« who got my vote | Main | and now back to your regularly scheduled shallow entry »

November 4, 2004

R.A.I.D.A.

A friend of mine told me some time this summer, "The only time I've been on antidepressants is during Republican administrations."

Now that we're under a double-dog-dare-ya Republican administration, it can only get worse. The religious right is now galvanized and justified, as it seems the American public agrees. Gays were in la-la land during the Clinton administration, complacent with a few nods but even less legislation on our behalf. Even during W's last term, we seemed to be satisfied with some exposure on cable and network television. But like I said before, they may seem to like us, but it doesn't matter beans unless the protection is on the books. During a lunchtime conversation yesterday at work, some of my coworkers were surprised that gays do not yet enjoy workplace protections in all states. They are just not aware, and don't seem to care. Perhaps now we won't be such a polite and well-dressed oppressed minority. Again, whatever happened to Queer Nation and Act Up?

The reality of what the majority of the nation thinks of us has been shocking to many of my queer friends. Gurl is not answering her phone, the bad news having come on her birthday yesterday. Bubbles was too enraged, chomping on her mousepad, to have lunch with me yesterday. Seamus' voice has shifted to baseline monotone for the week. But I understand.

Strangely, I'm not as angry or depressed as you'd think. At least we know what people are thinking now, and what needs to be done has become clear. Better the devil you know than the devil you don't, as they say. We now know that the country is unnerved by equality for gays, and that for some reason up to 23% of gays don't seem to mind that W has worked hard against their equality. I don't understand it at all, but at least now we have some hard data to work with.

On an individual level, this calls for emotional toughening and a mental health plan for all of us. Believe me, I know. This spring I was wracked with intense anger and frustration over the Federal Marriage Amendment, which we now see has blossomed beyond their wildest expectations. My anger was affecting my relationships with some members of my rugby team who worked with conservative legislators or organizations. My anger destroyed a few friendships as well. I didn't feel good about that. Some of these people were kind to me in the past, and they are good people, I must believe that. This belief that they are good, and their political views and affiliations really twisted me up inside. I discovered that my ELCA Lutheran upbringing teachings of forgiveness sunk into me more than I'd like to admit. I didn't want to live in anger, lest my ass blossom into a giant hemorrhoid the size of a chrysanthemum, or a hole form in my stomach lining. And I prefer my molars ungnashed, thank you. Dental work is expensive, and shattered molars are for crystal meth abusers, not angry people.

So I decided to check out the Faculty Staff Assistance Program at work, where I found we get 10 free appointments with a mental health counselor. The sessions went well, and I think my counselor is a lesbian, so she understood. She pointed out that I was very politically-minded, and that I should consider politics as a career one day. I told her it's a career dirtier than garbage collection and I prefer making things like web sites and glossy brochures for now. I like the smell of new publications - it gives me a buzz.

We also discussed strategies for approaching the situations that make me angry, and mental workouts that prevent cyclic negative thinking and promotes positive affirmation. To date, they have worked, and I am less angry in most cases. The damage I did with friendships and some of my teammates has been hard to reverse, but at least now I can offer the ones I originally could not look in the eye a bottle of water on water breaks during matches. This is an improvement.

When I went to the counselor I vehemently told her I did not want to go on antidepressants. I had tried them before when I was deeply depressed due to my 2 years of un- or underemployment. I didn't like them at all. The drug I took (I forget the name) made it difficult to get an erection, much less come, which I sometimes have a hard time doing on good days. Tricking was awkward at best, so I avoided it altogether. That and antidepressants make you feel very wierd...they shave off the lows, but also the highs as well, making you feel like an android devoid of any emotion at all. I quickly understood why people on strong antidepressant regimens go off them and then go off the deep end. Eventually, I decided to give up those drugs and just tough it through. Not everyone has that luxury, however.

My point here, if you've read this far, is that it's going to be a tough 4 years. People in positions of power are going to say and do very mean things to gays and lesbians, and it's going to hit you inside more than you think. You will get sad and angry. Anger isn't always bad, but overwhelming anger or depression can destroy you inside (Feel the hatred flow within you, Young Skywalker...). So I offer a few pieces of wisdom I've gained through dealing with depression and from my counselor sessions that will help you deal with Republican-Administration Induced Depression & Anger (R.A.I.D.A.), to help your inner Darth Vader throw the Emperor down into those power coils, thus freeing you from the Dark Side forever:

Sorry for sounding like Miss Mary Sunshine today, but I'm worried about my many friends who are depressed this week.

Posted by jimbo at November 4, 2004 12:12 PM

Comments

Thanks Jimbo for reminding us that it is not the end of the world.

Yes alot of folk think homosexuals are right up there with plague rats, and scurvy, But we also need to keep inmind that the tolerant, enlightened folk are growing in number.

Yes we all want to live in a world were all are equal and all are treated fair. And in time that will happen. (And not sounding too Disney like) Compared to other countries where you can be dragged out of your home for thinking the "wrong way" or even having a different deity, or being executed for just being a different ethnicity. We here in the U.S. have it pretty good.

For now we wait, we vote, we educate,we make a difference.
And remember that Baby Steps are better than no steps at all.

And I will mention again that it royally pisses me off that even though voter registration was at an all time high, that most who did register did not vote. Unless it was some sort of medical emergency or some sort of life changing event like giving birth, death in family, or you were eaten by a coyote. Those who did not vote and were registered have been placed on my list of the damned.

Posted by: Dax at November 4, 2004 2:13 PM

It occurred to me recently that my doctor diagnosed my high blood pressure in early 2002. I'm not thinking George is going to pay for medication to treat that anytime soon, though. Thanks for the vote of encouragement, Jimbo.

Posted by: Casey at November 4, 2004 2:22 PM

I had my day of anger. I guess I'm having my day of denial (no news please!), and now I'm thinking about what can be done. I'm guessing that the Religious Wrong will be pushing for more anti-gay measures (ban gay adoptions, ban survivorship rights, etc) because it worked so well. I wonder how lon

And those gays that voted for Bush, I'm doing what the Amish do to members who do wrong, I'm shunning them. They are lost to me, invisible. Obviously they have problems with themselves, I just feel sorry for them.

Posted by: homer at November 4, 2004 2:33 PM

Love ur blog.
check mine out and let me know what u think. i wud love it.

http://clubutaunt.blogspot.com

Posted by: Klubyou Taunt at November 4, 2004 2:37 PM

Someone once told me that you give power to what you fear or hate. (Actually, it sounds like something a Vulcan would have said. Or maybe Yoda.) They fear and/or hate us, and there must be a way to use that to our advantage.

As for gays voting for Bush, I'm with Homer: discommendations all around.

Posted by: Jeffrey at November 4, 2004 3:58 PM

WMD's couldn't stop me from reading your blog.

Dude, you give me a genuine smile even on this ominous, dark, and maudlin week.

I think about what my grandmother used to say: Ya give 'em a rope big enuff and they'll use it to hang themselves.

Thank's Jimbo,

Posted by: Kaz at November 4, 2004 4:07 PM

WMD's couldn't stop me from reading your blog.

Dude, you give me a genuine smile even on this ominous, dark, and maudlin week.

I think about what my grandmother used to say: Ya give 'em a rope big enuff and they'll use it to hang themselves.

Thank's Jimbo,

Posted by: Kaz at November 4, 2004 4:08 PM

Thanks for the post...really wonderful!

As for Republican-voting gays...I cannot disown them. Much as I'd rather just slaughter them, I'll continue to fight for them. Because as nice as it'd be to say to them, "you've made your bed now lie in it," in the end it's my bed too, and I'd rather it was a nice one.

Posted by: Michael at November 4, 2004 4:13 PM

I personally feel betrayed more than anything. Who can you trust? Not even 23% of gay people! When people are behind that little curtain, and no one is watching, they will let you know homos are lesser people and then go on home and watch an entertaining episode of Queer eye.

Posted by: jj at November 4, 2004 4:25 PM

yes, I feel angry, scared and betrayed. but the federal marriage amendment would have stomped on States' rights and forced one mindset across the entire country. my Canadian marriage is accepted at full face value in New York. Mass has same-sex marriage and the re-election of all legislators who voted against an amendment to that State's constitution makes passage of said amendment doubtful. other States will follow, granting us full marriage rights or the seperate and probably unequal civil union. baby steps. we all know what direction this train is going. sure it sucks now - it sucked worse for pre- and immediately post-stonewall queers. it will still suck for our queer children, nieces and nephews. but it will suck less. we have a lot of work to do. we need to mourn, to pay attention to our hurt and current needs. then we need to get the fuck up and fight the good fight again. and it will be easier. one of my teen aged son's friends said he was sorry that so many people voted against our family. I teared up, then told him about the acceptance in this State and he voiced gratitude for living here 'where people are, like, normal and not freaks'.

Posted by: windreader at November 4, 2004 7:34 PM

Thanks for the anti-depression advice...it works for me as well. Especially the donut part. Who does one vote for when you're gay and pro-life? Catholic and gay? Catholic and pro-life? I empathize with your plight. Blacks haven't had it that easy in the history of this country either. Fight the good fight.

Posted by: fkaren1964 at November 5, 2004 1:04 AM

That was absolutely wonderful Jim.

Posted by: Ed at November 5, 2004 8:17 AM

Some 40-plus-queer-geezer musings:

--truly things are much much much much much better for us than they were even ten years ago.

--imho alot of antigay bigots are afraid of sexuality itself. They believe that if being gay did not entail a huge price, then their own husbands, wives and kids might get too... curious....

--lack of direction feeds into depression. Equality as full citizens is what we deserve and Equality should be the prime focus and main weapon. When they try to deny our equal rights, fight back. Whenever they spout off about "special treatment" just think of Matthew Shepard and keep at it.

--the Same-sex Marriage issue is an Equal Rights issue, not a religious one. Initially, it needs to be dealt with state by state the same way the Civil Rights movement needed to be.

A closing platitude: I am not better than anybody, but nobody's better than queer me.

Posted by: i. bendito at November 6, 2004 7:35 PM

I clicked from another blogger to this post. I'm so glad I did. This post made me cry a little tear. Thank you Jimbo for the reminder that we are surrounded by good loving people.

Posted by: Scotty at November 8, 2004 12:19 AM