Subject: I've been had

Date: 21 Mar 98 20:58:58 GMT

From: bg19354@NoMoReDaMnSpAm.binghamton.edu (Nully Fydyan)

Organization: Church of the Ungendered Yeti

Newsgroups: alt.slack

 

When I was a little wee ungendered yeti of 15, I was involved in a support

group for gay/les/bi/trans etc ad nauseum youth. It was run by a supposed

gentleman named David, and it was a small group that was held in the

nursery school of a local church. I'm not sure how they came to let us

have the space two Sundays a month, but they did, and there we were among

the bigwheels and dollhouses dealing with drug abuse, suicide, dating,

getting kicked out of our homes and harrassed in school. All of the

everyday fun aspects of being a queer kid. There were usually only around

10 people who came to meetings, since it wasn't that easy to locate the

group in the first place. At the meetings I met a guy named Chris, quite

a few years older than I (and 23 did seem old at the time - now I know why

he still identified as a "youth" at that age. Dobbs knows I'm still one.)

He and I became good friends, and are still in touch occasionally.

 

Chris eventually got too old to be considered youth, but at that point had

progresed to become a healthy (if slightly pink) gay man, who did not use

drugs or hit on the 17 year old boys, with a pretty good sense of self.

As such, he was asked to help run the support group, which had moved to a

larger and more central location, and was growing. Wanting to give back

to the group that had given him so much, he agreed. I too grew up, and

became a healthy queer who did not use drugs or hit on the 17 year old

boys, with a sense of my unique yetiness in a con-directed world, and went

on to college.

 

When I came back over the summer, I found that the little group I had been

involved with for years had grown into an incorporated organization with

it's own offices, and 10 support groups spread out over the area, to

better reach the kids without transportation, and also because there was

that much need for them. David, who had been in charge of my support

group, was now the Executive Director of this organization, and Chris and

two other people I knew from way back were on the board of directors,

having helped found and run this new organization. The four of them

poured their time and energy into it, truly believing in this most

worthwhile cause, all while holding down full-time jobs as well. Nobody

really minded when David, who had sort of become Executive Director

because he had the most free time, got all the press. The community knew

who the responsible parties were, and the credit and kudos were well

parcelled out.

 

Executive Director is now a paid position, and David has long ago been

able to quit his job to direct all his energy to the organization, which

has grown tremendously in the last few years. (If the number of kids it

services are padded, well, it helps them get funding, right? Something

has to pay David's salary.) Unfortunately, things have not worked out so

well for the other founding members of the organization. Chris was the

first to go. He protested some of what he considered unethical business

practices. People started acting extremely cold to him, people who had

nothing to do with the business aspect. He discovered that there were

rumors spreading rapidly that he had been involved with a number of the

younger boys he councelled (untrue rumors, and he was disgusted when he

heard them). He never could trace the rumors back to David directly, but

the timing did correlate extremely well with his protests. When he was

told he could no longer act as facilitator of a support group until things

were "cleared up", he left in pain and fury. One of the other founders, a

close friend of Chris', left shortly after, disgusted by what had

occured. He still believes in the mission - they all do - but he could

not advocate the means. And the other founder, the only woman who had

been involved from the very beginning, left last year. She spoke out

against David's power-tripping, his number padding, and some of the other

less savory practices that regularly occured in the office, including

badmouthing other local les/gay/bi organizations to make sure they didn't

get the grant money David wanted. Not too long after that she accused of

embezzeling funds from the treasury. It did not seem to matter that she

was not treasurer and in fact had no access to the treasury. She also

left hurt and angry.

 

The organization, last I heard, is flourishing. They have gotten a lot of

publicity about the services, and about the trials of being a gay/les

youth, and guidance councellors all over the area know the number. There

was a tremendous outreach to the schools, and some of it even successful.

Kids go to other schools to speak about what their lives are like being

out, and it makes an impact on the straight kids. It also reaches the

queer kids, which is always at least as important, if not more so. Nobody

really talks about the missing founders. Actaully, no one mentions their

names at all. When I do, half the time I draw a blank -- the names of the

people who spent years of their lives getting this organization off the

ground have been forgotten, or erased. The older members, the long term

members, might say, "Oh, you know, I never did believe those rumors about

her," or, "Whatever did happen to him?" David knows exactly what he is

doing, and he does a good job.

 

When I talk to Chris about it, he is no longer bitter, though he is still

angry. He hates the fact that rumors like that even circulated about him

once, let alone for a period of months. The gay community back home is

large, and yet very very small, and he never knows who may have "heard

things" about him. He knows most people have forgotten, but it doesn't

make him any less angry at David. He also gets angry whenever David is

referred to as the "founder" of the organization, which is most of the

time. I once asked him why the three other founders don't get together

and issue a statement of some kind, and he said that by now it is a dead

issue, and anyway they all just want to forget. He also said that the gay

community in our area is finally beginning to cohere and work as a group,

and he doesn't want to tear it apart again. As I said, he still cares,

he's just not allowed to help anymore. So he helps in his own way.

 

This occured over the period of years, and people's memories aren't that

long. And nobody, not even Chris, believes that it was David's intention

right from the very beginning to get rid of all his colleagues and leave

himself at the top, with the power to achieve whatever it is he chooses.

Those that disagree with him have a way of disappearing, just as the

founders did. And despite everything that David's done, and despite the

methods he's used - and those are awfully big despites - he is still

trying to achieve the original goals of the organization. It is easy to

find fault with his methods, but not with his intentions.

 

I recently was involved, and unfortunately seem to still be involved, in a

similar situation, though the order of magnitude is quite different. In

this case it lasted only a period of a couple of weeks before the person

who would be executive director showed her true colors, and there is

nothing at stake except for my slack, which is a pretty damn big stake

when I think about it. Only in this case I am starting to believe that

the "boss", who has alienated and manipulated most if not all of her

original allies, intended right from the very beginning to establish some

kind of power base of her own. Maybe she (rightly) didn't think the rest

of us would go along with it, but whatever the reason, I was duped, used,

and then cast aside, my reputation tarnished in the process, in spite of

all I did to help. Fortunately, my reputation isn't all that polished to

begin with. That she has also allied herself with someone who is

traditionally known to do harm, and is using that factor to give herself

even more power over others through threats and intimidation, is more

evidence that I am sometimes a terrible judge of character. Or perhaps

that I am just too trusting, and too naive.

 

It's just bytes. That is the amusing thing, and really the most important

thing at the bottom of all of it. Because I'm talking about IRC bullshit,

and on some important level it isn't even real. Unreal, because it's only

bytes. There was never any way to know if you were talking to a male or

female or 14 year old jack'o'lantern, but at least the jack'o'latern you

were talking to was the same from day to day. Now there's no longer any

true way to know that the person you're talking to is actually the person

you think it is, or if it is someone else who knows how to fake names and

IP addresses. Unreal, because none of it has any impact whatsoever on my

life, except how I kill a few hours here and there. But it is real

because I enjoy it, because sometimes it is my only interaction with other

yeti, because it is a much cheaper way to communicate and my phone bill is

breaking me. It gives me slack. And yet somebody who said she was going

to help us maintain a slackful environment turns around and sucks a bunch

of mine, plays me for a fool, alienates people, and then insults me to

boot. What is one supposed to do to maintain slack in this situation?

 

I am not Chris. I will not just walk away, and resign myself to losing

slack, to letting others say what they want and hope it will go away. I

will not watch manipulation and intimidation and pretend that I wasn't a

part of bringing the maniplator to the power she wants, that she didn't

use me to gain some sort of credibility. (And why she thought *I* had any

credibility to begin with is another question.) I will not go away. I am

not even really angry; mostly I feel foolish that I allowed myself to be

fooled this way. But because I am used to seeing the Con, because I can

no longer be blind to the fnord, I am forced to ask why this was done.

What does she want? What is she planning? There was too much time and

energy involved on her part to think that no ulterior motive exists.

Whatever it is, I cannot believe it will be pleasant, at least not for one

who suddenly finds oneself a pariah in space sheit helped claim.

 

I have been had. I let myself be led along blindly, obeying, trusting,

and not questioning. But sometimes even sheep look up.

 

Nully Fydyan

"It's just bytes, until it bites you." -- rkb

 

--

Rev. Nully Fydyan

Church of the Ungendered Yeti

 

"Don't blink or you'll miss it, it's the end of free will" -- Kevin Gilbert