A good sign: the Spanish are finally giving up bullfighting
Sometimes it takes thousands of years to rid a society of a cultural icon. Bullfighting has been an integral part of Spanish society for almost a thousand years.
Bullfighting was first mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh which covered prehistoric bull worship and sacrifice in Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean area. It later moved to Rome to entertain the crowds in the Coliseum.
In the 1100s the rich brought bullfighting to Spain to celebrate religious holidays and royal and rich weddings. The fights were then between bulls with big horns and men armed with lances on horses. In many battles more horses were disemboweled by bulls than bulls killed by lances.
The modern practice of fighting bulls on foot did not start until the 18th century. Bullfighting became the prestige cultural sport in Spain and all of its colonies. The largest bull ring, seating 47,000, is in Mexico City.
Since the 1960’s bullfighting has been on the wane, and is now a political football, with the right-wing Spanish political parties supporting the sport and the left-wing battling to get rid of it.
Countries, provinces, and cities around the world are banning the activity. Only one in ten Spanish citizens has seen a bullfight now. A few jurisdictions have banned all animals in circuses. Spanish animal rights groups have labeled bullfights as circuses. Attendance has been declining since the 1970’s, with tourists from other countries often a majority in the ring.
Another good sign: acceptance of the LBGTQ community
In “The Works of Josephus” there is a claim that Adam and Eve had 33 sons and 23 daughters. Applying what we know now about the science of genetics, that number of births means at least six of their children may have been members of the LGBTQ community.
Of course, Adam lived to be 933 years old and Eve would have had a period of 350 years as possible child-bearing years--so a total of 56 sons and daughters is fairly realistic. Even with all the religious pressures exerted against gays for being “different” over thousands of years, the LGBTQ community is now accepted by a majority in the United States and in most modern industrialized countries (at least in the West). Was Cain gay?
Peter Ackroyd, a gay English biographer, historian, and novelist, has written a fascinating book, “Queer City: Gay London from the Romans to the Present Day,” about 2,000 years of gay life in London.
Ackroyd is known for his almost fanatical research when writing over 30 biographies and histories. He covers the gay life from Celtic London in the time of Christ and from the arrival of Christianity in 300 AD. He even covers the idea that the gay Julius Caesar had a thing going with the long-haired, war-long Celts.
Even Aristotle recognized the gay life and called it the “passionate friendship between men.” Ackroyd identifies The Pardoner in Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” as a member of the medieval LBGTQ community.
He describes the “molly houses” of 18th Century London where gay men “could mingle, dress up, and have sex.” Two other hangouts during that time were called the Cave of Harmony and the Orange Tree. He insists there were as many gay bars in 18-Century London as there are today.
Ackroyd even found the records of a transgender named John Rykener: “Rykener called himself Eleanor, and dressed up in women’s clothing. He would sometimes be a male for males, sometimes a female for males, sometimes a female for females. He enacted all these roles quite naturally, and was never thought of as being particularly adventurous.”
Ackroyd was raised by a strong Catholic mother who never accepted he was gay. Now in his late 60’s, he knew he was gay as a young teenager. Although his mother died only a few years ago, he said they never discussed sex and were never close. He is dealing with the culture of religious and scientific ignorance throughout his book. He and his partner lived together for almost 25 years until his death in 1994.
Texas: when ignorance of science meets religious arrogance
The Texas Republican legislature has spent last week exposing its ignorance of genetic science and its religious arrogance by passing various anti-LGBTQ laws:
1. A measure that prohibits transgender students in public and charter schools from using a bathroom that matches their gender identity.
2. A measure that would allow publicly funded foster care providers and adoption agencies to refuse to place children with non-Christian, unmarried or gay parents because of religious objections.
3. A measure that would require a transgender student who “does not wish” to use a facility based on “biological sex” to use single-occupancy restrooms, locker rooms, and changing facilities at their schools.
In protest against these bills passing, a group of Democratic women occupied the men’s bathroom in the Texas capitol for hours before the debate on the bills.
Senfronia Thompson of Houston, a black legislator for 35 years, responded in the debate: “White, colored. I was living through that era…bathrooms divided us then, and it divides us now. America has long recognized that separate but equal is not equal at all.”
Her comment reminded me of the schools in North Carolina during the “separate but equal” stage in our civil rights days. Corky’s sister lived with us for her senior year in high school when I was stationed at Camp Lejeune. She attended a brick school built for whites while the blacks in the Hampstead area went to a tarpaper shack. That was called racial equality in the 1950’s.
Meanwhile the military has been told by the Pentagon to begin accepting all transgender troops by July 1. That decision makes it quite interesting for all the dozens of military bases in Texas and their surrounding cities. The world’s attitudes about the LGBTQ community are changing rapidly.
The Constitutional Court of Taiwan just decreed that same-sex couples have the right to legally marry. It’s the first such ruling in Asia.
Indonesia, a predominately Muslim nation, is going through a very stressful time in the acceptance of gays. Although same-sex relations are not illegal in most of the country, arrests are often made at gatherings of gays. In right-wing areas Muslim Sharia law still exists. Two men in Aceh Province recently received 85 lashes each for having sex. But even the Muslim world is changing its attitudes toward LBGTQ members.
Recent major survey: acceptance of gay life is increasing rapidly
A survey of 1,197 gay adults by the Pew Research Center indicates that 92% of the LBGTQ community, all 60 recognized categories, say “society has become more accepting of them in the past decade, and an equal number expect it to grow even more accepting in the decade ahead.”
This change reflects the fact that science is winning over ignorance—and more and more people are exposed to gays in their daily lives.
They also indicate that prejudice and discrimination still exists in families and society. Almost 40% say they have been rejected by a family member, 30% say they have been physically attacked or threatened, 29% say they have been made to feel unwelcome in church, 21% have been unfairly treated by an employer, and 58% say they have been the target of slurs or jokes. Only 56% have told their mother about their sexual orientation while only 39% have told their father.
The survey revealed that the age of 12 is when members of the LBGTQ community recognize they are not straight. They fully realize it at the median age of 17.
“She didn’t speak to me”
The New York Times story told by Dylan Lewis of Mooreville, a town of 3,500 in the northeastern corner of Mississippi, illustrates what gays often go through. At age eight he realized he was gay. His step-father called him “girlie” “sissy,” and “fag.” At 16 he met his first boyfriend, so everyone knew he was gay.
His mother immediately kicked him out of the house. His aunt and uncle, a Southern Baptist minister, took him and treated him as their own. He won the state tennis singles and cross-country championships. He saw his mother at a cross-country meet but she didn’t speak to him. She had come to watch his brother.
But his new family soon recognized he was gay and demanded he go through “conversion” therapy. For a time he had a girlfriend and played at being a heterosexual. He failed conversion (as all do!) and went into a deep depression. He fought it off and started college.
Lewis attended the University of Mississippi at Oxford where he wrote that he had the help of an amazing counselor. He made gay friends, had several gay professors for his classes, and finally became relatively comfortable at a university that was reputed to discriminate against blacks and gays and was the leading university in a very Republican state.
He met the challenge of supporting himself through four years with absolutely no help from his parents or foster parents. Lewis wrote: “It may sound surprising, but many colleges in the deep South are welcoming environments for gay students (even in the state of Texas!).”
When will religions give up their medieval campaigns against sex?
The Franklin Grahams, the Pat Robertsons, and the popes, bishops, and cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church might understand the powers of sex some day. Catholic church-goers deserted the Vatican on contraception, abortion, and homosexuality long ago.
Bible Thumpers are beginning to understand there is a wide family of genders out there, way beyond the idea of heterosexual males and females. We are now up to 60 categories of gender--and still counting. Sex is a powerful opiate among most of the genders. It has been ever thus.
In ancient China, females drank a concoction of lead and mercury to prevent pregnancy. Those two materials later killed them. Thousands of years ago Egyptian women manufactured birth control by stuffing themselves with a sticky paste made from honey, sodium carbonate, and crocodile dung. Sometimes they had to substitute cow shit.
Before the invention of the birth control pill American women often used a Lysol and Coca-Cola mixture to kill their lover’s sperm. Sometimes it actually worked.
In the 57 years since the invention of the pill we have reached the point where 99% of women of child-bearing age have used some form of birth control.
Gee, why do humans of those 60 genders and practically every living thing on earth keep having sex? It’s pleasurable! It even expresses love at times. If you want to believe that God made it so, fine, just don’t believe all of those ignorant rules made up by religious control freaks who claim He has spoken to them.
Like the era of bullfighting, that time is over. More and more people are coming to their senses.
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