More SF Values!
Well, friends, I just couldn’t stop thinking about all the election-time hurlyburly about values. So I also should have said (but was in a mad rush to get that last SF Values piece actually posted ON election day):
Safer sex is a San Francisco value we exported to the rest of the country, and which has been under particular attack under the Republicans: its abstinence-only education is, in part, a strategy to undermine youth’s access to information about sexual health. They’re interested in just the opposite, because they don’t fundamentally believe sex *is* healthy. And the Bush administration has gutted safer sex education not only in the US but all over the globe by choking off funds to organizations that discuss it too frankly.
Caring for people with AIDS is a SF value that, at the height of the epidemic here, consumed almost the entire city, and so while the Republicans have tried to offload social services onto the private sector, I believe San Franciscans proved we could do it first and better; the only remotely comparable situation I can think of, Hurricane Katrina relief, was done similarly: in the face of great government neglect, by citizens, friends and lovers of a town everyone looks to as a refuge from the *rest* of the country’s values.
Sex-positivity itself is a notion that developed here and continues to spread like a healing meme, an alternative to the right-wing idea that sex is primarily for making babies and giving straight people an excuse to get married (except when you really need to call a gay hooker with some meth to help you unwind, and even then it’s dangerous and problematic). Short definition of sex-positivity: the notion that sexuality is or could be a positive part of every person’s life, and that everyone has the right to pleasure and his/her/hir own erotic desires and sex/gender identity, as long as it’s consensually expressed.
Along with safer sex and sex-positivity comes a high value placed on sexual communication. And it’s surprising that the rest of the country doesn’t clamor for this, because for one thing, people who want to be monogamous *really* need to learn how to do it. I think people move to San Francisco not just to be themselves sexually and genderally (I think I just made that word up), but just to be able to find others with whom they can comfortably communicate about this most important element of their lives.
Finally, what’s the opposite of hypocrisy? That’s a crucial San Francisco value and is what, I believe, moved millions of voters at the polls last week. They saw not only what hypocrites some of their leaders were, but also saw the effects of that hypocrisy on people personally (Rev. Haggard’s wife and kids, for instance) and also socially (Haggard visits the White House to help drive anti-gay policy, except when he’s busy with a nose full of Tina and a dick in his mouth). After that, who wouldn’t find it a relief to look to a city where lying isn’t required?
These actually got put on paper thanks to my friend Violet Blue, whose new column at sfgate.com covers the sex waterfront; visit her at http://www.sfgate.com/columnists/violetblue/ and get an earful. Maybe “ear” isn’t the right part to be citing, hmmm.
AND! Quite an honor: the paragraph about caring for people with AIDS, which Violet quoted in its entirety, was nominated for Quote of the Day last week by Greta Christina, who blogs at http://gretachristina.typepad.com/greta_christinas_weblog/ … and they used it on November 21! I heard about it from Susie Bright, who E’d me with this: “this is so prestigious, you are the quote of the day! i have been getting this for years, and it’s nearly always someone who’s dead! you’re a living legend!”
Awww, thanks, Susie, and geez, I *hope* I didn’t die when I wasn’t looking. To receive the wisdom of mostly-dead people in your inbox, Greta tells me you can sign up here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Susie, by the way, herself a major living legend and primo exemplar of SF values even though she lives in Santa Cruz now, blogs at http://susiebright.blogs.com/.