destructive failure), and anthropogenic climate change (a non-falsifiable theory that is almost certainly a con), LGBTQ rights are the only things that excite the administration and its base. In that context, gay rights are a shell game, meant to distract the American people from the fact that the administration is routinely failing in its responsibilities to ensure that all Americans, not just gay Americans, can thrive at home.  It’s also failed to fulfill America’s traditional role (since WWII) of keeping the world a safer, more democratic place, something that benefits all people regardless of race, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

The whole gay rights thing puts me off, not because I hate gay rights, but because the administration uses it as both shield and sword to ignore much more pressing matters, some of which, if they were addressed (such as rising Islamism or increasing Russian oppression), would benefit gays along with everyone else.  I don’t hate gays or gay rights; I hate false flag operations that hide policy failures with real world consequences, not just for gays, but for everyone.

As long as the Democrat establishment cynically uses gay rights as a way of avoiding the real issues, I’m going to have a negative visceral reaction every time I see yet another Democrat talking head or media figure (but I repeat myself . . .) mouthing off about gay rights issues at home or abroad.

Benghazi is not news at the Times; Michael Sam’s sexuality is

Michael SamI know this is a politically incorrect thing for me to say, but I couldn’t care less about Michael Sam’s sexuality.  If it were up to me, it wouldn’t be news at all, or it would be at the bottom of page three in the sports section. I’m not homophobic; I’m homo-disinterested.  Peculiarly enough (nowadays), I measure people by attributions other than their sexual orientation.

The New York Times, however, considers Sam’s announcement that he is gay to be major news, not non-news, and has given him lavish coverage (which I haven’t bothered to read, because I really don’t care).  As far as the Times is concerned, a gay college football player is front page news:

New York Times on Michael Sam

Think about this:  in the world of the New York Times, it’s minimally newsworthy that (a) the Secretary of State failed to provided necessary security for an Ambassador in a tremendously dangerous region, where he and three others subsequently died; (b) that the Secretary of State and the President both seem to have been AWOL while the Ambassador and three others were dying; (c) that the Secretary of State, the President, and the entire administration lied about events leading up to and including these four deaths; and (d) that the Secretary of State loudly proclaimed that none of this mattered.  The New York Times also thinks this same Secretary of State would make a stellar president.  (And maybe that’s true, if you like your presidents to be utterly unprincipled and un-accomplished.)

Considering that the New York Times styles itself the paper of record, wouldn’t you love to ask the petty, squabbling, arrogant staff there, “Just what record are you talking about there?”

Happily married man comes out as gay — and stays happily married

Gay men at San Francisco street fairGrowing up in San Francisco during the 1960s, I have very fragmented memories of an older time, when women still wore gloves, and both men and women wore hats.  Most of my solid, coherent memories start kicking in with San Francisco’s Summer of Love, which very quickly turned into its winter of degradation.  During those formative years (from about ages 6 though 16), it was common for me to see people tripping on sidewalks, lying in filth, and vomiting all over themselves.  I was also routinely assaulted and insulted by the smell emanating from these Flower Children.  Ick.

By the mid-1970s, hippies were passé in San Francisco.  The new “in thing” was the gay scene.  The libertarian part of me thought it was a wonderful thing that men and women (but mostly men) could love freely, without being afraid that they would be humiliated, beaten, ostracized, or imprisoned.  Even as the gay lifestyle flowered in San Francisco, we heard stories about gays being imprisoned in Soviet Russia for no other crime than the fact that they were gay.

Nevertheless, even though I appreciated the gay liberation movement, I was revolted by the movement’s excess.  The drug use, nudity, orgies, etc., were too reminiscent of the hippies.  I already knew the price people paid for excess.  After AIDS came along, and the stories really broke about what was going on in the bath houses, I wasn’t surprised.

When I tried to explain to people my sense of repugnance about the gay lifestyle, what I always fell back on was the fact that this type of hedonism couldn’t be good — not for society and not for the individual.  In addition, I was offended by the lack of intimacy.  Getting naked with a stranger and having drug-fueled sex is not intimacy.  Getting to know someone, loving them, sharing the highs and lows of life together, understanding what makes them tick, wishing them well — those are the ingredients for intimacy.  The gay lifestyle I saw around me was aggressively opposed to those “mundane” relationship attributes.

Growing up and working in San Francisco, I was able to see that, to too many gays, their choices have always been, first and foremost, about sex.  Without exception, every person I knew from high school who came out of the closet instantly embraced a package deal.  It wasn’t just that they selected their partners from their own sex.  It was that they suddenly only went to gay movies, had gay porn magazines in their household, hung out only with gays, and voted gay . . . which meant an increasingly hard Left political agenda.  They were no longer “Larry, a teacher and father who happens to have a male partner.”  Instead, “they were a gay man named Larry who happens to teach on the side and is proud to raise his kid in a same-sex parent home.”

This obsessive focus on sex left little room for anything else.  As the 70s and 80s demonstrated (and as is becoming true again today for a young generation of gay men), brief, intense, drug-heightened sexual encounters were like meth for the brain.  Why have a stable, loving relationship with anyone when you could go to the bathhouse, or just walk down the street, and be a sexual endorphin junkie getting hit after hit?  Even those men I knew who were in stable relationships with long-term partners weren’t monogamous.  Instead, their relationships were still about having sex with as many men as possible — provided that they shared dinner with the same man every evening.

Growing up, seeing the hippies and their drugs and orgies, and then the gays and their drugs and orgies, what I figured out was that sexual pleasure, while delightful, is not the same as the pleasure of a life shared with someone else.  We can decide what we want to have as the center of our relationships:  the sex or the intimacy.  If it’s the sex, it had better be damned good and be damned good all the time because you’ve probably got nothing else to fall back on.  If it’s the intimacy and the stability, sex is important, but much less so.  If the sex isn’t good, or isn’t good all the time, or isn’t even there at all, there may be many compensations that keep the relationship pleasurable.

All of the above is an introduction to a most amazing post from a couple of years ago, written by the proprietor of a humor blog called “The Weed.”  (H/T:  Earl.)  Its proprietor, Josh Weed, came out of the closet at this site, but in a most unusual way:  he is a gay man, happily married to a woman and, most unusually for one of these “out of the closet” confessions, he plans to stay that way.  The reason he is able to recognize his sexual attraction to men, while maintaining a stable, loving — and, yes, sexual — relationship with his wife is because of his priorities:

The truth is, what people are really asking with the above question is “how can you be gay if your primary sex partner is a girl?” I didn’t fully understand the answer to this question until I was doing research on sexuality in grad school even though I had been happily married for almost five years at that point. I knew that I was gay, and I also knew that sex with my wife was enjoyable. But I didn’t understand how that was happening. Here is the basic reality that I actually think many people could use a lesson in: sex is about more than just visual attraction and lust and it is about more than just passion and infatuation. I won’t get into the boring details of the research here, but basically when sex is done right, at its deepest level it is about intimacy. It is about one human being connecting with another human being they love. It is a beautiful physical manifestation of two people being connected in a truly vulnerable, intimate manner because they love each other profoundly. It is bodies connecting and souls connecting. It is beautiful and rich and fulfilling and spiritual and amazing. Many people never get to this point in their sex lives because it requires incredible communication, trust, vulnerability, and connection. And Lolly and I have had that from day one, mostly because we weren’t distracted by the powerful chemicals of infatuation and obsession that usually bring a couple together (which dwindle dramatically after the first few years of marriage anyway). So, in a weird way, the circumstances of our marriage allowed us to build a sexual relationship that is based on everything partners should want in their sex-life: intimacy, communication, genuine love and affection. This has resulted in us having a better sex life than most people I personally know. Most of whom are straight. Go fig.

Josh also realized something really important, which is that nobody can ever have it all, something that’s especially true for gays:

One of the sad truths about being homosexual is that no matter what you decide for your future, you have to sacrifice something. It’s very sad, but it is true. I think this is true of life in general as well. If you decide to be a doctor, you give up any of the myriad of other things you could have chosen. But with homosexuality, the choices seem to be a little bit more mutually exclusive.  If you are Mormon and you choose to live your religion, you are sacrificing the ability to have a romantic relationship with a same-sex partner. If you choose a same-sex partner, you are sacrificing the ability to have a biological family with the one you love.  And so on. No matter what path you choose, if you are gay you are giving up something basic, and sometimes various things that are very basic. I chose not to “live the gay lifestyle,” as it were, because I found that what I would have to give up to do so wasn’t worth the sacrifice for me.

(You should really read the whole thing, which includes the way his Mormon parents accepted his sexuality while helping him focus on the things that matter in life.)

I am not suggesting that every gay person must replicate Josh’s decision to acknowledge his sexual attraction to men, but nevertheless commit to a relationship with a woman.  I’m simply suggesting that the gay milieu too often denies men and women the choice to have a traditional heterosexual relationship.  With its relentless emphasis on sexual identity and sex, the LGBTQ lobby puts enormous pressure on young men and women who self-identify as LGBTQ to abandon the notion of traditional intimacy in favor of a lifestyle focused solely on sexual preferences and, by extension, sexual pleasure.

The fact is that, as Josh shows, people’s sexuality is malleable, and our pleasure centers are surprisingly adaptable.  Many people can consciously choose one lifestyle over another — or, as I think happens with many young LGBTQ people — be bullied into one lifestyle over another.

Anyway, coming as I do from a background that left me with a deep distrust of hedonism, I was very impressed with Josh’s (and his wife Lolly’s) coming out post and think it is an interesting addition to the discussion about the LGBTQ community and the lifestyle choices its members make.  It’s especially interesting given that the 9th Circuit will soon be hearing arguments about the constitutionality of a California law that makes it impossible for religious people to help willing gays voluntarily transition away from the gay lifestyle.

Why Phil Robertson won’t apologize *UPDATED*

Phil-Robertson-813x1024

If Phil Robertson continues his refusal to bow down to the gods of political correctness, Lee Habeeb will have explained why:

It had never happened before. When big, powerful TV executives ask a star to apologize for what they deem inappropriate comments or behavior, the star simply complies. A team of publicists is assembled, the star does the obligatory apology tour for the press and promises never to do or say what he did or said again. Ever.

But the TV gods never met a man like Phil Robertson. Or his family. When they decided to place the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty clan on a non-suspension suspension for his comments to a GQ magazine writer about homosexuality, the executives at A&E created a problem.

Because this family believes in a bigger God. The same God that roughly 70 percent of Americans believe in. The Robertsons take their faith seriously, and one of the more important elements of that faith involves putting no god before theirs. Not even the suits at the big network.

Read the rest (and all of it is worth reading) here.

I don’t know about you, but I am entranced by the notion of someone who won’t be bullied into apologizing for something he believes.  Social bullying has never appealed to me.  And if you want to see how bad that bullying is, you can see that GLAAD makes old Joe McCarthy look like an amateur.

UPDATEA&E caved.  Let’s hope other conservatives will learn to stick to their guns.

 

When it comes to Norman Rockwell (“nudge, nudge”), homosexuality is in the eye of an obsessed culture

Norman-Rockwell-Triple-Self-Portrait-1960Back in the day, the Monty Python team was famous not only for its nonsense (“Dead Parrot” anyone?) but also for its edgy, modern, topical humor.  One of their most famous (and irritating) sketches was the “nudge nudge, wink wink” sketch, made all the back in 1971 (officially known as the “Candid Photography” sketch).  In it, Eric Idle played one of those awful people who believes that every word spoken is a double entendre about sex.  His character was both annoying and pathetic, as he responded to everything the stodgy, proper Terry Jones said with a leering “nudge, nudge, ya’ know what I mean?”

In 1971, that was still pretty ground-breaking stuff.  Before the 1960s, while people were thinking about sex, as people have done since time immemorial, most of them, barring New York sophisticates bathed in Freud and Kinsey, weren’t talking about it yet at cocktail parties or with strangers in pubs.  The 60s changed all that.  I vividly remember a family friend who pressed on my father a small book purporting to show that Madison Avenue had taken the famous “sex sells” dictum (pretty women in ads for everything from cars to cigars) and brought it to a whole new level with “subliminal” sexual images.  When you thought you were looking at a glass of Bacardi’s with ice, you were really seeing a subliminal image of a naked woman writhing sinuously in your rum — never mind that this invisible woman was missing three limbs and a breast.

By the end of the 1970s, the “everything is about sex” mentality had been mainstreamed.  One of the teachers who occasioned the most nervous laughter at my high school was the woman who insisted that Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are had achieved its iconic status, not because it showed a little boy safely acting out the frustration children so often feel in a grown-up world, but because Sendak had included couples copulating in the trees that are the backdrop to every image in the book.  If you didn’t see them, you weren’t looking hard enough.

Of course, once you’ve mainstreamed sex to the extent that everything is all about sex, you end up with blasé teenagers, instead of twittering, quivering, young sexual acolytes.  So where do you go from there?  Simple.  Everything is about gay sex.  That’s how gay activists manage to get headlines.  One of their big headlines was the claim that Lincoln was gay.  Their “proof” was less compelling than the certainty with which they expressed it:  in an era when it was the norm for men to have close male friendships and, when traveling, to share beds at inns, Lincoln had close male friendships and shared beds at inns.  If they could, the activists would have written QED after that one, not to say quod erat demonstrandum, but instead to say “queer everyone [who's] dead.”

The most recent entry in the “if he’s a famous dead man, he must have been gay” approach to biography is Deborah Solomon’s American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman RockwellSince Solomon spent a large part of her career at the Wall Street Journal, I’ll let that publication describe her premise:

Deborah Solomon starts her new biography of Norman Rockwell, “American Mirror,” with a joke the artist once told his therapist about a man who wants to marry an elephant. Unattainable love proved a powerful theme in the artist’s life, says Ms. Solomon. Her book’s theory: Repressed sexuality, fear of women and fascination with manhood made Rockwell’s art brilliant and his personal relationships troubled.

The 56-year-old New York writer spent more than a decade on Rockwell. This wasn’t a painter of family life, she argues, but a man seeking comfort outside conventional relationships. Of Rockwell’s 322 covers for the Saturday Evening Post, only three depict a traditional family of parents and at least two children, she says, adding that his paintings instead largely feature boys and men.

[snip]

Is your book basically saying that Rockwell was a latent homosexual?

I’m not a shrink, and I really don’t speculate about a life and a person’s psychology as a writer. As a critic, I can say when I look at his work I feel it’s possible to discern enormous homoeroticism as well as a desire to distance himself from his own desires. In his life, he did prefer male company. It was a special kind of sexual ambivalence that he may not have acted on. Do I think he had homosexual relationships? No. He goes camping and shares a bed with his assistant Fred Hildebrandt and the next morning he said, “Fred looked fetching in his pajamas.” He was very comfortable around men and he loved male bodies.

There’s more, but you get the idea.  Rockwell wasn’t actually gay . . . but he wanted to be.  In addition to the “I think he’s gay” stuff in the above interview, Solomon wrote other things in her biography that show a woman with sex on her brain.  The most bizarre theory comes when she discusses one of Rockwell’s more charming paintings.  It show a little girl on the cusp of adolescence, seen from the back, staring into a mirror.  She’s thrown her doll aside, and is longingly comparing her still childish face with a photograph of Jane Russell:

rockwell_mirror

You and I see the moment a girl leaves her childhood behind and starts preparing to function (and compete) in the world of adult women. Solomon saw something very different:

‘Actually,’ says Solomon, ‘seen from the back, she could be a boy.’ And the girl’s doll, tossed on the floor? ‘A bizarrely sexualized object. With her right hand buried in her petticoats, the doll could almost be masturbating.’

Wow!  They do say that, to a hammer, everything is a nail, and I guess to a New York sophisticate, everything is about sex (the more deviant the better), but that really is taking the whole thing to extremes.  I’m surprised Solomon didn’t throw in something about drag queens and cross dressing.

Solomon doesn’t stop with the gay subtext of little girls.  She also takes a stab at analyzing Rockwell’s famous “freedom of speech” painting:

norman-rockwell-freedom-of-speech-picture

You and I see a man free to stand up in his community and speak his mind.  Solomon sees “out and proud”:

Her take on Freedom of Speech is that the man standing is ‘unattached and sexually available. Unbuttoned and unzipped.’

It seems as if Solomon’s take on the matter is like a parlor game.  “Pick a picture, any picture, and I can spot the gay subtext.”  Rockwell’s world is no longer one of small town innocence and all-American charm.  It’s a shadowy world of cross-dressing boys, men advertising their wares for sale to other men, and even predatory pedophiles.  What!?  Predatory pedophiles?  Yes, indeedy.  Take that famous picture of a cop sitting at a soda fountain next to small boy who has, at his feet, the stereotypical early 20th century symbol of an innocent runaway:  a bundle of clothes wrapped in a handkerchief tied to stick.

Norman Rockwell's runaway

You and I see the cop using folksy charm to get the clearly well-cared for child to head back home, as the man behind the counter smiles at the scene playing about before his eyes.  Solomon sees something sleazy:

In The Runaway, a painting of a burly cop and a little boy on adjacent cafe stools, the cop leans toward the boy ‘as if to emphasize the… tenderness that can form between a grown man and a little boy… the hint of homo-eroticism’ she writes.

No doubt, were Solomon to analyze “Two Flirts” (one of my favorite Rockwell paintings), she would assure us that the fact that there are two men in the truck means that they are indeed homosexual (after all, one of them is touching the other one), and that their blatant ogling at the pretty blonde is their way of trying to pass for straight in a homophobic society:

Rockwell's two flirts

Solomon made only one mistake when she decided to “gay up” Norman Rockwell.  She forgot that there are people still alive who knew the man.  Unlike Lincoln, who had no one left behind to speak about him when the “Lincoln is gay” theory hit the airwaves, Rockwell still has living children and grandchildren, and they are not pleased to see their relative painted as a depressed and repressed homosexual.  They’ve issued a strong public statement challenging the book.  Intelligently, they’ve attacked myriad provable errors in the book, rather than just saying, childishly, “She’s wrong.  Nyah-nyah-nyah.”

The Norman Rockwell Family Agency, in light of today’s New York Times review of American Mirror the Life and Art of Norman Rockwell, is compelled to finally address the many analyses of Norman Rockwell. The Norman Rockwell Family Agency is making this final statement:

Many of the reviews of Deborah Solomon’s American Mirror The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell have accepted her account of his life and work. Her account is essentially wrong. She has neglected or misused the sources which she cites. Her use of Norman Rockwell’s autobiography, My Adventures as an Illustrator, is highly selective. As Professor Patrick Toner of Wake Forest University states in his online review on First Things.com, “Solomon has a pronounced tendency to either distort or simply ignore evidence to the contrary.”

Garrison Keillor states in today’s review, “She does seem awfully eager to find homoeroticism – poor Rockwell cannot go on a fishing trip without his biographer finding sexual overtones. Keillor comments on Solomon’s suggestion that the doll in “Girl at Mirror” could be masturbating, “Well, I suppose that Michelangelo’s “David” could “almost” be masturbating”.

On page 94 of her book, Solomon describes how Rockwell would “hang about the schools at recess . . and stop little boys on the street . .” She then comments, “Today with our awareness of pederasty scandals (meaning pedophilia) this kind of behavior might seem problematic . .” She then omits a passage just below this in the Autobiography that fully explains what really happened – after Rockwell would convince a boy to pose, they would go to ask the mother’s permission. On page 101 she comments on his relationship with his models: “The integrity of the boys was never in question. But his own character was not nearly so straightforward.” Referring to Nabokov’s novel, Lolita, Solomon writes, “In a way Rockwell was Humbert Humbert’s discreet and careful twin brother, roused by the beauty of children but (thankfully) more repressed.” Many of the reviewers have ignored the claim of pedophilia, perhaps because the suggestion of it blows the credibility of the book out of the water.

She supports this unfounded claim with another phantom theory, that Rockwell was a closeted homosexual. To link pedophilia and homosexuality in this way is offensive and clearly homophobic. We have found at least 68 of these sexual references throughout the book. On page 168 she comments on his search for costumes for his models: “. . . he did enjoy acquiring clothing from men who caught his eye, as if it were possible to acquire the less tangible parts of them as well.” Solomon now claims that sex is only a “tiny part” of her book. But sex is a major theme of the book and her phantom theories color and distort everything, including Rockwell’s entire character and her interpretations of his art. There is no way to separate her sexual theories from the rest of the book. Her take on Freedom of Speech is that the man standing is “unattached and sexually available. Unbuttoned and unzipped.” Solomon also omits from the Autobiography many accounts of Norman Rockwell’s feelings and relationships with women.

There are also many other factual errors and omissions — we have found at least 96. Again, this is something that few reviewers seem to notice — they simply do not know enough about Norman Rockwell’s life, and are too dependent on Solomon’s flawed account. She inadequately interviewed Rockwell’s three sons and therefore her account of his life is often inaccurate. She gives an incomplete account of a significant difficulty with the Post when the art editor, Ken Stuart, painted out a horse from one of NR’s covers without consulting him. Solomon omits Norman Rockwell’s difficulties when his abilities were failing — in one instance he painted portraits of the Ross Perot family and they were so badly done that Mr. Perot sent them back and NR returned his check.

Most important of all, Solomon doesn’t understand the man, who Norman Rockwell was as a person. She says “On most days he was lonesome and loveless.” This is absurd. He did not mope, was not a chronic depressive, or a hypochondriac. He went through his trials and storms as we all do, but he was someone who ultimately affirmed life. People liked Rockwell and enjoyed being with him. He was interested in people and what they had to say. On a personal note, “I always had a wonderful relationship with my father, we were especially close when I helped him with his Autobiography.”

Solomon claims that her book is based on an examination of his art and that Norman Rockwell painted mostly men and boys. We counted all the Post covers from 1916 – 1951 and all the early covers for Life and Literary Digest. There are 172 covers with girls and women, and 141 covers with boys and men. Her theory is demonstrably wrong. Norman Rockwell also did 9 covers of Santa Claus. We’re not sure in which category Solomon would place Santa.

We are troubled and mystified that the Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge has endorsed the book.

This is our last word, we are no longer going to participate in the drama Solomon has created. This book says a lot more about Deborah Solomon than it does about Norman Rockwell.

Thomas Rockwell and Abigail Rockwell

For The Norman Rockwell Family Agency
Cynthia DeMonte, 917-273-1717
cynthiademonte@gmail.com

The most telling error the Rockwell’s expose is the way Solomon asserts that Rockwell’s famous post covers gave short shrift to women, and the way that a simple count proves her error:  “Solomon claims that her book is based on an examination of his art and that Norman Rockwell painted mostly men and boys. We counted all the Post covers from 1916 – 1951 and all the early covers for Life and Literary Digest. There are 172 covers with girls and women, and 141 covers with boys and men. Her theory is demonstrably wrong.”  That one deserves a true QED.

Our society’s obsession with homosexuality is not healthy.  It leads us to pervert history, science, and the values that hold a society together.  I know I sound homophobic when I say this, but I’m  not.  When I attack American Jews who have replaced the Torah with the Democrat Party platform, I don’t see myself as being either antisemitic nor self-loathing.  I believe, instead, that I am pointing out ugly mutations in a culture that, when not mutated, is a health contributor to the world.  I believe the same is true of those who reside on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning spectrum, a spectrum that is a very small part of the larger range of human sexual behaviors.

I don’t doubt that some people (such as the ones who died in Soviet gulags and Nazi concentration camps because of their sexuality) are emphatically gay, must as others are emphatically straight.  I also believe that there are lots of people who could go either way.  They’re not bisexual insofar as they do not choose to go both ways simultaneously.  Instead, at a certain point in their sexual development, they look at a lifestyle and pick the sexuality that goes with it.  In the old days, social pressure said to men, “Pick the wife, two kids, and the house in the suburbs.”  By the late 1970s and pre-AIDS 1980s, when I was watching the gay revolution play out in San Francisco, an enticing social option to men with fluid sexuality said “Pick the lifestyle that allows you 100 orgasms per night” (which was precisely what was going on in the bath houses that were such vectors for the spread of AIDS.  The queer culture, with its press to be included in American education, is trying to revamp the 1970s and early 1980s pressure regarding gay sexual orientation.

We are an unhealthy culture when we force the brilliant Alan Turing, who may well have been the most important factor in winning World War II, to chemically castrate himself, a penalty (combined with public humiliation) that drove him to suicide.  We are an equally unhealthy culture when the prism through which we view ourselves paints everything — and I do mean everything — in terms of a sexual orientation that encompasses at most ten percent of the population (and, quite probably, far less than that).  A healthy, moral society protects the outliers from discrimination, but it must shape its values around the norm.  In our case, the norm is that big bulge in the bell curve that is heterosexuality.

Freud gave Americans permission to talk about sex, all kinds of sex.  At the same time, and long before Bill Clinton re-sexualized cigars, Freud is reputed to have warned that, at least sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.