Thanks for the post

Story: In Response to Jon 'maddog' Hall: Diversity is Everything in Linux Total Replies: 18
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Jun 27, 2012
7:17 PM EDT
Carla, thanks for your post and pointing us toward maddog's, which I just posted to the newswire.

If you want to see it before it goes live on LXer:

Jun 27, 2012
8:04 PM EDT
Wow that was great. I often wonder about how many folks are gay and cannot come out for one reason or another. It must be a terrible burden.

Jun 27, 2012
10:32 PM EDT
Nice piece by Maddog.

The only thing I find disturbing is that anybody would ever have to "come out" -- feel the need to hide their true self away instead of sharing that person with us.


Jun 27, 2012
10:44 PM EDT
Um, maybe because it's irrelevant within certain contexts?

Married, single, gay, straight... there are times when it doesn't matter. Those who think it does, don't matter.

In general, I don't care. And I ask that you take the same attitude towards me.

Jun 27, 2012
10:49 PM EDT

Kinsey put the gay (male) percentage at 10%. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force estimates three to eight percent of both sexes. Recent science says such preferences are built into the brain in the womb. IMO nobody has the right to take offense at people being what they are.

Jun 28, 2012
12:56 AM EDT
Those of you who are straight, really have no idea what it's like, especially if you grow up in a family or community where religion plays a big part.

Jun 28, 2012
4:51 AM EDT
I'm very pleased to read the open minded responses here. That said, coming out is still a process that is sadly needed. It is not that there is real immediate physical danger (in the first world) when a person makes it clear to the world s/he is attracted to the same sex.

It is just that society pressures people into believing that straight is the only (acceptable) way of living. It is in the media, with their heavy handed straight imagery. It is in education or, more accurate, it is NOT in education. My "gay" sex ed in the late 80's were exactly two sentences. "Then there are people who are homosexual. They are attracted to the same sex." It is even the people in your own vicinity. As long as they don't know you're gay, you get to hear a barrage of remarks that paint homosexuality as something deplorable. Even today. If something is thought of as stupid or unwanted, you get "That is gay." Lets not even start about straight people talking about (what they think is) gay sex...

All that external pressure comes crashing down on a person when s/he discovers that "OMG, I might be gay!" Who wants to be, what is painted as abnormal, deplorable, filthy, unwanted? So the first the first defense mechanism to kick in, to cope with the massive fear of rejection, is self-denial. First to yourself and the world. After that, when the truth hits that this is not a "phase", you become a self-denying master in hiding your sexual preferences.

While all your unencumbered straight peers are learning the "human mating rituals" during their teen years (out in the open), you are spending more and more time hiding your true feelings. Having a crush? Deadly. What if they find out? Checking somebody out? Out of the question. A few coy glances and then feeling bad about yourself for even looking. If you are lucky enough to find someone who is in to you (and closeted as well), you end up with something that isn't exactly a relationship and definitely something that adds to the pressure to keep secrets.

Most of the fear is irrational. That it is irrational doesn't change the fact that it is there and paralysing. Most people coming out are accepted just fine. It's just that there are true stories out there of wholesale rejection by parents/family and gays being kicked out to the street, that serve to fuel the flames of your fears. Saying "I'm gay" is not just saying your gay, it is finding out if you'll lose your family or not.

Of course my experiences are heavily colored by the timeframe I grew up in as a (closeted) gay. These days, things seem to be consirably better in The Netherlands. Today I hear about people coming out when they are twelve years old and being accepted just fine. We even have christian tv stations broadcasting programmes about people in traditional chritian families coming out and still being accepted for who they are, despite Leviticus. Still, it isn't easy to expose yourself to your peers with the message "I'm not like you."

All of the above is just the process leading up to the point where you have the courage to say to your loved ones that you prefer your own gender for a potential mate. After that comes the really hard part. Learning to be gay. You don't learn how to properly date when you are in the closet. You have to ditch 80% of the spoonfed heterosexual assumptions. You don't get to get maried to opposite sex. If you want offspring, getting children is not a traditional, natural process (even more so for male homosexuals). You have to learn the subtle intricacies of living with a same sex partner. Traditional gender roles simply don't fit. There are no male/female areas and boundaries. Public display of affection can be potentially dangerous. You can't travel to every country in the world and expect recognition or even safety. Etc. etc. etc.

Jun 28, 2012
7:37 AM EDT
I seem to have been misinterpreted here.

I am well aware of the dangers -- a friend of mine was murdered for his orientation.

I am disturbed that it matters at all.

I await the day that a Gay Pride parade makes as much sense as a Left-handed Pride parade.


Jun 28, 2012
8:51 AM EDT
Dinotrac, my lengthy post wasn't purely adressed to yours. I get that intelligent, open-minded people are capable of looking past inconsequential differences. It was also an unsolicited clarification on Tracyanne's post (TA, please forgive my boldness).

Giving insight into a situation from the other side of the fence can be valuable. It's the 21st century and I, as a homosexual, probably know more about heterosexuality and am more comfortable with that, than most heterosexual people know about homosexuality or being comfortable with it. The only thing capable of breaking through this collective denial of reality is exposure to it. (Not true here on LX-er, but in general.)

I'm not a monster who eats babies and consorts with the devil. The only way to get that through some people's skulls is to expose them to our humanity. To describe our reality. Like John (brilliant piece of writing), I am not a gay advertising billboard. I don't feel the need to tell people I'm gay every moment of the day. On the other hand, if the moment calls for it, I shouldn't shy away from letting others know I'm just human too.

Jun 28, 2012
9:47 AM EDT
I think what Dino is saying is that he holds out for the day when all the secrecy, insecurity, hatred and violence are unnecessary. Like many of you, I grew up in a bigoted time (I'm in my mid-forties), and the words to describe homosexuals were filled with negative emotion. That, as much as anything colored my opinion of homosexuality.

In my case it wasn't religious culture or ultra-conservative upbringing (I'm actually the lone fiscal conservative in a fairly liberal family). For me it was having an older sister who called me by the epithets that get directed at homosexuals, because I wasn't a jock, but rather more intellectual. Growing up, my favorite Star Trek character wasn't Captain Kirk, but rather Spock. But despite my sister's name calling, my difference wasn't my sexuality (I'm "straight"), but that I marched to the tune of a different drummer in other ways. But because my sister had called me names, I grew up with negative feelings towards homosexuality.

Thankfully, I've evolved. There are significant people in my life that are "gay" (quotes, because I still don't like the word, or rather what it's become). That, and maturity, has helped "fix" my attitude. But I believe part of the problem is that words have been twisted around as hate objects. "Gay" used to describe someone who was happy. Nowadays, you couldn't release a movie entitled, "The Gay Divorcee," and have it be the same movie. "Queer" used to mean something odd, peculiar, perplexing. Now, they are both insults. And as long as people keep using them that way, you'll still have breeding grounds of hatred and bigotry.

The problems Linux faces is just a tiny bit like the problems that homosexuals face. There are people who think of Linux as something second rate. Many users hide their Linux use to avoid being stigmatized or stereotyped. "Why can't you just use Windows or a Mac?," is a question you get asked. There's less risk of violence. There's a greatly reduced risk of your neighbors ostraizing you. But, there IS a risk of job discrimination, and definitely online bullying (just visit SJVN's blog on ZDnet and look at the comments). So, I think being an Open Source advocate helps one be more excepting of difference... That gives the "Open" part an additional and welcomed extra special meaning.

Jun 28, 2012
12:13 PM EDT
"Why can't you just use Windows or a Mac?" is something nobody ever asked me. Contrary, they see it as a kind of "leet" thing. Also, the productivity of a Linux machine is much higher due to better latency and better behaving programs (ever tried MS Office and gazed at a blank screen half the time - you know what I mean). Add to that great programs like LyX and Graphviz and you catch my drift.

At work I consistently whine about working with MS-Windows (see my blog for the most common annoyances). I refuse to use Word, using Wordpad instead. The only stuff I miss is MS-Access, because it is great for importing different datasets and squeeze out some useful information out in a breeze. I still miss that one.

Lesson learned: it's also how you convey the message. Be arrogant - you can back it up.

Jun 28, 2012
1:43 PM EDT
Wrong thread Beez?

Jun 28, 2012
2:05 PM EDT
I don't think we want to compare using Linux instead of Windows/Mac to being a member of a minority group. Linux is definitely a choice we make.

Jun 28, 2012
3:03 PM EDT
Quoting:I await the day that a Gay Pride parade makes as much sense as a Left-handed Pride parade.

I could not agree more my friend..and I'm a southpaw..:-)

Jun 28, 2012
3:34 PM EDT
I await the day that a Gay Pride parade makes as much sense as a Left-handed Pride parade.

I get the sentiment, but a parade is always festive. Bring on the Left-handed Pride Parade. I'll be a supportive "righty" in the audience ;-P

Jun 28, 2012
3:51 PM EDT
Fine. Save your Confederate money -- us Southpaws will rise again. Sounds sinister, doesn't it.

Jun 28, 2012
4:02 PM EDT
Oh, and not to forget: It's not something you can change unless you were ambidextrous all along.

Jun 30, 2012
12:48 PM EDT
r_a_trip wrote:I'm not a monster who eats babies and consorts with the devil.

Rats. Now I'm going to have to find someone else to hang out with :-)

Seriously, good thread all and thanks for the commentary, r_a_trip. I can see -- and agree with -- the points made by gus3 and dinotrac on the fact that it shouldn't matter, as well as with r_a_trip's point that he's not a "gay advertising billboard" but "if.the moment calls for it, I shouldn't shy away from letting others know I'm just human too." It's all well taken.

When I lived in San Francisco, I lived in the Castro district, which is predominantly gay. My roommate Julio, who was gay ("was" because he passed away in 2003), was a long-time newspaper colleague of mine who had moved to SF 10 years before I did. It seemed that Julio's gay friends found it more peculiar that he was living with a straight guy than my friends found it strange that I was living with a gay guy ("He doesn't mind living here," Julio would say, "he just wears four pairs of pants." And that was the standard joke, causing one of his friends to see me jogging in the neighborhood in sweat pants one day and tell Julio, "I saw Larry today -- he was only wearing one pair of pants.").

Fast forward to a few weeks ago where I'm teaching a Python class to middle schoolers (this is in Santa Cruz) and during one part of the class -- and I'm still unclear whether it had to do with what I was teaching or something else -- one kid audibly said, "That's gay." Before I could respond, three other students -- my daughter being one of them -- were chastising him, saying that "gay" isn't a synonym for "stupid" or "ridiculous."

For those of you who are still awake, the point here is that while it shouldn't really matter, it still kind of does. Prevailing societal attitudes being what the are -- better now, but always in need of improvement -- show that we still have a ways to go until it really doesn't matter. And while one's sexuality may not matter here in the realm of FOSS, it still does in a big-picture sense.

One more thing: What the British government did to Alan Turing -- a man who arguably saved the world, not only Britain, to put aside all the contributions he'd made in the computer realm -- because of his sexual preference is light-years beyond reprehensible.

Jun 30, 2012
12:58 PM EDT
> It's not something you can change unless you were ambidextrous all along.

Well, I am fairly ambidextrous. I do most things equally poorly with either hand. :)

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