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October 22, 2010: Election Season and Gay Men’s Mental Health: Season of the ‘Wicked Witches’

My take on this election season is:  Hoo-whee!  There is a WHOLE lotta crazy goin’ on!

From Christine O’Donnell, the senatorial candidate in Delaware, confusing witchcraft with Satanism (a common mistake, but annoying as hell (so to speak) to Wiccans/Pagans), to Vicky Hartzler, the venomously anti-gay House candidate in Missouri, to Sharron Angle, senatorial candidate in Nevada, and to Meg Whitman, gubernatorial candidate in California who “proudly” supports Prop 8, or Carly Fiorina, senatorial candidate in California who is supported by the National Organization for Marriage and who is running against the very pro-gay Baraba Boxer, we are left scratching our heads wondering how these crazy-ass (that’s the official clinical term for it used by mental health professionals) women got to where they are. 

Being a gay male, and an armchair gay activist, my first thoughts go to how viciously anti-gay these women candidates are.  (There are anti-gay male candidates, too, but they seem to be less overall crazy/stupid and more just plain vicious).  But I think what is underlying all this is the “Tea Party” movement, which I believe is not only an angry and frustrated populace, but a racist, homophobic, and overall just stupid one, too.  I’m not sure whether the Tea Party exists because of certain Americans’ fear and frustration regarding the still-lousy economy, or because of their White-panic racism that we have a Black president, or whether they are mindless, gullible fem-bots (even the male ones) who are being manipulated by the anarchist Koch Brothers who want to eliminate all government regulations so they can pollute all they want for profit, while the rest of us glow in the dark and die of cancer (as a cancer survivor, I have an especially dark place in my heart for polluters). 

Call me old-fashioned, but I’m just old enough to remember when elections were about the competition of two reasonably-qualified candidates.  People like O’Donnell, Angle, Hartzler, etc.  are not qualified.  They make incredibly stupid, uninformed comments (Sarah Palin started that trend), they have extremist views that are neither Democrat nor even Republican, and even many Republicans distance themselves awkwardly from these loose-cannon, “fringe” candidates.  They are insane.  So what does that do to our mental health?  It makes fair-minded Americans crazy with frustration, and it leaves gay men mind-boggled that these anti-gay candidates from the Stone Age could have come this far and come this close to being elected (which they may ultimately be). 

I think the coping for gay men to preserve their mental health is to achieve a balance between 1) being informed (so you know how crazy these bitches are); 2) distancing from the craziness in order to stay sane, limiting the exposure to their madness; and 3) becoming active, in your own special way, to fight this madness, whether it’s volunteering, donating, or just plain VOTING.  If we ignore the crazy candidates at the ballot box, maybe they will go away.  Maybe that will send a message that unless you are at least 1) sane, 2) smart, and 3) actually qualified to lead with REAL ideas based on facts, not on knee-jerk fears and sound-bites, then you don’t deserve to run for office. 

Election stress is a real phenomenon that hurts people, but particularly people who hear the verbal bullying of people like Whitman, Fiorina, Hartzler, O’Donnell, and Angle, who have all made very direct anti-gay remarks, as well as remarks that offend the sensibilities about immigrants, ethnic minorities, etc.  It’s easy to say, “Gurl, that ain’t my thang” and just tune it all out by dancing at da club, but that’s exactly how these morons become elected as the people who make the Laws of the Land that oppress all kinds of people, including us gayboyz. 

Whenever there is economic stress, the minorities take the brunt of it, because of fear and a spiritual ”belief in lack”.  There is a story that marijuana became illegal in the 30′s because workers in Arizona feared that Mexicans, who smoked weed, were ”taking their jobs”.  Fear will motivate people to do the weirdest things, like nominate crazy people for office.  It’s dangerous.  But these things do tend to subside in better economic times, which I believe is the answer to a lot that ails America.  I just wish that economic recovery would hurry its ass up.   

There is hope; despite the recent spate of gay teen suicides, everyone from Dan Savage to the President has made an “It Gets Better” video.  There is a “balance” to these things.  In general, good, sane people outnumber evil, crazy ones.  We must hang on to that.  That is the sanity by which we will eventually achieve full gay equality, someday. 

But I, for one, am not putting much stock in a “media craze” that is the “It Gets Better” campaign, because the easy response to those by gay bullied teens is, “Yeah, that’s great, you rich empowered adult gay dudes, but what do I do NOW, when so-and-so  is punching me every afternoon on my way home from school?”  The answer to gay bullying is not a video campaign on YouTube; it’s direct action that puts schools on notice that they either identify and punish the bullies, or they pay the price for their inaction and get sued by grieving parents for multiple millions of dollars.  Nothing would stop bullying faster than A) bullied kids or their allies fighting back (“Bullied Bullies Don’t Bully”); or B) parents and others bringing legal action against lazy school administrators.  You’ll never see anything jump faster than a school principal with a court summons on his desk, or even the threat of one. 

The anti-gay bullying on the literal level with gay teens is just a juvenile version of the adult bullying from these crazy anti-gay candidates, or even from our “ally” President, who has just directed his own Department of Justice to defend both DOMA and DADT in court.  Barack Obama is nothing if not a disparity between his words and his actions.  And his actions amount to a certain Federal judicial bullying of its own. 

What’s the answer, to preserve gay men’s mental health in the face of all this political stress?  Vote.  Fight back at the ballot box.  Take the morning of Tuesday, November 2nd off, or the afternoon.  But take one of them off, and go vote.  No matter where you are, you can make things better for LGBT people with the stroke of your ballot stylus or whatever system you have in your town.  Whether it’s the playground or the statehouse, “bullied bullies don’t bully.”

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