Why Kim Davis Matters

I’m a late bloomer. I finally came out to myself, my closest friends, and family about 11 years ago, when I was living in Ohio. It was – and still kind of is – a difficult scrabbling out of the darkness. I was lucky: my friends and both parents and sibling unerringly expressed their unconditional love, even if they took a while to process the whole thing.

Most others, particularly in the Bible Belt, but really across the nation, are not quite so lucky. LGBT youth are disproportionately likely to be homeless and victims of suicide – a result not primarily of their inner turmoil but of the rejection and bullying of those who are most responsible for protecting and nurturing them.

11 years ago, at least for traditional romantics like me, coming out included mourning the “life that could have been” – picket fence, 2.5 children, vacations to Disney World, evenings rocking on the porch watching your grandchildren. While you could go on and have a reasonably happy life, the life you grew up expecting was to be forever out of your reach.

But some people fought back, fought for the notion that love is love, and family is family, and the concrete evidence that such was the case mounted up. Eventually, after years of struggle, the Supreme Court itself ruled that marriage is marriage – not redefined, but reinforced.

Not unexpectedly, people like Kim Davis showed up, the embodiment of every bully who beat us up in school (luckily not me, but I wasn’t out at the time), every supervisor whose comments required you to hide yourself, every radio personality who railed against your existence every day, every constitutional amendment author who placed the motion on the Ohio ballot to get Bush reelected.

The rare moment that the state has our back, Kim Davises step up and remind us that the hate will be never-ending, and that the powers-that-be will be powerless to stop the daily injustices. We have to live with that, but don’t ask us not to be angry, indignant, or to have a little Schadenfreude that we can now pretend she is a cast member of Orange is the New Black.


Alhazen’s Lens Opens

I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for a long time. By training, I am a historian of religion and of Islam, in particular. But I wanted to choose a blog theme that would allow me to wax thoughtful on other topics that stir my passion – such as contemporary politics and imaginative fiction. I am fascinated by how cultures define and redefine their “others” both outer and inner – enemies, barbarians, minorities, heretics, and outcasts – and by how those “others” resist or reshape the dynamics of their definition. That’s a high-falutin’ academic way of saying that I dig weirdos. I will be jumping across time and geography in this blog and may even delve into the personal, at times. But I intend most posts to gather loosely around this theme.

Alhazen, the Latinized form of the Arabic name ibn al-Haytham, was a medieval Muslim scientist and polymath known particularly for his research into optics, both in physics (the nature and behavior of light) and in medicine (the anatomy of the eye and treatment of ocular illness). He is often credited with inventing/discovering the camera obscura, the projection of an inverted image through a pinhole – many view solar eclipses this way. His work and his experimental method helped pave the way for future advances in photography and tele/microscopy. I chose him as my “mascot” because of his interest in shifting perspectives.

I will be adding more information about me, ibn al-Haytham, and my terminology as I get the blog set up.

On the upcoming docket are a series of posts on the conspiracy theory of “creeping shari’a” and a series reflecting on scriptural themes in Battlestar Galactica.

I welcome comments, suggestions, and (civil) disagreements.