Dear Reverend Billy,
I'm a gay man. I've always felt that my queerness was the very foundation of my politics. But since the election, some progressives have claimed that the Democrats’ defeat was the result of focusing on identity politics, that going forward we have to focus solely on economic issues and dial down on "lesser" issues. I feel as if these folks want me to closet my identity politics. I find this attitude very upsetting — and a bit of a betrayal.
— Bru in Hell’s Kitchen
We're working through a time of confusion, when some of best strategists are flummoxed. If there is a return to sexual fear spreading across the land. Be defiant by being proud and sexy and yourself. Moderate your exposure to people that hold reactionary opinions about "identity politics." Work with people who honor who you are.
Meanwhile, be cautious of fallacious identity politics. You know, the kind that says, “No matter who you are you too can travel to Davos. You too get a spin at the roulette wheel called Meritocracy.” Beware of false prophets who don’t give a crap about people; be they gay, straight, white, black or brown and cover up their contempt for humanity by appealing to us as a collection of special interests.
Dear Reverend Billy, as the days are getting shorter I'm finding it harder to stay motivated. How do you suggest I keep this seasonal affective disorder, or whatever it is, from infecting my brain?
— Daria from Mott Haven
I lived in California for a long time and I suffered a seasonal affective disorder for 71 straight seasons. In the almost mockingly wonderful sunshine I found myself seated with crossed legs at a sidewalk café, sipping a cappuccino at 2 in the afternoon, having done nothing up to that point except suffer mild existential discomfort, which actually felt fashionable. The French have a word for it.
How do you keep “whatever it is” from infecting your brain? This season is something. What I mean to say is, it is material, physical — a thing. That is your opening. Follow the path of this infection — out of your malaise.
Dramatize the symptoms of your disease. Try writing it out. Your ravings might read like a Mayo Clinic doc-blog or resemble Philip K. Dick. The point is, dark things are not necessarily paralyzing. Kafka’s protagonist woke up as a cockroach. You can too. Play with your angst, embrace it. Let your disease entertain you.
Dear Reverend Billy, I know you are not much for shopping. Neither am I. But there is so much pressure this time of year to give gifts. How do I show the people in my life I care without buying into the commercialism in the air this time of year?
— Jen from FiDi
Giving has nothing at all to do with big retail. Santa is a Macy’s invention from the 1800’s and has absolutely nothing to do with giving.
You owe nothing at all to the guilt-tripping “Black Friday” myth. It is not unpatriotic to walk away from the whole violent mess of American commercial Christmas. It is, in fact, your gift to the Earth. The holidays cause not only mind-altering boredom, but also climate change and habitat devastation. Cast all those sweatshop tchotchkes into the LAKE OF HELLFIRE!
Start laughing until you cannot stop laughing. Clear the giving palate. You don’t have to buy a gift to give a gift! Hah! Hah! Hah! (not ho ho ho). . .
This year we are beginning to heal from evil giving. We start slowly and thoughtfully with a caress. Keep nothing — NOTHING — in your home from commercial Christmas. . . except the mistletoe. Beneath those spiky leaves give the gift that keeps on giving — grow that caress into sexual abandon. It’s good for the climate.