“Connor and Jayden”, cis white gay male short film (and now that seems remarkable)

West Hollywood clubs, 2012-5

Here’s a tempting short film on YouTube, “Connor & Jayden: the Story of Us”, 32 minutes, 2022, written and directed by Jerome Elston Scott, from Harbor Heights Entertainment.

Connor and Jayden

Connor Tucker (Christian Barba), a high school football star, has a broken leg, and not allowed to play for the rest of the season.  He might lose a chance for a college football scholarship for bad luck. He signs up for a cooking class and meets Jayden Sansbury (Ty Newcomb). Jayden is supposed to be the school patsy, except that he really isn’t.

They start a friendship, and then one morning Jayden helps Cannon get his car started by tinkering under the hood, his hands staying clean. The friendship grows.  Jayden challenges Connor to a movie “date” and Connor professes ignorance of movie start times, which carries on with the ticket seller Cameron (Troy Hatt – is the character inspired by “Cam”, or Cameron Kasky?) It seems like an artificial ruse, but the friendship grows intimate, though it never quite crosses the line in the film.

So it’s refreshing to see cis male gay men in a short film again, in all these days of critical gender theory. 

But the movie never quite follows the normal story circle ideas in screenwriting.  Connor has already paid his heavy price – he broke his leg.  At least he didn’t go through the horrors of Washington (now Commanders) quarterback Alex Smith who almost wound up with an amputation,  A scene in the movie’s middle shows him without a cast and hairy leg (in shorts) as if nothing had ever happened. So a few months have past and it is mild Los Angeles winter.

Beyond the LGBT subject matter here, it’s interesting to wonder something about writing movie scripts with protagonists who are generally successful teens in high school, college, or some career (like YouTubing).  When does the teen “pay a price” when he (she/e) gets what e wants.  Sometimes leaving the college experience is a price.  Sometimes leaving college sports when there will not be a career in sports is a price. Sometimes it is losing a potential love interest.  First breakups are always difficult.  Often in the past the “want” was to get into the best school.  Today’s kids want more agency sooner, and you start to see a lot of gap years (to grow YouTube channels). 

The distributor also offers cast interviews (the interviewer is black) and audition sessions for the movie on YouTube.

(Posted: Monday, June 20, 2022 at 10 PM EDT)

“What Is a Woman?” is a challenge to see, and there is nothing “wrong” with it

approach to Alexandria Pride, June 4

Everyone is buzzing about Matt Walsh’s new documentary produced and distributed by Daily Wire, “What Is a Woman?” (94 min, directed by Justin Folk).

When I went to the Daily Wire (conservative) site, it seemed that to watch the film at all I would have to start a monthly subscription to the publication.  Normally when you produce an important documentary, you have a third party distributor, or you make it possible for people to buy the DVD directly from your own website if no platform will take it because of culture war controversy. Really, this ought to be available to rent on Amazon on YouTube now.

I found what looked like maybe a bootlegged free version on YouTube, but it wouldn’t play! But I finally tracked down a copy posted by “Not the Boiling Frog” on the “free speech” video site, Odysee, link here (not embeddable).  There is a YT trailer.

trailer from Daily Wire

OK, there is nothing “wrong” or inappropriate by normal standards of acceptable public speech, but these are not normal times. 

Matt particularly attacks an idea popular in some woke corners, that gender can be defined in circularity. That is, a person is a woman if “they” feel like a woman.  Some of the people he interviews stick to this view.  Matt’s film makes them look bad, which is why the far Left worries that this film would lead to further marginalization of, not so much trans people as such, but emotionally insecure teens (especially girls) who believe they have some sort of gender dysphoria.

Matt really should have mentioned the Intersex issue (discussed in the previous post) in order to separate it sufficiently from the emotional hysteria that seems to spread among pre-teen girls on social media.  One of the more responsible doctors (a psychiatrist) did mention that only one in about 30,000 pre-teens (boys or girls) has true gender dysphoria without a known physiological contributing cause.  The rest is contagious hysteria. 

At the end, Matt prepares to move his family from Tennessee to Loudoun County VA (where he spoke in the school board meetings that I looked in on last summer), he asks his own wife the question.  She asks him to undo a stubborn bottle top.

Loudoun County schools, Ashburn VA, 2021-8

Some videos:

Tim Pool:

Tim Pool critique

Dr. Phil:

Dr. Phil debates Walsh

The kid who thinks “they are” a wolf (like a walrus).

any identity at all, even an animal?

In this video, Matt responds to a professor who seems to be one of his loudest critics. I wondered, why does Matt need the tattoo. Matt has made a great point in that some people (on the political extremes of both sides — that would include Trump on the right) go bonkers if they don’t get the affirmation of their beliefs and importance ratified or gratified immediately by others around them.

Bonus:  “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” from the stage Frederick Loewe musical “My Fair Lady” (I saw the movie in 1965).

song from “My Fair Lady”, “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?”

One other thing.  Today, HRC shared a link on “neopronouns”.  Look at the angry reaction on Twitter.  Non-binary people (sometimes) want to be referred to only in the plural;  they don’t want so much attention focused on what seems to the public like an individual failure. They will say everyone has a “fundamental right” to choose the name and pronouns (even number) by which they want to be known. I’ve already mentioned
“Gender Queer” ‘s solution of e, em, eir, May 6.

(Posted: Thursday, June 9, 2022 at 8 PM EDT)

Books “Johnny the Walrus” and “Irreversible Damage” called “transphobic”; but what they seem to do is challenge intersectionality as an ideology to drive “critical gender theory”, barely touching conventional gay rights issues of the past

Unusual bracket fungus in Alexandria VA, on walk to Alexandria Pride Sat. June 4

I’ll do two book reviews here.  But first a general statement.  I do think a lot of the focus on some young people wanting to claim they are transgender or nonbinary comes from their perception that they are not “competitive” or attractive in their accepted birth sex.  They want the idea of the “merit” of being attractive according to the norms for your own sex to become less important to others. So they have a reason to rationalize an ideology encouraging some kind of transition — in many instances.

Recently, there were demonstrations at Amazon’s HQ in Seattle maintain that the sale of two particular books on their platform could lead to attacks on non-binary people.  Lauren Rosenblatt provides a story for the Seattle Times.   A Twitter thread from Katherine Long shows illustrations of the “die-in”.

One of the books is the cardboard stock children’s book by Matt Walsh (illustrations by K. Reece), “Johnny the Walrus“.  The publication data is DW Books (Daily Wire, admittedly a conservative channel), ISBN 978-1-956007-05-3.

Johnny the Walrus book video

  A little boy thinks he is a walrus and becomes one.  That attracts anger of others and he goes back to being human, “as he really is”, according to the (“conservative”) author. “Accept yourself as you really are” (a slogan for my first novel attempt, “The Proles“). As an aside: When I was stationed at Fort Eustis Va (all of 1969) when I was in the Army, one of the other guys in the barracks called himself “The Walrus”.  We gave animal names to people (“lizard”, “ostrich”, “ocelot” [it was desirable to be a cat], and I was “chickenman”, based on a Saturday morning cartoon at the time. “He’s everywhere”.  Well, on the Internet, maybe I am. And I have traveled a lot.  Quantum superposition, maybe?

Fort Eustis VA 2015; I worked in a wooden building here in 1969, USACDCTA

The other book is “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing our Daughters”, by Abigail Shrier.  The publication data is: paper, Regnery Publishing (a conservative publisher connected to the Washington Times), 2020, ISBN,, 978-1-68451-228-7, 274 pages, index and endnotes, text ends on p. 227; Foreword (which discusses protests against the book) and Introduction take 30 Roman numeral pages.  [By the way, I think books should start on p. 1 and use only regular numerals.), 11 chapters and an Epilogue.  

Irreversible Damage book video

The author’s premise is what the subtitle says.  She posits that since around 2013 or so, the increasing use of algorithms in social media has particularly affected what pre-teen girls see online, before puberty, making them very self-conscious of their standing socially (Likeonomics). This surprisingly destructive result from social media business models, developing since about 2013, has been pointed out by Johnathan Haidt (yesterday’s post).  A disproportionate percentage of these girls develop the idea that they want to become men, or at least nonbinary.  Maybe what they really want is a world in which looks don’t count.  That might have applied to me in the 50s, but I doubled down, turning to internal upward affiliation, along with a separation into my own sovereign world functioning as an “alien observer” reporting on everything without skin in the game.

She does cover many aspects of the problem.  In blue states or cities, some school boards go woke and reinforce these ideas with social transitioning, even allowing students to name their pronouns and new names without parents’ knowledge in some cases.  (This gets into SEL, discussed below; it’s unclear how widespread this is, whatever you make of the @LibsofTikTok Twitter account.) Some physicians go overboard with puberty blockers or other treatments; she will later claim that about 70% of the time the persons want to detransition back later, but physical damage can be severe (in a few cases, life threatening infections result).  She makes the point that puberty for most people is a necessary step, which actually improves brain performance in school (for both sexes).   She gives numerous case histories (with an afterword covering them today).  In a couple cases, young women went away to college and tried to transition, unbeknownst to their parents, who felt betrayed.  This runs parallel to my own expulsion as a freshman from William and Mary in 1961 for being gay.

rebuttal to Shrier’s book by a trans adult

Numerous times she mentions that “transitioning” girls are startled to see male body hair.  She doesn’t mention that this is much more significant with Caucasian (generally, “white”) people, and with people of color never has much chance to become noticed or significant.

Her book, by and large, does not discuss teenage boys, and does not mention the Intersex issue, which needs to be put in proper perspective. Well, she has a chapter “The Dissidents” where she discusses Ray Blanchard and J. Michael Bailey.  There is an allusion to the issue of whether some “sissy” boys are really non-binary or trans, but they typically grow up to be cisgendered gay men, because masculinity itself fascinate them. (I remember resisting the idea of a first shave at the age of 14 or so.)   

First, teenage boys particularly really benefit from puberty;  some problems like ADD go away with puberty.  But bringing up boys takes us back to a larger view of the various facets of transgenderism or non-binary-ism, and Intersex.

Intersex is generally a different issue from transgenderism or non-binary as commonly encountered. A video by Sci-Show linked here on a June 1, 2022 comment for the May 9. 2022 posting explains the myriad of chromosomal or known genetic configurations that cause genuine Intersexiam. (It is the “I” in GLBTQIA; “A” is asexual, or at least disinclination to have intercourse at all – it might move over into “incel” but that is another discussion).   About 1.7% of the general population is born with a biological configuration that could be called Intersex.  Often there are few or no indications; but the other side is that sometimes doctors have done unnecessary treatments (sometimes surgeries). 

A number of red states have proposed laws prohibiting medical treatment to change gender before 18, regardless of permission of the parents, but generally there states have made exceptions for known Intersex patients.  But one or two states have proposed laws mandating treatment for Intersex if medically possible to original sex, and most civil libertarians would say such laws are inappropriate (maybe unconstitutional). 

It seems, instead, that most of the “transgenderism” attracting controversy in practice is generated by fad behavior exacerbated by certain social media practices.  Shrier wants to keep smart phones from kids completely until they are perhaps 16.  (Problem, we see teens on YT who are incredibly mature at 14 or 15, the exceptions.)  About 1 in maybe 400 children (thru early grades) may truly be “trans” without an identifiable biological cause.  School systems do need policies (not abusive state laws) to handle theses situations, as well as to handle Intersex.  The aims of SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) programs may sound laudable, but they need very careful planning, with consideration of enlarging science.  It would be helpful if well-informed and news-familiar parents would run for school boards and get elected.

Shrier does have a simple solution for bullying:  Ban it, regardless of the victim.  I got called into the nurse’s office in ninth grade for spreading rumors about a boy who had epilepsy in class (in 1958). I mention this in my first book.  If that happened today I should have wound up in an alternative high school for a year. The 2010 case of teen violinist Tyler Clementi at Rutgers is truly tragic, however, and needs better explanations, and would make for a good documentary film investigation.

We’re also left to ponder the “drag queen story hour” events at some pride festivals this month.  I sat in on one in Alexandria, VA last Saturday and it seemed to stay in bounds. The parents brought the kids, and it was outside the school systems.   There was no tipping, but a little fist clenching (leftist) and a few kids hugged the drag queen.

My take on Alexandria ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’

Not so in Dallas (“Drag the Kids to Pride”), apparently. That’s two weeks after I had visited the Cedar Springs strip myself.

Dallas “Drag the Kids to Pride” protest

I’ll add, I see there is at least a parallelism to the arguments I used against “don’t ask don’t tell” two-plus decades ago, and the issue of what kids should be taught about gender and sexuality in schools or what parents may wisely expose them to.   Hints have been dropped to me, why didn’t enter the childrens and gay rights books business, to prove I could sell books?  Well, partly because I have no kids.  Abd partly because the issues are really much harder to settle.  Although gays in the military didn’t look easy at first, and it took 17 years.  I have gotten rebuffs for using the phrase “gay conservative” in a book title (like that is hate speech) or the idea of a chapter titled “The Virtue of Maleness” in book 3, as if to attack those who were less cis than others.  Yes, a lot of people go around looking for ways to say their tribe is victimized, and that somehow that gives them a new identity.

There is a shift in LQBTQ activism, from the issue of sexual attraction (the former issues of sodomy laws, DADT, and then gay marriage) to a kind of “critical gender theory” today which I find much more problematic.  The latter is more what drives the idea of anti-LQBTQ zones in eastern Europe and is partly what also generates the anti-LGBTQ ideas in Russia, which Putin himself has tried to exploit in the Ukraine wars — grave stuff.  There is, also, though, the issue of declining birth rates, and less family formation.

All of this is winding back to the problems of personal agency, which I will continue to explore.

(Posted on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 at 10:30 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)

“Fire Island”: a gay romantic comedy based loosely on Jane Austen

Approaching Cherry Grove, 2019-6-29, mine

OK, they say that the romantic gay comedy “Fire Island” is formulated from Jane Austen (“Pride and Prejudice”) by screenwriter Joel Kim Booster, who adapted the novel and plays the protagonist, of sorts, Noah (direction by Andrew Ahn). 

As the movie opens, he and Howie (Bowen Yang) speculate on what they want (like to start the Harmon Story Circle) as they arrive on a summer Friday at Fire Island Pines. Pretty soon we are introduced to the den mother for the boys, the lesbian played by Margaret Cho. Slowly, the other characters, which include black and particularly white men appear. (Noah seems solo as a protagonist. The screenwriting community today — especially Michael Hauge and Tyler Mowery — is debating whether it’s proper for a good movie script to have two protagonists. Hauge says it’s OK with romantic comedies. Mowery says, with multiple superhero comic movies, maybe. Well, “Eternals”, not just “Batman and Superman”) .

Yes, the movie appears prepared to explore interracial sexual attraction and prejudices against such.  The white guys sort of become the antagonists, in a way.  The most cis-male of all of them, a blond Luke (Matt Rogers) becomes the troublemaker with his sexual aggression later. But there is a lawyer (made to seem Jewish) Will (Conrad Ricamora) who may turn out to be Noah’s love or his ultimate enemy. But at one point Noah scorns Will for thinking his wealth allows him to feel scorn for “ordinary” gays.

There is a sequence where Luke forces himself on someone and makes and circulates a dirty cell video. Will, in one confrontation late in the film, lectures him on the legal risks of his “revenge porn”, which he says could cause him to be labeled a sex offender in New York State. 

The film does present the range of personalities within the male gay community, with the very cis and masculine (which tends to be more likely with white men, in the film, and people may be sensitive about this.  Others are gentler, and may move a little more toward non-binary.

There is an underwear party at the Ice Palace, which I believe is actually in Cherry Grove.  There is a scene in the “woods” between the Pines and Grove, marked by a wild deer (a tribute to Yanthimos, maybe) who seems to enjoy the company.  What do animals think of us?

Today’s Grove has lots of boardwalk trails among expensive vacation homes, not all of them (just the most expensive) on the actual shore. The film showed a few shots of these trails.

When I lived in NYC 1974-1978, I would take the LIRR to Sayville, and a ferry to the Pines first, and walk the beach, about ¾ mile to the Grove.  Sometimes there would be nude sand sculpture “on the beach” (pun on Nevil Shute intended).  On Pride 50 weekend in 2019, I took the ferry to the Grove directly instead for a Saturday.

I think Michael Donnelly has spoken about the film on Twitter, but last August when one of the hurricanes threatened Long Isand, he (from his Hells Kitchen perch) tweeted “y’all” to come back to the city and take the storm seriously, as Fire Island is a barrier island that protects the main shore from damage.  “We won’t bite”, he tweeted.  Look at Donnelly’s work on Covid data on Medium.

The film starts online viewing today on Hulu.  The old Fox Searchlight musical trademark is actually sung!

I recall another film from 2018, “Cherry Grove Stories”, a documentary by Michael Fisher.

The New York Historical Society presents a lecture “Curator Confidential: Safe/Haven: Gay Life in 1950s Cherry Grove” (54 min) during Pride Week in NYC in 2021.

I remember a particular friend who moved to San Francisco in October 1978, during the World Series, who commented that he missed the hot summers in the East and the four season climate of gay New York.

(Posted: Friday, June 3, 2022 at 4 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)

Catch up with news: Monkeypox, Covid19/21 improving public immunity, social impasse on schools and gender/sexuality/identity issues

Capulin extinct volcano, NE New Mexico 2022-5-21

OK, coming back home from an unusual vacation in remote areas in the SW, I’ve got some news to cover or opine on.

The news about monkeypox was promulgating the day I arrived in Dallas and then set out into the countryside.  It wasn’t as easy to keep up as usual.

I think the best presentation so far is NYC’s lung doctor Mike Hansen, so well known for his videos of Covid, May 24, 2022.  He says he has not seen interpersonal spread like this before.

Dr. Mike Hansen on monkeypox

Medcram (Roger Seheult) has a video May 23.

Medcram on Monkeypox

NBCNews offers an AP story discussing two gay male fetish raves in Spain and in Belgium.  There is even a quarantine of some people in Belgium.  Dylan Housman had penned a provocative story for Daily Caller May 20.

UK Pink News has some explainers (by Patrick Kelleher), referring to information from Grindr.

When I was hearing the story break, my first reaction was to connect the dots with the recent scuffle in the Supreme Court, and the leak of Alito’s opinion (focused on abortion) undermining the idea of (not) finding modern “fundamental rights” to bodily privacy in the US Constitution.  The reports on monkeypox at gay events might underline the notion, advanced in the 1980s, that the “chain letter” aspect of gay male sex could eventually prove dangerous to society as a whole (through increasing immunosuppression allowing other diseases to incubate – and that idea has been mentioned with Covid) or the speculative idea that the disease could mutate to become more contagious.  The religious right tried (unsuccessfully) to pass a draconian extension of the Texas sodomy law back in 1983 (before the HIV virus was identified), when I was living in Dallas and could follow the news from my apartment in Harvey’s Racquet (at the time).  Possibly, one could argue, states could start passing sodomy laws again and then force a new challenge to Lawrence v. Texas (2003) in SCOTUS (although Alito warns near the end of the leaked draft, don’t count on it). 

The raves would have presented the opportunity for skin-skin contact, not necessarily sexual or genital.  The same sort of thing could have well happened in heterosexual parties.  So I would now think that the incidence in gay men may be circumstantial, and may not hold up over time.  Similar observations (in general) might have applied to Zika virus (but that is an arbovirus) a few years ago, where the most noticeable tragic result applied to serious birth defects in children from mothers who acquired it in pregnancy.

The issue of the smallpox vaccine is significant. CDC has an information page last updated in 2019.  I would check back here as it will probably be reupdated soon.  Routine vaccination for smallpox stopped in 1972.  I have a very small smallpox scar myself.

COVID19 has an epidemiology that is almost opposite from AIDS.  While at first we were hyperscared of surfaces and hand hygiene issues, the biggest problem seems to be aerosols with more prolonged exposure. Practical observations suggest that people living in congregate households are much more vulnerable to serious disease (in any age) than people living alone.  It seemed to go “against family values”.  Omicron, which arrived mysteriously (maybe from one immunocompromised person, or maybe from another animal reverse crossover) is almost another virus COVID21. 

My own hunch is that those fully vaccinated and boosted who then get a “mild” infection with Omicron probably do have pretty good practical immunity and can be out in public without much risk, as long as they have intact immune systems.  Covid is turning into an “opportunistic infection”.  I tend to agree with Chris Martenson and others that properly run trials of Ivermectin have not really been done, and this could still turn out to become a reliable treatment if allowed to. 

Bloomberg sums it up in a May 15 article by Naomi Kresge “How Omicron Infection Turbo-Charges Vaccinated People’s Immunity”,  link (paywall).  This News/Medical Sciences paper seems significant.

Do we know for sure about how people with fleeting breakthrough Omicron will fare over time?  Not with absolute certainty.  Maybe long Covid will still be a problem with those with a tendency toward other autoimmune disease.  Can repeated mild infections cause immune suppression?  Is there “original antigenic sin?”  We are not completely sure yet. But we are not seeing people with past Covid develop the secondary opportunistic infections (like PCP) that happened three decades ago with AIDS.

As a whole, Covid has refocuses some moral thinking, about the idea of “carrying” a virus that will not seriously hurt the infected person but which can jeopardize others more vulnerable (the original “Typhoid Mary” problem — she got locked up for years because of her danger to “contaminate” others, almost the thinking we see in China today with its Zero Covid).  Here’s a related perspective by Matthew Crawford on a UK “conservative” site called the UnHerd: “Covid was libearlism’s endgame”.

“Typhoid Mary: Most Harmless and Yet the Most Dangerous Woman in America”

I wanted to take a “non position” on the furor of school boards and “don’t say gay” bills. 

First, I tend to look at both sexual orientation and gender dysphoria as a set of inclinations, desires, and sometimes “chosen” behaviors.  I don’t think of myself or as others in my cohort as a group or pseudo-enthnicity. That is true even when these “traits” may have genetic or epigenetic explanations in many people.  Gender dysphoria in small children does happen but is quite rare (like one in several hundred) and I can’t believe it is appropriate to belong in lower grade school curricula, especially in conjunction with “indoctrination” as part of Social and Emotional Learning. But I also don’t think states should pass laws against it.  School boards and active parents should work this out.  Parents need to run for school boards.  

In my own childhood, I developed dyspraxia, which is thought (in boys) to be associated with Asperger’s or “mild” autism.  I was “teased” for my inability to compete like a normal male physically.  That came to a head when I was assigned to Special Training Company for a few weeks during Army Basic in the spring of 1968 at Fort Jackson SC.  Possibly measles in 1950 before my seventh birthday contributed to this.  But I don’t think this makes me into a separate intersectional group of “people”.

I do like the idea of using new singular pronouns for persons or animals when non-binary or, more commonly, gender is unknown (that is, instead of “he or she”).  I think the Left does not like singular pronouns for non-binary persons because the singularity reinforces individual “failure” to conform.  Nevertheless, there is no reason why individual non-binary persons will not be “good at things” (like changing their own tires or oil, for example) in prepper-like situations.

Indeed, much of the cultural debate over gender identity (which is overrunning – like rain on top of snow —  the previous historical controversies about sexual orientation [that is, over not having one’s own kids and maybe over public health] has to do with the idea that non-binary persons often don’t satisfy the yearning of others to see sexual attractiveness (of either gender) in a conventional way. 

(Posted: Wednesday, May 25, 2022 at 1 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)

Johnny Harris’s video on Assange leads to some tangential questions

Chelsea Manning protest in 2019

I’ve noticed recently that journalists and writers normally refer to fully “transitioned” transgender adults (mostly male to female) with the feminine (she, her, hers) pronouns when describing their lives before transition, as well as referring to them by their new names when referring to pre-transition life history.

US Courthouse, Alexandria VA, 2019/3

They also refer to the person with the new (or current) name when describing the past.

In past blog posts, I have sometimes referred before-transition incidents with the previous names and pronouns.  I now wonder of this would be considered misgendering or deadnaming, even when writing about past events.

This whole question leads me to present a couple other videos and incidents.

Let’s look at Johnny Harris’s video of May 10, 2022, “Why He Matters: The Danger of Ignoring Julian Assange”.  Harris starts out by describing Assange’s “escape” to the embassy of Ecuador in London and hiding out in that confinement for seven years, before he gets into the actual leaks that got him “into trouble”, especially regarding information stolen by Chelsea Manning about the Iraq war.  Well, in fact, one of these was a forty-minute video of an American accidental war crime that I even carried on one of my Blogger blogs since April 2010 (until I closed it down in Jan. 2022).  It is called “Collateral Murder” and cannot now be embedded (age restriction from YT). 

Harris always refers to Manning as Chelsea and doesn’t convey the fact that the soldier then was Bradley Manning, legally male at the time when the leaks from the Iraq war started.  According to Wikipedia, Manning announced she was transgender in 2013, and completed transition surgery, litigated when she was an inmate, in 2018.  Manning had considerable grass roots protester-type support for recognition of her transition as early as 2013, but the gay press did not cover her case very much because of political opposition to “Bush’s war”. 

This leads my discussion to recalling the legal battle over Manning’s imprisonment for refusal to appear to a grand jury later in 2019.  Ford Fischer covered a lot of this for News2Share when other media outlets pretty much ignored it.  The Wikipedia article covers it.  I have a couple videos I took myself of the demonstrations outside the federal courthouse in Alexandria, VA in the good old days of March 2019.  I plan to edit and combine these into more professional videos later this summer, as I plan with some of my other mini-video sets (like on “stop the steal”). 

Video 1

Video 2

I can digress here one more time on Harris’s video, noting one conspicuous blue tattoo on one inner forearm (shows up later in the video).  Why does he disfigure himself? (He never impressed me as someone who would “need” body art.)  I love the orange beanie cap (as if paying homage to Tim Pool, but Harris has is own video style that adds a lot of in-the “visually compelling”-field fact finding to his subject matter, more than Pool usually does in his volume of Timcasts.)   Max Reisinger may well be on the path to developing a Harris-style reporting presence as he finishes his gap year.

Toward the end, Harris notes that “journalists” as such are not a legally recognized category with legal privileges (although there are such things as press passes). Journalism carries with the expectation of objectivity and intellectual honesty, which is both a duty and a privilege. That gets dicey when someone (like me) does journalism for self-expression, but is not willing to bond with others in a supposed marginalized group for organized “activism”. More about that is to come.

I’ll wrap up this one by making note of the Netflix film “Untold: Caitlyn Jenner”, directed by Chrystal Moselle.  This is part of Netflix’s “Untold” streamed film documentary franchise.  It had been reviewed on the “Media Commentary” site that has been sunset.  Again, journalists usually refer the Caitlyn as “she” for the entire life, although sometimes they will say “previously known as”, as with Chelsea.  It’s interesting that she wants to run for governor as a Republican and has some pretty sensible ideas as to how to prevent the GOP’s converting itself into ordered (or actually chaotic) fascism. As I recall, Caitlyn refers to her earlier male life in the third person, as a real person in the past. Time, after all, is a dimension.

trailer for Untold: Caitlyn Jenner

(Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2022 at 1 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)

“Pray Away” (Netflix film, review); notes from a day trip on SEL and metaphysical rights

Lake Tahoe, CA-NV 2018-9

Pray Away” (2021, an abbreviation of “pray away the gay”), directed by Kristine Stolakis and streamed on Netflix (101 minutes) traces the history of the ex-gay movement through the eyes of its practitioners. At the beginning and end the film warns that “conversion therapy” has been discredited by medicine and is often outlawed.

The film focuses particularly on Exodus International (which started in 1978 and dissolved in 2013), along with groups like Love won Out, Living Hope, and Focus on the Family.  There is particular attention to the career of John Paulk. The early scenes in the film feature 1980s meetings in Reno and at nearby Lake Tahoe, a curious location.

The movements tended to be characterized by aggressive behavior or the ex-gay proponents “ministering” to others about “God’s law” and finding salvation through ‘Him”.  There seem to be a particular attention in certain evangelical communities to religion as the center of life, without much other explanation.  I’ve always thought it was a bit of a paradox that the Savior is presented as an attractive young and athletic white male, when hero-worship or idolization (particularly) is sinful (or violates one of the Commandments ). 

I was familiar in the late 1980s with another group called “Love in Action” which was said to emphasized “giving up the gay lifestyle” while at the time offered services to AIDS patients.

Of course many societies (such as radical Islam) have condemned homosexuality on supposed theological grounds and gone out of their way to persecute it. 

Many societies are heavily tribal and are concerned about their collective survival in future generations. Particularly today (as in Russia), homosexuality would be seen as a threat to a group’s maintaining enough fertility (and it gets into ethno-racism with ideas like replacement theory). 

On the other hand, some indigenous societies have recognized non “reproductive” individuals as a kind of separate priesthood but sometimes do not allow them full personal freedom but expect them to take care of others (such as with eldercare). 

Much of our moral code has to do with prohibiting activities which are harmful.  But some of our code demands participation in activities seen as essential to survival of the group (start with conscription).  This is another side of moral thinking.  

The film did not particularly focus on AIDS and gay men in the 1980s, and the right wing did.  I talked about this a lot in Section 7 of Chapter 3 of my first DADT book.

This would be a good place to present a video “Born This Way: The Science Behind Being Gay” from Real Pride, June 2021, 46 minutes.  (It had been linked on a site now taken down, but now linked here in the non-WP portion of the new site.) The video presents the theory of epigenetics (later born sons) and the idea that the X chromosome could carry a gene that makes women more fertile if they have two copies but that could interfere with heterosexual desire in males, possibly increase fertility for the whole tribe.

I do want to share a couple short videos from a day trip.

In this one I briefly discuss what I have found about SEL, or Social and Emotional Leaning programs getting put in by school systems in lower grades.

SEL Programs in schools

In this one I talk about “metaversal rights” and whey you have to be prepared to “fight”.

Metaphysical human rights and the need to fight sometimes

(Posted: Friday, May 13, 2022 at 3 PM by John W. Boushka)

Could it be ‘illegal’ to film or livesteam a noisy protest at a SCOTUS justice’s house?

SCOTUS fence protest 2022-5-5

Recently the mainstream media have reported numerous protests near the homes (DC area) of US Supreme Court justices in light of the Politico leak of Justice Alito’s draft of an opinion (from February) that would reverse Roe v. Wade (after almost 50 years).

Numerous observers have also noted that protesting loudly near a SCOTUS Justice’s home is illegal, under US Code 18 paragraph 1507 (Cornell Law), which makes it an offense to picket or parade at a judge’s residence or business (although not outside a large government building like SCOTUS) with the intention of changing an outcome (the same applies to picketing jurors).  That may be one reason why grand jury proceedings are in secret.

Washington Post columnist notes all this with an op-ed (paywall) by Marc A. Thiessen, May 10, “Protesting at justices’ homes is illegal. What is Biden doing about it?”.  Guest articles about this question have shown up in my mail inbox. 

I want to pose another question.  If I went to film it (not participate) but then post it on social media, should it be taken down (especially if livestreamed)?  Would that violate a TOS rule? 

If a “legitimate” media company does it to report the news, that is one thing.  But does the First Amendment protect my right to do this as an amateur however gratuitously as a form of self-expression?   You can, normally, after all, videotape the police (and it’s a good thing a teenager did at the Floyd incident in Minneapolis).

Maybe the critical issue would be, does the content creator do this for a living (and can ‘e’ show it with accounting?) 

I’m presuming that the content creators or videographers did not participate in the protest by carrying a sign or screaming in unison themselves. That makes it a “skin in the game” kind of problem, which is particularly how the “Left” sees it. This reflects back to the reasons for my own web simplification, which I’ll get into more detail later.

(Posted: Wednesday, May 11, 2022 at 9 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)

Protests at (fenced-in) SCOTUS today with a lot of slogans

Gen Z for Choice, at SCOTUS protest

Today I visited the Supreme Court area on 1 St NE across the street from the Capitol.  The fencing had driven the protesters into the street.

Most of the protesters when I was there were from a youth group.  There was one anti-abortion activist with a megaphone (“a woman doesn’t own her own body, God does”) getting shouted out.

Other sayings included “keep your rosaries off my ovaries”, “abortion is reputable health care”, and “fake babies in other people’s private places”.

The Washington Post has an op-ed by Robert Blake analyzing Justice Alito’s leaked “opinion” (which is embedded as a PDF).

I’ve written about “fundamental rights” in the past and will return to it.  Alito et al are certainly sticking to originalism and have come up with a rationale why Roe v Wade is so extraordinary that stare decisis will not hold. W

Evan Woflson has an important op-ed in the Washington Blade about the risk to gay issues (mainly marriage and possibly even sodomy laws;  the military DADT ban was settled in Congress, not the courts, thankfully).  Kevin Naff also has one.

I think the abortion issue is distinct in one way: a dependent human life is taken with abortion. The other issues don’t have this feature (although they had their own problematic possibilities in the past, as during the HIV horror of the 80s).  However, there are times when the life or health of the mother is in danger (and despite what some in the GOP claim, it isn’t always possible to avoid abortion to protect a mother’s life).  CNN presented an important case in Michigan today.  With multiple births sometimes one life has to be taken so the others can live.  (This may have happened in my own extended family back in the 1940s.)     And there are legitimate debates on when fertilization has happened or whether implantation counts, etc.   If a mother was the victim of rape, and forced to carry to term (in a sense her body is “conscripted” for a conflict just as a man’s is for war) she must be allowed to surrender the baby for adoption and not be forced to raise emH (Amy Barrett even pointed that out).

Here are the five videos I shot today:

1

SCOTUS protest

2

3

4

5

(Posted: Thursday, May 5, 2022 at 10 PM EDT)

“Copenhagen”, play by Michael Frayn, and PBS Film (retrieved older reviews by me)

Review from the original DADT legacy site of 2002 PBS film “Copenhagen”.

Copenhagen (2002, PBS/Hollywood, dir. Howard Davies, from the play by Michael Frayn, with Introduction and Epilogue by Frayn, total is about 105 min) is a conversation between physicists German Werner Heisenberg (Daniel Craig), author of the famous Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle of quantum physics, and Danish physicist Niels Bohr (Stephen Rea). Heisenberg requests the meeting in Copenhagen (home of Hans Christian Andersen), Denmark (during Nazi occupation) in September 1941, at Bohr’s home. Francesca Annis plays Bohr’s wife and provides some narration. Much of the conversation consists of talk between the two men, sometimes on walks, about the whole question of science and politics. Hitler’s anti-Semitism has already cost him an edge in nuclear research, and Heisenberg insists he has no loyalty to the Nazis. The situation reminds one of conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler in Taking Sides (2001).

There is a lot of setup of the talk, though. Heisenberg’s arrival in Copenhagen by steam train and quaint travel to Bohr’s estate is carefully scripted. Their verbal encounters become contentious, as Bohr accuses Heisenberg of a little “nip” in finding fault in one of his lectures. Then they go on a secret walk into the woods, and confront each other. What they said becomes hearsay, from them. But it comes down to the join of physics, politics, and morality. Heisenberg confronts Bohr with the ultimate insight into the nature of nuclear fission (not just fusion) and critical mass, particularly when working with HEU (highly enriched uranium, U-235 isotope). Heisenberg wants to know if America has a program yet, and is debating just how involved he can get involved in what could be Hitler’s nuclear weapon’s program. We don’t know for sure exactly what was said, but restraint on their part could have prevented Hitler from getting The Bomb before America did. Later, they reunite in an empty estate, and consider Hiroshima. Bohr has worked on the Manhattan Project in the United States, and must struggle with whether he contributed to mass deaths. The two men taunt each other about who took the responsibility for doing the critical mathematical calculation involving critical mass of U-235. There is the moral point, that some of us (particularly, in Rosenfels terms, “subjective feminines”) will have the opportunity to discover and speak The Truth about great issues, to possess the proverbial Knowledge of Good and Evil. Any one person’s written work can have enormous impact on the world, for good or for bad. Hitler himself was one example. There is a certain asymmetry in this that existed well before the Internet. Where is restraint on personal opportunity and ambition called for? When is loyalty to a higher calling –faith—to be expected? There is also a parallel between the uncertainty about what they said to each other and about their friendship, and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle itself. A man is like one of those particles of uncertain position and velocity, and we are back to undergraduate philosophy. Everything is affected by the act of observing it (as Einstein said—“Jewish science” the Nazis called it)—we get to what I would call The Gawker’s Effect. (Maybe that’s why sometimes people fear being stared at.) The music background, featuring piano music by Franz Schubert (like the A-flat impromptu, which Heisenberg attempts to play on the house grand piano, and some slow movements from sonatas), as well as a theme by Mike Post, is haunting.

 A couple times in my life, I have had dinner meetings as clandestine and important (to me) as those in these films.

Review from the “Plays” Blog, 2007

On my last day as a substitute teacher in December 2005, I got to show, to an honors chemistry class, one of my favorite “films.” Actually, it is a 2002 BBC television adaptation of Michael Frayn’s stage play Copenhagen, published in book format by Anchor in 2000 (check Amazon, ISBN 0385720793). The television show starts with a twenty-minute prologue with the playwright talking about the fabled meeting between physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg in 1941. (Stephen Rea and Daniel Craig play the parts in the TV docudrama, directed and adapted by Howard Davies). The play is important because it presents a serious ethical problem. Heisenberg had made an “intellectual discovery” that could give the owner of the knowledge the ability to make an atomic bomb. If he gave it to Hitler, then Hitler could win the war. Now, the moral problem, and the reason science teachers like to show this film to more advanced students, is that, while we “own” our discoveries in an intellectual property sense, there sometimes can be consequences for “publishing” the discovery.  I my circumstances, there were extra reasons why this was an ironic duty on the last day of teaching. 

Supplemental discussion from GLBT blog, Nov. 2006: Is there a “don’t ask don’t tell” de facto policy for teachers?

A small amount of testimony at the COPA trial referred to the possibility that teachers could be fired or reassigned in some cases if they discuss (“abnormal”) “personal information” with students. Does this mean that a teacher could be removed for making “personal stuff” available at a public place on the Internet where kids could find it with search engines?

 School boards regulate what teachers present in the classroom, and of course this has been politicized, especially by parents and pressure groups who fear that the religious or filial socialization of their children can be compromised by pluralistic exposure. Teachers generally have more freedom to say what they want on their own time and with their own resources, especially since they are public employees. Generally, teachers’ first amendment rights have been honored, for example, if they are seen by television cameras attending gay events.

There is a long audit trail of case law about this, both within school property and outside the school system. The issue is muddied by the Internet and World Wide Web, with the issues presented by search engines and by “free entry.” There is a balancing between the legitimate First Amendment rights of teachers (and students) and the need to preserve order and, frankly, safety and security in the school systems. There is a legitimate point that teaching, by definition, involves taking responsibility for the behavior of others who may be less cognitive and less competent in accounting for their own actions or in understanding what they find than are adults. After all, that is why the kids must go to school. The issue becomes much less important in practice for teachers who have only honors or AP students, but the reality of the teacher shortage today is that the challenge of dealing with average and special education students should be shared by as many teachers as possible.

The recent controversies, litigations, and constitutional amendment referendums about gay rights – most specifically gay marriage and civil unions – brings up a troubling point. Issues like gay marriage and the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy for gays in the military draw attention to the reality that gays are often (by circularity) cut out of “paying their dues” and taking responsibility for others in normal family and service settings. Sometimes, persons who do not have these responsibilities may be expected to “sacrifice” for the food of people who do have these responsibilities. In this sense, then, gays (and lesbians) are not the equal of heterosexuals in practice.  What happens if kids ask a gay teacher about his home life? If he or she reveals a same-sex domestic partner relationship, is this violating school policy of disclosing “personal stuff” to students? A number of states have passed constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, and a few (like Virginia, which passed the rather punitive Marshall-Newman amendment on Nov. 7) have gone so far as to ban civil unions from any legal recognition. Since a same-sex relationship cannot have legal recognition, such an answer could be seen as an improper disclosure of personal information to students.

There have been cases in some states where teachers have disclosed gay marriages or unions in class and have not been disciplined, but these have tended to occur in states, like California, with a more pluralistic social climate. In many cases, it may be all right for teachers to “tell” if they refer to sexual orientation as “status” (Bill Clinton’s word) rather than as psychological interest or a propensity for “conduct.” They could refer to a biological or genetic hypothesis, but not to anything deeper about personal choices. That starts to sound like a content-based speech restriction.  The issue bears comparison with the military “don’t ask don’t tell” where, by law, a statement (even in private) that one is gay triggers the presumption that one has a propensity to engage in prohibited acts. Persons have been discharged from the military for disclosing homosexual orientation on personal websites or on social networking sites.

With teachers, a comparable but less draconian situation seems to exist. In fairness to school systems, one must note that their sensitivity to “personal stuff” is a community standards issue; in their world, content that is legitimate in an open adult world might be interpreted, and unfavorably legally, in their protective community, even when discovered accidentally.  There is also a similar problem if a teacher’s statements (in a public place) indicate to others (such as parents or administrators) a “propensity” to show an undue interest in the attractiveness of minors. This would be likely to affect many more heterosexuals than homosexuals (most people caught in chat room stings, as on NBC Dateline, have been heterosexual). This problem is existential: an older person who does not have an intimate relationship with someone his own age (and show complementarity) is likely to be viewed as more vulnerable to “temptation,” even though admitting to “temptation” itself is not defamatory. Teachers (even subs) could get into serious legal trouble (possibly attracting passive solicitation charges) with statements that they view as existential but that could be viewed as self-defamatory by others. There is little experience with this in the law with respect to the World Wide Web, and it is tangential to COPA, but the trial and opinion might give some guidance as to how the open access and search engine issue (and filters or labels) plays out with disturbing or ambiguous speech found by minors. For a gay person, the lack of legal equality (in recognition of adult relationships) could become relevant, because it could make a statement be regarded as “personal” and therefore indirectly solicitous or motivated by illegal intentions. On the other hand, if this legal conundrum is rolled out, we see a lot of deference to “prejudicial thinking” which amounts to a content-based restriction on free speech.

 I found, in my own case when I was substitute teaching, that it was very difficult, with certain disadvantaged students, to maintain classroom discipline (“poor classroom management”) when they did not see me as an “equal” who had faced their kinds of life challenges and “manhood” experiences. How does one answer this, as an exercise of faith? The Catholic Church has tried to build a whole priesthood culture around men who do not reproduce, to make them credible as authority figures, as long as they give up their freedom and preach only the Church’s teachings of socialization for “normal people.” Ironically, unmarried women have always been well regarded, often preferred as teachers, and “authority figures” for small children.

It is also important that, given the supposed teacher shortage, that new teachers making a “career switcher” move after retirement still have to invest about $4000 in tuition for licensure before getting a permanent job in most cases. For a gay man, in a political climate in a state that goes out of its way to say that he is not the equal of other more “manly men” as a role model, this does not sound like a sound private investment. (Of course, again there is an existential problem: if one is drawn to other men who he perceives as “better,” what does that say about him?) So there is a chilling effect. At the same time, we watch the spectacle of school districts desperately trying to recruit teachers from third-world countries because Americans are appalled by the political climate (as well as the pay) in public schools. That reminds me of the circularity problem that the military has created for itself in recruiting and keeping linguists (with “don’t ask don’t tell”). It’s important to note that some teachers (including subs) can face contingent responsibilities to deal with intimate custodial care issues (as with some special education students), and for an openly gay person, the “DADT” doctrine codified into federal law in 1993 might have legal repercussions even outside of the military. I once was asked if I would mind “helping out in the locker room” and, as a sixty-year-old man, wearing only swimming trunks myself and manning the deep end of a swimming pool on a surprise field trip. I declined. (And I don’t swim.) All of these concepts (regarding speech, legal status for relationships, and forced-intimacy occupations like the military and teaching – all becoming more important as society contemplates ideas like national service) bear parallels that are rather scary. It’s well to review the history of attempts to ban gay teachers in the past, such as the Briggs Initiative in California in 1978, or the Washington State bill in 1986, which defrocked Republican Spokane mayor Jim West had supported.

 See my footnote link note 157.  There was also a PBS show “A Hidden Life” which I’ll look up later. 

(Posted: Saturday, April 9, 2022 at 12 noon EDT by John W. Boushka)