AFA, alan turnage, Heathen, Hel, jo, jon upsal's guarden, matt flavel, Pagan
So…actually talking about Heathen things today. Which, is rarer than I’d like, I’ll admit. Still, not sure I’m happy to be talking about this one today. Then again, the way things go lately, talking about Heathen things hasn’t always been the happiest thing. But, oh well.
So apparently, and hopefully Jo will forgive me for talking about this (but he did make a post), Jo from Upsal’s Garden was asked to resign from the AFA and the AFA’s clergy. This is…something of a surprise to me, because I figured Jo was fairly up there in their tribe and is/was one of their most prominent proponents/public relations guys. At least, he’s the one I know. The AFA seems to be fairly insular (not that I blame them), so it seems a bit odd to me that they would ask one of their most renown to step down, much less actually full on leave.
This seems, however, to do with the new head of the AFA, Matt Flavel and another leader by the name of Alan Turnage, asking Jo to step out due to one of Joe’s kids (or his only kid?) being transgender. I’ve never heard of Turnage, but we’re all mostly familure with Flavel thanks to one of the first things Flavel did when he took the proverbial throne being to make a statement about how the AFA liked people to be their ethnicity (white) and their people to be…cis-normative I suppose is the right word.
And we all remember the giant shitstorm that started (for some reason) as everyone accused the AFA of once again being Racist and Sexist. Also, for some odd reason the AFA was accused of supporting 1950’s traditional Christian Gender Roles which..I’m still trying to figure out. But I did stand up for the AFA’s right to define and set their tribal culture as they wished. I stand by that still. There was the impression that what happened in one’s own house was still one’s own business though.
Well…apparently not anymore. At least, not for Leaders within the AFA. Since, according to Jo’s post: “…it might be “bad optics” for the AFA to have a member of the leadership with such a family issue.”
I will admit, I am…disappointed in this. To my knowledge, this was not ever a problem under McNallen. In fact, I would bet it was not a problem specifically because Jo rose high in their tribe while having a transgender child. I mean, if Jo’s child had murdered or raped someone…I could see this being a problem for certain. If Jo’s child had done something so dishonorable that it not only stained their honor, but Jo’s honor as well, and could dishonor the AFA, I could understand perfectly.
But for merely being transgender? This seems…odd. Certainly, our ancestors were not the most Trans friendly in their own ways, but while one might be publicly shamed for not living up to the traditions of one’s gender, I always figured there was still a place so long as you either a) put up with the shit or b) killed enough people that you got respected regardless. That they apparently described it as as family issue rather than a matter of honor, this too I find…troubling. I might have been able to understand it if it was framed in a matter of Jo’s child was “dishonoring” by not living up to what was expected of a cis-gendered Heathen. Not ideal, but at least understandable in the context of our heritage and culture.
And while I’m sure Jo would not have appreciated his child being used as a political shield, I certainly could see more tactical value in keeping Jo and his transgender child as part of the AFA. After all, with them included, the AFA could meet cries of “trans-phobia” by pointing out that “no, one of our top clergy and most public faces has a transgender child. We are cis-normative, but we are not inherently anti-trans.”
So it does seem something of a tactical error was made, getting rid of one of your top men who is fairly well respected outside of the tribe as well, and engaging in an act that can really only be read as “trans-exclusionary.”
At least to me.
Now here’s where I qualify that statement with a counter argument. While I do think it is a tactical error in the larger game, I can understand where the AFA might be coming from. This is mostly conjecture, but here goes.
The Transcommunity at large is…pretty close to being an enemy to everyone.
I know I am going to get some rage from this, but it’s true. Anyone who has been in the Pagan community for a while remembers the complete intellectual Genocide of the Dianics at the hands of the Transgender community. Looking out at the wide culture, transgender people wage what can only be discribed as “Total War” against, well, everything. From public figures to bathrooms, it is is constant violence without mercy, and the violence only ends after the trans-community has won a complete victory. While I understand this is undertaken from a “we only want our rights” position, there is no compromise, there is no qualification, there is only total victory or total war.
To the point where this is an argument going around that “biological sex is a social construct.”
“Some women have penises, some men have vaginas. If you’re not attracted to a woman with a beard and dick bigger than yours, you’re a transphobic bigot.”
I wish to Hel I was joking about that.
Don’t get me wrong, I could totally get it to work for me if I was as dishonorable as I am amoral. Just go to a lesbian bar, say I’m a trans-gender lesbian, and then browbeat some girl into sleeping with me or else she’s a bigot. But, by the grace of the Gods I do actually try to be somewhat honorable in my life. So I don’t do that.
But yeah, publicly the trans-community is pretty damn toxic, if not outright cancerous. Privately…I’ve worked with about four or five transgender people and personally…I have not had good experiences. The best I can say is one that was a literally barbie doll (hot as fuck, trust me) who was a grade A+ queen bitch. But too be fair…even if she was cis she’d have been that way so I really tend not to count that. As for the others, one got me in trouble with my job, twice. One of the times when they weren’t even working there, but got all upset when I point out we tolerate the offences of others because we offend others. The third kept threatening to beat me up. I have no idea why, I never did anything to them. It seemed to just be some sort of “I think macho men go around threatening to beat people up, so that’s what I’m going to do to prove I’m a MAN!”
Repeated attempts to convince them it was a bad idea to beat up the chronically sick demon because I would literally kill them to save my life was ineffective. The fact they worked both places I was working at the time, threatened to beat me up at both jobs, and the management refused to do anything despite being repeatedly told I was being threatened…did not endear me to a group which apparently can get away with the shit I would be fired for.
The fourth I can’t say I worked much with, but just seeing them it was clear they’d have a chip on their shoulder for anyone who so much as innocently questioned them.
So honestly, I can’t blame the AFA for preemptively burning the proverbial kudzu before it takes root. Given the hate that I’m sure the AFA has already taken from the trans community over their “cis-normative” nature…yeah. Why invite the “enemy” to enter the gates, even if this particular person has not done anything yet. Futa is the cancer that kills our boards and should stay on /d/, as they say. It’s an attitude I can respect, and perhaps even understand most days.
That being said, if Flavel and Turnage’s twitter feeds (if they have them) got flooded with futa porn, I would probably still kek. Because Jo has earned more than enough Honor in the AFA and elsewhere on their behalf that it should have covered this. That the AFA would dishonor one of their own like this is not something I appreciate.
Still, I honor Jo regardless of any of these issues. He has proven himself noble enough in my eyes, and he stood by his family as is noble among our peoples. He is welcome in the realms and lands of Hela for now. For one who aspires to the respect of the Aesir and Vanir, I know not how much that means to him. But it is there. Flavel and Turnage are not fully dishonored yet, but they might want to put in a bit more work to regain the honor they have cost themselves with their deeds. Flavel, at least, is too new to have enough honor to cover this deed yet. Those in the AFA must decide how they shall view the honor of their leaders for this, though.
I will say a few things. Number one, I don’t know where you get the idea that standing by the statement of purpose, and consistency in enforcing standards of behavior, is dishonorable. I’d say it was a lot more dishonorable to give someone a pass just because they’re “famous.”
Number two, this is a tribal religion. From a purely utilitarian standpoint, this cannot be allowed to stand, for the reason that we are too small. We need all our children, and their children. Or this religion will go away in a generation, maybe two. This isn’t about political correctness for today, it’s taking the long view.
Number three, there’s a LOT more to this story than you are made aware of by one blog post from the “injured” party. A LOT more. There always is. And I will point out that he was given the option and chose to resign. So please don’t make judgements without full information. If/when the leadership chooses to make a public statement, it will. However, I don’t think it’s part of the AFA philosophy to take someone else down so they can look better.
tear not take
Lucius Svartwulf Helsen said:
You raise good points, and as I said…I can understand why the AFA is doing this.
The reason I tilt towards it being “dishonorable” though is…I look at this a bit archaically. I consider the AFA to be a full on tribe of people. Jo has fought much and for a fairly long time on the AFA’s behalf. He has gained reknown and honor for his deeds. The transgender nature of his child was not a problem under McNallen, when McNallen was “King” of the Afa tribe. Suddenly, there is a new king, and this king apparently does not hold to the law of the old king, and the deeds and reknown of Jo are not enough now, when previously they were.
Look, standing by their “Statement of purpose” is an Honorable thing, and I respect this and their right to declare such things. But honor is more than just reknown and reputation, it is also a social currency. Jo’s honor was enough to keep him in good standing under McNallen, but despite this it is not enough for Flavel. It seems that Flavel has “raised the taxes,” so to speak. Raised them so much, that the amount of Honor once considered more than sufficient is now not even close to retaining one’s “land and titles.” So to speak. And you’ll have to forgive me for this, but I’m not sure that “casting out a hero of the realm” simply because his child’s nature is…not fully in line with things is all that honorable. It might be the “right thing to do,” but it is an act that will cost Flavel some of that social currency we call honor.
If only because now a number of people in the AFA suddenly have to worry that what was good enough under King McNallen is suddenly not good enough under King Flavel.
From a utilitarian standpoint…yes, the Afar do need all the “warm bodies” and children they can produce. But one of the big things that the AFA pushed for under McNallen is “You can love your own without hating the other.” I am perfectly fine with the Afar being a “cis-normative” people. Hel, I support that position. But one can be “cis-normative” without being “trans-exclusionary.” The Afar had existed as such under McNallen, as proven by the fact Jo and his child were not only allowed to be members of the tribe, but also by the fact Jo rose to be a leader and clergy in the Afar. As you say, the Afar are a tribal peoples. So why “kick out” parts of your own tribe simply for what they are? By all means, apply the social pressure you desire so they fall into line with cultural norms, and they may comply or leave as they themselves wish.
Which, is the foundation again of why I leaned towards “Dishonorable.” Flavel is not keeping to the law set down by McNallen. To quote Loki from the Thor movies: “My first command cannot be to undo Odin’s last.” Now, Flavel is king in his own right, and may do as he pleases so long as the people allow him to rule, but some respect for the traditions and positions of the Last King would be an honorable act.
I see no hate. And this issue did not come up under the leadership of Stephen, or I can pretty much guarantee it would have been dealt with in basically the same manner. I wouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that Stephen has no hand whatsoever in the AFA merely because he stepped down. He’s been perfectly willing to allow it to grow and change with new leadership but I seriously doubt he has abandoned ship.
Jön Upsal's Gardener said:
If there’s “a lot more to this” then I’m unaware of it.
Speaking as the one who was on the call, not you, that was the only issue raised. If there were other things happening behind-the-scenes, nobody told me about it.
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Joseph, you know there is more to this issue than what is meeting the eye and what you address in your blog post. To pretend otherwise is frankly either self deluding or disingenuous. No, I wasn’t on the phone call. Nor were a lot of people both close to the issue and otherwise, but who have insight, ideas, and points of view on what took place and what is going on. Did I say anything in particular to cause the hurt or the is fact that I addressed it all the problem?
I feel truly bad about what happened but I don’t think there are any easy answers, and if it makes you happy I’m busy pissing people off in said organization asking some hard philosophical questions about the place, if any, for gays/transgenders at some point in the future. When we have fully developed cultus as our ancestors had in the past. Apparently not, to all those thus far weighing in. Even though we have Saxo who states that men dress as women to serve Frey, and ancient writing documenting that male priests of Cybele castrated themselves to serve her. Though nowhere is the issue of female homosexuality addressed (other than Sapho), and transgender other than castration simply wasn’t possible for most of human history.
The experience you have, and are continuing to go through, your choices and the choices of the leadership of the AFA, are going to be issues that will need to be discussed, hashed out, and confronted over and over again as we go forward. I am surprised by this move, given your issues with the Troth, to be honest. It seems less than consistent, but I am fully aware that we are all human and are never fully consistent.