Sunday, June 08, 2008
Why I am What I am
That's me in that late 80s class picture. Yep, I'm the grinning, budding queer, preening for the camera, in a vest. While I'm staunchly anti acid wash today, my choice in clothing hasn't changed much. I still love a good vest.
Back in 1989, when this pic was taken, the U.S. was preparing for its first assault on Iraq. There was also a kerfuffle in Panama, which was especially felt by yours truly when his favorite Venezuelan soap opera, Pasionaria, was bumped by former Miss Universe-cum-Telemundo-anchor Cecilia Boloco with her breaking news from Panama City.
At the time, war was something I'd only heard about in a classroom: the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War. It was something distant, not something that would ever happen in my lifetime. But when it did happen, or at least when it registered in myh world, I watched, with dread and amazement, war unfold on TV.
And then the lessons I was getting from my Jehovah's Witness mother really began to ring true: the world is coming to an end. So firm was that belief that I wasn't even allowed to go on a school field trip to the U.N. that year because that's where the Devil reigns supreme(today I live three blocks away from a place the Rawhide, but anyway). JW's believe the world's governments are under Satan's influence, and the UN being the caucus of most of the world's governments, it's only fitting that Lucifer would like it there.
All of this anti-politics and war and end-of-the-world noise buzzed in the background as I graduated from elementary school and went on to middle school. And then everything came to a head in 1992 when the Clintons entered my world. It was an amazing summer for TV-watching (budding queer, remember?) and nothing was better, for me, than gymnastics and synchronized swimming at the Olympics, and the Democratic Convention where the guy from Hope took the stage.
And that's where the modern fairy tale of Clinton-lot began. There were the endorsements from the Kennedys, and the noise about Clinton's young, fresh perspective. And the acclaim for his accomplished wife and their well-behaved daughter. It was morning for America, finally, and there would be nothing but blue skies, reconcilliation and apple pie for everyone. Even a gay Latino kid in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
I believed the Clinton hype and my a-political parents ate it up, too. We never talked about Regan in our house, but we lavished praise on the Clinton. In fact, "El Clinton" could do no wrong.
Until, of course, he did. There was NAFTA, Don't Ask Don't Tell, the Defense of Marriage Act, the horrible response to the Rwandan genocide and Monica-gate. But in the age of "Friends" and cyber cafes, Clinton's foibles were somewhat laughable. Most of us felt we had the best man for the job in the White House.
Fast forward to the 2000 elections when all hell broke loose. For all of the talk today about change I think we've slighted George Bush for being the ultimate agent of change - he threw us into the culture war, and oh yeah, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention that recession his father started back in the early 90s.
Still with me? I know this is droning on but I'm getting to my point.
After 9-11 and two wars, anyone in their right mind would have thought the country would have had enough of the Republicans. And so the Democrats put out Howard Dean in 2003 as a brassy, learned and decorated alternative to Bush's gentleman's C's swagger. And things seemed great until one impassioned speech left us with John Kerry.
So we lost the election and then Hilary entered the presidential race. But wait, remember a speech by a good looking Senator from Illinois at the Dems' convention in 04? Something about seeing purple and even mentioning gay people? In a positive way, no less.
Yeah, he won me over too.
Because by then I was so over Hillary and her own flip floppy ways - from the war in Iraq to her opportunistic approach to every crisis that I wanted, sigh, a change.
And I got nasty about it (as readers of this blog may remember). Ever since I was a kid, I had an either love/hate relationship with people - I never did "nice."
But then, after seeing Hillary get tossed around and pummeled in Iowa, I started thinking about what made me like her and her husband so much in 92. And it began to strike me as unfair that all of a sudden she was being hung out to dry because a newer, untested candidate with slick prose emerged.
And then I got nasty about Obama.
However -- and now I'm getting to my point -- every time I said something mean and nasty about Hillary I was either booed or applauded, but I was never called sexist. The minute I jumped off the Obama bandwagon, though, I became a member of the Aryan Nation, and that was because, apparently, the Klan wouldn't have me.
And I've taken it in stride. Even when good friends have flat out have called me an idiot and a racist because I'm just not that into B. Hussein Obama.
Which brings me to the issue of why I call Barack by his Muslim name. First, because I read it on Ann Coulter's site and I thought it was very clever. And second, because back in 1989 I was told that Saddam Hussein was going to blow up the world and now America can't wait to elect a Hussein to power. It smacks of irony, at best, and disaster waiting to happen, at worst. In my opinion anyway, which is the basis of this blog.
A blog which, by its title, according to some, speaks to some inner conflict and latent schizophrenia. I think the title of my blog describes me perfectly. I'm a gay man with some conservative opinions -- I won't even say I can't help them because I don't want to make excuses for agreeing with many of the sound lessons I learned in a Christian household. But my liberal streak absolutely holds government accountable for the well being of the people and it demands that the less advantaged be given some sort of leg up to even the odds every now and then.
I'm not schizophrenic, I'm just open minded. And I'm thankful to live in a country where I can say that my open-mindedness doesn't see B. Hussein Obama as the right candidate for me.
And where, at 9 years of age or at 27, I'm allowed to gel my hair and wear whatever kind of vest I want.