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Old 03-06-2013, 08:58 PM   #1
OwlMatt
 
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Post The Great Non-Issue



The buzz on sports radio for a few days last month was footballer Robbie Rogers. He came out of the closet and left professional soccer, setting off the latest round of sports media debates about whether or not professional athletes are ready to have homosexuals in the locker room (The previous round came in 2007, triggered by John Amaechi).

I am sometimes a sports radio listener, and so endured these rather silly conversations, and I came away shaking my head. There is still a homophobic contingent in sports media, or at least a contingent that sympathizes with homophobic athletes, which functionally amounts to the same thing.

I'd like to know why on earth anyone thinks it matters who is "ready" for homosexuals. Homosexuals are real people; they are among us, whether we are ready for them or not. Do we think we can make them disappear by declaring we aren't ready for them?

A lot of people weren't "ready" for Jackie Robinson, but that didn't change the obvious fact that he belonged in Major League Baseball. The readiness of the people around him had no bearing on his being, by every objective standard, one of the best second-basemen in the history of the game. If there are homosexuals who are good at sports--and, clearly, there are--then our readiness for them is irrelevant.

Moreover, what's not to be ready for?

I have no patience for adults who still cling to the childish notion that there's something dirty or weird about gay people. Many of us thought this way as children because our parents treated homosexuality as a taboo subject and our schoolmates threw the words "gay" and "faggot" around as all-purpose insults. But we all grow up, and we all have access to the information we need to see how silly we were as kids. Asking athletes to tolerate homosexual teammates is nothing more than asking them to act like grown-ups.

And if they can't be grown-ups, that's their problem. The rest of the world won't wait for them, and shouldn't have to.

Who am I to say, you ask? Well, I may not have any great insight into the mind of professional athletes, but as a martial artist, I am an athlete of sorts and I do use a locker room. And sometimes there is a gay man in that locker room.

One of the instructors at my old aikido club is gay. I train with him whenever I visit my old club, and trained with him at a recent seminar. He's a brilliant martial artist, and it's a pleasure and a privilege to train with him. I wish I could train with him more; his approach to ukemi is wonderful, and that part of my aikido is sorely lacking.

Out on the mat, I trust this man with my safety. As an uke, I give him every opportunity to hyper-extend my joints, to poke my eye out with a weapon, and to slam me (either back- or face-first) into the mat. I risk it gladly, secure in the knowledge that all his skill and experience are protecting me.

And yes, he and I change together the men's locker room. If there's any embarrassment or discomfort about this on my part, it's because he is in much better shape than I am despite being at least a decade my senior.

The fact that he is gay is a non-issue, a peripheral personal detail. Our relationships outside the dojo are material for post-training chatter, but they are largely irrelevant to what we do on the mat.

Perhaps it's ignorant of me to say, but I don't see why everyone can't see this issue the way I do: as a non-issue. There are no gay cooties to catch and there's no reason not to trust homosexuals as teammates (and if you're afraid of your gay teammates coming onto you, gentlemen, remember that women having been enduring men's awkward advances since the dawn of time--it's only fair that we might have to take a little of the heat).

I have a gay teammate. He's a damn good teammate, and I'm lucky to have him. It's sad to imagine the number of people who miss out on teammates like this because they're just "not ready", whatever the hell that means.

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Old 03-06-2013, 09:10 PM   #2
robin_jet_alt
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

Thanks Matthew. I agree wholeheartedly.
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Old 03-07-2013, 02:18 AM   #3
lars beyer
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

Agree totally, it should be a non- issue and good thing to open this topic in a martial arts forum.. thanks.
I often hear people joking about gay peoples sexuality and I somehow admire many gay people for the reason
they have the ability to put up with other peoples issues on a daily basis without loosing the ability to keep a smile on their faces and a positive attitude towards life.
It´s not really their problem that some people are "not ready" , or at least it shouldn´t be.
Best
Lars
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Old 03-07-2013, 03:43 AM   #4
Eva Antonia
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

Dear all,

here in Belgium I never heard any discussions about Aikidoka being gay, lesbian or not. Maybe the one or other bad or good joke, but never anything serious, neither against them nor in their favour. I don't think that anyone here believes that it is interesting what other aikidoka do in bed (with exception of the typical standard jokes).

As to lockers; ours are currentlly in repair so we sometimes change mixed in the dojo, which is also not really interesting. Some people are attractive, some not, and this does not change according to how much clothes they have on, but according to an individual's subjective perception of the other.

This sais, abroad I met an instructor, and a very good one, who said that he'd admit to his classes people of any religion, political conviction, age, lifestyle, whatever, but never, ever an openly gay man. No problems with lesbians, however (this is strange but typical for male homophobe people). So I suppose gay aikidoka living in homophobe countries would do like gay footballers, just avoid coming out at any price, so this excludes having a go at another guy in the showers => in consequence, the gay-fearing guys in these countries have nothing to fear and could be more forthcoming.

However, considering that there are still so many countries where a part of the criminal code is dedicated to homosexuality (or simply to sexuality) the subject certainly will not become a "non-issue" in the near future.

All the best,

Eva

Last edited by Eva Antonia : 03-07-2013 at 03:44 AM. Reason: spelling mistake
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Old 03-07-2013, 09:07 AM   #5
Malicat
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

I heard somewhere that homophobia was really the fear that men would be treated the same way they treat women. While that's not exactly scientific, I've always felt it made sense. The same men that I see who show homophobia are the same ones who are likely to catcall women who are complete strangers.

Regardless, I've never seen that attitude with the guys I train with, either the disrespect of women or of gay men and women. I have to say, part of why I love my organization so much is because everyone I have met is truly honorable. A safe and comfortable training environment is the most important thing in my opinion.

--Ashley
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Old 03-07-2013, 09:55 AM   #6
lbb
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

Brilliant essay, Matthew. Thanks for writing it.

There are so many aspects of this that are worthy of discussion, and I'm glad they are being discussed. As Michael Franti said, "If you want to chase away the vampires, you simply guide them into the light". I think that is particularly important in the many places where blatant bigotry is no longer in fashion, but full equality hasn't been realized. In terms of progress to equality, it feels like we're all in danger of lying down and taking a nap five feet from the finish line. That's the objective of the "not ready" contingent: those who feel like they've had quite enough of this "change" stuff foisted on them, dammitall. Enough is enough.

The mix that produces this attitude is as follows: start from a position of unacknowledged privilege, and then dose liberally with the curse of subjectivity. Used to be, heterosexuals in the United States never, ever had to deal with gays if they didn't want to, and if they did, it was on their own terms. Heterosexuals never "had to see" gay people holding hands in public, never "had to listen" to gay coworkers talking about their partners/same-sex spouses, never "had to know" that this or that public figure was gay. Meanwhile, if they wanted to, they could go into a "gay bar" and treat the people in it like a freak show. If anyone gave them the stink-eye or suggested they should leave, the reaction was shock and outrage at the blatant bigotry of it all.

All of this, of course, is a matter of privilege: when one category of people can do things that another category are not allowed to, that's what privilege is. But in a society that prides itself on its egalitarian principles, it's very hard to acknowledge one's privileged position. In the United States, most of those who are privileged grow up with no awareness that they are so -- and privilege plus lack of awareness equals entitlement. If you're not aware of your privileges as privileges, of course you resent it when they're threatened. And, of course you react - sometimes violently, sometimes with latent bigotry come front and center, and sometimes in a milder form of resentment, foot-dragging, complaining about "them" being pushy or whiny or "forcing their lifestyle on everyone". You say you're not ready. Yes, sure, in principle we should all be equal...but haven't we come so far already? (five feet from that finish line...we're so tired, can't we take a nap?) Everyone has to compromise sometime. Why do you have to have everything right now?

James Baldwin gave me the answer to that question. In a talk I heard him give years ago, he addressed the "we're not ready" complaint as follows (and I'm paraphrasing): all right. How long do you want? You've had my whole life. You had my father's whole life, and his father's whole life before him. You've had a long, long time. You've had all the time that I've had on this planet. Not ready? Not yet? Give me a date. Don't ask me to go away so you can have your nap and wake up when you feel like changing.

I'm happy and proud to live in a state where so many of the changes have already been made. I don't know if we're really over the finish line here, but I do know that if a gay person were refused full services in any public accommodation, you wouldn't hear any hue and cry that we "weren't ready".
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Old 03-07-2013, 10:21 AM   #7
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

Hi folks,

Before this discussion goes too far, please make sure to discuss this topic explicitly in reference to aikido. Otherwise, please break your discusion off into the Open Discussion forum.

Thank you,

-- Jun

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Old 03-07-2013, 12:46 PM   #8
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

I think this was a great post. I think more of a opinion rather than a open discussion, to which I think Jun has a point. But this is a worthwhile topic so here I go...

1. The dojo is not a place for sexuality. Aikido is an intimate art that requires a great deal of contact that can be made uncomfortable by sexual tension... of any nature. I try to maintain a straight line here for the comfort of all students.
2. The dojo is not a soapbox platform. Be it gay rights or the f&*%ing Ravens winning the Superbowl, I think as dojo leaders we need separation between personal perspectives and dojo perspectives. I try to lead by example without the weight of the dojo forcing compliance.

These things being said, I do have a couple of observations:
1. People who are uncomfortable with homosexual behavior are people, too. I have never once convinced a friend to be more open-minded about sexuality by calling them childish. Nor by diminishing or dismissing their concerns. Change is difficult and scary and I try to be empathetic to that experience. Then I throw them into a dark elevator filled with a bunch of gay people, suspended over a pit of snakes.
2. Sexual abuse in martial arts is a serious problem. It is not OK for anyone to endure unwanted sexual advances. I don't care who is advancing and who is receiving, and I don't care what the score ever was; sexual harassment is wrong.

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Old 03-07-2013, 02:18 PM   #9
lbb
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
1. People who are uncomfortable with homosexual behavior are people, too.
What's "homosexual behavior", and where/how would these people be experiencing it?
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Old 03-07-2013, 02:48 PM   #10
Fred Little
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
What's "homosexual behavior", and where/how would these people be experiencing it?
The first twenty chapters of The Great Mirror of Male Love: The Custom of Boy Love in Our Land by Ihara Saikaku, published in 1687, offer a partial (if entirely historical) answer to the above in the context of traditional Japanese martial culture.

(I'm not naive enough to think this is the answer Mary is seeking; rather, I think that some of those who are uncomfortable with the notion of training alongside homosexuals or encountering homosexual behaviors in and around the dojo may be extremely naive about the norms of Japanese martial culture, out of which modern aikido has arisen, or from which it is descended, depending on which directional metaphor one might favor.)

Best,

Fred

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Old 03-07-2013, 06:04 PM   #11
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
What's "homosexual behavior", and where/how would these people be experiencing it?
I am not sure how to answer this. In the context in which I am using the reference, I believe the person experiencing the discomfort would be best able to define that behavior (which makes her uncomfortable). Why are some people afraid of the dark? crowded spaces? Mother-in-laws? My point is that in many cases of exploring phobias the therapist does not outright dismiss the phobia, real or imaginary. Rather, they explore the phobia, rationalize the phobia and attempt to define the source (of the phobia). Only after a process is a phobe ready to release the phobia, if ever.

Now, so we don't get too far into the weeds, the generalization to which I am referring is the sexually-charged interaction between persons of the same sex. This could be anything from [offering to] buy a drink to intercourse. As to the where, obviously the dojo environment in this context, since that is the focus of the thread (I assume).

Hope somewhere in there is the answer you were looking for

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Old 03-07-2013, 06:05 PM   #12
OwlMatt
 
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
1. People who are uncomfortable with homosexual behavior are people, too. I have never once convinced a friend to be more open-minded about sexuality by calling them childish. Nor by diminishing or dismissing their concerns. Change is difficult and scary and I try to be empathetic to that experience. Then I throw them into a dark elevator filled with a bunch of gay people, suspended over a pit of snakes.
I think dismissing their concerns is exactly what is called for. We don't have to insult them or be rude, but we don't have to offer them validation, either. If someone says he's not comfortable training with a homosexual, the only proper answer is that homosexuals have the same right to train that he has, and that his discomfort doesn't change that.
Quote:
2. Sexual abuse in martial arts is a serious problem. It is not OK for anyone to endure unwanted sexual advances. I don't care who is advancing and who is receiving, and I don't care what the score ever was; sexual harassment is wrong.
I'm not talking about sexual harassment. I train with a married couple who met doing aikido; clearly, their relationship could not have come about without one training partner making romantic advances toward another. What I am suggesting is that there is nothing wrong with homosexuals doing the same thing, and men (it's always men) who are afraid of being at the other end of the advances might just have to deal with it, the way that women do all the time.

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Old 03-07-2013, 07:01 PM   #13
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
The first twenty chapters of The Great Mirror of Male Love: The Custom of Boy Love in Our Land by Ihara Saikaku, published in 1687, offer a partial (if entirely historical) answer to the above in the context of traditional Japanese martial culture.
Let me also recommend "Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan" by Gary P. Leupp.

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Old 03-07-2013, 07:03 PM   #14
jonreading
 
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

Quote:
Matthew Story wrote: View Post
I think dismissing their concerns is exactly what is called for. We don't have to insult them or be rude, but we don't have to offer them validation, either. If someone says he's not comfortable training with a homosexual, the only proper answer is that homosexuals have the same right to train that he has, and that his discomfort doesn't change that.

I'm not talking about sexual harassment. I train with a married couple who met doing aikido; clearly, their relationship could not have come about without one training partner making romantic advances toward another. What I am suggesting is that there is nothing wrong with homosexuals doing the same thing, and men (it's always men) who are afraid of being at the other end of the advances might just have to deal with it, the way that women do all the time.
Matt-

You (personally) have a right to respond in any fashion to people who have expressed their opinions about sexuality, including dismissing their concerns or ignoring them. Rhetorically, I do not believe that tactic will convince anyone to change their position on the subject. I have chosen to engage the same demographic with the intention of changing their position and working towards the comfort of all, this is what I mean by empathy.

Second, I am married to a woman whom I met while training. And I pursued her outside of the dojo and developed a romantic relationship that was mutually received outside of our training. And it was difficult to limit the sexual interaction on the mat and more difficult to suppress my jealously when she was advanced upon by others during training. It made training more difficult.

I understand your suggestion, but I do not believe anyone should have to tolerate unwanted sexual advances from anyone. It is not appropriate for a man to advance upon a woman who does not want the attention and it is not appropriate for a man to advance upon a man who does not want the attention and it is not appropriate for a woman to advance upon a woman who does not want the attention. Sexual harassment includes unwanted advances, Here is a quote from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):
Quote:
It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.
http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/sexual_harassment.cfm
I do not support any argumentation structure that validates bad behavior because someone else endured the behavior. Twice now you have said that men should tolerate unwanted sexual advances because women have had to. Again, I think if you are interested in changing behavior, justifying discomfort is not the honey with which you will catch flies...

Again, I think this to be a worthy discussion, thanks for the participation.

Last edited by jonreading : 03-07-2013 at 07:13 PM.

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Old 03-07-2013, 08:08 PM   #15
Michael Hackett
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

I could give two hoots in Hell about the sexual orientation of any of my dojo mates. What I ask of them, and give in return, is to be a safe, committed and respectful training partner.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 03-07-2013, 08:16 PM   #16
OwlMatt
 
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Matt-

You (personally) have a right to respond in any fashion to people who have expressed their opinions about sexuality, including dismissing their concerns or ignoring them. Rhetorically, I do not believe that tactic will convince anyone to change their position on the subject. I have chosen to engage the same demographic with the intention of changing their position and working towards the comfort of all, this is what I mean by empathy.
I guess I don't see it as my or anyone else's responsibility to change the minds of ignorant people. There is truth that is plain to see; some people will see it sooner and others will see it later, but in the end, there's no denying it.

Quote:
Second, I am married to a woman whom I met while training. And I pursued her outside of the dojo and developed a romantic relationship that was mutually received outside of our training. And it was difficult to limit the sexual interaction on the mat and more difficult to suppress my jealously when she was advanced upon by others during training. It made training more difficult.

I understand your suggestion, but I do not believe anyone should have to tolerate unwanted sexual advances from anyone. It is not appropriate for a man to advance upon a woman who does not want the attention and it is not appropriate for a man to advance upon a man who does not want the attention and it is not appropriate for a woman to advance upon a woman who does not want the attention. Sexual harassment includes unwanted advances, Here is a quote from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):

I do not support any argumentation structure that validates bad behavior because someone else endured the behavior. Twice now you have said that men should tolerate unwanted sexual advances because women have had to. Again, I think if you are interested in changing behavior, justifying discomfort is not the honey with which you will catch flies...
I repeat, I'm not talking about sexual harassment. Sexual harassment has no place in the dojo or anywhere else in human society. I'm talking about men who are afraid to associate with homosexuals because they fear they might get asked out.

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Old 03-07-2013, 09:29 PM   #17
JO
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

Quote:
Matthew Story wrote: View Post
I guess I don't see it as my or anyone else's responsibility to change the minds of ignorant people. There is truth that is plain to see; some people will see it sooner and others will see it later, but in the end, there's no denying it.
I strongly disagree. Fighting bigotry is everybody's responsibility and what I would consider one of the most important positive actions anyone can take in society.

Quote:
Matthew Story wrote: View Post
I repeat, I'm not talking about sexual harassment. Sexual harassment has no place in the dojo or anywhere else in human society. I'm talking about men who are afraid to associate with homosexuals because they fear they might get asked out.
If they're afraid to simply associate with homosexuals and there happens to be a homosexual in my dojo, then I would tell them to get over it or leave. Same for someone who is uncomfortable training with people of the opposite sex, of different skin colour or of different cultural or religious background.

Jonathan Olson
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Old 03-07-2013, 10:01 PM   #18
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

Matt-

Earlier you wrote about being ready to accept homosexuals in society. I think this is a worthwhile effort. I think saying:
Quote:
I guess I don't see it as my or anyone else's responsibility to change the minds of ignorant people.
does not move towards accomplishing that goal. I think Jonathan hit it dead-on, we should be educating our friends and arresting bigotry. Marginalizing does not solve the problem, it just isolates those who are marginalized.

Quote:
Perhaps it's ignorant of me to say, but I don't see why everyone can't see this issue the way I do: as a non-issue.
Again, maybe start by working with your partner to empathize with your perspective. Empathy is a great start for understanding. Then maybe he will see the way you see this issue.

Michael hit on my other point. As leaders of our dojos, we have a duty to provide a safe environment for everyone that trains, regardless of sexual orientation. This is both a legal obligation as well as a social obligation. If that safety is preserved, we are granted a liberal dose of tolerance with which to work out individual (and personal) differences.

These are hard conversations, and the archives are full of them: women in the dojo, men refusing to train with women, women refusing to train with men, obesity, AIDS. I think it is important to sort out our responsibilities as a dojo and how our personal feelings relate to crafting our stances on these topics. As for the rest, I think we are leaving the discussion of this topic as it relates to aikido and entering a more generalized discussion. At this I will pass. Thanks for the conversation.

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Old 03-08-2013, 02:35 AM   #19
OwlMatt
 
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

Quote:
Jonathan Olson wrote: View Post
I strongly disagree. Fighting bigotry is everybody's responsibility and what I would consider one of the most important positive actions anyone can take in society.
Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Matt-

Earlier you wrote about being ready to accept homosexuals in society. I think this is a worthwhile effort. I think saying:

does not move towards accomplishing that goal. I think Jonathan hit it dead-on, we should be educating our friends and arresting bigotry. Marginalizing does not solve the problem, it just isolates those who are marginalized.
There is a difference, I think, between fighting bigotry and trying to change people's minds. We can change policies to ensure equal treatment and equal opportunity, and we can change our own behavior, but we have no control over the minds of others.

The champions of the Civil Rights Movement got laws changed and eventually helped pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but that didn't make anyone stop thinking racist thoughts. What made peoples' minds change was the way society was integrated as the result of these actions.

In the dojo, we can make sure everyone has equal rights and opportunities, and we can show (and demand) respect for all students, but we can't control the way people think. When we create the right environment in the dojo, people will have the opportunity see the truth and come around. But ultimately it's still up to them.

Last edited by OwlMatt : 03-08-2013 at 02:39 AM.

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Old 03-08-2013, 03:54 AM   #20
Alex Megann
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Matt-

Earlier you wrote about being ready to accept homosexuals in society. I think this is a worthwhile effort. I think saying:

does not move towards accomplishing that goal. I think Jonathan hit it dead-on, we should be educating our friends and arresting bigotry. Marginalizing does not solve the problem, it just isolates those who are marginalized.

Again, maybe start by working with your partner to empathize with your perspective. Empathy is a great start for understanding. Then maybe he will see the way you see this issue.

Michael hit on my other point. As leaders of our dojos, we have a duty to provide a safe environment for everyone that trains, regardless of sexual orientation. This is both a legal obligation as well as a social obligation. If that safety is preserved, we are granted a liberal dose of tolerance with which to work out individual (and personal) differences.

These are hard conversations, and the archives are full of them: women in the dojo, men refusing to train with women, women refusing to train with men, obesity, AIDS. I think it is important to sort out our responsibilities as a dojo and how our personal feelings relate to crafting our stances on these topics. As for the rest, I think we are leaving the discussion of this topic as it relates to aikido and entering a more generalized discussion. At this I will pass. Thanks for the conversation.
There have been some excellent comments so far in this thread. I feel it is extremely important for all of us to do our best to keep sexual interactions and behaviour of all kinds out of the dojo, even though that may run counter to many of our human weaknesses.

Here is a very direct and intelligent talk that was posted on Facebook recently, which is somewhat relevant to some of the points raised here:

Ash Beckham

Alex
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Old 03-08-2013, 09:15 AM   #21
lbb
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
I am not sure how to answer this. In the context in which I am using the reference, I believe the person experiencing the discomfort would be best able to define that behavior (which makes her uncomfortable). Why are some people afraid of the dark? crowded spaces? Mother-in-laws? My point is that in many cases of exploring phobias the therapist does not outright dismiss the phobia, real or imaginary. Rather, they explore the phobia, rationalize the phobia and attempt to define the source (of the phobia). Only after a process is a phobe ready to release the phobia, if ever.
That's interesting information about the therapeutic context, but (as per Jun's request) I was thinking of the context of aikido training. In that context, what is "homosexual behavior"?

As for your observation that those who are "uncomfortable with homosexual behavior [whatever that may be] are people too", and that they have "concerns"...my reaction is, "Yes, and...?" Again, back to the origin of the thread, and the context of aikido training: have you ever experienced or even heard of a situation in the dojo (or the locker room) where people seriously took issue with other people's private thoughts and feelings?

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Now, so we don't get too far into the weeds, the generalization to which I am referring is the sexually-charged interaction between persons of the same sex. This could be anything from [offering to] buy a drink to intercourse. As to the where, obviously the dojo environment in this context, since that is the focus of the thread (I assume).
Ohhhh, so that's what you mean by "homosexual behavior". Well, that's interesting. So, can you tell me why the presence of a gay person in a dojo automatically raises the issue of this "homosexual behavior" - meaning, in your words, "sexually-charged interaction between persons of the same sex" - when, apparently, the same concerns do not exist for the many, many heterosexuals in the dojo? Why, in the one case, is there a presumption that a problem is likely and must be addressed, and in the other case, all parties are given the benefit of the doubt to behave reasonably and appropriately - up until and often beyond the point where appropriate behavior has long since vanished in the rear view mirror?
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Old 03-08-2013, 11:19 AM   #22
jonreading
 
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
That's interesting information about the therapeutic context, but (as per Jun's request) I was thinking of the context of aikido training. In that context, what is "homosexual behavior"?

As for your observation that those who are "uncomfortable with homosexual behavior [whatever that may be] are people too", and that they have "concerns"...my reaction is, "Yes, and...?" Again, back to the origin of the thread, and the context of aikido training: have you ever experienced or even heard of a situation in the dojo (or the locker room) where people seriously took issue with other people's private thoughts and feelings?

Ohhhh, so that's what you mean by "homosexual behavior". Well, that's interesting. So, can you tell me why the presence of a gay person in a dojo automatically raises the issue of this "homosexual behavior" - meaning, in your words, "sexually-charged interaction between persons of the same sex" - when, apparently, the same concerns do not exist for the many, many heterosexuals in the dojo? Why, in the one case, is there a presumption that a problem is likely and must be addressed, and in the other case, all parties are given the benefit of the doubt to behave reasonably and appropriately - up until and often beyond the point where appropriate behavior has long since vanished in the rear view mirror?
I will answer in reverse order, since that may help. The presence of a homosexual in the dojo raises the issue of homosexual behavior. Just as the presence of heterosexuals raises the issue of heterosexual behavior (defined in a similar fashion, but between opposite sexes). For me and my dojo, I express the same concern for both issues. I think you are creating a straw argument to show that sexual conduct in the dojo is OK for some and not OK for others. It isn't; and even if you pointed to 10 dojos who all have engaged in this misconduct, it would not change the stance our dojo takes, it would simply identify 10 dojos who are potentially breaking the law by not addressing sexual harassment in the dojo.

Secondly, are you implying that aikido dojos, in general, ignore or dismiss complaints of [hetero] unwanted sexual advances as a matter of operation? You use the word "apparently," but the implication is that many dojos do not address the issue of sexual harassment. And that now, the same dojos are/will take action against similar claims because of sexual orientation? I cannot say that I have seem or heard of either of these occurrences. Of course, that misconduct would create a liability for the dojo practicing such conduct. I will reiterate our dojo's stance as that we pursue a dojo absent of sexual behavior - in this stance we provide a legal and social umbrella under which [I believe] we can train with clear expectations devoid of discomfort. What people do on their own time is not my concern.

I have crafted my stance based upon years of working with abuse groups, rape prevention programs and self-defense programs. I have worked with aikido students who have felt threatened by other students who have their expressed personal interests. I have worked with students who are rape survivors and domestic abuse survivors. I think we need to be respectful and considerate of all of our training partners and their life experiences. I am saddened that the general statement here that women endure sexual harassment in what appears to be a large segment of the aikido population. I believe, while related to this subject, is probably better left addressed in another thread. I am further saddened by the "what goes around, comes around" sentiment that implies some form of indifference to the continued discomfort unwanted sexual advances will play in the dojo environment, let alone the discomfort expressed by significant others and families of victims.

Finally, these comments keep pulling into the discussion of gay rights, which I am attempting to avoid. I do not believe aikido dojos are/should be a political forum. Religion and politics... Religion and politics...

Last edited by jonreading : 03-08-2013 at 11:23 AM.

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Old 03-08-2013, 12:29 PM   #23
phitruong
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
That's interesting information about the therapeutic context, but (as per Jun's request) I was thinking of the context of aikido training. In that context, what is "homosexual behavior"?
Guys wearing skirt, grabbing each other hands and talk about love and connection?

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 03-08-2013, 11:51 PM   #24
Erick Mead
 
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
I think we need to be respectful and considerate of all of our training partners and their life experiences.
Desire is desire. Violence is violence. Love is love.

I daresay that it is hard to find many of the world's problems that do not find their root in the confusion of these three things -- in any number of variations.

The dojo is a not a place to indulge any of them.

It is a place to learn how to tease them apart with greater clarity and a few ways to set them in better order.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 03-09-2013, 03:56 AM   #25
Krystal Locke
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Re: The Great Non-Issue

Y'all know I'm gay, right? I've got a little story, maybe tangentially related to gay folks training with straight folks.
Long time ago, an ex and I were going to go to a women's dance. A few days out, I was told I'd have to work that night. GF decided to go anyway, and a couple of her female, straight coworkers from the Catholic hospital wanted to go "just to see and just for fun". No prob. On the way over, one of the straight ladies got a little nervous.

"OMG, what if somebody asks me to dance?!?!?
ZOMG, what if NOBODY asks me to dance?!?!?!?!?!?!?"

People are neat, sometimes they rise to the occasion. All we can do is be the best us we can be and hope that someone who has a problem with gay folks can see past their fear and false conceptions to see us as we are. Glad my dojo has always been supportive of my training and sharing the realities of my life with my dojo mates. I'd hate to not feel comfortable getting a buzz cut before my belt tests.
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