1. What aspects of your life, if any, do you value privacy around?
The only thing I can think of is that if I'm writing anything that contains any sexual explicitness, I make the journal entry friends-only, only because my family members know the URL of my journal (though I have the impression they don't look at it very often). This is more to accommodate their taboos than to accommodate my own, though. Privacy concerns aren't really an issue for me otherwise because if it isn't safe for someone to find out who I really am, then I don't choose to keep them in my life in the first place. I spent nine years in the closet to my family and I've had all the experience worrying about privacy concerns that I ever feel like having. Eventually I got fed up with it and decided: no more, I'm not putting up with this, everybody can just put up with who I really am or leave.
2. In the course of being a public spokesperson of sorts for your philosophy/thoughts around 'Queer by Choice' I'm sure you've run into countless people who try to argue with you that queerness is not (or should not be considered) a choice. What I want to know is: what's the most convincing argument you've heard from folks who disagree with your take on sexuality & choice?
Hmm. I can't really rate "convincing arguments" for things that I haven't been convinced of, so I'll go with talking about the things I have been convinced of, the ways that my views have been fine-tuned as a result of listening to other people on my mailing list over the past four years. People whose opinions are starkly different from mine always leave me unimpressed; it's only the people whose opinions are very very similar to mine but with a slight tiny twist of differing experience that I learn useful things from. The changes of opinion I've had since founding the mailing list are:
- When I founded it, I expected that the only people who would identify with the term "queer by choice" would be people who made very clear conscious deliberate intentional direct choices at a particular moment which they can clearly describe the memory of, the same way I can describe mine. In contrast to that, after founding the list I very rapidly learned that a large number, probably a slight majority, of the people who describe themselves as "queer by choice" actually only defined their choice as being a choice in retrospect, after the fact, yet they still feel very very strongly that it was in fact a choice. So, I modified my previous opinion that a choice is by its very nature a clear conscious deliberate intentional direct decision that the chooser necessarily recognizes as being a choice at the time that they are choosing it.
- Almost identical to the above: When I founded the list, I expected that "queer by choice" and "queer not by choice" people would fall into extremely clearly defined separate groups and no one would move between groups. In contrast to that, I found humongous overwhelming percentages of people joining the list saying "I'm not queer by choice, but I'm interested in hearing about it" and then later saying, "Actually, I've decided I am queer by choice." This was very unexpected for me; I did not in the least imagine the list was going to convert anybody into being queer by choice. My only intention when founding it was to provide a social support network for people who already were queer by choice to keep each other sane in a world which keeps trying to tell us we're "the only person in the entire world who's ever made this ridiculous claim to having chosen to be queer."
- When I founded the list, I found the experiences of "queer not by choice" people to be extremely baffling and difficult to really understand. I mean, I was perfectly clear on the fact that their experiences were obviously very different from mine, but it was just so alien that I couldn't exactly get a clear sense of what it really was like for them . . . the same difficulty that most people have in imagining what it was like for me, if their experiences were very different from mine. But talking to people who used to believe strongly that they were born queer and then later ceased believing that such a thing is possible and started identifying as queer by choice gave me a much better grasp on what it was like for them . . . hearing such stories from people who are obviously desperate to promote the idea of a gay gene left a constant annoying question in my mind of to what extent they might be twisting their experiences to try to support their beliefs, whereas talking to queer by choice people who had had identical experiences resolved those questions and left me with a vastly better sense of my ability to understand what life feels like for other queer people.
- Slightly related: the type of life story that I always used to be most baffled by and skeptical of (though I never completely dismissed the notion, I just found it extremely difficult to imagine) was the life story of all those people who say, "I've known I was queer since I was four years old!" Um, I didn't feel sexually attracted to anybody until puberty. However, during my four years on the mailing list I have heard enough such stories that I now very much accept the fact that some people are indeed sexually attracted to others before puberty, and in addition to that, some people do indeed consider themselves queer in early childhood regardless of whether they've ever been sexually attracted to anyone or not. I still find that some people who claim "I've known I was queer since I was four years old!" will back off from that assertion after further questioning and reduce it to something like "I always felt I was different from other people, an outsider somehow . . . and then when I was 45 and realized I was queer, I just suddenly decided that my queerness must be the whole reason that all my life I never felt like a perfect carbon copy of everyone else like I always imagined that everyone else sees themself as!" However, I am now clear on the fact that some people did in fact consider themselves queer ever since the age of four . . . and some of them even grow up to tell me that they consider it a choice they made at the age of four. ("Four year olds make choices too, you know! Uninformed choices maybe, but they're still choices!" one such person told me.) People are really interesting like that.
I think the Gayles of 5 and 10 years ago would both be disappointed by my career and my lack of romantic partner. The Gayle of 5 years ago would primarily be very heartbroken at my failure to finish her novel yet, and the Gayle of 10 years ago would primarily be very heartbroken at my failure to keep Christine in my life. Oh, and both of them might also be vaguely disappointed at me for not being more genderfree than I am.
On the other hand, the Gayles of 5 and 10 years ago would both be completely bowled over with shock and delight at how much I've managed to accomplish in queer by choice activism, far beyond even the very wildest fantasies of either of them (especially the Gayle of 10 years ago, who had not yet ever met the internet), and at how many amazingly perfect fantastic friends I have around me now. And at the fact that I've come out to my parents and get along with them - again, far beyond even the very wildest fantasies that either of them ever dared to hope for.
4. What do you think of Eastern (an overgeneralization, I know) vs. Western medicine?
I'm extremely uninformed on that subject, but I'm open to the idea that Eastern medicine could be better at some things than Western medicine is.
5. Do you imagine that you may have come to similar thoughts/philosophy/worldview regarding sexuality & choice if you had been brought up in a non-Western culture and by parents of that culture?
No . . . I think I could have turned out in any number of vastly differing ways with only very minor changes made in my life history.
6. What are some things that gross you out?
I've never been able to look at anybody when they're pulling their eyelids into weird positions. It's too horrible; I can look at photographs of people with their entire faces shot off and their brains spilling out, but if you show me a photograph of a perfectly healthy person pulling their eyelids into a weird position I will clutch my hands over my eyes and run away completely incapable of bringing myself to look at the hideous sight.
7. What kinds of daydreams/imaginings did you have as a child to keep yourself entertained?
I was from the planet Pluto, where everyone was perfect and lived in perfect harmony and anything you wished for would always instantly come true just by virtue of your wishing for it, and I had been sent to Earth to save it from all the evil nefarious plottings and stupid incompetent bumblings of the humans. In order to save it I had to form alliances with humans and slowly teach them Plutonian magical practices (only a little bit at a time, only as much as they were ready to handle wisely) and eventually take them to Pluto to show them how things should ideally be done, and then take them back to earth and have them help me save the world. Also, there were packages of invisible energy stored in the gaps under all chairs or other partially enclosed spaces in furniture, and under bushes or other partially enclosed spaces outside, so whenever I was tired I would scoop a store of energy out from the nearest partially enclosed space and pour it down my throat and eat it, and then I would cease being tired.
It was highly important never to upset the established order of things: I had gone camping every summer since I was five, and so it was absolutely essential that I must go camping every summer from then on or else the world would collaps, even though I didn't necessarily actually like camping all that much. It was also absolutely essential that I must wear my very favorite dress absolutely every time I ever saw my grandparents, and once when we saw one set of grandparents the day before my mother's birthday and then we had to see the other set on the actual day of her birthday, the dress hadn't been washed yet so I threw the most humongous screaming fit of my entire life, positively refusing to see them without the appropriate dress, and to this day my mother complains that her birthday that year was the worst birthday she ever had because I destroyed it utterly. Her suggestions for substitute dresses were quite simply ridiculous and insulting, though: the necessary dress was the most beautiful dress in the whole world, with a translucent top layer all covered with lace and blue ribbons and embroidered flowers everywhere, and a layer beneath that of white satin all ruffled and with puffy sleeves - it was the best dress in the whole entire world, and there was no such thing as a substitute. It also had to be kept on its own special distinctive best hanger in the world, and each of my other dresses had their own designated hanger assigned according to rank: the prettier the dress, the prettier the hanger, and it was essential for every dress to stay on its own designated hanger because if any dresses got uppity and tried to escape their assigned caste in society, only chaos and communism could result. Oh, and I had learned to distinguish each individual knife and fork in the same silverware set by the slightly different tarnish patterns, so it was highly important to make sure that everyone used their own designated specific knife and fork for dinner every night, which was a problem because nobody could tell them apart except me and frequently when I went to set the table I was highly irritated to find that someone else had carelessly used the wrong knife or fork for lunch earlier in the day and the correct silverware was not yet washed and available for the correct person again. This was an altogether too common occurrence for me to fear it would have quite such earth-shattering catastrophic effects as the unavailability of the correct dress, though; the silverware problem had simply occurred so many times that I couldn't help but notice the world was still largely intact.
Lastly, if you're ever in need of assistance, it may be helpful after taking a bath to make a wish on the drain in the bottom of the tub, and then blow the film of water off the holes in the drain.
8. Which is your favorite Star Trek character ever? Oh, and who's the sexiest Star Trek character ever?
The sexiest Star Trek character ever should have been Jadzia Dax, but they never developed the genderqueer aspects of her half as much as they ought to have. Also, Chakotay was immensely sexy in that one episode where he and Janeway got stranded on a planet together and thought they were going to be stuck there for the rest of their lives, so they fell in love and set up house together and Chakotay was being all submissively adoring and matriarchal in his romance style, but then Voyager stupidly managed to "rescue" them from the planet and they promptly decided to abandon all romantic entanglements forever because they had to behave in a professional manner befitting a supervisor and her employee again. I think they would have been much better off unrescued.
As for my favorite . . . I don't know, it's really hard to choose. I liked the minor characters a lot . . . I liked Guinan and Garak. And Jake Sisko. In terms of more major characters, I rather liked B'Elanna Torres and Odo.
caffeined interviews me:
1. What's the meaning of life right now for you? What was it previously? If you have one...
The meaning of life ever since I turned queer eleven years ago has been to turn the entire world queer by choice, and occasionally make some efforts to improve it in other ways too. Prior to turning queer I didn't really have any sense of meaning in my life, which was depressing.
2. What's your poison (drink of choice)?
I don't drink alcohol and have never had a drink of alcohol ever. So . . . milk. Or orange juice. They're both good.
3. If you were to give up all your material possesions, what would be the one thing you would have the hardest time leaving?
4. Have you ever dreamed about your own death, if so, what was it?
I've never dreamed about anything past the moments leading up to but not including my own death. And I honestly can't even remember any specific occasion to tell you about where I even dreamed about being about to die.
5. What do you consider the most important factor of your self-worth?
Probably intelligence, closely followed by good intentions, which I find difficult to separate from intelligence anyway (I don't really understand how a person truly intelligent could decide to use their intelligence for evil purposes . . . I don't know, I just don't get it somehow).
6. Do you give a shit what others think of you?
I care whether their impressions of me are accurate. As long as they hate me for who I actually am, then I can comfortably conclude that in that case, they have terrible taste and I do not care at all about being hated by people with terrible taste. But if I'm not sure whether their reasons for hating me are even based on an accurate perception of who I actually am, then it's terribly upsetting.
7. Whats the best driving speed? I enjoy 65 on regular roads, 90 on freeways...you?
Um. I generally prefer 10 to 15 mph faster than the posted speed limits around here, but some speed limits are more reasonable for the driving conditions than others.
8. Best song lyric of all time?
In a corner of the morning in the past,(It's slightly obscure, but in my opinion this is what happened: David Bowie met a duplicate of himself, and they immediately decided to have sex with each other. They then realized that God gave them this opportunity because "God's a young man too," meaning, in other words, God understands that the inherent utmost desire of all young men the whole world over is invariably to have queer sex with a duplicate of themselves.)
I would sit and blame the master first and last:
All the roads were straight and narrow
And the prayers were small and yellow
And the rumour spread that I was ageing fast.
Then I ran across a monster who was sleeping by a tree
And I looked and frowned and the monster was me.
Well, I said hello and I said hello
And I asked "Why not?"
And I replied "I don't know."
So we asked a simple blackbird
Who was happy as can be
And he laughed insane
And quipped "Kahlil Gibran"
So I cried for all the others
Till the day was nearly through
For I realized that God's a young man too.
David Bowie, "Width of a Circle," 1971
secret_agent interviews me:
1. Is there a question you're surprised no-one has asked you yet? Feel free to answer it as well.
Well, I was wondering if anyone not on my friends list would dare ask why they aren't. The answer is: my friends list is divided in two groups: members of my mailing list, and nonmembers of it. Members comprise about one third of my friends list, and absolutely anyone who is a member gets kept on my friends list even if they scream horrible things at me endlessly (although on perhaps two occasions when members have not added me to their friends list and they have been rather undesirable people to have on my own friends list, I have decided to remove them back . . . but in almost all cases I keep them regardless of whether they add me back or not). For nonmembers it's much harder to stay on my friends list, and all sorts of silly things can cause you to get deprioritized off my list. Very few heterosexuals, religious people, "Libertarians" (in the sense of the word that the U.S. Libertarian Party, which is extremely fiscally conservative, uses), or people who practice BDSM (which tends to squick me if too large of volumes of it start showing up on my friends page where I don't have time to prepare myself for it) ever get on my friends list unless they're members of my mailing list. People who write entries with content that upsets me or alienates me or depresses me for any reason whatsoever all tend to get deprioritized off my friends list unless they're members of my mailing list. I figure if it's really that important to them, they could always join my mailing list. (But if I've missed anyone who is on the mailing list, then PLEASE BY ALL MEANS YES DO INFORM ME THAT YOU'RE ON IT. I really try to get everyone, but if you join under an unrecognizable username and never announce your presence I may not have any way of knowing it's you.)
2. If you had to be a contestant on a reality show - which one would it be and why?
I've never actually watched a single episode of any reality show other than The Real World on MTV, which I last watched five years ago. So, uh, I'd be on that one. Because I'm completely unfamiliar with any other choices, and because that one didn't seem too horrible. It wasn't a contest, though, which means it doesn't really qualify for your question - but then, I really don't feel like being in a contest anyway.
3. What do you believe occurs after death?