Category Archives: GLBTQ

Gender Itentity

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We Live in communities, and one of the ways that communities work is that they apply collective pressure on individual behavior to conform to a set of common values or norms. “This is how we do things, so if you’re going to be part of this community you can’t do that and you need to do these other things instead. If you fail to conform, there may be consequences that may have a negative impact on you. If you conform, you will reap benefits, like special recognition and improved social standing.” That’s how it works.

Years ago I read somewhere about some tribe in Africa that achieves conformity in a way that I like. When a member of the tribe commits what we might call a crime against someone else, they are brought to whatever the town square is and the tribe would love them up, point out what that individual is contributing to their community, and generally trying to fortify their self worth, maybe even holding them in an embrace to demonstrate love and acceptence. The theory behind the practice is that if someone does such a thing to the community it is a red flag that indicates that the person is feeling low self esteem or feeling separated from the Community in some way that’s important to THEM. It makes sense and I think we’d be better off if WE did that.

To be a part of any community you have to join or accept the values or norms of that community. When the norms or values of the community evolve or change, some members might find the new direction uncomfortable or unacceptable. When they do, the individuals are then faced with deciding what to do in response. Sometimes they might acquiesce and sometimes they might separate from the community. Maybe spin off, like a TV series, and form their own community where the offending value doesn’t exist.

We each live in a series of communities, some are ahead of us and some are behind us. For example, I live in the Gay Community. Communities ahead of me would be Portland, The State of Oregon, The Unites States, the Global Community and then, maybe, Humanity. Behind me might be things like, the Drag Community, the Gay Recovery Community, The Leather community and the Gay Social Service Community; stuff like that. Some values or norms filter through those communities from ahead of us. For me, that would be something like stealing or murdering is not cool.

The Gay community splintered off from the Portland, and those other communities forward of us, because we found discrimination against us unacceptable. Those values and norms excluded us. I’m a member of that splintered off community and some of the communities behind that. The reason I bring this up right now is that the Gay Community I’m a part of is changing/evolving and this one feels like a big one.  Gender Identity.

I have a FaceBook friend that I believe is a lesbian woman. She is being absolutely pilloried in the comments, sometimes with a viciousness that I find appalling, for her belief that, because of gender identity, there is no longer a definition of what a woman is. She reports that she is receiving pressure from her community to conform to the idea that anyone of any gender can identify as any other gender and, to be accepted/respected in the community, SHE must accept and respect that, up to and including dating a man who identifies as a woman. She feels she is being ostracized from her community for not being open to dating men who identify as women. And,,, well,,, she IS!

I want to stand up for her today. Right now, and I sincerely hope this is a phase in our evolution, we are in a space of inclusion of gender diversity. I think that’s a GOOD thing. The inclusion part, I mean. How it is occurring? Maybe not so much.

To respect gender identity diversity, we are being taught a new language. Men can no longer be assumed to be men, and women can no longer be assumed to be women. Neither of them can be assumed to be any gender at all, or any combination of the above. The debate in our community is whether a man, who identifies as a woman, IS a woman, or not? My answer to that is, No, and I THINK My FaceBook Friend’s is too. Is a woman, who identifies as a man, actually a man? My answer again is, No.

There are only 3 biological genders: Male, Female and Hermaphrodite. I consider Transgendered people to BE the new gender they have medically transitioned to and maybe they always were. During the transformation, I don’t know. Maybe temporarily hermaphrodite? But, can a man, who identifies as a woman, be treated and respected as a woman? My answer to that is, yes. Can a woman, who identifies as a man, be treated and respected as a man? My answer is, Yes, to that too.

The problem is that we are speaking English and the English Language is gender specific to male and female, when it comes to people. Some other languages are even worse in that they even assign gender to inanimate objects. One of the reasons I love English so much is because throughout my educational career it could ALWAYS be relied upon to rescue my grade point average from the damages caused by my math scores. I also love it because it’s one of the key methods I use to communicate. My life’s work, and my only degree, has always revolved around communications. That’s what I do.

So we need to develop new language skills. Got it, but the new language, the way WE’RE doing it, contrasts with the rules of the language we speak. The very foundation of any language is that we have a point of reference for what the words we use, mean. If we don’t agree on that, we aren’t communicating. There’s little point to having language to begin with. For example, we use They and Them to refer to a plurality of individuals. Now we need to adapt to using They and Them to refer to an individual as well. It disrupts communication and diffuses the meanings of words. Are we talking about 1 person, or more than 1 person?

I like Star Trek. It’s very forward thinking in a way that I think we, as a community, are trying to be. In the first Star Trek MOVIE, I found it striking when I first heard the new Captain of The Enterprise Referred to Kirstie Alley’s character as Mr Savik. Throughout the movie everyone was referred to as Mister, or their respective rank, regardless of what gender they appeared to be. It had that definitive sound to it. Like, “We’re not going to get distracted by this semantic debate, we have work to do.” Everyone, regardless of gender is referred to with the same term. Frankly, I wouldn’t bat an eyelash over being called Mistress Franklyn if it were the universally accepted term of respect for all genders. But, please, let’s just pick one! I’ll adapt. That’s PART of the intent in changing the language in this new era of a gender identity rainbow; to treat everyone equally and with respect. We don’t have to learn a new language to do that. We already have everything we need. Besides, with the door open to this new rainbow of gender identities, I wonder if anyone noticed NABLA trying to get in under our umbrella.

The OTHER part of gender identity, the part that my FB friend is referring to, is not so easy. I love Drag Queens! I think my credentials in that regard are pretty secure at this point. I love them because I enjoy their company and because of their role in our fight for human rights as our “Canary in a Coalmine”. Throughout our History Drag Queens have been the tip of the spear for us and I haven’t forgotten. (And, let’s not forget, most of these girls are a boatload of fun to hang out with and I will NEVER attempt to drink one under the table again,,, full stop!)

I would not, however, have sex with a Drag Queen, in face, and I’m not having anyone, including my community, pressure me into doing so out of political correctness, or for any other reason, for that matter. That’s a bridge to far for me. That’s personal and you don’t get to decide that. I do.

I love the Gay Community, and for all intents and purposes, it appears to love me too, for which I’m forever grateful. But if the day ever comes when it tries to “apply collective pressure on individual behavior to conform to a set of values or norms” that requires, or even encourages, me to couple up with someone I don’t want to be with, it will be time to re-evaluate my choice to be a part of it.

Much Love,


A Matter of Words

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December 26, 2019 – By Gregory Franklyn

I’m Gay, but please don’t call me a QUEER! I just want to get that out to preface what I want to talk about today. I am not a QUEER! I find the term offensive, and according to the dictionary, the term IS offensive. Here are some definitions I’ve found in On-Line Dictionaries:

Free Dictionary – “queer has been used as an adjective and noun meaning respectively “homosexual” and “a homosexual” since the 1920s, and for much of the time has been used in a disparaging manner.”

Mirriam Webster – “differing in some way from what is usual or normal ODDSTRANGEWEIRD – “strange or odd from a conventional viewpoint; unusually different; of a questionable nature or character; suspicious; shady. verb (used with object) to spoil; ruin. to put (a person) in a hopeless or disadvantageous situation as to success, favor, etc. noun Slang. Disparaging and Offensive. a term used to refer to a person who is gay or lesbian.”

Words like “Odd, strange, weird, suspicious, shady, spoil, ruin, hopeless, disadvantageous, disparaging and offensive, are offensive when applied to people. I consider them attack words meant to cause harm. Notice, linguistically, the hard, percussive, sound of the letter “Q” in Queer. Hard or percussive sounds are designed to alert, or draw attention. T, P, K and sometimes C are a few other examples of letters that have percussive sounds. They sound sharp, pointed!

Some uses of Queer when applied to one’s self is indicative of self-hatred, internalized homophobia. It’s as if the person using it this way is announcing their acquiescence to its pejorative meaning. Self-hatred is a condition Gay people, particularly older Gay people, have had to deal with throughout the last few hundred years because of the tremendous social pressure against our understanding and actualization of our own humanity.

I get that many in my community, particularly younger folks, want to “Reclaim” the term Queer; to discharge the negative intent of the word. What they tend to gloss over is the REASON the term might need to be “Reclaimed” in the first place. It needs to be reclaimed because it’s offensive. I have a similar reaction to the word “Faggot” when used by ANYONE, including another Gay person, to describe me.

The idea of reclaiming these two words is to change the meaning of the words to something positive or loving through its usage, and I get the logic. But, I disagree with the choice of hard-sounding, aggressive words rather than soft sounding ones to accomplish that.

Like, “Gay” for instance. The letter G has a softer and less percussive, or less attacking sound and it has the benefit of being in common use to describe us already. Let’s look at some definitions of the word Gay:

Merriam Webster – “GAY – 1ahappily excited MERRY bkeenly alive and exuberant having or inducing high spirits 2aBRIGHTLIVELY bbrilliant in color 3given to social pleasures 4aof, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward another of the same sex HOMOSEXUAL gay men bof, relating to, or intended for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc. the gay rights movement.”


The words in this definition are NOT intended to cause harm, to attack or make one feel less than. They are positive, affirming and friendly. Notice the last definition is inclusive of people OTHER than men. And, “Gay” is still commonly used in reference to us already. It was a word, at the time, we could all get behind because it was hard to use pejoratively and it didn’t have a history of viciousness.

What happened next is where we, as a community, stepped on to a slippery slope. The public face of the people who founded the Gay Movement were mostly men and Gay women began to feel excluded by it. They were every bit as much a part of the movement as men were and wanted to be specifically included ON the label.

So then we were, Gay and Lesbian. Bisexual people were also part of the movement and wanted to be specified like lesbians were. For a quick minute, we were Gay, Lesbian and Bi. Next up was Transgender people and we became GLBT. Then that got changed to LGBT to move women up to the front. Mainly, I imagine, because women have traditionally been oppressed by men and the community wanted to make a statement about equity.

Then we started adding letters as subgroups of what was to be included in Gay began to come forward to assert their presence. “Questioning” people, who were also part of the movement, were next, so Q was added to our new alphabet moniker. Q, later evolved onto indicating Queer as well as Questioning, and the race to specify each of a rainbow of identities was on.

Last time I checked, the alphabet was LGBTQSII2A+, with the “+” referring to (To be added as groups come forward). The problem with this slope is that there is no way to get to the bottom of it without mentioning each member of the community by name. Because we are all different and deserve our presence to be included.

This is where we get into trouble. We are, then, no longer flying under the same banner. We have become diffused. That’s a GOOD thing for our opponents. The more we are squabbling over monikers and divisions, the less effective/unified we are as the movement.

This is exactly what happened to the Occupy Movement. In fact, I think they learned it from us. The Occupy Movement started out with a simple and direct message, “Wealth Disparity is a bad thing,” end of story! As time went by, and it wanted to include everyone and every issue, it became diffused and eventually evaporated altogether. That’s a GOOD thing for the oppressors. They didn’t end up with unified resistance and now we’re still here, in even worse condition, 10 years later.

To achieve unity, people must be willing to align behind an idea. To “JOIN” if you will. To fly under a banner, to become a part of something bigger than themselves. The demand to be recognized for it, individually, should be of little concern to someone seeking unity of purpose. So, I’m Gay, please don’t call me a queer unless your intent is to offend me. Because you WILL!

Much Love,


World AIDS Day

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December 1st was “World AIDS Day” and as a commentator who happens to be gay, I felt tremendous pressure to write something about HIV to mark the occasion. I decided not to! But if I had written something about HIV I would have said something about my own experiences related to the disease.

I would have talked about how I was introduced to it back in 1981 through reading in “The Advocate” about a medical phenomenon that, at the time, was known as GRID or Gay Related Immune Deficiency. It was a frightening prospect that was being studied by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and was believed to have originated with a German Flight Attendant with a penchant for having a lot of sex with a lot of men. Soon the CDC had discovered that the disease had already stricken a few villages in Africa and the race to understand GRID was on.

But there was a problem with the name of the phenomenon. In Africa the syndrome affected heterosexuals so GRID was no longer an appropriate moniker. There were investigations that blamed monkeys in the wilds of the African Continent for the spread of the dreaded condition, but they were unable to come up with a method of how the disease jumped species from Monkeys to Man. The new designation for HIV evolved into Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS. Medical professionals wanted to distance the syndrome from being a “Gay” disease because they feared what they believed would happen if people thought that only gay men could get it. Sure enough, their fears materialized right before their eyes.

Unfortunately, the original name of the disease attached a stigma to the condition that remains today. The damage, not only to gay rights, but also to efforts to eradicate the disease, had already been done. Heterosexuals in Europe and the US believed that GRID was a “GAY” disease and therefore they were immunized by the mere fact that they were not Gay. And. Of course, the militant religious right wing morality thugs had a very frightening axe to swing at Gay & Lesbian people who were embroiled in a fight for equal rights.

I would have talked about the evolution of the syndrome from GRID to AIDS and eventually to HIV and how the awakening of our government took so long to accomplish. I would have mentioned that Ronald Reagan never so much as uttered the word AIDS until over a million people, worldwide, had already died from it. Up until that moment, no federal funds were allocated to research, or even treat, the disease other than the normal budget the CDC was already working with.

I would have talked about what happened here in Oregon as AIDS turned 10 years old. The Civil Rights battle came to a head with a statewide ballot measure called “Measure 9” in which a group of those religious morality thugs I mentioned tried to get the voters to approve an amendment to the state’s constitution that would lump Gay & Lesbian people with child molesters, rapists and sociopathic criminals. Their argument centered upon their insistence that AIDS was God’s wrath against those sexually deviant Homosexuals who were dedicated to recruiting your children into a tragic life of self-destruction. The ballot measure failed by a whisper of a margin in the 1992 election, but I recall that NO ONE considered it a victory. It was a street level demonstration of the worst elements of humanity and we all knew it. Even those religious morality thugs, that had considered it a life and death issue during the election, were ashamed that night!

I would have talked about 1993 when I sat in my little studio apartment in Portland Oregon feeling somewhat shell-shocked over the loss of no less than 5 personal friends who had died from AIDS so far that year, and it was only March! I would have showed you a series of poems I wrote to try and make sense of what was happening to me, and to my community, because I had to do SOMETHING with the overwhelming feeling of helplessness against this monster we still didn’t fully understand.

Of Course, I would have also talked about “Act-Up”. Act-Up was a radical group of men and women who were justifiably outraged at the lack of support and attention to the devastation the disease was causing in the lives of their friends and families and took their anger to the streets with civil disobedience actions and demonstrations. I would have talked about how Gay Pride Events all over the country were mobilizing hundreds of thousands of Gay & Lesbian people into the streets to make a stand for their personhood and their citizenship amidst a virtual ocean of resistance from mainstream America.

I likely would have ended up talking about how that research money that eventually, though far too late, grew from a trickle to a somewhat reasonable flow, made some headway in treatments for those who were infected. Today, unlike for most of my life, HIV is no longer a death sentence! There are effective treatments that are managing the disease, often for decades. But, a cure is still forthcoming. I would have said that I’m grateful for the progress, although still gun-shy from long hard winter that finally brought it to us. But I decided not to write about HIV because it always brings up such sadness in me that it didn’t have to play out like that! We could have done much better!

Much Love,