Today Nicole tweeted about this article, which is Dumb and Bad, obviously, in a way that's scarcely worth remarking upon were it not for the fact that Dumb and Bad people this whole world over utilize the same sort of language to harm children. But I've never been especially good at sitting down and patiently going into detail about why something is Dumb and Bad, and the line "Think of how easily and stupidly your body is aroused" struck me as both incredibly poignant and also the sort of thing that would open a self-consciously Deep second-person poem in the Queer Edition of a small liberal arts college's literary journal, so I thought instead I had better write that, and so I did, and here it is.
Think of how easily and stupidly your body is aroused. (You may be sitting in an odd position.) Almost anything can trip the trigger. It means nothing. Think of how easily and stupidly your body means nothing. (You may be sitting in an odd position.) Almost anything can mean nothing. Think of how easily and stupidly your body is sitting on the floor. A good priest wrote to me to warn me about it.
You may be horsing around with the dog on the floor. You may be wrestling with your kid brother. You may be taking a shower. You may be easily and stupidly meaning nothing with your kid brother. Almost anything can trip the trigger. It means nothing. Think of how easily and stupidly your body is wrestling with your brother on the floor.
I took to task the worst day of my father’s life. He knew that he and I had failed as a tandem to negotiate puberty. He would also be quite sure of the evil habit. The confused feelings declared themselves in the rough rapids. A good priest wrote to me, to warn me about my words. He feared some boy might read them. Think of how easily and stupidly we sat with my brother on the floor.
The priest is quite correct. But you are in the locker room. The priest is quite correct. But you are in the locker room. The priest is quite correct, but you are in the locker room, and it is the worst day of your father’s life. Talk to your father. Do not talk to a gay man. Talk to your father. Do not talk to your friends, whom you cannot trust; after all, they are as you are, and prone. Do not give way to the impulse of the moment. Talk to your father, who will know as much about your feelings as I know about being a school counselor. The school counselor may be a woman. She may read these words. The whole sexual breakdown of our time is taking stock. Do not take stock.
Think of how easily and stupidly your body is your father. You may be sitting in a single culture. You may be the love of a mother for her child. You may be celebrated in Scripture. You may be the football player you admire. He has those feelings too. Almost anything can trip the trigger. It builds bridges, tunnels through mountains, raises walls, drains swamps, clears fields, drills wells, fights for the homeland, erects churches and temples, strings the nerves of commerce and power across a continent, and makes a people into a people rather than a confusion of squabbling families. Big deal. It means nothing.
You think you are unusual. You still do. Every single boy in that locker room. You feel some, you just don’t notice it, and there’s no reason why you should let me try to explain what is going on. Every single boy in that locker room has been built upon three forms of love, bridegrooms of glory. Every single boy we are apt to overlook and neglect. Every single boy, the answer is yes.
Scripture was under no illusions about male perfection. Think about how easily and stupidly Christ expresses impatience with Philip. His words to women were always gentle. Yet it was to the Canaanite woman that Jesus gave the jaunty and unflattering Sons of Thunder. That was the worst day of your father’s life. A good priest wrestled with his little brother to warn me about it. Think of how easily and stupidly Scripture is read. Let us see realities again in the locker room. Jesus himself was humiliated when he and his father failed in tandem to negotiate puberty. It was as natural as breathing.
The football player is clearing up his confusions with his football squad. Of course they are powerful. Well, your feelings are powerful. You and your football player move mountains, and that affirms him as your difference. His feelings are satisfied, and you are powerful.
Take yourself out of that particular situation. Forget football. Imagine that you live on a farm. The football player you admire – that football player who has all your life long been out in the fields, working, laughing, quarreling, sweating, eating, playing – that football player who was never in doubt for a moment about your belonging – that football player who is all you have known – that football player who each day affirms the work you do – that football player with some special skill that you may not have – that harsh but healthy football player – that football player is showering under the earth, cannot walk across a bridge without thinking of you, considers you a part of growing up, considers you the same. Think: “You are one of us.”
Be assured. You are the same, you are one of us. Be patient. Don’t think: “This feeling is stupid.” Walk across a bridge. Your feelings are in overdrive. By all means put feelings into action. Go to your father and astound him.
Remember what I say. Think of how easily and stupidly your body is aroused. Think of your need. Think of a big bunch of coal miners, showering under the earth. Think of your football player. This is ordinary friendship. This is the need. This is the real need. You are sitting on the floor, with the priest who warned you and your father on the worst day of his life and your kid brother with the dog, and all of the boys in the locker room, and the Canaanite woman and the Sons of Thunder, and the school counselor, the woman reading these words. This is ordinary. Talk. More to come.