Part One: No To The Notion Of Irresponsibility.
As a contributing writer to The Bilerico Project, I denounce the piece that ran on Thursday, Ronald Gold's "'No' to the notion of transgender" and its publishing. The piece was offensive, insensitive, mis-informative, and mired in ignorance. That it was published was equally offensive and irresponsible.
I agree, as Bil Browning wrote atop "'No' to the notion of transgender," that the role of The Bilerico Project, "is to encourage dialogue among different facets of the LGBT community that might normally never interact this intimately." I wholeheartedly support that endeavor. As it is, our community is fractured; providing a platform and encouraging dialogue is a noble, necessary, and important goal, and I applaud The Bilerico Project for its efforts.
The publication of "'No' to the notion of transgender," however, is the culmination of a misguided editorial practice. It should never have been published, in any form. I was relieved, and, quite frankly impressed, to read Bil Browning's, "My Responsibility: The difference between "challenging" and "offensive." It is my hope that a more responsible and active editorial approach will be taken by Bilerico in the future.
Part Two: Yes To Embracing Our Past And Our Future.
Now, having said all this, let me share with you a story.
Yesterday, I was sitting in my neighborhood diner with a wonderful friend, having a very late lunch and sharing remembrances of the Holidays of our youth. As we listened to the Christmas music playing, he told me about his memories of Christmas tree "bubble lights," and his favorite Christmas song, a parody of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," while I shared memories with him of one of mine, the dog barking to "Jingle Bells." Neither of us were familiar with the other's song - nor I with bubble lights - so we went back to my home and YouTubed them. (Yes, they were all there.)
Thirty-five years ago, the song of the dog barking to "Jingle Bells," that parody of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," (as I learned,) "bubble lights," and a T.V. show called "Marcus Welby, M.D.," were all commonplace. Thirty-five years ago, "Marcus Welby, M.D.," ran an episode titled, "The Outrage," which equated homosexuality and pedophilia. And thirty-five years ago, a man, one of the original five founders of a little group back then, called the "National Gay Task Force," worked to organize a nationwide grassroots campaign to prevent ABC's airing of that vile episode. That man was Ronald Gold, the author of, "'No' to the notion of transgender."
Now, I don't know Ronald Gold. Before I read his post, and wrote this one, I knew almost nothing about him. And yet, thanks to his decades of work, I am able to do mine, and to criticize his. And rightly so.
Everything in life has cycles. And there is always something taking the place of something else. Shows like "Marcus Welby, M.D." are taken over by shows like "M*A*S*H," which are taken over by shows like, "The Cosby Show," which are taken over by shows like "E.R.," which are taken over by shows like "House," and so on. The grassroots activism of Mr. Gold's a quarter-century ago has been replaced many times over. As have attitudes about sexual orientation and gender identity.
Mr. Gold may have found himself approaching the end of a cycle. His beliefs about gender identity - at least when he penned "'No' to the notion of transgender" - are out-of-date as much as "The Outrage," that episode of "Marcus Welby, M.D.," which he fought to keep off the air.
Each of us can look into our past and remember fondly, and sometimes not so fondly, the way things used to be. Thanks to Mr. Gold, things are a lot better for us all, even those he offended yesterday. Thanks to Bil Browning, things are a lot better for us all, even those he offended yesterday, too.
Even as this troubled year draws to a close, let us all look fondly upon the past, and warmly welcome our future, knowing each of us contributes to history as best we can, and knowing that the attitudes we share today about who we are, as individuals and as a community, may be equally out-of-date if we don't embrace the very change we ourselves are creating. Mr. Gold would have been wise to do that. I hope I will have been when I have reached his years.
By the way, last night, long after the diner and the memory-lane YouTubing, as I walked my dog Text, thinking about Ronald Gold, Bil Browning, and that wonderful man with whom I shared memories of Christmases past, I strolled by another diner (Hell's Kitchen has a lot of diners.) Even though it was two in the morning, they were playing their Christmas music rather loudly. And do you know what Text and I heard? The song of the dog barking to "Jingle Bells."