Shortly after the news.group went over this issue (a couple of
months ago) I chanced on a different climbing partner. My position on this
topic at the time (and still now) is that this group exists 1) for the
discussion of climbing, 2) because it's not moderated, it can drift all
over the place place as far as topics go, 3) flame wars exist and always will
exist, they existed before computer networks.
Now, this partner wasn't gay, in fact he was quite the opposite.
He was openly hostile, but he had survival potential as a climbing partner.
I'm not going to use his name because I know he has friends who read the
net even if he doesn't. We had an interesting discussion on the issue
(I don't think I mentioned the net specifically, but I do remember
him point out that he was a Boy Scout when he was younger).
The partner on this trip worked for a large local defense contractor,
and it is easily to generalize that all employees of defense contractors
are (by their choice of employers) conservative, but I believe
that's too easy, it avoids the case-by-case learning of personalities.
But you can't escape that generality as an initial condition, the opinion
conforms or falls apart or builds (refines) across time. So one can easily
easily generalize these people as jerks (if you held opinions contrary
Now, I don't use that word or opinion lightly. This is California,
a pretty loose, liberal state by it own admission (ignore the
Republican Governor/Senator/OC at the moment). And so I tend to be
some what liberal myself, however, I admit to occasionally consorting
with both left and right-wingers (including admitted John Bircher
nuclear weapon designers, amazing Cliff tolerates me 8^).
Now, you see in a way, I don't care. I'd like to be socially irresponsible.
See, the amazing thing is that topics like climbing exist independent
of issues like *** orientation. That's a common ground for opponents
like peaceniks and bomb designers to get together and put aside their
differences (with sometimes obvious exceptions). If orientation was
a big deal, I figure this thing should be cross-posted to soc.motss.
But I don't get that sense. I'm more concern about the climbing aspects
than the orientation aspects.
I think that the gay life-style appears to threaten some straight members
of the male climbing community. Here's why:
1) climbing is an activity where a lot of men spend a fair amount of time
with other men. This provokes two sets of reactions:
a) men (climbing and not)
Sheridan Anderson had a cartoon alluding to this (two "lonely" men on a
bivvy ledge). But only this one.
The usual joke is made that most women are too smart to get into this
crazy activity with few monetary rewards or acolytes (hey, I just won a
bet on how much money the SIGGRAPH conference would not take).
Any activity out of the mainstream of male behavior is viewed as strange.
Gay males exceed gay females by a considerable margin, however, I am
aware that that ratio is subject to considerable question.
Any activity in the company of other "mature" men not contributing to
gathering food, or raising money or trying to "score babes" or even play/
enjoyment as other males see it (like football/baseball, etc.) is seen as a
threat. It's okay when you are younger, up to an age point, because you
are not chasing the *** daughters of certain fathers.
We are in agreement that climbing is a borderline crazy activity just
barely tolerated by society (it might not be in the future).
Climbing is seen as a form of "sowing's one's oats." It's a form of
"experimentation" which is not assumed to last long in one's life time:
a fad in a way, but the experience might be seen as beneficial: one of the
reasons why certain pseudo-psychology groups glom on to it. The oats
analogy makes a "dangerous" comparison. This is the dividing area
the fad ends and where other seen an ***ion/dependence.
Dave Roberts writes about the traditional family values held by
John Roskelley. It would not be an unreasonable guess that JR with his
Mormon (LDS) values would probably be anti-gay. But you should determine
that for yourself. It's perhaps too much of a generalization (maybe not,
it's too easy).
I can make the above statements because I've had a few people, my parents
included, make some of the above statements to not only me, but to
my climbing partner friends.
b) women (climbing or not) [because they are a minority in the
Sheridan Anderson has more than one cartoon about this. The Robbins
characterature waxing about climbing while removing his clothes getting
into bed. Why is this man so obsessed? "Normal" men would be more concerned
about their MOTOS. But really? So what about the man who cheats on his
wife, or snores in bed, or who knows what other things irritates her?
The expectations that women drop on men are probably slightly more
rigid and conservative, probably because of the power and money structure of
the country. This is a real guess (opinion). These two considerations are
more oriented to men and women (rather than gays).
Climbing is an activity which goes against several of the traditional
women's roles (the so called caring nurturing, etc. especially if you
believe this to be an innate activity rather than a learned one).
Even more so than men being "breadwinners" probably because of life threat.
This is seen as even more crazy that women engage in climbing than men,
additionally, the problem of mixed groups can compound the problem. I'm
still trying to get a copy of Dave Robert's analysis of this. Risking,
of course, isn't seen as "feminine." Yeah you will find exceptions.
See the ref.
2) society has expectations (and they have been expectations which have
changed and differ)
Our society is a bit schzophrenic. It doesn't take climbing
to see that. It like to think it is tolerant. But in some ways it isn't.
For a while it was okay, more tolerated because climbing was seen as a
low impact environmental activity.
We don't tolerate enslaving people or taking of unsanctioned life.
But when we take that 50 foot screamer, that's okay. You are expected
to "stay within the lines." Climbing yourself is okay (i.e. exposing yourself
to hazards), but forcing other people to go climbing is out.
I don't think there is a single resolution. Only simplistic (and this
partner was not that) minds like that expect to force people into categories
(repression). That's an abuse of logic (a fine mathematical tool).
I think this partner had some heavy trips about what he saw the Boy Scouts
to be (a time for them to "explore and discover their *** identity" to
paraphrase his words: meaning to get away and think and get aligned with
other males (he was against girls in the boy scouts, too).
At another time it might have been Blacks (hey how many times have we
discussed black climbers in this group [never; r.b. twice]) or Asians or
South Africans. And the latter is useful because it shows people are
Uptight climbers (men or women) would stay worrying about their same sex
contacts. This is dumb. People should not have to worry about association.
My first climbing mentor is a bit of a fundamentalist Southern Baptist
Christian (he once told of stories of Shore Patrol duty where they were
supposed to specifically look out for Gays). In some ways the story went
over my head. I wasn't interested. It depends where one wants to place the
emphasis: the *** orientation part or the climbing part.
I will still continue to climb with climber X, that does not mean I have
to agree with him, I doubt he would change my views (neither gay or
straight, consider them a***; "Clone or Die" is the motto over at
Genentech). I certainly think that Oregon Prop. 9 is stupid, but
we shall see what people think in a large anonymous group.
It is the fact that we co-exist and that one side or the other might
change (for better or worse).
A bit long, rambled quite a bit, but the issue isn't easily.
Not for people looking for logically simplistic solutions.
Beginning to sound like Tom Joad in Grapes of Wrath.
What do you care with other people think? --Arline Greenbaum Feynman
Resident Cynic, Rock of Ages Home for Retired Hackers
Second Favorite email message: Returned mail: Cannot send message for 3 days
A Ref: Mathematics and Plausible Reasoning, vol. 1, G. Polya