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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

Another gay bar, another mass shooting.

Sickening. Predictable.

This time, though, we fought back.

 

When the gunman opened fire at Club Q in Colorado Springs on Saturday night, two warriors—military folk, I gather—took him down.

One, I hear, took his handgun off of him and clocked him with it. As of this writing, he's still in the hospital.

Good.

 

It's a hard world. Back in tribal days, absolutely everyone—men and women included—had at least some warrior training, growing up.

Really, they should be teaching (along with dance) self-defense in every phys ed class in every school in the country.

 

My first Hebrew teacher, Yehudit, was built like a bird—light, petite—but, like every Israeli, she'd been in the army, and been trained in krav mag'a, unarmed combat.

When the mugger pulled the gun on her and some friends in downtown Minneapolis one night, she single-handedly took him down, took the gun away from him, and said: Now: do you get out of here, or do I break your arm?

He ran, of course.

 

There are people out there that hate us and (thank you Donald Trump) believe that they have a right to do something about it. We know this.

There will be other shootings in other gay bars. We know this.

Some things to remember if you're there when the next shooter opens fire:

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 Fire Island (2022) - IMDb

Not a Review of Kim Joel Booster's Fire Island

 

I am pagan. Therefore, I support the right to discriminate

As pagans, we understand the importance—not just the importance, but the value and, in fact, the cultural necessity—of any given self-selected group's right to exclude non-members while associating freely within itself: with the necessary proviso, of course, that such a right cannot be universal, but always (by necessity) time- and place-bound.

If this is so, then Kim Joel Booster's Fire Island may well be the most pagan movie of the summer.

 

Can't stand feel-good movies. Don't like rom-coms, especially gay ones. No big fan of Jane Austen, whom I really can't help but suspect would, if she weren't a woman, be read today only by English Lit grad students.

Here's what I really liked about this summer's gay feel-good rom-com, the newest iteration of the Pride and Prejudice franchise, though: with the exception of one nightmarish flashback scene, there are no straight people in the film. None.

A group of gay friends go to Gay Island for one last dizzying swirl of what passes for gay male “culture”, in all its shallow, abs-obsessed dysfunctionality.

Gods: how incredibly refreshing.

One lesbian. (Margaret Cho's character, though, is anything but token.) No straight characters. No (current media darlings that they are) trans characters. Not even any bisexuals. Just men for men telling our own story, for a change, with lots of gratuitous nudity, sex, and good-looking guys.

The Horned One be praised.

Not that I have nothing against trans folk, straight folk, or lesbians, mind you. Those stories, too, I value. It's just that everyone deserves a chance to talk about themselves every now and then. Enough about you: let's (finally) talk about me for a change, OK?

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 River, Stream, Movement, Turbulent, Stormy, Flow, Turbulence, Commotion,  Water, Wave, Aquatic | PixCove

A Thought Experiment

 

I believe in the peoplehood of pagans.

Here's my contention: that, collectively, pagans constitute—in effect—a transnational and transethnic people.

I would contend, in fact, that pagans are, essentially, an emergent ethnic group.

 

So: a pagan and a non-pagan fall into a river. You can only save one. Which one do you save?

In reality, of course, moral decisions are rarely so clear-cut. But ask yourself: under these circumstances, which one would it be?

The pagan moral universe is one of graded responsibility. (Yes, there may be a few heroic souls out there who have managed to transcend such petty restrictions and truly love everyone equally. Well, good on them. I'm talking here about the rest of us poor unwashed unenlightened.) I have more responsibility to immediate family than to more distant relatives. I have more responsibility to distant kin than to non-kin. I have more responsibility to non-kin members of my tribe than to those not of my tribe. And so on, expanding outwards from self.

That said, would I save the pagan, or the non-pagan?

Usually, of course, a question of this sort implies some sort of moral weighting. I'd be more likely to save someone that I knew over someone that I didn't know, the one that I liked better, the one that I perceived as less able to help themselves.

(In the funniest set of pre-flight instructions that I've ever heard, the way-gay air steward mugged: "If you're traveling with a child, please see to your own needs first. If you're traveling with two children, please see to the needs of the most promising child first.")

All that being equal, though, Posch, which one would you save?

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It doesn't take much reading in ethnology to notice that many tribal ethnonyms—the names by which a people knows itself—tend to mean “the People,” with an extended sense of the “Real People,” the “True People,” the “Original People."

Well, that's how I see pagans.

Pagans are the Original People, by definition. Up until a few thousand years ago, we were all there were. Until recently, all non-pagan religions grew out of pagan soil. To paraphrase Terry Pratchett, it's pagans all the way down.

(Of course, back in pagan times, we didn't know that we were pagan; we just were. In this, we're like Native Americans. Encounter with others always imbues a new sense of self.)

Now there are more non-pagans in the world than pagans, but that doesn't change history. We were here first; we're still here; we'll always be here.

Savor this delicious corollary: human beings are inherently, instinctively pagan. Left to our own devices to figure the world out for ourselves, what we come up with is (by definition) pagan. To be human is to be born pagan; anything else you have to be made into.

Therefore, even those of us who (like myself) were raised in the ways of the un-Original people, by our embrace of the Old Ways, thereby rejoin our birthright status of being one of the Original People.

The implications here are dizzying, paradoxical. No matter how much paganisms may change, they're still Original.

A danger inherent in this way of looking at things, of course, is the potential to view non-pagans as somehow less than human. That way always lies danger.

But non-pagans were born pagan too, just like us; they've just, in a sense, forgotten who they are.

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