BENT's own Bear
Everybody knows what bears do in the woodsthey
sit around telling each other their life's stories and giving one
another advice. What else would those big, hairy beasts do when
they get together for their Teddy Bear Picnics?
Inspired by the wisdom of my fellow growlers, I'm
here to give advice, when asked. So, if any of you have questions
you'd like answered by someone who's been around the block a couple
of times, please send them to Bear@bentvoices.org.
And in case you're worried that you might have to
censor your thoughts, please remember that my walks around the block
were often done while dressed in kinkwear and with a thought or
two about who I might encounter along the way.
So let me know what's on your mind. If it's a Big
Unanswered Question (or even a little one), let me have
a crack at it. It is, after all, what bears
issue, Max takes a break from answering your questions to answer
an important question of his own.
the Terrorist Now?
been waiting to have my say until all the expected emotions surrounding
the World Trade Center disaster could be put into perspective and
I could say things that might not have been popular during the initial
wave of reaction, overreaction, patriotism, and religious self-righteous
fervor. Come to think of it, what I've got to say still won't be
popular, but here's my two cents anyway, or maybe, since I'm feeling
pretty ornery, my dollar's worth.
off, I don't wave the flag, because I'm not as free as the flag-wavers
would have you believe. I still can't inherit Social Security benefits
from my partner of twenty years and I still can't legally marry
him. I can't go to the local sex clubs because Rudy Fucking Giuliani
had them closed down because he doesn't think that gays should be
screwing their brains out. And I guarantee you that if I went to
some states in these United States and waved my rainbow flag and
yelled, "Gay rights for all!" I'd have my head blown off as quickly
as Osama Fucking Bin Laden.
don't tell me that, Well, it's better here than most places on earth,
'cause that's about as much a pound of excrement as a real-life
bucket of bullshit. It didn't work when "America; love it or leave
it" was being hurled at Viet Nam protesters in the 60s, and it doesn't
work now. You want to sing about freedom? Fine, then let everybody
be free, not just the ones you think deserve to be free. And if
you say that this country was founded on freedom of speech, then
be prepared to hear some things you may not want to hear.
while I'm angry, because I am angry, let me tell you what I think
terrorism really is. Terrorism is a built-in part of the human spirit.
It's in the heart and mind of anyone who says "My God is better
than your God," and throws a bomb up your ass if you dare to disagree.
Terrorism used to be a crusade, an inquisition, a witch-burning;
now it's trying to impeach a president because he's got a wandering
cigar, just as much as it's a Klansman in a white sheet burning
a cross on your lawn. Terrorism is trying to blow up the Americans
With Disabilities Act. And let's not forget about stoning faggots,
still a popular sport in these Untied States.
is terrorism? It is us. It's anyone who refuses to tolerate what
is different, what he or she doesn't understand, what she or he
fears. And anyone who thinks that terrorists are only "them" and
the good guys are only "us" is truly living with his head up his
hole. So, pardon me, but I won't wave the flag until the Red, White,
and Blue represents freedom for all of us, not just for some of
us. And I'm not going to say that Osama Bin Laden or Sadaam Hussein
is any more a terrorist than the preacher who rests his hand on
the bible while preaching hatred as God's Word. (How long, Oh, Lord,
must we put up with the homegrown terrorism of the Reverend Falwell
and the Reverend Robertson, and every other Reverend who thinks
he's got a direct pipeline to a God that not everybody in this sanctimonious
country believes exists?)
the world is full of people who would have been very happy if every
gay, bisexual, intersexed person on earth had been there in the
World Trade Center on 9/11 instead of stockbrokers, firemen, and
the Mexican workers in the kitchen who nobody seems to think were
heroes because they were only working twelve hours a day for less
than minimum wage to support their families back home. And yes,
immigrants like those, legal or illegal, have been killed by the
same dyed-in-the-wool flag-waving, patriots who yell "Kill all Arabs."
And how many of the men and women who are so willing to exploit
below-minimum-wage workers are now hoisting flags on poles to prove
what wonderful, patriotic Americans they are?
while we're talking about heroes, something we are doing way too
much of lately, let's remember the hundreds, thousands, maybe even
millions of people around the world who are "heroes,"
people who don't get to inherit a pension, have their kids' college
tuition paid for, or get a chunk of Red Cross money, even though
they risk their lives every day just by waking up. I'm talking about
disabled people who refuse to be institutionalized, gay people who
demand their Civil Rights at the expense of their jobs or even their
lives, political dissidents who risk incarceration and torture,
people who blow whistles when they see something unfair or illegal
being done by their bosses. None of these women and men get ticker
tape parades; they don't get cheered at City Hall, even though they've
risked their jobs and their lives.
I'm not putting down the courageous acts of 9/11 or trying to minimize
them in any way. I'm just saying let's honor the brave worldwide,
those who stand up to hypocrisy and injustice and don't ever get
the honor they deserve, whose families are never compensated for
their sacrifices, and whose legacies get lost in political mood
swings and what the press thinks is sexy at the moment, instead
of what really matters.
heroes exist than the media ever pay lip service to. And hey, BENT
buddies, talking your crip talk, walking your crip walk, and writing
about your lives right here in BENT and not giving a crap who knows
it, well, I'd say THAT's heroic.
I'll probably get some choice words in response to mine, but I've
been giving it back as good as I get it for many years now, so I'm
ready. And if I'm sometimes cynical it's because I was taught by
masters. I've known a few terrorists who were my flesh and blood.
I've seen evil, all right, and I can tell you that it doesn't always
have a beard and a hooked nose. Sometimes its not even a man at
all. And you know what? I've seen people wield power and try to
destroy innocent lives who've never been to Afghanistan. Imagine
that! I've seen them at City Hall. I've seen them in the White House.
I've seen them in bed next to me. And maybe if I hadn't learned
some hard lessons in my life I'd be staring at one in the mirror.
Who is a terrorist? He's a hate-filled human being cloaked in self-righteousness.
He's got enough brains to make a bomb, but not enough brains to
sit on it.
© 2002 Max Verga
been an activist ever since getting a call from a friend reporting
that he'd been in a riot at the Stonewall Bar only hours before.
He began his activism with the West Side Discussion Group, later
became involved with its offshoot theater group, and was one of
the founders of Mainstream, a gay-disabled group. For more about
Max, see his longer biography.