PAULINE "DEAR ABBY" PHILLIPS: I grew up reading both Eppie "Ann Landers" Lederer in the Chicago Sun-Times and Pauline "Dear Abby" Phillips in the Chicago Tribune. I always preferred Ann's column to Abby's column — did you know they were twin sisters? — and I'm actually sitting at Ann's desk, which I bought at auction after her death, as I write this. So you could definitely call me more of an Ann fan. But I have a newfound appreciation for Abby (who passed away Jan. 16) after reading Margalit Fox's terrific obit in the New York Times (read it here: tinyurl.com/abbyobit). The obit ends with the most famous three-word response in the whole sordid history of the advice-column racket:
Dear Abby: Two men who claim to be father and adopted son just bought an old mansion across the street and fixed it up. We notice a very suspicious mixture of company coming and going at all hours — blacks, whites, Orientals, women who look like men, and men who look like women. This has always been considered one of the finest sections of San Francisco, and these weirdos are giving it a bad name. How can we improve the neighborhood? — Nob Hill Residents
Dear Residents: You could move.
Phillips wrote that decades ago — back when adult gay men often resorted to adopting their adult partners because it was the only way to secure any legal protection for their relationships — and people are still quoting it today. I don't think anyone working in this genre will ever top it. My sympathies to Jeanne Phillips, Pauline's daughter and the current author of the Dear Abby column.
I know you were raised Catholic but are now an atheist. I'm curious if you might still believe in God if you took the time to expose yourself to other faith traditions that are more accepting of gay people. Have you looked at Buddhism or Hinduism? There is a great deal of evidence for reincarnation, and what better way to say "it gets better" than by saying you get to do it again and again until you get it right?
Born Again And Again
The Catholic Church's stance on homosexuality gave me a big sad when I was an adolescent, it's true, but I didn't come to the conclusion that there is no God based solely on that big sad. My sexuality prompted me to question not just the faith in which I was raised, BAAA, but all faiths. And none, in my semi-informed opinion, stood up to scrutiny. I simply don't know how any reasonable person can look at all world religions, living and dead, and come to the conclusion that one particular tribe or prophet or science-fiction writer got it right and every other tribe, prophet and science-fiction writer got it wrong.
But if I was gonna pick a faith based on gayness alone, I would go with Antinous. He was the big gay lover of the big gay second-century Roman emperor Hadrian, the dude who built the wall that kept Mary Queen of Scots from sneaking into Roman Britain and stealing the scones of stones or something. Hadrian, a bearish guy in his 40s, was hopelessly in love with Antinous, a Bithynian teenager. Hadrian's Bithynian must have given amazing head because after Antinous died — he drowned while swimming in the Nile — Hadrian had him declared a god. Take it away, Wikipedia:
"The grief of the emperor knew no bounds, causing the most extravagant veneration to be paid to Antinous' memory. Cities were founded in his name, medals struck with his likeness, and cities throughout the east commissioned godlike images of the dead youth for their shrines and sanctuaries... As a result, Antinous is one of the best-preserved faces from the ancient world."
My husband Terry looks like Antinous — it's true — so, yeah, I'd hit and/or worship that.
As for reincarnation, well, have you seen The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? I wouldn't mind coming back as that magical pair of pants — only, instead of being passed between best friends Lena, Tibby, Bridget and Carmen, I'd like to be passed between Broadway stars Cheyenne, Andrew, Nick and Kyle. And instead of being a pair of magical blue jeans, I'd like to be a magical dance belt. If there's a religion that could make that happen for me, BAAA, sign my ass up.
QUEER READERS: Help advance psychosocial research and do your part to include the LGB community in research while examining critical questions about the effect of rejection in the lives of LGB people. Adults (18–49) of all sexual orientations are needed for an important study on the relationship between sexual orientation, rejection and the attachment system. Go to surveymonkey.com/s/attachmentandalienation to learn more and to participate in the study. Thanks.