No, I'm not talking about my ongoing travails with AT&T, though I'm certainly feeling it at this point. I'm talking about this piece, which has received a fair amount of mockery around the toobz. And I have to admit I was tempted--a poem which talks about being addicted to masturbation, which has the deliciously horrible lines "Like a crack addict / addicted to crack, / I am addicted to myself," is low-hanging fruit, and that's the ballpark I tend to play in.

But I couldn't bring myself to do it, because twenty-two years ago, I could have written that poem. And I'd probably have written it just as badly.

I can't mock this poem or the poet because I get too angry at the closed-minded and anti-sex attitudes that put this guy in the position where he's feeling this tormented by a normal and natural act. I get angry because I remember feeling the same sentiment this poet describes.

Saying what I need to say to maintain my front.
"Aw, you're such a good brother."
Constant compliments from brothers and sisters
Add on to my guilt.
Soon as I get to church I am well greeted.
"Welcome, brother."
That was me--putting on the show and feeling miserable for it. Remembering that feeling was a big part of the reason why, once I was officially kicked out of the church, I didn't try to put on a front to become a member again so as to avoid the shunning my family was expected to do. I wasn't going to pretend anymore. I wasn't going to lie about who I was or what I believed or the life I was living. I refused.

So I get mad at churches who tell kids that they're sinning when they masturbate, or when they experiment sexually. I get mad when churches act like being gay is a choice, and is something you can decide not to be anymore. I get mad at churches when they convince people that they are lower than worms because they're acting on completely normal, reasonable desires, because they're doing incredible harm to those peoples' self-esteem and sense of well-being. And if this matters to you--it doesn't to me--when it comes to masturbation, they're basing it on the flimsiest of Scriptural injunctions.

But in the meantime, they're causing real harm to the psyches of the people they're hammering with this message. The guilt these people feel may be based on something silly, but it's real guilt all the same, and there's real heartache being suffered as a result. And for no good reason.

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