PixelFish (pixelfish) wrote,
PixelFish
pixelfish

Quality Time Together, Miscellany, Weddings, Orson Scott Card and the Nature of Homophobia

Lee and I are now playing Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles. This necessitated the purchase of a second GameBoy Advance SP, which I duly bought from the local EB. I also purchased Animal Crossing, and was chastised by the store employee for purchasing the book to go with it. "It's supposed to be an experience of discovery!" he said. I tried to explain to him that A) I had already played the game and B) my time off of work is limited, so I will have to reset the clock a lot to experience all that discovery. Plus, there is my relationship with Lee to be considered. Animal Crossing is the sore aching spot which has never fully healed. When we first got together, he had driven many miles to help me in moving to California, being the driver of the SLC-Sandy Eggo leg of my journey, and he anticipated spending much time doing the things that new boyfriends and girlfriends do--romantic walks, dinners together, you know. Which he got, squished in between as much time for Animal Crossing as is humanly possible. Poor Lee, who drove hundreds of miles to spend quality time with his brand new girlfriend, and three other friends, got to watch us play Animal Crossing for the better part of a week.

Animal Crossing, for those who don't know, is this little deceptive game which is, truly, evil incarnate. First of all, it mirrors real life in many particulars. You travel to a new town, you get a house which comes with a brand new shiny mortgage, you get a job to pay off the mortgage, and then when that job is over, you contract your services out to the animals in Animal Crossing, who will then give you things you can sell or use. Your house, meanwhile keeps getting upgraded every time you pay off your mortgage, and you keep getting larger and larger mortgages. All the while, the home owners association runs by every day to rate your decor and feng shui. The game runs real time, and events actually happen according to calendar and clock. It's not like the Sims where the time lapsed day tends to run about ten minutes or so. Instead, when it's Christmas in real life, it's Christmas in the game. When it's your birthday, your animal friends might send you presents. When it's Halloween, everybody trick-or-treats, and you have the chance to get a special furniture set that will send the home owners association into raptures. It snows in the winter, and sometimes you'll find little igloos set up in the fields of Animal Crossing. Animals move in and out of town all the time. You can teach them to say different little sayings, which they will repeat to other animals. The store in the town closes and opens at set hours. Furthermore, you can also collect various bugs, fish, fossils, and paintings for the museum, but you can only find certain types of bugs and fish during certain months of the year. Or, if it rains, you might be able to catch a coeloecanth. People have been known to never emerge from this game. Whole families have been torn by the strife that occurs when little Joey gets up, only to discover that his older sister has raided the store and bought every piece of furniture that day, while Dad for some reason chopped down all the fruit-bearing trees. It's that sort of game. It's evil, and I just bought it.

Of course, I told Lee that for every hour I put in of Animal Crossing, I will play 2.5 hours of Crystal Chronicles this weekend. (One time offer.) Thus, the pain of Animal Crossing is assuaged for him.

Query: Other people who have played or own Animal Crossing--was the village 5 by 5 or 5 by 6. I seemed to remember that the village was 5 by 5 and there was only one waterfall, and one line of cliffs with two paths down to the lower areas of the maps. And one pond. In my copy I seem to have two lines of cliffs, with four path areas to the lower tiers, and an extra pond-like area where my river bifurcates to go around a tiny island. Plus the entire map is 5 by 6. Am I on crack? Was it like this before? My village just seems slightly bigger than I recall.

My village's name is San Fran. My next village will be Calgary.

Our village in Crystal Chronicles is called Raliiea.

The employee at the EB was scornful of Crystal Chronicles. He ranted up one side and down the other about how CC was a game for children, too easy by half, and too little time. Except that all the things he pointed out as flaws could easily be applied to any number of games I personally enjoy--like, oh, any of the Zelda titles. Plus, half the fun is playing with your friends. So far, Lee and I have quite enjoyed CC.

We also played a spot of PacMan Vs. last night. I think that will be an excellent party game. Basically, four people sit down, three on normal controllers, and one on a GBA attached via a wee umbilical cord to the Cube. The three on normal controllers are the ghosts, and the one on the GBA is PacMan. The game proceeds like normal, except whichever Ghost eats PacMan gets to be PacMan next. It's a good thing I got Lee his Wavebirds for Valentine's Day as PacMan Vs. involves much passing of controllers too and fro.


.......................

Today, we went to the bank, deposited my paycheck, got my rent for Kevin, and went back to my place to snag the GameCube and controllers. When I went by my place to drop off Kevin's rent and utilities, I found a package from Silvertide (Bilmo/Bill) waiting for me--he'd sent me the Vanishing Acts anthology that he'd been included in, along with an encouraging inscription signed on his title page. So I've got more reading material for the weekend--a good thing, considering how quickly I go through books.

Wrote more last night before bed. I made Lee squish over to my side, so I could type with the laptop. I'm trying to get the beginning chapters of The Not-Quite-Utterly-Nameless Story knocked together so that I can send them off for my submission application to Viable Paradise. I have not totally decided on VP, but it certainly seems the likeliest, given my schedule this year. I have to have three days for Comic-Con at least, if we fly out Tuesday afternoon. One day for my sister's wedding. Five days for VP. That leaves one day to be added on to Xmas or somewhere. Actually, I need to call Jen this weekend, and find out official wedding dates for her too. (Plus, I'm a bad best friend, I haven't called in AGES. *guilt*) I'm kinda worried that Jen's wedding and Rachel's wedding might possibly conflict, in which case, I'd have to go to Jen's because she announced first, and I would ACTUALL get to see her get married, instead of hanging around outside the SLC temple, as I will no doubt end up doing for my sister's wedding.

This is a ever-so-slightly touchy subject for me. When my sister, Mary, got married, for some reason I didn't mind so much. Particularly, since when Adam and I took the time to drive down from Canada (something that was more of a trial for Adam than for me, I will readily admit), Michael, my new brother-in-law, seemed to make a lot of efforts to include us as family. (At least, when he wasn't trying to distract Mary from her bride-to-be jitters.) That's not to say that I don't mind now, but the more I think about it, the more it irks me--partially because of something that happened at Christmas. Lee and I kept trying to spend time with Rachel (or even Rachel and Jerry) and Rachel kept finding excuses to be elsewhere and to drag Jerry with her. But now, she's getting married, and she wants me to be there. Which is very natural and understandable--I am her eldest sister after all. But I don't even get to see her get married--I'll be standing outside the temple, waiting with Lee for my family to come out. (Actually, I might have John also for company. I'm not sure if he's been to the temple or not, but as of Rachel's wedding, everyone else in my family will have, except for me, the heretic.) I mentioned something about making sure of Jen's wedding date, and the implication I got--not intentionally, I'm sure--was that Rachel was supposed to come first, even if I can't be included. It pissed me off slightly...although not enough to really make a fuss over it.

It doesn't piss me off as much as it could--for once, the Mormon ingrained heritage tells me that even if I was a member in good standing, if I hadn't gone on my mission, I probably wouldn't have my endowments out anyway, and I still wouldn't see my sister get married. In fact, because of the temple marriages, which prohibit anybody without a recommend from attending a marriage, I've probably only seen three weddings in my entire life: my uncle's wedding, my friend Julie's wedding, and a friend of Adam's. I haven't seen the weddings of Mary (my sister), Katie (childhood friend), Cherry (college friend), April (college roommate), Camille (good friend), and many other friends or family. I'm pretty much used to not being able to attend weddings.

...........................

Speaking of weddings, yes, I have read Orson's now-infamous screed on the nature of marriage. It was painful for me to read. You can find it linked from his site, if you are curious or if you want to compare my comments to it for reference. I won't link it here though. If you ask me for adjectives, I would come up with: harsh, vitriolic, uncompassionate, misguided, flawed, selfish, scared, and hide-bound.

I grew up idealizing OSC in many respects--you might too, if you had grown up a Mormon child in the heart of the midwest, reading science fiction, and wanting more than anything to be a writer. (I think in many respects, I have always considered myself an artist, so for those of you who are confused about my life's ambitions, trust me, I've wanted to write for a lot longer than most of you know.) I had happened upon Ender's Game in seventh grade, where it sat, abandoned, on the counter next to my desk for about two or three weeks straight before I finally succumbed. There was no reason that it should have sat there for so long, but it was a clearly battered and much loved copy of Ender's Game, and when I finally asked my teacher if he knew who it belonged to, he had no idea. So I took it. And read it. I read it all the way through geometry class (which I failed, incidently, but not because of Orson--I rock at geometry and that was my favourite geometry text ever, since it had pictures of Escher, tessellations, and symmetrical calligraphy in it.) I read it all the way through the bus ride home. And I read it at Girl Scouts that evening though Ruth Udall threatened to confiscate it if I didn't start paying attention to the nice man showing us leather-working. That night, after facing the same threat from my mother over the dinner table, I finished it.

And then, I proceeded to hunt down and read all the rest of Orson's canon, including another infamous work: Songmaster. (Bill Shunn notes that I might have been calling it Songbird, after its original title: Mikal's Songbird.)

Songmaster is a story which some have branded as homophobic. It's been about a year since I last read it, so it's possible that I totally missed any homophobic subtexts. What is important here, however, is that for me, Songmaster was the first time I had chanced across homosexual characters in fiction that weren't total caricatures. Certainly they had less-than-great traits, but they also had wonderful, compassionate, beautiful traits. They were, in short, human. Human to me.

Also keep in mind that I was raised Mormon. Mormons believe that homosexuality is a sin, and a choice made by the sinner. I would say that they were truly homophobic in that they often fear and don't understand the nature of homosexuality, but I wouldn't go so far as to call their misguided views truly evil or vicious. My father, for example, who is still quite squicked out by the idea of homosexuality, always made it a point to emphasize that the homosexuals he had met were among the nicest people he had ever met. You may call it damning with faint praise--it is--but it was also the first step towards a greater empathy and understanding. My parents definitely fall into the "love the sinner, hate the sin" category.

I was bombarded with constant messages about the nature of homosexual behaviour. It was made clear to me that if a person felt that they were truly, inescapably homosexual, their best recourse of action was to pretend like it wasn't so, and to try and overcome these feelings enough to engage in marriage to a member of the opposite sex. (While I've seen plenty of people screaming about Orson's reiteration of this idea, it was by no means original to him.) If marriage could not be achieved, the person with such inclinations was to live celibately, for this was their test here on earth, and Heavenly Father would richly reward them in heaven, presumably by making everybody A-OK and hetero.

(A side note: The LDS church had certainly cooled its stance over a period of time. Later I was to find out that BYU had practised electro-shock therapy on homosexuals in the early and middle parts of the 20th century in an effort to "cure" homosexuality. Evergreen, a research/treatment group intent upon a cure, is still a dark byword among Mormon homosexuals--it may still even be an institution today.)

Where I grew up, "gay" was very much a slur, an epithet to be flung around. "Gay" was a deliciously scary piece of gossip. You wondered who might be gay, particularly if they were particularly unconventional given the typical male-female roles. I feared that I might fall in love with somebody who was gay. (I did later fall in love with at least two people who were bisexual, but lo, it was not the End of the World.)

I'm not very proud of it now, but I have used the word "gay" in that way. I have expounded on how gay people could just "not have sex." I, a girl in her teens who had never really kissed anybody and who had certainly never been called upon to test the fervor of hormones or of love itself, made prudish pronouncements about proper behaviour and dangers to society. I was truly repulsed by the idea of homosexuality, but looking back, I think that 90% of that repulsion, turned so vitriolic by constant reinforcement, was a product of my environment. I hated the fact that my name, Lis, or Liz, was so close to the word "lesbian" because friends and the less-friendly would sometimes tease me by morphing my name into "lizbian" or "lizbo".

So, Songmaster with its homosexual love scene left me a little....squicked. But curious. Because the characters weren't bad or evil or even wrong. Nothing I expected. (I will freely admit that some of the dialogue and behaviour comes across in a clunky fashion. OSC's early works are often characterised by a roughness or rawness around the edges, but this was more than that--and looking back, I feel the tug of two ideologies clashing and straining against each other. I think Orson has some tremendously humane, beautiful, and powerful things to say....when he isn't speaking with the voices of unfeeling traditions.)

Later, when I read Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series (plural) I found more homosexual characters, but having thus met the human aspects already in Orson's Songmaster, I was prepared to examine how I felt about the idea or the people themselves. Far better to have learnt on fictional characters than to lose friendships and hurt real friends.

From there it was a long slow learning curve to the period of time where I began examining my own feelings, my own body, my own sexual orientations. I eventually rejected homosexuality as a sin or something to be cured, and later I rejected it as a societal ill. I examined the messages that love was more than just sex, that marriage was more than just finding the cutest person to boink for the rest of your life. Did you have a choice about who you fell in love with, and who you were attracted to? Even if you did have a choice, was it so wrong, as long as you behaved with honour and respect?

That's why I can not reconcile the fears that many groups have about allowing gays and lesbians to marry. If you want to put it to me that certain behaviours affect society in a negative manner, I will accept that, but tying those behaviours to the right to marry, or pigeonholing one segment of society as being the sole monopoly on those behaviours, no, that I will not accept. Furthermore, marriage encourages faithfulness, responsibility, love, and a co-operative effort to sustain and take care of each other. Why deny this to anyone who really wants this?

The argument that children need role models of both sexes AND that those rolemodels will be found in both parents AND that this is something that only hetero parents--one mom, one dad--could possibly provide seems a little far fetched. Oh, statistically, this is the best, you say. But statistics are not people and can not and should not be used to force a single standard of behaviour. And how can you determine which traits those parents will have anyway? Let's say Lee and I get married--how am I going to possibly enforce the traditional gender roles that the staunch proponents of traditional marriage insist are the building blocks for raising a child? I can barely cook--better with inclination and time, less so without--and I don't really act like most women. In fact, the only things I am guaranteed to share with any one given woman are a uterus and ovaries, and sometimes not even those. I'm not overly nurturing, though I enjoy children--but so are many other women. And many men are instinctively nurturers and more thrilled about the idea of kids than I am. In other words, you can't guarantee this cocktail of theoretical traits which will raise up a perfectly happy and healthy kid. Not even with hetero marriage. On the other hand, if all you are looking for is love, responsibility, communication, affection, and so on, then many hetero marriages certainly can't qualify.

The best way to save something like marriage is not make it exclusive, but to provide support for the best forms of it that we can find. The first couple that got married recently in San Francisco was an elderly lesbian couple who had been together for 51 years. 51 YEARS! Their relationship has made it through as many years as my father has been alive. Shannon Doherty could have approximately 250 marriages in that period of time, mind you, and Liz Taylor has had about eight or so. Approved of by the laws of the good ol' US of A, and all that. 51 years is a long time to stay with anybody, and I should be so lucky.

It would be nice if most people could feel that way. Imagine a married couple that had been through 51 years of good marriage, a couple that wanted to stay together, who would re-enact their vows in an instant, who are romantic and thoughtful and strong for each other to this day--imagine telling them that they had no right to be together. That their being together was harmful.

Rot. Utter rot.

51 years. I should be so lucky.


........................

Orson is a powerful and accomplished writer who deeply believes everything he says. He has even thought it through, I am sure, though this does not excuse him. But he is working with preconceived notions, emotional ideas rooted deeply in his upbringing and his religious beliefs, and letting these rule his writing. It's sad, and it's painful. It's like having a crazy uncle, who you are rather fond of, and having him confess publically to your friends and the world at large all the details of his embarrassing and most hurtful thoughts. He says things that will hurt people you know and care for. He says things that make you wince.

But I'm not the same person I was when I was fifteen or seventeen or nineteen. I'm not even the same person I was two or three years ago. So maybe there is hope for crazy ol' Orson, who after all, helped me take those first few steps.

I am an optimist. Some things haven't changed.

........................

Finally: On the nature of hero worship and why this particular journal entry - Hero worship is inevitably a painful prospect. Invariably, the person who you worship and idolize and look up to, will show themselves to be all too human. And even if they don't, you won't agree with them 100% of the time anyway, possibly and hopefully, only over something so trite as the proper way to eat ramen noodles (do you or don't you drain the broth??) but perhaps over something a little bit more personal or cosmically important.

It's common to see this as a child's emotional ailment. Children don't know any better, but being an adult hasn't seemed that different than childhood, so far. I still idolize people. (Some of you know who you are, I am sure.) But there is that painful and mortal moment where you realize that you ARE you, and they are themselves, and that's okay, if a little strange. My first great escape from the shadow of hero worship came in my late teens. My father's shadow, to be specific. Some girl's are Daddy's girls, and I was one of them, although certainly not the Shirley-Temple-pinafore-wearing-mop-o'-curls type of Daddy's girl. But I would discuss religion, philosophy, science, politics, everything with my father for the longest time. There is a tendancy to ascribe any thoughts that the precocious child has as being the thoughts of the parents--and for good reason. For a long time, I thought that nearly everything my father said made sense and was right. Right on a personal level, right for the greater worldview. Emerging from that, forming my first ideas that were truly independant of my father's, that was painful. As was the eventual acceptance of my father as a person, and not just My Father.

You'd think that one case of hero worship would make you immune to other forms, but that's not the way I work. That's one of my fun human failings. But since I'm older and wiser and have been innoculated somewhat, I can speak for myself, think for myself, work to improve myself, not to what other people think I should be, but what I should be. I might say, "My father says, my ex-boyfriend says, my friend says, Orson says," but if I do, it's because the particular thing which I am pointing out makes sense to me. Not because I parrot everything the person says as if their word was gold. Still, nonetheless, it's always a bit shocking when they say something you totally disagree with. You find yourself looking over things you agreed with before and re-evaluating them.

Anyway, I'm not sure where I was going with that. Maybe that my first emotional reaction to Orson's screed wasn't sheer, white-hot indignation, but rather the wince of feeling betrayed by somebody else's personal choices and beliefs, despite the fact they never asked for my trust or hero worship. It's not the first time. It won't be the last.

Gotta go though...Aaron wants his computer.

...........................

(2013: Edited to note that when I wrote this, I was still working through many of my childhood indoctrinations about GLBT issues and I think it would be fair to note that at the time I still waffle a bit in the interests of trying to get folks to understand what it was like to grow up with these notions. I hadn't yet been exposed to the concept of privilege, but it's there, wafting heavily off the page, when I insist that LDS folks don't mean anything malicious by the way they were raised. Well, some probably don't but many do. And I use some word choices that sorta indicate that I think people are being unfair and judging Mormons for the way they were raised...which I think I wouldn't use now, being aware of tone arguments. And yep, my knowledge is still expanding and I'm still learning. I've left the main text intact, because I think it's important to be able to see how one's feelings and views evolve, but I think there's some problematic false equivilancy issues, tone argument, minimisation that I didn't see at the time. Since then OSC has only gotten worse and worse in terms of his public bigoted statements. Not just on GLBT issues, but in dogwhistle statements about the Obama administration. He also took a board position on an organisation that actively works against gay rights. I no longer read his new books, nor buy his old ones, because I think he's moved beyond holding a horrible private opinion into actively working against people I love and respect.)
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