Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I am a fan of the "It's Get Better" campaign, designed to help queer youth understand that they are going through an especially dramatic (and sometimes downright dangerous) phase of their life, and that (usually) things will settle down within a few years. I've defended the campaign to those who say it doesn't really do anything. I think it accomplishes a lot, on an individual level, and it has certainly elevated the subject of queer-bullying in the national conversation. Hopefully, not just queer individuals, but also parents, friends and schools are more aware of the situation and working to help solve the problem.

But I think the campaign is very incomplete. Here's what I would like to add to the equation. Yes, queer or bullied or unhappy youth, it likely will get better. But that doesn't necessarily help you much in the here and now. And it's entirely possible that things could get worse before they get better. So we need something that's going to help right now.

Of course, if we are seeking something that can help "right now," it can't involve society itself, because we have no control over all of society, or really, anyone outside ourself. We can't immediately change a school system, and we can't necessarily change even one bully. So the solution must be something we can conjure within ourself. Now we have full control over a potential solution. I think that something, that solution, is the concept of virtue.

It's an old word, an old idea, but one that is actually very fundamental to everything that we do and think. Yet our modern culture doesn't really take virtue very seriously. Some even scoff at the term. We are not encouraged to think about it much, if at all. Instead, we are encouraged to conform, to desire, and to consume, which it turns out are all in their ways un-virtuous. For instance, rampant consumer capitalism, which is the economic model that most of the "civilized" world currently engages, principally promotes the emotion of desire... desire for something that the seller promises us will make us "happy." But it turns out that this is usally a deception. The thing which we desire will not make us happy. And which emotions are most closely associated with desire? Greed and envy. Both of these distract and divide us from our true self, and from each other, and from the natural world.

So this is a prime example of how society de-emphasizes virtue, and emphasizes what really are unvirtuous emotions.

So how do we, especially, say, a queer youth, begin to consider virtue? First they have to be made aware that there is such a thing, and that it resides inside them (at least for most people). Recognizing that this natural goodness, this ability to think and act rightly, this virtue, is already inside you, is deeply empowering and protecting. But only if you recognize it. If you don't recognize it, it remains like Excalibur, stuck in the rock.

Uh-oh, you may question, what is this about Excalibur? Where is this leading? It's leading to the hero who pulls out the sword. And you know who that hero is? The only hero who can pull out the Excalibur of your life. The hero is you.

No, I'm not suggesting that anyone has to become an Arthur, or some kind of super-hero, or even a tough guy. You just have to recognize that you should be the hero of your own life. And you do have an Excalibur to help you do that; it's your virtue.

The bullies, those who are self-absorbed, those who want and envy and hate, they are disconnected from their virtue. Their own Excaliburs are stuck in the rock, and completely hidden from them. And so, they are really not very powerful. In fact, they are actually pathetic. And they instinctively know it. They sense they are disconnected and unreal and weak. So they feel bad about themselves. To make themselves feel better, to seem stronger, they often lash out at those they perceive as "weaker." They often turn to weapons to use against the "weaker" person. If they turn to real weapons like guns or knives or any kind of physical violence, then we have a real problem, that requires professional attention and assistance. Do not go silent in the face of this threat. Call in the authorities, parents, teachers, school administrators, the police. All of civilized history should be on your side in protecting you from such vile and inexcusable behavior.

But it's not typically guns or knives or any kind of physical intimidation that bullies employ. Their usual weapon of choice is words. And words are nothing but string to your Excalibur, your virtue.

When you are assaulted by their words, wield Excalibur. Imagine striking the offensive words down as they come at you. This is your virtue, coming to your defense. You know who you are. You are the good guy; the bullies are the bad guys. You are not trying to hurt anyone; they are. You are compassionate; they are not compassionate. You are intelligent; they are not intelligent (at least not when they are being bullies). You are creative; they are uncreative. By being a virtuous person you are in balance with Universal Order; by being bullies they are unbalanced and out of control. You are unformed, but hold high potential; they are unformed, and demonstrating low potential. You are beautiful where it counts, inside; they may be beautiful on the outside, but are a mangled mess inside. You will likely find beauty and meaning and happiness in your life; they, alas, will find heartbreak and woe. You are truthful; they are liars. Or, even if they tell the truth, they don't understand the truth, certainly not your truth. You do.

The bully will go for your perceived weakness. You're gay, you're trans, you're ugly, you're fat, you're clueless, you're not popular. Some of these things may be true. The words they sling at you may actually be accurate. They may call you "Fag" or "Queer" or "Homo" or "He-She" or "LadyBoy" or "SheMale" or "Sissy" or "Whale Butt" or "Pizza Face" or whatever. It will usually be an epithet you've heard before, because these people are not very creative.

And so, as you swing Excalibur you focus on the term and size it up, parse it. Like one of those slow-motion action films, the words fly at you... "SSTTUUPPIIDD".... and you think no, that is a completely false, completely worthless description; I reject it. Slice! Next! "FFAAGG"... and you think yes, that's part of who I am, I'm OK with that, I accept it, and this word cannot hurt me. Slice! Next!

Just like this, your inner hero protects you from the bully's assault. And all you did was get your mind around your virtue.

We should have compassion for the bullies. They are that which they deign to despise and torment. That doesn't mean we have to put up with their antics and drama. If they get really out of control, call the cops. But if they are just up to their usual shenanigans with their gossip, or their Facebook and Twitter pranks or something like that, even if they confront you with a torrent of verbal bile, just be present, look deep into their frantic and frustrated eyes, focus deep inside yourself, and flash Excalibur.

There's a long journey ahead, heroes! Yes, there will be problems, but magic is also in store. Wonderful friends and experiences and thoughts and feelings await. It won't be long. It does (usually) get better. Meanwhile, virtue in, virtue out.


My last post, "Vote, Damn It," generated some complaints that I was being too harsh, that I was "in pain," and that the non-voters should be treated with more gentleness and respect.

I am not "in pain" so much as angry. And anyone who is not angry about the
situation the world finds itself in today is not really paying attention, or
perhaps does not care.

Now we must parse words, and also definitions. Is anger always a "negative"
emotion? It can be, especially when it comes to rage, an extreme form of anger,
or when anger is allowed to fester. But we learn from those who have carefully
considered and written about the "passions" that anger can be, in fact, a very
productive emotion... because it often prompts to action. Sometimes it is very
appropriate to be angry. Sometimes, if you are not angry about a particular
thing, there is something lacking in you; you may, in fact, be unconscious
and/or uncaring. You might ask yourself, where would America be if a contingent
of colonists didn't get really angry around 1776?

There is a saying, "The Truth will set you free. But first it will piss you

I'm angry that a certain class of extremely un-virtuous persons in this world
have managed to screw it up for the vast majority of us. And they wish to
continue to do it. They wish to continue perpetrating the very same ideology and
policy that has always thwarted liberty, equality, justice and fairness. And
they will lie and cheat and manipulate to do it. These people are bullies and
pirates and assassins, assaulting the human family and our precious planet. An
election is coming up next year that will determine to what extent they will be
able to continue getting away with their crimes.

I do not accept that we - the collective - can do nothing about it. I do not
accept that I - an individual - can do nothing about it. In fact we have a
wonderful tool for effecting change: it's called democracy. So I have accepted
my responsibility, to myself, and to the collective, to fight back, to make a
better world. In the cultural wars, and in the war to save the planet, I am not
a victim, or a bystander, I am a warrior.

Yes, I use the terminology of war and violence because this is a war, and it is
violent. The people we are up against are thoughtless, careless and sometimes
uber-violent. Though my methods are non-violent and virtuous, that does not
preclude whacking them as hard as I can with my most potent weapons... words and

And in rallying our side, like any warrior, I exhort my fellows to action, to
arete, which means our most virtuous self: including our inner hero. It is
intentionally non-diplomatic. Diplomacy, making deals with the devil, got us
into this mess. Diplomacy by its nature is uninspiring. Again, I use words,
pointed words, motivation by sharp rebuke for those who have heretofore shirked
their reponsibilities to themselves and their friends and family. It's intended
as a slap. Snap out of your stupor. Earn your respect. Get your act together and
help the cause.

Now, it's not like I'm asking them to sharpen their sword and physically go to
war. I'm not even asking them to volunteer to help a campaign. I'm just asking
them to get off their duffs and VOTE.

Yet they still carp and whine, and say, "Oh, you ask too much of me, and you
don't ask nicely, you hurt my feelings." So they have come up with yet more
excuses. It is these excuses that hold them down, and this behavior that
commands disrespect of themselves, and from others.

I don't think it's low self-esteem for most not-voters as it is plain old
laziness and apathy. Yet those who wish to psychoanalyze themselves, or others,
and allow such excuses are playing into the hands of the oppposition, and so are
actually highly counter-productive. The weak, slackers, the self-absorbed who do
not vote, and those who coddle and enable them, actually aid the opposition;
they vote for their oppressors and the destroyers of the world. And the cycle of
feeling bad about themselves is not broken, perhaps it is even worsed by one who
is aware at some level that they, again, failed in their responsibilities.

And, so I have in part accomplished my mission. This message is not a personal
message; it is a social message. It is not to someone; it is to everyone. I have
brought forth the issue. I have stimulated spirited conversation. I have made
the call to arms. I have raised the hackles of some. Good! Get mad. Get mad at
me. Get mad at something! Be passionate, damn it! Live with passion! Allow your
anger to arise and be channeled into something productive.

Conversely, if I had asked so very nicely for people to vote, it would have been
a typical post that no one really bothers to notice, and little if any
conversation. Of course, such a "nicecy-nice" post could hardly have ventured
into the primary thrust of my message: you have a RESPONSIBILITY to vote. And I
am not asking politely, I'm demanding that you stop shirking that reponsibility.

It affects me when you don't vote! It affects the entire country when you don't
vote. You may have the right to screw yourself, but you don't have the right to
screw me, or the community, or nation, or planet.

You know, I hear that in Australia, if you don't vote, you are fined. That's the
right approach. I'd love to see that here in America, too. In this country you
are fined for lots of things when you shirk your responsibility. Run a stop
sign: fine. Leave garbarge in your yard: fine. Don't bring your library book
back on time: fine. Don't pay your taxes: big fine. But strangely, we are not
fined if we blow off our biggest civic reponsibility: voting. Of course, the
opposition would hate to see required voting because they feast on non-voters.

Voting is a sacred responsibility. And there is NO good excuse for not doing it.

Yes, GASS is all about support. Having conversations like this is spot-on with
regard to its mission. Very important ways GASS can support its members is by
stimulating conscious thought and action, and by not acting as enabler of their
adharma, their avidya, their non-virtuousness. Psychology clearly informs us
that the best way to higher self-esteem is through a framework that emphasizes
discipline and responsibility. So a supporting person or group that is trying to
encourage higher levels of self-esteem will provide a caring but firm
scaffolding for that development. That includes, to some degree, a sense of high
expectation, which is fundamental for enlightened growth.

In demanding that people vote, we are not demanding that they heal themselves of
all their afflictions. We are not asking much at all. Just vote. And see how you
feel afterwards. If you have not been a voter, then by voting you have
transformed yourself, for the better. You will feel better. You are taking
responsibility. You are helping yourself and others. You have broken a pattern
of laziness and apathy. And who knows where that transformation will lead.


Saturday, October 22, 2011


Today, some tough love.

The past few weeks I've noticed something very troubling: quite a few members of
our trans community don't vote. I don't know if the ratio is larger than with
the general public (which is pathetically low), but I suspect it may be. Several
of the persons that I talked with volunteered the information that they don't
vote as if they were actually proud of the fact, like, "yeah, I stick it to the
man by not voting."


It's called the "right" to vote. And that's true to a degree. There was a time
when we (meaning the "little people") were prevented from voting. We do now have
the "right" to vote, and we are downright stupid not to take advantage of it.
Our ancestors would have given anything to vote.

It's also called a "privilege." That's a bit shaky. Yes, we should feel
"privileged" in some sense to live in a society that is enlightened enough to
have such rights. Many people living today do not have the right to vote. So,
again, not taking advantage of this "privilege" is stupid.

But more than a "right" and a "privilege," voting is a RESPONSIBILITY!

When you don't vote, you're not screwing "the man," you're screwing yourself,
and you're screwing your family, friends, allies and community, too. When you
don't vote you are FLUNKING YOUR RESPONSIBILTY to yourself and your community.

Because, you see, in a democracy where most all adult citizens have the right to
vote, there's no such thing as "not voting." You say you "don't vote," oh, you
are horribly mistaken... you vote alright, you vote FOR the person or issue that
you would have voted AGAINST if you accepted your responsibility!

Yes... it really is that stupid. Why don't you just punch yourself in the
face... and then do it to everyone you know, as well. It's pretty much the same

Your "no" vote, is exactly that... a subtraction from the good guy's total vote
count. The bad guys feast upon your idiocy. You're just as good as a "yes" vote
for their guy!

"Oh well, my vote doesn't matter," you say. BALONEY! If all, or even half of,
the "not voting" turd-blossoms out there across America accepted their
responsibility to vote, the bad guys wouldn't have a chance in Hell. We, the
little people, would RULE! We would kick their ass every time. Instead, every
not-voting doofus is actually working for the bad guys.

Wake up! Get your head out of your ass! Stop being so self-absorbed and selfish
and pathetic and dumb as shit! You're smarter than that. You're better than

Live up to your responsibilty to yourself and to your community. Get registered
to vote NOW, for this year, so you'll be ready for the big showdown coming up in

The LGBT community, the middle class, the poor, minorities of all kinds, and the
vast majority of average citizens are under assault by the bad guys with the
toxic ideology that serves only the top 1%. We need every person on board If
you're too lazy to help in other ways, at least VOTE!

Sometimes things do come down to black and white. If you're not voting with us,
you're with the terrorists!



The Zanesville, Ohio massacre of 49 beautiful, precious and completely innocent animals has me seething. What insanity is this? Let's start with the moron who collected guns and such "pets" as tigers, lions, leopards and bears. This Marlboro Man wannabe was well-known as a trouble-maker, and recently served time for illegally possessing over 100 firearms. Then he commits suicide, but only after opening the cages of all of his "pets." They escaped and local law enforcement executed all but six out of 55 exotic animals. A shocking photograph of dead tigers, lions, bears and cougars captured for posterity the carnage.

We know the world is populated by a contingent of crazies who will do anything. ANYTHING. But what is perhaps even more infuriating is that common sense did not handle this wacko appropriately before a tragedy. He was a known danger to the community. But it turns out Ohio is under the spell of a political delusion that highly regards "property rights" and disdains "regulation." Republican governor John Kasich refused to extend an emergency order by his predecessor (a Democrat) that restricted the ownership of exotic animals. That law might have prevented this debacle.

It's not a stretch to see the similarity in the carnage wreaked upon the economy by banksters, also a known danger to the community, who were likewise deregulated. This dysfunctional mindset must be cast into the cracks of doom from whence it came. The conservative mantra of "deregulation" begs for catastrophe.