Quiet Time At La Casa McJuddMetz

About a month back, I wrote The Pummeled Weasel, in which I said:

“I’m being flaky right now to my real-life friends because everything since September has been a chaotic shitstorm and I am not coping well. Bearing with me as I get overwhelmed and shut down would help. I miss you but every time I think about reaching out another diagnosis drops through the door.”

Since then, another major diagnosis has dropped through the door.  (My Dad is out of surgery and is okay, but he had a scary incident.)  And, as it turns out, the stomach bug I am suffering has turned out to be a full-blown case of major salmonella poisoning, so I saw Rogue One but that took pretty much all I had.  (God willing, now that the doctor’s put me on antibiotics, I’ll be better by Christmas.)

As always, I have things to say!  Just not the energy to write them.  And yes, I will and am prioritizing myself, but I thought you all should know that I’m not voluntarily being quiet, I’m just under a lot of medical stress at the moment and I love you all.

Ace? Graysexual? Demisexual? What’s With All These Stupid Labels?

There’s a ton of new vocabulary for people to absorb these days when it comes to dating: asexuality, demisexuality, aromantic, graysexual, saposexuality, and so forth.

And people who are unfamiliar with these labels often mock the abundance of labels: “Everyone’s a special snowflake now!”

It’s just the opposite, though.

The problem with labels is that they never fit properly. I’m polyamorous, but what do I have in common with the preening couples who date “secondaries” callously, vetoing other beloved partners for trivial needs? I’m Christian, but what do I have in common with those people who send their gay kids to electroshock therapy?

Those labels always have some ugly overlap. There’s always going to be some idiot claiming they’re “demisexual” in ways that make you retch. Cue fights about the One True Demisexuality… which nobody ever wins, because sexuality is so personal that no label common enough for people to have heard about it could ever apply.

But all these aces and graysexuals and sapiosexuals aren’t trying to be special snowflakes – those labels are, in fact, the opposite.

When someone clasps a label to their chest, they’re often clinging to it like a liferaft.

Because they’ve had these feelings for a long time – feeling like a freak, because they don’t see their emotional reality reflected anywhere. They don’t find it in movies, they don’t see their friends doing it, they’re wandering alone wondering what the hell all these weird emotions feel. Why are they so different?

Then they stumble across The Label. And you know what The Label means?

Somebody else feels this way.

And in many ways, the label’s not them trying to be a special snowflake, it’s them being so fucking relieved that enough other people felt this way that somebody had to make up a name for it.

There’s an abundance of labels these days. That’s because the Internet makes it so easy to have like call to like. In the old days, you may have been the only demisexual person in your town – but now you can find enclaves of them helping each other, informal communities answering questions. And ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it’s not that these people chose a label because it was trendy, it’s because they finally got to look around and see someone like them.

They don’t want to be special.

They just want not to be alone.

And in those cases, the label is not a label. It’s a sign left behind by friendly trailblazers, a post sticking up saying “SOMEONE’S BEEN HERE BEFORE.” And even just knowing there’s a pathway is encouraging, because it means that someone got to happiness from here and you can too.

The label’s the beacon.

And it’s not perfect, but by god is it better than wandering alone.

Don’t Forget: The Sound Of Music Sing-A-Long At Our House This Saturday!

I don’t know how many people will attend in the Christmas rush – but if you’re in the Cleveland area this Saturday and feel like watching Julie Andrews in heart-swooningly close detail on our Ultra 4k television, we are hosting the sing-a-long this Saturday afternoon.

Details are on Facebook, or just email me to ask me what’s up!

The Day I Realized My Uncle Hung Around With Gay Guys

My Uncle Tommy did volunteer work in Greenwich Village back in the early 1980s, when I was a teenager. He brought me along to help, which made me feel very grown up; I was eleven, and yet here I was stamping envelopes, doing data entry, working in an office.

I loved my co-workers.

They were all really funny guys, flamboyant, and they treated me like a grownup – which was to say they made jokes I didn’t get, and didn’t footnote. After the volunteering shift we’d all go out to a bar, and they’d sneak me into the corner – very grown up – and they’d drink beers and tell theatrical stories while my uncle gave me a roll of quarters and I played Donkey Kong Junior.

I loved them. They were bold, unashamed of their lisps – which was critical to a kid who’d been to vocal therapy to lower his squeaky voice – and they all dressed super-well.

I did not realize they were probably gay until I was almost thirty. That’s when someone said, “Man, the AIDS epidemic totally destroyed the gays in Greenwich Village,” and I thought, “Man, I hope all of my Uncle’s old buddies from Greenwich Village are okay WAIT WHAT”

I had all the pieces. But nobody had specifically called them gay. And I didn’t think that I was the sort of kid who hung around with gay dudes while I was eleven, so even though I had all these facts – a pretty much all-male volunteer squad in Greenwich Village, the stereotypical gay voice, flamboyance, great dressers all – they never coalesced into “Teenaged Ferrett hung around with gay dudes.”

(I called up my Uncle Tommy to confirm they were gay. They were. My Uncle was not, but he apparently did very well with the few women who volunteered with the organization.)

Yet that’s how life happens sometimes: you can have all the pieces, and not put them together because nobody gave you the word. I’ve had friends who took years to realize their Grampaw wasn’t allowed to be alone with them because he was a pederast. I’ve known folks who didn’t realize their parents were swingers despite copious evidence because it never occurred to them their parents could be swingers.

Sometimes you can be bathed in evidence of a plain fact and not recognize it because you don’t believe you’re the sort of person that fact applies to. I was just an ordinary kid from the suburbs, and at the time “gay people” were this wild minority – I didn’t think of myself as the sort of kid who had wild adventures with Greenwich Village Queens, let alone of myself as the sort of kid who’d idolize them. Likewise, my friends had ordinary childhoods with loving parents and the concept that their mom and dad were those swinger people just didn’t fit the mold.

You can have all these pieces lying about, unassembled. Until someone gives you a name. Until someone tells you that yes, you are that sort of person, you just didn’t think of yourself as that person until now.


Does anyone who had a good upbringing think of themselves as “the sort of person who gets raped”?

I see people confused by delayed accusations: Yes, they were raped, but how could it take them time to recognize what happened to them? And much like my gay buddies as a kid, they had all the evidence but it didn’t seem, somehow, to apply to them. This wasn’t a Hollywood rape where a stranger barged into their house – this was a friend, someone they loved, and maybe they said very nice and kind things before and after the assault. Maybe they still like their rapist, or want to like them.

They had all these pieces of evidence – mainly, the fact that they didn’t want to have sex, and yet someone did things to them against their will – but that doesn’t make sense because they’re not the sort of person who’s a rape victim, and they feel terrible a lot but this hasn’t destroyed every last happiness in their life like everyone tells them it should, and so they know something bad has happened but that word “rape” doesn’t seem to apply because they’re not that sort of person.

Until all the evidences finally click into place and they realize that, sadly, they are.

Which is not to say that every person who gets raped is unaware; some are. The most toxic misunderstanding of rape is that there can be only one “accepted” reaction to it, and anything else indicates that the rape didn’t really take place.

Alas, people have all sorts of different reactions to life-changing trauma; look at any funeral, where some people withdraw into silence, and others need all their friends to party with them, and still others need to vent angrily about the injustice. There’s no singular script to grief, which means there’s no “right” way to do it.

But some rape victims get slammed by people because they should have known what happened right away. “Why didn’t they know?” And the answer is, for those people, that their vision of themselves did not encapsulate the sad concept of “I can get raped,” and as such they had all of these pieces of evidence lying around unassembled, waiting for that one key that would tie them all together.

It could be argued that they should have known. And they probably would have known, if it was someone else this happened to. But some times you’re blind to the events of your life simply because the evidence contradicts who you think you know who you are, and waking up to the person you actually are takes some time.

Especially when that person isn’t someone you ultimately want to identify yourself as.

The Trump Voter Is One Unified Cancerous Mass, Or Not

In the weeks since the election, “Analyzing the Trump voter” has become the whip we Democrats use to flagellate each other.  There have been thousands of articles analyzing The Trump Voter – they voted for Trump because they were afraid for their jobs, except studies show The Trump Voter was well-off and hence racist!  The Trump Voter slavishly believed what Donald had to say about building the wall, except no, The Trump Voter took what Donald had to say figuratively and not literally!  The Trump Voter wants to build a plan, but The Trump Voter wants to tear everything down, The Trump Voter would be dismayed and/or enthused when Obamacare’s benefits are repealed without replacement…

And Jesus, no wonder The Trump Voter is terrifying.  The Trump Voter is this terrifyingly contradictory amalgam of stories that no Democrat can make sense of.

Because there’s not one unified Trump Voter.

The Trump Voter is an uneasy coalition, like any Presidential voting bloc.  There wasn’t The Obama Voter in 2008 either – there were uneasy conservatives who couldn’t quite pull the lever for a ticket that included Sarah Palin, and heartbroken, and shaky racists who still thought Obama would give them the best hope for their business, and sick people who hoped Obama would deliver on his promises of health care, and cults of personality who just loved the way Obama talked.

There was never an Obama Voter – just endless, loosely-affiliated groups who happened to pull the same lever.

And when we Democrats talk about The Trump Voter, we talk about it like there’s only one reason someone could vote for Trump, and we must find it or die.

Which is a one-way ticket to absolute despair if your asshole Uncle at Thanksgiving is the worst kind of Trump voter who voted out of pure spite.

Truth is, there’s a hundred reasons people voted for Trump.  Some stemmed from “I don’t trust Hillary.” Some stemmed from the fact that people in rural countries felt like the Democrats were ignoring them – and even then, the reasons they felt ignored varied from group to group.  Some stemmed from the belief that Trump would bring back manufacturing, some stemmed from a despairing nihilism to try anything other than what we’ve been doing, some stemmed from pure-D-fucking racism, some stemmed from the delight of hearing a politician say the impolitic, some stemmed from the idea that Trump was less war-crazy than Hillary….

And everyone has a pet theory as to Why Trump Won, and most of them seem to involve The Trump Voter – almost half the electorate swayed by a single issue.

You know why that line of thinking sucks?

Because that implies we have to find an idea that sways 48% of the country, as opposed to 2%.

Because if 2% of the country had voted differently, Hillary would be in charge.   And the poisonous rhetoric of The Trump Voter means that if your asshole uncle wore his MAGA cap at the Thanksgiving table and flung mashed potatoes at you while yelling “SUCK IT LIBTARD,” well, then that voter represents all Trump voters and we might as well give up.

Look.  The honest truth is that 49 out of 50 Trump voters can be utterly unreachable.  They can be cloistered in their Fox News bubble, reading fake news on Facebook, completely unswayable.

All you have to do is find the 1 out of 50 who might listen to reason.

And you’re not gonna find that voter if you’re thinking everyone who voted for Trump is the same as the worst of them.  The truth is, there were Trump voters who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012.  There were black and hispanic voters who voted for Trump – and they did so in greater numbers than they did for Romney.

There are Trump voters who might be persuaded back, with the right efforts.  But you have to find their reason!  You can’t just one-size-fits all The Trump Voter and go, “Your reason for voting Trump is *spins the Trump Voter wheel* RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA LET ME EDUCATE YOU” and move forward –

– no, you actually have to do the hard work of listening instead of shoehorning.

(Even though, it should be said that I firmly subscribe to the Cinemax Theory of Racism.)

And yes.  It’s exhausting.  Because the truth is, a conversion rate of 1 out of 50 feels more like hunting for a job than it does engaging in political rhetoric.  And it’s probably more like 1 out of 200, because the people who are enthusiastic enough to go engage online in politics in these are pretty set in their ways; I’d bet dollars to delicious donuts that most of the reachable Trump voters are going to be converted, if at all, in quiet conversations away from the thundrous trash-fire arguments of the Internet.

But to have a hope of converting them, you have to give up the idea that 47.5% of the country went crazy in the exact same way.  They didn’t.  They had a hundred different reasons for voting, and if you assume that every Trump voter pulled that lever out of KKK-style racism, or redneck job-terror, or Russian propaganda brainwashing, then you’re quietly buying into that idea that politics is all about reaching everyone and if that one Trump voter is an asshole than you might just as well give up.

But we can be smart enough to hold two truths up at the same time:

  • Yes, most Trump voters won’t change their minds no matter what we do.  There are unreachable voters, and it’s a waste of time to try to talk to the people who’ve proven hostile to our best intents.
  • Yet if we could have persuaded one out of fifty of them, we would have won the election.  And we can win the next election.

And yes, there’s the alternate theory that if we Democrats had rallied our base better in red states, we also would have won.  Again, that’s not a contradiction of the “one in fifty” theory; that’s another tactic we can use.  Because just like there’s not one mythical Trump Voter, there’s not one mythical Path to Victory.

Smart people can fight on multiple fronts.  And God, in this dark time, we Democrats need to be smarter.