Empowerment and tolerance

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    Nov 19, 2007 12:41 AM GMT
    I've spent the last few days in Boston, MA with work and the weekend for pleasure. I've had a lot of rather heavy thoughts in my head, principally concerned with decisions concerning my future and whether I want to emigrate permanently to North America or should move on somewhere else.

    Amongst my ruminations, I became aware of a recurring phenomenon: namely, I *kept* throughout the weekend as I have been exploring the city, seeing male couples: holding hands, arms around each other and, once, kissing; the world continued around them seemingly oblivious. One, alas, does not see such things in Cleveland, OH. Perhaps it was the depth of my reverie that lent them additional meaning, but in any event these people themselves seemed to become to me symbols of *power* and *hope* in the cold bright autumn day.

    I am not accustomed to being so deeply affected: my sudden awareness of this seemed to connect me, albeit in a brief and evanescent manner, to the intrinsic beauty of human love.

    I wanted to share this moment because we have some rather heavy debates here: what to call ourselves, the prejudices we face, our thoughts on god.

    I started this thread so others could share their experiences of such moments of revelation or transcendence through which they became aware of love and beauty in their fellow man. I think such understanding *empowers* us all.

    Le Tigre
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    Nov 19, 2007 6:17 AM GMT

    Hmm, so what will you do with this insight? Just curious. icon_smile.gif

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    Nov 19, 2007 6:33 AM GMT
    Tim,

    I've had a similar reaction twice to this sort of situation.

    The first was back when I was a senior in high school. We were at Disneyland in Anaheim and I was out only to a select few friends, but not the ones I was with at the time. I was sitting down with a few friends, when one of them spotted a gay couple walking around, holding hands. I don't even remember what they said, because as soon as I saw that I remember feeling so happy and hopeful for my future, knowing that I could someday do the same--a feeling that I hadn't encountered in my little town of under 2,000.

    The second time was a couple of years ago. I had gone with some friends to the annual formal for my college, held in Boise. We had stepped out for a bit and were lounging outside at a bar down the block from the place the formal was being held. I saw a couple of gay acquaintances from school that were dating--and made an adorable couple, I must add--walking brazenly down the street in Boise holding hands. I thought how lovely it was to see that they had so much affection for each other that they didn't care what any idiots from Idaho might say as they walked by. It was nothing for them to hold hands and show affection for each other at school or in the confines of the formal, since my school, while tiny, is very open and tolerant. But that they were so comfortable showing their affection so openly in such a conservative area, I thought was wonderful and made me smile to see.

    It's funny; I hadn't thought of either of these events in years. But they're both so clear as I remember them--I hadn't realized how much of an impact they'd had on me.
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    Nov 19, 2007 7:01 AM GMT
    Ah yes, one of the reasons I LOVE Boston and Burlington...

    I do think Boston, and the NE in general, are among the most accepting and laid back places you can be sexually speaking.

    I 'Came OUT' in Boston, and found lots of acceptance and support almost everywhere. Boston has a huge and active Gay communitty.

    I find Boston itself to be built on a 'human' scale; not so overwhelming in some ways as NYC or LA. I think that affects peoples outlook there too.

    But then I may just be a little biased...icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11648

    Nov 19, 2007 11:53 AM GMT
    Yes ... unfortunately this is the difference btw the red and the blue states
    ...and the reason why I would never move very far from either coast
    there are def regions in this country that are more accepting and pluralistic than others
    and coming to an area like Boston I'm not surprised that you had this enlightening experience
    ...now the question is what are you going to do about it
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    Nov 19, 2007 2:19 PM GMT
    The first time I went to Paris, the day before we were to leave, I sat down on a park bench and cried like a baby for about 15 minutes. I realized I'd never felt so at home anywhere in my life as I did in Paris. NYC, my home at the time, didn't feel as much like home as Paris did. I'm not sure what brought on those feelings, it's not like I witnessed any more love or gayness there than in NYC. It could have been that I was there so temporarily and when you've got little time, you focus on the good stuff to see and do. Since then, I've been back a number of times for fun and for work and have gotten to see some of the not so pleasant aspects of Parisian life, but it's the same each time, though, the crying jag never happened again. I've been to Boston a number of times. I like NYC better, but I like LA better than NYC. I like Miami better than LA, but I love Paris more than any of them. I hate NJ, but this is where we're stuck.

    I think there are places in the world to which we, individually, are atuned, we vibrate the same way as the locale.
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    Nov 19, 2007 3:07 PM GMT
    had exactly the same experience in germany when i was about 15. i was touring there with a school play. the boys were so friendly and tactile. holding hands, cuddling, greeting with kisses. so natural and innnocent. i thought i'd died and gone to heaven. i fell in love completely, not with anyone in particular but the country itself.

    i've been back many times and have always had a good time. but people in general are so much more openly affectionate on the continent.

    but nothing was like that first time. absolute bliss. everytime i hear 'funky town' by lipps inc i'm transported back. heady times.icon_smile.gif

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    Nov 19, 2007 3:28 PM GMT
    I have lived a variety of places and found varying degrees of acceptance, but for me the place I find the most acceptance is a place that I have not yet lived, New York. I always find that in New York my own creative energy and personal gifts are valued there more than anywhere. As for being gay, I am not finding myself to be all that rejected here, as I find that people who are happy with themselves will find acceptance most anywhere.

    I am looking for work in New York but it's next to impossible to get the job without having a local address, so I get the heartbreak of leaving a place you love as McGay describes his experience with Paris.
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    Nov 20, 2007 12:14 AM GMT
    "Since then, I've been back a number of times for fun and for work and have gotten to see some of the not so pleasant aspects of Parisian life, but it's the same each time, though, the crying jag never happened again"

    There's a famous New Yorker cartoon of a woman saying she always wears black when she leaves Paris.

    (I always wear black when I go to Le Keller or Le Depot.)

    I have the same experience in Spain. The only way I can express it is to say that my "soul" lives there and the rest of me lives here. I can tick off the reasons I am happier in Spain, but it's still a great mystery to me that I could feel so completely different because of a change of locale.

    TigerTim: That's a beautiful story. I just mentioned on the thread about being outed how affected I was a few years ago by the photographs of gay couples getting (temporarily) married in San Francisco. I have no interest in getting married (again, to a different gender), but I was -- to my cynical surprise -- really stunned by the sheer joy in the gazes of those couples. It did reveal, as you say, the transcendent nature of love, how it seeks full expression -- how it can make itself known in the "other" and in the imagination before we experience it ourselves.

    If you have not read "The Poetics of Reverie" by Gaston Bachelard, a French phenomenologist of the imagination, you might enjoy his work.
  • EricLA

    Posts: 3461

    Nov 20, 2007 1:52 AM GMT
    I remember years ago, in the 90s, a few years after I'd finally come out to myself and family, that my mother, sister and I went to visit relatives in Germany. Our visit took us to a small Bavarian town. I'm sure it was bigger than it was when my mother left it, but it's still a town. If there were any openly gay people there, I never saw any. Certainly not by any public displays of affection. Towards the end of our trip, many days later, my sister and I went off to visit Berlin. As we were walking around the shopping district, it was suddenly like day and night. Gay people were everywhere and PDA was too. It was surreal. I felt a surge of pride and belonging. It's so easy to blend in and be invisible, to "pass as straight." But, it felt great those few hours where I felt among my tribe while in a foreign place. It's probably one reason I don't conceive of ever moving out of a big city. I've lived in Los Angeles much of my adult life, except for an almost four-year stint in New York City. Wherever I go, gays would have to be easy to find. Easy to date is a challenge for another day.
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    Nov 20, 2007 3:33 AM GMT
    I think there is too much emphasise on what is perceived as Tiger's response. Honestly do you know what his decision is? It seems that most assume he found peace in Boston and his decision, to well maybe stay, or maybe emmigrate to the US, but I'm not sure that that is the case. I'm guessing that Tiger, and he may correct me, isn't happy with GB, but that is just a guess, and that he is happy and wishes to emmigrate to the US after this weekend, I'm not sure, and I would guess that that is a stretch of my immaginatio of maybe wishful thinking.

    Finding peace with yourself may or may not involve geography. To relay things personally, I'm often at peace with myself, but that doens't meant I'm at peace with myself geographically. To relate things with this thread, OW states that he feels that his soul belongs in Spain, I take that to mean geographically, and that that he can't exist in Atlanta on a leve that may no mean physically, amd at least emotionally, or geographically he belongs elsewhere. Now that doesn't mean you can't exist somewhere else, but that you know and feel where you belong. That was probably poorly stated, but it is the idea that you aren't always where you sense you should physically or personally be.
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    Nov 20, 2007 3:51 AM GMT
    Huh? I didn't draw any conclusion about Tiger's decision. The thread just seemed to drift toward a related idea -- that locale can have a powerful effect on how we experience ourselves and the world.

    I have no idea what this sentence means: "I take that to mean geographically, and that that he can't exist in Atlanta on a leve that may no mean physically, amd at least emotionally, or geographically he belongs elsewhere."

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    Nov 20, 2007 4:04 AM GMT
    There are three times when I've had something like this happen.

    First, I was living in Taiwan, where I first met gay people who weren't alcoholics, could keep a job, and had a future that they had planned (with a gay partner). Totally blew me away, and I came out there shortly afterwards.

    Second, being at the Cambridge, Massachusetts City Hall at midnight on 5/17/04 when they gave out the first marriage licenses to gay couples. I actually knew the first couple (and the city clerk!) whose pictures where shown around the world the next day. It was crazy with so many people there, and I met people from all around the country to be there for that event.

    Third, I was in Sweden this past summer, and actually visited the farms and houses where my family emigrated from about 120 years ago. It was an amazing feeling of knowing where I come from and being whole.
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    Nov 20, 2007 5:10 AM GMT
    I'm delighted and moved by the wonderful stories that you've all shared. I hope still others are inspired to share further stories of how they have seen love between men active and beautiful in the world. I regret that my above post was worded rather impenetrably.... it was an ephemeral moment I was trying to capture.

    [off topic and largely in reply to wrerick and OW]:
    I think I overemphasised the nature of my thoughts in the above post; the importance was their weightiness. I was not looking, and have no need for proof that america is or can be a tolerant country. I have not at all felt *threatened* in Cleveland --- a city which I rather like! --- it is merely the case that an openly gay couple might elicit some expressions of surprise or even astonishment. I do not feel the US is an intolerant country, quite the reverse; it is merely that in that moment in Boston there seemed to be *acceptance* rather than *tolerance* or even *apathy*.

    To digress..... There are many excellent reasons to live in the UK, which is one of the most tolerant and cosmopolitan countries in the world, though it's citizens rarely recognize its virtues (the BBC and the NHS being two). I left principally because I was bored with it! .... and the North Americas utterly fascinate me. Nonetheless, hardly a day goes by without the image of Godrevy lighthouse viewed over Gwithian Towans coming into my head.

    To return...... how will I act on it? I think I shall paint a picture. And having reflected on that, it occurs to me that doing so would redeem an earlier work this year: I had been out to a nightclub in Cleveland with friends amongst which there were a few undergraduates, one of whom was utterly unknown to me. This guy had, at the end of the night, paired up with a guy who we'd seen around and was clearly on his own. They walked off to this random guys car, hand in hand. Not one of the others tried to challenge his decision, but on the way home I learnt he had only just come out and was, it seems, very likely a virgin. I was affected very deeply by this..... the image of the two men crossing the road with the overbearing streetlights and cars in the background haunted me for weeks until I finally painted it to release myself from it. The (stylized) painting is for me an image of homosexuality utterly bereft of beauty. Thankfully, I sold it. I am waiting for a composition to occur to me, however, for a second painting. In any case, my trip to Boston has silenced the first one.

    This is a ridiculously long post.... congrats to anyone still reading :-)