Unitarian Universalist Interweave Gathering by Ann Schranz
The Florida District Office of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Concerns held its second annual conference on February 11 and 12 at the Fort Lauderdale Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church.
Five of the 20 people who attended self-identify as bisexual. Unitarian Universalism is deeply humanistic and very liberal. Many UU churches have "Interweave" groups that encourage people of any sexual orientation to socialize together. The national UU organ ization supports congregations in their efforts to become "Welcoming" congregations, that is, congregations that actively seek and support lesbigay members.
The point of this background is that UUs are more savvy than average about bisexual issues. "Bisexual" (the word and the concept) were routinely included in discussions by participants throughout the Saturday sessions. The conference organizers worked hard, and the conference was valuable and fun. I'll go again. Despite all this, however, here were some moments that grated.
The keynote speaker specialized in lesbian and gay history. The resource list he distributed contained 24 entries, none of them relating to bisexuality. In providing a bit of history about the study of history, he said that there has been a shift from studying famous people to studying ordinary people. He used the example of Michelangelo as a famous gay man.
Orlando activist Deni pointed out that Michelangelo had many children, both with his wife and with other women. He may have also had sex with men, but he was behaviorally bisexual, not gay. This naming of anyone who ever had sex with a member of his/her same gender as gay or lesbian is very irritating.
It reminded me of the time earlier this month when I was in America Online' electronic auditorium with 500 other members "talking" interactively with Camille Paglia. She was asked if she thought there were any living strong lesbian role models. "Besides moi?" she began. The only woman she then named, Sandra Bernhard, identifies not as lesbian but as bisexual, as I recall. Paglia went on to rail against "lesbian provincialism." Claiming Sandra Bernhard is a prime example of lesbian provincialism, if you ask me.
But back to the UU conference. I asked the speaker whether modern historical research tends to support identity as something "essential" or "constructed." (My wording was different, but that was the gist.) He stated that he was a "modified constructionist." By that, I think he meant both that identities come and go, and that there is something "queer" that continues from generation to generation. Since, in my opinion, the most biphobic gays and lesbians are essentialists, I promote the constructionist cause.
About 12 of us went to Chardee's, a great gay club for dinner Saturday night and had a great time. On Sunday, the minister, Rev. Elizabeth McMaster gave a sermon that was supportive of gays and lesbians (sic) but seldom mentioned bisexuals at all, except when it was part of the name of some group. Sigh. We've come a long way, but there's a long way yet to go.
As I try to put the weekend into perspective, I remember that life is a journey. I value my traveling companions above all. The companionship in Fort Lauderdale was wonderful.
The next GBA meeting is on Sunday, March 19 at 2:00 p.m. in a private home in Gainesville. Call the GBA number for directions: 904-335-6359.
I WANT TO TAKE A COUPLE OF MINUTES TO SHARE WITH THE GROUP AT LARGE SOME RECENT PERSONAL MUSINGS. FIRST, A FEW FACTS:
1. FACT - THE HUMAN SPECIES REPRODUCES SEXUALLY USING AN 'X' CHROMOSOME AND A 'Y' CHROMOSOME WITH EACH HUMAN HAVING A PAIR OF CHROMOSOMES, THE FEMALE HAVING TWO "X'S" AND THE MALE HAVING AN 'X' AND A 'Y'.
2. FACT - FOR AN INDIVIDUAL HUMAN TO LIVE, IT MUST HAVE AT LEAST ONE 'X' CHROMOSOME WHICH CONSISTS OF THOUSANDS OF GENES. IT CANNOT LIVE WITH JUST A 'Y' CHROMOSOME WHICH ONLY HAS ABOUT 15 GENES. AND, IT SEEMS THAT THE TRULY SIGNIFICANT GENE LEFT ON THE 'Y' IS THE ONE THAT THROWS THE SWITCH TO CONVERT SOME OF US TO MALE. WE ALL BEGAN LIFE AS A FEMALE. THIS SWITCHING OCCURRED BETWEEN THE 15TH AND 40TH DAY OF OUR LIFE.
3. FACT - THE 'Y' CHROMOSOME IS DISAPPEARING. THIS IS DUE TO ITS LACK OF ABILITY TO RECOMBINE AND THUS ELIMINATE GENETIC ERRORS, IT HAS ALREADY DISAPPEARED IN SOME FRUIT FLY SPECIES AND SOME FISH SPECIES.
4. FACT - IN WESTERN CIVILIZATION, THE SPERM COUNT OF THE MALE IS INEXPLICABLY AND RAPIDLY DECREASING. IT IS NOW ROUGHLY 1/2 OF WHAT IT WAS AT THE TURN OF THIS CENTURY.
5. LAST FACT - THE MOST EXTREME ELEMENTS OF THE 'RIGHT TO LIFE' MOVEMENT ARE OPPOSED TO ANY INTERVENTION IN THE HUMAN REPRODUCTIVE PROCESS.
OUT OF THESE FACTS, HERE ARE MY MUSINGS:
1. RE: THE DISAPPEARING 'Y'- THE SPECIES RECOGNIZES THAT IT IS NO LONGER IN ITS BEST INERESTS OF SURVIVAL TO CONTINUE TO DEPEND SOLELY UPON SEXUAL REPRODUCTON. THUS, IT WILL STRIVE TO FIND ALTERNATIVES TO SEXUAL REPRODUCTION.
2. RE: THE DECREASING SPERM COUNT WITHIN WESTERN CIVILIZATION, THE SPECIES RECOGNIZES THAT HIGH RATES OF FERTILITY ARE NO LONGER IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF SURVIVAL OF THE SPECIES AND IS ATTEMPTING TO CONTROL POPULATION GROWTH BY DECREASING THE SPERM COUNT OF MALES. AND AS LEVELS OF EDUCATION AND COMMUNICATION INCREASE IN OTHER CIVILIZATIONS AROUND THE WORLD, WE WILL SEE A CONCOMITANT DECREASE IN MALE SPERM PRODUCTION AND DECREASED FERTILITY RATES.
3. RE: THE 'RIGHT TO LIFE' MOVEMENT- THE 'RIGHT TO LIFE' MOVEMENT IN ITS ESSENCE, IS THE SPECIES ATTEMPT TO THWART ANY MEANS OF REPRODUCTION OTHER THAN SEXUAL AND THUS IS, IN ITSELF, IS AN EXAMPLE OF THE STRENGTH OF SEXUAL REPRODUCTION AS A DEFINING FORCE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE SPECIES.
4. RE: THE 'RIGHT TO LIFE' MOVEMENT- SINCE THE 'RIGHT TO LIFE' MOVEMENT OPPOSES ANY REPRODUCTIVE PROCESS OTHER THAN 'SEXUAL', AND SINCE WE KNOW THAT WE AS A SPECIES WILL REACH A POINT WHERE WE ARE NO LONGER SEXUALLY REPRODUCTIVE, THEN 'RIGHT TO LIFE' EQUALS DEATH TO THE SPECIES.