Tuesday, August 19, 2008

For The Bible Tells Me So

I was really excited that the students and faculty started a GSA after the Indy article came out. I was even more excited that they listed it on the calendar; it will be interesting to see what results from that.

Unfortunately, the censorship continued this summer. The faculty wanted to show For The Bible Tells Me So, a documentary that looks at the dialogue between homosexuality and religion. The reason given was that there were better choices and because it didn't portray both sides well enough. I'm not sure what the missing side was, but I always think that's the default excuse that holds no water.

It isn't the job of GS to show all sides of any issue. It is the job of GS to present contemporary work in academic areas. When we would talk about global warming, students would often accuse the program of not showing "both sides" (as if there were only two positions on the topic). I would point out we give them access to CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and other cable channels. We gave them the New York Times each morning. They had access to the internet. What did they feel like we were hiding from them? And mostly, that statement meant we weren't telling them what they wanted to believe; we were in someway challenging their beliefs.

I haven't written here for awhile because I've been trying to take a break from resisting ADF and DPI. It was hard all summer and strangely got harder when GS ended. But classes are back in session and I am feeling ready again. But I'm also going to try to do a better job of saying how and why this process has been really painful, as well as being able to say when it is now.

Thanks to everyone who asked how I was or talked to me about what this fight meant to them personally or said nice things. That all really helped and I'm going to try to be better about thanking folks for that and asking for it when I need it. It makes me feel much less alone.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


One thing i haven't talked about is the effect DPI decisions have had on me, personally. There's a couple reasons for that; I am really worried about GS and its existence and I am really worried about students and future students. It is dangerous to send a message to these students that there is something wrong with them if they want to be reflective about their sex, gender, or desire.

But getting fired is also been detrimental to me. That's important too. The decisions that Tom, Mary, and Michael make don't just harm some hypothetical future student. They did and are doing real harm to me, right now, in a real way.

First of all, getting fired somehow indicates that i did something wrong. Tom has sent emails to people who have contacted him (and said in other situations) that they don't know all the facts of the story, as if there is some crime i committed that, if they knew, would make them agree that I should have been fired. This is a lazy and cruel strategy often taken against queers. Put forth some vague suggestion of impropriety and let people draw their own conclusions.

Michael told the students that I didn't get fired for being queer or for calling homophobia homophobia. I understand he feels contractually obligated to say this, but it also indicates that I did get fired for some real reason.

I didn't. I got fired because a homophobic group in Arizona wants there to be nothing resembling homosexuality on our curriculum, because the administration of GS decided to acquiesce to that instead of stand up and fight, and because I insisted on labelling those actions as homophobic. Lots of other faculty did too, but they aren't queer or can't be identified as queer in a simple Google search. Until DPI starts admitting that, they are doing harm to me every time Michael, Tom, or Mary tries to act like it is something else.

Secondly, i don't get to teach at Governor's School any more. Being at GSE was a great pedagogical and artistic inspiration to me. Being around my colleagues and the students made me a better teacher and writer. DPI has removed me from that community against my will and for no good reason. That actively hurts me as a teacher and writer.

The third thing it does is send a clear message to me that I am deficient in some way. Not only was I fired, but DPI had no intention of ever talking to me about it at all. I understand why- they had to make up ridiculous reasons for firing me and then Tom has to look like an idiot when they trot him out to repeat them. But not even having the integrity to talk to me, to tell me the truth, indicates a real lack of respect on DPI's fault. The truth is, Tom should have been down on his knees, begging me to come back and to forgive them.

Finally, it is insulting to insinuate that I do not recognize homophobia when I see it. I've been queer and out for a long time now. I've taught gay and lesbian, queer, and sexuality studies for a long time now. I've been a victim of homophobia and homophobic violence before. What, in the long and storied personal lives and careers of Tom Watson, Mary Winton, and Michael McElreath indicates that they would be better at recognizing homophobia or its lack better than I? What leads them to believe that they will be better off fighting a homophobic group without me than they were with me?

Tom, Mary, and Michael are actively hurting and oppressing students,alumni and the institution of GS. That is important. But they are also actively hurting me for no reason then their own convenience. And that's important to say as well.

Let's see if any of them are brave enough to stop and to start telling the truth.