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The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name

I was just coming home from the first real parade of the carnival season, fired up and aglow with the love, and I get online and I check my e-mail and I find myself on Facebook, looking at a kindly invitation to enjoy the next night’s diversions, looking at the profile of a friend, and I can’t help but notice his significant other is not listed — and the reason is fairly obvious. Even in our present day and age, homosexual relationships are not acknowledged and accepted in many circles. So I go to the kitchen for a late snack, and skim the paper’s entertainment supplement, and read of a documentary about how gay carnival krewes pioneered gay rights in this country well before Stonewall. And ultimately I can’t help feeling a deep sense of outrage: What is wrong with people? I remain forever committed to the idea that all is permitted, so long as we’re not hurting anyone.

Published inBrieflyFriendsGeekyPolitix


  1. Garvey Garvey

    Occam’s Razor may apply here: the reason the S.O. isn’t listed could be b/c your friend simply didn’t list them? FB has tons of options under “relationship status.” It doesn’t look overly heteronormative to me, although maybe there could be even more options to get everyone’s favorite wording accounted for.

  2. Brooks Brooks

    “I remain forever committed to the idea that all is permitted, so long as we’re not hurting anyone.”

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    The word “permitted” chafes a bit, although I understand what you’re trying to say, and know you mean it kindly. “Permission” has no place in any discussion of gender, race, or sexual orientation. The notion of granting GLBT people “permission” to be GLBT is as meaningless as permitting black people to be black, or women to be women. What??

    I hereby grant you permission to be tall and have nostrils. Godspeed.


    I agree with Garvery about your friend’s Facebook omission. Doesn’t seem odd to me. If it turns out that your friend IS bending to societal pressure, I will personally hunt him down and smack him upside the head.

  3. Thanks, Brooks. Good points. I’d written something else, but changed it to “everything is permitted” at the last minute because that phrase was rolling around in my head. It’s a quote, but now that I look up the source it seems even less appropriate.

  4. Upon further reflection, I realize I was thinking in terms of behavior rather than identity. A classic mistake, or so I gather. I do appreciate the corrective. And you were so gentle!

  5. Brooks Brooks

    Behavior versus identity, yes, although my point was really about permission: permission AND behavior; permission AND identity.

    I’m saying that permission doesn’t belong in the same universe as sexual orientation (identity), or sex between consenting adults (behavior). Permission? From whom? I would banish permission to that condescending universe where “tolerance” and “acceptance” (words that make my teeth ache) also reside.

    Wish I had your gift of language. Wish I were better at explaining things that are, to me, so clear.

  6. I think you’re doing a pretty good job. Of course that other moral “universe” to which you refer is, if not our own, right next door. I sometimes feel it’s threatening to bust through at any moment. My friend (the one I mentioned in the beginning) once studied at a Baptist theological seminary. As I’m sure you’re aware, a lot of people think permission is very much at issue, and that it’s not given, and the Southern Baptist Convention is at the forefront of that. If I understand the doctrines correctly, the official Catholic position is that the behavior is not permitted; the church I was raised in maintains the very identity is not permitted — and I think that’s the standard conservative Protestant line. Absurd, yes, but people have died over such absurdity. It’s that kind of morality that I want to reject, but it’s all too easy to subtly reinforce the very paradigm by which such morality operates. To be clear then: I don’t see myself as the arbiter of what is permitted, but I do think it’s necessary to actively oppose those who do. In our current society, we do not all have equal rights under the law. That is unacceptable. And outside of legal issues, the more or less subtle forms of prejudice and discrimination make me think we have a long way to go. I’d love to live in a society where, for example, the question of who is permitted to get married to whom was not in contention. In other words, I’d love to live in a post-permission society. But we’re not there yet. Or so it seems to me. Does it look different from where you sit?

    This was intended to be a quick note, but it got away from me.

  7. Robyn Robyn

    This is wonderful! This is WHAT IS MISSING in public discourse. Bart, you said something, and it came from a real and authentic and well-meaning place, but it rankled others. Instead of screaming, gnashing teeth, and calling names, they calmly and clearly expressed their opinions about what you said. You accepted their criticism, and offered a well-thought-out defense of your original words and intentions.

    Honestly, the whole conversation has enlightened me (about the question at hand) AND given me hope that there are still people in this country who can disagree, discuss, and come to an understanding about what was said and what was intended.


  8. Brooks Brooks

    Bart is a very good egg.

    >> It’s that kind of morality that I want to reject . . . .

    “Wanting to reject” tells me you’re still processing. When the falseness of a thing becomes sufficiently obvious, there’s no need to reject it. It falls away.

    Love is the highest morality. Maybe the only morality. I’m inclined to think that the rest would fall into place if we got love right.

    >> . . . but it’s all too easy to subtly reinforce the very paradigm by which such morality operates.

    One day you can explain to me what you mean by this.

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