There’s something caught in your throat

Has anyone else noticed how often the language of “shoving it down our throats” comes up when straight people want to complain about gay people? (Seriously, people say stuff like this all the time. Just Google “gay shoved down our throats” without quotes and you’ll see what I mean.)

Whether intentional or not, I think this language has its roots in gay panic – homophobia.

People having something shoved down their throats are being physically violated by someone else. There are victims, and there are predators. The tacit accusation here is, gay people are trying to victimize straight people in a graphic, physical way.

Given the history of anti-gay fear about how the gays are after kids and whatnot, I think “cramming it down our throats” functions today like a code way to remind people that gay folks are sexual predators (much the way some white people use the word “thug” only in reference to young, black people).

It’s dog whistle language, for haters. And it’s efffffffffffffed up.

“They’re cramming the gay agenda down our throats.”

There is indeed violence actually getting invoked here, but it’s a violence of scapegoating based on bigotry, fear-mongering from sexual ignorance (and/or morbid curiosity?).

For some people, having to acknowledge that gay people exist may feel like their throats are being stuffed with gayness. But I suspect it’s just the bile of their own bigotry.


Is bullying inevitable? Or can kids learn how to make room for difference?

There’s this NBC Chicago post on Facebook about a kid who was bullied for having a My Little Pony lunch bag, for which the school’s response was to ban his lunch bag. The comments are a predictable mix of great (‘this is victim-blaming nonsense’) and awful (why are the parents letting their boy take a girl’s lunch bag to school?). And yes, I know, you’re not supposed to read internet comments. But it was interesting to see how the responses fell into two camps, which reveal two different assumptions about the world:

Assumption 1: bullying is inevitable, so the best thing you can do is teach kids how to avoid being targets. The role of teachers and parents is to help victims survive in a bully’s world.

Assumption 2: kids are capable of learning how to be decent to one another, so the best thing you can do is teach kids to respect other people. The role of teachers and parents is to protect all kids by helping bullies become better people in a world where good community matters.

I sure as hell know what world I’d rather leave behind to my children.

So how do we deal with dehumanizing “encouragement”?

My take on the dehumanizing encouragement towards people who seen to be “less than us” in some way, seems to resonate with many folks who have been the targets of that kind of “encouragement”. It leaves me wondering, now what? What’s the best way to disrupt that stuff? For the ones who find themselves targeted in the moment? For those of us who are not the direct targets but who are present when it occurs?

In the case of the fat-phobic, supposedly-encouraging Facebook post, predictably, there are a whole lot of non-fat people who see absolutely nothing wrong, because the writer’s intentions are good. if you read the comments of the stories discussing this, there are all kinds of people who can’t be bothered with, say, the perspective of the one who was singled out in the first place, but instead go straight to defending the perceived intent of the one who wrote it. He was trying to be complimentary! Jeez, this is what you get for trying to encourage someone. Right, because what matters most here is that we not accidentally discount the feelings of the guy who did the harmful thing – as opposed to the one who was (accidentally?) actually harmed in the first place.

Eff that. 

But clearly, “good intentions” are the first line of defense when it’s pointed out that someone’s encouragement isn’t encouraging. So any response needs to be ready to deal with that, ready to hold onto the clear distinction that it’s not about what you meant, it’s about what you did. That feels important. But beyond this, I’m not sure I have any good ideas about how to effectively transform the situation, beyond simply stopping it. Although maybe stopping it is sufficient. Ideas? What would you say in the moment, as the target, as an observer?

“You disgust me” and “you inspire me” are two sides of the same coin

(Trigger warning: fat-phobia, ableism)

Maybe you’ve read this thing on Facebook:


And maybe you read the response from the guy in the photo. (If not, you totally should.)

So, I’m totally aware that I am not a person who has experienced being targeted by fat-phobia (add to that, I’m a dude, and there seems to be a major gender aspect to how fat-phobia plays out in general and in this article in particular). I feel privileged to have been able to participate in thoughtful conversations about this on Facebook and recognize that I’m more of an outside observer than if I were in the target group.

That said, I’ve been thinking about how closely related “you disgust me” and “you inspire me” are on the spectrum of “I don’t see you as fully human”.

Think about how disabled people are often marginalized by nondisabled folks (you disgust me!) until some nondisabled person makes the oh-so-generous leap to being ‘truly inspired’ by what that poor autistic person is able to accomplish despite being so obviously deficient.

Then we have the above post, which literally connects the language of ‘you disgust me’ to the language of ‘you inspire me’ — all in the service of some non-fat person making themselves feel good for not taking the shitty “normal” perspective on fat people. (See?? We were all supposed to be disgusted, but look – I’m inspired! You inspire me! In all of your deficiency.)

In either case, “you disgust me” and “you inspire me” both seem to reveal that the one expressing those sentiments does not view the recipient as fully equal, fully worthy. Which makes me sad, and more than a little angry, that folks like me can’t just let other folks be.

The Not-So-Big Tent of “The Christian Left”

…the Facebook group, that is. Anyone who uses Facebook and is both a Christian and a liberal probably has come across content from The Christian Left. They put out the kind of Jesus/social justice stuff you’d expect. Anyway, my buddy Nathan was just booted off the site for complaining that it’s become too political, and now there’s an interesting discussion about disagreement, trolling, and the ethic of making room for difference on this thread. Pay particular attention to what “Bob McGill” has to say. That guy knows stuff about stuff.

It’s been a minute…

…but I’m getting back on it, just so you know, stay tuned.

Schedule break-in

Our church has a big sign out front that says “COME AS YOU ARE”. Today, this guy came in as he was, which necessitated changing my plans for the afternoon: from office organizing to serving my neighbor. My office was messier than I wanted when I left for the day, but I just saw the sign on my way out, and I’m kinda grateful that we can, in fact, come as we are to this place, messiness and all.

On TyRy’s imminent arrival

It’s the “all baby, all the time” show in my head these last couple of days. Even yesterday morning, as all the last-minute details were coming together in the hours leading up to worship, I was more relaxed about all that than I’ve ever been. All I could think was, “My wife is getting ready to PUSH OUT A BABY. 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 :D…!!”

At this point, TyRy is two days past her due date. Her head seems to be solidly planted in low, which means it could be hours, days, but also even weeks at this point. We surrender to the process as best we can. And meanwhile, my life is already being radically reoriented, and I haven’t even met this kid yet…!

So very exciting.

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